…but I am mad at the narrow view of the world I was taught by my church. Don’t get me wrong- it was a great church to grow up in, and I’m incredibly thankful for a Christian upbringing. Most of my friends as a kid and teenager were church friends. Most of my social life (like %90) was through the church, and I loved it. I went to church camp for one week each summer from 4th – 11th grades (summers before that year). I worked at the church camp for 2 1/2 summers, and those summers were the best ! I still love that camp.
But then I had to go out into the world as a young adult, and be ready for life. I wasn’t. I had moved 1200+ miles away from home essentially on my own. It was a bigger city with a very diverse population. That was eye-opening at times, but not anything that caused me any sort of turmoil. What I wasn’t prepared for was how to deal with crime and keeping myself safe.
Yes, it’s also a parents’ responsibility, but when you are immersed in a church subculture, most of your social interactions and social knowledge/mores come through the youth groups. Or at least it did. Maybe things have changed since I left high school in 1981. I left home for good in late 1985.
I wasn’t prepared to assess my own safety in a situation, and protect myself by knowing when it was OK not to help someone. I was taught that you help your ‘neighbors’ (that was basically everyone). I wasn’t taught that people can be really nuts, and dangerous. I got the ‘stranger danger’ talk when I was 6, but I wasn’t told that even people who were known to people I knew can be very harmful. So, I didn’t have the skills to avoid getting raped and beaten for hours.
I’d been lied to by the brother of the mother of a baby I took care of. He made up some story about needing my help to come and get the baby because of a family emergency. My other posts go into more details, but the bottom line was I didn’t have the skills- or permission– to say no to this guy I didn’t know. I did know he’d gotten out of prison, but I didn’t know anything about crime and criminals, or what his story was. I was very naive because of my church upbringing. We were sheltered from the real world in many ways. I did know that I could say no to the sexual perversions he did (and ignored my pleas to stop), but a lot of that was also because of NO sex before marriage. I felt a funky gut feeling about him before he got to my apartment (longer story) that wasn’t good, but didn’t think it was OK to refuse to help. That nearly got me killed.
There are many reasons I won’t go back to my old church now that I’ve moved back here. I tried it several times, and in several different ‘groups’ (regular service, Sunday singles, Wednesday singles, special events- the special events were OK). It’s not the same place, and quite frankly, it’s not welcoming. It’s not for ‘new’ people. I still value my church upbringing, and my core values have never changed. But I’m angry that as a teenager, when I was forming my view of the world, and my place in it, I was given the sugar-coated view of how people behave only in a church setting/belief system. I got no information about how to assess my safety. Nothing about what can happen when evil compels a person to commit a crime – or that Christians can be targeted (simply because they’re humans). It’s not possible to pray away all things that can happen in life. Christians can have horrible things happen to them. That doesn’t make them ‘weak’ Christians.
Churches have a responsibility to teach how not to stray from their beliefs, but how to deal with people who don’t share their beliefs, and what to do with actual evil. It’s fine to pray, but some sort of action also needs to be taught. They need to teach that there are times when it is foolish to reach out to people. It is Biblical to assess a situation before jumping in with both feet.
Proverbs 27:12 … “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Churches breed simple thinking, and following the standard ‘love your neighbor’ and ‘do unto others’ belief system. Those are great when there is no possibility of encountering evil. And I don’t know on what planet that is really possible. But it’s not realistic in this world.
I do believe that God can use what I went through to be of value and purpose to others (Romans 8:28…”For we know that all things happen for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.”). I have no issue with that, and that verse was actually my ‘mantra’ during the rape. I had to believe that it happened for some reason that I didn’t know at the time. I had to believe that God was still with me, and for some reason was allowing the rape to happen. But I also believe that God could use me not getting raped as well.
For the most part, I’ve come to terms with the rape/beating. I’ve forgiven the man who raped me (God will deal with him). I’m just now realizing my anger at my church not teaching me how to deal with REAL life in the world. I’m sure I’ll get over it. But I hope someone will see this and consider preparing upstanding Christian kids to protect themselves and avoid what I went through. I still love the Lord with all I am… but I’m not fond of any religious institution that ignores the presence of the real world when educating its youth.
Yes- it’s true we are not of this world, but boy howdy, we’re sure in it.