Friday, September 21, 2007

Test of Faith

A young man testified that, when he was 15, Southern Baptist pastor Steven Haney convinced him to have sex as a “test of faith.”

I winced.

The same “test of faith” tactic was used by my own Southern Baptist clergy-perpetrator.

In the beginning, I said “no” and resisted. What he wanted made no sense to me. But he told me I wasn’t supposed to try to understand, and that God wanted me to live by faith.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

He barraged me with Bible verses. They were his weapon of choice.

Sometimes he would quote from Song of Solomon. As a kid, what was I to think? After all, it was in the Bible.

Nowadays I can’t even open to that book without tasting vomit in my throat.

Every step of the way, he insisted it was God’s will.

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch over your souls.”

As a 16-year old girl, who was I to question a man of God? My role was to be submissive.

He said he had prayed long and hard about it, and that it was all part of God’s plan. I was to be a helpmate for him.

I didn’t understand, but he said men in the Bible sometimes had more than one wife and even had concubines.

The Mary argument really confused me. “Where would we all be if Mary hadn’t trusted God even when her special role was something she couldn’t understand?” he asked.

Eventually, I set aside attempts at understanding. I began to feel special and chosen.

When he stressed the importance of keeping it secret, he explained that it was because others were less mature in their faith and wouldn’t understand. With juvenile arrogance, I felt proud to be a more mature believer.

As the abuse escalated, I would still balk sometimes. But he would chastise me with “Oh ye of little faith.”

He said God was testing me, and I wanted to ace God’s test with a gold star.

“Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” I sang it with such fervor. I was a girl who would have laid down on that altar without so much as a whimper and let Abraham plunge in a knife.

When I was compliant, he would tell me how much God loved me. That blasphemy was the worst and still haunts me. I wanted so badly to be pleasing in God’s eyes.

But when I cut my hair, it made him angry. He said I should have asked permission.

Perhaps because of his anger, or perhaps because the music minister knew about the abuse by then and did nothing, he was emboldened. His final assault was particularly degrading and brutish.

But physical degradation wasn’t enough to satisfy him. He wanted complete spiritual degradation as well.

He repeatedly told me that I was “the serpent” and “Satan’s ally.” He said that I had allowed Satan to enter in and that I had Satan living within me. I was terrified. I believed I would burn forever in a literal hellfire.

He directed me to kneel in his office, and while I cried on my knees, he stood over me, praying for God to cast Satan from me and cleanse my soul.

I didn’t feel cleansed. I felt as though I was so low and evil that I should slither away on the ground.

And so I crawled under a rock and hid. I hid from everyone. I hid from myself.

A cocoon of darkness enshrouded me, and I didn’t feel even a hint of God’s presence again for a long, long, long, long time.

The Bible-backed test of faith led me straight to hell.


Lindon said...

Christa, This post just makes me never want to leave my daughter for a moment! Especially at church!

The perversion of the Word is unbelievable. And to think many of these predators are unrepentant and still ministering in churches. (Well, not really ministering...faking wolves in sheeps clothing)

This whole situation reminds me of the book of Jude. We have been forewarned.

It is going to be harder and harder to hide with the blogosphere.

atticus said...

thank you for sharing your past ordeal so openly. it must still be painful as you recall this spiritual and physical assault on your innocence.

Christa Brown said...

atticus: Welcome to my blog and thanks for your kind comment.

lindon: I always appreciate your thoughts.