Rape Theology: The Epidemic Idolatry of Christian People– Introduction: The Concept
I am in regular (almost daily) dialogue and “digital fellowship” with a satirical blog community known as “Stuff Christian Culture Likes.” I have been a regular commenter and theological voice in that community, off and on, for going on four years now. Over the course of this past year, being in dialogue with these brilliant people (people of whom I admit have a bit of a confrontational edge to them) has shown me many of the ethical blind spots I have as a privileged white male growing up in American Evangelical culture through teaching me about something they refer to as “rape logic.” After doing a bit of shallow research, I learned there is all sorts of material readily available that addresses “rape logic” and the “rape culture” it perpetuates. On the SCCL Facebook comment sections, “rape logic” is one of the most common gripes against Christian culture, and it is reoccuringly part of the major thrust of social criticism incumbent to the social values of the blog.
Over and over again in these conversations, I am faced with the testimonies of many women telling of how Christian culture has left them feeling ashamed of their bodies, conquered by the social bent of male-centrism in the Christian Church, and, thenceforth, blamed for the lustful power complexes of a Church culture that is both undeniably male-centric and, therefore, epidemically prone to “victim blaming” rather than Christian men owning responsibility for plunging the depths by which lust (and its father sin; power) have taken over the theological imagination of Christian living.
However, this letter is not entirely about these interactions. No. I write to you today concerning something I find to be far more wicked; something I feel deserves to be cast down into the pit of Hell it crawled up from; a demon to be driven into the bay of pigs to which Jesus damned it. It is epidemic in our churches and it is time the theological Powers that justify its cultural captivity were broken, disobeyed, and shown to be the evil theological narrative of depravity it is showing itself to be; because, as I will demonstrate, the horrific stories about these abuses (IE misunderstandings of “modesty,” “submission,” dominion, etc) are symptoms of a disease that is poisoning the theological imagination of the Church– something I am calling “rape theology.”
To be clear, I am calling it “rape theology” so that I may add a third dimension to the discussion surrounding “rape logic” and “rape culture;” because, as a theologian, I believe that all ways of living are fundamentally birthed from the theological imagination. Therefore, I hold that “rape theology” is the theological root for the “rape logic” that has spread the “rape culture” epidemic in our American churches today. And so, I write to you today with a theological rebuke.
Therefore, being faced with the potential reality of this horrific theological epidemic, I have felt called to initiate a dialogue about “rape theology” (as I am conceptualizing it) so that the Church may give it a name and potentially cast it into Ghenna where it will hopefully stay for the remainder of Church history. And so, the remainder of this series of six letters will be dedicated to a three part case study in “rape theology” with the hopes that the depth by which it has grasped our theological imaginations will be put to a screeching halt as the Church continues its mission of being bearers of good news to the world.
I define “rape theology” this way:
Rape Theology: A gnostic thrust in Christian theology that justifies the rite of various (and idolatrous) power structures based upon an understanding of the Divine that manifests in terms of “rape logic” that, therein, facilitates the necessary environment for birthing a “rape culture.”
In my next letter I will begin my first case study on “rape theology” through exploring something I am calling “rape ontology.” Your presence would be appreciated as we explore and discuss this.