Apologia: My Application to Help

by bobbyrayhurd

Dear Friends,

After posting my first two letters that introduced the concept of “rape theology,” I am feeling urged to take a step back and say a few words out of sensitivity to the very personal feelings a term like “rape” brings up for so many; especially those women most directly affected by it.

I had a conversation yesterday with my dear soon-to-be-wife Shawna (and several other women involved in a blog collective I am a part) about some of the issues of insensitivity that I could potentially own as I delve deeper into the issue of “rape theology.”

Therefore, here are a few things I wish to speak to in light of these interactions:

1) My involvement with the fight for relational holiness has come from a long personal history of repentance and lamenting the relational damage done by the power complexes inherent to my sexist upbringing in a male-centric Church. And so, I must admit that while I have been delivered from the addictive powers of theological sexism I was conditioned to, I am (and will always be) a recovering sexist (similar to how an alcoholic is always an alcoholic whether they are drinking or not). With this in mind, I ask for your grace as I try to speak to a subject that concerns even myself; one who is conditioned to believe and trust the power of my own privilege as a white male. And so, (especially the women who read this blog) please be forthright in bringing your criticisms to me (for you are my priesthood on this subject) as I try to embody the significance of what I am after here to its fullest extent.

Hold me accountable to my conversion throughout this journey.

2) I use the term “rape theology” to be consistent with the language used surrounding the discussion about “rape culture” that was chosen before I entered the conversation. Granted, a term like “rape” brings up all sorts of demons from past experiences for people who have been abused (or have known abused people). Therefore, the effect a term like “rape” has on people faced with the abuse inherent to rape thinking should not be minimized; at all. However, if you do choose to press on wrestling with this subject as I am approaching it, please keep in mind that the term “rape” was not chosen for shock value or out of some manipulative misogynistic tactic for being able use language without the consent of the women affected by rape thinking. It is for purposes of coherency in continuing a discussion that was going on way before I got involved.

3) I never want to come across as if I, in all of my maleness, am an “advocate” for women; as if I am some theological knight. Such a thing infers women are not perfectly capable of advocating for themselves and assumes yet another platitude for male power. Rather, I would imagine a word like “ally” to be a much more suitable term to use here; because it infers my own submission as the one society recognizes as the one with power. Furthermore, such a term infers I identify myself as a repentant “helper” to the woman’s movement rather than a lead. I, therefore, submit my application to be a helper as I attempt to explore a subject that I feel might help the movement my dear sisters are doing a great job of being “advocates” for by themselves. Therefore, I simply ask your permission to be a helper to those affected by rape thinking; and I ask this as the affected (not me) take the lead for something that was going on way before I became involved.

Be Powerless,

Bobby Ray