Rape—What We Ought to Know

by | 3 Nov, 2017 | 2 comments

I am led to follow up my last article concerning the folly of teaching our young men to fight our young women, how this contributes to how men perceive women, their lack of regard for them, finding ultimate expression in the form of rape and sexual assault.

I received a number of responses and wanted to clarify and amplify some things.

Of a never-ending affliction

For those of us who have never been on the receiving end of a rape, it is impossible to codify or to understand the extent of the affliction. I am married to a survivor and I fail daily in taking this into account, into consideration. Rape and sexual assault afflict for life. It is always there, coloring feelings and emotions, dictating actions, under-girding thoughts.

For those of you married to a survivor, I urge you to be intentional in your consideration. Pastor Mark Gungor, in speaking on marriage, posits that the male brain is like a series of boxes whereas the female brain is like a series of circuits. For the woman, thoughts zap around the brain incessantly. They are all connected. They are all inter-related. The man has boxes. He goes to a box, opens it up, thinks on the subject, and then closes it up and moves onto whatever is next.

When I open the box of my wife’s assault (I cannot actually bring myself to say the appropriate words), I seethe with rage at the offender and am torn up with emotion and empathy for my wife. I long to hold her in my arms and cherish her and comfort her. I long for her to feel safe. Yet, inevitably I close the box and move on to the next. Without deliberate and intentional effort, I fail to factor this into my daily interaction as I must.

For those of us married to a survivor, intentional sensitivity and daily understanding must become routine thinking. Repent when you fail.

Of the culprit

Rape is the fullest expression of the curse from Genesis 3:16.

God declares to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

At first glance, at least the first half appears okay. Why wouldn’t we want a woman to desire her husband? Yet, language is decisive as the Hebrew portrays a usurping, a desire with intent to rule. The woman’s desire, from the curse is to usurp the man’s role and to rule over him.

In opposition, the man will rule over the woman in an ungodly manner. He will dominate her in an ungodly fashion.

It’s no coincidence that almost all sexual assault and domestic violence is committed by men against women.

The result of the Fall is that men and women exist at odds with one another. This oppositional construct has defined the interaction between the sexes ever since. The wickedness in the hearts of men as a manifestation of Original Sin yields the intent to assault, to take by force what God has reserved for marriage.

Of the victims

The victim is always the victim. Nothing justifies an assault. I fear that I may have unfairly portrayed the nature of sexual assault and its association with alcohol. No victim should ever be shamed for what she did or did not do, how she may have ‘provoked’ a man.

“It made me feel weak, empty, worthless, dirty and stupid,” said an unidentified Airman and victim of sexual assault. “Why couldn’t I stop him?”

A young lady, a friend of mine, shared her tale with me, a tale of assault from an older man. Only her refusal to succumb, her willingness to fight, allowed her to survive. Yet, stereotypes and corrupt leaders shamed and persecuted her to no end. She confided in me that these events still haunt her after 19 long years.

She did nothing to ‘deserve’ her assault. A wicked man with no regard for women did this to her. But the point is that no woman deserves an assault, no matter what she does, or how she conducts herself. 

I am led to clarify my stance on the Army SHARP program. I do believe we have made great strides in response to assault, in our support of the victim, and our prosecution of the offender. My frustration comes when that response is masqueraded as a solution. Our secular context forbids us address the true source of sexual assault, the lack of regard for women in the hearts of men.

And though alcohol and rape sometimes share a sordid coupling, we must refuse to allow that to color our support of any victim and our condemnation of the culprit, regardless of the circumstances. A thousand different situations yield similarly tragic results.

Of pragmatics

A recent internet video showed a young woman who was sick and tired of trying not to be raped. She and several other women displayed the various means they use—from whistles and pepper spray to routes and habits—whereby they minimize the risk of being raped.

Their point was, they shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t have to go to these extremes to keep from being raped.

And they are correct. A woman should be able to dress how she likes, even scantily as she sees fit and is comfortable with (I’ll here resist the urge to advocate modesty). A woman should be able to go where she pleases. She should be able to drink and have a good time if she desires, without worrying about being assaulted. She should be able to become as intimate with a man as she desires and say “no” at any point and the man should stop immediately, respecting her desires.

Unfortunately, the wicked hearts of sinful men assure us of the fallacy of such a line of thinking.

We adopted my son Tevin from inner-city Memphis some time ago. After a court visit, we drove through his old neighborhood. In front of his old house, my wife wanted to get out and walk around.

“Woman, we ain’t getting out in this neighborhood.”

“Why not?”

“Baby, they don’t let white people walk around down here.”

“You’re crazy!”

At which point, Tevin leaned forward and resolutely affirmed, “They don’t let white people walk around down here.”

Now, this is America. I should be able to walk where I please. However, pragmatics and the sin of men necessitates prudence just like it necessitates prudence in the life of a woman, an unfortunate and sad reality of our fallen world. I jokingly (but not) exhort my daughters to stay away from the barracks.

On healing

Sin shattered the harmony between God and man, between man and woman, and between man and Creation. As man and women sit in opposition to one another, we require a Mediator. It is Christ who heals, Christ who reconciles. As He reconciles men to God, He likewise reconciles men to women.

Before Christ, I had only the faintest idea of what it meant to love my wife, that I should love her as Christ loved the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) Christ taught me that love is patient and kind, that it does not envy or boast, that it does not insist on its own way, that it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Only in Christ do I find the selflessness to honor my wife as she deserves.

It is the same for all men.

Christ is the biggest advocate of women that there ever was. It is only the society founded upon the Judeo-Christian ethic that properly esteems women. Absent Christ and the common grace of the Gospel, society drifts into domineering patriarchy. As our nation drifts further into godlessness, as the Gospel is preached less, as common grace diminishes, I fear for our collective women.

Dare I say that all women desire a godly man to honor and cherish them. Rape and sexual assault shatters that dream, betraying trust, breaking hearts, and resonating for a lifetime. This wickedness wounds deeper than I know.

Only one thing remains. It is the LORD alone who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds. (Psalm 147:3) There is hope in Him. As a survivor or as someone who loves a survivor, would you turn to Him today?

 

2 Comments

  1. Deb

    Good read….I would also add that it isn’t just rape but also sexual abuse as well as mental emotional physical and verbal abuse as well. These all have a profound aspect on the victim. It follows you through life and no matter how brave you are or how you move forward the memory is still there. You are right Brad…the victim needs love and understanding….etc etc etc…love your books

    Reply

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Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

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Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

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