Bathsheba’s Story and Implications for Ministry (Part 3)

In contemplating Bathsheba’s lack of responsibility, many current observations and applications call for attention. Earlier this week, I took a look at Rachel Marie Stone’s perspective based off an article she wrote for Prism Magazine. In yesterday’s post, I looked at Chole Sun’s perspective. Today, I want to take a look at some things pointed out by Heather Celoria. (The following is content taken from my Master’s thesis written for Dallas Theological Seminary.)

Rape Culture in the Church

Blogger Heather Celoria, in an article adapted for the blog the Junia Project, presents a third applicational example in her post, “A Cautionary Tale about Rape Culture in the Church and #TakeDownThatPost.” Celoria referenced an article posted in June 2014 in Leadership Journal from a pastor convicted of felony against a student in his youth group. The article received backlash across several social media platforms, including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and resulted in massive use of the hashtag “#TakeDownThatPost.”[1]

Celoria describes one of the main problems with the article:

The author described the statutory rape for which he is currently incarcerated as an extramarital relationship and implied mutual consent and responsibility by the victim. Reading between the lines, it seems the victim was in middle school at most when the abuse began. In almost romantic terms, the convicted felon describes as a slippery slope into sin what is, in fact, textbook predatory grooming.[2]

Celoria went on to describe the lack of empathy observed for the victim and the use of pronouns suggesting mutual consent. She concluded that “at no point in the article are the words ‘rape,’ ‘abuse,’ ‘child abuse,’ or ‘sexual abuse’ mentioned.”[3]

However, the fault does not rest with only the convicted felon. Celoria points out the failure of the editors as well:

Not only does the writer fail to see the reality of his crime since he frames it as an affair, the editors failed to recognize the white washing of child sexual abuse in the article. They published the piece along with the tags “accountability, adultery, character, failure, mistakes, self-examination, sex, temptation” showing a total lack of understanding and discernment in regard to sexual predation, child abuse and rape culture mentality.[4]

Eventually the editors revised the article, taking out much of the troublesome language; however, it took several days for them to comprehend the issues and make the changes. Further, the fact that this became a problem at all suggests Christians still have a long way to go in recognizing the nature of sexual abuse by leaders. Part of the answer begins with better education about biblical narratives such as with David and Bathsheba. When Christians describe the story of David and Bathsheba as an “affair,” this language does not remain enclosed in the classroom dialogue of biblical narratives. It cannot help but make its way out into descriptions of current stories and events as well.

 

[1] Heather Celoria, “A Cautionary Tale about Rape Culture in the Church and #TakeDownThatPost,” Junia Project, June 17, 2014, accessed July 5, 2014, http://juniaproject.com/ rape-culture-church-takedownthatpost/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.