Elections are complex. People vote for a variety of reasons and most of them are not stupid. There’s anger and hurt and fear and disillusionment in the USA, and apparently it’s widespread enough to elect Donald Trump.
Here I don’t want to discuss how it happened, and I’m not that interested in blaming the voters. I want to tell you how it feels to me that this man is about to be exalted to the highest office of the most powerful nation on earth. I want to tell you how I feel when I see his face on TV.
I am the one in five women who sit in Christian churches who has been sexually abused. For me, it was at my church youth group, over a period of years, by a youth leader.
So when I hear Donald Trump talking degrading women and talking about using their bodies, that’s not objective for me. He’s the representation of my abuser, writ large on a television screen and given a powerful platform.
However, my abuser wasn’t the only one by whom I felt violated. Christians failed me badly as well. When I revealed what had been going on, my family and I were advised by the pastor to leave the church. In our absence, lies, rumours and accusations circulated the church which were eventually fed back to us. “Everyone knows he’s a bit handsy - why is she being so sensitive?” [Why was the ‘handsy’ guy allowed to be a youth leader if everyone knew?] “Maybe she asked for it.” “It was just once.” [It was 2 years of planned assault, by his own admission.]
So when I hear Donald Trump brag that the women he assaulted enjoyed it, it’s personal, because the same things were said about me. And when I hear others minimise what he did, it’s personal, because my testimony was also despised.
In my new church community, I looked for a theology that could help me. I heard a lot about forgiveness of sins, how God offers forgiveness to the worst of sinners. When I asked where justice was for the victims of abuse, I was reminded how victims of abuse are also sinners, no better than perpetrators, and forgiveness is open to all. I was given a theology to deal with my sin, but no theology for what to do when I am the sinned against person.
So when people say that Trump is merely fallible as we all are, I feel unheard once again, my concerns pushed back as I am once again told to look to my own sin and ignore my hurts.
I also heard a lot about the sovereignty of God. How God is over all things, but that will only fully be revealed when Jesus comes back. In the meantime, we wait. I asked, ‘Where was God when I was cornered by my abuser, silent before him, and screaming out in my mind, “God save me!”?’ Is all God has to say, ‘hang on a minute love, I’ll get to it’?
When I hear people say God is still over things even though Donald Trump will be President, that the sun will still rise tomorrow, it increases that idea of a distant, disinterested God. Apparently he’s involved enough in his world to make the sun rise, but not enough to see or help the frightened teenager.
I am the one in five. We are sitting in your church and we are feeling traumatised.
Don’t minimise my pain; grieve with me.
Don’t shy away from my anger; see the reasons for it to the point where you can make it yours.
Don’t tell me to look to my own sins while you overlook how I am sinned against; give me the hope of a God who heals the brokenhearted.
Don’t preach to me about an eventual justice; get involved in bringing justice for me now.
Don’t tell me ‘one day’; help me to see how God is at work today.
If God really does care for people like me, show me how. I see Donald Trump and I shudder.
Give me a God who is love, and give me more than words.
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