Feminism

on taking a break and being angry

anger

I wanted to write my last post today, finally discussing Christian fundamentalism in modern times, and how the orthodox belief of inerrancy has been largely abused by fundamentalism, or at the very least harmfully misunderstood.

That’s going to have to wait, because of where I’m at today. I already wasn’t feeling well (rapid changes in weather always give me migraines, and we have lots of nasty weather moving in for the next week), and I encountered an issue that I think needs my attention today, but I wanted to let you know what was going on, because I feel that this is an important issue that needs a lot of light.

No Longer Quivering, which hosts the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network, occasionally runs some of my posts there, when the content fits into the material they cover. I very much appreciate the work that NLQ and the SASBN does, and that my story might be able to help others.

Last week, she ran my story on how the purity culture taught me that my rape was my own fault, that my rape was something that I needed to repent of. The discussion that followed was productive, I think, for the participants. We commiserated and shared our stories of the “object lessons” we heard growing up.

And then David Cuff entered the discussion. David Cuff is a Calvary Chapel pastor– the same circle of churches that Alex Grenier and others blog about at Calvary Chapel Abuse. Another Calvary Chapel church pastor recent sued Mr. Grenier for “defamation” for talking about the rampant abuse present at Calvary Chapel Visalia (and the alleged severe physical abuse of Mr. Grenier by the pastor, his step-father).  These churches were recently brought to national attention with the #whowouldJesussue awareness campaign.

That’s probably enough context. Here’s his original comment:

Samantha,
Thank you for the candid thoughts and illustrations regarding sexual purity and self-worth. I have been married for almost 29 years and have learned overtime the importance of love, oneness, and mutual respect. I believe we live in a fallen world that often is contrary to the three qualities I have mentioned. The Bible gives us many core principles for marriage and also leaves much to exploration and personal experience.

I am sorry for those whose personal experience has led them to doubt and challenge the Biblical principles for marriage. I am also sorry for those who have used vivid illustrations to warn of loosing your self-worth if those principles are violated. But…Jesus is our redeemer and the Bible is a message of redemption. While many of us have fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality, if we repent and turn back to His guidance we can walk in the Light of His love for ourselves and our spouse.
Let me also say that if we look to Christ for our redemption and self-worth then who we are does not fade or fizzle through relationship or feelings…and will keep us looking for those who respect the dignity and Christ-worth that are ours because of what Jesus did for us at the Cross.

Thanks for allowing my two cents….
David Cuff

*emphasis added

A lot of people reacted to the statements I bolded, and I feel for good reason. I believed that Mr. Cuff was being careless and inattentive, which is the case I made in my response:

I think you are intending to be supportive, but I’m actually really confused as to what you’re trying to say.

If you’re truly speaking about what I’ve written here, I’m really puzzled as to what you mean by “doubting and challenging the biblical principles for marriage.” I don’t think any of what I wrote has anything to do with marriage– and I don’t think I’ve presented a “challenge” to biblical marriage whatsoever. Your phrasing causes me to wonder why you’re automatically connecting “rape” and “marriage.” Assuming these two are connected is, frankly, incredibly disturbing to me.

You also talk about the abuse of the object lessons I was taught as a young woman as being representative of the “biblical principles,” and I also find that troubling. The object lessons have nothing to do with “biblical principles.” They are about threats. They are about telling a woman that she is property. And unless you’re reverting back to OT Law when the only thing that mattered about a rape was how much she was financially worth to her father, this is… wrong.

Granted, you may be approaching this from the concept that “virginity” is a biblical principle, which is… debatable, at best. The only time the Bible actually refers to consensual pre-marital sex (Ex. 22:16-17) the only thing that happens is either a) they get married, or b) the dude pays the virgin bride-price. End of story. No stoning. No moral judgment. And one of the few times in the NT that anyone talks about sex the terms “fornication” is used… which is pretty much a catch-all, and in some contexts could mean nothing more than prostitution.

Basically, please don’t assume that the Bible is “super clear” about this issue, when it’s… just not.

And, considering the context of my article, where I was talking about sexual abuse, violence, and rape, the line where you talk about “falling” from biblical standards, and a “need to repent,” uhm…. wow. This is incredibly damaging language. I didn’t “fall.” I don’t need to “repent.” I was RAPED. Repeatedly. I was sexually abused nearly every day. This is not “falling.” And maybe you’re not speaking about my article, in which case, I wonder why you bothered commenting on this article at all.

Granted, I was a little bit peeved and “hetted up,” but I still feel that my response was reasonable, especially considering the content of the article, where I was speaking about how language and words like his were used to hurt me and almost drove me to suicide.

After he didn’t respond or return to clarify, I checked out his blog, where his most recent article (as of April 14) was a “rant against cyber-bullying.” So, I read it, and felt that this must be a man who respects those who have been hurt– even hurt be people who have been hurt like words like his, or even written by him. I left a comment, which he has chosen not to approve, where I asked him for an apology, that his comment had not been respectful to my writing, and that his carelessness in his words were hurtful. I asked him to come back and clarify his original point in order to clear up what he meant– at the time, I assumed that the connection between “rape” and “needing to repent” had merely been accidental on his part.

Nope.

Here’s what he wrote:

Wow….I have never offended so many people with what I thought was a short comment on Biblical Redemption. So, while not trying to justify myself or defend my new “bully” status I will try to address what I see as a misunderstanding.

First I never intended to offend any of you…especially Samantha the author. I simply wanted to point out a persons self-worth is not dependent upon prior abuse by others or their own failure (I did not suggest Samantha was a failure or had failed). I simply was emphasizing (I thought by way of encouragement) that The Bible Is A Book about redemption. And our lives can be redeemed from any abuse (ours upon others or others upon us).

I also wanted to reiterate what I believe is the standard of Biblical Sexuality (sexual purity with one man and one woman) doesn’t change from opinion and experience or even abuse. We live in a fallen world and there is much pain and abuse going on but Mutual respect, oneness and love are God’s design and I believe the N.T. gives plenty of guidance for Marriage relationships. I have personally abused and have been abused (yes even happens to men sometimes) prior to being redeemed by Jesus through my own repentance and trust in His finished work on the Cross for my sins.

If after ready my response you desire to send more negative comments my way…chill please! Sometimes you can disagree agreeably…

And here’s where I get angry.

Horribly, furiously, violently angry. Righteously angry.

Because he employed a tactic I’ve seen so many countless times from every single abusive pastor I’ve ever encountered.

The first paragraph of his response is complete and utter dismissal. He’s so shocked that we pointed out a potential wording of his that could hurt people. He just does not understand how his “short comment,” which was just so supportive, could have been perceived as hurtful.

This is called spiritual abuse.

Because he’s a pastor, talking about “biblical” concept, and he has the truth, which “doesn’t change from opinion and experience or even abuse.” My hurt, how his words hurt me, doesn’t matter at all. Because he’s right, and he has the Bible, and all he’s doing is telling me that I can be “redeemed.”

And then he pulls what he probably sees as a trump card: he’s been there, right there with me. He’s been abused– but guess what helped him overcome his abuse?

REPENTANCE and TRUSTING IN THE CROSS TO FORGIVE HIS SINS.

The connection I very naively assumed was an “accident’? Not an accident at all.

He really does think I need to repent and trust Jesus to forgive me for my rape.

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  • Someone once told me the same thing – that I needed to ask God for forgiveness in connection to being sexually assaulted. This was a fellow survivor. It broke me. (hugs) to you.

    • And he just came back and told me that I need to “forgive” and “move on.” That he’s sorry I was in an “abusive church.” He’s sorry my “personal filter” and my “abusive church” caused me to “misunderstand him.”

      I don’t think I’ve wanted to strangle someone over the internet before.

      • When lots of people misunderstand, it’s not them. It’s you. Asshole. (Can I say that? Because YEAH.) Ugh.

        • Yes. 🙂 I, personally, feel that some words were invented because other words completely fail to describe people like that appropriately.

      • lovely man. it’s too bad you’re so sinful (having been abused being sin, of course…) you can’t appreciate his goodness. *roll eyes* my parents used to yell at me about things i may or may not have done and then tell me quite spiritually that it was my job to take all that and let god use their ‘encouragement’ to speak to my heart and purify me. and if i didn’t take any good out of it, if i didn’t find things to work on in my heart out of any criticism from anyone no matter how hatefully or ignorantly it was spoken, then it was my fault for being sinful and not letting god change my heart… more like me trying desperately to find a diamond in a pile of cat poo – to paraphrase something i heard Jon Acuff say once.

        • I heard the exact same thing from teachers and pastors and counselors, and rarely, even my parents at times.

          • i’m not alone! (biggest reason i’m reading your blog and others… to know i’m actually not alone)

  • shaking with anger. Ugh. He wasn’t even talking to me but i feel so personally offended and angry… also i’ve been reading your blog for a month or two so i’m really furious on your behalf, too… Just, blah, grrr, $*%&$#$%.
    My husband said last night (after i got my first blog comment on my new blog that wasn’t from him and the commenter condescendingly told me i needed to edit my stuff…) maybe i shouldn’t allow comments. And I honestly don’t know how i would handle comments like this. you’re brave to keep writing when there are such hateful, pompous people out there. (and in case that guy reads this, yes i think it is hateful to equate being raped with sinning, and it’s hateful to manipulate people into feeling guilty when they question you.)
    How do you handle these kinds of comments? I would find them incredibly triggering… i just don’t know how to move past triggering things back into normal life and mental stability.

    • Comments can be interesting territory. Most of the time I welcome mine– the people who I have here are an amazing bunch overall, and those who disagree do so respectfully, for the most part. There have been a few who have been ugly, but I just don’t publish those and I can move on.

      I am having a rough day because of this– trying to keep the panic attack to a minimum. I’m going to go drink hot chocolate and play video games for the rest of the day, I think. 🙂

      • As much as it comforts me to know you don’t have to have a superhuman thick skin to be a blogger, I’m sorry you’re having panic attacks… That sort of what i am afraid of, too. Hope you wake up with sunny skies tomorrow 🙂

  • Reblogged this on Lana Hobbs the Brave and commented:
    So I’ve been reading more about rape culture, the problems with purity culture, the prevalence of spiritual abuse – and how these things are all connected… and of course when you start learning about something, you also start noticing other things. the mocking way conservatives put ‘rape culture’ in quotes – as if it’s a feminist lie, the way people talk about spiritual abuse as though it’s very rare and exaggerated, and only an excuse for sinners to leave the church because they can’t handle the demands of being ‘obedient and holy’ (because all that stuff about Jesus’ burden being light was just symbolism??)
    But spiritual abuse, manipulation, and rape culture are all very real, and people really don’t understand the damage they do when they deny these things…

  • It seems that he’s not demonstrating that he wants to understand, but trying to prove and defend his point. He is in a position to help so many people, but falls short. What a shame!

    • Exactly, Julie Anne– his daughter got on at some point and told us that we’re “bullying” him, and that if he was a woman we wouldn’t even have bothered disagreeing with him.

      • Wow – another missed opportunity. Victims of abuse do not need to be lectured. They need to be heard and understood.

      • OMG Seriously?!! Wow, crazy.

  • Ugh! Makes me want to go and minister to girls in that church (as if that would be possible). Cuff, too. Clearly, he internalized this “thinking” as rationale for his own victimization. I know my thinking on this will be frowned on here, but as a charismatic, I have to say that this inculcated victim-blaming is … from the devil.

    • I appreciate the compassion you’ve expressed here… And I also wanted to make sure you know that it’s my hope that no one feels “frowned upon.” I’m not personally a charismatic, but I believe that there are many strengths in a charismatic point of view- one if those strengths being a willingness to engage with “bigger” concepts.

  • David Cuff

    …you have all judge me because of a misunderstanding….labeled and marked me a bad and abusive guy. I never meant to harm or hurt you…Please Stand down and forgive me….I honestly did not want to offend you and do not understand the emotion and anger towards me. I viewed your blog at the request of someone else and gave an honest opinion to which offended you. To that I am sorry. I never intended that. But this cyberhate is not the answer. If you would like to personally email me you have that . Matthew 18 should guide you if you think I have sinned against you.
    David Cuff
    davidacuff.blogspot.com
    dcuff@ccmv.us

    • Hello David,

      First, we’re not talking about this because of a “misunderstanding.” Your words, your language, was not a “misunderstanding.” You language was, at the best, unclear– but it was language common to those of us who have experienced spiritual abuse– we’ve been told from many different pastors and teachers and counselors that our own abuse is a “sin” that we needed to “repent” of- which you could clearly see if you were honestly paying attention to the comments here and at NLQ. Since you, as a pastor, someone who holds the spiritual well-being of your flock in your hands, has not addressed our *unanimous* reaction to your words, you’re asking us to assume that you meant what you said.

      I never accused you of “wanting” to hurt me. Or of being purposely offensive. I clearly, and repetitively, stated, both here and at NLQ, that your words were careless and misleading. That you were not being careful, and because of your carelessness was causing hurt. Also, it is extremely bad form to try to “apologize” by saying “oh, I didn’t mean this result.” It doesn’t really matter what you meant to do. What you actually did was cause hurt and perpetuate victim blaming and spiritual abuse. By not recognizing the seriousness of what you have said, you are dismissing the hurt you caused. You are refusing to realize what you have done. This is the apology of an abuser– simultaneously making yourself appear pious by “apologizing” while still insisting that you didn’t actually do anything– you’re just “sorry” that some silly people misunderstood you and reacted, which isn’t really your problem, after all.

      And, excuse me, “cyberhate”? There is no hate here. There is anger, which is not hate. There is hurt, which is not hate. You are taking this to an extreme and accusing me of “hate,” which completely dismisses and belittles my reaction– and the reaction of us here and at NLQ– to your hurtful words.

      I did personally contact you, David. And you ignored me.

      Also, Matthew 18 has little bearing here. You made these comments in public, you hurt people in public– it needs to be dealt with in the same venue. A venue which you voluntarily entered into when you were so hurtful and careless in public, on the internet.

      It is wildly inappropriate to label what have I done as “hate.” You are making yourself out to be the victim here, when you have been the person to perpetuate hurt. You are not the victim– you are victimizing yourself, trying to make you look like an innocent who being needlessly attacked. That is not the case.

      You did not listen to us. You ignored the voices of the abused, the oppressed, the hurt. You told us to “repent,” you told us to “move on.” And now you want to silence me again.

    • You don’t have the right to demand forgiveness from anyone. No one does.

    • I commented at the original blog but after coming back here and being requested to comment I will.
      First….Let me say I am truly sorry for the hurt and pain my insensitive comments cause some on this and the other blog. Samantha if I had known how you spend Saturday night and Sunday I would have attempted to understand you better and should have been more sensitive towards you.

      Second….I NEVER SAID you (Samantha) needs to repent or be redeemed from prior abuse. I was making the point (there was a dialog on Facebook between my daughter and someone linking Samatha’s post that led me to that blog) that all of humanity needs redemption (obviously not clear and I agree with the comments here I was vague).

      I have misunderstood your hurt as you have misunderstood my original post (obvious to me that both the language and points were completely misunderstood).

      Can I also say the name calling and saber rattling has not helped me understand you all.

      I am a rape survivor (three times) from early childhood. I get it!

      For reference my blog reply on the other site is copied below….

      Again, please forgive me for the pain my vague comments caused and my insensitive reply after the saber rattling and name calling and twitter posts towards me from all of you on this and the other blog.
      —————————————— reply from other blog —————————-
      Well after being called a bully, douche, an abusive pastor, accused of harming the children in my church, inappropriate, and if I span all of the various replies I sure I missed some others, can I now try to remind you that I believe this all started because I was misunderstood? I get the language usage but….I NEVER said anyone should REPENT of being raped or abused! I NEVER told anyone they are wrong for the hurtful things that happened to them! I simply said the hope for the world is redemption through Jesus Christ (both abuser and those being abused) because we live in a fallen world.

      The two points I wanted to share (honestly by way of helpful encouragement) was (1) A person’s self-worth can NOT taken from them because of their abuse because of what Jesus did on the cross (2) The Biblical standard of purity should not change because of abuse, sin, or personal experience, or opinion. If those two points have offended any on this blog then you disagree with Scripture and I stand guilty of holding on to truth (not trying to justify myself just explain why I commented).

      So it is not obvious to me that my language (I did not grow up in the IFB movement) offended EVERYONE on this blog (11 twitter posts and two blog attacks).
      My apology was rejected as invalid, my plea for misunderstanding mocked, and have been dragged around like a scapegoat for everyone’s prior abuse. I have become to this blog and Samantha’s blog a whipping pole. Are you feeling the love yet?

      So, I have in every one of my posts been respectful and desiring this cyberware to end…but until blocking twitter accounts, and discontinuing to receive updates from both blogs, can not avoid this.
      Again, I believe I was misunderstood (my two points I thought I was posting are listed above).

      I am commenting now again (I said I would not again on Samantha’s blog) because I wanted to honestly say I am sorry to those I have offended. May I also say they way those on this blog and the other blog were not helpful in understanding each other (I still hold to a misunderstanding but am asking forgiveness for those who believe I intended to blame for their experience at the hands of horrible abusive people in the past).

      If this dialog gets more productive (as the Admin’s was) and civil I would love to continue to dialog and understand this group and their feelings. But if outsiders are treated the way I have been then this group is the one in the “Bubble” and don’t expect any outside input except from those who only say what you want to hear (If you could hear my tone I am not trying to be mean just being real).
      I am tempted to leave this blog and see you all as haters (honestly that is not my heart or I would never have even responded to the aggression towards me). I guess I thought this was mostly Christian people wanting dialog.

      I have grown to love these terms (Redemption and Repentance) from the Bible.
      I did not grow up in the church and have experience LOTS of abuse at the hands of others and I have also abused others before coming to Christ. I get it!

      So, I again want to say PLEASE FORGIVE ME IF I HAVE OFFENDED YOU OR HURT YOU in any way. Please forgive me………..

      • shygirl

        I have grown to love these terms (Redemption and Repentance) from the Bible.
        I did not grow up in the church and have experience LOTS of abuse at the hands of others and I have also abused others before coming to Christ. I get it!

        So, I again want to say PLEASE FORGIVE ME IF I HAVE OFFENDED YOU OR HURT YOU in any way. Please forgive me………..

        David,

        My heart holds no malice towards you, as one who was sexually abused as a child, I am sorry that you experienced that suffering, it is a hell of its own. I, we, need to walk & talk O so tenderly with our wounds, as well as, with the wounds of others. Coming from a place of being spiritually abused I couldn’t hear the tenderness of our Lord in your words. I can now hear Him in your apology. Thank-You

      • I’m not trying to be rude or unkind here, but it seems like you’re still missing the point. We aren’t just wounded and prone to freaking out just because we hear certain words being said; we have a very specific problem with your statements.

        In the Christian vernacular, “redemption” implies sin on the part of the person being redeemed. So if you’re addressing the victims of abuse and you want to use that term, you’re responsible for making sure you specify the kind of redemption you’re talking about. Here’s the sort of statement we’d like to see:

        “I recognize that associating repentance with victims of abuse is wrong and hurtful; that’s totally off-base. My initial comments were an attempt at explaining why the Biblical Principles of Purity still have freeing, redemptive value for everyone, regardless of their past, but obviously my mention of repentance made it sound like I was victim-blaming. Although repentance is a necessary element of our overall relationship with Christ, the redemptive power of the Cross for victims of abuse does not in any way involve repentance for being abused. Victim-blaming is something I’d never want to do, and I’m sorry.”

        No one is saying that “because I was abused, God’s standards of purity don’t apply to me”. If that’s what you were trying to reply to, you totally misunderstood the entire point. The original point was that the teachings of the purity movement serve to condemn victims of abuse. That’s the practice that needs to stop; and it would be nice for you to agree.

  • cybercrank

    I’ve never heard a Calvary Chapel Pastor who hasn’t shown himself to be a completely self righteous douche.

    Hopefully we will see the end of these spiritually abusive and controlling denoms, now that the net can warn the masses and we can all connect the dots.

    I believe that when Jesus spoke of not finding many Christian when he returns, because men like these will be the reason why many will never give God a second look.

    The “Good News” is over shadowed by the bad news these charlatans perpetuate with their message of works. They have no love.

  • David Cuff

    When I received your blog comment I came back to your blog and tried to explain myself. I did not see your angry comments (10) on my twitter account until after I commented the second time. I am trying to respectfully address your anger…. I still believe you misunderstood me because of the term “Biblical Redemption” which I believe everyone needs not just people from abused or abusing backgrounds. It is the hope for this fallen world we live it.
    You feel justified in your thoughts and anger towards me….I will leave it at that. I have asked for forgiveness and this thing just keeps going on…..I will not comment again. Understand I tried to address your feelings and I am sorry it did not make you feel any better.

    • David, I don’t think it’s possible to be more clear about what exactly in your comments that have done so much damage and hurt.

      My reaction has nothing to do with the term “Biblical redemption,” or your presentation of it. The people who have addressed you have repeatedly and specifically quoted exactly what they found so hurtful– I have even bolded them above.

      What is so abusive and damaging about the language you have repetitively chosen to use is linking abuse and rape with a “falling away” and “sin” and having a “need to repent” or going to the Cross to forgive “sins.”

      THAT IS NOT BIBLICAL REDEMPTION.
      THAT IS VICTIM BLAMING, and it is horrible language.

      Also, you did not “address my feelings.” You dismissed my arguments, you misquote me and redirect, you twist my words to mean something entirely different, you don’t listen, you continue to completely ignore what we’re actually reacting to, you victimize yourself, and now you’re going to perpetually ignore us. This is not Christian, this is not healthy– and these are certainly not the actions of someone who is repentant for hurting fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. You are not sorry, David. You only want to escape the situation you have created for yourself and guilt me into silence.

    • David Cuff, you’re a sick and arrogant man who has no business being a pastor.

      Let it be known—worldwide—that the Calvary Chapel franchise of churches are Houses of Bondage, haunts of WOLVES, SNAKES and FALSE PASTORS!

      Beware and stay away from these “ministers of righteousness” and their strongholds of darkness.

  • David Cuff

    🙁

  • cybercrank

    I don’t think it could be written any clearer. David seems to want to show that he’s been in the right, forgiveness for him seems so secondary and a casually sought.

    He has no love.

  • As an FYI, here are some notes of clarification/correction about the Grenier lawsuit that you mentioned in paragraph five, so there won’t be misinformation circulating:

    * The pastor (Bob Grenier – Alex’s stepfather) is suing Alex Grenier and former Calvary Chapel Visalia member Tim Taylor for defamation which includes for allegations about sexual abuse Bob perpetrated on Paul Grenier (Bob’s son; Alex’s half-brother).

    * Paul has filed a sworn testimony declaration on behalf of Alex and Tim – but Bob did not include Paul in the defamation lawsuit.

    * There’s no allegation that Bob *sexually* abused Alex, although Alex contends there was severe *physical* abuse by Bob.

    For those who might be interested, more details and document links are available at the Grenier Defamation Lawsuit Archive (which I helped produce the first edition of).

    http://calvarychapelabuse.com/wordpress/?page_id=1685

    Thanks …

  • shy

    Samantha,

    If you would let me, I will pay for you to have a massage. Not that a massage will make everything all better, but after this, you deserve some royal treatment. I am serious, if you can see my e mail address just contact me. I will tell you my real name too! God Bless You, and kudos’s to the great piece on Internet Monk. Now, unless it is against your religion ( ; go pour yourself a nice glass of wine. You are supported & appreciated.

    • Definitely not against my religion- and I appreciate your amazing offer, but thankfully my husband knows how to give an amazing massage. 🙂

  • Anne

    quote: “I am sorry for those whose personal experience has led them to doubt and challenge the Biblical principles for marriage. I am also sorry for those who have used vivid illustrations to warn of loosing your self-worth if those principles are violated. …While many of us have fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality, if we repent and turn back to His guidance we can walk in the Light of His love…”

    Dear David Cuff,
    I was raped by a pastor when I was 15 (and a virgin.) It wasn’t a “Biblical principle” that was violated, IT WAS MY BODY. It was my soul, my sense of self, my childhood, my humanity. Which was violated again when my father found out about it and ordered me to repent and beg God for forgiveness. I refused. I STILL REFUSE. My heart broke into a million pieces that day. I too wanted to die and tried to take my own life.

    Do you really not understand how offensive it is to tell rape victims that “if we repent” God will forgive us for participating in the out-of-wedlock sexual act of being raped?
    If so, you might want to try to manage a sincere apology rather than whining about being misunderstood and painting yourself as the victim of cyberhate.
    If not, please do the world a favor and refrain from ever offering anyone else your two cents!

    • Oh, Anne, how my heart bleeds for what happened to you. That is so horrifying, and awful. Thank you for having the courage to face down David today- it shows an amazing amount of strength.

  • David,
    It’s obvious that you do not understand the emotion and anger towards you. Your lack of understanding is a fault of yours that you should try to correct. Not understanding is not an excuse, it’s a sign that you need to work on your capacity for empathy.

    • Meg

      Yes, exactly. I’m paraphrasing but “some who feels wronged is like someone who feels thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit and join them for a drink” (I think Lemony Snicket is punchier but my cellphone makes direct quoted tricky).

      Be humble. Apologize for giving offense, without excuses. Anything else means being “right” is more important to you than respecting the person who your words or actions hurt.

  • This is absolutely insane.

    There is absolutely no excuse for EVER using the words “rape” and “repent” in connection with each other unless you’re talking to a rapist. None. This is not a lapse in judgment; this is a lapse in knowledge and a lapse in decent regard for other human beings.

    Does the message of the cross hold hope for victims? Absolutely; the cross speaks to the redemption of humanity from all the effects of violence and hate and evil. But associating rape with repentance in any form or fashion is gross and reprehensible moral negligence.

    • I wish WordPress had a “like” button so I could like it.

      • **like**

        One would almost think evangelicals have become so used to throwing “Jesus saves; repent” at all social ills that they’re just getting lazy. Sadly, it seems deeper and darker than that.

    • Amen, physicsandwhiskey!

  • shy

    “There is absolutely no excuse for EVER using the words “rape” and “repent” in connection with each other unless you’re talking to a rapist. None. This is not a lapse in judgment; this is a lapse in knowledge and a lapse in decent regard for other human beings.”
    Yes, yes & amen.

    Anne- no words of mine can express the horror I feel for what you experienced, endured… Bless You for speaking out & doing so eloquently with fire in your comment. So sorry…

  • Samantha,

    i remember you commented at SSB last month on just this issue. thought i’d drop the link here for those who may be interested.

    http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/02/17/should-we-repent-for-allowing-ourselves-to-be-spiritually-abused/

    Stay Strong and True, Sis!
    And thank you for doing what you do. .

    David

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  • Tiffany

    The way in which David Cuff has dealt with this situation, from beginning to end (the end of his choosing, since he simply decided to take the ‘moral high ground’ of chickening out) is trademark sociopath/psychopath behavior. I am not saying he is or is not one of these, yet his behavior is very much along those lines.

    The trademark of any psychopath or sociopath is this: They are unable to feel the pain of another. They feel only their own pain.

    David Cuff is demonstrating this trait. Instead of evidencing any real concern for those he has deeply wounded, or any sorrow for the distress he has caused, he is consistently concerned with his own sense of ‘being attacked/misunderstood/victimized’.

    Most of us, faced with such clear, logical, well-reasoned specific information on exactly HOW our words stood to cause damage and offense, would immediately feel sorrow for it, EVEN IF WE NEVER INTENDED TO CAUSE SUCH DAMAGE AND OFFENSE. We would be distressed for those whose fragility we had shattered, sorrowing for those whose wounds we’d re-opened in carelessness/ignorance.

    Instead, he deflects any blame, refuses to engage the actual ISSUE, and continues to make the entire discussion about DAVID CUFF.

    I have recently had to end a friendship with a person who I had, after long and painful realization, come to see was a psychopath. I am very aware just now of exactly how their manipulation works. It is SO DIFFICULT to see through because they are SO GOOD at sounding nice and sweet and kind and good–UNTIL you apply the ‘do they feel for the griefs/wounds/hurts of others’ test. Then suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear.

    Do they ignore the pain they cause others, and fixate on their own justification and their own rightness and their own suffering, even when THEY have caused the offense? Then they MAY be a psychopath.

  • Most of us, faced with such clear, logical, well-reasoned specific information….

    How many people have you argued with? Especially on the Internet? It is actually quite ordinary for people not to react reasonably to well-reasoned, factual argumentation, and defending oneself, when one perceives oneself as attacked, is also an ordinary reaction. Plus, people want to explain themselves, and David Cuff doesn’t come across as any different from most folk in this. Come on. This gets a bit silly, when the man is said to be behaving like a psychopath. He may be guilty of a lack of diplomacy or lack of clarity or poor theology, but in trying to explain himself, he doesn’t show a psychopathic lack of empathy. Whatever lack of empathy or sympathy this may be on his part (and there seems little doubt that he hasn’t quite comprehended the cause or nature of the pain that has been expressed in reaction to his words) is actually a fairly ordinary kind of failure to sympathize. Being somewhat obtuse does not mean psychopathy.

    This guy’s being punished for his unfortunate words and his clumsy way of dealing with the outrage. It’s a bit much to take it to the level of psycho-analyzing him into a diagnosis (even a tentative one) of an incurable and comprehensively pathological personality disorder over this episode.

    • It’s not his word choice or his clumsiness that is bothering us. That’s understandable…potentially irritating, yes, but understandable. The problem is that Mr. Cuff has failed to demonstrate any understanding of the problem he is perpetuating. Like Todd Akin’s comments regarding “legitimate rape” or Rick Ross’s rap about date rape, the issue is intent and belief, not word choice.

      From what he said, the facts seem clear: Mr. Cuff *believes* repentance is the proper response to being raped. That belief is the problem. Until Mr. Cuff repents of this belief and acknowledges its error, he’s only making things worse.

      • Mr. Cuff *believes* repentance is the proper response to being raped.

        Just to be clear, I’ve seen nothing in his comments that he thinks a rape victim should repent of having been raped, as though she were guilty of it. He said that victims can be redeemed of their abuse (and in this portion of his comments he was talking about the psychological “self-worth” consequences of abuse), and he generally stressed the importance of repentance, but the problem is that his words were so vague and his inability to grasp or acutely to respond to the criticism against him so comprehensive that he came across as possibly suggesting that rape victims should repent of their rapes. Again, I haven’t seen him actually say that, though. Alas, plenty of others have said precisely that vile thing (and some here have heard it said to them in the midst of their anguish, even indeed said by loved ones), which is probably why this inference is so easily taken by those who have heard that cruel notion before.

        I detect in Mr. Cuff’s commentary some kind of belief that faith in Christ and repentance of one’s sins (not guilt for having been abused, but just repentance for one’s actual sins and the pursuit of redemption through Christ) is a cure-all for one’s psychological traumas. When he says that “self-worth is not dependent upon prior abuse by others,” I think that he misunderstands the lasting damage to one’s psyche that being abused can produce, and on that score I strongly disagree with him. Again, though, I don’t think that he is saying that rape victims are guilty and need to repent of being raped, and I invite him to suspend his silence to answer that specific question. I just think he’s poorly spoken.

        I also, mind you, don’t doubt that he and I have a great many differences on matters of religion, spirituality, Christian anthropology, “Blblicism,” and so on, but he never actually said that rape victims were guilty of their rapes. If he really believes that, then I apologize, and everyone, by all means, have at him.

        • The central theme that I think is working against him here is this concept of bringing up “sexual purity” in the context of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse has absolutely nothing to do with sexual purity. There is no reason whatsoever to even hint at the idea of “redemption” from “sexual impurity” to a victim of abuse.

          If, as you’re suggesting, he really doesn’t connect “purity” to abuse in any fashion, then I agree that he ought to break his silence and clarify that point.

      • Right, or he should have clarified and said, “That’s not what I meant.” He did not, so what am I to assume?

  • Gaby LeBlanc

    Well, he admitted to being an abuser… So after repenting, all he did was switch to a different kind of abuse. I’m guessing that abuse -exerting power over others by inflicting pain- is deeply essential personality, to his defective ego. He NEEDS to treat people this way. So nothing anyone says to him will have any effect. It’s like talking an addict out of taking a hit. Please don’t react to him as if you’re dealing with a rational man. He might SOUND rational, respectable, intelligent, together -he might be respected and looked-up to by many- but this is one TWISTED dude. Like serial killers or rapists who lead double lives, who manage to keep up an impeccable public front, but who hide every kind of evil underneath, this guy is BAD NEWS. He needs help, but doesn’t know it; he thinks he’s perfect, and NOTHING can get through a mind like that. Do yourself a HUGE favor and stay far away from him and all like him.

  • On review, another point.

    David is clearly trying to defend the purity culture here. And that, by itself, is okay. I certainly don’t agree with the purity culture; I think it’s foolish and harmful and serves to perpetuate the very abuses it is trying to avert, but that’s beside the point. He’s entitled to his opinion.

    But there’s a right way and a wrong way to defend the purity culture here. David chose the wrong way. Here’s an example of the right way (and let me stress that I don’t agree with this; I’m just demonstrating something):

    “I deeply regret the way that the purity movement has centered on appearance and actions and physicality in its approach toward encouraging biblical standards. Purity has nothing to do with physical events; purity is an issue of the heart. What has been done to you in no way changes who you are or what value you have. Nothing that anyone else can do to you can make you any more or less pure. The purity movement needs to emphasize the intentions of the heart instead of focusing so much on the externals.”

    Again, to be clear, I don’t agree with the concept of the purity culture. Blame, stigma, guilt, and shame are not good ways to motivate anyone. But if you MUST defend the purity movement, that’s the way to do it…not with this insensitive, uncompassionate, ungodly drivel about repenting for being raped.

  • Thanks for this post. I find David Cuff’s comments to be appalling. Survivors of sexual abuse don’t need to be ‘redeemed.’ The use of that word implies that there is something defective or damaged about the survivor, and nothing could be further from the truth. Survivors don’t owe their abusers forgiveness, and the responsibility for ‘redemption’ lies with the abuser alone. Anything else perpetuates rape culture and re-victimizes survivors of abuse.

  • Anne

    I agree that it can be really difficult to argue on the internet (it is for me, anyway) even more so than in real life- it’s hard to choose the right words and to interpret other people’s words without the usual helps of tone of voice, body language, facial expression. Misunderstandings are more likely. And I agree that we shouldn’t jump on the psychoanalysis bandwagon! Too many labels and assumptions. It’s way too big a leap to say “This person is X” based on such limited information, even if we were otherwise qualified to make a diagnosis. We’re talking about real people, not hypotheticals.

    But as far as seeing nothing in his comments that he thinks a rape victim should repent of having been raped, as though she were guilty of it…
    It was in his first response to a woman who made herself vulnerable, poured out her heart and wrote honestly about being overwhelmed by fear and being raped. His actual words were, “While many of us have fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality, if we repent and turn back to His guidance we can walk in the Light of His love”.

    If that wasn’t what he meant, why on earth bring it into the conversation!
    Later on, he said “My comments were made in a general way”. Well…that doesn’t seem likely (backpedaling is also more difficult on the internet; we can still see what you already wrote) but- okay. So…WHY? Why feel the need to say it at all? Repentance and redemption, in general, are important concepts to discuss, sure. But this wasn’t a general “type whatever’s on your mind today and feel free to change the subject” blog post, it’s on a very specific, very sensitive topic.
    He lost me at “repent”. No matter what little niceties about grace and forgiveness follow it up, that was a conversation-changing choice of words.
    It was like- are you sure you’re commenting on the right article? Samantha then gave him the benefit of the doubt- “I think you are intending to be supportive, but I’m actually really confused as to what you’re trying to say.” She explained “considering the context of my article, where I was talking about sexual abuse, violence, and rape, the line where you talk about “falling” from biblical standards, and a “need to repent,” uhm…. wow. This is incredibly damaging language.”

    Instead of taking the opportunity to say ‘Oh, wow, I’m so sorry if that’s how it sounded, that’s not what I meant at all!’ he came back with even more befuddling words and to defend the Standard of Biblical Sexuality. Always a pastor’s job, I guess. But consider who he’s defending it against!
    Person A: The culture I was raised in made me especially vulnerable to abuse and I was raped.
    Pastor B: I’d like to reiterate the importance of sexual purity, and that it doesn’t change if you’ve been abused.

    NOT a very sympathetic response! Majorly inappropriate.
    I read the entire exchange on the other blog and the closest thing to an apology was “Sorry I missed your point…”
    He can’t seem to bring himself to say ‘I’m sorry my careless words offended you and others’, instead he says, “Sorry your personal filter has redefined “Biblical Redemption”. (sounds to me like another way of saying, You’re offended because you’re not capable of understanding me.) Nice!

    It’s especially sad that it’s coming from a pastor- a man who has influence over others’ beliefs and is in a position to counsel hurting people. It’s also sad because for many readers it may reinforce all the same old stuff that we’ve been struggling to believe isn’t true.

    • what Anne said. .

      TRUE

    • Thank you, Anne, for explaining this. I think you did it better than I could have. 🙂

    • Tiffany

      Anne is exactly right. This comment:

      “While many of us have fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality, if we repent and turn back to His guidance we can walk in the Light of His love”. –David Cuff

      Is very clearly equating the abused with someone who has ‘fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality’. There is just no other way to understand it, especially after he was asked for clarification and never said that he didn’t think an abused person was sexually impure.

  • shygirl

    I don’t know if it is appropriate to share the following, so I am going to change my name from shy to shygirl so this can go into moderation and Samantha you can make the call. I will not be offended or hurt if you decide it might hurt a victim.

    Sometimes TMI is not helpful. I wrote this poem some 15 years ago. There is one line in it that would offend the heck out of me if I didn’t understand the context. Which is: I was set up with kindness as a kid by my abuser, he knew what he was doing, which twisted me in ways that took years to unravel. I share this with a heart that David might still be reading. And that he might consider that making comments about sexual abuse victims the way he did is hurtful & way above his pay grade.

    Aftermath
    The Past: ( 8 years old)
    Walls of cement, mortar crusting over my heart
    rage plastered the hatred in when the abuse would start.

    Hide, hide from the agony with stifled screams
    pretend, pretend it is all just a bad dream.

    Close down, close down, inside it hurts too much
    deny any pleasure from the perverted touch…

    The Present: ( in late 40’s)

    Oh the great damage done to my soul,
    I hid my misery under anger
    to have a sense of control.

    For anger seemed like the only way to exist
    & unconsciously my heart closed as tight as a clenched fist.

    Some call it self-protection, (but whatever its name) its such a curse,
    for when I refuse to feel and name the pain inside it seems to grow worse.

    One of my deepest longings is wanting to boldly love,
    yet softening my hardened heart
    seems as unreachable as the stars above.

    I ask, who will help heal my ravaged soul?
    I am weary of searching for ways to be whole.

    O, the church turns a deaf ear to my cry,
    forget and repent of your past abuse they imply…

    I am almost 60 years old and have been walking with Jesus for 30 years. It takes a lot of time imho to unpack abuse. Jesus didn’t heal me overnight, to this day I walk with a limp, but with remarks like Davids, I suspect, they only slow the healing that Jesus longs for his beloved ones to experience.

  • Tiffany

    “It was in his first response to a woman who made herself vulnerable, poured out her heart and wrote honestly about being overwhelmed by fear and being raped. His actual words were, “While many of us have fallen from the Biblical standard for sexuality, if we repent and turn back to His guidance we can walk in the Light of His love”.” -Anne

    I would like to clarify that I have carefully read all of the posts between Samantha and David, all of the back and forth that is on this blog. I realize I sounded harsh in suggesting that this man may be a pyschopath/sociopath. However, I do see that he made a very clear and direct equivocation between being sexually abused and being ‘fallen from the Biblical standard’, between being abused and being IMPURE, and this is tragic and harmful. It was explained to him, he was given clear means to understand the reason it was hurtful, and ample opportunity to understand. He made very little effort, if any, to really understand, and it was ongoing. I understand, yes, that all of us are prone to defensiveness and self-justification when we feel attacked. However, as a Pastor and a public figure who choose to speak in a public forum, I do not see why his terrible lack of empathy is being dismissed as mere ‘clumbsiness’. I am a person prone to offend with words, and come from a long line of ancestors so prone. I am the first to see that it is very possible to say STUPID, HURTFUL things without meaning to. However, when it is stupidity and harmfulness of this degree, more than ‘you are all overreacting I didn’t mean anything by it you’re all ganging up on me poor me’ is required.

    I did not assert that he WAS a psychopath. I asserted that his repeated pattern of blaming those who he harmed with his careless and/or cruel statements rather than accepting blame himself, and evidencing over and over a theme of deep concern for his own person rather than much concern for others, is a gravely disturbing situation… however, I do not see his heart, and perhaps he DOES feel great pain for the distress and harm he has caused others, and not merely regret that he has brought down a firestorm of fury upon himself.

  • Matt Purdum

    Calvary Chapel are the most arrogant, control-freak assholes in the entire Christianist world.

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  • Müntzer

    Sorry, i don’t get it.
    Do i miss some subtext here?
    Some fundy (or ex fundy) only code that twists the word?
    Admittedly i grew up in a only semi-screwed up church and come to understand suffering (any suffering) as a result of humanity’s fallen state (well, not exactly, the whole ‘rope stretched between hell and heaven, sin and forgiveness’ as Luther phrased it) which could all be healed (or made better) by repentance (since due to our fallen state we pretty much sin non-stop, since even desiring another mans wife or thinking ill of someone is sinning) and trust in Jesus.
    Wow, i just now realize how potentially depressing that sounds.
    Anyway, if i read it through that lens it is not very offensive.
    It is poorly worded and lacks quite a bit in social grace (it is never a good idea to tell suffering people that all the pain could go away if they were just to do ‘x’), but apart from that i do not see the trigger for the storm it caused.
    Can someone enlighten me?

    • Müntzer

      I did get it.
      Took me some time though.
      I guess i never really saw all the sinning i do (or am supposedly doing) on a daily basis as my fault. If one does being basically accused of being to blame for whatever horribleness happen to one must be quite upsetting.

  • I can’t speak for everyone but I had a commenter named Rebecca on my blog the other day (a post I did about sex ed) tell another commenter that she could repent of premarital sex and have God’s forgiveness. I found it very triggering and I told this commenter something, but gave her the benefit of the doubt and pointed out that this was very triggering language and it likely meant something very different to people raised like I was than it might to the average Christian. She felt horrible about it and apologized (further down in the comments), said she had no idea that her language meant that to us and that it had meant something else to her entirely.
    http://becomingworldly.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/1567/

    I too feel triggered when I hear anything about repenting and redemption, particularly when it comes to abuse, and I don’t know this pastor y’all are mad at at all, but I do think that sometimes people use these terms and we immediately take them to mean what we were raised to understand their definitions as, and we end up yelling and talking past one another.

    How sinister is it to have a word that means a good thing, something comforting and innocuous even, akin to relief, and turn it into a control tactic? That happens in abuse. How confusing must it be for someone to step on that trigger and not know a thing about what it brings up for us? I’m not saying that’s what happened. Indeed I do not know, but reading this reminded me of the commenter on my blog and I think if I hadn’t told her what was triggering and why and just assumed she meant something bad and yelled at her, she might never have understood.

    This pastor (an abuse victim himself) seemed genuinely confused as to why people thought he was a jerk and people seemed genuinely confused as to why he didn’t immediately understand what was so wrong in what he said, but perhaps a brief discussion of definitions could have taken it to a place where I suspect much of the issue might lie – biblical language being twisted to control and spiritually abuse, obscuring the message.

    • what makes him unfit to be a pastor is how after being instructed repeatedly that he had been hurtful in his approach—he still copped an abusive attitude.

      your commentor, heatherjanes, after realizing she caused such triggering pain was saddened with remorse. . this pastor just maintained his abusive tenor and continued with his ignorant Calvary Chapel Abuse tactics.

      for example: Cuff says, “I guess I thought this was mostly Christian people wanting dialog.”

      really now! is this how a pastor is to model conflict-resolution between fellow believers—calling our faith and position in Christ into question?

      • I am certainly not making excuses for the man, just trying to understand where he might be coming from, even if he states things clumsily. I agree that pastors should have more skill than that, but perhaps he was confused that you did not understand his words to mean what he thought he was conveying, which was to wish someone a sense of relief? Again, I have no idea. I just don’t see why a pastor who had been abused himself would mean it this way (which is the way it initially strikes me as well). It just doesn’t make sense.

        One other thing – the commenter on my blog had a safe space that she did not have to feel defensive in, and so she could more thoroughly consider how her words could be taken in this context instead of feeling defensive, which often puts people in “emergency mode” and shuts down consideration for the other side. She was also told *why* what she said was not ok so she learned what her words actually meant to people like me in this context. Before that she didn’t know but I assumed she (and others) did know. Obviously that was not the kind of message she wanted to convey at all, and then knowing this additional information, she said so.

        Maybe this pastor is a jerk who works for a jerk-filled church (again, I don’t know) and just doesn’t get it due to being in love with patriarchy, or maybe he inadvertently triggered things and then got defensive as the angry response was totally unexpected and misunderstood by him. I haven’t read everything in the conversation with this pastor, but I’m not sure this guy had that spelled out for him clearly enough for him to get it and know what was at hand, what we heard him say and mean when he used these words. I guess my personal feeling is its usually best to give someone who’s said something awful – sexism, racism, rape apologism, etc. a temporarily safe space to reflect on what their words might mean, given the additional information you have provided. Sometimes it really can help in unexpected and meaningful ways.

        • Yes, heatherjanes, how critically important it is for us all to have safe places.

          My contention is that none of the Calvary Chapel churches, nor Calvary Chapel pastors are safe places nor safe people. I’m only now attempting to understand why these pastors unwittingly abuse as they do. Clearly, as I see it, the abuses are structural and cultural. The ecclesiology these pastors work from is a Moses Model style of power and control leadership that places them in unaccountable positions of trust over the sheep they assume to shepherd. This exalted position of un-accountablility provides them freedom to do as they like—unchecked. Try to check them and you’re thrown out on your righteous butt. The culture of abuse there is so thick and sick the intoxicated sheep osmotically take upon themselves the idolatries and self-righteous attitudes of their pastors—perpetuating a most un-christian culture—and all in the name of Jesus Christ.

          So far this has been the pattern of discovery for me. Show me a Calvary Chapel pastor—and I’ll show you a “minister of righteousness” of the likes the Apostle Paul warns us against in 2 Cor. 11:15.

  • Lisa Kramer

    Is there a way I can strangle that guy? Rape has NOTHING to do with marriage, though marital rape does occur, but you don’t have to repent for BEING raped. The rapist is the one at fault, NOT you! Man, that pisses me off.