Experiences with Christian men left me disillusioned and broken for decades

Posted on

Although not in the Lutheran church, I have had varied experiences with Christian men that left me disillusioned and broken for decades. First there was the great uncle who molested me at 13. That was an assault by a lifelong beloved relative whom I had admired and trusted. Everyone did! I did not see it coming nor did I know what to do with the experience(s) once the damage had been done. Whom could I possibly tell?! Who would believe me?

When I was in high school, my own married pastor literally courted me for months. This was a strange time in my life. I was the youth leader and musician in our congregation, always present working (volunteering) to help out with services and other events. My pastor, a middle-aged father of several children, confessed his love to me, which at the time flattered me and confused me. Now it horrifies me. There was no sex but inappropriate kissing, hugging and touching was frequent. When the church elders found out about this hidden affair, he was ousted and I was silenced. For me, there was no follow-up counseling, therapy, comfort, attempted explanation of HIS inexcusable behavior toward me. I did not understand that he was abusing his authority and that I was the victim in this twisted scenario. The only summative comment came from my mother, “What in the world did YOU see in him?”

A few years later, when abroad in Asia as an exchange student at 19, a Messianic Jew, an evangelist at times, raped me. I was in no way prepared for the most unexpected assault. I had gone to visit him and his wife since we were in the same city at the same time. I entered their room in my typical cheerful manner. We said hello. She was nowhere. He instantly threw me on the bed, pulled up my dress, and entered me forcefully. Later I learned she had gone for a nail appointment just then. He was a family friend of sorts, an admired man, who came to Finland to preach on occasion as well. He was not the person I thought he was. He is still practicing his ministry in Jerusalem.

Eventually in college in the US I married a want-to-be missionary and minister. By then I was no judge of character — of holy men — in particular, so I chose someone who seemed to fit all the right criteria but turned out to be a narcissist and an abusive man in every sense of the word. He thumped the Bible on my head when we finally divorced, but thank God, grace prevailed.

Today, decades later, I am healthy, happy, accomplished, balanced, and redeemed but mad as hell about the abuse that takes place in the church and the silence that surrounds it. As I said, this was not in the Lutheran circles, but it happens there and everywhere.