Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weaponized Grace

Just a few thoughts to follow-up on the post I wrote the about the Duggar situation the other day.

Amidst the cries of "Persecution of godly Christians!" and liberal conspiracy that I've witnessed from the Christian community, there's been a steady stream of appeals to "show grace" to Josh Duggar. "Where's the grace? You're supposed to be showing grace!", and such.

Oy vey. Red flag.

This has a couple of purposes. One, to make you (and in some instances the victims of a given perpetrator) the bad guy and alleviate some of the pressure on the perpetrator they just so happen to like. In other words, it's kind of a Hail Mary play that attempts to flip the script and make the perp into some sort of victim of your sinful, wretched bitterness. It's become weaponized. "Shame on YOU rather than the perpetrator!" Religious addicts and weak-minded people can be overcome by it. Critical thinkers can't. 

Then, the desired shame this creates can give the perpetrator (and his or her sycophants) a smokescreen, and maybe some wiggle room, to generate a new narrative and rally around it. If you're playing defense defensively, they can move the ball (the new narrative) right down the field on you. This is why I always say "Never play defense."

It's a kissing cousin to the Matthew 18 crap that controlling, high-demand churches start crying when you run into an issue with them. They've no desire, whatsoever, to use Matthew 18 as a means to make peace, restitution, or find beneficial (to you, as in "win/win") reconciliation. They intend to use it as a weapon, and only a weapon, against you.

Lost in all of this spiritually vapid gobbledygook are the victims. Completely lost, shown no real grace (of any kind), and without justice.

In my experience with my ex and her family, throughout our relationship I was judged ruthlessly, relentlessly, and mercilessly. Every word. Every action. Every reaction. Every belief. Every life decision. All were turned inside-out, upside-down, and raked over the coals every which way but sideways by the most sanctimonious bunch of religious assholes I've ever personally known - and this doesn't even get in to the attempts to hinder and hurt me professionally. There was little to no grace extended. Only legalistic religious judgment based on the most superficial and meaningless of ideals and ideas. When the relationship began to crumble into its final stages, I began throwing their own legalism and judgmentalism back at them by the boatload. It was met with cries of  "Where's the grace!" So, I know, firsthand, all about weaponized grace. I was, and still am, significantly less than impressed.

In any setting - legal, cultural, religious - justice must first be established when people have been harmed or wronged. It's the ONLY way a victim can be the priority. The ONLY way. Once you figure out how justice shapes up, then, and only then, can you start talking about grace or mercy for the victimizer. All of these people clamoring for "grace" to be immediately shown to Josh Duggar would feel entirely different were one of their daughters a victim of his crime. No matter what came out of their mouth, their heart would demand justice. Holding other people to standards by which you won't truly measure yourself is always ugly, and always lacking in genuine integrity.

People can hide behind the idea that his victims "forgave" him, but those of us who know the culture know they had a choice between "forgiveness" and being a familial AND religious outcast. They would be told, over and over again, how much of a sinner they are/were until they caved in and "forgave". In other words, "grace" would be weaponized against them. Frankly, the idea that an elementary aged girl, or a toddler, is emotionally developed enough to understand the concept of forgiving someone who molested them is downright laughable, and when you add in just how far behind, emotionally, people in that culture are, it's incomprehensible.

I'm all for showing grace to Josh Duggar, in whatever context and with whatever connotations you want to read into it, but only after showing some grace to his victims by seeking justice, healing, and restitution on their behalf. Their well-being comes first. When I see the whole of the Christian community pursuing that, then they can get back to me about Josh.  

Those girls matter.


  1. While I refuse to speculate on the identities of the victims, I will say that the youngest Duggar daughter would have been in preschool at the time--as I was when I was molested by relatives. I was given no treatment, no help--no indication that what I was feeling was a natural aftereffect of being used by someone I had trusted. I was just labeled a weirdo and my undiagnosed PTSD and continual dissociation were used as excuses for punishment by authorities and bullying by peers. I didn't begin therapy until I was well out of the family tangle, and I was over 40 before I could look back on a whole year and say, "I didn't have to spend even a day working around the crap those molesters left me with."

    Forgiveness on cue would not have fixed a damned thing.

    Jenny Islander

  2. Thank you. I was taught that a girl was an occasion to sin - simply because she exists. As the victim of the attitude of "vilify the victim and protect the perpetrator", it is good to know there are men who can tell the difference. Again, thank you.

  3. Lew, as a non-Christian, often the loudest and only voice coming from Christians seems to be from patriarchal, ultra-conservatives. It's easy for me, and others like me, to forget that theirs is not the only voice, and that Christians can be feminist as well as respectful to other religions and the separation of church and state (and church and education). Thanks for providing a different voice for me and others like me.