Because of my ongoing book work (and foster care work), I almost missed this comment.
Thank God I didn’t. You shouldn’t either.
Here’s a quick recap of this article, “Some Early Responses to Joshua Harris’s Confession of Apostasy.”
First, I explored several sympathetic aspects of Joshua Harris’s anti-faith statement. Then I addressed the falseness of his “apology” to sexual revolutionaries. Then I concluded that Harris seems to have joined the cabal of progressive Christians and/or “ex-vangelicals.” Despite any good intentions, these folks often use this era’s trendiest victim group as a therapeutic “avatar” or surrogate to express their own frustrations with the Church:
. . . The young Christian is not at first reasoned into advocacy for the victim group. Rather, young Christians identify with these victim groups because of personal empathy based on their own stories of conflict. . . .
[They] empathize with and effectively to use professing victim classes as an “avatar,” or surrogate victim, to express their own unresolved conflict with evangelical institutions, families, or churches. Similarly, they must cast “the evangelical church” as a surrogate oppressor, playing the role of the churches, institutions, or even family members who have caused the young Christian perceived harm in the past.
I thought about simply excerpting her remarks. But you have to read the whole thing:1
First of all, addiction and “queerness” are actually quite similar in multiple ways. What’s more, those in my community actually do, for various reasons, engage in substance abuse at disproportionately high rates, so the two are often not only similar but also concurrent. That’s also true of various mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder (the comorbidity).
Secondly, a distinction must be made between the impulse/tendency and the acts. People very often fail to do this, and it’s destructive for multiple reasons. One of which being how they’ll point to the more innocuous-appearing things in an effort to defend or glamorize, while conveniently ignoring the more obviously unpleasant, unethical, and cruel stuff that’s a harder sell.
I will briefly state that the inclination is harmful in factors like how it can drive the destructive behavior and also drive people to defend or promote such behavior.
‘Characteristic destructive behaviors’
Now, regarding the behavior itself, there are any number of types of it, but to summarize, the relationships and interactions are unhealthy and destructive from both psychological and physical standpoints. One way—and this is analogous to addiction again—is how it’s used as a false replacement for actually dealing with the deeper issues a person has. People in my community have significantly higher rates both of having been raped or molested in general and also of having been abused in that way by someone of the same sex. And some of the characteristic destructive behaviors of the community are common to those who have suffered that way.
But in my case, the biggest thing I center on when people make comments asking how it’s harmful, problematic, wrong, etc, is the physical aspect of some of these behaviors.
The body quite literally isn’t designed for certain stuff, and there are major consequences to subjecting it to such trauma.
Besides being unsanitary and degrading, some of this stuff is very damaging physically, causing a myriad of health problems: diseases, chronic infections, vulnerability to further disease, multiple forms of injury, loss of normal function of one’s body, and pain in a myriad of ways. The body quite literally isn’t designed for certain stuff, and there are major consequences to subjecting it to such trauma, especially on a repeated basis and over a period of time.
Some of this stuff is also practiced in heterosexual contexts—though it tends to be less commonly, less frequently, and also with less extremity—and guess what? It’s harmful, painful, unsanitary, abusive, and degrading there, too!
‘People who claim to care just so much’
This is something that really disgusts and infuriates me in dealing with these various people who claim to care just so much about my community.
And this is something that really disgusts and infuriates me in dealing with these various people who claim to care just so much about my community.
Some of their support and normalization of it could be attributed to ignorance, to not realizing the destructiveness and harm of this stuff. But even in that situation, there’s an extremely basic level of sanitation that they’re showing disregard for, so what it suggests about their own cleanliness and decency level is severely disturbing. We’re talking about levels literally taught to young children, regarding both sanitation and normal functioning of the body. So what excuse do adults have?
But that aside, I’ve repeatedly found that it goes beyond just that. Because when you try to educate these so conscientious people who just love my community and are friends of ours and care so much about our wellbeing…they don’t care. They either refuse to listen at all or just dismiss or make excuses for or otherwise show a real lack of genuine compassion and love.
Do you have any idea how painful and staggering that can be? To talk to them about some of the appalling, grotesque stuff that goes on and about how much people SUFFER, and to see such an emptiness of love and compassion in response.
I feel like crying as I’m typing this. It’s not only painful—it’s enraging. And I think it exposes the selfishness and sheer dishonesty at work in some of these people. To be honest, I mistrust people in general now who claim to be “allies” of ours, because I’ve repeatedly been shown that they don’t actually care.
How can you talk about how much you love and care about people who are addicted to meth, but you actually encourage and normalize the use of it, and then when someone tries to, assuming that you actually cared like you claimed to, educate you and explain about the harm it does…things like rotting out your teeth, causing brain damage, causing psychosis…you don’t care or you make excuses, and you keep encouraging people to horrifically harm themselves and each other, all while continuing to claim how much you love them and support them and their wellbeing?
That’s absolutely sickening, and I consider it a massive betrayal.
(And speaking of meth, that’s one of the drugs disproportionately used by the community….)
‘The real motives and priorities’
And I think it reveals some of the real motives and priorities. I think people want to follow the popular trend, and to paint themselves as being “nice” and “loving” and “kind” and “ compassionate,” but without actually worrying about having substance and integrity and honesty behind those claims. Because their behavior demonstrates the exact opposite of what they profess. They’re enablers, not friends.
And another commonality is how they’ll use a friend or family member as an excuse. That should actually be GREATER reason for them to show genuine, honest compassion and concern, not an excuse to further the lies and harm! Your aunt smokes so you’re busy promoting cancer sticks?
See, I think this is again largely due to selfish motives. They don’t want to cause any disturbance to their social circle by being honest, and they’re more concerned about social enjoyment and making “friends” by enabling people rather than caring enough about those friends to either speak the truth or at least refrain from lying. It’s not like you are required to confront them. I don’t really expect that of people. But just be a half-decent person and don’t ENCOURAGE them to abuse themselves or others!
And that’s another aspect of how unethical this all is. Not only do people harm themselves, they also inflict harm on those they engage in certain practices with. Much like smoking harms both the smoker and those breathing in the secondhand smoke in proximity.
Sexually injuring people, damaging their bodies for some moment of sexual enjoyment, is a truly cruel, unethical act, and is not remotely “loving” or “kind.”
And people talk about things like respect for women and being kind and nice and loving, but then promote sexually harming those you supposedly love and whom you should be expected to treat better than average, if anything. It’s dehumanizing and objectifying to trash and misuse someone’s body that way. The sanitation factor also plays into the degradation, in several ways.
I’m guessing a site like this probably wouldn’t want me to be too graphic, and I’d rather not get too specific for now, anyways. But to talk about loving and respecting a person whom you’re subjecting to certain stuff is just laughable. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t care about them at all, but the actions and words don’t line up. It’s like a professed health nut who smokes, or a loving parent who locks their children in closets. Maybe you do care about health in other areas, and maybe you do love your children in other ways. But you’re also egregiously and unrepentantly violating the principles you claim.
‘These are often deeply wounded people acting out of their pain’
Which reminds me…one of the very reasons our relationships can fall apart is that we do get pricked by our conscience, because the more we do come to genuinely care for the other person, the less we’re able to stomach abusing them so! And no, the fact that they “allow” or even “enjoy” it doesn’t make it not abusive or unethical. There’s a lot people allow that isn’t right. Like women who choose to stay with men or women who beat them. And yeah, those men and women claim to “love” them, too.
It’s disturbing how people [claim] that you shouldn’t be violent in other ways in your relationships, but being sexually violent and causing sexual injury gets such a free ride.
Which reminds me—it’s disturbing how people get that you shouldn’t be violent in other ways in your relationships, but being sexually violent and causing sexual injury gets such a free ride. That’s appalling and contradictory.
And if you really care about things like harassment, and mistreatment of women, and respect for people, well, I feel supporting this kind of dehumanizing stuff is promoting just that. Treat women well and respect them…except when you’re sexually injuring them? I call so much bull.
There’s an apt proverb (not quoted from Scripture, mind you) about not tearing down a fence until you know why it was built. If people had listened, there’s a huge amount of suffering that could’ve been prevented. What’s more, time and other resources could’ve been devoted to things like investigating and problem-solving. (One concern relative to this is the effect that environmental contamination—which in some areas disproportionately affects Black, Brown, and poor communities, who are already suffering—can have on prenatal development and hormonal exposure. So basically, normalizing this is potentially like normalizing how people affected by substances used in warfare will have various medical issues and birth defects. You’re dismissing and further victimizing people, saying the damage is normal!)
And one thing about those who are in my community is that while it often is hard to be patient, especially for those lacking remorse and not attempting to change their behavior, there’s also the balance that these are often deeply wounded people acting out of their pain. That molestation thing I mentioned is an example.
And I also understand how extremely difficult it can be to extract yourself from stuff once you get involved in it.
‘With friends like these, we’ve no need of enemies’
What’s the excuse for the supposed allies?. . . . They’re not the addicts themselves, yet they want to keep the addiction going.
But what’s the excuse for the supposed allies? Those who should be able to see much more clearly, but refuse to. They’re not the addicts themselves, yet they want to keep the addiction going.
I’ve been through Hades dealing with people like that and watching them put on these acts of being nice and sugary sweet and claiming friendship while showing horrific levels of callousness, dishonesty, and cruelty.
And people want me to be forgiving about it and let it go, but so far…I’m not in a forgiving spirit. And again, it’s one thing if someone is regretful and trying to be better. I tend to be Ms. Cheerleader and very proud of people like that in various situations. But those who blatantly and brazenly continue, like those who normalize “consensual” sexual slavery (and this is extremely offensive racially, by the way…) and other abusive, demeaning practices, and while still claiming friendship and spewing lies about love in the midst of this mishegoss they’re fostering…they are lucky that karma hasn’t inflicted on them the same pain, injury, and loss of function that they cheerfully encourage people to inflict on themselves, and worse, each other. Those they “love.”
Anyways, I think this article actually does an excellent job of analyzing and discussing one of the factors behind some of these people taking up banners, and I’ve seen similar ideas suggested before: that in some cases it’s really more self-concerned and not about the people the cause is supposedly about.
How badly do we have to suffer to garner [our allies’] supposedly abundant compassion for us that mysteriously vanishes when it comes to what results from these lifestyles?
Because with friends like these, we’ve no need of enemies. In fact, I prefer those who are openly hostile and at least don’t claim to care about use versus those who claim it while so deeply betraying us and furthering our hurt and self-destruction and exploiting our pain and vulnerability to paint themselves as something they’re not.
Just how badly do we have to suffer to garner their supposedly abundant compassion for us that mysteriously vanishes when it comes to what results from these lifestyles? Because I’ve seen them stonily unmoved by some heavy stuff.
This is an absolutely epic comment, though it is born of real tragedy and trauma. Thank you, Ahsoka. I hope you see my reply (even a few weeks late). And I will take other steps to ensure that you do see my reply.
Everything you’ve written here, apparently from an insider’s perspective, aligns and fleshes out what I’ve read elsewhere about the real emotional, physical harm in the movement.
That includes the very detailed descriptions of the physical harm. Many of these I’ve seen described at length elsewhere, particularly from Joseph Sciambra. (This is the original link, though I see the site has apparently been down for maintenance for some time.) To be sure, one must be very careful with such details, but sin thrives when it’s done in the darkness and painted over with melodrama and sentimentalism. I believe the benefits of exposing these unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11) outweigh the risks.
- I’ve edited only to add italics, subheads, and a few other formatting changes. ↩