For the first time in 12 years, I'm not looking forward to general conference.
I don't know how to take instruction on how to be a better disciple of Christ from leaders who just paid their lawyers to dig up dirt on a sexual assault victim.
I don't know how to sit next to people in a pew who voted overwhelmingly for, and continue to support, a presidential candidate who admitted to being a rapist.
I don't know how to contain the disgust and disappointment I feel every time I see members of the Church engage in blatant prejudice. I'm tired of correcting racism because my leaders won't. I'm tired of correcting sexism because my leaders won't.
I'm tired of anyone who doesn't perfectly conform to every norm and standard being bullied and harassed until they're chased out. I'm tired of trying to put broken pieces back together from the messes other people make when they destroy someone else's life. 
I'm so tired of hearing the gospel is perfect, even if the Church and the people are not. Because from where I'm standing, there is absolutely no point in having a church if no one is actually going to bother using the gospel. That perfect gospel, at its heart, means repentance. It is a reconciling to God AND to or neighbor for the wrongs that we've done. If we are not a people who repent, we are not a people who follow Christ.
Where is the repentance for the racism perpetuated by our church and the people in it? Where is the repentance for the sexual violence that has been done to women and children by lay leaders in our church? Where is the repentance for the collective shrugging off of LGBTQ+ members?
The gospel Jesus Christ is supposed to mean change. I don't see change. I see excuses. I see lukewarmness that Jesus would spit from his mouth. I see injustice. I see anguish from too many good people who are attacked for daring to challenge oppression and for speaking the truth.
Any person who defends the Church, its leaders, or its people in doing evil is no brother or sister of mine. They have no authority that I am bound to recognize. And out of the love and respect I have for myself, I will not allow myself to be led into sin by it.


If you're unfamiliar with the story of David and Bathsheba, it's worth revisiting it in 1 Samuel 11-12 if you've never done it as an adult.

In summary, King David creeps on a married woman who is participating in her monthly ritual purification after her menstruation, as outlined in the Law of Moses. David sees her and decides he must have her, like she's a carnival prize instead of a person.

Pay attention in this story how many times the word "took" and "taken" are used. He uses his position as king and his servants to force her into his house, into his bed, gets her pregnant, and conspires to have her husband killed at war so he can keep her.  

When Bathsheba finds out her husband is dead, she mourns for him. She loved him. But that literally doesn't matter when a powerful person in authority decides a woman belongs to him.

I vividly remember the first time I was ever told the story of David and Bathsheba, but this isn't the version of the story I heard. I was a teenager in a Sunday school class. Bathsheba was the antagonist of the story, not David and his own selfishness. Bathsheba was a temptress and a wanton woman. She wanted David to see her, was the reason he sinned, and was complicit in breaking the Law of Chastity. 

What a shame, the teacher said, because her name means "daughter of the covenant."

The problem is this interpretation is not supported at all by the text. If anything, a truly impartial reading of only what is in the text would suggest Bathsheba was kidnapped and raped, and the only person God ever punished for it was David himself. Look at the last verse in chapter 11. God only punishes David. In 12, he sends Nathan to David. The baby dies and the Lord says it is specifically to punish David. 
Any blame to Bathsheba is not supported by the text. What I was taught was wrong. And this woman has had her story and memory forever altered by David, his actions, and seemingly every artist in Europe for centuries afterwards.

And now that my mind and heart are consumed with the news of Joseph L. Bishop, I can't help but think about the toxic victim blaming that goes on in LDS culture. For many of us, it has been inseparable from our religious experience from the time we were children. It was presented to us as fact in conjunction with scripture, with warnings about the type of women we should aspire to become. 
As if any amount of our self-control could stop the Davids of the world from wanting to possess us. As if that was somehow our fault.
Bathsheba isn't a harlot. She is a survivor. In a culture where being a rape victim could mean being stoned to death as an adulteress, she married her rapist. She did the unthinkable, living with a grief that is too wild for me to ever understand. She isn't someone I should be looking down upon. She's someone I can look up to as a survivor. She is a daughter of God. And I'm glad today that I got to rediscover and correct her story.

Believe victims. They have very little to gain, and everything to lose, by being honest about what they've experienced. Be careful about giving your loyalty to the accused without question. David was a king. But that didn't stop him from also being a rapist.

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