In his book Grace-Filled Marriage, Tim Kimmel blames a girl for her own rape.
TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of rape as a teen in the rest of this article.
I thought today, for International Women’s Day, I’d like to look at what Kimmel said, but especially at all the high-ups in the evangelical world who apparently saw no problem with it.
Right now I’m sitting in a recording studio, listening to Rebecca narrate the audio version for our book She Deserves Better that launches April 18 (I’m narrating some of it too).
Our teen girls have often been treated horribly in evangelical circles, blamed for men’s sin. And we see that in Tim Kimmel’s description of a girl’s rape.
Here’s a Fixed It for You that I posted a few nights ago:
Let’s break this down for a minute.
What does Tim Kimmel blame for her rape?
- Preoccupied parents
- The “breast fairy” who came too early
- Her interest in boys
- An adult man’s interest in her
Let’s be clear: the absolute only one of these that is valid is #4. Yes, even with involved parents, girls can still be groomed and raped (though parents should be involved!).
But in no way is it EVER okay to say that just because a girl develops early, it’s somehow her fault if she’s raped.
And what does he mean by “early”?
Most girls are developed by 13-14, so if he’s saying that “the breast fairy came too early”, we’re talking about a girl who is 12-13.
Tim Kimmel does not understand consent and rape.
Later in this story, Kimmel says this:
“Chad didn’t know that Tracy had brought a secret to their wedding. She wasn’t what she had advertised herself to be back when they met in church…Tracy knew she had been a willing participant.”
“For Chad and Tracy, grace didn’t fill their relationship instantly. They both had three big issues: their personal sin, their frustration with each other’s sin, and their narrow view of grace.”
He admits that this “sexual encounter” was technically against the law, but wants us all to understand that Tracy was still a “willing participant.”
No, she wasn’t.
A pre-teen is NEVER a willing participant to statutory rape. That’s the whole point of grooming! Just because she wasn’t physically forced does not mean she wasn’t raped.
But why does Kimmel stress this so much? Because in the story that he shares about Tracy and Chad, he wants us to understand how much baggage Tracy brought into her marriage because of the promiscuity and sin that started with the rape. She had to confess and repent, and he had to show grace.
Her rape is described as a SIN issue, not a TRAUMA issue.
This is, quite frankly, inexcusable and authorial malpractice.
Unfortunately, the biggest names in evangelicalism lent their names to promote this book.
Tim Kimmel sold about 1,000,000 copies of his parenting books (despite the fact that he doesn’t understand sexual assault), so when this book came out in 2013 (and has been re-published last year), some huge names endorsed this book.
As Tim and Darcy Kimmel note in their excellent book Grace Filled Marriage ,nowhere is [extending grace] more important than in the institution of marriage.
Grace Filled Marriage is an incredibly important book and could help turn the tide on divorce…Take a journey into grace. This book will turn your marriage around!
In this much-needed book by a very seasoned expert, Tim Kimmel hands out help. Don’t miss out!
There are a lot of books written on marriage. I’ve written some of them. But every once in a while one comes along that blows such fresh new air over the subject that further discussion on marriage has to forever factor in its original and innovative ideas. The Kimmels did this—big time—in Grace Filled Marriage . You’re gonna love this book!
Tim Kimmel gives practical ideas on how we can bring great harmony to our marriages by showing grace to each other. I highly recommend Grace Filled Marriage .
Grace Filled Marriage is truly an excellent book to keep our marriages fresh and vibrant. Well-written. Spiritually mature teaching. Excellent illustrations, analogies, and metaphors.
Tim has a way of igniting fresh understanding using simple illustrations to clarify deep spiritual truths. His new book, Grace Filled Marriage , is no exception. I know we will all be blessed by Tim’s teaching on how grace can strengthen good marriages, heal failing marriages, and protect new marriages. The impact of grace in marriage makes this a must read.
As we learned with the fiasco with The Gospel Coalition’s terrible article last week, many endorsers endorse a book without reading the whole thing.
But that should not be an excuse. People buy books because endorsers lend their names to them. Endorsers signal, “You trust me, you like me, and I think this book is good.” So people buy it.
This isn’t okay. For all of these men to not realize the significance of framing statutory rape like this is horrifying.
There need to be consequences. We need to be asking why the President of Focus on the Family, and the President of the largest Christian counseling organization, why they thought this was okay.
This tells me why we need She Deserves Better.
We have a long chapter in the book on how the evangelical church has largely ignored the issue of consent for teen girls, blaming us for causing men to lust or for exciting them so much so that they can’t stop.
And we often blame the girls who develop earliest for this, because we think the presence of breasts mean their sexually precocious, since adult men see them as sexual.
This isn’t okay. And you can pre-order our book here!
I have to believe things are changing.
More and more horrible stories are hitting the Christian news media. There is more pressure being put on people to treat sexual assault properly. And yet, far too many churches would still ask teen girls if they were willing participants in their rape.
I hope this wakes people up and gets people talking!
What do you think we can do about this? How can we hold endorsers accountable? Why are people so quick to blame girls for their own rape? Let’s talk in the comments!
It’s all centered in objectification. Because I was a tall, thin, curvy young woman, men acted as if I wanted their attention – As if the sheer act of my having breasts meant that they had a right to look at them. And the way they leered told me they thought I was a “willing participant” in their ogling.
They were assuming motives. They assumed because they were aroused by my body that I wanted them to be aroused by my body.
My high school math teacher used to come stand by my locker and ask me stupid questions. My first male boss used to sit on the edge of my desk and chit chat. They assumed I wanted their attention simply because I had a figure. I didn’t want their attention. They disgusted me and my friends who witnessed it.
And please don’t hear me saying I was some great beauty. I was just an average teenage girl. But the men assumed I wanted to engage with them as much as they wanted to engage with me. They didn’t see me as a person, just a collection of body parts with no will or desires or brain of her own.
It’s a cultural thing that Christian men have brought into church culture.
Linking this here as another example of a group of Christian men commenting on a conservative blog casting blame on a teenager while glossing over the questionable actions of the 30 year old rock star who got her pregnant.
Fortunately, in that situation, I and other ladies commented on the blog pointed out that the rock star committed statutory rape among other things. The good news is that those guys listened to us ladies which I get to in part 4 of that series. So there’s hope.
This was written concerning celebrity Christianity and Rock Star Preachers. But it also demonstrates how too many grown Christian men think teen girls are fair game.
The comments under that post are amazing including at least one link worth looking at.
My heart breaks for Tracy. Horrible enough that she suffered so much, but to then be told that her rape was her own fault… I hope somehow, somewhere, she finds healing. Not just from the original abuse, but from the horrific treatment she has received from the so-called Christian teachers who blamed her for it.
Why do girls get blamed? Because if they’re to blame, then the man isn’t. So you get the ‘oh, well, I know I shouldn’t really have [raped/assaulted/groped/leered] but I only did it because she tempted me by [wearing the wrong clothes/smiling the wrong way/walking the wrong way/being in the wrong place/having a face or body I found attractive]. (Ultimately, I guess it goes back to Adam – “The woman you gave me tempted me…”
And in church, especially, there tends to be far more women than men. Which makes us ‘expendable’. Especially when you’re young. If a church has dozens of young women and only one or two young men, most churches will bend over backwards not to lose those guys. They love having a young guy leading prayer meetings and Bible studies because it shows how with-it and relevant they are…it doesn’t seem to matter much if the same guy regularly sexually assaults young women in the church. After all, there are so many more women than men, it doesn’t matter if a few of the girls leave because of it.
This is so sick. I don’t even have words. These people are worse than the blind guides and false teachers that Jesus warned about. It’s all about power and sex, and nothing else. Certainly not God or the gospel.
This makes me wonder if any Christian male author or pastor behind the pulpit is even safe. This disgusts me and I would not be surprised if these endorsers had not read this book at all. They all probably know the author and just wanted to show him support. Still not right.
From the book excerpts I had seen on here, it appalls me to call Tracy’s traumatic experience as “bringing bagged into her marriage.” When I was married to my ex, he blamed my past experiences with sexual abuse on our sex life. He would say things like, “This man [the one I suspect may have touched me inappropriately at a young age] ruined things for me [meaning my ex].” Excuse me, but I was the one who experienced this possible childhood trauma and at times, I could not go through with sex. So, there was the whole victim-blaming thing which I didn’t have a word for at that time.
Thank you Sheila and Bare Marriage team or calling out these toxic teachings and writing books that are healing!
I consider every single male pastor suspect. Even the ones that haven’t done anything inappropriate (or illegal), they are silent about all of this. They promote these books and authors. They scratch each others backs. The only ones I consider potentially trustworthy are the ones that are speaking up, loudly, about this, calling out these authors and pastors.
I’m pretty much at that point now too. Thankfully I do see so many speaking up, and so many email me too.
How to say you want to lower the age of consent without saying you want to lower the age of consent. 🤮
It is just so awful. Seriously–the way he describes it, he’s talking about someone who is 14 tops.
“Preoccupied parents” > parents who failed to warn her how perverted and dangerous “church” men are because they likely thought they could trust such “godly men.”
‘The “breast fairy” who came too early’ > he felt God wrongly designed her body since she developed too soon. (No females should grow boobs until they are of legal age apparently. This guy should have told God to go back to His design board.)
“Her interest in boys”> her interest in BOYS (not grown men who KNOW better yet distract from their sin by blaming girls, etc.)
“An adult man’s interest in her” > a selfish penis-bearing wolf in sheep’s clothing RAPIST who did not care for the daughter of the Most High God; See also- a man (tool of satan) who chose to rape a daughter of the Lord God Almighty.
May God have mercy on men such as these if they ever open their eyes to truth.
I’m beginning to rethink having church membership covenants… I could easily get behind ones that read, “If I should ever groom, attempt to groom, or seduce an underage young woman, or if I ogle a female’s body, tell a girl or woman her manner of dress is tempting me, or tell my wife she has to have sex with me or else I will succumb to porn, etc., then Option A: the pastoral staff will promptly escort me to the police station where I will be helped to legally identify myself as a pedophile or sexual assultist in waiting. Option B: I will tie a millstone about my neck whilst at sea.”
I have several responses to this and to the comments.
One is that even as young adult, it was so confusing processing my date rape. I had said no so many times, but had been incapacitated by my having been deeply triggered (past childhood sexual trauma I hadn’t yet dealt with) into a state of dissociation. Others later who did not understand these factors would ask me, “Why didn’t you just leave?” Oh, so much I could say about all of that.
While I still probably don’t know exactly why it should take conversing about these things for us to change our language and mindsets, suffice it to say that, apparently, it does. I am encouraged by the work that those opposing things like trafficking are doing, as well as those like Sheila and her cohorts, resulting in just that. We have to become aware of power imbalances, deception, etc., so that we can change how we frame things. As we do, it leaves less dark corners (or whole rooms) for sin, abuse, etc. to flourish in.
Another factor in this is that until we as victims understand the elements of our stories well enough to reframe them in the telling, we are, to a certain extent, dependent on our hearers to catch what we have not yet understood, in the sense of correctly labeling circumstances. This is because we so have been abused so often believe the lies of shame, etc. This lie can come in through many entrances and sources. Shelia & Co. have been faithful to point out many of the Christian cultural messages that have led to some of this. The Accuser certainly plays his part strongly. But another source is abusers themselves. My early trauma was horrendous on all fronts, including lots of words designed to keep me bound and to keep me open for further abuse. Sometimes abusers do this instinctually (aided by the enemy, I’m sure). But some are very deliberate in framing things in a way that will benefit the abuser, at great cost to the victim. This is part of what grooming entails, but it also goes beyond it. Then when the victim’s story is told, things are not in alignment with objective truth. Others hear that story, and get a skewed picture. It the true nature of the even(s) is(are) obscured.
But in no way does that excuse adults from listening through a correct grid, so as to come to accurate conclusions, so that we can respond in a just and right (and compassionate) way.
A mother shared a story with us, about how her daughter was date raped under the bleachers at a game. No, just because both mother and daughter though that this happened because the daughter had listened to her boyfriend’s request to wear a skirt that night, did that actually have anything to do with why that traumatic and abusive event took place! I and my pastor husband, as listeners, had to correct that thinking, to make room for the processing and healing needed. That event happened because a young man decided to take what was not his, harm a young woman pre-meditatively, objectify her, and rape her. Nothing she did caused this. Nothing. Period.
But a situation I especially wanted to bring up in response to this topic was something that happened in a church we pastorrd, before we had arrived there. Language *really* does matter.
Here’s the thing. No amount of linguistic or mental twisting can turn the incestual rape of an adopted daughter into “an affair.” No previous trauma or neglect that had happened to such a *girl* (not woman, as she was under 18), resulting in psychological or behavioral issues as she tried to live life after such abuses, could turn her into the cause of this sexual “relationship” in such a story. No amount of tongue-twisting or deceptive or self-deceptive reframing can take a man in the position of _father_ and make him subject to anything, sexually, that may or may not come his way from a confused _daughter_. But there are all kinds of dynamics that can cause such confusion in a daughter, such that she may think she is in a consensual relationship. The power dynamics alone are enough to make room for grooming to be very effective in such a scenario. Incest with a minor cannot be consensual. Period.
So let me once more be very, very clear.
Victims of sexual trauma and abuse may not yet correctly understand the dynamics at play in their abuse. They may not correctly label things like responsibility and may mistakenly use words like “consensual” in the telling of their stories.
It is up to grown men and women to educate ourselves such that we, the listeners and readers of such stories, can accurately discern, and can replace incorrect language with correct language. So much depends on this. We are responsible to do this. We must not be part of the problem, but must leave no dark corner for sexual or other abuse to hide in.
Correction to end of third paragraph:
Thus, the true nature of the event(s) is(are) obscured.
> > Just because she wasn’t physically forced does not mean she wasn’t raped.
I would add that just because a victim doesn’t physically resist doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped, either. Maybe she was too scared to resist, or was taught that this is what God wants, or didn’t want to make her parents angry, etc.
And I wonder how that same author would react if somebody told him that it was the adult man’s fault due to the early arrival of the “erection fairy”.
Good one! Love this comment!
Also, with things like “the breast fairy” and “bellybutton to bellybutton time” and “her most holy place” and so on, the way they write about love and sexuality is childlike, but not in an innocent way. It’s a combination of childlike and very creepy.
As JoR once said, do these people HEAR themselves?
Yeah, they do, and the worst part is, they think they’re speaking the words of God.
And anyone who disagrees with them is rebellious not against them, but against God, especially if the person disagreeing is female.
Please don’t take this as me defending the perp, but I’ve wondered what to think about girls who claim they want sex at the age of 12 or adults who say they wanted sex when they were 12. Of course I want the perp to get in trouble, but is it really right to say to the girl, “no, you didn’t really want that” as if I know more about her mind than she does? It feels like gaslighting to tell her what she wanted or didn’t want.
I also feel complicated about other countries where the cultural age of adulthood is between 12 and 15. In those contexts, is a 20-something male with a 15-year-old female a pedophile or someone who sees her as an adult?
In the biblical story of Mary and Joseph, I’ve heard it was normal for him to be 30 and her to be 15. Was Joseph a pedophile or a godly man who saw Mary as an adult?
I do NOT want anyone to get away with statutory rape, so please don’t hate me for analyzing other cultures. It’s just that I’m trying to figure out the difference between what’s culture and what’s objective truth. Is it culture or science to say that the age of consent should be X when legally, it varies by location.
And yes, you are welcome to be weirded out that the USA has different laws in every state. I’m an American who is annoyed by inconsistency.
I can’t speak for other cultures, but for sure, in typical western culture, if a 12 year old girl was saying she wanted sex the only kind of sex we could ever call legit in that situation would be with a peer – a 12 year old boy who was her boyfriend.
What this article describes is a completely different situation where a 12 year old, or someone of a similar age, was pursued by an older man. In our culture that is clearly never acceptable, and also illegal.
I did live in a culture for over a decade where young teenage girls were married to older men, and given very limited choices in their situations. ie ‘If you don’t marry this man, then you will marry this one….which one of these 2 do you choose?’ Clearly we would find that the young girls in those situations do not have free consent over their sexual lives. I also saw young girls struggle physically with getting pregnant at such a young age, and the culture i lived in was highly patriarchal. Nobody in that culture believes women were equal to men, so the girls were not respected or valued as equals and had little to no agency over their own lives and bodies. However, I noted that the young girls particularly seemed to almost run after the oldest men they could get. The reason, of course, was money. They perceived that the older men would be more able to take care of them financially, and since the women would never be able to look after themselves financially, this was their best option, of a range of fairly poor options.
The Joseph and Mary is a really interesting example. We don’t know their ages, so its conjecture to say their ages. But possibly he was older than her.
But we see how Joseph’s actions are so completely different from the actions of older man in the example given above . In the example above, the man did not go proposing a future marriage, without any current sexual behaviour, to this young girl. Rather, he justified his initiation of sexual interactions, outside of a marriage, and with a very unfairly weighted power and age dynamic, by blaming her parents and her appearance, and the fact she was apparently drawing attention from more than himself.
It is clear from his actions and pain after Mary is obviously pregnant, that Joseph, while he was to be married to Mary in the future, had not had any sexual contact with her. So while yes there are questions over how much consent either of them had in their union, the dynamic is so clearly different, and free from any sexual contact.
The point is not whether the man in Sheila’s example is a pedophile or not, the point is that his actions toward the girl were immoral, the power dynamic was such that she could never have freedom to consent or not. As someone in a position of trust, he abused that trust, and didn’t treat this young girl as a daughter and sister. He didn’t consider the unfair dynamic, and that she should’ve been protected by someone like him and not led into what happened.
> > I’ve wondered what to think about girls who claim they want sex at the age of 12 or adults who say they wanted sex when they were 12.
It’s hard to say what kids want sometimes. They may THINK that they want something, but may not fully understand the ramifications. Also, as people age, they remember their feelings differently, and they may remember something that happened a certain way, when it didn’t.
I definitely remember being interested in girls all the way back to three years of age. I didn’t fully understand sexuality back then, of course, and likely didn’t entirely understand my feelings, but I was interested in girls and liked them.
“They may THINK that they want something, but may not fully understand the ramifications. ”
Yes. Like four year olds who can’t wait to be adults because then they can stay up all night and never eat anything except cake and chocolate. Or 10 year olds who want to have a baby because they love helping with their baby brother or sister.
We have legal restrictions on what children can do because they are not yet mature enough to make decisions for themselves. And while it’s true that other countries allow marriage at a much earlier age, there are many people campaigning to prevent this, purely because of the damage caused to young girls by being married so young.
Here’s another resource with a good summary of common sexual behaviours by age and stage of development. https://www.nationalcac.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/HealthySexualDevelopmentOverview.pdf
The breast fairy? You mean the God of the universal who knit and formed her perfectly in the womb? That breast fairy? I just have no words. I can only imagine the sorrow in heaven when this poor sweet child was raped. Then the anger that must have followed when “Christian men” justified it.
I froze for a second because the ministry I work for here in the UK stocks a book called Grace Filled Marriage — thankfully not the same one. This story is awful and heartbreaking. Thanks as always for shedding light in dark places, BM team.
Shocking…all the glowing endorsements for “Grace Filled Marriage” are written by old white men. Hmmmm…can you say “patriarchy?”
I wonder what the responses would look like if the story was told along these lines… “Chad grew up as an altar boy in the church. When he was 12, his priest started paying special attention to him. Eventually Chad was convinced that the attention had turned into attraction, and he consented to have sex with his priest over a period of years until he went off to college. When he met and fell in love with Tracy, he held onto this secret out of shame for his infidelity to his future wife. Eventually it came out, and Tracy had to learn to forgive Chad for the transgressions of his 12 year old self.”
It is stunning when you see the photos like that. When I was downloading them I said to Rebecca and Joanna, “it’s like they’re all the same person!”
The “breast fairy” is grotesquely outrageous. How dare he comment on her body- the author is objectifying her in his own words and writing, blaming her for her “interest.” This disgusts me. I am heart broken for this young girl. I also developer early (3rd grade) and it was horrible- men gawked at me at church constantly and when a professor at my university slapped my butt…my dad’s (minister) first question was “what were you wearing?” The university, on the other hand, fired him. This is embarrassing at the least and gross gross dereliction of duty church. But the church may not be where we think it is. We are waking up and I’m so thankful for leaders like Shiela and Becca!
Wow, I’m so glad that the university fired him! But I am so sorry for the response of your church. Yes, that does seem to very typical, and it just needs to stop.
I was listening to an interview with Sam Black, in which he described the experience of a 12 year old who’d been raped by her stepfather. She, of course, had no real control in the situation, but she learned fairly quickly that if she acted seductive with him, she could at least have some say as to when and where it might happen — such as not in front of her younger sister, or not when others were in the house. I think Kimmel just might be dumb enough to classify this as “willing participation,” but we can easily see the lengths girls go to in an attempt to potentially lessen harm. It DOESN’T mean she’s willing!
Absolutely. It’s just awful.
I find this quote also troubling:
“Chad didn’t know that Tracy had brought a secret to their wedding. She wasn’t what she had advertised herself to be back when they met in church”
She wasn’t what she had advertised herself to be? Advertised herself to be something she wasn’t? What does the author mean by that?
Emmy, apparently this author thinks young men are entitled to “fresh meat” and young women need to be forced to “advertise truthfully.” It’s positively disgusting. It is 100% objectification.
I am horrified by this sort of thing.I grew up with this belief and the older I get the more it makes me mad.
I went through ( and still am) so much trauma, pain and healing to do because of the belief being a young girl ( from age 5) ment I was an issue to men and it was my fault.
I have 3 daughters of my own now and am doing my best to give them the truth, their bodies are beautiful and it is NEVER their responsibility for a mans wrong.
I am so saddened that still to this day the church thinks these beliefs are Biblical and that girls and women are the issue.
Aside from the moral shortcomings of the evangelical men who would hold a 14-year-old girl accountable for this, they are also guilty of a huge intellectual disconnect. Presumably, they would agree that a girl that age shouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol, to sign a legally binding contract, to vote in an election, join the military, donate her organs, etc. So, the idea that this same girl has the maturity and agency to enter into a consensual sexual relationship (which also means she has the power to REFUSE to enter into a relationship) with an ADULT is intellectually inconsistent.
Well well…she “brought a secret to her marriage” did she? While I do think trauma like that should be aired BEFORE a wedding (and I hope it was), the thought that someone could think she was willing or complicit is so bizarre. I’m in a Christian subreddit and some people have some horrible opinions on the age of consent and dating trends (newsflash: the church looks like it’s moving towards arranged marriages again and that’s terrifying!)
We need a breed of ethical guys who stand up against this mierda. I hope to God i never meet someone who performed statutory rape or I swear to God I would have to have Gabriel himself restrain me before I give the man a tongue (and maybe more) lashing.
We definitely do need a new breed of ethical men!