Bible Baptist Tabernacle: The Pastor Who Said Women in Shorts Deserve To Be Raped

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Faith | 62 comments

Bible Baptist Tabernacle Pastor Saying women Deserve to be Raped

A few weeks ago, a North Carolina pastor went viral for saying men can’t help but rape.

Here’s Julie Roys’ first tweet about it, with the embedded video, that blew up: Talking about women dressing in shorts: “If you dress like that & you get raped & I’m on the jury, he’s going to go free…because a man’s a man.”

This is Pastor Bobby Leonard from Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina, recorded in August 2023. If you’re thinking this isn’t likely a one-off issue – you’re right.

Bible Baptist Tabernacle has a long history of abuse.

This church has a daycare and a Christian school. Around 2005, the daycare got in trouble with the state because one of the teachers had physically hurt one of the toddlers while administering physical discipline. Bruises remained.

Two years later, an associate pastor at the church, and head of the Christian school Scott Couick, was in trouble with the state because he used a wooden paddle to spank an 11-year-old boy. Bruises remained.

In both cases, the church just had to pay a $500 fine. 

Fast forward to 2011, and Scott Couick’s 16-year-old son David Seth Couick turned himself in for sexually abusing two children, ages 6 & 7, on multiple occasions. Two years later he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Over the next few years, in the bulletin every week was a request to please write to David, with his prison addresses included. Nothing was said about reaching out to the victims and continuing to care for them.

THIS is exactly what we talk about in The Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better. So much of evangelical teaching absolves men of ALL responsibility for self-control, and blames her for enticing him. And then we have higher rates of anorgasmia, higher rates of sexual pain, and higher rates of marital rape.

This isn’t okay.

The pastor from Bible Baptist Tabernacle has since apologized.

However, I don’t think this is enough. Here’s what I tweeted about it:

While I’m glad the pastor apologized for giving a sermon saying women who wore shorts deserved to be raped, more needs to be done.

He has not addressed the harm that the women in his church have already experienced because of his messages.

We recently conducted a survey of 7000 predominantly evangelical women for our book She Deserves Better, looking at how experiences in church affect them long-term. Given what this pastor says, we’re going to see a lot of harm.

1. In churches that teach that women are stumbling blocks to men based on what they wear, abuse rates WITHIN the church are higher. 20% of Christian teens reported being abused or harrassed in church, about half by pastors & Sunday School teachers.

This rate increases in churches that teach this stuff. Men are told they don’t have to exercise self-control, because it’s the woman’s fault, not their fault. And women internalize this.

2. Women who grow up hearing this are less likely to recognize consent or date rape, and more likely to blame themselves if they have been victimized. Because of purity culture beliefs that they are now “ruined”, they are more likely to marry their rapist.

3. They are more likely to marry abusers or men who use porn, because they have been taught that lust and assault are normal male behaviour, rather than red flags to be avoided.

4. They are more likely to experience sexual pain. Evangelical women have about 2.5 times the rate of vaginismus as the general population (our incidence is 22.7%). One of the big drivers of this is being taught the modesty message as a teen.

So while I’m happy this pastor apologized, because of his stance, many women in his congregation have been victimized who otherwise may not have been. There will be higher rates of abuse. Even physical changes like vaginismus. A total change of mindset needs to occur.

I hope pastors like this will read She Deserves Better, and listen. And care.


Sheila Wray Gregoire

on X

Now, this is a horrible story, and I know most of you aren’t at churches like that.

Thank goodness! 

But I think this story matters, and I have a few takeaways to share.

1. When a pastor says something awful, stand up and walk out.

We need to normalize this. I talked about this in relation to Emerson Eggerichs’ gaslighting of abuse victims in his sermons at Houston’s First Baptist Church. I talked about this in relation to that horrible thing the Missouri pastor said a while ago how if a wife gains weight, she should expect the husband to divorce her.

When you walk out, you signal, “this isn’t okay.” And it’s important that we do that when pastors say something awful. Not just so that pastors know it’s not okay, but also so that others in the congregation, who may be thinking, “I don’t like that, but maybe the problem is just me,” will know it’s NOT just them. 

Even if you’re not being abused, and you’re not a sexual abuse survivor, get up and walk out in solidarity.

2. If a pastor excuses rape, know it’s not an isolated incident.

Look at everything else that was happening at this church! One pastor physically abuses kids at a Christian school through harsh corporal punishment; his son sexually abuses children. Do you not think that’s related?

Even if there’s no abuse that you know about (like no convictions), you know this is the type of church that will ignore abuse allegations or blame the victim. So if something happened, chances are it would be swept under the rug. That isn’t safe. That’s signalling to everyone in the congregation: We won’t take abuse seriously.

3. If the church is wrong on rape, what else are they wrong on?

Here’s something else I was talking to a commenter about. She was asking for advice because the church she is in is recommending books she now knows are toxic. Should she stay in the church, or should she go?

I can never tell you what to do, because I think God asks different things of different people. Sometimes He’s using you to bring change; sometimes your presence is stopping change from happening because by being there you’re propping up a toxic system, even if you don’t like it.

But I can tell you this: those of you who follow Bare Marriage are fine-tuned to issues of sex, gender, and abuse. So you’ll be able to spot when what a pastor or small group leader says is harmful.

Harmful things, though, tend to go in groups. They hang around altogether! If they’re toxic about sex, they’re likely toxic about suffering, or God’s will, or emotions (as we talked about in the Lies Women Believe podcasts.)

But you may not know as much about those other things, which can harm you in different ways. So even if you can spot the toxic stuff in one area, you may not spot it in the others. And that can cause some spiritual trauma, too. So if you’re at a church that is actively using harmful resources, and refuses to change, just know that the church is likely being harmful in other areas too.

If you want an easy way to talk to your church or small group leader about this, please checkout our Great Sex Rescue Toolkit! It’s got reports you can print out or email that explain the harm in certain teachings, and some hints and tips on how to raise these issues. It’s really comprehensive, going over most of our findings, and you’ll find it super useful. It’s also pay what you can, so we invite you to take it for as little as $3, or pay much more if you just want to support our ministry. Find it here.

She Deserves Better!

Because we all deserve a big faith.

Your daughter deserves better than what you likely grew up with in church.

What would it look like to prepare the next generation without toxic teachings about modesty, sex, or consent, and instead set her up for a big faith?

4. Beware if the church centers sexual abusers

The pastor had sympathy for the rapist in the sermon. But it’s not just that. By including the address of the perpetrator on all the bulletins for the next few years, and inviting people to write to him, they were sending a clear message: These perpetrator needs our love and attention

Now, I actually believe in prison ministry, and I’ve been involved in it in my earlier days. But notice that the bulletin has nothing about how to support the families of the victims. Every week, congregants are being asked to do something nice for the perpetrator, while the victims disappear. 

In John MacArthur’s church, Julie Roys wrote about how they were supporting Eileen Gray’s husband when he was in jail for pedophilia, while they never did anything for his wife except excommunicate her for divorcing her husband.This speaks volumes.

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These churches exist because people keep volunteering and keep giving money. And at the same time, there are small churches struggling to survive that are trying to feed the neighbourhood, care for people around them, and just be a good part of the community.

It just may be that these smaller churches are of a denomination you wouldn’t normally attend.

It’s hard to know what we should do. But if you do decide to stay, make your anger known. Stand up and walk out whenever you need to.

And if you do leave, remember you’re allowed to leave loudly.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Nessie

    Leaving was the wisest choice for us. I truly did not realize how crass I had become in some ways because sexual inuendo was so prominient at that previous church that I had become desensitized to it. (With as much sexualization as the SBC covers and practically promotes, I get it now.) After about 9 months away, I really started noticing a change in me, and my eyes were really opened to the many more issues that I had not even noticed before leaving.

    Thanks for speaking up for prison ministries. I think they are important. But so are the victims, even more so. It’s like a variant of the log/speck… let’s minister to the man with the speck while this log over here is crushing it’s victim. Ah, that’s ok, she’ll manage. He’s behind bars, right? She gets to live her life, but he doesn’t.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad you left and you’re in a better space now!

    • Nessie

      Finally read the Roys Report article.

      I *might* believe these men are sincere in their apologies when they start framing them as apologizing for their hearts’ darknesses instead of having used poor word choice. While I am sure he is sorry he made those statements- he certainly didn’t want to become infamous- I cannot accept it as sincere when there is so much work going in to carefully selecting the verbage so as to soothe ruffled feathers yet not be culpable for the heart behind the statements.

      Imo, at the very minimum those who make statements like these should take a leave of absence to reassess their hearts, motives, beliefs, and likeness to Christ. If, after that, there is a significant time of repentance, then maybe I can believe their sincerity. Repentance being things like pursuing therapy to root out their deep misogony, learning from and helping rape victims, eventually ministering to the men in prison and counselling them how horrific those crimes are, etc.

  2. Angharad

    I don’t care if this guy has apologised or not – a comment like that should come under the ‘instant dismissal’ category.

    I get that people can sometimes come out with ‘jokes’ that aren’t funny. Or try to make a ‘daring’ comment to get attention that just goes too far. But this is in a totally different category.

    Every single man in that congregation has basically just been told that raping a woman is guilt-free if she’s wearing shorts. And every woman in that congregation has been told that if she ever wears shorts, it’s her fault if she gets raped.

    That goes WAY beyond a tactless comment or a slightly off-colour joke. And I have never yet encountered a man who makes comments like this who is not also very, very dangerous for women to be around. In this country, he’d be lucky not to end up in court for inciting violence against women.

    • Angharad

      Oh boy, just done an internet search and realised that this guy made these comments LAST SUMMER and they only got picked up when someone posted a clip online recently…

      So that means that NO ONE in his church (which looks like a big one) thought it was enough of an issue to take action?!!!!

      Making a mental note never, ever, ever to visit that part of the world because I don’t think any woman is safe there, if that’s the attitude that ‘Christians’ have to a pastor who encourages men to go around raping women. (Listen to the clip and you notice that he first encourages people to go to the mall and look out for women wearing shorts…and THEN says that a guy who rapes a woman wearing shorts should be let off…So he’s actually encouraging his congregation to look for women whom he says deserve to be raped…and then refers to the rapist as ‘men being men’. If that’s not incitement to rape, I don’t know what is.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. It’s unconscionable. He needs to leave the ministry, but that whole church also needs to examine what crap they’ve believed over the years.

    • Taylor

      Jesus never said, “if a woman causes you to sin in lust, take it the whole way and rape her.” He said, “If YOUR eye causes YOU to sin, PLUCK IT OUT.”

      Yea, this guy should be fired. Publicly.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I truly don’t know why people deliberately don’t get this.

  3. JoB

    So… if you were a missionary to an unreached tribe where women wore little to no clothing… you’d end up raping most of the women you were supposed to be ministering to? *shudder*

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s basically what he’s admitting to. When a man admits something like this, that should be a sign to all the women around him that he is not safe.

      • Jane King

        And he’s in his 80’s he probably thought like this his entire life. I shudder to think what he was like during the miniskirt era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was a lot younger then and his thinking was probably just as unsafe.

  4. Nathan

    > > And women internalize this.

    This seems to be an important part that gets left out of the discussion elsewhere. It’s one thing for a man to say “boys will be boys”, but women listen to it, and believe it. Then they either think that they’re horrible people or they start pushing the theory themselves.

    And I remember this site talking about the woman who was kicked out her church for divorcing her child molesting husband. There are no words.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that happened at John MacArthur’s church. And yet John MacArthur is still talked about as if he’s this amazing preacher…

  5. Laura

    Rapists rape to have power over someone regardless of what the victim is wearing. In junior high and high school, I was sexually harassed and dressed modestly. Still, I thought I must have done something to deserve it. I don’t know what; I guess I was just an easy target.

    So for that pastor to say wearing certain clothing is asking to be raped because men just cannot help themselves, he’s ignorant. Rapists do not care what a person looks like or wears; they just go after those who appear vulnerable. Or if they’re like my ex husband, they just want control and wait until someone is in a position where they cannot fight back like in bed asleep.

    • Nathan

      > > I guess I was just an easy target.

      This has come up before, right on this site. Women have reported that when they were teenagers and went to Christian camps, they followed the suggestions, and massively covered up, baggy clothes, head to toe, etc. They said that often, they were assaulted and harassed MORE than girls who were very scantily dressed.

      • Angharad

        Yes, I was one of them – loose, thick, baggy dress that came right round my neck and down to my wrists and ankles didn’t save me from sexual assault (when I was under age), and having absorbed the message that it was the way girls dress that ‘make’ men attack them, I felt to blame. I used to boil in summer, and people would ask why I wouldn’t take my jumper off – it was because wearing an extra layer felt safer. Never occurred to me to question why, if dress style caused assault, the girls who wore skimpy dresses and strappy vest tops and shorts didn’t get as much trouble as I did – but of course, my extreme modesty and shyness was as good as a banner announcing ‘this one won’t cause trouble because she’ll think it’s her fault’.

        I’m late 40s now, and still subconsciously prefer winter to summer because I get to wear extra layers. Guess I probably always will.

        So yes, this preacher’s behaviour is ignorant as well as evil – and I don’t apologise for that second adjective, because it is evil to blame women for their own rape.

        • K

          I just want to say that your post really struck a nerve with me. Thank you for sharing. I am SO SORRY for what you experienced and how much it has impacted you. This is such a COMPLETELY different take on the “modesty message”. I can’t possibly begin to understand how much the stupidity of those messages must grate on you.

          I know I am a complete stranger and I can’t take any of the reality of your experience away from you. But thank you for sharing. I really do see you. xx

        • Lisa Johns

          As well as being evil to condone rape in ANY circumstance.

      • Anonymous305

        Wow, I didn’t expect those in modest clothes to be assaulted more, but it makes sense that modest clothes tell the perpetrator that the victim will submit and blame herself and not fight back because her clothes show that she’s internalized the messages of modesty culture.

        I thought there might be some correlation between skimpy clothes and assault because the perp would use the clothes as an excuse (which doesn’t mean the clothes are the actual culprit), but apparently, that’s not always what happens. Both scenarios make sense and both skimpy clothes and baggy clothes appear at “what were you wearing?” exhibits.

        • Angharad

          Anonymous305, I don’t know if there’s ever been a study that proves more modestly dressed women get assaulted more often, but that’s certainly been true in my experience. I think it’s partly that predators know modestly dressed women are more likely to blame themselves, but also that most girls who cover up less tend to be very confident and don’t have any trouble yelling at guys who cause trouble or in reporting them to the relevant authorities. Some guys also deliberately target the very modestly dressed girls because they like knowing the girls they assault are totally inexperienced.

          (As a side note, sexual harassment of women is a huge issue in strict Muslim countries, where all the women are covered from head to toe in baggy fabric – yet if assault and harassment were due to women dressing immodestly, there should be zero incidences of it in these cultures!)

  6. Rebecca

    Last spring I hosted a lunch for some women from church. One of them began speaking loudly and angrily about the immodest formal dresses the girls were wearing at a homeschool prom to which she took her son, adding that thank God her precious boy ignored the girls and spent the whole evening goofing off with the other guys. Another woman commented that she got slammed on Facebook a few years back for her comments about a widely publicized rape case (she said the victim was partly at fault because she had gone to a party where she drank alcohol and danced). I, shaking with rage, said to her, “You may remember I was one of the people who disagreed with you. I still do.” If it hadn’t been my house, I’d have walked out and never come back.

    What should I have said to them? What should I have done? I’m serious. Most of the women I know now seem to think like this. If anyone has any advice, please tell me, besides “get new friends”, which I’m trying to do, or “leave that church “, which I already have.

    • Barb

      Rebecca, I am so sorry for your losses of community and friendship, but I applaud your courage for speaking out online and in your home!

    • Angharad

      Rebecca, I’m so sorry, but thank you for speaking out. If only one person changes their mind because of your words, it will be worth it.

      Could you point out how Jesus treated the woman at the well or the woman who was going to be stoned for adultery? How would Jesus respond to those girls at the prom or the woman who was raped?

      Perhaps try getting through to them that NOTHING a woman can do OR wear can guarantee that she is safe from sexual assault. Could you point out to them that women in Muslim countries who are covered from head to toe (including their faces) still get assaulted? Or that many super-modestly dressed women experience assault in church – and that in many cases, however much they were covered up, the ‘modesty message’ is used by their attackers to justify what has happened and to blame and shame their victims into keeping quiet (“It’s your fault for tempting me” or “If you’d dressed/behaved differently, I wouldn’t have…”) There was a recent blog post that Sheila did about modesty that had many comments from women who had been assaulted in church as young women or children.

      Maybe ask them why it feels so important to be able to blame women for their own assault. One of the commenters on a past post said that subconsciously, women can feel that if assault is due to the behaviour of the victim, then as long as they avoid those behaviours, they will be safe from assault.

      Do be prepared though that if these women are super-entrenched in the culture of blaming women, nothing you share may make them change their minds. It can be very painful and distressing, especially if you’ve been a past victim of assault yourself. If you have the strength to speak out, that is great. But don’t feel bad if you need to take a step back, because self-care is important too! But thank you for trying xxx

    • Bernadette

      They are condoning rape. Maybe point that out to them. Bluntly.

      • Rebecca

        I’m tired of girls being blamed for wearing what usually look like normal clothes to me. This is a group that considers spaghetti strapped formals to be over the line. What the heck is wrong with spaghetti straps?

        Anyway, I have a teenaged daughter and she was in the house the day of that lunch. So was her little sister. I was furious that women in particular, who should remember what it was like to be that young, would be so insensitive with my girls running around able to hear their disdain. Disdain for female CHILDREN, as well as grown women. That hurts me.

        If only I could find a good church!

      • Angharad

        Bernadette, I get where you are coming from and those women WERE condoning rape by their comments. But if you are trying to get someone to change their mind on this area, sometimes approaching it in a more gradual, questioning way can get better results. Saying “you’re condoning rape” is likely to get “oh, I’m not saying it’s ever justified BUT….” and the speaker gets more and more entrenched in self-justification. But sometimes, very occasionally, asking questions or mentioning facts that dispute their view can get them thinking!

        But yes, if you are not planning on having an ongoing conversation with them or continuing to spend any time with them, I’d probably just be blunt and walk away!

    • K

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sorry for what you had to go through. I get your anger. I respect it.

      With regard to the first woman – here are a couple of Bare Marriage blogs that challenge the foundational basis of what the “relieved” mother was doing to her son …

      And I would challenge the second woman about where her ideas about the poor assaulted girl really come from. I deeply suspect that by finding a way to blame the girl at the party for what happened to her, she can feel safe and superior because she doesn’t do those thing (she’s getting it “right”) and that it couldn’t possibly happen to her.

      That’s basically a health wealth and prosperity gospel – safety based on your own religious merit.

      We live in a world where ghastly things happen to normal, careful people. Obeying the rules doesn’t offer anyone immunity.

      Whether either of these approaches will help you to win friends and influence people, I strongly doubt. But I hope there is something here that helps you to take a stance that you feel good about.

      And this is for you – if you’ve never seen it before. Beautifully, sadly, brilliant.

      I’m glad your daughter has you!!

      • Lisa Johns

        Tracy Ullman is awesome!

      • Angharad

        That video clip is awesome – and so encouraging to see the number of positive comments from men. A hopeful sign that the world is changing, even if the church is not.

      • Rebecca

        Tracy Ullman is a shape shifter and that was brilliant.

  7. Codec

    At complaining conventions there are signs posted with a line of dialouge reading “Cosplay is not consent”. The reason for the line is self evident.

    I find it incredibly creepy that in a church of all places you are hearing something that would get you permanently banned from any cosplay event.

    • Codec

      Cosplay. Why it changed it to complaining I can not fathom.

      • Rebecca

        As a fan of cosplay events, I approve this message.

    • Lisa Johns

      It’s a harsh commentary on the church when a cosplay convention that has no focus on the Gospel gets it better than your typical Sunday morning “worship” experience. Be better, church.

  8. Boone

    A point of clarification here. These people are not evangelical. They consider evangelicals to be apostate and will not have anything to do with them. They are independent fundamental Baptist and only their corner of the IFB world has the truth. They are to the far end of the spectrum. They are extremely legalistic, extremely intolerant and downright mean. They all pretty much follow the same business model. Start a church that more often than not becomes a family business. Next start an unaccredited elementary school. Next start an unaccredited high school. Then start an unaccredited Bible college the students of which serve as slave labor for the church. No dissent of any nature is allowed and there is no accountability to anybody.
    For further information on fundy atrocities I would suggest you Google Joe and Evangeline Combs ( I sat through two days of their criminal trial. They were sentenced to over 100 years in prison), Jack Hyles, David Hyles and Jack Schaap.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s good to know! I can never figure out who is evangelical and who isn’t.

      Yes, I’ve heard of the latter three. Truly disgusting.

      • Boone

        The Hyles bunch were rank amateurs next to the Combs.

  9. Jo R

    Echoing off one the FB post’s commenters…

    Here’s a little analogy to help men understand a woman’s typical day.

    Imagine half the population is eight inches taller, eighty pounds heavier, and with at least twice the upper body strength. Every day, no matter what you do or don’t do, a sizeable fraction of these people who are so much bigger than you are going to, at the very least, make comments that they insist should only be interpreted as “joking” about what would actually be mentally or emotionally harmful or physically injurious to you. Sometimes, words become actions, like a little slap on the butt, or standing a little close, or brushing against you when your in a small space. You have no idea when one of these people will cross over from just saying things that make you extremely uncomfortable to actually physically doing something.

    This is all day, every day, and you aren’t even necessarily safe in your home, such as when you’re still in childhood.

    You will never be as heavy, tall, or strong as this other half of the population, so you can expect zero improvement for the rest of your life. You learn to avoid dangerous situations and places, but there will always be some that you simply cannot avoid. You will be on edge the rest of your life, just because you’re smaller and weaker.

    TLDR: You are an eight-year-old boy who will never go through puberty, and half the population you encounter are all built like NFL linemen, some of whom will be glad to use the size differential to their advantage. You have no idea which one of them, or if a group of them, will decide to give you a shove, or grab your crotch, or rip your clothes off and anally rape you. All day, every day, for you whole life.

    Welcome to a tiny glimpse of womanhood, fellas, even in church.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well said!

    • Rebecca

      You forgot: The very church people who talk about being loving, kind, and gentle are more interested in protecting the strong half of the population from you than you from them.

  10. Kari

    After this came out, my husband and I talked about whether walking out of the church service would be the right thing to do – and we’re torn. If something like that isn’t addressed immediately, will anything start to change? I’m 100% not a person who wants to cause a scene, but I couldn’t imagine just walking out and not saying something at the time.

    • Angharad

      I think that in a ‘normal’ church, just standing up and walking out should send enough of a message – and probably, the first person to do so would give courage to others and there would be a mass walkout! The problem with this guy’s church is that NO ONE seemed to think it was an issue for months after the message was given. So I reckon anyone who walked out of that kind of message in his church would just be viewed as sinful and rebellious!

      However, if someone were able to speak out in the right way, I think it would be appropriate to challenge a message like this in the moment it was being given. 99.9% of the time, I think it’s much better to speak to a preacher after the service. But the issue with this message wasn’t just poor teaching or a theological difference of opinion, it was posing an immediate threat to the physical safety of women. In my view, that should be challenged immediately and publicly.

  11. Amy G

    How do these fools that justify raping women because they lusted after them not realize that if Jesus had strong words for creeps commiting lust, He’d certainly not be okay with said creep for actually acting on it? It’d be better for the creep to lose even more body parts. Just be a head and torso.

  12. Jenn

    We are in the middle of this now at our church. Our pastor asked, “what responsibility my (14 year old) daughter bears for the invitation”. After meetings with the pastoral staff, it which I have tried so hard and so loudly to explain to them that these mind sets are exceedingly dangerous for women and girls (and men as well!). My husband and I have explained that clothing is not an invitation and clothing is not consent. But, they either cannot or will not see. We’re just stumbling blocks on their path to serving Jesus.
    In the last meeting, they explained how the devil attempts to tempt them before they get on stage to preach by by using women on the worship team. These are only a few of the things said. I’m infuriated and heartbroken.
    The wonderful thing that has come from it, are the conversations we’ve been able to have with our daughter about Jesus and how HE sees her. My heart breaks for the church, the women, and girls there who have internalized a view of themselves and other women that is so damaging.
    Thank you, Sheila for your work! You have made many of us brave to say the things we’ve felt for so long!

    • K

      Jenn I’m sorry for what your family is going through. Especially your daughter as she comes into a knowledge of who she is and where she fits in the world.

      I don’t know your situation and everything going on in it, but your pastors attitude is alarming. If you feel like something is really not right – please don’t squash it down, but allow yourself to mentally, emotionally and spiritually sit in that space and “explore” it.

      For any man – let alone a pastor – to express that a 14 year old is sending an “invitation” is NOT healthy.

      For a pastor to express that the ladies on the worship team are so distracting that he can hardly preach is extremely concerning.

      That is a pornified mind talking. And from a pastoral perspective women around this man are not being considered as sheep – apparently they are prey. Even if he is not acting out on this – his view of women is extremely distorted.

      This seems to be a man with a major lust problem – who refuses to acknowledge his own perversion – he’d rather blame a14 year old for it. That isn’t spiritual maturity. That is a spiritually blind man who is leading – and judging from your conversation with him, he’d like to stay that way.

      I can’t tell you what to do. But I really want to encourage you to continue on the path of learning and questioning and finding your own voice in this situation. Doing these things is healthy and wise and good. It can be a hard path to follow. But it’s the path of truth. ♥️

      • Jenn

        Thank you K, so much for your encouragement! It can be difficult when it feels like you’re the only one sounding the alarm! Sometimes you think you’re crazy or making more of something than it is. I know this is deception at its core. I know the words of Jesus and how He views women. The fight is real, you know?!
        Thank you again for your kind words. It’s in this community of women (and men too!) that I find encouragement and the strength to keep seeking and speaking! It’s not just for my daughter, but for the women that don’t even recognize the dangers around them but will most certainly be impacted by.

        • K

          Hugs Jenn (if you want them …)

          I just want to reassure you on the point of “maybe it’s just you”…

          Next time you are watching the worship team and are enjoying the praise – and seeing uplifted faces, and your spirit is moved by the spirits of the people you are in communion with on the stage …

          Remember that there is a man (men?) with a face who you know who is not focused on the praise or the spiritual communion that surrounds him. He’s is focused on the women in front of him and is so consumed with lust towards them that he’s going to find it difficult to preach in a moment …. and when he gets up to preach he’s going to pretend that he’s just a normal man who has enjoyed the praise as much as you have and is now “bringing the word” …

          This is not you inserting filth into the situation by projecting something into it. It’s you being absolutely honest about what has been told to you by that person himself.

          Finding this situation to be absolutely disgusting and hypocritical doesn’t make you crazy or lacking in judgement.

          It makes you someone who can actually see what is going on for what it is and you don’t like it or condone it.

          The problem is NOT you.

          Trust your gut. It isn’t lying to you. ♥️

    • Taylor

      If the pastors are having “spiritual battle” temptations regarding the women on the worship team, then they have an adultery problem. If they’re having temptation issues around a 14 year old girl, they have a pedophile problem.

      Spiritual battle is a real thing. But often people invite spiritual battle on themselves. If people have sin that they haven’t dealt with, the enemy will take advantage of it and start pushing buttons. The enemy will also collude with the self-deception that, “my struggle is their fault–I’m the real victim here.” When this blindness gets entrenched, it becomes dangerous.

      Again, Jesus didn’t say “if you struggle with lust, it’s her fault, and she should be controlled.” He said, “If YOUR eye causes YOU to sin, pluck it out.”

      • Jo R

        You dropped something: 🎤

        Especially love your use of the words “adultery” and “pedophile.” And your last para is 🔥. Can we get that printed in large letters on sandwich boards for us all to wear to church?

      • Nessie

        Agreed! If you choose to remain in this church space, I would make sure your daughter is NEVER possibly alone or in a situation in which she could be cornered by this man (men) or really any man in the congregation that has been influenced by this “pastor”, and I would warn her that he has identified himself as a dangerous man. Because he has told you exactly who he is and what his thought process is. He is a predator, and possibly a pedophilic predator.

        Imo, when a pastor identifies sin but projects and transfers the blame for it onto someone else much less a child, I would not be able to trust that any of his teaching is accurate. Been there, done that, still undoing the damage years later.

    • Lisa Johns

      This just makes me very, very angry. And sick to my stomach. How absolutely horrible that not only do they not see, they are not even WILLING to see. And these “men” call themselves Christian. How shameful.

    • Angharad

      Jenn, I’ve been in churches as a teen that sound a lot like the one you are in now. Can I raise two points for you to consider.

      1) If the men who are preaching, praying and leading your service are claiming they are being ‘tempted’ by women in the worship team right before they get on stage, what kind of wholesome teaching are you likely to get from these guys? They’ve just admitted to lusting over women while they are worshipping God…

      2) Any man who refers to a CHILD (which is what a 14-year-old is) ‘bearing responsibility’ for ‘inviting’ lust is not a safe person for a child to be around. And if that man is a preacher or leader in a church, then the church culture is not safe for the child either. I grew up in churches that had this kind of attitude in the leadership and it was pervasive – any guy who wanted to touch a young girl’s breasts or butt, or kiss her, or put his hand down her top could ‘justify’ his behaviour because ‘she was tempting’…

      It’s great that you have been able to have clear conversations with your daughter about how Jesus views her. But please be aware that being surrounded by men who view her in a toxic way can still have an impact. And make sure you spell out to her exactly what she needs to do if she experiences harassment or assault, even if that guy is a church leader. Because in a church that has leaders like this, she IS going to experience it sooner or later.

  13. TP

    This is all so troubling. It is interesting to realize that I don’t think I have ever heard or read a secular study about how a female’s clothing caused (or protected them from) rape. This seemed to have been almost completely cooked up in the evangelical church. It might be possible that a provocatively dressed girl could bring the wrong kind of attention, but that would still not hold her culpable for someone committing such a heinous crime against her. It’s against the law to rape (sexual harassment, too) and it’s against God’s law to treat anyone in a way other than “made in the image of God”. I recently watched the “Let Us Prey” documentary and it was all about the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church. There were multiple clips from various pastors over a long period of time that were saying just what the pastor in this article was saying. In fact they were shouting these things passionately and self-righteously. One pastor even said, “for every man that goes to jail for rape, there should be a half naked woman in there beside him”. The worst part of it was, there were so many brave women that came forth and exposed the pastors and youth leaders that raped them (some when they were still minors) and all of the photos of these girls showed them in baggy sweatshirts, baggy pants, long baggy jean dresses and skirts. They couldn’t have been more covered up! One young man who left that family of churches has a podcast to expose these issues and he wears a shirt that says: “Purity Culture is Rape Culture”! I love it!

  14. TP

    Having the topic of the way females dress also causes people (namely men) to go out of their way to pay attention to what they are wearing whereas, they may not have really thought much about it before. One of my friends was complaining about how the girls in our church youth group were dressing and she was angry that they weren’t “protecting” her son. I asked my son (who was 16 at the time), how the girls were dressing at youth meetings. I wasn’t trying to find them guilty, I was just trying to figure out where my son’s thoughts were in all of this. He said, “umm, normal clothes?” and I said, “what do you mean by normal clothes?” and he said, “umm, shorts and shirts? I don’t know, I don’t really pay attention.” It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t notice girls, it just means that he is not hyper-fixated on what they are wearing, because, by God’s grace, the church we were attending at the time, never brought up the topic!

    • Angharad

      Can I just say how much I love your son’s attitude.

      “Umm, normal clothes?”

      “I don’t know, I don’t really pay attention.”

      I wish there had been more lads like your son at youth meetings when I was a teen!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        This is honestly the norm. I wish adults understood this. Kids don’t find this weird, because the clothes are NORMAL.

  15. m

    I read some of the blogs here because I came from this background and I get it. Also because it’s a place I can keep tabs on recent revelations in these circles. That said, in general if I want to know whether or not I can trust someone, I simply ask a version of “are you/they a christian?” Or “what church do you/they go to?”. If I get a positive (yes, they are christian/attend church) I automatically assume they are completely untrustworthy in any and all meaningful ways. I grew up in church and finally walked away 10 years ago and am still cleaning up the mess their trauma left. The comment that “man of god” made from his pulpit and the lack of outrage is yet another example of why I stand where I do on church people. I watched that over and over for more than 30 years – directed at the congregations in general, towards me personally, towards family, friends, and perfect strangers. It hasn’t improved. They keep getting more and more brazen. It’s utterly disgusting. They want to know why the younger generations are increasingly leaving? This is why. Because they are telling people that they are perfectly fine with rapists, pedophiles, and all other abusive people. And if you are weak enough to be raped and otherwise abused, that’s just your lot in life and you should just shut up and be content with your lot, it’s your fault anyway for being weak. Utterly disgusting and revolting.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi, m. I share your outrage. I understand. I wish I could take you out for coffee (well, I prefer tea) and we could just chat. You are always welcome here.

  16. LS

    The message that men naturally lust is often accompanied by the idea that lust is only a man’s desire for a woman he isn’t married to. However, lust can also happen within a marriage when a husband objectifies his wife. Lust is a selfish desire to feed one’s own appetite at the expense of another person, and too many pastors and authors assume that lust is OK as long as you are married. They forget that “indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephesians 2:3) is not appropriate for anyone who follows Jesus.

    • Terry

      So much this, LS. Thank you. So many church leaders are so enamored of the idea that we should quickly marry off any “problem” men to a woman and that will take care of it. That is a *horrifying* statement of what those leaders think of women; it’s a life sentence for the woman and a convenience for the man, and they’re fine with that. Appalling. And as we all know, marriage doesn’t “cure” lust or any other sin. It just narrows the field of victims down to one poor woman who gets victimized over and over again for years or decades… if the lusting man doesn’t cheat. And this is “biblical marriage” to those church leaders, literally using women as a sop for male sin. I just… It sickens me.

    • M

      I don’t agree that lust and love are mutually exclusive and lust is bad and love is good. Both are emotions. Emotions are not good or bad – how we deal with them or our actions are good or bad. I generally enjoy when my partner is feeling a bit lusty for me and visa versa. It is mixed with love because we also love each other. But CONTEXT matters. We are both consenting adults in a safe, loving relationship and we feel physically attracted to each other. Indulging in and encouraging those kinds of acts and fantasies involving children and people who are not nor would they be consenting and glorifying that type of behavior is disgusting and revolting and unequivocally wrong. I mean, they are actively sexualizing children. They dehumanize themselves and their victims. It’s absolutely horrifying. That’s what makes the lust they indulge in wrong. Exciting lust in my partner makes me give myself a high five while saying “Oh, yeah! I’ve still got it!”. Being subjected to some arrogant jerk old enough to be my father or grandfather’s lewd comments and/or grimaces is quite another thing altogether. That’s creepy. Context is what makes seemingly similar behaviors welcome or unwelcome.


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