Christianity as Trauma

A few days ago, I came across Cinderace’s comment on one of Siggy’s posts, regarding the “What if I’m really this way just because of _____?” question (and why people ask it).  Maybe it would make more sense to reply to the comment directly, but I’m not really replying so much as branching off of it, and anyhow Christianity and asexuality are my pet subject and so naturally this has to go on my blog.

To start off with, this is the comment that they left (bolding mine):

I often wonder if my asexuality came from/was influenced by other aspects of my personality or my environment growing up, because I just find it interesting to think about the possible connections. I’ve concluded that growing up in conservative Christian culture might have at least contributed to my sex aversion, and sometimes I wonder if that’s a bad thing, something that should be remedied because it came from unhealthy attitudes within Christianity. So I appreciate the reminder that the way I am isn’t wrong, no matter where it came from.

I’ve talked before about folks making a distinction between “acceptable sex aversion” and “sex aversion caused by Christianity,” and I’ve talked about Christians and aces both trying to distance themselves from the specter of “repression,” so you may be sick of this topic by now, but it recently occurred to me that there was another possible angle to touch on, which is this:

If we recognize a certain upbringing with or experience with Christianity as a form of trauma, then we can apply to the effects of that Christian influence the the same things that we apply to the effects of trauma.  Namely:

Trauma can change you in strange ways, and you don’t have to try to undo that.  You can have an identity that you wouldn’t have had without trauma without being obliged to think of that identity as wrong for you.  The fact that it came from traumatic experiences doesn’t make it something you need to fix, to divest yourself of.  It is not wrong to be impacted by your experiences.

If you believe it’s possible to be trans because of trauma and that that’s fine, that it’s possible to be ace because of trauma and that that’s fine, that it’s possible to be sex-averse because of trauma and that that’s fine, then it’s possible to be sex-averse because of scarring, damaging experiences with Christianity and that, too, can be fine.

It’s okay to mourn, but it’s also okay to treat your current experiences and identities as legitimate in their own right, no matter what terrible things they came from.

For me, the statement “it’s okay to be sex-averse” doesn’t come with an asterisk and an “unless.”

I can be a damaged soul and accept who I am and accept that part of who I am was shaped by that damage and insist that that damage should never have happened.  These things are not contradictory.  These do not need reconciliation.

Mitigating negative impacts of negative experiences does not necessitate mitigating all impacts of negative experiences.

Much as it breaks my heart to say it, Christianity can be traumatizing.  It can be harmful; it can mess people up.  The harmful tenets, though, are not the same thing as sex aversion; Christianity can be oppressive but sex aversion is not.

What I’m saying is, not all things that come from evil should be treated as evil themselves.

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5 responses to “Christianity as Trauma

  • cinderace

    Ha, so after I wrote that comment I remembered commenting on one of your posts saying I didn’t think Christianity had caused my sex-aversion, so I had to sit down and figure out what I actually meant when I said those contradictory things, which resulted in me drafting a post that said a lot of the things you just said here. Also “Sex-Repulsed-Christian-Raised Ace Defense Squad” makes me happy. :)

  • Elizabeth

    This is very much where I’m coming from with Christianity–for me, all of it has been traumatic, and I recognize that it’s made any potential positive interaction I could have had with Christian ways of thinking too poisoned with triggers to really exist anymore. It’s like I’m allergic to Christianity, now. I know not everyone has those triggers, though, and for some people it’s mostly beneficial. But I really appreciate that you are able to still acknowledge how it can be traumatic… even when it’s not so much so that you’d want to reject it entirely. That sort of acknowledgment has typically been pretty rare for me to hear coming from religious people (largely because my experience has been biased towards shitty people, admittedly–or people who were about to go from religious to atheist, and that’s why they were talking to me in the first place).

    For me, aversion was never the issue being raised by traumatic Christian upbringing (the aversion was pretty clearly caused by corrective sexual abuse well after I’d been IDing as ace). It was more like “you’re too sheltered to know what you’re talking about, so therefore you can’t be ace.” (Hello, compulsory sexuality!) Many assumptions that I knew nothing about sex or was just offended by it, and my “virgin ears” needed protecting. That sort of thing. It pissed me off a lot, because it’s exactly what my family had tried to do to me–keep me sheltered and “protected” so that I couldn’t question their faith. It backfired big time–my sister and I both took it as a sign of a fragile faith, and rejected it.

  • Sex-aversion and purity culture – cinderace blogs

    […] But more important to me right now is, it matters because it’s okay to be sex-averse. It’s okay to not want to hear about sex, it’s okay to be uncomfortable with it, and it’s okay to not want to do it—and that holds true even if you got that way from unhealthy attitudes, or through some form of trauma. […]

  • doubleinvert

    Christianity can indeed be traumatizing. One of the things I hope to achieve with my seminary education and subsequent ordained ministry (assuming I can complete the seminary process) is to hopefully help heal some of these traumas. That does not mean in any way attempting to change the romantic and sexual orientations of anyone. No. It means trying to find a way to aid those who have been broken by Christianity.

    There isn’t any one way to do this. Being queer and transgender, I can indeed say that I had been harmed by various types of Christianity. Others, however, have served me well.

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