Believing Jane: Reflections on a Rape and it’s Cover-Up at The Master’s College & Seminary

believingjane

On this fine afternoon as thunder rumbles outside my window, my blood is boiling and my “injustice antenna” is sounding alarms. I just read a well-documented account of the rape of a Master’s College student. Her rapist was a student at the Master’s Seminary. Both of these institutions are associated with John MacArthur’s church Grace Community Church. When college and church staff learned of the rape, instead of supporting the victim, she was blamed, called to repent, and kicked out of school. You can read the full story on Marcy Preheim’s website at http://www.marcipreheim.com/2017/09/18/do-you-see-me/ but I will also provide a summary of the situation.

Jane (not her real name) was a 21 year old student at the Master’s College studying to become a Biblical Counselor. In her courses, she learned all about how to deal with situations of rape, including the importance of reporting it to the police. On a school break, she went to a restaurant with some friends who were students at the Master’s Seminary. (The restaurant was an approved location according to the strict guidelines for student behavior.) Also at the restaurant was a friend of her friends (also a Master’s Seminary student) who offered to buy her a drink. She said yes, and he brought her a Coke. But the coke was drugged. After she blacked out, the stranger carried her to his room where he raped her, drugged her again, and put her in a dress that was against the school dress code. He also repeatedly offered her alcohol to drink.

When Jane finally was conscious enough to realized that she had been drugged and raped, she confidently went to the police, knowing the importance of reporting such matters. She then spoke with her Residence Director, who was shocked–not at her rape, but at her use of alcohol and drugs. She was assigned a Biblical Counselor as well, who assured her that the only way to make this better would be to marry her rapist. She was also made to go see Rick Holland, the college pastor at Grace Community Church. He asked for all the details she could remember about her rape, much to her discomfort. (This is sexual harassment, by the way.) Rick consulted with Pastor John MacArthur and together they told her that she would be kicked out of school for violating school standards against alcohol and drugs. They were also angry that she had reported the situation to the police.

Jane was shocked at how people were responding to her, which was not at all in line with how she had been taught in her counseling classes to respond to allegations of rape. She was later contacted saying that she could finish her final year at the Master’s College under a few conditions. She found out that her rapist had confessed to raping her, specifically noting that their sex was not consensual. However, she was required to apologize to her rapist for her part in the matter. The second condition was she must consent to regular counseling sessions with her rapist. She refused, and was subsequently barred from campus. Up to that point she had received all A’s for her classes, but when she was expelled, the school changed all her grades to F’s. When she sought to further her education elsewhere, the appearance of her flunking out of college made that extremely difficult. After she left the Master’s College, she continued to receive messages from people associated with the Master’s College and Grace Community Church calling her to repent for fornication and drinking alcohol. The story was circulated that she was expelled for sleeping around and using drugs/alcohol.

That is Jane’s Story. She asks, do you see me? And yes, Jane! We see you! And I for one believe you! What happened to you, the rape itself, was a horrific crime! And the cover up and blame that ensued at the hands of “godly men and women” is unconscionable!

I know there are those who will blame Jane for coming forward with her story, for uncovering these “deeds of darkness.” Others will persecute her for daring to question their favorite Christian celebrities. Some will assume that she’s lying because of John MacArthur’s reputation and fame, even though she has documented evidence of the whole situation as well as a corroborating witness.

But for myself, I believe Jane. And I applaud her courage in speaking the truth.

I’ve heard enough stories like Jane’s to know that it’s possible for even famous Evangelical educational institutions and pastors to so grossly and horrificly mismanage cases of rape. I know that false allegations of rape are extremely rare. I also believe that faulty views on sexuality, authority, consent, gender roles, and submission played heavily into her story.
So I believe Jane. And I am angry at the injustice she experienced–the crime of rape, yes. But also the further injustice of being blamed, disbelieved, disciplined, and silenced as if she had been the perpetrator instead of the victim.

I also call to repentance the people at the Master’s College and Seminary who blamed and oppressed Jane. I call to repentance Rick Holland for his sexual harassment and punishment of Jane. And I call to repentance John MacArthur for participating in disciplining Jane for her drug and alcohol use (which was forced upon her!). These men and women have erred greatly and have caused harm to Jane and to the name of Christ. The best things for them to do now is to: acknowledge their wrong; repent; seek to make restitution to Jane, including clearing her name; seriously consider resigning from their jobs; and examine what sort of distorted theology can contribute to such gross injustice.

Jane asks “Do you see me?”

Yes, Jane, we do. We see you and we believe you.

The Just Truth About Injustice, Part 2

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 King James Version]

Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have all the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. But the person who hasn’t been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn’t seen the evil that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 GOD’S WORD Translation]

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym one day reading my Bible. I remember that I had an old 1917 Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version, and I determined that I was going to read through the book of Ecclesiastes. I read the first three chapters, but as I begin to read the fourth chapter, I stopped right after verse three and I had to absorb exactly what Solomon was talking about. For roughly three years now I’ve had Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 rolling around in the back of my mind and whenever I read it I go back to that moment where I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym at Dover High School and my mind was going over the subject of oppression.

I was a nerd in school and as a result, I didn’t fit in with very well. I mainly stayed to myself and was often picked on. I thought I knew what oppression was. I had no idea what oppression was until I did a word study on ‘oppression’ and found out that this word in the Hebrew implies tyranny by a ruling authority such as a master mistreating a slave, but this isn’t ordinary mistreatment, this is mistreatment by deception. The same root word is used in verses where the words, “deceived” (Leviticus 6:2, KJV), “robbery” (Leviticus 6:4, ESV), and “wrong” (Psalm 105:14, KJV) are also used. What I was going through as a social outcast in high school was kid stuff compared to what Solomon was describing in Ecclesiastes 4.

When we look at the subject of oppression we find that God has a lot to say about oppression and about those oppress other people particularly widows and orphans. One of the first commandments concerning widows and orphans is found in Exodus.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”– [Exodus 22:22-24 ESV]

God is very plain about what the punishment for the mistreatment of widows and orphans is. From in-depth study of widows and orphans, I think it’s safe to say that He holds them very dear to His heart. This isn’t just an old testament command either. Let’s look at what God has to say through James.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – [James 1:27 ESV]

In the Church, we’ve created this mantra that has infected infected Christian culture in almost the worst way possible. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Does that sound familiar? Anytime I hear someone say that it’s like a cat’s claws running slowly down a chalkboard. It has to be one of the most ignorant and theologically inaccurate things I hear on a weekly basis from various cheesy Christian bloggers that still think it’s so cool to say that. The fact is that pure religion has been defined for us in this passage and it would do us well to realize that and apply it to our lives. No, Christ does not merit us on our good religion, but rather, our good religion stems from the relationship that we have with Christ. The Bible is clear. Injustice and oppression against people, especially widows and orphans, will be recompensed either in this life or the next. One day God will right the wrongs of our society and we will live in peace and harmony the way we were meant to.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV]

The Just Truth About Injustice: Part 1

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
– James 1:27 (ESV)

One of things we get used to in this world is the reality of injustice. Most people don’t treat the rich and the poor equally. They tend to show favoritism based on social status or acceptance in society. Most people tend to have a high school mentality. They form cliques and have popularity contests and they shun the less fortunate and socially outcast. In witnessing all of these things, and maybe even being victims of these acts of unfairness, we might feel discouraged and it would be easy fall into negative cynicism and anger but we must hold to the truth that God is and we must keep working to address oppressive injustices that we see in the world.

One of the first things the Church did after receiving the Holy Spirit was give to those who were in need (Acts 2:42-47). They weren’t giving pocket change in a Salvation Army bucket so can get the guy to quit ringing his bell at them. They were giving away deeds to houses. They were giving away deeds to land. They were giving away things that we would consider to be the finer things in life.

The apostles were promoting at Christ-powered lifestyle that drove men to give away their possessions for a purpose greater than themselves. They died to their own desires and wants, and gave from the love of their hearts. They witnessed those who were homeless, hungry, and lame, and they knew that something had to be done. By showing kindness to these victims of circumstance, they were able to win souls to Christ as God added them to the Kingdom (Acts 2:47).

Can you imagine the kind of positive effect the Church could have on our sin-stricken world if we would just allow the Holy Spirit to empower us and inspire us to do service and correct the injustices that we see in the world?