I visited a worship service in a random church, somewhere in suburbia, led by a young woman with the most beautiful voice you can imagine. The old men in the audience were staring at her love-struck, because although she was very plain-looking her mere youth exuded promises of high school romance and passions long thought dead, in contrast to their old wives. The girl was acutely aware of their predatory eyes, with that facility women all possess to know when a man is looking at them, even if from behind and at a great distance. I watched her grow more and more excited as the service continued, pushing her talent to inspired heights of emotion which drowned out the singing of the congregation. As she belted out a chorus about “take me as I am”, she began to undress herself onstage with a passion that any stripper would envy.
Aside from a couple of gasps, no one seemed to mind the display and so I kept my peace, being only a visitor. At the end of the set the siren was entirely naked and, as if snapping into a reverie, she robotically collected her clothing and disappeared backstage. One of the elders appeared and gave an embarrassed apology to the parents in the audience, whose confused children perhaps had taken some small offense. Ignoring this, I left my seat and went backstage myself, to investigate. My spiritual gift is discernment, and so inquiry into the animating spirit of a phenomenon is my sacred duty to the body of Christ.
One of the ushers put up a token resistance to my entry, to which I demurred “I saw a small girl crying over there,” pointing to a dark corner, “and I don’t know anyone here so I can’t find her parents.” The usher rushed to right this imaginary evil, and I said a quick prayer asking God for success in my mission, and forgiveness for the misdirections that Sun Tzu tells us become necessary in times of war. If the son of God can tell a parable or two, then I hope he will understand if I spin a yarn in a spirit of charity for building up his people. Navigating to the women’s bathroom, I put on the armor of God and entered the lion’s den.
Her half-naked form did not distract me much as I’d feared it would, because she was overweight and, being brutally honest, a bit below average in the looks department to begin with. Noticing me, she paused in the ritual of putting on the Midwestern white girl’s uniform (ugly underwear, loose sweater, black tights, boots, scarf, problem glasses optional) long enough to say, “You’re not supposed to be in here.”
“Why did you do that?” I asked.
“Do what?” she replied, a wave of microexpressions giving way to the inquisitive countenance of innocent, childlike curiosity.
“Why did you take off your clothes in front of all those people?”
Her face contorted in a way I will never forget. She clenched her jaw and thinned her lips in a horizontal line, right eye canted in its own little mischievous smile and left eye burning with perfect clarity of purpose.
“I just got caught up in the moment,” she said, “but I just felt like God was speaking to me through that song. Like, who am I to cover over what I am before Him? He can see everything, and we should come to the cross as we are. Before I even knew what was happening, well it just happened, and I just feel like God wants us to have this reckless love for him, you know?” Now fully dressed, she shook her hair out and began to leave, but I blocked the door.
“You are causing God’s children to sin and that is unacceptable. I will be speaking to your pastor about your place in this church. In the meantime, I want to be perfectly clear: this doesn’t happen again. Not even close. I will be back next week and I want you to feel my very judgmental eyes on you.”
At that, her countenance changed to one of pure contempt. I have to admit here that there has never been much love lost between women and me. I try to like them, but they don’t make it easy, and I’ve been single for longer than I care to admit. The first girl I ever kissed was a stunning creature in a strip club, but it was a mechanical, loveless affair…ah, but that’s a story for another time. Remind me and I’ll explain why I’m not a libertarian anymore. The point here is that most adults merely dislike it when I look at them, but sluts especially hate it, and so much so that the next part of the story is tediously predictable.
“What are you doing? How dare you?” she said, eyes bulging as she worked up a practiced hysteria, “This is…this is like rape! You’re raping me! Help! HELP! HELP!” She gave me the proudest look I’ve ever seen and her voice dropped an octave, now so quiet she was almost whispering. “You fuckin’ retard. You insect. You think you can mess with me? I fuckin’ own this church. You’re going to jail for a long time, buddy, you’re gonna get raped every day for the rest of your miserable life.”
I seethed, and without thinking said “I should be so lucky.”
Seeing in my eyes I meant it, and realizing what sort of fanatic I must be to believe it, another wave of confused microexpressions flitted across her face. I even saw…respect? The bathroom door opened, and these expressions passed into steely determination. A tall, well-dressed man entered, cheeks flushed with adrenaline and stress. For some reason, no one spoke for several seconds as he looked back and forth between us.
Years later, I realized that this could only have been the intervention of the Holy Spirit, because the harlot had opened her mouth and looked like she was trying to speak but had forgotten how. If the man had spoken first, I have no doubt that I would have looked weak and thus would be in prison now, yet another nameless martyr awaiting the Lord’s vengeance on the day of judgment. But the Lord must have had other plans for my end than a Mexican standoff in the women’s bathroom of a random church in suburbia, because I got my shot off first.
“Sir, does this woman look raped to you?”
He looked at her for a long moment. Fully clothed, several feet away from me with not a scratch on her body, he watched her face turn white with fury as she realized the jig was up and she would not be receiving her pound of flesh.
“No, not really,” the man admitted, relaxing slightly.
I turned to the young woman and asked her “Do you want us to call the police?”
She was silent, though her body began to shake from the withdrawal of neurochemicals that accompany the hubris which goeth before a fall. I spoke again.
“We could get you a rape kit. Do you want to get tested?” Again, silence.
Eventually the siren would find her voice again. I won’t bother to recount the shouting match that followed, epic as it was (and at its peak involving perhaps a third of the greater congregation crowding outside the bathroom door), because I imagine you have probably been in a shouting match before and understand how repetitive such affairs can be. At any rate, the battle was already won and all that remained was to prevent the dragon from scorching the earth on her way out. She never pressed charges because she knew the tall man—Tom, as it happens—would certainly testify against her story in court. That said, Lord has apparently only spared me to fight a seemingly unending political war against this girl and her devotees, and she is still leading worship services. But I will fight her so long as God grants me the courage to continue, and I’m happy to have made common cause with some truly remarkable brothers and sisters in the faith who now fight alongside me in a civil war within this random little church, somewhere in suburbia. By the grace of God, we will prevail and save as many of the weak in spirit as will hear his voice, or die trying, as Jesus did.
If you are still wondering, yes, this is a fictional story.