Two Types of Rebellion, Part One: Unwitting Servants

Reading Kester Brewin’s Mutiny and reflecting on rebels I have known in my life,  I’ve come to believe that there are two types of rebels, at least in recent American society: 

  • Those whose rebellion supports the social structure
  • Those whose rebellion actually threatens the established order 

We’ll talk about the first group,  the rebels whose actions prop up the culture they’re rebelling against, today.  The second group will have to wait. 

The first group of rebels skips class, drinks,  has lots of sex in high school, drives too fast, plays a little dirty in business deals, keeps a “woman on the side, ” etc.

They may be reckless, selfish, irreverent, even criminal,  but they do it in normal, understandable ways. 

They uphold the power structure, even as they outwardly flout it. 

Occasionally one of them has to be punished to keep up the illusion that their rebellion is unacceptable, but it’s usually a woman (Martha Stewart or the girl who gets pregnant in high school), or the punishment is usually nominal (most white collar criminals,  Brock Turner). 

They typically “sow their wild oats” and then “grow out of it,” or else “bend the rules” or “play the system.”

They’re a necessary part of the system, though few of them would admit it.

Their rebellions serve as a pressure valve in the social system, just as their occasional scapegoating punishment serves to pacify and sanctify the self-righteous anger of the common people who live by the rules and are upset to see the cheaters prosper. 

Their rebellious acts are safely within the respectable, heteronormative, generally white male dominated traditional culture. 

Some of these acts are so common they’re not even rebellious any more, but almost expected. An “out and proud virgin” is more transgressive than the typical “having sex and hiding the fact from their parents” high schooler. 

Of course,  neither is nearly as transgressive (or likely to receive abuse) as an out LGBT+ teen, but we’ll talk about actual challenges to the social order later. 

I think Rush sum up the frustrations of a nerdy, studious kid watching the almost Huxleyan acceptable deviations of high school perfectly in one music video:

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The Ends Don’t Justify the Means

You’ve probably all read about Representative Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape.”  And while that phrase is troubling and awful, it isn’t the worst part of that interview.

The worst part is when he perpetuates the lie that women don’t get pregnant from rape.  This stems from a medieval superstition and has no basis in science and medicine.

The truth is, women do get pregnant from rape.  According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (as reported on ABC.com), roughly 5% of rapes result in pregnancy, or 31,000 per year in the U.S. alone.

31,000 per year.  That’s almost 85 per day.  That’s one every 17 minutes.  That’s not the number of women raped in the U.S.  That’s the number of women who get pregnant from being raped in the U.S.  31,000 per year.  85 per day.  One every 17 minutes.

Statistics are one thing, but stories are another.  A very brave woman named Shauna Prewitt wrote a response to Representative Akin, telling him that she was raped and became pregnant, and how that affected her.

The thing is, I’ve heard Akins’ lie before, from the pulpit.  I didn’t believe it, because when a visiting preacher says something that goes against common sense, medical science, and reality, learned early to blow it off.  There are a lot of false prophets out there.

I feel sympathy and compassion for those who didn’t learn that early, and were hurt by these hyenas-in-sheep’s-clothing (I won’t diginfy them by calling them wolves: at least wolves hunt strong, swift prey like deer.  Hyenas just kill the weak and chew carrion).

I’ve encountered a disturbing trend among evangelicals, especially among the more politicized side.  They’ve come to believe that the end justifies the means.  Defeating “ungodly” politicians justifies whatever misinformation they have to say, whatever worldly promises to power-brokers they have to make, whatever weak person or group they have to trample.

I’ve even encountered at tendency to believe that Christians are entitled, not just to our their opinions, but their own facts.  “Global warming is a secularist conspiracy.  Women don’t get pregnant if they’re raped.  Tax cuts for the rich won’t make things worse for the poor and working class, but will make things better.  Jesus was a free market capitalist.  Homosexuals are all secretly pedophiles, and marriage equality is just a stepping stone to eliminating all age of consent laws (thank the Family Resource Council for that one), etc.”

But as Christians, we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn in by power, by convenient “facts,” by misrepresentations, by worldly politics.

Especially not when the result is pain and offense to victims of that most raw and blatant crime of power: rape.