The Church Robbed Me of My Childhood

Sep 5, 2018
9:45 am

An evangelical church in Central America (Photo by Dalabulu/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

I grew up going to church ALL the time. My birth story ends with my mami going to church from the hospital wearing her still bloodied maternity dress to worship. I was raised partly in a house that our church called the Casa de Discípulos, with a bunch of young Christian families who broke bread, took their kids to the same Christian school, and even went to church together.

My papi has been ordained ever since I can remember, and has served as a pastor in two big Latin American churches. He also is the lead pianist and vocalist of Restauración, a Christian music group relatively known in Latin America.

Growing up as a girl in this particular charismatic conservative Christianity meant that I was not allowed to do a lot of things. I was not allowed to be too rowdy, like the boys. As a niña, hija de pastores, I had certain expectations that were always placed on me and they had everything to do with behaving well and being a lesser version of myself.

In fourth grade, I was invited to a party and I begged to go. My brother and mom came to pick me up and saw me dancing. I was spanked that night because I was not supposed to dance for anyone or anything but God. I should mention that I did not attend another party till I was around 25 or 26 years old.

In middle school, secular music was my “vice.” I was not allowed to listen to anything that did not glorify the name of Jesus. So I resorted to staying up late at night listening to Power 96.5, a radio station in Miami that played all the popular music. I just wanted to sing along to the music that was played in our buses and at lunch hour. I just wanted to enjoy things, like music. I was sent to Christian summer camp and shamed for this, and the guilt led me to throw away all the bootleg CDs I had my friends make me that I hid from my parents.

In high school, boys were my “vice.” I was not allowed to go to friend’s houses, especially if they were not church friends. I was not allowed to get phone calls from boys. I was not allowed to have friends who were boys.

They said this was all to protect me.

They said it was God’s will that I remain a virgin.

They said it was for my own good.

So I became REALLY good at hiding things from my parents. I became really good at lying and sneaking around. I became excellent at creating excuses for the people I liked so I would not be viewed as childish for being legitimately scared of God, the Church, and my parents.

I grew up always looking over my shoulder. I grew up understanding that this male God told my parents that my joy was not as important as His rules. I grew to resent this male God, who did not let me wear whatever I wanted on my own body, talk to friends, go to people’s houses, go to parties, and just overall enjoy my childhood. I grew up scared and being gaslighted by God because when I expressed disdain for the rules I was told to look into my heart and into my soul.

For all the Brown girls whose childhood was stunted by God and how our parents understood the Bible, I see you. I see you getting that tattoo to claim your body and name your pain, I see you wearing that teeny skirt and saying fuck you to Church-sanctioned rape culture. I see you having casual sex and rejecting the idea that good women only have sex with their husbands. I see you rejecting all these rules and trying to find yourself, because I have been trying to find myself for four years and the more I see of me, the better version of myself I have become.

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Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez is a grassroots foreign citizen, maneuvering and resisting assimilation and respectability politics through what she calls her a chonga Mujerista ethic. She is the founder of Latina Rebels, an online platform that boasts over 200K followers. She is from Managua, Nicaragua, currently living in Nashville. Prisca has written for Philadelphia Printworks, TeleSur English, SupaDaily Latin, Huffington Post Latino Voices and other publications. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. ¡Que viva la mujer!

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