Friday, December 26, 2014

A Culture of Rape in the Church

It's interesting to me that a secular movie network would choose to produce movies about Biblical characters. Lifetime recently aired a movie entitled The Red Tent, depicting the story of Dinah from Genesis 34. The movie did not get the story right by a long shot, but it did raise awareness. I'll trust you to read the entire chapter in your Bible; do not depend on script writers for theology or Biblical content. Here, for the sake of time and space, I'll summarize.

Dinah was the daughter of Jacob and Leah. The Bible tells us that she "went out to see the women of the land" they lived in. While she was out, Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite,  the prince of the land, saw her, seized her and raped her. He then said he loved her and asked for her hand in marriage.

Her father waited till her brothers came in from the fields, then told them what had happened. They were angry, and rightly so; their sister had been raped. Shechem continued pursuing Dinah's father for her hand, then pursued her brothers. Shechem's father, Hamor, pled with them on his behalf.

Finally, Dinah's brothers came up with a plan. They deceitfully agreed to give their sister to him in marriage and promised to "become one people" with the people of that city (verse 16). The one condition was that the men of the city get circumcised, saying it would be "disgraceful" to give their sister to one who was uncircumcised. So, Hamor and Shechem agreed to this plan and convinced the men of their city to agree to it as well. They wasted no time.

All the men of the city had agreed to be circumcised and were lined up to get the deed done. It takes time to heal from such a thing and on the 3rd day, when they were too sore to fight back, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, killed them all, took their wives and children and plundered their city.
They got justice for their sister.

Read the entire account, including how their father reacted to the brothers' acts of justice, in Genesis 34.

In studying this passage, I decided to do something I don't normally do. I decided to read a few commentaries on the passage. I read them for one reason and one reason only; I wanted to see what male commentators had to say about the rape of a woman.  (I do not consider commentaries to be Bible study tools and am actually amazed that some people do.) The tragedy of this story is the rape.

I was absolutely astounded that the vast majority of commentators blamed the rape on Dinah! In chapter 2 of the Alphabetical Exposition of the Bible published by Zondervan in 1988, one unnamed commentator said, "Had Dinah been content to remain a 'keeper at home' (Titus 2:5), a terrible massacre would have been averted, but her desire for novelty and forbidden company spelled disaster." No. This commentator is completely wrong. #1, Dinah could not read Titus 2:5 because it was not yet written, nor does it apply here. This is a gross misuse of Scripture. #2, the Bible does not indicate on any level that Dinah's going out to see the women of the land was wrong or sinful. It simply states that she went. #3, this commentator had the nerve to even blame the massacre on Dinah! She didn't massacre these men, nor did she come up with the plan to do so. #4, The sin here was rape! 

Matthew Henry said, "Young persons, especially females, are never so safe and well off as under the care of pious parents. Their own ignorance, and the flattery and artifices of designing, wicked people, who are ever laying snares for them, expose them to great danger. They are their own enemies if they desire to go abroad, especially alone, among strangers to true religion....Indulged children, like Dinah, often become a grief and shame to their families. She went to see the daughters of the land.....yet that was not all, she went to be seen, too." While Matthew Henry might seem to wax eloquent here, he's dead wrong. The Bible does not tell us she went to be seen. The Bible does not tell us that her parents objected to her going. The Bible does not tell us that Dinah was indulged. The sin here is rape!

The Pulpit Commentary states, "Dinah paid the full penalty of her carelessness." NO! The Bible does not tell us she was careless. She suffered rape. She was not responsible for what happened to her. She was a victim. The sin here is rape!

Why do these and other commentators blame Dinah for what happened? This tendency to blame a woman when she is raped is not confined to the 20th and 21st centuries. Many of the commentators I read wrote their works hundreds of years ago. Nearly all of them blamed Dinah in some way.

People, this has to stop. The Bible does not chastise Dinah. There is no record of her parents chastising her. For all we know, Dinah went out many times in the same way and no rape occurred. The sin is rape. Dinah is not responsible. Shechem is responsible; the commentators should be condemning him, not Dinah.

This way of thinking, to blame the victim in some way, fuels a culture of rape and it's even happening within the church. Women are not taken seriously, are minimized and set aside, them blamed for the sinful, disgraceful acts of men. Shame on these commentators. What I discovered through this brief research on what they had to say about Dinah is completely disgusting.

So, what's a girl to do? Stay inside her parents' house until her wedding day? Wear a Burqa with a screen in front of her face so she won't "tempt" a man or dare to be seen? Are we women such a threat to men that they cannot control themselves on any level and we are to be blamed if some man rapes us? Are we to believe that we bring shame on our families if someone commits any other crime against us? What about women who don't marry? Are they to be treated as undeserving spinsters and locked away in their father's house until he dies, then go live with a brother or uncle? Oh, my, how far this awful thinking could go.

These commentators are wrong. Young men, beware, commentators like this are trying to seduce you into thinking that if you lose control of your impulses, it's perfectly fine because it's a girl's fault. You have the power; she bares the shame.

This makes me want to throw up. I have raised five honorable sons. They all respect women, defend women and treat women as equals. They do not think they are better than women or superior to women, nor are they threatened by women. My married sons are married to strong women who can hold their own and they do not need to depend on their husbands, my sons, for their womanhood or validation as a person on this planet, nor their spiritual go-between in their relationship with Christ. My three daughters, two of whom are married, are strong women who will speak their mind and hold to their own opinions even if they disagree with their husbands, or their dad, or anyone else. As their mom, I will forever defend and applaud them for doing so.

Parents, raise your sons to respect women and treat them as equals. Not "equal but different," but full equals. Raise your daughters to be strong women who take no nonsense from anyone. Never berate a little girl for being too bold or outspoken or independent. Jesus surrounded Himself with strong women who not only traveled with Him, but supported Him from their own independent resources. He was not afraid to talk to women and have friendships with women. He did not tell women what to wear or what to feel, nor did He hold women responsible for the sins of men.

If you want to study your Bible, then put the commentators away in a box out of sight, for they are not enhancing your study; they are hindering it and polluting it with the religion of Secular Humanism. Study your Bible, using the Bible as your Source. Then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. John 8:31 & 32 says, "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" He did not say, "If you faithfully read commentators." 

It's the Word of God that changes lives, not someone's comments on the Word. 
Get this. Understand this.


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