Monday, January 22, 2018

Her Too

Her Too
January 22, 2017
James 1:14  ". . .but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed."

Sexual misconduct is alarming when it comes to the surface, and certainly makes the headlines when it is brought to light. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who have gotten away with it for far too long, harming many innocent lives. The majority of the time this sexual misconduct is woven from a similar story across the spectrum. It stems from a male in a position of power or authority, abusing that position after deciding to act out on his lust for an unsuspecting and innocent female. While there are other forms of sexual misconduct, this particularly themed story is what has been coming to light recently. But just because it is coming to light recently does not mean it is a new phenomenon. It has been happening for thousands of years, likely since the day of Adam and Eve.

One particular story is very familiar to Jews and Christians, and can be used as a teaching platform in our churches. It is the story of David and Bathsheba. We review the story and consider it a consensual affair between the two, but was it fully consensual? Where were the willing players in the story and how did it really play out. To recap the story from how it is usually taught, David saw a woman bathing on her roof and had her brought to him. Then they had an affair and she became pregnant. Not wanting to get caught in the affair and scandal, David had the woman's husband killed and then David was able to marry the newly widowed. When we read the story, most assume Bathsheba was a complete willing participant in the story. And while the Lord will judge her for her own sin in the situation, consider the fact that she may not have felt she had a choice in any of the matters that played out.

Bathsheba lived in a time when women did not have any rights, other than being considered slightly better than a slave. A woman couldn't be educated, a woman couldn't own property or have her own career, and a woman almost always had to live under a man's influence or domain. If a woman was wronged, it was up to her father, brothers, or husband to vindicate her. From her perspective, Bathsheba was alone in this story, however, as her husband was off to war when the king sent several men to retrieve her for him. These men were quite possibly armed guards on behalf of the king. They told her that the king wished to see her, but it is doubtful the guards told her the king saw her naked and wished to sleep with her. The intent was most probably masked. It is more probable than not that she felt intimated at being called to the king alone yet slightly curious at the same time. But had she refused, without reason, then what kind of message would that communicate, refusing the king? Would that have brought shame to her family and husband when he came home from war? In that day, if she refused and the king wanted her dead, then she'd be dead. My guess is she was a little apprehensive about meeting him. Upon meeting king David, I highly doubt she threw herself naked upon him and begged for the affair. I suspect he attempted to seduce her, trying to charm her. She may have felt conflicted, torn between right and wrong and honor for her husband, as well as enticed by the potential of David's power and authority, yet maybe not feeling she could turn the king down. She may have feared for her life if she had refused his advances alone in that room. Bathsheba did not set about looking for this situation, it was brought about by the abuse of David's power after he submitted to his lust. While we will never know what went on in her head, do you really think David was going to take no for an answer?

The point of the story is not if Bathsheba turned him down or not, consenting or otherwise. The point of the story is that David had power and authority, and used that influence over Bathsheba to get what he wanted. It wasn't a fair opportunity for Bathsheba, even if she went along with it, even if she convinced herself she wanted it also. Bathsheba was  not called out by the Lord or Samuel for being in the wrong during the situation, even though she was a participant in the affair. She may not have been a willing participant at first, and it certainly wasn't her idea. Even if she wanted to turn David down, there was no scenario that would have ended well for her. She, too, was a victim of sexual misconduct, abuse even. This is a story to show our boys and men, teaching them about how to treat woman as sisters like Paul instructs, not abusing power over them. When men treat women like sex objects, like David did, the potential is there for a scandalous headline. It wasn't fair to put Bathsheba in that situation, and David was not about to take no for an answer. David let himself get dragged away by his lust.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 2 Sam 11, 1 Timothy 5:2

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