It has been many years since I’ve read the story of Amnon and Tamar. At the time I didn’t pay much attention to it.
However, in my readings this morning I came across an interpretation of that story the spoke to me. The author also writes about Jessica Lenahan, whose three children were murdered because the local police refused to enforce a restraining order against her husband. The U.S. Supreme Court had the audacity to rule that she had no constitutional right to enforcement of the restraining order. What, pray tell, is the purpose of a restraining order if it can’t be enforced?
There is a pattern to this, however. In the USA, most of us claim to be part of a Christian society, yet according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, about one in four women in the US has been the victim of serious physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
We, as a society that claims to be Christian, need to step into the gap and become open to God’s desire to protect those who are being abused. How can we, as a community, stand silent and pretend all is well? I don’t know what God’s universal call to action is on this topic, but I believe it begins with dropping the curtain of silence.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that the United States violated the human rights of Jessica Lenahan and her children. Yet it was mostly Christian administrators, police, judges and lawyers who acted to violate those rights. How can that be?
I believe I perceive a pattern here. Tamar had no rights under Jewish law, because she was a woman. I suspect the men who decided to ignore Jessica Lenahan’s requests, did so because she was a woman. There is still a masculine superiority aspect to all of our cultures. That has been the case since Adam was given authority over Eve. The problem is, with that authority came power and responsibilities. Unfortunately, many of us only see the power and do our best to ignore the responsibilities.
Let me plant a seed in your mind. From this day forward, every time you hear someone say something bad about a member of some other cultural or religious group, suggesting that all members of that group behave in some immoral manner, remember the women like Tamar who live among us today. How many of those women are being abused by someone in their family, while others tell her to keep quiet and the community around her, the “Christian” community, turns away in denial or fear.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
Until we deal with this “plank” in our eye, we have no right to judge any other community, religion or culture.
To be continued in part two.