Freedom from Fear and Violence: Methodists against Gender Based Violence – Custodians and perpetrators of injustice under one roof.
Readings: 2 Samuel 13: 1-39, Psalm 27
I find that some of the most entertaining movies are those in which you have been watching one movie and the whole time you have been thinking that everything is as you see it and then near the end something is said or done that brings an incredible realisation that the movie you have seen is not quite what you thought it was. The twist brings with it a depth to the story that wasn’t there before; a depth that had been running just below the surface the whole way through. Everything that was true for the story before the twist is still true but the twist brings out a completely different significance.
Where we so easily label things as black and white, we discover that in the reality of most situations there are moments of black and moments of white, moments of less black and moments of less white. Determining cause and effect might be straight forward in inanimate objects and amoebas but in humanity, there is such a complexity of conflicting emotions, motivations, and abilities at work in every action that nothing is terribly straight forward. We draw general assumptions from observed behaviour, but not everything is true for every person because no person fits perfectly into any mould.
The rape of Tamar is a complex story in itself, but we see in it how every ounce of complexity is removed from Tamar by the rest of the characters involved in this story. They can abuse her in the way they do and they can discard her in the way they do because they have removed every ounce of emotion, motivation, and ability from her. They have turned her into something between an inanimate object and an amoeba and they have freed themselves to exercise all manner of evil and injustice over her. If you say that it was only one woman; then you need to ask any one woman how she felt in the reading of the story. If you say it was only rape; you should ask any woman who has been raped how she felt. If you should say that they were right to silence her because woman should be silent, then you shouldn’t ask any woman anything because you should not be anywhere near any woman.
Nobody deserves to be silenced, nobody deserves to be disregarded, nobody deserves to be bullied into anything that they are not in agreement with because God never does that to us. Overcoming this kind of abuse is only possible when you believe in the value of all of creation and as those who have been called to take care of the works of God’s hands; we have been given the Spirit of God who reveals the value of all of God’s creation to our spirits. Tamar has value. Every single Tamar has value. Every single Tamar is a human being, with a complexity of conflicting emotions, motivations, and abilities at work in every action. Every vulnerable person who suffers at the hands of those who have power is Tamar.
Lord God help me to pray for the victim and the perpetrator. Lord God help me to care perfectly for Tamar and Amnon. Lord God help me to work with you as you restore the value of creation through the work of your perfect love.