For tonight’s post, I would like to start with a brief reflection on two different statutes in the Hebrew Bible:
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel”- Deuteronomy 17:14-20″
“In you are those who dishonor their father’s bed; in you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean. In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter. In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord. “- Ezekiel 22:10-12
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR RAPE CULTURE AND SEXISM
When we first meet the biblical heroine Bathsheba, she is a law-biding, faithful Israelite woman. According to the Law, in order to be a part of the religious assembly, women had to be ritually clean from that awful PMS (see passages such as Leviticus 12). Being in the presence of YHWH was a really big deal, so Bathsheba did what was required of her, and bathed. One night, a lawless man looked out from his rooftop and gazed upon Bathsheba’s body uncontrollably. He’s a man. He’s a visual creature, he could not help himself but to lust after her. She was being indecent, after all. David uses his position of authority over Bathsheba, they have sexual relations, and she gets preggers, and eventually loses the child as a consequence. David sins, the woman pays the consequence.
It has been my experience that when ever I am taught the story of King David in the variety of Christian contexts, his story is told rather uncritically. Bathsheba’s obedience to the law (her very agency) is ignored because our current USian hermeneutic would prefer to talk all about the Kings, and especially King David, so we can Jesus-juke our way out of the “Old” Testament. It is a male-centered and exclusive narrative being passed down, one that is not the whole story. Fortunately, we have the early Church Fathers those like Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, who recognized that we could not discuss the humanity of Jesus without talking about women, that there is no way we could get to the idea in Romans of Jesus as the Davidic King without the Ruth and Bathsheba parts of our story.
In this story of David and Bathsheba, we DO NOT have a scenario as we are often told of a seductress tempting “the man after God’s own heart.” Nopers, what we have is the king’s abuse of power over a woman who was just trying to meet social expectations as well as be in the presence of her Creator (the assembly). What we have in the way that Christians learn the story of David is that of Rape Mythology. We learn that men are “WIRED” as visual creatures, and that it is the BURDEN of women to dress modestly. Purity rings are for women, cuz, well, men are born with impure thoughts, #amirite????
Rape myths saturate our culture so much that even “progressive” theology professors resort to blaming the victim for their plight. Rape mythology is harmful to both women and men. When certain men of a darker skin tone tell their experience of rape,their stories are not believed because of white supremacist mythology+rape mythology that says that only men are visual creatures, aka/hint hint, ONLY MEN HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BE PREDATORS. Sexual violence, in other words, unless all men take Jesus’ words literally and make themselves physically incapable of seeing, is part of natural masculinity. Men bear no responsibility on their actions, that’s why it’s the womenfolk who get the blame for being victims of rape as was the case with cases like in Steubenville.
As a pacifist, and as part of The New Pacifist, any political movement that does not address Rape Culture fails to be non-violent. A number of pacifists in churches and in the academy like to talk about the ideal government being “Christarchy” or a Christianized brand of Anarchy where the Church governs society.
When I was in 7th grade, I wrote a poem about silver clouds, and how someday, I may even decide to become an anarchist. It was my mother who asked, what’s an anarchist, and when I told her, she rebuked me, and now today, I see why. Anarchy, Anarcho-capitalism, Christarcho-Capitalism, whatever you call it, is nothing but a return to a dystopian feudalism. Who will be the ones to rid our society of all the contracts currently in place? And what about the police and military? Who would protect the poor and oppressed with a safety net? Oh….yeah you’d probably need violence for that, huh??? So it’s no wonder that when one of the heroes of contemporary “Christ-archists, Ron Paul (cuz, liberty, YALL!), opposes sexual harassment laws in the workplace it’s in the name of being “non-violent” to good businessmen in power. Power like King David had.
Indeed, New Pacifists must be willing to question how USian Christian culture receives the story about this shepherd boy turned monarch as well as the heroine Bathsheba. This starts with taking Bathsheba’s and David’s Jewishness seriously, and their commitment and non-commitment (in David’s instance) to the Torah. New Pacifists must reject Rape Mythology completely, and that make men accountable and that they should take responsibility for stopping rape and rape culture. It is never God’s will for anyone to be raped or to experience domestic violence, and it is never is God’s plan to make people suffer through these experiences. I offer those readers who have experienced sexual violence these words:
rape is not god’s will. sexual assault and violence is not god’s intention for your life. sexual abuse is not a part of “god’s plan.” In fact, these are violations of God’s will. God does not enjoy sin. God does not endorse domestic violence. God is good. God is hope. God is life. God is love. If you or someone you know are in these situations, please seek help, it doesn’t have to be a religious institution; but a third party is mostly always a good choice.