What are we supposed to do as a holy people when facing the evils of sexual assault/abuse?
Sexual Abuse Hotline: 1-800-656-4673Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
A REASON TO WAIL
681,692 people, well this is the official number. The unofficial estimates 900,000 to 1 million people. What am I talking about? This is the number of people Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had executed in 1937. (Wikipedia) Historians label this period the Great Purge because Stalin was removing those who could be rivals, a threat to the communist party, and anyone who openly opposed the Soviet Union’s ideas and practices.
Stalin died in 1953 and would be replaced by Nikita Khruschev. Khruschev would condemn Stalin’s policies and crimes. Once while Khruschev was denying his predecessor publicly, a person mockingly asked, “You were on of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?” The leader responded by thundering, “Who said that?” And the entire room went silent, everyone afraid to do anything. Khruschev replied, “Now you know why.” (Today in the Word, July 13, 1993)
Fear. In the face of such evil, those who had the power to say or do something did not because of fear. And it in this fear that the devil and the ways of evil continue unopposed and allowed to continue. Even amid Kingdom people.
In our text today, we read the fallout of Amnon raping his sister Tamar. A topic not often talked about in the church, but one that cannot be ignored. While it is an uncomfortable issue, it is one where our call to holiness remains. As a holy people what are we supposed to do facing such an evil situation?
READING THE TEXT: 1 Samuel 13:15-22
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” 16 “No!” she said to him, “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of here and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing a richly ornamented robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. 20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar. (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
IN THE TEXT
***(v15-17) DISCARDED DIRTY RAG***
Verse 15 says that “Amnon Tamar more than he had loved her.” The truth is that Amnon did not really love Tamar, he craved to use her beauty to satisfy his lust. After using Tamar as a rag for his own filthiness, Amnon could not stand to look at her because Tamar forced him to see his own sinfulness. There was no remorse, only a desire for Amnon to distance himself from the guilt.
The Law stated that if a man had done what Amnon did, he was to pay fifty shekels of silver to her father, marry the girl, and never divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) Amnon would have to admit to the crime of raping Tamar, while also admitting to having sex with his sister. A crime that would have had him banished from the nation, denying him any attempt at the throne. Instead, Amnon has Tamar discarded outside like a dirty rag.
***(v18-19) TORN ROYAL ROBE ***
Abandoned outside, Tamar is not ignorant to her horror. Not only was she raped by her brother, by locking her out Amnon was attempting to shift the blame on to Tamar. There were no servants in the room to confirm her side of the story, and the way Tamar was tossed out would the public to believe she was a tramp who seduced Amnon.
She tears her robe, a piece of clothing worn by virgin princesses. That was no longer a status Tamar could claim. Next Tamar puts on ashes on her head, mourning as if her life had ended. Because of the culture, Tamar would be subject to a life of shame, considered unmarriable, and childlessness. So, in many ways, her life had been lost when Amnon’s sin shattered her dreams. With her innocence lost, all Tamar could do was cry loudly in the streets.
***(v20-21) SILENCED BROKEN HEART
Absalom, her brother, finds Tamar broken and crying in the streets. He tells her, “Be quiet, my sister,” knowing what had happened to her. His words would seem like comfort and concern, but then Absalom says, “Don’t take this matter to heart.” Her own brother was trying to silence her! Absalom cares for her, but at the same time seeks to preserve his own ambition.
King David, the David that slew Goliath and was considered a man after God’s own heart, finds out. Surely, he would do something, right? He hears about what happened to Tamar and David is outraged. The king who has the judicial authority to do something is angry! The king who is also Tamar’s father is angry and has power to do something! What does King David do? Nothing. Amnon was his son too, the firstborn.
FROM THE TEXT: Called unto holiness
As Christians who are called unto holiness, what are we supposed to do in these situations? We are a people called unto holiness. There are several places throughout the Bible where God tells us, “Be holy as I am holy.” That is not a suggestion, but a command. Holiness at its core is love, love for God and others. A desire of the heart and mind that spills out through action.
Loving God can only be properly done by loving others. Amnon failed to love Tamar, he took his own sister and used her as a sex object. Then Amnon discarded her like a dirty rag, refusing to face the guilt of his own sin. Absalom failed to love Tamar. Yes, Absalom listened to Tamar, but then he silenced her to protect the family name and his own ambition for the throne. King David failed to love Tamar, he was outraged by what happened and but failed to carry out the justice as king. He also failed his son Amnon by not loving him enough to punish him for destroying the life of his sister.
All the things these men feared about the truth being revealed came to reality. King David worried about losing his firstborn, but Amnon would go on to be killed by Absalom. Absalom feared losing his ambition of the throne, he would lose his life in battle trying to obtain it. Truth could have altered these outcomes through God’s grace, but fear denied the opportunity.
Whenever sexual abuse occurs that is a sin against God. Not only is it a sin against God, but it is also a sin against a fellow person, using them as a toy in a sexual fantasy. It does not matter what the victim was wearing or where they were at, they were not the sinner in the situation. They were the victim of someone else’s sin. Should an incident be discovered, the victim should be protected and supported. Failure to do so is a failure to love them, and failing to love them is to fall short of the glory of God.
BEYOND THE TEXT: Called unto love
What are we supposed to do in these situations? Be a holy people. Paul tells us in Corinthians, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” To keep silent about sexual abuse is to delight in evil! It may not be jumping up and down happy about it, but silence allows evil to endure and thrive in the shadows created by fear.
Love in these situations needs to speak truth. It does not harbor evil; love exposes evil to truth in hopes that God’s grace can intervene. Rape, molestation, and all forms of sexual abuse are sins that destroy leaving shattered bits of humanity everywhere. Grace is God picking up the pieces and helping to put people, families, and places back together. However, grace needs to be joined by truth for love to prevail.
CALL TO RESPONSE:
1. Do not silently carry the burden of what happened any longer, cry out to Jesus.
2. Have you been silent in fear about something you know? Find strength in the Holy Spirit.
3. Did you remain silent to save your family/friend/job/yourself? Find forgiveness in the arms of God.
4. Pray for the victims, those living in fear, and those in bondage to their lust.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"