Today's Reading: Judges 19-21
The story today must be a very ancient story. We hear echoes of a previous story which occurred in Sodom. A man is visiting a city and other men come to rape the visitor. Instead of going out and dealing with the rapers, they send women out as sacrifice. In today's story a woman is gang raped all night and left dead on a door stoop.
She is then cut up into 12 pieces and a piece of her body is sent to the twelve tribes to invoke rage and encourage solidarity in battle. Next, Judah's tribe goes against the tribe of Benjamin who will not give up the perpetrators of the crime. Many lives are lost on both sides. Finally, the tribe of Benjamin is almost annihilated, daughters from neighboring tribes are withheld and so it seems the tribe of Benjamin will die out.
Thus, Benjamin's tribe are given "permission" to raid and kidnap innocent girls from Shiloh to become their wives. Thus ends the book of Judges with the words, "There was no king in Israel in those days, and every man did wahtever was right in his own eyes."
This story shows huge disrespect for women, plain and simple.
Though read in ancient times as a story against familial fighting and a case to do whatever was needed to keep one of the tribes of Israel going, we truly see the inherant violence possible when people are left lawless and thus to their own devices.
How would a 6th and 7th grade Sunday School class hear this story? Since all scripture is applicable for teaching, exhorting and building up, what would be the lesson here in these words which seem so unholy, and yet are a part of our faith text?
Today, I cry for the unnamed girl from Bethlehem and all women who are grabbed solely for the purpose of using their bodies to produce offspring or provide sexual favors. It is very difficult to imagine a plight like this, and yet, there are sisters all around the world who are treated in such a manner, raised knowing this is the expectation of their culture.
Surely, this was not God's intent when in the garden of Eden he took a rib from Adam's side and made a "helpmate," a "defender" for Adam.
Lord, today we pray against all the violence against young girls and women. When will it end, Lord, when will it end? Clear out all evil thoughts, pornography, abuse and raping from our society and minds. Create in us clean hearts, O God.