Ancient #MeToo Story

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 11:27
…But the thing David had done displeased the Lord

Reflection: Ancient #MeToo Story
By Erin Newton

Not long ago, my former youth minister was convicted of sexually abusing minors. My friends were victims. He was a spiritual leader, a person in authority. Girls believed he was safe. In reality, he manipulated that trust and abused his power. And for decades, it remained hidden.

Stories of abuse are difficult to read. Some misuse 2 Samuel 11 and place blame on Bathsheba for somehow enticing David to sin. The truth is, this is a story of the gross abuse of power. Although painful, it must be told.  

The story of David’s sin against Bathsheba is one filled with moments of moral failure and compounding sin. David neglected his military duty. Instead, he lusted after the unclothed, married woman he didn’t know. He inquired about her and wielded his authority, sending an invitation that could not be refused. Selfishly embracing sin, David slept with Bathsheba and sent her home. The incriminating results followed: Bathsheba was pregnant with his child. 

David schemed to create reasonable doubt that Uriah could be the father. In contrast to the sinfulness of the king, Uriah upheld his integrity and resisted the lure of comfort and pleasure. When these schemes failed, David organized Uriah’s death and secured the anonymity of his prior sin. Covetousness, adultery, lying, and murder — David, once a man after God’s own heart, was deeply entrenched in sin. 

The text does not indicate why David succumbed to this temptation. Some blame the corruption of power. Maybe it was bad company, spiritual apathy, or the unresolved temptation of lust. We can only conjecture, but it might be beneficial to meditate on how sin can be so easily embraced. No one is immune to sin. Sin is always crouching at the door. 

Recent investigations revealed that churches have been guilty of enabling abusive leaders and attempting to cover up sexual assaults. As with David, authority has been used as a tool to shift blame to the victim, silence any witnesses, or hide the crime in darkness. These schemes to preserve the image of the institution corrupt the witness for Christ. Where do we go from here? 

The next step must be to seek justice. The bold voice of Nathan was needed to bring the king to a place of repentance. Bathsheba deserved an advocate. We listen, we believe, and we speak out. Truth must be revealed in places where sin is hidden. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
How sweet are your words to my taste! They are sweeter than honey to my mouth. — Psalm 119.103

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 11 (Listen – 4:25)
2 Corinthians 4 (Listen -3:02)

Read more about Reflection: Have Mercy—Guided Prayer
David sinned against God by bringing harm to those God cared for, who included Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, and the entire nation.


Read more about From Shameless to Blameless
Did he not take vengeance, commit war crimes, commit adultery by taking multiple wives and concubines in addition to taking (and possibly raping) Bathsheba?

A Christian Response to Offense

Scripture Focus:  2 Corinthians 2.7-8
Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

Reflection: A Christian Response to Offense
By John Tillman

There is nothing in the Christian faith more strangely counter-cultural, and more practically difficult to live out, than how the New Testament instructs us to deal with offenses and with offenders. 

In today’s culture, the concept of free-speech has been weighed, it has been tested, and it has been found wanting. Words, ideas, beliefs, and pronouns can all cause great offense in today’s dialogue. 

Our culture is unable to bear offense and simultaneously unable to bear forgiveness. A typical response to offenders is to block or unfriend them or to tell them to, “delete your account.” Telling someone to delete their account expresses a belief that the person does not deserve to exist on the same platform, or live in the same world, as the persons he or she offended. It is akin to wishing someone dead.

In response, some grumble about the world being “too sensitive.” These people say we need to “toughen up.” Those who, through ignorance or insensitivity, brandish words that hurt others are like the irresponsible archer of Proverbs, firing flaming arrows as a joke. When we refuse to consider others’ feelings we are burning down the world for our own amusement and ease. “Can’t they take a joke?” is not a biblical defense Christians can lean on. 

Christ did not come to make our hearts tough but tender. When Christ instructed us to turn the other cheek to offense, it was not intended as a show of toughness. Christians not only must be considerate in avoiding offense when possible, we uniquely seek to reconcile offenders as we have been reconciled to God. 

Paul instructed the Corinthians to “reinstate the account” of the offender. Paul knows what he is talking about and knows the difficulty of what he is asking us to do. Paul was an offender who went beyond unkind words. He constantly breathed out murderous threats and acted on them by falsely imprisoning families and putting Christians to death. 

Only through Christ can we bring back into fellowship those who humble themselves regarding their offenses. (Without humility, one cannot be reintegrated.)
May we soften our hearts and our words rather than harden them, avoiding avoidable offense
May the only offensive words we speak be the “foolish” and offensive message of the gospel.
May we practice responsible restoration as described by Paul*, marked by sorrow, humility, repentance, and reintegration.

*Abusive leaders are disqualified from reinstatement to positional authority, such as being pastors, elders, or deacons. But reintegration into the community, based on humility and repentance is vital.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will come upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come down on all those living on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of man.” — Luke 21.34-36

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 8=9 (Listen – 3:51)
2 Corinthians 2 (Listen – 2:13)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Samuel 10 (Listen – 3:19), 2 Corinthians 3 (Listen – 2:25)
2 Samuel 11 (Listen – 4:25), 2 Corinthians 4 (Listen – 3:02)

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Read more about Avoiding Avoidable Offense
The gospel is offensive and counter-cultural in its nature, but Paul strives to avoid avoidable offense. 

Read more about Crucified, By Nature
It is hard for us to grasp how foolish, offensive and shameful crucifixion was in the ancient world.

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