Scripture offers a radical framework for understanding anger and forgiveness.
Young 20-somethings stood in line to speak with me after my workshop, “Is Christianity Good for Women?” They thanked me for tackling difficult passages in Scripture involving violence against women and asked me the expected questions about gender roles in marriage and the family. When I got to the third person in line—a young, beautiful girl, her hair falling in tousled waves—she bent closer and spoke in a low voice.
“What do you think about forgiveness?” she asked. “What role does that play in cases of sexual abuse and rape?” I suspected that she had a story of pain, betrayal, and shame. Although she didn’t tell me the full story that day (the line was long behind her), she did tearfully admit that the counsel offered to her had been to simply forgive the perpetrator. “I still feel angry,” she confessed. “Is that wrong?”
It’s one of the most important questions to ask, especially as the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements carry us in their angry tides. It’s also an important question to ask when stories like Jules Woodson’s surface and members of Highpoint Church in Memphis stand in solidarity with her perpetrator.
When women suffer violence in the Scriptures, we see God’s own righteous—if also oblique—anger. Sometimes we see divine outrage in the demise of a character, as in the case of King David. I’m not thinking of the way he forcibly took Bathsheba into his bed, although that story, ending in the death of the baby, draws its own conclusions.
Instead, I’m thinking of his daughter, Tamar, who is raped by his son, Amnon (2 Sam 13). David’s anger is impotent and weak, and he visits no judgment on …Continue reading…
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