Friday, October 07, 2005

Sex and Violence

Did that title get your attention??

I was somewhat startled as a freshman in college when I read Malachi 2:16 in its entirety. I had often heard the first part quoted: "I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel." But up until that moment, I had never heard the remainder of that verse: "...and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

While I never would have said that God loved violence, I was startled to see this verse in this context and was also a little annoyed that I had not come across it earlier. Up until this point I had made sins of sex the ultimate no-no. Could it be that acts of violence were just as bad as premarital sex? (Please forgive the sarcasm.)

All of these thoughts came rushing back to me at a Middle School Bible Study this week. I was working my way through curriculum that had retellings of the story of Saul and the Amalekites and David and Bathsheba.

In the story of King Saul, the writer of this curriculum included all the details: God told Saul "to kill all men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys."

However, when the writer was retelling the story or David and Bathsheba, he conveniently left out a few pertinent details: "One evening, from the roof of his palace, King David of Israel saw a beautiful woman..." That's it! No bathing. No nudity. Just this G-rated description of how these two star-crossed lovers discovered one another.

I guess the writer assumed that I as a youth pastor would have an easier time explaining to 13-year-olds why God told Saul to kill babies as opposed to explaining why David watched a woman bathe.

This is not a post calling for censorship of the Bible...not at all. However, I am questioning why it is sometimes easier for Christians to ignore violence while playing sex as the trump card. (Feel free to insert whatever political parallels you may choose here.)

By the way, I read the PG-13 version of David's encounter with Bathsheba which led to an amazing discussion among these 7th graders... "Wait! This is the same David that killed Goliath?" "David was supposed to be a good guy." "And God still forgave David after he did all that stuff?" I really like my job.

9 comments:

Christin said...

Mandy, my mind immediately runs to movies and how I always censor sex scenes. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't feel just as much conscience over violent scenes. I'm more forgiving of blood and guts.
hmmmm.
C~

Keith.Drury said...

Now you've gone to meddling with the IWU movie policy... naughty, naughty.

But of course the Old Testament does present stories of God-induced violence, and does not seem to present God-commanded sex outside of marriage... which seems to suggest that there are sometimes when violence can be OK (or at least a necessary evil--I just watched Bonhoeffer) Yet the Bible it does not seem to suggest that non-conforming sex ever has this God-commanded authority. This view, of course serves the state well when calling us to kill others for the sake of "freedom" or "democrary" some other supposed "higher value" than life. But this seeming double-standard was before Jesus… who seems to raise the ante and condemn violence too.

You are right I think that we (still) have these sins “stacked” and think we can watch someone get blown away in a movie murder scene without any moral repercussions while watching someone have non-conforming sex is sinful. Or, perhaps think of it this way: some folk have no moral compunctions at all in playing a video game where they play the role of blasting away people yetthey would condemn a video game that let them go through the motions of forcing sex on some video vixen. Why is this? Why would we consider Xbox murder simply good entertainment but a game where the player seeks out and rapes women as morally repugnant?

Is it because we have frozen in our value system to 300 BC and do not let Christ’s teachings on violence flow through to us? Is it becasue our love of violence serves the state so well it must be kept kindled? Or why else? I don’t know the answer but you have asked a great question.

Ben Robinson said...

For as much as we have heard an egalitarian hamartiology from many evangelicals it is interesting how their praxy denies the belief. Some of the statements made by evangelical leaders regarding homosexual marriage have caused me to reflect upon the manner in which we differentiate sexual sin from other sins.

Dr. Drury's comments piqued my interest regarding God-induced violence. What can we gather from this? If God hates violence, how do we understand the points when He not only condones it but instigates it? Are there any correlations between these occurences? Parallels?

-Ben Robinson

Anonymous said...

It does seem this "Double Standard" has been taught to us from the beginning in a rather subconscious way, even through the public education system. Remember in middle school when we all attended health class and watched as the teacher stumbled her way through the sex education chapter with a rather red face and then gratefully released us when the bell rang to go blast each other away in gym class with dodge balls? We did draw the line however with direct face shots and hitting the kid with glasses. Whew!! Thank goodness for the unwritten moral standards of 5th graders. Sex-snicker, dirty. Dodge ball- Kill 'em and make them bleed! Cheer for your team and the last one standing!

Amanda said...

Thanks for the comments. I've been reading and re-reading them these past few days...

Keith, you phrased the question(s) well. I wonder if I'm more uncomfortable with sex than violence because sex hits a little closer to home than violence. Living in white, middle-class suburbia, I do not encounter much violence. Violence is what happens to other people in far-away places.

Sex, however, is creeping around every corner. It's more of a clear and present danger.

My sister Christy is currently living in a tough neighborhood in Grand Rapids. Last February she and her husband had a violent break-in; the first level of their house was destroyed. Thankfully, the two of them remained safely upstairs, but had to hear the yelling/glass breaking/refridgerator being thrown over, etc.

While my sister has always been sensitive to violence on TV, I imagine this incident has heightened her sensitivity...

Jenn swift said...

Hello dear Mandy girl! Have you met or heard of Kara Powell? I heard her speak at a conference in May and you are reminding me more and more of her. Glad to see all is well!

Anonymous said...

Mandy,

You're right about my senses of violence being heightened from my innercity neighborhood! (Definitely had some post-traumatic stress w/ loud noises following the break-in!) I am extremely bothered by Prison Break--that new TV show this season. I've come to hate violence--with a violence sort of passion.

Also, I'm comparing sex & violence. I tend to think that no matter how consensual & sensual sex is, outside of the marriage covenant sexual intercourse is a violent act. Rape is clearly violent, but even consensual, non-marriage sex is violent, I think. It's violence against a person's soul....

Christy

::athada:: said...

And then throw greed into the mixture: "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy" (1 Cor. 5:11) or "nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."(1 Cor. 6:10).
A good Christian high schooler (I suppose I was one like this)
wouldn't hang out with the wrong crowd - ya know, those guys who get their girlfriends pregnant on prom night. But stay away from the greedy? Christians can have sports cars and iPods and Hollister clothing, right?
This one is about as sticky as violence I guess...
I thought I'd mention it - it's constantly on my mind.

::athada:: said...

And then throw greed into the mixture: "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy" (1 Cor. 5:11) or "nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."(1 Cor. 6:10).
A good Christian high schooler (I suppose I was one like this)
wouldn't hang out with the wrong crowd - ya know, those guys who get their girlfriends pregnant on prom night. But stay away from the greedy? Christians can have sports cars and iPods and Hollister clothing, right?
This one is about as sticky as violence I guess...
I thought I'd mention it - it's constantly on my mind.