Posts Tagged ‘Immorality’

Unbelievable12.png

Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:14-16 – WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 4)

Shechem has raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He now wants to marry her as a child bride and has kept her at his house. Surprisingly, Jacob’s sons don’t respond by speaking of the disgrace of raping their young sister! They don’t speak of the disgrace of child kidnapping and child sex slavery! They don’t talk of the disgrace of what they are really thinking! Instead, they talk of Circumcision. “We won’t let you marry her…” they say, “… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHY?!

Why circumcision? … Random. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant given to Abraham. What has this got to do with anything? If you want to talk about a sign why not a sign like a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Or wear colors on their leather jackets. At least those are signs that can be seen. But Circumcision? Really?

Here’s how I understand it. It seems to me that the sign of circumcision has something to do with the promise of Abraham having many descendants, being fruitful and multiplying (see the last post). The sign reaffirms God’s promise right at the very place where the sexual act takes place. It marks the sexual act as set apart for God’s purposes.

God was looking for obedience, but not just obedience. He wanted Abraham’s heart. This was a covenant sign of fruitfulness but also a sign of complete faith in God. The ritual needed to speak of the relationship. The outside sign needed to reflect an inward change of the heart concerning marriage and family and faith.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) speaks of what it means to be a Jewish believer. It says “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

The sign of Circumcision reminds the Jewish male believers that God has authority over them even in the most private aspects of their lives. He designed them and set them apart for sex within the context of their marriages, with their wives alone. It prompts them to remember, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

So what is going on in Genesis 34? Circumcision for someone like Shechem makes no sense at all! He is not part of the believing community. Shechem and the Hivite community have rejected faith in God. Now Jacob’s sons are also acting as if they have no faith … to the point of blasphemy. They are willing to desecrate a holy covenant ritual in order to amplify the intensity of their revenge?

DISCONNECTION

Twisting things around, Jacob’s sons say, in effect, that Circumcision is the only thing that separates them from the Hivite community. It’s a partial truth designed to achieve evil purposes. Circumcision is not the only reason for Jacob’s family to be separated from the Hivite community. What is? Hivite unbelief and a culture totally opposed to the things of God.

RELIGION AND REVENGE

Jacob’s son’s don’t mention anything about faith in God. Yet they want to use a holy sign of faith in Israel’s community as a means of revenge, the very opposite to the unifying sign of faith it was designed by God to be. Religion used as a means for murder. Nothing has changed. This is terrorism at its religious worst. Deceiving Shechem and themselves, they weave their evil trap further…

“… then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves,” they say, “We will live among you and become one people.” They have no intention of doing this.But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.” (Genesis 34:16 NLT). Are they really interested in Dinah or in revenge?

Are they really interested in Dinah or in vengeance?

Jeremiah 9:8 (NLT) mirrors what they are doing. It speaks of the deceit of religious people. “…their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.”

The POSB commentary makes an interesting aside. “How many churches and ministers deceive people by leading them to put their trust in the church and its rituals instead of Christ Himself?”

Genesis 34 invites me to reflect upon being honest in how I respond to immorality. I am encouraged not to use religion as a means of manipulation or for indulging in revenge against those with whom I disagree. I am to be honest in expressing my faith and witnessing the change that has occurred in my heart because Christ died for my sins. I am to call for God’s justice in the world, even when depravity is an acceptable way of life in the community. I am to seek God’s heart and God’s promises, not simply fit in with cultural norms for my life and family.

Pastor Ross

Right Wrong7.png

Right Wrong © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34 – CAVEAT ON DEPRAVITY

Immorality no longer lingers in the shadows but openly parades in the streets in the guise of normality. Violence and lawlessness no longer seek to hide around corners but carry knives and guns and bombs shouting out their chanted slogans in the guise of justice.

Looking around our world after I read Genesis 34 in the Bible is disturbing. I see we live in a world that seeks to justify it’s sinful behaviors, labeling them as cultural and religious norms and seeking to impose their aberrant standards with unbending severity on anyone who doesn’t agree.

Christ-followers are often regarded as being out of touch and negative about our world, but they, in turn, regard many in our society as blind to what is evil and good. The principles found in the Bible which form the basic standards of morality and values on which society thrives are ignored all too readily.

Along with the pristine beauty and wonders of parts of our world, I must admit, I do see a darker side in the nature of our society. Politicians pander to the latest sinful fads and religious leaders, like cowered dogs, are unwilling even to debate our changing values. Unchecked in News broadcasts I am fed an ever increasing diet of violence and horror hand-in-hand with a political correctness that seeks to sugar coat our shame and justify our sinful desires.

I find it a challenge to live the life for which I was created. At times I am tempted to water down what the Bible clearly states to be sin as I am confronted by the entanglement of cultural webs of expectation in our world. They are so perplexing and often so sinister it becomes a constant test of discernment to find the ethical way ahead.

Perhaps nothing has really changed for thousands of years since this is also the dilemma of Jacob and his sons in Genesis 34.

Getting away from the greed and control of his uncle Laban, Jacob has learned some lessons about deception, but he is soon to learn that the very worst of his traits in deceptiveness have been passed on to his children. Jacob has moved from Laban’s slow boiling pot of sinful exploitation to an exploding cauldron of immorality and violence in the place where he has settled.

This story makes me wonder how I would respond. It is not a story I particularly like, even though I am grateful that the Bible is brutally truthful. Immoral sexual deviancy and unchecked violence are rampant enough on the News without being confronted by it again in the book of Genesis.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible is an even more important mirror into which I must gaze than social trends. It will enable me perspective to honestly assess the developing tumors of cultural depravity and avoid the quagmires of aberrant behaviors and practices to which I, as a member of humanity, am equally susceptible. I cannot ignore the clear standards of the Bible, but how should I apply these standards?

So I embark on this chapter with an initial response of revulsion, avenging justice and shame by what I see happening. Caveat on depravity.

Pastor Ross