Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prevention of sexual assault - Biblically speaking . .

written by Bro Christopher Tharalla

The Chief Minister of Delhi herself had to acknowledge the fact that Delhi has become the ‘rape-capital of India’. One of every four rapes in Indian cities takes place in Delhi (Indiatimes.com). Only one person has been convicted out of 635 rape cases reported in New Delhi in the year 2012 (Indiatoday.intoday.in). According to latest data, the Union Home Ministry suggest, India stands third, when it comes to rape cases, after United States and South Africa (Expressindia.com).

The frightening fact is that any one can be raped anywhere and at any time. It’s a universal problem. The law of the land deals with the culprits, whose crime is comparable to murder, enhancing the quantum of punishment to control the menace, if required. While the Government through its various agencies and the women welfare associations do all they can to prevent such incidents; is there any role the women can play to prevent its happening? Some say, “No, it is only the mind-set or attitude of men that has to change.” Fine, but what is the guarantee that this change will come about after all the necessary efforts of educating men? Even if possible, isn’t it a matter of time? Until then, isn’t it safer for women to take precautions?

The Bible is never silent about any matter. Though written thousands of years ago, it is the most relevant book for all times, for the simple reason that its author is God Himself, whose wisdom none can fathom. The purpose of this article is to show some of the general instructions Bible offers to women which are especially needed in these days of physical and emotional insecurity.

Bible says: “Nothing is more disgraceful than rape” (Genesis 34:7 CEV). According to the Old Testament, rapists were to be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:25). The New Testament is even stricter as it says, “anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), let alone rape. This is the level of holiness that God expects from all people and no violator can escape the consequences.

We should not forget that we have an enemy called the devil whose main aim is to destroy us. He will conveniently use people who are available in our environment to achieve his goal: people who are mentally unsound or drunk or those with no proper up-bringing or whose parents themselves have set a bad example for them or those influenced by evil companions or those who have exposed themselves to enticing visuals that media offers and the sort. Such people are controlled by the evil spirits that make them do many harmful and unnatural things. For example, according to 2Samuel 13:1, Amnon fell in love with his step-sister (Tamar) – an unnatural idea. Being her step-brother, Amnon, instead of being protective of her, turned out to be her rapist. All kinds of abnormality come from the devil through those who choose to yield to him.

According to 2Samuel 13:13 (GNB), Tamar told Amnon (when he attempted to rape her): “How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you---you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I'm sure that he will give me to you." First, she tried to drill sense into his head by talking about the consequence of his evil plan. It did'nt work. (Proverbs 14:16 CEV says: "Only a stupid fool is never cautious - so be extra careful and stay out of trouble.") Then, obviously, just to escape from the impending predicament, she asked him to speak to the king and that the king would oblige him. (Incest was forbidden in Old Testament - Leviticus 20:17). Yes, anyone under such circumstances will do their best to escape by saying such things with the hope that the predator may change his mind and that is what she did. But she wasn’t successful. Being stronger than her, he overpowered her and raped her. Divine intervention is really required at this point of time.

The best thing one can do for protection from any assault is to come under God’s protection. In this context, consider Psalms 91:14 (GNB) where God says, "I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as LORD. Psalms 31:20 (ESV) says: “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men.” Yes, come to Jesus for protection. Commit your life to Him and experience His protection and honor. Once when He is in control of your life, everything will be different.
                                                            
(Courtesy:www.joyfultoons.com)
                                                         
    
We shall look at some of the instructions that the Bible offers:

1. Your close friends/companions.

2Corinthians 6:14 (CEV) says: “Stay away from people who are not followers of the Lord! Can someone who is good get along with someone who is evil? Are light and darkness the same?” (This verse is commonly quoted in the context of choosing life-partner but is applicable to all in general). Again in 2Corinthians 6:17 (GNB): the Lord says, "You must leave them and separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you.” Obviously, these verses do not say that we should cutoff all links with non-believers; it means we can have anyone as friends but only believers should be close friends. Many decisions are made under the influence of close friends; hence, it is important to decide on the kind of close friends we keep.

The Old Testament is the shadow of the New Testament. The establishing of this principle has its shadow in the Old Testament where it says: “Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together”  (Deuteronomy 22:10 KJV).

As an example, consider Nehemiah 13:26 (ESV) that says: “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.” The Lord loves everyone equally, whether believers or non believers, but He will not find pleasure with those who allow themselves to be influenced by the heathen to withdraw from following Him. Once God’s presence is choked-out of our life, we can anticipate every kind of attack from the evil one.

2. Visiting certain places.

Psalms 1:1 (BBE) says: “Happy is the man who does not go in the company of sinners, or take his place in the way of evil-doers, or in the seat of those who do not give honor to the Lord.”

This verse does not need any explanation.

Consider, Proverbs 20:1 (BBE) that says: “Wine makes men foolish and strong drink makes men come to blows; and whoever comes into error through these is not wise.” How can one practically follow this verse? Suppose you plan to go to a party or a place where you very well know that liquor would be served. The question is, don’t you know that once men are intoxicated (anyone for that matter), they will not be able to realize the consequence of what they do? Are you not putting yourself in a vulnerable situation by going there? Isn’t it something like jumping into a lion’s enclosure in a zoo and expecting to be safe?

Also, Ephesians 5:18 (CEV) says: “Don't destroy yourself by getting drunk.” Drinking reduces the tendency to resist any intruder and the net result could be disastrous. So is the case with (forbidden) drugs.

3. Avoid.

Yes, avoid going to or going through lonely and irrelevant places, especially late nights without proper security.

2Samuel 13:9 (GNB) says: . . . Amnon said (just before raping Tamar), "Send everyone away"---and they all left. Then the assault took place. Notice that lonely environment is an ideal one for things like this to happen. Job 24:15 (GNB) says: “The adulterer waits for twilight to come; he covers his face so that no one can see him.” Yes, night is the time when the devil and his followers will be most active.

Consider the passage, Genesis 34:1-2 (GNB): “One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the Canaanite women.” When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, he took her and raped her. Now the question is, what was the need for Dinah to go to the Canaanite women? Was it-

• To learn their customs? The Lord clearly told the Israelites that they should not follow the customs of any heathen nation.

• To show off her beauty? Whatever her foolish reason was, the fact remains that she went there and put herself and her family in trouble.

4. Maintain limits.

According to statistics, in most of the cases, the rapists were known to the victims (implying involvement of friends, cousins, colleagues etc). Many cases are not reported for fear of social stigma attached. Thus, relevant distance has to be kept with any one of the opposite sex, whether known or unknown. Once certain limits are crossed, one step leads to the next and stopping then would be next to impossible. Ultimately what happens, happens as no brakes were applied in the initial stages.

You have to set your own personal boundaries for your self, taking into account your areas of weakness, vulnerability and your culture and be firm about not crossing them. For example, avoid inviting or receiving or initiating intimate form of physical contact, like embracing, kissing, caressing, etc. Also, discussing personal issues and interacting behind closed doors with the opposite sex have to be avoided. Under the banner of being social and broad minded, limits should not be crossed. This is for your own safety.

Consider 2Samuel 13:2 (GNB) that says: “. . . it seemed impossible for him (Amnon) to have her (Tamar); as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men.” This verse clearly shows that this principle was understood and followed well in that particular culture during those days.

5. Clothing/Appearance.

1Timothy 2:9 (ISV) says: “Women, for their part, should display their beauty by dressing modestly and decently in appropriate clothes, not by braiding their hair or by wearing gold, pearls, or expensive clothes.” Key words used are: Modestly and decently. These should be the norm for professing believers. The question is, why has the Lord given instruction to the fairer sex to be dressed that way? What could be the reason? What will happen if it is not followed? Will the nature around us or the animals around be affected in any way? Isn’t provoking men the only thing that can possibly happen ? (Note that we are talking about indecent dress not decent dress). But why? Men throughout history have reacted that way. Isn’t it why the Lord has given this command about dressing? Hence, if anyone says, "If my clothes provokes men, it’s not my problem."; isn’t it a childish statement made out of ignorance? We are individuals but living in an environment consisting of other individuals. So the environment we live in has to be taken into consideration even while making our own personal decisions. Thus, no believer can say, “I will dress however I like”.

Some might say: “but decently dressed people are also molested, even children and the old”. Isn’t it simple to understand that for a mentally unsound molester, the clothes of the victim or children or aged, do not matter but what about the others? Also, understand that rapists do not decide to victimize any women by looking at the kind of dress they may be wearing (modest or immodest), they attack helpless and the vulnerable. Thus, the question of one’s clothes being the cause of rape does not arise. But statistic show that indecent clothing contribute to the increase in sexual assualts on women in any society.

Rapists are not interested in just sex, if so, they would have gone to prostitutes (God forbid). They basically want to be in the position of power and violate the helpless. Specific causes for molestation can vary from case to case and thus can’t be generalized. Better to trust in the Lord with all our heart without leaning on our own understanding by just doing what God’s Word says about dressing and leave the rest to Him.

6. Provocation.

After Amnon had his way, he threw her out of the house. 2Samuel 13:16 (GNB) says: "No," she (Tamar) answered. "To send me away like this is a greater crime than what you just did!" But Amnon would not listen to her. Obviously, he wanted to blame her to be responsible for what has happened (even though it was he who was completely responsible) and thus chased her away. In other words, after raping her, he wanted to falsely brand her as one who provoked him.

Consider Joseph, who was wrongly accused of molestation by his master’s wife. Genesis 39:14 (GNB) says: she called to her house servants and said, "Look at this! This Hebrew that my husband brought to the house is insulting us. He came into my room and tried to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could. In fact, it was she who consistently provoked him to sin but he did not yield to her secret wishes.

Consider a particular case of molestation. Is provocation involved? If so, who provoked whom? This is something only the ones involved will know. They may blatantly lie and blame the other person to be responsible for whatever happened. But God knows the truth. He is a just God. He will see that truth is kept safe by disproving the words of liars. Proverbs 5:21-23 (CEV) says: “The LORD sees everything, and he watches us closely. Sinners are trapped and caught by their own evil deeds. They get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control.” Thus, provocation, whether directly or indirectly, secretly or openly, even for fun’s sake, is dangerous and none can escape its consequences.

7. Fear.

Entertaining fear, fear of being sexually assaulted, amounts to inviting the devil. (Attackers are more likely to go for those who are fearful and those they think cannot defend themselves). Job 3:25 (Darby) says: “For I feared a fear, and it hath come upon me, and that which I dreaded hath come to me.” Lot of devastation has taken place in Job’s life. He later confessed that what he feared most had happened to him. Biblically, fear is from the devil. Thus, devil feels welcomed where fear is entertained and he will cause destruction as that is what his nature is. On the other side, boldness brings God’s presence with all its fullness. Hence, numerous times in the Scriptures we are commanded to be bold. Hebrews 13:6 (GNB) says: Let us be bold, then, and say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" Repeat this verse aloud.

                                                                    

(Courtesy:www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com)
                                                               
                                                      
Conclusion:

After Tamar was raped “. . . she soon moved into Absalom’s (Tamar’s brother) house, but she was always sad and lonely (2Samuel 13:20 CEV). Many say a rape-victim can never be the same anymore. (Of course, with God all things are possible; He can erase a person’s history and fill her with the power of the Holy Spirit, if sincere commitment to Him follows. According to the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ alone can do this as He alone overcame sin and defeated death). The physical and emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault can be intense and long-lasting. What is done can’t be undone. Therefore, as an old saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

If any one will say, “I will wear whatever I want and I will go wherever I want and drink whatever I want with anyone I like at any time. It’s my right. But nobody should touch me”. Fine. It’s your life. But then, you should realize that these are the thoughts of an unbeliever and not of one who is a child of Jesus Christ.

(The corresponding article for men is found in my older posts with the title: On what is your heart set on ?)

4 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Duke Jeyaraj said...

Great Scriptural exposition on a sensitive subject!

Christopher Tharalla said...

Thanks Steve for the invitation.

Christopher Tharalla said...

Thanks Bro Duke. Thanks for everything.