In Silence

Matthew 1:6-7

That Matthew includes five women on his list is remarkable. Jewish genealogies usually list men only, but Matthew mentions Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary by name. He doesn’t name the fifth woman, Bathsheba. He references her using her first husband’s name, the wife of Uriah (v. 6).

Omitting Bathsheba’s name may be a way of emphasizing her painful story, King David’s crimes against her, or her foreignness, since Uriah was a Hittite. Maybe Matthew is trying to be kind, but it is hard not to think that Bathsheba’s name should be on the list.

One afternoon, King David sees Bathsheba. He knows she is another man’s wife, but he is a powerful king. A look turns into lust, which turns into sexual assault. David refuses to admit what he has done for a long time. The rape of Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah are violent, cruel tragedies that lead to other violent, cruel tragedies. David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar. David’s son Absalom kills Amnon and rebels against David. David’s nephew Joab kills his cousin Absalom. Evil multiplies when victims go unnamed.

Too many of the casualties of sexual assault remain anonymous. When sin is ignored, it increases. In our culture, you are more likely to lose your job for telling what wrongs were done to you than for doing wrong yourself or for helping to cover up a wrong. Harassment and violence toward women are more common than we want to admit. The church has participated—consciously or not—in a code of silence. Christians have not spoken often enough or loud enough about such violence and wrongdoing.

Our calling as followers of Christ is to learn the names of those who have been hurt and to offer the grace God gives to broken people.

Consider

Who is an overlooked person whose name you need to learn?

Pray

God who knows every hair on our heads and every star in the sky, help me learn more of your children’s names. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 28.2 of Reflections.

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