Many times men get so involved in the stories, movies, pictures, and their own fantasies that they sometimes cannot differentiate from fantasy and reality. Since starting Clean Heart, I read the Bible differently than I did before. I pick up on everything it has to say about sex, sexuality, marriage, etc. I am amazed as to just how sexual we have been since the beginning of time and not too much has changed.
One story I read in Genesis 34 is one in which the man had an initial lustful thought, in the fraction of a second developed a fantasy, and then actually committed his fantasy, but then there was a twist.
1One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. 2But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. 3But then he fell in love with her, and he tried to win her affection with tender words. 4He said to his father, Hamor, “Get me this young girl. I want to marry her.”
5Soon Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter, Dinah. But since his sons were out in the fields herding his livestock, he said nothing until they returned. 6Hamor, Shechem’s father, came to discuss the matter with Jacob. 7Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family,a something that should never be done. (NLT)
Now I tend to think that if a man rapes a woman, that the woman may desire a few things for her rapist, but love and marriage most likely would not be on the list. At this point we have to wonder, “What was this guy thinking?” That the two of them would get married and every year during their anniversary celebration and talk about with fondness their first meeting.
Many years ago before I was married, someone very close to me was raped. I can attest to the emotions of this family. The family members felt helpless that they were not able to protect their sister or daughter; they felt severe anger having their own fantasies of beating, killing, or even removing various parts of Shechem’s anatomy. I do not imagine them being excited for a wedding celebration.
When I was in college, I was part of a drama team that did a sketch on rape. I had had a difficult time whenever the subject would come up in movies, or in sociology classes and here I was sitting watching as my team was developing, learning, and rehearsing a drama about rape. The person who was placed in the role of the rapist was not performing the way our director wanted, so she asked me to take the role.
In this drama the rape is suggested with a look, a scream, and a cover up by the evil one. As this story unfolds the stage is divided with the rapist on stage left and the woman on stage right, and Jesus was center stage slightly behind both people. The woman cries out to God asking why this had to happen to her, and the rapist is on the other side trying to forget what he had done by self-medicating himself with alcohol. A person arrives from stage right to share the healing power of Jesus Christ with the woman and another person arrives on stage left to share the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ with the man who had committed rape.
At the end of the sketch, the rapist is crying as he deals with the emotions of his crime…of his sin. I remember being in our chapel hearing a few people off to my left as we rehearsed commenting on how good I was acting during the crying part. What they did not realize, at that point, was that I was not acting. My team quickly realized and we huddled in a circle as I shared with them my story, then a girl on our team shared her story of being raped, then a guy on our team shared his story of being molested by an uncle.
This was a very emotional evening. An evening of tears and healing, and we began a year of ministering to countless other people who could relate. I usually spoke a short message prior to the performance of this sketch that addressed three forms of forgiveness. First, the woman had a need to forgive the rapist, not that he didn’t deserve punishment, but all the hate in her would just hurt her more. The woman also had to come to a point of “forgiving God.” What I mean is that she had to stop “blaming” God for what had happened. We live in a sinful world. It is not managed the way he created it, remember we did have this little thing in a garden with some fruit that occurred many years ago.
Finally, the rapist had to come to a point in which he forgave himself and accepted God’s grace. This is where the drama ended. In reality, the rapist may have some tough decisions to make. I don’t think going back to the woman to make an amends would be prudent, but working on the issues that contributed toward the man’s decision to rape should be at the top of his list.
I remember as we would perform that skit, I would think, what if I was a man who had forced myself onto someone like Shechem did and came to know Jesus and the reality of my actions how I would feel? I would think about the guys who raped the person in my life, and the reality that they needed God’s grace as much as me. There was a conflict within me of wanting them to pay, but realizing God loves them as well.
These are not easy emotions to deal with and I do not suggest these are simple issues that can be cared for with a quick prayer or a brief counseling session. But if you see yourself in this story, man or woman, I encourage you, to seek out help and receive the Grace of God into your heart.