Rape Seen Through Jacob in the Bible – Biola University President Barry H. Corey

Shechem siezes Dinah

Shechem siezes Dinah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacob’s indifference was his tragic flaw, demonstrated after his daughter was defiled. Instead of standing up, he backed down.  Chapter 34 ends with a pathetic Jacob living in fear with a sense of defilement and scandal on a family that has lost its spiritual soul. But, thank God for chapter 35, for the One who is missing in chapter 34, steps into this family to begin chapter 35 with these three words: „Then God said”.

Men of Biola, don’t be like Jacob of Genesis 34. Stand up for women and their dignity. Speak out against friends who try to commoditize women, objectify them, who disparage their purity. Don’t be that way and refuse to tolerate those piranhas who think of women in terms of „get me her”. And, one day you might have a wife and daughters. Don’t allow your own self interests, as noble as those self interests might be to trump your obligation to love and protect your wife and your children. (see rest of notes below video).

Published on Aug 13, 2012 by  Chapel from Sexual Violence Awareness Week  April 23, 2012

The sincerity of words must be earned. As you men live respectively in community, here with women honor their dignity and honor their beauty. Spend more time looking at Biola women above the neck, then below the neck. May this be  palace known for honoring women as they flourish in the image of God, the way they were created: intelligent, bright, wise, insightful, beautiful, nurturing, strong.

And, whenever injustices take place against women in our society- from pornography, to sex trafficking, to comments, to employment discrimination, to domestic abuse, to a sense of gender superiority don’t ever think the right response is Jacob’s (i.e. silence after his daughter’s rape) seeing injustices and turning a blind eye to symptoms that steal the dignity from women. That’s not right. The world has enough exploitative men like Shechem (Dinah’s rapist). Let’s fight back by being men of integrity, not indignity.

And by the way, pornography is one way you commoditize  and objectify women. As fathers, and husbands and boyfriends, as classmates, as friends, as fathers and sons, as leaders in your communities and your careers- treat women with respect and dignity. There’s a place still for chivalry

#2 Don’t be like Shechem of Genesis 34–  just as you should not be like Jacob. Men, don’t say what you think women want to hear in order to get what you want to get. You know what I mean. Honor the dignity of the girls who are your friends and the girls and the girls you begin to feel tender for. Dignify them with your words and actions, don’t objectify them. „Get me her”, in order to feed your own sensual cravings. Shechem couldn’t give a rip about Dinah or at least he cared a lot more about himself then this girl otherwise he wouldn’t have treated her like the object of his one sided sexual desires.

Women of Biola, know that you are precious in God’s sight, even if you feel like someone has taken advantage of you, or didn’t stand up for you. Not all men are like Shechem and want to exploit you. Not all men are like Jacob and refuse to defend you. But there are men that way. Don’t let these exploitative and cowardly men define you. There are also men like many guys sitting around you today who want you to flourish in all God has called you to be and they will honor your dignity and cherish your beauty inside and out. Ladies, don’t let cheap words of tenderness and shallow love sway your sense about who you are.

Ladies, each of you is worthy to be pursued, to be wooed and ravished with love by a man who is crazy about you and exclusively faithful. It’s the poetry of Song of Songs that describes the beauty of a man truly pursuing a woman and a woman truly yielding to a man.

#3 Don’t be like Simeon and Levi of Genesis 34– although, I have to admit I am more sympathetic to them. Just like the right response to Dinah’s violation was not Jacob’s indifference, neither was it his sons’ vengeance. Violence breeds violence. They mocked the Lord by taking the holy rite of circumcision  and they abused it in order to get even. Vigilante style, they bypassed justice as they kicked the stuff out of Shechem and his father along with all the other men of the city. They did the right thing by rescuing their sister, the victim, from Shechem’s house. But, then, they did the wrong thing when they ridiculed the covenant of God, when they murdered the men and took the women and children of the city as bounty replicating the same indignity Shechem and his father had done.

We don’t respond to injustices against women by indifference and neither do we by vengeance. We respond by rescuing the victims and seeking to right the system that led to these wrongs. What God wants of us is to rise above the pathetic indifference of Jacob and the pathetically irrational actions of Simeon and Levi and to work to free the victims who are sexually manipulated and to correct the systems that allow this to happen. I’m so proud to know many of you will be doing just that- (through) your lives as social workers, as journalists, as teachers and film makers, as counselors, as physicians, as attorneys, as researchers, as entrepreneurs, as pastors, as good citizens.

At Biola University we believe there are great challenges in this world, challenges that call for life giving and Christ centered redemptive voices. This story of Genesis 34 shows adjective injustices when women are de-dignified, women made in the image of God and we need to be voices of compassion, we need to be voices of justice and mercy. And, as much as this chapter shows injustices in the way that these men failed because they were cowardly- like Jacob, or ego maniacal- like Shechem, or vindictive – like Levi and Simeon, there is a bigger story here and that is the failure of spiritual leadership. This chapter is an absolute mess. A girl is forcibly raped, a father doesn’t seem to care, the sons lose it and slaughter people, a family is torn apart. Well, what’s wrong? This chapter is a mess not because of what is there, but because of what is not there. What’s missing from Genesis chapter 34? God’s name is missing. It’s one of the few chapters of the historical books of the Bible that doesn’t mention the name of the Lord in any form. What does that tell you about why family chaos erupted when a bad thing happened to them? And why no Godly leadership emerged from the family patriarch- Jacob. No one was recognizing that the antidote to the family crisis and moral implosion was to respond to the Lord, to stand up as a braveheart God has called us to be as a spiritual leader, especially the father, Jacob.

Students, our world is no less messed up now than it was then. Are you nurturing the habits of your heart in your deep relationship with God, so that you can stand up and be a spiritual leader? In your relationships, one day in your family in addressing the injustices you will give yourself to correct, where are the spiritual leaders? We need a rising generation to lead with biblical and Godly courage. We don’t need you to sit back Jacob like and live in indifference, worrying about your own hide or your own success… Don’t squander these college years with the anemic disease of indifference. Enjoy your friendships, enjoy your leisurely time, but let it refresh you to be motivated for more than a degree to get you a job. Stand up for a cause that is dear to the heart of God. Take some risks, you have nothing to lose. Standing up to lead sometimes means stooping down to serve. Don’t feel like some roles of serving are below you, that’s arrogance and pride. Don’t feel that some roles of serving are bigger than you and you can’t rise to the challenge, that’s timidity.

I would actually, in the spirit of Genesis 34, like to see more of you standing up with Godly courage for causes that matter, not to fritter away your days. And a word to the guys of Biola, I often see risk taking leadership more in women, here. There are plenty of guys leading, but no one is off the hook. Don’t fail to stand up for a cause that rises from your obedience to God and His word. And that means dethroning the idols of self and sloth that get in the way. Stand up and be servant leaders, men.

Jacob’s indifference was his tragic flaw, demonstrated after his daughter was defiled. Instead of standing up, he backed down.  Chapter 34 ends with a pathetic Jacob living in fear with a sense of defilement and scandal on a family that has lost its spiritual soul. But, thank God for chapter 35, for the One who is missing in chapter 34, steps into this family to begin chapter 35 with these three words: „Then God said”. After all this family mess and spiraling chaos God shows up through His word. Then God said to Jacob, „Get up and go to Bethel, where you first encountered Me and settle there and build an altar there to God.Finally, be like Jacob in Genesis 35. It says that all the people followed him and he was a spiritual eager again. God gives this renewed sense of worth to Jacob and He gives Him a command. He says, „Go to Bethel and build an altar to me there, right where I first appeared to you decades ago when that ladder came down from heaven and I bridged that gap between heaven and earth and you experienced me for the first time in your life. Go back to that place where you found me when you were alone, you were frightened, you were fleeing for your life. Go to that same space and know Me again like you once did before you drifted so far from Me”

And those of you who feel like you’ve drifted, it’s time you took a lesson from Jacob and made things right with God, one on one in whatever this sacred space is for you and then build an altar of commitment. So, Jacob began that pilgrimage, back to the place where he first heard from God in Genesis 28, where he set up an altar. That place of brokenness where he turned to God and faith. „And, as you go,” God told Jacob in verse 2, „I want you to begin shedding the junk that has been accumulating in your life in these intervening years. Lead that family of yours by getting rid of the foreign gods that you have with you  and purify yourselves. Go in purity and power by surrendering your fears to my strengths.”

So in verse 6 Jacob returned to that place where God first showed up, he reprioritized his life and in so doing he regained that spiritual leadership with his family, so absent in chapter 34. As we stand up and in a community walk together in healing, we take back the dignity the devil has stolen from so many. And this is our calling students. Allow the spirit of God and the word of God to wake you from your slumber, to call you to greater things. Don’t squander the best years before you. Then in verse 6 it says Jacob and all the people came with him to Bethel. Finally, he began to model a father’s love, the love that God has for us. With his family around him, this restored Jacob, he built an altar  and he called the place El-Bethel, House of God. And in verse 11, God reminded Jacob of  a promise that sets the stage for a great commission in Matthew 28 that „all nations will be blessed through us”. He says, „I am God almighty and nations and the community of nations will come from you and kings will come from your body, including the Messianic seed of Christ, the King of Kings, the one who restored and through whom we are able to stand up and go forward.

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