Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Woman of Interest: What About Tamar?

So...I woke up this morning with a theological chip on my shoulder. I asked myself, "What about Tamar?" Who is Tamar you ask? She is a biblical character, daughter of the infamous King David. There are actually a few Tamars in the Bible but Wikipedia eloquently makes the distinction "for the rape victim, see..." And that's just it...Tamar's claim to fame in the Good Book is "Tamar: daughter of David and rape victim." I guess it is important for me to include that she was raped by David's son...yes her brother!
I am often amazed by how provocative the Bible can be. Sometimes the stories and parables read more like an episode of the "Young & the Restless" circa 1989 than a sacred text. But that's what makes it the most important manuscript of them all: its cultural relevancy. I mean who needs a Harlequin book when you've got the Old Testament? That being said, I don't often hear holistic commentary on issues involving women in the Bible. Through much teaching you may be lead to believe that women are just ancillary pieces to the puzzle (with the exception of Eve!). However, when you read the text for yourself you may find that a woman completely drives a particular story. Case in point: I've been in discussions about the Tamar rape where people focus mostly on the strained relationship between her brother's Absalom and Annon. I agree that this relationship is an integral part of the story but by the end of the conversation I always find myself blurting out, "But what about Tamar?"
This theological quandary still rings true in my heart when dealing with issues in modern society. I mean do we ever stop to think, "I wonder how Anita Hill is doing since the Clarence Thomas thing? Has Monica Lewinsky been able to live a normal life since Bill? Will OJ Simpson's daughter with Nicole ever be able to maintain healthy relationships with men?" How many times have you heard a story about a family tragedy or the fall of a dynasty with little to no mention of the womenfolk involved?
I wrote this piece today because I want to now confess publicly one of my newly discovered missions in life: to empower the Tamars of the world to change their lives and those of other women and children around them through education and the arts. It is surely a daunting mission but one that I am finally ready to accept.
But more on this later...
For more information about Tamar, you can reference 2 Samuel 13.

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