Orville Taylor | Church, cleanse thyself
For all the greatness that clergymen and women impute to David and even describe him paradoxically as 'a man after God's own heart', I've never been a big fan of his. And no, it is not because he cheated in the fight against Goliath, but because he committed a grave sin because of his lustful mind, and instead of coming clean, committed murder to cover his nastiness. Thus, he made at least two victims.
Nasty David saw the wife of his faithful soldier, Uriah the Hittite, bathing, and instead of looking away, he ravished her. It is totally irrelevant that she swayed and bowed to him and freely gave in. Under the ancient biblical Judaic law, she had no locus standi, and being mere property of the man, she fell into the same category of other chattel. Thus, she was even unworthy of her own commandment, falling behind the neighbour's house in the sequence of property. Thankfully in the 10th and very last, she is placed before the neighbour's donkey.
And just in case you might think that the seventh covers it, adultery in the Old Testament is not just about touching another man's wife, who is just a trifle more than his ass. It is about the violation of another man's sexual property. If we were to use modern standards, all the patriarchs with multiple wives and myriad concubines were adulterers. It is sad that deep in old biblical theology is the idea that women are men's footstools.
Can you imagine that David's punishment was the forced sexual exploitation of his wives? How does that punish David? Even with the case of Lot. Remember him? He, in his zeal to prevent the 'anuphilic' Sodomites and Gomorrans from having carnal knowledge of two male angels, said to them, "... I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men."
After almost 50 years of Bible study and Sabbath school, I still cannot fathom how a God-loving man would think that his pristine virgin daughters were nothing but fodder for the untrammeled sexual desire of total strangers. Me! Call me unchristian, but I'd have willingly let them go try to copulate with the angels, if the angels consented, and add a different meaning to being burnt in desire. But my precious offspring are not mere pieces of meat. He might be Lot, but in my eyes, he is diminished to minuscule.
This explicit misogyny in the Old Testament is one of the reasons I'm happy to state and know that those old laws in the first part of the Bible are unchristian and do not apply to us, who are instructed by Jesus' wonderful, but hardly ever obeyed commandment, to love one's neighbour (including wives, sisters, and daughters) as oneself.
It is an important lesson because it is about time that church leaders stop blaming Eve for taking that thing that the serpent gave her and putting it in her mouth. Whether banana, apple, cherry or any other fruit, Adam should have known better than to swallow, even if she placed his lips on it.
Despite women-hating churchmen for centuries labelling Mary Magdalene as a harlot, with absolutely no basis in Scripture, she was one of Jesus' favourites. Appropriately, she was the first person and only disciple to see him rise and stand up in the morning of the resurrection.
My point, with all these scriptural references, is that inasmuch as the old-fogey Jewish patriarchs devalued women, all that bull shifted when Jesus came with the new covenant. Our church leaders must recognise and treat women as equals. Although the International Labour Organization (ILO) has recently published data that show that our gender balance is among the best in the world, too often reports ooze to the surface regarding abusive behaviour towards our females, and, in particular, girls.
One thing that hasn't changed since the New Testament is the legal status of children. First of all, they are not competent in law to give consent for a number of legal commitments. Thus, a child of 17 cannot vote or marry independently. However, while she or he might not be able to participate in any election, she or he can err, change the second letter in the word and give sexual consent. What a paradox!
Given that the decision to compromise one's body is one that can have irreversible consequences, only a male-dominated legislature could conceivably think that a girl who is not smart enough to determine where to mark a solitary X to decide which 63 people will make laws to govern her is sufficiently knowledgeable to deter the reasoning of a wolf in sheep's clothing, who, with silky tongue, overactive testosterone and little blue pills, takes tithes in kind.
A recent study indicated that as many as 40 per cent of our girls have had their first sexual experience by force and under age. Now, while I believe that the methodology might possibly have some bias and other methodological flaws, even 10 per cent would be too large an offering to pay, since our census indicates that eight out of every 10 Jamaican children belong to a denomination.
As I said last week, the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) 2004 does not allow us the option of keeping secrets to protect the image of any institution, family or person. Every suspicion of child abuse must be reported under the CCPA. Nevertheless, even without the guidance of the act, let me remind the ministers of churches from Romans 1:18 in their manual: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
And since some clearly subscribe to the Old Testament, Proverbs 17:23 warns, "A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice."
Cleanse thyself, Church, and we shall cleanse the society.
- Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.