Sexual Abuse in the Bible

Sexual abuse has been a plague on society for thousands of years. Even the Old Testament of the Bible contains tragic stories of sexual abuse, rape, and incest. In 2 Samuel, scriptures tell us that Amnon, the son of David, contrived to get his half-sister, Tamar, alone and have sex with her.

But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, ‘Come, lie with me, my sister.’ She answered him, ‘No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile!…But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she was, he forced her and lay with her…Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.’ So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. – 2 Samuel 13:11-12, 14, 20

Even in those ancient days, victims were told to keep the abuse a secret. Interestingly enough, Scripture continues to talk about the brothers, the father, and the consequences for them, but not much more is said of Tamar. Scripture simply tells us that she remained desolate in her brother’s house; she is locked in the silence, shame, violation, and trauma of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her half-brother.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners…to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. – Isaiah 61:1, 3

Thousands of years later, untold millions of children and adolescents are victims of sexual abuse and carry the wounds of that abuse into their adulthood, living in the same desolate condition as Tamar. In sharp contrast to remaining desolate, is Christ’s promise of healing for those who are wounded. Isaiah 61:1,3 beautifully describes the promise of transformation and healing through our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. God is beckoning us to accept his offer for healing, and to walk with one another along that healing journey…out of the darkness and silence, into his light with voices raised in hope and joy.