Rape is one of the most disturbing of sins. It is a violent, cruel, and inhuman act. The Bible tells the story of reality. The Bible is not afraid to plunge into the darkness of sins like rape. In 2 Samuel 13, there is a tragic account of a brother, Ammon who raped his half-sister Tamar.
The rape is a gruesome, premeditated act. Amnon was sick with lust for Tamar. He wanted her so badly. He filled his mind constantly with sexual fantasies and daydreams that he tortured himself. Sin was crouching at his dour ready to pounce and devour him. We can learn something here about our own hearts and our temptation to sin. The old man creeps in our hearts often tempting us to go back to our sinful way of life. When this happens, we cannot feed our temptations. We must put our sin to death. We cannot sit and dream and imagine what it would be like to act out on them. We must never entertain the thought of indulgence. Yet this is what Amnon did and his pet sin quickly escalated to a uncontrolable desire. Then at the operative time, Satan brought a man to encourage Amnon to act out on his lust. His name was Jonadab, a cousin of Amnon and Tamar. This wicked man put the beginnings of an elaborate plan together to help Amnon indulge in his lust.
Amnon’s elaborate plan unfolds, and when she is unwilling to lay with him, he forces himself on her. Tamar’s rape is heart breaking and tragic. After Amnon forced himself on her we are told in verse 15 that Amnon “hated her with a great hatred so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had for her”. The sole object of all his lust immediately becomes the object of his hate. Indeed, his hate was greater in intensity than the original lust. Why did Amnon respond this way? I suggest three possible reasons:
1. The fantastical delusion did not match up with reality. The pleasure was not nearly as great as the temptation promised. It was much more uglier and disturbing than he could have imagined. Sin promises us fulfilment and joy if we succumb to its pressure, but the opposite always takes place. In the aftermath of our sin we see that temptation not only failed to come through with its promise, but the whole fantasy was a lie. Amnon hated himself for being so foolish as to believe the lie.
2. The shame of his sin became unbearable. Often in the aftermath of sinful indulgence, shame immediately grips us. We know we’ve done wrong and we know we failed. Our temptation is to hide just as Adam did. Amnon wanted to quickly dispose of Tamar forgetting the whole thing because he was so ashamed of his sin.
3. Amnon blamed his sister for his sin. This is absolutely vile that he would blame the victim rather than himself. Yet this is the heart of a man who has been lost in his sin. Rather than pointing the finger at himself and practicing true repentance, Amnon took out his anger on the person whose life he just tore apart. This is what many who molest, abuse, or rape actually do. Rather taking responsibility for their own sin they angrily take it out on their victims. It is despicable, condemnable and it is going to send poor Tamar to the breaking point.
After Amnon has his way with Tamar, he kicks her to the street. Tamar’s response to this is hard for us to understand in our culture. In verse 16 she tells Ammon that sending her away is “greater than the other you did to me” How is kicking her out worse than raping her? Tamar was a virgin, and the significance of this is greatly lost to modern minds. As a result it is even more difficult for us to see the horror of what actually takes place here. Well to women in ancient Israel their future hope was tied to their virginity. If they were to marry a wonderful man they were to remain a virgin. Amnon had now defiled her. Her life is literally ruined. No man would now marry her now, and he kicks her out to live alone, abandoned. you see both Amnon and Tamar knew the Law of Moses. In Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22::28-29 God commands that if a man rapes a woman he is forced to marry her and he was never permitted to divorce her. This is so her needs might be met. The rapist was not to take responsibility for her. Yet Ammon the pig, rapes her and abandons her. THis is why Tamar is so distraught as she walks out. Not only was her virginity taken, but so her hopes and dreams of ever finding love.
What can be learned from this disturbing rape account in the Bible?
1. The heart of a rapist is a heart devoured by sin. It is a reminder to all of us the power sin can have in our lives and an urgent call to repent and put to death any sin that may dwell in our hearts. Do not feed your pet sin so that it grows big enough to devour you. Put it to death through the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. It reminds us of the horror of sexual abuse. We live in a sexually charged society, and sexual abuse is rampant. Rape happens every day behind close doors in secret. It is a crime that demands justice. In Tamar’s case, justice would eventually be had when her brother Absalom murders Amnon for his crime because Tamar’s father, Kind David did nothing in providing justice. May we seek justice for those victims of sexual abuse. May we fight for their freedom.
3. It reminds us that we need Jesus. How can anyone ever heal from a rape of a family member like Tamar? It will not be easy, but Jesus provides healing. God is a God of justice and no sin goes unpunished. God is the loving father who longs to wrap his arms around these victims of sexual assault and cloth them in his righteousness.
The heart of man is desperately wicked. Despite how much we try to see humanity as good. Crimes like rape remind us just what atrocities men are capable of doing. We need redemption. We need restoration. We need forgiveness. We need Jesus.