Sexual Violence & Domestic Terrorism

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I'm currently attending the very first week of intensive courses and lectures for my doctoral degree at

United Theological Seminary

. The theme for the week is Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. I've been cringing as I've heard some of the stats that the preachers and lecturers have shared. Here's just a few:

  • 1 in 3 women have suffered domestic abuse
  • 12-27 million people victimized in the human-trafficking trade will nevergain their freedom.
  • The NFL's annual Super Bowl is the US event with the highest rate of human trafficking incidents.

There have been at least three presentations concerning a specific story taken from Judges 19. There isn't adequate space here to give a full explication of the story. My recommendation is that you

click here

and read it in its entirety. Be sure to focus on verses 22-30.

After reading this text again and hearing the presentations, I am brimming with questions and issues to explore.  I'll do my best to simplify my musings with 3 observations.

Observation #1: The Bible specifies that the men who came to the house were "wicked" and "vile," yet, to me, the old man seems to bear the greater guilt because he offered to throw his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine to the townsmen. The old man then represents the people who benefit most from human trafficking (pimps, corporations, and other people in power), by offering the "services" of the powerless for sake of their own economic, political, and social advancement.

Observation #2: The townsmen never requested the "use" of the woman, but they took advantage of this consolation prize anyway. They were relentless and vicious in their abuse against her despite the fact that they had no interest in her at all. I think the situation illustrates the psychosis behind violence and sexual perversion. People who will commit these "senseless acts of violence"are obviously in a state of mental and emotional imbalance where reason and morality are not primary sources of survival.  This is terrorism...when "hurt people, hurt people."

Observation #3: There is no relief for the girl and technically no justice for the crimes committed against her. In the following chapter, revenge is taken, but the old man who initiated her attack is never held acountable. It speaks to the issue of classicism, racism, chauvinism, and the like. She is taken advantage  of because (as a lowly concubine), she's not even an official wife. She's a maid/servant that comes with fringe benefits. She's never even named in the text. She's faceless and nameless and thus meaningless.

God help us to (1) refuse to perpetuate the violence against the ones in our care, (2) identify dangerous methods of thinking and managing life's challenges, and then to (3) recognize the value of every individual and commit to loving and caring for them.