Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2 Samuel 13:12-17 -- On the Mockery of Love

"And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.
And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.
Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her."
2 Samuel 13:12-17

This is a scary story from the Old Testament of a man raping his half-sister.  I'm not saying that it is a pleasant story, but perhaps it is important for us to learn something from it, and that is why it is in the scriptures for us.  To me, this story is about the mockery of love.  Amnon was making himself sick with how much he wanted Tamar, and when asked about it, he said that he loved her.  ... But was it love?  Is love a sickening, selfish thing that can cause someone to do this kind of evil?  Is love something that can immediately turn to hatred as soon as its object is achieved?  It isn't either of those things.  But we pretend it is, often, in our society, both in rape, which is at least recognized as evil, and in seemingly-normal courtship ritual.  Analogies fly about predator and prey, and as soon as a sexual goal is achieved, the "love" is gone, and on to the next conquest.  And I am definitely not just calling out men.  This is something that we, as a society, do... and the sickest part of all of it is that, like Amnon, we call it love.  We actually convince ourselves that we are in love, and make love a priority over everything else... but Amnon didn't love his sister at all.  Otherwise, he would have listened to her entreaties.  And when we pretend what we are feeling is love, we risk damning ourselves just as surely as Amnon did.
Today, let's remember that love is not selfish... that it doesn't cause us to commit crimes or do evil, or harm others, even emotionally.  Let's not sully the name of love with this particular brand of egocentric lust.  Let's care for the people around us.  Let's remember love is about wanting what is best for another, not for ourselves.  Let's go to God and work on learning what love really is, and not accepting a poor substitute.

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