When God’s stories sound more like Scream 4 than Mother Goose, it messes me up. In Judges 19-21, we have a story so gruesome that it would be a R rated movie AFTER they cut out half the scenes. I don’t know that it would even get funding, it’s so bad.
The story is about a guy who has a lover/half wife. She cheats on him, then leaves and goes home to another part of the country. After a while, he decides he does want her, and goes to get her. The father in law is a manipulative guy, and keeps them both around a lot longer than the husband wants to stay. Finally, they leave. The husband is arrogant, and ignores good advice on the trip, putting the family at risk because of his racist attitudes. When they finally stop, its in a dangerous place. An old farmer takes them in, because he is kind and is worried about the family’s safety. That night, the men of this creepy town come, and call for the old farmer to send out the man so they can rape him. The farmer won’t, and in desperation, offers his daughter and the man’s lover. They refuse, and demand the man come out. The farmer sends out the man’s lover instead. They abuse her for hours, and leave her for dead. She crawls back to the doorstep of the farmer’s house, where she dies alone.
Meanwhile, the guy is asleep in the house, completely not caring about his girlfriend. He sleeps in, and when he finally wakes up, he finds her on the doorstep, where she died trying to get back in the house. He tells her “Get up, let’s go”. Only then does he realize she’s dead. He takes her body, goes home, and decides what to do.
If this movie isn’t terrifying enough at this point, it goes downhill fast here. He cuts up her body and mails parts of it to all of his family around the country in order to get them stirred up and angry. This ignites a gang battle / civil war that ends up splitting the country into pieces, results in thirty thousand people dying needlessly, and in the kidnap and slavery of dozens of more women before the story ends.
Oh yeah, did I mention, that the guy in the story is a pastor?
That is messed up. And unfortunately it is a true story about the people who were supposed to be following God and showing His love and compassion to the world. It’s not a script from some warped mind. It’s historical non-fiction.
It’s also a reminder of what happens when we quit listening to God in our lives. This story comes at the end of the book of Judges, which is packed full of stories of God’s nation as they continually refused to listen to Him and change. It’s our story. As gruesome as it is, we can each become this destructive when we try to live life on our own terms.
Just consider the fact that we go to movies with stories like this, and consider them “entertainment”. Are we that far off then?
The book of Judges is a wake up call of God’s concern and love for us, and our severe need to depend on Him each day, and live each moment by His plans as best we can. We are called to be a people of beauty and light, grace and hope, peace and joy. Does that describe your interactions today? Yesterday?
Or do we line up more with the self absorbed, bitter, pastor in the book of Judges?
The story is a shocker, and it is intended to shock us into evaluating where and how we live as part of His Kingdom.
Does it work?
Or is it just a story?