Politicians, Power, sex and scandal (2 Samuel and the current crisis)

We’re about to teach through a section of 2 Samuel that includes

–          The humiliation of David’s ambassadors by foreign ruler

–          David’s affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah

–          David’s son Amnon raping his half-sister Tamar

–          Absalom’s coup and public taking of his father’s concubines to have sex with

A common theme throughout this story of men exercising their power through sex, controlling and harming others for their own satisfaction.  They do that with the knowledge and implicit support of others who use this knowledge for their own gain.[1]

This series has been planned for a long time, so God’s timing is perfect. Here we are with sex scandals in Hollywood and Westminster, with men standing accused of using power to exercise control over others, tales of harassment and sexual violence whilst people in the know kept their mouths shut.  Particularly in Westminster, the suspicion is that party whips, journalists and rival politicians may be tempted when scandal comes to their attention to stay silent and use the knowledge for their own advantage.

So what would God say to our politicians and celebrities from 2 Samuel?

  1. Your behaviour is not victimless – it causes deep and lasting pain to others
  2. Your behaviour does not go unnoticed. God sees. This also means that he sees the heart and he knows the difference between true confession and the admission of someone who has been found-out
  3. Your sin defiles you and brings shame and condemnation on yourself. You cannot escape the consequences.
  4. Staying silent means that you are complicit in guilt. There is no place for this.
  5. God’s grace means that true, deep, lasting forgiveness, cleansing and reconciliation are possible,

This means that no amount of changes to institutional structures, new codes of practice, help-lines, harsher penalties etc will change things. Only the gospel can bring true repentance, change, forgiveness, restoration and hope.

[1] An interesting read on this is Moshe Halbetal and Stephen Holmes, The Beginning of Politics, Power in the Biblical Books of Samuel.