Faithful Servants and #Churchtoo #MeToo

When I first wrote about handling the difficult Bible passages in 2 Samuel about David, Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom and Tamar, I identified 3 types of person in the narrative. The first two are

Culprits – who are causing harm to others through their sin and carry specific guilt.

Victims – who are hurt by the sin of others often subjected to shame and a sense of defilement.

However, I don’t want us to lose sight of the third category. There are those we identified as faithful servants.  These are people seeking to be obedient to God and faithful to his word and promises even in the face of intense provocation. Continue reading

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Paul’s “Women Problem” and #churchtoo (part 1)

“What do we do with 1 Timothy 2:15? How does it fit with Paul’s theology?” asked one of our Union Learning Community students?

This is the verse that goes:

15 But women will be saved through childbearing,[a] assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty

It’s the kind of verse that preachers hope someone else on the teaching team will get.  It’s not just something for theological students to puzzle over before sitting their exams. You will have read my recent post that picked up on the #churchtoo hashtag and one of the arguments being made is that the cover for sexual harassment and abuse in the church is provided by our theology. Therefore, the answer is to change our theology and to stop interpreting the Bible, especially verses like this so literally. Continue reading

Sin Treats Silence as permission – the #churchtoo problem

In the light of the recent sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood, the hashtag #metoo began to trend on twitter as people began to share their own stories of experiencing unwanted attention, persistent harassment and physical abuse. 

Sadly, very quickly in the wake of this another hashtag began to trend, #churchtoo. Now it may be tempting to sit back and say “This is just people with an axe to grind jumping on the bandwagon” and maybe some are but if even just a small percentage of the stories are true then this should disturb and sadden us. It should move us to sorrowful prayer and to action. Continue reading

Sin Seeks out friends

As I said in the talk on Sunday, we are so good at finding people to support and confirm what we want to do.

I usually have a good feeling for the type of advice people will give me.  I know who will tell me just to get on with something and who will tell me to wait patiently. I know who will be over harsh and who will be maybe too gentle.  So the comments a wise friend once made resonate with me. Continue reading

Scandal (2 Samuel 13)

Q “How do I balance knowing that I am forgiven with not excusing my sin because I have eternal life as a free gift?”

A “You don’t. Instead we need to know the difference between excusing sin and knowing that we are justified. I excuse sin because I think I have still got to carry the burden of guilt and shame. So I am tempted to try and minimise it. The gospel tells me that I don’t need to. God forgives me and calls me righteous. Jesus takes the burden of my guilt and shame on himself. This means I can be and must be completely honest about the full weight of sin, guilt and shame I carry.

That’s why 2 Samuel doesn’t back off from the full horror of David’s sin and its awful consequences.  That’s why we can step into this story even though it will be challenging and painful as our own hearts are revealed. Continue reading

Cut and run: Is it ever okay to skip over a passage in expository preaching?

On Sunday, our preachers were due to speak on 2 Samuel 12. It’s the Bible passage where King David’s sin against Bathsheba and Uriah is called out. The question got asked “How should we handle this?”

It was a baptism service, we were expecting guests, some young people among them, a good number who had probably not been to church or read the Bible before. The passage includes the particularly sensitive part I looked at in this article where David and Bathsheba’s child dies.  The questions raised were: Continue reading

David’s judgement and the difficult matter of a child’s death

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, he thought he had got away with it but God saw and God was not pleased. In 2 Samuel 12, God sends the prophet Nathan to pronounce judgement. David repents (you can read his confession in Psalm 51).  God forgives David, his life is spared. However, he is told:

“You won’t die for this sin.  Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord by doing this, your child will die.”[1] Continue reading