In self-defense classes, women are taught to yell and bring attention to their attacker in an effort to make them cease. It is also a way to empower the woman to use her voice. This post is my using my voice to bring attention to the many attackers who have somehow fooled themselves into thinking that they have a moral right to treat women as objects for their own personal desires.
“NO!” is my response to Judge Roy Moore. I yell an even louder “NO!” to Alabama State auditor Jim Zeigler. Zeigler, you have taken the biblical accounts of Mary and Joseph and sloppily placed them on top of your party’s (as well as gendered and privileged) interest at the expense of teenage girls. With every bone in my body I respond, “NO!”
This is not about a mutually consenting, December May relationship. This is about a grown man in his thirties who was trained in the art of rhetoric as an attorney, (possibly) sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl. Someone please give Moore and Zeigler the roll call for #metoo in case they were unaware that such abuse of power over the vulnerable can and has happened to women on a regular basis.
What I take umbrage at is the use of biblical narratives to defend such behavior. Moore and Zeigler, this has been a tactic used for far too long in terrible, abusive and manipulative ways. My faith, my theology, my biblical exegesis, as well as my understanding of my belovedness by God will no longer allow this to happen while I have the ability to yell out “NO!”
In my doctoral studies, I have spent the better part of the past 2.5 years studying first-century women, particularly Mary mother of Jesus, and their connections to contemporary women’s issues, particularly that of marginalized young girls such as teenage mothers. Your exegesis of the relationship between Zachariah and Elizabeth as well as Mary and Joseph as a basis for the moral excuse of the illegal sexual misconduct of Moore is shallow and unsubstantiated.
Let us look at the biblical people you cited in the context of their culture and time in history. First-century families existed and functioned largely as an economic system. Women were, as Rev. Amy Butler pointed out, treated as chattel. They were objects to own in this culture at this point in history. However, the existence of such a practice and the account of it in the Bible does not make it moral or immoral in and of itself. In fact, upon reading the book of Luke in its entirety, one will find that God chose Mary despite her lowly status. God’s choosing Mary as the mother of Jesus, was a bold statement to that first-century culture. The statement is: Although she is self-identified as a “servant-girl”, although she is economically and socially vulnerable as a young single girl with no one to fully claim ownership of her until her marriage is solidified, although she has no status or title to speak of, God calls her through the angel Gabriel “highly favored”.
Using Joseph and Mary as an excuse to sexually abuse another person by wielding ones gender, power and status over young girls who have little to no agency of themselves is in direct opposition to the divine decision to choose young Mary as a loud “YES” to those who find themselves oppressed, marginalized, abused and neglected. God chose Mary to remind us that despite the culture or contexts of our time, even if it favors men with power, God’s favor rests especially to those with seemingly little to offer. Mary knows this as well as she yells “NO!” in her song of justice, better known as the Magnificat.
“He has taken rulers down from their thrones. He has put those who are in a place that is not important to a place that is important. 53 He has filled those who are hungry with good things. He has sent the rich people away with nothing.” Luke 1: 52-53
Zieglers of the world, please stop carelessly using biblical examples to excuse behavior in direct opposition to God’s favor to the vulnerable.