A story in the Bible is highlighted this week in a discussion on negative and positive emotions. The story is about a young woman by the name of Tamar.
It’s found in 2 Samuel, Chapter 13.
Tamar’s half brother (they have the same father named David) whose name is Amnon in in love with her. (Later in the story we see that it’s not really love but sexual desire.)
Amnon pretends to be sick and asks their father David if he could send Tamar to help feed him.
King David obliges. After all, what parent doesn’t want to help their sick child.
When Tamar arrives, Amnon sends all the servants out and asks her to bring the food into his bedroom. Then Amnon grabs Tamar. Tamar begs him not to disgrace her but Amnon was stronger than her and he rapes her.
The story then takes an interesting turn. At first, Amnon states he is in love with Tamar but after he rapes her the Bible says that he “hated her with intense hatred” and he tells her to get out.
Emotions. The writer asks us to think about what emotions might be in play here.
Amnon was experiencing sexual feelings and did everything he could to get those satisfied – starting with deception. What he experienced during the actual rape, I’m not sure. Satisfaction? Perhaps during the sexual act itself. It says he experienced hatred towards Tamar afterwards but we don’t know why. Guilt? Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us. Could it be he realized what he did was wrong and some of that hatred is towards himself? Or he feels hatred towards Tamar because he thinks she provoked him in some way?
Tamar on the other hand probably experienced fear, shame, guilt, pain, betrayal. Perhaps she’s asking herself “What did I do to deserve this?” or “What could I have done differently?”
The Bible doesn’t tell us that Tamar did anything to entice Amnon. When grabbed, she said no and yet was raped. It doesn’t matter what she was wearing or saying or thinking. No has always meant no.
How does this story end?
We’re told that their father, King David, was furious when he found out. But he did nothing about it.
Tamar lived “desolately.”
Later, Absalom, Tamar’s brother, gets his revenge and kills Amnon. Interestingly, the Bible states that King David mourned for Amnon. But outside of being furious with Amnon about raping Tamar, we’re not told that he spoke to him about it or that there were any consequences to Amnon because of it.
So much sorrow caused by one man who had to have his sexual desires met — by force.
This story makes me sad. There are no positive emotions in this story.
Deception, rape, revenge.
I’m glad that when we get to heaven, none of these things will exist.