#MeToo Story 2: Bathsheba

Image by Jeff Juit from Pixabay

Bathsheba’s #MeToo Story and King David’s Crimes

2 Samuel 11:1—12:14; Psalm 51
Written by Yeohan Ko

People can see various kinds of sexual abuse in the Bible, but I think that the most horrible case is what happened to Bathsheba.

She is the wife of Uriah, who is a faithful officer of King David. However, David watched her bathing, and he fell in love with her. He had to give up her because she was already married, but he forced her to have a sexual relationship with him. She could not reject David because he was the king of the nation. She received sexual abuse by her husband’s boss, but she could not say anything because she was afraid of the king’s authority and the destruction of the relationship between her husband and her. She could not disclose the horrible affair to her husband or any other people, so she kept it secret. Unfortunately, she was pregnant because of the affair by David. She disclosed her pregnant to David but not to Uriah. Surprisingly, David decided to hide his scandal by various schemes. However, his faithful subordinate was not caught in his traps. Finally, David conspired with General Joab and made Uriah die on the battlefield. By killing Uriah, David could hide his horrible sin from people in the kingdom. Bathsheba could not stop David’s evil deed and the death of her husband. She knew David’s sinful mind. On the contrary, people knew David’s merciful mind because he was to take care of the widow and the baby. By Bathsheba’s silence, David was able to obtain praise from people and hide his sin. Because she did not say anything, David, the kingdom, and Bathsheba herself could live in the kingdom peacefully.

#MeToo story today

Is it true peace? Is it just an ancient story? No, it is a false peace, and it is happening in the current churches. She received sexual abuse, but she could not claim anything. The victim had no power and no helper, whereas the assailant had the biggest authority in the kingdom and a lot of supporters. Also, she had known that the culprit was loved by God. This meant that God could be her enemy if she became the opponent of David. She had no chance of winning against the criminal, so she had to keep silence.

This affair is not unusual in the current society and church. Likewise, by the abuse of power, many women cannot say anything against the authorities. Many pastors and priests who have to lead and encourage people are killing many women spiritually. Unfortunately, they are protected by their associations even though the victims are individuals. The corrupted churches are protected by strong protectors just as David was. Therefore, the victims also have to gather to be against the evil group and disclose the hidden evils. I hope that the movement of #MeToo stories can defeat the evil people.

#MeToo story biblically

To make the world peaceful truly, people need to understand the Bible correctly. People can see the patriarchal cultural background and polygamy (which is based on the discrimination of women) in the Bible. So they tend to think that it is good before God, but that is incorrect. God permitted these cultural habits, but it is not what God wanted the people to do. Women could not refute the male-dominant society because they knew that women could not live without their husbands in a harsh society. However, men should recognize the fair relationship between men and women by knowing the right interpretation of the Bible.

According to Genesis Chapter 1-2, first of all, both a man and a woman are the image of God. Thus, the female status is at the same level as a male. Secondarily, “ezer” means a warrior rather than a helper. This means that a woman is not a supporter of a man but a soldier of the same level as a man. It is a very interesting interpretation for me. Although I still believe that God made women as a helper of men, I understand that the Bible does not disgrace women, and men must not disgrace women. For example, “ezer” is also used for God in the Old Testament. If men disgrace women due to the word “ezer,” they must disgrace God, too. I believe that women are respectable, and they have different roles from men. Above all, I realized that I have to fight against the Christians who discriminate against women by using the Bible verse or church authority. Just as Jesus defeated the Pharisees, who used badly the Bible verses, the movement of the biblical #MeToo stories can defeat the corrupted churches and bring true peace. 

#MeToo story in Japan

In Japan, where I lived, the movement is not popular, and the discrimination against women remains strongly although the circumstances for women are beginning to improve recently. According to the World Economic Forum’s global gender equality rankings for 2018, Japan is 110th in 149 countries in the world.[1] For instance, people in Japan often hear the bad news of sexual harassment on TV, which especially happens in workplaces. Also, groping on a train is happening a lot in Japan, too. However, many Japanese women put up with the harassing without saying anything. In fact, some brave women who disclosed sexual harassment were labeled with bad reputations by other people.[2] It will take more time for Japanese to accept the #MeToo movement.

Overlooking sexual abuse caused by wrong thoughts is based on “male-dominated society,” which is derived from patriarchal culture and a Japanese traditional concept: “Kenka ryoseibai.” “Kenka ryoseibai” means that when people have a problem, both parties have bad causes. In other words, it means “In a quarrel, both parties are to blame,” and “It takes two to tango.” Thus, some people think that not only the male assailant but also the female victims have a problem. Similarly, the children of the bullying victims are scolded by teachers, and the victims involved in certain affairs by terrorists are also blamed by mass media. Therefore, in the case of sexual harassment, social recognition against harassment is still weak, and many men still cannot understand the severity of sexual harassment in Japan.

In the past, I did not understand the importance of the sexual abuse problem, either. To protect myself from any false charge related to sexual abuse as a man, I followed many helpful precautions I heard when I was a graduate student. For example, I must not take the elevator if only one woman takes the same elevator. Plus, I have to keep opening the door of the room if only one woman is in the same room. Additionally, when I take a crowded train, I ought to keep putting my hands up in order not to be suspected as a groper. Some people recommended me putting a gay men’s magazine in my bag to exhibit indifference toward women. Thus, I was interested in just how to protect myself from sexual abuse problems, but I was not interested in women who received sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, in Japan people treat women badly who suffer sexual abuse—they regard them as defiled and sinful. Few people protect them in Japanese society. For example, according to a certain woman who suffered sexual abuse, she had to explain in the details to a man in the hospital and the police station, although they were not cooperative. Moreover, she had to fight with the assailant in court, and her family and she were frightened against bad reputations and threats every day.[3] Some women were encouraged by the movement of #MeToo, but Japanese society did not accept it. Many women cannot disclose their #MeToo story because they do not want to be treated by others as a dirty woman. The reason for the underestimation of #MeToo is due to the patriarchal cultural background like many other countries, so the Japanese society is still based on the discrimination of women.

#MeToo story in my future ministry

The #MeToo movement should be expanded biblically. It is because humans are not worthy to trust. Unfortunately, even pastors and churches focus on protecting themselves rather than helping victims. It does not mean that all churches are doubtful, but it is difficult to discern the difference between a good church and a bad church. Consequently, secular people are not trustworthy to trust in, either. All men, including pastors, should know that every man has the possibility to be voluntarily or involuntarily the sexual abuser like David, so what people can depend on is only the Bible. Therefore, they ought to keep the Bathsheba story in their minds. Believers should not blindly trust a pastor because they should trust in the Bible rather than human pastors, as I mentioned above.

Finally, after I graduate from the seminary, I will come back to Japan as a pastor or missionary. When I preach the gospel at church, I would like to teach believers about sexual abuse problems in both the Bible and in current churches and society. I should not forget the importance of openness in ministry. I also have to be punished by God if I sin before God. Even if I have to quit my ministry, I would like to disclose everything because our God is the righteous God. I believe no one can hide anything before God, although they can hide the truth from people until the end. I would like to support the biblical movement of #MeToo so that people in Japan will believe in God through the movement. I hope that God uses the Bible’s #MeToo stories to have a big impact on people who underestimate sexual abuse, just as David realized the bigness of his sin and repented before God when confronted by the Prophet Nathan.

Published here with permission.

Yeohan’s article is the second of three student papers exploring a #MeToo biblical narrative. See my introduction to these papers, “Confronting the Bible’s #MeToo Stories” CJ

[1] JIJI, “Japan rises four places to lowly 110th in WEF’s global gender equality rankings,” The japan times NEWS, <https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/18/national/japan-rises-four-places-110th-wefs-global-gender-equality-rankings/#.XcmhaVf0k2w> (November 11, 2019)

[2] Yuko Kato, “#MeToo Japan: What happened when women broke their silence,” BBC NEWS, < https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43721227>(November 11, 2019)

[3] Alastair Himmer, “Japanese women confront grim taboo by saying ‘me too,’ ” The Jakarta Post, <https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2018/04/01/japanese-women-confront-grim-taboo-by-saying-me-too.html> (November 11, 2019)

About carolyncustisjames

This entry was posted in #ChurchToo, #MeToo, abuse of power, Domestic Abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

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