Ask me a question…

Sep 10, 2014Q & A with Mary

Watch every Wednesday for a new series of blog posts where I answer your questions about anything. Keep in mind, I’m not an expert on everything (although I did write a book with that title!).

So in the comments section of this post, or any Wednesday post, please write your questions, and I’ll do my best to tackle some of them in this space. Let’s start with one I received via email last week.

This question comes from Megan:

I have a bible question for you. Tamar in 2 Samuel was raped by her brother… in the story, it says she put ashes upon her head and ripped her “robe of many colors.”

One goes on to that it was just a white robe representing purity… someone else says it usually just represents a robe with long sleeves. But surely there has to be some significance of the robe of many colors…. someone said it meant royalty/chosen.

But if that’s the case… why is it that all you hear about Tamar is her sad story and then she is never mentioned again after that?

My answer:

Great, difficult question. It’s fascinating to think that she, like Joseph, wore a cloak or outer garment of many colors. In Joseph’s case, it meant he had favor with his father. And in his case, he was on an errand of mercy for his father.

Similarly, Tamar was loved by her father and was going on an errand of mercy (to take care of her supposedly ailing brother.) In both cases, they were enslaved or betrayed by their brothers/brother, though Tamar’s fate was directly wrought by the hands of her brother in rape.

I have heard that she was of royal lineage on her mother’s side, which might account for the beautiful garment.

It makes sense that she would tear away at her covering because that covering could not save her or help her escape the sin of another.

Both people suffered life consequences because the sins of another(s), though Joseph’s story seems to end well. All I can say about Tamar, is that we may never know this side of eternity what happened to her, how she lived her life, and how God protected or helped her endure. Her name means “Date Palm” which is a tree. Some say it means security, life, and sustenance. I hope that means that God took care of her all her remaining days.

I have such affinity for her, as I have felt like her in the past. The sin of once committed against another has brutal consequences. There is no glossing over the pain. Victims of abuse tear away what is precious to them, experience the loss of identity, and, unless protected by the community (which the Scripture seems to hint at), may suffer a lifetime for someone else’s selfishness and brutality.

I wish Tamar’s story had a bow on it, though her other brother eventually avenged her rape. I wish the Scripture told the rest of the story. But maybe that’s the point. That not every story ends neatly tied up. That we struggle to find the beauty in the torn garments of our lives.

That being said, I love how Jesus approached the women of His day. I believe He loved many Tamars who had been brutalized similarly. He loved prostitutes, dignified them, and praised their devotion to Him. Because they were so broken, they had the keen awareness needed to run to Jesus to help. And, amazingly, He welcomed that running with open, nonjudgmental, grace-giving arms.

I’m just so grateful that even the grievous sin of rape is not so great that Christ cannot heal and redeem it (though sometimes that process feels strangely like a lifetime). (Click to tweet).

What about you?

Have you ever felt like Tamar? Do you have a different answer to this question? Or do you have a question you’d like to ask me. Just type it out in the comments section.