Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hagar: What did happen, not what should happen

In order to get more Bible reading in, I downloaded Matthew Henry's Commentary to my Kindle and have been reading it alongside my Bible.  My plan succeeded, and I'm being fed more from the word and have been having a better attitude about life, though I will always have a long way to go.

I love Matthew Henry and his Reformed views on things, but I just could not help quite disagreeing with his views on Hagar in Genesis 16.

This is the part of Genesis where Sarai gets tired of Abram not having kids so she suggests that he sleep with her servant Hagar and have a son through her.  He does that, and it results in Hagar getting pregnant with Ishmael.  She knows this and starts showing contempt for Sarai.  Then Sarai starts abusing her, possibly giving more work to do.  Hagar gets overwhelmed and runs away.

Matthew Henry considers her running away from Sarai a sin.  I don't know if it's sin or not, but it's a perfectly natural response to her situation.  Abraham and Sarah (their later names), brought her into their marriage without consulting her.  They never talk to her or use her name.  They only talk about her and then Abraham uses her to get a son.  It is only when she runs away that God appears to her, calls her by her name, and treats her like a human with rights and feelings.  He tells her to go back to Sarah, serve her, and bear Abraham's son, Ishmael, who God will bless.  Although he is not the promised son that would be born through Sarah, he's still Abraham's son and will be blessed, too.

I'm writing on this for the second time this year for two reasons. 

1). I'm about to write about Jephthah, and Bible naysayers like to try to discount the faith by using both his story and Hagar's story.

As for the case of Hagar and other concubinage in the Bible, liberals like to say that God commanded childless women to provide a handmaiden for the man through which he can have a child.  We can't realistically expect men and women to save sex for marriage when God commanded such things.

But that was never the case.  God has never desired for a man to have sex with anyone other than his wife, whether he gives them children or not.  It was the culture in Mesopotamia to do that and one that Sarah adopted that God never commanded.  Things that our Bible heroes do are what did happen, not necessarily what should happen.  God still took the situation and used it for his glory and our redemption, but what he expressly desires is for one man to have marital relations with one wife and no more.  Adam never had more than one wife.  And Noah had only one wife along with his three sons who only had one wife each.  All the population of the earth comes from them.

And as we see in this story, God is the only one who tried to treat Hagar with dignity and honor.  Only when he did, then Sarah and Abraham began treating her the same.

2). I read this article that broke my heart.

Basically, these men on this show who are married to each other desired a child.  So one of them chose an egg donor from a catalog, used his sperm to create a child, and this woman bore the child.  The network filmed the childbirth on the show without her consent, and the men gawked at her anatomy in the process. 

I find it appalling that somebody can purchase a child out of a catalog, manufacture that little girl, and then add her to the household like she's an accessory.  Just a fashionable purse or poodle to support your lifestyle.  Meanwhile, the woman who bore the child and carried her inside her body for nine months has no rights in the process and will have no relationship with her baby.  This baby will have no woman in her life close enough to talk with as she gets older and reaches puberty.  Both mother and baby are used as objects to satisfy the desires of this richer people who are already living a lifestyle outside God's will.

It reminded me of Abraham and Sarah in their treatment of Hagar.  They wanted a child but did not want to wait on God's timing.  They just used another woman to be a surrogate with no consideration of her desires or dreams. 

But as God redeemed their situation, God can redeem this situation.  All children are in God's image and must have rights.  God can reach the two men on this TV show and save them from sin and reform them, just like he did for Abraham, Sarah, me, and you.  He can reconcile this little girl to her mother.  Perhaps they can all teach the world that sexual sin does harm people outside of those committing the sin.  Innocent people get caught in the trap and lose their dignity as humans when it goes unrepented.  But God is so merciful and can still save people such as that in bring Christ into their lives.

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