David Raped Bathsheba and This is Why That Matters.

The following guest post is written by Ryan Ashton. I really appreciate Ryan’s clarity here on why it matters that we call what David did to Bathsheba “rape.”

In recent days, Christians have been debating whether King David raped Bathsheba or if she seduced him. For those who aren’t Christian or don’t know, this matters because the attitudes and beliefs Christians have about sex crimes, abuse, and abuse of power trace back to how Christians read particular passages—and King David has largely enjoyed centuries of rationalizations and excuses while an innocent woman is defamed.

Early on in my Christian experience, even I believed Bathsheba seduced David because that was what I was taught. It disgusts me that this erroneous teaching is so widespread—and we see the results today when Christians downplay sexual abuse in their churches, argue rape victims are “asking for it,” or say if a victim isn’t dead it must mean they went along with their abuse willingly.

However, according to several clues in the Bible, Bathsheba is innocent. Bathsheba was cleansing herself from ritual impurity—following the Law—and, according to the ancient language, this occurred in the evening. It was David’s guards who took her from her home. There was no opportunity to argue because David was the king, and the power imbalance cannot be more obvious or stark. Bathsheba is likened to a completely innocent ewe lamb that is slaughtered when David is confronted by the prophet, Nathan.

Yet still, there are those—mostly conservative—Christians who labor to find fault in the victim. This perspective carries over to every discussion of abuse and crime committed by Christians in the present day. It’s abhorrent, and I’m tired and disappointed from seeing it. Here are some examples:

The things that test my faith are times such as these—witnessing conservative, fundamentalist Christians stressing words like “biblical” every other sentence but who exhibit none of the compassion, love, and empathy for those who have been harmed. I am repulsed by Christianity and the “God” of fundamentalists when “biblical” people mock those who suffer while claiming to “honor God’s Word.” The “Jesus” these “biblical” people follow condones their actions according to them. Lately, I have privately mused that I much prefer “hell” than spending an eternity with conservative fundamentalists who defame victims.

Perhaps that is extreme, but that is exactly what I want. I do not want to be associated with a faith that gleefully hurts others.

How we treat women matters.

How we treat victims matters.

How we read the Scriptures matters.

Because there are people around you right now who are silently suffering, and they are watching what you say, how you live, and how you respond to evil.

For additional academic reading on this subject, please see this essay.

About Ryan Ashton:

Ryan Ashton is an advocate with a range of skills in spanning design, copywriting, marketing, and customer service. A 2018 graduate from Bob Jones University (BFA, Graphic Design), Ryan works with several non-profits that educate religious communities on how to address abuse—including GRACE, Sacred Spaces, and Freedom for the Captives—and volunteers for Greenville’s Julie Valentine Center and various advocates who serve the vulnerable and silenced.

Published by R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College.

2 thoughts on “David Raped Bathsheba and This is Why That Matters.

  1. PrayThroughHistory – St. Paul MN – As a lifelong student of history and a person of faith, I have been moved to combine my passions into this blog. What you will read here is my personal journey as I literally "pray through history." I want to encourage site visitors to view the past in terms of how we as a race of humans have broken with the Lord in our dealings with one another -- and to acknowledge those points of separation, live more freely in the present, and pass blessings to future generations instead of curses. I am deeply indebted to the wonderful and comprehensive work of the Minnesota Historical Society (www.mnhs.org). When I discovered their timeline tool at www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm, I was inspired to meditate on -- and pray over -- Minnesotan history. The timeline provided an essential framework for the ideas and expressions posted here. Welcome to all, from curious to serious, who want to encounter some significant stories and events of Minnesota history as they occurred in the past, impact the present, and inform the future! - James Orvis
    PrayThroughHistory says:

    Dear one, Why exhaust yourself with anger at the Church when we are only compromised sometimes right, sometimes wrong human beings like yourself? We are have to live by the measure of faith and revelation we have known. You could have more impact by teaching than accusing the parts of the Church you disagree with.

  2. John A Holzmann – Husband to the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18) * Father of four * Grandfather of twelve born (eleven still living) * Author of Dating With Integrity * Co-founder and co-owner of InquisiCorp Corporation (Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. and BookShark homeschool curricula companies
    johnscorner says:

    Whoa! Appreciate your perspective. I had never considered this incident from the perspective you offer here. But/and once I saw Ashton’s/Rachel Denhollander’s comments, I realized this is correct. Yow! How can one be so blind for so long? How can an entire CULTURE be so blind for so long?

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