When someone has hurt or betrayed you, one of the first questions you may ask is, "Why?" or "How could you have done this to me?" This type of betrayal may never have crossed your mind. It is most likely something you would never consider perpetrating yourself. It may be the furthest thing from your mind. Sexual sin may not make any sense to you. So you spend your days wrestling with the "why's" and the "how could you's", but it just doesn't make sense to you no matter how hard you try.
After studying the story of Tamar in Genesis 38 something struck me that I wanted to share with you.
This is what Genesis 38 is about in a nutshell: Judah had 3 sons. He found Tamar to be the wife of his first son. But his first son was wicked and the Lord killed him. Then Judah told his second son to sleep with Tamar in the hopes that she would have an offspring for the first son (who is dead). But the second son doesn't want his inheritance to go to the offspring of his older brother so he misuses Tamar and does not make it possible for her to conceive a child. Because of his wickedness the Lord kills the second son. Judah does not see that wickedness killed his sons so he decides he does not want to risk giving Tamar to his third son and sends her back to her father's house. Basically, Judah has sealed Tamar's fate because without an offspring she has no hope and no one to take care of her in her old age. Although Judah is responsible for taking care of Tamar (as his daughter-in-law) he has shirked his responsibility to her. Many years later, Tamar decides to take her fate into her own hands. She dresses like a prostitute and waits along the roadside for her father-in-law, Judah, to come by. He solicits her and they have sex. He does not know it is Tamar. Because he thinks she is a prostitute he offers to send her a goat as payment to which she agrees. However, she requires that he give her something as collateral until the goat is sent. So he gives her his seal, cord, and staff (which would have been of great value back then, even more valuable then the goat he would send). When he returns to give her the goat she is no where to be seen. She becomes pregnant with Judah's child and is accused of being a prostitute (because she has no husband). The "authorities" tell Judah about her adultery because by law she belongs to his family. He hypocritically tells them to kill her for her sin. While Tamar was being brought out to be killed she told Judah that the father of her child is the man who belongs to these items and reveals the seal, cord, and staff. He, of course, recognizes these as his and realizes all that has happened. He says, "she is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah" (verse 26). He then takes responsibility for Tamar and she bears him twin sons.
The truth as it relates to trying to make sense of how someone could betray another person in this way comes in verse 18 when she asks for a pledge until he can send the goat and he offers her the seal, cord, and staff. Since we know how the story ends we can easily see how stupid a choice that was for him. Why would he give her things of such value? It doesn't make any sense to us. Like Judah, to satisfy our own lustful desires we are willing to give away things of great value and importance. I found this truth oddly encouraging. A reminder that we often want to make betrayal about us, our value and worth in the other person's eyes. That if they had loved us, valued us, thought our marriage, our relationship, even intimacy was truly important then they could never have given it all away so easily.
The wise watch their steps and avoid evil;
fools are headstrong and reckless.
We are all foolish in our sin. Foolishness doesn't make sense to the "wise". When we are caught up in sin we make choices that don't make a lot of sense to others. We don't think clearly and we are definitely thinking only of ourselves. This thinking results in reckless behavior and the foolishness of giving away things of value to get the sinful desire we think we need.
God has a plan. He had a plan for Tamar and He has a plan for you. If this has happened to you then it has a glorious purpose in your life. The reason you were betrayed may never make sense to you. You may need to change your perspective on it and agree that it will never make sense. Your betrayer, in their sin, was acting foolishly. Sexual sin was tempting enough to give it all away, sometimes to the point of losing everything that really matters. Although you should take responsibility for your own sinful actions in your marriage relationship, their betrayal was about them (not you) and does not reflect on your value and worth as a spouse or as a person.
1. This Is My Solemn Vow