The Easter season has passed us by, I pray that everyone had a wonderful day in God's house, celebrating the Resurrection of our King. We had great time in Ottawa and I am always grateful and humbled when getting to share the Good News of Christ. I have been very busy the last couple of weeks, trying to prepare for Easter and finish some big school projects. That said, I am over that season now, so it's time to move forward. Over the next few weeks I will be doing a Sunday morning series called "Problematic Passages;" as a result, I thought my blog might be a good opportunity to cover things I do not have time for during my weekly message...or, to unpack something in more detail.
Today, I want to take a look at the first few passages in story of Tamar in Genesis Ch. 38.
Genesis 38: 1-11
And it came about at that time, that Judah [a]departed from his brothers and [b]visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her. 3 So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. 4 Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. 5 She bore still another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib [c]that she bore him. 6 Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up [d]offspring for your brother.” 9 Onan knew that the [e]offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he [f]wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give [g]offspring to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. 11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”; for he [h]thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
One thing that is important for a person to understand about and Biblical passage or story is that we should never build a doctrine based upon one instance...especially when that passage or story is different than or seemingly contradicts other parts of scripture. In addition, just because the Bible tells a particular story does not mean that God is approving of the behavior.
This story takes place early on in Israelite history and has to do with the patriarch of the tribe of Judah (one of the 12 tribes of Israel). Apparently, Judah found himself a wife and had kids with her. It appears as though Judah was not a very good father, as God ends up taking the life of at least 2 of his sons. Of course, many of the customs of that day seem bizarre to us, as our society no longer practices them. The first 11 passages of the story are setting up what will happen later on.
One of the things I would like to address is vs. 9. Verse 9 has been used throughout history (along with one or two other verses in the O.T.) to justify a husband and wife not using contraception. However, all it takes is a elementary understanding of scripture interpretation to know that God was not making a "forever declaration" on the issue of contraception. God was displeased with Onan because of his motives. Onan did not want to produce a child with Tamar, which would have been the custom back then. If Onan were being "upright," he would have said "no" in the first place. God reacts harshly to the actions of Onan, which are also difficult for us to understand, but that does not change the fact that vs 9 has nothing to do with a ban on contraceptives for modern day believers. As we continue on in Genesis 38 we will have much to discuss. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. God Bless.