Feminism, Theology

myths I believed about women of the Bible

bathsheba

One of my blogging friends, Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism, has been going through Debi Pearl’s Created to Be His Help Meet a few pages at a time– she’s where I got my idea to break down Fascinating Womanhood. Libby Anne’s gotten to the part of the book where Debi uses Bathsheba as an example of everything a woman shouldn’t be, and blames Bathsheba almost totally for everything that happened– both to her and to David and his family. She’s the biblical face that sunk a thousand ships, as it were.

Reading over Debi’s description felt oh-so-familiar. It was exactly what I was taught about Bathsheba. A quick review of church history– its art, its commentaries, its sermons–  reveals that it’s how most Christians talked about her, too. Bathsheba, to many Christians, was a slutty whore. As I’ve grown into egalitarianism and feminism over the past four years, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with that interpretation. There’s no crystal-clear explanation in II Samuel 11 that Bathsheba didn’t consent, but that’s hardly surprising since Bronze Age cultures had no (or little) conception of female consent. Regardless, David was the warrior-king, the warlord, and how exactly was Bathsheba supposed to say “yes”? Consent matters very little when there’s no real possibility of saying no and having that no be respected.

But then, Libby Anne pointed something out that I had completely missed: that the text actually does make it completely and utterly clear that Bathsheba had absolutely no part in what happened to her and she was not to be held responsible. It says it, plain as day, when the passages specifies that she was “purifying herself from her uncleanness” in verse four.

Bathsheba wasn’t bathing on her roof.

Bathsheba was in the mikveh. In the communal pool, the one designated for ritualistic cleansing, the one constructed for privacy, and the one David would have KNOWN naked women went into at least once a month, as the Law commanded.

And not only that, any time David’s actions are discussed anywhere else in Scripture, it is always to place the full, unmitigated blame totally and squarely on David. Never, not even once, is Bathsheba mentioned. She did nothing– nothing— wrong. Considering how severely the Law treats women who “play the harlot in their father’s house” or commit adultery (ie: stoned to death), that any supposed wrong-doing on her part is never even mentioned is pretty strong evidence that David raped her.

Reading that this morning was… beyond mind-boggling. I read that passage my entire life, have heard countless sermons preached on it, and what I walked away with was that Bathsheba was a slut.

The same thing has happened to virtually every other women in the Bible.

Deborah? Just a punishment for men being cowardly and lazy. Huldah? Huh, who’s that? Oh, just some random woman that read the Torah. Forget about how she was a contemporary of four other male prophets. Obviously she’s just there to prove how ungodly Judah had become. Junia? Nope, not an apostle. Dude, she’s not even a woman. Mary Magdalene, the person the Resurrected Christ appeared to first? Also a whore– she was obviously a prostitute. Please ignore how there’s not even a single shred of evidence to support that.

What’s the only thing we know about Sarah? That she mocked God. What did Rebekah do? She manipulated and lied. Rachel? Was a whiny little brat that stole her father’s idols. Danah? Also a slutty slut, nevermind that she was also raped. Eve? Weak and easily deceived, also responsible for the destruction of the human race because she was a fool. Satan knew that Adam was much too smart, much to good, to be deceived. The song of praise and honor meant for all women in Proverbs 31? It’s a list of commands now, you have to do all of it or you’re a worthless good-for-nothing wretch. What do we remember about Hannah? She was discontent with her husband and needed a baby to be happy.

Over, and over, and over again it seems that most Christian theologians over the past few thousand years have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy doing anything possible to discredit and destroy every single last positive example of womanhood in the Bible. It’s so deeply buried in Christian culture at this point that it seems incredibly rare for someone to even bother to show women in the same light that the Bible showed them: as human, yes, but also as glorious, courageous, magnificent, brave, intelligent, dedicated, loving Daughters of Abraham, Heirs of God.

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  • I was ready to hit the “like” button before I was halfway through this post. All the positive press your blog has received recently is richly deserved. It just gets better and better. Carry on, sister.

  • Mhud

    One does not have to be an egalitarian nor a feminist to understand and accept that only David is responsible for his actions. Have you read any of Carolyn Custis James? Especially Lost Women of the Bible – one of my favorites.

  • Sigh. David was on his roof being a peeping Tom and somehow from that we are taught that Bathsheba was flaunting herself.
    While no one ever caught that she was NOT on her ROOF, lol, I did hear several sermons that, to their credit, removed the blame from her and placed it squarely where it belonged–on David. The prophet Nathan, when he approached David, characterized Bathsheba as an innocent, helpless, favorite lamb belonging to Uriah–hardly the way a slut would be spoken of by God’s prophet. However I was always disturbed by two other things that seemed common assumptions when this passage was preached on: that Bathsheba must have been a brainless bimbo, because she went along with David and because she doesn’t figure further in the story of Solomon, a mere “pretty face” as it were, and that David was being punished for his sin by the death of the baby Bathsheba conceived.
    The pretty face thing frustrated me because it’s an assumption based, not on evidence, but on the cultures stereotype of beauty and brains in a female being mutually exclusive. I mean, this is a narrative written BY MEN ABOUT KING DAVID did we really think they’d bother to tell us how amazing Bathsheba was at peacemaking, or negotiating, or teaching Solomon to be thoughtful… Or that she was surprisingly literate, or had a photographic memory which her son inherited from her, or anything else positive about her? Assuming she was a brainless model on the grounds of silence is nonsense. Even worse, assuming it because she “went along” with David. Nathan portrayed her as a lamb, and David as an evil theif. A lamb cannot say no to the strong theif stealing it. In that day and culture, Bathsheba had no voice.
    What bothers me more, SO MUCH MORE, is the assumption that the death of Bathsheba’s baby by David was a punishment on him for his sin. The idea that God would “punish David” for his adultery by killing an innocent baby, and by causing an innocent mother that incredible pain of loss–just to make David pay–is atrocious to me. I think that based on the character of God as I understand it from the whole of Scripture, this idea is an oversimplification on the part of 1) the Biblical writer and 2) the modern fundamentalist reading. I dont punish my oldest child for hitting their younger sibling for no good reason by taking away a toy that is precious to BOTH of them. I’m not that stupid and unfair, and I would never dare assume God was. Even worse, its implying that He is a chauvinist, who only sees the loss of a baby in terms of the pain it causes the father. Horrible.

  • Insane… Completely insane. Nothing I’ve ever heard has implied that Bathsheba was anything but a victim in that story. Every sermon I’ve ever heard preached talked about how David failed, utterly and completely failed, in that instance, and the Psalms reflect his lament when he realized (finally!! and far too late…) his own incredible arrogance and sin.

    I think it speaks loud volumes about the church(es) you attended, where sermons were preached in that tone… and it’s not a pretty sound.

    That is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve read here yet, outside of your own personal story of abuse.

    (hugs)

    Btw, I’ve got Bad Girls of the Bible on my “to read” shelf. My mom recommended it to me. I have a feeling it has a very different take on Bathsheba’s story than “she was a slut”… That’s just… in-freaking-credible. And horribly, horribly sad.

    • truthful nacho

      Or maybe the biggest deal here is that this story is repeated at ALL. It is smut. It is gross. I don’t even wanna hear about it. David knew exactly what he was doing. He knew it was wrong and did it anyway. What a pervert. What does the story do except glorify David in the end? The fact that he made it into the Bible and stayed there is enough for us to automatically think of him as a Chosen Dude.

      I was one told to bring my tights in from drying on the line at Bible sleepaway camp because “they might tempt the boys”. UH NO. And that kind of stuff happens in the church no matter how the women of the Bible get written and rewritten.

      • Bri

        So, what, we should never talk about the evil that people do? Pretend it doesn’t happen? How has that ever helped anything? We use stories about wrongdoing all the time to teach moral lessons; the important thing is how it’s portrayed. Wouldn’t it be better to bring it out into the light and openly condemn what David did to Bathsheba, as well as what the church has done to her?

    • Alice

      I haven’t read the whole book, but the first chapter has a detailed story about a woman named Ruthie who is in an abusive relationship. The author specifically says Ruthie is not a bad girl, but that she made bad choices, which could still be considered victim-blaming.

      Also, she portrays Poitphar’s wife as a “bad girl” because she was bored, horny, and entitled. The author says the “lesson” is to not waste time and steer clear of things that appeal to the flesh. ARGH, NO!

      Talking about how Bathsheba is portrayed always makes me think of Joseph’s story as well. In fundamentalist culture, he is often held up as a role model for “fleeing temptation at all costs.” It was always implied that God would not have blessed him if he had “given in.” But this ignores the fact that Joseph was a slave and essentially powerless. He clearly told the woman no, but she kept harassing him. She or her husband could have had him killed, and he was imprisoned for a long time. The only reason he was able to get away was that he was physically stronger.

      ***This is assuming that the story was told accurately, and Poitphar’s wife was lying about the rape. In real life, people rarely lie about sexual assault, so I don’t make that assumption lightly.

  • Hi, I am totally egalitarian. But I just have to say that I come from a very conservative (yes, I guess fundamental) background and I honestly never remember Bathsheba portrayed in a negative light. Never, not once. I always remember the blame placed on David in various ways – He should have been off fighting war and instead was home and shirking his duties. He was looking on the rooftop and should not have been. He should have looked away. He could have chosen from many other “available” women, and yet chose a married one. Again I honestly never remember Bathsheba blamed. Rather, she was a victim – who could say no to the king?

    I’m not trying to be disagreeable. But just wanted to share a different conservative/fundamental past experience regarding it. Thanks.

    • I just want to point out that yes, I heard all of this, too, that David was responsible in his own way– that would be a hard thing to deny, considering Nathan shouted “thou art the man!”

      However, it is completely and totally possible for David to be responsible AND for Bathsheba to be painted as the evil seductress, the temptress– and she has been.

  • Also, I just had to comment that Debi Pearl’s stuff is extremism, even for fundamentalism or conservative evangelicals – in my opinion. I still have friends in these circles, and they are horrified by Debi Pearl. The one is a strict independent Baptist and wrote a series of blog posts a few years ago criticizing the teachings of Debi Pearl.

    • I think it’s also worth pointing out that most evangelical Christians don’t embrace or condone the Pearl’s way of thinking. I’d never heard of them before coming here.

      However, Samantha has mentioned several times that her church, and the community, was cult-like, and the purpose of this blog is to expose and heal from the abuse she suffered in that context. I hope that hearing how shocked “normal” Christians are by some of these teachings may be healing and hopeful for those who’ve suffered this kind of spiritual abuse. 🙁

      • Margaret

        @Mary. Good point that Debi Pearl represents a “cult” view. Still everyone thinks their way is “normal,” so might be better not to say it that way.
        Btw. Bathsheba isn’t covered in the first “Bad Girls” but might be in the next one. I do like Liz Curtiss Higgs.

        • Good to know! I know there’s a Bad Girls of the Bible part 2… I haven’t had a chance to read the first one yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t often pick up a “Christian” book, but my mom recommended this one, and said how much she enjoyed it, so I want to give it a read. There are a few exceptions to my “no Christian books” reading rule, like Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries series that I did find helpful when I was a young parent (Boundaries with Kids, in particular). Cynthia Tobias’ books on raising a “strong willed child” were also a good foil for Dobson’s advice, which I took with a grain of salt.

          I think that, with any non-fiction book we read especially, it’s important to keep in mind the bias of the writer… and some authors, like Debbie Pearl… well, I think we all know that boat’s just a little too cracked to bail…. which would be why their books are self-published, and haven’t been picked up by any mainstream Christian publishing house.

      • Thanks for clarifying some details Mary. I am new to this blog. Yes, there is some terrible spiritual abuse out there.

        • Welcome! 😀
          It’s a pretty awesome blog… I don’t follow many but this one is articulate, sensitive, and well written. I learn something new with nearly every post.

      • They don’t condone the Pearls. Evangelical culture does, however, think the Ludys and Harrises and the Greshes of the world are amazing– and they all say basically the same thing. They’re just not as straightforward about it.

        • Hmmm… I’m not sure Gresh says the “same things” as Debbie Pearl… but as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I haven’t read her stuff extensively, so there may be things lurking there that I haven’t run across yet. I follow the Secret Keeper ministry on Facebook. I do see a mix of commenters, from those who are very down-to-earth and common sense, who want to raise their daughters with self-respect in a difficult-to-navigate culture, to those who are most definitely over the top. I have found, in general, that the common-sensers tend to speak up and confront foolishness like “no jeans for girls”, often loudly.
          I’m not saying there’s not bad teaching and practice still happening, obviously, but I do think there is hope, and more common sense amongst readers, than implied by comparing Gresh with Pearl.

          I’m not familiar with the other authors, because I don’t read much “Christian” non fiction in general.

    • My ex-father-in-law is a pastor at an evangelical church, and they suggest parents use “To Train Up a Child” by the Ezzo’s. The Ezzo’s techniques are very similar to the Pearl’s, and it’s very abusive. So…conservative evangelicals absolutely can use these books. All it takes is one pastor that says, “This is the right way to raise your children, and look at my wonderful children! They turned out great!” (They didn’t turn out great.)

      • IMHO, the problem isn’t with the church- though it’s horrifying to know that there are churches that promote this kind of crap- it’s with the parents who don’t THINK for themselves.

        I read a lot of parenting books, including Shepherding a Child’s Heart, which I know some parents in my church enjoyed. (though I don’t know any who actually went so far as to follow his instructions for spanking, which creeped me out in a huge way).

        But, I read it and thought for myself and while I recognized my need for more consistency and discipline (something I’m still not great at, and my kids are teens), I also recognized what would and would not work for me and my kiddos.

        Parents have no excuse. If you go to a church that teaches abusive practices, and you don’t call them out on it, that’s not ok. Your kids, and your family’s health needs to always trump your social group. Unfortunately, not all parents have the tools and skills, let alone the knowledge, to make those changes for themselves, and all we can do is continue to do our best to spread education.

        I had a crappy upbringing (not because of the church, but because my family is batshit crazy.) But, I recognized that batshit wasn’t going to work for my kids, and I wanted better for them. So, I read books. And I took classes. And I learned. And I’m not perfect, but I’m a little less batshit than my own family. And hopefully my kids will take more steps in healthier directions… We’ve got to just keep on going forward in this.

        Kudos to Samantha, for this blog, and for contributing to the forward march.

      • I myself was not denying that evangelicals can use these books/methods. They can and do. But I just do not think it is fair to lump all evangelicals together, nor to insinuate that the majority of evangelicals use these methods. Many evangelicals have not even heard of the Pearl’s – that’s how non-mainstream they are. The Ezzo’s are more known, but I still would not say that following their teaching is “common” among evangelicals. I know plenty of “anti-Ezzo” evangelicals.

        Extremism should indeed be exposed. I was only attempting to provide some balance or different perspective, so that someone doesn’t falsely assume that these things represent the majority of evangelicals. Thanks.

      • To Train Up a Child is by the Pearls. I think you are thinking of Growing Kids God’s Way by the Ezzos. Which is pretty much the same philosophy. I will confirm that the Ezzos remain somewhat popular – and that they were all the rage during the 1990s.

        • Ahhhh you’re so right. “Growing Kids God’s Way.” They also wrote “Babywise,” which is super popular among my Southern Baptist college friends…

  • Margaret

    This surprised me. I appreciate your outrage at Debi Pearl’s perspective. it’s warranted.
    But why… “most Christian theologians over the past few thousand years have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy doing anything possible to discredit and destroy every single last positive example of womanhood in the Bible. ” ??
    I’ve been in church my whole, entire life – 55 years – in three different denominations, and on two continents, and I’ve never heard Bathsheba represented this way before.
    I’ve always been taught that she “was taken” by David. She was not given a choice. Nathan depicts her as a beloved lamb, who was stolen. David was at fault, was confronted by Nathan, and he repents. No one asked Bathsheba to repent.
    Debi Pearl is a menace, but not everyone agrees with her.

    • Not everyone, certainly. But do a Google images search of “Bathsheba” or “Bathsheba bathing.” The temptress, the seductress, the temptation so strong she could overcome a man’s good senses simply by the scandalous act of bathing in plain sight is how she’s typically portrayed.

      Read Francine Rivers’ “Unspoken” which is a fictional re-telling of the story from Bathsheba’s point of view. The whole book is nothing but slut-shaming.

    • Sigh…. no not every evangelical thinks that Bathsheba was a slut. Protestants are not a monolithic group by any stretch – there are hundreds of Baptist groups alone, not to mention all the “non-denomatinal” churches which are their own phenomenon. But let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that “only real extremists” like the Pearls teach misogyny. The details may differ, but these misconceptions about women are rampant. I was always taught good things about Hannah, but I was also told that Deborah was a punishment for weak men, because “Paul said he never allowed a woman to teach a man.” By saying that “only extremists think X” diminishes the power that these teachings have over people – lots of people, not just those who grew up in IFB.

  • Margaret

    (hugs) Really appreciate your work in exposing these lies!

  • Just to clarify in light of the conversation- I, for one, in expressing horror at hearing that Bathsheba has been portrayed as a “slut” am not disbelieving of your report of that assessment- Quite the opposite, I absolutely believe there are some teachers who have presented that lie.
    I do think that the fact that it comes as a shock to many of us who’ve grown up in mainstream evangelicalism, and even in relatively fundamental environments, should be a source of hope.

    At least, I hope it is.

    Shining a light is the only way to expose the crap lurking in shadows. Keep on shining, friend.

    • If it helps, my church presented her as a pawn, someone David saw and simply had to have; they didn’t even mention much about her consenting or not consenting to what happened. She was an extra in the movie and her motivations and reactions were not examined in any detail at all. I don’t remember anybody talking about her being responsible for David’s transgressions. But I was in church like 20 years ago, so maybe stuff has changed, and my last couple of churches, while fundie, were not anywhere near as toxic as some of the ones I’ve heard about in the last few years.

  • I dunno, Tamar sure didn’t seem to come out so well, nor the concubine who got cut up into pieces after being raped to death. But the demonization definitely happens to way too many actual good and noble women in the Bible. I remember my reaction (O.o) when I realized there was nothing in the NT about Mary Magdalene being a prostitute; that was just what centuries of commentators had said. It wasn’t a long leap to wondering what else I’d been wrong about. (Did you know there’s a whole society out there trying to repair the soiled reputation of Mary, Queen of Scots? Some of her vilification may have been purely political-based–in the same way as the OT’s heroines’ reputations were maligned to justify treating women poorly. The Bible’s translators and commentators come by the habit honestly, that’s for sure.)

    • truthful nacho

      and just how good and noble does a woman have to be to not deserve to be raped to death?

      • Damn skippy. Doesn’t matter how non-noble or non-good a person is, nobody deserves that kind of treatment. The Bible tends to treat women who don’t “deserve” protection very poorly, IMO, like the unfortunate young daughters of the Amekelites, whose sin was being born the wrong nationality and therefore weren’t under Yahweh/El/whatever’s protection, but even the ones who do conform to whatever the behavioral standards are don’t tend to do a whole lot better–sorta like how it seems to play out IRL for women who try their hardest to conform and yet end up victimized and preyed upon despite their best efforts to be as innocuous and non-threatening as possible. Thank you for letting me clarify: nobody deserves to be victimized, ever, and nothing anybody ever did would justify victimization in any way, shape, or form. I savagely reject the idea that anybody, male or female, could do something that would make victimization even a tiny fraction okay.

  • I always loved Sarah so much; I love her for laughing inside that tent, because what they were telling her husband simply made no sense. We can pretend it was some sin on her part, but I never got the idea that the angels were angry at her for laughing, but rather understanding and trying to explain their point. But there is this “she just needed to trust God!”

    Well, she did that. For decades. She had begun to trust that God had chosen not to give her children, and had adjusted her life accordingly.

    I love her because she’s so damn human. There’s a tendency, in the Bible, to talk about the people as archetypes and not the fallible human beings they were. Sarah, to make the joke, laughs in the face that whole idea, because she laughs at the idea that God would choose to give her a son NOW. She does the “selfless” thing and asks Abraham to bear a son by Hagar, but then gets jealous when that son is born and she realizes the attention and status Hagar might gain from it, eventually leading to Hagar being thrown out. Sarah is a good woman, but she’s so human.

    If you can’t tell, she and the Magdalene are my two favorite Biblical women. The Magdalene because what is NOT written about her is so very telling, and Jesus clearly treated her as an equal and chose to reveal himself to her FIRST, for a reason. Sarah because her stories laugh, so to speak, in the face of our attempts to turn her into a cardboard cutout of herself.

  • Peter

    While it’s a bit anachronistic to read Talmudic mikveh regulations into Bathsheba’s story, naked bathing in a communal pool was almost certainly part of the process at the time, and humans being what we are, there would have been some sort of privacy accomodation.

    • My research into this indicated that the practice of using a Mikveh (or something very similar) came into use during the Kingdom era.

  • truthful nacho

    Finding solace or meaning in these stories really is just snatching at crumbs. We might as well admit: men get to write this bad literature, teach it to us as they wish, and that’s THAT.

    • Yes, men wrote the stories.
      Yes, men have been the ones controlling how these stories are taught.

      However, I disagree that just because sexism and patriarchy have been so strong doesn’t mean I’m incapable of changing the narrative. Women and men have been working to change the narrative for a long time, and we’ve made progress.

      Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to overcome thousands of years of dogma.

  • cm

    First of all, I love it when a somewhat obscure thought that has been on my mind pops up in several blogs.
    Last week I posted this on my facebook “I wish people would stop calling David adulterous and start speaking up about him likely being a rapist and murderer. He used his power and privilege abusively towards Bathsheba. and since Bathsheba literally had no possible way to turn David down short of suicide, the details of the case matter little. His intentions were to have her, regardless of her willingness. When you read Nathan’s little parable (supposedly God’s POV on what David did) it seems pretty clear that God considered it non-consensual.
    Instead we have been conditioned into seeing a seductive and adulterous Bathsheba, a weak and wanton woman that brings down a man of God, a narrative that does not exist in the text.”

    Your post and the comments brought on even more thoughts. I was submerged in church since before birth (ha), having attending 20 or more conservative/fundamentalist churches/bible studies/homeschool support groups and had NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER heard Bathsheba characterized as anything less than slutty, either intentionally or unintentionally, (which is the same thing in those circles -ha). It is interesting to me know how often this story comes up in my experience in contrast with the Abigail story. I believe that in a subtle way, the choice to focus on negative narratives about women is a subtle, secret way of shaming and controlling women while never having to do so overtly. In fact, I have personally been witness to pastors and teachers who use these narratives to publicly castigate wives/daughters. Everyone in the community knows about it, and knows that the message text is for that purpose, but it could never be proved. (which is how those kinds of church’s work, anyways)

    One day I was literally sitting in church flipping through pages in an effort to tune out something else, and that little portion where Nathan tells his little story reached out and slapped me hard! (this has been happening recently- some recent passages that I had been numb too now make me physically ill)
    I think many women are numb to the many ways that blame is subtly placed onto the women. Any narrative that makes David noble is in someway shifting the blame away from him. Some take great, elaborate pains to do so. Others do so out of habit, out of neglecting to ever personally and privately meditate on the passage. ANY NARRATIVE THAT USE THE WORD ADULTERY IS USING VICTIM BLAMING LANGUAGE, BECAUSE ADULTERY IMPLIES ACTIVE PARTICIPATION OF THE WOMAN. In fact, any narrative that a pastor is comfortable with talking about in church has been whitewashed.

    • Yes. I hadn’t realized until recently about the issue of the word “adulterer” vs rapist, but recently I was reading a piece on one of the survivor blogs (admittedly, I can’t remember which one) and read about a situation in which a grown man was called an adulterer after molesting a teenager for years. Adulterer implies full consent and participation of both parties, people.

  • EV

    Agggg. I just found out my son’s bible study is going to look at Samson & Delilah and talk about dating (just in time for Valentine’s Day). Can’t we not fit Biblical narratives into modern western contexts – and in this case, I’m sure it will also be patriarchal, too.

    • I can’t imagine how someone could read the story of Sampson and get anything patriarchal. I mean–I believe you, I’m sure they can. It just seems like such a mind-bogglingly inaccurate reading of the text, it surprises me. If anything Sampson is just a long, bizarre story of many many things men should not do.

  • Kreine

    Thank you for shining the spotlight on misogyny in Fundamentalist Christianity.

    I grew up in this culture, too. I actually had a male Christian school teacher say to our *6th grade class* that rape victims who wore short skirts & halter tops were “asking for it” & shouldn’t be surprised when they are raped.

    I absorbed the message so well that when friends began sharing in frightened whispers that this man or that boy had touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable (we didn’t even know the words “molest” or “abuse”), my first thoughts were always along the lines of what they were wearing or what they’d done to encourage such behavior from the males.

    Because, you know, “it takes two.” And “we are all sinners.” And “modestly-dressed girls don’t have that happen to them.”

  • That’s amazing. I grew up in church all my life, and I’ve been in both more liberal and more conservative traditions, and I’ve never come across anyone preaching the things you say about women. Especially not about Bathsheba. Whenever I’ve heard a sermon on that, it’s been about how it was David’s fault; he should have been off leading the army, not at home looking out from his roof in the first place.
    I never once realized that Bathsheba wasn’t bathing on the roof like everybody thinks. Funny how that’s so ingrained in our pop culture.

    • Quick question:

      When describing David’s sin, did they use the word “adulterer” or “rapist”?

      • They did say adulterer. I never heard anyone explicitly blame Bathsheba, but David was always called an “adulterer”. Someone who had slept with another man’s wife. Not a rapist, someone who had taken a woman and abused her, against her will. Nobody ever said that.

        AND–I never noticed that she wasn’t on the roof. Where do you suppose that myth got started? It would have to be by someone blaming Bathsheba, wouldn’t it? There’s no reason to say she was on the roof when she wasn’t except to make her sound like a seductress. And nobody I ever heard talk about this pointed that out before.

  • Evil Feminist

    Someone mentioned Dannah Gresh. I have a copy of her secret keeper book that my mom gave me about 10 years ago. She actually devotes a whole page in her ‘cd case’ sized book to sensually describing Bathsheba’s ‘rooftop’ bathing. How Bathsheba could have been deliberately exposing more than necessary. Omg, she freaking took off her tight belt and was only wearing a loose garment, then bared herself to the waist! Gresh goes on to speculate that maybe Bathsheba was lonely (maybe horny) because her husband was away, and wanted to be watched. Basically, Bathsheba was “asking for it”. This, in a book targeted at young teen girls…

  • I just posted this blog to my Facebook page where I write about women of the Bible, just in case you wanted to know where your ideas are traveling to. –Robin Cohn, https://www.facebook.com/robincohnwomenofthebible
    http://www.robincohn.net

  • Eleanor Katherine Skelton

    Wow. This is soooooo good. ^^