The famous slap heard around the world is still stirring up waves – even weeks later. I presume you have all heard its echoes all the way to your parlor. But if for some reason you are unaware of what I’m referring to, you can read all about it in the link at the bottom of this post.*
What has stirred such a fire under the feet of the Prince of Bel Air, that up to that point was watching with wide grins, as Chris Rock was joking at the expense of others? Was it just his wife’s honor he was trying to defend when he jumped out of his chair?
I kind of doubt that. After all, now, not only does the whole world know that Jada is bald, (almost) everyone talks about it, adding snarky remarks about her hot-headed husband, who, God only knows, may be quick to raise his hand to her as well? Or simply put: Assuming Will wanted to protect her honor, he ended up just dumping it into a deeper hole.
But if this is what he was really concerned with, could he have acted differently? From the video that went viral, it looks like Will didn’t even glance at Jada before he jumped up to slap Chris Rock. Maybe he thinks that what hurts him also hurts her; that his muscular arm will suffice to fill his wife and the audience with awe. But had he stopped for a second, he would have realized that what he is about to do will only accomplish the opposite, and that he is about to expose his wife to further humiliation.
I wonder what went through Jada’s mind in those seconds. She may have started the day with a visit to her manicurist, followed by a trip to the hair salon, before she put on the fancy clothes and accessories she chose so carefully. After all, her husband was nominated for best actor, which meant the cameras will focus on them quite a bit. Great honor was awaiting them! So what went through her mind when right there, in front of the whole world to see, the hope was shattered and the narrative reversed?
Who Cares, Anyway?
The story in and of itself may be interesting, but that’s not the reason I bring it up here. I am looking into it because of its resemblance to a Biblical story, one that is pretty hard to digest.
This has been the worse day in the life of Princess Tamar. It could very well be that it too started with some beautification treatments, and carefully choosing a beautiful garment denoting her virginity, and jewelry to accentuate her beauty. After all, she was just invited to personally care for the heir to the throne. Great honor indeed!
It could well be that Tamar had her eyes already set on Amnon (though the Torah forbade marriage between half-siblings, it doesn’t look like David’s kids really took heart to keep the commandments). Amnon was the firstborn, the successor to the king. And if she indeed had any dreams of marrying him, it means that his abusive actions had hurt not only her physical body, but broke her heart and shattered her dreams as well.
2 Samuel 13 tells how in mere minutes, Tamar’s world turned upside down. From a respected, honored princess, wearing a royal diadem, she became a broken mess with ashes covering her head. That morning started with a desire to assist her brother out of love and goodwill, but by day’s end, she was left with a shattered heart and a body that was forever broken.
Up to that point, Tamar wore a beautiful garment, designed for the virgin princesses (v. 18). Once Amnon stole her virginity, she outwardly did what she felt on the inside. She tore the robe, spread ashes on her head, and began screaming.
At this point, her own Will Smith – brother Absalom – enters the scenery and takes matters into his hands. “Hush now, hold your peace, keep quiet!” he commands Tamar, “he (Amnon) is your brother; do not take this thing to heart!” (v. 20).
Credit: Love Quiding. Charcoal portrait drawing series
Or simply put: “Forget your own feelings and emotions, and ignore what just happened”. I’m not sure why he emphasized the fact that Amnon is her brother. Was that the reason he wanted her to hush? Because the family’s honor and reputation were about to be contaminated? Was he asking her to not display the family’s dirty laundry for all to see?
Whatever his reasoning, while Absalom commanded her to ignore her emotional wellbeing, he was very focused on his own. The narrator goes on to tell us that while Tamar set desolate in her brother’s house, Absalom took care of his own honor and planned a bloody revenge on Amnon.
Art credit: Illustrator Xinuo
Not only that, when their father – king David – heard about it all, he was furious, but he too seems to not do anything (v. 21). The two men that were supposed to protect Tamar, raise up her head and restore her honor, did nothing to that effect. Amnon was later murdered, but otherwise, he would have been sitting on the throne following his father’s death.
A City of Refuge
For a while now, I have been working with a team of several leaders and professionals, in order to establish some infrastructure and guidelines that would serve the Israeli Body regarding sexual harassment. At this point we focus on assaults caused by other believers, especially those done by people in leadership positions.
The local Body is not recognized by the Israeli authorities as an official institute, therefore we are not obligated to gather statistical data. In addition to that, the fact that we are relatively a small Body, within which almost everyone knows everyone else, makes the collection of localized information nearly impossible. So we rely on data gathered in the western Christian world, and on complaints and requests we receive from across the Land. Sadly, the picture portrayed is pretty grim.
At this point, we are working on the publication of an informative booklet on the subject.** It exposes the extent of the issue at hand, details the treatment options and the means of prevention available, and so forth. At a later point, we plan to compose some form of a charter, which will hopefully be signed by the local leaders, in order to purify our precious Body from this harmful, evil affliction.
Some of the team members are dealing with casualties of sexual harassment in their daily work and ministry. We often hear many cries. At times it is a restrained one. On rare occasions, it can be heard far and wide, much like the cries of Tamar.
The abuse she had suffered did not end the moment she was sent out of Amnon’s room. It just changed its looks. The Body of Yeshua must act in this realm in a different attitude than those characteristic of David or Absalom. Our team was formed in order to alert believers to this cry and even join it.
Our congregations and ministries should be “Cities of Refuge” in the most basic sense: a place in which the wounded receive healing, the sinners and even the criminals receive correction and restoration, and the flock sees what practical grace, judgment and reconciliation can be, and what the fact that they are available to us through the blood of Yeshua actually means.
Beauty for Ashes
Abba, your son’s Bride resembles at times portions of Ezekiel 16. We started our story abandoned, naked and dirty in the field, and then You bathed and clothed us with silk and adornments. No matter how severely we have been trampled, the crown You promise to place on our heads is greater than all the ashes or baldness or sackcloth we often embrace.
Forgive us for hurting each other, as well as ourselves; make straight our paths before You. Yeshua. You promised to present us before You without spot or blemish, yet that is something only You can do! So Replace this shame and adorn Your Bride with real honor.
And as for our team: please fill us with the necessary wisdom, so that we can contribute our part to eliminating this evil from our midst. Help all the elders that are sitting at the various gates of the land to heal the social order in Your precious Body, our Body. Paraphrasing Ezekiel 17:6, I ask that by Your blood we will live. By Your blood, we shall live!
** We need some funds to produce this informational booklet on sexual assault. Many hours have already been poured into it, and now the end is in sight. If you would like to sow a little part into making this vision a reality, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with further details.