Rachel Denhollander might make a great victim, but she’s a terrible theologian.
After being victimized by Olympic doctor, Larry Nassar, Rachael Denhollander courageously spoke-out and led the choir of right-minded folks calling for criminal justice. And then Denhollander presented the Gospel in her victim impact testimony, which was touching.
After the spotlight of the mainstream media faded, Rachael and her husband, Jacob, found continued attention in the evangelical realm, where talking about church abuse seems to be all the rage among those pushing evangelicalism to the left. Suddenly, Denhollander revealed for the first time last month that she was also abused in the church as a child. That sudden (and timely, if not curious) revelation means that the speaking circuit of progressive Christianity will never stop calling for Denhollander, because they desperately need to hide their agenda behind victims as human shields against theological criticism.
The rule is that once victimized (real, as in the case of Denhollander, or imagined, as in the case of Kyle J. Howard), someone is above and beyond criticism.
Denhollander’s husband, who seems to use his wife’s previous accounts of victimhood as a stomach-churningly self-promotional soapbox to maintain what is essentially a Twitter-ministry capitalizing on tragedy, is one such individual who makes you wonder if using victims as propaganda tools isn’t just another form of traumatic abuse.
Denhollander spoke at the “Women Should Be in Ministry Conference” hosted by the ERLC over the weekend entitled Caring Well. Claiming to have something to do with abuse, nearly every speaker promoted female leadership in the church. “Women in the pastorate” was the unofficial theme of the conference and was snuck into almost every presentation.
During the virtue-signaling conference over the weekend, Denhollander tweeted out the following:
Denhollander was referencing 2 Samuel 11. The story is pretty simple. David was walking around the palace, and there in plain view a woman – right out in front of his portico – was taking a bath. Contrary to modern assumptions, it was not normal for women to bathe out in plain view.
David, being a man and everything, grew lustful at her lack of modesty. In spite of knowing that she was married, David asked her to come to the palace and then they committed fornication. She got pregnant, and David sent her husband to the front-lines so he would likely die in combat.
However, since the #MeToo Movement began (and not much before), people have begun characterizing the affair between this exhibitionist hussy, Bathsheba, and David as “rape.” The Democratic Party’s religious wing, The Gospel Coalition, made this assertion in 2018. The notion started picking up steam in various podcasts in the summer of this year, 2019. The notion that David raped Bathsheba seems to have developed by a liberal University of New Mexico gender studies professor in 2006, and sat dormant until the church got woke two years ago.
Forget the fact that David didn’t peep in her windows to see her prancing about naked, but that she was doing it in the broad daylight right in front of his patio.
No, the “power differential” is what makes rape rape. When I busted Clayton Jennings for spiritual abuse earlier this year, I pointed out repeatedly that the power-differential between a minister and counselee is not an “affair.” It was “abuse.” But, (1) I was also careful not to use the word “rape” to describe what happened. And (2) I chose not to report stories of the women who were whorish in their pursuit of the evangelist, and instead reported the stories of innocent women that he pursued.
The arguments from the “David is a rapist” contingent seems to be:
1. The prophet, Nathan, compares David to a man who steals another man’s sheep. Therefore, they argue, David is the thief and the sheep (Bathsheba) is innocent. However, this was the accusatory parable from Nathan toward David. There’s no doubt it was wrong to sleep with another man’s wife. But one would not expect the prophet to cast guilt upon Bathsheba when he’s wagging his finger at David. That wasn’t the point; Nathan was not confronting Bathsheba. He was confronting David.
The illustration from Nathan referred to the lamb as “like a daughter” to the poor man, not “like a wife.” This means that there were clear limits to the implications of the illustration. Bathsheba is not pictured at all in the illustration; the point was David taking that which was not his.
2. David sent armed guards to go fetch Bathsheba, and therefore it implies she was under duress. The Scripture says…
4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her (ESV)
The word for ‘messenger’ is מֲלְאָךְ and means, ‘messenger’ and not ‘armed guard.’ These very likely would have been young pages and unarmed boys, according to what we know about ancient Israelite tradition. She was asked to visit the king – who she was intentionally bathing in front of – accompanied by unarmed boys.
However, several facts should be remembered.
First, Mosaic Law – that which was given by God – clarifies infallibly that this was not rape. Deuteronomy 22 is specifically about this issue.
22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
False rape accusations were common in ancient Israel. Women who were pregnant out of wedlock would often cry ‘rape’ to keep themselves from being punished. Therefore, the law installed by God through Moses (the law under which David and Bathsheba lived) said that if a woman did not resist or cry out if in the city then it was to be considered consensual.
Deduced from this logic is that a woman did not have to cry out if raped in the wilderness, because no one would hear her anyway. However, if she was raped in the city, not crying out or resisting would demonstrate that it was consensual.
This was God’s way of keeping false rape accusations minimized and keeping people (like David) from “being Kavanaughed.” Bathsheba, in the middle of the palace, didn’t make a peep during or after her alleged “rape.” Therefore by God’s standards, it was not rape.
Twenty-first century #MetToo standards be damned, but that’s what God’s law says about what constituted rape in ancient Israel.
Secondly, Bathsheba was in on the plot to kill her husband (2 Samuel 11:6-12). She implicitly conspired with David to sleep with her husband while on his military leave to fake a legitimate pregnancy, knowing full-well her husband was being sent back to die. This leads any fair-minded person to believe she wasn’t faithful to him to begin with.
Third, God punished both Bathsheba and David by the death of their child (2 Samuel 12:15-22). It’s hard not to see a condemnation of both partners in this situation.
Fourth, Bathsheba found David’s love-making to her to be comforting. After the death of their child, 2 Samuel 12:24, David “comforted his wife and made love to her.” This resulted in the birth of the child, Solomon. Do you think a rape victim would be comforted by making love with their perpetrator?
Listen, Rachael Denhollander seems like a sweet lady. Her husband also seems like a sweet lady. But neither are theologians.
Potiphar’s wife was coming on to Joseph so strongly that he had to run away with his shirt off. Would you call it “rape” had he lacked the fortitude to split? Certainly there was a “power dynamic differential” between the two. But who would characterize such as “rape”?
Ultimately, if one defines rape as any sexual act that occurs between any people of differential power, then every act of sexual intercourse between complementarians is “rape.” And in so adopting such a definition of “power differential rape,” the celebrated Victim Class in evangelicalism is seeking to do away with complementarianism altogether.
Those with ears to hear, may they hear.
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