Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sexual Minorities and Society’s Wellbeing (Judges 21:21, 23)

“When you see the young women of Shiloh dancing in the vineyard,” they were advised, “each of you should seize one of them for a spouse, and come back to the land of Benjamin…”
                So this is what the Benjaminites did. They carried off as many young women as they needed by abducting them from the vineyard during their dance
Judges 21:21, 23

Broken by gay artist Jason T. Ingram @
The book of Judges is replete with female characters. While some play minor parts, others are major figures who contribute in significant ways to the progression of Israelite history. The whole of Judges begins and ends with the place of women in society. Achsah, at the beginning demands her inheritance, land where she can make a home for herself. At the end un-named “young women” (13, 14, 15 year olds) are kidnapped from their land and homes.

Females in the book of Judges provide a barometer for the health of the community. As the narrative of Judges unfolds society spins out of control: injustices increase, chaotic confusion envelops the community, and the abuse of women escalates. Just a few versus from the ones sighted the book concludes with “all the people acted as they pleased” (21:25).

Ancient wisdom speaks truth here: if you want to know the health of a society look toward those who are most vulnerable. If you want to measure the wealth of a community take notice of how it supports those deemed “lesser citizens.”

Where do we begin? Is the starting point the taunting in school, or aspersions cast by family, the unease of co-workers? Do we include the inability to understand marriage as a right and not the privilege of the heterosexual community? Should we turn to the bloodstains on sidewalks, or the graves of those who could no longer take life as it was handed them?

As a contemporary barometer it must be acknowledged that society is ill, gravely ill. Yet, our culture seems to move on unaware of the cancer of intolerance that is ravaging its inner vitality and convulsing it into twisted expressions of hate.

There is truth to the rhetoric of conformist religious voices – our society is in trouble. Like Israel in the time of the judges, our troubles are not the result of the despised underclass. No, our troubles extend from those who should know better but act as they please; their actions contributing to the demise of the susceptible.

Not every queer faces the onslaught of prejudice. Families, co-workers, friends, and others contribute support and love to our lives. Yet, as the contemporary barometer we must raise our voices until, at last, society hears. For as long as the defenseless remain vulnerable, society as a whole is in trouble.

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