This paper provides a review of a scholarly article, Bathshebas Story: Surviving abuse and loss, authored by David Garland and Diana Garland (2007). David Garland is the Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University while Diana Garland is the Dean of School of Social Work at the same institutions. The article is an excerpt from Flawed Families of the Bible: How Gods Grace Works through Imperfect Relationships that was published in the Brazos Press. In the article, the scholars explore the dynamics of abuse of power, survival and Gods intervention in troubled and challenging circumstance with a primary focus on the story of King David of the Bible and Bathsheba.
This article argues that the experience between King David and Bathsheba has been misinterpreted. The king is often portrayed as the victim of the situation while the woman is cause of the sexual scandal due to her beauty. The woman is unfortunately accused of setting a trap for the king by deliberately taking a bath in a place where the king could see her. Garland & Garland (2007) observed that artists and interpreters over the centuries have turned this particular woman into a painted sex kitten who bewitched a divinely chosen king. They accuse her of deliberately choosing to bathe in a place where she knew she could be seen by the king (p.180). On the contrary, the authors hold that King David uses his power as the King to sexually abuse and exploit his servant. In fact, such interpretations have twisted the story in the favor of the king. Tati (2013) holds that the story of David and Bathsheba covers sexual exploitation, abuse of power and attempted cover-up, which are integral to the present sex abuse scandals
Furthermore, male-dominated cultures subject women to assuming responsibility for their male counterparts lust, thus fostering sexual exploitation. Some people hold the misconception that the way a woman dresses, carries herself around or even looks at a man can potentially attract sexual abuse. Garland & Garland (2007) hold that male-dominated cultures like Bathshebas and our own teach women that they are responsible for mens lust (p.182). This article utilizes the story between David and Bathsheba to illustrate how unjust it is to shift responsibility for male lust to the victim (woman).
Moreover, this article emphasizes that power dynamics are central to sexual abuse incidences. In light of this story, David was the king and had the mandate to ensure the well-being of all of his servant, including Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. Being absolute authority, the leader of the entire kingdom, it is inevitable that David breeched is duty as the ordained king to exploit her. Indeed Bathsheba fall prey to the kings power and authority just ate Garland & Garland (2007) observe that, when someone who has power over us and whom we trust is manipulating us, even our ability to sort out right from wrong is confused (P.184). Davids action amounts to abuse of power in the form of rape not only because of the absence of mutual consent between the two parties, but David being in total control of the situation as well.
Also, the death of Uriah was a means of covering up the whole sexual abuse. This was a notch higher as David decided to take Bathsheba as his wife after the death of her husband. Tait (2013) highlighted different rationalization theories that perpetrators of sexual abuse scandals employ to cover-up their delinquent behavior, such as denial of responsibility to harm, accusing the victims, and establishing a greater good from the ordeal. These strategies are depicted from this story. For example, Garland & Garland state that, David used his royal power not to protect his subjects but to destroy them in order to accomplish his own self-centered ends (P.188). Despite David confessing and getting Gods forgiveness, his sin wreaked havoc in Bathshebas life as she lost a husband, son and life.
Garland, D. E., & Garland, D. R. (2007). Bathshebas story: Surviving abuse and loss. Flawed Families of the Bible: How God Works through Imperfect Relationships, 25.
Tait, D. (2013). Managing a royal sex abuse scandal: How three religious traditions have dealt with the David and Bathsheba story. Griffith Law Review, 22(1), 180-204.
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