I doubt I’m the first person to ask why the story about Dinah and the sexual assault she experiences is in the Bible. Frankly, there’s a part of me that wishes Genesis 34 didn’t exist. It’s a very sordid story. Some people even refer to it as being R-rated.
So why is this awful story in the Bible? I suspect one reason is to break the silence of Dinah, to break the silence of countless others (both women and men) who have endured abuse and other trauma. Terence E. Fretheim in his commentary on Genesis puts it this way: “This text gives Bible readers permission to talk openly about rape and the sorry history of society’s response, including the silencing of victims” (p. 580). We’ve heard survivors of abuse speak up over the past year with the #MeToo movement giving the church (which, sadly, has a poor reputation when it comes to perpetrators and responding to abuse allegations) an opportunity to speak to the subject. Dinah and every single other survivor were and are precious to the heart of God and their hurts and pains are important.
That’s a summary of the message I gave a few weeks ago on Genesis 34, addressing the subject of walking alongside survivors of abuse and other trauma. Click here to read the entire message (plus a bonus paragraph specifically about #MeToo).