Religion is valuable, but when used maliciously it causes more damage than good intended, no matter the cause.
I don’t have kids right now, but raising them seems like one of the greatest challenges, especially in their teenage years. Today, kids are provided access to just about everything, and putting a simple parental control on something isn’t enough. In this chapter, Jacob’s presumed only teenage daughter “went out to visit the women of the land” (v.1). As pleasant as this activity is worded, today this is equivalent to a pre-teen or teenager sneaking out of the house to go hang out with bad-influencers. She wanted to see what the “cool girls” were doing and wearing. Every parent’s nightmare right? Well, to make matters worse, while Dinah is out and about hanging with the Canaanites, she is raped by a stranger. Innocence is taken away in an instant. Pain… Tears… Anger…
Jacob’s precious daughter runs back home and tells him what happened. His inaction exhibits both cautiousness and fear. He perhaps held his tongue, knowing what would come out would do more harm than good. Or, more likely, he placed too much reliance on his sons…
‘I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”’ – Psalm 39:1
The beauty of a pure religious home is just that – something children and parents can find peace and happiness in. Kids learn and grow while parents teach and provide, all under a loving roof. Titus 2 sets out a perfect lesson plan for both young and old women and men. Specifically, older men are to encourage the younger men how to be self controlled. Older women should “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:4-6). When authority is weak, things never go as intended, as Jacob soon realized.
When his sons heard, they devised a plan. Throughout this story we see the Israelites more concerned of the shame brought to their community than truly realizing the sinfulness of their actions. They attempt to maliciously justify their actions through their religion, tricking the Schechemites into circumcising themselves so they would be weakened before the slaughter. They had no intentions of making the Canaanites holy and used their religion as a cloak of revenge. With the treaty, the Canaanites were more honest than Jacob’s family! But, the Canaanites did not know much about the Israelites’ religion. They did know about the riches of Jacob’s family and saw their was much to gain. Schechem did love and speak tenderly to Dinah, but even kind words and actions are not enough. We must be cautious of those who might have secular interests, even if externally they check all the boxes. We should be interested in bringing others to love and understand Christianity, and the awesome God we call Father. In order to do so, they cannot merely understand external practices, but the reasonableness and Truth that the Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23
‘And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.’ – Isaiah 29:13