False Accusations: “He Said; She Said…”
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“There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9)
Too often, Christians struggle to make their message “acceptable;” when they really just need to work on making themselves acceptable.
God was with Joseph, not only in his successes, but also in the very depths of Joseph’s greatest temptations and utmost responsibilities. Here, God’s presence was not some kind of magic trick to appear righteous, but it was definitely, God’s moral compass that provided guidance for Joseph during an incredibly volatile and difficult situation. Unlike others depicted in scripture, Joseph had resisted the sexual/adulterous temptations of Potiphar’s wife. Scripture is surprisingly detailed on this incident:
“So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. (Gen 39:10-12, NET)
Potiphar’s wife, unbeknownst to her husband worked diligently, day after day at getting Joseph to give in to her sexual invitation. Joseph is to be praised here for diligently upholding his community values, and seeking the community’s greater good, at the sometimes much greater expense of his own comfort or safety.
Joseph expressed several times to Mrs Potiphar that he did not want to make Potiphar look bad, or to disappoint God in abandoning his commitment to not commit adultery. And Joseph does this in a foreign land that was sometimes very hostile; this was a community to which Joseph did not really belong, making him a rather conspicuous minority.
After trying repeatedly to tempt Joseph into a sexual encounter, Potiphar’s wife grew angry and filed false charges against him for “rape;” and embellished those charges with the race card. Referring to Joseph as “a Hebrew.” (Gen 39:11-20, NET)
“she called for her household servants and said to them, “See, my husband brought in “a Hebrew” man to us to humiliate us. He tried to have sex with me, but I screamed loudly. When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his outer garment beside me and ran outside.” (Gen 39:14-15, NET).
None of the events in this story were successful in keeping back God’s presence from Joseph – not even the stint in jail for a crime he did not commit:
“Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. So he was there in the prison.But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing.” (Gen 39:20-22)
Could it be that many Christians busy themselves too much with trying to police the actions of others; when what they really need is to get their own house in order first? The “Christian” marriages in our land have no better of a track record then other marriages or civil unions. Generally, approximately 50% of all marriages fail or are abandoned.
In today’s Bible text, Potiphar’s trust, and the underlying importance of trust far over-shadowed all else in the story. IMO, the story of Potiphar reflects some of the very critical, but missing ingredients in many Christian marriages today.
When my wife and I got married, it was a “civil ceremony,” meaning, not in a church, or a church setting. Here are the highlights of what was said during our marriage ceremony; and this was written by the Government:
“We are gathered together here today to witness the formal joining of _____ and _____ in the legal state of matrimony. You are to be married according to the orders, customs, and the authority granted by the Alberta Government.
Matrimony, as understood by us, is a state enriched by a long and honourable tradition of devotion. According to the law, each participant is equal and supports the common rights of one another in the marriage.
Marriage is not just a ceremony here today. It is a commitment for life. Therefore, it is not to be entered into thoughtlessly, or, irresponsibly.
There must be a desire for lifelong companionship. Couples will support and comfort each other, through the changing experiences of life. May you laugh together in joy, grieve together in sorrow, and grow together, in love.
Marriage means caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner; as about your own well-being. Marriage also means working together to create and sustain a home in which the marriage will flourish.”
In our “civil ceremony” my wife and I were asked a question: “Will you promise to give your partner the comfort of your companionship, and the patience of your understanding? Will you share with them equally, the necessities of life, as they may be earned or enjoyed by yourself, and to respect the dignity of your partner’s own personal rights?”
And I would be the first person to testify that my wife & I enjoy a deep, abiding trust and loving relationship stronger then even the encroachment of cancer death. The sicker she gets, the more I love her.
This writer is not unaware of what’s going on in today’s society. With a “Christian” marriage, there are, some differences, in the hows and why’s, but there is nothing in this [typical] “civil ceremony” that Christians have any right, or need, to deny to the LGBTQ+ members of our society. God doesn’t tell Christians to be like the Pharisees and start peeking in bedroom windows to “catch people in the very act” of whatever it is they are looking for:
“and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.” (John 8:4).
LGBTQ+ people actually do have these civil rights, for their relationships; and it’s not “sin” to say so, and/or to support those rights. THIS very issue is our chance to make it “Religious Liberty” for everyone. The Government isn’t “wrong” about everything. Are some Christians now trying to say they want the Government to legislate their religion? What about “separation of Church & State?” IF it is indeed a “Christian marriage;” then just make sure thats what it is for the next 40 years after the marriage ceremony! Problem solved!
Heb 13:4 says: “…God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.” (NET Version).” Why do certain Christians insist on doing the kinds of Judgment that God says He will do; and in giving God & Church a bad name because they are so busy wanting to [figuratively] peek into everyone’s bedroom windows and judging what they think they “see?” Its time to give other “orientations” the same chance that we keep saying God gives us. Why such a stigma against one, specific group? The gospel has to go out to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,” (Rev 14:6, MKJV)
“And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those dwelling on the earth, even to every nation and kindred and tongue and people,” (Rev 14:6)
The preaching of the everlasting gospel shakes the foundations of ant-ichrist in the world, and hastens its downfall. If any persist in being subject to the beast, and in promoting his cause, they must expect to be for ever miserable in soul and body. As in the example of Joseph, the believer is to venture or suffer any thing in obeying the commandments of God, and professing the faith of Jesus. But NOT when they try to force others to do it. May God bestow this patience upon us:
“Here is the patience of the saints…” (Rev 13:10, Rev 14:12).
If LGBTQ+ members of society cannot be let into the Church; (and many do want to attend), then why can all the “adulterers” and “liars” be allowed in with virtually no questions asked; and who often dont care if they attend? Are we Christians trying to tell the world that “our sin is better than theirs?” Just two verses after Heb 13:4, God says: (referring to vs 4) “[unlike people who marry and then unmarry] “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:6).
This week’s story as recorded in Gen 39 does not actually end with Joseph getting out of jail. At least not in Gen 39. Here is how the Bible tells it at the end of that chapter:
“The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the LORD was with him and whatever he was doing the LORD was making successful.” (Gen 39:23).
What exactly was it that the Prison Warden saw? Do people today see THAT in we, who call ourselves “Christians?” Why? Why not?
It’s important to know that we don’t have to let other people and their actions define who or what we are. Like Joseph, even under the weight of false accusations; people can remain true to God and be in God’s favour, and still be called “SUCCESSFUL,” regardless of the situation they find themselves in, or what people are saying about them.
Now, I didn’t say what some people have expressed they thought I should say in this week’s devotional.
Perhaps next time.
In next weeks devotional, we will talk about The Baker Who “Offended His Master…”