Thursday, June 23, 2011

The often forgotten Hagar

Today we turn to what happens when Abram and Sarai become impatient and loose hope in the promise God made them. When they turn from trust in God, sin comes quickly.

While many of our English translations use the word maid, the reality is that Hagar is a slave. Sarai give her to her husband who rapes her and when she discovers she is pregnant, she is rightly angry.

Some commentaries try to justify the slavery and rape by saying that it was accepted custom in the land from which Abram came. This ignores the fact that slavery, adultery, and rape, are all contrary to the law of God, regardless of what human law might accept them. It is important for us to cast this in stark clarity because it was precisely our human capacity to rationalize sin, that lead Abram and Sarai into such sin.

God made a promise. He did not fulfill it in what they saw as a reasonable time, and so they decided to take matters into their own hands. The fundamental dignity of every human person, the fundamental dignity of Hagar, was lost in their desire to have a child, NOW.

This would seem to be a story from the ancient past but for the fact that slavery, or human trafficking as we politely called it, still exists in the world and in the U.S. It doesn't get much attention but is very real. As we remember the tragic story of Hagar, let us pray for the thousands who live in slavery today.

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