Genesis 20

Oh no not again. Abraham is doing the sister thing again. There are three of these stories apparently. The “sister narrative” is a thing. It scores is own Wikipedia article.

Some scholars say that in context, what appears like deception is not actually bad.  But most Christian scholars settle on saying it’s showing Abraham is flawed, which was my assumption. Certainly here the narrative form is an “honour imperilled” story.  Abimelech is saved by God from actually sleeping with Sarah, and described as “good as dead” for having her in his harem, which seems like a pretty clear condemnation of the situation!

This time it is revealed that the “lie” is actually more of a half truth. Sarah IS his half sister. But Abraham is being deliberately misleading about the status of their relationship.

I’ve been in situations where churches have done this sort of half truth morality a surprising number of times over the years. Particularly when feeling stymied by legal compliance to safety laws or local government development regulations, stuff like that. It’s the way Christian organisations lie. The temptation is to justify it when red tape is seen as blocking the gospel work, and even feel clever: “we haven’t actually told a lie…” like it’s a win win.

I think its always a faithful response to call it and go the full disclosure route. God made the world, red tape isn’t going to stop him. Churches should just be faithful, follow all the rules (unless the goverment is agressively immoral) and trust that God’s work will be done.  No doubt this sort of thinking helped churches to inadequately respond to the child abuse mess that has damaged so many lives.

Again also the halo effect: God deals gracefully with Abimelech rather than Abraham. The lives of so many people around Abraham are touched because of God’s covenant with him.

Give me a sense of being your ambassador, Father, I have an effect in my world, use it to spread the message of love. 

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