Give us your daughters

Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves.

Genesis 34:9

It can be very difficult to live as a Christian in the western world. Christians are called to follow Jesus’ example, and that means setting a very high bar for morality, fairness, and attitude towards others. It can be very hard to be loving and positive when those around us are negative and full of hatred. It can be very hard not to succumb to brazen materialism when society around us is all about the acquisition of more and more. It can be very hard to live pure lives when there is so much impurity around us. Yet we are called to be salt and light in our world, so that others may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

This is one of the struggles that Jacob and his family have to contend with in the rather dark times we read about in Genesis 34. Upon returning to his homeland, Jacob bought a piece of land “from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem” (Genesis 33:19) on which to settle. Soon after, Shechem took and raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah. In order to smooth the relationship over between his own family and Jacob’s, Hamor, Shechem’s father, proposes a tightening of the bond between them. Why don’t Jacob’s family intermarry with his own, Hamor suggests. He surely has more than Dinah on his mind, however; after all, Jacob’s family have been richly blessed and are very wealthy! Jacob faces a real dilemma with this suggestion, however. His family have received a promise from God and have become his chosen people. How would God’s promise stand if his family intermarried with a people who did not love and respect God, who did not follow his rules and guidelines, and who were clearly morally dubious?

This is a very similar situation to the one we find ourselves in today, living as “foreigners and exiles” in the world, much as Jacob and his family did. Do we conform to the expectations of the world, lower our standards, and water down our beliefs to bring us in line with those around us? Or do we endeavour to love God, to follow his teaching, and to strive for a more Godly way of living?

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