The story of Dinah is a difficult one for us to read. In our world, when a man disgraces a woman so heinously, he does not then ask for her hand in marriage. But revenge is something we understand all too well. Hearing that their sister was raped, her brothers, most notably Simeon and Levi, form a plan to get revenge for her. With Jacob for a father, hearing the stories of his youth, it is no wonder that this is the reaction of the Fathers of the Tribes of God’s people. With tales of stolen birthrights and stolen blessings, stolen flocks and stolen wives, these young men plot against the men of Shechem.
The plot revolves around the use of God’s law for their personal attack. Claiming the requirement of circumcision, they trick the Shechemite men into weakening themselves so they would be easier targets. And after using God’s law for their own ends, they slaughter the whole community.
We probably don’t have the slaughter of an entire community on our conscience, but have you ever used God’s law for your own ends? Have you ever found yourself very legalistic about some point that hasn’t been that important to you in the past when that legalism suddenly becomes very helpful to you? Many a parent has suddenly become very interested in the OT prohibition against tattoos once their children become teens. The call to not “get drunk with wine” becomes a core value for many families once their kids begin going to parties. From homosexual acts to divorce, from God’s plans for us to Jabez’ prayer, we should always be suspicious of ourselves when a verse that we haven’t really considered suddenly becomes the bedrock of our theology. In any theological debate, we must ask ourselves why this particular biblical law has suddenly become so important to us, and is is possible that our arguments are more self-serving than God-honoring?