The Scandalous Costume In The Christmas Pageant


In reading Genesis 38, we might suppose that Tamar would be a bad character, but what role does God give her?

Matthew 1:3

Her costume wouldn't even make it past the censors for a church Fall Festival Celebration. Forget about getting into the Christmas Pageant. Her people were cursed. Her husband, though one of the chosen, was struck dead by Yahweh because he was so evil, and her father-in-law believed she was a "black widow," the curse that murdered his son. So he sent her away, back home to her father.

Ask religious folks what they think about Tamar at this point in her story and we would probably get an earful of judgment and disdain. We certainly want to protect our children and teens from this kind of a woman. But deep in her soul, this Canaanite cared more about what counts than any of the Chosen People. That's why, as Matthew continues the genealogy that proves that Jesus is the Messiah, he writes on his parchment scroll,  

"Judah generated Perez and Serah out of Tamar, and Perez generated Hezron ... " (Matthew 1:3).  

When we read God's Word, we must let Him tell us who the good characters are and who are bad. The story of Judah, Tamar, and Perez is found in Genesis 38 (a chapter that hardly makes the list of Sunday morning material). We would think Tamar would be a bad character, but what role does God give her? 

In the story, the reason she dresses as a prostitute and has intercourse with Judah is that she cares that her husband's family line is about to be cut off from Israel. She is the one who obeys the divine covenant principle of levirate marriage (a custom where a male relative must raise up a child for his deceased brother).

Tamar "scandalously" seduces her father-in-law, conceives, and almost gets burned at the stake. In the resolution of the story, however, God chooses her firstborn twin, Perez, to continue the line of Judah, the line that leads to David, that leads to Jesus the Messiah.

And that's why Tamar, the outcast woman who dressed up as a whore, got included. She’s the one who believed in the Promised Seed (Genesis 3:15).

 LORD, help me get out the message that you choose women like Tamar. Help me understand that your bottom line is not some external clothing of self-righteousness, but whether at my core I care about your Promised One. Help me always remember that you came to forgive sinners, a good thing because that's what I am. Help me to keep tracking your story so that more women like Tamar will become part of Jesus' family. 

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