(An addendum to Genesis 38)
Dear Rev. Scott Goodheart,
I write to you despite the great distance that separates us because I have heard that you are a man of God. I have heard that you speak only that which God has put into your mouth and I have heard that words of God are ever on your lips.
I am a woman who strives to follow the word of the Living God. Yet, my sorrow is great. My husband, Er, was lost to me several years ago, before my womb could open to birth. At the time of my husband's death, I asked my husband's father, Judah, to grant that I be given to my husband's brother as wife. But my husband's brother refused to perform the levir's duty and also died before I could bear a child.
God is so good! May the blessings of our Lord and Savior be upon you!
I was deeply moved as I read your letter. Your courage after the passing of your beloved husband is inspiring. I greatly admire your strength in wanting to be a mother. Our holy congregation has a support group for women, like you, who have lost their husbands. We also have a group for women who have been denied the blessing of children. You would benefit so much from this vital ministry.
I pray, Tamar, that God grant your wish to have a child! I know in my heart that the right man is out there, and with the Lord's help, you will find your soulmate. Our singles group, which we call "Partners in the Lord,"® is just the place for a righteous woman like you to find a life partner.
There's part of your letter that surprised me. It is probably just my own ignorance, so I want to ask you to explain it. Did you say that you are going to marry your late husband's brother? Wouldn't that be something! It must be a gift from God that the two of you have found love out of your shared loss. God bless you both! Also, so few people these days seem to understand the importance of asking a father's permission to marry. Good luck to the two of you!
Still, I need to ask you something. How long after your husband's death did the two of you start dating? That seems awkward. Have you talked about this with a minister? I'd like to help.
Please accept my best wishes and hope for your future. May the love of the Lord be with you!
With God's love,
Please forgive the presumption of your servant. I have not been in the presence of Shelah, my husband's youngest brother. My husband's father has not yet brought me to him. For this I weep bitter tears day and night, as I know my husband's name is left empty like the wind because of it.
You must not think that I, your servant, seek Shelah for my own benefit. My husband was a good and kind man. He did not beat me or mingle with the servant girls. While he died for his own sins, his memory should not be lost. In seeking to be sent to Shelah, I want only to make a name and a memorial for my husband. It is my dearest wish to be among Shelah's other wives. That is my duty and it is where I belong.
I earnestly appeal to you. How shall I beseech my husband's father when he will not show his face to me? There is no man here who will speak to him on my behalf at the city gates. What shall I do?
I must urge you to give up the idea of asking your father-in-law for permission to marry a man who is already married and whom you have not even met! I understand your grief at the loss of your husband, but marrying his brother won't bring him back.
Marriage is a sacred institution, established by God, between one man and one woman. The purpose of marriage is to glorify God, and that can only happen when a husband and wife are joined in a holy covenant devoted to raising godly children. It is not right for you to try to have a child—with Shelah or any man—out of a selfish and futile desire to cheat death.
Forgive me for being so direct. I hope that you will understand how wrong it is for you to do this.
In this day and age, overrun by feminism and secularism, too many people are confused about the proper role of men and women. I see it all the time—people who think it's okay for men to marry men, women to marry women. I see people who think it's okay to have "open marriages" with multiple sex partners. God will judge them! Every perversion reviled by God has become acceptable as our society perverts the biblical foundation of marriage.
With all the wimpified men in our society, I am not surprised that you have been so misled. For all I know, that's what you see in this man, Shelah. He sounds like the kind of guy who doesn't have the guts to say, "Back off, Tamar. I'm already married!" Believe me, Tamar, he is not for you. Find yourself a real, reverent man who will make you feel secure and help you get over your grief for your late husband.
You seem to me to be a God-fearing woman who is confused. I ask you to turn to your Bible for guidance and inspiration to help you find a marriage that will glorify God and bring you the children you seek, if you are so blessed.
May you find blessing and peace,
Your most recent letter has confused me. Yet, I seek to follow the path of righteousness you teach.
I have chosen, as according to your words, not to seek Shelah anymore. I see, as you have spoken, that this is a path that will not take me toward what is good and what God has commanded.
I have resolved, instead, to carry on the name of Judah, my husband's father, through his seed alone. I shall take off my widow's garb and cover my face with a veil. Thus wrapped, I shall station myself at the place called the Opening of the Eye, for it is you who have opened my eyes. There I shall meet my husband's father as he travels to Timnah for the sheep sheering.
My husband's father is a man who lingers over covered women at the side of the road (his wife having died some years ago). I shall lay with him and get myself a child by him. Thus will I establish his name. I shall see that he does what is right in the eye's of the Lord, though he fears it.
I give great thanks to you, my honored lord, who has opened my eyes to the path of truth.
I regret to inform you that, in light of your recent letter, I can no longer abide to offer you further counsel. You have clearly shown that you are not the person that you first presented yourself to be. You have clearly reviled the everlasting truth of our Lord and have embraced flagrantly the ways of a secular, permissive society run amok.
For shame that you would scheme to seduce your father-in-law as a harlot! You do this only because he has tried to keep you from making lascivious advances on his married son. Have you no sense of decency?
I warn you not to seek further counsel from me until you amend your ways and seek forgiveness from the Lord who is ever merciful.
The Rev. Scott D. Goodheart
cc: National Convention of Ministers of the Good Word
It's a boy! Two of them!
With great gratitude,
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