“If you want perfection, then I’m not for you. If you are looking for simple and easy, I wish you well. I am not it. I am damaged. I have been damaged for a very long time. Maybe I was born damaged. I’d like to think I was born innocent and through lack of proper nurturing fell short. Whatever, I am damaged.” -Abandoned
“I felt like damaged goods after my last boyfriend and I broke up. I lost my virginity to him and I thought we were gonna be together and get married. I was looking forward to only having sex with one person. Now I am good for nothing, good for no one.” – Sinner
“As a mother your job is to protect your child, making sure it is safe and loved. I denied that responsibility. It’s been months since the abortion, yet I still have that emptiness in my heart and in my eyes. When I think back to that day when I was sitting in the waiting room, I wish I had had the strength to walk out.” – Ashamed.
“I’ve been broken into many pieces… Parts of me have been shattered into pieces so small that they’ve been lost in the cracks in the floor. I am not whole, merely holey – but still functional.” – Existing
“I should have been protected…i should not have known what sex was…a 6 year old doesn’t need to know. I wonder what it was about me that made someone think that at 6 I was perfect to be used……..sometimes i wonder if that is all i deserve…am i too damaged for anything else?” –Abused
“I give new meaning the term “damaged goods”. My ex-husband made sure that I left with emotional and physical bruises and scars. I left him, but he is like an incurable disease, lingering within the depths, killing me slowly. Damaged? You don’t know the half of it.” – Battered
– The Experience Project; a group of 88 women who consider themselves damaged goods.
The world is full of women who through bad choices or bad people have been deeply wounded and now have scars. We have labeled these women “damaged goods.” Nowhere in the Bible does God use that terminology. In fact, four “damaged” women are named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17. Tamar was a non-Jew who committed adultery by pretending to be a prostitute. Rahab was a professional prostitute. Ruth was a daughter of the cursed people of Moab. Bathsheba committed adultery that paved the way for her husband’s murder. First, it is extremely out of place for women to be named in a genealogy because Israel was a patriarchal society (meaning that males were the head of the family). Second, these four women would be labeled ‘damaged goods’ in today’s society, not exactly ancestors to be proud of. The fact that Matthew lists them in the genealogy of Jesus indicates something quite important about God, but what?
Tamar: a good woman that allowed bad judgment to lead her into sin. (Genesis 38)
Judah, a Patriarch of Israel, took the pagan woman Tamar as a bride for his oldest son and later his second son. Both sons were evil and died early deaths as the penalty for their wickedness. Judah, fearing the death of his only remaining son, did not do right by Tamar. To the whole story, read Genesis 38. Because Judah did not step up, she felt it necessary to take matters into her own hand; dressed as a prostitute and presented herself to Judah, resulted in pregnancy. When he found out that his daughter-in-law was pregnant out of wedlock, he condemned her to be burned to death. Privately, she contacted him with the proof that Judah himself was the father and he was convicted of his own sin in this matter. In verse 26, “Judah said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.’” Judah did nothing to further his own family line, even though he knew that God has set his family apart as The Chosen People. Tamar was responsible for the survival of Judah’s descendants, including King David, King Solomon and Jesus Christ. Tamar went about achieving God’s will in a sinful way, but her motives were good. And it is clear from the end of verse 26, “and he did not know her again,” that she turned from her sin of adultery and lived in faithfulness to The One True God for the rest of her days.
Rahab: a woman with a painful and ugly past. (Joshua 2 & 6)
The woman Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. God gave the land of Canaan to Israel as The Promised Land, and He empowered them to take control of the land city by city, one of them being Jericho. Joshua sent spies into the city. Rahab hid them and lied to the city officials to keep the spies from being discovered. As she risked her life to help them escape, she said this, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…For the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” Can you hear her? She was absolutely convinced of the truth of the miracles which God had done for His people. She was certain that the God of Israel was The One True God and transferred her allegiance to Him. Her actions were counted to her as righteousness (Hebrews 11:31), but the method she used –lying- was forgiven her in mercy because of her faith in God. It is very clear in Joshua 6 that Rahab did not continue on in prostitution, but went through a period of repentance and purification before she was welcomed into the camp of Israel. This woman, a former prostitute was not only blessed with an Israelite husband and a son, but was an ancestor of David and ultimately Jesus.
Ruth: a good girl who came from people with serious baggage. (Ruth 1-4)
Ruth, one of the cursed Moabites, married an Israelite living in Moab and then became his widow. She had never known God, never been to the Promised Land, and only knew four Israelites – three of whom were now dead. Yet in spite of the things she had been taught all her life, in spite of the false gods of her people, she believed in The One True God. And when Naomi was forced to return to Israel, Ruth begged her, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (v16) Yes, Ruth loved Naomi, but it was her heart’s desire that she never be separated from this people and its God. Upon reaching Israel, Ruth was blessed to be a part of one of the most honorable and romantic love stories in all of Scripture, a story that demonstrates both human and Divine love. She turned on her ungodly upbringing and embraced Truth. Her story ends with a marriage of redemption to a wealthy leader of Israel and the birth of her son Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered King David.
Bathsheba: a woman who walked into sin with her eyes open. (2 Samuel 11-12)
Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite one of David’s mighty men, while her husband was away at war bathed on the roof and was seen by King David. Whether her intentions in bathing in the open were innocent or sinful, her behavior was unwise. He did not recognize her and when asked, he was informed that she was the wife of one of his men. This information did nothing to hinder David’s lust and so the King sent for Bathsheba and lay with her. She is not without sin, the expression “he took her, and she came to him,” clearly shows that David did not force her, but rather that she came at his request, offering no resistance to his desires. After this one night affair Bathsheba returned to her house, and as far as David was concerned, the relationship was over. However their actions reaped great consequences; Bathsheba became pregnant, David chose to murder her husband to save their reputation and their first child died. But her willful sin did not disqualify her from being used by God. Scripture only records David’s repentance, but God’s forgiveness on both is clear when he blesses them with another child, King Solomon. “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him.”
Four women appear in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17. Why? Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba were stained with gross immorality! Tamar, Rahab and Ruth were Gentiles! This parade of unfit and sinful women – “damaged goods” by anyone’s standards – were not worthy of being in the pedigree of the Messiah. Each of these women were damaged by the sin of this world. And each of these women repented and clung to faith in The One True God. That powerful combination of repentance and faith allowed God to use these women in mighty ways to further His kingdom.
Who are you? Are you Tamar, a woman with bad judgment that led her into sin? Are you Rahab with a painful and ugly past? Are you Ruth, a good girl who comes from a family with serious baggage? Are you Bathsheba who walked into sin with her eyes open? Are you damaged goods?
Whoever you are, Jesus came for you. He died for you. Jesus died that people damaged by this world could become whole in Him. If you nail your past to the cross, it is gone – you are no longer damaged goods. You are God’s chosen vessel to bring Him glory and advance His kingdom. If you turn from your past – whatever it was – and place yourself in the hand of your Creator God, He will transform the damage of this world into a beautiful message of hope and light for all eternity.