One of the true needs of all humanity is the need for love and affection. Encouraging words, an affectionate touch, an enduring presence in the midst of a storm – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t need these expressions of love.
With that being said, I’ve also seen and experienced instances of inordinate affection. There’s a story in the Bible about such a situation.
2 Samuel, chapter 13 tells the story.
King David had several wives. David’s oldest son was named Amnon. By a different wife, David had a daughter named Tamar. In Old Testament Jewish culture, things operated differently than they do now. It was not unusual for a half brother to marry his half sister in those days. Amnon was deeply infatuated with his half sister, Tamar. But, Amnon believed it to be improper to approach her, so he was distressed and literally “sick” because he couldn’t have her.
One of Amnon’s friends came up with a deceptive scheme. In this scheme, Amnon would feign sickness. When his father, David came to check on him, Amnon would ask David to have Tamar come and wait on him until he was well.
David agreed and Tamar came to Amnon’s house. Amnon told Tamar to fix him something to eat and come to his bedroom with the food so he could eat. After she brought the food, Amnon grabbed Tamar and said, “Have sex with me!”.
Tamar said no, so Amnon raped Tamar. The entire event is tragic. What happens next is “eye opening”.
After raping Tamar, Amnon tells Tamar to get out of his house. She pleads with him to marry her so that she will not bear the reproach of what has happened but Amnon tells his servants to throw her out.
This is a story of inordinate affection.
Amnon has some type of personal need for validation. Instead of looking to God to fill the void he experiences, he decides that the best way to meet this need is to control someone who he believes possesses the qualities to meet his lack. In this instance, he “cannibalizes” Tamar, seeking to fill the need he has in his own life. His wounds become sin and his pain causes destruction in, not just his own life, but in the life of the object of his obsession.
Notice what happens next. After raping Tamar, he hates her with a hatred as strong as the attraction he felt for her! This is so typical in these situations.
Now, let’s bring this home.
Although cannibalism is illegal it is practiced all the time in the form of inordinate affection.
An obsession for someone to the point of “sickness” – can’t live without them. This type of obsession is not based in biblical love since biblical love is centered on the good of the one who is loved. This type of obsession is completely selfish: it is looking to meet a need – to fill a hole in the psyche. After meeting that need, the obsessed person fears and hates the person that possesses such control over them. So, they have a “love – hate” relationship with them – can’t live with them, can’t live without them!
People in this situation feel compelled to posses others to fill a need that they have in their own lives. It is a form of modern day cannibalism!
At times in my life, I’ve been the “Amnon”. Many of you out there can relate. Others have been the “Tamar” – the object of someone’s obsession. Without Jesus, the story often ends sadly for both.
A person can become an idol.
We cannot nor should we expect any human being to fill needs of worth in our lives. The harder you try to pull worth from them, the more aware you become of your lack and theirs. Only God can answer questions of worth. God uses people but they never replace the cross of Christ, for it is at the cross, that you truly understand the intensity of God’s love for you and the immensity of your worth in His eyes!
Give up on “cannibalism”! Go to the cross and see the incredible love of God! Of all God’s blessings, this is the most intense!