“Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Genesis 37:2
Robert Tate, 17 years old, wasn’t ever going to snitch—not even when it came to his own murder, according to the Chicago Police. This young man had been shot in the chest as someone approached him on a West Side sidewalk just 10 days ago. The first policeman on the scene seeing he probably wasn’t going to make it, asked him: “Do you know who shot you? “I know, Tate told him. “But I ain’t telling you (expletive)! He died on the sidewalk as paramedics tried to save him. (Chicago Sun Times, April 20, 2010)
This young man had been in and out of school, in and out of the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, and as a teenager already had 14 arrests for drugs, weapons, and car theft. His motto, as is the motto of the gang members in his “hood is “snitches get stitches; apparently they also get killed even when they don’t snitch, while their committed silence paves the way to the ruin and demise of their “buddies. This attitude about snitching pervades the society up and down the socio-economic scale, especially among the younger generation; and it is a sacred “law with those who have little regard for the rule of Law. The young men who come to the PAYH are at first extremely committed to not snitching on any of their peers, even when such silence never leads in the long run to anything positive or beneficial for anyone. So why does “snitching have such a bad reputation with so many?
Even a teenager with Joseph’s integrity and mature godly character comes in for harsh treatment by modern Bible scholars, including evangelicals, for being a “bratty tattletale, as they call him. The action so often called snitching is so disliked and misunderstood that it is labeled with a word we think of in very derogatory terms. By the way, I believe their exegesis concerning Joseph is atrocious in this regard. This young man of 17 was loved by his father not so much because he was born to him and his beloved wife Rachel in his old age, but because Joseph was a son who behaved with “old age as a youth; that is, he was mature beyond his years. Such maturity showed itself in the way he honored his father with his obedience. When his father Jacob (Israel) foolishly placed him between a “rock and a hard place by sending him to bring back a report on his brothers’ behavior, what was Joseph supposed to do? Many have implied by their criticism of the young man that he should have lied and given his father a false report. In other words do not be a tattletale; at the very least “candy-coat the “truth.
If you study the entire history of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 you will see that in the end it is well proven that all along it was Joseph who truly loved his brothers with his behavior and in his obedience to his father, Israel; but especially in his obedience to his Father, God. He believed his dreams to be the very word of God (which they were), and though his brothers and parents would find this word from God offensive to their ears (obviously because of their pride, seeing every word absolutely came to pass) he would not remain silent in revealing it out of obedience to his heavenly Father. Joseph is perhaps the most Christ-like figure in the Old Testament.
To snitch or not to snitch is never the question of importance. Loving God and loving our neighbor is! If we love the Lord we will hold fast to the truth while at the same time loving our neighbor as we would love ourselves. Both of those loves must always be in sync. If they are not, both are out of whack and not really love at all. We do NOT love our neighbor if we allow him in our unloving silence to continue down a path not for his good in the eyes of God. It always takes real courage to “Speak the truth in love directly to a brother or sister. (Ephesians 4:15) But it is what real love is all about.
“Let thy love my heart inflame; Keep thy fear before my sight; Be thy praise my highest aim; Be thy smile my chief delight, Be thy smile my chief delight.
(Verse 2 of Ralph Wardlaw’s hymn, “Christ of All My Hopes The Ground, 1817)
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