Saturday, October 20, 2012

DBAA: About Esther

Dear Mark Driscoll,

OK, we get it - you don't like women!  You've made it abundantly clear by now that you consider "feminine" to be synonymous with "inferior" and "feminist" to be synonymous with "the worst thing ever".  So seeing as how you've already firmly established this fact, was it really necessary to hammer that home by taking a massive shit on Esther?  You wrote the following about her:

"She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God."

Seriously guy?  Is there no bottom to your misogyny?  You can actually read the book of Esther and manage come up with THAT interpretation?  I know you're not a fan of the womens but really, does your hatred and scorn really run that deep? 

You claim to be a Bible scholar, did you at any point during the preparation of your sermon series on the book of Esther actually read the book of Esther?  First off, little orphan Esther was nothing like "a beautiful young woman living in a major city".  For her to be an unmarried virgin in those days she would have been extremely young.  I'm pretty confident scholars and historians would back me on the fact that she would have been past puberty but probably still under what we would consider the age of consent in today's society - somewhere between 13 and 16 years old.  But fine, you probably don't really have much respect for godless concepts like "scholarship" or "historical accuracy".  So let's stick to the one thing you claim to be a student of.  Let's see what the Bible actually says.

Esther was not some pretty young thing who used her feminine wiles and evil lady parts to snag the king.  Here's how she ended up with her future husband:

"Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it. "  (Est 2:2-4)

She did not "land a rich guy", she and countless other young girls were forcibly drafted into the king's harem.  Refusal was not an option.  This king did not take very kindly to women telling him "no".  It's right there in the first chapter where we find out what happened to the previous queen.  When the king - in the middle of a big boozy bender - ordered queen Vashti to present herself at his party "in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles" (whatever THAT may have implied..) she refused and so she ended up stripped of her crown and banished from the king's presence for life.  He decided to make an example of her for the whole empire to see in order to insure that women everywhere didn't get any silly ideas about saying "no" to their husbands:

"“Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.  “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue." (Est 1:16-22)

Also, being conscripted into a harem is not like going on a date.  Here is how that process went:

"Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name." (Est 2:12-14)

So yeah, nothing like  going on a date and wowing a dude with how awesome you are at sex.  Harems were for life.  Once a girl went in she had to stay there, regardless of whether the king liked her or wanted to see her ever again.  Does any of this sound romantic to you?  Do you really see feminine wiles at play here?  Because to me this seems like a terrible thing.  To me this seems like sexual slavery.  Clearly not to you though!

So, we have a very young girl who gets rounded up by state officials because she's pretty and then gets thrown in a harem - which will be her new permanent home.  You see all that - I mean you have to see it, it says it all RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE YOU CLAIM TO STUDY - and you come away with "Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed."  Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you??  Is it physically impossible for you to not be a giant asshole where women are concerned?  Oh and of course the only reason the king would have picked her would be the fact that she wowed him with an amazing night in the sack, there's no way it could have been anything else about her right?  It couldn't have been her personality or intelligence or character could it, because you got women all figured out.  You know what they're good for.

The problem is that you're not just an asshole, you're an asshole with a congregation.  A large one.  Full of young men and women.  And you are infecting them with your incredibly dickish view of the world.  Stop it.  For the sake of everything you believe is holy, just stop.  Don't pass on your baseless disdain for women to a new generation of young men.  Don't feed the insecurities the young women in your congregation probably already struggle with.  Just let them have one of the very few female heroes in the Bible without turning her into some opportunistic young slut.  Don't be an asshole.  Especially don't be an asshole to Esther.  She deserves better.

1 comment:

Na Na said...

Again, I am late in readin' stuff, but like the cliche goes - better late than never, right?

Now, I must admit I had never heard of the preacher man you linked Eugene, so I won't get in the middle of your debate, but I will say how much the book of Esther means to me.

I read it for the first time 7 years ago during a very trying time for someone who meant and still means the world to me.

It was that very book that gave me the idea of a 3-day fast cause that's what stood out to me - the idea of sacrifice, self-denial and the God-connection. What silly little creature I are, right? I understand others are far more preocupied with Esther's purity and her 'private performance' abilities, operative word being PRIVATE.

Turns out, at that point, the fasting idea was a good one cause it, alongside many other things and people, worked together for the good of the innocent one.

Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and things didn't go quite as smoothly. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I didn't actually get to finish the 3 day fast cause I let people's words derail me from my tracks.

But then I also think it has to do with the fact that my similarities to queen Esther are of very slim nature. The things we have in common have nothing to do with royalty. I had NEITHER a king in front of me to kneel to and plead with NOR a people behind me to fight for. What a blessed woman was she to have both AND God's ear answering her prayers. Not to mention she got off pretty easily too - only 1 year of beauty treatments, phleaseee, big deal.

In other cases of almost biblical proportions [as some might like to see them in their skewed views which include only the convenient parts of the good ole' tale] the preparation for majesty lasts far too many and far too long years made of sheer mental and spiritual torture combined with physical neglect.

If only the 'engagement' from the pits of hell were the foundation for a marriage fit for heaven, if only...but I'm sooo afraid the only thing I'm dealin' with is a cheap horror movie script or a big, huge comedy sketch where the joke is on me.

Anyway...THANKS again Eugene for the reminder about the book of Esther and your staunch defense of women's dignity and worth in your ever so gentleman way. God bless you! Stay cool, alert and funny, as always :)