So I was watching The View this morning and Barbara Walters was saying that she’ll be interviewing Harrison Ford during her Oscars special because, after 19 years, he’s doing another installment of Indiana Jones soon. I loved Indiana Jones growing up, but excuse me, isn’t Harrison Ford like 90 years old? It’s interesting to me how when men get old and wrinkly, they’re distinguished and they still get to be action heroes. But when women get old, they’re old hags and they never work again–that is unless you’re Tina Turner (did anybody see the Grammy’s last night?? Whoa! She’s awesome…)
At any rate, earlier this morning I was reading the book of Esther. My small group has been doing a study of this and the book of Ruth. I find it interesting that so many times church folks claim that these two books are so romantic and are examples of Godly relationships between men and women. I hear women all the time walking around talking about "I’m waiting for God to send me my Boaz!" But the more I read these stories, I see the flawed reality in both of these stories. Yes, Boaz was a noble man. But Boaz’s marriage to Ruth was a business proposition. While I do believe that Boaz did have some attraction to Ruth, Naomi sent Ruth to Boaz because he was their nearest relative and they needed someone to take care of them because they were widows. Boaz agreed to marry Ruth because the other relative didn’t want her. Again, I think he was attracted to her anyway so I guess it worked out well for him, but ultimately this was a business deal. And yes, the end result was good because David and Jesus came out of that lineage, but how many of us if we were really put in that position would consider that to be an admirable love story at that time?
Same thing with Esther. She became queen because a drunk king (Xerses) threw his wife out because she wouldn’t come out and parade in front of his cronies during one of his lavish parties. There is no mention as to why Queen Vashti didn’t come, although the Bible does say that she was throwing a party for the women at the same time. So wouldn’t that have been rude for her to abandon her party to come and be his showpiece for him and all his drunk friends? But yet often when I hear or read stories about Vashti, she’s portrayed as the disobedient, deviant woman. At any rate, he kicks her out of the house, realizes later that he made a mistake and because he’s too prideful to bite the bullet and change his earlier decision he decides instead to try and replace her. Esther joins his herem and becomes one of many in the pool of women looking to become his new wife. In the process, she neglects to tell the people in his court about her religious beliefs, ends up sleeping with the guy, and he’s so taken with her beauty that she ends up becoming queen. Again, yes, there are good things about this story, things that we can learn about God and about taking a stand against adversity. What I can see about this story, is how God protected Esther and how despite the negativity of the situation, he still loved her, accepted her and provided for her. But what about this story is romantic?
It seems like if we were going to hold up any Bible story as a benchmark for romance, it would be Jacob and Rachel. Even though I’m not very fond of Jacob because of the way he treated Leah, Jacob worked for what–14 or 21 YEARS so that he could earn Rachel’s hand in marriage. Now that’s some dedication. Now that’s love. Or what about Isaac and Rebekkah? He saw her at the well and instantly just said "That’s the woman I want." Now that’s being a decisive man.
I just don’t get it. Sometimes it just seems like we have a tendency to read half the story and then make assumptions about Bible characters based on the hype that other people feed us. Maybe sometimes we miss the point of why and how certain stories are in the Bible in the first place. Just like how everybody always holds David up as such a man of God. We should be like David and this and that. And don’t get me wrong, he was. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. But David was an adulterer, a murderer, and a liar. The point of David’s story is not so much that he was a great man who always did and said the right thing, but what made him so great was that he was HONEST before God even when it wasn’t pretty and he always brought it back to praising God in the end. He was able to ask God in one breath, "Why have you forsaken me?" and in the next breath say "But you are holy." I think we forget that the people in the Bible are more like us than we think. It’s easy to romanticize what’s really going on in those pages, but maybe God wants us to read the text for exactly what is is and not what we want it to be?
Just a thought…