Iraq is in the process of drafting a new law that legalizes marrying little girls that are eleven years old. And if that isn’t despicable enough they have decided that no man’s wife is ever under any circumstances to reject his advances for sex. The husband is able to rape his wife if she says no to him. Meanwhile, this is a culture that believes women should be covered from head to foot and in many cases deemed inappropriate for a woman to reveal any more of her body than her eyes.
It is difficult for us to believe that in 2014 there are still many cultures that see women as little more than possessions or prized sex objects who exist only for the mans pleasure. This started me thinking about Queen Vashti from the book of Esther. Her husband, Ahasuerus, King of the Medes and the Persians had been on a seven day drunk with his cronies when he got the bright idea to bring Vashti in to the drunken party to show her off because she was very beautiful.
However, something happened that the King never expected in a million years; Queen Vashti refused to obey his command. The text reads, “ But Queen Vashti refused to come at the kings command conveyed by the eunuchs. At this the king was enraged, and his anger burned within him.” Esther 1:12 This was no small matter to refuse the king’s demands because it could easily mean death for the disobedient.
I find the rest of this part of the story a sad commentary on relationships. All the princes and drinking buddies of Ahasuerus were upset and angry because they felt that once word of the queen’s disobedience travelled around amongst their wives they wouldn’t be able to control them any longer. They complained to the king, “for this deed of the queen will be made known to all women causing them to look with contempt upon their husbands, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come. This very day the ladies of Persia and Medes who have heard of the queen’s behavior will be telling it to all the princes, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty.’” Esther 1:17, 18
So the king made a law, “that every man be lord in his own house and speak according to the language of his people” Esther 1:22 Wherever, throughout the world that laws are needed to dictate how women are to respond to men we have simply travelled back to the time of Ahasuerus and Vashti.
We of course spend our time studying Esther’s story when we read the book, but Vashti is also a heroine. In spite of all the consequences, she stood up for her dignity and self-respect. She was not going to be used as a sex object for the entertainment of a loutish drunken mob of her husband’s friends. What a role model for women of our own day. As I’ve mentioned before, when half naked girls dance on stage to raunchy lyrics and the press can’t get enough of it there is something wrong. When the president of the United States says some of these women who promote songs that are totally inappropriate for young girls are role models for young people we have problems. What has become of dignity and self-respect in our culture?
Where are the people who stand up for grace and poise within our culture? Why is it that our children have to be exposed to this overt sexuality that is pawned off as the norm for young children? We are repulsed that men in Iraq could possibly think that an eleven year old is sexuality and mentally prepared for marriage, and yet we bombard our children daily with sexually explicit songs and suggestive music videos. Our television and movies teach that sleeping together is just something “everyone” does and the sexiest most provocative girl always gets the cool guy.
We live in a society that prides itself on its lack of morals and decency. We have become a nation of predators, abusing and exploiting our children and much of this goes unnoticed because it is done in the name of celebrity and entertainment. It is little wonder that Christianity is declining in the west and we have so little to offer society when we have become enamored with the same cultural norms as the world around us.