I’m seated on my bed (do I say that I’m seated IN my bed?) a day after my 14th 20th birthday 😉 and I’m thinking… Why did God create full grown adults? I mean, He could have created babies and seen them grow and all that but (or do I say ‘hey’?) The Almighty One chose Adam and Eve to be full grown adults. At least that’s the impression most of us have. He could also have just created old people.
The more I read the Esther and Queen Vashti story, the more I am appalled by what the church says with regards to submission as they quote Esther. My heart burns within me and I want to scream myself hoarse underwater or something!
So, the summary is this:
Queen Vashti is summoned by her drunk husband, the king, to parade her beauty before his drunken fellas. All leaders of his 127 provinces. These guys have been drinking for 7 days straight so u can imagine what state they are in. She refuses! Kudos to you QV! A drunken advisor tells king that this is nasty and advises him to get rid of her and the drunk king agrees so QV is disposed of. She disappears from the Biblical scene except for the time when the king remembers her with regret. Oh well. She was better off without him, says I. (if anyone has info on what happened to her apart from the Jewish versions that I am reading, I would love to get my hands on it. Thank you)
So, at the advise of these same “wisemen” they hold a beauty contest to find a replacement! Wow! It surely was not the Miss Zimbabwe (Lord, forbid it wasn’t as confused) nor was it like the Miss World one (no questions paused about passions etc or parading of stuff to the world either) This contest took months to plan and I understand that this king would “sample” whoever he thought was beautiful enough. (I am still researching more on this bit of info and I stand guided)
Please note: king had a harem (er, that is
women who were available for his sexual pleasure though they were not his wives…think of small houses, my Zimbabwean friends aka mistresses or concubines, or geishas something like that) So, he was looking for someone to be the queen.
Anyway, he is taken by Esther, as God intended, as the Bible and Jewish texts say. Now, here is where it gets interesting:
the church, some centuries beyond this era, take Esther to be this paragon of virtue and make out Vashti to be this witch and ungrateful, rude, headstrong woman. Oh well, it could have been worse for her, right? LOL
But, I want to submit some things:
1. Had Esther just walked in to the king’s chamber, she would have been KILLED!! yes, no one ever entered the king’s presence without being summoned in that time and place, not even his queen. Now, what kind of marriage is that? One where a wife has to try and grab her husband’s attention all the while fearing death. Why else did she have to call for God’s favour via the fast? This was no ordinary marriage and it would do well for the church to acknowledge this.
2. Are we vilifying Queen Vashti for wanting her dignity more than anything else? How many women does the church crucify for merely dressing “scantily”? and somehow, it should have been “agreeable” for a WHOLE QUEEN to prance about a jury of drunken “lords” displaying her beauty NAKED except a crown on her head??? We have a huge moral tangle when men go to strip clubs. We label women who “display” themselves loose and wanton and immoral yet, in the same breath, we vilify a queen for not wanting to do the same thing?
3. I am not too sure about this queen position that we all scream bloody murder about. Looking at this king Ahasuerus aka xerxes aka Achashveirosh, I do not see what there is in him to admire about being married to such a man! Really, I don’t.
The church has gone to celebrate Esther’s rise as if she was married to some great guy. What only made this guy “great” was his wealth, his empire and his title, in my view. Looking at him, he was a man of great temper. He was rash in making decisions. He made decisions under the influence of alcohol. He took advise from drunken men and implemented it! he seems to me like the good for nothing that we all hear the pastors preaching against at the pulpit. If we take away his title, his wealth (maybe we could leave him some) and his power and influence, no woman in her right mind would ever want to bring home such a man! Oops, I forget, she probably would, as she would be one up on a sister who is single, divorced or a single parent. “Better she is married than she be single” is what we have taught our girls. Shame!
4. The church uses Esther as an example of submission (the real reason that had me start this article, in the first place) as if Esther had a choice in the matter. She was married to a man as a REPLACEMENT to a woman who had probably been killed. So who would want to cross paths with such a man? I doubt she could even cough without first seeking permission from him! The church forgets that to see her own husband, she had to get the whole Jewish nation in Susa to fast with her! Surely, what kind of marriage is that? That was just something else BUT a marriage!! Who wants that??
5. Esther did not want to be married to this guy. She did not choose him but HE orchestrated events that would see her, a virgin among other virgins in the land, end up as his wife. at this point, I am sure that there would have been some virgins who ran off, anything but to be married to this horrible man. I do not see how they could have been happily taking part in this beauty contest that would result in them being married to such a man. Those who did not make it to be his wives, what became of them?
6. Esther had to HIDE her true identity from her husband!! What nonsense is this? This man was a piece of work, I tell you and I pity Esther more and applaud Vashti all the more for standing up to this man! Whilst we talk of respect and submission, if these are not earned, they are as worthless as the man who demands them from his wife.
Can the church stop perpetuating the idea that men are gods who must be worshiped and feared and start teaching the men and boys to love women? Looking at the story of Queen Vashti and Queen Esther, I see two women who had to do what must be done “in order to fulfill the prophecies” and none must be vilified or exalted because, on closer inspection, they lived terrible lives with this man. But such is many a woman’s story! It remains untold, unexplored and only the “suitable” bits are sifted through to give the “right/ suitable/ correct” picture.
So, today I had a second to share a word with someone and I had a moment of revelation. I hope we know the story of king Hezekiah. I am speaking to the Christians right now, so if you do not believe in Christ, please be sensitive enough and just skim thru this one if you got nothing positive to say. LOL, #NoArguingPlease
So, to those who do not know the story, here is a summary:
King H was sick, and had been for a while. 2 Kings 20:1-21 says that basically dude was on his death bed because the prophet, Isaiah, came thru to tell him that this illness would take him 6 feet under so “he better put his house in order” Eish, zvakaoma. I do not know how long he had been sick. I do not know what ailed him. I do not know how long he had left but this king was unlike any other king I know. Dude basically turned his face to the wall and began to pray to God as the prophet was walking from his presence!! Huh!!? What manner of man was he to not ask the man of God to ask God for mercy? Huh? Well, I found the answer in these verses:
“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.”
King H did not seek mercy from the prophet. So many times, many of us are going to ask the pastors to pray for them, many will get mad because we were armor bearers/ ushers/ hosts n hostesses/ decor/ head of ministries/ deacons/ elders etc. Many of us would have been looking at how well or how much e tithed/ gave or whatever but that is not what King H did. He looked at his walk with the Big Guy. He knew that it was about faithfulness when it comes to God…but that was their relationship…
So, picture this king, the biggest man in the nation, facing the wall and CRYING!! he was WEEPING and not just weeping but he was weeping Bitterly!! eish, I feel for him. But that is not the end of the story.
Remember that the prophet had done his job and had delivered the undated death sentence to the king. I want to imagine that this guy was running with his life!! I mean, who wouldn’t after knowing that the kings of this era were the type yaanaSennacherib, the king who could just wipe out entire nations!! Kings could literally have someone’s head on the platter, so I suspect that man Isaiah was in quite the rush to escape before the palace guards received word to arrest him. I don’t know hangu how big that palace or the palace grounds were but it must have been a bit but, man Isaiah was in a rush so zvakavharana. LOL
However, this king, was in the habit of making very short prayers especially in times of great difficulty. Just the previous chapter after the bully king Sennacherib had told him that he would wipe him out along with his people, King H had taken the letter into the temple and had said relatively few words: ayaas…but his words reveal something about him and God:
“Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
King H KNEW who God was as well as His abilities and so was not worried at all by this bully king breathing fire on his doorstep, afterall, God made the fire saka, why worry? lol
So, the revelation was on two points, if not three:
1. King H was gonna die…..he had heard the word from God Himself via the prophet
2. King H had a relationship with God where just a few words was enough for him to communicate with God.
3. Oh, I had forgot to finish the story: lol, The manoGod was fleeing from a possible earlier death sentence than the one he had just delievered to King H when God spoke to him again, to return to the ailing king and tell him:
“Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.”
eish, right there: God saw the tears of this guy and had heard his prayer!! A king’s prayer was heard…a king, THE boss in the nation said prayers that God answered FAVORABLY because God added 25 more years to his life AND delivered him and the nation from that bossy silly king. Wow!
The third revelation was this: when one stays steeped in prayer, the words are few for a particular situation because te confidence is in God and not in the words you say. LOL. S many of us believe that the longer the prayer, the more God hears it. But I am learning that we make long prayers that are spaced out hen we prayed without ceasing!
Let us keep in prayer, let us walk faithfully with God…not for the benefits but because of who He is..a Faithful God.
We do not want to admit that the issue of violence is more than just beating up women and children; it is more than raping and sexually abusing them. It goes deeper than psychologically damaging them. We need to begin to look at the real face of violence- society. You and I. It is high time we admit that our society has a skewed look towards violence itself. When a man beats up his spouse, we tend to endorse it as ‘discipline’ and immediately ask what had caused him to beat her up. In other words, we try to justify the beatings. When a woman beats up her spouse, we tend to see the man as emasculated. In other words, we take back the violent act and align it back into male territory.
Society also helps in the breeding of conducive grounds for violence. We frown upon divorce and disintegrating marriages so much that we inadvertently force couples to stay within relationships that no longer work for them. We frown upon people who co-habit such that they do not feel they have any right to report any abuse being perpetrated upon their bodies. We are so quick to judge others harshly but expect everyone to understand us when we wrong others. We have a warped sense of moral fibre that condones the rape and abuse of ‘prostitutes’ and yet we forget that the moment there is a transaction around sex, it becomes a commercial activity warranting to be termed ‘prostitution’- the buying and selling of sexual intercourse using whatever currency. We also have this idea of what a rapist and sexual abuser looks like such that we deny it when our husbands, fathers, uncles, teachers, nephews, sons and brothers stand accused of such acts. Such is our sense of family that we strive to protect it at all costs, including denying our daughters and womenfolk the right to seek legal justice when they are violated. ‘Shhh,’ we tell them, ‘he did not mean it’.
‘’You are such a liar and a naughty one, you only want to cause trouble.”
“What were you doing in that kind of dressing/ at his house/ office/ at that time of the day/ night?”
“If we report this, who will look after our family?”
“You are a young woman now, you are obviously having sex, you must have enjoyed it”
“He is your boyfriend/ husband/ husband to be he’ll pay damage when he comes to pay lobola, so don’t make a fuss about it”
“He is the pastor/ prophet/ reverend/priest/ elder/ deacon/ preacher, he is a man of God and was helping you/ cleansing you, shh”
How can your own husband rape you when you are married to him and you even stay under the same roof and share the same bed? Shhh!!”
I could go on but I think that we have got the picture. There are all sorts of scenarios whereby rape and abuse of women is nullified and the woman is even attacked for daring to speak out. Many a woman will not even dare report that their husbands rape them (by the way, rape can be a once off event…when she agrees to have sex with him, it is for that occasion that she agrees to, any other time, he has to get her consent! That is the law, thankfully) Anyway, before I digress, we have such a warped sense of what marriages should be that we are willing to mourn at a funeral of a spouse who was murdered by their partner. (Please note that I said spouse because I am aware that men are not the only ones killing their wives but that there are some cases whereby wives have killed their husbands.) Our society would rather walk around and meet in churches and all the other social meeting places flaunting their marital status as if it were some high breed horse that has won all the major horse races and the Queen of England is now no longer speaking to Queen Margrethe because they both want that horse for the races. Meanwhile, this so-called high breed racehorse on this winning streak is full of horse shit, literally, up its mouth because that is what it prefers to snack on to look so glossy and refined. Yes, that is what I will compare those men and women who opt to parade their fake (broken down) marriages in which they suffer untold of abuse simply because they do not want to be shunned by society should people know what is really going happening…they are great looking thorough-breds that are feasting on horse shit to look and maintain their winning streaks
It is not only in marriages and relationships that we see the abuse of women but within our very homes. How many Zimbabwean households have maids and gardeners who are under age and meant to be in school? That is abuse! Plain and simple. We want to cry out against China and the other eastern countries that use children in their manufacturing plants yet we are forgetting that we are equally guilty of doing the same in the very same households from which we chant and type away at online petitions against child labour. How many men have paid for sex with underage children off the streets? Ignorance is no bliss when it comes to law. That we have underage young girls on the streets soliciting for money through offering sexual favours is a huge problem as it is. They can look and sound ‘mature’ and ‘knowledgeable’ in the sexual intercourse department, hell, they can even say that they are old enough but the reality and the harsh truth is that; that is statutory rape! Can I ask again: who looks like a rapist? Ndiani akanyorwa pamhanza kuti ‘Ini ndinobata chibharo’? (Who has written across their forehead, ‘I am a rapist’?)
It is even in those leafy suburbs where the ‘madam’ asks her relatives to get her ‘Musikana mudiki, asingazondinetse, wandinogona kuraira zvandinoda. Vakuru vanonetsa.’ (Get me a young girl whom I will be able to train how I want my household run. The older women are a problem.) Shame on us. It is from those ‘poorer’ households where amai nababa sit together and discuss sending their young girl to work so that she can supplement their income with her maid’s salary. From Chishawasha Hills to Domboramwari all the way across the country to corners such as Dete, koSkhobokhobo and in all levels of income and societal status, we have women abused in all manner of ways. People are outraged when ministers, members of Parliament and senior (read stupid) political and society figures are accused of sexual violence. Do we honestly think that when these people ascend societal and political ladders they leave their penises and sexual urges in our hands? Really? Let us be very real and begin to address abuse of women as it is, abuse. I am persuaded that had it been men who would be half as abused, we would not even be having campaigns, they would have nipped it in the bud. Look at what they do to women who are accused of crimes of sexual violence. They pull up the whole ‘you-are-supposed-to-be-a-mother-to-this-person-therefore-….’ Card. I would like to see society getting angry at men who let go of the paternal baton and bring in fear within society. I would like to see men and women holding the humane baton and beginning to treat each other with love and respect.
#VAW must end. Violence has no space in our society.
“I can’t cope right now.”
These are words we need to hear ourselves speak to ourselves once in a while. As opposed to trying to force everything to fall into place. These words allow us to look at ourselves as we truly are…flesh and blood and very much limited!
“I can’t cope” are words that ought to usher us into the very arms of God who is Able to carry us thru it all.
I’m reminded of something I came across earlier that depicts a conversation between God and (me…put your name there):
GOD: you see those two sets of footprints? (I nod…and He proceeds) That is where I walked beside you.
ME: And that pair of footprints…(I delicately chew my words to taste them first before saying them to Him but I quickly figure that He already knows my thoughts anyway and I say them as quickly as I can) You left me to walk alone then?
GOD: I meant it and I mean it and will always mean my Word when I said that I will never leave you nor forsake you.
ME: (pointing) And THAT groove over there? (Am wide eyed and shocked at the length and depth of the groove, the clearer it gets)
GOD: Oh, that, it’s where I dragged you, kicking and screaming.
Most times, (for some of us anyway) God has had to drag us thru certain situations because we wanted to dwell in them for longer than was necessary.
Do you recall when you it took you ages to make that one particular apology? Do you remember when you wanted to hold onto your anger despite the Godly counsel you were being given? Do you remember when you had to give that tithe when the money wasn’t even to start with? Do you remember when you had to be the bigger person and reconcile with the sister/brother/friend/relation who had wronged you?… I’m sure that by now you have the idea. He dragged you kicking and screaming and THAT caused the groove in your path…next time there might be hair or pieces or weaves on that path. (I hope by now you realise that I’m talking to women so, thank you, sir for reading thus far! 😉 :-* ….our brothers tend to look back and see a lot of footprints in the sand and wonder if the whole army of heaven was walking with them only to hear from God Himself tell them that it’s all their footprints. Lol…that’s another conversation for another day) for now, I just want to tell me (and someone) that it’s ok to say “I’m not coping, I need help.” #sob