So, yesterday, I was just thinking to myself, Gosh, I haven’t seen anything cringe-worthy from Mark Driscoll in about a week. I hope he writes something I can use in a blog post.* Lo and behold, he read my mind and did just that. Please go read it before you read this, because what I say won’t otherwise make nearly as much sense. Warning: Contains things that may make you reach for large, breakable objects.
Driscoll’s assertion that Esther was engaging in “sinful” behavior and likening her to a contestant on The Bachelor is rather horrifying. It displays his gross lack of knowledge about the time period during which Esther is set. He makes it sound as though Esther heard King Xerxes was looking for a wife and took the opportunity to put herself out there for him. Did Driscoll even read the text? It is apparent from both the text and the context that this is not the case. There is no mention that Esther wanted any of this. In fact, she was likely forced into participation. At the beginning of Esther 2, we see that the King’s officials are rounding up pretty virgins to parade in front of their King for his own entertainment. It is possible that Esther enjoyed this star treatment, but the Bible never actually says this.
Second, Driscoll’s claim that Esther was unconcerned until “her own neck was on the line” is also patently false. If he’d carefully read the text of Esther 4, he would have quickly seen that Esther herself was greatly troubled over the edict to annihilate her people. Her own neck was not at risk at that point, since no one in the royal court even knew she was a Jew.
Third, I have no idea where Driscoll gets the idea that Esther has been avoided. I suppose that some evangelical communities might avoid it, since it shows a wife standing up to her husband (two of them, in fact, if we count Vashti). Other than that, I think Driscoll may just have been hanging around with the wrong people. I’ve loved Esther since the first time I read it. I have heard great sermons preached on it. Then again, Driscoll seems content to believe that he holds the market on “real, true” Biblical teaching. In fact, the preachers and teachers who avoid or discount the book of Esther are often anti-Semitic. So, there’s that.
Fourth, I am unclear as to why Driscoll believes Esther has been “misinterpreted.” (Unless, of course, one wants to lump him in with the anti-Semites…) For one thing, that’s illogical. He says it’s not often taught, yet it’s grossly misinterpreted? By whom? If no one is teaching on it, then it isn’t being misinterpreted. Except by Jews. Well, then. That’s certainly telling, isn’t it? What he’s saying is that for thousands of years, Jews have been misreading a sacred text. Um.
Fifth, if Driscoll wants to maintain that Esther is a “godless” book, he can do that. But he also has to give up both of his other favorites—Ruth and Song of Solomon. Ruth only ever mentions God in passing, and only in the sense that Ruth has decided to convert for Naomi’s sake. Otherwise, it follows Esther down the “God is not present” path. There are no miracles in Ruth. Not only that, he seems unaware that Ruth catches her man by uncovering his “feet”—a frequent euphemism for a body part somewhat higher up than the actual feet. Song of Solomon is short on both God and miracles as well, and that one is about hot sex between people who may or may not be married (depending on one’s interpretation). Dude, please just read your Bible.
I’m sure someone else will have something more to say about this. I’m out of words. I gave up on making sense out of Mark Driscoll a long time ago. All I can say is that I am grateful I’m not a member of his church or one of its offshoots. Of course, if I were, it would keep me blogging for a long, long time—or at least until others figure out the kind of pastor he really is.