Sunday, October 21, 2012

Esther as godless woman then Christ type: Mark Driscoll's interpretive mojo part 2

OPTION 2: Esther and sexual assault, Driscoll conflates sexual assault with rape

Now for Option #2, that Esther was the innocent victim of sexual assault:

And that is possible, but I'm not certain that it is probable because it doesn't say that. It doesn't say what happened. All it says is she went in, she went out, he picked her. It doesn't say how she felt or whether she was forced. It doesn't say. And let me submit to you that when the Bible speaks, it speaks very plainly and very clearly, so when there are other occasions of sexual assault in Scripture, the Bible tells it.

This is another straw man.  There are plenty of people who consider Esther to have been subject to a sexually exploitive regime.  The only way Driscoll can dismiss the substance of his Option #2 is by defining sexual assault and exploitation into the very narrow category of rape. There are more ways that people can be sexually abused, harassed or exploited than rape. 

Driscoll seems to be rejecting his straw man Option #2 more for rhetorical flair than for doubting the repellent aspects of Xerxes' life and conduct. Despite everything Driscoll himself mentioned about Xerxes having men castrated and using women Driscoll refuses to concede even the possibility that Esther was sexually exploited, and by sexually exploited Driscoll really means only raped.  Driscoll says we are told Dinah was raped and that Tamar was raped and that sexual assault, when it happens, gets clearly mentioned in the Bible.  True, when women are raped in the Bible we’re told that, such as the story of the Levite’s concubine in Judges. 

But notice that in casting doubt on Option #2 that Driscoll hangs a lot on an argument from both restricted definition and also from silence.  The Bible doesn't spell out explicitly that Esther was sexually assaulted, so Driscoll says we can't affirm what the Bible doesn't make clear.  Well, what was going on when Absalom went into ten of David’s concubines to make himself odious to his father?  That wasn’t rape but it would sure seem to be sexually exploitive.  What about David’s actions toward Bathsheba and her husband Uriah the Hittite?  If Driscoll’s argument that where the Bible is silent we ought not presume sexual assault actually meant anything then we should suppose that Bathsheba was wrong to have not resisted the advances of David.  Yet Nathan’s rebuke is all about David’s sin and not Bathsheba. 

Yet for Driscoll’s ostensibly high-minded claim that we should not speculate too much that Esther was sexually assaulted, Driscoll has been perfectly happy to speculate that Solomon's first love was Abishag (as long he gets to bet your mortgage and not his).  1 Kings mentions Solomon's first wife being Egyptian but it would seem that what the Bible says is immaterial to Driscoll if he can spin a sweet high school sweetheart yarn with Abishag and Solomon sitting in a tree.  It would appear that Driscoll wants to have it both ways, to claim that options other than his are speculative while avoiding the possibility that his own view is just as speculative.  

It would be difficult to overstate, given how much Driscoll and Mars Hill insist they want to protect women and children from predators, how remarkably stupid and offensive the straw man in Driscoll's Option #2 is.  The problems are numerous.  For instance "innocent" combined with "sexual assault" wasn't intended to invite the reading that Driscoll thinks there are not-innocent victims of sexual assault, does it?  Wouldn't "innocent", within the terms of discussion of sexual assault seem redundant? 

By defining Option #2 very clearly only in terms of rape Driscoll has defined the criteria of victim-hood for Esther up to the most blunt and obvious form of predatory action on the part of Xerxes.  
Esther either has to have been raped or she wasn't a victim of and in a sexually exploitive culture or regime and this despite his lengthy preaching about how Xerxes used women and emasculated men.  Driscoll has managed to set up Option #1 and Option #2 purely in terms of straw man definitions and then employs an absurd argument against Option #1 and a pathetic argument from silence to dismiss straw man Option #2.  But Driscoll isn't even close to done.  There's still Option #3. 

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