Saturday, October 13, 2012

Practical Theology for Women: Esther, Victimes, and a Reformed View of Depravity

... Here's the issue with depravity. Scripture clearly presents that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory. This does NOT mean, however, that every person is as bad as they possibly could be. It does not mean that every person always makes the wrong decision. It does not mean that no person is able to help or be good to another. No, our depravity is better expressed as pervasive than total. Pervasive means it affects all aspects of ourselves. It is spread throughout, and we are unable to reverse it. But it does not mean that every response every time in every situation is 100% or totally wrong. I hear this wrong view of depravity discussed as Jesus wears the only white hat, and everyone else has black hats. [emphasis added] Or Jesus is the only hero, and everyone else is the bad guy.   There's a sense in which that is pervasively true, but it is not totally true.  *Note that such subtleties matter a great deal when discussing something as sensitive as sexual subjugation.*

This difference is crucial for understanding Esther's situation. If you think that all people make bad decisions all the time, well, first that is really depressing, and second it's just not true. In Esther's case, you then likely interpret the fact that she ends up in the king's harem and eventually as his wife due to her own poor choices, because, well, that's the nature of man (or woman) in your belief system. That paradigm has no category for the honest to goodness VICTIM. If you are totally bad all the time, then of course you made only bad choices along the way that led to your victimization.


It's very easy for someone with power who is not threatened to surmise what they would do if they had NO power and were threatened. In contrast, anyone who has been threatened sexually and feared for their life or the life of their family will likely give a very different perspective when reading Esther than the one that she contributed sinfully to her own situation. ...

In some circles this might be called a Monday morning quarterback approach to things.

Of note is the observation that it is a truncated view of what depravity means to say Jesus wears the white hat and everyone else wears the black hat.  There are two very obvious problems to this approach.  The first is that it's demonstrably not true, the second is that those who espouse it can't even show they consistently apply such an interpretive approach to biblical texts in their own discussion of them.


The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

This kind of teaching may also show a real misunderstanding of what the Greek word for "flesh" means because so often it is mistranslated as "sinful nature". Jesus lived in he flesh without sinning, so apparently it is possible to be fully human with all the drives, feelings, needs, and desires that humanness entails and yet not sin- when walking in supernatural (the Spirit or simply God's) strength. Beyond that, this kind of teaching is perversion to my ears- and I believe to God's.

Mara Reid said...

I really like that post too. I can live with pervasive. Total is just sort of a deal breaker.

If you get a chance some guy had left a comment under your series on my blog. I have to get to work so all I had time for was to approve it and basically I'd have to get back to him later.