Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative?
It is okay to want deep intimacy, to not have it, but to not choose false intimacy—and to sit in the longing. God meets us there. Really? Then, why do I desperately want to avoid sitting in the longing?
Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sexuality. And in so doing, let’s realize that we’re all sexual and we all long for connection with others that is not fully provided in sexual intercourse. Let’s embrace solitude, know ourselves, and bring that self to others in a healthy way in order to approximate that intimacy we long for.
While we should be cautious in our society of affairs, divorce, and casual sex, the time has come to look beyond our societal issues and ask whether that fear and suspicion among brothers and sisters is all we can hope for in the family of Christ. We need diverse perspectives in all aspects of society—even in our interpersonal relationships.
The church of the first five centuries helped define women’s sense of self, integrating their understanding of sexuality and marriage with the redemptive work of Christ, thus encouraging them to contribute to the work of the church.
“Do you want a divorce?” My husband was momentarily speechless. From the earliest days of our marriage, we struggled with sex. By the time I asked the question that so shocked my husband, it was apparent that we couldn’t resolve the issue by talking to each other or to our friends or by reading books.
I know that lack of sex and consent education harmed my husband’s and my sex life in the early years of our marriage. But as I look back, I realize that’s only one side of the coin. The other was biblical illiteracy.
The struggles of Christian women with sexuality, food, and their bodies reflect the Church’s historic ambivalence towards the body—particularly the female body. The embodiment of God in the Incarnation, Jesus’ embrace of lepers, prostitutes, and women, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection establish a radical foundation of body affirmation. Yet the history of the Church demonstrates a decidedly negative view of the body and sexuality.