The drunken man flings the fine, golden goblet to the floor in a display of intoxicating fervor. The room erupts in laughter as the inebriated men fall out of their chairs on to the hard, cold marble floor. More wine! King Xerxes was celebrating. This display of celebrating self worth went on for 180 days, showcasing the vast wealth of the kingdom and the splendor and glory of the king’s majesty.
When the days were over, the king yet continued his celebration of himself with a banquet lasting seven days. With all the princes, nobles, officials and military leaders, this room full of prideful, powerful, and famous men of the kingdom must have star struck many except Queen Vashti. The king’s wife, Queen Vashti, held her own banquet for the wives of these men and maybe had grown tired of 187 days of entertaining. Maybe she was bored with the gluttonous drinking, eating and apparently did not like being a trophy wife, put on display for a bunch of drunken men to approve and ogle her. I n a bold display of either blatant disrespect and prideful-ness, she had had enough of the nonsense, did not submit to her king’s demands. Well, King Xerxes’ fury commanded she never be brought into his presence again!
How could the king and these men allow women to demonstrate such disrespect? Well, the king wasted no time in writing a decree that all women MUST show respect to their husbands and proclaimed this decree to all the women from the least to the greatest (Esther 1).
According to Biblegateway’s All the Women of the Bible, King Xerxes was virtually demanding his Queen to commit a breach in custom for an Eastern woman to showcase herself before men was extremely insulting and humiliating. This would be, today, the same degradation as a modest woman arriving nude to a man’s bachelor party. What the king was seeking, violating upon her nobility, her modest feminism, was mortifying, shaming, and demeaning in which she had ever right to refuse her inebriated husband. Vashti, a wise woman, knew exactly what her reprisal for rebuffing the King would be, excommunication.
Demanding respect is never the way to achieve what your heart desires. Respect is having a high regard for someone or something that is good, valuable, and important. The decree King Xerxes send out to his kingdom actually not too far off from similar words spoken by the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus. The Bible does instruct wives to respect their husbands, but it also says that husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.
Respect is earned not by demands and decrees, but by a man willing to love his wife, care and protect her through all things.
In a woman’s heart of hearts, I believe she longs for a man she can respect and love. So my prayer is any husband or man reading this remember the Apostle Paul’s words, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. Each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5)
During my early, baby years as a Christian, I had a very difficult time with this verse. I believed I was equal to Thomas in every way. I demanded my own way, standing eye to eye defiantly whether right or wrong. I can look back now and see I was reflected a low self-esteem, a hurt and wounded heart, and a lost woman demanding her voice to be heard. The Lord has worked on my heart and my relationship with Tommy as a wife, friend, partner, parent, lover, and servant of Christ.
When I read Ephesians chapter 5, the Lord gently spoke to my spirit. “It is very easy for a woman to follow a man who is willing to give himself up for her. It is very easy for a woman to follow a man who exhibits the love Christ had for the church. It is very easy for a woman to honor, respect and love a man who devotedly prays, encourages, and loves her as he loves himself.”
When I began to understand how much God wanted me to respect and love Tommy, it became easier to submit to a man who adores me. When I say submit, I hope a negative image of a woman bare-foot and pregnant in the kitchen does not come to your mind. What I mean is there needs to be an established leader in the home. If a husband and wife continually battle it out as if Armageddon was happening, this will end in strife, anger, resentment, and a love-less marriage. There can not be two strong leaders in the house, someone has to concede. As challenging as this was for me to learn, God gave me a very patient and loving man who endured my “fits of rage”.
I submit and respect Tommy so much if he asked for anything, I would gladly to do. Some examples I can give are: every morning he asks me to shave the back of his neck where he cannot reach. I wear his favorite clothes or make his favorite meals because I know he likes them. Tommy likes my hair to be dyed red and my makeup worn a certain way. Since he is the one who looks at me ALL the time, I submit. If he asks me to something particular for him, I try to get it done to the best of my ability.
As sure as I am writing this, I have a reader asking herself, “What do you get in return?” I have to laugh, because I would have asked the same question!! If you must know, in return Tommy wears what I like to see him in, a T-shirt, jeans, and boots. I love a clean cut beard. Although we live in south Florida where it can get extremely hot, Tommy wears the beard to please me. I do not worry in regard to finances, my husband works very hard to provide for his family and for his wife. Tommy is quick to encourage spa days, girl-friend dinners and outings and my own “quiet” time alone when he takes the kids out. In return, I get a man who loves me as I love him.
Queen Vashti had every reason to deliberately disobey her King’s request. She was faced with a humiliating and shaming situation. Although commanded to never appear for before the King again, Queen Vashti may have welcomed the mandate. I believe she showed regal character and nobility standing on her principles fit for a Queen. How I wish Christian women felt the same.
I pray for Christian women to show the same honor and respect to their own bodies which are to be presented as a holy sacrifice to the Lord. If we acted in accordance with which our Heavenly Father would like our decorum to be, more women would honor God and not man. If we dressed and acted as royalty which flows through us with the Holy Spirit, then we would honor Christ as our King. If we prayed and spoke with the wisdom and love as Christ, then we would be more cautious to curse and hate our brethren with distasteful language. I pray you know you are a child of the Most High God, a daughter of a King, and a woman who is a servant of the Almighty. May we remember Queen Vashti not for pride fullness or disobedience, but a woman who would not shame or dishonor her body or her position in the kingdom. I pray more Christian woman act the same.