For Such a Time as This
ILLOGICAL AND IRONIC
Monday, February 3, 2020 | Esther 1:13–22
Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?”
Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.”
This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.
Esther 1:13-22 — English Standard Version
When we use a “slippery slope argument,” we assert that a relatively small event will launch an inevitable chain of increasingly worse events that will ultimately end in disaster. The problem is that the slippery slope argument isn’t sound reasoning; rather, it is a logical fallacy.
In today’s passage, King Xerxes didn’t know how to handle Vashti’s insubordination, so he called his advisors (v. 15). These men likely used astrology and divination to determine a course of action that they would then recommend to the king.
Memukan argued that Vashti had sinned against all of the nobles and people of the kingdom (vv. 16–18). He feared that “the queen’s conduct [would] become known to all the women, and so they [would] despise their husbands.” He finished with this globalized prediction: “There will be no end of disrespect and discord” (v. 18). He took a single occurrence between husband and wife and escalated it to an empire-wide crisis. Clearly, he believed in “slippery slope” reasoning. Having fed the king’s fear, Memukan advised him to issue a royal decree that all women must respect their husbands. He emphasized the king’s power, reminding him that the laws of Persia and Media could not be repealed.
What followed was even more illogical and ironic! By dispatching this law, Xerxes himself ensured the very thing he most feared. He made Vashti’s act of insubordination known to women everywhere! This further highlights the Persian monarchy’s lust for complete control and sets up the story in which—ironically—not even an “irrevocable” law could thwart the plan of God, who would use a woman and a wife to save His people.
APPLY THE WORD
Have you seen people in power act out of fear to protect their position? Have you ever done it? Fear can be a very negative influence in our life. If you are faced with a decision today, consider how you can act not from a place of fear, but with trust in God.