A Proposal: Purim Redux

The Book of Esther recounts a plan to commit genocide against the Jews during their time of exile under the reign of the Persian king, Ahasuerus. The plot was hatched by one of the King’s officials by the name of Haman, who had a profound loathing for the Jews and used the machinations of government to have them exterminated (Esther 3:8-11). Once the plot was revealed to the King by his beautiful Jewish queen, Esther (Esther 7:4-6), Ahasuerus permitted the Jews to defend themselves and to turn the tables on those who sought their destruction (Esther 8:11). As a result, ever since that time, the Jews have celebrated the overturning of the government decree that legalized their genocide. That celebration is called the Feast of Purim:

And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Esther 9:20–22 ESV)

And today, if you are in Israel for Purim, it is still celebrated with costumes, parties, and gift-giving – sort of like the Jewish version of Halloween.

What’s the point of bringing this up? Well, since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a government decree that invented a constitutional right to kill unborn children, I have observed that many Christians, even those who call themselves pro-life, have been reticent to rejoice and celebrate this victory over genocide. Of course, the Dodd decision did not outlaw abortion and merely returned the regulation of the killing of the unborn to the states. But the result will, in fact, be the saving of untold millions of lives as various states bring what had been abortion laws more like those of North Korea into line with those found in western countries such as France.

And yet, many nominal Christians seem embarrassed or (use your best NPR voice here) “deeply concerned” by the Supreme Court’s ruling and urge us to tone down any celebratory response. This is like telling abolitionist Christians in 1863 that they should not celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation because they should be “deeply concerned” over the dire impact it was going to have on slave owners. John Stonestreet commented that the admonitions to avoid celebration were:

…coming from Christians who declared that real compassion precluded celebration and that we must “lament” with women who no longer have a presumed right to end the life of their child. It was as if the real problem was that this particularly heinous choice was being taken away from them. Abortion is an act of violence to both mothers and children. Only a society that’s been deeply poisoned by a culture of death pretends otherwise. (Read the whole thing here.)

And so, this is my proposal: We need a new Feast of Purim, a day to celebrate the overturning of a government decree that legitimized genocide. I’m not sure what we would call it (Dobbs Day? Life Day? Stomp the Devil Day?), but we need a day to celebrate the demise of “a foe and enemy! This wicked Haman! (Esther 7:6)”

With that in mind, perhaps we should set aside June 24th each year and make it a day of feasting and gladness, a day for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. Perhaps we could celebrate it as a day of special support for women and families who experience an unplanned pregnancy as a frightening, and not a joyful, event. Perhaps we could celebrate it by supporting our local crisis pregnancy center. Who knows? Maybe we could even celebrate this day by reading the Book of Esther.

As for those Christians who still cannot wholeheartedly celebrate the victory of life over death, perhaps we should all be “deeply concerned.”



The Revd. Dr. Ben Sharpe is a church planter, the Rector of Christ Church in Winston-Salem, NC, and Canon Missioner for West Virginia and Appalachia in the Anglican Diocese of Christ Our Hope, ACNA.


'A Proposal: Purim Redux' has 1 comment

  1. July 29, 2022 @ 12:40 pm Paula W Heyes

    Sounds like a wonderful idea. Perhaps a collect could be written for that celebration? We already celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and we could use that one, but an additional one focused on the saving of children from death by government decree would be welcome.

    Reply


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