6/08/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsBy eveningmeadows ~
Years ago when I was still at church, the pastor was thinking of adding a big addition. No one knew he was thinking about this at the time. He began grooming young couples in the church to take on leadership roles. One Easter, one of the young men was teaching Sunday morning bible study before Easter.
A few things brought this story to mind. One was a comment by some of the posters on this site that the writers of the bible seemed to be preoccupied with women’s biological functions. Then Easter came along, and I remembered this guy and his Sunday school class.
He did the usual boring study on the easter story, how jesus died on the cross, how he was nailed and suffered for our sins. He brought up the bible verse, Isaiah 64:6, that our righteous acts are like filthy rags. He went on to explain that “filthy rags” were menstrual rags that women used for their monthly periods. I had never heard that before, and it stayed in my mind.
I, of course, have grown up where our “feminine hygiene products”, are discreetly packaged in nice pink or blue boxes. Some packaging is more snappy than others, but it’s all made to be very low key so as not to draw attention to the real purpose of what’s in the box. They’re arranged by an absorbency rating, by plastic for comfort, or cardboard applicators for those with a green streak. One should be able to quickly run up and grab what you want without drawing too much attention to oneself while in the feminine hygiene isle. The only complicated aspect of the whole thing is whether to go generic or name brand, the difference being cost.
Back to the story. Around Easter, this bible study came to mind, and as I have a lot of empty time driving the kids around, I started to dwell on this “filthy rags” aspect of the whole study. I had heard this verse forever, and had even used it as a witnessing tool to explain how sinful we are by nature. But, I finally put the filthy rags part together with the feminine hygiene part. Was god actually saying that our righteous acts are nothing more to him than used tampons?!
You can imagine my shock and dismay at my discovery after being a bornagainer for twenty years, and out of the church for almost ten. Why had I never put this together before?
God sees our righteous deeds before salvation as used tampons. Why don’t we have a problem with this kind of comparison in the bible? If we were to hear that our kids were told by their teacher that all their efforts to get a decent grade in their class, were nothing but dirty tampons to this teacher, we would be down at the school in an instant talking to this teacher and the principal. If we were being reviewed at work for a pay raise, and we were told that our efforts to do our job to the best of our ability were nothing but dirty tampons, we would be very upset. If others heard that our spouse was calling us dirty tampons, we would consider that verbal abuse. And we would never use that description when talking in polite company. And yet, we hear this again and again in church, over and over throughout the years, and never really think about what the teachings in the bible are really telling us. We are all nothing more than dirty tampons. Something disgusting, something of no worth. Just something headed to the garbage. The verse has been sanitized so the original meaning isn’t clear to us anymore. We just read it over, and think of course we’re sinners, and don’t even blink.
I read this now and think how could I have allowed myself to be verbally bashed again and again, told what a horrible person I was, and just shrug it off as biblical truth? It’s the constant year in and year out brainwashing that allows us to read verses like this and read about abuse towards women and children and never think about it or question it. We’re horrible, retched sinners, deserving of never ending hell fire simply because we don’t follow a certain belief system that claims it has “the truth”. It’s okay to look at others and their efforts to be decent people and see their efforts as used tampons. If we follow this belief system, we, of course, are better than all those people.
I’m sure that there are other interpretations to this verse. I really don’t care, that’s not my point. It’s the idea that we can become so numb to the abuses in the bible, that we just gloss over the whole thing. In order to keep believing the story so we can be saved from never ending hell fire, we have to overlook many horrors in the bible. We have to shut our brains off, and never question or say that just doesn’t seem right.
After all these years, I’m still shocked by what I simply overlooked as truth in the bible.