This generation has far too many ‘Ezras’ already, thanks

Charismanews editor and sex-with-demons beat reporter Jennifer LeClaire endorses Ted Cruz for president, saying “The Lord wants to raise up Cruz, 45, as an Ezra in this generation.”

The reference there is actually somewhat apt. The biblical figure of Ezra was also a callous, racist prick. The conclusion of the book of Ezra, and the culmination of Ezra’s own story, is a nationwide mass-divorce and mass-deportation of foreigners: “to send away all these wives and their children.” No alimony, no child support — just cast them out like Hagar and Ishmael.

Ezra’s male followers deported so many women and children — their own children — that the process took days to carry out.

In Ezra’s mind, this was the only way for his people to return to obedience:

We have forsaken your commandments, which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land unclean with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations. They have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity.”

You won’t find a footnote cross-referencing that citation of nameless “prophets” back to an actual passage in one of the books of the prophets. And if you actually read those actual prophets, you won’t have a hard time finding lots and lots of passages where those actual prophets contradict what Ezra is attributing to them there. Jeremiah, for instance, told the people of Israel to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” And Isaiah has whole strings of chapters anticipating the glorious day when people of all nations — the icky, unclean, pollution-people Ezra can’t stand — will come to worship in Jerusalem.

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Ezra’s story doesn’t get discussed as much as it should. When “pro-family” preachers turn to the Bible to collect proof-texts on divorce, they always seem to forget the “clear biblical teaching” of the final chapters of Ezra. For Ezra, divorce is not merely permitted — it’s mandatory. Divorce is commanded by God. And so is the abandonment of racially impure children.

Like I said, Ezra was a prick. He was such an abusive, wrong-headed jerk that whole chunks elsewhere in scripture go out of their way to repudiate his ideology and behavior. That’s why Ruth is in the canon. It’s why Ruth is in every story of David and why Ruth is in the genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels. Oh, and pretty much everything the Gospels and Acts have to say about Samaritans.

I realize that for many of my evangelical friends this — Ruth vs. Ezra — is a terrifying, headsploding matter. They can’t look at it — can’t allow themselves even to peek at it. But you can’t read both the book of Ruth and the book of Ezra and not see that what you’ve got there is a direct, explicit, intentional conflict. It’s Ruth vs. Ezra. Pick one side or the other, you can’t have both.

And, by the way, there’s a right answer and a wrong answer here. I mean, you can sign up for Team Ezra if you really want to insist that David and Jesus are polluted and tainted by the uncleanness of a Moabite garbage-person, but the idea that the anointed king’s great-grandmother should have been deported and his grandfather abandoned as an infant isn’t something you’re going to find much support for in the rest of the canon.

But, yeah, OK, Ted Cruz as Ezra. Scapegoat foreign women, insist that the solution to all our problems is just getting rid of the wrong kinds of people, and never give a second thought to what this means for any of those women and children because you don’t think of them as real people. Kind of fits.

 

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