Pastor Wilson recently caused all sorts of trouble by writing a bit of satire called “Potiphar’s Wife, Survivor.” I’ve called Pastor Wilson out a few times when I think he’s crossed a line, shown some characteristic insensitivity, but I must admit, I found this satire of his very funny and wise, in a tragically comical kind of way.
For those who don’t know the story, Joseph is thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and eventually becomes the head servant in Potiphar’s household. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him and when he refuses she grabs his cloak as “evidence” and falsely accuses him of rape. So Joseph loses everything and is once again thrown in a pit, jail. There is no ambiguity here, Potiphar’s wife is clearly victimizing Joseph, perhaps because she was rejected, perhaps because she envies his status in the household. Regardless, there is no doubt Joseph is the victim and now sitting in jail falsely accused of a crime he didn’t even commit.
Pastor Wilson is clearly mocking Potiphar’s wife, her self perceived status as a victim, a “survivor” of this self-induced “trauma,” and also mocking our current culture of perpetual victimhood. I’d like to tell you that Potiphar’s wife doesn’t exist in the modern world, that no woman would ever strike out like that, that everyone who claims the “status” of a victim really is one, but it just isn’t true. That word “status” says it all, these days being a victim comes with a certain social status that is troublesome to say the least, because it encourages us to take on the persona of powerless victim and to avoid any personal accountability at all.
Genuine victims of crime are never to blame for the crime itself, but let us be totally clear here, Potiphar’s wife is no crime victim.
Sadly, Potiphar’s wife is alive and well in the world and I think if we are humble about it, perhaps we could even admit that a few specks of her reside in us all. The world can be a very confusing place these days and one thing I see changing for the worse, is that women are less likely to see and know the nature of their own selves, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was disheartened to see this bit of satire from Wilson retweeted by a few Christian women quite angry at Wilson for allegedly mocking victims, almost as if to imply if you are a female you are a victim, therefore innocent of all wrong doing, always.
Again, I must say Potiphar’s wife is not the victim here, Joseph is.
That attitude is actually really harmful to women, because the truth about who and what we really are must than be denied and suppressed. The standard now being perfection, complete innocence, incapable of wrong doing, and that is a standard no woman can ever live up to fully. So in the process of trying to deny her own self, she inadvertently becomes an epic failure as a woman. It is far healthier to resist that victim status, to see those few specks of Potiphar’s wife lurking within, and to reach for redemption.
If nothing else, a bit of honesty will grant you the freedom to laugh at a piece of satire, rather than to be offended by it. I personally take great comfort in the fact that I have never sent the head slave to jail, lied about rape, driven a tent stake through anyone’s head, or danced for a king so I could get man’s head on a platter.