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.
eveningmeadows ~ does not realize how much of a blessing it is to have a pastor who wants to groom young people to take on leadership roles! Not all churches do that, but they should!
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.
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away. -Isaiah 64:6
Two things. First, if this person thinks that Jesus' work on the Cross is boring, it makes me wonder what this person thought about that when they were in church? Also makes me wonder if they understood what sin is and what Jesus really did for us. Second, I hadn't always known about the cultural context of the passage, but I have known about it for about 15 years. And what this little bit of information drives home just how little of our selves are responsible for the good that we do manage to do. It's a striking and jarring image and I too immediately thought of a used Tampon.
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.
Age of wonders, eh?
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?!
Yup, that is exactly what I think the verse is saying. We are really that bad. We are really that far off from where we are supposed to be. OF course it's not talking about our ontological value to God just the way we live our lives.
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?
I'm not sure. But I am amazed at how a mind controlled by the nature Isaiah is describing processes this information. You can't become unborn again no more than a baby's natural birth can be undone.
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.
eveningmeadows ~ used to be in the reformed church so I am confused by the objection being raised. It's a given in the Reformed tradition that everyone is going to hell by default. If God does nothing to change your heart, hell is your destination - yup, Gehenna. It's not abusive. Look at where the mind goes and misses the conclusion that the Bible draws. Although our good acts are a stench in the nostrils of God, God still condescends in the person of Jesus Christ to left those who put their faith in Him out of that garbage heap and in His Mercy and Grace and out of Love bestows us gifts that we do not deserve. Although we are THAT bad, God is THAT good. I'm not sure if I would use the blunt language such as "On your best day, your righteousness is worth no more than a used tampon." over the pulpit because there are much less crude ways of saying it.
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 [wretched] 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 think that is why the "used tampon" image is so useful because it catches one attention and can't just be brushed aside. The Bible does describe abuse against women and children but it never tells us that you are righteous because you abuse women and children. If the good you do equates to a used tampon, what do you think of the value of the bad you do? The verse eveningmeadows ~ is pretty clear. It's not just talking about some of us. It refers to all of us...even those who are born-again believers. That is why Jesus had to come and die. He is the only one worthy enough to pay for our sins. None of us can do enough good to repay the debt our sin demands.
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.
I think eveningmeadows ~ has interpreted the verse rightly, but misses some of the conclusions that must follow. There is no need to turn off your brain or question if this is true. Let's try that for a minute. Look at your own life. Can anyone of us say that we have never lied or even thought about lying. Have we ever failed to do what we knew was right? Have we ever failed to be kind to another person when it was in our power to do so. Okay, if you say you are without sin, you are lying and you know you are lying. If you ever disobeyed your parent(s) or speeded while you are driving you have failed to meet the standard that the Bible says - regardless of if you think the Bible is the word of God or not.
After all these years, I’m still shocked by what I simply overlooked as truth in the bible.
Therefore, if you know you have transgressed the law and it doesn't really matter if you think there is a God to hold you accountable or not because what you have to answer is "Should you get a way with the wrong you have done?" You know you have made mistakes. You know you have done wrong. You have hurt people. Should you get away with them? People have hurt you. Should they get away with it? Some of this has happened despite the best of intentions. Should you get off? Deep down we know that if we want others to pay for harming us, we can't expect to not pay for hurting others ourselves. So what are you going to do? Without Jesus, what propitiation can you possible hope to offer to satisfy your debt to your creator? This is a truth that eveningmeadows ~ has obviously overlooked and considering that on our best day our good works count no more than a used tampon, its a dangerous truth to overlook.
Used Tampons ~ ExChristian.Net