A principle is a set moral rule, or a settled reason of action based upon a perceived fundamental golden code of conduct in the sense of uprightness.
Protocol is an agreed route to be followed as a channel of authority in terms of customs, behavior, formalities, courtesies or other.
Normally these two move parallel to each other but can converge or diverge at some point in practice.
There are times in life where you have to choose between principle and protocol.
A case in point is found in the New Testament, Acts of the Apostles 5:17-32; when the apostles were imprisoned at the instigation of the high priest in collaboration with some Sad’ducees, who had become jealousy of the popularity of the apostles’ marvelous works.
An angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and told them to go and preach in the temple and they did as instructed.
They were found out and brought before a council chaired by the high priest who questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name (Jesus), yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men”. Thus, the dice was cast.
In the Book of Esther, Chapter 1, is a very underrated story of Queen Vashti, which portrays principle at its peak. King Ahasuerus, hosted a seven-day feast for his subjects after a 180-day fun-fare.
On the seventh day, when the heart of the King was merry (drunk) with wine, he commanded that his wife, Queen Vashti, be brought to the King wearing her royal crown in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold.
But Queen Vashti refused to come at the King’s command, brought by his eunuchs. “Thereafter the King was very furious and his anger burned within him” (vs 10-12).
The refusal of Queen Vashti to participate in the wine-induced party of drunkenness infuriated the King who then asked his advisers of what line of action to take.
He is advised to dethrone the queen and marry another.
This is how we come to the Book and story of Esther who the King chose as the replacement of Queen Vashti.
Queen Vashti refused to honour the request of her drunken husband, the King. It was against the protocols to refuse such a command; but for Queen Vashti principle was principle.
She overrode protocol in favour of principle. She felt there was more to her than just being a bundle of beauty to be paraded in a place full of lustful men. She asserted her worthfulness.
The principle arose because she had a duty assigned to her to perform at the time she was called by the King. She had an obligation to her people, and in the urgency of performing that duty she went against yet another protocol of the Kingdom.
Hence her bold declaration sounded, “if I perish, I perish.” A marriage was destroyed just because of a drunken husband wanted to shame the dignity of his wife. Queen Vashti had the courage to say, “No”.
May the wisdom of Vashti and the guidance of God prevail on God’s people to be modest and stand for principle, God’s principle. The Bible is clear about the principles God wants us to follow. We applaud her decision. Women should not be on display for their beauty.
Some women think it’s okay to parade themselves as they please. Queen Vashti probably had had previous experiences with the King being in a drunken state and knew of the possible acts of humiliation she would face when paraded before men.
She stood for what was right even though she lost the crown.
Again the Book of Esther narrates a similar story of Esther, a Jew who likewise chose to follow principle rather than protocol.
She was an orphan raised up by her loving uncle, Mor’decai. When Queen Vashti was ousted, she was one of the beautiful virgins from whom the King would pick the replacement. From all the maidens gathered she was lucky to be the King’s choice.
Mor’decai, her uncle, would very often visit the gates to the King’s royal palace to enquire on her welfare. During one of the vigils, he fell out of favour with Haman, who had been promoted to a position above that of the princes.
The reason was that whenever Haman passed by the gate to go into the King’s palace, Mor’decai would not bow down to him as per the Jewish custom, that man should only bow down to God.
Angered by Mor’decai’s lack of show of respect, Haman persuaded the King to issue a decree that would ensure that all the Jews in the King’s 127 provinces would be killed.
When this information got to Queen Esther, she felt she had to act immediately to save her people. However, there was a decree that stated: “that if any man or woman goes to the King inside that inner court without being called, there is but one law; all alike are to be put to death, except the one whom the King holds out the golden scepter that he may life” (4:11).
This prohibition also applied to Queen Esther.
Esther urgently needed to speak with the King, yet protocol forbade her to go into the King’s inner court. It was the law. She then instructed her uncle Mor’decai, saying; “Go gather all the Jews to be found in Susa (the capital), and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night and day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the King, though it is against the law; and “IF I PERISH, I PERSIH”. Mor’decai did as Esther had ordered him (4:16-17).
Events would follow in which Esther’s life was saved by the King, and the decree to kill all the Jews was reversed after her plea. Haman fell out of the King’s favour and all his family perished by the King’s orders.
Queen Esther chose to go against the law, against protocol, as her conscience told her that she had the duty to save her people from annihilation. Her principle was to save her people at any cost, instead of following protocol. In the end principle outperformed protocol. This is not to teach people to disobey the law, but just to illustrate that at times principle may overtake protocol in favour of uprighteousness. In Mathew 5:10 Jesus Christ spoke: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdome of Heaven.” Amen.
n Prosper Tingini is the Scribe of the Children of God Missionary Assembly — God’s messengers. Contact details: Mobile and whatsapp: 0771 260 195. Email address: [email protected]