Monday, July 18, 2011

Abi throws a wrench in "biblical" perspectives....

It has been a while since I have issued an R2A2 alert ... but I've been processing a significant paradigm shift over the past two years.   Something so foundational that I find many things that I encounter today -- that I would have totally agreed with just a few years ago -- throw a wrench in my spiritual "gears".  And while I am still looking forward to doing some significant blogging this fall, I just had to stop in today.

Marriage in not the foundation of our society.

There.  I said it.

Don't get me wrong ... I think marriage is a fine thing.  I think marriage is the gift of God to help us learn to love and serve one another with integrity and humility and intimacy ... and it is a very important foundation to lay for having children -- which is the gift of God to help us learn how Father loves and puts up with our whining and selfishness in order to show us what it means to lay down our lives for our own precious children.  It is the ideal place for children to grow up with healthy models of loving nurture.

But the thing is this.  All marriages are not created equal.  There are lots of reasons why people get married.  Lots of them are stupid and very short-sighted and selfish.  Lord, have mercy!  Heck, not all marriages result in children!  Marriage is a gift as the proper context for the gift of sexual intimacy.  Celibacy is a gift for those who have passions for service and mission and creativity and community to which they give themselves -- instead of giving themselves to the passions of sexual intimacy that can, well, interfere. There is not enough time today to even go into this one....

I will say this, though:  there is no such thing as a Christian Marriage ... although there is such a thing as a marriage between Christians.  Spend a few minute thinking about that.  And just being Christian doesn't stop people from getting married for stupid, short-sighted and selfish reasons.  Sometimes the assumptions they bring just makes it worse.  :^(

Just having the piece of paper or the ceremony or whatever does not result in the "one flesh" reality that God designed as a shadow of the interpenetrating mutuality-in-equality that is the reality of the Triune Father-Son-Holy Spirit.  The mystery that is marriage can lead us into the mystery of life In Christ.  It is just too bad that it doesn't always make it.  Look at how people make a mess of Ephesians 5 because they don't understand male culture at that time.  Paul was following Jesus and blowing up the men's patriarchal gig big time...but it still too often seems to be all about women's submission and male headship.  Sigh....

No ... intimate, vulnerable, honest, humble, sacrificial, patient, joyous relationship is an ongoing journey in marriage.  It is an investment of "presence" with the beloved ... day in and day out.  For better or worse.  For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.  To love and to cherish ... until death parts us.  It is an invitation to die to self ... to lay down one's life for the other.  It is where the rubber of cHesed/agape meets the road of life.  A testimony to the reality that agape love is, in the words of J.B. Phillips, "the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen." is an all too rare experience.

Loving your neighbor as yourself ... looking out for one another ... THAT is to be the foundation of our society.

The "idea" of marriage, it seems to me, has for too long been co-opted by religion as a means to control behavior -- to reign in fornication (yes, I said it!) -- without really accomplishing the task of intimate mutuality-in-equality ... because it regularly shows itself up for the sham it too often is.  The Apostle Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn with passion ... and that seems to be giving us grace rather than giving us a directive.

But I digress....

* * * * * * *

Considering the scriptures to be jewels of principles to be mined for whatever our issue-of-the-moment is ... well that is, in my wee purple opinion, abuse.  The rash of "bibilical" ... you fill in the blank ... is a symptom of the still-raging epidemic of Pharisee-ism that Jesus and Paul began stamping out -- and there's still plenty of fires burning.  Why is that?  Well, whatever you feed, grows.  And there are way too many folks feeding those Pharisee fires ... logs of guilt and shame and expectation and authority and self-righteousness and condemnation and performance and competition ... you get the idea.  Straining on gnats and swallowing camels, and all....

I know what I'm talking about ... I am a Recovering Pharisee.  Lord, have mercy....

* * * * * * *

Read the scriptures ... please!  Read them as entire books ... please!  Read them with your cHesed glasses on ... please!  Read them in the cultural context of those who first heard them (yes, this will take a lot of work to bridge the historical and cultural distance ... but I have reinforcements coming!), with all the assumptions that go with it!  Let Jesus blow your mind as he blows your Western presuppositions up ... just as he and Paul blew up the presuppositions of those who lived in the Mediterranean area almost 2,000 years ago.

But please, please, please don't read them looking for a way to put God's stamp of approval on your method of doing whatever it is that you're doing.  Let God bless what you're offering up to him without presuming that your experience is to be the model for everyone else -- God consistently has completely different stuff being blessed in lots of other folk's experiences.  If you hang around long enough with your cHesed glasses on ... you'll find you're constantly seeing things that you just didn't see before.  And if you cast each new "vision" in concrete ... well ... where are the seeds of change going to grow?

Okay ... finished stirring the pot for today.

Be blessed, friends.


Janet Woodlock said...

Matthew 10: 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. "

OK, it doesn't say husband or wife specifically, but the point is the same. Our first priority is our calling to Christ. In obedience, we love and serve our neighbor.

I don't even know where "marriage is the foundation of society" comes from. Not the scriptures, anyway.

So nothing you've said is a surprise to me.

AbiSomeone said...

Janet ... yet another precious cultural side-effect of the whole "America is a Christian Nation" thing ... which gets the same response as the Christian Marriage thing. Sigh....

AbiSomeone said...

Okay ... got goaded into commenting on a post over at Jesus Creed about Evangelical Feminism:

I am so tired of polarizing posts :^( ... I try to steer clear of them, but sometimes I get snagged.

Here's what I had to say down at comment #20:

You know, I just cannot go along with people putting thoughts or actions into other people's mouths when they don't really understand those people.

There are no terms that are used anymore that do not require the user to give the context -- unless they are speaking to a group of those who all know and agree on definitions. We need to get this and get over it.

No one who knows me would think that I am anything other than committed to the sharing of the Good News of God in Jesus ... as well as advocating the full support of women as Eikons of God and joint heirs with Jesus -- who showed in his life and death and resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit that the human cultural reality known as patriarchy is not the way the Family of God is to function. There is no Father but the father of Jesus Christ -- and all the years of cultural accommodation which God allowed cannot be equated with a stamp of approval.

Ranted a little about this on my own blog today....

That being said, many would consider me to be an evangelical feminist ... but I reject both terms as boxes into which I am unwilling to be locked.

Maybe I am just tired of boxes? I am confident that God is tired of boxes, but people don't seem too concerned about that.

There aren't any perfect people anywhere, folks. Quick being shocked that people think differently than you about terms you both use but find out that you're not meaning exactly the same thing.

I respect both Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. I don't think they are trying to make the terms "evangelical" or "feminist" impotent -- maybe they are just trying to show that there is a lot more latitude in the definition than some are willing to allow. If this is what they're doing, they have my support -- because that's how I think, too.

There was no one better at subverting the terminology of the ruling class and giving it new and very different meaning than Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus.

Peace to you all....

Janet Woodlock said...

Alan H tells me Americans are very different to our lot, actually. He loves them because they're so "can do". But some American Christians seem to get terribly uptight about things that seem awfully trivial in the grand scheme of things... the evangelical church in Australia is much much smaller so we generally don't bother brawling over definitions. Passion is a good thing... it's a great thing if harnessed to the Spirit... it can be unhelpful if harnessed to the wrong thing.