On Not Moving the Furniture
In the past I’ve used blogs to find out what I thought, letting language take me wherever it felt inclined. I’ve made some interesting discoveries because I’ve gone in with no a priori agenda. Being here now, and writing under a rubric of Christianity, seems to need different ground rules.
I have a ‘Creationist’ friend who won’t think about it. It’s a conscious and intentional decision, because he knows that the weight of current scientific and anthropological thought would likely sweep the belief away. He puts more value on the faith he holds in that particular tenet than in any weight of current thinking. I don’t have a problem with that particular piece of the puzzle. God may have used a variety of tools, tools maybe built right into the Creation, to get us here. Time as a lathe, evolution as the chisel, us as the wood?
But still, for me too, when it comes right down to it, I’m making a set of narratives more important than what I think about them. Right now I’m reading the Gospel of Matthew in a couple of different translations. Matthew’s Jesus is pretty fiery and uncompromising, and His words present a set of premises I would not necessarily come to through my own thinking.
There’s no way around the divorce issue at all, unless one minimizes it because of social context, or, as I read somewhere recently, because Jesus always spoke in hyperbole. It seems to me that either He said it, or He didn’t. There is lots of gospel text that never made it into the Big Four, lots of editing that may have been done over time. It’s legitimate to suggest, as I have until recently, that the four Gospels aren’t Jesus’ preaching word for word, that they are, at best, His footprints in the sands of time. The difficulty with that one is that it leads, inevitably, to a castration of the text. If I can pick and choose what parts I attribute directly to Him, then it can have no power in my life. It just becomes another mirror to employ and enjoy in my narcissistic quest for myself.
I’ve had to make my own separate peace with this. I live in a non-Christian culture. People I love are bonded and committed to each other in a variety of modalities. When I hear Jesus speak I hear Him as speaking to me. How other people hear Him is between them and Him. In the case of divorce that may be a little disingenuous, because I am at an age where it’s not going to be an issue any more. I was never married. I never divorced. I lived in common law with a woman. She was faithful to me. I was not faithful to her. And it’s decades gone now.
But I am finding that Jesus’ words about divorce are shaping how I understand Christian marriage. I can and do believe that if we are married in the presence of Jesus we can’t get un-married. I don’t think we have to live together. At no point do I hear him saying that a woman needs to stay under the roof of a man who beats her. My mother did this, not for religious scruples, but from economic exigency. Beyond that, I don’t know, and I don’t need to.
That’s the puzzle here. Learning to think in a different way, building structures of thought around non-negotiable tenets. It gets very interesting and is, I think, gradually alienating me from contemporary culture in an interesting way.