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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bride or Whore? Is Your Love Real?

Special thanks to Tracy Taylor, one of my flickr contacts for the use of her image, and her quick reply to my request. I needed something appropriate, and googling "bride whore" and the like REALLY wasn't getting me what I needed.

I was tracking down an email in an old unused account, and stumbled across one from an old friend, entitled "lover or prostitute". My friend Rick is a respected thinker/mentor figure in my life, and a devout Christian,whose opinion generally carries weight with me. Also, I have never rented a prostitute, and that whole thing is mysterious, and titillating. Of course I stopped scanning the other 400 chunks of forwarded jokes, ads for camping gear (not spam) and products to make my boobs bigger, or my butt smaller (spam). I opened it. I was an article penned by David Ryser, who writes with a clarity I envy. It was VERY thought provoking.
Now, Rick is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, and executive of tremendous success, but Rick don't blog, and Rick don't HTML. No link. It was weird, I found references to Ryser's article all over the web but couldn't find anyone who had linked 'im.

LINK!

So there. One of the no-linkers posted his email address. His url was in my box bright an early this morning.
Dude has posted an enormous amount of stuff on theology, and this was the first article, entitled "Lover or Prostitute? the Question That Changed My Life". It must have changed his life if his blog is one of the results. It's not light reading, but it's clear. What he writes doesn't confuse me. What he makes me think about... THAT may be a little confusing.
Dr. Ryser recalls a day he was teaching in a school of ministry:
I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: "Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise." Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”
I'm goin' kinda slow here, cuz the email was abridged. So as I read the article I'm stumbling over even more stuff to think about. Martha has asked a couple humdinger's and Dr. Paul makes a couple points about knowing/knowledge, and motives, expressing the an opinion that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. If I can muddy the water a bit, I would like to interject that in English, the word love is extremely vague, defined by context, often used in speech between people who have different things in mind. One way to minimize this miscommunication would be to write much more cumbersome paragraphs, where we substitute sentences in quotes for the word love. This would make the meaning more clear. like this:
  • "I want to have a lifelong relationship of mutual submission(and hopefully you'll be better at this than me), transparency, and deepening emotional intimacy seasoned liberally with unbaggaged, guilt free sex"
  • "I have a really warm fuzzy feeling when I look at you and remember all the things you've done that please me...and I want to spit out a nice tribute to this moment"
  • " You have said you love me, in front of witnesses, and I don't want to be an asshole."
Whaddya think? Y'all wanna start doin' that? Or....We could add 20 or 30 or 50 words to the English language. When I marvel at how quickly and completely we have integrated the metric system here in the U.S., I think that would only take us a century to agree on the specifics, and another one to implement it. Or we could write all our posts on theology in Greek. Or we could look at a couple things.

Did Jesus say "Love God with most of your being, and direct the leftovers at your neighbor"?
No. He said to give it all to God. And then directs us to give some to others. Hello? Does anybody notice this seems paradoxical? I think we gravely underestimate the totality of agape. Dr. Ryser speculates:
“What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

It seems like Dr. Ryser believes a bride has agape, and a whore does not. What if the bride does stop receiving her pay? What if the groom denies her affection, conversation, disclosure, protection, and smokes the family budget in a crack pipe. You think this will affect their sex life? What if after a month of uncomfortable abstinence, He comes home geekin' an peekin', with no money, but his crack dealer in tow, so they can gang rape his wife for a $50 rock. These things happen. When she leaves, does that mean she is a whore? Or is she human, like me?

A parent claims to have unconditional love for their child, but it's their child. That's a condition. (I do think parent-child love is the closest picture, however...please, no insulted moms armed with torches, tar and feathers)

A spouse truly thinks they have unconditional love for their other half, until they catch em bangin' the secretary, mailman, or whoever.

Pastors (not mine!) claim unconditional love for their congregation. Huh.

Jesus says the greatest love is laying down your life for your friends. For most of my searching, starving, "where are you God?" life I thought this referred to the whole cross thing, but does it? If I died for you, as like a real big favor, because you sucked so bad you needed to be killed, but then I showed up 3 days later, what was my sacrifice?

Say a man goes from the age of accountability to the time of his death at 33, focused only on God's agenda for the benefit of those he loves. He rejects the women who want to marry him (you know there at least a couple). As the heir, he turns his back on the family carpentry business, to wander about as an itinerant rabbi, and serve God's purpose. Say he does this in the face of grave abuse, and crushing disappointment. Doesn't that more accurately describe the laying down of life? Could that be agape? Even the spiritual giants (and I use this term respectfully) that I know personally have families, homes, lives. Their ministry is just a part of it.

Perhaps agape sojourned here for 33 years, visiting from another world, the only place it occurs naturally. Perhaps love left a picture. Maybe we are just trying to sketch the photograph we have been given. Perhaps some of us sketch better than others. Teresa of Avila comes to mind:

Oh God, I don't love you, I don't even want to love you, but I want to want to love you!

*BTW, I have since been told that bastards (which Jewish culture would have considered Jesus) would not have been allowed to inherit... so I guess Jesus didn't turn away from the family business...oops.





3 comments:

  1. very thought provoking...

    thanks for your compliments on my blog. and i am looking forward to hearing your sordid ER story. please, do share... do share...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't know... it involves spanking, my girlfriend, and a dislocated shoulder (I'm quite sure those are worse than childbirth- though, If I ever talk to a woman who's gone through both, I might let her convince me otherwise.
    hmm.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to mention...Dr Ryser states in another post, that inheritance was culturally set in stone, and Jesus, regarded as a bastard by Nazarene society would not have inherited the family business. I still think I've made a couple valid points...but am a little bit embarrassed. I cannot claim education and training. When I express aan opinion on theology, I rely on an extremely rudimentary familiarity with scripture, and a fledgling's skill at critical thought.
    I made an ass-u-me. Sorry.

    ReplyDelete

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