Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is it a good time to talk about sex

Many years ago, in the mid-life stages of my walk with Christ, I threatened my children with the suggestion that one day I would write a book on sex. They were astonished at me.  I did write it - but my language was so obscure, that no one understood. (I still have it - maybe some day...) It was called Seen from the Street.

If you Google me and the title, you will find a reference to it in 2005 on the Johannine Literature group. Here's a little of the flyleaf:
This novel of love critiques the fear of sexual desire. From the beginning, misunderstanding of flesh and spirit combined with a legal control structure have missed the point of the Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whose crucifixion was itself caused by religious and political institutions with a need to maintain the status quo. The novel considers the profound healthiness of desire and affection in the consecration effected by the Holy Spirit through the death of Jesus. 
Some say the perverse cannot be straightened nor can the defective be fathomed. Those who abuse and those who are abused are both wrapped in a spirit of fear. The lives that intersect in this story point to the solitude that allows Healer and hurt to meet and discover that there is something new under the sun. And it is good.
Well - the story is not terribly coherent - actually, it is 49 fragments in a 7 x 7 circular structure. Circling the wagons is certainly something we frequently do with this fearful subject.

I raise the subject at this time because of the faked[?] fragment of Thomas's Gospel - the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife. [This great Blogger James McGrath has all the links in several posts.] One didn't need to read Dan Brown to know he was off the map.  In this case even Dr. Karen King was misled. And April Deconick. Well she may be right about something - perhaps that's the way people think. If it is, then think something else.

Nor can one easily read John and see the magnificent Noli me Tangere spoken by Jesus to Mary Magdalen. [Yes Virginia, he spoke in pictures.]

The experience of seeing, knowing, hearing, touching cannot be put into words. Yet John writes of this in the beginning of his first letter. Would it surprise you to know that the same knowledge is present in TNK? In 1 John, he is writing about purity. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."(3:3)

[O dear - it looks like it only applies to men. Sorry, April and Karen, that lets you out. Disclaimer: Let it be said that every verse that applies to woman in the Bible, mother, wife, and bridegroom (Psalm 45) and every verse that applies to man (king, warrior, or whatever) applies equally to all, male, female, indifferent, or ambiguous.]

It is unfortunately, not scholarship that will deliver to you the 'truth'. Scholarship knows the truth only from outside - a useful step, but not if you never enter the inside. The inside is subjective. You cannot escape it. The inside cannot go outside without becoming banal or crude. But the inside can be known. So John writes: But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (2:20). I see this personally (note this does not exclude the individual but nor is it limited to individualism).

In these wifely discourses, I raised the issue of the individual speaking on behalf of the corporate reality - also the imagery of the mother in Galatians - at least three of them, Sarah, Mary and Hagar. Hagar gets the blessing. Mary is not mentioned by name. So who is the wife? She is wisdom personified (Proverbs 31). She is the Church. She is the Elect. She is the Bride coming down from Heaven. She is the barren one who has many children. She is the virgin most pure, an image of the resurrected person.

Bob, I'm lost - where have you disappeared to?

I said, writing about this fearful subject is difficult - and I don't do online advice. The good is the ultimate danger. And you will fail, perhaps repeatedly. So where do you go for help? To the scholars? (Hardly) To the Churches (with considerable difficulty - but you will be pushed here and you will need scholarship to stand your ground.) Neither of these first - but first to the mystery that is your own inner voice, your own conscience, your own experience - and your own - O, what word shall I find for you...?

For the Christian - it is to your baptism - that sign that raises you from death to live in the Anointing you have been given - so receive it. For the Jewish male, it is to your circumcision - that covenant sign that signifies your own personal death to desire and that leads you to Psalm 139. For others - within or outside an Abrahamic faith,

go to your terror.

Do not assume that you can act outside the covenant that the terror points to. So it is that Scripture (Gen 31:42, 53) speaks of the פַחַד יִצְחָֽק, where Jacob and Laban swear by the terror of Isaac, appropriate fear in the face of the burnt offering he prefigures.  This Abrahamic terror is referred to in Psalm 49 where the burnt offering (עלה) becomes the ascension (עלה) - and we are back to Mary and Jesus in the garden. But it's not Mary - it's you.

Well - 'tis a bloody business, isn't it - as I pointed out in an earlier post.  It's a political business as well - maybe we need a heap between Iran and Israel at the moment. Even Laban, that shrewd covenant-cousin, had to be limited in his exploitation. The leaves (עלה) of the tree of life might make a good heap - healing for the nations.

I am tempted to give you part 49 - maybe it will be made clear to you... This post is so long, most people will not get here, so it will remain unread and without danger to you or to me.  Nope - no sharing, maybe just a paragraph. I really need an editor with a serious knife for this one - maybe some day I will purge and shorten it myself.

And I gathered myself up and ran to the tomb. It was open and there was no body. And the rock smelled of spices. Where the body had been, I saw blood and linen. I knelt on the stone floor putting my hands on the warmth where the binding for his head was. Then I moved my hands to where I had laid against his breast. And I bent and kissed the blood where the spear had pierced his belly. And my new cloak fell from my shoulders. And clouds rolled about me. And I saw in my head visions of the Son of Man coming in glory. My life scarcely remained with me as I thought of this man who loved me. And then I heard some women coming. And immediately I sat up and put my cloak about me. Well they were amazed – so I said to them: “He is not here - he is risen just as he said he would. Here is the place where his temple was.” I scarcely knew what I was saying.