Thursday, December 27, 2012

Male and female

I don't usually write about this subject or about creationism or about other things. What a relief. But There are some who study and write well about these issues. And I am grateful to them that I don't need to. I left a comment here this morning, however, that relates to this important religious subject.  So I am going to tidy it up a bit - remove the typos! and republish it. But it is still quite thick - add water and stir.

Kurk Gayle ponders the potential domineering aspects of patriarchal culture, but besides the Father image for God there is also the
pervasive and governing image in the Bible of God as husband, and of Israel as bride. Rashi is clearly aware of it in his interpretation of the image of the lilies (see the Song of Songs and certain Psalm inscriptions such as 45 and 69) as students of Torah. Father and son, like husband, are metaphorical. It’s a double wedding: Father marries Israel, Son marries Church. But both are one since it is Zion, the holy city, Jerusalem, that carries the image of bride (Isaiah 54:5, Revelation 21:2). Father does not marry son; father loves son and gives all things into his hands. That love is expressed as Spirit. God is Spirit (John 4:24). We are drawn to worship is in spirit and in truth. Truth is painful – bloody per the image of Zippora as Moses wife (Exodus 4:25). Israel is married to Torah – and released and remarried through the death of Torah incarnate (Romans 7). That God seeks such to worship him is a placing of Spirit in time. This is itself incarnation. 
Under all this is the theme of obedience – the obedience of faith (Habakkuk, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews). He is your Lord (Psalm 45). In some sense that is paradoxical since such obedience is neither slavery nor a submission to a domineering power. It is instead a release into dialogue and interaction, an interaction that sees God learning. Who is this that comes up from the desert, leaning on her beloved? (Song 8:4) Who is this, looking forth as dawn, beautiful as the moon, pure as the sun, terrible as those of great intensity? (Song 6:10).
Jesus question 'Who do people say that I am?' may reflect these questions in the Song. Do the people fast when the bridegroom is with them? 
Given the sin of humanity, the second Adam, (who is actually primal – for the one who comes after was before), the second Adam completes the betrothal. Who is it that is complete? The answer – extensive and endlessly generative of further questions – is in the story of the Psalter of which I have written in my own intense way these past 7 years. (E.g. Psalm 7, the invitation to be judged ‘for the completeness that is in me’, Psalm 15:2 הֹולֵךְ תָּמִים, walking in completeness, a phrase expanded on in Psalm 18:20-37, the first time that complete is used as a frame in the Psalms. Note how ‘Torah is complete’ (Ps 19:8) and its mirrored use in 19:14 – then I will be complete. Note the completeness of Psalm 26 reflecting Psalm 1, the lament of Psalm 38 – framed by lack of completeness and so on.) 
So much as I concur with the egalitarian view, there is, through this imagery, a serious set of problematic paradoxes. But the imagery will stand a great deal of tension and intensity. These images reveal and capture and include all our gendered being. They will not support coercion without tenderness, or self-seeking without self-giving, or violence without also absorbing the same. They are all demanding yet all submitting. All powers eventually bow the knee (another metaphor) in adoration (the story of the Magi) and so our powers which (as I pointed out here) we raise to idolatrous use, are submitted to the non-power of this child. Metaphor carries reality and is itself incarnated in the one who receives its tenor. (I always knew there was possibility in being a tenor). 
All joy for those who are the complete of the way (Psalm 119:1).

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