Monday, February 6, 2012

Different "Feels" of Christianity & the Delicate Balance of Theology

John Piper recently "conclude[d] that God has given Christianity a masculine feel," citing such biblical images as God the king, God the father, God the son, giving people a masculine name (like in common English where "man" can mean "humanity," the Hebrew and Greek languages use a masculine word to refer to people), the penis-requirement for priests, the twelve apostles were male, and that men are the head in marriage (as Christ is the head of the church [see this post for more on Piper's recent conclusion]).

I, too, want to join this concluision-drawing game.

1. God has given Christianity an anti-contraceptive feel due to the overwhelming times where sex is portrayed as only for children, not for pleasure (think about Onan in Genesis 38).

2. God has given Christianity a gay feel. In the Bible, male homosexual acts are talked about significantly more than female homosexual acts. Plus men are asked to be the bride of Christ and read Song of Songs as if they are the woman and God the man. David, the man after God's own heart, had an interesting relationship with his "friend" Jonathan. Christ is the head of the church just as men are the head in marriage. Christ's relationship is with men and men are to understand it through sexual imagery. Christianity has a gay feel. (John of the Cross got it right in his homoerotic poem about the Dark Night of the Soul.)

3. God has given Christianity a pro-choice feel based on the value God puts on human and animal life. People apparently didn't eat animals in "the beginning" (Genesis 9). After that, God requires all kinds of animals in sacrifices and offerings. Then in Jonah, the King of Nineveh has animals repenting and wearing sackcloth, which pleases God enough to not destroy the place. And yet this whole time, God's eye is on the sparrow (Matthew 10:26). God knows when sparrows fall, but God also wants them offered up for sacrifices. God wants life saved eternally, but doesn't care about life on this earth, which is why we'll always have the poor for us (Matthew 26:11) and why God asked Abraham to offer his son for a sacrifice (Genesis 22), wanted the Hebrew people to commit ethnocide (Joshua), and would kill a man and a woman for lying about money (Acts 5). No wonder so many Christians don't care about the environment. We, like God, should care about souls, not life.

Theology is a delicate balance of searching for God and reality while navel gazing. When men control the reading and writing of the Bible, then of course Christianity is going to have a masculine feel. No wonder Christianity had a very anti-Jewish feel when read and controlled by the Nazis. No wonder Christianity had a very white feel when interpreted by US Americans through the 1960s.

Christianity and God will tend to "feel" less like one thing or another when we read the Bible and reality truly in community, community that includes everyone and does not prefer one over the other. Then in community--as the body of God--we will begin to truly experience God and know God face-to-face in each other, not as if in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12).