Sunday, February 05, 2006

whither obedience?

today was a full sunday.
church services, communion, church tour, bookstore, downtown wandering and the superbowl.
(damn you, pittsburgh 'stealers', damn you! you know that ball never made it across the line!)

after my pitiful whining about being obedient my dad sent me an email telling me the tension i'm feeling is my fighting against my need to be obedient. i can live with that but obedient in what context, exactly?

to rules of behavior?
to christian groupthink?

i think of that anonymous commenter in the 'choice' post below. (the one i called a self-righteous pharisee. sigh. that was harsh. damn my quick temper.) the way they went immediately from a thinly veiled ad hominem attack (i'm selfish) to a blurt of scripture to take away the sting. i bet whoever that commenter is, they're super obedient. they don't make mistakes, they do all the right things, they say only what's backed up by scripture, and they like the apostle paul best out of all the bible guys.

i don't want to be that kind of obedient christian. that kind of obedience reminds me of all the guys on those christian dating sites: they wore the jesus-mask and they all seemed ...odd. yes, the way is narrow but why is it the only models of christianity that we see (even here) are either the rigid, legalistic puritanical freak who seems to want to put everyone in jail or the flaccid, 'let everything hang out' hippie who thinks we should all give hamas a shout out?

a while ago, a guy told me that i didn't like church guys because, well, i wasn't a christian. i laughed. who else but a christian would be so concerned about not fitting in with the christian flock? (you think any old wanker would care? please.) but if christianity means conformity about *everything* then i'm at a loss. because, to me, that's what obedience means. to conform. it means the effing 'scarlet letter' and dimmsdale!

where is our identity as believers supposed to come from? our knowledge of the Word or...what? how well we adhere to correct forms of behavior? how well we hate the things we're supposed to hate? how well we...what? what is it? if paul can say that to the weak he became weak, to the gentile he became a gentile and to the jew a jew, then what's so horrific about saying, as a christian, that to the gay person i became their advocate; to the woman who's facing an intimate, personal choice, i will be that person who lets her make that intimate choice - how is that so disobedient?

[ha. you thought i didn't have a point and i did!]


jesus chick said...

perhaps the issue is authority. my sense is you don't. . . really. . . care for authority. i can only surmise that until you overcome your ADS (Authority Distress Syndrome) this will be a never ending struggle. at which point you'll have to decide which is worse. the struggle or the submission to authority.

greg said...

I agree that maybe the issue is authority. But the way I see it, what you are rebelling against is the authority that other people claim for themselves much more than the authority that rightly belongs to God. Everytime I hear someone say "If you do (or don't do) such and such then you are acting against God's will" my first thought is "stop playing God." That person knows no more about God's will than I do, and after a statement like that I figure they probably know less about it than I do.

Not to sound like one of your hippies, but I think that St. Augustine said it best: "Love God, and do what you want." Not that loving God is easy, but it seems like a lot better thing to strive for that trying to convince oneself to knuckle under to the idiots of the world who will tell you that they know what God wants so you'd better just do what they say. In fact, generally speaking loving God is quite a bit more difficult than knuckling under, which is why so many of us just knuckle under (your's truly included, way too much of the time) and so few of us get very far down the road toward loving God.

So how do you decide whether or not what someone (say for example one of the writers of the bible) is telling you about God's will is worth heeding or not? I refer again to St. Augustine: "Whoever, therefore thinks that he understands divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all. Whoever finds a lesson there useful to the building of charity, even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived nor is he lying in any way." That ought to be printed in big letters on the cover of every single bible.

joy said...

Ding, its about you and God. Really it is. Those commenters are only calling you out in my opinion. Who are you?

I personally do not go around saying who's saved or not, I believe each individual must examine their own heart accourding to what the word of God saids.

I hate group think, too. Especially when church individuals can see filt in churches and don't do a thing about it. But, we are christians, they say. However, the word of God speaks for itself. It's no reason to get mad because people throw truth (the word) at us. The only one who can truly see who we are is God. I would be more concern about what "He" thought then anyone elses opinion.

clara* said...

i loved this post.

i've atruggled with this issue and i agree with joy. it's about you and god. he won't let you get away with something if it ain't right. there will always be a christian somewhere you thinks you aren't devout enough.

LutheranChik said...

Ding, today I blogged about Jesus and authority...I was thinking about tomorrow's Gospel lesson, the story in Mark of Jesus healing the leper, and how Jesus pretty much sticks it not only to the Temple system, but to the Mosaic ritual law itself. Which is huge. I mean, Jesus wasn't a "Torah-believing Jew," if that meant slavishly obeying the letter of the Law. For him the law of love trumped the written law every time. Anyhow...come visit my blog.;-)

ding said...

lc -
thanks for the meditation on the leper. i totally used it as a jumping off point for a devotional i had to do last week for a deacon meeting. i liked the way you focused on jesus' 'choice' to heal the leper. it was revealing.