Readings: Hosea 1:2-10
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Timothy tells us that all
scripture is God breathed. May be this is true, but we may ask ourselves, after reading our two Old Testament passages, which god is breathing it? Do we really believe in this god?
The first ‘Text of
Terror’ as theologian Phyllis Trible may call it is the story of a prophet who is told by God to marry a ‘wife of whoredom’ and father children of whoredom because Israel has committed great whoredom for its unfaithfulness. He marries Gomer and has three children who, roughly translated, mean ‘God punishes’, ‘Pitiless’ and ‘Godless’. A dysfunctional family to parallel Israel’s dysfuntional relationship with other nation states (false gods). Yet there there follows violent, mysogynistic treatment by God towards his unfaithful wife, which although directed towards Israel, implies the sanctioning of abuse towards women.
In the Genesis reading, Abraham bargains with God,
eventually making a deal that if just 10 righteous people can be found in Sodom and Gomorrah, God would spare his wrath. Appealing to the ‘better nature’ of those in power may strike a modern reader as familiar. But let’s not forget that in the end not even 10 could be found. Only Lot and his family were deemed suitable for mercy, and are allowed to escape. The same Lot who was prepared to hand over his virgin daughter for rape in order to spare the dignity of his angel guests. It’s hard to know what the definition of ‘righteous’ is when reading these stories!
When talking about these two texts last Sunday
I asked whether such stories were redeemable in any shape or form. I certainly don’t think any glib moral homilies should be drawn out from them in order to maintain their sacredness. Rather, I would propose a form of Christian Atheism, where the God of these stories is very much a projection of broken human dreams, full of contradictions. In the Christian myth God takes on human flesh, tries to promote a good and just life, shares his very body and blood symbolically with the people around him, dies and rises in the spirit of human community. No more God, just each other on a shared planet trying to make the world a better place, however imperfect our attempts may be.
There have been
many of us who have had multiple sexual partners, like Gomer may have (although we only have one side of the story), yet surely today that is no excuse to label someone as a whore or woman of ill-repute. There are more perjorative terms for women than men, who have sex with more that one person. I found a website specializing in providing sex workers for people with disabilities. A much more life-affirming example of Christian love in action – indiscriminate love to bring healing and wholeness to others.
Link – http://www.tlc-trust.org.uk