Thoughts on Faith: Those Passages
I think some of us are afraid of the Bible because it’s so gritty, gruesome, and real. Because it has those odd, heartbreaking real life situations of pain, oppression, and grey areas. I think we want it to be this clean-cut, cellophane-wrapped, positive religious text which puts forth an unrealistic idealized world.
But the power of the whole thing is that it doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality we live in. It dives wholeheartedly into the middle of the mess, and it doesn’t hide a thing.
And so one of the most formative religious texts of the world is more graphic than Wolf of Wall Street ever will be, and yet we wish it wasn’t. Perhaps we’re afraid of that mess, and we want to keep it hidden or throw it away. Maybe that reveals something about us. Maybe it’s because the world "back then" doesn’t look all that dirtier than the world today. Maybe in trying to clean up the bible and rid of its gruesomeness, we’re trying to subtly clean up ourselves, and hide the rough spots we have today.
I think we all do this. We have our platitudes and aphorisms, our sayings which put a nice silver lining on the world around us, and put a pretty bow on top of our own lives. But at the same time we all have mud. We all have bruises and scars. We all have sins, which we’d rather not discuss and reveal to the world, because then they’d question how good of a Christian we are.
Have you ever been around someone for a lengthy period of time, and suddenly found yourself incredibly annoyed with them? It’s because they’re too loud, or too hyper. Or maybe it’s because they’re indecisive, or too decisive, or too serious. Whatever it may be, that thing they’re doing is getting under your skin. And you complain behind their backs about how frustrating they are. What I’ve realized is that more often than not, I’m actually frustrated at them because I’m frustrated at myself. The things I’m worked up about in their life are things I’m wishing weren’t present in my life.
So maybe when we get so worked up about these texts, supposably about God, which deal with murder, oppression, war, incest, and hate, we’re actually taking out anger on what we see in ourselves. Maybe we’re making that ancient text a scapegoat for damnation of the atrocious behaviors we actually still see today. And then some of us scoff because such a thing could never be associated with God, right?
And I think that’s the point. God doesn’t mind the mud. He isn’t afraid of it. And the whole story of the Bible is one about how God gets involved in the thick pig slop we call "human history", and slowly begins to clean it up. This God isn’t prude. This God isn’t interested in hiding the mess. This God isn’t interested in putting a silver lining on suffering, injustice, and disorder.
No, He’s interested in much more. Redemption. Reconciliation. New Creation. And none of these happen without getting your hands dirty.