I remember one professor telling us the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, and pointing out that they were the very first humans to take the word of God and embellish it. God tells Adam (before Eve is created) that he should not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because if he does, he will surely die.
Then God decides that it is not good for Adam to be alone, so he creates Eve to keep Adam company. Adam must have relayed God's instructions to her, because when the serpent--who was more crafty than the other beasts of the field--comes to visit, it is Eve who responds to his questions about what they are allowed to eat.
The serpent said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”Did you catch the change? God didn't say they couldn't touch the fruit, just that they couldn't eat it. I realize that there are all kinds of interesting/difficult/maddening things about this story that we could be distracted by, but the professor's point was just this: the human tendency to take words that God intended one way and then to embellish them or twist them out of context or use them to make an irrelevant point-- that tendency has been there from the very beginning. When you start batting verses around, you have to be very careful. Me, included. We have to remember that the verses aren't the point. Which brings us to:
part 2 of part 2. Remember a few posts back when I talked about how uncomfortable it makes me to post personal stuff? So I'm burying this in the second half of part 2 of a post that most people are going to skip because ..... Because.
So part of the reason I keep harping on all this is because it drives me crazy that the whole basis of Christianity is love and grace, but we want to put all kinds of conditions on that. God* loves us and accepts us exactly as we are, entirely as we are, no ifs, no buts, no expectations for change. So why are we using words on a page, words that can be twisted and changed and embellished, to create divisions and boundaries, lines of demarcation about who is acceptable to God and who isn't? Well, yes, God loves you, BUT you have to change. Well, yes, God loves you, but you aren't OK unless you....(fill in the blank). Well, sure, God loves you, but he'd love you more if you fit in better.
That's not the deal. It's bullshit, you know? It's a load of crapola. Those lines are created by flawed human beings.
But you know what I've been figuring out this week? I haven't been willing to extend that same grace to myself. I know all that, and I'm willing to argue that on other people's behalf, but I've been assuming at some very basic, not-quite-conscious level that I'm no longer acceptable to God because I no longer fit inside the boundaries of what I used to believe.
I think I've started to get it. Twice this week I've burst into tears (thankfully when I was alone) as this began to sink in. It's occurring to me God might be OK with the way I've turned out. It's even possible that God might be OK with it when I poke and prod and question and decide I can't go along with the orthodox opinion anymore. I am still God's beloved child.
It surprises the hell out of me.
(to which I can hear my dad respond: "Literally." Ha.)
* as always, define God however you want here.