Are the Religious Obsessed with Sex?

The Year of Living Biblically

I’m reading a new book, and it seems that within the Judeo-Christian traditions, people have always been obsessed with sex. I began reading, “The Year of Living Biblically” by AJ Jacobs, and thought I would blog about it as I move through the book.  So, far it is pretty good, but I’m barely half-way through the first chapter, and I’m a slow reader. So bear with me.

Got Religion?

So, Jacobs decided to begin a journey of living as biblically litterally as he could for a year.  Jewish, but raised fairly secular, his life hadn’t had much of a place for religion.  But following his previous book, which involved reading the entire Britannica  encyclopedia from cover to cover, he was looking for a new book idea, and thus embarked on this project. Jacobs, like myself, sees how influential the Bible is in today’s culture, and that played a role in his decision.  He starts with a premise that many religious people today, even those who claim to take the Bible literally, pick and choose which passages they want to observe and which they don’t. So he isn’t going to do that, or so is his plan.  He is going to jump in with both feet, and be as 100% literal as he can be. He writes:

If I had a God-shaped hole in my heart, this quest would allow me to fill it.

That’s a very cool notion, but there lies a problem.  For a number of biblical admonitions are now illegal, and/or require other people (like his wife’s) full acceptance and participation. but I’m a big fan of spiritual quests, and setting out upon a journey to find something that you are not sure is there or isn’t!  I was hooked a few pages into the introduction. I think Religion would “work” for more people, and play a role in making the world a better place, if more people took that approach- that of choosing to go on a journey open-minded enough to see what one might find along the way. Too often, a person embarks upon, or holds fast to their beliefs out of fear.  They don’t want to see what they find- they want to know and confirm that they are right so that they do not have to explore and come to new understandings.

Be fruitful and Multiply!

Jacobs writes:

Conception was a huge preoccupation of the ancients. … Bible’s most famous stories center on the quest to get pregnant.

He doesn’t say much (yet?) about why that might be, but I think it is is a really significant note.  It explains much about why homosexuality and abortion are probably the two hottest controversial issues that seem to divide us today.  I’ll write more about my thoughts on that later. Interestingly, the few stories he decides to consider at first (Sarah and Abraham, and Rachel/Leah and Jacob, don’t seem to be a positive image for the notion of “true marriage” as a marriage between 1 man and 1 woman for procreation!  In both cases (my interpretation) the focus is not upon the family unit of man, woman and child.  But rather, the focus is on women, who can not bear children who try anything to create a baby (let’s get real- they wanted a son and not a daughter), and who in the end could only get what they wanted though God’s action.  Human procreation meant nothing/ was not possible in these stories. This is worth thinking more about.

Prayer

I’ve just passed page 20, and Jabobs is talking about beginning a prayer practice.  These few pages have been wonderful reading, and I think I am really going to love this book. His honesty and openness about what he is doing is refreshng and touching.  He writes roughly a page about what he is doing and then says:

I glance at the clock. I’ve been praying for only a minute.  I’ve promised myself I’d try to pray for at least ten minutes three times a day. 

Reminds me of when I started to meditate! How much can happen/ go through your mind and your body in a minute!

Off to work now, looking forward to reading more and will post again!  Have you read the book?  Anyone interested in getting it and reading along?  We can have a dialogue as we go?

The Bible Tells Me So… is BS!

So often, people are turned off by religion, and by the Bible, because it (possibly both) are expressed as being “the Word of God,” or as “God said…” This is a real problem, because it enables men and women to turn over all responsibility to that God.  I remember as a kid, it was easy to try and use the excuse, that because someone told me to.  And my parent’s comeback was always, if they told you to jump out the window, would you follow that too?  I took from that the notion that to release responsibility of one’s own actions was silly and potentially destructive.

The same holds true for those who act, and blame it on the Word of God, or because “God says…” Even if you believe that God did say [fill in the blank], or it was from the Word of God, it is important to take responsibility for your part.  YOU chose to act in what ever way, say or do whatever, based upon a choice.  You may feel it is the only choice.  But even if that is the case, you chose.

Blind obedience and Faith are not one in the same.

Why I Use the Lectionary

Gayest Jesus Ever
Gayest Jesus Ever

So, I  want to say something about why I’m using the lectionary.  First of all the lectionary, is a set of prescribed scripture readings that follow a three year calendar, and were intended to be used by all churches.  Theoretically, people who attend a Catholic service, and a Methodist service and an Episcopalian service on any particular Sunday, would all hear a sermon based upon the same scriptures.  Now, in reality, this doesn’t happen exactly- not all preachers/ministers/priests stick to the lectionary, but some do.

 
My reason for using it is three-fold: First of all, because it s easy.  I don’t have to work very hard to decide what I’m going to talk about each week. And by following it, I have scriptural references that align to the general church calendar, and all of the Bible is basically covered over three years.  Secondly, I can potentially be less often criticized for selecting only those scriptures that “fit” my agenda.  Now, in all honesty, I expect I’ll receive this criticism anyway, but it isn’t as applicable as if I hand picked only a few scriptures that easily fit the category of “gay friendly.” And lastly, what appeals to me most, is offering a new and different perspective upon a scripture that many people think they already know.  If at least one person looks at a scripture and realizes that there may be more in it that they had previously considered, then I’ve been successful.  So, it is a good thing, if someone sat in church on Sunday and heard one interpretation of a scripture, and then they listened to my podcast and were prompted to consider something new in the same scripture!  Agree with me or not-but be willing to consider the possibilities.
 
There are many problems with using the lectionary, and most if not all are quite valid.  There may be times where looking at scripture NOT a part of the lectionary would be useful.  So, it isn’t a hard and fast rigid rule.  Just a starting place.  The composition of the lectionary, like the entire Bible itself, was human (male specific) determined .  In that sense the lectionary, is one male-centered editorial decision based upon an deeper male dominated editorial decision.  
 
I don’t mean to suggest (well, I’m open to discuss this…) that the Bible is human authored.  I know for many people of faith it is a critical cornerstone of their faith to believe that the Bible is the literal Word  of God. It may or may not be.  But either way, men, at differing times in history have made choices about which of those words were to be included and which were to be kept out.  Men (human and biologically male) decided which were valid and which were not, even if all were the Word of God in the first place.
 
What are your thoughts on the lectionary?