It is Time to Get a Porcupine…(sorry meant Concubine)

Ages back I wrote an offensive poem – so offensive it got moderated out of a Lutheran site that apparently welcomed different viewpoints – the poem can be found here. The poem explores my struggles to read the atrocities of the Old Testament. It is my opinion that we don’t fully acknowledge the stuff that is in the Bible and we make up band-aid answers to soothe the terribleness we see in our Bible and in our God. Band Aid solutions are never good – they cover up gaping wounds and encourage infection. My poem likens this to beer Goggles – we wouldn’t and we couldn’t love our God if we actually believed everything that the Bible tells us about him.

Aah what a joy it is to smash babies heads against the rocks. (Psalm 137:9)

Today I want to look at a couple of Bible stories that have been particularly offensive to me. Rather than look at these verses with “beer goggles” on I will attempt to look at them with “Jesus spectacles” The stories I refer to are found in Genesis 19 and Judges 19. The story of “Sodom and Gomorrah” and “The Levites Concubine” Take the time to read these stories, I won’t post them here otherwise it will be a monster post. They come with an Adults Only warning.

What is noteworthy is that these two stories have an identical storyline – visitors come to a town – the towns people want to rape them and virgin daughters and or concubines are thrown out to save the skins of the men. The ancients had a responsibility to take in the stranger, the alien and to show appropriate hospitality and protection – these two stories were used to teach the value placed on hospitality – this is reinforced in the New Testament where it says that some have hosted angels without knowing. The visitor/alien is given food, a place to sleep and protection.

As we read these stories, it is horrendously obvious that we are far removed from this time and place, but as Paul teaches us in Galatians, the stories of the Bible are not to be taken literally – some translations use the word figuratively, others used the word allegory. (Gal 4:24)  In either case, the truth revealed to us is not a literal one. This means that we are not to take the stories literally as if they actually happened! That’s a relief. I was just about to prepare my daughter for the inevitable moment where I would have to throw her out the door to be raped….not sure what a concubine is but I had better get one of those! OK the stories are not literal – where does that leave us now?

Jesus said to us that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. As I place my “Jesus spectacles” upon my nose I see a very similar thread in the 2 stories we have just read and in the life and actions of Jesus. Is it a coincidence that Jesus’ favourable words towards aliens throws the Jews into a fury, ready to throw him off a cliff? (Luke 4:25-30) Is it a coincidence that everything that Jesus does works to break down the barriers of us and them, and seeks to include and care for the outsider, the poor, the marginalised. I do not think this is a coincidence – this is in fact Jesus fulfilling the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and fulfilling the story of the “Levites Concubine”. Figuratively Jesus is the welcoming host, offering a safe place, food and protection….and he points us to follow in his steps. Think about the shock in the voices of religious people ; “but when did we neglect you?” (Matt 25:44)

For me this is a “take a deep breath” moment. The reality is that, as we allow our Government to keep refugees detained and out of the country, as long as our Governments and churches close the doors on Gay people, we are acting out the detestable horrors of these biblical stories. Ironically as we use Genesis 19 to slam Gay people, the very same story slams us. Ancient people knew the importance of hospitality, generosity and protection towards the alien. It seems we prefer to throw them out into the night……and it is surprisingly easy to forget about them once the door is shut and the cries muffled.

Lots wife was figuratively turned into a pillar of salt; I feel as though the undercurrents of fear in Australia today and the course set by our churches and state are set in stone –  I pray that as we continue to shut doors our hearts are not similarly turned to stone, or at least we can turn and be healed.

 

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