Mary Mary Quite Contrary – How Does Your Garden Grow?

“….. I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” John 3:12

In the book of Acts there is an account given of the arrest of Paul (Acts22:22 onwards) If we read this as a pure historical account we might think it is an interesting story but we would be missing the spiritual content. Paul was born a citizen of Rome – reading this story with Jesus in mind we see a parallel between the protection of Roman Citizenship and the Gospel ( I wonder what citizenship we might be born into?).  This is another example of how Biblical stories are deeper than what meets the literal mind. My previous post attempted to find an allegorical meaning to the story of Adam and Eve in a similar way.

In short I explained that the Garden of Eden was an allegory for our mind and the journey we all take as Human beings. Part one can be found  here.  I was very grateful for the comments I received. What I wrote regarding the clothing was my least thought out part of the post, my Achilles Heel, so the comments forced me to look deeper into this particular area.

I want you to remember that the Garden of Eden (which is the original state of our mind) is nakedness. Clothing then, is a state of mind that covers this original nakedness. If nakedness, or pure communion with God is the goal of religion, how can I say that the clothing is a blessing?

I will give you two examples of what I believe this Psychological clothing looks like and hopefully clarity can be found in a blog sized post.

firstly, culture is a clothing that we are clothed with as we grow up. As Christians we have made many mistakes in the past regarding culture. As we have gone out to Evangelize the world we have left with the deception of the “serpent” as our guide. In the past we believed Christianity to be good, the other religion and cultures to be evil so we would  remove the evil culture from the scene by any means possible and make them all as much like us as possible. What we have found is that this was destructive, cruel, un-Christian and untrue. I think we are recognizing a value in the container of the self…the clothing.

Secondly, human beings are born with a mind that is arguably “intelligent”. It isn’t long before we realize that death is going to get us. God literally clothes the mind in death – dead animal skins. The clothing is a psychological protection to help us cope with this anxiety. There have been many studies carried out in this area of Psychology, it has been labelled things like “Terror Management” and “World View Defense” among other things. The point is that culture, religion and our particular world views are one of the major things that help us to cope with what is termed “existential stress”. The Book of Hebrews, I believe, gives this dilemma another name (Heb.2:15″….and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.”

This takes us to the statement of Jesus that I began with “….. I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” John 3:12 When Jesus spoke these words He was talking to Nicodemus who was a leader in religion. He was talking about being born again, which Jesus felt Nicodemus should surely have known about as he was a teacher.  We are not talking super spiritual stuff here, it is observable earthly stuff. The born again stuff ties in closely with the imagery of clothing – being born again is a process of dying to self and being born……naked. And here is the thing – even science can observe it, it is earthly stuff that we as Christians have lost in our translations and in our desire to be or appear to be spiritual.

What we can reasonably observe, as Jesus points out, is that when we are living with the original clothes of our first birth, these clothes hold us in a slavery to the fear of death. The term “World View Defense” gives us a clue to the heart of the problem. Our securities need to be defended – and don’t we all do a good job of that! Atheist’s have rightly pointed to the heart of the problem:

Religious clothing.

Christianity is meant to be about getting naked, when you have no world view to defend, there is no war. Until we learn the spiritual practice of nakedness (surrender) our enemy the serpent has the perfect tool to manipulate everything. How do I know that Christianity is being manipulated – quite simply because it is impossible to have a rational discussion on topics that threaten security. The automatic reactions a sure sign that the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding is clothed in animal skins and captive to the fear of death.

The reasoning in my slow-growing garden may sound quite contrary – but the shells all in a row, a testament to the many small deaths we experience in our journey towards nakedness. The pattern of death and resurrection, facing the existential stress that the “other” causes, and being able to see without the automatic “how does this effect Me” reactions all part of the journey. So we see the clothing is a protection for the psychological health of us as Humans, but once we have grown we are told to get rid of childish things.


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