Unification News for November 1996
The Facts of Life
UViews November '96
Last April the front covers of our leading newsweeklies were devoted to Jesus. [I use the word, "devoted" loosely here.] This autumn the hot topic is the Book of Genesis. Is the culture moving backwards or what?
Actually, the move from Jesus to Genesis is a forward move, theologically, because our understanding of the Messiah must be linked with our understanding of Creation. The Messiah, after all, brings the "new Creation." He comes to renew the Creation because the first human beings, who were just as morally responsible as you and me, failed to establish the true Creation at the outset. He does what should have been done at the beginning. This is why he is called, the new beginning.
God is the Creator, and the Creation comes from God. So, to bring the new Creation, Jesus has to be God.
Man is part of the Creation, and the problem was made by man, so Jesus had to be a man (to succeed where the first man failed; or, alternatively, to pay the debt the first man brought upon himself and left behind to all of his descendants).
So it is of the greatest importance, I hope to magazine publishers as well as to the rest of us, to know what the first man did which was so bad, because this will help us clear up the confusion about Jesus' life.
Maybe they're saving that story for next Easter's editions.
What did Adam do?
The traditional consensus about what Adam did wrong is: he disobeyed God. Can we be more specific? Well, yes: he ate a fruit which God told him not to eat.
There are two lines of inquiry which theologians take from here. One: why was it a sin to eat this fruit? Two: why did Adam do it? Let's take the second one first. The answer is that Adam did it because a woman, who had already done it, offered it to him, and it looked good. I can relate to that. Yeh, a fruit looks good, as long as it isn't all bruised or rotten. But a fruit offered by a woman; now that's a different story. Who's offering it sometimes makes all the difference.
In any case, the inquiry moves to the woman, Eve. Why did Eve eat the fruit? The answer is that a serpent, commonly understood to be an angel named Lucifer, tempted her to do so, promising that she would gain the knowledge which would make her as God.
So, besides stimulating our curiosity about this rather unconventional fruit, this moves our inquiry to Lucifer: why did he tempt Eve? Well, the answer goes: he was evil. Some say that he was supposed to be evil; it's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Why, according this viewpoint, would evil be necessary? Take your pick: numero uno: mankind had to confront evil in order to become good; numero dos: if there were no evil, then Jesus would not have had to come, and the goodness of Jesus makes all the evil more than worthwhile.
Okay, okay, so evil is necessary. Still, did God create evil? No, the orthodox reply: God is good and does not create evil; however, He obviously does create beings who are capable of evil; i.e. who have moral freedom (angels and men). Well, the question arises: even if God did not create evil, does he want men or angels to make evil choices? I mean, is God going to pawn the dirty work off on some fall-guy?
Some say no; God did not want Lucifer to make evil choices. But this calls God's power or goodness into question. Either God didn't care that Lucifer chose evil, which means that God is not good, or God did care but couldn't stop Lucifer, which means that God is not all- powerful. Therefore, most traditional theology coughs and mumbles that God did want Lucifer to fall, for reasons known only to Him; most likely so that He would have the inestimable pleasure of sending His beloved Son to be spit at and split open with nails.
Which was all for the best, because it reveals to the human race just how wicked and horrible we really are, and just how much we need God to save us from our wickedness which has now been revealed. (As Rush says, "I'm not making this up, folks.")
So, in any case, Lucifer chose evil; he turned his back on God. Why did he choose to reject the source of truth, goodness, beauty and perfect love? Well, have you ever heard the expression, "Just for the hell of it"? That is the conclusion of 2,000 years of mainstream thinking on why Lucifer turned against God. I know, I know; it isn't much to go on, but please have faith, and for God's sake don't listen to any talking serpents or angels hanging around apple trees.
Now we can get back to the other line of inquiry: why was it a sin for Adam to eat this fruit? It seems that there was nothing inherently wrong with the fruit. The problem was not the fruit itself, but the fact that God had told Adam not to eat it. It would seem that God was trying to make a point to Adam as to who is boss, and the fruit was the cause celebre. God chose this otherwise innocuous fruit as the battleground upon which to assert His authority.
Wait a minute; you say: this was not an ordinary fruit. The Bible agrees with the serpent's statement that this fruit is quite extraordinary; it gave one knowledge to make one equal to God. No, no, no, the theologian answers: it was a literal fruit, and even if it wasn't, what it exactly was is not important. The knowledge which makes one equal to God is simply the knowledge of disobedience! That is, it is only by disobeying that we know we are free. That is, by their disobedience, Adam and Eve became free, and freedom makes us equal to God.
It may seem harmless enough, I suppose, to believe that disobedience was the fundamental problem in the Garden of Eden, because truly disobedience is a serious problem. But really! We all know, do we not, that this viewpoint about the cause of evil and suffering just doesn't cut the mustard?
For example, if the basic sin is disobedience, then what is your sinless world going to be? A world of perfect obedience. Now, who in Heaven's name aspires with all their heart, mind and soul to live in a world which has as its highest value perfect obedience? Nobody; except perhaps a few denizens of Hegel's rationalized state, some of whom made their way quite high in the ranks of Mr. Hitler's national socialism and Mr. Stalin's world bolshevism. Even the Jesuits, who placed obedience as an absolute, knew that there was something more important than obedience.
Before we get on to that something, let's consider another problem with this traditional view of the root of evil. This other problem relates less to Nazi Germany and more to, well, the good ol' USA. You know, the good ol' USA that's hanging out of Bruce Sprinsteen's back pocket on his monster album, Born in the USA. That's the good ol' USA in which everyone knows, and everyone makes room for everyone's else's knowing: disobedience is the sign of true freedom. Disobedience makes us all a little bit more like God, just as it did Adam and Eve.
Now, according to the traditional understanding of the fall of man, since disobedience is naughty, then, well, freedom means we can and even should be a little bit naughty. That's why, for example, kids who smoke cigarettes, or drink or take drugs, or experiment with sex, claim to be more free than those who do not.
Our vocabulary itself testifies to this. Consider the term, "free sex." Free sex means illicit sex, extramarital sex. Sex within marriage, therefore, is not free sex. What is it? Unfree sex? Constrained sex? Studies now reveal that men and women practicing sex within marriage are in fact more uninhibited and sexually satisfied than those practicing sex outside of marriage. Who is more free?
Have you ever thought about "the oldest profession?" Let's see, Cain was a farmer, and Abel tended flocks, but theirs are not the oldest profession. There was only one woman around before them, their mother. It seems a logical conclusion that she was " you know, the oldest profession. And who was her customer? And who was the pimp?
And what was the first invention recorded in the Bible? Not fire. Not the wheel. Go figure. It was clothes; to be specific, aprons to cover the first parents' sexual organs. Gettin' a little drafty down there, Adam? The Bible doesn't say a cold spell suddenly hit the Garden, unless you want to call it an emotional cold spell. Cold feelings hit the Garden: guilt, shame, fear. Alienation from their own bodies: don't wanna look at them sexual organs anymore. Not except when we're, y'know, being a little naughty. A little disobedient. Eating the forbidden fruit. What the hell.
My eyes were caught, as they are supposed to be, by an advertisement. This one was an advertisement for the new Bill Moyers television series, entitled "Genesis: A Living Conversation." It's another example of this autumn concern for the content of Genesis which I mentioned above. And the ad reads, in its big print:
"In the beginning there was sex, violence, murder, jealousy, rage, seduction, greed, power trips, and snakes."
Well, before getting to the main point, I must point out that the copywriter of this ad overlooked the Genesis account of God's creation of the universe and human beings in His image, with which Genesis begins. But that's forgivable, because he did an excellent job recounting the rest of the story.
What I want to underline is the opening phrase: "In the beginning there was sex." (And, in passing, point out that the Bible, the barn- burner of all barn-burners; the best-seller of all time, is a sure- fire hit because it opens with the creation of the universe and then a sex scene. Steven Spielberg, the public is waiting.)
In any case: "in the beginning there was sex." I ask you: what other beginning could there be? We all began with sex. Everything that lives began with sex. If the universe is "alive," as the more spiritually sensitive know it is, then it too began with what? Sex. Sex, in some form or other (in relation to what we're familiar with, probably more orgiastic than less). Hinduism and some schools of Buddhism are real clear about this. Judeo-Christianity is a bit more discrete. The Bible whispers a polite hint that God's image is male and female (Gen. 1:27).
Male and female, huh? Well, how do we know? I mean, what does it mean that God is male and female, as opposed to just male, or just female, or just " nothing. I say "nothing," because indeed there is "nothing" that is not in a relationship of male or female. Wisdom ancient (the Tao) and contemporary (The Tao of Physics) elucidate this. Fortunately for us, "nothing" does not exist.
The significance of God's image being male and female means nothing if it does not refer to that which distinguishes male and female: sex. The sexual organs. Can we mention God in the same sentence a sexual organs? Well, hey, yours and mine came from somewhere, right? If God knows the number of hairs on your head, then God must know about all the hair on your body, and He must have put it there for a good reason.
Borrowing the phrase of John Temple Bristow, Satan did not make the sexual organs while God was napping. God made the sexual organs. Why? Because God is love, and the sexual organs are absolutely necessary in relationship with love. When we use them properly, we are "making love."
And what does love make? Its own image. Apes' love makes apes. Dogs' love makes dogs. A rose's love makes a rose is a rose is a rose. Everything makes its own image through love.
God's love makes all of the above, so all of the above is in the image of God symbolically. But the Bible only identifies one particular creation as God's image. That is man and woman. We are called the image of God because we do not only have love, but we have the knowledge of love. For us, love has a moral dimension: we are responsible to realize and agree with God's idea of how and why to love. That is the line between good and evil.
Love centered on the self is a negation of love; it is the source of evil. Love centered on the true partner of love is the source of goodness. This is why the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not peripheral to the story of the fall. The whole meaning of the story unfolds once one understands that the fruit was love; Eve's love.
What else would be strong enough to cause Adam to betray God? What else possessed by an innocent girl would attract the interest of an archangel?
Depending upon the way that love was discovered, or known, the whole of history was to move, because the love of Adam and Eve begot the human race. And we've been eating that fruit ever since.
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