“Joyful Dependence”

Today's reading continues the trend of infantilism, with a side order of patriarchy.

I rejoice when you seek to live in trusting reliance on Me. This strengthens our relationship

This reading also continues the motif of trust/belief being the only requirement for “glorious riches”... but there is a stand-out metaphor in this reading: the comparing of a relationship with Jesus to a marriage.

Of a married couple the author writes:

Their warm memories of shared experiences create ties that draw them close and keep them committed to each other. Dear one, I want you to know that I am totally committed to you!

Successful marriages are built on mutual communication and understanding. Excepting all but the most... unorthodox cases, relationships with Jesus are very one sided. A believer can talk to Jesus and Jesus can listen. The understanding component is similarly one-sided. Presumably Jesus understands all about the believer, but many (most?) believers struggle with “God's plan”. It is especially so during the hard times (say the death of a young child, for example).

I think the marriage metaphor is busted. I imagine a world where my partner was never able to speak [directly] to me, but my friends (and authority figures) kept telling me that they were (literally) the best person in the world and that I should trust them completely and become dependent on them. All the time I am stumbling around trying to decipher their intentions. If this were about anyone but Jesus, this would smack of grooming/gaslighting by an abuser, rather than a marriage.

Most friendships are also built on shared experiences, why not use that as an example? The answer, I think you'll find, is that Jesus demands more than your average friend. “dependence” is mentioned 4 times, “love”: 3 times, “commitment”: 3 times, “reliance”: 2 times, “trust”: 3 times. Find you a friend that will give you all that, am I right? In our consumer isolation, we associate these traits with closer relationships like marriage, hence the bad metaphor earlier.

This book is just goes for it out of the gate. Imagine sitting in class, looking at the cute new boy you don't know very well (Jesus) and one of his friends passes you a note:

Do you like Jesus?
    [ ] Yes [] No

Do you trust him?
    [ ] Yes [] No

He'd give you gifts. Would trust him completely?
    [ ] Yes [ ] No

He knows everything. Figure out what he's thinking.
    Can you tell what he's thinking? [ ] Yes [ ] No, I want to be wrong

If you trust him, he'll give you glorious riches.
    Will you go steady with him forever? [ ] Yes [ ] No

Seriously, this is about commitment, will you commit?
    [ ] Yes [ ] Eternal Damnation

The Jesus that Sarah Young stans is creepy, that's all I'm saying. Jesus is supposed to be like a husband and father figure? No earthly relationship is a good model for whatever relationship believers are supposed to have with their gods, I get that.

When something is confusing, humans tend to map it on to things that we know. Two thousand years ago in Palestine (a male dominated society) it made sense to talk big about loving/obeying/trusting one's dad (or husband/owner)... but two thousand years have passed. Can we please update our mental maps?

Why isn't a relationship with Jesus like the relationship to a sister? A sister can be a confidant, it makes sense to have love, trust, reliance, commitment... built on shared upbringing. A sister is a peer, not (traditionally) a master. That's the rub, I'd imagine. We haven't seen it yet in the book, but I expect that Jesus will want obedience and fealty (he's already super into commitment); not sisterly things, but rather fatherly or husband-ly things.

Yes, yes... there's the historical Jesus who certainly presented as a man, boys can't be sisters and all that nonsense. I'm not sure Jesus was subjected to a genital exam to confirm “biological sex” so who knows. If Jesus had been the same in all respects, except born a women, she'd almost certainly never made it to the cross. Rather, it's more likely that she'd have been unceremoniously murdered like so many of our current sisters are today.

I am the sort who believes that good ideas can stand on their own. I'm aware of many of Jesus' ideas that do hold up pretty well (even if Jesus didn't invent any of them). For example the beatitudes, self-sacrifice, &c... it's a long list. Jesus is a compelling character in his own right, but so far Sarah Young has not given us any of that substance. It's all faith and commitment with promises that daddy Jesus will make it alright. Sigh

You know who does have substance and is knocking it out of the park these days? The women in Mesopotamia.

Today, in Syria (a place where many still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus), women are building a whole new structure that abandons many of the patriarchal social models that no longer make sense. In a multiracial, religiously diverse, and historically conflicted region: Women are defending their communities, serving their own justice, creating their own villages in which to heal, and participating on equal terms with their male colleagues (40% women for quorum and veto powers).

What do women in Rojava have to do with Jesus? Nothing, I suppose, but I love what they are doing. I am committed to helping promote their cause. I believe in them and their important work deeply. I trust that they are the best people to decide the course of their own lives, and I am joyous when I read of their successes breaking their dependence on male authority.

So you see, I am not a spiteful skeptic. There are beautiful things in our world that all but demand my allegiance. However, platitudes and absentee parenting ain't it. I am deeply skeptical of giving Jesus credit for the wonderful happenings in our world, which, by my measure, have largely been accomplished by the hard work of dedicated, powerful women.