Repairing the World at the Root
(Reflection immediately follows the poem)
The Lover's Dance
A Poem by Mike Garner
In the unpredictable
in the step outside of normalcy
beyond the horizon of social order
calling, disrupting, challenging;
boundless love ready to surprise.
Breathe, lay aside your rules.
It’s God’s day and he is more.
Dance with her
to the rhythm of life.
In doing so you will dance with your creator,
the Lord of life.
Women loved Jesus, all types of women, because they knew he accepted them in all of their humanity, in all of their femininity, they knew he understood the inhumane spirit of male patriarchy.
If women are not intellectually masculinized by the affects of sociopolitical powers, then they naturally contribute to the development of a more caring sociopolitical order.
When Eve is experiencing an inner dialogue at the curious presence of a serpent in the forbidden tree, she demonstrates the fullness of being human. Eve thinks ethically, the fruit is food, why the prohibition? Eve thinks aesthetically, the fruit of the tree is pleasing to the eyes. Eve thinks religiously for the fruit she will reach for offers being like God, free to make your own judgments about reality; that is to create reality.
It is noted in the text that Adam is there with Eve when she is at the tree and willingly partakes of the prohibited fruit with her. His silence is instructive, his failure to engage Eve in conversation is indicative of a disjunction in the male/female relationship that appears prior to the event that places humanity outside the mythical garden. His guilt or culpability in the story is greater than Eve’s for he was created first and had spent time with the voice of God that walked in the evening breeze in the garden.
Rather than create reality with God, humanity creates reality apart from the voice of God in creation and through revelation. Learning to live together as male and female, within the intents and purposes of God, requires the mutual pursuit of God as a male/female relational activity. Reality is broken, death is present, because our relationships with God and one another are broken. If we desire a right relationship with God we must right our relationships with one another. If men long to create reality with God and heal the world, they must empower the voice of women in the world to help them in the process.
Disjunction between the Genders
I am going to share a few of my related convictions. Before I state them clearly, I want to remind my reader that the only affirming evidence that a person has been a recipient of revelation is the conviction expressed in their life and choices. For a person with conviction, their very being is dependent upon living true to their belief.
Conviction exists in a person when their entire being believes something to be true, to be from God, with such certainty that he or she would stand alone against the world and not relinquish their conviction. Conviction grows in revelation, it is accepted, articulated, and fills a person's life. A fully matured conviction arrests the soul and a person in possession of a revelation cannot violate it. In this world conviction is the most powerful, reality forming, proof of spirituality a person can possess. When institution and culture fail to support the flourishing of life, a person of conviction will defy their power and choose morality in concert with their beliefs. This kind of action is common to the exemplary heroes of humanity.
It is my conviction that the healing of the world is ultimately dependent upon humanity living together correctly as male and female; that the disjunction of relationship between the genders is at the root of all humanity’s problems. It is my conviction that exhibiting the image of God through the male-female relational dynamic is the challenge set before us throughout the entirety of scripture. The misogyny of scripture is countered by literary subversion throughout its entire corpus. I demonstrate this in my books 'Interpretive Adventures' and 'Theological Adventures'.
Male dominance and the silencing of the female voice is contrary to the image of God between the genders. It mars the image of God and also silences God’s voice in the world. That Abel does not speak in the Cain and Abel story is theologically instructive. The silencing of a human beings voice (in contrast to nurturing) is equivalent to murder. The failure of male’s to give time to the emotions of women and wait for their input in life is one of the relational problems that affect both personal and societal relationships; it is equivalent to murder through the pain and suffering of oppression.
God's grace is as real and empowering as God's love that moves our hearts to do the impossible.
Love’s first emotion is grace. Grace is the acceptance of another person; it overlooks the flaws and weaknesses common to us all. Familiarity is the enemy of grace. It is a dangerous misperception of another person and makes human beings predictable. The inhibiting language of familiarity disables the maturation of change produced by spiritual growth. Speech patterns that address another with “You always” or “You’ll never change” are inconsistent with the Christian life. Christianity resists familiarity because our faith believes in the making of a new person. Grace is always empowering whether from God or another person. Grace says, “I believe in you”, it sees beyond the frailty that marks our personality, our awareness of reality, it is life giving.
Grace is love's first emotion and promises born of conviction are love's maturation.
Love doesn’t bloom without promises. God’s unilateral, unconditional promises are accompanied with God swearing and often include a covenant ceremony that expresses the irrevocable, unalterable reality of the promise. As image bearing creatures we are capable of making promises to one another and living out those promises through the power of conviction. Because conviction is born of revelation, our power to live out a promise is built upon our relationship, our maturity and our dependence upon God. It is the maturity of knowing one’s self that enables a person to affirm with certainty their will to keep a promise. Marriage needs ongoing promises to survive the complexities of a chaotic world.
The kind of promise making I’m going to suggest will seem to some as beyond the realm of possibility. I do not believe this to be so. I do believe and think that only a person who has some life experience, has grown to know their self through moments that tested their integrity, their soul, is ready to make my proposed types of promises.
These promises are built upon values, the first is the value (love) placed upon the recipient of the promise by the one who promises. Because I believe God is nonviolent and anger is a monotheistic radicalism applied to God, then it is good and wise to promise your loved one that you will never become angry with them. Of course relationships capable of receiving this kind of a promise require mature human beings who know one another beyond mere snippets of perception.
Relationships strain to be healthy under outbursts of anger. People think that anger is a legitimate emotion. This thought is based upon poor theology and their own personal lack of self-control.
But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.
If your loved one can wreck your new car and you refuse anger then your value is on the welfare of your loved one. If your value is on the car then anger will win the day. It is the value we place on our loved one’s that is able to halt anger. The preservation of a serene spirit that resists anger is a product of abiding faith in a world where the present sufferings of this age become mere temporal disruption.
For inspiring thought on promise making to ensure the health and maturation of a male-female relationship, particularly a romantic one, I will suggest another promise. This promise is simple yet subjective because of misunderstanding, the promise is to tell your loved on that you will never hurt them. I am not even thinking about physical abuse! Rather, I am thinking of a genuine sensitivity for the feelings, the emotions and the needs of the other. This promise requires that the one making the promise live for the sake of their loved one. It is irrational, it is self-sacrificial, it is divine. We cannot love our neighbor as our-self if we cannot love our loved one with this preferential choice to live for their welfare, their happiness, and not hurt them.
Learning to Listen
I have a little saying, “Beware Maleness”. The male tendency to take, to produce immediate results, to get it done, is both good and bad. Unfortunately, when maleness is identified as only positive, then it becomes insensitive and domination of others (especially women) follows. This is so in the male-female relationship because men do not take time to allow for the emotions and cautious decision making of women. Women often hear men say, “Never mind I’ll do it”. This response ignores the female’s relation to intelligence that understands change is best incorporated into life when measured carefully, with thought, and in the process, emotions are given time to adjust to changing realities.
The failure of males to listen to women based upon supposed expediency (or most other reasons) results in a break of fellowship, a disjunctive rift in a needed harmonious existence, it is to turn the dance of life into mechanics without the art of love. The annulling of the female voice is oppressive, murderous and causes emotional harm to these gifts of God whose emotions are meant to bless and enhance our lives. The Lord, who gave room for women’s voices, has set the rhythm of life. There is no dance without women!
 The perceived anger of the Lord is simply his absence from a world that crucifies him daily. So, people hurt people, and nature erupts from our disharmonious existence that is contrary to the life of God.
 It is notable that the intelligence of Adam is exhibited in naming. It is also notable that Adam does not name the woman until after the eating of the prohibited fruit. Eve’s intelligence is exhibited in her aesthetic, ethical and religious contemplation (the fruit is pleasing to the eye, it is food, and offers knowledge of the unknown). The display of Eve’s introspective thought life is revealing of the intelligence of women concerning relational realities. That Adam did not name Eve until after eating the fruit is revealing of a separation between the male and the female. However, when Adam does name Eve, he relates her to godlikeness (her name is close in sound to the name of God). I think this is because the scripture wants us to understand that humanity’s completeness is dependent upon their success to live in peace, with mutual respect as male and female, as equals. Our gendered difference is God’s gift for us to experience spiritual dependency upon one another as we meet the challenges of living in a hostile environment.