Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Curse

Men and Women are cursed. 

You don't have to peer into the Bible to see that. Anyone who has ever had a relationship with the opposite sex knows that we are all cursed. 

If you start in the beginning of the Bible and read the story of creation you can absorb what the scripture writers wanted us to know. I walk away with this: God created everything from the black nothing of darkness to the intricate systems that keep this planet growing and living. 

This story of creation gives us the impression that God really enjoys Earth and all the living things on it. No matter what the details say, this is what I hear at the end of the day. "It was good."

Then something terrible happens in the story. There is an apple, a talking snake, temptation, shame, naked people, curses. If you stop getting tangled up in the details of Adam and Eve and just let the story wash over you something changes. It moves from this scary Victorian fairytale to a transformational awakening about the evolution of mankind.

I first encountered this awakening in a book called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Quinn tells the Biblical story of creation through the eyes of a gorilla. I know it sounds far fetched but that detail is critical so that we (humans) can receive this information objectively. We needed a nonhuman to tell us the story of the Fall so that we could really understand what it was all about without making it personal.

According to Quinn, the story of the Fall is about a lot more than a husband and wife seducing each other with apple slices. It was about Provision.

Quinn suggests that the garden of Eden is planet Earth. That God created this earth and all that lives on it and God provided for us in the garden. This means that all of us living things were hunter/gatherers. The original humanoids were hunter/gatherers. They lived like Moses and the gang in the desert, day to day,waiting on nature to provide a wandering deer or a bush of berries. These people and animals just ate what they needed for the day and trusted that God would provide what they needed for the next. Living in the Garden of Eden was truly living in the present, allowing God to provide for your needs moment to moment. 

Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge which was forbidden. When they did this they figured something out- they could try to assume control over their lives. This is where the trouble began. Quinn reveals what happened to the early family could be representative of what has happened across our planet for ages. Humans figured out that they could plant food, they could grow it. This means they could control when, where, how they got their food. They no longer needed to trust God with the day to day provision of food for their survival. Once they learned to grow their own food, handle their own livestock, then they could also decide how many children they could support. They could stock food, hoard food, take much more than they needed. Now man wanted to own land and create territories to grow even more food and create wealth. This wealth created systems of power and you see where this is going... Humans began to assume control over their own needs and stopped depending on God for their daily bread.

The story of Adam and Eve tells me two things about the world I know today. 

First, the Fall of mankind comes down to the moment when humans stopped letting God provide for them. They stopped trusting that God will provide for them which brought on the fear that we all know well. This is the moment in our evolution and development when we realize we can control things. We no longer want to choose to let God provide for us because we are actually fearful that He wont and perhaps doesn't even exist. This is the beginning of doubt.

Secondly, the story of the Fall also reveals what has happened to men and women in their relationships. When Adam and Eve eat that apple, God curses them and he curses the serpent. 

Genesis 3:16

To the woman he said;
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

OK ladies, does this sound familiar? Think about what this curse really means. As women on planet Earth, we are always going to struggle with this one thing. Can you think of what it is? There are thousands of books about it: "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", "Love and Respect"

Ladies, we want to be loved. We will do anything to be sure that we are loved. When your boyfriend or husband is mad at you and just wants some alone time, how many of you chase them down and MAKE them talk it out because you are terrified that they will stop loving you in that silence? Sound familiar? How many of you bend over backwards for your guy because you want to have that sense that you are indeed beloved by him. I know there are some fierce independent women out there and I claim to be one of them, but I still know in my hard of hearts, that deep down, I want this too.

Think about childbirth... it is terrible. Everything I have ever heard about it makes it sound like the most horrific thing that could happen to a human being and yet we go through it voluntarily. Why? Well, how many of you have looked at your lover and pictured him as a baby,wondered what your kids would look like and longed to love that little vision of him? How many of you have blushed as your man whispered that he wants you to have his children? We love these men, we want to be loved by them. We fall hard. We give it all. We get insanely attached which is also part of how God made us. We want to be loved by them so much that we even sacrifice our bodies and we love those babies with our entire beings!

At the end of the day, our need to be loved by our man allows him to rule over us. We choose again and again to do what our lover wants over what we want. I know we all do it, even the most balanced of us still gets caught in this trap. This is the curse. 

Hey Fellas:  Genesis 3: 17-20
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living.

OK men, I know you do this because I have experienced it first hand. I have watched you agonize over this, loose your hair over it, bite your nails, fall into depressions, drink yourself to sleep, smoke a thousand cigarettes...This curse isn't about farming, it is about providing. When man stopped putting his trust in God there was only one place to put it- in himself. All the relationship guidebooks point to the same thing- men want to be respected. What is the root of this respect? How does a man sense that he is worth being respected? When he can provide. 

Men, you have this insane need to provide. When you aren't able to get that job you want, make the money you want, give your wife or girlfriend something you want them to have, you feel like an utter failure. There is always something for you to provide too; time, attention, money, a home, vacations, education, energy, etc. At the end of the day when your wife is whining because she just wants you to cuddle with her and you are exhausted from a long day of work, what do you say? "It is never enough is it...?"  Does this sound familiar? Being able to provide is so deeply personal that all asks and desires seem to be questioning your ability to be a man (as we call it).

 The anxiety of being able to provide has beaten men to death for thousands of years. Our culture has allowed men to be work horses and I believe it comes down to this curse. The stats have been clear that men die younger and they spend a lot more of their time working and stressing about work. Man thinks it is all up to him.

Take a moment. Can you see this? I don't think Quinn is far off course here. Just so we are clear... I am not making any points about women's rights or how I believe a home should be run or who should be providing, blah, blah. I don't care about any of that right now. I also am a big fan of gardening and farming so don't misunderstand my intentions there either. If you are getting caught up in those details then you will understand why it was so important for Quinn to share these thoughts through the eyes of a gorilla. I am sharing a story that I have read which brought understanding to a few things that I have experienced on my life's journey. 

I believe that the story of the Fall in scripture is a story that explains why men and women are often at odds. Why men want to be respected and women want to be loved. These two things project away from one another and yet we are called into union together. It is a miracle that relationships work at all. It is that miracle that gives me so much hope today.

The story of the Fall is a story explaining behaviors that human beings take part in and define themselves by. The first step in overcoming a behavior (innate or established) is simply through awareness. Practicing to choose a different path and experience a variation to the ordained route, also will lend you to freedom from the curse. However, while I feel the pressure from this dark place inside me screaming out to be loved by Joel, I have prayed mightily that God would lift this curse from me.

I feel it leaving me today just as I have felt God answering my prayers for freedom to simply BE love not to TAKE love or NEED love.

The curse came from a time when man stopped trusting that God would provide for our needs. I believe that freedom from this curse will come with the daily practice of being present to God's provision and accepting the blessing. The story of creation is about abundance. God is about abundance. The curse is about always feeling there is a deficit which creates fear.

(The Bible also urges mankind not to fear an estimated 119 times.) 

The story of the New Testament reveals something about this Old Testament God; that he also is capable of incredible grace. We have been given the power to choose not to fear, to choose to trust God, to choose to be present, to choose to be love, and to choose to be blessed.

I believe at least for me, this curse is being lifted.