For no particular reason, I read the book of Galatians, from the New Testament, today. It’s been years since I’d gone through the book. Using all the skills at my hand from 20+ years of Biblical training, including a close reading of several books of the Bible in the original Greek, I synthesized the message and devised the following hermeneutic for my readers:
Don’t let ANYONE in the Church, for any reason, guilt-trip you into slicing off hunks of your penis.
2000 years ago, a few people from the church, maybe sent from Peter (how ironic would THAT be?) were real dicks and decided to tell the new Turkish Christians that they had to follow, to the letter, the Hebrew laws according to the Bible, or their involvement in the church was invalid. This included dietary laws, and the thing that really got a rise out of Paul, the practice of circumcision.
Paul said he spent over 14 years preaching to the non-Judaean crowd. He’d passed through what is now Turkey at some point and started a church in Galatia. He found out later that the wiener police were cutting in on his territory. This is the basis of Paul’s letter. In this tiny 4-page letter lies the crux of a critical message for Christians. Don’t get all tangled up in the Law. We’re beholden to a bigger power.
So, I have two questions:
How have we allowed the church to cut us, all while simply accepting that it’s the Will of God?
How have we persuaded others to be cut, because it’s the Christian thing to do?
Circumcision is an extremely painful medico-religious procedure that is done to a very intimate part of one’s body. I think it stands as a metaphor for the hundreds of things we’ve let the Church do, or that maybe we’ve done ourselves? Here are a few that I’ve heard:
“You can’t make it to evening services tonight? Well isn’t that special…”
“Of course if you aren’t witnessing with the Evangelism Team, your reward in Heaven will be smaller.”
“If you’re not praying or reading the Bible regularly, you’re just starving yourself. If you’re no good for God, you’re no good for us.”
“We’re not questioning your loyalty to the church; you’re just not faithful enough to be involved.”
“You had wine with your dinner? <dead silence>”
So yeah, Galatians is about spiritual abuse, a term that took over 2 millenia to manifest itself. In that alone, the work is relevant today, especially if you want to remain involved in the church. If you’re not part of the church, I just want to point out that in 60AD, there was already a document written (by an Apostle no less) that tackled church abuse with passion and maybe even outrage. We’re just sometimes not very good at remembering it ourselves.
We grow complacent. We like things to stay the way they were. “Gimme that Old Time Religion,” the old song goes. We just have to remember what’s really important, and what’s worth throwing out.
Also, we need to remember never, ever to let someone talk us into chopping pieces of our dicks off for Jesus. Don’t be a complete weenie.