Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lent: Not giving up on Paul

So Paul--the epistle writer that is, not just some guy I know--thinks that the only reason you should get married is if you can't possibly restrain yourself from having wild rabbit sex any longer.

At least that's how I translated 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 when talking about the letter with a few college students tonight. I don't think it's that far off.

We spent a whole hour tonight talking about Paul and sex. Paul's views of sexuality are wildly unconventional when read from a modern--dare we stumble into post-modern--perspective. At times Paul comes off as a strict fundamentalist. At other times he's startlingly subversive. And other times you might accuse him of just being pathological.

It would be easy to give up on Paul. Too many of his writings have been used as battering rams against women, LGBTQ folk, African Americans under slavery, and any one else who could be painted with the brush of "outsider" from the standpoint of the privileged ones.

But I'm not going to give up on Paul. Because he's so damn human. He gets angry. He gets confused. In 1 Corinthians he goes off on long rants that even he admits are just his opinion. But he aches for his communities, aches for them like a parent aches for a hurting child. And out of this ache and this humanness he tries to interpret and understand what could possibly be good news about a homeless rabbi being killed--what could possibly be sensible about the claim that this same homeless rabbi was raised from the dead.

And if that last sentence could ever be said about me, I would be quite happy.

So this Lent, I'm not giving up on Paul.

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