Friday, February 27, 2009

Tame

Papou and Sophia


Yesterday, Papou moved back to his assisted-living facility. He’s doing better, much better, as he promised my mom, but it still feels scary and rushed. They’re continuing hospice care for him, and at any moment he could disappear. My sister and I talked about it, how it reinforces our feeling of immortality. All of our four grandparents still live. All eight of Sophia’s eight great-grandparents live. I know death was close this time, but it still feels like we can’t be touched by it. It hovers in the corner, still distant.

It feels miraculous, too. He decided he would get better, and he did. He wasn’t ready to die. I wonder why. A pastor friend from Pennsylvania came down to visit him while he was in the hospital, and we asked him how he prayed for parishioners in this situation. His answer was wise--he prayed that everything a person needed to accomplish be accomplished before they pass on. Papou must have something more to accomplish on this earth. I hope it’s sharing more of the memories from his childhood with me.

We were speaking of Papou’s past today, of how he spent his whole life in pursuit of the intellectual life. Does he regret that now? I think not. He was always a person utterly certain of his ideas. When I was a girl, I remember asking him questions about the Bible, while he wrote. Once I asked him about the role of women in Scripture, specifically the passage in First Timothy: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

“Men were created first, then women,” he answered. That was it. End of story. Their role is less, because they came second. Incidentally, this is the very passage that caused me to cease believing in biblical inerrancy. I can’t believe that I will be saved by childbearing. There’s nothing wrong with having children, but my salvation does not lie in my ovaries and cervix. I cannot believe that that’s the Holy Creator God’s infallible word, his logos, for my life.

That’s what Papou believed, though. That’s what many evangelical Christians continue to believe. No wonder I have so much anger when it comes to biblical gender roles, to the prejudice that underlies so much of contemporary Christianity. That is not my faith. I draw my hermeneutical circle away from those lies. I believe the Apostle Paul when he says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” I am not a woman in the eyes of my God. I am a precious, saved child.

So Papou and I disagree on theology. It doesn’t make me love him any less. That’s the thing about beliefs. One believes them. It doesn’t help to have someone else tell you you shouldn’t, or that you’re wrong. A belief is too central, too close to the core of your being. Maybe Papou’s right, or maybe I am. Maybe both of us are wrong. But what I believe matters is that, as Jesus said, I love God with my whole heart, and love my neighbor as myself. That’s hard enough.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The link to "BUY SECRET" is not working!
I just thought you might want to know.

Melissa said...

I fixed it. Thanks so much... (Do you want to buy her?)

Anonymous said...

Times are tough all over. Do you want to buy Selah?

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

The passages you were talking about, relating to what God thinks of Female and Male, I have been studying about. If you are interested, I could talk, e-mail, or just send you the book. I don't think I could ever explain it as well as this woman does in her book. I also know her personally. I could ask her specific questions you might have. But everything you just talked about is explained in this book. I know it comes down to truth. Who is right? you? your Papou? Me? this lady? the Bible? But this lady has answered questions that I have had for years. Let me know if you are interested.

I'm really glad that you are writing about your faith. It is honest, open, freeing (I imagine).

Audra

Melissa said...

Audra, I'd love to read the book you've been reading. I've been meaning to call--glad to find out you're reading the blog. Actually, our conversation was one of the things I've been mulling over as I've been writing. Would love to talk more.

Melissa