Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For many Christians, it is a season of repentance.
I’ve been thinking a lot about repentance lately, since I’m writing a book on repentance. I’ve become increasingly aware of the inability of our culture to embrace repentance. By “our culture” I mean white western culture–particularly as expressed in the United States.
We are enmeshed within a cultural ethos that looks forward. We assume that progress will resolve the problems of the past without requiring us to embrace lives of repentance. We learn history, but when we notice injustices in the past, we are urged to move on–to consume the information–but must not dwell there. To dwell in the past is seen as anti-social. However, repentance means coming to terms with the past–to not only own our complicity and relationship with past (and ongoing) wrongs, as well as return to those stories that should shape us as followers of Jesus Christ.
Queering Genesis: Sexuality, Anarcha-Primitivism, and the Bible
Christians often marshal the creation narratives of Genesis as foundational evidence for a vision of sexual morality based on gender complementarity and heterosexual marriage. The dominant interpretations go something like this: God made humans either male or female, for companionship (Genesis 2) and reproduction (Genesis 1), and Jesus referred to these verses while teaching in favor of marriage (Matthew 19). Therefore, to be cisgender (not transgender, but clearly male or female) and heterosexual is to be made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Case closed, right?
Well, it’s not that simple from an anarch@-primitivist1 perspective, which views all aspects of human flourishing, including sexuality, through the primary lens of earth-based sustenance. This perspective focuses on the environmental and economic roots of all aspects of civilization and culture, including the holy stories that are themselves a product of civilization’s preoccupation with symbolic thought. For example, Christian anarch@-primitivists approach Genesis as the story of a real, material “fall” into civilization. The expulsion from the wild Garden of Eden and the curse of farming in Genesis 3:17 is evidence that at least some Hebrews regretted humankind’s shift from hunter-gathering into agriculture, which had taken place no more than 7,000 years before their writing.
For this series’ work of rewilding civilized sexualities, materialist biblical interpretation is a useful tool for re-examining holy sexuality in Genesis, one that is well-aligned with the concerns of anarch@-primitivism. As a deconstructive or critical approach, materialist biblical interpretation seeks to uncover and name the unholy dynamics of power and hierarchy that influenced the writing (or the “production”) of Scripture. For example, Ched Myers has traced the anti-monarchy strains of political thought in the Hebrew Scriptures that seem to have arisen from pockets of resistance to economic oppression, and the pro-monarchy strains that arose from the ideology of the rulers.2
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