Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Death of Desire- pt. 3

Finally, we get to the final category that Jesus addresses in Matthew 19:12.  He addresses "those that make eunuchs of themselves".

Now as strange as it seems, many folks do make eunuchs of themselves. Many folks castrate themselves in an effort to achieve an alleged "eunuch calm".  Many folks are averse to their design for intimacy.

Some physically castrate themselves because they don't like being influenced by their design.  And some psychologically castrate themselves because they believe that celibacy is their holy calling... but I don't think that Jesus is talking about the psycho's here.

We see Paul make reference to physical castration in Galatians 5:12. As shown in previous posts, we often see physical castration in ancient times as well as in current times. We see physical castration in the secular community- as well as in the Christian community.  In the wise and in the foolish Galatians.  

As cases in point, we may see that the secular-Alan Turing castrated himself in recent times.  And we may see that the Christian-Origen castrated himself in ancient times.  Jews weren't quite that foolish.

As regards Origen, I believe that his linguistic genius failed him- in taking Matthew 18:9 a little too literally (rather than Matthew 19:12 as often suggested). Yet, I don't think that most theologians (not even Calvin) take Jesus quite literal enough on our text in question.

Not literal enough- when most interpreters would presume that Jesus is suddenly talking of a 'divine call to celibacy'.  Would presume that Jesus is suddenly talking of a type of martyrdom that many missionaries and priests are flattered to identify with.  A martyrdom of intimacy.  A death of desire.

Yet, I don't think that Jesus is abruptly switching senses here.  I don't think that Jesus is suddenly switching from a literal sense to an allegorical sense.  From a physical sense to a spiritual sense.  From a sense of castration to a sense of celibacy.

That seems too utilitarian.  Too facetious.  Too obscure of Jesus.

After all, Jesus is repeatedly telling folks there to "accept" their lot in life.  To "accept" their physical design at birth. To  "accept" their physical fate in war.  And finally, telling those struggling with intimacy to "accept" their design for physical intimacy

It puzzles me to think that Jesus would even bother telling those already committed to being psycho eunuchs to "accept" their psychosis. Would it be just to comfort those questioning their commitment to celibacy?

And in retrospect, just how many Christian priests and missionaries ("for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven") would Christ be actually comforting at that time anyway?  John the Baptist had already lost his head.  Was Jesus just preaching to His choir?

Not only that, but from that text we see that it is men that are making "themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven" in this category.  Quite contrary to God who was previously shown to be making eunuchs.  Quite contrary to Christ who was making disciples.

Yet somehow we see the more obscure interpretations that they are rightly appointing for themselves a ministry rather then God.  That sort of autonomy is quite contrary to the divine appointing and anointing that this blogger believes in.  Something is not right there.

Rather, I see Jesus mocking such misguided people in this verse. I see Jesus mocking the ascetics with their misguided piety. Mocking those that think by "the means of the philosophy of ascetic practice and contemplation, the intellect is purified, illuminated and made perfect".

Jesus is mocking people so dull as to believe that literal celibacy (or literal circumcision as was the case of the "foolish Galatians") will get them into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was mocking the local and literary Essenes.  Mocking those monks who fled to the hills.  Mocking those who would mutilate themselves.  Mocking those people who were too pious to even poop on the Sabbath.

Yet to accommodate the more obscure interpretation, Jesus could have quite easily used the words "virgin for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven" there.   Or could have used the words "evangelist for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven" there. Or "remained single for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven" there... BUT HE DIDN'T.
He didn't because it wouldn't be cohesive and it wouldn't be true.  None of those criteria qualify anyone for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Sound interpreters should not read that into the verse.  That is allegorizing far too much.

But how does my interpretation work itself back into the context?

Well, in the immediate context of this verse you may see Jesus telling his disciples to "accept" the foibles of their wives (Peter had a mother-in-law).  To "accept" all foibles EXCEPT unfaithfulness.

And in the broader context of this chapter, you may see a divine design of "male and female" for marriage.  For male and female to "accept" their design. For male and female to be "joined together".  And for them to be faithful in their 'joining together'.

My interpretation seems a whole lot more cohesive.  Seems a whole lot less divisive. There is a whole lot less cutting off.

And it is a better model of our Union with Christ as well.  Of us being faithful in our 'joining together' with Him.

But then there are others who fall into this final category.  Those who are averse to 'joining together'.  Those who do not have that 'desire for union'. Those who would rather have their 'desire for union' cut off.  So they castrate themselves...