Alice C. Linsley
The following questions were asked by a reader of Just Genesis and I consider them very important.
Q: If our Western culture traces the evolution of thought to Abraham, are we required to live by and make moral choices based on the worldview of his people?
R: That's a good question and one too few are asking. There are separate points to be made here. The first concerns the authority of the Bible. For Christians the Bible is an authority. For some it is taken as the only authority (sola scriptura) and for others it is an authority along with Holy Tradition.
The second point concerns the doctrine of free will. If humans have free choice we are not bound by the worldview of any people. However, we in the West are formed and influenced by the biblical worldview. Atheists and deists, for example, choose to reject the biblical view of God, as do some Christians and Jews. Revisionists tell us that the worldview of Abraham’s people is antiquated and irrelevant for the time in which we live. These argue that homosexuality was not properly understood in Abraham’s time because the ancients did not have the benefit of modern psychology. If we are honest, we must admit that Psychology is a fairly murky science whereas the binary worldview of Abraham's people was at least based on objective and universally observed constants in nature: most fundamentally the cycle of the Sun, the fixed cyclical relationships of the stars and constellations, and the norm of male-female humanity.
Clearly none are required to live or make moral choices based on the binary worldview of Abraham’s people. That said, and I’m now speaking as an anthropologist, the binary worldview of Abraham’s people is largely misunderstood today and much of the reaction against it is based upon assumptions, not reality and certainly not material evidence.
Q: If Abraham’s relationship to his God is the model we are to emulate, then shouldn’t we be sacrificing our children?
R: We are dealing here with two issues. A prior question is “What was Abraham’s relationship to God?” We are able to address the question of Isaac’s sacrifice once this question is resolved.
All the evidence of the Bible indicates that Abraham and his people were Horite ruler-priests, a caste devoted to Horus who was regarded as the miraculously-conceived “son of God.” Horus prefigures Jesus Christ (as Oholibamah, Esau's Horite bride, prefigures the Virgin Mary). Horite ruler-priests had a calling to be pure. This was expressed in abstinence from certain foods, wine and sex in preparation for service in the temple. They ritually washed several times daily and shaved their heads. All these activities were adjoined to intense prayer.
Clearly none today are required to live this life. Yet it is a pattern of self-denial by which ascetics have ascended above earthly concerns for thousands of years. For most of us, merely abstaining from meat during Lent is almost impossible!
Remembering that Abraham was a Horite ruler-priest helps us to understand the binding of his son Isaac (or Ishmael, according to the Quran). Genesis suggests that Abraham believed Isaac to be the expected Seed of Genesis 3:15. This Seed was to be miraculously born of a woman of Abraham’s people and was to pass through death to life. That passing was understood in terms of the Sun’s movement from east to west. Horus rose in the east as a newborn lamb and set in the west as a ram of doubled strength. This is symbolic of passing through death.
Of course, Christians are not called to emulate Abraham. We are called to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He is the sacrifice once offered. All is accomplished in Him. No sacrifices are necessary as He sacrificed Himself.
Q: But doesn't the Afro-Asiatic understanding of God and creation reveal some terrible aspects of child abuse? Circumcision involves the mutilation of children. Permanently altering the future of human beings by violating their personhood when they are in the most vulnerable phase of development is barbaric.
R: Circumcision was to Abraham's people what Baptism is to Christians. Since our children are very dear to us we want them with us in the Covenant of the Blood. Circumcision looks forward to the Covenant of the Blood of Christ and Baptism looks back to the event in which Christ's blood was shed for the life of the world. If people understood (or believed) what happens in Christian Baptism, Christian parents who have their babies baptized would be accused of child abuse, for in Baptism we die with Christ in order that we might also be raised with Him.
Q: How can the elevation of male over female by virtue of physical strength be a Kingdom Principle when we are told that the meek that shall inherit the earth?
R: The Kingdom Principle represents a restoration of the order of Paradise. In Genesis we read that Eve was the crown of creation, the pinnacle of the hierarchy of created things. The submission of her will to a creature at the bottom of the hierarchy represents an inversion of the original order.
Inversion means the reversal of a fixed order. In nature fixed order is represented by the 1-2 pattern. In other words, there is a binary set behind the Kingdom. God is always 1, yet God in Christ willingly became 2. It is called kenosis.
The Horites were also great observers of nature and noted what is universally obvious: the male of the species is larger and stronger than the female. This reality is not the result of the corruption of the original order. It is part of the 1-2 order. So St. Paul urges Christian husbands to love their wives kenotically, as Christ loves the Church.
Q: Why should we take as authoritative a world view in which everything associated with the female reproductive process was considered "unclean"? Surely the Semitic world view is damaging to women and should be rebutted.
R: Deep investigation of Abraham's people doesn't support the view that women and the reproductive process were considered unclean. Male and female represent a binary set and as such one can't exist without the other. This understanding is much older than the rabbinic teachings to which you refer. Jesus told the Jews that they should not call "unclean" what God has made clean.
In fact, there is evidence that the Rabbis missed the point about the shedding of blood in childbirth. This is a purifying work of women. It is life-giving blood work and as such the most important work. For the female, contact with the birthing blood does not represent ritual impurity. It does for the men of Abraham's caste because they were ruler-priests. On the other hand, women were not to come into contact with the blood of sacrificed animals. For women this represented ritual impurity since the blood work of the priest involved taking the life of the animal.
Q: There is no place in the binary world view for the LGBT community. In light of the fact that gay people are human beings, I wonder what function for which they were created?
R: There is a place for all people in the biblical worldview. However, there are lifestyles that express a dismissal of the biblical worldview, sometimes quite arrogantly. Homosexuality represents a category that does not conform to the created order with its binary distinctions of male/female, East/West, night/day, life/death/heaven/earth, etc. That is why homosexuality is considered an abomination along with sex with animals (bestiality). Bestiality blurs the distinction between humans in the image of God and creatures not in the image of God. Likewise sex with corpses blurs the distinction between the living and the dead.
Further, in the biblical worldview it is absurd to say that God created people with gender confusion or perverted desires. Gender confusion and sexual perversion are not features of God's original design in creation, but rather results of the corruption of creation resulting from sin and death.
The Bible also takes a position against onanism. Onanism is still regarded as an unrighteous deed among African and Asiatic tribal peoples. It is viewed as a violation of the order of creation. The seed that should fall to the earth is the seed of plants, which spring forth from the earth. The seed of man should fall on his own type (the womb), from which man comes forth. Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted” (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 A.D. 191).
Q: The production of children, as the Afro-Asiatics believed, was the only purpose of a sexual relationship. Levirate law required a widow to have intercourse with her dead husband's brother. Isn't this an example of dysfunction in a society?
R: There is no evidence that Abraham's people regarded the production of children as the only purpose of sex. In fact, the tantric-like aspects of the oldest layers of the tradition suggest that sex was viewed as a way of experiencing mystical union with the Creator. Begetting children likely was connected in their minds with co-creation.
Levirate marriage among Abraham's people served to insure the survival of the ruler-priests lines that intermarried exclusively. These are the lines of Jesus Christ's ancestry, and they can be traced back to the Edenic Promise (Gen. 3:15).
Related reading: Genesis on Homosex: Beyond Sodom; Some Thoughts on Sex; Why Women Were Never Priests; Did Abraham Believe Isaac to be Messiah?; Jesus: From Lamb to Ram; Blood and Binary Distinctions; Circumcision Among Abraham's People