Monday, December 30, 2013

On Work and Sex when Grounded in Sin

Colin Farrell as the original Mr. Banks.  We'll get to him after we talk about sex and sin a bit.

Onan's sin of "spilling his seed on the ground" (Gen. 38:9) is the archetype for the dead-end that all sin is.

Compare 1 Sam. 3:19, where we are told of Samuel the prophet

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel's words fall to the ground.

Samuel is confirmed as a prophet, and his words are as fertile as God's Word, not "falling to the ground" in waste, but received somehow by a good soil, returning forth perhaps a hundred times what was sown (see Mat. 13:8).  As God Himself says ...

[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Is. 55:11)

God's word is fecund.  It always, somehow, produces fruit.

Sin is sterile.  The best it can bring about is suffering and death.

God's way is the way of the Spirit; the way of sin is the way of the world.

And Scripture gives us some graphic images of what we become when we live entirely to the world and not at all to God.  Scripture does not give us Gollum (as Tolkien does) to symbolize living for sin, living for the world - instead the Bible gives us Whores.

Indeed, the apotheosis of a life devoted to the world, the flesh and the devil is the Great Whore, the Whore of Babylon, who "made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (Rev. 14:8)

Imagine the skankiest slut you can - crowned with false glory and worshiped by the smart people of the world, and by that part of us that desires success and selfish satisfaction above all else - that's the queen of this world, the Whore of Babylon, whose infected pollutions the movers and shakers eagerly lap up.  If Satan is the Prince of this world, his Princess is a sloppy whore.

In the Book of Proverbs she is an Adulteress, leading astray the man who should be seeking not her but his Lady - the true Lady Wisdom.  Follow the streetwalker to where she lives and find ...

Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  (Prov. 5:5)

For not only do we waste the seed God entrusts to us when we do the deed with this Adulteress (who represents devotion to the world and to sin), we lose all effective stewardship of the wellsprings of life.  If we drink from the well of another who is not our beloved, how are we to hope to safeguard the well that sustains us?

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. ... Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?  (Prov. 5:15-20)

Well, speaking on behalf of all Dirty Old Men everywhere, may I say, we know why!  Because she's cute and seductive and it won't really lead to anything, will it?  It will simply be a dead-end, a dalliance that we can keep well under control and compartmentalized tightly away.  Right?  Sterile, you know.  Safe Sex and all that.  Spilling our seed for a night on the town.

And it is this very devotion to a self-contained and deliberately infertile use of what is supposed to be a fertile faculty that dooms all work.  One of the effects of sin is the separation of effort from product.  The very ground upon which we spill our seed becomes cursed because of our sinfulness ...

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ... In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen. 3:17-19)

Not only does instant gratification become a chimera, but the "thorns and thistles" the ground brings forth in this fallen world become a crown of thorns that covers everything we try to do.

All work becomes effort, drudgery, pain.  Especially creative work, especially work done in love.

And yet ...

Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

Sowing God's seed, then, though painful and sometimes apparently futile, eventually brings forth a harvest of joy.

And so I am speaking here not just to my fellow Dirty Old Men, or to my fellow Sinners.  I am speaking here to my fellow Artists, or Artists in Spirit.  I am speaking to all of us and to the Poet in all of us.   I am speaking to Mr. Banks, as it were, or his prototype in the film Saving Mr. Banks - to the lonely Celt who sees beyond the "Celtic twilight" to the true and solid figures whose mere shadows dance upon the wall of our cave, which we call the world.

There is always a great return if we go forth with God's Word, though we sometimes can't see it for our tears or taste it for our parched and malnourished lips.

For even sorrow is productive, in God's economy.  Even a kind of depression - it it's the right kind - can lead to Him; not the sorrow of the world, you see, but the right kind of sorrow.  The sorrow that seeks out God.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Cor. 7:10)

My son, repent in the right way - not in the way of mere regret for worldly mistakes and failures.

Repent in the way of the Spirit and you "will come rejoicing - bringing in the sheaves."

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