The Other; Triumph of the Trophies

1.  In my reading today of In the Beginning, Henri Blocher talks about God making male and female.  Blocher believes that men and women are equal, yet he thinks that women shouldn’t be preachers.  I guess that would make him a complementarian, right?

I found his discussion of homosexuality to be interesting, and odd.  It’s on pages 102-103:

We have seen that the being-with of the man and his neighbour reflects (and should serve) the being-with man and God.  If the fundamental being-with is face-to-face partnership with the other sex in diversity, then our proposition is confirmed and sharpened.  The face-to-face relationship with the LORD signifies for mankind respect for otherness in supreme and transcendent form and for the primary distinction—that between Creator and creature.  Immediately we can understand why the apostle Paul makes a close association between idolatry and homosexuality (Rom. 1:22-27).  This sexual perversion as a rejection of the other corresponds to idolatry in its relationship to God, the rejection of the Other; it is the divinization of the same, the creature.

Blocher’s argument is that our relationship with each other mirrors our relationship with God.  When we’re dealing with God, we’re relating to someone who is other, that is, different from us.  God wants our romantic relationships to be the same way: relating to the other, the sex that is different from our own.  But, in homosexuality, a person relates to someone who is like him or her, from the same sex.  That’s like worshipping the creature rather than the creator.


This actually isn’t the first time today that I encountered the concept of God as other.  A blogger quoted R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God:

To be undone means to come apart at the seams, to be unraveled…. [It is] personal disintegration…. [Isaiah] was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of the holy God. In that single moment, all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath a gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to maintain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed—morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart. His sense of integrity collapsed.

There is a special kind of phobia from which we all suffer. It is called xenophobia.  Xenophobia is a fear (and sometimes hatred) of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. God is the ultimate object of our xenophobia.He is the ultimate stranger. He is the ultimate foreigner. He is holy, and we are not.

I’m not sure how to relate to God as other.  I mean, there has to be some bridge between us, right, for me to interact with God.  Me being in God’s image could be that bridge.  For a lot of Christians, the bridge is the fact that God became a man in Jesus Christ.

As far as relationships are concerned, I think it’s good to know different kinds of people and to get out of my own little universe.  My problem is that I have a hard time interacting with people who are completely different from me.  But maybe that’s where I need to ask that person about her interests, and why they mean so much to her. 

I’m not sure how homosexual relationships work.  I think that Blocher is assuming that men are a certain way, and women are a certain way.  But that may not always be the case.  That’s why there are men who feel they are in the wrong gender, and vice versa.

Also, if it’s so important for us to be romantically involved with someone who’s different from us, why do Christians oppose Christians dating non-Christians—being unequally yoked?

2.  In Bringing the Hidden to Light, I read Kathryn Kravitz’s essay, “Biblical Remedial Narratives: The Triumph of the Trophies”.  Her argument was that there are stories in the Bible in which the people of God are humiliated trophies of a conquering power, and yet God has the last laugh.  Or the stories speak to a setting in which the Jews are subjugated to a foreign oppressor, and they offer them hope. 

For example, Kravitz speculates that the story of Samson being blinded by the Philistines and killing them all in the end speaks to the Babylonian exile, in which the Babylonians blinded the sons of King Zedekiah.

The story of Naaman taking Israelite soil to Syria, for Kravitz, may reflect the time of Assyrian dominance, when Assyrians set their mark in the land of Israel.  In the Naaman story, a Syrian is setting an Israelite mark in the land of a power that is oppressing Israel: Syria!

That reminds me of something Marc Brettler says in The Creation of History in Ancient Israel: a story in the book of Judges was designed to offer Israel comic relief when she was suffering at the hands of a foreign oppressor!

Stories can create a world that encourages, comforts, or amuses us.  I’m reminded of something Merlin Oleson said about Michael Landon’s TV series: they were like the old Frank Kapra movies, in which you watched them and felt better at the end, energized to face life.

I’d like to think, though, that the biblical stories were based on some historical reality, that the Israelites were being offered a concrete basis for hope: that God had subverted Israel’s oppressors before, and will do so again.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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