the persistence of primitive theology

primitive theology cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Primitive Theology” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

The new pope, Pope Francis, says that we shouldn’t be naive and that marriage equality is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. No one is surprised. And this isn’t to single out the Catholic Church because many if not most churches are the same. It just points to a fact of life: once theology becomes canonized it is here to stay as long as the institution who birthed it and perpetuates it survives.

A friend of mine on Facebook reminded me of the above theology… the umbrella of authority. I was raised on it, taught it, and believed it for a long time. It was simply assumed in the religious culture I was in. Again, the only began to question it was when I somehow stepped outside or bypassed the system that perpetuated this idea and looked at it from a different angle.

This is why for many simply leaving the institution or the system or bypassing it altogether is really the only option left open for them.

As long as we rely upon a book and an institution to determine our lives we will never be free. Never.

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  • Sabio

    I just saw that umbrella thing yesterday on some Christian site and laughed. I remember being taught that stuff. Lots of similar diagrams out there.
    Here is on.
    But none of them had a caveman’s wife chastising his control efforts.
    Sadly, your porcupine cave-babe was wrong, that crap has lasted for millions of years — other primates have the same — well, except bonobos, it seems, because males don’t bond as strongly in that species.

    I agree with you, David, when you say, “As long as we rely upon a book …”
    Maybe it is useful to start calling “the Bible” and “the out-dated Middle East Anthology” — which gets rid of the notion of a book that has a single author, a consistent theme or universal wisdom. Time to stop using the Anthology for necromancing our moral code.

  • I think this is true at all levels of institutional religion: Those closest to the top are believed to hear God better than those at the bottom – thus the need for ‘authority’ and ‘leadership’ and ‘godly covering’ (tongue in cheek). (Though those same individuals seem to forget that Jesus clearly instructed the disciples that they weren’t to ‘lord’ their appointments over others as the gentiles did.) And the really sad part is, they believe their own self-appointment and become often dangerous if anyone, particularly a woman, stands up and challenges that. It is both very sad as well as very freeing to know that, outside of that type of institutionalized dogma, there really is life – and that more abundantly LOL!

    What started out as a model of what Jesus intended His Body to look like: a living organism, sharing life in community with others and advancing the goodness and kindness of God, became self appointed structures that honestly believe they are the ‘watchdogs of God’ ; whose very nature sucks the life right out of us.

    But I also believe that that is changing – person by person – through communities like this and others.

  • Gary

    “What started out as a model of what Jesus intended His Body to look like: a living organism, sharing life in community with others and advancing the goodness and kindness of God, became self appointed structures that honestly believe they are the ‘watchdogs of God’ ; whose very nature sucks the life right out of us.” – Shawn Spjut

    Shawn I love this statement. I may have to “borrow” it for my own use.

  • Gary
    Your welcome to it. As one who has been graciously set free from the hierarchy of self-appointed church policing to enjoy life amongst the natives, I have no problems confessing to being an ex-life- sucker myself. Fact is, though I am not an advocate of naval gazing, I did spend a considerable amount of time apologizing to God for being a party to it. Even to this day, the thought of how I also once preached the very type of rhetoric David is talking about, still holds a cringe factor of 4.5 if I let myself dwell on it. But God is good and I’ll get over it. I just pray those I conned, do as well.

  • Alas, the idiocy has lasted for quite a long time. I never understood why women should submit to men, supposedly under God’s plan, because the plain experience of life showed me that father/husband most emphatically did not always know best.

  • When I found this site I was excited. I thought it was a fun, forward thinking, yet responsible Christian site. I have been slowly disappointed over the months. First off there isn’t much Christianity here. It seems more like hopeful agnosticism. Mostly this is a site for people to say, “wow thank you God for not making me like those people.” You make fun of people who don’t believe what you believe, rather than trying to open their hearts to you. It is just another confirmation for me that so called progressives are just as close minded as conservatives. I admire your guts David, but this site is just not for me anymore. Peace.

  • Well that’s an interesting reaction to this cartoon Jareth. I’m not making fun of people, but ideas. There is a difference. And I’m not trying to get anybody to open their heart to me. I’m in the business of challenging ideas that are harmful to people. Peace on your path. Bye.

  • Gary

    Wow Jareth’s comments brings back painful memories for me. I have made similar statements myself when the doubt I was struggling with lead me deeper into the questions than I was as of yet ready to go.

  • Stirred stuff up for me too Gary. But oh well.

  • Jareth:
    I actually ‘unliked’ it the second day. Then the Lord woke me up at 3am and asked why I was offended. The answer I gave was pretty ‘religious’. The one He gave, pissed me off: “I didn’t ask you to defend Me.” he said, “I want you to get back in the conversation.” So here I am; offences and all LOL!

    David’s questions/statements/comments do stir stuff up; but if it’s not my job to defend God or Scripture (Holy Spirit seems to do pretty well on His own), then I guess I’m free to put my 2c’s in as well.

  • Guess I need to explain a little more. (First, just so you know who I am, I used to post as PrayerPunk, but after the move I started using my name instead of my site.) I simply find myself disagreeing with the message here more and more. I want to add to the conversation, but I don’t want to be that guy disagreeing all the time. It has nothing to do with me feeling I have to defend God, or I am to religious to ask big questions. The main theme here is that Church is bad and we should leave. I don’t agree. Some individual churches may be abusive, some denominations have bad theology, but that doesn’t mean we should just abandon the Church. You won’t fix any problems in the Church by leaving it. You do pick on the Catholics a lot, and yes, I get tired of that. I have been harassed to much in my life for being Catholic to voluntarily go to a place where we are misrepresented or stereotyped. Call me thin skinned all you want, but I have suffered real persecution for my faith and I do have a knee jerk reaction against those ignorant of the what the Church really teaches. I am not angry with you or anything, I have just come to realize that this site is just not for me. I might still stop by every now and then, but like I said I don’t want to be that guy always arguing with you.

  • Jareth, I’m a church-goer, too. I like my community, and I like our priest, but I must say I think the institutional churches are dying – maybe sooner, maybe later. I do not believe the church, meaning the Body of Christ and the people of God, will die. What remains will look very different from the institutional churches of today. David gets under my skin sometimes, too, but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. The old saying that the church should be about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable still holds true. I think disagreement expressed with civility is allowed and even welcomed here.

  • Jareth… again… i’m surprised… for someone who has read my blog i might have posted maybe 4 or 5 cartoons addressing the catholic church, and only recently to do with the pope, etc… the VAST majority of my posts have nothing to do with any denominations at all… it seems like my posts lately about the catholic church were too much for you. i didn’t realize you were catholic. and… for the record… i am indebted to the RCC for much needed spiritual direction from real monks and nuns down through the years, and my biggest heroes are RCC… Merton, Mother Teresa, Meister Eckhart, Jesus (oops) 😉 …. I’m sorry if I offended your Catholic sensitivities. in my defense, and I hardly do this, i want to emphasize that i am not against the churches or denominations, but some of the ideas i believe they perpetuate to keep people in their proper place… subservient to it for its own survival. i know you are far more conservative than i am… i believe i’m a more liberal christian than those who read my blog. but, alas, i can’t please everybody. i don’t even try.

  • Maurice

    David, just want to thank you for being brave. It takes immense courage to keep saying (sketching) what’s on your heart and in your head. You speak the truth! Keep going.

  • thanks maurice. i really don’t mean to hurt others. but i know my cartoons sometimes get in faces.

  • David, I couldn’t finding anything online that suggested Pope Francis said anything specifically about husband/wife equality in marriage. Correct me if I’m wrong. Isn’t his opposition focused on gay/lesbian marriage equality? LOVE the cartoon!

  • Yes you are right Ruth… the cartoon isn’t to do with gay rights, etc… My commentary is more about how it is impossible for a church to change a theology once it’s canonized, including the status of women. Sorry for the confusion.

  • duane

    You’re right. We need to get rid of primitive theology like the Ten Commandments.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Over 20 years ago (1991 or so), I mentioned a Bible verse to a female believer, it was this one: “husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church, and gave His life for her” – and she instantly said, “I would follow a man like that anywhere on this earth.”

    As time went by, I noticed that the Protestant community (and bookstore) was emphasizing the Dominant/Subordinate concept in their Family and Marriage courses. “Me is Big Boy. Big Boy lead; you submit; this God say.” It was almost as a pendulum-effect against a perception of women taking over businesses, sciences, homes, and churches…

    Somehow, the Sacrificial Love concept got lost. I mean, don’t Christian men give up careers that their wife finds too stressful (for the wife)? Don’t Christian men move to the type of cities (or towns) that will allow their wives to fulfill her potential? Didn’t Christ consider the glories of heaven not something to be grasped in desperation… but instead, emptied himself into the form of a servant?

    I think my friend, years ago, go it right. She would gladly ‘submit to him’, if only he lived out the Sacrificial Love concept as the first priority.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Caryn: Beautifully put.

  • For me, when I take those verses (Husbands love your wives, Wives submit to your husbands) and put them in context of all Scripture, I hear the Bible say to all people, “May your attitude be that of Christ: submit to all, be grace to all, serve all, love all.” Here and there it will give a piece of that message to a specific person or some specific people in the way that they need to hear it; but I don’t know how a man can read the whole Bible and not hear God telling him to submit to his wife in love.

    David, I don’t agree with everything you say, and there are many times that I read a cartoon and feel my back getting stiff, and my face flushing; but I truly appreciate the way you challenge me in my beliefs. If we don’t have people in our society who are allowed to challenge us, then our thoughts will become ingrown; if those people who have permission to challenge us aren’t making us mad, then they’re not doing their job. Don’t be dismayed by the people who ague too much, be dismayed by those who don’t argue enough.

  • thanks john. good advice.

  • Jonathan: Excellent response. No one likes to have their religious cows threatened, but unless we are willing to allow ourselves to become offended, we won’t even know if what we believe is the result of our own convictions, or the fruit of someone else’s. In the book of Isaiah the Lord said, ‘Behold I do a new thing..don’t remember the former thing..” We all get really excited when we hear ‘new thing’ as long as it doesn’t mean the new is going to upset or over throw the old. Change is difficult at the best of times..but even more so when that change is something that needs to happen within systems we’ve considered the foundation for our beliefs.

  • Gary

    Johnathan and Shawn…great insights. Glad you’re both here!