Yeah that was like 4 hours ago.
The book (Sarah by Orson Scott Card... first in his 3 novels about the wives of the patriarchs) isn't really the best in the world. The writing is awful at times... he 1) can't write flirty banter for CRAP, 2) has fallen into the trap of idealizing everything about the characters in the Bible, where Abraham does no wrong and Sarah just loves him soooo much and they never fight or bicker and the one time she says a mean thing to him she just can't believe she would ever do such a thing and etc. 3) has fallen into another trap... that of having ZERO subtlety with regards to his character's feelings for each other. I think this is more of personal preference, but within the first 2 pages, I should not be able to tell which characters are going to hook up. The worst was in the like 4th paragraph of the whole book where 10-year-old Sarah sees Abraham and it says "When she heard his voice, she knew she wanted to hear her name spoken by this man." Oh, please, someone gag me. While I'm sure that happens to some people, it certainly hasn't happened to me. Haha! And if you're working on their chemistry before you've even developed their characters!? EGADS!
Okay, the little nerdy writer side of me is going baaaaaack into its cage where it belongs.
While most of the writing in these books is bad, I have this weird obsession with fictionalized renditions of the Bible (as long as they're not SO awful that I want to stab myself... normal, run of the mill mediocrity is about my limit for bad writing). I think it's that the Bible is all facts, all boring, dry, facts about events... "This man begat this boy, and he grew up to herd many sheep and eventually begat this boy [Through magic, because no women are listed - these children sprout out of their heads fully formed] who slew 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass..." boring. I like when they flesh out the characters... I'm aware it's not "true" or anything, but I like to hear what the author thought of the characters' personalities and relationships and how they responded emotionally to different events. I'm at the part right now where Abraham and Sarah just left Egypt after Abraham told Pharoah that Sarah was his sister and not his wife and the Pharoah tried to marry her. It's making me want to read up on that story, because as I remember it, Pharoah DID marry her, and God cursed his land because he was sexing a married woman. The way the book tells it, he just TRIED to marry her, and everything was a-okay and they got to leave happily. o.O;;; Maybe I'm just remembering stuff wrong. And he tastefully left out the part where Abraham is like "uh, well, uh, she kind of IS my sister, because this was a billion years ago when we were all incestual and no one cared." ... where am I going with this.
Uh, yeah. I like these books. What THIS book has been teaching me, weirdly, through the creepy idealized relationship between Sarah and Abraham, is that... well.. it put into perspective what it means for us to be God's bride... a metaphor I always liked, but don't think I fully understood it (I'm sure I still don't).
Some people have taken the analogy of us as the bride of Christ and turned it around, to say that all husbands are inherently the miniature "Christ"s to the women, and thus women should borderline worship them. Some people have not gone so extreme and have simply made phrases like "The husband and wife relationship should be a mirror image of what our relationship to Christ is like." My snarky reply to that has always been "Well when I see a husband get crucified for his wife, then I'll buy it." But.... I don't think the Bridegroom of Christ metaphor was ever meant to be talking about human beings at all. Ever.
In the culture of that time, their system of marriage created a relationship between two people who were kind of equal, but one was clearly over the other. (NOTE: for this entire entry, I'm talking about a perfect, almost unrealistic, relationship between a man and woman in this time period, full of love and understanding and respect. How many of those existed, I dunno, but for the sake of argument, that's what I'm talking about) Husband was clearly head of all. He was to be obeyed, to be submitted to, BECAUSE he cared for, provided for, protected, etc. his wife. At the same time, they are vaguely equal in affection, intimacy, care for one another, respect, etc. While I don't think this was the way God "meant" marriage to be... I think God was borrowing from an aspect of their culture to describe the unique relationship between God and ourselves. God is obviously above us... he's bigger, stronger, smarter, made everything, etc. He also provides for us, protects us, etc. But there is still a give and take of love and affection. We worship God, and are grateful for all he does, and we have a relationship with him. He loves us, appreciates us because he made every finite detail of us, and has a relationship with us as well. It's not equal - just as the marriage of the Bible's culture was not equal - but there was still that mutual exchange of affection and love, like the husband and wife.
I realized this while reading the book... that why it has always been weird for me to understand the marriage analogy... is because I've been seeing it from our view of marriage (in which, may I please state for public record, I will not be submitting or obeying anyone during), which made me see me and God on a much more even playing field, and probably explained why some things don't line up. Like... in the book, Abraham does things and Sarah doesn't have input. He makes decisions about her life, when she's not around, and she just has to figure out WHY on her own. She gets upset with him for decisions he makes, but trusts him, and knows that he would never do anything to hurt her, because he loves her, so even when things look like they're falling apart and he must be nuts if he thinks it's going to work... she doesn't freak out, or get mad at him, because she knows he's acting out of love. (Again, here, may I state that I think this is the most retarded way for two human beings to be in a relationship together O_O!!! If men were as smart and as perfect as God, I'd be all for it, but they're just as human as women are, and thus, I don't think this should be a good model for any married couple involving two human beings) This is how our relationship with GOD is to be. Sometimes he's going to make decisions about us that really look stupid. Sometimes things are going to happen in our lives that look as if he doesn't care about us at all, or has forgotten us, or whatever... but, using the example of that special, culturally-relevant marriage relationship... we are to rest, trustingly, knowing that he loves us and would never make a decision he knew would harm us.
I also realized another thing, which I don't know where this fits in, but it's kind of about the old way of marriage, so yay. There's a system, a process, in place in this old culture's way of marriage. The man meets the woman, and finds value in her. He sees her as worthy, as precious, as valuable, and offers her his opinion of her - his love. The woman, feeling worthy, precious, valuable, loved, responds with loyalty, devotion, submission - her obedience. When the man receives her obedience to him, her response to his trust and love, he not only lavishes her with more love, but also responds with faithfulness, loyalty, and devotion... which then, in response, generates love in her. (where am I going with this? I promise there is a point!) Remember this is coming from a culture where the woman may not even KNOW she is about to married to this particular man... maybe only seen glimpses of him, or heard his name from her father. The man has appraised her value, and extends love to her, without any emotional response from her. Out of unemotional duty (or gratitude), the woman responds with obedience. The obedience causes the man to want to be true, faithful, and devoted to the woman, which makes her love him.
This is the way it is with God.
I have never been able to reconcile in my mind the ideas of "obeying God" and the idea of loving him. Obedience and love are not tied together in my mind. At all. I obey traffic laws and my college's ridiculously strict behavioral codes and it just always screams of LEGALISM to me and I hate it. Love is something that makes you smile. Obedience is something that makes you fear punishment. That is how I view it.
So all the verses about "If you love me, you will obey my commands" and stuff... it always bothered me. Until I thought of this. "Love God because he first loved you." God loved us, and found us valuable, despite whatever it is that makes us seem unvaluable to ourselves and everyone else, and he extended his love, care, provision, etc, to us. The response - even if there is no emotional response whatsoever (which is important to me, and always has been, as I have a hard time having an emotional relationship with God) - is obedience to his will, his laws, his commands, his desires. When he knows we will follow his leadership, then he can bless us with faithfulness, with answered prayers, with trusting us to do his will and to follow out even more of his commands, and the result of his giving back to us, produces genuine affection and feeling.
While God is valuable because he is God, I think he understands that we need proof of his God-ness, and knows that when he can prove himself, we love him even more. So many psalms are about God's giving things to us, rewarding us, blessing us... I dunno, it make sense to me. :)
I have to get up in an hour. Ugh. I should attempt sleep again.