“Christian Men Confront Two Codes"
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Michael Leamon, Sr. is the pastor of Calvary Wesleyan Church in Bethlehem, PA. He holds a B.A. in Pre-Seminary Studies from United Wesleyan College in Allentown, PA, and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. His articles have been published in The Morning Call and is a regular contributor to the “Faith and Values” weekly column. He and his wife, Wendy, have two young adult children and celebrate 26 years of marriage.
I enjoyed reading the bestseller, “The Da Vinci Code” and anticipate seeing the movie. It’s a thriller with action from the first pages and intrigue until the last. It was hard to put down. However, the further I read the more I felt God using Dan Brown to confront me and my fellow professing Christian men.
This fanciful tale celebrates goddess worship. Brown fictionally charges the Roman Catholic Church of suppressing evidence that Jesus believed in and practiced goddess worship by marrying Mary Magdalene. The church’s motive? To help men dominate women.
Brown rightly reports that religions more ancient than Christianity worshiped goddesses alongside gods. In fact, often ancient Israelites worshiped the goddess Asherah which included sacred male and female prostitution even though God strictly forbade it (Exodus 34:10-17). Sadly, Brown reverses historical truth. Where clans and cultures substituted worship of created male and female idols for worship of the invisible Creator God, their worship reinforced repression and abuse of women rather than freeing them to enjoy a mutual relationship with men.
The Old Testament reveals a God who, in this repressive context, began the long process of lifting woman to the position of equal dignity and rights he originally intended. The ancient goddess worshiping cultures defined women as property. Husbands “kept” them to produce sons. Reproductive success defined their self worth. Goddess worshiping men used them to act out, in ritual intercourse, their hopes that the gods would make their farms fertile. Reading the Mosaic Law against this backdrop, I cannot help but see many ways God began to restore women to the mutual status that pagan religion denied. Not the least of which was to forbid ritual prostitution!
Then came Jesus. He elevated women even further. Rather than seeing them as objects of sex, even ‘sacred’ sex, he insisted on viewing them above their shoulders and deeper than their skin. The New Testament speaks of women prophets and of a woman apostle. Paul, often misunderstood, wrote “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Both are exalted, equally reflecting the Creator’s glory.
Confession. Christian men have often failed to live up to the Creator’s ideal for us. We often misinterpret biblical texts to keep women “in there place.” We often expect women to serve our wants in marriage. And, if Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker are right in “Every Man’s Battle,” most, if not all of us face temptation to view woman as sexual objects. The further I raced through Brown’s novel the more I felt confronted with a reality I didn’t fully appreciate in the past.
At best, every temptation to use women for my own purposes puts me in league with the goddess worshipers in “The DaVinci Code.” At worst, such temptation also tempts me to abandon my commitment to the God of the Bible and his relationship Code. In the words of the Old Testament prophets, I prostitute myself in goddess worship.
Goddess worship exerts its powerful attraction just as much on men today as it did for ancient men. I believe it expresses itself in seeking multiple sexual partners in order to meet one’s own needs. Enjoying pornography turns women into used objects as much as Dan Brown’s curator of the Louvre turned an unnamed woman into an object in a basement sacred sexual ritual.
Rather than creating a wonderful harmony between male and female, a so called yin and yang relationship, goddess worship acts like poisonous gas seeping into our lives, slowly eating away at our ability to experience true and lasting harmony between equal and highly valued persons. Husbands grow dissatisfied with a wife’s body because it is less than physically perfect, too boring and familiar or not functioning the way we imagine it should. The honeyed voice of goddess worship betrays “till death do us part.”
The Bible begins with Adam and Eve setting themselves up to be their own gods. Looking back, the New Testament observes that consequently people exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped created things instead of the Creator. Broken, empty and oppressive relationships with women give witness to the lie that many professing Christian men live.
“The DaVinci Code” is many things. An engrossing read. Bad history. For me, as a professing Christian man, it has also become a powerful reminder that I cannot divorce my sexuality from my loyalty to the God of the Bible and his righteous Code. To view women and to physically interact with them, including my wife, in any other way than God reveals in the Bible, is tantamount to abandoning God for a goddess. In effect, I become a practicing pagan rather than the Christian man I profess to be. Thanks, Dan Brown, you’ve helped to strengthen my faithfulness to God — and my wife.
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