Theological musings during my morning bike ride
*Long Post Alert*
I’ve taken up cycling during the pandemic; Wifey made a wise suggestion early on that we get new bikes for the family and now they are apparently hard to come by! Fridays are my long ride days and it’s nice to have some quiet solitude to sort out thoughts and enjoy God’s creation.
Anyhoo, today I was pondering over the question from a few days ago about if husbands feel the most loved when his wife willingly gives herself to him. (https://qna.themarriagebed.com/question/husbands-do-you-agree-with-dennis-prager/) Words are hard for me so it takes me some time to fully tease through an idea in a way that makes sense. I’ve also been listening to a podcast from a Christian sex addiction treatment and counseling center (to better understand myself and why sex is important to me. I don’t believe I am addicted to sex, but I have used the neurochemical response of arousal and orgasm to medicate emotional trauma from childhood and adolescence). The last series I listened to went through the 7 desires of every heart; to be included, safe, chosen, blessed, affirmed, touched, and heard and understood. (It’s also a book https://www.zondervan.com/9780310278160/the-seven-desires-of-every-heart/) And I think if the two are combined with some scripture some deeper insights emerge.
Pulling on the “why” thread got me to this question: Why is a man’s penis so important to him? There’s the physiological answer: it feels good when touched. There’s the neurochemical response answer: adrenaline during arousal and dopamine and oxytocin at orgasm are desired by the brain. So why did God design us men this way? Certainly for procreation and the marriage relationship, but that I think it goes deeper than that. I got to thinking about the Abrahamic covenant and God marking the Israelites as His through circumcision. (Genesis 17) God could have taken a finger, or a toe, or any other symbol, but He chose the tip of the penis. Why the penis? A circumcised penis is easier to keep clean, preventing disease and therefore ensuring the population growth of the Israelites, but beyond the physical reasons, what makes the penis so special? God obviously thought it was important to seal the covenant by marking Abraham at the core expression of his male-ness. God is saying “these people are mine” and giving them a unique identity. So why the penis unless it is already a symbol of identity? All of the pieces start to fall into place if you view a man’s penis as an integral part of his identity. A man desires to have his wife choose him in a way that demonstrates that he is accepted and values him at the core of his male-ness. This makes him feel loved in a way that is unique and powerful. Please don’t misconstrue this as me saying men are just walking penises, or that male sexuality is an excuse for harmful or destructive behavior; that perspective I think is a tool of satan to minimize what God intended for good. But I do think that the most impactful way to demonstrate to a man that he is safe, chosen, blessed, affirmed, touched, and heard and understood is through a very core aspect of his identity with sex.
This also isn’t meant to diminish womanhood or the unique identity women have. I also have a train of thought that I plan to impart to my son about how men treat women and why it’s important that men use their strength to protect women. But that’s a post for another time.
My second thought process on my bike ride (I told you this was going to be a long one) involves satan’s fall and why he wants to keep us separated from God. This one is more conjecture on my part, as I’ve not delved as deep into scripture to back this one up. Essentially it boils down to we have something he can’t, and he wants to keep us from God as retaliation. My first thought is that satan can’t have connection with God like we can, so he orchestrated the fall to separate humanity from God. Again, pulling on the “why” thread, why are we so special that satan attacks us? This leads into the second explanation of what we have that satan can’t: we are made in God’s image. Traditions say that satan was an angel that rebelled against God and was cast out. (This is where my biblical knowledge is lacking, although I don’t think it is expressly stated why satan rebelled, or what he did to get kicked out of heaven) So what does it mean to be made in God’s image? (This is my epiphany from my bike ride) We are created in a trinity (lowercase t) like God (but NOT God!). Humans are comprised of our mind, body, and spirit. Culturally this is widely accepted and you would be hard-pressed to find a solid argument against it. How this fits is if you think of the Trinity (capital T!) as God the Father (mind), God the Son/Jesus (body), and God the Holy Spirit (spirit [duh]). So we can connect with God because we are designed to be like him. So which does satan lack? Angels are often referred to as spirits, so that’s one. The demons who were cast out with satan often possess others: satan appears as a snake in the garden, and demons are said to possess both humans and pigs. Also, as Legion is leaving the man they ask to go into the pigs, as if they needed a host. If you had your own body, why would you need to enter another? So that’s a strike for body. What about mind?
So here’s my explanation: satan isn’t that smart. If you look at the cohesive thread of history, satan really only focuses on a few key messages. The most obvious is that we can be like God by attaining knowledge (mind). It was the nature of the original sin, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Possibly reenacting his own fall from Heaven with those that had what he couldn’t: body and mind. By attacking the mind he also destroyed the body by introducing death.
I did some internet searching on the question of circumcision. Many peoples practiced circumcision, but God commanded that it be done on the eight day, which was a departure from when it was normally performed by pagan cultures (at puberty, or before marriage). The theological significance of circumcision is related to God’s promise to make a nation for Abraham since the penis is used in sexual intercourse to bring into existence the next generation. In Mosaic Law, the people were also told to circumcise their hearts, meaning that in addition to the physical mark they had to commit their will and spirit to obeying God’s commands.
As for Satan, I think that his fall was due to pride. He could not abide the fact that he was not God. Attacking us is thus a way of attacking God, the real target of his anger.
I think when the bible talks about God protecting us like being sifted like wheat that should show us that the enemy is very cunning, very smart, and likely could deceive any of us without His protection. It is our constant prayer, petition, and walking with God that keep us in harmony with His Spirit, and I believe also, His protection. Many humans are foolish and let their mouths run and run, and I often think they bring trouble on themselves with their own tongue, often a proud and haughty statement that I wonder if it diminishes His protection through their own foolishness. There is no doubt that the enemy hates us and hates God and wishes to see HIs creation destroyed. There are many being foolishly led down the wrong path.
Like you, I’ve always found the command and God’s people being set aside through circumcision interesting – not knowing what to fully make of it. I certainly see that God wished His people to be set aside, and He chose something important to man to do it. I find it interesting that God designed man to have a foreskin and then He commanded us to circumcise it. As we know that sin is passed from a father to his children through his seed, and penis, perhaps circumcision is a figurative way of showing that a man and His children belong to the Lord.
I wonder if requiring the circumcision be done on the 8th day was more about the parents living the covenant before and teaching it to their children? After all, an eight-day-old baby has no real say in or knowledge of choosing to circumcise his heart to God, but for a parent to watch his and her child be brutally cut at the core of his manhood, at the font of posterity, takes commitment to obedience.
And I recall the story about Satan was that he was the best and brightest angel in heaven, second only to God, but he was dissatisfied with second and wanted to be equal to God and that was why he was cast out. Now that I think about it, I don’t think that’s actually in the Bible, so I don’t know where I heard it. The Bible does say our fight is not against flesh or the things of this world but against spirit. But it does also say that Satan is cunning, which implies smart.
The good part is, he’s already lost!
But I do think there is something to the connection between the tree being that of knowledge of good and evil, and the fact that the biggest threat to the souls of Man today is that he doesn’t recognize evil for evil and good for good. If it’s not a purposeful connection, it is certainly an interesting irony.