This week I had to answer a discussion question (DQ) for a systematic theology class. The question brought to mind a vignette my sister wrote about 5 years ago concerning our mother and father. That piece of writing is below.
The DQ of interest came in two parts, “Why is it so important to recognize that God did not create us originally as individuals but as part of the community (male and female)? What are the implications of this view?”
I didn’t like or agree with the question and answered as follows, The premise of the question is wrong because God DID create us originally as individuals and as part of the community - initially the community of marriage, of relationship with God, and of relationship with the world. What are the implications of this view? A marriage does not work with the two individuals involved - until/unless each is submitting something of themselves to the community of the marriage. The same is true of anyone's relationship with God - the individual must submit something of their self to make that relationship work (God has already submitted his Son). While God has relationships with marriages, families, and churches - it is always through the individuals involved. No one will ever stand for or with another in front of God on judement day - no one except Christ. Loving one's spouse, family, community, and church as God would have us love them requires first a submission to God. Through this an individual or a marriage or a church community can bring more people to see and have God in their lives. This can have enormous impact on others as indicated by the short story below.
Glass of Water (by Carolyn J. Abbey)
It was a Tuesday night and I stopped to see my aging parents. They were getting ready for supper and insisted that I stay. My husband had a meeting and my children were old enough to fend for themselves, so I agreed. I helped my momma to get the meal on the table and I smiled at how there was always enough for whoever stopped by.
As I set the table, I asked momma what she wanted to drink. “Ice water” she responded. Then I asked daddy what he wanted. He said, “I will share your mom’s glass of water.”
We sat down to eat and I looked at this couple who had been married almost 58 years. They always sat in the same seats next to each other. Their routines were well established and comfortable for them. Sometimes the table was silent, other times it was full of discussion. Always they seemed interested in what was going on in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They often had news from their siblings. World issues might be brought up in conversation. Political discussions could be heated, but they also gave room for differences of opinions, if only everyone would agree that daddy was right.
I watched as momma moved her glass of water between her and daddy so it was an easy reach for both of them. As we visited I found myself watching them and wondering “when did they start to share one glass?” I thought about all of the years they had built their lives together while they raised six children. I looked at my parents knowing they had survived many hardships as well as joys in their lives, and I marveled at the simplicity and comfort of their love.
Somehow that glass of water symbolized so much more than a drink divided between two people. It signified their love, their commitment, their oneness. I found myself in awe as I experienced the plan of God for a marriage in this simple glass of water shared between two. Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, but separate beings, so a married couple should be one yet separate. I was humbled as I saw the purity of love as I sat in their presence. Once again, without knowing it, my parents taught me a valuable life lesson by simply sharing a glass of water. When I left that night I knew I had seen God in this world.
(Note by Riley - our father died, October 2010, about 4 years later. His only concern in his last weeks was to have us promise to take care of Mom. We are keeping our promise and doing that.)