Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Rochester Park, a Broccoli Bouquet, Valentine's Day and Cures for Loneliness

One Rochester

Rochester Park is, for now, only Tex-Mex American Southwestern at North Border (run by a co-owner of Cha Cha Cha and Tango at Holland Village, though her waiters, unfortunately, could not tell chimichanga from Earl Grey) and lounging, drinks and finger food at One Rochester. Black-and-white colonial bungalows amongst towering trees and immense shrubbery, and at nightfall, twinkling lights and the uproarious laughter of friends.

Tonight, there was also a broccoli bouquet because obviously, >1000 florets beats two dozen roses. Heh.

But really, how can we expect, by the giving or acceptance of the beheaded reproductive structures of red rose bushes, to demonstrate the proferring or reception of any sort of love and conversely soothe any sort of pain of loneliness? Loneliness in not loving or being loved by anyone; not needing or being needed by anyone; personified in clich├ęd narratives by secondary school kids in creative-writing classes as dying alone in a flat, your decomposing body half-eaten by your pet dog/cat/boa constrictor, only discovered by the police after the neighbours who ignored you while you were living complained of an overpowering smell emanating from behind your door.

Cure for Loneliness in Marriage?
Perhaps, we say, the cure for loneliness is love in an exclusive one man, one woman relationship that is sexual in marriage. After all, doesn't God say of Adam in Genesis 2:18,"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him". So we think: none of the animals was a worthy companion to Adam; none of them assuaged his loneliness, hence the creation of Eve. Therefore, we assume we are to find the cure for our loneliness in a person of the opposite sex in marriage.

But if this was so, we would expect the rest of Scripture to echo this point. However, much as the Bible has to say about the longings of the human heart, almost never are these longings and their satisfaction placed in the context of such a marriage/sexual relationship.

Love and Friendship
1 John 4:7-21 for example, a favourite wedding passage, isn't actually about the exclusive relationship between man and woman in marriage at all. Eloquent as it is about love, it is about the love of God for his people, the love of his people for God and the love of his people for each other. The presence of God is signified by not by looking at marriages but rather, at the church. Love is to be found in the fellowship of a Christian community; a church.

John 13-16 again, is about the Father's love for the Son, the Son's love for his disciples and the love the disciples must have for each other. One of the highest things that Jesus can call the disciples to is not to be his sexual lovers, but to be his friends (John 15:15).

And one of the prime examples of a great friendship in the Old Testament was that of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18-20). So great was their friendship, David described it as surpassing the love of women (2 Samuel 1:26).

Loyalty and friendship, not a sexual relationship. It is this world's obsession with sex and sexualising everything and our fallen natures and sinfulness that are too willing to interepret wonderful friendships either between Jesus and his disciples or David and Jonathan as (homo)sexual.

David Schwimmer attributed the popularity of the sitcom Friends to the fantasy of singles everywhere about having a group of friends who were almost like family.

These instincts and fantasies are not far off from the way God created us to find love and dispel loneliness.

Cure for Loneliness in Fellowship
We may all come to God individually, at separate times, under vastly differing circumstances. But he did not save us to wait for his coming individually, struggling sniffling alone in our stuffy rooms. He saved us to be part of his people, part of his community, his body, his family. And the importance of recognising that a community of Christians is not just a nicety or a hobby club but a living breathing organic entity is in many of the the New Testament letters.

Additionally, we are told that marriage relationships are not for all eternity (Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27), but one: the marriage between God and his church (the description doesn't suggest the marriage between God and each and every Christian but the marriage between God and his people; the Christian community).

While we cannot exclude the sexual relationship from being some remedy for loneliness and being unloved, marriage does not appear to be God's general or major provision to meet these yearnings. Instead, he has created us so that it is in friendship and fellowship with God and with God's people that we find such fulfilment.

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At February 16, 2006 9:13 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And brocoli is high in vit c and soluable fiber!



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