Kevin Bacon, Dancing, and Alcohol
Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys. Genesis 30:43
I grew up in a conservative country church, where we simply didn’t dance or go to dances. Then, I saw Footloose, in which the hero of the story used a Bible passage about King David’s dancing to sway the opinions of those non-dancing killjoys in the movie. I tried Kevin Bacon’s tactics in my home, but I must not have been as persuasive, because it didn’t work. Later in life though, I did something similar, using the Bible to make me feel better about my consumption of alcohol. My conservative Christian upbringing frowned upon alcohol, perhaps even more than dancing. So, when I got to college and wanted to drink, I had to justify it. Jesus turned water into wine, right? If Jesus was pro-wine, who am I to argue? As it turned out, all my parent’s worst fears about alcohol and addiction – at least for me – were quite justified.
I bring these stories up to illustrate how we’re often tempted to use the Bible to justify our point of view. In reading through Genesis, there are multiple passages which casually refer to servants or slaves. I know that slavery in Biblical times was very different than modern slavery, but still, quoting these passages makes me uncomfortable. I’m aware that pro-slavery forces once used these passages to support their view – If the Bible endorses slavery, it can’t be wrong. I also know that now, there are those who use these same passages to discredit the Bible – If the Bible supports slavery, then I want nothing to do with it.
The Bible’s reference to servants though, can hardly be used as endorsement of modern slavery. There are multiple practices that are casually mentioned in Genesis – polygamy and incest for instance – that we don’t argue about today. So, when today’s passage mentions that Jacob was successful because he increased his number of servants, the idea may make me uncomfortable, but I don’t need to worry that the Bible is racist, supporting modern slavery.
Still, the underlying problem is that I’m often tempted to go to the Bible, seeking divine justification for my particular cause. I should go to the Bible, asking God what he’s telling me. Self-centered as I am though, I often start with what I want and then I go to God, asking him to get on board with me. Daily then, this is my challenge – to pick up God’s word and seek, not my will, but God’s will. What are you telling me here God? What do you want me to do? Faith isn’t bending God’s will to mine. Faith is abandoning my will for his.