Deceptive Scriptures

Lectionary
for July 24, 2011: 
Genesis 29:15-28

Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.17 Leah’s eyes were lovely,* and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.18 Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’19 Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.’20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.’22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast.23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.)25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’26 Laban said, ‘This is not done in
our country—giving the younger before the firstborn.27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me for another seven years.’28 Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.

When our pastor on July 24 read this scripture I was struck by the deception that Laban plays on Jacob and it started me thinking about all of the deception found in scripture.  There is Abraham’s pretending that Sarah is his sister instead of his wife and get’s the host kings in trouble with God (Sarah must have been one hot 100 year old woman for this to happen, but, that’s another issue altogether).  And of course son Isaac has to imitate good old dad with his wife.  Then of course there’s God who deceives Abraham into taking his son up to the mountain to be the blood sacrifice then just blows it off saying, just joking, didn’t think you take me up on it.  And, don’t forget Jacob deceiving his father into giving him the birth right and all of this is only in Genesis.  I’m not going to catalog all of the deceptions our religious fathers and mothers used.

As I have pondered this revelation that my faith is founded on deception I have to also accept that the Jewish and Islamic traditions are also based on deception andAs I look at other world religions deception is common to all of them. Over the past couple of weeks I have been struggling with what that means for my own faith.   When I did a Google search on Deception in Scriptures I find lots of stuff; about half of it is from conservatives who seem to find the deceptions somehow honorable, one fourth is from those who say the recording of the deceptions are the reasons God doesn’t really exist and the remaining fourth use the deceptions to defend their claims that their sister religions are false.

However, I keep thinking I am missing something here and I’m supposed to learn some kind of lesson from all of all this deception.  If I look at the first story of the Creation in Genesis we see no deception what so ever and everyone seems to ignore that.  God creates the universe and everything in it, and then creates man and woman. God tells the two of them everything was created for them so go for it, just take care of this world and we’re good. No trees you aren’t supposed to touch, no snakes in the grass, no original sin, nothing deceptive, just pretty much straight forward and simple. This is a believable story and I like it! God finds her creation good, including man and woman and trusts them to take care of things.  God was only asking that we be responsible
partners with him.  So what happened in chapter 2 were Adam and Eve switched at birth? Somehow we lost our ability to find the good in each other, and, for several thousand years our lives were lived by finding only the bad in each other.

What strikes me is the 4 Gospels of the New Testament seem to reflect the first chapter of Genesis in that Jesus teaches the message that God finds his creation good and all that is necessary for us to see it is do what the first Adam and Eve were supposed to do and that is take care of each other and the planet and we’re good with God.  But, yet again this message gets set aside and we end up finding only the bad side of each other and everything quickly goes downhill.  Why is it that we can’t accept the message God gives when she say’s that creation Is good?  Whenever someone points this out and calls us to return to the message of Genesis 1 we as a people manage to wipe them out, I just don’t understand.

I am wondering does anyone else find this odd about us humans, are we so simple minded that we can’t seem to learn what God has been trying to teach us all these years.  Have the gods of greed and ego so taken us by the throat that we can’t recognize the teachings of God, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or any of the other innumerable messengers sent to us.  Are we really that stupid?

I’d like to think that in the second creation story when Eve went and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad that she was trying to become what God wanted of her and Adam.  But, after eating it she and Adam blow it by not taking responsibility for what they did.  Are we now trying to learn to be responsible partners with God because if we so we aren’t doing a good job of it?  We have the tools to repair this relationship, given to us over and over again by so many messengers all we have to do is learn, so why is it so hard?  I have no answers to these questions and I really don’t know if I have it right or not and I don’t expect anyone else to have the answers either.   I put this out here for conversation only, surely we can come up with better questions than those who only condemn other traditions and those who make the statement “that my faith is the right one and everyone else is wrong.”

As you can see I have been wrestling with this issue for a couple of weeks before I put this out there.  So if anyone else has something to say I have an open mind.  However, please be respectful of others opinions because I’m not sure any of us has the “right” answer.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 8, 2011

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