April 18th, 2006
|10:24 am - Cut up the concubine|
When I read the Bible a couple of years ago I was struck by how some stories are repeated several times, with different protagonists. Obviously they were the equivalent of our modern 'Urban Legends': stories that appealed to the popular imagination, and were recounted 'about' various cultural heroes.
One of these generic stories goes as follows: An upright man has an important guest. The people of his city come round his house at night, demanding to be allowed to rape this guest. Upright man refuses, but as a kind of quid pro quo throws his virgin daughter out into the street. She is raped to death. God then takes revenge on the city, killing all men women and children.
The story tells us good and bad things about its culture. The reverence for guests, the condemnation of rape, but the treatment of daughters as disposable property. Some Christians take this story (particularly the version set in Sodom) as a parable against consensual homosexual relations - which seems to be a wilful misreading.
Another version of this story is recounted in Judges 19:
Some men turn up outside a house wanting to rape the guest 'A Levite'. The host offers them his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine to rape instead. When the assailants reject such an exchange, the Levite simply expels the concubine from his host's house, leaving her to be raped repeatedly throughout the night. The following morning, upon finding the concubine's dead body on his host's doorstep, the Levite dismembers her and sends her body parts out to the twelve tribes of Israel as a provocation to revenge
A recent conference called 'The War on Christians' took this story as emblematic. In their struggle against acceptance for homosexuals, they were truly inheritors of this tradition.
'"I kind of feel like the Levite," Ron Luce confessed. And then he uttered a battle cry of his own: "CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE!"
I think this is a very, very significant statement. One can see in these biblical stories a fear of violation, and a desire to project that violation onto the other, onto the female. The concubine (=whore) is raped, so that the male guest can be saved. But it's worse than that - let the daughter/concubine die - cut up the whore. Not only must the body be violated to save the spirit, but the person who 'embodies' sex must be dismembered, turned into lumps of literal flesh. The body must be punished, and this punishment must continue after the body has died from it.
To rally people against gay men with the cry 'cut up the concubine' makes no logical sense at all. But it makes a twisted psychological sense. Cut the woman, hurt the gays, never touch anyone ever in a loving way.
|Date:||April 18th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)|| |
Basically these guys don't like people very much, do they? They also don't appear to be in agreement with Luke: ""Do unto others as you would have them do to you" (6:31).
And what did he mean 'I feel like the Levite'? 'I feel as if people are massing outside my house to rape me'?
I hate the Levite in this story. His concubine was presumably a woman he had taken as a lover. He throws her out to a mob to be killed. I mean, I know it didn't really happen, but it's a horrible story.
|Date:||April 18th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)|| |
Well, she was someone he'd bought to use, is probably how he saw it.
"I feel like the Levite" presumably means "when in danger, I'm in the habit of skulking behind a woman". But some of these folk really can't hear themselves, I think. Look at this lot
. No logic at all. Consolatory thought: if they regularly wave banners saying "thank God for dead soldiers" in front of bereaved families, they are surely headed for a major kicking eventually.
Coincidentally I was reading the Guardian at lunch and saw that story. The faces of those poor children, particularly the teenage girl (photo not online).
I am going to stick my neck out here and predict that it is discovered one day that Fred Phelps has been abusing those kids. I don't throw that accusation about in general, but in his case I have a strong feeling.
I would have assumed from context that "concubine" was a type of pumpkin.
I wish it was, it would have made the story a lot less unpleasant. They send out a Mr Pumpkin head for the mob to... well, it's still pretty unpleasant.
Probably a good thing I didn't see that story at the weekend, otherwise my militant liberal Anglican Easter Sunday rant on the subject of the Two Great Commandments would have been a lot more in-your-face.
There seem to be an awful lot of people out there who are busy condemning others to hell while ignoring their own wilful trampling of the Second Great Commandment. And don't get me started on the Rapture bumper stickers owned by people who clearly haven't worked out that assuming you're one of the elect is committing the sin of pride on a massive scale.
haven't worked out that assuming you're one of the elect is committing the sin of pride on a massive scale
yes, it makes me laugh, which I'm glad something does in all this
No, it's not assuming that you're one of the elect which is the sin of pride, it's boasting about it and rubbing other people's faces in it. I mean, is one supposed to doubt that one is saved? We're supposed to have faith, y'know.
I think for me it's the difference between having faith that God will save us, and assuming as of right, and the boasting and neener-neener attitude puts Rapture bumper stickers firmly in the latter camp.
I've never read the Bible in any studied, linear way, so this hideous story had gratefully escaped my notice. I'm struck by the archetypal dismembering of a body into 12 pieces and scattering them far and wide. It seems to tie the tale to that of Osiris, a resurrection figure, making the Levite kinda-sorta the malign Set and begging the question "Where's Isis when you need her?"
Pursuing this (admittedly freeform) line of thought, I find the conflation of Osiris and his rescuer Isis into the dismembered concubine especially sinister. And the idea that the parts are sent to patriarchal tribal leaders not to reassemble and resurrect her, but to fuel more hatred and war--well, it really sums up Judaeochristian culture for me.
The feminine must not only be prevented from making the masculine whole again, but it must be destroyed.
I never thought of that - but you are right - it is a twisted version of the Osiris myth, which can't be a coincidence. Of course a lot of the stories in the Bible are myths taken from other religions in the Middle East, and re-cast with local heroes, but this one seems particularly strange - to retain the cutting into twelve pieces, and their distribution around the land. I think in the Osiris myth, there was a thirteenth pece - the penis - which Isis never found? How that ties in with the denial of sex... it opens up different layers to the story.
Yes, the missing penis--lucky 13!--would seem to underscore the idea that somehow the masculine cannot be made whole. It's a disturbing myth, all in all.