Image source: Called From The Weeds - Broken Door Ministries
A most notable expression from Shameless (by Nadia Bols-Weber) disucssing a Pharaoh on page 90, discussing a hebrew issue, or more clearly, the fact that hebrews, through slavery, found sex to be the essence of their survival and did such things to bring on newborns at an alarming rate.
Exodus 1:19 (biblehub.com, NIV):
The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
I implore you to read chapter 1 of Exodus.
We'll start off where Shiphrah and Puah, who were midwives, or a person who assists women in childbirth, were tasked by Pharaoh to kill newborn boys, and allow girls to live. Pharaoh did this as an attempt to quell the number of babies being born (into slavery).
Before I get into the next paragraph I want to be sure we all are aware of how the Bible is sometimes misinterpreted, usually in favor of forming an argument for a person's biased message. The next paragraph may be a misunderstood interpretation of Exodus. I do not study the Bible regularly enough to defend or deny such an interpretation, but it is valuable to think about the past from different angles.
Nadia (the Author of Shameless) made the point that sexual intercourse was, to the Hebrew slaves, their most widely adopted form of enjoyment. My guess is because slaves have the most regimented lives; perhaps family dinners & football wasn't a part of their weekend plans. A young woman at a coffee shop I frequent says that Hebrew slaves did experience regular home groups.
Before I veer onto a highway with no certain return, I will go as far to make a claim that whatever Hebrew slaves did for their own well-being must've been in secret, perhaps as the case in rebel gatherings. The Pharaoh, as the young coffee shop woman stated, believed in deities; gold statues of animals.
These deities took precedence over a higher power so it goes without saying that Pharaoh was not a Christian, because he believed in material objects to bring meaning to life. I will get back to transcribing my written notes on Moses' River Adventure.
It was the interpretation by the Author which got me thinking. "...sometimes the most holy thing we can say is, No. Not on my watch."
To page 90 I've found myself consumed by those five words. Those words are the culmination to many of the tough experiences we could have averted if someone had just told themselves, No. Not on my watch. The kinds of things we live through and learn to cope with some way or another are things we swear we'll never do to another person. Statistically speaking, we experience abuse from people we know.
The stats don't lie and this is about the time I wish I hadn't become a problem within my family, but lo and behold, I am not alone - and you are not alone. Whether you've been abused or have experience thoughts that would lead to abuse of another, or perhaps even have abused another, you're not alone and you're not condemned - unless you condemn yourself.
Here's another point where I could veer off course, but I will take note of it and turn it into another post some other time. The points I want to make are here:
- Conservative Christianity: No.
- Hyper sexual secularism: No.
- Casting our non-heterosexuals from church: No.
- Serialization of children: No.
- Sex only after marriage: No.
There are perfectly reasonable explanations for each point here. Are we willing to improve ourselves as men & women of God (or The Creator, or whatever your higher power may be)? Are we willing to be open-minded while maintaining our sense of structure in our own religious or spiritual foundations?
And zooming right back to Moses' River Adventure yet again...
Along with the 90th, on page 91, I read the Author's interpretation of the story of Moses' birth and river adventure. This was a story I learned in Sunday school as a child, but one that I never understood either because of how Inattentive ADHD, or because the lessons were too elementary (not engaging) for me to make associations between characters and events.
I never connected the dots between Pharaoh wanting to kill newborn boys due to the revelations that Christ was to come and free the slaves. According to the coffee shop woman, an angel appeared to Mary and told her to save the baby, for he was a notoriously VIP (in the eyes of deity-worshipping mortals). So Pharaoh caught wind of this revelation and decided to begin killing the baby boys of Hebrew slaves.
You may see where the interpretation by Nadia (Author of Shameless) believed the Hebrew slaves enjoyed sex so much that their babies were born before the midwives could deliver them. It could just be that, because Pharaoh tasked the midwives to kill the boys, that pregnancies were attempted to be hidden from public view.
Again however, as slaves, I doubt they could hide their women's bellies for long, due to the overarching social accounting of slaves which I believe would regiment their lives to the degree that being absent from roll calls would make for unpleasant appearances by the authorities. I know very little truths of slavery - I'm speculating. Regardless, I will return to the point of Moses' River Adventure.
Even in junior high and high school, just before leaving the church (parents divorced, I was moving out of town with my Mom and hadn't much considered the importance of the structure church brought into my life), I relearned many versions of this same story. None of those versions made much sense as the one written by the Author of Shameless.
Perhaps it was a culmination of learning over time which made things today at 31, help me realize there were real associations between characters and law of ancient times with the experiences and outcomes which helped organize stories for some people to write the Bible about - exemplifying the rules and regulations behind the tragedies of the past.
Though set for being uniquely interpreted, I believe there are many truths to many messages which most of us don't have time or care to look into or consider. This is problematic when we are attempting to open our mind - oftentimes we close it off, because we are afraid that what we might find is a revelation to what we were taught. Yet, it's imperative to remain open-minded, because even our own beliefs are made up of things that may not have been fully understood by our teachers and thus - their interpretations were only as good as their level of understanding at the time they were sharing their message.
I want to bring up a lesson from Art of Living: Everything Happens for a Good Reason, page 25, that has a comparative biblical leaning, from Revelations 8:28:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Reflecting on the phrase, "No. Not on my watch." I definitely almost cried, sitting at another coffee shop's high-chair coffee bar table, overlooking a small patio, parking lot, and busy suburban intersection on a cool Sunday morning, taking smooth sips of free iced water.
The meaning of Moses' River Adventure (something I never actually wrote about, ironically), was that Moses was saved by Pharaoh's daughter. Her beautiful motherly instinct kicked in and instead of seeing the baby boy as a curse, she felt the pull to care for the boy. This is an emotional story of the things that sex is supposed to bring about in society, yet sex is often viewed as a means to an end. It's become a tick on a list of things that make us worthy of relationships, instead of a sacred experience which God gave us to breathe life into humanity.
The irony in the story is that Moses' older Sister who took watch over the basket he was adventuring the Nile river in. Once Moses' Sister saw he had been saved by the Pharaoh's daughter, she claimed the plan to have Moses' own Mother (a Hebrew slave) to breastfeed the boy - thereby ultimately saving a boy's life in spite of Pharaoh's command to kill baby boys.
I'm going to veer off course yet again to bring up what a Sister of my own said to me in a secure Signal text:
"Have you tried dating apps? You need to take a personality test and find someone who has your personality. Get out there and meet some ladies. There are not enough men in this world."
I wasn't sure how to interpret the last part of her message, "There are not enough men in this world." was she saying I'm a good man? After all the wrongs I've committed against the wellness of my own family and to my own self-aware ignorance of others whose pain I ignored out of the selfish fear to maintain my own reputation or well being? What does this mean?
I will always wonder. Women love to maintain their cryptographic communication protocols. You'd be right to guess that I've already asked her what she meant - and you're right to assume I did not get a response.
Back to the topic...
The phrase, "No. Not on my watch." - how often do we hear of experiences regarding sexuality which often has us wondering, "How could they allow this to happen?" or "How could this man betray his wife in this way?" or "What kind of parents did this person have for them to justify committing those atrocities?"
All this is for us to ask ourselves what things we allow to occur through willful ignorance, or merely going along with the way of the world, or simply following orders, or living our lives mindless of the secret or apparent suffering of others.
How often have we ourselves done things which we felt morally neutral or morally incorrect for which may in fact be the result of our own mistreatment & abuse? Have we allowed our mind to be swayed by the fear of being outed for seeing things differently?
I believe I had witnessed girls being trafficked through a hotel for the pleasure of men - and yet I did not report it until months had passed. Why is this? Where was the lesson, "No. Not on my watch." when it was imperative for reporting to the National Human Trafficking agency?
Before making a decision, perhaps you can recall a section of this article to make a choice that is better than one you've made before and prevent your own suffering or the suffering of another by simply pausing for a moment to say to yourself, "No. Not on my watch."
As men, I think we need to keep this lesson in mind, because not only we can we identify and prevent suffering, but it can also change who we are by preventing our thoughts from affecting our choices, which no doubt affect the course of those lives we affect as well as our own.
Until next time - fenix aarizon out.