Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
Deuteronomy 30:11 (NIV)
I have been fired twice in my life.
My county allowed teens as young as fourteen to get a work permit, so my Mom signed me up to teach swimming lessons with the local Parks & Rec department. Classes began every Saturday morning at 8 am and took place in the High School’s balmy natatorium. Since I went to church around the same time every Sunday morning, this meant that I had 0 days a week to sleep in. On this basis alone, I had a problem. Also even in eighth grade, I knew that my life’s calling was not swim instruction. Needless to say, I did not enjoy this job, and thus I did not put in all of the required effort to help hapless toddlers stop from drowning. One day, in the view of my superior, I pushed a friend into the pool as a joke; my boss said that I was not cut out for this line of work. What a relief. Fired.
The second occurred many years later after I had graduated college. I charmed my way into an assistant teacher position at a private school for autistic children, and from the get go, my lead teacher and I did not see eye-to-eye. We just had different philosophies – she wanted to “keep the peace” in the room while I wanted to push. Also, as I found out after my dismissal, she actually wanted a female assistant as she felt men just did not have “the instinct.” I was not cut out for this position – my superior had laid all her forces against me – but nonetheless, I wanted this job. So I started scrambling. I altered my approach – much more “maintaining” and less pushing. I changed my demeanor – softer tones and a more delicate touch. But it didn’t work. The teacher just did not want me. They gave me three weeks to improve. I lasted one.
This experience unsettled me in a way that resonated for months thereafter. In this circumstance, I was not some angst-ridden teen forced to wake up early on Saturday mornings; this was my dream job. And in spite of 100% of my efforts, I was simply inadequate for the position. I came just as I was, and they rejected me. It stung like the most intimate of break-ups.
And now it is time to break away from the Torah. I spent the past three weeks reading and cataloguing the Law, and what have I learned? Well, there are 553 laws total – on my count anyway. I provided a list of statistics in the previous entry, such as the most repeated law and the category with the highest total, but what does that tell us?
Did you know The Law has a Wikipedia page that catalogues each and every rule? My friend sent it to me, perhaps as a way of discrediting my count of 553, but also to say, “Why did you do all that work when so many have done it before you?”
The answer is simple. Because I wanted to know first hand how God views me.
And according to the Law, I am inadequate. I am inadequate just as I am. Not because of the homosexuality thing, but because of all the things.
Near the end of Deuteronomy, Moses states that we are all completely capable of following the Law. He says it is not like flying into the heavens or crossing the seas; it is simple. Be adequate. You are completely capable of being adequate.
But we all know that we cannot possibly be adequate in God’s eyes; He placed a curse on us for the sins of Adam and Eve due to the fact that we were utter disappointments in our very nature. And the Law further cements this idea, because – and hold on to your hats – it was designed to be completely impossible to follow. Yes, that is what I have learned. God bestowed a standard that no one could ever meet so that we would fully remember our place. We are inadequate, even at our best.
Unlucky enough to be born with a disability? Never enter the presence of the Lord.
Brash enough to have your period? Sit alone for a week.
Gather yourself some firewood on the Sabbath? Lie down and watch the stones fly.
Is it any surprise that about 2/3s of the behavioral laws use negative language?
You want to do something? Asks the Lord, Well, do not do it.
It is your choice, says Moses. It is well within your reach.
You are not enough, says the Bible. You are not enough.
After reading the Law, it is my recommendation that no one ever go near it again. Exactly 0% of the rules still apply in our modern culture, and if Christian theology is correct, it all goes out the window anyway. Stop putting these verses on placards. Don’t reference them in your arguments. Frankly, never quote them again, unless your quote begins with the words, This isn’t true, but…
You want to know what I learned? The Law is dead.