03 October 2007

Look, it's all about sex

I had this thought about metaphor and religion today. Those of you who were involved in a Christian, Evangelical movement will remember a song that had the following lyrics:
In the secret
In the quiet place
In the stillness
You are there
In the secret
In the quiet hour I wait only for you
Cause, I want to know you more

I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more.
At the time I sang this song, eyes closed with my hands up in the air, thinking about nothing in particular, I was not aware of the metaphorical reality this song was pushing. It was about God, and that was sufficient. I mean, God did want to talk to me and the reason that I wasn't hearing anything when I was listening for him was that I wasn't doing it right and needed to try harder.

If you are not familiar with this song and are asked what it is about, you might come up with something about sex and lovers. Because when you look at the lyrics of the song, that is the metaphorical reality it creates: Knowing God is like knowing a lover.

The thing I realized today was why that was so powerful to me as a 17 year-old. I understood this experience, all the longing and not knowing and the desiring something I couldn't get, because I was also under the impression that sex and sexuality and women were this thing just out of reach, but always on my mind. I understood passion for something I didn't quite understand because I felt it every time I looked at whomever I had a yen for. And I really, really understood it when I got into a relationship where I was able to completely close to someone emotionally, but sex still remained taboo. That passion that drove the song and drove my sexuality were the same.

Now, older, colder I've realized that most of all of this is just smoke. The metaphor did a great job of creating passion (or tapping into a passion that I already understood), but it did not lead me to truth. Choose your metaphor: God as a father, God as a King, God as a savior. Connecting to a metaphor is not connecting to anything more than a metaphor, and anyone who tells you that your connection to the metaphor is evidence of anything is blowing smoke up your ass. It is just evidence that the metaphor resonates with you. Worse, when you confuse metaphor with the reality it represents, before you know it, you're fighting wars over religion.