Dying was no fun.
Being dead, however, may not be much of a picnic, but I had hopes that it beat being enslaved to the need to eat, breathe, drink and ... ummmm ... eliminate.
So there I was, freshly dead, stepping away from my body, like a butterfly escaping its crysalis, left lying on the hospital bed. Looking outside the room, I could see the nursing staff frozen in the act of running towards the room I had just been occupying, when I heard a voice behind me.
Well, I've been a Christian for a long time and had seen unbelieving sinners come and go, but I knew Who spoke to me, for my soul knew Him. I was, without any doubt at all, meeting my Maker.
I wasn't too shy to answer, "Hello, Lord."
He smiled. I have to admit that this smile was not a particularly reassuring one and I felt a shiver run through my ... ummmm... "un-body". I did not think I would be able feel my blood run cold once I was dead.
"I was not expecting you to meet me, Lord," I said, hoping this was a sign that my devotion to Him in my life had made me special.
He smiled, again, in a particularly menacing way. "I meet all of my creations as they die, regardless of religion or faith, for it was I
Who made you ... so learn some humility, Henry."
There was a pause before He continued, saying
"You are no more special than anyone else, be they Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Wiccan, Secular
Humanist or even Atheist. So, because of your beliefs, you see Me, your Maker, as the
Christ you believed in."
Well, on top of being dead, this came as quite a buzz kill. My mouth-- as much as I didn't have a real body, it still felt like I did-- hung open as I tried to understand what His words meant to me. I did my best to recover, saying "But I followed God's Laws! I spread
Christ's Word! I did my best to bring people to know You! Doesn't that count for
He nodded before sighing, sounding disappointed.
I hoped it had not been me disappointing Him.
"Yes, you did try to follow the Law as you understood it, but, while trying to do that, you did it in such a way as to drive a wedge between your fellow humans and Me. Often enough your actions belied your apparent beliefs, much less words. In your eagerness, you ignored the irony implicit in preaching
"God's love" and what it would take to reflect it, yourself. You drove people away from Me.
Like, for instance, your wife. She developed a distrust for a Maker who would place you-- or people like you-- 'above' her."
I snorted. "She was a sinner and did not believe in You as much as I did!"
My Maker looked me up and down and shook his head. "You obviously missed the point when
I admonished you to not be judgemental.
Your wife-- who you could not respect enough to listen to-- was more My minister in the world you lived in than you were, even as you were so sure that you were ahead of her in understanding and spreading My love."
I laughed in my Creator's face. "She knew so little of you! She didn't see how she fell short of your glory..."
"Henry," He interrupted, "she was surprised at how welcome she was when she arrived after taking so many sleeping pills to escape from you. She had done well for people and showed how important compassion was ... along with trying to enjoy the gift of life I gave all of you, instead of pissing it away."
"What? But she died of a heart attack?"
He shook his head. "No. You lucked out. The post-mortem saw the her cardiac complications and the pills had been fully digested by the time they cut her open, so they didn't even
try to perform a tox screen. Even so, despite her choosing to take her own life, she was welcomed by me."
"But she was obsessed with sex!" I ejaculated.
"And..." He led.
"It's disgusting! How can anyone turn their back on God for just a little bit of pleasure?"
He laughed, almost falling to the floor in mirth. "Turning their backs? Do you realize how many religions turn their adherents against sex in order to divide them just that they can be conquered and controlled? Taught to turn themselves against sex to prove 'purity'? How many of them teach the gift I gave you all in the form of sex is somehow not worthy of respect?
And you helped to spread that meme by claiming to be, somehow, above it all..."
"Well, look at how it is discussed in the
My Maker laughed, finally. "Do you know how much of the epistles are opinion written as if it is fact? Many of them by a man haunted by his homosexual urges? How Christ somehow avoided touching the whole subject? And how
His words work just fine even when secularized?"
His head shook, adding "Don't lecture me on
Law, Henry, or deny that I created you all to be sexual beings."
I stood there, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"You are Christian, right?"
I nodded, comfortable to be back on what I felt was solid ground. "Yes, I am."
"What is the one Law that Christ most tried to get across?"
Well, at least there was no Math in this quiz, though I think I might have done better if there had been. It was easy to reply "Love thy neighbor as thyself!"
"Ever wonder about what that means?"
"What is there to debate? The meaning is clear to me!"
He shook his head some more. "Your actions spoke loudly that it was not clear to you at all. Think, Henry, of all of the things you wanted from others. Compassion.
Tolerance. Compromise. Understanding. And, something you could have used, a dose of uncertainty. All this and much more. And what did you do with it? You set limits!
You narrowed your definition of 'neighbor' so narrowly even your wife didn't qualify!"
I snarled and spit. "I was loving! Even to her!"
"Not how she defined it ... Only how you defined being 'loving'. You didn't even
try to discover what she wanted, she had to accept what you were willing to give to her. Oh, yes, you were able to be supportive, so you did do some good, but, at the same time, you managed to teach her how to limit how she was 'loving' back to you. Yes, you were able to be affectionate, caring, understanding, but always with limits, because you felt that
I was always looking over your shoulder and would be offended."
"I loved her!"
"Did you listen to her complaints? Her feelings? Her wants and desires? Was she allowed to be the check-and-balance
I made her to be, by helping you to see yourself from outside? Or did all of the criticism flow the other way?"
"I didn't need to! Everything I needed to know was spelled out..."
"By fairy tales, Henry, not by reality.
You thought that 'happily ever after' was a promise. So you followed roles instead of learning how to improvise.
Holy Scripture as a script instead of a set of guidelines that require some effort to interpret and adapt to meet the 'real' world."
"That doesn't mean I didn't love her!"
"Yes, but, given your own blindness, you could not deliver the message in the ways she could hear best ... and certainly not sexually, the one thing I had the most fun creating as a way for you two to bond.
So, in her frustration with your efforts to be spiritual, she wrote stories..."
"Filthy damned porn! Jack-off stories for perverts and freaks!"