Peaches And Cream
Paul and I have been binge watching Grey's Anatomy. I think we are on Season 110 - only 170 to go! We are in what writers of novels call the messy middle meaning it's no good. I can only hope that it perks up; right now I couldn't care less about a single character although there is one whose storyline intrigues me.
April is a doctor and a capital C Christian which means, in her case anyway, that God is an external entity that confers favours on the good and metes out punishments to the bad. April's God is loving and yet super-judgey. April's faith in God is profound because she has experienced Him as good and just.
There are perks to being teacher's pet and April has, with sincere intentions, become an A+ student. However, and this is where it gets tricky, April and her hunky husband, Jackson, have experienced a heart-wrenching tragedy with their unborn child (no further spoilers here) for which April cannot make sense. She has been a good Christian her whole life - how could God do this to her?
We suspect that April will blame herself for this tragedy in future episodes because she had succumbed to Jackson's considerable charms and her own knock-your-socks-off libido before they got married meaning she broke a cardinal rule of Christiandom (apparently that's not a real word). She was unchaste, non-virginal, a fallen woman. Slap a scarlet letter on her back and drink in her shame.
April is such a likeable character that it is hard not to feel her pain. We can all empathize with her plight. However, and here's my point, the trouble with assigning man-made constructs like the sanctity of female virginity to Divine Rule Of Law is that we take the human equation right out of living. We are forever a child under the disapproving eye of our parent.
True fact albeit reductive and simplistic: the whole thing around female chastity was
about male insecurity, blood lines and property rights. Marriage had nothing to do with God.
Poor April. She's a grown woman who has been horny for, like, twenty-five years with no relief in sight. Sure, if being a virgin on her wedding day is important to her, I say have at it. But, she's hanging on to that milestone for the wrong reasons. By taking it out of the realm of choice, by fearing cruel retribution for breaking a rule, she is being both infantilized and in denial of her basic human nature.
People who don't believe in God, April's kind of God, say things like, "If there is a God, why is there suffering/war/famine/pedophilia/ etc. in the world?" The answer, people, is - because we are human beings with autonomy. Messy, flawed, angry, jealous, mean human beings. We are also loving, kind, compassionate and selfless. In all of it lies free will and choice. Like ebb and flow, peaches and cream, night and day - human and divine are perfectly balanced partners.
I heard a lovely quote on another TV show that I watch, Call the Midwife. Anglican Sister Julienne consoles a character after tragedy with these wise words: God is not in the events; He is in the response. I was brought to tears when she spoke those words. They signified a profound understanding that humans and god (however you choose to define it) are in this together, each playing equal and complementary roles. God isn't the cause of human suffering. We are. But we can find god/grace in the ways in which we choose to care for one another.
As for April, I have faith that she will find her way back to the God she loves and who she knows loves her. And in doing so, I hope that she finds her own humanity.