Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marriage, as defined by the Bible

From the Penn State Colegian:

When a homosexual or atheist makes an attack on Christianity or any other
religion, the response is they are 'progressive.' I will listen to any
homosexual's argument that they put forward, but I don't have to support this. I
tolerate their views, even if I don't agree.
Contrarily, Christians are put
down by these groups with no rhyme or reason intact. That is intolerance in the
true sense of the word.

I do not support gay marriage and here is why: Marriage is not a
'civil' thing, it is something that is given to a man and a woman from a church,
because marriage is defined in the Bible. Therefore it supersedes what your view
of marriage may be.

Without a church, as far as I'm concerned, it is a civil union. I have
no problem with gays getting civil unions and having the same rights as a
married couple in the eyes of the state.
I do have a problem with a religious
word being applied to people who are not following the word of God as
Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all clear on their definition of marriage as
the unison between a man and woman.


It really concerns me that the Christian right has done such a good job as presenting themselves as the only viable form of Christianity, and that others seem to believe them. This guy is talking about "atheists and homosexuals" attacking Christianity, which raises a few questions. First of all, what constitutes an attack on Christianity? Attacking the politics of the Christian right and attacking belief in Jesus Christ are very different things. One attacks bullshit intolerance, which is fine, and the other attacks personal belief, which is not. Another question raised by this idea is why can't homosexuality and Christianity coincide? I know LiturgyGeek, who'll be marrying gays any second now, is pretty confident that a person can be both gay and Christian. Why does the Christian right get to define for everyone what Christianity is? You know, people really amaze me sometimes...

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that this letter to the editor talks about marriage as a purely religious institution (which it most certainly is not), and presents his definition of religious marriage as the only option (which it most certainly is not). Since his definition of religious marriage is so firmly rooted in scriptural precedence, I thought we'd take a look at how the Bible defines marriage.

Genesis 4:19 says:
Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.

Genesis 28:6-9 says:
Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to
take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, "Do not
marry a Canaanite woman," and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and
had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite
women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath,
the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to
the wives he already had.

Genesis 29:16-30 says:

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the
younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."

Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."

So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you
have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"

Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."

And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.

Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.


Exodus 6:20 says:
Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

Exodus 22:16 says:
If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her,
he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

Deuteronomy 22:13-20 says:
If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders
her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I
approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," then the girl's father
and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the
gate. The girl's father will say to the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage
to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, 'I did not
find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's
virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the
town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a
hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because this man
has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he
must not divorce her as long as he lives.

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be
found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men
of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel
by being promiscuous while still in her father's house.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 says:
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds
something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives
it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she
becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and
writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his
house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed
to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the
eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you
as an inheritance.

Joshua 15:16 says:
And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who
attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher."

So, according to the Bible: polygamy is cool, selling your daughters into marriage is cool, marrying your aunt is cool, women who have been raped get the awesome prize of marrying their rapists, women who get married and can't prove their virginity get to be stoned to death, men can't marry again after divorcing their wives unless their wives successfully re-marry, and offering your daughter in marriage as a prize for murder is totally kosh.

So, the question becomes, how much of this Biblical definition of marriage is acceptable by the standards of modern Christianity? Many on the right argue that allowing gay marriage is just a hop, skip and a jump away from allowing polygamy, so clearly they're not down with that. Incest is not so hot in anybody's eyes, and I also find it unlikely that the majority of Christian fathers would want their daughters marrying men who raped them. Christians also don't stone people to death (mostly), even if they weren't virgins when they married. That rule about men not marrying again unless their ex-wives find a new husband and stick with him is just ridiculous, and I doubt anyone who has been divorced - whether Christian or not - ever even thinks about following it. It's also been a while since I've heard about anyone offering their daughter's hand in marriage as a prize for anything, let alone murder. Even fundamentalist Christians do not subscribe to these ancient, irrelevant marriage laws. Women now are free to choose who they marry; and the virginity thing is the exception, not the rule. Almost nobody is killed for fucking that one up (in the west, anyway).

What this means, of course, is that Christians have been re-defining marriage for a long time now. What, then, is so fucking hard about extending that re-definition to include homosexuality, which is barely mentioned in the Bible (but for some reason, is vilified by the right as the worst sin ever)? Once again, my friends, we have a big steaming pile of hypocrisy coming from the Christian right. Fuck that shit. WTFWJD?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure nothing in there condoned polygamy, it just said it happened. The bible does say don't marry a woman and her sister, which is about the closest the old testament comes to condemnation: but that is specific condemnation of Jacob's alternative lifestyle choices.

The most concrete teaching about marriage comes from Genesis: "For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother and be joined to his wife, and the become one flesh." This is really the essence of the "one man, one woman" argument.

Just because some does it and they don't get called out then and there doesn't mean it is in accordance with biblical commands. The commands about marriage (e.g. to a slave taken in battle, to a woman who has been seduced...) generally prohibit what could be worse. You sleep with a woman, you have to marry her. You take a woman as a slave in battle, you let her mourn her family, you treat her well, and send her off well. In other words, if you're going to be a dirty rat bastard, be a nice dirty rat bastard.

Jocelyn said...

Well if you're going to use that argument, you can use it for everything though, can't you? I mean we're talking about the "Biblical definition of marriage" and this is what the Bible says about marriage. If it's not meant to be an assertion of what marriage should be, how do you define what is?

Also, I might note that gay marriage isn't mentioned in the Bible at all. Not to ban or condone it. There is no scriptural precedent either way. So how can people argue that it's wrong?

I understand that the Bible does say a man and woman should be joined in marriage, but we're talking about a thousands-year-old document, here. Homosexuality wasn't in the forefront in ancient Israel the way it is now. Society has adapted. It's time the rest of us caught up.

Andrew said...

Here's a better rule to put in your book of absolute moral truth:

Don't be a dirty rat bastard.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Bible does condone polygamy because if know something is happening and you're not calling it out as wrong, you're condoning it.

Bilbo Baggins said...

I hope you are not getting fucked while you are on your period or you should be stoned to death!!!!

Jocelyn said...

Hobbits are weird.

Hannah said...

The one thing I agree with this douchebag about it that religious marrige and civil marriage should be separate things. Clergy should not be in the business of doing the work of the state. Let the churches decide who they want to marry, but the State has no business being in the business of discrimination. I would have happily had 2 weddings - like they do in some European countries - a civil wedding at the Municipal Building (or courthouse, city hall, whatever) and a religious ceremony and my church. That's the way to fix this - separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Anonymous, I have one question for you. Name one single solitary Biblical hero that had a "one man, one woman" traditional marriage that would be approved by today's church.

C'mon. If it's Biblical marriage there should be plent. So name one.

Tektron said...

I think you need to check out this page and read it it will help on your questions. Remember if God made the world and everything in it Then who are we to ask why. If he is the potter and we are the clay then he can do what he wants get it.

http://bible.org/article/homosexuality-christian-perspective

madijaco said...

You talk about gay marriage not being mentioned in the bible, that's because whilst homosexuality was prominent in the ancient world, there was no such thing as gay marriage. However, the bible does clearly condemn homosexuality:
Romans 1:26-27
26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.".

On the polygamy issue, God allowed it in the old testament but it was never part of his original plan as in genesis it says:For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother and be joined to his wife, and the become one flesh.

This is also collaborated by the new testament: 1 Corinthians (chapter 7, verse 2) , "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

CombatMunkey said...

You were not necessarily wrong but do not forget that when Jesus showed up he made a new covenant and the old covenant (old testament) went out the door.
If you look in the New Testament you will find that Jesus comes up with some very specific ideals about a marriage between a man and a woman that turns the OT on its head; polygamy being one of them.
As for homosexuality; the bible does mention it, keep reading past the book of Malachi. Get into the NT! Now I believe that homosexuality is "unnatural". NOW BEFORE ANY OF YOU FREAK.......I mean it in the sense that a child born blind, deaf, no arms, heart outside of its body, etc is unnatural. They give some very specific struggles that will accompany that poor soul their entire life, to include homosexuality. This is one of the reasons the bible also talks about chastity as well as personal struggles.
The idea ultimately is to have a chaste marriage and love your spouse the way Jesus loved the church and to make the required sacrifices for your spouse.

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