Wed, 5 June 2013
“Iowa View: 1 man, 1 woman isn't the Bible's only marriage view” By HECTOR AVALOS, ROBERT R. CARGILL AND KENNETH ATKINSON.
ROBERT R. CARGILL is an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa. KENNETH ATKINSON is an associate professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa. HECTOR AVALOS is a professor of religious studies at Iowa State University. Contact: HectorAvalos@aol.com.
(Mickelson answers the points line by line in italics)
The debate about marriage equality often centers, however discretely, on an appeal to the Bible. Unfortunately, such appeals often reflect a lack of biblical literacy on the part of those who use that complex collection of texts as an authority to enact modern social policy.
“The debate about marriage equality…” This is known as begging the question. “Marriage” doesn’t need a modifier. Marriage isn’t the institution in the balance. The debate is over who is qualified for it, not whether or not the institution can be stretched to include the claims upon it by the homo-sexual lobby. “Appeals to the Bible” as a source of sexual ethics and definitions are interesting diversions (Which I’m willing to entertain) from biology which precludes same gender (anything) from mating. Plus, the so called “complex collection of texts” isn’t all that complex. It wasn’t until this generation that “complexity” was introduced where previously none existed.
As academic biblical scholars, we wish to clarify that the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.
The fact that marriage is not defined as only that between one man and one woman is reflected in the entry on “marriage” in the authoritative Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000): “Marriage is one expression of kinship family patterns in which typically a man and at least one woman cohabitate publicly and permanently as a basic social unit” (p. 861).
To the people of His generation in Jerusalem, Jesus was speaking to those expert “academic scholars”, the Pharisees, “…have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female…” (there were no other genders on the list) “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Jesus was authenticating the people qualified for the institution, “male and female”, authenticating the number of men and women qualified for marriage, “the two shall become one”… and authenticating the Genesis account as He quoted Genesis 2:24 “…therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
The phrase “at least one woman”recognizes that polygamy was not only allowed, but some polygamous biblical figures (e.g., Abraham, Jacob) were highly blessed.
Uh, Abraham and Jacob were indeed highly blessed--polygamy was not. In fact in the Middle East we are still living with the legacy of Abraham’s lack of faith for taking a concubine to produce an heir. More than that, God’s people were explicitly warned not to “multiply wives.” Deut. 17:17 My apologies to Eerdmans “Dictionary”.
In 2 Samuel 12:8, the author says that it was God who gave David multiple wives: “I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom. ... And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (Revised Standard Version).
Reading you “scholars” is like watching somebody scanning a novel, who is only looking for the racy parts--cheesy, dishonest scholarship--again. Israel was warned against asking for a king in 2 Sam. 8. “…solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them…” wars, big government, big taxes, … and the ultimate irony in King David’s case is of him having so much,(of other people’s stuff, including wives) that he wanted even more. “…multiple wives…” His appetites drove him to adultery and murder--Samuel’s prophecy was complete. God’s people had been living free, self-rule, under rule of law, and they traded it all away by demanding a king like their pagan neighbors’. All they got for it was a huge bill, war, death, and a scandalous King. (It’s ironic that at least one of the authors of this editorial favorably reviewed a documentary which doubted the historical existence of King David, yet there they are quoting a passage as being permissive of polygamy regarding a king which they don’t think even existed…that’s complexity for ya.)
In fact, there were a variety of unions and family configurations that were permissible in the cultures that produced the Bible, and these ranged from monogamy (Titus 1:6)
Monogamy was not merely “permissible”, but it was required for Church leadership. (Titus 1:6)
to those where rape victims were forced to marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
Malarkey… This conclusion is the result of the poor translation of verse 28 (NIV) to read “rape”. A detailed explanation would take pages but the literal translation of the Hebrew leads to an understanding of verse 28 as referring to a seduction, not forcible rape. Rape is tantamount to murder in the text. It was a capital offense—always. To think that a father could or would accept a money settlement for the abuse of his daughter is an insult. Anti-Semitic?
and to those Levirate marriage commands obligating a man to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Genesis 38; Ruth 2-4).
Before there was Social Security, SSI, EBT cards, food stamps, insurance and welfare, there was just one thing. Family. Intact, functioning families with children and assets were considered blessings. A barren family, without kids, meant a bleak, impoverished ugly, short, future. Family and protecting property and blood lines were hugely important before welfare state individualism. The willful failure of the surviving brother to provide the widow a chance for another generation was attended by a huge social stigma. The action was covenantal and economic; plus, necessary. It’s odd that “scholars” who are arguing for the extension of “marriage” to same gender couples which are incapable of passing on any seed whatsoever should seem squeamish about the family survival issues of ancient Israel. Anti-Semitic much?
Others insisted that celibacy was the preferred option (1 Corinthians 7:8; 28).
The question is why? Keep reading. Verses 29,31 “…brothers and sisters, the time is short…for this world is passing away…” Paul was warning of the upcoming persecution of Christians. He was letting Christians know how to handle marital issues in a time of great stress.
Although some may view Jesus’ interpretation of Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:3-10 as an endorsement of monogamy, Jesus and other Jewish interpreters conceded that there were also non-monogamous understandings of this passage in ancient Judaism, including those allowing divorce and remarriage.
Jesus’ “interpretation?” Really? Condescending much? “…Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts (he was talking to the Pharisees) permitted you to divorce, but from the beginning it was not so….whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries, commits adultery.”
In fact, during a discussion of marriage in Matthew 19:12, Jesus even encourages those who can to castrate themselves “for the kingdom” and live a life of celibacy.
And you guys criticize fundamentalists for literalism… you may have a step or two on them.
12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
There isn’t anything here about castrating “themselves for the kingdom”… but you guys knew that already.
Ezra 10:2-11 forbids interracial marriage and orders those people of God who already had foreign wives to divorce them immediately.
This of course is baloney too. This was about covenantal living in community. This wasn’t about race; it was about ethical conformity to the covenantal requirements of their community. And this wasn’t a change of policy sprung upon a surprised people, but the enforcement of existing code. It isn’t a co-incidence that the Jewish people are the longest surviving people on the planet while their pagan tribal contemporaries went extinct centuries ago.
So, while it is not accurate to state that biblical texts would allow marriages between people of the same sex, it is equally incorrect to declare that a “one-man-and-one-woman” marriage is the only allowable type of marriage deemed legitimate in biblical texts.
It is true that the only definition of marriage explicitly listed by Jesus Himself as He re-enforced the ancient code is “one man, one woman becoming one flesh”. Everything else was warned against and marginalized.
This is not only our modern, academic opinion.
Uh, exactly why do we care what atheists, agonistics and gay rights activists have to say about a Bible you reject and its institutions which you are actively trying to overturn? And why would anybody accept your “academic opinion” as honest or neutral…or after the briefest examination, even consider “academic”?
This view of the multiple definitions of “biblical” marriage has been acknowledged by some of the most prominent names in Christianity. For example, the famed Reformationist Martin Luther wrote a letter in 1524 in which he commented on polygamy as follows: “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not oppose the Holy Scriptures.”
Uh, Jesus wasn’t a Lutheran. Especially the ELCA.
Accordingly, we must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions, such as slavery, would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians.
Yes, “Thou Shalt Not Murder”, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”, “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” (except in Register editorials) are antiquated standards, but most folks would like to hang on to them. Upon what standards do atheists, agnostics, homo-sexual rights activist like yourselves build a case against or for anything? And where in history do we find the great atheist anti-slavery movements? Nowhere. The anti-slavery movements were all faith based. More than that, they were against non-biblical forms of slavery precisely because they properly applied “those ancient texts”.
I responded to this editorial line by line, not with the anticipation that its authors would have an “Ah Hah!” moment, hitting themselves in the forehead while saying, “Dang, I didn’t know that! I’ll change my views.”
I wrote this for the benefit of the taxpaying parents who are thinking about sending your kids to these schools. Are you or your kids ready to deal with professors who have these biases? You are about to spend thousands of dollars to fund a college education which includes these kinds of assaults on you, your worldviews, your faith and that of your kids. And as you can see, they are not even remotely either scholarly, or honest. I’m just a hick talk show host and I can take this stuff apart. Can you or your kids? If not, why not? And until you and your kids can, why would you send them to be worked over by people like this?
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm CST