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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: The Biblical basis of traditional marriage
noelper
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I agree that the dividing line between polygamy and apostasy is blurred, but perhaps that is the point of the story. That is, would a harem of 1000 Jewesses have yielded a different result ?

When Paul in the NT argues against marriage (presumably monogamous ?) as a distraction from the Lord, how much more of a distraction would be 1000 'loves' ?

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noelper
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SteveTom

quote:
"Valid"? In what sense?
If you mean justified by the evidence, it's obvious to everyone apart from you that it isn't.

Valid to me as compared with your opinion, for example. This also reflects the basis of my faith, and takes no account of majority opinion.

If you don't like my conclusions, simply move on and allow me the right to be wrong, for goodness sake. [Roll Eyes]

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
First, let me say how much I enjoy your posts. They are generally thoughtful, educational, and entertaining -- quite a hat trick!

But this particular comment seems a bit too dismissive.

Generously and moderately put.

It's an interesting question, David 'n' God, but perhaps rather a diversion on a thread about polygamy which seems to have plenty of steam still. A new thread might be in order.

quote:
So, is it Noelper that is nuts here, or is it God?
You appreciate of course that I applied the words "twisted" and "nuts" to the ideas expressed in Noelper's posts, and that therefore any impressions you may have about my opinions of any person or persons here present are matters of conjecture, or at best inference, and are not based on information that I have either stated or implied.

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noelper
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SteveTom

quote:
You appreciate of course that I applied the words "twisted" and "nuts" to the ideas expressed in Noelper's posts, and that therefore any impressions you may have about my opinions of any person or persons here present are matters of conjecture, or at best inference, and are not based on information that I have either stated or implied.
Yeah, right. [Snore]

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
SteveTom

quote:
"Valid"? In what sense?
If you mean justified by the evidence, it's obvious to everyone apart from you that it isn't.

Valid to me as compared with your opinion, for example.
That is not a sense of the word "valid".

quote:
If you don't like my conclusions, simply move on and allow me the right to be wrong, for goodness sake. [Roll Eyes]
No one is trying to take away your rights or your opinions; but if you are going to write and defend obviously incoherent, illogical and objectionable rubbish in a forum for intelligent debate, your views are going to be challenged.

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Well, golly gee.
- Eels

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noelper
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SteveTom, out of interest, when are you going to challenge Henry Troup's incoherent illogical and objectionable rubbish ?

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Pyx_e

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Hosting

Steve and noelper take it to Hell, enough with the inferences and the blizzard of emoticons. This thread returns to biblical based argument or it gets closed. Purg for theology, Hell for "issues."

Pyx_e, Kerygmania Host

Hosting

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Niënna:
quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
In addition to the other passages listed Genesis 2 suggests that the created order was for one man and one woman.

Backing up for a second, I think this is a pretty good argument.
So what happened between Genesis 2 and Genesis 4:19? A few generations go by, and, for no apparent reason, Lamech decides to take two wives. OliviaG

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Moo

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There is an existing thread dealing with the question of why God liked David.

Moo

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Anselm
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
quote:
Originally posted by Niënna:
quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
In addition to the other passages listed Genesis 2 suggests that the created order was for one man and one woman.

Backing up for a second, I think this is a pretty good argument.
So what happened between Genesis 2 and Genesis 4:19? A few generations go by, and, for no apparent reason, Lamech decides to take two wives. OliviaG
I think Genesis 3 happened. It may be worth noting that one of the explicit consequences of the "Fall"™ is that the marriage relationship is cursed.
Lamech is then, of course, in the line of Cain.

ps thank you Niënna, great minds think alike [Biased]

[ 22. June 2006, 23:04: Message edited by: Anselm ]

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
I think Genesis 3 happened. It may be worth noting that one of the explicit consequences of the "Fall"™ is that the marriage relationship is cursed.
Lamech is then, of course, in the line of Cain.

Yes, I thought of that too. Is the line of Cain thought to have perished in the Flood? There doesn't seem to be any mention of multiple wives down the line from Seth to Noah, or in the listing of Noah's descendants. The next polygamist is Abraham, no? OliviaG

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
Bearing in mind that we're talking about monogamy and polygamy here, are you really saying you find instructions against the latter in the NT? I don't see any.

"An overseer must be the husband of one wife...."

What do you think this means?

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HenryT

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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
..."An overseer must be the husband of one wife...."

What do you think this means?

And as the OP says, the same is repeated for the three-fold orders of ministry. There is nothing that clearly makes this binding on all Christian men.

I think one can go a fair ways with those NT passages - they make it clear that monogamy is the most clearly moral form of marriage. But they don't cross the line into prohibiting other arrangements for everyone.

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MSHB
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Troup:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
..."An overseer must be the husband of one wife...."

What do you think this means?

I think one can go a fair ways with those NT passages - they make it clear that monogamy is the most clearly moral form of marriage. But they don't cross the line into prohibiting other arrangements for everyone.
Or ... being an "overseer" (sounds like foreman at the slave farm) is so taxing a job, you wouldn't want it AND the responsibilities of more than one spouse. Bit like Paul and his "better to be single in the current situation" remarks in 1 Cor.

Not more moral, just more practical in some situations. (Playing devil's advocate here).

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
"An overseer must be the husband of one wife...."

What do you think this means?

The same as you, I imagine. But it's a qualification for a job, isn't it? The same passage (1 Tim 3:1-7) also lists being above reproach, respectable, a good teacher, gentle, a good household-manager, a father of submissive children, a longstanding believer, and well respected by non-Christians.

It's not clear these qualifications for episcopal office are the moral standard for all Christian life.

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
It's not clear these qualifications for episcopal office are the moral standard for all Christian life.

So the conclusion I am getting from this thread is that while there is something of a biblical basis for monogamy, it is not nearly as clear and definitive as you might expect.

Nevertheless, Christianity has never especially struggled with this issue. There are not factions of Christianity that practice polygamy, except perhaps some old-style Mormons.

I doubt that any of us wonder whether monogamous marriages are the only acceptable form of Christian marriage.

Maybe this joins other topics, like slavery, where the biblical evidence could be seen as ambiguous, yet which spark little debate among modern Christians.

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TomOfTarsus
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It seems ol' Solomon struck out - three strikes, to be exact, in Deut. 17:14-17. There it is explcitly stated that the king shall not multiply horses, wives, or silver & gold to himself.

Inasmuch as I can't imagine that the Lord is saying "no more than one horse," and the silver & gold limits are unspecified as well, I don't know that this is a forbidding of polygamy, but one has to wonder where you'd draw the line in attempting to obey this directive.

But could we gain from looking at this passage in detail, perhaps try to tie it all together or cross-reference it?

Blessings,

Tom

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Grits
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I've attempted to read through the thread as thoroughly as possible, and I don't think I saw any mention of the legal aspects involved. I know the OP asked for biblical authority concerning monogamy, but I would suggest that living in a country where polygamy was illegal would be sufficient reason to avoid it. I feel that part of being a Christian is being a good citizen by not breaking the law.

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Soror Magna
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Going back to Abraham and Genesis:

Genesis 15:
quote:
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 16:
quote:
1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

I'd like to compare that with Mary's response in Luke 1:
quote:
34Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"
...
36 [Angel]"And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth: she hath also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible."

38And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And the angel departed from her.

So when presented with what appears to be a reproductive impossibility, Mary accepts that God can and will make it happen. Abraham and Sarah seem to feel that they have to take matters into their own hands (so to speak) to make God's promise come true.

In this case, I think one might be able to say that Abraham was unwilling to trust God completely, and that led him to choose polygamy. (The rest is history.) And somewhere out there, there's a non-Biblical aphorism that says something like "If you can't be happy with one _____, you'll be miserable with two." But I can't think of it right now. Cheers, OliviaG

Edited to clarify quotes

[ 23. June 2006, 21:49: Message edited by: OliviaG ]

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
I have shown my own interpretation, which I hold equally as valid as any other presented here.

"Valid"? In what sense?
If you mean justified by the evidence, it's obvious to everyone apart from you that it isn't.

The evidence is:
1. The Law of Moses explicitly accepts polygamy:
quote:
Deuteronomy 21:15-16
If a man has two wives..., he is not permitted to treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the firstborn.

2. And it nowhere condemns polygamy.

3. It condemns polytheism.

Steve, I'm going back to this because I think that there is more evidence than this. I gave quite a bit in the second post above. Others have added more. Admittedly the passages are not direct and conclusive, but I don't think that it is fair to say that there is no evidence.

I would summarize the points this way:
  • 1. The creation account appears to present the marriage of one man and one woman as ideal.
  • 2. Jesus appears to reinforce this idea in Matthew 19.
  • 3. The injunctions against adultery and divorce can be seen as implying the sacredness of sex with only one partner.
  • 4. The permission of polygamy to the Israelites can be seen as similar to their permission to divorce - being due to the "hardness of their hearts."
  • 5. The prohibition of polytheism is many times expressed in language relating to marriage. This can be seen as implicitly supporting monogamy.
While these are not especially powerful arguments or evidence, the idea of monogamy has been universally endorsed in Christian countries for a very long time. It has been seen as a Christian teaching. It has been accepted as a matter of principle to the point that polygamy is illegal in many countries. It may just be due to the confirmation of pre-existing accepted practices, but that doesn't seem to explain it fully.

I would compare it to the topic of slavery. You can make a biblical case against slavery. It is not a very clear cut case. There are many passages that support it and others that assume slavery without criticism. But I'm sure we would agree that the Bible, taken as a whole, does not actually support slavery.

So it is not obvious to me that monogamy is not justified by the biblical evidence. Christians have accepted it for centuries as a biblical concept, with little debate. It is not the best case in the world, certainly, but I don't think that there is anything invalid about accepting it.

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Maybe this joins other topics, like slavery, where the biblical evidence could be seen as ambiguous, yet which spark little debate among modern Christians.

But I imagine it's rather less of an academic question if someone from a polygamous Islamic country converts to Christianity, especially if they are already in a polygamous marriage. Then again in those kinds of countries I would guess you have a lot to worry about if you're going to convert to Christianity.

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Wearing Jesus's new snowshoes.
Well, golly gee.
- Eels

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
The evidence is:
1. The Law of Moses explicitly accepts polygamy:

2. And it nowhere condemns polygamy.

3. It condemns polytheism.

Steve, I'm going back to this because I think that there is more evidence than this. I gave quite a bit in the second post above. Others have added more. Admittedly the passages are not direct and conclusive, but I don't think that it is fair to say that there is no evidence.
I should point out that the discussion you quote was specifically about the law of Moses and not the whole Bible, so what you go on to say is mostly beside that particular point. I don't think there can be any reasonable case made for the Law of Moses in itself clearly condemning polygamy.

But your argument as a whole is a good one.

quote:
The creation account appears to present the marriage of one man and one woman as ideal.
Yes, it does. But how prescriptive can we be about that ideal? It also presents vegetarianism, veganism in fact, as ideal. Does 1-2 Genesis frown on celibacy, singleness and homosexuality as well as on polygamy?

quote:
Jesus appears to reinforce this idea in Matthew 19.
He does. But then his point is the permanence of marriage, not its exclusivity. And if he's talking about divorce within a monogamous culture, then he would talk about divorce between one man and one woman, wouldn't he?

quote:
The injunctions against adultery and divorce can be seen as implying the sacredness of sex with only one partner.
Hm. Or not.

quote:
The permission of polygamy to the Israelites can be seen as similar to their permission to divorce - being due to the "hardness of their hearts."
It can indeed.

quote:
The prohibition of polytheism is many times expressed in language relating to marriage. This can be seen as implicitly supporting monogamy.
I don't see it. The point of the analogy is that a wife (Israel) should stay faithful to her husband (the Lord), not that she should be his only wife.

quote:
While these are not especially powerful arguments or evidence, the idea of monogamy has been universally endorsed in Christian countries for a very long time. It has been seen as a Christian teaching. It has been accepted as a matter of principle to the point that polygamy is illegal in many countries. It may just be due to the confirmation of pre-existing accepted practices, but that doesn't seem to explain it fully.

I would compare it to the topic of slavery. You can make a biblical case against slavery. It is not a very clear cut case. There are many passages that support it and others that assume slavery without criticism. But I'm sure we would agree that the Bible, taken as a whole, does not actually support slavery.

I think this is it. People who have learnt their moral instincts from the Bible and Christian tradition have, as in the case of slavery, ended up applying them more adequately than the Bible itself. The difference is not so stark with polygamy as it is with slavery, but I think is fair.

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I saw a naked picture of me on the internet
Wearing Jesus's new snowshoes.
Well, golly gee.
- Eels

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Anselm
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Another possibility that may perhaps be pursued comes from recognising that the Bible distinguishes between "morally right and wrong issues" and the broader category of "wise and unwise decisions".
Thus while there is nothing morally wrong with marrying a nagging wife or a lazy husband, it is an unwise thing to do.

Perhaps it could be argued that the scriptures' position is that polygamy, while not necessarily morally wrong, is unwise.

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carpe diem domini
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noelper
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Had polygamous marriage had been permissable under OT Law, there would not have been a provision for divorce.

Otherwise a bored husband could have cast off any number of wives in favour of updated versions, without having to undergo the trouble of obtaining a divorce. Presumably that was the position adopted by Solomon - to his detriment.

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Nil, nada, rien

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
Had polygamous marriage had been permissable under OT Law, there would not have been a provision for divorce.

Otherwise a bored husband could have cast off any number of wives in favour of updated versions, without having to undergo the trouble of obtaining a divorce.

No, that is exactly the point of the Torah law on divorce - but you have the reason 180 degrees out!

A Jewish divorce is a licence from the man to the woman to permit her to marry someone else. It doesn't work the other way round because the man needs no such permission - or didn't in the patriarchal period, things changed later. Originally the man would have been entitled to marry again whether divorced or not.

In a society where a woman is expected to be under the rule or protection of a man a loose woman is a loose end. She has to be filed away somewhere. So a woman whose husband no longer wants her needs the get (cerificate of divorce) in order to get another man - or perhaps her male relatives need it so they can get her another man.

There is no concept of divorce without permission to remarry. The Biblical idea that we translate "divorce" is precisely permission to remarry, neither more nor less. There is no concept at all of a woman divorcing a man. There is no place for it in the system. A man does not need that permission because he can remarry anyway - or could when the law was set up. It is completely asymmetrical.

By the time of Christ the law of divorce was being applied in a kinship and marriage system very different from the one it had originated in, and into which it perhaps didn't fit very well. Which is one of the reasons why there is so much rabbinical discussion and argument on the matter. (which Jesus joined in with). Big questions of the time were things like "can a man divorce his wife for any cause at all" and "can a woman (or her family) force a man to divorce her". All this is because of the assymetric, unbalanced idea of marriage that had been inherited from the patriarchal age.

Our European notion of divorce originates in what we now call legal separation (that's what the Latin word originally meant I believe) which went along with continuing responsibilities of both parties to each other, or to their children. The Old Law did not have that concept - the idea of what a divorce was is quite different.

There are some very intersting writings about all this online by David Instone-Brewer - Google for him and you will see them.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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PaulTH*
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A few thoughts here. By reason of the fact that no-one condems Abraham's morality for having a son by a slave woman, or Jacob's for having two wives or David for having wives and concubines in the hundreds, its obvious that those practices must have been acceptable in the time in which the stories were written. Many Middle Eastern societies had patriarchal, harem based systems which may appear unfair to us now, but were quite normal then. Yet the important thing is that for a man to have many wives and children he had to be able to support them so it was the perogative of the very rich. As the story of David and Bathsheba illustrates, and Nathan's parable (I Samuel 12.1-14) Uriah the Hittite had only one wife and David's great sin was to covet his neighbours wife when he lacked nothing himself.

It seems, though we have no proof, that by the time of Jesus monogamy had become the norm, but Jesus, in making the pronouncement he did on dovorce revealed his great sensitivity to the needs of women. The pharasaic debate on divorce revolved around a dispute between the two main schools, that of Hilel and that of Shammai. In general, Hilel was much gentler of sinners than Shammai. It was only his own followers who he expected to live piously and sinlessly. He tried to encourage repentance through kindness. He took the liberal Mosaic view of divorce. Shammai, on the other hand was stern on sin and sinners and took a hard line on divorce.

In general, Jesus followed Hilel, but on the subject of divorce he followed Shammai. In a society where a man could divorce his wife just by sending her a writ and for no other reason than that he didn't want to be married to her any more, women had no rights, no security and no prtection against exploitation. But the hard line taken by Jesus requiures the man to take as much responsibility for the relationship as the woman and therefore is a means of protecting women from unfair abandonmemnt.

Jewish divorce law is unfair to women to this day. There are cases where men make extortionate demands on their wives before agreeing to a get, which is a man's perogative to obtain, because under Jewish law the woman isn't free to remarry until her husband has divorced her by get.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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noelper
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I am absolutely shocked !

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Nil, nada, rien

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Alan Cresswell

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Would you care to enlighten us about what you found absolutely shocking, and why? It's very hard to discuss whether it is actually shocking, or not, otherwise.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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noelper
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I am finding it difficult to distinguish between wives and slaves, within the biblical terms of reference. Given patriarchial dominion of traditional christianity until the 20th century, this confirms the basis of the prevalence of property rights over human rights, to this very day.

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Nil, nada, rien

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
I am absolutely shocked !

quote:
I am finding it difficult to distinguish between wives and slaves, within the biblical terms of reference.
Perhaps the fact that you did not appreciate the cultural context of the Law of Moses explains your failure to grasp its explicit provision for polygamy?

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Alan Cresswell

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So, you're offended that the people for which most of the OT (and probably some of the NT) were originally written considered women to be closer to property than free individual humans? OK, I'm sure most people here would prefer it if women had always had equal status to men, but our preferences don't alter the facts of history.

As I see it that leaves us with only two real options in dealing with the Biblical texts.

One is to say that because those texts were written in a time and place where social standards were much less than we would consider to be just and fair, that therefore we should just ignore what the Bible says. So, as the OT is written on the assumption that women are property of her father and then husband; we reject that assumption (quite rightly IMO), and therefore the texts are meaningless. The problem with that approach is that you very rapidly strip the Bible down to leave nothing with any meaning. And, it also means that you miss out on the facts that Jesus (and, for that matter, some of the Prophets) quite often radically re-interpret things so that they go against the social norms thus removing Biblical support for the position that women aren't just property.

The better approach is to take those same passages, and say "what are the principles beneath them, and how would those principles work out in modern society?". The only place to start to do that is to understand the society that they were written in - unpleasant as it may be to think about the times when women were considered property.

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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
A few thoughts here. By reason of the fact that no-one condems Abraham's morality for having a son by a slave woman, or Jacob's for having two wives or David for having wives and concubines in the hundreds, its obvious that those practices must have been acceptable in the time in which the stories were written.

I think you fall into the trap of assuming because there is not explicit condemnation (editorializing, essentially) that there was no condemnation. Personally, I've often wished the Bible came right out and said, "and this was wrong, because..." but it hardly ever does. In the case of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, it is abundantly clear that "helping God along" was not a good idea (see Genesis 17 and 22 for evidence of that conclusion). So while you may argue that Abraham was not condemned for bearing a child with his wife's servant Hagar, he is not praised for it; it is a failure of faith, setting up "the son of the flesh" and "the son of the promise." Yes, Ishmael IS blessed, for Abraham's sake - but he's also sent away, out of the story of Israel. God has a relationship with Hagar (she interacts with the Angel of the Lord twice; Sarah's only interaction is to claim she didn't laugh at the thought of a late pregnancy) and I trust He had one with Ishmael, too - but it's not recorded in scripture.

Jacob's two wives are a result of Laban's deceitfulness (which is certainly a speedy version of "what goes around, comes around") and the fact that he fathered sons with their handmaids came out of their jealousy and squabbling, because Jacob loved Rachel rather than Leah, the older sister. God uses it all, but it doesn't mean He approved it.

As for David (btw, he had hundreds of wives? I know four by name and there were additional unnamed wives, but I can't find anything that indicates hundreds - where? I know Solomon did: 700 wives and 300 concubines), in Lev. 17:14-20, God gives very specific instruction that when the people cry out for a human king, how he should behave and NOT multiply wives, horses, wealth - laws that were not obeyed.

Yes, people did these things. They also committed adultery, murdered each other, didn't keep the sabbath year for the land, and often allowed trade to occur on the sabbath (etc., ad infinitum). But it doesn't mean those behaviors were approved; they were tolerated. I would challenge you to find a Biblical example of polygamy that is a "good" thing (even Hannah, the mother of Samuel - I suspect she was the first wife but, when she proved barren, Elkanah married again).

You are right that the number of wives a man had was practically limited by his wealth and, by the time of Christ, most of the Jews were not wealthy and couldn't afford many wives. Jesus, in His teaching on divorce, clearly says "From the beginning it was not so--" Moses *allowed* divorce because of the hardness of men's hearts (and I daresay women can be just as hardhearted; they simply weren't given the opportunity to exercise it in this manner). I think the Matthew 19:4-6 teaching is pretty clear (And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created {them} from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, '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 they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." - caps are in the NASB).

Jesus was radical in His view and treatment of women - remember how shocked the disciples were to find Him speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4? Can you imagine Martha's surprise when Jesus didn't send Mary into the kitchen to prepare food but approved her staying to learn with the men? Luke's gospel shows us that Jesus' ministry was financed, at least in part, by women who sometimes travelled with Him and took care of the them (somebody's got to do the cooking, don'cha know-- Although Jesus clearly didn't mind fixing fish for breakfast!). But the disciples were still very much men of their time and culture (as are we--), so when Jesus sends His resurrection message through Mary Magdalene, most of the guys are dismissive.

Again, I don't think the fact that humanity embraced sexism, racism, greed, or slavery means that the Bible approved of any of those attitudes or behaviors, but we do see scripture attempting to ameliorate the conditions and circumstances. Jesus came with a massive course correction; Paul, the quintessential pharisee, turned around and did a complete 180 to follow Him. Sadly, the Church has not held to that high calling as well as she might have - and God continues to send course corrections.

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Erin & Friend; Been there, done that; Ruth musical

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
So while you may argue that Abraham was not condemned for bearing a child with his wife's servant Hagar, he is not praised for it;

8< snip

God uses it all, but it doesn't mean He approved it.

8< snip

But it doesn't mean those behaviors were approved;

Nor does it mean they weren't. You're arguing from silence here, reading condemnation where there is none expressed.

quote:
Jesus, in His teaching on divorce, clearly says "From the beginning it was not so--" Moses *allowed* divorce because of the hardness of men's hearts
What does divorce have to do with polygamy?

quote:
I think the Matthew 19:4-6 teaching is pretty clear (And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created {them} from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, '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 they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
This has already been covered, and it isn't much of an argument against polygamy.

quote:
Jesus was radical in His view and treatment of women
Which is obviously why he condemned polygamy - oh, wait, he didn't, did he?

quote:
Again, I don't think the fact that humanity embraced sexism, racism, greed, or slavery means that the Bible approved of any of those attitudes or behaviors, but we do see scripture attempting to ameliorate the conditions and circumstances.
How, in that case, do you distinguish something that is bad from something that is neutral (or even good) but can have bad effects, which need to be ameliorated? And how do you demonstrate that polygamy falls into either category? Gluttony might be bad, but food isn't bad per se. What test do you apply to categorise something as wholly bad, possibly bad, or wholly good?

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The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. - Richard Feynman

A letter to my son about death

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Anselm
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
Perhaps it could be argued that the scriptures' position is that polygamy, while not necessarily morally wrong, is unwise.

"No Answer" was the stern reply...

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carpe diem domini
...seize the day to play dominoes?

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noelper
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Alan Cresswell
quote:
So, you're offended that the people for which most of the OT (and probably some of the NT) were originally written considered women to be closer to property than free individual humans?
Nope, not offended. I am simply amazed at the extent of measures used by the patriarchial exponents of scripture, to deny the equality of women. In my reading, the Laws of God are entirely counter-cultural - aside from Jewish rituals which affirm that culture. Jesus re-affirmed this. Yet scripture as expounded by men for thousands of years, would have women barely differentiated from slaves and ranked amongst the posssesion of men. This despite the eulogising at Proverbs 31:10-31.

Bearing in mind that women occupy the status of chattells throughout the world, the God Whom I worship, does not uphold the practises prevailing throughout the world. Hence ken and PaulTH* have filled an enormous gap in my education concerning the source methods of women's oppression.

If, as Jesus claimed ( although I myself can find little evidence of this in the OT ) divorce was a concession from Moses' law - the 'get' procedure described by ken, appears to have been perverted in favour of men's overarching desire to retain the slave-status of women.

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Nil, nada, rien

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
I am simply amazed at the extent of measures used by the patriarchial exponents of scripture, to deny the equality of women.

I'm not quite sure who these "patriarchial exponents of Scripture" are, certainly no one here has expounded Scripture to deny the equality of women. There's a big difference between saying that the society in which ancient documents were written didn't recognise the equality of women and saying that women aren't equal to men.

quote:
In my reading, the Laws of God are entirely counter-cultural - aside from Jewish rituals which affirm that culture.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that reads very much like "the Bible is counter cultural, except where it isn't". Which doesn't seem to be an awfully enlightening statement to me.

quote:
Yet scripture as expounded by men for thousands of years, would have women barely differentiated from slaves and ranked amongst the posssesion of men.
Well, Scripture certainly has been abused like that. For a time, Scripture was used to defend the proposition that the Earth is stationary and the sun, stars and planets orbit the earth. So what? We look back and realise that people were reading their own pre-suppositions about the nature of the universe (or, in the case of the status of women the relative position of men and women in their society) into Scripture and say "tut, tut, that was wrong" - often without recognising that we're doing exactly the same thing by reading our own pre-suppositions back into Scripture.

But, we're not really here to discuss what others have understood the Bible to mean. Rather, we're here to discuss what we think it means. And, specifically, whether there's anything in Scripture that specifically supports the "traditional marriage" (that being the standard marriage of Europe and derived cultures for the last few hundred years). That the Bible was written in a culture in which women were often treated as chattels is important to recognise when reading the Bible, that doesn't mean that the Bible only supports the sort of society in which it was written. The fact that society changed during the writing of the Bible, often barely raising comment from the authors, should tell us that the societies in which individual books were written are incidental.

As far as I can see, there's nothing that explicitely teaches "one man, one woman, for life" as the ideal marriage in Scripture. I do see a strong argument for the equality of women, especially in Jesus who very counter-culturally treated women as equals and in Paul who writes that "in Christ there is neither male nor female". The effect of that on interpreting passages where polygamous relationships aren't condemned could lead one to conclude that it's OK for a man to have several wives, and it's OK for a woman to have several husbands.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Doublethink.
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Thinking about OT scripture, it is worth bearing in mind that Islam also venerates these scriptures - and that in many predominately Islamic states polygamy is still practised.
It is going out of fashion as countries become more westernised and richer. I think this has to do with the speed of change of the economic organisation of these socities as well as theology.

It is compartively easier to provide four wives with a tent and food each than it is to provide for each a house and a car and so on. In some ways I think that polygamy was easier to maintain in a nomadc culture.

When I lived in the middle east our family knew many folk in polygamus marriages - two big determinants seemed to be high mortality rates and workload.

People have many children when they know half of them won't live to adulthood - and childbirth itself in pre-industrial societies is dangerous, never mind the other risks that can lower life expectency both for the children and their mothers.

Workloadwise these people would have been minding small children, minding the animals, weaving their own clothes from scratch, walking miles to fetch water etc. We find it hard to do a deskjob, cook ready prepared food and hoover in singlehood or coupledom.

As work became more specialised, i.e, you could buy or barter for cloth, you could get flour already milled - the costs of such a large family start to outway the benefits. By Christ's time we are talking about a structurally different, settled society - you can see why polygamy might be on the decrease.

Re women being chattels:

Married women in the UK were only allowed to own property in the 19th century - interestingly they had been able to do so in Islamic countries since the 14th century.

Not sure what all that says about the interpetation of religious texts except that they came to very different conclusions from the Torah than we did.

[ 28. June 2006, 17:20: Message edited by: Doublethink ]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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noelper
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Alan Cresswell
quote:
I'm not quite sure who these "patriarchial exponents of Scripture" are, certainly no one here has expounded Scripture to deny the equality of women.
You infer more than I wrote. Why ?

quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that reads very much like "the Bible is counter cultural, except where it isn't". Which doesn't seem to be an awfully enlightening statement to me.

You are wrong. The Bible gave rise to Jewish tradition. Fact.

quote:
But, we're not really here to discuss what others have understood the Bible to mean.
I am attempting to discuss what it has meant, and continues to mean, for both Jewish and Christian women ie ascribed roles secondary to men, as justified by reference to a variety of biblical passages with that single objective in common - if little else.

quote:
As far as I can see, there's nothing that explicitely teaches "one man, one woman, for life" as the ideal marriage in Scripture.
As far as I can see, there is. Stale mate.

quote:
The effect of that on interpreting passages where polygamous relationships aren't condemned could lead one to conclude that it's OK for a man to have several wives, and it's OK for a woman to have several husbands.

You must live according to your rules, as I shall live according to mine.

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Nil, nada, rien

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HenryT

Canadian Anglican
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
...As far as I can see, there is. Stale mate....

You must live according to your rules, as I shall live according to mine.

noelper - this is Kerygmania, where we study the text. Don't assume that either Alan or I are attempting to find justification for polygamy - that would be a Purgatory topic, for one thing.

Can you provide a text explicitly against polygamy?

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"Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old-fashioned" P. Henry, 1788

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noelper
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An excellent link, Doublethink, with some ideas relevant to the biblical basis of a spiritual relationship, as approximated by monogamous marriage.

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Nil, nada, rien

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noelper
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Henry Troup

quote:
Can you provide a text explicitly against polygamy?
No. Can you provide a text explicitly in favour of polygamy ?

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Nil, nada, rien

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
You infer more than I wrote. Why ?

Presumably because what you wrote was so unclear.

quote:
quote:
As far as I can see, there's nothing that explicitly teaches "one man, one woman, for life" as the ideal marriage in Scripture.
As far as I can see, there is. Stale mate.
quote:
quote:
Can you provide a text explicitly against polygamy?
No. Can you provide a text explicitly in favour of polygamy?
Can you see how perfectly you contradict yourself here?
Which is it to be, the Bible does not explicitly condemn polygamy, or it does and you just don't want to tell us where?


quote:
quote:
The effect of that on interpreting passages where polygamous relationships aren't condemned could lead one to conclude that it's OK for a man to have several wives, and it's OK for a woman to have several husbands.
You must live according to your rules, as I shall live according to mine.
Why are you bringing the way Alan lives into this? What the hell does it have to do with this discussion?

--------------------
I saw a naked picture of me on the internet
Wearing Jesus's new snowshoes.
Well, golly gee.
- Eels

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noelper
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Get off my case.

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Nil, nada, rien

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PaulTH*
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Dear noelper

I think the story of King David is the most important in any biblical discussion about polygamy. David had many wives and concubines. Yet he coveted the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was Bathsheba. He saw her sunbathing from his vantage view across the City of Jerusalem. So, after beginning an adultrous relationship with her,he placed Uriah in a position in battle which was almost sure to get him killed and it worked. So David got Bathsheba, but from there on it all went bent. Their child died. David's fououred son Absalem rose up in rebellion against him and was slaughtered when his long hair caught in a tree.

So in all of this grisly tale, there is no condemnation of David for having multiple wives. because that's what a king would do within that culture. Many aspects of morality especially in the realms of sexual ethics are governed by the mores of the surrounding society, so it could never be said that the morals of monogamy or even those regarding homosexuality are absolute. Thye could as well be cultural. King David sinned because he stole another man's wife when it was a simple man who had only one wife. And he had her husband killed.

As evidence that God forgave David ultimately, its worth remembering that Solomon was also the son of David and Bathsheba and perhaps the most penitent of all the psalms, Psalm 51 is traditionally regarded as David's penitent psalm following his teshuva for his wicked actions. And Soloman remains the ancestor of the messianic tree.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper
Get off my case.

Host hat on

SteveTom has criticized the clarity and logic of your argument. This is appropriate in Kerygmania. Saying 'Get off my case.' is not appropriate. It personalizes what should not be a personal argument. If you want a personal argument, call SteveTom to Hell.

Host hat off

Moo

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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
So while you may argue that Abraham was not condemned for bearing a child with his wife's servant Hagar, he is not praised for it;

8< snip

God uses it all, but it doesn't mean He approved it.

8< snip

But it doesn't mean those behaviors were approved;

Nor does it mean they weren't. You're arguing from silence here, reading condemnation where there is none expressed.
Actually, I am not. In order to keep my post short, I didn't include the scriptures I mentioned, but I will include them now: Gen. 17:15-21 Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah {shall be} her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be {a mother of} nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear {a child?}" And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before You!"
But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year."


and Gen.22:1-2 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."


In the first, we see that God has rejected the child that Abraham and Sarah conspire to conceive through Hagar - not as a person, but as the son of the promise, in a prophetic sense. In the second we see God completely ignore the existence of Ishmael, saying, "Take your son, your only son whom you love," which is the first appearance of the word "love" in the Bible, btw. For God's purposes with Abraham and his descendants, Ishmael does not exist. I do not call that an argument from silence.

quote:
quote:
Jesus, in His teaching on divorce, clearly says "From the beginning it was not so--" Moses *allowed* divorce because of the hardness of men's hearts
What does divorce have to do with polygamy?
It's not divorce that reflects on polygamy, it's God's intent from the beginning that humans be coupled - "the two become one flesh, let no one put asunder what God has joined together."

quote:
quote:
I think the Matthew 19:4-6 teaching is pretty clear (And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created {them} from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, '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 they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
This has already been covered, and it isn't much of an argument against polygamy.
"they are no longer TWO" ??? I think it's a simple numeric argument. They cannot be ONE flesh if half that flesh is also ONE flesh with another... it does not work.

quote:
quote:
Jesus was radical in His view and treatment of women
Which is obviously why he condemned polygamy - oh, wait, he didn't, did he?
Like *most* of the old testament law, Jesus did not reiterate the position of scripture. I see the position of scripture as pretty clear, even though there was no legal prohibition of polygamy. And, in the context of warring cultures, it was a way to regenerate a population - practical, from the human standpoint.

quote:
quote:
Again, I don't think the fact that humanity embraced sexism, racism, greed, or slavery means that the Bible approved of any of those attitudes or behaviors, but we do see scripture attempting to ameliorate the conditions and circumstances.
How, in that case, do you distinguish something that is bad from something that is neutral (or even good) but can have bad effects, which need to be ameliorated? And how do you demonstrate that polygamy falls into either category? Gluttony might be bad, but food isn't bad per se. What test do you apply to categorise something as wholly bad, possibly bad, or wholly good?
If you follow the argument from Genesis 17 and 22, as well as the prohibition against *kings* multiplying wives (and if it wasn't good for the king, it's going to be good for "just plain folks?" I don't think so) from Leviticus, you see that polygamy is not "the best way" - it's tolerated, but NOT encouraged.

So what are your arguments from scripture to indicate that polygamy was good? I will be very interested to see them.

PaulTH*, you skim over the really critical part of the David/Bathsheba story: SHE becomes pregnant; David called Uriah back from the front in the hope that Uriah will sleep with his wife, allowing the child to be passed off as his; Uriah is too noble to enjoy the pleasures of his marital bed while his companions-in-arms are still sleeping on the hard ground (and doesn't yield on this point even after a second night, when David gets him drunk). IF Uriah had simply slept with Bathsheba, the ruse would have worked, the baby who died would have been considered Uriah's, and Solomon would likely never have been conceived; David might not have been brought to a place of broken repentance and rather continued to live in denial, thinking he got away with something (I like to think God would have sent Nathan to break through that shell, anyway)... God uses it all. Even now, in our little lives. [Smile]

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Erin & Friend; Been there, done that; Ruth musical

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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
"they are no longer TWO" ??? I think it's a simple numeric argument. They cannot be ONE flesh if half that flesh is also ONE flesh with another... it does not work.

I think two millennia of monogamy make this argument seem more valid than it actually is.

That fact that marriage unites a man and a woman does not mathematically preclude either or both of them being united with a third person.

Take an analogy with children: I love my son with my whole heart, with so much of myself that there's nothing left over. And I love my other son just as much. Taking the first statement "mathematically" as you put it, ought to make the second impossible, but relationships don't work like that, do they?

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Wearing Jesus's new snowshoes.
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Barnabas62
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# 9110

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SteveTom

Yes there's truth in that. But the key is what is really meant by becoming "one flesh". I would hate ever to be in a position where I needed to choose between the love I have for my sons and the love I have for my wife. But I think "one flesh" declares the ideal of an indelible priority. In that horrible hypothetical situation I describe, it would be the love for my wife which would win out. This bites home most hard of course, when one parent discovers that another is abusing their children - or that they themselves are being abused. But it is not an abandonment of the priority of love in that situation to give a priority to the safety of the vulnerable (including ourselves). Becoming "one flesh" is an ideal which we express, in our imperfection, by saying "for better, for worse". That is what we promise.

Earlier it was argued, correctly I think, that traditional marriage has not arisen just because of categorical biblical proof. But if there is a single powerful indicator of a "from the beginning" principle, it is probably to be found in the Genesis 2 verse, which is both pre-fall and also used significantly in the New Testament as a model of the ideal.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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noelper
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# 9961

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Dear PaulTH*
Re David and Bathsheba, I wrote earlier:

quote:
My own approach is derived from placing unqualified trust in a God, Who was prepared to overlook David's polygamy AND adultery, and to find in his favour because of an unequivocal fidelity to God.
LynnMagdalenCollege

quote:
I see the position of scripture as pretty clear, even though there was no legal prohibition of polygamy.
So do I.

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Nil, nada, rien

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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I would hate ever to be in a position where I needed to choose between the love I have for my sons and the love I have for my wife. But I think "one flesh" declares the ideal of an indelible priority. In that horrible hypothetical situation I describe, it would be the love for my wife which would win out.

I don't think that you can assume that that priority would be the same for everyone.

As to the 'maths' argument, I note folk on the thread have drawn anologies between marriage and relating to God. On that basis one could use the trinity to argue for polygamy, God as three-in-one rather than two-in-one after all.

However, I think this is a blind alley - because bascially one's relationship with God or the church is not like a marriage. It is a romantic analogy that seeks to sanitise sexual love, and I think mistaken. (The virgin Mary is, possibly, the only exception to this.)

Arguing from the OT to justify current practice is always going to be dubious, wasn't it David who swapped a cartload of foreskins for a woman who didn't want to marry him - but was sent anyway ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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