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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: The Biblical basis of traditional marriage
SteveTom
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Thanks for two helpful posts, Doublethink. The point about economics is especially well taken.

To us in the contemporary west, polygamy is obviously and instinctively wrong, whether as a sexual taboo or as sexual politics, or both.

Without wanting to get too relativistic about it, I think it is extremely hard for us appreciate the economic imperative that operated towards polygamy in the early iron age, and absolutely impossible to imagine the psychological and emotional life of women and men then.

Within our own economic, psychological and ethical framework, polygamy unambiguously exploits and undervalues women. But simply to import those values back into the iron age is pretty naive, isn't it?

--------------------
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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Doublethink

quote:
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.
Alternatively, the analogy could be continued in a Holy Family, with Jesus the Offspring as the product of a sacred union.

quote:
However, I think this is a blind alley - because bascially one's relationship with God or the church is not like a marriage.
I agree that one's relationship with the church is not like a marriage. We are all a single body however, irrespective of the size, scale or relative importance in comparison with other body parts.

quote:

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.)

Marriage (whether by formal agreement of not )is a covenant relationship in a rite-of-passage which is dependent upon on-going agreement, and which may or may not prove synergistic. The fact that we romanticise the facts of marital relationship, does not detract from the essentially contractual basis.

I am unclear about the reference to Mary; please
amplify.

quote:
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 ?
This does not differentiate the rite-of-passage, (which persists as a foundational construct of human relations) from the social mores which accompany it. In the example quoted, David was paying a dowry for the privilige of marrying the King's daughter. The methods of payment change, or are abandoned, thank God.

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Anselm
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
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.

Though you would have to say that, other than the ability to teach, the list is an ideal that is set for all to aspire to, isn't it?
quote:
A few posts later
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?
I am not sure what you are saying here (you seem to agree that monogamy is presented as the ideal), or how the logic of your argument works (if you are saying that the ideal is... not binding, not really an ideal?). ISTM that at most it urges caution in interpreting 'the ideal'™ rather than dismissing it from the present discussion.

I think Genesis 1-2 does say something about the issues you raised - though it would be off the topic to deal with them now...other than to mention that veganism was directly dealt with by God in Gen 9.
mmmmmmm juicy steak.

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

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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
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.)


The fact that we romanticise the facts of marital relationship, does not detract from the essentially contractual basis.

I am unclear about the reference to Mary; please
amplify.

I mean my relationship with God is not like a sexual relationship that I might have with another human being, however loving.

I think that the analogy has been used before because the church has been uncomfortable with messy humaness of sexual relationships and has tried to gloss over it, or de-emphasise it. (Sex is OK if your going to have kids otherwise don't, oh OK if you must but remember all these other things are much more important, etc, etc,).

Consequently, I don't think it works to argue back the other way from that position - the Church is the bride of Christ there is only supposed to be one Church so therefore one should only have one wife etc.

(My point about about Mary is that she was impregnated by the deity, which is a near as human is going to get to a sexual relationship with God. Therefore, she is the one exception I recognise to the statement I made above.)

quote:
N:
quote:
DT: 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 ?
This does not differentiate the rite-of-passage, (which persists as a foundational construct of human relations) from the social mores which accompany it. In the example quoted, David was paying a dowry for the privilige of marrying the King's daughter. The methods of payment change, or are abandoned, thank God.
My point being I think we are being highly selective about which pieces of the presence/absence of text in the OT we take to be significant. That story could be used to support a biblical basis for arranged marriage or the payment of dowries, never mind anything else.

[ 29. June 2006, 16:15: 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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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:

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.)


Two points. Firstly, from Ephesians 5 there is analogical interplay, both ways, between marriage relationships and the relationship between Christ and the Church. So from that scripture, one can argue that marriage, ideally, is in some sense "like" the relationship between Christ and the Church. Secondly, I dont think Paul is being romantic, or sanitising sexual love in Ephesians 5. He is simply relating back to the idealised "pre-Fall" model. In which the man and the woman were naked and unashamed. Overall, I think it is legitimate to argue that it is an idealised view, which does not invalidate its principles.

This aint theory for me; we've been married for 38 years and it has been a very good journey for both of us. Our understanding of compatibility has been revolutionised by the process of living it out. The understanding that love in marriage is mutually sacrificial has stood us in very good stead. (Enforced submission has had no place in our relationship. We took trad vows and talked about "obey" before we got married. We agreed a deal to avoid an argument with the vicar. She would obey me when she agreed with me and I agreed never to "push it"! We've kept that. These days we would "include it out").

We know this experience isn't everyone's and are sorry about that. We cannot deny our own. I told my wife about this thread and she smiled. "Anyone who fancies taking on more than one life partner at a time wants their head examining" she said. "One is quite enough". That made us both laugh.

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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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Doublethink.
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Congratulations on 38 years [Smile]

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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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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
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:

8< snip

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.

That's your interpretation. I could equally say that God rejects Ishmael because he is a manifestation of Abraham's lack of faith. There's no evidence here that God either approved or disapproved of polygamy per se.

quote:
quote:
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:
"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.
These are relying on exactly the same argument, which SteveTom's already answered very effectively. I can't help feeling, LMC, that you're reading these passages through the prism of your existing expectations of what marriage ought to look like.

quote:
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.
(my italics)

If there's no legal prohibition, but you nevertheless think polygamy is clearly rejected by scripture, it's a funny sort of clarity to my mind. And I wouldn't have thought any moral law could be cast aside for pragmatic reasons, as you suggest.

quote:
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.
The same prohibitions include having great numbers of horses, or too much gold, and the NIV has in Deut 17:17
quote:
He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
How do you get from this to a clear Biblical argument against polygamy? It reads to me like several would be OK, just not many, and the reason for that is practical, rather than moral.

quote:
So what are your arguments from scripture to indicate that polygamy was good? I will be very interested to see them.
Not good, just neutral. Most of the OT, I think - time and time again, the OT explicitly describes polygamous relationships, and you know what? It isn't ever condemned. There is criticism of Solomon's many foreign wives, various adulterous relationships, and some passages, like Deut 17:17 preach "polygamy in moderation", but there's no outright condemnation. Considering some of the things that are condemned, that it seems to have been such a common practice, and that you can find some form of "thou shalt not" almost anywhere, I think this is quite revealing.

I don't hold any kind of brief for polygamy - there are good practical reasons for rejecting it as a viable model for worldwide marriage, and legal ones for not living polygamously. Besides which, I don't think Keren-Happuch would like the idea much. [Biased] But if you say that the Bible clearly rejects polygamy, I'll have to say I think you're completely wrong.

--------------------
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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noelper
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quote:
Anselm:
Though you would have to say that, other than the ability to teach, the list is an ideal that is set for all to aspire to, isn't it?

Especially so in a Kingdom of priests.


quote:
Doublethink:
I mean my relationship with God is not like a sexual relationship that I might have with another human being, however loving.

Just as well really, since the NT relationship predicated between God and individuals is that of Father-Child; and the OT relationship between God and the community is that of Husband-Wife. Accordingly the lower emphasis on
sexual relationships by church, reflects a valid position where all aspects of Love are represented as God-given - albeit out-of-place within a marriage ceremony.

quote:
Doublethink:
I think that the analogy has been used before because the church has been uncomfortable with messy humaness of sexual relationships and has tried to gloss over it, or de-emphasise it.

Agreed. This possibly represents an attempt to embrace the chocolate-box image, prevalent in wider society.

quote:
Doublethink:
That story could be used to support a biblical basis for arranged marriage or the payment of dowries, never mind anything else.

It could be so used, but isn't.

quote:

Barnabas62:
This aint theory for me...

For me neither. Having married as an atheist, with a husband remaining atheist/agnostic, the only safe conclusion is that we both consider the marriage covenant to be binding - for whatever reason.


quote:
The Great Gumby:
Most of the OT, I think - time and time again, the OT explicitly describes polygamous relationships, and you know what? It isn't ever condemned.

It isn't about the practice, but about This amazing God.

quote:
John 3:17
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.



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Nil, nada, rien

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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
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.

But being united with a third person (sexually) sunders the one-flesh relationship he/she has with the first person, since the "let no one put asunder" argument is not about coitus interruptus (otherwise, every time we *ahem* disengaged, we would be putting asunder our marriages...). I'm not sure how bringing in the figurative speech of "I love my son with my whole heart, with so much of myself that there's nothing left over" really applies in the argument, as the only "you shall love with your whole heart" instruction within scripture directs us to love God with our whole heart (Deut. 6:5, etc.) - not wives, husbands, or children. Please don't misunderstand (!), I'm not saying we shouldn't love our wives, husbands, children as much as we can, secondary to loving God.

Barnabbas62, I think "one flesh" is not actually an emotional description, but a spiritual reality best described as "one flesh" (I know, "flesh" isn't a "spiritual" word, but this is the terminology of scripture). One can be annoyed with one's spouse and still be "one flesh"...

Doublethink, respectfully, the Bible doesn't instruct us to "make three one, as God is triune" but rather directs "and the two shall become one flesh and let them not be separated." The numeric argument is the Bible's argument.

gotta run; I'll read the rest later - blessings!

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

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by SteveTom:

Barnabbas62, I think "one flesh" is not actually an emotional description, but a spiritual reality best described as "one flesh" (I know, "flesh" isn't a "spiritual" word, but this is the terminology of scripture). One can be annoyed with one's spouse and still be "one flesh"...


LMC

It is actually a "becoming" which I believe means that God's in it, we're in it, and anyone who really cares about us is, ideally, some sort of positive support (that's the leaving bit). If you don't annoy, or get annoyed, some of the time, you're either very fortunate or there's something wrong! Short answer - not either/or, but both. And on the human side, maybe more about the enduring promise than the really important matter of the heart.

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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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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Two points. Firstly, from Ephesians 5 there is analogical interplay, both ways, between marriage relationships and the relationship between Christ and the Church. So from that scripture, one can argue that marriage, ideally, is in some sense "like" the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Forgive my stupid question... obviously there is only one Christ, but the Church has many believers. Is there a "marriage-like" relationship between individual members of the Church and Christ? (Remember that Personal Relationship with God/Jesus? [Biased] ) Does that make God "polyamorous" by analogy?

OliviaG

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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Barnabas62
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I think in the analogy it is because the church is one singular Body (composed of many parts) and is also described, in the singular, as "the Bride of Christ". Analogies are dangerous of course, but I think that is what is going on.

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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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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
If you follow the argument from ... 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.

I think there's something in this, especially when combined with Doublethink's economic point.

Polygamy is expensive, and only viable for those who can afford to support a very large family. So if it is religiously prohibited for the king, and economically prohibitive for the common man, then that doesn't leave a great deal in between.

Except that, it's not prohibited, or even discouraged, for the king, but restricted. The law reads to me like: "Just don't go mad, OK?"

The argument from "Don't overdo it" to "Ideally it don't do it at all" seems to me exactly the same argument as teetotallers' who say that when the Bible warns against too much wine it's encouraging us not to drink at all.
By the same logic, wouldn't we have to read teachings against gluttony and idleness as discouraging us from yummy food and from taking a well-earned rest.

After all, there's a world of difference between having 700 wives and 300 concubines, and having three wives, isn't there? The first is effectively free love, the second is insurance.

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

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I think in the analogy it is because the church is one singular Body (composed of many parts) and is also described, in the singular, as "the Bride of Christ". Analogies are dangerous of course, but I think that is what is going on.

That's how I see it too. In fact, I think that institution of marriage derives its sacredness from its metaphoric relationship with that heavenly marriage.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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

Though you would have to say that, other than the ability to teach, the list is an ideal that is set for all to aspire to, isn't it?
Yes, I guess it is.

But I think this just brings us back to what I said way back about OT & NT both simply reflecting the norms of their respective times (about marital plurality). I see a big difference between the occasions when the NT consistently and deliberately lays down the law (taking oaths, divorce, judging) and occasions when it incidentally reveals the values of the people who wrote it and of their society.

This passage suggests that in first-century Asia Minor polygamy was not respectable, and that the writer shared that attitude. I don't think that's the same thing as saying that the NT presents monogamy as the right way to live.

I imagine that if the issue had arisen Paul would have insisted on monogamy emphatically - how else did he ever do anything? - but in fact he never did.

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

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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
Just as well really, since the NT relationship predicated between God and individuals is that of Father-Child; and the OT relationship between God and the community is that of Husband-Wife. Accordingly the lower emphasis on sexual relationships by church, reflects a valid position where all aspects of Love are represented as God-given - albeit out-of-place within a marriage ceremony.

>snip<

Agreed. This possibly represents an attempt to embrace the chocolate-box image, prevalent in wider society.

I think we basically agree, its an analogy, its an imperfect analogy. My further point is that because it is a particularly - to my mind - imperfect analogy, I don't think we should stretch it too far.

quote:
N:
quote:
DT:
That story could be used to support a biblical basis for arranged marriage or the payment of dowries, never mind anything else.

It could be so used, but isn't.
Exactly, and why isn't it ? That's what I mean about us being highly selective - and I think that selectivity is determined by our current cultural mores. By extention I think we project backwards in time to support our current views about monogamy.

I happen to think monogamy is a good idea - I think that by extrapolation from what I see as Christian principles about caring for others, rather than based upon a particular textual reference. However, this is due to my cultural context. If I try for a multi-partner relationship, chances are - that due to my cultural conditioning and that of my partners - we'll never quite believe in the equality of shared love and probably get torn apart by jealousy. (Might work for a small minority in our culture if you found exactly the right people but very small chance of that.) So my objection to polygamy is a product of the intertwining of my faith and my culture.

--------------------
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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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
That's how I see it too. In fact, I think that institution of marriage derives its sacredness from its metaphoric relationship with that heavenly marriage.

May I disassemble that statement for a moment ?

Marriage (approved hetero sexual relationship)

is

Sacred (holy / special / blessed by God)

because of

Metaphor (analogous to / a bit like /colourfully described as)

Church's relationship to God.

---

A)

In what way, exactly, is the relationship between God and the Church similar to a marital relationship ?

&

B)

Do you not think that the gospel writers tried to describe something new - church - in terms of something that already existed - marital relationship ? So direction of causality is backwards.

--------------------
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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The Great Gumby

Ship's Brain Surgeon
# 10989

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
quote:
The Great Gumby:
Most of the OT, I think - time and time again, the OT explicitly describes polygamous relationships, and you know what? It isn't ever condemned.

It isn't about the practice, but about This amazing God.
In what way? The topic of this thread is the Biblical basis of traditional marriage, so what is it about if not marriage practices?

--------------------
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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Freddy
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# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
In what way, exactly, is the relationship between God and the Church similar to a marital relationship?

Good question, Doublethink. I'm not sure. [Roll Eyes]

I guess it is just that both describe a relationship characterized by ultimate love - the kind of love that makes people say things like, "I love you more than anything or anyone in the world." (Much like beer and chocolate. [Biased] )

As I understand it, love has three characteristics:
  • 1. It needs an object that is not itself.
  • 2. It wishes to make the object of its love happy.
  • 3. It wishes to be joined with the one it loves, with the loved one's free consent.
It seems to me that while many relationships and situations can be described by these three characteristics, the most powerful and permanent expressions of them are the ones usually found in people's relationship with God and the "love of their life."
quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
Do you not think that the gospel writers tried to describe something new - church - in terms of something that already existed - marital relationship ? So direction of causality is backwards.

Yes, it is a kind of reverse causality. That would be, I think, because the marital relationship is a known and observable entity, whereas God is, for the most part, invisible.

Aside from the point that I think that God, not the gospel writers, was the true "author" of the gospel, this is a well-established Old Testament metaphor as well. For example:
quote:
Isaiah 54:4 “ Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth."

Jeremiah 3:20 Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:32 ...not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.

Ezekiel 16:32 O Israel, you are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband.

Hosea 2:2 “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts;

Hosea 2:7 She will chase her lovers, But not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.Then she will say, ‘ I will go and return to my first husband, For then it was better for me than now.’

Hosea 2:16 “ And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the LORD,
“ That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’
19 “ I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD.

It seems to me that the many Old Testament references to this kind of relationship with God - which essentially equates idolatry and adultery - can be seen as elevating the marriage relationship.

I'm sure other interpretations are also possible.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Barnabas62
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Freddy

That is a powerful post. I was thinking "Hosea" too. It is perhaps these qualities of faithfulness (which elevates) and unfaithfulness (which costs) which are the illustrators. The best in human marriages illustrates the power and value of faithfulness maintained, despite the challenges of the relationship. The worst illustrates how the faithfulness and commitment of one partner can be exploited and manipulated by the unfaithfulness of the other (and I'm not just talking about adultery.

So I suppose the short summary is something like this. The faithfulness which we all hope for from our partners in relationships, and which we see in the best of marriages, is a pointer to just how faithful Christ has been, is, and will be towards his church.

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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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quote:
TGG
It isn't about the practice, but about This amazing God.

In what way? The topic of this thread is the Biblical basis of traditional marriage, so what is it about if not marriage practices?

The Biblical basis of traditional marriage is a God, Who would teach us better ways to love, rather than condemn our dysfunctionality.

quote:
Barnabas62
So I suppose the short summary is something like this. The faithfulness which we all hope for from our partners in relationships, and which we see in the best of marriages, is a pointer to just how faithful Christ has been, is, and will be towards his church.

Amen to that.

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Nil, nada, rien

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
quote:
TGG
In what way? The topic of this thread is the Biblical basis of traditional marriage, so what is it about if not marriage practices?

The Biblical basis of traditional marriage is a God, Who would teach us better ways to love, rather than condemn our dysfunctionality.
Right, but I think you need to provide some Biblical evidence that polygamy is indeed dysfunctional. It may be argued that there are better ways to do things, referencing the NT requirements for an elder, for example, but that might just be an ideal for a particular purpose. Note that Paul also says it's better not to marry at all - we can all work out how practical this would be if everyone followed it to the letter.

So have you got any Biblical evidence of the dysfunctionality of polygamy? That's the basic thrust of the thread, and I've yet to see anything very convincing.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I was thinking "Hosea" too. It is perhaps these qualities of faithfulness (which elevates) and unfaithfulness (which costs) which are the illustrators.

Hosea is a story about a man who marries a woman who is unfaithful to him, yet keeps taking her back. And, it's an illustration of a God who keeps taking back his people despite their repeated unfaithfulness.

Would that message be any different if Hosea had two wives, one who remained faithful and the other unfaithful? Any more than a story about a man with two sons, one of whom runs off an squanders the riches his father gave him and the other who remained at home faithfully fulfilling the duties of a son.

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

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Would that message be any different if Hosea had two wives, one who remained faithful and the other unfaithful? Any more than a story about a man with two sons, one of whom runs off an squanders the riches his father gave him and the other who remained at home faithfully fulfilling the duties of a son.

Good question, Alan.

Jesus did say:
quote:
John 10:16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring,
So if there are "other sheep" there could theoretically be "other wives." Considering how much the marriage metaphor is used, however, it might be seen as telling that there is no hint of that possibility. Of course it would naturally be anathema to ancient Israel to think that there might be another "virgin daughter" that Jehovah was chasing after to add to His harem.

At the same time, that same John quote about "other sheep" does emphasize the unity, or rather singularity, of the flock:
quote:
and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
One flock, one wife, one husband. I can see how people could come to that conclusion. [Angel]

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Doublethink.
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But a flock is multiple, lots of baffled sheep rather than one - similarly a church is made up of lots of people not just one - as is a harem, on entity but with mutiple units.

This is the problem with argument by analogy.

However, if we want to argue from silence, as some have being doing with the OT, we could say that the fact the church is never described as the harem of God is indicative of an anti-polygamus attitude. But I still think it is human writers, inspired by God, calling upon metaphors that occur to them in the everyday life of their temporal and cultural context, that results in the particular analogy used.

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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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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
However, if we want to argue from silence, as some have being doing with the OT, we could say that the fact the church is never described as the harem of God is indicative of an anti-polygamus attitude. But I still think it is human writers, inspired by God, calling upon metaphors that occur to them in the everyday life of their temporal and cultural context, that results in the particular analogy used.

Yes, that's probably right. And it does depend on how we think the human writers were inspired by God. I would go with the option that the particular analogy was also inspired, as was the cultural context.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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noelper
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quote:
TGG
So have you got any Biblical evidence of the dysfunctionality of polygamy? That's the basic thrust of the thread, and I've yet to see anything very convincing.

Nope, aside from the case of Solomon, previously cited.

Yet, in the light of Alan Cresswell's excellent question, I am wondering whether the absence of condemnation is directly linked to Jesus' point blank refusal to condemn the adulterous woman. That is, His judgement was based upon her circumstances, relative to the practices of those around her.

If women were only accorded status through marriage or child-rearing, or other sexual association ie concubine/prostitute, then an outright condemnation of polygamy would have consigned countless women and their children to.... what exactly ?

And which of the parties would be counted as the wrong-doing 'adulterer' ?

Jesus' silence must have been deafening.

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Nil, nada, rien

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Doublethink.
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Ooh, interesting point.

--------------------
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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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
That's your interpretation. I could equally say that God rejects Ishmael because he is a manifestation of Abraham's lack of faith. There's no evidence here that God either approved or disapproved of polygamy per se.

I can't find a place BEFORE the conception of Ishmael where God says specifically to Abra(ha)m that Sarai (later Sarah) would be the mother of his child - so for it to demonstrate a "lack of faith" on Abram's part, that would require that there was something "unfatihful" or "insufficient in faith" about taking Sarai's handmaid to bear his son.
quote:
I can't help feeling, LMC, that you're reading these passages through the prism of your existing expectations of what marriage ought to look like.
We all read scripture through our own prisms of expectation and assumption, every one of us. I think my expectation of what marriage "ought to look like" came from growing up with married parents. I spent a good 10 years living a life which didn't conform to Biblical standards because I thought they didn't apply any longer and at a certain point, I became convinced that they do apply. So, in looking to scripture, I found the best justification for sex outside marriage is Tamar and Judah (Gen. 38; and that ain't very justified!) and a clear sense of one man/one woman/forever as the ideal. This was not what I wanted to find.
quote:
quote:
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.
(my italics)

If there's no legal prohibition, but you nevertheless think polygamy is clearly rejected by scripture, it's a funny sort of clarity to my mind. And I wouldn't have thought any moral law could be cast aside for pragmatic reasons, as you suggest.

You're taking my argument farther than I take it myself: I am not saying "polygamy is clearly rejected by scripture" - I am arguing the Biblical basis of traditional marriage, which does *not* require that scripture clearly reject polygamy or make it "legally immoral" but only that scripture present a clear ideal. For me, this is one of the places where reading the Bible is very interesting and very challenging: to what degree has scripture "compromised" God's "perfect will" to accomodate the foibles of humanity, the realities of iron age economics, the hardness of our hearts? Jesus certainly indicates that the laws regarding divorce which Moses was "allowed" to include are just that, a concession to our imperfection. I think NOT condemning polygamy outright was another concession, but not one I can prove - but that's not the basis of this discussion, is it? "prove polygamy is wrong, from scripture"?
quote:
quote:
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.
The same prohibitions include having great numbers of horses, or too much gold, and the NIV has in Deut 17:17
quote:
He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
How do you get from this to a clear Biblical argument against polygamy? It reads to me like several would be OK, just not many, and the reason for that is practical, rather than moral.

To quote my first post, "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 so please note I included the prohibitions against horses and wealth, as well. We can *speculate* about why God included these warnings for the king (I expect all three were arenas in which kings competed amongst themselves) and we know that Solomon's foreign wives turned his heart from God (marriage to non-Hebrews was also discouraged, so he blew it on a number of counts - and he was the wisest man on the planet.
quote:
quote:
So what are your arguments from scripture to indicate that polygamy was good? I will be very interested to see them.
Not good, just neutral. Most of the OT, I think - time and time again, the OT explicitly describes polygamous relationships, and you know what? It isn't ever condemned. There is criticism of Solomon's many foreign wives, various adulterous relationships, and some passages, like Deut 17:17 preach "polygamy in moderation", but there's no outright condemnation. Considering some of the things that are condemned, that it seems to have been such a common practice, and that you can find some form of "thou shalt not" almost anywhere, I think this is quite revealing.

I don't hold any kind of brief for polygamy - there are good practical reasons for rejecting it as a viable model for worldwide marriage, and legal ones for not living polygamously. Besides which, I don't think Keren-Happuch would like the idea much. [Biased] But if you say that the Bible clearly rejects polygamy, I'll have to say I think you're completely wrong.

I don't see how you get "polygamy in moderation" out of Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold... It looks to me, however, that the bulk of our argument is over the misapprehension that MY claim is that scripture "clearly rejects" polygamy, and that is not my argument. I do think scripture makes it clear that polygamy is NOT the ideal and you haven't presented any scriptures which counter that; the fact that God doesn't attach a big red "thou shalt not" to something which nearly all men of means were practicing at the time doesn't make an argument for ideal. If you can find an instance in which polygamy doesn't create pain or trouble, I will be very impressed, because I sure can't think of any.
quote:
Barnabbas62 said:
It is actually a "becoming" which I believe means that God's in it, we're in it, and anyone who really cares about us is, ideally, some sort of positive support (that's the leaving bit). If you don't annoy, or get annoyed, some of the time, you're either very fortunate or there's something wrong! Short answer - not either/or, but both. And on the human side, maybe more about the enduring promise than the really important matter of the heart.

I agree with the and/both aspect of your response but no one has addressed how this is NOT an argument against polygamy - an additional sexual partner sunders the relationship. I don't see any way around that. "The two" cannot be "one flesh" and ALSO have one of those people be "one flesh" with another person.

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

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
You're taking my argument farther than I take it myself: I am not saying "polygamy is clearly rejected by scripture" - I am arguing the Biblical basis of traditional marriage, which does *not* require that scripture clearly reject polygamy or make it "legally immoral" but only that scripture present a clear ideal. For me, this is one of the places where reading the Bible is very interesting and very challenging: to what degree has scripture "compromised" God's "perfect will" to accomodate the foibles of humanity, the realities of iron age economics, the hardness of our hearts? Jesus certainly indicates that the laws regarding divorce which Moses was "allowed" to include are just that, a concession to our imperfection. I think NOT condemning polygamy outright was another concession, but not one I can prove - but that's not the basis of this discussion, is it? "prove polygamy is wrong, from scripture"?

Well, polygamy is explicitly mentioned in the OP as the contender, if you like, for the title of Biblical Model of Marriage, so any attempt to address the OP has got to assess the Biblical attitude to polygamy, especially as there are far more examples than there are of monogamy.

You've referred more than once to passages being "clear" in support of your position, and drawing a conclusion against polygamy. I don't think it's unreasonable to conclude from that that you're saying "polygamy is clearly rejected by scripture". If that's not what you're saying, maybe we need to investigate what you think a little further. Do you believe polygamy is a sin, for example? It's interesting that you mention divorce, which is not an absolute sin. I would suggest that polygamy is possibly in a similar part of the "sin spectrum" - possibly not ideal, but not forbidden, just subject to controls. Would you agree with this assessment?
quote:
I don't see how you get "polygamy in moderation" out of Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold...
Then read my post again. I think you've quoted the wrong passage when you refer to Lev 17:14-20 (look it up - I suspect you meant Deut), but the NIV (and, it would appear, most translations apart from the KJV) renders the Deuteronomy passage as "He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray", which suggest to me a) a practical, rather than moral objection, and b) an objection not to 2, 3 or 4 wives, but 200, 300 or 400. I certainly can't imagine using "many" to mean 2. Without going into the precise detail of the Hebrew, I think it's fair to say the passage is less than explicit.

quote:
I do think scripture makes it clear that polygamy is NOT the ideal and you haven't presented any scriptures which counter that; the fact that God doesn't attach a big red "thou shalt not" to something which nearly all men of means were practicing at the time doesn't make an argument for ideal. If you can find an instance in which polygamy doesn't create pain or trouble, I will be very impressed, because I sure can't think of any.
The fact that no big red "thou shalt not" attached to something so many people were doing suggests to me that at worst, it can't be far from the ideal - God seems to have been fairly quick to condemn various widespread practices throughout the OT. I agree that polygamy isn't the ideal, but I don't think scripture makes that clear at all, not when the overwhelming majority of marriages mentioned are polygamous, and yet are not condemned for that.

As an instance of polygamy that doesn't cause trouble, how about David? He seems to have been positively blessed in his polygamy. It also seems reasonable to assume that God wasn't just keeping his counsel about this straying, considering how efficiently David was brought to repentance by Nathan over the Bathsheba incident. If ever there was someone God would lead towards a better model, it was surely David, but He didn't and David prospered.

--------------------
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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noelper
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quote:

TGG
If ever there was someone God would lead towards a better model, it was surely David, but He didn't and David prospered.

Err....David prospered because he was nothing less than a man after God's own heart. So much so, that Jesus is modelled upon the example set by David. That his polygamy prospered (in contrast with that of Solomon) was a by product of the love which God had for him - warts and all.

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Anselm
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
Though you would have to say that, other than the ability to teach, the list is an ideal that is set for all to aspire to, isn't it?

Yes, I guess it is.

But I think this just brings us back to what I said way back about OT & NT both simply reflecting the norms of their respective times (about marital plurality).

Only that we now have a NT passage that gives an ideal of monogamy AND an OT passage (Gen 2) that sets an ideal of monogamy.

Also, as LMC suggested, the Torah's allowance of polygamy doesn't take away from the idea that monogamy is the ideal, any more than the Torah's allowance of divorce takes away from the fact that the ideal is that marriages are "til do us part".

--------------------
carpe diem domini
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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
quote:

TGG
If ever there was someone God would lead towards a better model, it was surely David, but He didn't and David prospered.

Err....David prospered because he was nothing less than a man after God's own heart.
You asserted this earlier. If David was a man after God's own heart, why would he do something that was against God's will? If he didn't know it was against God's will, why didn't God tell him? He wasn't exactly shy about sending Nathan to slap him down over his adultery and murder.
quote:
So much so, that Jesus is modelled upon the example set by David.
Exactly what do you mean by this?
quote:
That his polygamy prospered (in contrast with that of Solomon) was a by product of the love which God had for him - warts and all.
So God loves some people so much that He doesn't even bother to tell them to stop sinning, while at the same time He makes life hell for people He doesn't like for doing exactly the same thing? I don't recognise this picture at all - it seems to be bordering on Calvinism.

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

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Anselm
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Sorry for the double post
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
As an instance of polygamy that doesn't cause trouble, how about David? He seems to have been positively blessed in his polygamy. It also seems reasonable to assume that God wasn't just keeping his counsel about this straying, considering how efficiently David was brought to repentance by Nathan over the Bathsheba incident. If ever there was someone God would lead towards a better , it was surely David, but He didn't and David prospered.

Though the civil war that occurred under his rule could hardly be seen as a "high point" of prosperity in his reign - and this could be seen as a direct consequence of his polygamy; i.e. the interplay of siblings from different mothers (not unlike what we see in the relations between the sons of Jacob).

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carpe diem domini
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noelper
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quote:
TGG
You asserted this earlier. If David was a man after God's own heart, why would he do something that was against God's will? If he didn't know it was against God's will, why didn't God tell him? He wasn't exactly shy about sending Nathan to slap him down over his adultery and murder.

David disobeyed God by running contrary to His Will, plenty of times. This is my own experience too. God has His own ways of showing how wrong we are - mostly through hindsight, if not through the likes of Samuel and Nathan. David always repented and turned back to God; as do I -eventually.

quote:
So much so, that Jesus is modelled upon the example set by David.
Exactly what do you mean by this?

Whilst Jesus' priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek, his Kingship is in David's line ie the Servant King whose Kingdom was established and ruled by God.

quote:
So God loves some people so much that He doesn't even bother to tell them to stop sinning, while at the same time He makes life hell for people He doesn't like for doing exactly the same thing?
I don't understand what this means. God has made Himself and His message known throughout history. Don't people have a share in the Hell which engulfs us ?

quote:
I don't recognise this picture at all - it seems to be bordering on Calvinism.
God's love centres on mutuality as exemplified by David, not on Calvinist predestiny.

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Nil, nada, rien

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SteveTom
Contributing Editor
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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
I am wondering whether the absence of condemnation is directly linked to Jesus' point blank refusal to condemn the adulterous woman. That is, His judgement was based upon her circumstances, relative to the practices of those around her.

If women were only accorded status through marriage or child-rearing, or other sexual association ie concubine/prostitute, then an outright condemnation of polygamy would have consigned countless women and their children to.... what exactly ?

And which of the parties would be counted as the wrong-doing 'adulterer' ?

Jesus' silence must have been deafening.

I agree that this is an interesting point, but it's a pretty weird one too.

For a start, "the absence of condemnation"? Do I read right that you are trying to explain the the absence of condemnation of polygamy in the Bible? This would seem to negate a very very large number of your posts maintaining that the Bible condemns polygamy loudly & clearly & consistently.

And secondly, you seem to be arguing that the reason polygamy is not condemned is out of sympathy for women who had no choice but polygamy. This seems muddled to me, because all of us on both sides of the argument have agreed that we dislike polygamy precisely because it abuses and undervalues women. There's something a bit wrong about declining to condemn and prohibit the abuse of women out of sympathy for women, isn't there?

You might as well say that the Bible should not tell men not to use prostitutes because it's not their fault they're prostitutes.

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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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SteveTom
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
I think Genesis 1-2 does say something about the issues you raised - though it would be off the topic to deal with them now...other than to mention that veganism was directly dealt with by God in Gen 9.
mmmmmmm juicy steak.

OK, so the creation story presents monogamy and veganism as ideal.
Polygamy is permitted by the law of Moses.
Meat-eating is permitted by the law of Noah.

Christians are expected to live not by the permission but by the ideal.

Therefore Christians shun polygamy and steak. No?

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

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Caz...
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SteveTom you're saying everything I want to, better than I could.

Thanks and damn you [Smile]

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"What have you been reading? The Gospel according to St. Bastard?" - Eddie Izzard

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Lynn MagdalenCollege
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I really hope this thread doesn't dry up and blow away before I get a chance to respond to some interesting arguments! I'm nearly cross-eyed with fatigue at the moment, so off to my solo bed momentarily (pity me! no? ah, well...) and may or may not have much time to get back online for the next few days - blessings, all.

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

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The Great Gumby

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# 10989

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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
OK, so the creation story presents monogamy and veganism as ideal.
Polygamy is permitted by the law of Moses.
Meat-eating is permitted by the law of Noah.

Christians are expected to live not by the permission but by the ideal.

Therefore Christians shun polygamy and steak. No?

And, indeed, no Christian should marry at all, monogamously or otherwise, if we apply that reasoning to 1Cor7.

--------------------
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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The Great Gumby

Ship's Brain Surgeon
# 10989

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Apologies for the DP, but I've been thinking about this one for a while.
quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
Though the civil war that occurred under his rule could hardly be seen as a "high point" of prosperity in his reign - and this could be seen as a direct consequence of his polygamy; i.e. the interplay of siblings from different mothers (not unlike what we see in the relations between the sons of Jacob).

I certainly agree that you could read it this way, but you could look at it in other ways as well. The problem is that we have no way of knowing whether the facts are even related. However, inasmuch as all things are related to each other in the wider scheme of things, you probably have a point. In fact, I wonder if I'm on a fool's errand attempting to show an entirely positive example of polygamy, not because there weren't any, but because they weren't recorded.

The whole OT (and the Bible in general) is filled with stories of deeply flawed characters, with one notable exception (but he didn't marry [Biased] ), so any exemplar for any argument is most likely going to be all too fallible in one way or another. The further problem is that in general, only "interesting" stories get much attention from the authors, and when they bother to mention an entirely blameless person, they shockingly neglect to record his marital arrangements for posterity! So, for example, King Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, is praised in glowing terms, and I couldn't find any criticism of him at all, but his marital situation isn't recorded. I suspect he would have had more than one wife, but without confirmation, this is just a supposition.

In the circumstances, I think it would be hard to construct much of a case that any model of marriage inherently causes problems. Certainly, it would be possible to claim the occasional high-profile monogamist as evidence in favour of that model (Moses springs to mind), but it doesn't demonstrate an inherent superiority over polygamy. I think the best we can do is probably to examine the Law, and any recorded criticism of marriage practices. All else is open to far too much interpretation.

Noelper, could you give some examples of David persistently sinning and not repenting of his own accord? Because that's what he was doing if his polygamy was contrary to God's will. Apart from the business with Bathsheba, I can't think of any. In fact, it seems very odd to me, if polygamy is wrong in some way, that God would send a prophet to tell him off about his adultery and not bother to mention his equally sinful polygamy.

--------------------
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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noelper
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quote:
TGG
Noelper, could you give some examples of David persistently sinning and not repenting of his own accord? Because that's what he was doing if his polygamy was contrary to God's will. Apart from the business with Bathsheba, I can't think of any. In fact, it seems very odd to me, if polygamy is wrong in some way, that God would send a prophet to tell him off about his adultery and not bother to mention his equally sinful polygamy.

I'm not sure I fully understand the question, but the story in 1 Sam 25 portrays David in bigamous marriage with Abigail, being already married to Michal. By this time he had also married Ahinoam. v 44 indicates that Saul disapproved so violently that he gave Michal to another man - but Saul was a nutter anyway.

When the ark was brought to Jerusalem, I Chron 14:3 states that David had acquired yet more wives and children whilst still married to Michal. Having formerly loved David, she now despises him and berates his immodesty(!) before slave girls. Michal is ultimately rewarded with barrenness, whilst David is humilliated by his son Absalom, shagging his concubines.

God appears to be giving some pointed hints in these accounts - to me anyway.

--------------------
Nil, nada, rien

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The Great Gumby

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# 10989

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
I'm not sure I fully understand the question

OK, I'll try again. You contend that David's polygamy was against God's will, and support this position by observing that David sinned many times, but always repented. This much I agree with. However, he didn't repent of his polygamy, nor did he ever give any indication that he might, or even that there might have been anything wrong with it. If it was, indeed, against God's will, I would have expected him to do something along these lines - after all, he always repented, right? The only other occasion I can think of when he sinned, but didn't come to repentance off his own bat shortly afterwards was Bathsheba-gate, when Nathan the prophet challenged him about it.

This, to me, builds up a picture of someone who was very aware of his own failings, was self-critical almost to a fault, and constantly examined himself to see if he was doing anything that might displease God. On the one occasion he allowed himself to slip, God quickly stepped in, via Nathan, to put him back on track. If this picture is accurate, it seems unlikely that his polygamy was against God's will, as you contend. This would mean that not only did David uncharacteristically base his entire life on sin, he never even considered the possibility that God might have other ideas, and God didn't bother to send him the rebuke that would surely have prompted David to clean up his act, even though He was already sending a prophet on another matter.

However, if there is any evidence that David committed other persistent sins (I'll settle for persistent, rather than life-long) without either bringing himself to repentance or being called to it by God, I'll accept that my picture of David needs some modification.

--------------------
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 SteveTom:
quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
I think Genesis 1-2 does say something about the issues you raised - though it would be off the topic to deal with them now...other than to mention that veganism was directly dealt with by God in Gen 9.
mmmmmmm juicy steak.

OK, so the creation story presents monogamy and veganism as ideal.
Polygamy is permitted by the law of Moses.
Meat-eating is permitted by the law of Noah.

Christians are expected to live not by the permission but by the ideal.

Therefore Christians shun polygamy and steak. No?

I suspect I am missing something in your logic or assumptions here, because this seems to me to be "guilt by association" that you are arguing. "Monogamy and veganism are both ideals ... surely we aren't required too be vegans...therefore we aren't required to be monogamous."

Isn't it possible that these "ideals" might be developed through salvation history in different ways and with varying degrees of significance?

BTW, are you now acknowledging that monogamy is more than simply a cultural preference in the Bible. Doesn't this then shift the discussion from whether the Bible has an ideal for marriage, to how the Bible applies the ideal of marriage?

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

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noelper
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TGG,
Sorry, I've completely lost the plot . [Hot and Hormonal]
Here are some comments in the faint hope that I hit the mark..... [Confused]

A propos David's sins, it seems that God so loved David that few of his sins are recorded; indeed the Chronicles are entirely silent on the subject of his adultery with Bathsheba. Although David's sin of counting of his men is recorded, it is difficult for us to understand the nature of the offence. That he ate the shewbread whilst in exile, is affirmed by Jesus as the means of distinguishing between ritual practice and God's Presence. When acting in the priestly role of presenting offerings at the return of the ark, this wasnot counted against David. Yet King Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for his pretension to priesthood, whilst Korah et al were incinerated.

These incidents fully accord with the principle, established from the start with Abraham, that God credits those whom He loves with righteousness. That is, David, the patriarchs, and indeed every single one of us, are sinful beings; but God may (or may not) blot out our sins, if we only remain faithful to Him.

quote:
This would mean that not only did David uncharacteristically base his entire life on sin, he never even considered the possibility that God might have other ideas, and God didn't bother to send him the rebuke that would surely have prompted David to clean up his act, even though He was already sending a prophet on another matter.

Resuming the earlier argument, ie which of the parties of polygamy would be the adulterer?. David's polygamy was clearly in keeping with the cultural practices prevailing at the time. Despite many indications of God's displeasure over his womanising (previously cited), in the story of Bathsheba, God acted decisively because David was unequivocally the guilty party. He had broken 4 out of the 10 commandments, because he was unfaithful - not only to his plentiful supply of wives, but to God.

--------------------
Nil, nada, rien

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SteveTom
Contributing Editor
# 23

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quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
I suspect I am missing something in your logic or assumptions here, because this seems to me to be "guilt by association" that you are arguing. "Monogamy and veganism are both ideals ... surely we aren't required too be vegans...therefore we aren't required to be monogamous."

The point of my argument was to follow through the logic of your argument, and show that it applies to meat-eating in the same way that it applies to polygamy.

If, as you suggest, the monogamy of the creation story is binding (or whatever it is) on Christians, then so is its veganism.

If you accept one and not the other, then I think there is a weakness in your argument, and you need to explain, without special pleading, what the difference is.

I do not say "surely we aren't required too be vegans"; but I suspect that you do, and if so I want to know why you do, if you read the creation story as offering a universal pattern for human life.

quote:
Isn't it possible that these "ideals" might be developed through salvation history in different ways and with varying degrees of significance?
They have been. But as I understand it, you are appealing to the ideals of the creation story against the way they were developed in the OT.

quote:
BTW, are you now acknowledging that monogamy is more than simply a cultural preference in the Bible. Doesn't this then shift the discussion from whether the Bible has an ideal for marriage, to how the Bible applies the ideal of marriage?
Not yet. But I like your vigilance.

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

Posts: 1363 | From: London | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ann

Curious
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quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
<snip>

In fact, I wonder if I'm on a fool's errand attempting to show an entirely positive example of polygamy, not because there weren't any, but because they weren't recorded.

<snip>

... only "interesting" stories get much attention from the authors, and when they bother to mention an entirely blameless person, they shockingly neglect to record his marital arrangements for posterity! So, for example, King Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, is praised in glowing terms, and I couldn't find any criticism of him at all, but his marital situation isn't recorded. I suspect he would have had more than one wife, but without confirmation, this is just a supposition.

In the circumstances, I think it would be hard to construct much of a case that any model of marriage inherently causes problems. Certainly, it would be possible to claim the occasional high-profile monogamist as evidence in favour of that model (Moses springs to mind), but it doesn't demonstrate an inherent superiority over polygamy. I think the best we can do is probably to examine the Law, and any recorded criticism of marriage practices. All else is open to far too much interpretation.

<snip>


Although there's no mention of the number of wives, I'd say you can infer polygamy (the only other inference would be a severely exhausted single wife) in at least a couple of cases in Judges 12:8 to the end.

Ibzan and Abdon may not have set Israel on fire, but their couple of verses each show a quiet competence - their children were provided for and they and their children were not a cause for scandal.

The Old Testament ranges over at least fifteen hundred years, probably two thousand or more, in an area where polygamy was not uncommon. I think that although Israel was called out to be special, t didn't happen all at once (the OT is full of remonstrances from God and the prophets). There's also the problem of when the OT (especially the earlier bits) was codified. I've got the impression that a lot of the identity of Israel was forged during the Babylonian exile; it is possible that if by that time monogamy was the norm for the Jews, the creation accounts would have been written from that viewpoint.

--------------------
Ann

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The Great Gumby

Ship's Brain Surgeon
# 10989

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
Sorry, I've completely lost the plot . [Hot and Hormonal]

Then I don't know how else I can explain what I'm asking.

quote:
A propos David's sins, it seems that God so loved David that few of his sins are recorded
This is an extraordinary claim, and one that is entirely unprovable. I don't think differences between the events related in different books demonstrates anything.

quote:
These incidents fully accord with the principle, established from the start with Abraham, that God credits those whom He loves with righteousness. That is, David, the patriarchs, and indeed every single one of us, are sinful beings; but God may (or may not) blot out our sins, if we only remain faithful to Him.
Yes, we're all sinners, and yes, attitude is important, but God nevertheless requires the sin to cease. Why not in this case? There is a possible parallel with the woman caught in adultery. After no one feels able to condemn her, Jesus, despite having intervened to save her life, instructs her to go and sin no more.

quote:
David's polygamy was clearly in keeping with the cultural practices prevailing at the time.
No argument here. The question is, as it has been for a while, if polygamy is against God's will, why did He remain silent, rather than condemning it?

[ETA: Thanks for the suggestions of polygamous rolemodels, Ann. I could remember a few "Good Kings", but there was no mention at all of their wives.]

[ 03. July 2006, 12:02: Message edited by: The Great Gumby ]

--------------------
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

Posts: 5382 | From: Home for shot clergy spouses | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
noelper
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quote:
TGG
Then I don't know how else I can explain what I'm asking.

Sorry for my incomprehension. [Hot and Hormonal]

quote:
This is an extraordinary claim, and one that is entirely unprovable. I don't think differences between the events related in different books demonstrates anything.
Whilst accepting that it is unproveable, why is it extraordinary ?

quote:
Yes, we're all sinners, and yes, attitude is important, but God nevertheless requires the sin to cease. Why not in this case? There is a possible parallel with the woman caught in adultery. After no one feels able to condemn her, Jesus, despite having intervened to save her life, instructs her to go and sin no more.
This might be the source of my misunderstanding...
Do you really believe that:
A)the woman stopped sinning ?
B)Jesus believed that she would cease the sinful life ?
C) If so, why ?

quote:
The question is, as it has been for a while, if polygamy is against God's will, why did He remain silent, rather than condemning it?
For myself, the answer is that He remains silent about the practice, even to now, because He prefers Salvation to condemnation.

--------------------
Nil, nada, rien

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SteveTom
Contributing Editor
# 23

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quote:
Originally posted by noelper:
For myself, the answer is that He remains silent about the practice, even to now, because He prefers Salvation to condemnation.

The word "abomination" occurs about 140 times in the OT.

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

Posts: 1363 | From: London | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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