Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts on "Biblical Marriage" and the Unintended Results of Applying the Bible

We talk a lot about biblical marriage in the USA. The culture wars have witnessed a number of people making claims about marriage from the Bible. Bumper stickers say "marriage = one man + one woman." Others read, "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

 But like everything else in life, the picture of marriage is much more complicated than we would sometimes like to admit. We claim that the Bible promotes marriage between one man and one wife, but in fact it allows for a number of different combinations. Look at the chart to the right and you will see that the Bible's definition of marriage is not the way it is sometimes claimed.

What brings me to this subject is a report out of Morocco where a sixteen year old girl has committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist.  According to reports, Moroccan penal code 475 allows for a kidnapper/rapist to escape prosecution if he marries his victim.


The victim’s father said in an interview with an online Moroccan newspaper that it was the court officials who suggested from the beginning the marriage option when they reported the rape.
“The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said ‘go and make the marriage contract,’” said Lahcen Filali in an interview that appeared on goud.ma Tuesday night.
In many societies, the loss of a woman’s virginity outside of wedlock is a huge stain of honor on the family.
In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. There is a similar injunction in the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy


Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is being quoted quite a bit in conjunction with this story. But in fairness to the Moroccan government and the Bible, I have yet to see any clear evidence that the law is based on this Bible passage or anything from the Koran. It seems to be more cultural. But this does not detract from the point that what we have here is a modern example of how a biblical passage works if put into force.

The fact is, very few of us follow the Bible in the way that we claim. Some things we observe, others we flat out ignore. In the fight over marriage in the USA, most proponents of "biblical marriage" never bring up these other forms of marriage that are clearly supported by the Bible. Even in the New Testament era Levirate marriage is still being practiced according to Luke 20:27-33, but I don't see anyone suggesting that it be a legal requirement today.  The idea that the Bible only supports the kind of marriage commonly recognized in the USA does not stand up to scrutiny.

I don't want it to seem like I am criticizing marriage. I am not. I have been happily married for 22 years. But what I am criticizing is the way that we read the Bible to define marriage while ignoring the whole witness of the scripture. When we claim that the Bible has all of the answers and that the marriage question can be answered by only consulting the Bible, we are in danger of having some unintended consequences.

I think back to 2009 when a group of Evangelical ministers in America helped to promote an anti-gay law in Uganda that resulted in a law suggesting that homosexuals be executed. This law also could find basis in the Bible (Lev 20:13). But we can also find in the same scriptures a command to stone rebellious children (Deut 21:18-21) I suspect few Americans today really want to execute their rebellious teenager no matter how tempted they may be some days. And I have yet to see any bumper stickers that say "stop vandalism and crime: stone rebellious children." So why would we use the Bible to suggest that gay people be executed? Why would we suggest that we have "biblical marriage" when that means that people would need to choose one of eight options for marriage, most of which give little consideration to the rights of the women involved?

It is the political season in the USA and Bible verses are going to be thrown around by all of the candidates to attract supporters. But few will actually think about (1) whether that is what the Bible says and (2) what would be the unintended consequences of enforcing these "biblical principles." Not everything in the Bible should be adopted as a way of living life.

In the mean time, I hope that the law in Morocco is changed swiftly and that those who rape and abuse women are no longer able to escape justice. And I hope the family of this young girl is able to find comfort and peace somehow. Perhaps her death will cause a change in the laws in that part of the world. And perhaps this tragedy will make us think a little more about the way we apply the Bible.










57 comments:

  1. John, as one who is in a same-sex marriage (California 2008), I find your article quite interesting.. Of course, having been raised an evangelical Christian (still Christian but not so much evangelical any longer), I was quite aware of many of the points you make and have used it in my fight against those who seem to think they know everything about the Bible (and are against same-sex marriage). Astonishingly (or maybe not so), most of those people don't want to hear about these other verses. They seem to only want to pull those verses that support their narrow-minded, bigoted perspective. Okay, maybe that wording was a little strong.. but let's face it.. the Bible has been used to support slavery, to prevent marriage between different races, to prevent women from voting, etc etc.. .the list is quite extensive. Personally, I think one should either take ALL of the Bible or take none of it. That being said, considering the council of Nicea and their deeds, can we truly take the Bible at its literal interpretation? There's no telling how much might have been changed.. (though we do know some books were excluded, etc -- John, you and your students would def know more about this than me, so I can't comment further on the Nicea thing -- all I have to go on is the LITTLE bit of reading I've done on the subj).

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    1. I am not sure what you mean about Nicea. Can you elaborate?

      JB

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    2. Instead of a take-all-of-it or none-of-it mentality, we would be better served by a hermeneutic that allowed us to interpret the Bible in terms of a grand narrative. The Bible should not be reduced to a rule book. Laws are often contained within a larger narrative. NT writers see that Christ is the culmination of the story. The in-breaking kingdom gives evidence to the expanding Christ event. In the early church, singleness was the ideal that Paul and Jesus modeled. Many of those who were married lived as if they were single in order to itinerate. Since we no longer live within a church with an eschatological urgency, we now have to ask a different set of questions about marriage. What is its purpose and to where do we discover God's design. In both counts, we turn to the Creation story. Homosexual marriage is not an option for those who want to live as disciples in this age. Better to be single.

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    3. Nicely stated,......I also want to add that old testament n new testament is a clearly stated title that gives way to old thinking and new thinking.

      The Bible is knowledge of history and are humanistic flaws and traits that were seen as trial n error then law created....... God is love n care, atheist is confusion /being involved in the spiritual deficiency . GROW IN INTELLECT. IS OUR OVERALL CONCERN AS HUMANS. DON'T SPREAD IDIOCY.

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  2. When the Bible is argued as literal and the end-all standard for defining marriage, most making this argument have no idea what the Bible actually says about marriage ... Scriptures are picked and chosen to wield as weapons of condemnation (while ignoring adjacent scriptures which, conveniently, don't apply to those doing the condemning) ... and without regard to historical, cultural, practical and actual context & meaning.

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    1. I am in no way, shape or form a Bible scholar but God created a man and a woman to fit together in such a beautiful, bonding, emotional and spiritual way to create a human life, their children. A man and woman create the beautiful life of a child. The union between a man and a woman is unique, loving, spiritual, pure, honorable and the list goes on. The bond of a sacred marriage is between one man and one women. More people should display a bumper sticker that says marriage is between one man and one woman.

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    2. Love between all people is beautiful and spiritual...romantic or otherwise.

      There are many gay couples that raise and love children that were conceived by the man and woman version....yet they were unable to raise them for some reason. Love is Love. Marriage is a contract and a civil contract. I am heterosexual but have absolutely zero desire to define who anyone else loves or marries. Why can't we just leave the strict definitions to the churches that want to define things in a certain way....and leave the civil contracts out of the church.

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  3. apparently I may be in error on the Nicea thing.. But apparently I'm not the only one.. not that Wiki is the be all/end all but it states there that "a number of erroneous views......".
    this can be seen here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#The_biblical_canon

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  4. I am not going to profess to be a biblical scholar, however, I do know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever... Hebrews 13:8. He does not change even if we do. He remains constant even if our perceptions change. To even suggest or imply that God somehow got it wrong in the OT and then changed it to fix it only mocks a Holy God. The Israelites came out of Egypt. They had been raised in a society with no moral structure. God provided strict guidelines to bring them back to a moral standard....however as with any sin nature, they failed...as we continue to do.
    The reference made to Deuteronomy 22:28 is taken out of context. First of all, the NIV uses the word rape. That version combined 2 Hebrew words taphas and shakab and translated it to rape. However, there are several translations, ie: KJV...."If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found...." does not imply rape. The verses prior to 22:28 however do address this issue. The punishment for the rapist is death.
    We are no different than the Israelites. We try and find loop holes to justify our behavior. We use the words of the bible to confuse the issue. We use the bible out of context to prove a personal point. Marriage on a whole is in trouble. Divorce is at an all time high, even among Christians. Sexual sin is rampant across the board. Hetersexuals point fingers at homosexuals then they point theirs right back. God's word is clear. It has not changed, we have. The NT continues to the address the underlying thread... that our sinful nature, evident in our behavior, shows our need for our Savior, Jesus Christ. God has set up standards for a world that, by nature, does not want a standard. We want a choice. We will make excuses for anything we "feel" like doing. However, this same God has also shown great mercy. Despite of our sinful nature, He sent His son as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The truth is in His word....His entire word. Without Christ, and His Holy Spirit leading us we are destined to change His word to whatever we think it should say. God help us.

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    1. You are correct, the word "rape" does not appear in this verse. However, the idea of "seizing" or "laying hold of" as in the KJV does imply that the woman is having sex against her will. The same exact description is found in 22:25 where a woman is engaged. There the woman screams for help, but no one can rescue her. In this case, she is not guilty since she was not a willing partner. Therefore, rape is a good translation here.

      I understand that you think God's word doesn't change, but I am curious to hear your thoughts on the other passage I quoted. Should we stone rebellious children?

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    2. Prof Byron,

      There is a saying "you cannot see the forest for the trees". With all due respect this seems to be what you are doing in this case. does the Bible clearly teach that marriage is between a man and a woman? Furthermore did our Lord not clarify that God's intention was that it be one man to one woman?

      With regard to Deut 22:25 there is a significant difference between that verse and verse 28. The word chazaq is used in v25 that carries with it the idea of "force" (i.e. rape).

      With regard to stoning rebellious children, I am not sure how you or anyone else would argue that regulations given to the nation state of Israel should be applied to all nations today. Levirate marriages would fall under the same category, i.e. regulations to the nation state of Israel, also it does not challenge the one man/one woman idea.

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    3. to understand Deuteronomy 22:28-29 I suggest to read Genesis 4: the story of Dinah and Shalem.
      We find the same words "to seize" and "to lie" but in the story there is nothing suggesting a forced act (Shalem 'loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her').
      So I think that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 describes what in modern America is called 'statutory rape': an intercourse with someone who according the law has not the right to have sex even if she/he acconsents.

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    4. Listen, God "does not change" is a very poor argument. Obviously ancient knuckle draggers wrote the bible. Man created God and men who were flawed wrote the bible, that is why most times people have to figure out the nonsensical scriptures to start with. You get a great deal of apologetics explaining away chapters which are just basically about controlling the weak minded.When will people stop being so naive and willfully ignorant.

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    5. It is important to know that the only marriage union that has been endorsed specifically by God is that betweena husband and a wife. Concubines, extra wives, sex slaves, or rape were imposed by society and culture to justify the desires of the person. It was never ok by God to have more than one partner at a time. The first example would be where God corrects Abraham after Abraham slept with Sarah's maid servant Haggar at Sarah's request thus making Haggar a Concubine.

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  5. Yes John, we've discussed this before. There are ethical and cultural reasons why the Bible contains various types of marriage arraignments even though the ideal is given in creation (Adam + Eve). For example, levirate marriage is a humane way to treat a woman in a patriarchal society in which a woman marries into a male’s family. It prevents the phenomena of widows and orphans. Polygamy may also serve a beneficial cause in societies in which certain people have more access to wealth and land. Marriage patterns often developed in the context of external factors that made certain patterns necessary for the survival or wellbeing of the society. Yet, we need to be honest. The Bible does not promote, model, or endorse homosexual marriage. It is not an option for those who want to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the West’s emphases on individual happiness and personal satisfaction have corrupted holy matrimony. When a marriage no longer makes one of them feel happy, the person opts out. This sin destroys God’s design. Additionally, it damages society and puts children at risk. In the Bible, marriage is viewed from the perspective of the community. It is not an end in itself. It serves a social purpose. Selfishness and secular ideals that prioritize the happiness of individuals coupled with moral relativism threaten biblical marriage and society. The church should affirm the ideal as seen in the creation narrative. At the same time, it must challenge the divorce culture that is destroying the fabric of our society. Sadly, Christians are no more immune to divorce than unchurched people.

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    1. Bill, I will note that I am not promoting any one type of marriage with my post. I am simply saying that to claim that that one is supporting biblical marriage without looking at all of the types of marriage in the bible does not look at everything the Bible has to say on the topic. My beef is with how we use the Bible.

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    2. John, in the Bible we see a reflection of the various cultural patterns that existed during a given period in the areas where the biblical writers wrote and the people lived. Simply because something is mentioned in the Bible does not mean that the Bible endorses it or that it is the biblical ideal. Many of the practices that your chart noted point to this. Still, one can make a good case for multiple models of marriage depending on a given circumstance. The Bible will allow this. For example, at times, the levirate marriage is a very good thing and may be the right thing to do. Our culture is blind to this because we read the traditional western practice into the text.

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    3. Ok, but are you suggesting that Deut 22:28-29 does not endorse the marriage between a rape victim and her attacker?

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    4. Does it really matter if it endorses the marriage between the victim and attacker?

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    5. It sure mattered to the victim, although no one apparently asked her opinion at that time.

      Thanks for a very interesting article, John.

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    6. Yes, it matters- because it is then implying for a fee and marriage, rape is acceptable.

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    7. I have to ask.....HOW could that NOT matter? I really want to know the reasoning behind that statement.

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  6. Very well put...but the graphic is the icing on the cake.

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  7. Perhaps some questions for everyone to chime in on...

    What if the Adam and Eve narrative is not about the affirmation of marriage but rather an affirmation about social (dis)connectedness?

    Could this interpretative shift account for the diversity of marriages within the Scriptures?

    What if the type of marriages is not as important as its quality and justness?

    Disclaimer:
    Please no hate mail. They are just questions. They should not necessarily be seen as being reflective of my official position on the matter.

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  8. I recognize and support the 'protected' nature of textual and graphic material. Accept my apology for focusing on the 'graphic' in this blog. Nothing I could do allowed me to read any of the text associated with the graphic. Is there somewhere that it can be found so that it is able to be read?
    Again, the content and discussion needs to be the focus and, as usual it has been good, ah great, O, let's just say excellent. A real learning tool.

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    1. Matt,

      The graphic has been floating around Facebook and the internet for a few months now. I don't think anyone is claiming ownership. You can click on it to enlarge it and then save it. If not, search Google Images for Biblical Marriage.

      Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate the level of engagement I get on my posts.

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  9. Matthew 19

    1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.

    3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

    4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] 5 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’?[c] 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”



    Jesus clearly states God made them MALE and FEMALE. He states A(singular) man should leave his mother and father and be joined to his WIFE(singular). It is then again reiterated that the "TWO" shall be joined together.

    The practice that is mentioned in Luke 20:27-33 starts with, "Teacher, Moses wrote". Jesus came to fulfill and put away the law of Moses to establish a new covenant; therefore any part of the law of Moses, which this principle is a part of, is no longer a requirement. Paul makes it clear in Galatians(mentioned throughout) that the Law of Moses was added because of man's transgressions, but only until the purposed seed(Jesus) came to liberate us from the curse of The Law. Just because God tolerated it in the old testament, or at any point in the new testament does not mean it is correct. If everything men did in the old testament was right in the eyes of God, we would not have needed Jesus. We, especially in the west(unless we are of Jewish decent), have to get our bread and butter from the new testament. The practices, covenants, and promises, etc. were not even in reference to us as we are Gentile people and those were exclusive to the Israelite until Jesus came and bridged the divide.

    I am no Biblical Scholar. Just a Christian who loves Jesus, heeds his words, and loves marriage. going outside of the covenant originally established and validated by Jesus cheapens the covenant. I do, however, respect and love everyone equally as Christ has placed in me to do. I sincerely have no intend to offend anyone who is in a same sex, or other non traditional marriage. It is my prayer that you come to know the truth of Jesus and God's Word. It will set you free. God Bless!!! :)

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    1. Sorry to run right across you, but you have inadvertently narrowed your perspective. It is impossible to view the NT witho ut using the lense of the OT. Karl Barth's "Evangelical Theology" makes this so muchclearer.

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  10. John, I think the mapping you offer in the diagram above is useful, but there are a couple of important (hermeneutical) issues that shape our reading of them.

    . within the social context of the time, many of these 'divergent' patterns appear to have been driven by a sense of responsibility and care. So in the case of marrying the person you have raped, this signals taking responsibility for someone who would otherwise be rejected as 'soiled goods'. This does not translate directly into contemporary practice, but the principle is key and admirable.

    . what is very striking is that the basic pattern of one man, one woman admits to variation. But strikingly the one variation that is does *not* admit is the differentiated gender of the partners. This is important, since the pro-gay argument runs: all these variations, so why not this one? And the answer is: this variation is seen in Scripture to be of a wholly different kind, and not permissible.

    These two observations actually make the biblical picture much more clear and coherent than is often claimed.

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  11. I would add one other reflection. I don't think these two observations are particularly obscure, and in a previous generation would have been easily acknowledged. What is worrying now is that the state of the 'gay' debate in the Western world is marked by such a poor level of biblical literacy it is quite alarming.

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  12. Some clarity -
    Now someone may want to argue that the preceding examples do not combine the two words together as is the case with Deuteronomy 22. Hence, the use of the word taphas in conjunction with shakab in Deuteronomy implies that the sexual act was forced upon the maiden without her consent. A careful reading of both the passage itself, as well as its surrounding context, dispels such a notion. We quote the passage again, yet this time adding the surrounding context for further clarification:

    "But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces (chazaq) her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman CRIED OUT, but there was no one to save her. If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and THEY ARE found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days." Deuteronomy 22:25-29 NKJV

    Although vv. 25-27 refers to a woman that is betrothed, the point is still clear. By screaming, the woman indicates that she is being forced to have sex without her consent. Hence, when the woman does not scream this indicates that she willfully chose to engage in the sexual act with the man. This is further seen from vv. 28-29 where both the man and the woman are held accountable, i.e. "and THEY ARE found out." This is unlike the woman of vv. 25-27 who is said to be not guilty.

    Also notice that in v. 25 a different word is used when signifying rape, namely chazaq. If the inspired author wanted to imply that the woman in vv. 28-29 was being raped, he could have used this same word chazaq; especially since this is the word he uses in the preceding verses to refer to an actual rape incident. The fact that he didn't use it should further caution us from reading rape into vv. 28-29.

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  13. By taking a careful look at the context and consulting the original languages of the Scriptures a strong case can be made that this is citation isn’t even addressing a rape case at all. We must remember that the Holy Bible was not written in English. The OT was written in Hebrew, with parts of it being written in Aramaic. The NT was written in Koine or common Greek. This means that if we want to know whether an English translation has faithfully and accurately translated the inspired author’s intended meaning we must turn to the original language of the sacred text. Once this is done, it will become quite apparent that the Holy Bible does not sanction rape at all.

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  14. And Christians seem unaware that there is no Judeo-Christian tradition on marriage since in Judaism marriage for a man and multiple wives was not declared forbidden until the year 1948 when the State of Israel was formed because Jews of Yemen continued the practice of multiple wives as did the Muslims of Yemen. Thus, marriage is an evolving institution, without a single tradition of thousands of years. And certainly ending a marriage through divorce is defined very differently within Christianity and between Christians and Jews. Yet we all have learned to lived in America with different religious traditions, along with civil divorce and religious divorce.

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  15. OK, you can talk about bible till you are blue in the face. If the bible keeps you from having same sex marriage, thats fine. But, we live in a country that allows us to have freedom of and from religion. So take the bible out of it and what have you got? Love. Two people sharing their lives and their love. Problem solved. Gee, wasnt that easy?

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    1. You're exactly right. Christians need to stop forcing their religion down our throats. If they want to follow the words of people who lived thousands of years ago and believe in some invisible imaginary man in the sky who doesn't talk to us anymore, that's fine. However, nobody else has to believe in him, and nobody else has to follow his "rules". If they want to live strictly under "God's law", they can go to the Middle East and see how wonderful it is to live under a theocracy.

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    2. Islam doesn't follow God, they follow the moon god.

      Burying your head in the sand doesn't do you any good at all.

      " But, we live in a country that " --- It is VERY possible for millions of people to be wrong at the same time. Just because every WANTS something, doesn't mean they should get it.

      At this point in time, based on what I have seen so far, I must conclude that the man that started this post/discussion Mr. Byron is wrong. I am NOT spewing hate here, but I know God and I know the Bible, and he's wrong, Dead wrong.

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    3. Then explain.

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  16. First, I applaud this discussion. It is rare to see discussion that is beyond hateful sound bites (from both sides of the questions). Second, I think we often make the fallacy of "only". For example, when we read "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife", we insert the word "only" in our understanding - For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined only to his wife. If I say the "sky is blue" do you then infer the sky is only blue? But of course this is not true. The sky is often grey, black, indigo, red, yellow or many colors all at once.

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  17. Just because Isaac had two wives, and its "in the bible" doesn't mean that the bible condones it. It shows that Isaac is human, therefore and imperfect sinner who needs God. The bible states clearly, multiple times in Old and New Testament that "man and woman God created them, that a man should leave his father and mother and cling to his wife." Isaac was wrong to have two wives, abraham was wrong to sleep with hagar, king david was wrong to have uriah killed so he could have his wife.

    PARABLE
    “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.
    Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. . . ” Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!” (II Samuel 12:1-7)

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  18. "Just because Isaac had two wives, and its "in the bible" doesn't mean that the bible condones it."

    This is a very good point Roger Flint.

    A lot happens in the bible that God neither condones nor condemns. Continuing on the discussion on David....does anyone remember the time his first wife, Michal, reveals the house idol? Given that God does not condemn his wife's behavior should be assume that we are also allowed to have idols?

    It's a silly question but the principle is the same. I do not think that just because something happened in the OT it does not mean it is OK.If that were the case then could we not also sacrifice our concubine for gang rape and then cut her up into pieces if she dies (judges).

    Just some thoughts...

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  19. The chart is interesting in that no matter how much you find the variations distasteful, all combinations indicate sex between Man and Woman not same sex.

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  20. All this discussion overlooks the fact that God names homosexuality as a sin. I cannot agree with gay marriage because I cannot condone or encourage the sin. Just the same as I do not encourage my children to lie, my husband to cheat on taxes, my friends to gossip, or myself to have an affair. Our goal is to discourage and move away from sinful behavior, not make it socially/legally acceptable.
    And again, as others have said, this is not aimed at people, but at the activity.

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    1. The part about who a man shall not lie with a man as he lie with a woman correct? You know the interesting part here is that it says nothing about what a woman's sexual conduct may be.

      So we could interpret that two ways I can think of.

      1) It's perfectly acceptable.
      2) Women are not addressed because they are of no import. The man makes the choice for them to begin with.

      On that note, ma'am, did you seek your husband's approval before posting your message?

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  21. To be accurate, homosexuality is not described as a sin. Having sex that way is described as a sin. It's not just a nuance, straight sex outside of marriage is also a sin, so being straight is not a "sin" as such either.

    When we take the theology of marriage that Paul wrote of, I think gay marriage probably is not within that overall nexus.

    The OT "marriage" paradigm to me is as follows:

    1 man, 1 woman is Yahweh's highest and best for humanity.

    He allowed polygamy, He did not have that as His "best offer"(lots of the OT is Yahweh tolerating trash mentality honestly).

    Levirite marriage in the Jewish era seems to me to be for providing for what would be a hopeless woman in that age w/o it. It's not a commentary on God's view of the perfect marriage which is Christ and His church. It's a provision because life isn't perfect yet.

    I don't see any of the 3 marriage paradigms there as giving us an insight into whether or not God would see a gay marriage like He would a traditional one.

    I lean the other way, yet am open to persuasion because I love gay folks as well as straight folks.

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  22. Thanks for this article. It's a helpful corrective to tone down the rhetoric.

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  23. Very interesting post, Mr. Byron. Thank you.

    I'd like to make one important point. This is "The Biblical Word" blog which is "Dedicated to the study of all things Biblical." Fair enough. But, that said, American laws cannot be justified on the basis of your bible (New Testament) or my bible (the Hebrew Bible) or the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, or any one faith's bible at all.

    When people try to justify the denial of a civil right (marriage) from gay people, the reason for doing so can never validly be "because the bible says so." At least not in American courts of law.

    I find your discussion of the many and varied forms of biblical marriage quite informative. It makes those people who state that marriage forever and always been just one thing -- like it says in the bible -- seem rather ignorant and silly. But more fundamentally, we Americans cannot base our civil laws on any one group's bible.

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  24. I'd like to make a comment but it's not about civil unions. It's more so on your use of scripture as references.

    I think your illustration is implying that God accepted the practice of polygamy/polandry. I think there's a difference between God describing actions (through scripture) and prescribing an action. The Bible describes polygamy but it never prescribes the act. Same thing goes for divorce and slavery. The Torah makes provision for divorce yet Jesus states that it's actually against God's will. God made provision for divorce for a time not because He approved of it, but because of man's "hardness of heart." (ref: Matthew 19:1-12)

    People were not perfect and were blessed in spite of it (sound familiar?) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all deceived God and yet God blessed them. That doesn't indicate God condones lies and deceit. God bless people because He's gracious, not because they're obedient. King David and Solomon took on multiple wives but again, the Torah (Deu 17:17) condemns kings taking on multiple wives.

    When the Bible does define the covenant of marriage, it says "a man" and "his wife" (not plural). It says the two become "one flesh." Marriage is intended to mirror the faithful relationship between Christ and His church (Eph 5). If polygamy was prescribed, that would suggest we can distribute our covenantal affection toward a plurality of lovers.

    So in short, there aren't several different 'marriages' approved by God.

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  25. Its amazing that mankind hasn't learned the lesson from listening to the first lie by Satan(yes I believe there is such a being) Eat of the "forbidden fruit" and live forever and we know how that turned out.Now the forbidden fruit today is the "love of homosexuality"and we should not fear in tasting it.Of all the sins God warns us about the sin of the flesh is being accepted not just by the secular world but by the Christian church.You have to give it to Lucifer his deception with regards to this is brilliant but we all know this is a sign of Jesus imminent return the devil knowing he hath but a short time goes about devouring whom he can.Those leaders in the church will be judged by God if they lead Christians astray on this.

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    1. Amen. But we also know that there will be false prophets and false teachers in this world. Doesn't make sense to me how someone can try to get around the statements God clearly states about desiring marriage to be between one man and one woman. He promotes this type of relationship. It is evident.

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  26. The Bible has been our nations guide. The God of the Bible has blessed America. Since the turning of our nation,into a divided nation, we have started to lose that blessing. It is undeniable.(ie:disasters and national debt and increasing lawlessness) God does His best to tolerate us and patiently waits for us to turn our hearts back to Him. Since the liberals,generally speaking, no longer want God ,nor His Word, we, as a nation, will suffer the consequences of the choices made, against God's will, as stated in the Bible. Satan quoted scripture,inaccurately,too. It would be best to hold fast to one man and one woman, as a marriage. I am not a man, without sin, and I am not the judge. The one who is,is the One who died for our sins. Please be grateful, repentant of sins,(turn away from sin) and realize that we will all face our Maker. I find it odd that no one has brought up Romans, chapters 1&2. It's pretty clear,there, that the real problem is in Romans1:18-23, and the consequence follows.Praise be to God, for His kindness,tolerance, and patience;realizing that God's kindness leads to repentance(Rom2:4).Please! don't be stubborn and unrepentant (Rom.2:5-) The only way a person can try to justify same sex marriage,is to find like minded people that will tell you what your itching ears want to hear. It's NOT Biblical.To those who go by another book,other than the Bible,you are following a perversion, written merely by men, who are still dead, and there is no hope in being dead. Your death will be final, without Jesus Christ's payment for your sins. Please accept His gift, for you.

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  27. Your graphic is quite convincing. However, do you have any verses that suggest that the Lord promotes having multiples wives or promotes a man sleeping with his wives property or concubines? When looking at Scripture I can find verses promoting one man and one woman as being proper, but have trouble finding any verses stating that these other relations are good. As humans we have lived in sin since Adam & Eve in the garden. When looking at the Word these other relationships (outside of one man and one woman) have always had a negative connotation.

    "And he shall not acquire many wives for himself," Deuteronomy 17:17

    It wasn't until after sin entered the world that different types of relationships were formed.

    What are your thoughts on this article? http://beyondblessedblog.com/2013/03/28/stepping-on-some-toes/

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  28. Also, regarding polygamy- Romans 7:3 tells us that an individual is not to have sexual relations with more than one person if their first spouse is still alive. God does not condone relationships outside of one man and one woman.

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  29. As many have already said - the chart is taking everything out of context. If the chartmaker had actually READ the Bible, he would have determined that the Old Teastament is overuled by the New Testament. They also would have determined that any form of sexual relationship with more than one partner is against the New Testament. Futhermore, a Christian is told to be a reflection of God - therefore raping or forcing a marraige is off the agenda.

    So yes good chart - just out of context!

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  30. Andom I just saw your argument... why is this an issue? Andom I am a Chrisitan Jew... Let me tell you something. The Jews were chosen for a specific reason by God (now this will take a little while to come full circle but hear me out.) THe Jews in ancient times were a low social standing people... A group of goat hearding nomads; lacking great cities, trade embargos. They were considered very low by Egypt, Asyria, Babalyon, Greece, and Rome. That is why God choose them to show the world it does not matter who you are or where you come from that with God all things are possible. God first created mankind.. not the nation of Israe, that is why Jesus died for the sins of the world... he died for everyone. So that said consider this. Jews are not perfect. Each person mentioned in the Bible had independent thought. These people just like Adam and Eve and just like we do today make choices. Bad and good choices when you consider what happened to Dinah and how the Hebrews responded, remember that the leaders made a choice to do that. It was not God's instruction to do so. Also I want to say that we are all equal in God's eyes: "We are neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female" we are all equal in the eyes of God. So as you seek out a relationship with God, use your "free choice" knowing that God gave rules and comandments, and people make choices. Choose what is good in the sight of the Lord. Be blessed brother <3

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  31. Ok now I have read everyones comments. And this is what I have to say. In the begining of time GOd made the world and humans were with out sin. In the begining our amazing and carring God gave us free will which equals: choice. We know this becasue Adam and Eve "choose" to eat the fruit of Knowlege of Good and Evil. Thus they rebeled against God by breaking the one rule: "Do not eat from that one tree". Rebelion is Rebelion wether it is a sexual sin, a lie, to steal, to kill, ect. Everything is easy to understand but hard to do. Everyone wants to be right, noone wants to be wrong. There is too much debate and arguing. Fighting makes us feel guarded and offened. Here is what the Bible says seeking truth in Wisdom. "If any amoung you lacks wisdom you should ask for it and God will hear you and give it to you." I promise you if you will quiet your heart and pray.. seek the Lord ask him if he is real ask him what you need to know... he will respond to you in one way or another. Then when you get your answer test it to the Bible. If it does not match up then you did not hear from God. So pray again and this time try abstaining from the questionalbe offence. And I promise you will understand and the truth will be known to you and it will match What the Bible says.

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  32. The picture of marriage is as complicated as is the picture of sin. However institutionalized in the scriptures, the fact remains: all models which fall short of the original intent (one man and one woman) are sinful.

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  33. I was browsing about Christian dating and eventually marriage. I found your blog which is quite interesting. Thanks for sharing. God bless!! :D

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