Thursday, June 29, 2017

Incest and The Law of Moses

My previous Incest in The Bible post I still want to be my definitive discussion of the topic.  What I'm going to argue here I'm not definitively arguing for.  It's somewhat Rhetorical.  But I can't say I entirely don't actually agree with it either.  It's a complicated matter.

In my discussions with those who strongly believes Christians are still supposed to follow the Law of Moses.  I see them misusing Malachi's "God doesn't Change" quote.

Which bugs me because Augustine of Hippo, when he was a Manichean still, cited the fact that the Old Testament depicted an Emotional God who changes as what he was mainly uncomfortable with, and why he was drawn to sects that depicted that God as Evil.  It was Ambrose convincing him those changes could be allegorised away that convinced him to convert to "Orthodox" Christianity.  And thus Augustine because the chief popularizer of many Quasi Gnostic heresies I've been fighting on this Blog.

Malachi's point had nothing to do with whether or not what God permits us to do can change.  It mostly has to do with that He keeps His Word.  God repents of things often in the Old Testament (Repent means a change of mind), but when He swears an oath He won't Repent.  The immediate context was promising the children of Jacob they will not be consumed.

So to point out the absurdity of this misuse I created the following Image via Meme Generator.

That was the most shocking example.  I also brought up the evidence that Capital Punishment and eating meat wasn't allowed before the Flood but were after.  Arguing God's laws had changed a few times before we even left the Torah.

On those latter two issues however they had arguments against the notion that those things were treated differently before the Flood.  I forget what the argument on Capital punishment was.  But for the eating meat they basically felt the allusions to Animal Sacrifice in the Pre-Flood world implied eating Meat.  And I think there was an appeal to the heretical Book of Enoch.  I was and still am unconvinced of those arguments, but at least they made fairly Biblically based arguments.

On the Incest issue however they just cited the common argument from my fellow Young Earth Creationists that the supposed Genetic Risks from Inbreeding simply weren't a factor till many generations after the Flood.  And while I'm as inclined as ever to agree with that argument scientifically.  It's not a directly Biblical argument.

And either way it doesn't change that God's Law apparently changed.  It changing with a reason doesn't undermine the comparison to things changing at the Cross and/or Pentecost.  That event is what all History revolves around according to our world view.  There was as good a reason then as there ever was to change some things.

Now to get to the main topic of this post.  As I was laughing to myself at their failure to even make an argument.  I went and came up with an argument for them.  This has been in my mind for months, over a year actually, I just kept putting off making a post on it.

The wording in Leviticus 18, 20 and Deuteronomy on the Incest restrictions, is strictly speaking about Sex not Marriage.  And I have shown Biblically that not all Sex Outside Marriage is a Sin.  And that it's mostly potentially reproductive Sex God puts restrictions on.

So one then could make the argument that when you marry someone your relation to them legally changes, and they are now your Wife not your distant-Cousin-as-a-fellow-descendant-of-Noah or Sister.

Now I know that sounds kinda like a Loop Hole.

My argument about the very differently worded verses alleged to condemn all Homosexuality also get accused of being a Loop Hole, but they're not.  The issue there is that only someone with a very modern way of thinking about Sexuality would read that as condemning all Same-Sex affection to begin with.  When dealing with other commands in the Torah, all both Jewish and Christian scholars agree if there is a qualifying statement, it's condemning only where the qualifier applies.  "Don't boil a kid in it's mother's milk" is not condemning all boiling or even all boiling of kids (nor does it condemn Cheeseburgers as some Rabbis think).  It's condemning a specific Canaanite practice that we now know quite a bit about thanks to the Ugarit texts.

But even if it is a Loop Hole.  If God's Word has Loop Holes they are there for a reason.  When I look at Chuck Missler's argument about how God worked around the Curse on Jechoniah, it sounds like God loves taking advantage of his own loop holes.

I've done a post on why Amnon's Sin was mainly Rape, and the incestuous part was incidental.  And I even then talked about how what Tamar says in II Samuel 13:12-13 seemingly ignores that marrying your Sister is supposed to be illegal.  Now I am iffy on building doctrine on something a girl says to ward off unwanted advances.  But it is still there in the text that theoretically David might have let Amnon marry Tamar if he simply asked.  It kinda parallels an aspect of what God via Nathan says to David when exposing his Sins against Uriah The Hittite.

More interesting however is the second witness I have.

Now much has been written about how in the Song of Solomon, The Beloved poetically called Shulamith his Sister.  I've seen people argue "Sister" is simply a misleading translation, and that I don't buy. 

I am NOT about to argue they were literally Brother and Sister, I stand by my earlier post on the Song of Solomon where I argue Shulamith is Shelomith daughter of Rehoboam and Granddaughter of Solomon, and The Beloved a humble Shepard not of Royal Blood.

I am aware that some of the arguments against them being actually Brother and Sister could be explained away by them being half siblings, same father and different mothers.  But my ultimate conclusion remains the same as it was in those posts, largely because I see no evidence of the Beloved being Royalty.

The key factor is Song of Solomon Chapter 8 Verse 1, where Shulamith is talking.  This verse tells us a few things.
"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised."
It clearly says they are not brother and sister.  But at the same time she says she wishes he was?  Like it would easier if he was?  And it makes sense with her being Royalty and him not since patriarchal societies tends to be less tolerant of women marrying below their station then men.  Princesses are usually either married into other Royal families, or if incest is allowed they marry within their own.  Egypt isn't the only ancient Monarchy to practice Royal Incest, they were just different in making it almost completely required.

There is kind of a New Testament passage I could mention, but it's very iffy to build doctrine on since it partly depends on bringing in sources outside of The Bible.   Act 25 starting in verse 13 through to the end of chapter 26.

If Acts was our only source of information on these people, you'd never know that Agrippa and Berenice were brother and sister, you would assume Berenice was Agrippa's wife though she's not explicitly called that either, it reflects that she was being treated as Agrippa Queen.  Still their Incestuous relationship would have been fairly well known to Luke's initial first century audience.  So that no judgment is passed on it is interesting, in fact Paul tells Agrippa that he knows Agrippa is learned in the Scriptures and believes the Prophets.

A lot has been speculated on concerning Luke's relationship to Josephus, those late dating Luke say it must have depended on Josephus, others say they must have used some common sources.  And the subject of Agirppa and Berenice is part of that discussion.  Josephus is quite condemning of them, but I can't help but wonder how much even that was more his Greco-Roman Audience's attitudes towards Incest then a Jewish one.  Luke in addition to being not so harsh to them is also kinder to Felix and Drusilla in Acts 24 (Drusilla was another sister of Agrippa and Berenice) then Josephus was.

This all happens to fit in well with a post I did in September 2015 on my Prophecy Blog on the subject of The Man Child being The Church.  [However now that September 2015 post is kind of defunct cause of how my view of The Bride of Christ has changed.]

Mainly my point here is, to Hebrew Roots Christians, either argue that Marrying your Brother or Sister isn't prohibited, or stop the "God Never Changes his laws" argument.  You can't have it both ways.

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