Friday, August 1, 2014

New Testament on Marriage.

Now I feel I've shown that the Old Testament doesn't joyfully endorse Harem Polygyny/Concubinism as much as people think. On the other hand, is the New Testament as anti-anything other then absolute monogamy as people assume?

 Matthew 19:5-6 says "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

 It is common to insist that the "one flesh" emphasis while not explicitly saying only one wife still would make it awkward to involve more then two people. The poetic idea is the wife as the husband's other half, and the word translated "twain" does imply duality. Still the intent of the verse is against divorce. Again as a Libertarian, I don't support divorce being legally restricted either, Jesus' command was about the promise made before God, not a legal contract.

Marriage references in Paul's Epistles seem to assume monogamy, but Paul was writing to a Greeco-Roman audience, for whom monogamous marriage was the norm well before Jesus was born. (Though the Macedonian and Hellenistic rulers weren't as strict about it). Indeed, many would say that Western Christianity's devotion to monogamy is another example of how it is really more Hellenistic and Roman in origin then Jewish.
But Greek Monogamy still treated adultery as a one way street. To modern readers it's outright annoying how the Odyssey treats the threat of Penelope remarrying or being unfaithful as a horrible catastrophe, while Odysseus has two affairs on his journey home without the slightest condemnation. And also Euripides play Andromache revolves around a conflict between a wife and her husband's mistress, and the narrative is firmly on the "other woman's" side, (Of course Hermione is a spoiled brat Neoptlemus only married for politics, while Andromache is the widow of Hector he took as a spoil of war, and yet they do seem to have fallen in love somewhat). So I understand the points in the above PDF I linked to.

The Church's marriage to Christ, is in how it's treated a Monogamous marriage between a Bridegroom and a Bride, the Church as a collective unit is The Bride.

1 Timothy 3:2, 12, 5:9 and Titus 1:6 refer to how an Overseer (Bishop is an unfortunate KJV rendering, the most obvious area where it's Anglicanism is an issue) should be the Husband of "One Wife" the word for "one" here is "Mia" (Strong# 3391) which can be interpreted as meaning "only one", "Heis" or "Monad" are the standard Greek words for "one". But these are special guidelines for Overseers, the rule here could also mean no less then one (hence how Protestants use it against The Vatican) and elsewhere it's clear Christians can choose to be single for life if they wish.

Polyandry is the term for a marriage between one woman and plural husbands. The Wikipedia page says the Bible condemns it simply by citing the adultery laws. That's obviously flawed logic however. The Bible doesn't address it, the Hebrew Bible is the product of a very Patriarchal culture that never even heard of it as an option. In the New Testament Paul might have heard of it from the examples in ancient Sparta, or Caesar's account of the Celts practicing it, but if he did he chose not to address it.

The most common form that has actually been practiced is Fraternal Polyandry, a pair or group of brothers sharing a wife. The Torah does say that if a husband dies before producing an heir, that his widow should marry his nearest living kinsman (who would be a brother if there was one) to produce a son that would in a sense legally be considered the son of the dead husband. The reason for this is it is vital that the family line of inheritance continue, it was considered important for the tribe as a whole that no individual family line perish. So, what if a Husband becomes unable to reproduce but still lives? Like he becomes Sterile due to illness, or loses his genitals in an injury? Given the intent of the law, I could imagine it being allowed there if they'd have considered it.

On the other hand, Jesus condemns a man married to a divorced woman who's husband still lives as adultery. But that needs again to be understood in the context of the condemnation of divorce.  As I said in other articles, it's only reproductive sex God really wants to restrain.

I frankly don't approve of the modern world's over attachment to Monogamy for all romantic relationships, because it's fueled by jealously which is a very unhealthy emotion. And as I've explained elsewhere, not all sex outside marriage is a sin like is commonly taught.  Loving more then one person should not be inherently wrong.

But how do I morally view Marriage? Or rather the Hebrew custom we associate with marriage? Everyone should agree that marriage is about more then just sex, and many even that it's more then just love.  From my understanding of the intent of what the Bible portrays about it, it's even more then just a "committed relationship", it's the foundation of the family. To me it is implied in the function of marriage that you will at least try to have and raise children. This is why it annoys me how often on TV two people get married and have apparently never discussed the children issue till they find out a week after their honeymoon they're not on the same page there, sadly I'm sure that does happen in real life too often, but it shouldn't.

I believe ideally children should have both a father and a mother. But I know we live in a fallen imperfect world where that option isn't always possible, so I don't support single parents having their children taken from them. And I certainly don't want adoption limited.

To people complaining about Gay adoption I'd say two parents are still better then one, even if they're  the same gender at least one has the option of staying home, and certainly it's better then none. In fact I want adoption made a lot easier in general, it's become a lot more complicated in recent decades, they don't even have orphanages anymore. To me even the most dysfunctional family is preferable to the state raising them in foster care.

As the Hebrew Scriptures demonstrate, Harem Polygyny creates rivalry problems. So for the purpose of raising children I consider a monogamous marriage best. But other people also being involved doesn't have to be a problem. So I don't consider open marriages a sin, so long as everything is done openly and honestly.

So in summery, legally I want marriage to have no restrictions at all, morally I consider one husband and one wife best to raise children, but will pass no judgment on those trying to do it differently.

No comments:

Post a Comment