Challenge: You Want the Biblical View of Marriage?

Posted: February 28, 2012 by Amy Hall in Do the Right Thing, Weekly Challenge

Here’s a picture that’s making the rounds on Facebook. Sometimes challenges like this one are very effective because the actual argument goes unstated. Can you state the argument this picture is making? Clarification is the first step to responding to a challenge, particularly when the subject stirs up as many emotions as this one does. Once you and your friend are clear about the argument, then you can address it.

So give us your ideas about how to respond to a friend who posts this picture, and we’ll hear from Alan on Thursday.

Comments
  1. rockturner says:

    This poster implies that a Biblical view of marriage, and by association the view of contemporary Bible believers, is based fundamentally upon Old Testament socially normative constructs from the first millennium. It fails to address the obvious Biblical context of a progressive revelation of God’s will for human society.
    A ‘stone in the shoe’ question would be, “Why are there no scripture references later than circa Torah Times?”
    From the Wiki article on “Torah” :
    Modern biblical scholars have concluded that the written books were a product of the Babylonian exilic period (c.600 BCE) and that it was completed by the Persian period (c.400 BCE).[4]

  2. Eric Barrett says:

    I’d say that apart from the first one, none of these are God’s “ideal”, instead, they are all accommodations that God made to us because we couldn’t simply live within the guidelines God set forth.

    On top of that, many of them are designed to protect the woman (like in the case of the woman marrying her husband’s brother.) In a patriarchal society without things like AARP or Medicare, women relied on their husband’s to financially protect / provide for them as they grew older.

    Many of these arrangements may offend us today (and probably should) but during their time, they were more generous and protective than many other cultures.

  3. The unstated argument is that “biblical marriage” is oppressive to women, therefore modern marriage ought to be something completely different.

    But as #2 points out, an example of a marriage isn’t necessarily an example of an ideal God-approved marriage. A description if what is (or was) is not a description of what ought to be. “You can’t get an OUGHT from an IS.”

    Furthermore, many of the assertions in the poster are out of context, or are just plain false. For example, the “widow required to marry her brother-in-law” bit. That’s reading a bit much into the duty of a man to take in his brother’s widow and raise up children by her. The requirement is for the man, not the widow.

    Also, the virgin girls taken as spoils of war. Too much being read into that. The Bible doesn’t say that the little girls are to be sex slaves. Perverted human minds read that into the text. Because, obviously the only reason you’d want to save the little girls is to make sex slaves out of them, right?

    • Mike, obviously virgins were treated as spoils of war, just as they were in every culture at that time. The silver, gold, some animals and virgins were taken and divided between warriors and the religious treasury. The evolutionary psychology of this is also obvious. The perverted human minds were the ones who who forcibly marrying 11 year olds after murdering their brothers, older sisters and parents. The fact that this is inconvenient to our modern christian sensibilities should not lead us to come up with ahistorical ridiculous apologies for brutal ancient rape.

  4. The point that I take away is that getting one’s idea of marriage from the Bible is nuts. These are clearly not simply observations about the customs of the time (they are that, too) but these conditions exist with God’s approval.

    rockturner noted that these were all from the OT. True, but the OT remains part of the Christian canon, and Jesus didn’t overturn these odd definitions of marriage.

    We can quibble about these examples, but the net conclusion is that the Bible is a bad source for advice on marriage.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Odd definitions? In every one of these, marriage is between one man and one woman (even in the case of polygamy which is many marriages, not one marriage). There are rules surrounding them that govern this definition (how many marriages are allowed, when marriage is required, the ways women are protected if the man wants a divorce, etc.), but the definition is the same in every case.

      • Amy:

        How is “marriage is the joining of one man and one woman” the same as “marriage is the joining of one man and one or more women”?

        Dave:

        I see that Matt. says that, but I don’t see how that overturns what the OT says. We let the OT speak for itself rather than whitewash it, right?

      • Amy Hall says:

        Bob, what I’m saying is that polygamy is not one big marriage. The women aren’t married to each other. Rather, polygamy merely allows more than one marriage to take place. There is one marriage between the man and each woman. The difference is not in the definition of marriage, the difference is in how many marriages are allowed.

        There’s no such thing in the Bible as “the joining of one man and more than one woman.”

      • Amy:

        Yes, I see your point. Nevertheless, polygamy is certainly not the customary version of marriage that we have in the U.S. Yes, same-sex marriage would change the definition, but so what? It’s not like the definition has been a constant since the beginning.

      • Amy Hall says:

        It’s not like the definition has been a constant since the beginning.

        Bob, I don’t think you saw the point. The point is that one marriage is one man and one woman, and always has been so. Polygamy is more than one marriage. The definition of marriage is the same; how many are allowed has varied. Can you give me another example in history of where marriage was considered to be something other than one man and one woman? Not where more than one marriage was allowed, but where marriage itself was actually something else?

      • Amy:

        I’ve recently written a short essay on the various flavors of biblical marriage, inspired by this blog post. Simply put, I’m saying that the idea that marriage has been a constant (one man, one woman) through history is false.

        http://crossexaminedblog.com/2012/03/05/biblical-marriage-not-a-pretty-picture/

      • Amy Hall says:

        Bob, which of your examples do you think contradicts the fact that marriage is one man, one woman? All of those marriages you mention are between one man and one woman. Again, having more than one marriage (polygamy) doesn’t change that, nor does the type of woman married change that, nor does the reasons for marrying that woman change that. Do you have an example of a group marriage where more than two people are married to each other, or a marriage that doesn’t involve both a man and a woman? If you do, you need to add it to your list in order to make the point you want to make.

      • Amy:

        My point is that the teachings within the Bible contradict the modern claim that marriage has been a simple constant, one man and one woman, just like we have it today. Old Testament marriage was violently much more than marriage as commonly understood in the US today.

        As for polygamy, sure, if you want to say that it was “nothing more” than multiple one-man-one-woman marriages, go ahead. I can’t imagine many people gravitating toward that qualifier. Sounds like a radical change from one man and one woman to me. Surely you wouldn’t welcome biblical polygamy introduced in this country, right?

      • Amy Hall says:

        Bob, the “one man, one woman” has remained constant. Polygamy is multiple marriages. That is the definition of polygamy, not an unusual “qualifier.” The fact remains, you have not shown evidence of any other definition of marriage in the Bible. It’s the joining together of a man and a woman. As for polygamy being “biblical,” that’s not correct, if by “biblical,” you mean “advocated by the Bible.” Jesus said that a man who divorces his wife and marries another while the first wife is living commits adultery. That assumes one marriage (or else second marriages wouldn’t be adultery at all). The instructions for elders include the requirement of one (and only one) wife. Etc. In the Old Testament, the kings were warned against multiplying wives, and those who did (e.g., Solomon) did not end well. Nowhere is anyone in the Old Testament blessed with multiple wives, nor do multiple wives ever increase their happiness. I can’t think of anywhere where they’re mentioned where the practice does not bring pain and trouble (see Hannah, Leah, David, etc.).

        So again I ask, do you have an example of a group marriage where more than two people are married to each other, or a marriage that doesn’t involve both a man and a woman?

    • Dave says:

      Matt 19:4-6

  5. I’m not sure this challenge is so much about the definition of marriage, but the claim that the Bible is sexist. Forcing a woman to marry her rapist or her brother-in-law is viewed as immoral and the taking away of a woman’s liberty.

    Of course having laws in today’s day and age would be, but that’s because having such laws today would no longer accomplish the purpose they served under the Old Testament Covenant in Israel’s Theocracy. If we were to look at the surrounding cultures to ancient Israel, women really were just treated like property, sex slaves, and all other manner of atrocities. While these laws about marriage may seem immoral now, at the time they in fact protected women from unjust treatment and served to preserve their rights as best as could be done in a broken and fallen world.

    The Bible makes it clear that the Old Testament covenant did not represent God’s ideals, rather it was intended only for ancient Israel’s Theocratic Government and would not last forever. Even Jesus talked about how God tolerated certain practices at certain times due to the hard hearts of the people. An unfortunate reality of the times was that the culture had been badly corrupted and could not be instantly fixed with laws reflecting God’s ideals (just look how many years it took after the Civil War before racial prejudices finally started to die down!).

    Considering this I would conclude the following things: the Old Testament is not in fact sexist, the fact that God was tolerant of certain practices in the Old Testament does not in any way mean he endorses them, and as for the definition of marriage, it is and has always been one man and one woman. The circumstances of various marriages (even polygamy) do not change the fact there marriage has always been one man and one woman.

  6. Karl Heintz says:

    Anyone who posts this is trying to say that the Bible has no clear definition of marriage, and supporters of traditional marriage are picking the model they like best. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the Supreme Court passes same-sex marriage across the country next week because it’s already been screwed up.

    I needn’t go into detail about the fact that the nuclear family is God’s original design. (Several of you have discussed that already.) Following the line of argument from someone else a while back, I’d ask my friend, “What’s your point?” (in an attempt to see if they understand their own argument). Once they PHRASE their argument logically, then I will continue the conversation.

  7. Seth says:

    The argument seems to be that the Bible doesn’t hold to a unique definition of marriage. But the picture is done in a way to show how poor or immoral those “biblically approved” marriages are constructed anyway. I would assume this is done because of the battle over the definition of marriage. But every example given is marriage between a man and woman. Also half these examples seem to take a shot a how the marriage came about and not the actual defined union. Marriage is still marriage whether you clubbed the woman on the head and dragged her out of the cave or she asked you to marry her. I don’t know if concubines and slaves count as wives which would mean they wouldn’t apply to the argument over the definition of marriage. Polygamy can be argued that this is not God’s intention.

    • The advocate for same-sex marriage would respond to your comment by observing that the definition of marriage is not the inviolate, immutable standard since Adam and Eve but is actually quite varied.

      Indeed, the definition in the US has not been constant. Up until Loving v. Virginia in 1967, marriage was defined in 17 states as a union of one man and one woman of the same race!

      • Adrian Urias says:

        Perhaps we need to make distinctions between fundamental changes in the definition of marriage and variations of the marriage. Race restrictions are variations, but the fundamental has remained, one man and one woman.

        For a more in detail response showing that US laws restricting marriage by race is not analogous to same-sex “marriage”, read:

        http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/05/1324

  8. rockturner says:

    Would it alter our focus if we zoomed out the field of view to include a prophet of God like Hosea who appears to claim being instructed to marry a prostitute? Does it affect our high and mighty moral rectitude when we judge a “one man + one woman with multiple professional partners = a ‘what’ kind of marriage” ? ?
    Just sayin’ ;^) Gotta justify the moniker rockturner somehow, say what?

  9. M says:

    Only the defender of the first description-picture of marriage can make an objective argument against all the other examples. A proponent of redefining marriage as a same-sex union can only argue subjectively or from preference against the other 7 examples.

    I’d ask the person posting the diagram “Do you find these other examples to be wrong or do you simply not prefer them? Why?”

    That can lead you into a conversation about marriage: is it something we have discovered and are describing? Or is it something culture makes up?

    • M:

      But all these flavors of marriage are defined and approved of in the Bible. How does the Christian reject a kind of biblical marriage? And where does objectivity enter into it?

      I would think that if you were to pick one official biblical kind of marriage, it would be polygamy. God clearly has no problem with it, and it was the model used by the OT patriarchs.

      • No Bob. Not all of those “flavors of marriage” are defined or approved of in the Bible. They are mostly stawman assertions arrived at by taking scriptures out of context, or are flat out falsehoods conjured up by intentionally misreading the passage.

      • M says:

        I don’t “pick” the definition of marriage. Marriage describes something specific – an object, or a thing. Marriage therefore is discovered, not defined. Government doesn’t have to reference the Bible to discover what marriage is or where its interests in it lie.

        But as a Christian I would look to the entire Bible for guidance on an specific topic, allowing scripture to interpret scripture. For marriage, I would look to what Jesus said (i.e. Mark 10 as an example). Many times Jesus says, paraphrasing, “you have read that it is said, BUT I say….”. Jesus declares himself the authority and I’ll take his word over that of the Patriarchs when it addresses an issue specifically. For example, what was approved by Moses for the Jewish People does not mean that approval by default applies to the Christian. In this way I would reject the OT Patriach’s laws on marriage and look to what Jesus, i.e. God, says.

        Back to my question to you: Do you find these other examples to be wrong or do you not prefer them? Why?

        Thanks

      • Mike W:

        Let’s just take the most obvious flavor of marriage in the Bible, polygamy. You’re saying that it’s taking the verses out of context to say that polygamy was A-OK with God? That’s sure not what I take from the OT.

      • Bob,
        Can you show me a verse anywhere in the Bible that says that polygamy is A-OK with God?

      • Aaron says:

        Bob, you will need to site some passages to back up this view point. Otherwise, it’s just a flame comment.

  10. M:

    It still seems to me that you’ve got a problem when you reject part of the OT. I haven’t seen Jesus overtly reject polygamy—that’s certainly not what Mark 10 says. The problem IMO is that you have your own morality on this subject (and probably one that I would share), and you’re reading that back into the Bible. But shouldn’t we let the Bible speak for itself rather than making it into a ventriloquist’s dummy?

    Responding to your question: I reject the Bible as an absolute source of anything, including morals. My morals come from my own moral instinct plus society (and that seems to explain everyone’s morality too, IMO).

    • Aaron says:

      Bob, what are you moral instincts based on?

      • Aaron:

        My moral instincts aren’t based on anything, but they come from evolution. They’re part of humans’ firmware (to use a computer term).

        We see in other primates actions that, in humans, we would label as “moral”—compassion, commiseration, a sense of fairness. However they came to these instincts explains it for humans as well IMO.

      • > Support for polygamy in the OT is plain

        Then you should have no problem finding even one passage to show us.

        Where, exactly, in the OT is support for polygamy plain?

        Just one passage, Bob. Please show us.

      • Mike W:

        Then you should have no problem finding even one passage to show us.

        Nope—no problem. Exodus 21:10 and 2 Sam. 12:8 are good examples.

        If you want more (as well as verses that support, to varying degrees, one-man-one-woman marriage), try this page:

        http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/interp/polygamy.html

    • M says:

      Thanks for your answer Bob.

      When I read Mark 10: 5 – 9, for example, I see clearly what Jesus describes as God’s intent for male and female “from the beginning.” It seems to me (if I’m being unfair, you will correct me) that polygamy ADDS on to this and violates your own suggestion that we “let the Bible speak for itself”.

      As to your complaint that I reject part of the OT — I’d answer with a question: where are getting the idea that I am subject to OT Mosaic Law?

      Politely, I don’t think you respond to my question at all, which is rather straight forward.

      • When I read Mark 10: 5 – 9, for example, I see clearly what Jesus describes as God’s intent for male and female

        Support for polygamy in the OT is plain. This is clearly not one of those situations where Jesus says, “The scriptures say X but I tell you Y” when it comes to polygamy. He’s rejecting an old commandment about divorce, not polygamy. Obviously, I applause your rejection of polygamy, but I disagree that you have biblical support for it.

        where are getting the idea that I am subject to OT Mosaic Law?

        Because OT Mosaic law is in your Bible. If it’s irrelevant, drop it from your canon. If it’s in your canon, don’t dismiss it.

        I don’t think you respond to my question at all, which is rather straight forward.

        They’re wrong IMO.

      • M:

        When I read Mark 10: 5 – 9, for example, I see clearly what Jesus describes as God’s intent for male and female “from the beginning.”

        And how does this address the fact that the OT patriarchs practiced polygamy? Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon come to mind, and I know there are more. God is quick to drop the 10 Commandments on the Jews (with death penalties), so God is not reluctant to lay down the law. Never does God tell the patriarchs that polygamy is wrong. From the Bible’s standpoint, it’s clearly just one of the unremarkable customs of the time, like sheep herding.

        But to your Mark verses: if this is the clearest statement we have polygamy is wrong, I think I can be forgiven for not getting it! I think the best interpretation of this goes back to what Amy said before: a man has multiple marriages, and each one can be considered individually, as is done here.

        violates your own suggestion that we “let the Bible speak for itself”.

        I agree—let’s let the Bible speak for itself. I don’t see where I’m violating this principle.

        It could be, of course, that the Bible says X here and not-X there. I may be focused on the X verse and you may be focused on the not-X verse–maybe that’s what you’re saying. But then we have a bigger problem—the Bible is contradictory or at least inconsistent.

        Politely, I don’t think you respond to my question at all, which is rather straight forward.

        Politely, I’m baffled why my last direct answer wasn’t clear. If you could clarify the problem rather than simply restating the question, that would help.

    • Aaron says:

      Bob, if that is your definition of morality, then how is anyone ever wrong or a crime committed? How do you justify putting anyone in jail? Under your definition, a persons right or wrong decisions are independent from anyone or anything. The only “crime” that is ever committed is going against popular opinion or the majority.

      You also have to realize to disagree with my viewpoint that morality is objective is an appeal to another “standard”. You disprove your viewpoint on morality just by making a case against objectivism.

      As for Marriage in the Bible: Just because an event such as polygamy is written into the historical context of the Bible does not imply God is accepting of this behavior. Also, Jesus did not speak specifically on many topics (or not all were recorded). Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus is pointing to living life by Grace and not by the Law and that the no one can meet the requirements of the Law. This is the whole point of the book of Galatians.

      Galatians 2:16 (NIV), “…know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

      In essence, the NT gives the OT meaning. God progressively revealed new revelation building up the the culmination of Jesus. The OT is to be understood in light of the NT. Genesis states the intended order of “one man and one woman”. In the NT, Elders and Deacons are called to be “a one woman man” in 1 Timothy and we are all called to aspire to such roles within the church, i.e. one man and one woman. The NT holds more examples if you wish to hear more.

      • Aaron:

        Bob, if that is your definition of morality, then how is anyone ever wrong or a crime committed?

        I use the definition of morality found in the dictionary. Nowhere does the definition demand any sort of supernatural grounding, for instance.

        How do you justify putting anyone in jail?

        I’m guessing that if anyone differs from you on a moral issue, you label that alternative belief “wrong.” That’s how it is with me, too. I’m quite happy to judge others’ actions as right or wrong.

        You also have to realize to disagree with my viewpoint that morality is objective is an appeal to another “standard”.

        Call it that if you want, but it’s a shared standard (because humans more or less have the same DNA) not an absolute one as far as I’ve seen.

        Does objective morality exist? And can we reliably access it? Show me.

        Just because an event such as polygamy is written into the historical context of the Bible does not imply God is accepting of this behavior.

        Granted. Now read the Bible’s verses on marriage and tell me what you think God thinks about polygamy.

        My read says to me that God could hardly be more in favor of polygamy than if God himself had said, “Abe, y’know what I like best about your culture? It’s polygamy. I’m totally cool with polygamy.”

        In essence, the NT gives the OT meaning. God progressively revealed new revelation building up the culmination of Jesus.

        If you’ll pardon my frankness, that’s exactly what the defender of a manmade religion would say. Manmade religions change and evolve over time—heck, what else would you expect? It’s not like God is guiding them toward some absolute truth. And that Christianity has to tweak and reinterpret the OT is exactly what some new upstart manmade 1st-centry religion would do.

        God can’t just give the whole story all at once? He has to dribble it out on 1.0 and 2.0 versions?

        Said another way, we could see the NT’s reinterpretation on the OT in two ways—that this is progressive revelation or that this is yet one more of the thousands of manmade religions through history. The latter sounds far more plausible an explanation.

      • Aaron says:

        Hi Bob, here’s my reply:

        “I use the definition of morality found in the dictionary. Nowhere does the definition demand any sort of supernatural grounding, for instance.”

        This dodges the question. While I do believe it starts from God, I didn’t mention this. I’m only talking about Objective Morality. Please answer the question about justifying any crime committed.

        “I’m guessing that if anyone differs from you on a moral issue, you label that alternative belief “wrong.” That’s how it is with me, too. I’m quite happy to judge others’ actions as right or wrong.”

        This is a very scary scenario you are painting. Yes, I do make decisions on right and wrong, but I don’t agree that it originates from breeding or genetics. Genetically, maybe the Nazi’s had it right. Who are we to stay they are wrong since their DNA presupposed them to hating and killing Jews? I don’t use this as an inflammatory comment, but to use a real life example of the Darwinian Evolutionary believing Nazi’s. The Nazi fully believed the Jewish people should be snuffed out. If they judged this as a right on what grounds do you disagree?

        “but it’s a shared standard”

        Yes, it is.

        “Granted. Now read the Bible’s verses on marriage and tell me what you think God thinks about polygamy.
        My read says to me that God could hardly be more in favor of polygamy than if God himself had said, “Abe, y’know what I like best about your culture? It’s polygamy. I’m totally cool with polygamy.””

        I would appreciate it if you would site the verses from which you are pulling this information.

        As for your final comments:

        Jesus states in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Only Jesus could completely fulfill the law. The people and customs changed, but the OT law did not change. The NT explains how Jesus fulfilled the law, not just the letter of the law, but the intent.

        Also, I don’t mind frankness as long as it’s respectful. I’ve taken a few minutes to check out your website and can see you passionately disagree with any form of deity, but it looks like it’s primarily focused on Christianity. Any particular reason? Maybe it’s not and I didn’t look into enough.

        I appreciate the debate, Bob and look forward to your response.

  11. Adrian Urias says:

    This post WOULD get dozens of comments, which is A LOT relative to the other challenges lol

    The argument the infographic is making might go something like, “If you’re going to say that marriage is by BIBLICAL definition between ONE man and ONE woman, then you are wrong because there are many BIBLICAL counter examples” and the infographic provides those counter examples (the title of the infographic is “Marriage=” which clues us into its intent, so I would disagree with some on this thread who say it’s to point out it’s sexist or oppressive to women). In addition to the counter examples, there are descriptions of how these marriages in the OT are supposed to take place, and they are included for ridicule. While this may be a “problem” worth tackling, it’s secondary and not the main point.

    It’s already been touched on, but it is not the Biblical ideal. Is-ought confusions. Appeals to Genesis in the NT are good because it’s affirmation that it represents the ideal.

    Kinda off topic, but why don’t I see cool infographics like these made by thoughtful Christians? It seems a lot comes from anti-Christian sentiments. Are we just not cool enough anymore? Meh…

  12. Tom Loghry says:

    I would first ask, “what do you mean by the Biblical view?”
    Does she mean merely whats recorded in the Bible, or what’s commanded in the Bible?

  13. Aaron:

    This dodges the question.

    Then I don’t understand the question.

    Genetically, maybe the Nazi’s had it right. Who are we to stay they are wrong since their DNA presupposed them to hating and killing Jews?

    Their DNA is the same as everyone else’s, so perhaps we’re not seeing this the same way.

    Let me change your question to: Who are we to say the Germans were wrong? As I’ve said before, when someone differs from me on a moral issue, I have no difficulty labeling that action as wrong. If you’re wondering what gives me the right to take action against such a “wrong” person, I dunno—I suppose the same thing that you would cite.

    I don’t use this as an inflammatory comment, but to use a real life example of the Darwinian Evolutionary believing Nazi’s.

    How did evolution come into the picture? And what is the moral connection with evolution? As you’ve probably heard, evolution describes; it doesn’t prescribe.

    If they judged this as a right on what grounds do you disagree?

    I dunno—whatever grounds everyone else uses. My own moral outrage?

    Why do you ask—you have something better?

    I would appreciate it if you would site the verses from which you are pulling this information.

    Exodus 21:10 and 2 Sam. 12:8 are good examples. Many patriarchs had multiple wives, as you know.

    it looks like it’s primarily focused on Christianity. Any particular reason?

    I live in the U.S. The biggest problem with religion here is from Christianity.

    • Nothing is more annoying than when people say “The biggest problem with religion here is from christianity.” You know right off they are ignorant of what Christians have done for the world. I know statistics from just one group of Christians since 1980 have contributed in excess of $2.3 billion in goods and services to 250 million people in more than 100 countries. Another, LatinAmerica ChildCare is the largest evangelical org. that estb. 300 schools and projects that reach nearly 100,000 children in 21 countries…and this is just a small example of what Christians do for the world. There are too many examples to even list. People who make this “Christians are the big problem” statements are nothing more than ignorant, totally naive individuals.

      • I’m aware of what Christians have done in the world. That’s obviously not the point.

        The question was: why focus on problems from Christianity instead of other religions? My answer: because Christians cause the most religious problems in the US.

  14. Ouch! Using blockquote is dangerous!

    Sorry for the formatting mess.

  15. Expositorium says:

    It seems to me that hiding behind each of these scenarios is the view that marriage is a relationship between an oppressor and the oppressed, instead of the Biblical view of a relational, sacrificial covenant love for one’s closest neighbour who is different but equal like the members of the Trinity.This oppressor-oppressed narrative stems not from Scripture but from poor interpretations of it as well as people who have abused it.

    There’s also confusion between historical narrative – description of events – and epistles or Gospels (prescribing certain beliefs and actions). Anyone else?

  16. [...] Good infographic showing the many biblical definitions of marriage at “You Want the Biblical View of Marriage?” [...]

  17. [...] Good infographic showing the many biblical definitions of marriage at “You Want the Biblical View of Marriage?” [...]

  18. mikemclovinJesus says:

    i’m in agreement with the ones who believe there is a God and not the ones who live like there isn’t one

  19. mikemclovinJesus says:

    and i don’t boycott gay owned establishments because they don’t agree with me

  20. mikemclovinJesus says:

    and amy ,bob didn’t answer your question,nor can he,or mikes,he is wise in his own eyes and i know how that is,but now i’m born again,and God has opened my eyes and saved me from myself and praise God He can do this for bob too.

    • MikeMC: What question remains unanswered?

      Amy made the interesting point that polygamy isn’t one man marrying many women but rather one man marrying 1 woman (and then marrying more). OK, let’s accept that. Where does that take us? It remains the case that the definition of Judeo-Christian marriage has changed.

      So let’s not argue that it hasn’t.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Bob, I’m confused, because it seems like you’re saying two contradictory things. You agree that marriage in the Bible was one man, one woman. The fact that more marriages were allowed doesn’t change that fact. Changing age restrictions, or limiting the number of marriages, or having arranged marriages, etc. doesn’t change the fact that marriage was always the union of a man and a woman–that is, the union that joins together into one flesh the two halves of the reproductive system, creating a whole system that creates life and the most fundamental building block of society (the family).

        You agree that polygamy was merely having more than one marriage at a time. That means that the definition of marriage has not changed. All that’s changed is the number allowed.

      • The fact that more marriages were allowed doesn’t change that fact.

        Is biblical marriage different from what we have today? Of course. Polygamy is not equivalent to “one man, one woman” marriage. Said another way: today’s marriage isn’t called “polygamy.” Surely you’re not saying that you’d like to see polygamy allowed today; why defend it?

        The point is that biblical marriage is not the unchanging standard that many Christians imagine. Same-sex marriage is a change, but it’s just one in a long line of changes. Loving v. Virginia in 1967 is the most recent major one–more here.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Again, the regulations around marriage have changed, but what marriage is has not changed, as I’ve explained. Marriage is not different, how many we allow is different. Those are different things. Today’s marriage isn’t called polygamy, but neither was marriage back then called polygamy because the words “marriage” and “polygamy” are not referring the same thing, and they never were considered to be the same thing. Marriage was marriage, and more than one marriage was polygamy. If a person had more than one marriage (and not everyone did), the situation was polygamy, and each marriage was a subset. “Marriage” always consisted of the man/woman union–a union fully completed by two people of the opposite sex.

        How do you take this as a defense of polygamy?

      • Amy:

        Marriage is not different, how many we allow is different. Those are different things.

        You’re splitting insignificant hairs. Whatever you want to call whatever they had back then, it’s not the same as what we have now. They’re different. Things have changed—I’m sure you wouldn’t want whatever they had back then to be legal today. You’re embarrassing yourself by trying to dismiss the changes.

        This is off topic, but IMO you need to find a safe landing for yourself. 20 years from now, same-sex marriage will be widely accepted within US society just like it is in some European countries. Yes, there will be that tiny handful who still fume to themselves, “But the Good Book rejects it!” just like 20 years after Loving v. Virginia (1967) there was a handful that were still furious over mixed-race marriages.

        I suppose you’ll respond that you don’t care what’s popular, only what’s right. I have respect for that in principle, but keep in mind that George Wallace’s principled stand for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” put him forever on the wrong side of history.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Bob, you already conceded that polygamy is many marriages, so I’m not sure what the problem is.

        It’s not “splitting hairs” to say that marriage has always been about the union of a man and a woman (because that is the union that creates families). The rules governing this union have varied, but the union hasn’t changed. This seems perfectly obvious, and I’m not sure how many ways I can say that, so we may be at an impasse.

        Please notice that I haven’t once argued that “the Good Book rejects it” to you. There are secular reasons why the government cares about marriage, and there are secular reasons why marriage is a man and a woman. Marriage preceded both government and church because it’s based on biological realities—on the differences between men and women. Governments, when they were created by society (which was built by the unions of men and women), merely recognized the reality they already faced.

        “The wrong side of history” is not an argument. (Or perhaps we’ve entered the inevitable name-calling portion of the debate now.) I’m sure Rome believed it was making advances, and yet it destroyed itself, and it turned out Christianity was on the right side of history. So now that we’ve told our two history stories, can we move on from that unhelpful attempt to try to scare people into accepting your position?

        Arguing that way is no different than if I were to say, “IMO you need to find a safe landing for yourself. 50 years from now when you’re in Hell, you’ll know for sure what the truth is. Keep in mind that your principled stand against reality and moral standards is putting you forever on the wrong side of eternity.”

        And I’m sure you wouldn’t find that helpful either.

        If you’re interested in learning more about harm, you can start by looking into research about the specific ways children are hurt by not having a mother or not having a father. Or listen to the activists saying their ultimate goal is to end marriage completely (to the cheers of listening audiences). Or consider the cases being brought now to ensure true marriage equality, meaning no boundaries at all. Societal chaos, unstable families, children without mothers or fathers, not to mention religious people forced by law to reject the teachings of their religion (not just Christians). A few places to start.

      • Amy:

        Webster’s defines polygamy as “marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time.”

        If you want to say that, no, polygamy is multiple instances of one-man-one-woman marriage, I guess we can play that game, but know that you are simply trying to avoid the problem. Whatever that institution was that they had back in OT times is different from what we call marriage today. Conclusion: there has been change.

        And all I’m saying is that adding same-sex partnerships to the definition of marriage would indeed be a change, but it’s not like marriage has been static since Adam. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” right?

        The point that I’m making now is the very simple claim that marriage has not been static.

        I never made the claim that being on the wrong side of history was an argument. I was simply making an observation (and a prediction). Uh, no—I don’t do the name calling thing.

        Scare people? Don’t know what you’re talking about.

        “If you’re interested in learning more about harm, you can start by looking into research about the specific ways children are hurt by not having a mother or not having a father.” Yeah, I get it. What I don’t get is: How is that relevant? It’s not to the two gay men who want to get married and who have no interest in children. It’s not to the single mother who concludes that she’s a lesbian. Are you simply talking about adoption?

        And the slippery slope arguments are red herrings.

      • “Marriage has changed but the definition hasn’t?”

        Other way around, actually.

        If I define a horse’s tail to be a leg, how many legs does the horse have?

      • Amy Hall says:

        This isn’t a game, and I’m not trying to avoid the problem.

        A person in this country cannot legally become a polygamist because he isn’t allowed to have more than one marriage license. Each marriage requires a marriage license, and the government won’t give two. There’s never been group marriage. The union has never changed, regardless of the various rules governing that union.

        And while the various rules (about age, number, etc.) have changed, the constant is the man–woman union (for all the reasons I stated earlier). To change the union itself isn’t to change a rule here and there, it’s to fundamentally change the nature of marriage.

        Here’s what it’s like—not a perfect analogy, but you’ll get the idea: Imagine we live in a world where wearing a hat has serious implications for the rest of society. The hats don’t work their magic all the time, but we never know when they will do so, so the government starts making rules about the hats to try to encourage them and contain them at the same time. For a while one type is required, then later, another kind. There are regulations about the number of hats you can have and which days you can wear them, etc. Besides the effect the hats have on society, they also have the added benefit of keeping you warm.

        Then one day, someone who dislikes hats but loves scarves asks, why shouldn’t the government pay attention to him and the way he chooses to keep warm? The government should promote, endorse and regulate his scarf and all scarves! He points to all the different kinds of hats that have been endorsed over the years, and says, yeah, endorsing scarves would be a change, but it’s not like the hats have always been the same.

        Can you see how hats and scarves are fundamentally different things in the way that is most relevant to the government’s interest? With all the different hats, they are all fundamentally still hats, and they all work the same magic that the government cares about. A scarf is not just “one more change” to a hat. It’s a scarf. A scarf can keep you warm, but the interest of the government in the hats was never about keeping warm. It was always about what the hats produce by nature.

        No matter how much the man insists that the government should be primarily concerned about warmth because he cares about being warm as much as everybody else, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the hats the government has an interest in, not “warmth” in general.

        Uh, no—I don’t do the name calling thing.

        Right. Saying I’m like the racists who didn’t know yet they would be forever shamed by future generations isn’t name calling or a scare tactic. Your side does it so much you can’t even recognize it anymore.

        How is the situation this creates for children relevant? That’s the whole reason government is involved in marriage in the first place. It couldn’t be more relevant.

        Slippery slope (if x happens, y could happen, therefore we must reject x) is not the same as looking at what else your exact reasoning argues for to see what it logically requires (reasoning x argues equally for y and z, therefore if we’re legally required to accept y due to reasoning x, we’ll also be legally required to accept z, assuming the courts will be consistent). That’s not slippery slope, it’s merely being able to analyze the reasoning being offered and noting what else consistency demands it be applied to.

      • Amy:

        [blockquote]There’s never been group marriage. [/blockquote]

        Polygamy was legal in the United States for roughly the first half of its existence.

        Marriage has changed through history—that’s all I’m saying. You haven’t agreed with much of what I’ve said, so I assume that once again I’ve made some subtle definitional error in your mind.

        Yeah, I get it—the man-woman thing has been constant. So what? Lots of other things have not been constant. The couple used to have to be of the same race, but not anymore. Polygamy was legal, but not anymore. And, of course, as the graphic that this post opens with shows, the Bible documents lots of legal variations that repulse us today—a woman must marry her rapist, sex slaves (or concubines or whatever) may be taken forcibly from conquered tribes, and so on.

        [blockquote]A scarf can keep you warm, but the interest of the government in the hats was never about keeping warm. It was always about what the hats produce by nature. [/blockquote]

        Translating back from the analogy, I assume you’re saying that the purpose of marriage is to produce children. Quick response: my marriage vows said nothing about having children. “To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part” is what same-sex advocates want to share in. Longer response: my post “Marriage—Designed for Procreation?

        [blockquote]Right. Saying I’m like the racists who didn’t know yet they would be forever shamed by future generations isn’t name calling or a scare tactic. [/blockquote]

        Correct. If I was unclear, I’m glad we had this chance to make clear my intention.

        My goal had been simply to make a suggestion. I guess it turned out to be worth just what you paid for it.

        [blockquote]Your side does it so much you can’t even recognize it anymore. [/blockquote]

        Yup, that must be it. I guess I have no actual ammunition.

        [blockquote] reasoning x argues equally for y and z, therefore if we’re legally required to accept y due to reasoning x, we’ll also be legally required to accept z, assuming the courts will be consistent. [/blockquote]

        Good analysis. Now tell me: what will we be logically and legally required to accept along with same-sex marriage?

        When you look at the 10 years of same-sex in a number of European countries, can you point to social problems that this caused?

        And I didn’t get your response to my question about your “children are hurt by not having a mother or not having a father.” What are you referring to?

      • Amy Hall says:

        Are you claiming that polygamy was practiced in the United States for the first half of its existence, and that the states would have recognized plural marriage? Or rather, was it the case that because nobody was practicing it, a federal law (states already had anti-bigamy laws) wasn’t needed until people realized someone might ask for it because of the Mormons?

        I’m not saying the purpose of marriage is to produce children, I’m saying that the government’s purpose in caring about marriage is the fact that the man-woman union produces children. I think I said this earlier: Government didn’t create marriage in order to produce children, government recognized that the man-woman union creates children, therefore they cared about it because of its public effect on society.

        Social problems
        in European countries resulting from a lack of recognition of what marriage is.

        What else the arguments for same-sex marriage argue for.

        The situation for children is relevant because the government wouldn’t care about marriage at all if it weren’t for the fact that the man-woman union leads to children.

        More on that here, if you’re interested.

        So what? Lots of other things have not been constant.

        But those other things don’t change the fundamental nature of marriage, as I explained (which is the union between a man and a woman). It’s the difference between different kinds of hats, and a hat vs. a scarf. There’s a point at which the changes are enough to cause it to cease being marriage at all. Think of a car. You can make all sorts of changes to a car, and all the cars help you get around. A bike also helps you get around, but if you make changes to a car that turn it into a bicycle, it’s no longer a car. The differences between cars don’t justify calling a bike a car, even though there are also differences between a bike and a car. All “differences” are not equal.

        What Is Marriage?

      • (Oops–sorry about the clumsy formatting)

      • Amy:

        Are you claiming that polygamy was practiced in the United States for the first half of its existence

        I’m claiming that polygamy was outlawed in 1890 with the Supreme Court case Davis v. Beason.

        I’m not saying the purpose of marriage is to produce children …

        I’ll agree with you there, though I’ve seen many apologists who say this very thing.

        … I’m saying that the government’s purpose in caring about marriage is the fact that the man-woman union produces children.

        That’s it?

        Let’s ignore the fact that it’s actually sex that produces children and suppose that it’s marriage—you’re saying that if marriage didn’t produce children that there would be no laws governing marriage? That would be a surprising claim given the many other things besides making babies that marriage touches on.

        Social problems in European countries resulting from a lack of recognition of what marriage is.

        “Marriage is dying”? So what? Let’s translate this into actual, tangible, quantifiable harm. Let me admit that there may be some. If it exists, I haven’t seen it.

        To see how social metrics in gay-loving Europe eclipse those in the US, search for “Gregory Paul” in this post.

        What else the arguments for same-sex marriage argue for.

        If other marriage arrangements present themselves to society as same-sex marriage has—a significant minority within society demands the right to marry and there is no harm in this—then I agree that we must consider that. So far, however, I’ve seen nothing in this category besides straw men (“Next, people will want to marry their sex toys!” or “Next, people will want to marry children!”).

        But those other things don’t change the fundamental nature of marriage, as I explained (which is the union between a man and a woman).

        What’s fundamental and what’s peripheral? One-man-one-woman marriage sounds fundamentally different than polygamy to me. Eliminating anti-miscegeny laws sounds pretty fundamental. We no longer kill everyone except the virgins and then take them as sex slaves—that’s really, really fundamental.

        You say that male/female is the fundamental element, but to me it’s two adults who want to join their lives together.

        Two consenting people want to get married—let’s ignore their race or sex. Isn’t marriage a big enough tent that we can allow that, especially in a time when people are fretting about how marriage rates are dropping?

      • Amy Hall says:

        I’m saying that the government’s purpose in caring about marriage is the fact that the man-woman union produces children. That’s it? Let’s ignore the fact that it’s actually sex that produces children and suppose that it’s marriage—you’re saying that if marriage didn’t produce children that there would be no laws governing marriage?

        Bob, you have not understood my comment. The union of a man and a woman into one flesh includes sex. Marriage was created to govern the physical union by binding the man and woman together for the sake of what the physical union produces. If that union (i.e., sex between a man and a woman) didn’t produce children, the government would have no interest in that type of union. I gave a link for you to follow to read more on that. Of course marriage touches many things because it’s stabilizing the family that the physical union creates.

        As for polygamy, the lack of a federal law is irrelevant (again, there were state laws against taking on another wife). Nobody in the states was practicing it, nor would they have been allowed to had they attempted it. Just because it had not yet been challenged in the culture doesn’t mean the country was not already against polygamy. It’s just that monogamy was assumed.

        I think it’s probably similar to the situation today. I’m not sure there were actual laws specifically defining marriage as a man and a woman. However, nobody was practicing it, and a same-sex couple would not have been allowed to marry, had they attempted it, because that wasn’t the cultural understanding. Man-woman marriage was simply assumed. It was only when this was challenged that people realized they had to specifically define marriage as a man and a woman in the law.

        You say that male/female is the fundamental element, but to me it’s two adults who want to join their lives together.

        Right, just like the guy who liked scarves instead of hats thought it was about warmth, therefore anything that makes a person warm should be included. But it was the hats that had public social consequences, not the scarves, so he was wrong about that.

        You say what marriage is “for you,” but your opinion can’t change the biological realities involved here. The reproductive system is in two halves. Sex between men and women bring those two halves together, creating a functioning system. That system creates new people—a situation that creates all sorts of social consequences if society isn’t stabilizing the man, woman, and children.

        Any other group of two people—friends, relatives, same-sex couples—are entirely welcome to join their lives together, but that’s not marriage, and their joinings are not the kind of joining together that creates a situation the government has an interest in getting involved with.

        As for everything else, I think at this point we’re going in circles, as I’ve already responded to what you’ve said in earlier comments.

      • Amy:

        If that union (i.e., sex between a man and a woman) didn’t produce children, the government would have no interest in that type of union.

        Well, thanks for the clear statement of your position, but that doesn’t ring true for me. The government gives a tax break for filing a joint return, for example. No children required—just marriage.

        Of course marriage touches many things because it’s stabilizing the family that the physical union creates.

        Does no other married person but me feel a little insulted by this? That marriage is about children and that’s it?

        My wife and I are past child-bearing years. Does that mean that our marriage counts for nothing? We still get that tax benefit … but perhaps we shouldn’t?

        Or what if we’d been physically unable to have kids? Or (horrors!) had no interest in making children and didn’t even try? I presume you’d respect those marriages just like you do mine or marriages in a house full of kids.

        As for polygamy, the lack of a federal law is irrelevant (again, there were state laws against taking on another wife).

        Nobody in the states was practicing it

        Uh, yeah, but lots of people in the territories (Utah comes to mind) were. Were they not part of the United States?

        You haven’t responded plainly to my point. I’m saying that “marriage” has changed with time. And you say …?

        You say what marriage is “for you,” but your opinion can’t change the biological realities involved here. The reproductive system is in two halves.

        Whoa—yet more with the sex! Marriage “for me” is about much more than the sex.

  21. The one thing we can be sure of, is that same sex coupling/marriage should not be cheered/endorsed by Christians. If you truly believe something is destructive, hurtful and against God’s design, why would you call it loving or even kind to congratulate those who choose this coupling? You can even assume that it’s actually hateful to be all happy/encouraging for anyone not turning away from this sin or even cheering them on. Obviously God calls many things sins, and this is one of them. Don’t be bullied into believing that the ones who object, and reject, this coupling are the hateful ones. As Christians, the God of the Bible, who gave us our instruction manual, desires us to align ourselves with Him, and not decide for ourselves what we decide to call wrong/sinful. They can do as they choose, but if you know the scriptures, you know God says not to do this IRomans).

    • You’re always in the wrong, if you don’t line up your ideas, behaviors, beliefs with scriptural backup–just like George Wallace. Never embrace ideas that don’t have biblical basis, you’ll always be in the wrong.

      • But what does scripture say? Ask 10 people and you’ll get 11 interpretations.

        The judge who leveled the original decision against the Loving family (culminating in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, 1967) famously cited the Bible in his justification for prohibitions against mixed-race marriage. The Southern Baptist Convention broke away because the Bible clearly supported slavery, and they insisted on staying true to this biblical principle.

        The Bible is a sock puppet that you can make say whatever you want.

    • Destructive? Hurtful? Maybe you’re confusing same-sex marriage with rape or murder. Where’s the harm?

      And why would a Christian point to biblical prohibitions against homosexual practice when that (along with other ritual abominations) were discarded by the sacrifice of Jesus?

      • Homosexual activity was reiterated as an absolute no no in the N. T. also. See Romans. Jesus was the once and for all sacrifice for sin—-no more animal sacrifices! He’s the lamb of God. I’m confused why people think others should cheer this sin and no others? Do we congratulate people for adultry, murder, robbing? What’s the harm? Well obviously, God tells us what’s right and wrong, we don’t tell him. It for one is defacing God’s creation—saying “God I’m not satisfied with your design—that’s in Your image—I think I’ll do something else with it.” We may not see all the harm, but God does. I think I’ll trust Him and not the enemy that tries to entice humans into all kinds of immorality because they appear so innocent of first. This is exactly what happened in the days of Noah before the food. They were doing what was “right in their own eyes”. You have the freedom to do as you want, but quit trying to compel Christians to be complicit.

      • It was a no-no in the NT because the early “Christians” weren’t Christian—they were Jews, and they followed the OT.

        Yes, Jesus was the once-and-for-all sacrifice. No more need for animal sacrifice, and no more ritual abominations—sowing fields with different seeds, wearing different fabrics, stoning disobedient boys, and gay sex.

        Uh, no, we don’t congratulate people for murder or robbery because they cause harm. Sex between consenting adults causes no harm. See the difference?

  22. Oops—before the flood.

  23. The difference between mixed-race marriages and same sex marriages is that nobody has ever denied that a mixed-race marriage was indeed a marriage. Laws regarding mixed-race marriage declared them illegal marriages, not non-marriages..

    Same-sex \”marriage,\” on the other hand, is an awful lot like saying you have a citrus fruit salad made out of broccoli. You can\’t make a citrus fruit salad out of broccoli! It\’s not that broccoli is an illegal citrus fruit. There are no laws against broccoli being a citrus fruit. But, broccoli is just not a citrus fruit at all, and you can\’t make a citrus fruit salad out of it, even if you pass laws, or make supreme court rulings and declare that it is a citrus fruit.

    If same-sex \”marriage\” does come to be normal over the next 20 years, it will only be at the expense of a fundamental redefinition of what a marriage is. Meanwhile, what used to be called just \”marriage\” will then require an extra qualifier be tacked onto the word \”marriage\” in order to reference it, but the essence of what it is won\’t have changed.

    • Mike:

      You’re asking what “marriage” means. Today, it means one man and one woman. Before 1967, in some states, it meant one man and one woman of the same race. And before that, it included polygamy.

      Marriage has changed but the definition hasn’t? I don’t think playing games with the dictionary helps. Whatever the heck they practiced in OT times—call it what you will—is not something that you’d want to be legal today, right? If not, then I guess things have changed.

      Same sex marriage—just another change in an institution that’s already changed quite a bit.

      Why the anxiety about this issue? No one has yet explained to me what the harm is. I’m married myself, and if this institution (of which I’m a part) is about to be damaged, let me know! So far, I can see no reason why sharing the institution with other people hurts me a bit. This ain’t a fixed-sum game.

      Hey, if you want a threat to marriage, consider divorce.