Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Confronting the Church on Marriage, Part III

Picking up where we left off on the 9th of this month, I progress to Woody's last statement, which I said I would let hang out there, and soak in. I will paraphrase his answer, as I understand it, having written him on some points for clarification, and using the statements he made. His argument is, "marriage is one man and one woman because Genesis 2:24 is a definition of marriage." This is an argument I can accept, easily. I'm not sure it's precisely correct, but I can accept it.

So Woody accuses me of Red Herrings by mentioning that we don't marry our own ribs. Not so. But in an effort to meet him more than half way, I shall concede that God never meant for us to emulate Adam and Eve in ways that we cannot, and that creation was fixed at the time of Eve, with no more first generation men, women or animals on the drawing board. God rests. All generations subsequent to Adam and Eve are to come from them as Paul says and henceforth all men are out of women, not woman from man.

This again creates a problem for Woody since it is now mandated that some things be done in ways unlike Adam and Eve. Adam never marries in fact. Adam has a wife created for him. She is the only being created as a wife. Does Woody now argue for all marriages being arranged? Certainly Adam's father arranged for his marriage. Does Woody propose that Adam and Eve's children were to be married as they were? God has mandated in man's perfection that man be "fruitful and multiply." Creation is closed on the 6th day. Is Eve to serve as a sort of hive queen, whelping all the children who are sexual, but never engage in sex or was it God's divine intent from the beginning that Adam be polygynous and marry his own daughter(s) or that Eve be polyandrous and marry her own son(s)? Is it more likely that it was God's intent, from the beginning, in Man's perfection or fallen state, that they marry siblings? If we accept God never meant parents to marry their own children, then Adam's children, two of them at least, must marry one another. Herein is a mandated difference that is not as Adam and Eve were, from the beginning. Once it is established that Seth's marriage was never meant to be like Adam and Eve's in all ways, then it is established that we can only follow Adam and Eve in ways that we are able.

So are we to marry exactly as Adam and Eve did in ways that we can? Again, Woody necessarily returns to the Adam and Eve archetype and argues rigorous betrothal practice by default. Am I to betroth all my female children from the womb? This is in fact what he argues, and if he does not then he readily concedes to me that we are not even to follow Adam and Eve in all ways that we are able. Since we do not follow them in all ways that we can, we must settle on one method: We are to follow them in all ways that we are instructed to follow them. I could make other arguments similar to the female betrothal from the womb example given above, but I shall leave this for now as the only one on the table. Let Woody defeat this. He is defeated in extracting monogamy as in instruction from Genesis 2:24, he must find it clearly held up, as a monogamy, as instructive in that regard. It must be said "Adam married only Eve and you should never marry more than one at a time, like Adam and like Eve." This is never said.

Woody and I agree that Genesis 2:24 is a comment by the author Moses, this is what he means by "Mosaic interpolation" (Moses introduced). From there Moses commented with flawless divine inspiration that marriage is defined forward from this moment. All the business about the "waw-consective narrative" is just bombast. Having been accused by Woody of attitudes, I feel it is my right to point out here that he could have said "Moses introduced this comment into the text, which defines marriage," instead he resorts to belittling by throwing out seldom used phrases (meaningful though they may be) like "Mosaic Interpolation" and "waw-consecutive narrative." Woody then dumps in terms like "anarthrous generic 'man' " instead of simply "man" and so on. Anarthrous, by the way, is a word so little used, my spell checker doesn't recognize it.

Woody next makes a dense (layered and complex) argument about what Jesus said in quoting the passage. I say it means what it meant. Jesus says that in Matthew 19. This is one of the unintended consequences of "from the beginning it was not so." Jesus is reaching back, quoting Genesis 2:24, probably in Hebrew and saying "it means now, what it meant then, no changes." That does not mean "Marriage must be exactly like Adam and Eve" though, it means that as defined, at that time, marriage is and was and will always be, exactly the same thing. If the definition was inclusive of different patterns of marriage for subsequent generations than the exact pattern laid out by Adam and Eve, then these differences are included in that definition. Where Woody errs, where all err on the monogamy side is to say that this means "any deviation" is not marriage. There are necessarily deviations from the pattern of Adam and Eve. The question is only; what are the allowable and righteous deviations.

Woody then makes what I think are deliberately confusing points about the "LXX" (Septuagint) and the Samaritan Pentateuch, implying however vaguely that there is some new inspiration revealed in Christ's words because of the Greek Translation of Genesis. I'm going to insist that there is more evidence that Christ spoke these words in Hebrew, or possibly Aramaic, as opposed to Greek. He was sent to the Lost Sheep of Israel, and at this point, was ministering to them. Thus, any implication or drift in meaning or new meaning that Woody or others pick up from the use of Septuagint by the authors of Matthew or Mark is not drift at all. They report accurately as possible what Christ said in those passages, as a translation of his words, not his words exactly. So when Christ quotes scripture, he quotes it in the original Hebrew or in Aramaic.

So, back to the top. If as Woody claims, and I accept, at least for the sake of discussion, marriage is "one man and one woman," where does that leave me? Quite simply it leaves me with the alternative declaration that a man can have several marriages, while he and his spouse(s) live. Romans 7 entirely takes care of any supposition that a woman can have concurrent marriages. I can accept Woody's work and declare the above to be correct, it's just that he claims somewhere that this means "only" and that, is never said. Either marriage is defined as being open to the addition of several wives, or men are said to be morally capable without any sin of marrying several times concurrently. I can make my view easily fit with this argument, and so it is no argument at all.

Some will point out that it is wrong to marry siblings and I agree. Remember that this is a change, the sort of change Woody maintains can occur, and in this case, did occur. Whereas Seth marries a sister or another brother does, and Abram marries his half sister, we may not. The change is clearly laid out. There was no law, and men and women married freely it seems in and out of their families. Later there is a law. Leviticus 18:9:
"The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover."
There is no such passage regarding multiple wives. There are in fact passages that compel such relationships, even if they are mere side effects of obeying other laws. What are we to make of this?

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