Archive for June, 2012
Matt.19:3-12 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, 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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
A careful reading of the above discourse by Jesus on the unity of marriage will disclose a theme that is not only out of character with Jewish thought in the Old Testament, but also contrary to the actions of the God inspired patriarchs. Starting with Abraham who took Hagar as his second wife it becomes a common occurrence throughout the Old Testament for men to have multiple wives, which is totally at odds with the idea of becoming one flesh, as presented in Genesis and reiterated by Jesus. Also the phrase “the twain shall become one” only occurs once in the entire Old Testament. Polygamy is never frowned upon by the biblegod, but rather encouraged as in the case of Jacob with his four wives from whom the twelve tribes of Israel were born…conflicting greatly with the idea of one man, one woman equals one flesh. Anyone who is familiar with Scripture knows the account of Yahweh giving the wives of King Saul to David (2Sam.12:7-11) and then giving those same wives of David to his son Absalom to rape as punishment for David’s sins (2Sam.16:21-22), clearly showing Yahweh had no problem with multiple wives, adultery, or rape.
Another out of character theme touched upon by Jesus is the answer given to the query of the disciples “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” to which Jesus responded “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Implying that the best way for man is to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven, which again is contrary to the proclamation in Genesis 1 “Be fruitful and multiply”. Nowhere throughout the Old Testament is celibacy encouraged, even the priests were expected to marry, albeit within their own tribe. So, where did this idea of celibacy, and monogamy which was also promoted by Paul, enter into the biblical picture?
This passage in Matthew also conflates the idea of God creating male and female (chapter 1) with the reason that a man leaves his father and mother is to cleave to his wife (chapter 2). First off, the idea of God creating male and female in his image comes from Genesis 1:27 and says nothing of man and woman being joined together as one flesh in marriage which doesn’t occur until Genesis 2:24. Why Jesus conflated the two concepts and spoke of them as being one idea when it directly conflicts with the explicit biblical approval of polygamy I don’t know. Obviously it was news to the Pharisees who queried Jesus on the matter.
Another matter that comes to mind is that of divorce, in the same passage Jesus says that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of mans heart. The reality of the matter is that in Deuteronomy it says that God gave Moses all the laws including the one on divorce, so it wasn’t Moses who allowed divorce it was God who gave Moses that law. If that is the case then the claim by Jesus which says not one jot or tittle shall be changed from the law is also false, because Jesus changed the law on divorce from that of being acceptable to that of causing one to commit adultery. Did the biblegod whom Jesus claimed was his father, change his mind from that of permitting and encouraging multiple wives and divorce, to forbidding it lest you be called an adulterer? Just another point in my long list of reasons that show why the god of the bible cannot be who he is claimed to be.
Many Christians hold the teachings of Jesus to be of the highest value in promoting human rights and equality. I also fell into that category when I was a Christian, but upon closer scrutiny I now see that many of the teachings of Jesus have led to needless suffering. For example, the teaching of Jesus which says anyone who divorces and remarries is guilty of adultery, has caused untold suffering especially for women. Not only does it keep a woman locked into an abusive marriage, but if she is divorced (which under Jewish law men could do at will) she can never remarry.
Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
The Old Testament law was bad enough considering a man could divorce his wife at will, but at least she could remarry if her husband divorced her. Under the New Testament law proclaimed by Jesus, if a woman is divorced by her husband she is locked into remaining single for the rest of her life, or until her husband dies if she does not want to be accused of adultery. Even though this teaching also applies to men, it is much more harmful to women because according to the Bible women are to be in subjection to men, who in turn deny women equal opportunities to support themselves. Also, since men are deemed by god to rule over women, they can take away her children leaving the woman completely alone. So, in many ways the New Testament teaching on marriage has elevated the hardships women have to endure instead of decreasing them.