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Thursday, July 01, 2010

The World v Marriage

I've been "complaining" for years now that marriage is under attack. The first torpedo hit broadside when the 60's generation pushed "free love". Sex was no longer a marriage issue. But marriage is a big ship and it kept going. "They weren't really shooting at us" we told ourselves. The next hit was when "no fault" divorce became the norm. But marriage is a big ship and it kept going, lower in the water. "Really, it wasn't marriage who was the target" we told ourselves. Then, there was another sustained barrage culminating in California in 2008 trying to create a new version entirely of "marriage" by adding in same-sex relationships. The court itself, in approving the measure, recognized that marriage had a "longstanding tradition" of being solely between a man and a woman. The big ship, listing badly now, shuddered again. But they keep telling us, "We're not attacking marriage." And we believe them.

Now Newsweek comes out with a June 11, 2010, article titled 'I Don't' and subtitled "The case against marriage". Now, please, let's be reasonable. You may try to tell me that "free love" and "no fault" divorce and "same-sex marriage" are not actual attacks against marriage -- you may try to tell me that no one is attacking marriage at all -- but when the article is exactly "The case against marriage", can you really keep up that front?

From the authors, Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison, we read, "Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights." Of course, things have changed. "Marriage is — from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway — no longer necessary." To what do they ascribe this development? The feminist movement. And what has feminism provided that has obsoleted marriage? Well, today, "Women now constitute a majority of the workforce; we’re more educated, less religious, and living longer, with vacuum cleaners and washing machines to make domestic life easier. We’re also the breadwinners (or co-breadwinners) in two thirds of American families. In 2010, we know most spousal rights can be easily established outside of the law, and that Americans are cohabiting, happily, in record numbers. We have our own health care and 401(k)s and no longer need a marriage license to visit our partners in the hospital."

So, what is the case against marriage? Well, to start with, women don't need it anymore. They can do it all on their own. (The authors never explain how they can get "the fathers of their children to stick around", so apparently that is no longer of any importance.) It's clear that the primary purpose of marriage was financial security and legal rights. Now there is a new definition of marriage. (Do you see, by the way, that the flood of women in the workplace is considered one of the primary causes of the termination of marriage? What started largely as "We both need to work to provide for our family" has turned out to be one of the key assaults on the family.)

Another argument is the modern divorce rate. As everyone knows, it's up around 60% in America today. (That's a popular number you'll hear.) Now ... do you know where that number comes from? It's fairly simple and wholly flawed arithmetic. What you do is take the number of divorces in a year per 1000 people divided by the number of marriages in a year per 1000 people. In 2009, for instance, the marriage rate was 6.8 and the divorce rate was 3.4. Look! Do the math! That clearly tells us that the divorce rate in 2009 was 50%, right? Well, that's a loose and misleading number. If you calculate the number of people who have ever married against the number of people who have divorced, the rate drops to something more like 40%. Now, this it still an unacceptable rate, but it isn't the much-touted 50 or 60% rate you hear. You see, when you just count "marriages" and "divorces", you fail to take into account those people who divorce and remarry multiple times versus those who never divorce, and this skews the numbers. Now, the authors do make a good point: "When conservatives argue that same-sex couples are going to 'destroy' the 'sanctity' of marriage, we wonder, wait, didn’t we already do that?" (emphasis in original). Yes, we have.

There is another running theme inherent in their definition of marriage. You find it in phrases like "we’ll take reason over romance." In this definition, part of the definition of marriage is "romance". That puts a crimp in the need for marriage, doesn't it? I mean, you don't need marriage to find romance, and marriage does not insure that romance will last. (Hint: It won't.) Another reason they pile on for obsoleting marriage is "we identify as secular." It used to be bad to have kids out of wedlock. No more. It's all good. I mean, "in 2008, 41 percent of births were to unmarried mothers", so you surely don't need marriage for that anymore. The concept of "saving myself for marriage" is all but gone. (I knew a guy who did just that, and instead of congratulations, he was mocked.) One quote on this was from a 28-year-old male who said, "If I had to be married to have sex, I would probably be married, as would every guy I know." So that issue is dead. And we certainly don't need marriage to have legal rights anymore. "Thanks largely to the efforts of same-sex-marriage advocates, heterosexual couples have more unmarried rights to partnership now than ever."

I think the evidence is overwhelming. In the last 50 years a sustained and largely successful assault has been waged against marriage. It came from the "free love" advocates in the 60's who pushed at the need for sexual morality. It came from the feminists who pushed away any biblical sense of male and female roles. And, let's be clear, the desire of women to rule over men isn't a product of feminism. It isn't a new thing. Nor is it right. It is a direct product of the Fall. Every support holding marriage up has been eroded. It has been eroded by sexual immorality. It has been eroded by feminism. It has been eroded by "same-sex-marriage advocates". Let's face it; it has been eroded by sin. In fact, when marriage finally falls to the current onslaught of same-sex advocates, it won't be much to surrender. The genuinely sacred, God-given, male-female union used as the fundamental building block of the family, of society, of the human race is no longer acceptable -- even recognizable. It's outdated and unwanted. This ship is going down, and this, dear readers, is a slap in the face of God.

61 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

D'oh! I posted something that got lost.

Briefly, I was just noting that, other than a few outliers (like the two authors of the Newsweek article) on both the left and right, marriage (and along with it, fidelity, commitment, companionship) is nearly universally held up as the ideal to strive for. On ALL sides of the political and religious fences.

I know anecdotally, the only people I've ever met who were actively opposed to marriage have been straight conservative men who felt like they were "stung" by women and wanted only a libertine (not liberal) lifestyle. Also anecdotally, at our church and every progressive church I know, marriage is held up as an ideal and supported strongly and, as a result, we tend to have much fewer divorces than average.

As Ted Olson (lifelong conservative Republican from both the Reagan and Bush administrations) has stated...

"The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it."

This seems entirely logical to me.

And so I wonder: Who is it, exactly, (besides these two women and the conservative men I've met) you think wants to undermine marriage? And do you have any sources/quotes to support such a view?

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Who is it, exactly, ... you think wants to undermine marriage? And do you have any sources/quotes to support such a view?"

Who? Since marriage was instituted by God and is of such importance that He made it a constant image in both Old and New Testaments for His relationship with both Israel and the Church, I would guess that the one who wants to undermine marriage would be God's enemy -- Satan ... oh, and his minions, of course. I don't have sources or quotes you would accept because my master only hisses his commands in my ear at night to assault marriage.

Stan said...

Okay, that was just for fun. No, not entirely. It is my (silly, I know) belief that there is a genuine Satan and that Satan is opposed to the things of God. It is further my (bizarre) view that the world lies under Satan's power, you know, like he's some kind of "god of this world" or "prince of the power of the air" and they are blinded -- slaves to sin. So, in general, humans would be hostile to God and opposed to whatever He affirms.

In anecdotal terms, I'm surprised that you've only met two people opposed to marriage. I've met and heard a host of young people today who affirm "wisdom" like "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" or "They all end up in divorce anyway, so why bother?" or "What difference does a piece of paper make?" or "We don't need to marry when we can just live together." Have you really been so disconnected? And is it your view that "no fault divorce" is a friend of marriage?

In statistical terms, google "decline of marriage" and see what you find. Marriage ... is on the decline. This article claims, "[T]he national marriage rate has dropped 43 percent over the past four decades to its lowest point ever." This one links the problem to "money and culture." But when statistics like "41% of children born in this country today are born to single mothers" are available, it is very hard to argue that marriage is intact, robust, and doing fine.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, I agree, marriage has been having problems (you will note that I did not state that I thought marriage was doing just fine). I'm just noting that it's not because of a secret (or public) plot by "the liberals" and "the gays" to undermine marriage.

Mostly, I'd say that marriage is being undermined by selfishness and a lack of commitment to family, community and God.

More specifically:

Marriage is undermined when husbands (and sometimes wives) become physically abusive towards one another and their children.

Marriage is undermined when men cheat on their wives (and vice versa).

Marriage is undermined when some tell gay folk that they are evil and "can't" marry "cause it's not the way I believe God wants it."

Marriage is undermined when we lose commitment TO commitment and decide it's easier to be selfish and chase what we perceive to be best for us and to heck with the family, the community, the spouse and/or the children.

Marriage is undermined when people objectify their spouses, treating them as subjects to be bossed rather than partners to lovingly work with.

Many things undermine marriage and it's not limited to either liberal or conservative actions. This seems to me to be the only reasonable conclusion one could make, short of having some evidence of a plot to do away with marriage. And certainly not some plot by liberals and gays and the media.

That's all I'm saying.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "I'm just noting that it's not because of a secret (or public) plot by 'the liberals' and 'the gays' to undermine marriage."

Is there something I wrote that led you to believe that I was thinking it was a simple, silly plan by "liberals" or "gays"? Not in the least. If this plot didn't go much deeper and if it hadn't been going on so long as it has, "the gays" wouldn't even be an issue. It took years to erode marriage to the point that it could be linked with the word "gay". No, no, this "conspiracy" isn't some menial group of "liberals" or "gays". It's the product of an evil mastermind ... okay, the evil mastermind. And it's working.

What did I say to make you think I was pointing the blame at "liberals" or "gays"? (I'd have to think this is a reflection of an extremely low opinion of my intelligence.)

starflyer said...

I know I shouldn't be shocked when Dan posts...but I still am.

He's still so sure that "God designed men to be with men, or men with women...who cares? If you disagree, it's just your wrong opinion".

Ouch

Dan Trabue said...

What did I say to make you think I was pointing the blame at "liberals" or "gays"?

My bad, perhaps you're right. I saw you associating the perceived decline of marriage with feminism and gay marriage and thought you were blaming the gays and the liberals. But I see now that you were being broader than that.

My apologies.

As to your question...

And is it your view that "no fault divorce" is a friend of marriage?

I don't know that I have a strong opinion one way or the other on no fault divorce.

This fella's thoughts from this site...

In the United States, the availability of divorce has increased with unilateral divorce, which allows either member of the couple to dissolve the union. The change has been associated with lower rates of female suicide and domestic violence, and fewer wives murdered by their husbands. Unilateral divorce shifts the bargaining power to the person who is getting less out of the marriage and thus is most likely to leave. The partner getting more from the marriage has to work harder to keep the other person around, which can be good for the marriage and good for the couple. In other words, unilateral divorce benefits victims and potential victims.

When unilateral divorce was adopted, divorce rates rose sharply in the two years that followed, reflecting a pent-up demand for divorce. But after 10 years had passed, the divorce rate went back to normal or in some cases, compared with states without unilateral divorce, it had fallen further.

In fact, the divorce rate for married couples peaked in the United States in 1979, when it was 22.8 per thousand married couples per year. Since then it has continued to decline, reaching 16.7 divorces per thousand married couples in 2005.


I'm not sure that "no fault" divorce is a good thing, but I'm not sure that working to make divorce extremely difficult is a good thing, either. While perhaps more folk stayed married prior to the 1960s, I'm not convinced that they were consistently happy and healthy marriages.

Women being able to provide for themselves, to get their own jobs, to not HAVE to rely upon a husband has had countless positive results and I'm not longing to go back to the "good old days" before the 1960s. We may have had fewer divorces, but we had other problems.

I'm not amongst those that thinks the world is uniquely falling apart today. We've always had problems - it's inherent with a fallen and imperfect humanity. We just tend to change our problems over time.

I'm sure that's what is happening today with families and marriages.

Stacey said...

I live in Scotland. Scotland is a bastion of liberality, total-control politics, and the "nanny state." In fact, the nanny state, while telling us we cannot help our neighbours due to the possibility of a lawsuit, is also the forerunner for government support of all things aberrant (e.g., your tax money paying for the unwed teenage mother to have her baby, get paid for it, and be given a house, to boot). Marriage is completely mocked over here. I live in a village of 1800 people. Most of the adults are "co-habitating." The favourite word here is "partner." Everyone has a partner, but no one has a spouse. People are seriously opposed to marriage here because chances are, they will lose their state benefits. Anyway, in a village this small, everyone is related to everyone else, usually because of sleeping around. They all share mothers and fathers. The school system is a nightmare, trying to keep up with who is related to whom. So, if your commenters think marriage is not under attack -- think again. Europe is usually a bit ahead of America when it comes to all things liberal and bad. The UK, and Scotland in particular, has completely marginalized the Christian faith; churches are empty or up for sale; marriage is a relic of the past; and it is no big deal if a kid has no clue who his father is. Commonplace. And very scary.

My husband and I are Christians. We are mocked all the time. The people in this village are angry at us constantly, and all we are doing is living a quiet life, doing our best to keep marriage sacred. The sad thing is, if we slept around and hung out at the pub "religiously" every weekend, we would be completely welcomed and no one would say a word against us.

Your blog is right on about the ills of society, and my husband and I are living in a society that has long since thrown in the towel. Whatever view of the UK it is that Americans hold, I can tell you, it is antiquated and inaccurate. The UK is a mess. And UK culture is swimming in sin.

One final example: a radio ad for a product called IRN BRU. It is a high calorie, high sugar canned drink. The ad features a young man singing and whistling about his wonderful girlfriend, until she drinks his IRN BRU. Then, he tells us gleefully that she is a "numpty," (American equivalent: moron), but he's okay because now he's "shagging my girlfriend's mother." We complained to the appropriate authority here about this ad, and the response: it is totally in line with British culture and they see no reason to pursue our complaint.

Americans: if you want to see what could become of the country, look to the UK. It's a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who is it who wants to undermine marriage? Practically everybody these days.

Marshall Art said...

In discussions of homosex "rights", I've ofen been questioned on how, if they could be sanctioned by the state for marriage, my own marriage would suffer. My response was that I wasn't concerned with my marriage, but with the institution of marriage.

As you say, there is much that has been eroding the sanctity of the institution for a long, long time. Those examples Dan gives have not been a part of it, as they have been present in cultures for eons. But adultery, objectifying spouses, abuse, none of that had anything to do with the institution itself. Changing the definition of the word to mean the union of any combination and/or number of people DOES affect the institution. Changing the terms to mean that divorce for any reason is possible DOES affect the institution. Pretending that it isn't necessary for having and raising kids DOES affect the institution.

And indeed, there are activists amongst the homosexual community that do have the elimination of marriage as an agenda item. I've shown it in past posts at my blog as have others, and it looms large amonst the feminists. It does not within any conservative group of which I'm aware, though I'm sure some conservatives might not see the necessity.

I'm not impressed with anecdotes of liberal churches that NEVER display anything other than the utopian perfection of liberal fantasies.

Stan said...

To all,

Blogger appears to be having comment problems. If you try several times to post something, it gives me all of them. I'm trying to pick through duplicates and put in the comment you intended without the piles of duplicates. Forgive me if I don't succeed.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "I'm not sure that working to make divorce extremely difficult is a good thing."

I don't suppose Jesus's opinion on the subject matters much? "Times have changed. Move on"?

Dan Trabue: "Women being able to provide for themselves, to get their own jobs, to not HAVE to rely upon a husband has had countless positive results ..."

I suppose we'll have to differ on the definition of "countless positive results". "Positive results" like emasculating men, splitting apart families, putting more women to work. They have called this latest recession a "hecession" because more than 80% of the jobs lost were males. That's a good thing. Marriage was intended to be a "team" (you know, a union), and "women being able to provide for themselves" and "not have to rely upon a husband" is not a positive in my book. It is, in fact, listed in a recent article entitled The End of Men as one of the key reasons that males are on the decline. I suspect that your "countless positive results" could actually be numbered ... and they aren't close to "countless".

Stan said...

Stacey,

Thanks for the international perspective. I say "thanks" because it helps put things more clearly ... even though I'm not thankful that things are so bad. ;)

Stan said...

Marshall,

Feminist Marlene Dixon wrote, "The institution of marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women; it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained." This, in fact, has been a theme among radical feminists. Sheila Cronan argued that "Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage."

According to more than one study, "monogamy is not a central feature" of homosexual relationships including so-called "gay marriages". One article from Psychology Today (not a bastion of Christian or anti-gay views) pointed out the need to "ask what a couple means when they say they're monogamous" because often it means something different today.

Is there a "secret conspiracy" among "feminists" and "gays" to attack marriage? I'd say that's a bit over the top. Are there feminists and gays who attack marriage? I'd say that's a given. And, of course, they are far from the only ones to do so.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

I don't suppose Jesus's opinion on the subject matters much?

Did Jesus have something to say on abusive relationships within marriages? I'm not familiar with it, if he was.

Clearly, he was extremely concerned about the rights of women (for in his time and culture, there was no "safety net" outside of marriage and family - this is why protecting the rights of women within marriage was so vital). I'm not suggesting that Jesus has changed at all. Jesus' opinion matters greatly.

What some paternalistic sexists THINK Jesus might think matters less to me. (And, to be clear, I'm not talking about you, Stan, just those who ARE starting from a paternalistic and sexist point of view. I don't know you well enough to say that description fits you.)

Are there feminists and gays who attack marriage? I'd say that's a given.

Yes, I agree. It's a given that SOME feminists might denigrate marriage. Just as some conservatives do.

But feminists in general? Gays in general? I see no evidence to support such a wild claim and much evidence to the contrary.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

According to more than one study, "monogamy is not a central feature" of homosexual relationships including so-called "gay marriages".

Interesting. Tell a group of people throughout history that they are NOT part of polite moral society, that they do NOT belong in church, that their natural desires are evil and they can certainly NOT be married, mocking, abusing and killing them along the way, and then at the end of hundreds of years of such behavior, they don't take part in marriage and stable relationships as much.

Do you really find that surprising?

On the other hand, as marriage for all folk (gay and straight) becomes more normal and accepted, as abuse of gay and lesbian folk becomes less tolerated, at the end of dozens and hundreds of years of acceptance and tolerance, I suspect we will find that monogamy IS just as central a feature of gay relationships as with straight relationships.

Marriage is something to be celebrated. It is not going to harm any straight marriage to have gay folk marrying, nor is it going to harm the institution of marriage. I'd challenge anyone to present any credible evidence to the contrary.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Did Jesus have something to say on abusive relationships within marriages?"

Here, let's recap. You said, "I'm not sure that working to make divorce extremely difficult is a good thing." I responded, "I don't suppose Jesus's opinion on the subject matters much? Now you ask about Jesus's views on abusive relationships.

Jesus was very clear on His views on divorce. His view was "don't do it". His view was that if it happened, it was due to hard-heartedness. Now, we have matured here in the 21st century and we don't have to live in Jesus's 1st century, so maybe you think that Jesus's answer would be different today ... but He didn't offer "abusive relationships" as a good reason for divorce. And I wasn't talking about abusive relationships. I was talking about your notion that making divorce difficult was a bad idea.

Stan said...

Okay, Dan, we're clearly and completely on different pages here. I say that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and you ... don't. I say that marriage is intended to be a monogamous relationship and you ... don't. I say that marriage is intended primarily for creating a family (with offspring), and you ... don't. In none of this have I stated what you do say. I am simply saying that you deny every point of what I consider to be a basic definition of "marriage". I haven't said what you do say because, as far as I can tell, you don't have a basic definition of "marriage". You clearly don't care what genders are involved.You don't think that monogamy is a key component. You aren't opposed to divorce. (You may think it's a bad idea, but let's not make it too difficult, right?)

So ... help me out. What is your definition of marriage? I have to ask because it appears that on every aspect of what it is we disagree. I'm pretty clear that while I'm saying "blue" you're thinking "giraffe" -- that we are not using this word in any sort of a similar context. I'm not asking so I can argue it. I'm just saying that if I can't understand the word you're using, I won't understand what you're talking about.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

Jesus was very clear on His views on divorce. His view was "don't do it". His view was that if it happened, it was due to hard-heartedness.

And in reading his views on marriage in context, you see that Jesus was expressing concern for the marriage itself, but also for the woman, because IN HIS DAY AND CULTURE, women were too often dispossessed and robbed of their rights BY THE HARD-HEARTED MEN that Jesus was speaking to in these passages, of that which kept the women alive.

So, for Jesus in context, he was rightly concerned about divorce because it created hardships and oppression for women.

But Jesus did not say, "IF you are in a culture and time where women can provide for themselves and you find yourself in an otherwise oppressive marriage, don't get out of it." There is a time for everything. Generally, we ought to support marriage. IF, however, it becomes a travesty of marriage - abuse and oppression replacing love and devotion - then it is no marriage at all.

You don't really think Jesus would recommend people stay in oppressive situations, as a rule, do you? If so, then we DO disagree. I say oppressive, abusive marriages HARM the institution of marriage FAR more than any gay marriage ever would.

Dan Trabue said...

I say that marriage is intended to be a monogamous relationship and you ... don't.

Actually, I clearly do. Marriage is intended to be monogamous, faithful, just, loving, beautiful.

I hope that is clear, since I never would suggest polygamous relationships.

Stan...

I say that marriage is intended primarily for creating a family (with offspring), and you ... don't.

I say family is one reason for having a marriage, if by "family" you mean having children. But that is not the one and only or primary reason for marriage, at least I see nothing to suggest that.

When I married my wife, we became a family. I left my home and cleaved to her, making her my family - AND adding her to my original family AND being added to her original family.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Sure, I'm fine with that for what it actually says. But I don't see anything that suggests that gay folk can't also be part of such a loving arrangement. I don't see it (a gay exclusion), because it's just not there.

You appear to see this as suggesting ONLY men for women and you're welcome to view it that way, but it does not say that, it just doesn't. And so I would always return and ask: What moral, logical reason would you have for making such an exclusion?

Stan...

I haven't said what you do say because, as far as I can tell, you don't have a basic definition of "marriage".

One of the Merriam Webster standard definitions -

: the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage

and

an intimate or close union

I view marriage as the committed faithful relationship between two adults intent on living their lives together. Not any different than YOUR definition EXCEPT that in mine, I'm not excluding gay folk from the definition. Otherwise, it's just the same.

What possible reason would I have for excluding gay folk from such a wonderful institution?

Stan...

You don't think that monogamy is a key component.

Already cleared up this bad understanding, right?

Stan...

You aren't opposed to divorce. (You may think it's a bad idea, but let's not make it too difficult, right?)

I AM opposed to divorce, as a rule. It's just that the HARD-HEARTEDNESS of humanity sometimes creates situations wherein the "marriage" is a sham or not working out for some reasons and, as much as I am opposed to divorce as a rule, I am MORE opposed to abusive, oppressive "relationships" which are harming one or all parties involved.

Are you coming out in favor of remaining in bad "marriages"? Are you saying that if a woman finds herself in an abusive, oppressive marriage, she ought to remain in that marriage in order to "honor" marriage?

God forbid.

I think we understand one another. When I speak of marriage, I am speaking of wholesome, healthy, committed relationships/partnerships between two adults. Nothing hard to understand about that position.

My questions to you, then are:

1. Why would I possibly stand opposed to such a relationship?

2. Why would I possibly endorse remaining in an oppressive or abusive relationship?

3. How does such a relationship bring honor to marriage?

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "So, for Jesus in context, he was rightly concerned about divorce because it created hardships and oppression for women."

Wow! So this was a sexism thing, and Jesus was not arguing against divorce, but against meanness to women, and unfortunately in His day there was a real problem with heard-hearted men (but apparently not women) and that whole thing was aimed at women's rights. Never saw that before. Nice. Of course, you had to make some massive leaps in text, context, language, and intent, but I'm sure it all makes sense to you.

Dan Trabue: "If you are in a culture and time where women can provide for themselves..."

And we discover that Jesus's whole thing was a cultural thing and now that women have come into their own, it is no longer applicable. Of course, there is nothing in what He did say that suggests any of this, but you stick to that, okay?

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "I am speaking of wholesome, healthy, committed relationships/partnerships between two adults."

As I said, I wasn't asking for reasons of debate. I was asking for clarification. That makes things clear to me. A relationship between two minors cannot be a "marriage". A relationship between two adults that is not wholesome cannot be a "marriage". (You did, in fact, state that a marriage with abuse is no marriage at all.) A relationship that is not "committed" is not a "marriage". (We, of course, would have to whittle that down further to find out what you mean by "committed", for instance. I mean, I was reading about an entire atmosphere in the gay community that viewed "commitment" as "When you're here, we're together; when you're not, I can go do what I want with whomever I want." That would certainly fly in the face of what I call "commitment". Just an example.) I'm clear now. (Not in agreement, obviously, but clear.)

Dan Trabue: "Why would I possibly stand opposed to such a relationship?"

Well, why indeed? You're talking about something different than I am. (I know you think your definition is the same as mine, but it's not.) (By the way, that definition of marriage that you included was really hilarious. "The institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage." In other words, "marriage" is "the institution of marriage".)

Dan Trabue: "Why would I possibly endorse remaining in an oppressive or abusive relationship?"

Why would you ask? I don't remember saying "Women in oppressive or abusive relationships must remain in that condition." And you know what's funny? You accused me of being too narrow-minded (my word, not yours) over that whole "redemptive violence" thing. You were saying that there are other options besides violence. And now here you are arguing that the only valid option for a person in an abusive relationship is -- violence to marriage (divorce). Kind of ironic, isn't it?

Dan Trabue: "How does such a relationship bring honor to marriage?"

This question eludes me. I thought you were defining "marriage" as "such a relationship". But, here, just for the sake of an attempt at answering, using an outlandish example (that is, I'm not making a comparison here, but a contrast), let's assume that a woman and her cat enjoy a "wholesome, healthy, committed relationship". No, let's go farther. They are absolutely committed to each other. She sees no other cats. The cat will tolerate only her presence. They genuinely care for each other. There is no oppression, no abuse, not even a single fight. Now, doesn't such a relationship bring honor to marriage? If not, why not?

(By the way, nothing in your definition precludes polygamy. Since marriage is not defined as being between a man and a woman and doesn't have to be monogamous (I know ... you said "Marriage is intended to be monogamous", but when I pointed out that a significant portion of the gay community doesn't care much about monogamy as it is normally understood, you said, "Do you really find that surprising?" and suggested, vaguely, that if we tell them what they're doing is perfectly normal that this, somehow, will make them return to a concept that modern heterosexuals are eliminating -- monogamy), I cannot imagine on what grounds you would protest polygamy.)

Bottom line: You and I are indeed using the word "marriage" in two different ways. Since you mean something different than I do, obviously we won't be making sense of what the other says.

Naum said...

Another post in the vein of "let's go back to the good 'ol days".

But the "good 'ol days" weren't so good:

* if you were a women, until last century or so, you were considered "property" and a man totally controlled all — while society mores softened in this regard, legal checks still existed to enforce such a relationship well into the 20th century.

* again for a woman, increase in divorce can be attributed to (a) economic affordances that rendered a woman completely dependent upon her husband; now, she can flee an abusive (or for an unjustified cause) marriage and likely be able to support herself (and children) economically, and (b) technology advances, primarily birth control pill

* the Hebrew Bible|Old Testament sanctions polygamous relationships. And for most of human history, polygamy was the model for marriage, and even in Christian morality, it's not until nearly 500-100 years AD where one man-one woman is codified.

/puzzled over these posts, as you've reacted harshly to the "fundamentalist" tag, yet I find it hard not to see it on display here. Are you really advocating that we need to return to an age where women are considered 2nd class humans? Where racism ruled? Where a woman over 40 was considered old and decrepit, as opposed to opportunities today?

One constant is traditionalists lament the changing world (and the world advances in exponential jumps, not always a smooth slope, but definitely in the aggregate, at a "Moore's Law" pace). As I've posted here before (and on other online abodes), things are much better today than ever before — less violence, greater comforts, quality of life, especially for the weak and disabled, etc.…

…yet some still are so gripped by ignorance.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

Of course, you had to make some massive leaps in text, context, language, and intent, but I'm sure it all makes sense to you.

I don't believe there's any leap in text OR context at all. In fact, it is exactly textual and contextual clues that lead to these conclusions.

Are you not familiar that in the context of that time that women were an oppressed and hard-pressed group?

I'm no expert myself, I only know what I read from those more learned than myself on context.

My understanding is that the very reason that Jesus was so opposed to divorce was because men of the day would divorce their wives with little or no reason, to "trade her in for another model" or whatever. The problem with this was that women had few rights, little wherewithal with which to support themselves and a divorced woman would suddenly become a pariah, often reduced to begging or prostitution or somehow scraping by in a society that treated women like chattel.

Some sources

here

"Since women were considered the property of men, a man could divorce his wife at the slightest whim; on the other hand, a woman could not divorce her husband. Jesus rejected this double standard in His discourse on marriage and divorce. He also rejected the notion that women are the property of men."

or...

here

Does your understanding of the context and history of the times tell you otherwise? Whatever your views or who your sources are on context, clearly it is MY understanding that this is the case. I am not trying to "defend" divorce, I am striving to get at the meaning of the teachings.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

Of course, there is nothing in what He did say that suggests any of this, but you stick to that, okay?

Actually, I think there's a great deal in what he did say and the context (again) that suggests all of this, and thus, that is why I believe it. BECAUSE of what scripture says, not in spite of it, as you seem to be suggesting.

Stan...

And now here you are arguing that the only valid option for a person in an abusive relationship is -- violence to marriage (divorce).

Divorcing an abusive person is not violence. Not close.

Beyond that, it does a disservice and is offensive to the victims of violence to suggest that leaving and divorcing an abuser is somehow equivalent to violence.

Please, be serious.

Stan...

You and I are indeed using the word "marriage" in two different ways. Since you mean something different than I do, obviously we won't be making sense of what the other says.

ONLY insofar as you are precluding homosexual folk from participating. Otherwise, we are talking about the same thing, whether you realize it or not: A faithful, committed, monogamous partnership between two responsible adults. That IS the same. Exactly.

Comparisons (or "contrasts," if you prefer) of gay folk to cats, notwithstanding.

Thus, I have NO problems whatsoever understanding what you mean by marriage and you have no reason for not understanding what I mean by marriage. There's no rational reason why you should have any problems understanding my meaning. It's quite clear.

Stan said...

Naum: "Another post in the vein of 'let's go back to the good 'ol days'."

Well ... um ... if "marriage matters" and "marriage is on the decline" is "Another post in the vein of 'let's go back to the good 'ol days'," I plead guilty. I have to assume, if that's the case, that your view is "marriage doesn't matter" and "Why would anyone think, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that marriage is on the decline?"

Naum: "Are you really advocating that we need to return to an age where women are considered 2nd class humans? Where racism ruled? Where a woman over 40 was considered old and decrepit, as opposed to opportunities today?"

Naum ... little hint here ... assigning such stupid claims to what I wrote is not helpful in making your point. You started with the premise that marriage has always been opression to women and the biblical model of marriage is stupid. If anything, it is you who is positing that marriage ought to be abolished, that marriage can only be part of "an age where women are considered 2nd class humans", that marriage requires racism or ageism.

You have always maintained that marriage is a sliding definition that means "evil oppression of women" at one end and "some generic relationship without any real definition" at the other. You have always maintained that part of the definition of marriage has been the way people treat each other (oppression), the limitation of racial interaction (racism), and the oppression of women. I have always maintained not that "the old days were better", but that marriage has a simple definition that has quite recently changed to something that, well, really means very little at all. Since you see my call to return to what the courts refer to as "the longstanding traditional definition" of marriage as a bad thing (i.e., the courts recognize that the basic, longstanding, traditional definition of marriage is "man and woman"), I can only conclude that you believe with the authors of the article I referenced that marriage is an outdated, useless proposition. Nothing at all to do with fundamentalism or a call for the good 'ol days.

Just for reference, misrepresenting what the views of those with whom you disagree doesn't go very far in making your case.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Does your understanding of the context and history of the times tell you otherwise?"

Interesting use of the "false dilemma" fallacy. Either the text means what you say it does because of "the context and history of the times", or the context and history of the times makes it mean something different. Poor Jesus. Unclear on the fact that He would be quoted. And the authors that quoted Him didn't bother to give us the necessary context and history of the times to understand what He meant. Too bad. Fortunately, today we have a clearer idea.

No, I am not referencing the context and history of the times. I am referencing the context of the text. I can see how the context and history of the times might enhance the meaning of the text, but your version changes it. To me, if Jesus intended to say, "You guys are failing to understand marriage and mistreating women", He could have easily said it. Instead He said, "What God has joined together let no man separate." I don't see how the context and history of the times changes the meaning of that position.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

To me, if Jesus intended to say, "You guys are failing to understand marriage and mistreating women", He could have easily said it.

So, are you saying you're NOT familiar with the context of the times and culture?

I am pretty sure you agree with me that in order to understand the TEXT, you really need to strive to understand the CONTEXT.

I mean, Jesus could easily have SAID that slavery is wrong, but he never did. NOT ONCE. If we rely ONLY upon the text, then we might have to agree with southern slaveholders that the Bible (and therefore, God) is okay with slavery.

God forbid!

Jesus COULD have talked about nuclear war, about polygamy, about marriage for all people, gay and straight, but he didn't. The Bible records God's revelation to the people of the day that the stories were told/written.

In that day, it was apparently not time to speak of ending polygamy, of ending slavery, of ending sexism. But that doesn't mean WE can't or oughtn't, right?

Naum said...

for many religious conservatives the past is much like the present, they must think, with the exception that people in olden times had different hairdos, talked funny, and wore strange clothes. besides minor changes in wardrobe, hair, and speech, they imagine, the circle is unbroken. this inability to understand change over time is a basic blind spot. whether talking about the inerrancy of scripture or the original intent of the founders, what’s missing is a real appreciation for historical processes or an understanding of the uniqueness of the past.

"marriage" is a prime example. historians would appreciate that marriage in nineteenth century US is really not the same as marriage in the 21st century US. ~150 years ago a woman’s legal identity was an extension of her husband’s. she was a dependent. one example — before 1848 (in NY) a married woman lost the right to control any property owned before the union. a woman could not acquire land in her own name. neither could she make contracts or bring a lawsuit into court. late in the century women gained greater property rights, but full legal equality in marriage would take decades to achieve. add to that, state laws could dictate who could marry whom well into the 20th century.

marriage gets more complicated, foreign, bizarre in contemporary eyes the further one looks back. in the OT Jacob had 4 wives. David’s 8 wives are named, but he had many more. I Kings describes the amorous solomon, who “loved many strange women, together with the daughter of pharaoh, women of the moabites, ammonites, edomites, etc.…." he took 700 wives and 300 concubines. wives and women in general were subject to a range of bronze age laws. codes and regulations for concubines, spelled out in Exodus 21:7-11, are a whole other matter.

today, women are no longer property to be hoarded by kings or jealous leaders of tribes. a historical context is either ignored or lost on advocates of "traditional" marriage.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

I can see how the context and history of the times might enhance the meaning of the text, but your version changes it.

Seems to me exactly that it enhances it. What change?

It's like Naum mentioned with polygamy: The TEXT endorses polygamy. The TEXT nowhere condemns polygamy. The TEXT has God saying he gave David his many wives.

But the CONTEXT helps enhance our understanding. The CONTEXT is that polygamy was not considered a bad thing at the time, it was normative for the culture.

But today, we have the audacity to think we know better? Well, yes. We think (generally, most of us) that monogamy is preferred over polygamy.

We've had our understanding of the text enhanced by understanding the context and understanding that just because it was normative for that culture, does not mean that it is an ideal to strive for in our lives.

Stan said...

Look, Naum, why do we do this dance?

You believe that "marriage" is a moving target that is defined by how people treated each other. To me, that makes absolutely zero sense. Here. Let me illustrate. Let's say a guy walks into a bank, pulls out a gun, and robs the bank. Now, another guy walks into a bank, hands the teller a note that he has a bomb, and robs the bank. A third guy walks into a bank and cons the teller out of money. How would you define these three guys? They would be defined as "bank robbers". How they robbed the bank differed widely. That doesn't change the fact that they were bank robbers. The basic definition of what they did was to rob a bank. How they went about it differed. It doesn't change the definition.

Through time marriage has been the union of man and woman. It has never been the union of man and man, man and dog, man and tree, or anything else. Sometimes that man married another woman, but that is STILL a union of a man and a woman. Sometimes that man didn't treat that woman well, but it was never something beside man and woman. There was a bad time when the race of the people involved mattered, but whether or not a black man married a white woman, it was always a union of a man and a woman. At no time in history has it ever been anything else. How those marriages were carried out, consummated, practiced, etc. did not change the original definition. No matter how they went about it -- which certainly differed in time -- it didn't change the definition. You are.

Stan said...

No, Dan (and Naum), you're right. The Bible isn't as clear as I'd believed it to be. I'm not as bright as I thought I would. Despite my basic reading skills, there is a whole lot more that goes into this doggone Bible-reading stuff that I'll never understand. The simple fact is that the Church throughout all of history has never properly understood it -- they took it in the way it was written. And here I am perpetuating that error. Fortunately you folks are here to correct the 20 centuries of mistaken understanding. Thanks for helping me see the light. Marriage is fine (as long as we define it away) and homosexuals are fine (as long as we don't read our Bibles as they're written) and historic Christian doctrines have never been so well off as they are today with modern liberalism to clear the path of all genuine meaning. Got it now. Thanks.

End sarcasm.

(Sorry. The number of comments are getting overwhelming and I just don't have time to respond properly so let me just say ... you're wrong. Good. All settled.)

Dan Trabue said...

No matter how they went about it -- which certainly differed in time -- it didn't change the definition. You are.

But Stan, wouldn't you agree that "changing the definition" is sometimes a good thing?

Black folk were defined as 3/5 human and unworthy of voting.

Women were defined as the property of the men in their lives.

Those definitions CHANGED, and rightly so.

Sometimes change IS a good thing, I'm sure you agree on the concept.

Similarly, sometimes tradition is a bad thing. Just because "we've always done it that way" is not evidence that the traditional way is right.

I'm sure you agree on that concept, as well.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

you're wrong. Good. All settled.

If you're ready to quit, that's fine. Sorry to overwhelm you with so many responses.

If possible, though, could I get just one clarification from you, regarding text and context?

You had said at one point...

No, I am not referencing the context and history of the times. I am referencing the context of the text. I can see how the context and history of the times might enhance the meaning of the text, but your version changes it.

You aren't suggesting, are you, that what THE READER THINKS a text means (or perhaps "obviously means" to him) trumps what he might learn from context and extra consideration of the point given a variety of inputs?

You agree, don't you, that context is very important to understanding text and to write off context if WE PERCEIVE it to be conflicting with text, that this is not good biblical exegesis, right?

I'm pretty sure we agree on that point, I just wanted to clarify.

Thanks.

Marshall Art said...

I've got a few moments...

To say that the Bible, or God rather, "endorses" polygamy is a stupid and unsupportable statement. God gave David multiple wives? Well, there are two simple and obvious responses to this lamebrained attempt at reasoned thought. First, God had given David everything that was Saul's. Everything included Saul's wives. It wasn't a sanctioning of polygamy. And considering Dan tried the lame notion that Jesus was concerned about the plight of a divorced woman over the vow that was taken before God, as well as the adultery that would likely follow the divorce, to think that God would hand over to David everything Saul's many wives and leave them to fend for themselves, is a complete contradiction, and a senseless one at that.

The second problem is that though God might have "given" David all of Saul's wives, he also "gave" divorce and rules for it to His chosen people. But neither is "sanctioned" in any way. They were tolerated because of the hard-hearted people with whom He was dealing.

God's plan was ALWAYS one man/one woman. This is absolutely crystal clear to anyone who truly studies Scripture to find out what God's will is, rather than to find loopholes to allow their own will.

Furthermore, homosex marriage is absolutely excluded in God's plan by virtue of the fact that He says "a man will leave his mother and cleave unto his wife". He does not say, "a person will leave its mother and cleave unto another person. And for one who speaks of context, Dan well knows that the context of those times precludes any other defintion of "wife" but "woman married to a man".

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Stan, wouldn't you agree that 'changing the definition' is sometimes a good thing?"

Again, "false dilemma" fallacy. I said nothing at all about keeping all things the same. Indeed, changing definitions is just fine with me ... as long as they're man-made. This one is not. This one is a biblical definition from Genesis 2 on. It is held throughout the Bible and throughout history. More importantly, God considers it important. He uses it over and over in His explanation of His relationship with Israel and Christ's relationship with the Church. (He considers fidelity of ultimate importance.) There are many instructions to God's people about marriage. Many of them are gender-related -- aimed at "husband" and "wife". Biblically, gender roles are not identical. Husbands are asked to do different things from wives. All of this works together to say that 1) the Bible defines the concept of marriage, 2) it's important to God, and 3) it is a union of man and woman exclusively.

Want to redefine "automobile" to mean "a flying machine that is powered by squirrels"? Go ahead. No problem. Tradition didn't define marriage. God did. Redefining God's concepts isn't a wise thing at all.

Stan said...

Dan, you keep using words in a different sense or shade of meaning than I do. "Marriage" means something different to me than to you. And here you're referencing "context" in a different sense than I am. And, as it turns out, you are using a different set of rules of hermeneutics than I do. Your two rules are "What is the cultural/historical context of the passage?" and "What does it mean to me?" Mine are not the same. I read the Bible for what it says. (That sounded really superior, didn't it? Not intended that way. I mean that as long as it makes sense in a literal fashion, I read it in a literal fashion.) (Of course, by "literal" I mean "as written". History as history, doctrine as doctrine, poetry as poetry, that sort of thing.) Context (textual context) determines meaning. Scripture interprets Scripture. The explicit interprets the implicit. Scripture must always agree with Scripture. A completely different approach from yours.

Now, let's imagine that I find a group of, I don't know, say Chinese who have received Christ as their Savior and are anxious to learn the Word. I give them a Chinese Bible and they go to it. If you are correct and the historical and cultural contexts are required to understand what it says, then they might as well put it down and give it up. This group of people wasn't told what Palestine was like in Jesus's day. They'll read that extremely misleading passage and, attempting to be followers of Christ, incorrectly understand it ... as it was written. You know, not as it was meant (an assault on sexism, racism, men, that sort of thing).

Yes, context determines meaning, but the context that I'm talking about is the context that is available. The context you're talking about requires higher learning, a vast historical database (that I'm pretty sure no one but our day has had) and all sorts of tools not available to many people. So I'm suggesting that a reader should read the text for what it says, taking into account the textual context and the whole of Scripture and come to a reasonable understanding.

Marshall Art said...

Another point or two, especially considering Dan's latest.

First, regarding Dan's links, a cursory look reveals the first to have much that is projected upon the verses that the verses don't suggest. One example is the verse regarding the woman who blesses Jesus' mother. (Luke 11:27-28) The author suggests that Jesus didn't like the blessing for how (supposedly) it was based on women's role at the time as a mother. In other words, the author saw that as a reason for Jesus' rebuke. But the text doesn't suggest a rebuke so much as a correction or better alternative: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." There's no suggestion that Jesus saw the blessing of the woman in a sexist way, but only that He suggested to her something more blessed. To put it in another way, a better reason why His mother might be blessed than for the mere task of birthing and nursing Him.

Indeed, most (if not all) of Jesus concern in His preaching had little to do with the culture as it was how the people of the culture could better follow God's laws for the sake of their everlasting souls. I submit that the tribulations of any woman whilst living means nothing against the salvation of her soul. I submit that He'd likely be more concerned that she weather the abuse of a mean husband than to break her vow to God to remain faithfully married.

"Black folk were defined as 3/5 human and unworthy of voting."

That was not a true definition. The definition hasn't been changed, it's been corrected. You're looking to change the definition of marriage to allow for homosex relationships, which would be the same as saying blacks are 3/5 of a person. It would be corrupting the definition.

"Just because "we've always done it that way" is not evidence that the traditional way is right."

Fortunately in this case, it IS right because the man/woman definition is how God planned it.

As to context, you assume outside data MUST mean the Bible's teachings mean something that it doesn't. You must have some parallel in the Bible itself to outside circumstances to even assume the "context of the time and place" can guide interpretation. You show routinely that what you use to show context is subjective. Such subjectivity cannot be a guide as it allows for millions of possibilities based on the reader. That is NOT good Biblical understanding. It's creating for one's self what one prefers to believe over what one should believe.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

Your two rules are "What is the cultural/historical context of the passage?" and "What does it mean to me?"

Says who?

Would you mind if I spoke for myself, rather than you guessing what my rules are?

Perhaps you will recall that I've offered a review of my hermeneutics. They include interpret scripture with scripture, the obscure through the clear, the individual through the whole, the whole through the words of Jesus? Remember?

So, no, those are not my "two rules." They are part of a larger set of criteria.

Which is why I asked you (and now repeat):

You aren't suggesting, are you, that what THE READER THINKS a text means (or perhaps "obviously means" to him) trumps what he might learn from context and extra consideration of the point given a variety of inputs?

You reference (rightly) that your interpretation is not limited to just what one passage says, but what it says in reference to the whole Bible. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But you aren't ruling out what you might learn from cultural context in favor of textual context, are you?

We take ALL these criteria (individual vs whole, clear vs obscure, whole through Jesus, text vs context, the text vs our reasoning, etc) in order to come to the best possible understanding of God's Word, right?

Or, is it truly limited, for you, to just what you think the text says and what the text says as compared to the rest of the text?

If the latter, do you see how this might limit exegesis to one person's very subjective opinion and the problems inherent to such limitations?

Dan said...

"This ship is going down,"

And the last protrusion will slip beneath the oily surface amongst the cheers of those who do not realize that life as they know it, the freedoms, prosperity, and security with which they have grown so accustomed, are all tethered to it. What hell people are willing to pour onto themselves in their feeble and futile attempts to escape judgement by proclaiming themselves judge.

Marshall Art said...

In addition, and I hoped to express this a bit earlier before I deleted my own comment (I think...I'm not really sure I did), using the "context" of the times and place would also have to align with what is written in order for it to be used credibly. Some, like Dan, like to refer to customs of ancient Israel's neighbors in order to define a verse that makes absolutely no reference to either what those customs actually were, or if the verse was even meant to refer to those customs. Another has to do with how ancient people wrote their histories and the assumption, that is never supported in any way, that OT authors MUST have written in the same way. Still another can be the translation of an ancient word that often has multiple meanings. The text will determine the meaning intended by finding other uses of the word and comparing.

"Black folk were defined as 3/5 human and unworthy of voting."

That was not only an incorrect definition, it is not even "definition" in the manner we're discussing. The word "person" includes those of the black race. The word "marriage" excludes any combination of people beyond one man with one woman. Even if "black folk" was then defined as "people equal to whites who can vote", that would not be a complete definition, so as usual, your anology fails.

Stan said...

Asked ...
Dan Trabue: "Which is why I asked you (and now repeat) ..."

... and answered:
So I'm suggesting that a reader should read the text for what it says, taking into account the textual context and the whole of Scripture and come to a reasonable understanding.

But you would say, "No". You would say, "To truly understand the Bible, you need a modern comprehension of 1st century times and culture. Without that, the Bible will not be properly understood. It was written in those times for those people and things have changed. You have to know that to understand." I'll tell you what, though. You do make a good argument for the Catholic idea that people shouldn't be interpreting the Bible. Leave it to those who have the necessary historical and cultural context. Casual, off-the-street readers don't have the skills or knowledge to properly understand that "What God has joined together let no man separate" actually meant "In today's culture, men mistreat their wives. They need to be more loving and caring. Fortunately, 2000 years from now women will finally be treated right, won't need their husbands anymore, and all of this will be pointless."

But, look, Dan, you've proven my point. Marriage has always had a definition. Only now, in the latter part of the 20th and first of the 21st centuries, do we decide to change that definition. You agree with changing that definition. You explain away any biblical definition I offer. You concur that marriage (the union of a man and a woman) should be done away, at least in the sense of eliminating the need for offspring as a basic component and certainly for eliminating the restriction of "man and woman". My claim was that marriage was on the decline, and you have suggested that it ought to be -- change it to your definition.

This post was not about biblical interpretation. It wasn't even about divorce. End of discussion. Move on.

Mike said...

I think one of the problems is that no one takes "For better or for worse" seriously... Maybe we need to change the vows to "for better and for me". That way, it caters more to the greedy people who just see marriage as something to benefit themselves and themselves only and as soon as it is no longer making them happy, they can leave. After all, our purpose in life is to please ourselves and be happy. Right?
so much for commitment.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

But you would say, "No". You would say, "To truly understand the Bible, you need a modern comprehension of 1st century times and culture.

Again, brother Stan, I would ask that you not presume to state what I am thinking and, rather, let me speak for myself.

I would say that IF we are interested in best understanding the Bible, THEN we ought to try to read it as fully and with as much input and background as possible.

I think there is some value (and some danger) in simply reading the Bible and taking it literally for what it says. If that's all you can do, there is some value to it.

I think there is even greater value in reading the Bible and comparing the text of the individual with the text of the whole. And if that's all you can do, then there is some value to that.

I think there is even GREATER value in reading the Bible and comparing the text of the individual to the text of the whole and specifically with the teachings of Jesus. There is greater value still in learning a bit about the language that it was written in ("when the Bible says "Messiah," what did that mean in the original language?", for instance). There is greater value still in learning a bit about the context of the times and a bit about the writing styles and tools that would likely have been used.

I'm saying we need our logic to do all of this, logic given to us by God to be used.

THAT is what I'm asking you: Do you disagree with all of this and would you stick to just comparing text to text and let that be the extent of your biblical studies OR do you think we are well-served by studying with all the tools and resources at our disposal - including our own God-given reasoning?

That's my question. I'm sorry if I have not phrased it in such a way as to make myself clear to you, hopefully now I have.

And please, in your response, don't say, "but YOU, Dan, think..." and offer up some wild hunch about what I think unless it's what I have said. You're not doing a very good job of guessing what I think.

And if you wish to move on, so be it, but please post this comment so as to clear up the false impression you had - just in case others read what you are saying and presume that you are correct about my position.

Thanks.

starflyer said...

Wow, that was interesting...I used to think that at least they were sincere. But now I'm am convinced that 2 of the 4 commenters here are fully aware of their rebellious attitudes towards God and are just trying to take others down with them. Keep up the good work Stan, someday your reward (from the Lord) will be great. They don't hate you, they hate God.

Luke 6:22 - 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

You are preaching truth...and it is being rejected.

Dan Trabue said...

sf...

now I'm am convinced that 2 of the 4 commenters here are fully aware of their rebellious attitudes towards God and are just trying to take others down with them.

Assuming you consider me one of the "evil 2," why? Because I disagree with you? I am a Christian saved by God's grace striving to follow in my savior's steps. I fully understand that you and I and others disagree on some issues, but why do you have to make it that those who merely disagree with you are actually rebelling against God?

You DO understand the difference between disagreeing with a fellow Christian on a point and actively trying to rebel against God? I'm honestly curious: What in the world have I said that makes you think folk like me are actively trying to rebel? I don't see anything that would even begin to suggest that.

Dan Trabue said...

And Starflyer, I don't hate Stan. I don't hate you.

I rather like you both, in fact.

However, while I like you all, I don't think you all have such a good track record of guessing my/our motives or understanding my/our words.

I would wonder, too, where you get the idea that I hate Stan?

Some Christians seem almost phobic to disagreement (and by suggesting that, I'm not suggesting that I hate you or anything, just to be clear - I'm just trying to figure out why you assign such sinister meaning to my disagreeing with Stan).

Mike said...

Dan Trabue -
I think the problem is when you say we disagree because we have "different views"... (regarding Starflyer's comment...), people tend to assume you disagree with God's views. See, God's views aren't just whatever we decide they are based on our own opinions. God's views are solid and they don't change. They also aren't open to interpretation. Some things in the bible aren't crystal clear to us. Like much of Revelation for example. But mostly that sort of stuff isn't critical doctrine and doesn't matter when it comes to things like our salvation... but one of the hot topics you are always engaged in is the subject of homosexuality. Homosexuality, like adultery, fornication, etc... is very clearly something that God is against. (Not BEING gay, but acting on the desires that being gay produce. Being gay isn't a sin. Just like being an alcoholic isn't a sin. but giving in to the fleshly desires that both of those two abnormalities produce, is quite clearly a sin. - It's all part of what happened in the Fall). You really have to twist scripture an awful lot to change the meaning of verses like Romans 1:27... (there's many more of course, but that's one of the very obvious ones that comes to mind.)
So when you're saying we have a difference of opinion on matters such as gay marriage, what you're really saying is that you and God have different opinions on that. Don't worry about what I think or Stan thinks or Starflyer thinks. Worry about what Gods thinks and don't try to change it to fit your ideas of what a loving God should be. God is very clear who He is and what is right and wrong. Remember, He created right and wrong, so He gets to say what it is, not us. Regardless of our opinion. You having a different opinion than God does on matters of homosexuality is what Starflyer is talking about when he says you are rebellious.

Naum said...

Whenever I hear someone talk about the biblical view of marriage, the biblical view of child rearing, or the biblical view of God, I wonder which biblical view they’re referencing. A good number of Bible verses recommend polygamy, an arrangement most people don’t have in mind when they speak in hallowed tones about the biblical view of marriage. We tend to root around in Scripture until we find a verse that supports our preference, then crown our view the biblical one, even when other verses contradict it.

Stan said...

Naum: "A good number of Bible verses recommend polygamy ..."

Interesting. I've read my Bible for years and years and haven't found the ones you're talking about. I've read about people who had multiple wives (a statement of fact), but I haven't found the ones that "recommend polygamy". Please be sure to give me some of those references so I can see them, too. (Question for all those who argue that the Bible "favors" polygamy and point to 2 Sam 12:8 as proof ... does "I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah" mean that God gave David Saul's wives (the record indicates he had only one) to marry, or into David's possession (to care for) ... you know, like the house and the kingdom?)

Naum, does the Bible "recommend" polygamy, or, like divorce, does it tolerate it "because of the hardness of your heart"?

Naum said...

@Stan,

In my study, it appears that an overwhelming consensus of bible scholars (even if we strike out the secular/non born-again/Christian) are in agreement that OT indeed sanctions polygamy. No ancient interpreter would have presumed otherwise. Even faculty at a conservative Baptist seminaries have instructed as such.

Stan said...

Naum,

It was a simple question. I have seen that the Bible speaks of polygamy (obviously). I have not seen where the Bible recommends (your word) polygamy. I don't find a "thou shalt not" for polygamy, but neither do I find "thou shalt". I see protections given to women, but I don't find "this is a recommended procedure". I see that people did it, but I don't see that God liked it. "Sanctions" is a vague word. I asked you for some references for those "good number of Bible verses" that "recommend polygamy". Simple request.

(I do all this ignoring the fact that I have repeatedly said that "polygamy" is not part of the definition of marriage. If it was, then Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and so many others were not married. I illustrated with various methods of robbing a bank, explaining that method does not define the event. You choose to ignore this. That's your choice. But how one goes about conducting a marriage is not the definition of a marriage.)

von said...

(second attempt)

The word 'sanction' does not mean 'recommend' it means something closer to 'allow' or 'allow for'.

I didn't read all of the comments but one thing I didn't see was that marriage is meant to represent the union of Christ and the church. As such divorce and Sodomy are forbidden as blasphemy... not merely because of any damaging effects they might have on marriage.

von said...

Groups attacking marriage:
Marriage and Sodomy are opposites, thus all promoting Sodomy are attacking marriage.
Premarital sex and marriage are opposites; thus all promoting premarital sex are attacking marriage.
Divorce and marriage are opposites: thus everyone promoting divorce is attacking marriage.
Women working and marriage are opposites; thus everyone promoting women working (outside the home) is attacking marriage.

A few, small, groups. More available upon request.

von said...

>>Marriage is undermined when some tell gay folk that they are evil and "can't" marry "cause it's not the way I believe God wants it."

I suppose marriage is also undermined when we oppose (alongside of Sodomy) theft, murder, rape, adultery, and adultery. Oh, and idolatry, perjury... the list is endless, really.

starflyer said...

Dan T., sorry I was out for a while and just got back to reading the blog today. I think Mike summed up pretty well what I was trying to say. I'll leave it at that...I think Stan has moved on to other discussions.

David said...

By the way Dan T, women in Jesus' time did have a 'safety net' for when their husbands died. Its called being taken care of by the rest of the husband's family.

von said...

Check out:

http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2010/07/massachusetts-federal-district-court.html

Stan said...

Interesting (read "sad") stuff. So Congress only passed DOMA "to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves." And the federal government doesn't have the right to determine to whom it gives federal funds. So States have the right to demand funds from the federal government on their own terms, but they do not have the right to enforce federal law.

So marriage takes another hit from society.

At what point do we determine, as the founding fathers of America did, that this government has become too evil to continue? (Rhetorical question.)

von said...

Again, the problem is that we have allowed the state to trample outside of it's jurisdiction.

Stan said...

And people are still equivocating on whether or not the world has targeted marriage.

von said...

In the battle of the world vs the family, a new organization has risen up. Check out heritagedefense.org.

(disclaimer: the organization is run by friends of mine, but I have no financial interest in their profit)