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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Defining Marriage

As anyone with any sense and honesty will tell you, my position is and always has been that "marriage" has a definition -- in fact, a biblical definition -- that has been maintained throughout human history. That definition (and this is no moral judgment, just a fact) has never included the union of two people of the same gender. Never has. Neither in religious nor non-religious circles. In no society or culture forever. Until, of course, today. As such, marriage, I have always contended, is the union of a man and a woman and has never been anything else. There are marriage practices and there is marriage confusion (like the woman that "married" the Eiffel Tower), but the fundamental definition of marriage has always remained the same.

We no longer live in that world, in that stream of history, in that clear and obvious biblical connection. We've moved on. We're on the march. We've headed toward "marriage equity" by which we mean we are willing to wrench the definition away from all of human history to make it into something new ... and then call it "marriage" as if nothing happened. Because, you see, genuine "marriage equity" is achieved when you steal that which doesn't belong to you and remake it into your own image.

Rather than continue this battle, I'd like to try a different approach. Since the tide of public opinion is moving away from the longstanding, traditional definition of marriage, I'd like to find what it is moving toward. Apparently there is a fundamental difference between "civil unions" and "marriage". I don't know what it is. Apparently there is a difference between "a loving couple committed to one another for life" and "marriage". "Marriage" as we have always known it is on the decline. More and more are opting for "cohabitation" instead. It is quite common to hear the argument, "What difference does a piece of paper make?" Apparently, then, marriage is defined as "a piece of paper"? It seems to have some sort of legal component, although domestic partnership laws are rolling into place to close that gap as well. So someone, please, give me a definition of "marriage". Keep in mind that you can't use the Bible because that will be unacceptable. And keep in mind that your definition may be short-lived since apparently the definition is fluid in time and who knows what it will be tomorrow. But someone, anyone, can you give me a definition that will tell me the difference between "marriage" and "civil unions", "cohabitation", or "a loving couple committed to one another for life"?

Maybe, if we can nail down a meaning for this word, we can then dialog on a level playing field. Maybe.


Dan Trabue said...

How about wikipedia's...

Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.

Seems reasonable to me.

Marriage has always meant the joining together of people to form a family. Traditionally in most cultures, gay folk were not able to partake in this freely. However, traditionally, gay folk were discriminated against. Traditionally in many cultures, women did not get a choice in their marriage partner.

Tradition is not always good and sometimes, evolving approaches to traditional practices is reasonable and just. When necessary to adapt or deviate from tradition in order to make matters more just and/or less oppressive, I think most people will opt in favor of evolving rather than a blind allegiance to tradition for tradition's sake.

Thus, the wiki definition above seems entirely rational and moral to me.

Dan Trabue said...

Could you please address this fallacy? Where you say...

Because, you see, genuine "marriage equity" is achieved when you steal that which doesn't belong to you and remake it into your own image.

Do you or do you not recognize the reality that the definition of marriage does not belong to you? Or to "tradition?" You don't own "marriage" and thus, it is a mistake to say the definition has been "stolen," can you recognize this simple semantic reality?

You all seem to think that you're being polite and respectful in your approach to these discussions, but I am trying to point out to you that you APPEAR to come across as combative and disrespectful when you make false suggestions/analogies like "they are stealing marriage from us! The thieves!"

Since you don't "own" marriage, it is not yours to keep for yourself. Words evolve, such is life. It's not theft when words evolve.

Can you agree to that much and, if so, cease and desist from using a poor analogy?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Sorry, Stan, can't happen. The moment you define it, some people will feel that their particular perversion is left out, and will set up an outcry.

Indeed, I am pretty sure we couldn't even do the opposite. Even if we were to say, "Hey, we are going to stop using the word marriage, we Christians. We are going to speak of 'Nisuin'. We will define 'Nisuin' as the lifelong, covenantal, sexual committement of a man and a woman for the purposes of sexual pleasure, reproduction, and to fulfill the dominion mandate." You can be sure that, ten minutes later, everyone and their dog would be coming along and saying 'You can't limit the word 'Nisuin' to mean that, you have to include us.

We have been forbidden from defining ourselves the words that we choose to use, or even what our own religion is.

Stan said...

But ... I like "Nisuin".

No, indeed. It is silly to think that the question is actually about definition. It isn't. It is about concept. It is about a concept that God ordained that flies in the face of personal sins. Marriage has been under attack for a long time, not merely by the current enemies. Nor will it end with them. Nor is it driven by anything as trivial as their personal sins. Attacking something that God has ordained as good comes from the one who questions whether God is good. "Did God say ...?"

Stan said...

@Dan Trabue:

Let's see if we can weed through Wikipedia's definition to get to the core. Hmmm ... Marriage is "an institution in which interpersonal relationships are acknowledged". Well, thanks. That certainly clears that up just fine. Oh, yeah, let's not forget "kinship". All clear. Thanks. So marriage is defined as institutionalized interpersonal relationships to make them kin.

You're fine with that? I've offered biblical definitions and you throw them out, but you're fine with that one? Given that definition, on what basis would you deny polygamy, polyandry, or any other "gamy"? Seems like two-faced "marriage equity" to me, because nothing in that definition limits it to distinct genders or even to two people.

Note, by the way, that erroneous uses of a good concept in the past does not nullify the good concept. As an example, if "marriage" was always defined as "the union of a man and a woman" and some wrongfully forbade "the union of a man and a woman" based on racial differences, that does not nullify either the definition or the value of the institution of marriage. It simply means they were wrong. Mistakes people made in the past does not warrant throwing out the traditional definition.

As for your (faulty) complaint about "this fallacy":

Given. Marriage does not belong to me. I don't own marriage. If you could please tell me, then, to whom does it belong? Silly me. I thought it belonged to God. Dopey me; I kind of thought God designed it and defined it, regulated it and even used it as a means of illustrating a mystery. Thankfully you've managed to clear all that up. Marriage does not belong to me. Nor to you. Nor to God. It's just a fine piece of jewelry sitting out on a field and anyone who wants it can take it, label that "marriage equity", and run with it.

No, Dan, you aren't stealing marriage from me ... or us. You're stealing it from its "longstanding, traditional" meaning. You're stealing it from history. You're stealing it from Scripture. But, no, not me.

And thanks for pointing out that you cannot have a "friendly discussion" on this topic.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Well, agree and disagree.

Yes, we are talking about the concept. But, as well, the definition is important. They literally want there to be no way to even say what we mean. For it to be literally impossible for us to de-fine a word to mean that.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

BTW Nisui'in is the Hebrew for 'marriage'.

Stan said...

Anonymous wrote: "Heya i'm for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I'm hoping to present one thing again and aid others such as you helped me." Then Anonymous included a link to a website. I'm not comfortable simply clicking over to websites, nor am I comfortable including links to websites I don't know are safe. Besides, the website was ostensibly for personal injury claims, especially regarding asbestos, so it wasn't exactly pertinent.

Given all that, I've included the comment from Anonymous here without the link.

Stan said...


Thanks for the word source. I guess that word is set in stone, since Hebrew is a "dead language". That one can't be stolen ... right?

Vaughn Ohlman said...


Anonymous said...

Vaughn, I've followed that line of thinking as well. You hit the nail on the head when you say that the goal is not how words ought to be defined but rather how they are NOT to be defined.

I think you surmise well too that these things are not of human origin but rather from the ruler of the air


starflyer said...

Wow...Wikipedia vs. the Bible and Wiki wins out (for some). Thank you for not caving to the side of fools. (I was speaking to Stan there, not the Wikifool).

Naum said...

Granted, Scripture has never sanctioned SSM.

But there have been non-Christian cultures that did in history.

But yes, the Bible clearly takes a negative view of homosexuality. OTOH, there are a host of "biblical" sexual attitudes, practices, restrictions, etc.… that are no longer considered kosher, that were considered "normal" in Scripture:

1. The reprehensiveness of nudity.

2. Forbidding of sex during menstruation.

3. Nowhere does the Bible explicitly prohibit sex between consenting adults. See Song of Songs, eulogizes a love affair between 2 unmarried people.

4. Semen and menstrual blood considered unpure.

5. Regulations regarding adultery, rape, incest, prostitution are, in the OT, determined largely by male property rights considerations. A man was not considered a sinner for visiting a prostitute though the prostitute herself was considered a sinner.

6. Adultery was defined by the marital status of the woman.

7. Polygamy was regularly practiced in OT and the notion of 1 man , 1 woman would have been oddly taken by the people of the age of the OT book.

8. A form of polygamy was the Levirate marriage.

9. In NT, Paul taught it was best not to marry (1 Cor 7)

10. Jews practiced endogamy (marriage within the race or "12 tribes of Israel"). Was the basis of miscegenation laws (of how the State assumed the mantle of marriage)

As you can see, how marriage has been "defined" has most definitively evolved throughout history…

Stan said...

Okay, Naum, I have to admit, at this point I haven't a clue what you mean by "defined". Really. I'm lost. You assure us that the definition of marriage has evolved. An example you cite is that sex during menstruation was forbidden. Please fill me in on the connection of that fact and "the definition of marriage".

Now, we could certainly discuss all the points you make as if they are genuine or even true. As an example, because you no longer consider sex during menstruation an issue, does that make it no longer an issue? What kind of an issue was it then? Because my Bible says they were "unclean", a matter of uncleanness that was solved by getting clean. (Same with semen and menstrual blood. An issue of "uncleanness".) And is your "Paul taught it was best not to marry" a fair representation of what Paul taught? (Hint: No!) And what does it matter if Israel was commanded not to marry outside of its race?

I mean, we could go through all of this and discuss it -- I think you're dead wrong in places -- but, frankly, it does not seem to me that any of it deals with the definition of marriage. They deal with practices.

But, given your admission that Scripture has never sanctioned anything that could be called "same-sex marriage" and your admission that "the Bible clearly takes a negative view of homosexuality", is it your contention that these things define marriage, that the definition of marriage changes, and that, although the Bible has never approved "same-sex marriage" and consistently views homosexual behavior as sin, God has changed His mind at this point, figured out that He was wrong for forbidding all that stuff, "and that whole 'abomination' thing ... I've decided it's not so bad after all"? You have consistently held that marriage definitions evolve. You have not offered a definition of marriage. Is there one? Or is it simply an evolution that has no roots, no core, no basis, no fundamental pieces that are universal?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

So, if i get naums logic it is:
Gods law and our modern ideas differ
We are right
Ergo God is wrong

My view would be:

Gods law and our modern ideas differ
God is right
Ergo we are wrong

Dan said...

These arguments sound like the arguments some "Christians" made from the Bible in favor of slavery. What do you want to bet that one day, once the folly of today's liberal thought has wrought it's distruction, that people will look to the "Christians" who championed it and then blame the religion for what any sane person ought to have rejected.

Stan said...

Robert George is a Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. His strong suit is constitutional law, civil liberties, and the philosophy of law. Dr. George and a couple of associates have written this piece on What is Marriage? You can get to the page on that link and then download the pdf file. I think it is worthy of consideration.

Naum said...

@Vaughn, no, not at all what I am stating… …"God's law" was interpreted differently in previous ages, and you sit here today and declare boldly "they were wrong about X (where X=slavery, charging of interest, misogyny)" and "God's word" is clear to me, you postulate. But what makes you so certain that you have the holy absolute truth? All human knowledge and wisdom is provisional; only God is Truth.

If you want to speak definition, then we can define modern marriage as a holy or civil union, a partnership covenant entered. Which even before discussing SSM, is a definition that has indeed altered and evolved through historical ages. From 1 man, many women. From arranged marriages, contractual affairs and familial assignment that denied any "volition" of a party (particularly the female in the union(s)) entering into such a "covenant". Which is vastly more unlike today's marriage than say SSM, where partners choose to choose each other.

But finally, here is the thing in these conversations here -- it's a lot of discussion about a party that's missing -- that is, LGBT people. Have you discussed these matters with your LGBT friends? Do you have LGBT friends? What thoughts have they shared with you? Or are they just some "other" that you cordon off from your sphere of relations?

Stan said...


Thanks for the clarification. It is indeed true, then, that in your view "marriage" was once defined as "1 man, many women". Paul's concept, then, of "the husband of one wife" was not marriage and all those in the Old and New Testaments who did have only one ... significant other ... were not married in their day. Clear as a bell. Got it. Thanks.

You do understand, don't you, that not too many will agree with that position, right?

Oh, and, in fact, there are some in the so-called "LGBT" crowd (and why aren't you insisting on "marriage equity" for bisexuals?) who are actually opposed to homosexuals taking "marriage". There's one here and here, for instance. I remember when the first brouhaha blew up in California back in 2008, Elton John himself came out against it and was attacked by his own for it.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

I think u r a little confused. Where did u get the idea that i said they interpretd gods law wrongly on those things? And who do you think i think wrongly interpreted?

And why would i adk sodomites for their views on sodomy? Do we ask adulterers or murderers for their views on those subjects?

Naum said...

@Stan, the thrust of my comment was primarily consideration of OT.… …I'll stop here as we already have gone over this in your "Cultural Bias" post thread…

…I wasn't asking for links to a few LGBT opposed to LGBT equality measures, I was enquiring what your LGBT friends have shared with you on these matters.

@Dan, let it be noted that it was the religious conservatives of the day that supported slavery (and also were against civil rights, women suffrage, etc.…).

David said...

I find myself in a bizarre position at the moment. I actually feel as though you have wronged Dan T, for once in all the "discussions" he's been in. In your own post you asked, "...give me a definition of 'marriage'. Keep in mind that you can't use the Bible..." And yet, Dan T gives you an nonBiblical definition, and you shoot him down saying it is opposed to the Bible. You asked for the definition, and he gave one, and you turned it down because it wasn't Biblical. That is just unfair if you ask me. You may disagree with the definition, but you didn't ask for one that you could agree to, but merely for one to be given from them.

Though, I do agree that it certainly leaves marriage open to pretty much any grouping of people to make a family, and in no way says that it needs to be limited to 2 people, and seems actually unfair to exclude those that want to marry differently. Dan T I think a better definition would be the one you gave, but limits it to between 2 people at a time, otherwise you're just opening yourself up to the argument, why can't we let someone marry multiple people, how is that fair?

Stan said...

Well, David, to be fair, I did ask for a non-biblical definition, but I cannot say that he gave me one. "An institution in which interpersonal relationships are acknowledged" is not a definition of much of anything at all. Indeed, if that's the definition, why aren't homosexuals marrying now? Nothing in that definition even falls within the venue of the law.

On the other hand, I didn't actually "shoot him down saying it is opposed to the Bible". I said that he opposed my biblical definition but found this one satisfactory. I found that hard to believe. So I didn't oppose his definition because it wasn't biblical. I opposed it because it wasn't a definition. Too vague. (And when you hear people say, "You know, dogs are people, too", it can really get weird.)

Stan said...


In all honesty, I find that typically people for whom I care and with whom I'm honest (because I care) do not tend to hang around when I point out, "You know, that activity in which you're engaged violates God's instructions and could very well put you in jeopardy with Him." That goes for the LGBTIx as well as the sexually immoral or a host of other sins we could discuss. It takes a rare breed to stay around when someone points out sin in your life.

But I do ask with Von about the point of asking the opinion of those engaged in a sin God considers "an abomination." If they don't care what God thinks, why would they care what God thinks? If they don't care what the Bible says, why would they care what the Bible says? And if I am defining my world by what God thinks based on what the Bible says, why would I go there? I would suppose that murderers are opposed to being locked up for their crimes, but that doesn't stop us from believing it's right and doing it, does it?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Well, i dont believe murderers should be locked up for their crimes.

Marshall Art said...

"It takes a rare breed to stay around when someone points out sin in your life."

Yeah. They're called "good friends" or "honest people". I don't shy from pointing out sinful practices of friends, since I care about them and want the best for them. I don't ride them like a mule over it, but I don't pretend I don't see it or see it and approve by saying nothing. I don't mind being held accountable, and hope my good friends don't mind, either. (Some do, some don't)

Just want to add that Song of Songs does NOT contain a "love affair" between two people that consists of illicit sex. Indeed, the girl in the story continually speaks of the time when she can be married to engage in that sort of thing. But there is no point at which out-of-wedlock sex takes place between them. There was a time, not so long ago, that a love affair could go on without sex and that would still be called a love affair. This was the case in Song of Songs.

Stan said...


Shall I assume you simply missed the point, or shall I assume you simply wished to be snarky? :)

@Marshall Art

Had the point of the discussion been to examine (and deny) Naum's points in that comment, your point on the Song of Solomon would have been part of it. I have issues with all of his points, let alone the conclusion that they indicate an evolution of the definition of marriage.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Snarky? I dinno.

My point was that prisons are no more biblical than sodomite martiage.

As for the song, they are married from the neginning and have sex freqently in the book. The song is not about unmarried people.

Stan said...

And my point was your point. People involved in evil are not likely to give you a positive evaluation of the consequences of their evil.

Dan said...

I like that Naum, that's pretty funny. A person who says that words evolve in meaning wants to take a word today, "conservative" that represents those whom he hates, and then attach it to those whom history has judged harshly to make his modern folly look sane. If you want to think down those muddy trails you might try this line of argument as well: In Muslim countries where they kill homosexuals for being homosexuals, those whom you would call conservative Christians are liberals.

Naum said...

@Dan, are you indeed bumping against the historical truth that conservatives opposed civil rights in the 1960s? Or that conservatives did not rail against women suffrage? Likewise, during 19th century, it was the dirty "liberals" that were the abolitionists (or "liberal" denominations like Quakers) that pushed anti-slavery, and religious conservatives defended slavery, and were considered the "biblical literalists" of the age. This is not radical revisionist history -- again, see the work of evangelical scholar Mark Noll on the matter.

On Song of Songs, you are proof-texting. Consensus of Bible scholarship (as well as the Hebrew language) says different…

So, back to my question, it seems like you do not engage at all, except to call "those people" dirty sodomites…

…wow, way to be love and light.

And we wonder why the prostitutes and tax collectors are not beating down the doors to hang with us ;(

The daily witness of the Christian in the world is essentially sacramental, rather than moralistic. ~William Stringfellow

Stan said...

Nice shotgun effect, Naum.

Dan didn't reference Song of Songs.

Marshall didn't reference sodomites.

Indeed, no one referenced "dirty" anything (liberals or sodomites) ... except you, of course.

And the "you do not engage" accusation is quite interesting. No evidence. Indeed, evidence to the contrary. Apparently the accusation is against all. Apparently "engage" must mean only that they will "beat down our doors to hang with us". Apparently "love and light" does not include the truth of the Gospel (which necessarily includes the problem of sin).

Nice scatter gun you got there, pal. No wonder we're not beating down your door to hang with you. :)

starflyer said...

It really seems apparent that nothing will ever satisfy Naum enough for him to believe in the God of the Bible. So much anger, apparently towards Christians, but really the anger is with God himself. Stop blaming everyone else and deal directly with the God of the universe. You may not like what the Word of God says, but it is the only real Truth out there. Stop arguing with people...or is that all you really want? Are you seeking truth? It doesn't seem like it...

Naum said...

Wow, @starflyer, really are you endowed with holy absolute truth of God and see right into my heart. You and those who agree with your hermeneutics have the absolute TRUTH and all else are wrong. LOL

For the record, allow me to state here:

I believe in one God, The Father almighty And in his only begotten son Jesus Christ, our Lord,
And in the Holy Spirit,
Giver of new life,
And in the resurrection of the flesh,
And in one only, apostolic, holy church everywhere,
Which is his church.

@Stan, @Vaugh indeed invoked *sodomites*. And equated LGBT orientation to murder.

And you may not be "beating down my door" but it appears to me you already belong to a church community. Which was the thrust of my comment.

Stan said...

Oddly enough, "sodomite" is a word with a meaning. It is, in fact, a biblical word. I suppose that Vaughn should avoid using biblical words if they offend. And he equated the sin of homosexual behavior with the sin of murder in the sense that both are sins. That's bad?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

That would be 'von' or 'vaughn'.
And i did equate sodomy (nothing was said about 'orientation') with murder as both are death penalty offenses. I dont believe i said 'dirty' though.

Naum said...

You are starting to sound a lot like Fred Phelps and those NC pastors in the news recently…

…not even most religious right outfits would sanction their columnists tossing the *sodomite* slur about.

Stan said...

And you've succeeded in ending this conversation. Remember your own rule: "No commenters undertaking personal attacks on other commenters." Well, FYI, comparing me to Fred Phelps violates that rule.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

BTW, Dan or Naum is always free to come and argue over on my blog if they wish. Always meaning if they obey the rules, that is.

starflyer said...


Nope, I can't see into your heart, but I can read your words. You call yourself a Christian, fine. But I think it is evident from your handling of God's Word that you are not a Bible believing Christian.

Dan Trabue said...


I think it is evident from your handling of God's Word that you are not a Bible believing Christian.

And here is where I think you're getting off on a wrong track, if I may respectfully offer my humble opinion, dear sir: Just because someone disagrees with MY UNDERSTANDING of the Bible does not mean that they are not a Bible-believing Christian.

Can we agree on that much?

Similarly, just because someone disagrees with YOUR UNDERSTANDING of some bible passages does not mean that they are not Bible-believing Christians.

Do you see how it at least SEEMS that you all are conflating your interpretations with God's Word and those who disagree with you disagree with God?

That is a genuine question that I wonder about, if anyone is inclined to address it.

Von, the last I checked, I was banned at your site. Are you revoking that ban and offering a chance for respectful dialog? I'll gladly take you up on that and even go out of my way to stick to simple respectful questions and comments, offering my opinion for what it's worth. I'll take a visit over there...

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Von, the last I checked, I was banned at your site. Are you revoking that ban and offering a chance for respectful dialog? I'll gladly take you up on that and even go out of my way to stick to simple respectful questions and comments, offering my opinion for what it's worth. I'll take a visit over there...

Well, so much for my memory.

The rules for posters are fairly clearly marked on my site. If you abide by them, I will post your comments, as offered above.

Marshall Art said...

Dan T,

MY understanding versus YOUR understanding. One is closer to the truth if not the actual truth, and the other is further from the truth if it can even still be close enough to warrant legitimate use of the term. If the latter, then it evidence, if not proof, that such an understanding is too poor to qualify for the title "Bible believing Christian", because if not the truth, it is not the Bible.

I can argue for MY understanding of those issues upon which I offer opinion and do so all day long with Scriptural references that are hole free. That is to say, I don't have to default to anything akin to "we'll just have to agree to disagree" or "I just don't buy it" or any other such terms of surrendering the battle. Can't say as I've seen many holes in your positions filled to any satisfaction.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

A question to the actual Christians here: Would you agree that a 'platonic' marriage is, in fact, no marriage at all?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

One more argument against Sodomite marriage, not that I think Stan will post it, is that two Sodomites can never consummate the marriage.

Stan said...

For those unclear on the concept, the "consummation of marriage" (according to the legal dictionary) is "The first time that the husband and wife cohabit together, after the ceremony of marriage has been performed."

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Meaning me?

Cohabit in this sense is euphemistic. Historically it meant somethig... Less euphemistic.

Marshall Art said...

"Would you agree that a 'platonic' marriage is, in fact, no marriage at all?"

I would agree that most people would see it this way, given that sex is so much a part of the marital relationship in the minds of most people. But I have always regarded the vows taken as the true tie that binds, so to speak, as God has put so much emphasis on the importance of NOT swearing. Whatever one vows to do, one must do and I don't believe I've heard any sets of vows include intercourse (which would be awkward in a church setting especially), though one does vow to give up such with anyone but one's spouse.

I would rather say "what's the point?" if no sexual contact between spouses is to take place.

Stan said...

Actually, Vaughn, you illustrate the whole question here. I have contended all along that there is a concept that is (was) known as "marriage" and that the concept is worth defending and maintaining. The word, like so many other key words, has eroded. And now I'm talking about "marriage" and they are talking about "marriage" and we can't figure out why neither of us is being understood. It's because I'm using the word as it once was used and they're using it as it is coming to be used and communication fails.

As it turns out, you have an entire vocabulary like that. "Betrothal", "intercourse", "sodomite", "cohabit" -- and I've just scratched the surface. Now, not to suggest in the least that your terms are wrong, but when you use these terms like I use "marriage" and they mean something radically different to your listeners than they do to you, communication fails. Standing on "Well, I'm using them correctly and everyone else is wrong" doesn't fix the communication breakdown.

On an interesting but related side note, that whole "sodomite" thing is ... interesting. Rooted, obviously, in the whole "Sodom and Gomorrah" incident, it is not apparently used like you intend it to be used. In the King James Bible it is used one time (Deut 23:17) in the singular and 4 times in the plural (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7). The Hebrew word, qadesh, according to Strong's, means "a sacred person (male) devoted (by prostitution) to licentious idolatry" -- a temple prostitute. It is not a generic term for all who practice homosexual sex. In the English dictionary it refers to anyone who practices "unnatural sexual behavior", but that would (and technically does) include married couples engaging in "unnatural sexual behavior" (oral, anal, whatever) of any type. Very odd use of the term "sodomite", then.

Oh, and if you hold that a "platonic marriage" is not marriage, what of a couple who, through injury, disease, or even aging stop engaging in sexual activity? Is theirs no longer a marriage? Are they "divorced"? Or is your question about "platonic marriages" only in terms of an entire relationship without sexual intercourse?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Responding paragraph by paragraph to Stan's last:
1) True.
2) True.
3) Not so much.
First of all, the term is used 38 times, by my count. I think you missed some versions of the word.
Secondly, a word search of the term, and then an examination of each verse, would show that the overwhelming use of the word is to speak of 'destruction'. The word does mean 'scorch', after all. "Like Sodom and Ghomorah' tends to mean 'like those towns which the Lord destroyed.
While it is true that the dictionaries tend to focus on 'those who commit anal sex', the connotative use of the word throughout history refers particuarly to male on male sexual activity, such as is used in:

Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

The Commentators find this particular crime so detestable that they don't even tend to describe it, staying with euphemisms, such as Calvin:

To go after strange flesh, is the same as to be given up to monstrous lusts; for we know that the Sodomites, not content with the common manner of committing fornication, polluted themselves in a way the most filthy and detestable.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

As for the platonic marriage, let me be clearer. I am speaking of a couple who, through deliberate choice, attempts to call a 'marriage' a relationship which, according to the covenant they enter into, will contain no sexual activity.

I would argue that a eunuch cannot enter into a marriage. On the other hand, a man or woman who, through no fault of their own, finds it impossible to fufill their marital duty is still married.

The question is the covenant, the will, the desire, the actions taken in best effort. Did Onan, for example, violate the marriage covenant itself?

Stan said...

Clearly you are including the name of the city (Sodom) in your count. (I did indeed skip that form of the word.)

"Strange flesh" is an interesting phrase, especially since the Greek behind "strange" is hetero. The other rather strange thing about the Jude passage is that it's not talking about people, but about "angels who did not keep their first estate", something I've never quite understood (reference, for instance, Gen 6:1-2).I know Calvin says the reference is to the men of Sodom, but it's not so clear to me. Indeed, the whole concept ("sodomite") remains unclear from the biblical references (because it seems to primarily reference generic sexual immorality on a large scale).

And thanks for making that whole "platonic marriage" question clear. I'm with you there.