Is there such a thing as “Biblical” marriage?

Rachel Ford recently published an article on the website of the “Friendly” Atheist arguing that the Bible is a morally consistent evil book presenting marriage coherently as a man possessing several wifes as objects to be used and maltreated.

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Biblical Marriage Isn’t About One Man and One Woman

Don’t fall out of your seat, but in an interview with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson (below) had even more to say about homosexuality, premarital sex, and the Bible.

Most of it is his usual schtick of sex gives you cooties unless you’re married (presumably to a 15- or 16-year old?) and I won’t bore you with the details. What I do want to draw your attention to, however, is the blatantly false assertion he makes about what “God says” about marriage:

God says, ‘One woman, one man,’ and everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s old hat, that’s that old Bible stuff,’” he said.

Robertson was kind enough to erase any doubt as to which “God” he might be referring to: naturally, the God of the Bible. And since that God doesn’t grant interviews, the Bible is our only source for what God (allegedly) said.

The problem is that the Bible never claims that God said marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

Christians often turn to the New Testament to justify that claim. Paul writes about marriage in a seemingly singular (and often decidedly disdainful) fashion, such as in 1 Corinthians 7, and Jesus refers to two people when discussing divorce in Mark 10 and Matthew 19 (which is to be expected, presuming a husband doesn’t divorce more than one wife at a time). Despite that, it’s worth noting that nowhere is a clear proscription against polygamy given — Jesus referred to — but did not “correct” — first covenant law, which clearly allowed polygamy. Corinthians — written in a time when Pagan culture had already introduced the concept of monogamy — might use singular language to describe spouses, but it doesn’t actually define marriage as being between one man and one woman. In fact, nowhere does the Bible declare, on behalf of God or anyone else, does it use that precise definition.

So Robertson gets his Bible wrong when he claims to know what “God says.” Even if he had meant to say “the Bible says” one man and one woman, he would have still been wrong.

But “wrong” is too generous. He, in fact, settles on the opposite of what the Bible tells us about marriage. The Bible is full of specific examples of marriage — some of them allegedly directly sanctioned by God — that contradict the fairytale version of marriage that Christians claim as “Biblical” nowadays.

What follows is a list of types of marriage defined in the Bible, often by God. I have purposely avoided examples or marriage in the Bible that were supposed to have ticked God off, so as not to misrepresent the joy that was true Biblical marriage:

  • Biblical marriage is a man arranging to buy a girl from her father for an agreed upon purchase price (Genesis 29:18)
  • Biblical marriage is a wife “giving” her servant to her husband as a “wife” for sex and procreation, regardless of her maid servant’s wishes (Genesis 16:2-3, Genesis 30:3, Genesis 30:9, etc.)
  • Biblical marriage is a raiding party murdering the fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters of a people but saving the young virgins because they want “wives” (i.e. women to capture and legally rape) (Judges 21:10-14)
  • Biblical marriage is a raiding party lying in wait to capture more women as “wives” (Judges 21:20-24)
  • Biblical marriage is God commanding the massacre of every male and non-virgin, and handing over the virgin women to his followers. Like the 32,000 women counted among the “spoils” in Numbers 31
  • Biblical marriage is a victim being forced to marry her rapist with no hope of divorce (but don’t worry — her father is suitably compensated in cash for the trouble, and this is only valid if the woman is not already another man’s property… so relax! No property rights are violated by this arrangement) (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
  • Biblical marriage is selling your daughter as a slave to be given to her owner or owner’s son for sexual exploitation as a “wife” (though denied even minimal protections) (Exodus 21:7-11)
  • Biblical marriage is one man taking multiple, even hundreds, of wives and concubines (see: David, Solomon, Jacob, Abraham, etc)
  • Biblical marriage is a woman as property whose own happiness is inconsequential, but whose property status is absolute (see: David and Michal)
  • Biblical marriage is for those who “cannot control themselves” and so must opt away from what is “good for them”: unmarried celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)
  • Biblical marriage is a woman marrying her dead husband’s brother (whether either party wishes it or not) so that she can have a kid in the dead husband’s name (Deuteronomy 25:5). Sometimes, it manifests as a woman seducing her former father-in-law in the guise of a prostitute in order to fulfill her God-ordained obligation (Genesis 38, Judah and Tamar). Sometimes, it manifests as a husband getting struck down by God, for refusing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife (Genesis 38, Onan and Tamar). Even according to the Bible, it doesn’t seem to have been a very happy implementation of the institution
  • Biblical marriage is neither partner being able to refrain from sex without the consent of the other (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

That’s what the Bible actually says about marriage. In fact, when it comes right down to it, Biblical marriage is almost always two or more men deciding between themselves what woman an individual will take as a wife — be it a father selling his daughter into sexual slavery, a husband-to-be arranging with a father an agreement suitable to both parties (irrespective of the wife-to-be’s wishes) on how to dispose of/acquire the female in question, a party of soldiers or raiders murdering a woman’s entire family in order to claim her (sometimes supposedly at the direct command of God), a rapist grabbing an unattached female and at the same time getting himself a new wife, etc.

Marriage according to the Bible isn’t love and romance and butterflies in the pit of your stomach. It’s very, very far from it. You have to wonder whether Robertson ever reads the book he holds in such high esteem.

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Fundamentalist assumptions

My answer follows.

http://theantitheistdotcom1.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/the_holy_bible1.jpg
How about this: the Bible does NOT speak with one voice but many conflicting ones?
Apparently anti-theists are utterly unable to grasp this basic result of historical critical scholarship as soon as ethical problems are addressed.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies, one of the psalmists taught us we should pray for the violent and atrocious death of their children .
No rational person can agree that both statements are consistent with each other.

The only ones who do this are Christian fundamentalists and English-speaking anti-theists, who interestingly enough most often turn out to be former fundies.

You’re light years away from a scientific study of religionS (which form an extraordinarily DIVERSE phenomenon).

What’s more I also strongly doubt it is meaningful to judge ancient texts according to our modern enlightened standards. After all, the fact that most writings of ancient Greek philosophers are full of scientific mistakes isn’t a reason to mock them, is it? So why should it be any different when morality is concerned?

Fortunately, the responses weren’t aggressive at all.

Someone retorted:

Two things. I think the anti-theists (as you call them) know that the Bible comes from many sources, but they argue as if it is one voice because Christian fundamentalists insist that the Bible is of one voice.
Second, it is Christian fundamentalists that insist that the Bible conveys immutable timeless moral laws. (I presume that some Muslims do the same with the Koran). So to pluck a Biblical moral lesson and to ask if it is still true, is to challenge the idea that the Bible provides these timeless immutable moral lessons.

To which I replied:

Thanks for your thoughtful answer, Rob.

As a progressive Christian, I also use this kind of arguments against fundies or generally Conservative Evangelicals. I certainly don’t believe that everything found in the Bible is “timeless and immutable”, although one can find such truths within its pages (like in other Wisdom Traditions).

But I find that most anti-theists present things as if showing that one book in the Bible contains wicked stuff attributed to God is sufficient for concluding that the entire Bible is hopelessly evil.
Worryingly enough, Nazi historians and scholars during the Third Reich used precisely the same tactic for showing that Judaism is irremediably wicked and egregious. They picked and chose the very worst passages in Jewish writings and interpreted them in the worst possible light.

For Reason’s sake , one has to be very careful. Going about this scientifically requires making a distinction between the incredibly diverse religious sects, movements and ideas out there and steering clear from overgeneralizations, binary thinking and prejudices.

I’d be delighted if anti-theists were to begin to act like that but they’d probably choose a new name pretty soon then 🙂

In hindsight I realize I should have directly emphasized that the authors of the old Testament itself don’t agree with each others about women and love.

I consider it extremely hard (if not impossible) to seriously argue that the author of the erotic and romantic “Song of Songs” just saw women as camels to be exploited.

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your love is better than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2

“Take me away with you. Let us hurry. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will praise your love more than wine! They are right to love you.” Song of Songs 1:4“Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you graze your flock, where you rest them at noon; For why should I be as one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions?” Song of Songs 1:7“Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves.” Song of Songs 1:15“Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, yes, pleasant; and our couch is verdant. “Song of Songs 1:16

“As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” Song of Songs 2:2

“He brought me to the banquet hall. His banner over me is love.” Song of Songs 2:4

“Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples; For I am faint with love. “Song of Songs 2:5

“My beloved spoke, and said to me, “Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. “Song of Songs 2:10

“The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” Song of Songs 2:13

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is as a flock of goats, that descend from Mount Gilead. “Song of Songs 4:1

“You are all beautiful, my love. There is no spot in you. “Song of Songs 4:7

“How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine! The fragrance of your perfumes than all manner of spices!” Song of Songs 4:10

“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, friends! Drink, yes, drink abundantly, beloved.” Song of Songs 5:1

“I was asleep, but my heart was awake. It is the voice of my beloved who knocks: “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my hair with the dampness of the night.” Song of Songs 5:2

“Let’s go early up to the vineyards. Let’s see whether the vine has budded, its blossom is open, and the pomegranates are in flower. There I will give you my love. “Song of Songs 7:12

“Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; for love is strong as death. Jealousy is as cruel as Sheol. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a very flame of Yahweh. Many waters can’t quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, he would be utterly scorned.” Song of Songs 8:6,7

The Song of Songs: A Photographer
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48 thoughts on “Is there such a thing as “Biblical” marriage?

  1. I think the article makes some good points, but it also seems to be reaching at places. (I say seems, as I’m not even bothering to look up the passages myself…)

    I also think you make a good point about the bible speaking with many conflicting voices. But why then–with all the non history, contradictions, and grandiose claims–should I think that this collection of books is of divine origin, or important for my life or “salvation”?

      • Of course! Sorry about my late answer, my attention span got carried away by plenty of other things.

        I don’t view “faith” as a form of knowledge but as an existential hope as I explained here:

        I don’t base my hope on an inerrant Bible but on the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I think we can historically reasonably conclude he preached love, justice and forgiveness, opposed the injustices of the system, got condemned and crucified and that something very mysterious occurred after his death.

        Whether or not one concludes he resurrected depends on one’s worldview. If one is convinced that atheism is true, it’s obvious that one will write everything off through mass delusion and rapid legend formation.

        But if one is agnostic or (like myself) think that materialism is seriously wanting and that paranormal events might very well happen, things look pretty different.

        Still, the resurrection can never be proven and that’s why I speak of hope.

        Thanks for your question, it’s really a tough and extremely important one 🙂

  2. ‘You’re not describing my god…’ is a tactic – not an argument – used to avoid the legitimate complaint that ‘scripture’ cannot be cohesively presented as a unified authority… as it very often is.

    Robertson – as a public figure with a wide audience – is used here as an example of exactly this… presenting his opinion as if it derives from rather than imposed on scriptural authority. To argue against what you call a ‘fundamentalist’ approach the Robertsons,of the world use, you then do the same and superimpose your own version of your opinion as if it derives from rather than is imposed on scriptural authority!

    You see the problem… right?

  3. For anyone who wants to take a serious, scholarly look at the matter, I suggest Alistair McFayden’s The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships. I’m not very far in, so I don’t have anything particularly juicy to quote. Here’s the best I could find:

        Marriage and sexual intercourse are not equivalent terms for the paradigm of ‘male and female’. If they were, then the corresponding understanding of human nature would be exclusivist. It would place those male–female relations in which neither marriage nor coitus is a part into a subordinate position and the humanity of all those unable or choosing not to enter such relations in question. The elderly, the impotent, the widowed, the celibate, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual, the deformed and handicapped, and the homosexual would have their humanity and the humanity of their interrelationships denied them. The creation narratives do afford some special status to procreative, and therefore potent, heterosexual relations; however, procreation is construed as a blessing which is bestowed not primarily on individuals but on the species so that it can continue through generation. In short, this way of understanding the image provides no basis for the exclusion of the homosexual, the single and the variously infertile from the image. (38)

    Sadly, even this would probably put the author on the “enemy” list of some conservative Christians. Hopefully not too many. I don’t yet have a sense of whether he’s cagey about homosexual marriage, or explicitly one way. He does point out precisely what Genesis says:

        So God created man in his own image,
            in the image of God he created him;
            male and female he created them.

    (I’m pretty sure the correct translation of the instance of ha-adam is “mankind”, which is an interpretation of the above English. Yay for seemingly deliberate ambiguities. Perhaps it is a test of some sort…)

    Only mankind is created in God’s image. The consequences for that being ‘mankind’ and not (i) man, nor (ii) man and woman, could be profound. Mankind is made up of male and female. Read the book for more!

    • How about this: the Bible does NOT speak with one voice but many conflicting ones?

      Yeah, but…. what does that have to do with the blogpost you were commenting on? It seems as if Rachel Ford wanted to establish primarily this claim: that the Bible at some points explicitly allows for polygamy and at no point explicitly condemns polygamy. Do you disagree with that? And if so, where do you think does the Bible overturn the earlier sanctioning of poly-marriages?
      You want to criticize the author for saying that the Bible is all consistent and all evil – yet she neither said nor implied those things, all she said is that the “only one man and one woman” mantra that Bible thumpers like Robertson repeat ad nauseam, is not actually what the Bible says about marriage. Your other objection that one ought not criticize ancient texts based on modern standards is also not fair – Rachel Ford´s post didn´t come into existence in a vacuum, it is a *reaction* to someone who believes that said ancient text should be the basis for contemporary law and morality, a reaction where she takes this position seriously.

      • Addendum: you could summarize Rachel´s post with “even if we did what you want and based our laws and morality wrt marriage on the Bible, the Bible does not even support the only-one-man-and-one-woman position you want!” – you are not being targeted here because the “did what you want and based our laws and morality wrt marriage on the Bible” doesn´t apply to you 😉

      • Yeah, but…. what does that have to do with the blogpost you were commenting on?

        What constitutes personhood, what constitutes healthy relationships, what imago dei really means, are all extremely relevant to what constitutes healthy marriage. The book provides foundational material which will merely exist as fuzzy, probably-contradictory unarticulated background if they aren’t explicitly recognized. Better to actually recognize them and gain increased understanding, no?

        As to your questions, all I will say is that to me, they seem to depend on the foundation above. This, especially if we admit a progressive revelation model, such that we are as ready as The Perfect Morality™ as we are ready for the Theory of Everything. Contrast this to successive approximation, ‘wrong’ → ‘less wrong’.

        You want to criticize the author for saying

        Apologies; I did not actually mean to do this; I meant my use of ‘author’ to be McFadyen, and mentioned Gen 1:27 to pique folks’ interest, not to criticize the author Marc quotes.

        you are not being targeted here because the “did what you want and based our laws and morality wrt marriage on the Bible” doesn´t apply to you 😉

        Again, with the progressive revelation model, what you say isn’t true. It’s kinda-sorta true, if you look at it sideways and don’t ask too many questions. But on the contrary, I’m deeply embroiled in a debate about the Mars Hill scandal, about whether Mt 18:17 has “church” = “church elders” or “church” = “all members”. I’m inclined to trust Jesus and not add to scripture, making “church” = “all members”. So here, I really am basing my morality on what Jesus said, I think more closely than others. Furthermore, the “church” = “all members” interpretation may depend strongly on 1 Cor 13:5‘s “[love] does not take into account a wrong suffered”, except that translation probably blows, requiring a return to the Greek words logizomai and kakos. If someone’s fuck-ups are going to be made public to everyone, they better have committed to completely wipe those fuck-ups from their minds after repentance happens—and maybe before (that is, at the point of asking for forgiveness). Fail to obey both of these passages and maybe the result is worse than being secular. Anyhow, all that was just a demonstration that I’m probably a lot closer to the Bible than you intimate.

        I´m not going to get that book but it is still refreshing to see a christian scholar addressing not gay vs straight but rather the more relevant and accurate “the elderly, the impotent, the widowed, the celibate, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual, the deformed and handicapped, and the homosexual”.

        These are the kinds of books I’m reading these days. Another great one is Charles Taylor’s The Malaise of Modernity, in which he illustrates a good version of “be true to yourself”, one which Christians ought to heartily endorse for strong theological reasons (he does not specifically refer to theology, but the connections are easy to make for one not obsessed with power). He doesn’t binarify and call some evil and some good. He actually, shockingly, is on the proper side of the Heb 5:11–6:3 demarcation line.

      • @labreuer:

        You want to criticize the author for saying

        Apologies; I did not actually mean to do this; I meant my use of ‘author’ to be McFadyen, and mentioned Gen 1:27 to pique folks’ interest, not to criticize the author Marc quotes.

        There is a misunderstanding here, only one of those comments (the “…refreshing to see…” one) comment was addressed to you, the others were addressed to Marc (well, not explicitly because I forgot to start with an @Marc, sorry).

    • I´m not going to get that book but it is still refreshing to see a christian scholar addressing not gay vs straight but rather the more relevant and accurate “the elderly, the impotent, the widowed, the celibate, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual, the deformed and handicapped, and the homosexual”.

  4. Hi Marc 🙂 – I note that the Church Fathers almost unanimously supported monogamy (so they were not reading the bible literally but rather asking questions about how diverse and earlier teachings made sense in the light of Jesus’s ministry – and his sayings about divorce seem to be a critique of some rabbinical teachings of the time that gave no protective legal rights to a woman – I faithful wife could be cast off is she became ugly, burnt the cooking too often etc. Therefore to use Jesus’s saying about divorce today to compel a woman to stay in a brutal marriage go completely against the spirit of the sayings – which have subtle differences in the different Gospels anyway.

    Yes it is funny how anti-Semites have always cited the more barbarous passages of the Jewish Scriptures against Jews of their day. Btu Judaism is a developing tradition like Christianity. For example the Rabbis had long since decided that the laws requiring death for a rather large number of offences in the Torah were redundant and overruled by the more important law against shedding innocent blood via false accusation.

    Also – sticking up for Paul – I don’t think that his saying ‘ it is better to marry than to burn’ in context betrays a dark the sexual pessimism that later writer’s read into it. He is saying that given the current distress of savage persecution he would prefer people to remain celibate. But is better to find a legitimate outlet for desire if you find this is not possible.

  5. You leave out one very important point–Jesus Christ and the New Testament is not the old covenant of the Old Testament and its laws and allowed polygamy. Christ came to bring the New Covenant and He made it clear that marriage should be between one man and a woman for a life-abiding marriage. He DID NOT propagate homosexuality PERIOD, especially a homosexual marriage. He came to establish law not abolish God’s Moral Laws. Your “Progressive Christianity” seems to think that you can change things now in the 21st Century–this is apostasy, not true Christianity.

    • Jesus Christ and the New Testament is not the old covenant of the Old Testament and its laws and allowed polygamy.
      ….
      He came to establish law not abolish God’s Moral Laws.

      You might want to organize your thoughts a little because you are blatantly contradicting yourself.

      • No, he did not. There is a difference between prescriptive law and moral law, though there is overlap.

        What difference is that and could you give a (biblical) example for either one?

      • The Ten Commandments are God’s Moral Laws! Christ came to establish the “New Law of the Spirit of Life” written on the “tablets of our heart” This Law magnifies the “Spirit of the Law” over the “letter of the law” and gives freedom from condemnation of sin for the saints–not a license to continue living in sin!

      • The Ten Commandments are God’s Moral Laws!

        And they neither explicitly nor implicitly contradict the sanctioning of polygamy in other parts of the OT. If you now say that polygamy is still not acceptable from a christ-centric biblical perspective, cool, but then you can´t simultaneously say that “He came to establish law not abolish God’s Moral Laws”, choose one.

      • Depends. What do you mean by a “biblical” example? Offhand I’d say that the prohibition to murder is a moral law, but the prohibition against eating shellfish was merely meant for that particular people at a particular time. This all ties back to natural law and human reason again.

        Do I have a specific example where the Bible comes out and outright says this? Well, no. But I don’t think I need one.

      • Depends. What do you mean by a “biblical” example? Offhand I’d say that the prohibition to murder is a moral law, but the prohibition against eating shellfish was merely meant for that particular people at a particular time. This all ties back to natural law and human reason again.

        Do I have a specific example where the Bible comes out and outright says this? Well, no. But I don’t think I need one.

        Alright, so if I understand you correctly, you say that I was wrong in saying that those two statements:
        “Jesus Christ and the New Testament is not the old covenant of the Old Testament and its laws and allowed polygamy.
        ….
        He came to establish law not abolish God’s Moral Laws.”
        – contradict each other. Because all the “laws” from the old covenant that contemporary christians don´t consider to be binding, were not “abolished”, but rather always only meant for some particular people at a particular point in time.
        The problem I see here, is that this way of resolving the contradiction seems to be completely ad hoc (and you can trivially resolve every contradiction between all conceivable pairs of claims, if you are allowed to simply make up ad hoc hypotheses to reconcile them). To me, it doesn´t seem to be plausible (if it would have been in any way obvious to the early christian community that there are two kinds of “law” and that one kind “expired” after the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, how could this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_controversy_in_early_Christianity have happened?).
        I don´t understand the tie to natural law and human reason – do you mean by that, that the temporary “law” cannot be established by human reason alone while the non-temporary “law” can be established by human reason alone?

      • I actually think you’re close to a very important point about the contradiction between those two statements, though I’d call it more of a paradox – boh of them are true in a meaningful way. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant, which He did, but by fulfilling it He also rendered it obsolete.

        The problem I see here, is that this way of resolving the contradiction seems to be completely ad hoc (and you can trivially resolve every contradiction between all conceivable pairs of claims, if you are allowed to simply make up ad hoc hypotheses to reconcile them). To me, it doesn´t seem to be plausible (if it would have been in any way obvious to the early christian community that there are two kinds of “law” and that one kind “expired” after the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, how could this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_controversy_in_early_Christianity have happened?).
        I don´t understand the tie to natural law and human reason – do you mean by that, that the temporary “law” cannot be established by human reason alone while the non-temporary “law” can be established by human reason alone?

        This is because you consider natural law distinctions ad hoc, but they’re not.

        The circumcision controversy is actually a good illustration at the point – early on they didn’t know whether the laws meant for a particular people at a particular time still applied, and the conclusion was no.

      • This is because you consider natural law distinctions ad hoc, but they’re not.

        The circumcision controversy is actually a good illustration at the point – early on they didn’t know whether the laws meant for a particular people at a particular time still applied, and the conclusion was no.

        Just to be sure that I got you right – the difference between the two kinds of “law” that you are talking about is the one that I mentioned, that one kind of “law” can also be established by reason alone while the other cannot be established by reason or even runs counter to natural law reasoning and was only sanctioned for some people at some point in time for reasons only known to God (e.g. polygamy, circumcision etc.pp.), correct?
        The problem I would see with that is that the biblical texts only appeal to divine authority to justify why something is a moral law or duty, but they do not use reason to establish why some of those laws are universal while others are not actually “moral” at all and certainly not universal but where still given to the ancient hebrews for reasons only known to God. The second problem I´d see is that I doubt that you actually can use natural law reasoning to arrive at the conclusion you want to reach, consider those four cases:
        a) John is married to Anna (and they are both fertile) and they have sex.
        b) Same as above, but John is also married to Lucy and Jennifer and has sex with them as well.
        c) Same as a, but Anna has entered menopause.
        d) John is married to Kevin and has sex with him.
        Can you use natural law reasoning to show that a and c are morally acceptable while b and d are not? I´d be curious how you can use natural law to argue that sex that cannot lead to procreation can be acceptable in some cases but not in others and I also wonder how you would use it to argue against polygamy.

      • You’re close. I do not think any of God’s commandments in the Old Testament can actively CONTRADICT the natural law, including the OT genocides (I’m part of a rather large debate on that topic right now; suffice to say, and this is a shortened version, that I do not believe God ordered the genocides).

        I actually DON’T think marriage is intrinsically connected with natural law, but I DO think that the OT and NT come together to form a view of marriage ultimately (by “ultimately” I mean “in the final analysis, after Jesus’s return and with all of the facts and revisions in”) consistent with one man and one woman being married, with fornication forbidden.

        I also think that for very practical reasons this is best for society; I’d have to look into my Lewis for a bit to establish why, but I recall, at least, thinking the case extremely solid when I had done the research.

        And I think that homosexual marriage is impossible, since marriage properly understood has always been intrinsically bound up with a procreative aspect – besides, I think that homosexual sex is sinful due to natural law (I linked to some stuff by Dr. Feser earlier on that explained a bit about what is meant by natural law; I’ll try and find them if I get the time, but if you’d ever care to google they aren’t difficult to find).

      • (As for your challenges, I definitely think I can, but I’ll be leaving soon and have promised to write on some other topics first besides, and that will take at least a bit of work. So it waits for now. The short answer is that it has to with the fact that a man and another man by their very natures are simply not suited to procreative sex with each other; even a post-menopausal woman is naturally designed for male penetration. But of course that’s the short version – I just wanted to give you something so you’d know I’m not outright dodging the question.)

      • I also think that for very practical reasons this is best for society; I’d have to look into my Lewis for a bit to establish why, but I recall, at least, thinking the case extremely solid when I had done the research.

        I don´t doubt that. What I do doubt (strongly) is that gay marriage (for example) is a factor for why a straight couple might get a divorce or not marry in the first place.

        And I think that homosexual marriage is impossible, since marriage properly understood has always been intrinsically bound up with a procreative aspect

        Well, then you´d also have to say that people who are sterile for whatever reasons cannot possibly get “married” and that a “marriage” becomes void as soon as the wife enters menopause (or the husband becomes paraplegic or something analogous).
        Don´t you? If not – why?

        – besides, I think that homosexual sex is sinful due to natural law (I linked to some stuff by Dr. Feser earlier on that explained a bit about what is meant by natural law;

        Yeah, I´ve read that. I get what natural law is about (at least I think I do), but what I don´t get is how you could use it to argue against polygamy or how you could use it to say that it is morally acceptable for, say, an elderly hetero couple to have sex, while it is not morally acceptable for a gay couple to have sex. It seems to me that as soon as you grant that the possibility of procreation is not necessary to make sex a morally acceptable act (and you do grant that if you say that it is acceptable for elderly married couples to have sex), you cannot use the intrinsic sterility of gay sex to argue for it being immoral.

      • The short answer is that it has to with the fact that a man and another man by their very natures are simply not suited to procreative sex with each other; even a post-menopausal woman is naturally designed for male penetration. But of course that’s the short version – I just wanted to give you something so you’d know I’m not outright dodging the question.)

        Well, as you might guess, I obviously don´t believe in any such thing as a “naturally designed for” 😉 but I´ll grant that for the sake of the argument. In anticipation of what your argument might be, here are two objections that I guess will be relevant:
        1. I guess you think that the purpose of reproductive organs – what they are “naturally designed for” – is reproduction, do you agree? If you agree, how can you say that a post-menopausal woman is using her reproductive organs for this purpose when she has sex?
        2. Setting aside the previous objection, it is still not obvious that using an organ for something that it was not “naturally designed for” is morally bad, instead of being morally neutral. Would you agree that using your fingers to type on a keyboad, or your feet to operate the gas pedal of a car, are instances of using your body in a way that it was not “naturally designed for”? And those instances are morally neutral per se, not morally bad – or aren´t they?
        Anyway, I´m looking forward to your answer – take as much time as you want.

  6. You’re not getting it, there are over 600 laws of all kinds in the O.T. Christ was speaking of THE MORAL LAWS–such as the ones against adultery, fornication, homosexuality, stealing, murder, dishonor of parents, idolatry, lying, covetousness, drunkenness, gluttony, other sins of lust, etc. This is what Christ and the Apostles referred to when warning Christians against living after “the lusts of the flesh” Also, Christ (being God Incarnate) had the right to abolish polygamy for the church in stating “that a man and a woman shall be one in unity in Holy Matrimony”.

    • Got it, there are “laws” and there are “THE MORAL LAWS”, and since some of the ones in the OT sucked, Christ abolished them and you just misspoke earlier.

  7. I have an honest question: Which verse in the Bible says that homosexual marriage isn’t a sin? Is the Bible contradicting itself on this one? If so, a passage would be nice.

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