Wrong Again Religion!

marriage

I’ve noticed a growing trend of Christians complaining about being “attacked” for their beliefs about the “sanctity” of what they call “traditional marriage”. My first impulse is to point out the fact that Christianity is not the oppressed minority under siege from a massive and powerful conspiracy to destroy and deny it its rights. It is not the victim in this situation, but the victimizer.  I’ve tried that tack however and had very little success with it so I’m going to try something a little different.

Since I’m trying to build an argument to make Christians understand, it seems only right to start with the bible. It is, after all, the Christian instruction manual for life; it must contain their concept of “Traditional Marriage” and lay it out plainly, right?

Shockingly however, in the Bible, marriage is not limited to a consensual union between one man and one woman. There are, in fact, any number of acceptable forms of marriage laid out in the pages of the Bible and most forms of marriage it mentions don’t even require both parties to consent! Not only is consent not required but there are SEVERAL variations of non-consensual marriage.

Genesis tells us of Judah, who forced the wife of his dead son to marry and sleep with his other son. (Genesis 38:6-10)  In Deuteronomy 21 we learn that soldiers who are attracted to enemy women are allowed to take them as their wives so long as the soldier in question waits a month between taking her and raping her. (Deuteronomy 21:10-13) In the next chapter we learn that rape is considered an acceptable form of marriage proposal so long as the man is willing to pay his victim/fiance’s father the required fifty shekels. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and in Exodus we learn that a master can force his slaves to marry regardless of their will. (Exodus 21:4)

However the Bible isn’t all non-consensual rape marriages, as I said it is open to many interpretations of nuptials. For instance, according to the Bible, Yahweh has no problem with polyamorous or polygamous relationships. According to (1 Kings 11:1-3), King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Christians today make the claim that God punished Solomon for his polygamy, yet the fact is the Bible says quite plainly that Solomon was punished for marrying foreign women who lead him to worship other gods (1 Kings 11:1-2, 9-10). According to  (1Chronicles 3) King David had seven wives. Regardless of modern spin on the situation both men are generally regarded as paragons of scripture and high in god’s favour, and nowhere in the text is there any question about whether their version of marriage was a correct one.

Christian apologists will tell you that Jesus defined marriage in (Matthew 19:4-6) “Haven’t you read, he replied, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh So they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” yet this is not a definition. Christ never condemned the previously mentioned forms of marriage or said that this was the only acceptable form of union. At most what you’ve got here is yet another form of marriage in the text further demonstrating the elasticity of the term in the scriptures. And a careful reading of the passage and his concluding statement “let no one separate” reveals that Jesus’ primary intent in those verses was to forbid divorce—something which modern Christians readily ignore.

There is, I assure you, much more than can be said on the subject of biblical marriage but suffice it to say that the modern conception of consensual one-man-one-woman marriage is, by the lights of the Bible, a new and radical departure from what the fathers of the faith would call a traditional marriage.

As for why conservative Christian views come under scrutiny from secular society the answer to that is simple. When one looks back through history the positions of conservative Christianity are, almost without exception, horrendously  backward and bigoted positions based largely on personal bias, ignorance, and of course selective interpretation of the scriptures. Let’s look at some examples.

SLAVERY

Perhaps the most striking example of conservative Christianity’s failure to evolve with the times is the conservative defence and fostering of the practice of slavery. The abolition movement met constant and often violent opposition from the faithful when it came to the question of freedom for slaves in America and England. The Reverend Alexander Campbell one of the founders of the Restoration Movement famously  said: “There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral.”

That is an opinion that was shared by Jefferson Davis, the first and only President of the Confederate States of America as evidenced by the following quote:

“Slavery was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency of the arts.”

                How did they justify this position you ask? They turned to the ultimate authority on law and morality of course. They delved into their bibles and came up with examples like the following to show that God wanted slaves right where they were.

 “Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” Genesis 16:9

“There were still people left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perrizzites, Hevites, and Jebusites. Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these people remaining in the land whom the Israelites could not exterminate to serve as slave labor. As it is to this day”  1 Kings 9: 20-21

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:5-8

WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

Female equality in our society was a long fought battle that met with strong opposition from both men and women. One of the groups strongest in their opposition to this equality was, inevitably , Conservative Christianity. The idea being that it was unnatural and sinful for women to reach above the subservient, weaker position they’d been given by god. This position, they assured us, was upheld by holy scripture and they used bible verses like those that follow to anchor their prejudice.

 “For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”  1 Corinthians 11:8-9

 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” 2 Timothy 3:1-7

                Now I hear the Christians screaming “There were Christians fighting for suffrage and abolition too!!” and they’re right. There absolutely were Christians working for abolition and suffrage, and their work would have gone a whole lot easier if it hadn’t been for the Parties of God pretending they have some unique understanding of morality or private warrant to decide “right” for all mankind.

I’ve written it before and I’ll likely write it again. Religion provides no unique benefits to the world, it does how ever have unique pitfalls which make it an unnecessary and dangerous extravagance. The Christian viewpoint has been on the wrong side of every major social change in history. The “gay marriage debate” shouldn’t be a debate. Once again the bible has provided, as it always does, a justification to cling to outdated stigmas and stereotypes. The rest of us, secular society, will once again drag you kicking and screaming toward modern morality and basic humanistic consideration for your fellow humans. We’ll do it because you don’t get to choose how we live, and when we’re done and we’ve finished all the work you can all sit around and declare that, just like the Church freed the slaves and gave women the vote,  the Church brought equality to “the gays”.

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Posted on March 28, 2013, in Editorial, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Damn them Christians, ruining the world again. Let’s be thankful that Mormons, Islam, Judahism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Scientology, The Jehovah’s Witness, and so many more (sorry for any misspelling) all these institutions are helping with their inclusive policys, and fair treatment, if it wasn’t for those Christians, we’d all be so happy …

    • Sarcasm noted, though I don’t understand it’s usage here as you know perfectly well that I have no trouble calling each group out for their various falsehoods atrocities and prejudices and that I am an enemy of all organized religion not just Christianity. Since you’ve read me many times you also know I speak most often about theism in general rather than a specific tradition. In this particular instance I’ve chosen to highlight SOME of the bigoted idiocy of Christianity, but it is by no stretch of imagination all I do.

  2. The piece is titled “Wrong again Religion”, and quickly becomes an blatantly obvious; open indictment of Christianity. Sorry, but it kinda left me feeling a little mislead. Thnx for catching the sarcasm, & yes I’ve read your work; Often & Actively. I’ve also openly rewuested that you point out specifics w/ the flaws you find, with “Religion” & much like this piece you quoted mostly (old testament) Judaism. I’m not sure the 10’s of thousands of women Currently enduring the mutation of female circumsition really take issue w/ archaic Jewish belief as much as they need help w/ tribal law practices. The gay men living in fear for their lives in Jerusalem probably don’t really consider the Golden Rule much of a threat. The abject poverty of the Hindu Caste system, that pre-dates Judaism’s younger children by thousands of years hasn’t been to kind to gender equality let alone the millions trapped under its crushing, perpetual bulk. Its perspective we lack. & the Christians, the Pope are always the easiest target, that’s miles from the critical thinking that we’re lead to expect.

  3. I chose a specific topic which relates to recent news and a number of comments I’ve seen about Christians being “attacked” for their views.As I said yesterday I generally speak more broadly about theism in general however I will admit that when I do specify I generally limit myself to Judaism, Christianity and Islam as these are the traditions I know best as well as being the LARGEST most powerful and widespread religions on the planet. That doesn’t mean I am unaware of or indifferent to the various other religious atrocities and crimes around the globe. However i try not to talk about things I don’t understand fully and my education is always ongoing. For instance I have no intention of ignoring the horrors of Hinduism. Stay tuned.

    I will grant you that the tens of millions of people ground down by the Hindu caste system couldn’t care less about the Old Testament. However the troubles experienced by both the Jewish homosexuals you mentioned and large numbers of the victims of the atrocity of female genital mutilation are directly related to the ancient nonsense in the old testament. Maybe those Jewish homosexuals you mentioned don’t have a problem with “the golden rule” but i bet they have very clear objections to the parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy that call them abominations and have been used for centuries to justify marginalizing and killing them.in droves. Christians and the Pope are “easy targets” because they’re repeatedly and regularly responsible for horrendous acts of prejudice, ignorance, abuse and evil and I honestly don’t see why It should be okay to discuss the inequities of Hindu life but not point out the exact same sorts of equities perpetrated by the monotheistic faiths.

    Your problems with the article don’t seem to be factual, as I don’t see any objections to any of the details or characterizations it contains. It seems your argument is simply that you don’t want to read about the crimes of Christianity. That’s fair I suppose, but let’s not downplay or gloss over the harm that the religions of the one god have done and continue to do.and then backhandedly cast aspersions on anyone else’s critical thinking. That’s just intellectually dishonest. Thanks for the comment.

  4. I guess you believe that I have a problem w/ the article. I don’t; necessarily, or I wouldn’t read your work as consistently and actively as I do. I feel that you got this one wrong is all, & that misnomer lies in its title. “Wrong again Religion” is misleading when you spend the entirety of your efforts dispelling your proposed issues w/ Christianity. “Wrong again Pope Frank”, “Wrong Again NIV Bible”, these would all be far more accurate. I find your writing brilliant, educated and enlightened, while I choose to draw my own conclusions Adam, make no mistake; I am a fan. A more compelling and thereby factual title would be in order. To address “Religion” on this topic would, I’m afraid take up far too much time, & require a dinner date, and a long evening of discussion my wife would choose to avoid }:)

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