Right on Cue: Talk Like Gangrene

Over at Alpha Game Plan, JG asks advice concerning fidelity to an asexual wife:

A dozen years ago I started dating a girl from where I worked at the time, who left her 1st boyfriend to ‘trade up’ to me.

Most likely, he is a pussy-beggar. He accepts a woman who moves directly from man to man.

She is 7 years younger than me, was 20 at the time. We hit it off very well and became very close, but I noticed one odd problem: there was no sex or sexuality. That baffled me, as I was unaccustomed to ‘dry spells’, but I thought perhaps she just needed time, which I allowed. After 6 months things started happening, but only just barely…as in, once a month or so, no foreplay allowed, and she would get noticeably restless after a few minutes.

They practiced premarital sex, yet he sees no problem. This is sowing sexual dysfunction; no matter that it “works out” for your friends, your parents, or your grandparents. Take a look at the West. It did not work out. See what we reap.

Despite this, I felt close enough to her that I eventually proposed, and we got married. (I know, sounds delta or gamma or something but that’s where I was then).

The salt loses its saltiness before it has a chanced to be used to flavor the meal of marriage, and yet he proposes. Even the sons of this world have more shrewdness.

After a while, even the minimal sex stopped altogether. She flinches if I touch her near a sexual area, it is clearly unwanted. No amount of flowers or jewelry or other traditionally romantic gestures has ever deactivated her force field.

Of course not. Women don’t want to have sex with either flowers or jewelry.

After ruling out theories like closet lesbianism, an inexplicable nosedive of Game, previous sexual abuse, that I might unwittingly be an odorous troll, etc,

On what grounds does he rule this out? This is one of the worst re-tellings of Game I’ve ever heard.

I eventually realized she may well be one of the statistical minority of people who are genuinely asexual, which pretty much killed my sexual desire for her since she has none to reciprocate with; I just have no physical interest in any woman who has none in me, or with whom I have no strong bond. So, I no longer pressure her with notification of frustration over my unmet needs.

In this, I can sympathize with him, but the fact is this is the bed he has made. She’s not asexual–they were having sex–she’s just not interested in having sex with him anymore.

Of importance is the fact that at some point I evolved from agnosticism to a strong interest in following God, whereas she remains unconvinced and uninterested, even though she is aware of the abundance of supporting evidence that might otherwise cause the intellectually honest to reconsider their previous skepticism. However, this has never been a source of friction between us, we’re both pretty laid back. So I feel compelled to honor my commitment to her despite her absence of sexuality. And despite being otherwise somewhat misanthropic, she in turn leans heavily on me, having formed some deep bond that doesn’t include any intimacy beyond holding hands. Not even kissing. (both non-smokers, good oral hygiene, so not an olfactory problem) So, I had no idea what spiritually acceptable recourse I may have.

Recourse; as in a legal action. In his mind she is his enemy. She may be his enemy in her mind, too, but that’s her problem. I am reminded: “Teacher, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?”

Although I’d be interested in your commentary on that, here’s where it gets more complicated: In your opinion, is it technically possible to cheat on a person with whom you have no sexual relationship?

Again with the legality. He wants to remain outside the spirit of the matter of loving his wife.

The reason I ask is, I met a woman at church and we were drawn to one another and have been in regular contact. She and I are strongly attracted to each other, and none other, but she periodically reminds me that if my faith in God is not a top priority like hers, then she will have to sever our relationship. Her faith is strong, and at times I have given her some very reassuring input when she has questions, or when her atheist friends attack her beliefs. In turn, she tries to keep me on track, spiritually. She is aware of my unusual marital situation, and proposed a solution I didn’t expect: sharing me with my wife, but with exclusive sexual rights. (she has a very…vigorous drive)

Here he gives away the game. He’s already engaged in lust with another woman. He’s having an affair. We are Christians. We don’t have to refer to emotional affairs as our Lord has said all affairs are matters of the heart. I am curious to know how much time existed between her last boyfriend, and when he and this “church-woman” began “regular contact”.

I would much prefer to have everything straightforward and out in the open with nothing to hide, and I can’t help thinking that since my wife has permanently said ‘no’ to me sexually, then she has essentially forfeited the right to say ‘no’ to this, but then again, I’m sure she will somehow not see it that way, so I have been procrastinating having “the talk” with her because historically, she has a meltdown if she feels our stability is threatened. However, the other woman is becoming increasingly anxious about it, and wishes I would proceed with all due haste.

He offers commitment and luxuries to a woman who has no interest in his dick, but did play with it beforehand so as to entrap him. He’s a buffoon; confounded by his own stupidity, and twirled around by every halfway decent woman that looks at him twice. He’s very nearly a clone of me with the exceptions that:

  1. I would not have offered marriage to a woman who spurned my advances for any but religious reasons
  2. I wouldn’t ask permission to do what I knew was wrong.

The second difference is what I find most despicable. He’s gotten himself in a bad spot, but to use sympathy to lead others into sin (by seeking their approval to have an affair) is craven.

Vox is smart, but often foolish; as he is here. He responds that JG is essentially pursuing a polygynous relationship with another woman, and that the Bible seems to condone polygyny. This is false.

  1. Christian marriage is a particular covenant with particular qualifications. It is between a man and a woman. It is a sacrament with duties bound to God as well as each other. The woman’s legitimate authority should be transferring her headship from itself to her husband. Finally, society has a role in recognizing and upholding boundaries of marriage. Even if JG, his wife, and Church Woman all agree to marriage–and even if we are to resign God to the role of Uninvolved Rule-Giver in the Sky (as seems to be JG’s and VD’s wish)–it is profoundly unlikely that their church will agree; that her father will agree; or that the government powers will agree. This will have to be kept in the dark. Not because it is private, but because they know it is sin.
  2. Polygyny was not so from the beginning. The same answer Jesus gives for when it is acceptable to put away your wife is the same answer for when it is acceptable to marry multiple women. “From the beginning it was not so, but for the hardness of your hearts…” What is important–and that the disciples understood and made them tremble–is that we are to pursue what was so from the beginning: one man, one woman for life; else it is better to be a eunuch and never touch a woman.
  3. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are good for me.” The law has been fulfilled. There is no reason to seek to appease the law because Christ has met and overflowed every prescription and proscription of the law. We are to be about the business of doing what is good; not what we are allowed. Is it good to keep faith with your wife; to show her steadfast love and mercy whether she deserve it or not? Yes, always. There is the end of the matter.

There are consequences for accepting Game as a set of tools. The tools you use will define your philosophy, and your philosophy will direct your thinking. You cannot serve two masters.

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90 thoughts on “Right on Cue: Talk Like Gangrene

  1. One day I’ll spend the time to really understand VD’s theology but I find most of it mystifying because I really don’t think he has thought it all through.

  2. I am curious to know how much time existed between her last boyfriend, and when he and this “church-woman” began “regular contact”.

    I wondered the same thing.

    Is it good to keep faith with your wife; to show her steadfast love and mercy whether she deserve it or not? Yes, always. There is the end of the matter.

    Thank you. I’m forever curious about the Happiness Committee people convene in their own heads. It’s not that we don’t all do it, sometimes, it’s that the level of rationalization some people are capable of is just astonishing.

  3. He offers commitment and luxuries to a woman who has no interest in his dick, but did play with it beforehand so as to entrap him. He’s a buffoon; confounded by his own stupidity, and twirled around by every halfway decent woman that looks at him twice.

    Harsh, but true. If I had to guess, the woman offering “herself” to him now is hitting the baby rabies stage, and wants his child. All so that she can goad him into leaving his current wife for her.

  4. Fortunately, there are some pretty good comments on AlphaGame. Here are a few excerpts from the third one from “D'Arcey”:

    “Don’t do it. I respectfully disagree with Vox: you absolutely do not have a free hand.

    I grant that polygamy has a biblical _precedent_, that is not the same as biblical warrant…
    The teachings of Eph 5 on what marriage _is_ (by nature of what it points to) preclude polygamy. It is a picture of the singular groom and his singular bride.

    Further, given that the character of an elder is merely a description of what every Christian ought to be doing, but the elder is _succeeding_, you ought to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3).

    As it stands, JG is about to head into full-on adultery.

    If your wife were a Christian, you would take her before the elders (and eventually the church) on charges on the basis of 1 Cor 7 (as the Puritans were wont to do).

    In the same way, 1 Cor 7.12-16 binds *you*. Lead her strongly. If she refuses to follow and desires instead to ‘leave’, then you are not bound. But you may not commit adultery, you may not divorce her, and you ought not seek to enter into concubinage.

    In my view, you are definitely already cheating (an Emotional Affair in Athol’s categories) and your own “hamster” is running wild. Hers already has, and the two together will definitely leave your current marriage shattered (instead of broken as it is now).”

    A commenter named “Foster” is also doing pretty well on there.

    Knowing about sexless marriages first-hand, I know this is very tough, touchy territory, and temptations abound. (Alliteration was unintended there!) However, as Arcey said, I think the only Biblical way out is to remain faithful and let the wife leave, if it comes to that. If you have children, the stakes are even higher.

  5. As an addendum, I’m not sure how most churches would handle a long-term sexless spouse from a disciplinary standpoint. I’ve attended churches that have ex-communicated male adulterers, but have never seen anything like this. Our current church is very conservative, but I’m not sure what they would do if I eventually bring my case to them. I hope and pray I don’t have to.

  6. @ John

    The procedure about confronting someone with their sin is laid out in the NT. First privately, then with a few others, then before the whole church. And if that doesn’t work, if they refuse to turn away from sin, then they are to be excommunicated until they repent of their sins and turn away from them.

  7. Thanks, donalgrame, though I understand the procedure and am very familiar with Matt. 18. What I mean is that I haven’t seen the procedure play out in the modern church for a sex-refusing spouse. I’ve seen adulterers either repent or eventually be ex-communicated if they didn’t per that process.

  8. So the reality John is that such sanction against this sort of unfaithful spouse (and one should refer to them as such) is going to be rare. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen though or that it won’t.

  9. John, read the pleas for righteous judgement in the Bible. You should be asking for righteous judgement, and your church should by duty provide it from the elders and pastors (do NOT go to counselors who are not elders, as this is a matter of sin). When you are offended you SHOULD attempt to protect your own honor by trying to overlook the injury, but if you cannot overlook it you should not pretend to be tougher than you really are by ignoring an offense that you are not actually capable of overlooking. Do not delay on this, because you will continue to develop a bad attitude that will poison your confrontation. Do not act out of fear for her explosion — do not even assume it.

    However: pray for an attitude that seeks to rebuild and restore her, and confess that your attitude has not been to seek her restoration, and without God’s help you will not be able to avoid even more grievous sin. Purpose to accept God’s help and refuse to stand in your own strength. If you’ve been delaying this for more than a week or two, consider fasting and praying for a day (this is optional); then eat properly; then tell her that she has offended you by failing to keep her vows of union. Don’t wait for her to be in a good or bad mood; just do it. Tell her!

    If you cannot do this yet, please go to http://www.ibcd.org and listen to (or watch) some lectures on the topic of confronting sin. They have been immensely helpful to me.

  10. …if you DO choose to delay in order to learn, do NOT delay indefinitely. You will be wounding yourself and her.

    …also, I’m SO glad to see that someone is attempting to oppose the stupidity that the Christian Game community is building up about polygamy. I disagree with some of your reasons (although you’re right to point out to Vox that he has a commitment to the Roman Bishop that FORBIDS him from endorsing polygamy), but I agree with more of what you’re saying. The Christian Church will very, very soon have to deal with real polygamy, and we had best be prepared to deal with it, not to pretend it’s going to help us.

  11. The claim that the other women needed him to take His commitment to God seriously seemed inconsistent with her implied actions. Some key things were almost certainly left out of the story.

  12. do NOT go to counselors who are not elders, as this is a matter of sin

    This is not true. We are advised to not go before magistrates about internal matters. This does not prevent all forms of civil action and most especially does not prevent getting good counsel.

  13. To be fair, I think wm was saying that most counselors (including Christian ones) are trained in modern psychology and probably to more harm than good in these situations. Howevever, there are some who are grounded in Biblical principles, like the ones at the ibcd.org link he gave. While going to a solid counselor may be a first step, they have no authority re: church discipline. If you can’t get things resolved at that level, you need to go to the elders (or whoever has authority in your church–perhaps a priest/bishops in an episcopal form of church gov’t).

  14. Thank you both for interacting. Chesterton, you’re right that Christians are not under some kind of legalistic prohibition against going before a counselor or court; Paul’s outrage wasn’t that people were going before the Law, but rather that the local church was doing nothing about these fights. I’m encouraging you to give your church a chance to resolve your fight — and I’m telling you (based on wisdom of experience) to NEVER go to your church’s counseling ministry if it’s nothing more than a group of paid secular counselors. Don’t laugh — that’s what my former church did.

    If the problem is merely “we don’t have anything in common”, by all means go to any old counselor. But the problem here is, by your claim, SIN. You don’t need a counselor to help you get along; you need to confess to one another and forgive one another. I think that going to a counselor when you believe there’s sin is actually going to the wrong specialist.

  15. Cane, delete this partial off topic question if it is too off topic:
    I’ve been divorced twice. Is my second marriage in God’s eyes illegal? Am I permitted to get married a third time (not that I would). If my second marriage was sin, I presume I am forgiven. Any Christian clarification is appreciated.

  16. Mystifying indeed. It seems as if she was asexual while being sexual before the marriage, so to speak. That a 20 yr old was so compelling to a 27 year old that he married her even though she was demonstrating serious sexual issues is bizarre unless she is several points over his scale reach. I’m not endorsing anything about these concepts, I’m merely using them descriptively. A man will marry for sex and choose the one to marry because she is pleasant and reliable and respectful and they have common interests. This guys choice seems really screwed up from the start. Church discipline, counseling, etc. is unlikely to have any measurable effect. If she were to have a real encounter with God, maybe. Intellectual reasoning is not going to make this better. That’s about it.

  17. empath (cool name BTW), church discipline will have measurable effects in eternity even if it doesn’t have those effects here. There’s no pleasant way out of this situation, but that doesn’t mean there’s no right reaction to her behavior. Your counsel is a counsel leading to only apathy and despair.

  18. Vascularity, there’s no clear Biblical teaching that a second marriage is inherently illegal. If you dismissed your first wife without cause you then committed adultery against her when you remarried, but that’s doesn’t make it illegal in the sense of not being a marriage; on the contrary, you were bound by that second marriage such that you were no longer permitted to remarry your first wife. If you had dismissed your first wife for cause (or if you were dismissed for cause) your second marriage is never clearly spoken of as sinful.

    Second marriages are not the Lord’s design, but they are real and as binding as first marriages.

  19. Cane… Glad to see your blog back, but I think you’re not looking at the situation correctly.
    First, the issue of authority. The command to the wife is to obey her husband in everything, as unto the Lord. That could be rephrased as the Lord speaking to the woman saying ‘Woman, obey him as if it were Me giving you the command, in everything.’

    Everything means everything, because if it doesn’t, then it means the church doesn’t have to obey Christ in everything. Make sure you eat your Wheaties before you try arguing against that statement, because Paul made a pretty tight logical syllogism in that passage.

    Next is the issue of morality. We observe from the behavior of the Pharisees and Sanhedrin that it is the nature of a mature religious establishment to alter, enhance and add to the established body of regulation, which was prohibited in Deut. 4:2. We notice that in Romans 5:13 that sin is not imputed where there is no law. Romans 14 informs us that there are some questionable issues which are not contrary to the Law, and we as Christians are not to judge one another in these areas. Notice that the two examples Paul used were eating meat sacrificed to Idols, (condemned by the first apostolic council in Jerusalem) and the keeping of the Sabbath (commanded in the Law). Only God determines morality. Something may be a sin to you because you lack faith, but if it was not condemned or prohibited by the Lord, you don’t get to call it a sin for someone else who’s faith is strong and has a clear conscience.

    Nothing in the Law forbids polygyny, nothing in the NT condemns it or prohibits it, therefore Romans 14:4 applies. The problem is that Christians don’t want to go there because instinctively they realize where it’s going to lead and that takes them over the edge. Contrary to what many Protestants believe, divorce is forbidden to believers. So the question then becomes, can the wife summarily sentence her husband to celibacy? No. Corporal punishment of a wife is not forbidden, neither is polygyny. God did not place the husband in the position He did and then call marriage a type of the relationship between Christ and His church.

    To say that the husband has no authority over his wife is to say that Christ has no authority over His church. To say the husband has no authority to chastise his wife is to say Christ has no authority to chastise Christians. To say the husband has no right to take another wife if she refuses to obey him is to say that Christ has no right to ‘remove His lampstand’ from a church that refuses to repent and obey and place it somewhere else. There is no amount of feel-good feminism that can possibly limit the Lord’s authority over the church, which is the same as that of the husband over his wife.

    If any of Y’all want to try, be my guest, but marriage belongs to the family, not the church or the state. All three are covenant entities ordained of God, but in marriage it is the man (husband) who is in authority.

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  21. There’s no pleasant way out of this situation, but that doesn’t mean there’s no right reaction to her behavior. Your counsel is a counsel leading to only apathy and despair.

    I offered no prescription, only a proscription. Stay away from counseling. Church discipline is a great path to choose, I knew a church in Houston, a small one, that, when couples neared the brink, would move the man and woman into homes with other members…separately, and walk them into reconciliation. How common is that?

    If a man pressed church discipline regarding sexual refusal he would find a series of hoops presented to him, all sizes, some flaming, and the difficulty would increase, all while the input from the woman became increasingly less coherent and not anywhere close to self examination.

    Counseling would be even worse as they tried to split the difference and get him to accept half-refusal as not being refusal.

    It isn’t me that would lead to despair and hopelessness. Though I know the Biblical admonishments, I still have a tendency to favor pessimism. Thereby I am rarely disappointed, which is akin to joy.

  22. Empath, I’m confused — above you listed “church discipline, counseling” as “unlikely to have any measurable effect”; then you said “Intellectual reasoning is not going to make this better.” There is not a single statement in your original post that offered anything the guy could do. Now you say you do recommend church discipline, although the one path you recommend is actually an extreme counseling method and not church discipline at all.

    It’s possible that the future you foretell actually would happen. I would find the flamingness of the hoops to be clear evidence of the church’s desire to disobey the Bible’s explicit commands, and I would take action in response either by showing the pastor the commands addressed to him or by simply leaving for another church. The Bible does NOT condone people trading sins or forgiveness; the fact that you have sinned against your wife does not free her from church discipline. But since it’s what we are commanded to do when an offense comes between believers, DO IT. Don’t assume that it’s “unlikely to have any measurable effect” just because someone said so — do it because it’s what we’re instructed to do. (And heck, because it makes sense.)

  23. Artisinal Toad, it took me a long time to get to it, but I did respond to your claims (which you made in another thread) regarding divorce, marriage, and polygamy. It’s on “Alpha Game”, a pair of comments dated Jul 25th on the post “the fourth reason”.

    As others have pointed out, although polygamy isn’t illegal, it’s regulated and even banned for elders. Monogamy is everywhere assumed to be the normal, healthy state, and men who seek plural wives are rebuked in wisdom literature and the laws of ruling. The creation ordinance is quite explicit that first, marriage is formed by the MAN leaving his parents; and second, by both uniting (which implies sexual union) AND cleaving (which implies cultural union that changes the culture to something new and unique to the pair). Dan 2:43 uses the same words with some additional explanation to make the definitions and differences clear.

    I find it tragic that you join Piper in being so willing to believe that Jesus thought the Law was actually in error that you won’t consider other explanations. I think Christ is pointing out that Moses wasn’t defining divorce in that particular law at all — it wasn’t about divorce, but rather was about the illegality of a remarriage after a genuine divorce followed by a legitimate marriage (this is a tragic mistranslation in the KJV that most other translations have correctly avoided). This is why Christ told them to look elsewhere — not because he didn’t like that law and was going to repeal it, but rather because that law, like all the rest of the Mosaic Law, didn’t institute divorce AT ALL. However, God not only permitted divorce in His holy Law, He actually used it himself, referencing it explicitly in Jer 3 and Isa 50. God’s heart is not hard, so it’s not the heart of the person seeking divorce “for cause” against which Jesus speaks; the hardness of heart Moses give divorce on account of is the hardness of heart of the adulterer, the person profaning the marriage.

  24. @Tanksley
    although polygamy isn’t illegal, it’s regulated and even banned for elders.
    You need to take a look at that phrase that’s translated of ‘husband of one wife’ which is the exact same phrase translated as ‘wife of one husband’ in both Timothy and Titus when speaking about the widows. That phrase better translates as ‘not a ladies man’ and for the widows, ‘not a flirt.’ The context is the moral character of both. To say otherwise is to say Paul was forbidding adding a widow to the Church roster who was widowed, legitimately remarried and then widowed again.

    Have no clue what you’re talking about with respect to Piper. Who is Piper? Did you read my exegesis regarding divorce? Look at Matthew 23:1-3. The Pharisees sat themselves in the seat of Moses, therefore Jesus tells the people to obey them. Jesus is recognizing that the judgments become part of the Law. However, Jesus also made it clear that He did not agree with the judgment of Moses concerning Divorce. Paul makes it clear the command of 1st Corinthians 7:10-11 is from the Lord. We see that the risen and glorified Christ is commanding His bondservants. He overturned the ruling or Deut:24:1-4. What that means is that it doesn’t matter what happened with respect to divorce prior to that, things have changed. Jesus didn’t just ‘think the law was in error,’ He said so and then corrected said error. You follow with your opinion, which frankly doesn’t even make sense. Is there a typo here?:

    I think Christ is pointing out that Moses wasn’t defining divorce in that particular law at all — it wasn’t about divorce, but rather was about the illegality of a remarriage after a genuine divorce followed by a legitimate marriage (this is a tragic mistranslation in the KJV that most other translations have correctly avoided).

    I’m left with the feeling that you want very much to find a way to say polygyny is wrong, but you don’t have anything to go on except “tradition.” The problem is that the argument to tradition doesn’t work here. Traditionally the institution of monogamous marriage was strong and durable. We didn’t have widespread promiscuity across the board. Conditions have changed to the point that traditional monogamous marriage is not a viable option today for many, due to the behavior (promiscuity, waiting to get married) and the legal issues (too easy for Cupcake to nuke the marriage and walk away with cash and prizes). I argued that here and here. Finally, the fact the Catholic Church sanctioned polygyny in Paraguay in the 1800’s with a special dispensation pretty much shuts down the RCC’s position that polygyny is a sin… unless you’re taking the position that the Church can grant a dispensation that permits a person to knowingly sin?

  25. Cane, delete this partial off topic question if it is too off topic:
    I’ve been divorced twice. Is my second marriage in God’s eyes illegal? Am I permitted to get married a third time (not that I would).

    Both Catholics and Orthodox, the oldest of the Christian traditions, hold that a reading of Scripture shows that divorce is impossible. You are married to your first wife and will be forever. What that means in heaven God hasn’t seen fit to describe but he’s made it clear that it won’t be the same as here. Remarriage is allowed in the case of the death of a spouse.

    Orthodoxy _does_ allow for second and third marriages but they aren’t treated as marriages per se. They are dealt with via a modified Rite of Penitence. That is, you admit you suck and you are doing something wrong but the Church allows for some normalization of the relationship because humans suck in general. I’m Orthodox and not a fan of this even if I understand the intent.

    Has your first wife remarried?

    @Artisianal Toad,

    Nope. You sir are wrong. Polygamy was allowed for a limited time. The law of all men originates in the standards set for Adam who was the husband of one wife. We likewise are to follow in the footsteps of our Master who is married to one Wife: the Church.

    Also, you’re reading of Timothy doesn’t make any sense at all. My knowledge of Greek is miserably poor to non-existant but, “einai mias gunaikos andra,” does not mean what you purport it to mean. It literally means “man/husband (the term for man here covers most of the traditionally male roles) of one woman”. I’ve never even heard someone try to construct it the way you do. Nor did Luther, even with his allowance for polygamy, attempt to do the same.

  26. @GKC,

    I would find the principle of “go and sin no more” to be more applicable than claiming a current marriage is not valid. Yeah, the divorce(s) was/were sin, but we do that all the time and need to follow the advice to “confess our sins” and let Him be faithful and just to forgive us of all our sin and to cleans us from all unrighteousness. Nothing in their about going back to a previous marriage, for example.

    Anyone who would make this as a justification for divorce really needs to evaluate their own relationship to see who their true lord is. It may not be what they think.

  27. @empath,

    This guy was already violating the Scriptures with sex prior to marriage. It is not surprising he didn’t end up in a Biblically-faithful marriage. He set the wrong foundation and got an unstable building. No shock there.

    Still a bad situation, but he would do well to step back and figure out how committed he really is to the Lordship of Jesus, not just his own desires. Much of the advice was more justifying what he wanted to do than holding to a higher standard.

  28. @GKC
    It is clear to me that we probably won’t agree, but I believe it will be fruitful to examine why we don’t agree and how we arrive as such divergent viewpoints. I regularly do ‘street apologetics’ with agnostics and atheists, and a fundamental point is there are only two ways to look at what we know as LAW: The law of creation, in which the Creator gets to make the rules; and the law of the jungle, in which might makes right.

    I speak first to morality.

    I will assume you agree that God’s law is binding on us as created beings. That point of view presumes where the Creator has spoken, man is to obey. However, where God has not forbidden or condemned something, it is not immoral, per se. This standard of morality is absolute and for all time, and as Paul said, there is no sin imputed where there is no law (Romans 5:13). The word imputed is the same word used to describe the Christian being ‘imputed’ with the Righteousness of Christ. It is a term that describes a judgment by one in authority. No law, no judgment, no sin, unless the individual judges himself. It is at that point the Christian could be in sin (Romans 14:23; James 4:17). That, however, is a matter of conscience.

    You said: Nope. You sir are wrong. Polygamy was allowed for a limited time. The law of all men originates in the standards set for Adam who was the husband of one wife. We likewise are to follow in the footsteps of our Master who is married to one Wife: the Church.

    The Law of all men originated in the standards set for Adam and was defined when God gave His Law through His servant, Moses. Now, would you please point me to the spot where God placed a time limit on polygyny? Tanksley admits it was a regulated activity (just like farming- a not prohibited or otherwise condemned activity regulated by the Law) and you should admit that it was endorsed by the RCC 300 years after the RCC banned it. You could argue about the wisdom of polygyny, but I think it’s pretty clear that your claim to the immorality of polygyny is not found in God’s Word, but rather in a manmade tradition.

    I speak next of authority.

    However, since you make your argument in this fashion, I will point out the four elements of marriage: Permission of the father (God the Father gave Eve to Adam), agreement to marry (what we call ‘present words of assent), consummation and cohabitation. When the man left his father and mother he created a new covenant entity separate and distinct from his fathers family. That covenant entity was ordained and created by God and given its own mission. We notice the next covenant entity God created was the State. The last covenant entity created was the church. Each of these entities was given different responsibilities: the family is in charge of filling the earth and subduing it, the state is in charge of keeping order and the church is in charge of going forth and making disciples of all men. The headship doctrine laid out in Ephesians 5:22-24 clearly states the husband is the supreme authority in his family, for the wife is commanded to obey him in everything, as unto the Lord. The husband’s authority over his wife is defined as the same authority that Christ has over the church.

    Therefore, any limitation on the authority of the husband over his wife is a limitation of the authority Christ has over His church. Notice the comparison of two separate covenant entities, the family and the church. The head of the family is the husband and the head of the church is Christ. What about the State? They bear the sword. Their agents are described as ministers of righteousness. What’s the point? The state was not given the authority to dictate policy within the church and neither was the church given the authority to dictate policy within the marriage. If the husband wants more than one wife it is his decision to make, not the church or the state. That is what God ordained.

    If you believe polygyny is a sin, even though God never said it was, then don’t do it. If you believe eating meat sacrificed to idols is a sin, don’t do it. If you believe keeping the actual Sabbath (Saturday) is a sin because we’re in the age of grace and the church should worship on Sunday, then worship on Sunday. But, seriously, give Romans 14 a look and see what God had to say about that.

    You also said: What that means in heaven God hasn’t seen fit to describe but he’s made it clear that it won’t be the same as here. That was within the context of a discussion of a levirate marriage in which the hapless woman was passed from one polygynous marriage to another as she went from each (presumably married) brother seven times. Had Jesus wanted to address polygyny he could have done so at that point but He didn’t. What Jesus did say (at another point) was the Pharisees were teaching as doctrine the traditions of men and he rebuked them for doing so.

  29. This part jumped out at me:

    she remains unconvinced and uninterested, even though she is aware of the abundance of supporting evidence that might otherwise cause the intellectually honest to reconsider their previous skepticism

    What wife could resist such bold spiritual leadership? I don’t mean to pile on here, but what is there to fear? He is all but asking permission to follow God. Since he can’t get it from his wife, he seeks it from a mistress. This is certainly about sex, but it isn’t only about sex. He is seeking someone to join with in the mystery of flesh, someone to wash him in the water of the Word and present him as blameless. His problem isn’t just that he is seeking to undo his marriage. He is seeking to replace his wife with a husband.

  30. A-Toad, first, let me address your claim that I’m appealing to tradition by pointing out that I’m not, and your claim that I am is both completely ungrounded and puzzling. In addition, contrary to your claim, I’m not particularly interested in proving that polygamy is sinful or fictitious; it’s clear to me that it’s real and sometimes legal. No, a man is not eternally married to his first wife — that’s an direct contradiction of Christ’s clear teaching on that specific question (that wasn’t your error, it was Chestertons’).
    Those were the easy ones.
    The relationship of a one-woman-man to a one-man-woman is similar — both are called to a similar standard of chastity. Neither one is privileged. Your claim that the man is special is understandable in light of the _history_ in the OT, but not in light of the didactic and legal passages in either the NT or OT.
    Your claim that Jesus didn’t agree with Moses is vaguely plausible on the face of that one text (although only by implication), but melts away when you attempt to find any direct or indirect support for the claim. Christ did not claim that He had any authority to override any passage of scripture; everywhere he talks about Scripture failing he denies that it will happen. Further, in order for Christ to reject that command He would have had to believe that some part of the Law was both objectively without authority and false. In fact, contrary to David’s psalms, that passage shouldn’t teach us anything about the character of God. But here’s the big message: that passage is quoted once (Jer 3) and cited once again (Isa 50) as something that God says He DID. This is now the third time I’ve pointed this out to you. Open your Bible and test what I’m saying — the Father approved of this text.
    The passage you cite doesn’t teach that Christ overrode any teaching on divorce; it teaches that Christians should not stop reconciling until they are not Christians, but it doesn’t repudiate divorce — on the contrary, it calls the woman “unmarried” (clear proof that the divorce is real) and tells her not to remarry (the obvious reason is to make it possible to reconcile — if she remarries she divorce is truly permanent); and then it states that the one whose spouse hardheartedly leaves as an unbeliever (which also, by the way, can and should be a verdict pronounced by the church as the final stage of church discipline) is “not bound” — and when he says “not bound”, do you think Paul changed the subject to something other than divorce and remarriage?
    The biggest deal in all of this, though, is what Christ actually taught. What he taught wasn’t that the Law of Moses was bad; it was that it was GOOD, but the scribes had been looking in the wrong passages. Moses’ law encompassed divorce, permitted it — but Moses’ law didn’t _institute_ it. God instituted monogamous marriage, man instituted divorce and polygamy.

  31. A-toad, “Therefore, any limitation on the authority of the husband over his wife is a limitation of the authority Christ has over His church.” That’s not true; Paul is commanding men to imitate Christ’s love for the Church, not teaching us that the limitations we accept will limit Christ. Christ is the perfect judge; He is given ultimate authority because He is sinless. You are not.
    Your judgement that you are free from anything that’s not explicitly spelled out in the Bible is also false. I’ve heard this approach — “where does the Bible SAY that I can’t do that?” Unfortunately for that argument, the Bible says that all of us are subject to multiple authorities. The very passage you quote to “prove” that husbands can accept no limitation to their power over their wives begins by commanding all in the church to submit to one another. Paul’s teachings regarding sexual morality are given not only as someone speaking for the Lord (of course he is in a special place to do so, since he physically met with Christ), but also as a church elder; that same authority he passes on to others. And one aspect of that authority is an authority to judge offenses between two people — an authority he joins Christ in commanding those leaders to use wisely.

  32. Ya know… Cane, this is nice. This is what I’ve been looking for and haven’t been able to find elsewhere. I’ll let you guys in it: I didn’t suddenly pop up and start talking about polygyny because I wanted to. This isn’t my choice. If I had my druthers, I’d be doing something else. In fact, I have fasted and prayed that this burden might be lifted from me, but to no avail. Tanksley, don’t take what comes next personally. OK? If it seems I’m in “take no prisoners” mode, that’s because I am. Not my choice, that’s just the way it is. Before I begin, however, I need to cut away some of the brush.

  33. @Dalrock
    First, I appreciate and approve of your efforts. Regardless of your particular beliefs, you have made a yeoman’s work in bringing issues to the forefront that needed to be addressed and I congratulate you on that. Having said that, you are describing a woman who is not a Christian, married to a man who claims he is. This is a problem. Nothing in all of Scripture prevents him from taking another wife, especially if his first wife reuses to do her marital duty, which his first wive obviously (according to his testimony) has.

    Their marriage exists in a bifurcated system. Legally, the first wife has the husband by the balls and can do as she desires. Lawfully, no such situation exists, but wisdom is called for. You say He is seeking to replace his wife with a husband. but you are incorrect. He is not seeking to replace his wife with a husband, merely to supplant her with a wife who will spread her legs. He wants his desires met. He is not seeking a master, a ruler, or an authority over him; HE WANTS TO GET LAID. I don’t know where you got what you said, but you’re off course and headed into shoal waters, Biblically speaking.

    I am willingly and gently leaving off from further comment on this. I do not desire to offend or insult. If you believe I’m wrong, please respond and make your argument. Otherwise, we are at peace.

  34. @Tanksley
    I have argued two points: moral and authority. You have directly responded to neither.
    From a moral standpoint, you have admitted that polygyny is not prohibited, nor condemned. Guess what? Farming is neither prohibited nor condemned. Like polygyny, God published His regulations for anyone who wants to be a farmer. You might say it wasn’t part of what Adam was given, due to the fact that within the Garden Adam had all the fruit of the garden available to him. After the fall, the ground was cursed and if Adam wanted to be a farmer the ground would only yield its produce through the sweat of his brow because of the thorns and weeds. Obviously, we see that farming isn’t God’s best because of the curse. With me so far?

    With respect to the Law, what is the difference between farming and polygyny? Nothing. Both were not prohibited, neither were condemned, both were regulated. Are you telling me farming is a suspect activity? That God’s best is being a preacher, prophet, teacher or minister of righteousness and nobody should consider being a farmer because of the curse? Really? The fact God regulated something doesn’t mean it was wrong. It means God chose to regulate it. Please don’t step in and try to tell me what God was thinking. If He didn’t explain Himself, you’re just going to embarrass yourself trying to speak for Him.

    I have argued my point based on two things: morality and authority. You have responded in a very verbose fashion, but you have not squarely addressed either of these two issues.

    Morality. You admit this is an area in which God PERMITTED this. Therefore, you cannot call it sin. Argument? I’m told it was permitted for a limited time. Really? Show me where God said that.

    Authority. You have tried, with many words, to deny what I’m saying with respect to the headship of the husband, but have not squarely addressed it. You say:

    “Therefore, any limitation on the authority of the husband over his wife is a limitation of the authority Christ has over His church.” That’s not true; Paul is commanding men to imitate Christ’s love for the Church, not teaching us that the limitations we accept will limit Christ. Christ is the perfect judge; He is given ultimate authority because He is sinless. You are not.

    READ THE TEXT!

    God said “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He himself being the savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands, in everything.”

    This is a logical syllogism. You have so far refused to address my contention that there are three covenant entities, God ordained, which each have separate missions. the family, the state and the church. Why do you refuse to respond to this? Again, I say that we are looking at a logical syllogism in which Paul is comparing and contrasting the family and the church. In the family, the husband is the head of the family in the same way that Christ is the head of the opposing corporate entity, the church. Family, in terms of the husband-wife relationship, is held to be a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. You refuse to respond to this.

    By definition and according to the text, any (and I truly mean ANY) diminution of the authority of the husband over the wife is a diminution of the authority of Christ over the church. Why does the church not completely submit to Christ? Because they reject the doctrine that the wife is to submit to the husband in everything. Reach down and grab ahold, Tanksley, squeeze hard and use your logic.

    In contrast to this grant of authority, show me where the church is granted, specifically, ANY authority over the marriage? What have you got? Inferences? Hopes? Dreams? You have nothing of authority. To what entity was given the command to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it? I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t the state and it wasn’t the church. The husband is in complete authority over his family. Did you contest the elements that constitute a marriage? No. Did you see any action of the church in that? No. Marriage exists outside the church because it is the act of the father passing authority of his daughter over to a man, due to their agreement to marry, followed by their consummation of the marriage and subsequent cohabitation. NO CHURCH INVOLVEMENT. The authority granted to the husband includes the decision as to whether he will take another wife, an action not forbidden to him. If you disagree, make your argument, but show me something of substance. I grow weary of many words signifying nothing.

    The ball is now in your court, Tanksley, et. al. Please respond to the specific points I have raised. No moving of the goal-posts, no redefinitions, just respond to the points I’ve raised. Thank you.

  35. With respect to WM Tanksley’s divorce argument

    Tanksley said: Your claim that Jesus didn’t agree with Moses is vaguely plausible on the face of that one text (although only by implication), but melts away when you attempt to find any direct or indirect support for the claim. Christ did not claim that He had any authority to override any passage of scripture; everywhere he talks about Scripture failing he denies that it will happen. Further, in order for Christ to reject that command He would have had to believe that some part of the Law was both objectively without authority and false.

    I have made a distinction between the Law, which is perfect (Psalm 19), and the judgement of Moses found in Deut. 24:1-4, which Jesus was clearly not pleased with (Matt 19:3-9). I observe that Jesus was not pleased with that judgment because when the Pharisees raised the issue, He first referenced creation, saying ‘what therefore God has joined together let no man separate.’ When they cited the ruling judgment, Jesus acknowledged it was a judgment ‘Moses permitted you’ and then said ‘but from the beginning it was not so.’ You are correct when you say that Jesus, within His earthly ministry as a MAN, never claimed He had the authority to override any passage of Scripture. Quite the contrary, because His statement in Matthew 23:1-3 clearly implies that He was likewise under the authority of those who sat themselves in the seat of Moses. However, I am not talking about Jesus, the lamb of God, I am talking about about the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, described in Revelation 1:13-18.

    Tanksley, it is obvious to me this is an emotionally contentious issue for you, so let’s look at it from another angle. When a legislature passes a law, the law becomes part of the code. If a court hands down a binding ruling that interprets the law in such a way that the legislature did not intend or otherwise conflicts with the legislature’s public policy, the legislature is not bound by that ruling, they have options. They may choose to wait and see how this interpretation works out, and based on their observations, choose to act or choose to do nothing. If they choose to act they are free to further clarify the law and the courts will be required to accept their judgment in the matter. While the legislature is silent the binding ruling stands and has the force of law. After the legislature has restated the law, however, the court’s previously binding ruling is invalidated because that ruling has been overturned by the ones who have the authority to make the law. Afterward, to point to that previously binding ruling or to point to situations that existed within the context of that ruling having the force of law is to cite a faulty precedent- one which no longer applies. The old is gone, the new has come.

    You said The passage you cite doesn’t teach that Christ overrode any teaching on divorce. Dude, once again simplified:
    Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Moses, speaking to the people of Israel: Men, if you’re gonna ditch the bitch because she isn’t pleasing to you any longer, you have to give her a certificate of divorce. That is my binding judgment.
    Matthew 19:3-9. Jesus, the MAN, speaking to the Pharisees (sitting in the seat of Moses): That was a faulty judgment because what God has joined, man is not to separate. I don’t like it because from the beginning it was not so, but sure- I’ll answer your question about how it should be interpreted.
    1st Corinthians 7:10-11. The Risen Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, speaking to His bondservants through the apostle Paul: Wives, don’t leave your husbands, but if for whatever reason you believe you must leave him, either remain single or be reconciled to your husband. Husbands, you are forbidden to divorce your wives.
    Matthew 19:3-9, Matthew 5:31-32 and 1st Corinthians 7:10-11 are in harmony through the law of the bondservant. The master forbid the practice of divorce for his servants and will not accept an illegitimate divorce granted by any authority other than him. Their marital covenant cannot be broken unless the husband leaves the master’s service or his unbelieving wife that he brought into service with him, leaves him. The master placed the husband in authority over his wife, commanding her to obey her husband as if it were the master himself speaking and said the authority of the husband over the wife is the same as that of the master over all his servants. The master did not forbid his manservants from taking more than one wife, although he did restrict their choice of wives to the women in his service.

    Romans 14 specifically mentions two issues: the eating of meat sacrificed to idols (forbidden by the first apostolic council at Jerusalem) and the keeping of the Sabbath (not just part of the Law, one of the ten commandments). We observe from Romans 14 and numerous other passages that things did indeed change with the propitiating work of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The dietary law was part of God’s perfect Law. Yet, in 1st Timothy 4:3-5 we see the dietary laws overturned. Romans 14 reinforces this. Is anyone making the case that we should overlook these passages and re-institute the dietary laws? What about the keeping of the Sabbath? Will you point to the commandment and Numbers 15 (the man put to death for collecting sticks on the Sabbath) in order to justify a claim that Christians are obligated to keep the Sabbath?

    How will those arguments hold up in light of Roman’s 14? The answer is they won’t. The old is gone, the new has come. You argue
    What he taught wasn’t that the Law of Moses was bad; it was that it was GOOD, but the scribes had been looking in the wrong passages. Moses’ law encompassed divorce, permitted it — but Moses’ law didn’t _institute_ it. God instituted monogamous marriage, man instituted divorce and polygamy.
    I never claimed Jesus was saying the Law was bad, I only pointed out His obvious distaste for a particular judgment of Moses during His earthly ministry as a man. OK? However, you’re arguing against your own position here. You cannot claim the Law of Moses, which was given by God, encompassed divorce; and at the same time, claim that divorce was instituted by man. If the Law (given by God) encompassed divorce, it cannot have been implemented by man. If implemented by man, it cannot have been part of God’s Law. Further, if Jesus was saying to the Scribes that the Judgment of Moses was good but the Scribes were looking in the wrong spot for guidance, you’re arguing they should have overturned that good judgment because it doesn’t agree with creation. You can’t have this both ways. If the judgment concerning divorce was good, what Jesus said doesn’t make sense.

    I further note you’re subtly changing my argument by saying “God instituted monogamous marriage.” I disagree with that. God instituted the covenant entity of marriage and throughout Scripture the two acceptable forms of marriage are monogamy and polygyny. However, arguendo, if you admit that man instituted both divorce and polygyny (polygamy, by definition includes serial monogamy), it follows that if God no longer thought polygyny permissible, God would have forbidden the practice of polygyny for believers in the NT in the same way he forbid the practice of divorce at 1st Corinthians 7:10-11.

    With respect to the authority of the husband, you trot out the tired feminist screed of “Ephesians 5:21 is the context in which to take Ephesians 5:22-24!” That argument has already been made, before God, and it lost in Numbers 16. Compare these two arguments:
    Leaders of the assembly, men of renown, under the authority of Moses and Aaron: “All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord”
    Wife, under her husband’s authority: “We’re equal in Christ and we’re to submit to one another in fear of Christ, so who are you to tell me what to do”?
    Read Numbers 16. That argument got shot down, hard. When I say it got shot down, I mean all the way to Sheol.

  36. @Dalrock

    What wife could resist such bold spiritual leadership?

    I laughed.

    His problem isn’t just that he is seeking to undo his marriage. He is seeking to replace his wife with a husband.

    Well seen and said. I left that part of my leadership criticism out of the post, but did not think to plug it back into the Biblical marriage model and see where the played roles align. Great phrasing.

    @AT and WT

    I don’t think I properly welcomed you two. Thanks for participating.

    @AT

    Ya know… Cane, this is nice.

    Thanks, and I too am grateful for good conversation.

  37. AT,

    Since your posts weren’t directed at me, I’ve only given them a cursory reading. I’m sure WT will have a more thorough response. However, two thoughts come to mind. The first is about this part:

    “Marriage exists outside the church because it is the act of the father passing authority of his daughter over to a man, due to their agreement to marry, followed by their consummation of the marriage and subsequent cohabitation. NO CHURCH INVOLVEMENT.”

    So is there any disciplinary/counseling role for the church in marriage? What about Paul in 1 Cor. 5? He instructed the church in a case involving a man sleeping with his father’s wife.

    The second thought is a caution about overusing syllogisms or other constructs. I like logic as much as the next guy, but the Bible isn’t a logic textbook. Syllogisms may be useful here and there, but the Bible contains all kinds of literature: prophecy, poetry, lots of symbolism and typology, etc.

  38. John, you hit the nail square on the head. I wish I weren’t so long-winded! A-Toad appears to be demanding that we give him perfect logical justifications with orthogonal non-overlapping spheres of authority. We can’t, because such things are rare when it comes to human life. The church doesn’t have authority over the family — but it has authority over Christian men and Christian women, and if there are any of those in the family, it can give them God’s Law and Gospel — and that’s its JOB. The State doesn’t have authority over the family — but it does have authority over all people. The State CAN therefore have authority over what constitutes a marriage. Does the Bible say it shouldn’t? A-Toad’s own arguments speak against him here, since his own argument says that people (implicitly including governors) can do anything they want so long as they don’t break explicit Biblical laws (I don’t agree with him, but bring this up to show his own arguments conflict). States can make immoral decisions (as Saul did when giving Michal to Phalti after giving her to David), but they can also make decisions in areas A-Toad may not like but in which the Bible doesn’t forbid them authority, as when our government forbids polygamy (depending instead on charity and taxes paid out to the poor).

    A-Toad, please consider John’s post closely. I will reply to you directly as well, but it won’t actually contain any new arguments.

    One more thing: I’m grateful to A-Toad for a courteous discussion, and I appreciate his caution in apologizing in advance (and in turn, I welcome anyone’s rebuke and will ask forgiveness where my conscience, informed by rebuke and/or scripture, convicts me). Thank you, Cane, for your kind welcome; I hope and intend that my tone and arguments are appropriate for the comments of your blog.

  39. Correction to my last post: you actually did reply to my scriptural arguments in a later post, so I’ll reply in detail. Thanks, but give me some time :-).

  40. @A-T,

    Comparing farming and polygamy is not valid. God had Adam “tending the garden” (farming) prior to the fall. He also had Adam with a single wife. Polygamy only came after the fall and then the first instance was still at least a little while later.

    Allowed, but not the ideal and certainly not profitable.

  41. A-Toad, I assure you that you aren’t making this too emotional for me. I hope you’ll confront me frankly if you think I’ve allowed my intellect to be clouded by emotions, but be specific rather than vague.

    I also note that I haven’t previously “refused to address your contention” on any point; but I gladly refuse now. I refuse to address any contention not backed up by any evidence. I don’t care if you think there are three non-overlapping authorities; your opinion on the subject is not actually an argument, merely an assertion. Once I read the assertion my work dealing with it was done. I make my own assertion for you to treat the same way: there are (at least) three authorities, State, Family, and Church all of which DO overlap in their authorities. Since all three are fallible, they will sometimes concur and sometimes conflict. My only evidence on this is to point to the fact that you admit that our government actually makes laws about marriage, as does our church, as do you as a husband. I consider that adequate to establish my factual claim; I don’t make a moral claim (i.e. whether they SHOULD overlap), but if you’re going to make a moral claim (that one of them SHOULD back down) I’d like to hear some support for it outside of your own personal opinion and analogical arguments.

    I’m mystified by your insistence that Christ ever repudiated, or could repudiate, any passage in the Law simply because He didn’t approve of it. In particular, the distinction you make between the Law and Moses’ judgement in case law is not supported anywhere in the Bible (most of the Law is expressed as case law anyhow), but it’s completely undermined by the two passages I keep citing and you persistently ignore — Isa 50 and Jer 3. In both of those passages prophets of God speak with God’s voice (literally quoting God to the people!) to have God carry out the actions Moses outlined in those passages to produce God’s own divorce! Your claim that Paul overturned the Law is also void, because what was overturned was not the Law, but rather the distinction between Jew and Gentile that the cleanliness aspects of the Law were designed to produce. Those aspects of the Law were not made inapplicable; they still (if transgressed) would cut one off from the Mosaic people — but those Mosaic people were now NOT the people of God. Eating unclean food still demonstrated uncleanness — but Christ declared all food clean for His people, not because He didn’t like the cleanliness Laws, but in order to demonstrate His message that cleanliness wasn’t demonstrated by what you ate, but by what was within. Now, even that didn’t dismiss the cleanliness laws, but once God finalized His divorce from both Israel and Judea (once they killed His Son) those laws could only serve to show membership with a people who no longer were especially God’s people — not a sin to do, but no longer relevant. This same logic applies to the sacrificial laws, which before demonstrated a faith in God’s provision but now demonstrated that you didn’t trust what God actually provided — not because those laws were less binding or invalid, but rather because they meant exactly the same thing they did before.

    With that in mind, you HAVE to focus on this passage to see what Christ was actually saying, and this will completely destroy your claims about polygamy: Christ pointed out not that Moses’ law was WRONG, but rather that Moses’ law PERMITTED something without actually INSTITUTING it! Moses wasn’t the first lawmaker to declare the need for a certificate of divorce; that was an established custom in that part of the world. Because Christ knew that Moses’ law wasn’t instituting divorce, Christ knew that quoting that law wouldn’t EVER produce a regulation for divorce (as a matter of fact, it’s actually a regulation on the abomination of double remarriage, see verse 4). In fact, Christ knew that God never instituted divorce at all; that Moses recognized it not because Moses was wrong, but rather because people in general have hardened hearts. What did Christ mean by that? Your reading claims that Moses sighed and (erroneously) permitted divorce because people nagged him; but there are alternate readings that preserve the theopneustos character of that scripture. One example of an alternate reading is that the hardheartedness was not of the people asking for divorce, but rather of the people adulterating their marriages — a problem that still exists, and therefore doesn’t call for a change in the Law. I don’t know with certainty that this reading is correct — but I believe it fits the evidence in other scriptures, which your reading explicitly fails to do so (in fact, your reading DIRECTLY calls Moses a liar in a passage where Moses claims to speak for the LORD, again see verse 4 “an abomination before the LORD”).

    Even the 1Cor passage you cite can’t bear the weight of proving a contradiction, because it starts by claiming that the LORD teaches something — which we would expect to mean that Paul was teaching something that Jesus already said. It’s possible that Paul was intending to disclose new revelation made directly to him (which Paul clearly DID have on other subjects), but what he actually says is completely consistent with what Jesus said before — that a woman who got a divorce (and is therefore “unmarried”) should try to remain available to reconcile with her husband, and vice versa, and that the whole first step of getting a divorce in the first place is not something a Christian can seek.

    Contra your claim about Matt 23:1-3, Christ never puts himself under the authority of the priests, even the High Priest. He questions and judges them in a way that Paul never did (Paul even felt the need to apologize). I think it’s fair to read Christ’s statements regarding marriage as a direct rebuke against Hillel’s claim that this passage justified divorce at a whim (although he doesn’t land in Shammai’s camp either); clearly he goes on to say that not only should divorce not be on a whim, but a faithful follower of God will pay high costs to avoid a divorce, presumably including the price Paul names in 1Cor: that staying unmarried after a divorce until a remarriage is no longer possible. Note, again, that Paul literally says UNMARRIED, so he’s not questioning that a divorce happened; he’s ordering the divorced Christian to attempt reconciliation at a very high price, whether the divorce was due to their mistake or their ex’s. (What’s the price we can’t pay? 1Cor 7:15 answers that you can’t force an unbeliever to stay with you — I think that’s the only point where divorce is actually permitted against a believer, and it requires both the unbeliever’s desire to divorce AND either a direct declaration of unbelief, OR the church’s declaration that the unrepentant “hardhearted” sin of the other party requires that they be treated as an unbeliever. I note that you agree with this.)

    Now we reach a crucial point where once again the question of divorce spills over into the question of polygamy. Paul is teaching that the wife should “remain unmarried or reconcile”, and then appears to apply the same teaching to the husband (in different words). Jesus, in Mark 10:2-12, teaches what many commentators think is the foundation for Paul’s teaching — but He very clearly states the commandment more symmetrically, saying that “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Now, is the the divorce that is the adultery, or the marrying another? Clearly Paul opposes the divorce itself, but in both Paul and Christ we see that marrying another is a step that makes the divorce irreconcilable. Together with Moses (and Jeremiah 3, please read it) we can see why this happens — it’s because the marriage to another changes reconciliation from a good thing into an “abomination to the LORD”. Now, where does this impact polygyny? It impacts it both because the institution of marriage excludes polygyny in the same ways it excludes divorce (see my previous posts, especially including my mention of Daniel’s clarification of the words used), AND because Christ makes the sins invoked by marrying another symmetric — if divorce followed by marriage-to-another is not God’s design for both woman and man, then neither is marriage-to-another without divorce. Christ’s reading of the institution of marriage is merciless to your position, even though Christ wasn’t talking to you or anyone who held your view (the Pharisees had to deal with Romans to keep their power, so unlike the Jews further from the Empire’s direct control they had long since abandoned polygamy). (And the fact that nobody brought up that question in His hearing is sufficient reason why He never answered it.)

    Now, “the law of bondservants”. Here you claim that Ex 21:1-6 allows the master to forbid divorce; but this is absurd, because in this passage the master is permitted to ALLOW a divorce by releasing a slave, not to forbid one (there’s no mention of that!). I do think this is relevant, but it CLEARLY supports my reading in “permitting” a divorce when either spouse shows by refusal to repent of hardhearted offensive sin that they are not one of the Lord’s servants, AND when they demand a divorce (by word or adulterous deed).

    Your closing argument that I’m a feminist is unworthy.

  42. You’re a better person than me Caldo. I know my limitations and my weaknesses. If I read that letter-plea composite my only commentary would be an indication of my puerile frame of mind. Perhaps ‘do it on the altar!’ or maybe ‘did you say threesome?’ Unhelpful but in a perverse sense the best I can do. I blame my youth.

  43. @Brad..
    If you haven’t tried it… please don’t comment on whether it’s profitable or not. You simply don’t know.

  44. @Tanksley…

    You provide me with such a target rich environment… Honestly, I’m going to pray about this before I respond. As a side note, I urge you to consider replacing your SSRI’s with a prescription for L-Triptophan. Combine that with 200mg daily dose of L-Theanine (this one is still OTC). I think you’ll find that you can wean yourself off of whatever it is you’re on.

    Cheers,
    Toad.
    P.S. Badger counsels that I considered wisdom. I think that by that, he intends to say you might gain understanding if I make the right argument. Water Rat counsels that I simply ignore you because you’re not coherent. Mole says I should go with my heart. On the considered basis of the counsel of friends, I will respond to you tomorrow.

  45. Excellent on the “target-rich-environment”, A-Toad — I always attempt to expose my evidence for critique, so I usually expect to receive it. And honestly, I see that in your posts as well, but not in the negative sense you mean — you’re saying very many things and making complex arguments. I see very many holes in your arguments and would like to know if you’ve considered them — so far you’ve done a very bad job of addressing them or even admitting that they’d been _made_.

    When you reply, be sure to address Jer 3 and Isa 50’s agreement with Moses, though (you’ve completely ignored them through many reply cycles now); and also note how strongly I lean on the institution text of marriage (braced with a bit of Daniel’s more expanded translation into Aramaic, in a rather surprising context), and how I read it against you the same way Christ read it against Hillel.

    As for your prescription: you would have done better to pray before responding. Fabricated slander was not a wise opening move.

  46. A-T,

    So I have to try stupid things to see if they are good? I don’t think so. I will go with the original plan.

    WM,

    I have found that it is just as easy to attack the person rather than the argument in this sphere as in any other.

    General Thoughts:

    – Why would a man need to get divorced if he could marry as many as he wanted? Just add another and put the first one on a short leash. Sure, you would have some support, but likely less than current divorce courts. Not the same point in Jesus’ time on the earth, but I also don’t think that merely not financially supporting the wife was the only reason for the indicated divorce.

    – Where are the instructions for those living in polygamous situations in the NT? I see many commands to those in monogamous ones, but a distinct lack of the same for polygamous relationships. Why are these instructions missing if it is such a good thing?

    – Are many who strongly advocate for polygamy following up on their words? I can’t say for sure what their private life and thoughts are, but I find it very hard to believe that VD (Vox Day) and RLB (Sarah’s Daughter’s Husband) are actively living in such a relationship. That doesn’t fit with the way they are headed. Would someone like that who has daughters really want their daughters marrying a man who just added them to the group? They wouldn’t mind if they were consistent, but I suspect that would push away a lot of the argument.

    – How many Biblical examples show polygamy in a positive light? Not the vague ones like “God gave Solomon many wives” (not sure where that is myself, but I have heard the claim made), but situations where things were very stable. Those I read of were filled with lots of tension, when anything is mentioned about the marriage.

    That said, anyone who wants to believe in polygamy will, no matter how many principles or Scriptures you lay forth. This is one of the many issues where I think we need to present the truth, but avoid the continual arguing. Presenting the truth shows those who are of the same mind that they are not alone. Stopping after some discussion keeps us from wasting time and promoting strife.

  47. Empath, I’m confused — above you listed “church discipline, counseling” as “unlikely to have any measurable effect”; then you said “Intellectual reasoning is not going to make this better.” There is not a single statement in your original post that offered anything the guy could do.

    I will respond once because you do not discourse in good faith. On the first point, you are redundant, you already alleged that i offered no hope, i already owned and explained that.

    Now you say you do recommend church discipline, although the one path you recommend is actually an extreme counseling method and not church discipline at all.

    I endorsed the actions of that church. I did not recommend them, in the context of the couple in the OP because it is N/A since she is not a believer. I would debate though that it is church discipline, it fits in the steps prescribed for church discipline quite nicely since the steps do not have a temporal component. Church discipline is not necessary a bing bang boom, one step, one day each, over, out, sort of thing.

    It’s possible that the future you foretell actually would happen. I would find the flamingness of the hoops to be clear evidence of the church’s desire to disobey the Bible’s explicit commands, and I would take action in response either by showing the pastor the commands addressed to him or by simply leaving for another church.

    Then you would be moving church frequently. Are you saying you are in a church that has all this down pat? I stop short of saying the church desires to disobey. It is simply decieved, badly deceived.

    The Bible does NOT condone people trading sins or forgiveness; the fact that you have sinned against your wife does not free her from church discipline.

    Right, agreed, and the church however does practice a sort of condonement. In NY state divorce law that was a factor prior to their recent adoption of no fault. It said that to stay married and to have relations after an egregious affront by one to the other was to negate the power of that thing. Though not exactly the same, what the church does is also a form of relativism. NO WAY a woman refusing sex would even make the radar if the man had been caught, for example, with porn in his browser history. Her refusal would be celebrated as helping his healing from the sex addiction, turning the whole thing on its head to the point where even, ultimately, his real and right desire for his wife will forever more be a manifestation of his sickness. This is why I offer no prescription from the church.

    But since it’s what we are commanded to do when an offense comes between believers, DO IT. Don’t assume that it’s “unlikely to have any measurable effect” just because someone said so — do it because it’s what we’re instructed to do. (And heck, because it makes sense.)

    Bad faith. Who are you to assume I inform myself with “someone said so”? In each section I parsed here you move goal posts, insert or delete absolutes, create straw men, obfuscate, dissemble, or infer things not there, then argue a new argument.

    Here you have also conflated what a person offended by another must do, church wise, and what the church must do in the case of an unrepentant sinner in the mix. These are two separate dynamics, one initiated from within the conflict, the other from outside the conflict, having the POSSIBILITY that they overlap at church discipline, not the necessity in the functional way they unfold.

    I have great hope in true church discipline. I have little hope that it even exists much, odds being that if you pick 100 random churches, 90% or more will not have it right. they either do not even do it, or they use man bad woman good as a metric. There is more than enough information online to ascertain this. I wish you were correct.

  48. Empath, I don’t see the “bad faith”, but I don’t think there’s more light to be shed here.

  49. BradA, thanks — all good points. I especially agree with you that polygamy is “not profitable”, and find A-Toad’s response absurd.

    A lot of the polygamy “pushers” have fantasized the good outcomes of polygamy; and yes, one of them is putting the replaced “wife” on a short leash. It’s not Biblical, of course; the Law specifically forbids reducing an old wife’s support in order to bring in a new wife, and in the special case of a slave the Law makes it explicit that such a slave becomes completely free if that happens (ancient commentators argued — and regularly applied — that this applied to any wife).

    RLB and VD have only just started to play with the idea of polygamy; I don’t think they’ve reached the point of considering it right *for them*. (It’s kind of an odd coincidence that both of them are Catholic, and therefore have renounced all right to make that kind of decision regarding Biblical interpretation.) I do think their thinking about it is a valuable thing, because frankly the Church is going to have to deal with this very, very soon. I’m glad that some of us will not have to see polygamy as a whole new thing. OTOH, these people seem to have adopted it as some kind of solution to societal problems, and in the past it’s not worked that way. Much like divorce!

    On the other hand, contrary to CS Lewis, I don’t think the OT is clearly overall negative (or positive) on the consequences of polygamy; you mentioned the verse in which David (not Solomon BTW) was reminded of God’s blessings in 2Sam 2:8, including inheriting Saul’s wives (I think it would have been illegal for Solomon to inherit David’s wives), and the negative passages (like Rachel and Leah) don’t actually seem to be extraordinarily bad to me. I think it’s reasonable to state that having many wives was a seal of success, for anyone in general but for kings especially. A wife was often a seal of a treaty, as it made you part of the family, so a middle-eastern king would be highly pressured to have many wives, beyond the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses”. The OT didn’t go very far about listing the negatives of polygamy, but it did warn not to overdo it, and never praised polygamy above monogamy, and always held out monogamy as the standard.

  50. @Dalrock,

    Yep. Wicked good line. It is pretty horrendous supplication.

    @AT,

    Your understanding of the Church is pretty weak. You also need to read about subsidiarity a bit more. I’d also suggest you meditate on how bad every multiple marriage worked out in the OT and which wives received the greatest honor. Of special note here is Leah. That said, you are obviously thinking about the problem, your thoughts just aren’t well marshaled.

  51. Tanksley, I’m sorry for the provocation, but that’s what it took to get you to lay out your real issues.

    My only evidence on this is to point to the fact that you admit that our government actually makes laws about marriage, as does our church, as do you as a husband. I consider that adequate to establish my factual claim; I don’t make a moral claim (i.e. whether they SHOULD overlap), but if you’re going to make a moral claim (that one of them SHOULD back down) I’d like to hear some support for it outside of your own personal opinion and analogical arguments.

    I have clearly stated the argument that God’s Law is the only arbiter of what is moral and what is not. You have not contested that. God’s ways are not our ways. Feminists hate what God actually said and the authority that places them under which severely limits their freedom. I shouldn’t have called you a feminist, because it appears your problem is the God’s silence on certain issues and the resulting freedom that allows. You have admitted Polygyny was not prohibited, neither was it condemned. Therefore, according to God, it is not immoral. According to the teachings of Romans 14, it could be sin for the individual if they were not acting according to faith, but that doesn’t make it a sin for someone of stronger faith. According to James 4:17, it could be a sin to refuse to marry more than one woman. These are issues for the individual to decide.

    To observe that the Church assumed the power of the sword does not mean the Church was acting morally when they tortured and burned people to death as heretics. Galileo’s morally correct observation (he spoke the truth) almost got him killed and he resorted to lying in order to save his life. You ask for moral authority as to why the spheres should not overlap yet you admittedly present no moral evidence as to why they should. Do you therefore countenance the church’s burning of heretics?

    The logical syllogism presented in Ephesians 5:22-24 is adequate to establish the moral authority of the husband over the institution of marriage, excluding any other authority except Christ. This is because the authority of the husband over his marriage is the same as the authority of Christ over the church.

    What is Christ’s authority over the church? 1st Corinthians 15:27, Matthew 28:18, and especially Ephesians 1:22 explain this. The church belongs to Christ; therefore, the wife belongs to her husband. Christ’s authority over the church is absolute; therefore, the husband’s authority over the wife is absolute. That is not an assertion on my part; that is the clear teaching of Scripture. You observe an overlap of these three spheres of authority and to an extent I will agree to the observation but not the morality of it. Yes, sin is in the world.

    However, if the church truly had complete authority over the marriage, the church would be permitted to order people to marry or divorce a married couple against their will. The clearest example of the church not having this kind of authority is 1st Corinthians 5. Paul pointed to the sinful union, which was forbidden as incest in Leviticus 18:8. Paul did not command them to separate or divorce, he ordered them cast out of the assembly for their sin. God will judge that union, not the church (see Romans 2).

  52. Tanksley said:

    “Christ was actually saying, and this will completely destroy your claims about polygamy: Christ pointed out not that Moses’ law was WRONG, but rather that Moses’ law PERMITTED something without actually INSTITUTING it!”

    And

    “the two passages I keep citing and you persistently ignore — Isa 50 and Jer 3. In both of those passages prophets of God speak with God’s voice (literally quoting God to the people!) to have God carry out the actions Moses outlined in those passages to produce God’s own divorce!”

    You are arguing against your own position. Can you not see that? Moses instituted a formal procedure called divorce to regulate something that was already happening. He could just as easily forbid a man from putting away his wife. God did not overturn that procedure and even used it Himself to divorce one of His two wives, Israel (He never divorced Judah). We don’t know if Moses’ wife Zipporah was still around when Moses married the Cushite woman (Numbers 12) but perhaps Moses had some experience with an unpleasant wife. Moses didn’t always get it right. When he didn’t do as God commanded him and put the leaders of the people to death (Numbers 25) God sent a plague that killed 24,000 people. It was Phinehas that manned up and saved the day, not Moses.

    Moses instituted the formal process of divorce with the commandment to the men “give her a certificate of divorce.” It wasn’t an option for a man who decided to kick his wife to the curb. Moses’ binding ruling became part of the Law, and inserting that judgment into God’s Law instituted it, as you demonstrate yourself by referencing Isaiah 50. With that in mind, we see that from the outside, from God’s point of view, Jesus saying “Moses permitted you” takes on a different meaning. The people, looking up to the authority of Moses over them, were commanded; Jesus, looking down at His servant Moses, says Moses permitted it. The difference is perspective and your permitted/instituted argument is a semantics argument to avoid the real issue: divorce is forbidden between married bondservants of the Lord.

  53. Tanksley said

    “Contra your claim about Matt 23:1-3, Christ never puts himself under the authority of the priests, even the High Priest. He questions and judges them in a way that Paul never did (Paul even felt the need to apologize).”

    Christ, as a man, born into the line of David, was born under the authority of the priests and the High Priest. Otherwise, you are claiming that Christ was not fully a man during His earthly ministry. That isn’t what you’re really claiming, is it? Therefore, what He said in Matthew 23:1-3 to the people applied to him as well. Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, did not sin by rebuking those in authority for their sins. That is not an indication He, as a man, in His earthly ministry was in authority over them or somehow outside their authority over Him as a man. God ordained the authority structure, Jesus was born into it. Read Numbers 12 and Numbers 16.

  54. And again, thus spake Tanksley:

    “Now, “the law of bondservants”. Here you claim that Ex 21:1-6 allows the master to forbid divorce; but this is absurd, because in this passage the master is permitted to ALLOW a divorce by releasing a slave, not to forbid one (there’s no mention of that!). I do think this is relevant, but it CLEARLY supports my reading in “permitting” a divorce when either spouse shows by refusal to repent of hardhearted offensive sin that they are not one of the Lord’s servants, AND when they demand a divorce (by word or adulterous deed).”

    Christ, the Master of His servants, has the authority to forbid them to divorce. ALL authority has been laid at His feet. This is not an absurdity. The servant, upon completing his period of service, could choose to stay or go. The decision was not divorce or don’t divorce, the decision was stay with the master or leave the master. If the servant chose to go, he did so without the wife (and resulting children) the master provided. The point is that marriage between believers is a three-party marriage: Christ, Husband and Wife. Neither husband nor wife can break the covenant through their sin (such as adultery) and claim divorce is permitted, rather, that only by breaking faith with the master can the covenant be broken.

    Your point is well made that a professing believer who divorces their spouse may have proven they are not a believer (1st John 2:4). This is covered by Paul in 1st Corinthians 7:12-17 which covers the issue of the unequally yoked. However, the standard cited is the divorce is only allowed if the unbeliever is not be content to stay with them. In those cases of hard-hearted sinful non-believers who are willing to stay, the believing spouse must not divorce them. However, contra your 1st John 2:4 position, we have a problem with wrong doctrine being taught in the churches that divorce is permitted between believers for any number of reasons. Christ objected to His bondservants being led into sin by the Jezebel in Rev. 2:20, so obviously Christians can be deceived into thinking divorce between believers is permissible.

    Do I need to cite chapter and verse to demonstrate Christ purchased His people with the payment of His blood on the cross? Or the many references of Paul and others calling themselves bondservants? I already gave you Revelation 2:20 with Christ referring to the members of His church as ‘my bondservants.” These are direct references to the law of the bondservant. What about the servant who comes into the service of the master with a wife? Is she now a servant of the master? Obviously a wife does not receive salvation because her husband became a Christian, but she does receive benefit. And if that wife chooses to leave her husband, he is called to peace. The husband is at no point told that he is then free to marry another, because he always had that option. Contrast that with the believing wife whose unbelieving husband has departed. She is specifically told she is free to remarry, but only in the Lord.

    Why is the wife specifically told this but the husband is not? Nowhere in the Law did the wife have any authority of any kind to divorce her husband. Romans 7:2 and 1st Corinthians 7:39 are both clear on that. 1st Corinthians 7:10-17 is essentially restating the law of the bondservant and freeing that left-behind wife to remarry.

  55. Quoted again is Tanksley

    “Now we reach a crucial point where once again the question of divorce spills over into the question of polygamy. Paul is teaching that the wife should “remain unmarried or reconcile”, and then appears to apply the same teaching to the husband (in different words).”

    If a believing wife leaves her believing husband, which she is commanded not to do, and marries another, the second marriage is a sham that’s simply institutionalized adultery. Or, it’s a permanent break. Either way, you’re trying to read words into this that aren’t there. The husband is told not to divorce his wife. Nothing else. You argue that Matthew 5:31-32 did not explicitly say God will not accept an illegitimate divorce (I’ll address that in a moment) when that is exactly the logical conclusion that must be reached, but then you try to say Paul is teaching the husband is to remain unmarried or reconcile with the wife who leaves him? But in different words? Where’s the ‘remain unmarried’ or ‘reconcile’ in “The husband must not divorce his wife.”

    “Jesus, in Mark 10:2-12, teaches what many commentators think is the foundation for Paul’s teaching — but He very clearly states the commandment more symmetrically, saying that “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Now, is [it] the divorce that is the adultery, or the marrying another?”

    I’d have to first ask which one the husband is committing adultery against: the divorced wife, or the second wife? It can’t be both because that’s not what Jesus said. Who does the ‘her’ refer to? Christ said the husband commits adultery ‘against her’ but with respect to the woman He simply says she commits adultery which indicates she commits adultery against the husband she is bound to until he dies with the so-called husband of the second marriage. Perhaps the text isn’t saying what you take it to say.

    This is similar to your dismissal of my reading of 1st Corinthians 7:10-17. In that passage, Paul’s emphasis of ‘not I, but the Lord’ is in contrast to ‘I say, not the Lord’ that comes two verses later and the emphasis is intentional. However, I agree that many commentators want to claim Mark 10:2-12 is foundational but that doesn’t make them right. In fact, the word that is translated to adultery doesn’t mean what you may think it means, but to follow that rabbit trail will take me further afield than I want to go today.

  56. Tanksley concluded

    “Now, where does this impact polygyny? It impacts it both because the institution of marriage excludes polygyny in the same ways it excludes divorce (see my previous posts, especially including my mention of Daniel’s clarification of the words used), AND because Christ makes the sins invoked by marrying another symmetric — if divorce followed by marriage-to-another is not God’s design for both woman and man, then neither is marriage-to-another without divorce. Christ’s reading of the institution of marriage is merciless to your position”

    You say ‘the institution of marriage excludes polygyny in the same way it excludes divorce.’
    BELIEVERS are forbidden to divorce BELIEVERS.
    It follows that any divorce between believers is illegitimate.

    BELIEVERS are permitted to divorce, if the following two conditions are met:
    1. If they are married to an UNBELIEVER
    2. Who refuses to stay with the BELIEVER
    Thus, if those two conditions are met, a divorce is legitimate.

    Once again, you make my argument. God could have easily said “NO DIVORCE” just like Moses could have done so. He didn’t. What He did say is Christians married to Christians are forbidden to divorce, but Christians married to unbelievers are not forbidden to divorce if the unbeliever won’t stay. Since divorce is not always excluded, per your argument, polygyny isn’t always excluded.

    You admit polygyny isn’t immoral, we have examples of Godly patriarchs who had multiple wives, we have God taking credit for it in 2nd Samuel 12:8 (and saying He’d have given David more wives if what he had wasn’t enough) and acknowledge the fact polygyny is neither prohibited nor condemned anywhere in Scripture. I listed the elements of a marriage and your silence I’ll take for acceptance on that. Nothing in the elements of what constitutes a marriage prohibit more than one wife. You have shown zero evidence that the institution of marriage excludes polygyny.

    You say ‘if divorce followed by marriage to another is not God’s design for both woman and man, then neither is marriage to another without divorce.’

    First, you beg the question of what God’s design for marriage is. Second, you are trying to equate men and women as being equal with respect to marital capacity, but they’re not because while a man can morally have more than one wife, a wife can never morally have more than one (living) husband (c.f. Romans 7:2 and 1st Corinthians 7:39). Third, you’re trying to claim that since divorce-induced serial monogamy is wrong, polygyny must be wrong as well. Not only does your logic leave much to be desired, you can’t even agree with yourself.

    Written here at Alpha Game Plan

    “Since Matthew 5:31-32 does not actually SAY that God won’t accept an illegitimate divorce, and 1Cor 7:11 actually speaks of an illegitimately divorced woman as being “unmarried”, it follows that even illegitimate divorces are actual. All divorces, regardless of legitimacy, “allow” remarriage, and the resulting marriage (however wrongly introduced) is both real and final — it completely and permanently eliminates the possibility of marital reconciliation (as that would be an abomination).”

    This is why I think you’re emotionally involved. You can’t even stake out a position, morally, as to whether serial monogamy is right or wrong, but you want to stake out the position that polygyny is wrong.

  57. @Toad,

    You realize your making essentially the same argument that the gay lobby makes right? You are divorcing Scripture from both itself and from how it was always understood by the Church.

  58. @GKC
    If you can show me where the gay lobby is arguing for God-ordained marriages consisting of a man in submission to Christ husbanding one or more wives who submit to him as unto the Lord, I’ll believe that. I was not aware the fudge-packers and misandrists advocated Biblical marriage, but I’d love to see a link if you can give me one.

    As to divorcing Scripture from itself, that’s not possible. It says what it says, and as God put it, His ways are not our ways. As to how Scripture has always been understood by the Church, that’s a different story. It is often said that our most devastating critiques come from our enemies. Aside from the reality of history, there’s also the problem with linguistics.

    It would be amusing to listen to certain sects on the Protestant side of the house cite the King James Bible as the only acceptable Bible to use for study and teaching were it not so sad. They don’t understand the problems with the translations from Greek to Latin to English or German. Then, we have the issues related to differences in the ancient texts and observe how internecine politics influenced how words were translated to make the text fit official doctrine. By the time we finally got Greek to English lexicons, the damage was done. Cogent to the discussion at hand is the translation of the word adultery, but as I said, that’s a discussion for a different day.

  59. Before I hit anything else, I have to note the depth of the fail here. You didn’t even touch the most important part of my challenge, the lynchpin, the thing that holds all of this together: the institution of marriage. You have no excuse; I specifically told you that was the center. You devoted zero words to the text of the institution, or to refute my claim that it was the center, or to MENTION it. That passage is the entire reason why these two issues link up — both divorce and polygamy take marriage and stretch THAT PASSAGE out of shape. Therefore, neither divorce nor polygamy are marriage. Both of them are parasites or symbiotes living on marriage — maybe for some useful purpose, but they are not the thing itself.

    I’m going to answer in full the ONLY argument you made about polygamy.

    ” Since divorce is not always excluded, per your argument, polygyny isn’t always excluded.”

    Um… Yes. Exactly. Bingo, parallel cases. So WHEN are they included? When is polygamy … dare I say it … better than divorce? When is polygamy WORSE than divorce? This is not an easy question, even though you pretend it is. It’s not a question for a man to glibly solve for himself. Paul came to a different answer about divorce than Moses did — not because Moses was wrong, but because the Roman divorce law (in Corinth) was different from the Middle-Eastern and Egyptian divorce law, in that the Romans allowed a woman to initiate a divorce. As Moses did, Paul taught ABOUT divorce, but he did not legislate it. As Moses taught, so Paul teaches — the only thing that’s unbreakable about divorce is the marriage-to-another.

    I *do* claim that polygamy and divorce are not always immoral. That’s not because they’re morally neutral modifications of marriage, though. They are both huge, culture-shaking twists on marriage. ANY culture that accepts either one will have to change all of its marriage laws in order to accommodate the non-marriage relationships that form. And the laws that society forms will be BINDING. You can’t claim to be free of them just because God “forgot” to write them in the Bible — because God remembered to command you to submit to your authorities.

    So, WHAT IS MARRIAGE?

    ” I listed the elements of a marriage and your silence I’ll take for acceptance on that.”

    Your “elements” aren’t taught in the Bible — they’re a self-serving hodgepodge of selected historical snippets. My silence is the silence of rejection. What does your silence about the Institution of marriage signify?

    OK, I’ve got a few pages of responses to your arguments pasted into a file, but they’re not really pertinent to our real difference. We both agree that divorce is a horrid twisting of God’s design, we both agree it’s allowed when an unbeliever persistently rejects both the marriage and Christ. We disagree about how we know that someone is an unbeliever — you explicitly say that the church cannot judge (“God will judge that union, not the church” — a classic echo of the smirking and sanctimonious lie “only God can judge me”), I say that the church is commanded to judge in order to make people who claim to be Christians choose between repentance and rebuilding, or excommunication and treatment as an unbeliever — POSSIBLY INCLUDING DIVORCE, if the unbeliever will not live with marriage. As 1 Cor 7:15 says, “in such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.” Oops, did Paul just break “the law of the bondservant”?

    -Wm

  60. I stopped reading AT after this comment regarding polygamy:

    “If you haven’t tried it… please don’t comment on whether it’s profitable or not. You simply don’t know.”

    I thought everyone learned their lesson about “if it feels good, do it” back in the 60s….

  61. One more line: I forgot to mention one last point on which we disagree: we have a completely different view of the nature and purpose of the Law. You think it’s there to provide a black-and-white guide for how to live the acceptable life, and if anything isn’t mentioned in the Law it’s presumed to be morally neutral. I think the Law is there to tell us about the character of God, and what’s important isn’t always black and white (although there is much black and white), but rather the principles.

    Right now I’ll just leave it at that — it’s an important difference in our approaches that I accidentally edited out, and I wouldn’t want my summary to be diminished for want of that.

  62. @AT,
    If you can show me where the gay lobby is arguing for God-ordained marriages consisting of a man in submission to Christ husbanding one or more wives who submit to him as unto the Lord, I’ll believe that

    That’s not what I said. I said your argument is fundamentally the same. That is their argument is: nothing is ever said about gay marriage being wrong just unmarried homosexual liaisons. You will note the pattern.

    And yes, you are divorcing scripture from the Church and its leading to wildly crazy readings.

    @John,

    Yeah I caught that too. Only if you have burned yourself on the stove can you speak about the stove! Which is in the end silly. It is also distinctly gnostic and anti-authoritarian and therefore anti-Christian. He is admittedly not dumb though. He’s holding the logic together it’s just his premise is all messed up.

  63. “and what’s important isn’t always black and white ”

    I’d clean that up. It is _always_ black and white; even where our ability to distinguish the same is flawed. You are right that the law establishes principles that lead to a conclusion which is Christ and further is in the case of marriage is Christ wedded to the Church which is the normative pattern for all Christians.

  64. Thank you for the correction, GKC. I appreciate your ability to clearly and tersely state things. Moses was describing God, and everyone who understood the Law knew what they were seeing when they saw Jesus. As Christ said, “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. […] You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. […] Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

    Ditto for John — that’s a really good way of putting that particular problem.

    And A-Toad — GKC’s right, you’re no dummy. Don’t think for one moment that I disrespect your study. I’m hoping you’re going to tell me something new.

  65. @GKC
    That’s not what I said. I said your argument is fundamentally the same. That is their argument is: nothing is ever said about gay marriage being wrong just unmarried homosexual liaisons. You will note the pattern.

    You are incorrect. Marriage, as I pointed out to Tanksley, is a man and one or more women. Women fulfill the natural function of women within marriage, in which they are a helpmeet to their husbands and bear children. The elements required to initiate a marriage are the permission of the father, the agreement between man and woman, consummation and cohabitation. There can be no marriage without a husband and wife, for without a husband and at least one wife there can be no way to fulfill the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. You are attempting to tar me with the brush of ungodly activity because you can’t argue against what I’ve said.

    As a side note for Tanksley, you’re essentially taking the position of the emperor who has no clothes, but demanding that the observer prove he has no clothes. It is impossible to prove a negative. How about you demonstrate to all of us what a marriage is, what the elements of a marriage are and where they are found. I tire of arguing with you because you cannot make a coherent argument. You confuse a refutation of your flawed logic with my own argument. They are not the same. You refuse to address my argument while demanding I overcome your unsupported and quite illogical and confused blathering. I suggest you first conquer Esther. When you’ve taken her in hand, come back and talk to me. I’ve met her and she’s one of the hottest of the intelligent babe’s I’ve ever met. If you can get something going with her, you seriously have my respect. I don’t know if she’s still unmarried, but if you could score her, you could argue until you’re blue in the face for the rest of your life with someone who can spank you at will. Given your arguments here, that sounds like what you’re looking for.

    @Back to GKC
    Two men cannot marry because there is no woman and what they’re doing is an abomination and clearly contrary to the Law. Two men lying together as with a woman is homosexuality. Their sin, as was the sin of Sodom, is selfishness in living for their own pleasure and rejecting the God-ordained institution of marriage in order to satisfy their own lusts by committing indecent acts with one another, for which they will receive the due penalty in their own bodies.

    Women, whose sexual contact is quite unmentioned in the law or anywhere else in Scripture (and this is what really drives everyone quite nuts), are merely fornicating in the absence of marriage. They cannot marry each other (which drives the misandrists quite crazy), they can only individually marry a man. However, in such an instance in which two or more women are joined in marriage under the authority and headship of the same man (and I point out that God was quite silent on what happens in the marriage bed with the exception of two issues- sex during menstruation and that period proscribed after childbirth), the Bible is silent on any contact between such women. Again, I realize this drives the tradcons quite nuts, but God’s ways are not our ways.

    I have at no point, anywhere, advocated anything but a Biblically ordained form of marriage. It took a while, but I finally got Tanksley to state his logic. He observes a thing exists, therefore it exists and has effect in the real world with finality. We observe that polygyny existed in Biblical times, therefore it exists. God did not condemn it, and who is man to speak for God? Yet he argues against it? Where is the logic in that? He refuses to make a moral argument. Case closed…

    A close examination of Scripture reveals that God is far more concerned with the relationships of the people connecting their plumbing than with how the plumbing is connected. Yes, I know, it’s uncomfortable. Cultural conditioning can be a terrible thing. In an effort to be gentle, knowing that this is quite difficult for you guys, my research strongly indicates that in polygynous families group sex is almost always self-limiting.

    Interviews with polygynous wives indicates they don’t so much develop an aversion to being naked with their fellow wives as much as they develop a much stronger desire for one-on-one contact with their husband after being exposed to group sex. Once the novelty has worn off for the husband (anything more than one-on-one gets confusing and lopsided), he also strongly tends to prefer one-on-one with wives who are now much more enthusiastic about having him all to themselves.

    Have you guys heard of the concept called ‘dread game?’

    The only data I have that counters that is from polygynous families with former lesbians who became Christians after being lesbians for a number of years (those identifying as bisexual instantly reverted to a heterosexual identity after marriage). My data set in this case is small (don’t have the requisite 7 families to do anything statistically valid). However, anecdotally, I see a trend away from same-sex activity between wives who strongly identify as lesbian toward one-on-one heterosexual activity. Is that sanctification in progress at work or simply the natural order of things (vis-a-vis hypergamy and female competition for scarce resources) kicking in? I need more research to make definitive statements.

    @GKC
    I notice you said nothing about the link I left for you, yet you’re still talking about church tradition. C’mon. How about a little intellectual honesty?

    @Tanksley
    Dude, calm down and make a rational argument. You’re demanding something new? I’m still demanding a rational argument out of you to respond to. Do you have any friends (smart ones) that could help you here? You might want to ask around. And don’t forget Esther. She’s a babe. If I wasn’t already occupied…

    @All

  66. In going back over the commentary, there are two more points which I’ll address, both of which relate to the cultural assumptions which form the background to our thinking.

    Tanksley said

    I *do* claim that polygamy and divorce are not always immoral. That’s not because they’re morally neutral modifications of marriage, though. They are both huge, culture-shaking twists on marriage. ANY culture that accepts either one will have to change all of its marriage laws in order to accommodate the non-marriage relationships that form. And the laws that society forms will be BINDING. You can’t claim to be free of them just because God “forgot” to write them in the Bible — because God remembered to command you to submit to your authorities.

    Tanksley is approaching this from a western enlightenment worldview, rather than a Bibleocentric worldview. As is clear from Scripture, both monogamy and polygyny are Biblically acceptable forms of marriage. They are only ‘culture-shaking’ from the standpoint of where we are now, which is not the culture Christ was speaking to. Tanksley says ‘Any culture that accepts either one will have to change all its marriage laws…’

    God ordained three covenant entities: family, state and church. Each was endowed with its own particular mission. It was not given to the state to regulate legitimate marriage (the state, charged with keeping order and enforcing the law, has every right to prohibit and enforce such prohibitions against illegitimate ‘marriages’ such as homosexual unions), yet Tanksley’s statement indicates the acceptance of a worldview in which the state has the legitimate authority to regulate legitimate marriages. GKC should (in keeping with his defense of orthodoxy, which holds the position that marriage is under the exclusive control of the church) be arguing against Tanksley at this point, but the silence on that indicates he too has accepted a worldview in which the state is in authority over the ‘institution of marriage.’

    We recognize that God did not “forget” anything. His Law is perfect, which means it has exactly no more and no less than what is necessary. It is our moral compass. It is also the moral authority for every ‘authority’ which we are commanded to obey. Each of the three God-ordained covenant entities (family, state and church) derive their authority to act from the Word of God. In situations in which any of these oversteps their bounds, there are consequences. Tanksley refers to laws in a society that are binding. I am not arguing that laws are not binding, but notice that Tanksley is no longer appealing to the authority of Scripture, his appeal is now to the authority of the state. Having given up his moral argument he now appeals to the argument of force.

    @GKC

    You are divorcing Scripture from both itself and from how it was always understood by the Church.

    I denied doing so, stating that it is impossible to divorce scripture from itself. You responded saying:

    And yes, you are divorcing scripture from the Church and its leading to wildly crazy readings.

    I gather then your argument is that Scripture is one and the same with the church. You are essentially making the claim that the church is perfect and infallible in its customs and traditions. I understand the attitude of “We decided what Scripture is and we are the only arbiters of what it means” but I don’t agree and I really don’t think you’d want to argue this with me. The problem, from a worldview standpoint, is this argument is the same as Tanksley’s, which is an appeal to the authority of men. Any attempt to closely examine the ‘traditions of the church’ reveals some extremely uncomfortable facts that annihilate the idea of the concept of “always accepted by all” because it doesn’t exist. It simply doesn’t exist.

    God’s Word is extremely uncomfortable to many because of both what it does say and what it doesn’t say. Feminists rebel against it because they are restricted and placed under authority. Churchians rebel against it because they are unable to accept that anyone might have the freedom it allows and thus seek to add to the Word and add to the Law in order to restrain that freedom. Both are wrong. Might does not make right, it’s simply the law of the jungle. I came out of the jungle, and, having lived in both worlds, I much prefer morality as opposed to force.

  67. A-Toad, my request was simple and very clear. You have no obligation to answer on MY terms, but your claims that my arguments are not “a rational argument” or that I need to “calm down” are absurdly misplaced to the point that it makes you look desperate.

    If you don’t think God’s institution of marriage matters to your case for polygamy, SAY SO. It would be even better for you if you could defend polygamy against the crushingly obvious fact that there’s no room for it in the institution of marriage. But don’t pretend I didn’t mention it or that it doesn’t make sense.

    The institution of marriage explicitly excludes polygyny and implicitly excludes divorce. That doesn’t directly tell us that either polygyny or divorce are _illegal_, but it does tell us that neither one is _marriage_ in the sense that God created and instituted it.

  68. @AT,
    I understand the attitude of “We decided what Scripture is and we are the only arbiters of what it means” but I don’t agree and I really don’t think you’d want to argue this with me

    No I really would. I’m not protestant. As most here know I’m Orthodox. And they think Jerome’s cannon is a bit too pushy (BTW Cane there’s a good article up at FT that you might find interesting in a non-manspherish way http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/08/when-god-spoke-greek).

    You also keep asserting that “marriage is a between a man and a woman” based on what? Jesus words? If I am to look at the final implications of the same why should I accept polygamy? It after all goes beyond what Jesus states. I tell you again your premise is bad so your ending up with a bad answer. You are arguing just like the gay lobby does.

  69. @Wm,

    I don’t buy the idea that Israel and Judah are different. Too many things in the Scriptures indicate they are the same.

    I do agree that we will be facing polygamy in the near future, likely in our lifetimes. The whole idea of what marriage is and isn’t has been completely twisted that all constraints will be removed, if they aren’t already. No reason for limits if you already have the floodgates opened.

    The key question is not what should society do, but what should those who will live godly do. Adding multiple wives is not helpful toward living godly no matter what allowance anyone seems to show. All things may be lawful (permissible), but all things are not profitable.

  70. Oh it already has happened in the Netherlands and a few other places. One is reminded of God’s warning to the Kings, “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” (cf. Deut 17:17).

  71. @Tanksley
    [sigh] Marriage is a covenant entity, as is the church. Slavery is an institution. Can you see a difference here? God joins husband a wife, and Paul states there is a profound mystery about this (pointing at marriage but talking about the Church). Paul also points out that a man joining himself with a harlot becomes one flesh with her so its obvious a man can become one flesh with more than one woman, thus legitimately so within a polygynous marriage. A man buys a slave, but God is not part of the transaction. His law governs it, but God is not a party to the institution of slavery like He is party to the covenant of marriage.

    @GKC
    I am well aware you’re orthodox. Ultimately, you’d probably call me paleo-orthodox, but far more so than most. I’m also well aware of the orthodox position with respect to “that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all”. The problem is it doesn’t withstand rigorous examination and it’s embarrassing to the point of being unprofitable in the sense of simply polarizing rather than leading to any agreement.

    You also keep asserting that “marriage is a between a man and a woman” based on what? Jesus words? If I am to look at the final implications of the same why should I accept polygamy? It after all goes beyond what Jesus states.

    Malachi 2:14 condemns the treachery of a man divorcing the wife of his youth, his wife by covenant. A covenant is a ‘contract’ to which God is a party. Jesus said in Matthew 19 that God joins the husband and wife together. Paul states in Ephesians 5 that the husband is in authority over the wife to the same extent to which Christ is in authority over the church. My assertion that the authority over a legitimate marriage (one which is not immoral) rests with the husband. I cited Ephesians 5:22-24 as the authority for that, and pointed to what Jesus said in Matthew 19 and Malachi 2:14 to demonstrate the fact that marriage is a covenant entity.

    In the complete absence of any teaching anywhere in the Bible that confers any authority to either the state or the church over marriage, the only man left standing is the man. As Christ said in Matthew 19, ‘let no MAN separate.’ It was the man who took a wife, it was the man who divorced a wife. How many wives a man takes is entirely up to the man because God did not forbid taking more than one wife. Not one of you have offered any specific authority forbidding polygyny, although Tanksley tried. Hard. Not one of you have offered any authority demonstrating polygyny to be immoral.

    My premise is that given the legal status of marriage today (a usurpation of the husbands authority by the state), the widespread unchecked hypergamy-fueled promiscuity that has produced a generation or more of high-N sluts unsuitable for monogamous marriage, and, the enormous cohort of single and divorced mothers within the church (which is tolerated without rebuke or condemnation and is even glorified by some); polygyny is a Biblically acceptable solution to the problem that solves all parameters of the problem at the lowest possible level with the greatest benefit to those most in need (the children being raised in single-parent homes). This solution can be implemented without any change to existing laws. This solution actually increases the economic stability of low-income individuals by putting them into a household with more wage-earners.

    Polygyny also solves the paradox of Christian game: If marriage is for life, once the commitment is made, how does one morally implement a bit of dread game to keep the wife’s hamster on a leash? Why is there a refusal to accept that God knows all about the hypergamous hamster because God created women? He knows the female heart’s hamsterbatics and hamsterbations. He also allowed polygyny but He forbid His bondservants to divorce. I see a connection.

    The only thing truly standing in the way of solving the problem is the attitudes of the people most capable of taking the lead. Yet, the men of the church hesitate. They are fearful. They desperately search for some indication that God did not allow this. In vain. On the orthodox side of the house, with doctrine rooted in the profoundly perverted view that sex is a distasteful act that must be tolerated within marriage only because it results in procreation, there is an aversion to recognizing we are presented with a situation in which polygyny meets a legitimate need. On the protestant side of the house, we have the cowardice of ‘what would people think’ rearing its head. As GKC keeps saying, I’m making the argument of the gay lobby.

    I’m not making the argument of the gay lobby, that’s a response projecting fear of what others would think and a veiled ad hominem attack. I’m arguing for a Biblically supported legitimate form of marriage that solves an enormous problem with profound societal implications. Once we reach the point at which enough people no longer have a stake in the society (by that, I mean married and raising a family), all hell will break loose. Better, in my opinion, is for men to take on the task of husbanding a bevy of high-N sluts and earn their taco-master certification.

  72. @BradA, I don’t recall making a distinction between them, but I may have. They are different in some important respects, and one of those clear distinctions appears in Jeremiah 3, which is a crucial passage in order to explain how this debate meets up with the Institution of marriage in order to show A-Toad that Jesus wasn’t hating on Moses.

    “What will the godly do” is indeed a good question.

    One key question will be “what should a church do when a [hypothetical legal] polygamous unbeliever repents?” I’m not sure what the answer is. Although marrying more than one wife is clearly not a good option (and should be challenged by all while there’s still time to challenge it), I don’t see a good argument that divorcing the “extra” wives is any better of an option. I strongly suspect the answer is to stay as they are. What do you think?

  73. @AT,

    Ultimately, you’d probably call me paleo-orthodox

    No I really wouldn’t. It is more than a little presumptuous for you to say so. And then…

    The problem is it doesn’t withstand rigorous examination and it’s embarrassing to the point of being unprofitable

    No it really isn’t. You couldn’t even call yourself (and only you would) paleo orthodox if this was true. It would be a logical contradiction. You have nothing to measure yourself against.

    My assertion that the authority over a legitimate marriage (one which is not immoral) rests with the husband

    And you will notice no one gainsayed that. You aren’t paying attention which is starting to make this tedious. The problem is you stop there. You ignore the part that a man is part of the Church and is therefore responsible to it. You are proof texting.

    how many wives a man takes is entirely up to the man because God did not forbid taking more than one wife.

    No. That whole section of Ephesians that you just enthusiastically quoted uses the singular. It does not say “wives”. And nowhere in the Bible do we get this sense of man as his own authority. The only place that happens is with the temptation of Eve that Adam by proxy buys into.

  74. @GKC
    An instruction in the singular is binding on the plural. An instruction to the plural is not binding on the singular. Thus the use of the singular in Ephesians 5:22-24 is an instruction that applies to both the monogamously married as well as the polygamously married.

    You ignore the part that a man is part of the Church and is therefore responsible to it. You are proof texting.

    Responsible in what way? I would say the man is responsible to the church in the same way he is responsible to the state. Neither the state nor the church have been granted authority to dictate the terms of his marriage. I’m quite certain that if they had you’d have pointed it out by now. This is not proof texting. This is simply stating a fact. A priest of the church is obviously part of the state. His public behavior is regulated by the state. However, his behavior within the church is outside the bounds of regulation by the state. Are you claiming that the state has the authority to dictate the details of liturgy to the church?

  75. @GKC

    Ultimately, you’d probably call me paleo-orthodox

    No I really wouldn’t. It is more than a little presumptuous for you to say so. And then…

    The problem is it doesn’t withstand rigorous examination and it’s embarrassing to the point of being unprofitable

    No it really isn’t. You couldn’t even call yourself (and only you would) paleo orthodox if this was true. It would be a logical contradiction. You have nothing to measure yourself against.

    I love the parenthetical “(and only you would)” comment. I said “Ultimately, you’d probably call me paleo-orthodox, but far more so than most.” When I say ‘more so than most’ you can put the date at about 100 AD. Your problem there is trying to determine what orthodoxy is. All you have is the Scriptures that the church cannonized.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of the problem of the ‘crisis of faith’ that effects many seminarians in their first few years of seminary. They suddenly discover that critical elements of what they’ve always known and believed aren’t actually true. They’re faced with a confrontation in which their faith is tested and ultimately they must decide if a group of vain, contentious, arrogant men were able to actually able to produce the cannon of Scripture. If they survive this, it’s because they understand that nothing is impossible for God.

  76. Ok, AT, you’ve wandered into pure dumb territory. I don’t know who is filling your head with this nonsense but that’s what it is.

  77. “Marriage is a covenant entity, as is the church. Slavery is an institution.”

    Whoah! So all this time you had no idea what I meant when I said “institution”! OK, I’m going to explain it, then I’m going to paste my original query, and then you’ll get your chance to explain, this time with understanding of what my question means.

    First, “covenant” and “institution” aren’t opposites. Although an individual marriage is indeed a covenant, marriage itself is actually an institution.

    The literal, generic meaning of “institution” is “something that is created for a purpose” (the word itself is a synonym for creation). “The institution” of something is the words God speaks in order to explain His purpose for it when He originally creates it. The institution of marriage is seen in Genesis 2:24, and Christ quotes it in several of the Gospel accounts. There’s an institution of the Lord’s Supper reprinted in the Gospels, and Paul also receives and delivers it (whether from Christ directly or from the other apostles makes little difference). This is why I said that God did not institute divorce or polygamy (ditto Moses) — there is no point where we’re told that God created either, and no point where God says he created them for a purpose.

    Institution texts have a unique authority — from them we can tell things that can’t always be seen from regulations. So when there’s a debate about a regulation, turning to the institution takes us a level higher, and sometimes clears things up.

    Here’s the summary I gave back when you were pondering your reply: “When you reply, be sure to address Jer 3 and Isa 50′s agreement with Moses, though (you’ve completely ignored them through many reply cycles now); and also note how strongly I lean on the institution text of marriage (braced with a bit of Daniel’s more expanded translation into Aramaic, in a rather surprising context), and how I read it against you the same way Christ read it against Hillel.”

    To put that back into contemporary context, although you’ve now admitted in writing that you read at least one of those passages, you’ve ignored the fact that God in Jer 3 appears to be endorsing both Moses’ law regarding marriage-to-another, and in Isa 50 the importance of a divorce certificate, to which God points to prove that His divorce was proper. So no valid explanation can possibly claim that Jesus didn’t like Moses’ Law. The reason Jesus rejected the arguments of both schools of Pharisees was in order to teach from the Institution of Marriage.

    So, let me include the institution itself: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Christ echoed this from the Septuagint. I think that’s helpful that Daniel used “cleave” (although in Aramaic, so watch out if you’re using Strong’s numbers) to express how a nation would form in which two cultures would interbreed, but no “cleaving” would happen, weakening the culture.

    Separately we see that kings were forbidden polygamy not because it’s BAD, but because a king would marry for treaty and thus would tend to marry foreigners; those foreigners would change the king’s heart away from God. We see that danger also with priests, who were absolutely forbidden to marry a foreigner (they were also forbidden to marry a divorced woman or a widow, which is negative evidence that remarriage after divorce is normally acceptable). So in all this we see how “cleaving” matters to marriage: it’s a cultural mixing where the new family forms its own culture.

    What does this have to do with marriage? Well, in the Institution, we see that this happens when the young man (normally) leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife. Polygyny completely discards the “leaving”, and the cleaving has a completely different character (although it’s certainly possible) when the man’s cleaving to a different wife. In particular, the marriage simply changes the culture of an existing family; it doesn’t form a new family at all.

  78. Tanksley Said

    God in Jer 3 appears to be endorsing both Moses’ law regarding marriage-to-another, and in Isa 50 the importance of a divorce certificate, to which God points to prove that His divorce was proper. So no valid explanation can possibly claim that Jesus didn’t like Moses’ Law. The reason Jesus rejected the arguments of both schools of Pharisees was in order to teach from the Institution of Marriage.

    God Said

    I hate divorce

    Your opinion as to why Jesus rejected the arguments of both schools is an opinion. You’ve done your best to claim that Moses permitted divorce, but it was never instituted, but it must have been a good thing because God did it, so Jesus couldn’t have been saying what He said in Matthew 19. Moses made a ruling, the ruling went into the Law, which instituted it and God ratified that judgment, as you so kindly point out, in Isaiah 50 and Jeremiah 3. The problem with your argument is the rejection of both schools was also a rejection of divorce. We stand at Matthew 19 and you point back and say ‘see- God endorsed divorce by using it Himself!’ I point forward and say ‘He hated it so much that Christ forbid His bondservants to get divorced.’ What happened in the middle was the new covenant and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

    What does this have to do with marriage? Well, in the Institution, we see that this happens when the young man (normally) leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife. Polygyny completely discards the “leaving”, and the cleaving has a completely different character (although it’s certainly possible) when the man’s cleaving to a different wife. In particular, the marriage simply changes the culture of an existing family; it doesn’t form a new family at all.

    The critical question to be asked is with who the authority to marry lies and where it came from. Genesis 2:14 is the grant of authority to the man to marry. The man leaving is the act of removing himself from the headship of his father and setting up his own family, a new family, in which the man has no restriction on how many wives he might have. What you call the institution of marriage is actually the institution of family. Your ‘marriage is an institution’ argument essentially says there must be a leaving in order to have a marriage which is a back-door argument for monogamy. Kings were not forbidden polygyny, the passage says kings are not to multiply wives.

    The leaving, cleaving and becoming one flesh is the process of setting up a new covenant entity that will become a family. The problem with trying to use this to define the “Institution of Marriage” as monogamous is it fails when we examine the authority to marry. Where does the authority to marry come from and to whom was it granted? The church wants to claim such authority was given to the church and it thereby has the authority to regulate marriages. Likewise the State claims marriage is a privilege and those who desire must obtain their permission in order to marry. Both are incorrect.

    The authority granted to the man in Genesis 2:14 is an absolute grant of authority that established the right of a man to get married and the authority under which he governs his family. We know that authority is constrained by morality, and morality is defined by God’s Law. We see some limits on this authority because the man is forbidden to marry a close relative. However, the authority to marry the first wife is the same authority to marry another wife because having more than one wife is not forbidden or condemned by the Law. The authority to marry another wife is slightly more limited than that to take the first, inasmuch as a man is forbidden to take as a second wife the sister of his first wife. However, the authority to marry the first wife is the authority to marry the second and to deny the right to marry the second is to deny the right to marry the first. This is what GKC was trying to do just a little upthread, because the position of the orthodox and RCC is they are in authority over marriage. I called him on it:

    A priest of the church is obviously part of the state. His public behavior is regulated by the state. However, his behavior within the church is outside the bounds of regulation by the state. Are you claiming that the state has the authority to dictate the details of liturgy to the church?

    Lacking a specific constraint within the Law, the authority of the man to take a wife is his and his alone and included in that is the authority to take another wife.

    I appreciate the discussion, this has been helpful to me.

  79. A-Toad, let me speak for GKC, and I hope I’ll do it accurately. I’m going to try to explain why you sound so stupid to him.

    First, as an Orthodox, he’s more aware than most that his church traces back to the early church via multiple independent sources — the Orthodox churches have been largely politically disconnected, and yet all show a remarkable concurrence in matters of practice that can only be sensibly explained by that practice being very old. I’m not an Orthodox (although I strive to be orthodox, if you see what I mean), and my studies have convinced me that this is a well-supported belief. It seems to me that the the Pope allowed for an immense amount of standardized innovation that over time slowly allowed the Western churches to “hide” from their members how much their practices had changed over many generations, while the bishops of the “Eastern” churches kept the practices without major single-point modifications. (I say this without placing blame on the Pope or the West — it’s purely information theory, that you can know a signal better if you sample it from multiple independently noisy sources than if you sample it from a single source with cascading noisy effects.) I’m also not intending to imply that the Eastern churches were “right” — just that they have the concrete provable claim to be “paleo”. I’m not an Orthodox, so clearly I think they’re actually somehow wrong — and I suspect that GKC will shake his head in pity and amusement to hear that, but at least I’m disagreeing while admitting what is obviously true. Sorry, this isn’t the place to explain why I’m not EO — but so compelling is the history of Eastern Orthodoxy that if you can’t explain why you’re not EO, you SHOULD convert right now)

    You, on the other hand, claim to have rediscovered the church at AD100 based on _no evidence at all_. You reject all of the New Testament teaching regarding polygamy and turn to the Old Testament histories, while rejecting Old Testament testimony and law about divorce and turning to the New. It’s absurdity piled on absurdity to think that’s “paleo”. I’m even pretty sure you’ve never read the Church Fathers, as strange as that accusation is toward someone who claims to be paleo-orthodox.

    “Your problem there is trying to determine what orthodoxy is. All you have is the Scriptures that the church cannonized.”

    His church never canonized the Scriptures (and I sure hope they never cannonized them); the council of Trent did that. His church, like mine, _received_ the Scriptures. And his church, unlike mine, claims that the wisdom of the church has authority alongside what we now call the “Bible”, even though the Bible is special. (That isn’t an accurate reflection of the Orthodox doctrines of authority and apostleship in all its depth; forgive me, GKC, but if I nuanced it more A-Toad would be completely lost.)

    “I don’t know if you’re aware of the problem of the ‘crisis of faith’ that effects many seminarians in their first few years of seminary.”

    Why should I think you have the faintest idea what really happens inside the walls of seminaries? You’re practically describing Barth, which would be more impressive if you knew who Barth was — but Barth was almost unique, for all his impact. Most seminarians in the cynical and unbelieving seminaries you describe emerge just as cynical and unbelieving as their teachers. Their crisis of faith usually becomes a krisis of faithlessness (no, that’s not a typo). Lord, have mercy on us.

  80. Responded, he did

    You reject all of the New Testament teaching regarding polygamy and turn to the Old Testament histories, while rejecting Old Testament testimony and law about divorce and turning to the New.

    “All the New Testament teaching regarding polygamy” is kind of a problem because there aren’t any. The best you could do was claim a prohibition against polygyny based on the qualifications for elders. For your edification, this paper is as reasonable an exegesis as any out there on that subject.

    “Rejecting Old Testament testimony and law about divorce and turning to the New.” Tanksley, you’re really sounding a bit butthurt here and I’m profoundly concerned about you. But to answer your point, we are no longer under the old covenant, we are under the new covenant. You’re fighting as hard as you can to justify something God said He hates and Christ forbid to His married bondservants.

    if I nuanced it more A-Toad would be completely lost.

    Gee… Ya got me there, Tanksley. Between that and that huge zinger about Karl? It’s just too much. I’ll have to slink away and have a good cry. I offer you this as a token of my profound humiliation at your hands. Perhaps it will be of assistance to you. I could never be so profoundly zealous and spiritual but you seem like you’ve got what it takes.

    All the best,
    Toad

  81. A-Toad:

    You replied to me by simply saying “God Said I hate divorce”, thereby (in your mind) neutralizing all the passages that I point to where God claimed to have served his wife with divorce papers. There are a SEA of problems with this approach.

    1. Christ didn’t ever make that reference in order to show why divorce is bad, even though if it meant that He would have had a WAY more powerful quote.

    2. You’re setting scripture against scripture and just TELLING me which one wins. But you admit elsewhere that scripture never contradicts scripture, so scripture CANNOT be against scripture.

    “Your opinion as to why Jesus rejected the arguments of both schools is an opinion.”

    No, it’s a description of HOW He rejected both of their arguments. THAT He rejected them is explicit — He turned away from their quibbles over how the ancient letters should be parsed (LITERALLY that was their quibble), and turned to a text without ambiguity with the stated reason that this text was actually teaching about God’s design for marriage. Do you disagree that Genesis 2:24 is teaching how marriage was from the beginning? Do you disagree that Jesus is claiming that this should affect how our marriages are right now?

    “You’ve done your best to claim that Moses permitted divorce, but it was never instituted”

    I’ve claimed? Jesus SAID that Moses permitted it. Unless you can show me the words of institution for divorce I’ll continue to affirm that God (and Moses) didn’t institute it.

    “but it must have been a good thing because God did it,”

    God did it indeed, but that doesn’t make it a simple good thing. God judges people and kills them, and commands us to do the same, but that doesn’t make it a good thing that we should do at every opportunity and any excuse.

    “so Jesus couldn’t have been saying what He said in Matthew 19.”

    I never said that. I said that Jesus never rejected Moses’ law, and Jesus in fact PRAISED Moses’ law (in very many texts), so when He said “Moses permitted it because of your hardness of heart” he couldn’t have been condemning Moses. It seems to me that He’s condemning “hardness of heart”.

    “Moses made a ruling, the ruling went into the Law, which instituted it and God ratified that judgment, as you so kindly point out, in Isaiah 50 and Jeremiah 3.”

    Yes. Of course, the ruling didn’t say what you seem to still think it does — it didn’t institute divorce. It merely mentioned it in passing.

    “The problem with your argument is the rejection of both schools was also a rejection of divorce.”

    No. This is your opinion on the text, and you state that opinion in total deliberate contradiction of every OT passage on divorce EXCEPT one phrase plucked from Malachi 2:16.

    Do you know anything about who Mal 2:16 was written to (hint: it’s addressed at the head of the chapter)? Are you aware that all modern translations are based on the assumption that there’s pervasive textual corruption in that specific verse? Look at the variation in its translation into English, http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Malachi%202:16, and look at the ESV (back there) and NET (bible.org) textual notes on it. Mal 2:16 is unmistakably written to priests (as part of Mal 2), and as such it’s almost certainly about the events described in Ezra 9-10, “the great divorce”, in which priests who had disobeyed the Law by marrying foreigners were told to divorce their wives and send their children away for no reason of their own guilt, but only because they were foreigners. (Note that in the same situation Nehemiah cast a high priest out of office, obeying the Law rather than forcing people to break marriages and abandon children.) The mob violence implied behind this careful judicial determination is chilling, as were the consequences to the abandoned woman and children. Can there be any doubt that the “For he hated [when] dismissing [her], said YHWH the God of Israel, and he covered his garment with violence” (the literal meaning of the Hebrew of Mal 2:16 and close to the LXX Greek) applies to this — and to many divorces? See http://wernerbiblecommentary.org/?q=node/76 for a comparison of the Hebrew (and the Septuagint, which offers a similar view) and other languages’ translations, and a commentary which, although including an amusingly feminist-centric comment, puts forward the case I’ve been making in a much more educated way (the amusing part is where he says the Mosaic Law protected WOMEN from the violence MEN would give if divorce weren’t permitted, rather than protecting BOTH from the hardhearted evil the others would perpetrate, as I believe Christ described).

    “We stand at Matthew 19 and you point back and say ‘see- God endorsed divorce by using it Himself!’”

    I stand on ALL the Scriptures. You pit Scripture against itself.

    “I point forward and say ‘He hated it so much that Christ forbid His bondservants to get divorced.’”

    He hated it so little he used it Himself — and so little that he included the “prohibition” you cite as a single verse in the middle of a passage full of conditional wisdom, and a verse that cries out to be read as a citation of Jesus’ explicit teaching rather than an emendation of it. That passage, by that way, that if applied at all in the way it’s written, would seem to recommend with the same certainty that a Christian not marry more wives, since the only acceptable reason for marriage is avoiding fornication; and a single wife is sufficient for that, and Paul teaches that we should try to stay in our present situation (save, if we have a lawful opportunity, for escaping slavery).

    “What happened in the middle was the new covenant and the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

    I guess that caught God by surprise, then. And Jesus, who had to send a postscript through Paul. And also the Holy Spirit who accidentally theopneusta’d all the other graphe. Perhaps you should retranslate that as “all scripture is accidentally sneezed out by God, and should be carefully weighed against our rights lest we take too little authority for ourselves.”

    “The critical question to be asked is with who the authority to marry lies and where it came from.”

    Who died and made that question critical?

    “Genesis 2:14 is the grant of authority to the man to marry.”

    I don’t see that. I see a _cause_, not an _authority_. The text appears to retain its own authority.

    “The man leaving is the act of removing himself from the headship of his father and setting up his own family, a new family,”

    _True_.

    “in which the man has no restriction on how many wives he might have.”

    Strange, this text doesn’t say that — in fact, this text does give a number: the total number of people whom this text authorizes becoming one is _two_.

    His cleaving will never again produce the radical creation of a new culture. As you admit, there’s no new family when the additional wife is taken. There’s also no grounds for thinking that this verse authorizes THREE or FOUR becoming one flesh, or multiple twos becoming one flesh (although elsewhere we are told how that works, it doesn’t authorize it here).

    “What you call the institution of marriage is actually the institution of family.”

    I don’t reject that. Fair enough. So why does Jesus quote this verse in order to reply to divorce?

    “Your ‘marriage is an institution’ argument”

    I said that marriage was instituted. YOU brought up the idea of “an institution” in order to reject that marriage is one. I don’t actually have this disagreement with you, don’t put that word in my mouth.

    “essentially says there must be a leaving in order to have a marriage which is a back-door argument for monogamy.”

    Yup — and I said it was the same type of argument Jesus used when the rabbis were promoting divorce. Do you have any response to that claim, or are you just restating the painfully obvious?

    “The leaving, cleaving and becoming one flesh is the process of setting up a new covenant entity that will become a family.”

    I’m not sure. I’m curious. What do you mean by “covenant entity”? It’s a rare phrase at best. A marriage ceremony is definitely the creation of a covenant — the ceremony ITSELF is the cutting of the covenant, as opposed to the leaving, cleaving, and union that form the part of the fulfillment of the covenant that this verse is concerned with (Moses explains more of the ways people can fail to fulfill this, but they all are common-sense given the ability of people to sin).

    “The problem with trying to use this to define the “Institution of Marriage” as monogamous is it fails when we examine the authority to marry. Where does the authority to marry come from and to whom was it granted?”

    That’s the question I need to ask you. And I just don’t see it anywhere. I don’t see the Bible ever talking about anything LIKE it, not in the faintest bit. In the Bible I see arranged marriages as an expected thing (and apparently accepted by both parties, and even to this day), marriages literally forced on one party (or possibly both parties), marriages pursued by the woman for the sake of survival, marriages as a condition of treaties, marriages given ONLY for support but without union, wives purchased from the slave-block or taken by force from a conquered land and a completely slaughtered people; I see concubinage, polygamy, divorce… I see all these things, and I see that the Law administers them in a way appropriate for the entire culture of the Mideast. Do I conclude that any of those things are inherent goods? No, but I do conclude that there was a reason for them — perhaps they were better than some alternative.

    The church wants to claim such authority was given to the church and it thereby has the authority to regulate marriages. Likewise the State claims marriage is a privilege and those who desire must obtain their permission in order to marry. Both are incorrect.

    The man wants to claim that his marriage is his alone to regulate. He also is incorrect.

    But the words you put into the State’s mouth do not state not my contention here. I do contend that the church has an obligation to regulate within marriages, and that the state does as well. I do not grant the state the inherent right to grant or deny permission to marry — although if a state TAKES that action, your arguments offer no logical or moral deterrence, just your own personal opinion (and your own argument claims that as long as an action isn’t forbidden by the Mosaic Law it’s moral, which means that the State is acting morally when it does that even if you forbid it with all your moral outrage).

    The authority granted to the man in Genesis 2:14 is an absolute grant of authority that established the right of a man to get married and the authority under which he governs his family.

    None of those things are present in Genesis 2:24 in any manner whatsoever, express or implied. You built them “of whole cloth”.

    We know that authority is constrained by morality, and morality is defined by God’s Law.

    Close. Morality is pictured by God’s law — it’s not limited to or defined by it. God himself is both perfect and infinite, and the written law offers only a limited portrait of His righteousness. David sang about meditating on God’s law day and night; he understood, then, that simply READING or memorizing it wasn’t enough.

    However, the authority to marry the first wife is the same authority to marry another wife because having more than one wife is not forbidden or condemned by the Law.

    Authority is not the same as lack of forbidding. The *reason* (not authority) to marry a second wife MUST come from some other passage, because it’s not given in Genesis 2:24. There’s a clear reason given for marrying a second wife in the Levirate Marriage — there it’s clearly in order to give your brother an heir. Are there other reasons? Well, one is clearly if you’ve seduced a woman and her father demands you marry her — no reason is given for this, but it’s clearly sufficient by Law; I think one explanation is that the woman’s attractiveness would be reduced by the fact that she’s no longer a virgin, while the perpetrator clearly has no such compunctions against her. In general, I think that the answer is hinted at in Exod 21:10 — that one reason for this was in order to provide for women in a very poor culture where the strong preyed on the weak, and when that reason didn’t apply the man would lose the right to keep even his FIRST wife.

    But it’s NOT given in Genesis 2:24.

    A priest of the church is obviously part of the state. His public behavior is regulated by the state. However, his behavior within the church is outside the bounds of regulation by the state. Are you claiming that the state has the authority to dictate the details of liturgy to the church?

    It doesn’t have the right to declare what is or isn’t liturgy, but if it hears that the church is practicing cannibalism as part of its practice OR liturgy, it would seem appropriate to launch some kind of investigation, don’t you think so? (GKC, as someone steeped in church history, may enjoy a light and perhaps ironic chuckle at this point.)

    I appreciate the discussion, this has been helpful to me.

    Thank you. And likewise for me. I’m very glad you discovered where there was a point of confusion.

    -Wm

  82. A-Toad — I’m always amazed by the filth you display publicly whenever you attempt to joke about an opponent. You should temper that a bit. I can’t claim to not deserve some turnabout, but again, the level of filth you wallow in goes beyond anything anyone here has ever given to you. (Well, in THIS comment thread — you may have gotten more in another one.)

    But I’m serious that you don’t understand that Orthodox position on apostolic authority and Scriptures. If you had a faint clue you would have never written what you did. That’s not a jibe; it’s a pure fact. (The thing about Barth was a jibe, of course, although one you deeply deserved. I EXPECT some mockery in response.)

    “But to answer your point, we are no longer under the old covenant, we are under the new covenant.”

    So? We are no longer under Law _at all_. The New Covenant is not about “do this and live”, but about “God will remove their heart of stone and put a heart of flesh.” Does that prove we should do anything we like? NO. Does it prove that the OT law should be ignored when we make decisions? NO.

  83. A-Toad — you linked to a great argument in “http://www.walkingtogetherministries.com/2013/05/27/on-the-meaning-of-husband-of-one-wife/”. Thank you.

    Now, read it and weep. If his argument is correct, and I think it is, it completely establishes that “faithfulness” (which is what Paul meant when establishing the requirement, according to the page’s argument) is MEANT by “one-woman-type-of-man”. What does that mean? It means that a two-woman-type-of-man isn’t being faithful in the sense that Paul requires of elder or deacon.

    The argument rules out the passage as teaching that polygamy is the ONLY thing Paul is talking about, but the reading that’s very clearly established necessarily requires that polygamous men be ruled out for those church offices.

  84. Tanksley, it’s actually been fun but I have to end this. I’m now being accused of being really, really mean for keeping you so wound up for so long. I honestly never expected you to go all energizer bunny on me. I’m returning to my recommendation of 200mg L-Tryptophan and 250mg L-Theanine daily. It will promote mental clarity and improve your memory. I’m really not being mean when I say this, but you’ve been arguing against yourself for quite some time. Notice, your own words.

    Tanksley says he says he doesn’t have a problem with polygyny, it’s real and as he says “sometimes” legal:

    “In addition, contrary to your claim, I’m not particularly interested in proving that polygamy is sinful or fictitious; it’s clear to me that it’s real and sometimes legal.”

    Tanksley agrees with me on divorce:

    “I think that’s the only point where divorce is actually permitted against a believer, and it requires both the unbeliever’s desire to divorce AND either a direct declaration of unbelief, OR the church’s declaration that the unrepentant “hardhearted” sin of the other party requires that they be treated as an unbeliever. I note that you agree with this.”

    The discussion was fruitful for me, but this really needs to end. As I said, I do appreciate the effort.

    Oh, and GKC, you might want to ask who (or what) the bride of Christ is. ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb,’ but who is the bride? Revelation 19 has the marriage feast, with many in attendance, prior to the Millennial Kingdom. Then, over a thousand years later, we have the angel saying to John in Revelation 21:9-10, ‘let me show you the bride, the wife of the lamb.’

    The angel showed John the new city of Jerusalem, not the church. If, however, you hold that the bride is the church which was raptured to the wedding feast in Revelation 19, who were the attendees invited to the wedding feast (parable of the virgins, anyone?) and what about those who were saved during the Millennial Kingdom? Do we see another bride here? I’ve avoided tossing that in there until now, but well, there it is. Revelation 20:4-6 describes the saints who will rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years, so if they’re ruling and reigning they won’t be partying at the wedding feast, will they?

    Hebrews says it is given to man to live, to die and then judgment. At last count, there are over 1.5 Billion aborted babies who never got the chance to live. I suspect they’ll get their chance in the Millennial Kingdom, but that’s merely speculation on my part. All I know is there will be a lot of people in the Millennial Kingdom and some of them will come to Christ. Are they a second bride, part of the first bride or did they miss out on the wedding feast? How many wedding feasts are there? This second group- what are they? The second wife of the Lord, because they were added later? It makes a difference per your argument. I didn’t want to get Tanksley off on another rabbit trail so I left that until now.

  85. Physician, heal thyself.

    “I’m really not being mean when I say this, but you’ve been arguing against yourself for quite some time. Notice, your own words.”

    So you’re retracting entirely your claim that the man has all authority in and over marriage, such that polygamy can “sometimes” be legal, and sometimes not? Excellent. It looks like my point about the Institution of marriage is taking root. Polygamy does not satisfy the text of the institution — like concubinage and divorce, it was tacked on later in order to solve other problems.

    Of course I’m happy to agree with my explanation of the regulations on divorce. More than that, I affirm all of God’s law as a valid picture of God’s character when understood in its context. Not only did Jesus reject none of it, He affirmed that all of it was what “taught of Him”, so that the people who followed Him did so because they recognized His voice as the same loving tone that set the Law (and the prophets), and His actions as the fulfillment of them.

    As for the identity of the Bride of Christ, you’re quoting Revelation, which is a book of symbols; when you find John saying that he saw a city “dressed as a bride” you’re not looking at a city that’s a bride, but rather at a symbol. Even if a literal city were a bride in some sense, it couldn’t possibly be literally dressed as one. So saying the angel showed John “the city” (true) does not prove that John saw “not the church”. And the church that attends the feast is the opposite of “all flesh” that serves as a feast for the birds, and it’s never set in contrast to those who are in the gates of the city.

    Your citations of the parables of the wedding feast and the parable of the virgins is off the mark; those are parables, not symbolic prophecy — different genre, so that the same parabolic figures may represent different real things. (For example, the weeds in the parable of the tares do not choke out the grain like it can in the parable of the sower — because the weeds in one are the worries of life and in the other are evil people who will be judged.)

    Unfortunately, Hebrews only says that it’s given to each man to die once, then judgement. After death, judgement — not a second life and a second judgement. Sad but true — murder most foul, and God will judge. Lord, have mercy. The Lord will care for His own, though; I can’t say whether babies are saved, but I can’t say they aren’t. God knows, He’s not surprised by our evil, and He is just.

  86. You were close enough. I only scanned what you had to say. I will note that I’m _very_ friendly to the West, which is a bit of an odd thing for an Orthodox but my religious background is complicated. I’m not reading AT, I think he’s said his piece and I think he’s wrong and not in frame of mind to consider that he might be wrong. So be it. If God wants him he’ll eventually have him.

  87. Thanks for checking me, GKC. The East is very important to me — I’m amazed at the level of ignorance of the differences and similarities. I had no idea until I read about dithelitism, thought that it MUST be a heresy because it sounded absurd, and then found it was ecumenically accepted across all Christianity. Hm! The result has been a fascinating study, still very much ongoing, that has led me through many interesting philosophies that underpin church doctrines.

    Any blog or podcast you’d recommend?

  88. @WM,

    The church should accept anyone who repents. I cannot find any Biblical admonition to tell them to divorce all but one wife, so I would not impose that. It is definitely not ideal, but lots of things aren’t ideal.

    I trust God to clean up the sin in people if we help disciple them over time. Let the Word work in their lives, which few seem to do.

  89. You mean “Dyothelitism”? If so I don’t think I would be the best to help you out but I can try. For general readings on the Trinity and the doctrinal development of the same you can try a book that was given to me called “The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God” which is one of the most exhaustive (and exhausting) books I’ve ever read. The Amazon link is http://www.amazon.com/The-Search-Christian-Doctrine-God/dp/080103146X. However, it covers the development of Trinitarian doctrine “in toto” and not Dyothelitism in particular nor is it properly a theological guide. Maybe someone else here can recommend a text.

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