The Bible says “Marriage = wtf?”

Today’s post is just a graphic.

I’ll be happy to edit this post to give credit, when I know who created this beauty!

Is everyone really sure they want the Bible defining marriage?

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Cafeteria Christians, read this:

We can quote the Bible too:

So, um, every word of the Bible is true? It’s God’s word? Then especially when it says it’s actually God speaking, I guess all you fundamentalist types have no choice but to obey.

Now you can either treat the Bible like the outdated tribal mythology that it is. Or you can say, Nope, it’s the word of God.

To you word-of-God types, then:

Gentlemen, if your wife wasn’t a virgin when you married her, God says you gotta kill her. Sorry ’bout that. But you know, it’s in the Bible.

Unashamed commercialism…

Pantera, a Roman legionary, remains a plausible biological father for Jesus

You have only minutes left to get an interesting gift – a stocking-stuffer for an intelligent, literate, argumentative teen, say.

You could order them a copy of The Gospel According to the Romans for $14.95 here, or from Amazon.com

or you can send it to them as an e-book for 86p in the UK, or 99 cents in the US, or EUR 0,99 at one of Amazon’s main European websites (for example Germany, but you can substitute other country letters for the ‘de’), where you/they can also get a free Kindle app for reading it (look on the right-hand side)

or you can simply point them at this blog, http://robinhl.com, where they can enjoy random religious rants and sniping year-round!

(Discussion of Pantera is at https://robinhl.com/2011/11/06/jesus-son-of-pantera/, fyi. And Merry Christmas!)

Jesus, Mary and Afghanistan – the death sentence for being raped

Would Mary, the mother of Jesus, have been sentenced to death if her pregnancy was caused by rape or by other sex outside marriage?

Afghan woman in a buqa, Herat, 2010

Consider the case currently unfolding in Afghanistan, whose sharia law is based on the same male-dominated monotheist tribalism as religious Judaism: An Afghan woman, Gulnaz, complained of being raped by a relative. We have good news and bad news:

  • Good news: she wasn’t sentenced to death for adultery
  • Bad news: she was given three years in jail, and after she gave birth to a daughter in jail she was given a second trial, and the sentence was increased to twelve years.

We have more good news and bad news:

  • Good news: in the second trial, the judge told the convict that she could be released…
  • Bad news: … if she married the rapist (regardless of her feelings toward him – or of his toward her, which would likely result in further abuse and quite likely death).

Stay tuned for further developments in the exciting world of 21st century religious jurisprudence. In the meantime, consider what Mary would have faced if she had been raped by a Roman soldier, or had had an affair at 14 – and got pregnant – if she hadn’t married Joseph before he knew she was pregnant, back in the late 1st century BC… Best bet: death by stoning.

Monotheism and polytheism – desert and forest

Studies have pointed out that there are interesting correlations between the geographic extremes of Forest and Desert on the one hand, and a whole range of cultural predispositions on the other.

The basic claimed comparison is the table below, and the highlight is that Forests = polytheism, and Deserts = monotheism

FOREST

DESERT

Dispute resolution Non-violent Tendency to warfare
Social structure Egalitarian Stratified
Sexuality Tolerant Taboos punishable by death
Women’s rights Substantial Male-dominated
Religion Polytheism Monotheism

This is simplistic. For example, we now equate the Sahara-Asian deserts with Islam, but historically the Arabian peninsula was overwhelmingly polytheistic, right up until Muhammad began trying to change it in 610 AD. (For an extensive critique of these ideas, and of the groups that disseminate them, see Steven Dutch’s page at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.)

However there are two lines of thought that can support the ideas of polytheism seeming more natural in a Forest environment, and of monotheism finding an easier reception in a Desert.

  1. A Forest has abundant resources; a resource dispute can be solved by one party moving away. But the limited resources of a Desert will favor the party that uses violence to control the resources, and the need for violence will favor male power and stratified decision-making. A society dominated by a single powerful male will be more receptive to the idea of the Universe being under the control of a single powerful God.
  2. In a Forest, nature has many aspects: trees, rivers, delicious fruits, poisonous fruits, animals you can eat, animals that will eat you, patches of sun, frequent rain, and so on. Nature is diverse, and its gods are diverse. In a Desert, nature is dominated by the sun – omnipresent, all-seeing, harsh, unforgiving, and an easy symbol for the domination of life by a single God.

    The sun - the inspiration for monotheism?

So a more complete comparison might be:

FOREST

DESERT

Environment Complex Sparse
The sun Elusive, welcome Constant, unforgiving
Basic resources Abundant Limited
Dispute resolution Distraction, relocation Retribution, clan warfare
Social structure Egalitarian Stratified
Sexuality Tolerant Taboos punishable by death
Women’s rights Substantial Male-dominated
Religion Polytheism Monotheism

Does this mean that the Celts and Anglo-Saxons and Vikings coming out of the northern forests were non-violent? Hardly! But they were definitely more egalitarian, sexually tolerant and polytheist than the Latin cultures which subsequently dominated them.

You are unlikely to see Scandinavians stoning anyone to death for sexual promiscuity, or for pregnancy outside marriage.

Jesus and the dangers of being illegitimate

The issue of Jesus’ father was problematic for his attempt to be recognized as Messiah – just as it was for his parents before he was born.

Mary is described by a word which can mean either ‘virgin’ or ‘girl of marriageable age’ – but strongly carries a meaning of ‘not married’.

The Gospels state that Joseph discovered that Mary was already pregnant when he married her, and, being a just man, decided to divorce her quietly rather than make a public example of her. But, after dreams changed his mind, he chose another reasonable solution: go to a different town (Bethlehem, where his own family was from) for a few months, let her have the baby where no one knew when they had married, and then return home (Nazareth) where no one knew when the baby had been born. That way the fiction of Jesus’ legitimacy could be maintained.

Stoning people to death for sexual misconduct is an ongoing tradition of monotheism

It was important for a child to have been conceived within marriage. Even if the parents subsequently married, if the child was conceived outside marriage it was considered a bastard. The laws in Deuteronomy are clear and harsh:

  • married woman has sex with another man, both stoned to death
  • betrothed virgin raped in a town, both stoned to death (she, for not having called for help)
  • betrothed virgin raped in the countryside, only the man stoned to death
  • unbetrothed virgin raped, the rapist has to pay the victim’s father fifty silver shekels and marry her.

So, depending on quite how young Mary got pregnant, her life was in danger. Assume Joseph loved her – he needed to be creative to protect her.

The problems of illegitimacy came up again when Jesus was making his play for Messiah and King. As Deuteronomy 23:2 states: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”

Not surprising, then, that his followers grasped at whatever unlikely explanations they could think of, in order to explain away the embarrassing rumors!