Marriage, adultery and Christian error…

***It is with much fear and trepidation that I post something I have been working on for weeks, as this post will prove to be a very challenging post.  Some topics are so ingrained in our traditional understanding of Scripture that they can become ‘third rail’ topics.  In other words, touching them can lead to big trouble.  This is one of those topics, and frankly, I’ve never shied away from the hard stuff!  So, take a deep breath and let’s take a slow stroll through some recent studies I’ve had…  i.e., this post is nowhere near final or exhaustive,  merely sharing some thoughts and throwing things out there for discussion.

John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
…..
John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

May we seek truth, no matter how hard the topic, or where it leads…

 



 

Thanksgiving dinner at our table was the normal mix of banter and topics which included the ever present weekly Torah Portion.  That week, as you may recall, we had the story of Rachel and Leah.  Our discussion meandered through the story but turned interesting as we pondered various aspects of the proper Biblical perspective on marriage.  Foremost, we realized that what we learned in the church and through Western culture may have some errors.  This led me to further reading and thinking, and of course, my paradigms have again been challenged!

We must remember from the outset that the entire Word of Yehovah is true and unchanging.  We must also remember that it is not a letter written to us, but rather, His Word was given to a particular people in a particular time/culture/context.  We therefore should seek to understand it in that context and apply it accordingly in our lives.

So, here goes…

Christendom readily agrees that, as an institution, marriage began in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve were ‘put together’ by the Original Matchmaker.  Scripture tells us that they became ‘one flesh’ and we would understand that to mean ‘husband and wife.’

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The first interesting thought here is, where was the preacher/priest/rabbi to pronounce them?  In fact, ‘by the power vested in me (by the state of whatchamawhoozit), I now pronounce you man and wife’ is nowhere found in Scripture.  The only Authority in view is the Living God.  Here we see a great example of the state and/or church assuming to itself a power (the power to declare marriage) they do not own and have no authority over.  Interesting.

Secondly, we see that the becoming ‘one flesh’ is the act of physical unity.  Or, more graphically, sexual union IS marriage!  I Corinthians 6:16 warns against joining oneself with another, even for a moment’s pleasure because it is ‘union.’

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

Even more precise is Exodus 22:16,

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.

More verses express this same understanding.

This simple fact alone should give immediate pause to any young people who want to put the cart before the horse.  Physical union is marriage in the eyes of Yehovah.  No preacher, priest or rabbi necessary.

This also helps spell out why the Sin of Peor (Numbers 25) was so utterly repugnant to the Father.  Further, this explains why the Greek word ‘porneia,’ is used so much in the Apostolic writings as we are warned away from misusing the marriage bed for personal gratification.

A final point from this first passage in Genesis that is taught, but may be on tenuous footing, is the ‘one man-one woman’ understanding.  Generally, the defense for monogamous relationships goes back to the first couple in Genesis.  Before we can settle on that definition however, there are some serious hurdles that must be overcome.

I have already stated that ALL of Yehovah’s Word is true, unchanging and applicable.  I would add that Yehovah does not command anything that He defines as sin.  So, here is a major wrench for ‘one man-one woman:’

“When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall [a]assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

Clearly, here God commands that in certain circumstances a potentially married brother is to take a second woman as wife for the purpose of fathering and raising up a brother’s progeny.  Further, not only is she ‘wife,’ but the fact that ‘first-born’ assumes a ‘second-born’ evidencing that the marriage relationship was more than a one-time event.  Now, I know most point to the cultural context and time, but the situation is equally possible today…  We must ask, ‘Does God command us to do something that is sin?’  I think NOT!

Even if we write this off as potentially unlikely and highly unusual, there is another passage still harder to dodge:

10 If he (a man, see v.7) takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her [a]food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

Essentially, this demonstrates that a second wife could be taken for whatever reason as long as the needs (food, shelter and conjugal) of his first wife are met.

For most raised in Western culture and/or a Christian paradigm, that last paragraph is troubling.  We see multiple patriarchs and heroes of the faith with multiple wives and it is easy to write off as purely cultural.  However, confronted with the fact that it is nowhere in Scripture EVER defined as sin, but rather is allowed by Yehovah with certain guidelines, we can get pretty squeamish!  I did!

There is even a prophecy that seems to speak to the potential for just this circumstance in the future:

 For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!”

So, reading and research led me to consider other cultures and further define terms.

I thought as I began this study that the term for multiple wives was ‘polygamy.’  Actually, that is an ‘umbrella term’ that includes several more specific words:

  • Polygyny:  One man with multiple simultaneous wives.
  • Polyandry: One woman with multiple simultaneous husbands
  • Group marriage: Undefined group with multiple men and women.
  • Bigamy: A person legally married, in the eyes of the state, to more than one person.

Interestingly, “in the global context, acceptance of polygamy is common. According to the Ethnographic Atlas, of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry.[6] At the same time, even within societies that allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs unevenly.”  (Wiki: Polygamy)

Scripture seems very clear that polyandry and group marriage are perversions, however, polygyny is acceptable, even if not the norm.  Christendom might immediately condemn the practice, however it is fascinating to find David, ‘a man after God’s own heart’ with eight wives.  Or, Moses with two.  Or Jacob/Israel, four.  Caleb, four.  Gideon, many. Elkannah, two.  Joash, two.  And, a couple dozen more Biblical characters specifically mentioned as having more than one wife.

The point is this: Whether we like it or not, the Western, Christian/cultural stance on monogamy may not be so solid a case when compared to Scripture, particularly when compared to verses wherein God commands the taking of a second wife, if only for Levirate marriage.  In fact, one article I read was so brazen as to say, (paraphrasing) ‘If you are debating against polygyny, you better not use the Bible as your proof-text or you’ll surely lose.’

All of that led me to a very interesting adjustment in understanding ‘adultery.’

Modern Christendom, Western culture and American Jurisprudence seem to agree that adultery is a married person being involved with a person with whom they are not married.  I.e., a married man involved with any woman other than his wife would, in the eyes of Christianity, culture and American law, be committing adultery.

Scripture, however, tells a decidedly different story.  If you look back at the clues already laid out, you may have arrived at the correct answer.  An unmarried woman, and the married man involved with her, cannot, by definition, commit adultery!  Rather, if they are involved sexually, according to Scripture, she has become his wife.  He may owe a dowry, but he has not committed adultery.

Scripture defines adultery as a married woman breaking her marriage covenant (one flesh) by being involved with a man who is not her husband.  Both she and the man she is involved with are adulterous.  Some verses:

10 ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. 12 If there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed [a]incest, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

Some older theological dictionaries do define adultery in these terms, however a simple search of modern thought reveals the wrong understanding that any married person having relations with any person they are not married to is adultery.

Moorish Bible Dictionary:

This was forbidden in the ten commandments; but neither there nor anywhere else is the sin defined. It seems clear, that as far as the man was concerned, if he had intercourse with a woman unless it was with a married woman, he would not be charged with adultery, though he himself might be married; indeed how could he be when he was allowed more wives than one, as well as concubines and slaves? If he committed adultery with a married woman or with one betrothed, both were to be put to death. Deuteronomy 22:22-24 . With the woman it was stricter, she must have no intercourse with any man but her husband. If a man was jealous of his wife there was the ordeal of the bitter waters provided to test her innocence. Numbers 5:11-31 ….

Fausset’s Bible Dictionary:

A married woman cohabiting with a man not her husband. The prevalent polygamy in patriarchal times rendered it impossible to stigmatize as adultery the cohabitation of a married man with another besides his wife. But as Jesus saith, “from the beginning it was not so,” for “He which made male and female said, They twain shall be one flesh.” ….  (I’ll deal with the errant understanding of Matthew 19: in a minute)

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia:

Sexual intercourse of a married woman with any man other than her husband. The crime can be committed only by and with a married woman for the unlawful intercourse of a married man with an unmarried woman is not technically Adultery in the Jewish law….

Now, here is something that is fascinating.  It would appear that even in some ancient secular cultures the law was in agreement with the Torah definition.

1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica:

ADULTERY (from Lat. adulterium ), the sexual intercourse of a married person with another than the offender’s husband or wife. Among the Greeks, and in the earlier period of Roman law, it was not adultery unless a married woman was the offender. The foundation of the later Roman law with regard to adultery was the lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis passed by Augustus about 17 B.C. (See Dig. 48. 5; Paull. Rec. Sent. ii. 26; Brisson, Ad Leg. Jul. de Adult. )…..

So, to recap,

  • An UNmarried man commits adultery only if he is involved with a married woman.
  • A married man commits adultery only if he is involved with a married woman.
  • An UNmarried woman cannot, by definition commit adultery, though relations equal marriage and she immediately switches categories.
  • A married woman commits adultery if she is involved with anyone other than her husband.

Some are asking, ‘but what about the New Testament?’  And, indeed there are a few verses that need to be addressed, but first we have to again be reminded of the ground rules.

  • The Bible is One Book, not two.
  • The Word of God, like the Giver, is unchanging and everlasting.
  • Yeshua and Rav Sha’ul (Paul) only taught Torah and in no way overturned anything.

 

γυνή v. παρθένος  (gunē v parthenos)

Yeshua said,

28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Growing up, I was taught that looking at any woman with lust was tantamount to committing adultery.  This was the proof-text verse.  Only, with our new understanding of the definition of adultery from the Torah (married woman…) we need to go back and consider if Yeshua is changing His Instructions, or if we have misunderstood His teaching.

Greek has multiple words to describe a female at various stages of her life.

  • κοράσιον (korasion) : girl, damsel, maiden (Matt. 9:24)
  • θυγάτηρ (thugatēr) : daughter, female descendant or figuratively, daughter of God (Matt. 9:18 & 22)
  • γυνή (gunē) : woman, wife, betrothed  (Matt. 9:20)
  • παρθένος (parthenos) : virgin, marriageable maiden who is pure (Matt. 1:23, 25:1)

In our above quoted verse, Yeshua specifically uses the word γυνή (gunē : woman, wife, betrothed) instead of other cited options.  Strong’s Concordance is specific that this word means ‘married woman, wife,’ while Thayers Greek Lexicon broadens the meaning considerably to be ‘a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow.’  Their considerable hurdle in this particular use is that Exodus 22:16  in the LXX specifically uses παρθένος (parthenos) and a penalty that is markedly less than the stoning that adultery demanded.  Yeshua cannot overturn the Law without violating the Deuteronomy 13 test.  Essentially, Yeshua, who we see in the Matthew 9 passage understanding and using the various Greek words for daughter/maid/woman, was being specific to lusting after married women when He warned against look(ing) at a woman (γυνή / gunē) with lust.  He said, ‘γυνή (gunē)’ and meant, as the Torah teaches, ‘married woman.’

μία (mia) : ‘one’ or ‘first?’

Paul states,

2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

Does Paul mean ‘one,’ as in, ‘singular?’  That has always been my understanding, but, is that understanding in line with Torah, Yehovah’s everlasting Word?  And, if not, what might Paul actually be saying?

Moses was an ‘overseer’ and was married to the Midianite woman and to the Ethiopian woman.  Is Paul demanding a higher standard than Moses?

David was a king/overseer who was married to eight…  You get the point.

It is interesting to note that Paul says,

the husband of one (μία : mia) wife,

While generally translated as ‘one,’ μία (mia), according to Strong’s Concordance, can mean ‘first.’

G3391 μία : mia : mee’-ah
Irregular feminine of G1520; one or first: – a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.

Thayer’s, considered to be the better Greek Lexicon, says,

G3391 μία : mia
Thayer Definition: 1) only one, someone

Thayer does not like ‘first,’ as Strong’s cites, but theologians don’t like to back off of that as it damages their understanding of the ‘first day of the week’ passages, which we have dealt with before.  The result is theologians choosing lexicons based on their paradigm.  Even if they choose Thayer’s for the ‘mia’ use in this verse, they still have to argue past ‘someone’ to get to ‘only one.’

Here’s the point:  If Paul was keeping and teaching Torah, it makes perfect sense that he advocated for teachers and leaders to still be married to their ‘first (mia) wife’ precisely because that is what Torah teaches (and, as we shall see, is what Yeshua taught).  This in no way precludes a second wife, allowed by Torah, and indicated by his further instruction that the overseer’s home is to be orderly.

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),

Matthew 19:4-6 is often quoted as a rationale for ‘one man, one woman.’  After all, it is Yeshua speaking….

And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

The real challenge, though, is that Yeshua is not talking about marriage.  In fact, He has been asked to give a specific ruling about divorce and His topic has to do with the impossibility of rending, by divorce, two who have become ‘one flesh.’  Here is the broader context,

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Yeshua isn’t asked His position about marriage, nor can He even give an opinion contrary to the Torah.  (See the previously established practice in the Torah.)  Rather, He is specifically tested about His opinion/thoughts on divorce, and, in keeping with the Torah, He affirms that a man cannot put his wife away except for the grounds of immorality (adultery?).  Do note that by divorcing her, he commits adultery precisely because he forces her to break her marriage covenant.  Again, it is the married woman who holds the key.

Here are a few closing random related items before a final conclusion.

    • It is very interesting that in at least two passages, Yehovah is portrayed as having two brides.    Ezekiel 23 is the most obvious with Oholah and Oholibah, but also, the entire book of Hosea portrays the wayward House of Israel as an adulterous wife in the image of Oholah.  In both cases, the direction Yehovah seems to be pointing is the gathering of the two together into one family that walks in covenant with Him.  Think, Jeremiah 31:31-34.
    • There is no test for a jealous wife in Scripture.  Numbers 5:11-31 clearly articulates the test of the jealous husband, but no such test exists for the wife.  Very interesting.  It again points to the husband being able to take a second wife, while the wife does not have that option.
    • Solomon, often pointed to as an extremely bad example, did indeed break Torah.  Deuteronomy 17:14-20 definitively states that a king is not to multiply wives.  While David was seriously pushing the envelope at 18, eight wives and ten concubines, Solomon’s 300 wives and 900 concubines is beyond the pale.  And, predictably, his heart was turned.
    • Generally, Judaism rejects polygyny, however, it is my understanding that Karite Judaism allows a second wife with the consent of the first.  And, while rare, there are cases of a shared husband among the Karites.  (And, it is no surprise that the Karites do practice this to some degree as they seem to be most Torah centric in their praxis.)

For some other day, I need to study out the differences between ‘fornication’ and ‘adultery’ from an Hebraic perspective.

In conclusion, as I studied out this most challenging topic, I could find zero Scripture to support the several errors we see in Christian/cultural/Western Jurisprudence.

  • Marriage requires no legal authority of the state.
  • Marriage occurs at the moment of first sexual intercourse between a man and an eligible woman.
  • The sin of adultery can only occur by a married woman and the non-husband partner she is involved with.
  • Biblically, marriage can be more than ‘one man, one woman.’  I.e., One man, more than one wife.

I believe polygyny was less than common in ancient Biblical times, but it was never denigrated or regarded as ‘sin.’  Rather, it was something the Father allowed, or in certain circumstances encouraged.  Certainly, we see Levirate marriage, but among other circumstances, may have been a great way that a widow with no son could be cared for.  (Paul seems to hint at that in 2 Corinthians if I recall.  Further, on a closer look, Boaz may well have been married when he took Ruth as his wife.  Everything in that passage points to Levirate marriage.  And, a deep loving concern for her well-being.)

Our Thanksgiving conversation touched on parts of what the research for this post confirmed.  The bottom line that we came to was, “In some cases, it may not be wise to have more than one wife, but it certainly isn’t sin.”  Frankly, that is a less than popular opinion in today’s Christendom, Western culture or jurisprudence, but such is the pursuit of truth.  ‘What does scripture say’ and then, ‘am I willing to believe it?’

I know that this topic has totally challenged me as another paradigm has been broken.  What does it all means in today’s environment? I have no idea.  But it is satisfying to wrestle with scripture and seek the truth, even when it radically conflicts with what I have been inculcated with.  I pray this doesn’t stir too many waters, but rather feeds our desire to wrestle with the tougher subjects for the sake of truth.

So…  Don’t shoot the messenger…  What does Scripture say?

Discuss.

Shalom and blessings.

About Pete Rambo

Details in 'About' page @ natsab.wordpress.com Basically, husband of one, father of four. Pastor x 11 years, former business and military background. Micro-farmer. Messianic believer in Yeshua haMashiach!
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36 Responses to Marriage, adultery and Christian error…

  1. K. Gallagher says:

    Wow! This one’s a doozy, Pete! (:
    On the one hand, I agree with your post; but on the other hand, I think there is more to the story than just the literal sense of the text. As you mentioned as the normal response, I too, believe the foundation and ideal for marriage is given in Genesis chapters 1-2. YHWH really could have given Adam more than one bride, but He didn’t. And in the end, in the Book of Revelation, we once again see only one bride.

    The first occurrence of a man taking more than one wife is also telling. As you know, first occurrences set the stage for themes and teach us the deeper implications behind Hebrew words. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech, a son of Cain, is the first person to have taken more than one wife. Both Cain and Lamech were murderers. Conversely, from the line of Seth, we are told of another Lamech, who was the father of Noah (a savior figure). Thus far, no mention is made of the “righteous” taking more than one wife.

    When we get to our father Abraham, he too has one wife, but we know what later happened— at Sarah’s request. The second wife caused all kinds of trouble that we still feel the effects of today. (There is more than one lesson to be learned from this story!) I’ve often wondered if this is why the promised son, Isaac, was sure to have only one wife. And then Jacob arrives on the scene. His heart’s desire really was for just one woman. Had Laban not tricked him, perhaps he would’ve had less wives. But again, it was the women in his life that urged him to take on the concubines when they couldn’t conceive. The jealousy and strife between Leah and Rachael has also had lasting effects that we still feel today through their children. Had Jacob had one wife, would things have been different? Alas, things do happen for a reason and for our examples.

    But your right, it isn’t a “sin” to have more than one wife. YHWH did allow this type of family within His covenant. But where are we given an example of multiple wives working out well for these families? Is there a lesson to be learned from this silence? I believe there is. Any time this topic is focused upon in the text, it is paralleled with matters of the flesh, our nephesh or beast-like nature. Those things that DO lead us to commit sin. Envy, strife, jealousy, bitterness, unfairness, anger, murder, idol worship, rebellion, and mockery all come quickly to mind.

    As students of this delicate issue, all these things must also be considered. I think the Torah begs us to struggle with this topic. Because the real issue is all about the beast. What would drive 99% percent of men (at least in western culture) to desire a second wife? Would the desire come from a place of holiness or satisfying the flesh? What woman would ever “consent” to this unless she felt there was some “profit” in it for herself? (Again, not a place of holiness.)

    But perhaps the bigger question is about us as the body. We (male and female) are the woman (bride)! Until we become ONE bride, we are like the two brides of Jacob bickering and fighting for approval and love. We both desire to be our Beloved’s only beloved. Until that day comes, we will have a hard time no looking at the other woman with suspicion and jealousy.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Well stated and adds more to be considered.

      I did ponder the struggle between Leah and Rachel as a picture of the struggle today between two brides that would fight over the husband who loves both equally… One day He will make them into one family with no strife.

      And, yes. I did not search for every example of multiple wives in Scripture, but all that come to mind have a great deal of sin/envy/jealousy/strife involved.

      I’m not saying I advocate for it, just that our perspective/paradigm does not accurately reflect Scripture. Same for perspectives on adultery or the definition of marriage.

      Tough one to wrestle with, fo sho!

      Shalom!

      Liked by 2 people

    • r. Israel says:

      Well said K. Gallagher!!
      Also, what about a man considered blameless in the eyes of YHWH?….Job – “I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a maiden (virgin)?”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue in NC says:

    Yup – we had to examine this topic a couple of years ago when we discovered that someone we had been fellowshipping with was deeply involved in and had taught polygamy. We found all the same things you found. We also discovered that in YHVH’s plan, each wife is to have her own dwelling – something that modern American polygamists do not generally provide. And we found that there is not a single instance of a happy or contented biblical family that involved multiple wives, and that the family divisions were generally caused by the multiple wives and jealous children. Of course, modern monogamist families have their own issues!! Lesson learned: YHVH is SO MUCH BIGGER than we allow Him to be. His ways truly are NOT our ways, and His thoughts are beyond our comprehension. Perhaps the two wives ascribed to YHVH are a picture of Judah and Ephraim reunited in harmony? Perhaps it won’t be long before we can test that theory! Thanks for a great article!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Interesting. I did not know the ‘own dwelling’ requirement, though that makes sense and explains why we generally only see those of ‘means’ supporting a second wife, etc… I guess Solomon could have had a city or two.. NUTS!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Theunsie says:

    Good teaching! Sorry for you, 1 Tim 3:2, a overseer (poor Pete) should be the man of ONE wife! Eisj! I must watch my husband though! (Only joking. Love your teachings) shalom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Rambo says:

      I agree with what you are saying and the sentiment, but still have to wonder, could Paul overturn Moses? Personally, I don’t see it, therefore he must be saying something we are not understanding.

      Pondering more on Moses, we see no evidence in Scripture of inner marriage strife, but poor reaction by Aaron and Miriam. God chastises them, not him. A question I do have (no reference in front of me) but if I recall, did Moses’ first wife, Zipporah, return to Midian? Maybe that was his reason? Or, maybe like David, in his older age, he needed a personal heater… LOL. Though, we do see that ‘his eye was not dim’ and I think his vigor strong to the very end.

      At any rate, he was married to Zipporah for 40+ years at this point. He married the Cushite before the spies (Num. 12 & 13) so he must have been married to her for nearly 35 years.

      Much, much to ponder here as we consider the fulness of what scripture really says and how our paradigm varies and must be adjusted.

      Like

  4. Hey Pete,
    Good article. I too have pondered this for years and came up with the same conclusions (although not as thoroughly stated). While I have officiated a marriage of friends and might in the future f requested, the contract between two parties wanting to get married has always been between the families, plain and simple. No state required for a marriage to be recognized by our Creator. The “license” issued by the state only facilitates future legal issues with divorce (talk about hedging your bets) or inheritance and that with taxes (the burden of Babylon). I personally see it as unnecessary myself.

    Keep up the good work brother!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Rambo says:

      I’ll have to read that. Generally, I like McKee, so will be interested to see how he deals with the many aspects.

      Like

    • K. Gallagher says:

      Just finished this article by J. K. Mckee; it is excellent!!! Thanks for sharing. (:

      Like

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Glenn,

      Thanks for referring this ‘Confronting Issues’ by JK McKee.

      Generally, I really like McKee’s scholarship and writing, however, I really struggled with his treatment of this subject for multiple reasons.

      First, it is apparent that he is very concerned for the Messianic community and how it is perceived. This is a good thing. His challenge, though, is that from beginning to end, this piece is a continual appeal to emotion with many broad generalizations that disparage some of the patriarchs with charges Scripture does not support. His characterization of all polygynists as exploiters and abusers of women strains at the credible. Simply, the Scriptural record does not support that.

      Second, he spends a lot of ink discussing the interfamily struggles that, in his estimation, result from polygyny. The challenge to this is, as Sue pointed out above, monogamous families can and do have plenty of strife and division as well. McKee’s solution in the case of polygyny is ‘don’t do it.’ Would that be his solution for monogamous marriage if there was strife? Probably not. In fact, in all cases of family strife, envy, division, etc, the root is sinful humans.

      Three, he takes some to task for pulling verses out of context to make their case (I don’t have the article here for page # reference) but several times cites Yeshua’s use of ‘two shall be one flesh’ without revealing that the context of His statement is clearly about divorce, not about monogamy.

      Four, disappointingly, he never addresses or acknowledges that Scripture never calls it sin. And, in fact, only Solomon, the extreme (and rotten) example is ever spoken of negatively, but not even that as direct sin, though I would agree with his use of Deuteronomy 17:17 with reference to him.

      It is ironic that McKee decries the shortage of Messianic men that have encouraged him in ministry while Messianic women seem to have done so in an inordinately larger number. In making the statement he inadvertently admits that within the Messianic there are many more (particularly senior) women and a dearth of eligible men under whose wing they can come. Assuming the motivation for providing cover, protection, encouragement, and spiritual support in addition to love and affection are actually possible contrary to McKee’s ‘exploitation only assumption,’ just maybe this is a viable Biblical way to take care of our own in our community.

      Frankly, McKee did not provide me with enough solid material to overturn my original conclusions: Polygyny is not, nor should be the norm. It may not be wise, but it certainly is not sin.

      I would add, based on my further ponderings, there may indeed be cases, even today, where this is a reasonable action to give shelter and protection for a lady who has not found a suitable single match with whom she can be equally yoked. Certainly, this is not a first resort and should not be considered without a considerable amount of soul searching, prayer and discussion on the part of ALL parties involved.

      Just my honest thoughts on reading and processing McKee’s piece.

      Like

      • K. Gallagher says:

        I know you were responding to Glenn, but having also read the article by Mckee, I’d like to offer my two shekels, if that’s ok. (: It’s long, sorry.

        We could use your same arguments to justify slavery. Slavery is not called a “sin” in the Bible. Like with taking more than one wife, Torah has regulations for slavery. So, if you wouldn’t condemn a man for having more than one wife, what would prevent you from condemning a man for having slaves? There is no difference according to Torah. Yet, our national laws in the U.S. prohibit both – and I believe for good reason.

        It is not coincidence that both Jewish tradition and Paul groups the three categories of gentiles, slaves, and women together. (See the birkhot ha-shahar and Gal. 3:28) There is much to contemplate of why this is so. For our purposes, we need to consider that each of these groups have been marginalized by the greater Assembly throughout the centuries. And if we learn anything from the Torah it is that YHWH demands that the marginalized are NOT forgotten, oppressed, or denied equal standing in the holy moedim.

        Ironically, both polygamy and slavery are alive and well in the world today. As a matter of fact, there are more slaves in the world today than there were in 1860 (estimates are at about 30 million; that’s roughly the population of Canada). Most of these slaves are women and children and while many are forced laborers, the majority are sex slaves. As large as these numbers are, they are nothing compared to estimated 2 billion people involved in polygamous relationships. Is either of these practices “spiritually” profitable?

        As followers of the God of Israel that is the real question. Just because YHWH allows something doesn’t mean that it His best or His heart’s desire. (Mark 10:4-9; 1 Cor. 10:23) The real matter is our HEARTS. Who profits from slavery or polygamy? Is it the spirit of a man or the desires of the beast?

        True Torah observance brings freedom and deliverance. The captives are set free, not oppressed. If our understanding of the Torah promotes the appetites of our lower nature and not sacrificial love for our brothers/sisters, then the master of our hearts is not Adonai. I have yet to see a positive outcome of having multiple wives in the Scriptures or history. As Yeshua said, from the beginning it was not so. As the ultimate Torah scholar, I’ll have to stick with Him.

        Moreover, the parable of the marriage of YHWH and His people is destroyed by adding another woman. He has one people; they may have divided into two, but He will unite them once again as one. He is our ezer (help). A woman, not women, is meant to be an ezer kenegdo to her husband in a similar fashion. Two (or more) women destroys this imagery. More than one ezer would bring chaos, which are the examples we see in the Bible.

        The test is the same one from day six and the Holy Spirit of Da’at. (Is. 11:2) If we really put the other person before ourselves, we would never enslave another human being, nor would we add to our “one flesh” of marriage by adding another appendage. No woman would ever desire to share her husband with another woman. If a man truly considers her his equal and flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, he would have no appetite for another wife. His concern and care for her would be a sacrificial love that would die for her as Messiah died for His assembly.

        Adding another woman would be like putting a stumbling block before his first wife. How could she give him the respect he desires when she knows full well that he has only his own best interest at heart? How could she not resent the “other woman”? He might as well place a mill stone around her neck. (Equal things could be stated about slavery.)

        McKee wasn’t “disparaging” the patriarchs; rather he was pointing out that they were human like us all. Their examples portray both what to do and what NOT to do. Just because they practiced something doesn’t condone the behavior. We are all capable of being both a righteous and a wicked person. Abraham’s example of “abusing” Sarah is credible in his actions of TWICE fearing man more than Elohim and asking her to claim that she was his sister instead of his wife when dealing with foreign kings. Can you even imagine how compromising this situation was for Sarah? This was not the heart of YHWH or righteous actions. Yet, our merciful Father pardoned Abraham like He pardons us!

        The “two being one flesh” was about divorce in Yeshua’s incident, but that doesn’t exclude it from dealing with polygamy. In the beginning, it too, was not so! Context, in Genesis, certainly was dealing with one man and one woman. Much could be gleaned about the marriage relationship besides “divorce” by studying the first few chapters of Genesis.

        As to having more than one wife as a means to support a destitute woman, is there not a better way? One can easily support another person without climbing into a marriage bed with her. The same thing could be said of slavery. A person can be given work and wages or even room and board without becoming the “property” of another person. These are higher ways and require more sacrifice on the part of the one who is “giving” these things to his brother or sister. Instead of bringing division, strife, jealousy, resentment, and oppression they would bring freedom and deliverance. Which is the heart of YHWH?

        Prayerfully considering polygamy with your wife about you taking another woman might result in bringing a “Hagar” into the relationship. We all know how well that went over.

        Thus, we must carefully weigh our conclusions. The Word is meant to give life, set the prisoners and captives free, bind up the brokenhearted, and comfort those who mourn. I can easily see how a woman in a polygamous marriage and a slave would find these truths most refreshing.

        Torah is fulfilled in righteousness only when we keep Torah for our brothers, not ourselves. The question is always whether or not we will be the image of Elohim in the earth or whether we will display the image of the beast. Keeping a commandment for the wrong reasons is just as much a sin as not keeping the same commandment. Likewise, just because something isn’t called a “sin” in the Torah doesn’t mean that it is good, holy, righteous, or profitable. Polygamy and Slavery are rooted in pride (superiority), the desires of the flesh, and greed.

        In my mind, this topic cannot be separated from the question of slavery. So, I’m wondering your thoughts on human slaves?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pete Rambo says:

        Thank you for your articulate response.

        Slaves: Personally, against. Period.

        From a strictly Torah perspective, sex slaves are a radical abomination, absolute no-no and off the table.

        Slavery as is practiced by most of the world, again, a no-no.

        Interestingly, slavery or servanthood in Israel was a largely different story such that (during times Torah was rightly kept) slavery in Israel for the ger was preferred to poverty or destitution outside of Israel. Further, a Hebrew could indenture/sell himself for a period of time when his own means were particularly dire. Therefore, within that community and respectful boundaries, the context/outworking would/should be widely different than what we know exists on the planet today or have seen in American and African history.

        The point is that before we can objectively evaluate the verses and understand them, we have to remove the emotional presuppositions that we bring into the discussion based on the basest Godless outworkings.

        Again, neither slavery nor polygyny are preferred solutions to community problems, but they are offered and allowed in certain circumstances with particular guidelines. And, yes, human sin, not the institutions themselves, is the ‘fly in the ointment.’ And, we all have a sin problem.

        Like

  5. David says:

    Thanks, Pete for your willingness to tackle the issues which have seemed sacrosanct for so many years – based on church dogma rather than on Scriptural insight and research. Keep opening the doors for us and we will be willing to be your critics (we’re really good at that, I find!). As we struggle to understand the heart and words of our Father, we need each other to prod us into areas of new thinking (actually quite old thinking, it turns out!) I find myself being awakened to reading more slowly in order to listen to what is being said rather than merely looking for the “story details”.

    Keep up the good prodding!

    Like

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Appreciate the good word. Frankly, I had a lot of angst going through the study and writing the post. Guess I figured this is the sort of topic that blows people up. I don’t want to create division, but do want to seek out truth, no matter where it leads.

      There is still much more to understand and sort here.

      Blessings.

      Like

  6. James says:

    Ah Pete, while this post has the appearance of “this is what the Bible says,” it has problems.

    A Levirate Marriage isn’t some general proclamation that is done “just because” but is specific to the Israelite tribal and clan culture. If a member of such and thus tribe take a wife but the man dies before he can have children, then his brother, to preserve the deceased man’s heritage within his tribe and clan is to enter into a Levirate Marriage with his wife for the purpose of producing a child. Once the child is produced, the requirement for the relationship is complete. It isn’t a practice that we see in the modern age, except among certain Orthodox Jewish groups.

    Your article is lengthy so I’ll address only your bullet point summary:

    Marriage requires no legal authority of the state.

    It is true that Adam and Havah (Eve) were married directly under the authority of God but then again, there were no clergy to represent His authority nor any governmental state in existence back then. Since we don’t live in a theocracy and we do have clergy who represent God’s authority within different religious groups, the institution of marriage has developed.

    While one may be married in the eyes of God without necessarily involving the government, a (civil) legal marriage exist to protect the rights, primarily of the wife and children under the law. It means a man can’t just “shack up” with a woman, have kids by her, then abandon his family without consequences. He is legally responsible for providing continued support and the legal institution of marriage allows the courts to enforce this. It also allows for legal divorce when again, the rights of the wife and children can be protected.

    Even in the days of Yeshua, a man and woman entered into a ketubah, a legally binding agreement which defined the responsibilities of each party. A man also had to give a woman a get or bill of divorcement. The Bible took great lengths to defend the rights of the wife, a divorced wife, and widow so that a man couldn’t just have intercourse with a woman, have children, and abandon her. Rights of marriage and divorce weren’t quite as casual as your summary may suggest. The evolution of state involvement in relationship to marriage is just a modern development of this concept, since much of our civil law is based on the Bible.

    Marriage occurs at the moment of first sexual intercourse between a man and an eligible woman.

    At some point, I don’t have the details, the representative of God (Priest, Rabbi, whoever) was required for a marriage sanctioned by God exists. This isn’t the Garden of Eden so we can’t apply that template to our current situation. The reason for involving a “religious authority” I believe is to prevent the abuse of your statement above. Lust can lead a man and woman into having intercourse, but lust isn’t the point of marriage. Becoming “one flesh” is more than just a man and woman joining bodies in intercourse.

    Obviously a man and a woman can’t literally become “one flesh”, that is, to merge into a single, unified entity, so it’s not completely literally, anymore than neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28) means that in Messiah, Jewish and Gentile covenant distinctions vanish and they literally become a single, homogenized entity.

    One flesh according to some authorities has to do with more than just physical intimacy, but knowing the other in a uniquely close manner. Do you only “know” your wife sexually, or are you united with her in every other aspect of your life, from financies to child rearing? A family is more than just sex and biological reproduction. It is a deeply spiritual joining, so just random sex doesn’t “do it”. I think the statements you use to support your thesis are intended to impart the extreme gravity of male/female relationships and to counsel restraint and the involvement of parents and other authorities before entering into such a vow to be faithful to another. I’m sure we all know people who entered into marriage or just living together in haste and who have regretted it.

    The sin of adultery can only occur by a married woman and the non-husband partner she is involved with.

    The “one flesh” condition as I see it would prohibit this. Also, whilst Jacob may have had two wives and two concubines, the Torah forbids a man marrying sisters and seems to discourage marrying more than one woman. Except for certain exceptions, the template for marriage in the Bible is generally one man and one woman. Someone brought up Abraham and Sarah as the “ideal” married couple and the problems that came up with Abraham, encouraged by Sarah, had a child with Hagar. God may “allow” certain things, but that doesn’t mean he approves of them nor does it mean they are desirable.

    I assume you’re not going to test this one out in your own marriage, Pete. Of course you’re not. This is what could be called a “thought experiment,” something to ponder but that would never be appropriate to actually practice, in spite of the fact that it all seems “Biblical.”

    This is the sort of “Biblical interpretation” that certain fringe religious people and groups use to justify all kinds of abuses.

    Biblically, marriage can be more than ‘one man, one woman.’ I.e., One man, more than one wife.

    In Real Estate, the central principle is “location, location, location.” In Biblical interpretation it’s “context, context, context.” How many polygamous marriages do we see in the Bible? Where such marriages beneficial. Were they all meant to be a standard for all people? While God used Jacob, two wives, and two concubines to build the twelve tribes, and while God allowed David’s illicit relationship with Bathsheba (including the murder of Uriah and David’s impregnating the married Bathsheba) to result in Solomon, the next King of Israel, I wouldn’t want to be the man to test the fallacious idea that those relationships are supposed to be a model for the rest of us by trying them out in my real life.

    I don’t believe you can isolate certain parts of the Bible or the Bible as a whole from history, context, society, culture, and intent of the authors involved. To do so results in conclusions that seem “Biblical” but otherwise lead to some pretty strange and morally questionable (to say the least) behaviors if we actually thought this is how God wants us to conduct our relationships today.

    This may be an “interesting” discussion, but it’s one that can lead nowhere and I think there are ways to research the Bible that can result in things we really can do to please God and live holy lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Rambo says:

      James,

      I just knew you’d chime in… LOL! Thanks, but several points we’ll have to agree to disagree on. You know how I feel about bilateral ecclesiology

      In the end, the Torah will be the Law of the Kingdom. So, maybe there are no clan/tribal distinctions right now, but the truth stands.

      Yes, I covered a lot of ground and didn’t fill in all the details and caveats, but the truth again holds. Marriage does not require state approval (or that of clergy). Yes, a ketuba was developed as a contract between parties to protect the woman, but it is not a requirement anywhere in Scripture. In fact, in a ‘perfect/sinless world’ it would be a non-issue. Scripture says what Scripture says.

      No, not testing it out, but again, Scripture defines adultery. I exampled older theological dictionaries and the Jewish encyclopedia that concur. It is the married woman and her partner who commit adultery.

      So, call it a ‘thought experiment,’ if you so choose, but it is asking hard questions that have hard answers.

      Blessings.

      Like

      • James says:

        I’m not going to quibble and you can’t blame Bilateral Ecclesiology for my statement that your views are opinion and interpretation not “truth,” unless you believe you have the corner market on truth. I’m not going to subscribe to your interpretation because if literally acted upon, it would result in terrible injustices, especially to women and children. This is how various “religious people” have gotten away with abusing the Bible over the years.

        Another case of agreeing to disagree. Sorry, but this is poor exegesis on your part and I’ve run into enough absolute literalists, both in the Baptist Church and in Hebrew Roots to believe the Bible cannot be interpreted differently for different circumstances and historical periods. Otherwise, I guess we’d have to be selling people into slavery and stoning them according to the Torah.

        I know you’re a good person and you mean no harm to anyone, but how your “hard question” result in “hard answers” doesn’t mean they’re right answers.

        Like

    • lona mueller says:

      Thank you James! South Africa and the deep south came to mind here, scary…

      Like

  7. Zion says:

    I think it is evident polygyny was permitted, just like divorce is permitted, but only in the most extreme cases and certainly never recommended, even thinking of polygyny makes me frown. If we look at the context and history of polygyny, it was always during a time where women were treated less than human, a time when women and children were easily exploited. Thus in some ways polygyny was a way to protect women and children, but thank Hashem, that time no longer exist and thus thankfully there is no longer a need for such. The conclusion is that simple in my opinion, anyone trying to carry out polygyny today is a perv, plain and simple.

    Like

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Zion,

      I understand what you are saying, but I think you miss the point of the post.

      In all three cases looked at, polygyny, marriage and adultery, does Christendom fence the Law by changing definitions or defining as ‘sin’ something Scripture never does?

      Or, to put it differently, what is the basis for your opinion using the term, ‘perv?’ Scripture? Or, Christendom, culture, jurisprudence or your opinion?

      Again, I don’t advocate for/against so much as ask, ‘where is it sin?’ I don’t think it was ever the ‘norm,’ nor do I expect it to be.

      Shalom.

      Like

      • Zion says:

        Think of it this way Pete, is getting a divorce a sin? So is divorce wrong? Well, it could be if divorce is exploited and it has been, however while getting a divorce may not be a sin, Yeshua tells us, divorce was only permitted due to the weakness of man, meaning because man is a failure, God gave an option, which is really just saying “while I don’t want you doing this, you are a bunch of failures, so I must permit such a frowning option.” So while not a sin, it is disgraceful.

        Paul sums it up well in 1 Cor 10:23

        All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

        While it may not be a sin, it is neither profitable or edifying. So while Christianity is wrong in saying it is a ‘sin’ to do so, they are correct that this should not be done today.

        The reason I say ‘perv’, is because there is no longer a need. It is like someone using divorce for personal exploiting. Today, women have more rights than they did during times when polygyny was practiced, thus today it would simply be for exploiting purposes and not for protection, women and children are already protected and respected much more in our society than during those times.

        @James, I agree with you concerning those who put on the ressurection, but not all who enter the Messianic Kingdom will have put on the resurrection, and it would be logical that they would continue to marry and have children, to one wife… 😀 As women will surely be protected in the Messianic Kingdom, with a rod of iron.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. James says:

    Pete said:

    In the end, the Torah will be the Law of the Kingdom. So, maybe there are no clan/tribal distinctions right now, but the truth stands.

    I should have picked up on this before, but then it occurred to me:

    But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    Matthew 22:29-30 (NASB)

    In the Messianic Age when we are resurrected in the Kingdom, there will be no marriage, thus all of the “laws” of marriage you have brought up will not be applied in any sense at all. As Zion said, all of the “variances” God has permitted (divorce, polygamy) were due to human weakness, not the will or desire of God in His redemptive plan for Israel and the rest of the nations.

    I’m really not trying to be contentious, but if it’s truth you’re looking for, Matthew 22:29-30 delivers the endgame to your study on marriage in the Kingdom according to the mediator of the New Covenant, Yeshua HaMashiach.

    Like

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Is there a difference in the Messianic Age (assuming you see this as synonymous with ‘the Resurrection’) and the Millennial Kingdom? I see a difference with your application as post Millennial.

      And, I agree with Yeshua’s passage for the Resurrection, but that does not apply now, else we would skip marriage in the current context… Further, the way we currently understand marriage may be different as the original command for ‘one flesh’ and the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ command were both given before the ‘fall.’ IMO, those two present a whole different can of worms for which I have no answer… My answer to the resurrection is ‘wait and see.’

      Thoughts?

      Like

      • James says:

        My response is what we’ve got now is what it is. Any valid, reputable Jewish and Christian branch or denomination has a process that allows for men and women to enter into marriage. That process doesn’t include a man just having sex with a woman and then declaring the two married in the sight of God. It does not include a man having more than one wife (although some extremist Mormon groups probably disagree). It does not include a template that would allow men to abuse or abandon their wives and children.

        Once the present age ends, Messiah returns and his Millennial Kingdom/Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven/Resurrection Kingdom comes fully into our world, the dead are resurrected and there will be no more marriage. Period.

        In spite of all your research, I don’t intend on changing how I approach my marriage. I don’t intend to encourage my one unmarried son to just go have sex with a woman and *bam* they’re married. I do not intend to encourage my married son that if he has sex with an unmarried woman, it is not adultery and does no harm to his currently pregnant wife and my small grandson.

        Pete, you can do with your family as you please based on your “research”.

        My comment above about the “endgame” and how your interpretation of “Biblical marriage” somehow gets carried forward into the Messianic Kingdom (where there will be no marriage) stands.

        Like

  9. Pete Rambo says:

    @ James and Zion,

    Condescension not withstanding, I am enjoying the exchange. Here are some further thoughts as I continue to process this ‘thought experiment…’

    I think we are forgetting a critical piece of information. Both of you refer to lack of women’s rights and Zion explicitly to exploitation. Honestly, in an observant community, would there not be a group of elders to hold men accountable when the rights of any woman are violated? And, Zion, exploitation is a weak argument considering that can and does happen today in monogamous relationships. Surely, you do not imply that Moses, Abraham, Caleb, David, et al were simply exploitative?

    Also, Zion, I find it interesting that you are a ‘one Law’ guy with an aversion to much tradition (if I understand you correctly) but you defer to tradition and culture to make your case here. Over on OMJ right now you make the case for local/community halachic authority. Isn’t that the over arching authority that helps protect all women, children, men, etc? http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2014/12/why-did-yeshua-endorse-those-who-bind.html

    James, you question what I point out is the defining point of marriage: the physical union of two into ‘one flesh.’ I would ask, is not a ketuba a covenant? What seals the covenant? It means/holds nothing until the evidence of the blood is produced. Therefore, again, I would maintain that the point at which the marriage occurs is the first union between the two parties. Not before. A ketuba is a good idea, but the Scripture I presented before is that when the cart gets put before the horse, the man has to pay and take as his wife and has no divorce option, ketuba or not.

    James, you had thoughts on adultery and not teaching your son what I have offered as the defining point of marriage. Well, a) if the church taught and enforced all the pursuant responsibilities of entering into that act, ketuba or no, instead of a mild slap on the wrist (and cries of ‘grace’ if they even acknowledged the sin at all), would IMHO significantly stifle the rate of premarital relations carried on by the youth. And, b) women would have an accountable covering in the leadership who protected and held their honor.

    And, in the Kingdom, there will be sinners and a rod of iron. The cost for adultery? You know what it is.

    Frankly, my original conclusion, ‘it may not be wise, but it is not sin’ still stands. Further, I do believe, if we taught our young people the gravity of relations and the responsibility and followed through on that instead of slapping them on the wrist, there would be far less ‘playing with fire.’ And, if a single woman had relations with a married man and knew she could go to the elders and force the issue, I bet married men wouldn’t play that game without a lot of thought.

    I do believe it may be wise to teach my sons that the act of physical union is the marriage and if they go that route a) they have to follow through with marriage, or b) they cause her to sin by forcing her to look elsewhere for a husband after being joined to them, thus entering into adultery with her. Give me a better Scriptural defense for not having relations until one KNOWS this is the one!

    If we separate these instructions from the context of an observant community that enforced the rest of the law, then we get the chaos you gentlemen allude to. Rather, if they are rightly taught within the context of an observant community that enforces the instructions of YHWH, then I tend to think the incidence of premarital and extramarital affairs would be considerably diminished.

    Like

    • Zion says:

      @Pete,

      I enjoy many traditions, even though I do not consider them to be authoritative. My understanding however, does not come from a traditional view, it comes from my interpretation of what I read in scriptures and the historical context they took place in. When I make my conclusion, it is based on a historical context. Women were treated like cattle in those days. Let me give you an example and this should also touch on another part of the discussion as well. When a woman was raped, it was required that the man who raped her, marry her, they weren’t married just because they had sex, he had to then marry her and take care of her the rest of his life, he could not divorce her, no matter what, unless the father rejected it. Now, two things here, first, marriage had to be a contract, just having sex did not make marriage, we have an example like Dinah getting raped and then the father of Shechem asking if he can marry her. Second, and this is key to the historical context, why must a man marry the woman he raped, in that time, a woman who was no longer a virgin, was SCREWED, no pun intended. It is not like today, a woman does not need a man to survive in today’s world, she can make a living on her own, but not in those days, she was toast. Thus the law was in place to protect a woman. Much in the same way that having multiple wives protected women, because they were one step above the farm animals and 5 steps below men, they could not make a living on their own in a man’s world, so it would be beneficial for a grown woman, whose parents were perishing to attach herself to any man she could find, sad, but reality.

      As I said before, unless there is reason for a polygyny today and I certainly do not see one, it would be a form of exploitation if my interpretation is correct… The only reason I can see in scripture, was for the purpose of protecting women and children, I see no other reason and I think history itself proves there is no longer a need. Like I said, I derive my interpretation from the historical context, not just what we are reading in the literal text, but anything that can give a historical account, I seek to understand it in the time it was given and for what purpose. Whether or not my view agrees with the halachic view of Judaism, that is not how I came to my understanding, while I see nothing wrong with referencing such, just as I would any commentary.

      I see a similar scenario with slavery in the scriptures, while the Torah permits slavery, there are rules that regulate it, and I think it is evident that slavery is not God’s best. However it protected the poor, it gave them a job, food, and a place to live, a chance in life and a possibility of having a family, but certainly not something anyone should strive for and hopefully not something we ever see again in our lifetime. God is about setting people free, not putting them into bondage.

      We see Paul comment on slavery in 1 Cor 7:21
      Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

      I hope I was not condescending to you or offensive, that was not my intent.

      Like

      • Pete Rambo says:

        Okay, so how would you defend against the accusation that you believe parts of the Torah are cultural/contextual and no longer apply today? Because the next step is Christendom’s move to use human wisdom to declare/justify other parts as not being applicable… Remove one stone, then another…

        Just asking.

        Shalom.

        Like

      • James says:

        Let’s take slavery for example. In the days of ancient Israel, an impoverished Jew could sell himself into slavery (more like indentured servitude) to another Jew for a period of seven years (details at Jewish Virtual Library) and there were various conditions about the treatment of slaves and the circumstances involved when the seven years elapsed. This is what I think of as the ancient Jewish welfare system and how the Torah provided for the poor in the community of Israel.

        When Messiah returns and fully establishes his Kingdom, I don’t believe slavery will be re-instituted. I believe in the resurrection there will be no poor. After all, the resurrected will be immortal at that point and for all I know, we won’t even need to eat (if we’re immortal, we couldn’t starve). Slavery is one Torah law that won’t be carried into the time of the Messianic Kingdom.

        I also don’t believe that, you should pardon the expression, the Torah is set in stone. Yes, the Law of God is perfect and eternal, but it can also be interpreted differently across history. Think of the Torah like the U.S. Constitution. If there was no provision for constitutional amendments, the Constitution would have become archaic a long time ago, as the Founding Fathers couldn’t possibly anticipate social, technological, and other changes that occur with the passage of time. If you couldn’t amend the Constitution, the Senate would have to write a new Constitution every so many years, completely changing the basis for the laws of our nation.

        While God doesn’t have to anticipate changes (and He certainly doesn’t have us write a new Torah every so many years), since the Torah is written in human language, it can also become static and eventually archaic. You asked above if Paul could override Moses. Probably not, but he could interpret him. After all, even in those days, there were a number of different Jewish religious branches (Pharisees, Sadducees, and so forth) all practicing a “core Judaism” (according to Rabbi Carl Kinbar) but otherwise having very different interpretations of Torah, and applying those interpretations differently to their various communities. Ancient Messianic Judaism was a variant of Pharisaic Judaism and the disciples of Messiah had the most in common with the beliefs of the Pharisees.

        Your view of Torah is, in my opinion, overly rigid and doesn’t take into account that the Torah has to be somewhat flexible in interpretation for the reasons I stated above. Even in the day of Messiah, religious Judaism wasn’t practiced in exactly the same way as it probably was in the days of Moses or Joshua or David or Solomon. Certainly religious Judaism in its various branches isn’t practiced that way now, even the parts of Torah that can be observed (many of the commandments are in abeyance because we lack a Temple, and active Levitical Priesthood, and a valid Sanhedrin in Israel).

        You can choose to interpret the Bible as you see fit and to live as you see fit, but your interpretation doesn’t seem to be shared by many learned people or religious groups and while you can apply your views to yourself and your family, the rest of us are free to study and draw our own conclusions based on the working of the Holy Spirit and the research and wisdom of historical and modern scholars.

        Torah study is a journey, like a life of faith itself. Don’t be so sure you have all the answers. I know I don’t. That’s why I continue to study.

        While I read your blog periodically, I typically don’t comment or interfere because I know we are routinely going to disagree. However in this case, it’s painful to see you completely and totally barking up the wrong tree. The Bible isn’t a straight-jacket or an iron cage in which we are locked. It’s a living document, even as God is a living God, and it was provided to serve us, just as the Shabbat is made for man and not man for the Shabbat.

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    • Marleen says:

      @Pete: I would add, based on my further ponderings, there may indeed be cases, even today, where this is a reasonable action to give shelter and protection for a lady who has not found a suitable single match with whom she can be equally yoked. Certainly, this is not a first resort and should not be considered without a considerable amount of soul searching, prayer and discussion on the part of ALL parties involved.

      If you appeal to being so based on bible, where do you see (in the Tanakh you are referring to) that anyone has to be consulted or clued in per “discussion” — with a current wife? Also, such discussion is probably a subconscious admission that there is no real way to keep from decreasing what the current wife has claim to, so any such “talk” would be asking for permission to break that standard or law. Now, there are “ways around” that; I think they’re disgusting (and equivocation rather than honest reflection). For instance, maybe Solomon thought no wife was entitled to sex more than once in a lifetime (or beyond a heated time-frame defined by him), so (since he could provide lots of stuff, more than most anyone today could do, although we do have the top fraction of one percent of the world population who are crazy rich) no problem.

      Today, it’s not unheard of that a man has [usually secretly] more than one family (or daliances) even in different countries or cities or parts of a city; the women put up with whatever little interaction and relating they get, or maybe all they really want is the stuff [or maybe the home for a child (which is somewhat understandable to deal with making a mistake — but then the actual first wife should be informed in case she wants out, etc., even though the bible doesn’t exactly say that)]. So what if no one knows whether sufficient education will be maintained, and so on, right? Whatever he can get away with will do. Someone who wants to pretend to be more on the up-and-up just has to set a standard of, say, first wife never gets more than Monday. Then there’s room for six more wives. No one gets more than two outfits (and that’s being generous). Always be stingy, then no one will be the wiser if you find someone new. Stingy can have different standards depending on how much money the man figures he’s working with (until he dies and doesn’t have to face any of these people).

      I think you’re on a correct path to say a man should realize there are consequences for goofing around. And a young man should take seriously what he does and decide soberly whether he’s truly interested in a woman (as you put it, “the one” according to recommended behavior). However, I have to disagree with your evaluation of the biblical data… based on further biblical data. First: the man involved has to take responsibility (can’t opt out), but the woman or her family can opt out. Second: while “proof of blood” (that you mentioned) is significant in the Bible, there are Bible laws that refer to a young woman being betrothed or not betrothed; even if the marriage is not yet consummated, sex with someone else is either adultery or rape. If it is rape, then the rapist is put to death (even if the woman never had sex with a man before) “because he has given the impression she wanted to commit adultery” (this is a paraphrase but indicates the point). This is an interesting statement. It implies that intercourse (in general, not only in adultery) shouldn’t be happening without mutual consent or desire. [But there is no out right punishment for rape alone that I’ve seen (other than that the man can’t divorce a woman whose family doesn’t reject him after he’s taken access this way). I think a man should have to be responsible for many things in such a case even if “marriage” is declined. No divorce (and even any marriage as we understand marriage) is likely punishment to the woman/girl.]

      I will tell a story at this time that is up to date with current scenarios. I know of a young couple (not in my family but friends of a friend of a son of mine) who were in an extended (months) physical and monogamous relationship. The young woman was on “the pill” and Catholic. I hear she suddenly decided (without telling the young man) to stop taking the contraception, as she perceived (or rationalized) her faith/religion taught. As you can guess, she then became pregnant. A lot of people were outraged at her choice to terminate birth control. I agree it was wrong to make such a unilateral decision and not even tell her partner. Yet, I do definitely believe that a man in that situation (having this kind of relationship with a woman) must be prepared and understand this could happen. It could even happen if she hadn’t had a change of heart. Contraception isn’t touted as one hundred percent effective. The good news is he was very happy when he found out. It’s truly phenomenal what this couple is like (just their ambience together) not that they’re super Christians or something). I had met her (once or twice) already before when I “met” them at a social function (before she was pregnant). They were so like they had been together (and happily) for years that I wasn’t sure at first if this was the same woman. And he is so proud and delighted with both her and their baby.

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      • Marleen says:

        I forgot to mention: The Bible laws referenced thus far (unless I missed something) aren’t about the woman being with child. So they’re not license to do whatever as long as there’s no pregnancy.

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  10. Zion says:

    @Pete,

    True Christianity does exactly what you say, there argument is not contextual though, it is based on a false dichotomy of New Covenant vs Old Covenant, those who accept part of the Torah as valid is not because of how it can apply, but instead whether or not it has been away with.

    I distinguish between commandment and permit, none are done away with. While the bible permits certain things, permitting is not the same as commanding, but also we have to look at relevance. Also consider, that just because there is a permission for divorce, does not mean it applies to every person and neither does it need to be carried out. Neither my son or daughter are married (of course, they are still children), and thus divorce has no relevance to them, only if they get married does it have a possible application. This does not mean that the Torah has failed or is not applicable today, it simply renders some of the Torah’s commandments as not relevant to our situation, if slavery is not practiced today, then the laws concerning slavery are not relevant, since slavery is not a commandment. For example, if in the resurrected body, a woman no longer has a monthly cycle, then the commands of niddah do not disappear, they simply don’t apply. For those who don’t put on the resurrection they still must keep the niddah commands.

    Notice Yeshua’s discussion in Matthew 19:

    They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?”

    Yeshua responds: He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.

    They called it a “command”, and Yeshua corrected them with a “permission”, Moses did not command divorce and despite it being permissible, it is not a good thing.

    The commands and permissions found in the Torah, do not disappear, just because there is no relevant situation, they simply sit there, and if the situation arises, then the application does as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. hadassah18 says:

    Shalom mipocha,
    Thanks for this subject with all the comments included.It has made me think, because I have heard about this subject too and I have searched for more knowledge and understanding about Avinu’s original and perfect plan when He created Adam and Chava as a mirror to Yeshua and His bride…( not brides). All your comments and information were helpful to me,because I am convinced of one husband/one wife. So I needed to study and growing in knowledge for more confirmation from Scripture on that issue. It is good to be prepared, for ourselves and be able to help others too who have questions in this process of restoration.. It reminds me of Hosea 4:6 ” My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (…)”
    Brachot!
    Hadassah

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