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Re: [humanism-174] Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

From: Susan H.
Sent on: Friday, June 7, 2013 4:00 PM
Ah, so many shades here.

One of the things that helped me open my eyes about the bible, is my tendency to see things through different points-of-view. I do this as a writer, and it naturally spilled over into my bible reading. So I would see the world from Lot's daughters' POV. Horrible. And I would quickly dismiss such because it made me deeply uncomfortable.

But here is a POV I've been playing with.

I'm a second or even third wife in Israel. This may not bother me, as my culture has raised me to expect this possiblity. I haven't heard of women's rights, or equality, so it likely doesn't top my list of complaints, as it does not enter my mind. What IS in my mind is that marriage is my security, for me and my children. That I can't be a single parent in this culture and have any kind of decent life. That my children's inheritence is deeply wrapped up in this contract, and therefore my future as I age. So I've accepted my lot, and I have expectations that come with that. It's been this way for thousands of years, I was taught no other way, therefore, it's the only way it is.

Then along comes this Jesus fellow, and everything changes. Suddenly, my valid and accepted relationship is sinful and wrong. It's unacceptable. My husband (who has latched on to the Jesus guy) is told to dissolve his marriage to me. Send me away. Shamed. Divorced. In a paternalistic culture! What did I do wrong? How did I become wicked? Where did I fail? I followed the rules.

Or change the details slightly. Perhaps it is ME that is told that a polyamous marriage is sinful, and to get right with my God, I have to leave the arrangement. Maybe I've been in this marriage for 20 years. It is VERY convenient that first century Christians MEN are told to dismiss their wives, but there is no mention of what first century Christian WOMEN are supposed to do! No. That would be too sloppy. Women were not free to just walk away from these marriages. The OT only gives men the right to divorce their wives, not the other way around. So what was a Jewish woman, who found herself in this predicament supposed to do?

Be considered an adultress by her peers, when a year ago she was respectable? Leave her husband, go back to her father's house? yeah right. Daddy may not like this Jesus guy, if he's still alive, and then he will judge her sinful. 

You know another thing the bible never addresses? Same sex rape. Yeah, a young girl can be forced to marry her rapist, if it is a he, but it doesn't address the other possiblities. What are the penalties? And another thing---gang rape! Just which rapist will the girl be forced to marry? 

And I will stop now. LOL, the bible was presented to me for years as having all the answers to any problem or situation. In reality, life is way too messy for that, and I can't believe I ever bought into it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris K <[address removed]>
To: humanism-174 <[address removed]>
Sent: Fri, Jun 7,[masked]:38 am
Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

Yes and I've noticed that it always seems to be the most outspoken Christians who fail to understand these facts.  


Sent from my ayayayphone

On Jun 7, 2013, at 9:35 AM, sheri presloid <[address removed]> wrote:

The article is below if you don't want to go to the link.  Very well written!

A trio of Iowa-based religious scholars penned an op-ed in a local paper this week, reminding readers that despite popular opinion, the Bible does not simply define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The joint editorial was written by Hector Avalos, Robert R. Cargill and Kenneth Atkinson and published in the Des Moines Register on Sunday. The men teach at Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, respectively.
"The debate about marriage equality often centers, however discretely, on an appeal to the Bible," the authors wrote. "Unfortunately, such appeals often reflect a lack of biblical literacy on the part of those who use that complex collection of texts as an authority to enact modern social policy."
The Bible's definition of marriage can be confusing and contradictory, noted the scholars. They stated in their column that a primary example of this is the religious book's stance on polygamy, a practice that was embraced by prominent biblical figures Abraham and David. Furthermore, Avalos, Cargill and Atkinson point out that various Bible passages mention not only traditional monogamy, but also self-induced castration and celibacy, as well as the practice of wedding rape victims to their rapists.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars put together an "educated response" to the often-touted claim that the Bible defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman. "[T]hat's not the only thing the Bible says," Cargill told HuffPost.
He explained that it is obvious to scholars (and some religious leaders) that the Bible endorses a wide range of relationships. But he noted, however, that professors are "terrified" of the potential backlash that might result from opening a dialogue about these relationships. Cargill also noted that the initial response to the Register column has included its fair share of vitriol.
Ultimately, said Cargill, a Biblical "argument against same-sex marriage is wholly unsustainable. We all know this, but very few scholars are talking about it, because they don't want to take the heat."
He suggested that academics who continue to be cowed by a strident opposition do a disservice to their communities.
"Most people aren't dumb, they want to make an informed decision" on religiously charged questions, Cargill said. "If scholars aren't talking to them, they have to rely on talk show hosts and pundits, and that's not the most reliable source of information."
Cargill also realizes that there are some people he may never be able to convince.
Many politicians have made a career out of using the Bible to justify opposition to hot-button topics like same-sex marriage or abortion. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), for example, told a crowd of evangelicals in April that Americans cannot "retreat from our values and fail to make the case on issues like marriage -- because it is one man, one woman -- because God said it is."
Cargill said Bachman and her like-minded colleagues use a strategy he calls "cherry picking" to appeal to their base.
"Politicians who use the Bible aren't necessarily interested in the truth or the complexity of the Bible," he said. "They are looking for one ancient sound bite to convince people what they already believe."
Anyone who argues that "the Bible speaks plainly on one issue, especially something as complicated as marriage ... haven't take the time to read all of it," he added.

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