What is the Torah?

This article is part of the series Adventures in Biblical Interpretation.

There are many debates on how to handle the law of the Old Testament. We have many questions. How much of it is binding on us today? What are the specific meanings of certain laws? What is the purpose of the law and how should we take it? There are many other questions. There are all kinds of problems trying to interpret the law.

The Hebrew word for law is Torah. It can mean to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), the specific portions of Law contained within the Pentateuch, or all of Scripture.[1a] The ideal translation for Torah into English is not ‘law’, but ‘instruction’.[1a][2] This is an important distinction that will be revisited below.

Not all laws in the Torah are of the same kind. For example, there are dietary and purity laws that only apply to Israel, to show their special status to God.[1b] These laws do not apply to Gentiles.[1c][5] There are laws that only apply to Levites and priests. Because not all laws are the same kind, their relative applicability and importance are not equivalent. Therefore, we can make no specific judgments about a law solely because it is included in the Law portion of the Torah.

For example, this article shows that Genesis 2:23-24 (“shall cleave” and “shall become one flesh”) describes both the act of marriage and sex as equivalent.[3] However, later the claim was made that the rules on a virgin making vows and having sex found in the Law[4] are a valid exception and that the marriage never happened even though sex took place.

I wrote:

“[The father] can’t change the fact that a marriage (sex) took place and the two became one flesh.”

The reply:

“By definition, the agreements get reviewed *after the fact* and the father has the authority to forbid them…when it comes to the Law of Marriage, this situation is an exception due to the authority of the father.”

This claim says that the there is an exception to the Genesis rules on marriage. A father can make it so that the two were not one flesh even though they had sex, that is, the marriage never happened even long after it did happen.[6] This is absurd. The authority of a father laid out in the Law of the Torah is not able to override the precepts of the designed marriage plan in Genesis[8], for there is nothing about being in the Law of the Torah that makes it automatically of highest moral authority (see the discussion on the morality of the law below).

Now if, as laid out in Genesis 2:24, a man and virgin woman become one flesh and are married when they have sex, then a father ending the relationship would necessarily be a divorce. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus replies to a question on divorce by saying that from the beginning (quoting Genesis 2:24) a man and woman have sex and become one flesh, a joining that God brings together that no man may separate. He then explains that divorce was allowed in the Law because their hearts were hard.

Notice what Jesus says: the law permitting divorce is not normative solely by virtue of it being in the Law of the Torah. The existence of a law that permits divorce does not mean that divorce is fine. The Law is just a regulation of things to do or not to do.

Jesus affirmed that God’s design for marriage from the time of Creation up to the giving of the Law was unconditional.[8] When a man and woman have sex, they are married. The father is indeed permitted by the Law to end the marriage, but because Jesus declared that sexual immorality is the only valid reason for divorce, the father should not exercise his legal right to cancel the marriage unless that is the reason.[7]

In response to the definition of “sexual immorality”[9], another claim was made that pertains to the understanding what Law of the Torah is:

“Immorality is a violation of the Law”

This has already been demonstrated to be false as not all laws in the Law are moral laws, including the purity regulations. Moreover, while much of the law is based on morality, it is not morality itself. One must look at a law and ask what the purpose behind that law is.[2a] While the law regulates things to do and not do, it does not cover every situation or always explain its purpose. This is why the meaning of Torah is best described as “instruction.”

Jesus, in Matthew 18:18 use the terms “binding” and “loosing” to tell his disciples that they would have this authority. This is rabbinical language to permit and forbid teachings of the law. That is, they would be have authoritative explanatory power under God’s direction.[2] Torah is instruction that must be authoritatively explained. Legalistic, that is especially formulaic, explanations must be avoided. This is, of course, why the Rabbis existed in the first place: to explain the Law. There was great disagreement about how to interpret the Law and what actions qualified as a violation of the Law.

Jesus weighed in on a number of these issues. It’s why he taught that the laws on divorce should further restrict divorce. Not because there was a problem with the Law, but because the binding and loosing of the instruction was wrong. They teachers of the Law did not explain it properly. The permissive law on divorce (like the permissive law on a father’s right to cancel his daughter’s marriage) must be subjected to the restrictions set down by God’s initial design.

Some instructions in the Torah are for specific people, times, and places. There are civil, legal, ritual, dietary, priestly, and moral instructions. It would be a great mistake to treat the entire Torah as if it should be interpreted in exactly the same way. The only reason to use a legalistic and simplistic interpretation is if it supports preconceived notions that support a particular doctrine.

[1] “Paul was Not a Christian.” Pamela Eisenbaum.

  [a] p.75

  [b] p.77

  [c] p.78

[2] Binding and Loosing“. Truth or Tradition. Spirit & Truth Fellowship International.

  [a] “if a man’s fire got out of control and burned up his neighbor’s crop, he was responsible to replace what was burned (Exod. 22:6). The point of the Instruction (Torah) is not that we are responsible only for fires we cause, but that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions, and must repay people who are hurt by what we do.” — The man is not immoral, but he is responsible.

[3] See the formal proof: Genesis 2:24 uses ‘dabaq’ (translated ‘shall cleave’). Matthew 19:5-6 quotes Genesis in Greeek using the word ‘kollao’. 1 Corinthians 6:16 uses the term ‘kollao’ in the context of having sex and becoming one flesh with a prostitute. Therefore ‘shall cleave’ must be equivalent to having sex. There is no other marriage ceremony.

[4] See: Numbers 30:3-5, Exodus 22:16-17, and Deut. 22:28-29.

[5] Pamela Eisenbaum later argues that not only don’t they apply to Gentiles, but that Paul specifically states that they cannot apply to Gentiles because only those who convert to Judaism are under those Laws. Gentiles have not entered into that covenant with God and therefore have no legal right to the duties and benefits specific to that agreement. In other words, while Gentiles may be God’s children, they are not his special chosen people.

[6] This is implicit time travel, extreme legalism, and/or hocus-pocus. The man and woman are husband and wife (married by having sex) up to the time when the father of the bride decides to revoke the marriage at his discretion. This could literally be many years later and they may have had children together. At this point, the sex that took place is retroactively undone, they are instantly no longer one flesh, and the marriage never happened. This horribly twisted absurdity is described here. It is illustrative of the depths and lengths sometimes taken to justify a particular doctrine.

[7] Logically at least some, if not all, seduction of a virgin woman must be considered sexual immorality for two reasons. (1) There is an unconditional penalty for the seduction, the payment of the bride price, so we know that something wrong took place; (2) The teaching on divorce was in the law because there existed at least one legitimate use of it (divorce due to sexual immorality), therefore there must be at least one legitimate use of a father’s power to end his daughter’s marriage. Because sexual immorality is the only legitimate reason to end a marriage and the father’s right to end the marriage is optional, then at least some seduction must be immoral. The conclusion, therefore, is either that all ‘premarital sex’ or some seduction (deceiving the woman) is immoral.

[8] Is it possible that Genesis 2:23-24 is conditional? That is, are there cases where sex does not lead to a joining of flesh? I have not been presented with any argument that proves this but would be eager to hear any possible explanation for this notion.

[9] Sexual immorality is participating in sexual acts that are immoral or wicked. All sex outside of a husband and wife marriage (which includes the initial sex that created the marriage) is immoral because it is adultery.

7 thoughts on “What is the Torah?

  1. Derek, I think the major mistake you make is that you started out to refute me before understanding the exegesis I made. It took me years of serious study in order to put all this together and I find that people who actually do the study wind up agreeing with me. Those who have not studied it in depth default to what they have been taught and get it wrong.

    The issue of sexual morality is severely clouded because of what happened in the early church. First there is the “dark period” that lasts about 50 years in which we know absolutely nothing. Well, that isn’t quite true, we know that the Nicolaitans won and they established a clerisy with a structured hierarchy that Jesus specifically taught against. From that we got the way of Balaam, which was to put a stumbling block before the people. That stumbling block was the new teaching on sexual morality that did not come from God and is contradicted by Scripture.

    In the West, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory were the primary drivers of the doctrine that sex and especially sexual pleasure is evil and even within marriage, sinful. It is a matter of historical fact that the Bible’s rules for sexual morality (which includes sex, marriage and divorce) were thrown out and replaced with a mixture of Stoic philosophy, Pagan belief and Roman law. That, in fact, is where the current church doctrines concerning sexual morality came from and that was the result of the Nicolaitans and their implementation of the way of Balaam.

    The Bible has a double-standard of sexual morality, one for men and the other for women. Again, from the text of the Bible this is a fact. This is highlighted by the fact that a man may have more than one wife concurrently, but a woman may only have one husband at a time. The subjects of polygyny and divorce are inextricably intertwined because the grant of authority to marry (Genesis 2:24) was given to the man (“For this cause a man shall…”) and that grant of authority did not contain the authority to terminate a marriage once it was begun, nor did it contain any restriction on the number of marriages he might create.

    The commands, statutes, ordinances and judgments given later (the Law of Moses) as well as the whole of Scripture give us a complete picture of the original standard of commitment to marriage:

    The man makes a permanent but non-exclusive commitment to the woman.
    The woman makes a permanent and exclusive commitment to the man.
    The commitment lasts until the death of either party.

    Moses came along later and changed the man’s commitment standard, “permitting” the men to divorce their wife if they found some “indecency” in her. Jesus defined “indecency” with the word “pornea”, thus restricting the allowed grounds upon which a man could divorce his wife to adultery/incest/bestiality/etc.

    We know this from what Jesus said in Matthew 19:3-9. Moses “permitted” divorce, but from the beginning it had not been that way. Obviously God’s design for marriage included permanence, because in 1st Corinthians 7:10-11, Christ gave His command (Paul was very specific about that) concerning marriage, that for believers who were married to each other, there was to be no divorce, no exceptions given. Which means that Christ re-instituted the original standard of marriage for His household. Afterward, Paul gave the instruction that for mixed marriages, the husband or wife was not to leave or divorce their unbelieving spouse but if that spouse refused to live with them they were free and no longer bound.

    Thus, we now have two separate classes of people concerning divorce. Christian marriages are not subject to divorce for any reason. Those married men who are under the Law may divorce their wives if the wife commits adultery. No wife of any status has the authority to divorce her husband for any reason. What if the wife (in violation of the command) leaves her husband? They are still married. Does that mean he is sentenced to sexual starvation because of her disobedience? No, he may take another wife, but his first wife is still his wife and if she comes back to him in repentance he cannot refuse to reconcile himself to her.

    The marriage ceremony of Genesis 2:24 is the act of sexual intercourse and that is how a man and woman are married. The general rule is that all women are virgins when they marry, because sexual intercourse is how marriage is begun. However, there are certain relationships that are forbidden and sex will not create a marriage with such a person because the man and woman must be eligible to marry each other in order for the sex to create a marriage.

    With only a few exceptions (having intercourse with your wife while she’s menstruating or during the proscribed period after childbirth) the Bible does not forbid sexual acts, it forbids sexual relationships. Basically God doesn’t care nearly as much about how your plumbing gets connected as who or what you connect your plumbing with.

    “Is it possible that Genesis 2:23-24 is conditional?”

    You were careful to state that in terms of prior to the Law, but now that we have the Law, Genesis 2:24 is very much conditional. Eligibility is the issue because an ineligible virgin is not married with the act of sex. Meaning, your virgin aunt, sister or daughter does not become your wife with the act of penetrative intercourse because the relationship defined and created by the act is forbidden.

    The virgin must be eligible to marry that specific man in order to be married by the act of intercourse. Otherwise, the act does not produce a marriage.

    Compare the example of the betrothed virgin in Deuteronomy 22 with the virgin not betrothed. The betrothed virgin is not married by the act of sex with a man who is not her betrothed. She is referred to as the wife of the man who betrothed her, so even though she is a virgin, she is not eligible to marry any man but her betrothed. OTOH, the virgin not betrothed is married with the act of forced intercourse (rape) if they are discovered. Notice that’s conditional on discovery. In terms of the linguistic differences between the usage of “wife” and “marry” we see that wife is a noun and marry is a verb. Notice the construction of Deut. 24:1 “If a man takes a wife and marries her…”. He marries her with the act of intercourse. She can become a wife through the voluntary agreement to a betrothal period (c.f. Numbers 30:2). Whatever agreements the man makes are binding on him, but he is not required to have any betrothal period or agree to have a party. In the absence of agreements, sex is the act of marrying her as long as shes eligible for him to marry.

    I’ve made the point before that if a man has agreed to a betrothal period that’s terminated with a wedding celebration and he has sex with his betrothed prior to the end of the betrothal period, they have engaged in premarital sex by violating the betrothal agreement. The sin is not in the sex, it’s in violating his agreement. I’m not sure whether they would be married or not, but I tend to fall on the side that they would not be married because until the betrothal period is over she is not eligible for anyone to marry.

    Thus, we see that not all virgins are married with the act of sexual intercourse.

    “Sexual immorality is participating in sexual acts that are immoral or wicked. All sex outside of a husband and wife marriage (which includes the initial sex that created the marriage) is immoral because it is adultery.”

    Your first sentence is correct, but you immediately go straight to Catholic doctrine with the second sentence, claiming the authority to decide what immorality and wickedness is apart from what the Bible says. Romans 4:15 and 5:13 state that where there is no Law there is no violation. Without a violation there is no sin imputed. Thus, violations of the Law are sin for everyone. Romans 14 and James 4 describe the sins of conscience, but these are specific to the individual and we are commanded not to judge.

    The Law states that adding to or subtracting from the Law is forbidden (Deut. 4:2 and 12:32), so sexual immorality for *everyone* consists *only* of those sexual acts or relationships forbidden by the Law. One example is having intercourse with your wife while she is menstruating. Even though she is your wife, that is forbidden and in the same category as adultery, male homosexuality, bestiality and child sacrifice. As an individual, you might hold the position that fellatio is wickedness so if you and your wife engaged in that, it would be sin to you. The same act would not be sin for me because I have faith that whatever sexual acts occur between husband and wife are licit (c.f. Romans 14:23). Neither of us is to judge the other, which puts it in somewhat of a Biblical “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t judge” category.

    Adultery is sexual immorality, forbidden by the Law and specifically defined in the Law by Leviticus 18:20 and 20:10 as a married woman having intercourse with a man who is not her husband. Therefore, adultery requires a married woman. Thus, sexual intercourse can only be adultery if the woman is married to another man and no-one has the authority to expand that definition.

    Other than the very specific prohibition that forbids a Christian man from having sex with a prostitute (1 Cor. 6:15-16), there is no prohibition anywhere in Scripture that forbids a man from having sex with any woman he is eligible to marry. This supports the fact that the act of penetrative intercourse is the act of marriage, which is nailed down by the judgment of Deuteronomy 22:28-29 in which the virgin not betrothed was raped into marriage with the act of sexual intercourse.

    However, notice that in Deuteronomy 22 the status of the woman is important because the status determines the outcome for the same act. We see married women, betrothed virgins and virgins not betrothed. There is no mention of widows or divorced women, thus, all the women mentioned are under the authority of a specific man. Compare this with Leviticus 19:20, the case of a man who lies carnally with a slave woman acquired for another man. That is a case of adultery (the death penalty is mentioned) but they are not to be put to death because she is not a free woman. Status is important.

    What we are not seeing in Deuteronomy 22 is any reference to the women who are not virgins and not married. These can be widows and legitimately divorced women, but unlike the others, those women are not under the authority of a specific man. Numbers 30:9 states that these women have the authority to make their own agreements and will be held to those agreements. 1st Corinthians 7:39 states that the woman no longer bound (meaning she is not a virgin and not married) is free to choose whom she will marry. The freedom to choose is necessarily the freedom to refuse, thus, unlike the virgin, they have agency and they cannot be raped into marriage.

    The question then becomes, is choosing to have sex likewise choosing to marry? I say no, it is not. I believe this is demonstrated by the Law and the record concerning prostitution.

    If the decision of the non-virgin unmarried woman to have sex means she is choosing to marry the man she’s having sex with, then all prostitution is de facto adultery. If this is the case, we have the very strange situation of Deuteronomy 23:17, in which cult prostitutes are forbidden. Not ordinary prostitutes, cult prostitutes. Likewise, we have the prohibition of Leviticus 19:29 that forbids a father from making his daughter a prostitute. If prostitution is adultery, then both of those are redundant. However, the prohibition on cult prostitutes points to the lack of prohibition on ordinary prostitutes. The command of the father not to make his daughter a prostitute points to the presence of legitimate prostitution.

    Likewise, if all prostitutes are committing adultery and given that adultery *is* a death penalty offense, why do we see no evidence of this being dealt with? Where is the record of the whores being rounded up and put to death?

    Better yet, why did the prohibition of 1st Corinthians 6:15-16 not say anything about adultery? Why tell the men not to have sex with whores and make the point that by becoming one flesh with a whore, they’re joining the members of Christ to a whore… if it’s adultery? They already know they are not to commit adultery.

    The point is that prior to that, men knew they were not prohibited from having sex with whores as long as she was a righteous prostitute. If she was a widow or a legitimately divorced woman, she was not a virgin and she was not married. She would not become married until she chose to marry and the act of *willing* sex with her did not make her married any more than the act of *unwilling* sex would make her married unless and until she chose to marry that man.

    The reason men used whores was because it was legitimate (they were not in sin) and more importantly, they would not become married by having sex with her. In other words, they were using their authority to marry in such a way as to get the sex without the marriage.

    All of which means that if a husband has sex with his virgin babysitter he now has another wife. Sex with the widow down the street is just sex and it isn’t sin because it isn’t prohibited as sin. Up to the point the widow decides that she wants to be married, it’s just sex. In either case, the “sex outside of marriage” was not and is not and cannot be sin unless it involves adultery or is a violation of the individual’s conscience.

    This is extremely important because the modern virgin who is married by the act of sexual intercourse (even though she doesn’t know she was marrying the man with that act) is not committing a sin by becoming married. She cannot be forgiven for the “sin” of so-called “premarital sex” because there was no sin. It was the act of marriage, not a violation of the Law. The next man and every subsequent man are all cases of adultery because she’s already a married woman. That that includes the man who eventually puts a ring on her finger.

    According to the CDC, only about 5% of women are virgins when they have their official party with the wedding dress and exchange of rings and vows. According to some surveys, up to 20% of women in “very religious” groups are virgins when they have their party. Which means that in general 95% of the women and 80% of the women in the “highly religious” groups were already married when they had their party. And if the man they had the party with was not the man who got their virginity, whatever vows they might have exchanged are meaningless because she was already married to another man.

    Obviously at least 80% of the married couples in any given church are living in adultery because the woman was already married when she and her “husband” exchanged vows.

    Or was she?

    This is evidently a sticking point with you, so I’ll go over it carefully.

    In order to understand this, consider what happened in the Garden before the Fall. Eve, the greatest of all women was not born of man and had no sin nature. She lived in a world without sin, in the Garden in which she and her husband walked with God in the cool of the evening. She had only ONE rule she was required to follow, but she was not able to follow one simple rule and as a result all of Creation fell under the curse of sin. And what do we do with people who quite apparently cannot follow even one simple rule under the best of circumstances? They are judged incompetent and a guardian is placed over them. Which is what God did, speaking of the husband, “he shall rule over you.”

    Is that where the authority of the husband comes from? No.

    That Adam was already completely in authority over his wife cannot be questioned. Adam was created first and Eve was created to be his helper. Woman was created from man, for man, to be used by man to accomplish his mission. That Adam was in complete authority over his wife is proved by the fact that up until Adam ate the fruit, her violation was covered by his righteous authority over her. If this were not the case, Eve would be credited with bringing sin into the world. She was not, because she was completely under the authority of her husband.

    The Judgments of the Serpent, Eve and Adam each contain an immediate punishment and a future change from the present status. For the Serpent, he was to crawl on his belly and for the future change God placed enmity between his seed and the woman’s seed. For Eve, God increased her pain in childbirth and the future change was hypergamy and to be ruled over by her husband. In other words, daughters and wives were to be the wards of fathers and husbands. For Adam, the ground was cursed and would no longer yield its fruit for him without working. The future change was that mankind would not live forever, they would die a physical death.

    Adam was already in authority over Eve, the change was that he would now rule over her.

    The critical authority of the father:

    The Law of Marriage at Genesis 2:24 says the virgin is married to the man who gets her virginity.

    The Law of Vows at Numbers 30:3-5 states the father has the authority to review and either approve or forbid *any* agreement or vow his daughter makes, even a vow to God, in the day he hears of it.

    Numbers 30 provides the instruction for men regarding their duty to rule over their their wives and daughters. All wives and all daughters. Notice the change with the New Testament (in keeping with Christs command to love one another) was that while the wife is still ruled by her husband and she is to submit to her husband in everything (unbounded, no exceptions), the husband is to love his wife. God does not change and the status of women as wards under the authority of either their father or their husband did not change, but in Christ, men are commanded to love their wives. This is contentious because the only specific points that illustrate *how* Christ loves His church are about accountability and discipline. Those whom He loves He rebukes and disciplines.

    Obedience is obeying the one in authority. Submission is accepting the accountability of the one in authority for one’s obedience, which necessarily means submission to the discipline for disobedience. One can be 95% obedient and 100% in rebellion by refusing to accept the accountability, correction and if necessary, discipline for that 5% disobedience. Likewise a wife could be in almost complete disobedience and be 100% in submission because she accepts the accountability of her husband.

    There are only three passages that speak specifically to the formation of marriage for free people, beginning with the Law of Marriage at Genesis 2:24. The Law of Marriage was modified by the later judgments at Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which have the full force of law. In addition, the Law of Marriage is modified by the incest statutes, which forbids certain relationships, however, we need to look at the judgments.

    In the Exodus passage we observe the outcome of the agreement of the daughter to have sex with the man who seduced her. Obviously the father learns of this after the fact. In verse 16 he says nothing and they are married (present tense). In verse 17 the father “absolutely refuses to give her” to the man. Exercising his authority under Numbers 30:5, he forbid his daughter’s agreement to marry and they are not married.

    You call this a divorce. No, it is not a divorce, the father forbid the agreement and thus everything downstream from the agreement is nullified. In forbidding the agreement, the father has made his daughter ineligible to marry that man. Therefore, the sex did not create a marriage, there is no marriage and without a marriage there cannot be a divorce.

    You call it an absurdity that the father can, after the fact, review this agreement and forbid it. Yet, that is the plain meaning of the authority he is given. There was no limit of time placed on his authority to review and either allow or forbid her agreement, he has that authority to do so in the day he hears of it.

    Verse 3 says if she makes the vow while in her fathers house in her youth. That establishes the fact he is in authority over her when she makes the vow. Because he is her guardian (she is incompetent), he is responsible for reviewing her vow/agreement. In verse 5 it says “on the day he hears of it” and that is restrictive on the father in terms of having to make a decision in that day, but there is no time limit on how much time passes before he hears of it. What if she hid it from him for a long time? In the day he hears of it he is responsible to either allow it or forbid it.

    You are claiming that if the woman no longer lives in his house at some later point, he has forfeited his authority to forbid the agreement she made while she was under his authority. That, however, is not what the text says. Keep in mind, this is a protection for the women and is intentionally a clawback provision. Even after the fact the vow can be annulled, even if there are consequences for doing so.

    You are claiming a marriage occurred because they had sex as if Genesis 2:24 is unconditional, but the Law clearly has exceptions. Sex does not make the virgin married if the relationship is forbidden (incest) because God forbid those relationships for everyone. So, does the father have the authority to forbid relationships to his daughter? Yes, he does. Does forbidding a relationship mean she is ineligible to marry that man? Yes it does. Does that mean he can marry her by having sex with her? No, he cannot, because she is not eligible any more than his sister is eligible to marry him.

    The father clearly has the authority to forbid any specific man to marry his daughter or even to forbid all men to marry his daughter (1 Cor. 7:36-38). He also has the authority to sell her as a slave to be a man’s concubine, or the wife of his son (in which case she is treated as a free woman) or the slave-wife of one of his servants (c.f. Exodus 21:1-10). The father has the authority to do this before the fact.

    The father has the authority to forbid any specific vow or agreement his daughter might make and the fact the text refers to a vow to the Lord means that the authority applies to all lesser vows and agreements. If the Lord will forgive her because her father has forbidden it, everyone else has to as well. Since the day he hears of her vow or agreement must be after the fact unless he was present when it happened, the fact there is no time limit in the text means he has the authority to forbid that vow or agreement in the day he hears about it no matter how much time passes.

    In forbidding that agreement, he is making the man ineligible to marry her at the point of her agreement. Thus, the sex that followed her agreement does not make them married because they are not eligible to marry because her father forbid the agreement.

    Her father is not forbidding the marriage after the fact, he is forbidding her agreement after the fact. We know this because of the third passage that concerns the formation of marriage:

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 proves the authority of the father to either approve or forbid the vows and agreements of his daughter does not extend to forbidding a marriage after the fact, because she made no agreement. If they were discovered (meaning there are witnesses to the fact she was raped- she made no agreement) then she is married. HOWEVER, if they are not discovered, notice that she is not identified as being his wife. Why? Because the decision goes to the father and it’s treated as if it were a seduction.

    The entire point of being discovered is that it establishes that no agreement took place. Lacking that evidence of no agreement, the decision rests with the father. Perhaps he sees her decision to dress like a slut or get drunk and pass out at a party as a tacit agreement to have sex. It doesn’t matter, the responsibility is his.

    Keeping in mind that the vast majority of so-called ‘married’ couples in church are not, this protection for the daughters is critical for putting things aright. If the father is no longer alive he cannot forbid the agreement and thus they are married. If the man is a Christian he cannot divorce her (1st Cor. 7:11) but if he is not a Christian he is under the Law and permitted to divorce her for her adultery. If she is a Christian and he is not and he refuses to live with her, she is free and no longer bound. The point, especially for the church, is the authority of the father in Numbers 30:5 is a way out.

    1. I think the major mistake you make is that you started out to refute me before understanding the exegesis I made. It took me years of serious study in order to put all this together and I find that people who actually do the study wind up agreeing with me. Those who have not studied it in depth default to what they have been taught and get it wrong.

      I mostly agree with this, although it is not a mistake but an approach. I set out to challenge your viewpoint against the traditional viewpoint. This is a standard debate approach (which you’ve mistaken as bias). I’m not assuming anything, that’s why I pointed out one of the defeaters to the position I laid out. If you are correct, you should be able to defend your position against the affirmative (traditional) position. You’ve been…unconvincing.

      As to how much time you’ve taken to study and how convincing you are to other people, that’s great. Those are both positive attributes that say great things about you as a person, but they don’t prove anything. You are anonymous and nobody can verify that you have the skills required for years of correct study or even that you did so. So please don’t rely on an argument from authority. You have my email, your blog, or these comments if you’d prefer to reveal who you are and your authoritative credentials. You can also cite from scholars in the field.

      It seems like I touched a nerve here. Bear in mind that nobody actually reads this blog. And if you prove me wrong, I’ll update my position accordingly. I’ll take some time and think about what you’ve said and respond at a later date or time.

      1. There was no appeal to authority in saying that it took years of study to get to this point. As to “verification” of skills, please. Credentials? That’s amusing if you understand the university system.

        As far as being unconvincing, I suspect the issue is your biases, not my argument. Starting with the correct interpretation of Genesis 2:24, that sex with an eligible virgin makes her married, everything flows from there. That is the key point. That you would argue against polygyny is amusing, but expected. It indicates you don’t understand the issues involved. The issues of divorce and polygyny are so twisted and intertwined with the history of the church and its politics that it’s difficult to put aside the doctrinal points hammered in over a lifetime, but that’s nothing when it comes to the issue of sex itself.

        For me the first key was an understanding of Romans 4:15 and 5:13 as the interpretation of 1st John 3:4. All references to immorality and sin in the New Testament point directly at the Law, because God does not change. Jesus? He was the Word made flesh. Which leads to the next point, in terms of the “changes” that were made with the New Testament under the New Covenant.

        The second key was an understanding of relationships in terms of slavery vs free. Reconciling the requirements of obedience to the the Law (strip away the civil and ceremonial) and Paul’s statement of all things being lawful cannot be done unless one considers the change in status one undergoes by becoming a Christian, a slave. The Law and the application of the Law did not change, the status of the individual changes with respect to the Law in terms of obedience to their Master who paid the price for sin. Having a Master means we are imputed with the righteousness of Christ because He is our Master. Our owner. On one hand He is perfect and never sinned, so we have that covering, but on the other hand He paid the price for sin and absolves us of sin. Because we are His servants. That understanding changes the nature of evangelism as well. What does it mean to “accept” Christ and pray the prayer?

        The third key was an understanding of the history of the church and the development of doctrine, particularly in terms of sexual morality. Most Christians know about the persecution of Christians by the government in Roman times, but how many know about the persecution of pagans by Christians after they got official power from the Roman government? In becoming the “official” religion of Rome, the bishops got real power that was backed up by the police power of the Roman state. And there was very real persecution of pagans by Christians.

        How did the pagans respond? Some joined the church. Augustine was a Manichean, Jerome was a Stoic and Gregory was a hermit who tended toward stoicism. They were uniform in their hatred of sex and sexual pleasure and they were the leading voices behind modern doctrines of sexual morality that are based on the idea that sex is sinful in and of itself.

        If you were to find a copy of “Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe” by James Brundage (emeritus, UK), I think it would be easier for you once you understand the history of how modern doctrine came about. That was his magnum opus and only an idiot questions the quality of his scholarship. Additionally, his monograph “Concubinage and Marriage In Medieval Canon Law” illuminates the fact that much of the doctrine concerning marriage that was established by canon law came directly from Roman law, rather than the Bible. Duby’s “Medieval Marriage” and “The Knight, the Lady and the Priest” are also excellent sources in order to establish an understanding of how all this came about.

        While I have nothing but contempt for the general theory of evolution, it’s interesting that the study of “evolutionary psychology” allows a wide latitude to engage in scholarship that is most definitely not politically correct. Kevin MacDonald’s monograph “The Establishment and Maintenance of Socially Imposed Monogamy In Western Europe” is worth reading (even if for nothing more than the references). One of the points he makes is that socially imposed monogamy (driven by the doctrine that sex is sinful) was part of the strategy of the church in taking control of marriage as part of their war with the nobility. Duby is quite helpful in understanding the conflict between the nobility and the church, as well as the church’s strategy of taking control of family as a means of controlling the nobility. Socially imposed monogamy was only one aspect of that.

        All of which brings us back to the Bible. Genesis 2:24 is a grant of authority by God to the man. Not to the families, not to the community, not to the state and not to the church. To the MAN, individually. A man does not need anyone’s permission to marry, a public ceremony, the blessing of the church, a license from the state or any other thing. If the woman is in her youth living in her father’s house he has the authority to forbid the marriage before the fact and to forbid her agreement to marry after the fact (which is basically the same thing). However, as the text makes clear, if the man was that determined to marry a particular virgin, she can be raped into marriage. Which sounds ridiculous nowadays, given that such a marriage would be considered a crime.

        That sex initiates marriage is demonstrated by the fact that no-where in the Bible is a man forbidden to have sex with a woman he is eligible to marry (with the exception of 1 Cor. 6:15-16, whores). Such a prohibition would be to prohibit marriage. The text demonstrates that virgins and non-virgins are not in the same category, given that the virgin has no agency (she can be forced into marriage against her will and she can have a marriage she agreed to forbidden and annulled, against her will) while widows, divorced women and women no longer bound (all non-virgins and not married) do have agency because there is no man in authority over them. That is extremely difficult for most to accept because they have been trained that “sex outside marriage” is evil and a sin.

        The doctrine of “sex outside marriage is a sin” derives from the doctrine that sex, even within marriage, is sin. Sex is evil, wicked and sinful and since sex within marriage is a venal sin (a “necessary evil” because of the command to be fruitful), sex outside marriage must be a mortal sin.

        The church (Catholic and Orthodox) no longer teach that sex within marriage is a sin (so much for infallibility) and protestants never taught it as doctrine, but the idea that sex outside marriage is a sin is still very much taught as doctrine because no-one understands what the Bible actually says and does not say about sex.

        As far as the one-flesh doctrines, they’re all over the board. For years I thought it was simply a “one and done” union created by God that was the hallmark of marriage. What changed that for me was coming to grips with the multiplicity of definitions that some words have in terms of describing concepts. The word “dabaq” as used in Genesis 2:24 and “teshuqah” as used in Genesis 3:16 are both excellent examples of words that have multiple meanings at the same time. The usage of “kollao” in the NT to directly translate “dabaq” from Hebrew continues that theme, in that both words (as used of human relationships) communicate commitment, but for Genesis 2:24 they also specify sex. From which we are to derive the understanding that the act of marriage is the man’s commitment and agreement to marry. Every time.

        The meaning of “one flesh” can be as simple as the child that the sex produces, which is the two becoming one flesh in the form of the child; and it is also the great mystery that Paul described in comparing the one-flesh spiritual union of marriage with the one-body union of the believer with Christ. In between are quite a few other ways of looking at it because the sharing of DNA in which the woman absorbs the DNA of the man with the act of sex is also to become one flesh. Even more so is the sharing of the microbiome in terms of becoming one flesh. None of that touches the idea of a marital covenant established by the shedding of blood with the man taking the woman’s virginity.

        As to whether there is any differentiation between these various aspects of becoming one-flesh and to what degree they might be, I do not know. What Scripture tells us is God makes the two one flesh in marriage, but there was no explanation of what that means. Scripture also tells us that a man becomes one flesh with a prostitute when he has sex with her, but one is not married to the prostitute by having sex with her, so obviously the term “one-flesh” is rather nuanced.

        “The only reason to use a legalistic and simplistic interpretation is if it supports preconceived notions that support a particular doctrine.”

        Especially if the doctrine came first, from somewhere other than the Bible. Which the history of the church demonstrates.

        1. Starting with the correct interpretation of Genesis 2:24, that sex with an eligible virgin makes her married, everything flows from there.

          This is exactly the point I have been making. One must first understand the Genesis 2 passage before one can draw any other conclusions. That’s why I claimed (on your blog and a little here) that your explanation is contradictory, speculative, and otherwise problematic. The other details you’ve raised are dependent on this foundation, so I’ve tried to focus as much attention as possible on it. Some of your other arguments quite interesting and challenging, but they are not persuasive.

          You have failed to present an argument justifying the quoted statement. There is little complete detailed textual, historical, linguistic, or logical analysis provided, nor are there references to works by other authors (respected or otherwise). But you’ve made plenty of leaps and assertions.

          You have also mistakenly assumed my position from the argument I made against yours. Review my methods. No, I was assuming a number of points you made for sake of argument and then arguing the logical contradictions and difficulties from that while raising plausible alternatives. I have not presented my full opinion. Perhaps I will do so after I’ve finished addressing all of your dozens of points in these last two comments. It is not, however, difficult to find arguments opposed to yours[1][2][3].

          [1] “What Makes a Marriage?” Pastor David B. Curtis. (link)

          [2] Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15. Gordon J. Wenham. pg. 71

          [3] On Exodus 22:16-17, Tom Shipley writes “…does not mean he must marry her, but to bestow a dowry because of the marriage that has already taken place via sexual relations.” [p46 of “Man and Woman In Biblical Law – part 1”] Furthermore, he writes “That a marriage took place during the seduction is the very premise of this law.” [p.67 of “Man and Woman In Biblical Law – part 2”]

    2. “..years of serious study..”

      Then why does your teaching on biblical sexuality contradict the well-researched and well-argued work by Tom Shipley: Man and Woman in Biblical Law? That’s the product of years of research as well and it comes to basically the same conclusion as the views on your blog, except notably on a number of the areas that I’ve pointed out. I find this facinating how two people can basically hold the same minority view, and yet disagree so much on how they arrived at it. It really says something when I can use the argument of one biblical polygynist against another biblical polygynist without even having to disclose my own viewpoints.

      “The issue of sexual morality is severely clouded because of what happened in the early church….we know that the Nicolaitans won and they established a clerisy with a structured hierarchy that Jesus specifically taught against. From that we got the way of Balaam, which was to put a stumbling block before the people. That stumbling block was the new teaching on sexual morality that did not come from God and is contradicted by Scripture.

      This highlights the problem I have with your arguments. It isn’t that your statements lack truth, but that the presentation is skewed and dishonest. Not dishonest as in deception, but dishonest as in untrustworthy. It was surprising when you claimed without any justification that the Bible showed through Samson and Rahab that prostitution was fine. Your statements here are equally perplexing. You take tiny amounts of church history and mix it with a ‘new teaching on sexual morality’, as if just speaking the words makes it so. It’s speculation based on extremely limited information: little bits of truth and mixed in ways that suit your purposes. You have mistaken my objections on numerous occasions as a blanket rejection of every single thing you said, rather than rejection of the argument’s specifics. I don’t even know why I bother pointing these things out, because you just move on to something else when I do.

      I don’t even need to cite from any extra-biblical historical sources to show the sloppiness or errors in your argumentation. You say that the traditional view of the issue is clouded because it was corrupted. How do you know it was corrupted? Because it doesn’t agree with your interpretation of biblical sexual morality. That’s circular reasoning. But what happens when we do examine history? Are you aware of the various (quite successful) later attempts by the church to minimize the role of women in the church with changes and additions made to the scripture? The historical argument is way more complex and nuanced than your simplistic argument suggests.

      You hold a viewpoint that is in the minority, so you better have a rock solid approach. But you don’t. It’s full of unsubstantiated assertions and speculation with an appeal to authority (“years of serious study”). Your blog has a very high search engine ranking for your topic, so unlike my massive insignificance, you might actually influence people.

      “That, in fact, is where the current church doctrines concerning sexual morality came from”

      A fact is it? You might want to look up the meaning of that word. Use the word ‘assertion’ instead.

      “The Bible has a double-standard of sexual morality…from the text of the Bible this is a fact”

      Or it has a moral standard, a legal standard, a social standard, a religious standard, etc. Your argument completely lacks any nuance whatsoever. You see double-standard morality because you want to see it.

      “if all prostitutes are committing adultery and given that adultery *is* a death penalty offense, why do we see no evidence of this being dealt with? Where is the record of the whores being rounded up and put to death”

      See my comment immediately previous. You don’t seem to understand the way that the Torah was understood and interpreted by Israel, which is the primary point of my post. How can you claim to understand the laws of God if you don’t understand what he meant in the giving of those laws?

      ..“pornea”..

      What does this word mean in the Septuagint?

      More to come…

  2. “Then why does your teaching on biblical sexuality contradict the well-researched and well-argued work by Tom Shipley: Man and Woman in Biblical Law?”

    I cannot claim to know what kind of contradictions you have in your mind, but if I had to guess, it’s because Shipley doesn’t accept that sex with a virgin is to marry her because according to Genesis 2:24 sexual intercourse is the act by which a marriage is begun. The idea that the Bible does not forbid a man to have more than one wife is a rabbit trail that mesmerizes people, the real issue is the fact that the Bible does not forbid “sex outside of marriage” because sex is how a marriage is begun. That is a huge sticking point with many people and all of them fail completely when asked to provide proof in light of Romans 4:15 and 5:13.

    Lacking a prohibition in the Law or a specific instruction in the New Testament that applies to believers (keeping in mind that the words are defined according to the Law), any given act or behavior is not a sin. Granted, there are arguable issues such as abortion, but the issues of sexual morality are not arguable. Which, I know, is one of those statements that will make your teeth grind, so I’ll explain because it’s important.

    The foundation of all Biblical sexual morality is Genesis 2:24. I realize that you see it in terms of the immediate context, but I don’t. You have to back up all the way to the mission of man, which was to be fruitful and multiply. In order for man to complete that mission he was given a helper, woman. God presented Eve to Adam and that was followed by the law of marriage at Genesis 2:24. First the commandment, then the law implementing the commandment. Later there were statutes and ordinances and judgments concerning this.

    One point that has been almost completely ignored is the fact that Genesis 2:24 begins with the words “For this cause a man…”

    For what cause? God said “be fruitful and multiply” and He wants the fruit (children) to be produced within a family which is begun by marriage.

    A man is the individual who is granted the authority to do this. Not the families, not the community, not the state and not the church. An individual man.

    Perhaps you cannot see it, but Genesis 2:24 is a grant of authority from God to man that authorizes man to marry. It does not provide authority to terminate a marriage once begun (Jesus said “from the beginning it has not been this way”) and it does not restrict the number of marriages a man might have. Thus, from what is not contained within the grant of authority we derive the marital standards of commitment.

    The point is the authority to marry rests with the man and no other, which means the authority to have sex with any woman a man is eligible to marry rests with the man. Everything after that concerns specific prohibitions such as adultery and other forbidden relationships. Specific prohibitions don’t need to be argued and lacking a prohibition the man is in authority. In other words, you do not have the standing to question who another man might have sex with or his motives unless there is a specific violation taking place. Such as adultery, incest, sex with a prostitute or male homosexuality.

    This leaves us with issues of conscience in which an individual can be in sin because they violate their conscience (Romans 14:23; James 4:17), a situation which is specific to the individual. However, we commanded not to judge in such matters of conscience. Paul’s instruction to judge in 1st Cor. 5 and 6 applied only to violations and he provided a general list of both violations of the Law as well as violations of the instruction to Christians. Jesus said that if a brother is in sin… the eventual recourse for the brother in sin who refuses to repent is being shunned. But the sin Jesus spoke of was not individual violations of conscience. Sin is lawlessness.

    I’m not sure you understand the concept of standing, it’s a legal concept that applies to what I’m saying. “In law, locus standi (standing) means the right to bring an action, to be heard in court, or to address the Court on a matter before it. Locus standi is the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case. As to what that has to do with Biblical study, the concept of standing is drawn from the Bible. In fact, our entire legal system is derived from the Bible because Alfred the Great recodified large portions of the Law and combined that with various instructions from the New Testament as the Law of England in The Dooms of Alfred in about 820. From that the Common Law of England developed and from the English Common Law we derive the American Common Law.

    If you want to do an interesting study, take a look at judging. There is a difference between what the individual Christian is told to do and what the congregation is told to do in terms of judging, what gets judged and what doesn’t and who makes the decision as to how any issue of judgment is handled.

    So, to answer that question as best I can, for all his scholarship Shipley doesn’t understand the foundation of what he’s talking about and he goes off in the weeds.

    “This highlights the problem I have with your arguments. It isn’t that your statements lack truth, but that the presentation is skewed and dishonest. Not dishonest as in deception, but dishonest as in untrustworthy. It was surprising when you claimed without any justification that the Bible showed through Samson and Rahab that prostitution was fine.”

    You evidently don’t comprehend what I’m saying and therefore you avoid the issue by calling it untrustworthy. You then justify that with a lie of omission.

    With respect to prostitution I have repeatedly made the point that there is no prohibition anywhere in Scripture on a woman being a common prostitute. Therefore the act of a woman being compensated for sex is not generally a sin. Yes, there is a prohibition on being a cult prostitute and there is a prohibition on adultery. But to say that ordinary prostitution is somehow wrong is like saying that ordinary marriage is wrong because Christians are forbidden to marry unbelievers and adultery is forbidden. Following that point, which settles the matter with respect to sin, I use the example of Samson and the prostitute as an *example* to back up the point. You take the example, drop the formal point of law and call untrustworthy? Either you lack understanding of my argument, you were confused or you lied. Which is it?

    Again, the point is that something is sin for everyone because God says it is sin for everyone, or something is sin for you individually because your conscience tells you its sin.

    You call this “‘new teaching on sexual morality’” but I have very carefully cited and quoted from Scripture the support for the doctrines I teach and both quoted and cited extra-Biblical sources that demonstrate history of where the current doctrine came from. In making this claim you either (again) lack understanding and do not comprehend my argument, or you are being deliberately dishonest with the intention of deceiving. If this ‘new teaching on sexual morality’ (and I have never described it thus but I’ll overlook the scare quotes) is so new to you and I clearly got it from the Bible and it obviously contradicts longstanding doctrine, I should be rather easy to refute.

    You argue from the position of absence, as if we live in a vacuum and there is no commonly taught doctrine concerning sexual morality. As if I have suddenly popped up with something completely new that no-one has ever heard of before. Yet, I carefully cite the Scripture going from passage to passage and there are no antinomies with my position. To call it “new” is a tacit admission that you do not understand what Scripture actually says and do not understand current doctrine. In terms of a teaching method, most of my arguments are in contradistinction to established and traditional doctrine. Doctrine that cannot be supported by what Scripture says and does not say.

    “You say that the traditional view of the issue is clouded because it was corrupted. How do you know it was corrupted? Because it doesn’t agree with your interpretation of biblical sexual morality.”

    Notice what you just did there? You claim to know why I said the issue was corrupted and proceeded to do exactly what you accuse me of: sloppy and erroneous argument. I know the traditional view is corrupted because on one hand I can prove exactly what the Bible says that refutes current doctrine and on the other hand I have the historical accounts as to how and why we have the doctrine we currently have. On one hand is the evidence that the current doctrine clearly contradicts what the Bible says and on the other hand I have the evidence that the doctrine was put in place for political purposes, based on the completely unBiblical doctrine that sex is sinful.

    I said the traditional view was corrupted and I have laid out the historical evidence with reference to the writings of the men who corrupted it. If you want an overview of what happened with an enormous amount of specific information, there is no better history than James Brundage’s “Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe” by Chicago Press. I suggest you actually read a few pages before you question his scholarship. Georges Duby is likewise an excellent resource and I recommend both “Medieval Marriage” and “The Knight, the Lady and the Priest”. An excellent scholarly paper with some gems in it (as far as polygyny goes) is Kevin MacDonald’s monograph “The Establishment and Maintenance of Socially Imposed Monogamy in Western Europe”

    The issue is clouded because the language was changed to improperly describe things as sin that are not sin in order to support doctrine that has no support in Scripture.

    “Or it has a moral standard, a legal standard, a social standard, a religious standard, etc. Your argument completely lacks any nuance whatsoever. You see double-standard morality because you want to see it.”

    You cannot see it because you do not want to see it. The man can have more than one wife, the wife can only have one husband. Thus, a man may have sex with a woman who is not his wife and be free from sin, but a wife who has sex with anyone but her husband commits adultery. The same act is treated differently depending on whether it is a wife or husband doing it. That is known as a double standard.

    Male homosexuality is forbidden and condemned, female homosexuality is not mentioned. That this was intentional is proved by the fact that both males and female bestiality was forbidden and all within the same two verses. The same act is treated differently depending on whether it is a man or a woman doing it.

    Under the Law, a husband may divorce his wife for sexual immorality but there is no authorization for a wife to divorce her husband for any reason. The same act is treated differently depending on whether it is a man or woman doing it.

    That you cannot see a double standard of sexual morality, one for men and the other for women, means you are refusing to see it. I suspect this is because this touches on the moral foundation of feminism, the idea that men and women are held to the same standard of sexual morality. They are clearly not.

    This double standard extends to status as well. The man under the Law can divorce his wife for adultery. The Christian husband may not divorce his wife for any reason. The virgin woman has no agency, neither does the wife, but the widow, the (legitimately) divorced woman and the woman no longer bound all have agency because there is no man in authority over them.

    “See my comment immediately previous. You don’t seem to understand the way that the Torah was understood and interpreted by Israel, which is the primary point of my post.”

    You have in no way convinced me that you understand the Torah. In fact, your premise is completely wrong because you presume that Israel’s understanding of the Torah was correct at whatever period of time you are referencing. Which time period might that be? And what is your evidence of Israel’s understanding and interpretation of the Torah? Obviously the Rabbinical opinions because that’s all we have. What evidence do you have that the Rabbi’s were correct?

    I am not interested in the collected scribblings of various Rabbi’s for over a thousand years, I am interested in God’s viewpoint and God’s definitions.

    You are referring to a definitional meaning of “porneia” established by a group of men of whom Jesus said “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.” We have the testimony of the Gospels in which time after time Jesus tears apart the understanding of the Scribes and Pharisees, the men who translated the Septuagint. Read Matthew 23 and tell me those are the kind of men you want teaching you.

    In contrast, Scripture itself provides all the necessary definition for the word “porneia” because it provides both the context to what the word means when it is used *and* it provides the Law which controls what it cannot mean. Observe:

    1 Cor. 6:18 says (NASB) “Flee immorality (porneia). Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man (porneuó) sins against his own body.”

    From that alone we know that porneia is defined as acts of a sexual nature that are sinful. The fact they are sinful (in context, for everyone) means that Romans 4:15 and 5:13 apply, which means such acts are specific violations of the Law. Acts/relationships that are not prohibited under the Law or forbidden to Christians cannot be included in the definition of porneia because they are not sinful acts.

    My observation from dealing with various theologians is they desire to use sources like the Septuagint in order to expand the possibilities of a word’s definition beyond what Scripture alone limits it to, then make their argument based on that. It’s typical midwit intellectual dishonesty, an exercise in eisegesis. The problem is they teach this as the correct way to study Scripture, it is not, it is the way men avoid dealing with what God’s Word actually says. Which is how sincere individuals can be convinced that the wrong doctrine is correct.

    The Catholics and Orthodox are pretty straightforward about doing this (albeit in different ways) with their teachings and traditions of the church, which quite apparently take precedence over what Scripture says. Interestingly, Jesus had a lot of things to say about the way the Scribes and Pharisees did the exact same thing with their Talmud. None of it was good, but more importantly, He frequently corrected them, rebuked them and condemned them.

    Your desire to see nuance is amusing because you evidently can’t see the trees for the forest. With respect to sexual morality God placed certain restrictions which are quite definite. There is no nuance to adultery- the woman is either married or she isn’t. There is no nuance to incest, the relationship is either forbidden or the two are eligible to marry. Aside from the specific restrictions God placed the individual man in authority. How each individual man chooses to exercise that authority within the bounds of God’s boundaries is where all the nuance is.

    An example of this is sexual practices within the family. Certain things are prohibited, such as incest, sex while a woman is menstruating or sex during the proscribed period after childbirth. The presence of these specific restrictions indicates that God chose to not place further restrictions and the husband is in authority. So, what about fellatio? Anal sex? Cunnilingus? What if the cunnilingus is one wife doing it with another one?

    I can show you many examples of various Christians trying to demonstrate that these things are either permitted or forbidden using “Biblical Principles™”, but none of them that I’ve ever seen reference the authority of the husband as the absolute authority to make such rules within his own house and decide what will and will not be done in this area in which He has the authority.

    1. Shipley doesn’t accept that sex with a virgin is to marry her because according to Genesis 2:24 sexual intercourse is the act by which a marriage is begun…for all his scholarship Shipley doesn’t understand the foundation of what he’s talking about and he goes off in the weeds

      It is the opposite of what you say. He believes that Genesis 2:24 describes an unconditional marriage when a virgin has sex.[1] Assuming this, your interpretation of Exodus 22:16-17 must be wrong, because it is a contradiction. Those verses describe a man’s unconditional requirement to bestow a dowry, even if the marriage ends.

      The problem is that you use Exodus 22:16-17 (along with Numbers 30) to show that there are exceptions to Genesis 2:24. The historical and logical interpretations given by myself and Shipley do not require exceptions to be added. You’ve had to add an exception to your interpretation to harmonize the passages.[2] At minimum you have failed to present a compelling argument to justify the doctrinal addition. It is not a refutation of my objections or tradition to say that your interpretation harmonizes: the alternative viewpoint also harmonizes with those same passages. Harmonization is the basic entry requirement not the proof.

      Lacking a prohibition in the Law or a specific instruction in the New Testament that applies to believers…any given act or behavior is not a sin. Granted, there are arguable issues such as abortion, but the issues of sexual morality are not arguable.

      This is a blatent contradiction. Either abortion is never a sin because there are no explicit prohibitions in the law or there are sins that are not explicitly stated in the law. It can’t be both. Pick one please.

      …the mission of man, which was to be fruitful and multiply…

      This is a red herring argument if I’ve ever seen one.

      On one hand you argue that this section of scripture has primacy (i.e. why sexual morality is unarguable) and then deny it by claiming the contradiction with Exodus 22 is resolved by using an exception.[2] You are picking and choosing where Genesis 2:24 (sex=marriage) applies (special pleading).

      On the other hand, what does this prove anyway? It doesn’t show whether or not marriage and sex are equivalent, whether polgygny is fine, whether virgins are different than non-virgins, or any other sexual ethic besides the goal of children. But even that is not absolute, as the Bible teaches in various places that having children is not the only purpose of marriage, including right there in Genesis where it says that it is not good for man to be alone. Is having children important? Absolutely! So why are there are no bans on women marrying after child-bearing age? Nobody here is advocating not having children, but regardless the command doesn’t prove anything about law and sins regarding sexual morality.

      A man is the individual who is granted the authority to do this. Not the families, not the community, not the state and not the church. An individual man.

      This is why your argument for Exodus 22 must necessarily be wrong. I’m not sure why you think that presenting this point would impact my argument in any way, since I’ve basically assumed this point for sake of argument the entire time.

      Genesis 2:24 is a grant of authority from God to man that authorizes man to marry. It does not provide authority to terminate a marriage once begun…and it does not restrict the number of marriages a man might have. Thus, from what is not contained within the grant of authority we derive the marital standards of commitment.

      I’ve already pointed out on your blog (link) that this passage cannot be used to say anything about the number of marriages a man may have. It is neither an argument for or against polygyny (or remarriage), so no, you cannot derive polygyny (or remarriage) as part of the standard marital commitment from this passage.

      Again, I have not argued against the man’s authority to initiate marriage. It is you who tried to distinguish between a man choosing to have sex and a man choosing to get married as if these are different things when Genesis 2:24 does not make this distinction.[1][2]

      So as to the whole ‘issues of conscience’ and ‘legal standing’, I don’t see how any of that defends against my objections. I can certainly see how polygyny is an issue of conscience[3], but not the other things that we’ve discussed: virgin sex (‘sex before marriage’), rape, non-virgin unmarried sex, and prostitution.

      If this ‘new teaching on sexual morality’ (and I have never described it thus but I’ll overlook the scare quotes) is so new to you and I clearly got it from the Bible and it obviously contradicts longstanding doctrine, I should be rather easy to refute.

      You said: “That stumbling block was the new teaching on sexual morality that did not come from God and is contradicted by Scripture.” They were not scare quotes, they were quotes of what you actually said. You seem to have reversed the argument around (new vs. old) by not realizing what you said and then misunderstanding my point. Then you found the error in ‘my’ argument which was really your argument (see below).

      You evidently don’t comprehend what I’m saying and therefore you avoid the issue by calling it untrustworthy. You then justify that with a lie of omission.

      Let’s go back and look at the argument again, shall we? What makes a teaching on sexual morality new? Well if it changed from the original (old) teaching of course. I’m not denying that you defended your view of sexual morality with carefully cited scriptures. That’s not the point. The point is that we are arguing about whether or not your view of biblical sexual morality is true or not. In order to call the teaching new (false), you have to presume that your presentation is correct, that is, it is the old (correct; real) teaching. Well that’s circular reasoning. This is why I objected to your argument.

      “You say that the traditional view of the issue is clouded because it was corrupted. How do you know it was corrupted? Because it doesn’t agree with your interpretation of biblical sexual morality.”

      Notice what you just did there? You claim to know why I said the issue was corrupted and proceeded to do exactly what you accuse me of: sloppy and erroneous argument.

      It makes no sense to speak of corruption of the original doctrine if you have not established what the original doctrine is. Changing does not imply corrupting. Are you denying that you think it was corrupted because it was changed from what you believe is the original doctrine? If you are denying that then I apologize for making an unmerited assumption.

      If you ever find an error in my argumentation, I will take that seriously and change or clarify it as required.

      Yet, I carefully cite the Scripture going from passage to passage and there are no antinomies with my position.

      I pointed out a number of contradictions and logical flaws in your arguments.

      I said the traditional view was corrupted and I have laid out the historical evidence with reference to the writings of the men who corrupted it…The issue is clouded because the language was changed to improperly describe things as sin that are not sin in order to support doctrine that has no support in Scripture.

      I get it. You don’t agree with the traditional interpretation (as if there is just one). That’s why my objections to your arguments are not dependent on any traditional post-biblical interpretations.

      That is known as a double standard.

      We are speaking past each other on this one. It happens. I understood what you meant by a double-standard. What I mean is that the bible has different kinds of standards, not just moral standards, that apply differently in different contexts. Your argument lacked nuance because it didn’t distinguish between these.[4] My objection was not with the double-standard itself, it was with the double-standard morality. Not all things you label morality standards are in fact morality issues. If some of the issues under debate are not issues of morality, then there is no moral double-standard.

      In fact, your premise is completely wrong because you presume that Israel’s understanding of the Torah was correct at whatever period of time you are referencing. Which time period might that be? And what is your evidence of Israel’s understanding and interpretation of the Torah? Obviously the Rabbinical opinions because that’s all we have. What evidence do you have that the Rabbi’s were correct? I am not interested in the collected scribblings of various Rabbi’s for over a thousand years, I am interested in God’s viewpoint and God’s definitions….We have the testimony of the Gospels in which time after time Jesus tears apart the understanding of the Scribes and Pharisees, the men who translated the Septuagint. Read Matthew 23 and tell me those are the kind of men you want teaching you.

      Nice that we are rounding back to the original point of my post.

      Do you not consider it important that Jesus and the apostles primarily quoted from the Septuagint? If there is such a thing as an authorized translation, it is not the KJV, it is the Septuagint.

      Jesus was a Rabbi who implicitly and explicitly supported the notion of what the Torah was as laid out in my post. Do you deny that Jesus supported the Rabbinical necessity to interpret the law or that Jesus gave Christians this same responsibility?[5] And yes, Jesus did tear into a few of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees.[6] But not all of the teachings. There were others, such as the Pharisaical practice of praying before meals, that he supported and practiced. Jesus praised the practices of the Pharisees and told the people to emulate them. You make the mistake of assuming that Matthew 23 (note v23) is a blanket condemnation of being a Pharisee and all of their teachings. The first Christian hero, Paul, was a Pharisee.

      You are referring to a definitional meaning of “porneia” established by a group of men of whom Jesus said “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.”

      This is a false dilemma. There was no debate over the meaning. Jesus used the word in Matthew 19 and was understood. So it’s valid to ask what their shared understanding was.[7]

        Footnotes

      [1] We must ignore, for sake of argument, the alternative that sex with a virgin and marriage are not equivalent even though this is the more traditional view.

      [2] It is unclear how an exception to Genesis 2:24 is not a tacit agreement that sex does not equal marriage but instead sex equals a contractual pledge by the man to marry the woman.

      [3] While the argument can be made that some forms of polygyny are forbidden or that polygyny in general is not preferred, it is harder to try to show that polygyny is wrong in all forms. Despite some of your comments to the contrary, I have not and do not intend to make such an argument at this time.

      [4] I was not arguing for nuance for the sake of nuance as you seemed to think. Instead I was pointing out the need for nuance in this specific situation with regards to different kinds of laws/standards within the Torah.

      [5] If the law needs to be interpreted, then this implies that the law is more than a matter of explicitly stated rules. That is, there are (1) underlying reasons for the laws that must be considered; and (2) there are situations for which the law must be extrapolated in order to apply to those situations.

      [6] He mostly tore into them for hypocrisy.

      [7] In all likelihood, ‘porneia’ and ‘zanah’ should be treated as equivalent, broadly defined generic words that cover a wide range of sexual sins. (link)

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