SocietyVs’ Judgment Scenarios

I want to do a blog on judgment – and our uses of it in basic life. I am going to present a series of scenarios and I would like to see how people answer them. I do not think judgment is a ‘bad’ thing per se – I mean we all use it everyday of our lives to determine what we like and dislike. 

Scenario 1 (Marriage/Divorce) 

A woman is in an abusive relationship – physically, mentally, and emotionally. She wants to leave her husband even though she is advised by church counsellors to work out the problems. She is told if she leaves and re-marries she is committing adultery. She met another man that is kind of ideal as a life mate.

What would you advise the lady to do? 

Scenario 2 (Role Modelling) 

A man lives quite a hard life and is on his deathbed. He has been to jail for many violent crimes and drank the majority of his life. He has lot touch with his family and has forgone his duties as a parent to his 3 kids and wife – for the majority of his life. He has cheated on his life partner and although he felt remorse – it didn’t stop him from doing it more than once. He accepts Christ on his deathbed. 

Another person lives quite an ideal life and is now on his deathbed. He has been a great family man and always took care of his wife and 3 kids. He worked a job his whole life and will leave his family with quite a bit after he passes. He got along with everyone he knew and also was quite charitable with what he owned. This person does not accept Christ on his deathbed. 

Who would you hold up as the better role model to youth at a bible study? 

Scenario 3 (Justification) 

A fundamentalist Christian and more liberal Christian meet for coffee one day. The fundamentalist person prays over their snack, talks about his great evangelism exploits, and even mentions his tithing. The more liberal person stopped attending church a while back, does not pray in public, and believes the best testimony one can give is to live morally. 

The fundamentalist after hearing all of this – asks to pray with the liberal person to accept Christ into their life. The liberal person has done this in the past and refuses to do it again. The fundamentalist person then tells the liberal person ‘they are no longer a Christian’ as far as can be seen. The liberal person is not happy with this judgment and leaves the room frustrated and close to tears.   

Who goes home justified in this conversation?  Basically, Who do you think acted more Christian?

***The last one is a take on a parable – can you guess which one?

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76 thoughts on “SocietyVs’ Judgment Scenarios

  1. Scenario 1
    C’mon, you think a pastor would order a woman back to get beat up by her husband? Well, make that a “good” pastor. Actually, I’d err on theside of the husband’s violence being proof of infidelity. She should divorce, and, biblically, she can.
    Scenario 2
    When we learned to drive we learned to focus on our lane ahead where the lines converge in the distance. Imagine one line as being what we do and the other being who we are. The evil man who accepts Christ is not out of the woods. While we like deathbed “conversions”, truth be told, we don’t know which ones are good and which ones aren’t. We can’t see the soul (Jesus can, see Luke 11). Same with the nice guy who doesn’t accept Christ.
    Scenario 3
    Sounds like the fundamentalist has some legalistic pride issues. You lost me here:
    asks to pray with the liberal person to accept Christ into their life. The liberal person has done this in the past and refuses to do it again.

    Is he saying, “Golly, you’re not saved. I have to pray so you can be saved”? Or is he just saying, “Let’s accept Christ into our hears in prayer.” If it’s the former, the fundamentalist is prideful. If it’s the latter, the liberal is prideful. What’s wrong with accepting Christ into our hearts? Can that be done too many times?

    That’s the pivot point there, Jason. My Christian friends aren’t perfect, but I indulge them if it’s within reason. No need to mock them or fight them over trivial things.

    The fundamentalist person then tells the liberal person ‘they are no longer a Christian’ as far as can be seen.

    A little over-reaction on the fundie’s part, but, again, what’s the harm in confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior over lunch? Both men need to watch their pride. We all do. Regards.

  2. Scenario Two brings up the interesting contrast between the idea of knowing people by their fruits, and we can’t be saved through works. In many examples of the “dangers” of Christianity, the common examples of the Inquisition, or the witch trials and so forth are used, and a reply to that can be the participants weren’t truly Christians. They may have held the right beliefs, but their fruits didn’t truly prove their repentence.

    So on the one hand, we can use works to determine who is truly saved and who is not , and I assume God uses the same method — such as the sheep/goats, or Paul in Romans 2, or the book of James, and even portions in Revelations. In essence, the works are used to determine where someone’s heart lies.

    Yet at the same time, a deathbed conversion can also qualify as salvation, even though there are no works whatsoever to use as proof of said salvation, because the person dies a few seconds afterwards.

    So the good man who doesn’t accept Christ — why can’t we use the works to determine where his heart was? Surely they’d be used to judge a person’s motives for such behavior. Yes, there are people who are good out of prideful reasons only. But there are also plenty of people who are good because they are drawn to the aspect of goodness. How is that not the same as being drawn to God?

  3. “She should divorce, and, biblically, she can” (Jim)

    But, biblically, can she re-marry?

    “What’s wrong with accepting Christ into our hearts? Can that be done too many times?” (Jim)

    Why would you need to do it more than once? That’s the real question at the heart of the conversation there. The fundie is questioning the other person’s faith walk – as in – it is non-existent…is he making the right judgment?

    “Both men need to watch their pride. We all do. Regards.” (Jim)

    I see no reason why confession over lunch concerning our faith is really that important – unless confession holds some mystical key of importance to this faith? To be honest – I think confession isn’t all that important – not as important as living your confession. Basically, in the scenario one person is all ‘talk’ – while the other person is all ‘walk’. There could be more of a balance – but if you get the ‘walk’ part down then the ‘talk’ part shouldn’t be the main focus anymore.

    Also one is more focused on the beginning aspects of the faith – salvation is the one thing that matters. The other person is more concerned with maturity of the faith – and salvation being a single aspect. The fact his faith was called into question reveals he may not be the person with a problem in that scenario.

  4. Part of the reason I am doing this little experiment is to show our own faith – we do a type of halakah – judgments based on teachings also (similar to the Jewish faith). And we live in our judgments – we ‘walk that way’ based on what we think the teachings are asking of us…Christians, as much as they deny this, live by a code.

  5. “What would you advise the lady to do?” (SVS)

    I would advise the lady to live by the law of our times. She should report her husband to the strength of the law and let him pay the price for his ‘unjust acts’. I would then see if this works or not (ie: repentance) – and if not I would want to meet with this person/husband or suggest some marriage counselling. If none of that is working – then she needs to decide what is best for her safety (and her kids – if there are any).

    I think divorce is done in such a flippant fashion these days – and as much as I despise the way this guy sounds – I still have a duty to respect the vows they both took. If she leaves then she is doing it on the basis of his unruly behavior and he cannot ‘tame’ that behavior – but he needs to know what he is throwing away and the finality of this situation.

    As for re-marriage – I would allow it. If this lady takes all avenues to make her situation work and the husband does not – it is not her fault she is losing her marriage. If anyone should not re-marry it is the man – since he does not have the behavior to sustain a marriage anyways.

    “Who would you hold up as the better role model to youth at a bible study?” (SVS)

    For me, the role model is the person that lived a life that is in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. I would hold up the man that lived a fairly responsible life as the person to admire and the other person can only teach us about regrets – and responsibility squandered. The person that accepts faith on his deathbed is prodigal in nature – and yes we can be glad this step was even taken – but this person did not live the life of someone I want youth to admire.

  6. 1. Firstly you make no mention of her behaviour, nor do you tell us whether or not they have tried to change behaviours or be counselled. So its hard to make a definitive Judgement on it. Also before meeting someone else, shouldnt she get closure on the first relationship.

    2. They both are role models. One for his consistency and dedication to his beliefs. The other for the ability to recognize his mistakes and attempt to reconcile his behaviour.

    3. Too easy……………..”Do as I do not as I say.”

  7. Oops. I messed up some tags. I’m just going to post the whole thing again and ask Jason to take down the first post.

    Part of the reason I am doing this little experiment is to show our own faith – we do a type of halakah – judgments based on teachings also (similar to the Jewish faith). And we live in our judgments – we ‘walk that way’ based on what we think the teachings are asking of us…Christians, as much as they deny this, live by a code.

    I am going to disagree with you here. I think there is a big difference between living by rules and living by halakhah. I agree everyone lives by rules but rules but halakhah is more than just rules, it is a whole formal legal system. I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense, but remember my previous comment about comparing halkhah to the American legal system? We have our legal codes, we have records of previous rulings, we have evidence, precedence, all the things used to make legal rulings in secular society as well. When a ruling is made it has to be based on something in the tradition, it can’t just be pulled out of the air and made into law.

    Since you use an example of family violence, I will link to a teshuvah on Family Violence from the Rabbincal Assembly. It is 44 pages long, but I hope you will at least skim through it so you can see what it is I’m talking about.

    You know about the initiative I’m working on with Rabbi. Although it seems like we could just say this is what we want to do, it has to have halakhic justification. So, a legal document was written to provide that justification.

    You make an interesting comparison, Jason. I’ve been thinking about it throughout the day and although I disagree with your comparison, I am curious to read your response to my contention.

    And just to throw something else into the works, I would say what you are speaking of is more on the lines of minhag than it is halakhah.

    Let’s carry on this conversation. It’s thought provoking, at least IMO.

  8. OK. So, I’m tag impaired tonight. I put one too many quote marks at the end of the link to the Family Violence PDF. Remove it when it appears in your browser and you’ll get to the document.

  9. Jim J: Actually, I’d err on theside of the husband’s violence being proof of infidelity. She should divorce, and, biblically, she can.

    No, she can’t. “And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.” 1 Cor. 7:13. See also 1 Peter 3:1-6. A Christian may never biblically initiate divorce. A Christian can only re-marry after divorce if the infidel spouse initiates divorce or possibly if the divorce was because of pornea. (Matthew 5 & 19).

    Since the scenario proposed by SocietVs does not have the abusive husband desiring the divorce, or sexual immorality, she cannot “biblically” divorce him.

    Curious, too, how you freely judge this man and “err on the side” of his being an infidel and then immediately make the comment, “While we like deathbed ‘conversions’, truth be told, we don’t know which ones are good and which ones aren’t. We can’t see the soul (Jesus can, see Luke 11). Same with the nice guy who doesn’t accept Christ.”

    First you make the determination the fellow is not a believer, then you say we don’t know which ones are believers or not, regardless of what they say or do.

    Do you see the disconnect?

    As an infidel, my choices are easy.

    Scenario One- “get a divorce.”
    Scenerio Two – “the kind person is the better role model.”
    Scenario Three – The liberal acted the better Christian. Luke 18:10-14

  10. “When a ruling is made it has to be based on something in the tradition, it can’t just be pulled out of the air and made into law” (Yael)

    I agree – that’s why I think what Christians do is ‘like’ halakah – obviously it lacks any of the real depth and legalities – and maybe tradition. But I will say that Christians also have a system they use – maybe more for codes of conduct (not legal in any way) – that fall into a foundational document (bible) and sometimes precedent (church history) – there seems to be some guiding factors in making decisions in churches also.

    I am not sure what the Christian system really is to be honest – it can be quite ad hoc at times (in all honesty) – and no ruling is actually binding (it is up to the person listening to decide that). But it is still done…and sometimes in a lawful manner. Excommunication would be a prime example of this type of thing. So I am unsure what to call this system – but I do know – Christians function also under a system of law (in a way).

  11. “As an infidel, my choices are easy.

    Scenario One- “get a divorce.”
    Scenerio Two – “the kind person is the better role model.”
    Scenario Three – The liberal acted the better Christian. Luke 18:10-14” (Dagoods)

    I actually agree with your choices – to me – they make sense.

    I disagree with the terminology of calling oneself’ an infidel however – since when it is used it is about having no commonalities with the ‘believers’. I do not think you are un-common to us – me – anyways.

  12. Scenario 1 (Marriage/Divorce)
    What would you advise the lady to do?

    Depends on the person, but I think my advice would generally be to get the hell out of that abusive relationship. I would say the same to man or woman (either) who were dating, engaged to, or married to any other man or woman.

    Scenario 2 (Role Modelling)
    Who would you hold up as the better role model to youth at a bible study?

    I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this, given that I don’t lead bible studies. Ever. But I don’t think I would use either as a better example in a religious setting. They are different ways of viewing the world.

    Scenario 3 (Justification)
    Who goes home justified in this conversation? Basically, Who do you think acted more Christian?

    I think this notion of who is “more Christian” is disturbing. I’ve heard lots of people toss it around, and it seems really unhealthy. I don’t see people being more or less Christian. The fundamentalist is occupied with what she/he sees as his/her duty to God, while the other seems more focused on his/her duty to fellow man. So…I have no clue.

    Good questions, though.

  13. I am not sure what the Christian system really is to be honest – it can be quite ad hoc at times (in all honesty) – and no ruling is actually binding (it is up to the person listening to decide that).

    This is a complaint that has sometimes been leveled at Paul–that he talked a lot about freedom in Christ, but then what did this freedom entail? Some kind of morality still needed to be defined, even for Christians.

    On the other hand, just relying on traditions poses its own special problems. Traditions are great except when they are wrong. Then the traditions need to be re-examined and, if necessary, tossed.

    If those traditions are an insult to human dignity and thus are particularly onerous–if they are oppressive towards women, sexual minorities, or other groups, for example– then the struggle for human rights demands that the victims of such traditions not be asked to remain patient while those in positions of authority wrangle over the finer points and try to maintain some elusive goal of denominational unity or continuity with the past. An example of an oppressive tradition would be the Catholic Church’s absolutist position against divorce. The Catholic Church is so obsessed with its traditions that it formally denies that it ever changes its mind on anything (in practice, it’s not so clear that this is the case.) Another example is the “traditional” views of many churches against homosexuality, or against women in the clergy. Tradition holds that God must be referred to using patriarchal language, yet a lot of women find that sexist and exclusionary. I am still reminded of the person who insisted in my blog that God must be a Father instead of a Mother. I’m sure that tradition played a big role in that viewpoint.

    I am also reminded of what is going on in the Episcopal church right now. The Archbishop of Canterbury is placing church unity over progressive change that would include gays into the life of the church. The traditionalists are the stumbling block on this issue. The Archbishop insists that unity is more important that progressive change. And guess who suffers as a result? You guessed it, the gays and lesbians who continue to be excluded.

    So in the first example that you gave, the answer to the question, in my view, should be based on what is best for the woman in this case? Would God ask us to do something that would be hurtful to the woman?

    I think the second represents the classic conundrum that the fundamentalist view of “salvation” presents. They view the focal point of religion as “getting saved”, and the way that you “get saved” is by having the right beliefs before you die. The example you provide shows how problematic this view of religious faith is.

    The third scenario expresses the problem that we see where so many conservative Christians focus on who gets to be called a “Christian”. This comes up all the time in my blog, when people complain that my inclusive definition of faith makes it difficult to discern who is and isn’t a Christian. To which I respond, and your point is? My view is that it just isn’t important for us to create a boundary on who is included in their special little club and who is not. I might cite Wittgenstein’s example of the “language game” to show that the concept of “Christianity” is like strands on a rope, where no single strand alone identifies the rope. But ultimately, I think the problem is that when people are so hung up on identifying who is and isn’t a Christian they are sort of missing the point.

  14. “Would God ask us to do something that would be hurtful to the woman?” (Mystical)

    Agreed.

    “But ultimately, I think the problem is that when people are so hung up on identifying who is and isn’t a Christian they are sort of missing the point.” (Mystical)

    Agreed…which was actually at the heart of my point in that scenario.

    I think the bible and tradition play huge roles in Christian circles – and this is pretty much well known – and denied all the time (ie: we do not follow the law). I contend Christians follow some sort of conduct law – where issues like abortion, homosexuality, and excommunication are bantered about in a very legal type way. The claim they do not follow the law – for me – is something that can be denied – but it also seems like a lie.

    Mind you, I find nothing wrong with using a foundational piece of work (bible) to help decide issues of morality – tradition is not all that bad – but they need to be tempered with experience also. If someone is anti-gays in the church – they need to find out why they hold this position by getting to know all sides of the issue at hand – including meeting gay people. This is how I look at what we need to do in certain situations.

    In the example of the woman and the abusive husband – how can one decide without getting all the sides to the story? I contend the woman is not at fault for the abuse – but I do not know if the man can be helped (I need to find this out). But I want to see all sides to the story first (experience) and then reference the teachings (bible and tradition). Likely my attitude will change with the realities of the situation.

  15. Jason

    I have a question for you. Which is worse, if I verbally and emotionally bully you. Or if I punch you in the face. Which will have more of a negative aspect on you?

  16. Mind you, I find nothing wrong with using a foundational piece of work (bible) to help decide issues of morality – tradition is not all that bad – but they need to be tempered with experience also

    Yes, I agree. Traditions are the shoulders upon which we stand. Traditions prevent each generation from re-inventing the wheel all the time. The value of traditions are not just in the things that they get right, but also in what they get wrong, because they give us a record of how other people in previous times wrestled with important issues, and one learns as much from what our predecessors got wrong as what they got right. The Bible is plainly wrong about some things, even if it got some things right as well. Instead of regarding the Bible with an idolatrous, worshipful attitude, I think it is much better to respect it as a record of how communities of faith dialogued with themselves and with God.

  17. Let me bring up some points I made in my post on Living with Halakhah since it seems that it is much easier to cast stones first rather than find out what exactly a person is talking about….

    Judaism traditionally is about halakhah, the way. But, as soon as I say this, there are people who immediately characterize Judaism as some oppressive institution. Yet, why must the choices be limited to anarchy or despotism? Is there no other way to live but at these two extremes?

    ….The way, walking, moving. Think of it in terms of traffic rules. Some people don’t like rules; they want to be free to do whatever it is they want to do. But, how free is anyone in a city without traffic lights? Is anyone able to get around easily with traffic in a constant snarl? No. Look what happens to traffic when power is lost. But, if we choose to have traffic lights, must we then have them every two feet? Of course not. We put them where they are needed to facilitate the flow of traffic. Are we all totally free? No. We have given up our individual autonomy for the greater good of society, yet found in that process of giving up some autonomy, we obtain a level of freedom we never had before.

    …..Rabbi isn’t some dictator laying down the law which I either follow or get tossed in jail for not following. He is a caring judge, teacher, friend, leader, who works with us to find ways for us to live honorable and meaningful lives. That’s Torah, the rules were given for us to LIVE by and the judge is compassionate and merciful. If he wasn’t, most likely we’d all vote with our feet and go elsewhere.

    This is what it’s like to live a live governed by halakhah. It’s not oppressive, it is freeing. I don’t have to figure out everything for myself, yet I am required to be an active participant in the process. Sometimes it is very frustrating trying to get those ‘constitutional amendments’ enacted, but having a system in place keeps us from jumping all over following the dictates of any one person or following that latest fad going around. Tradition; yet it is a tradition that can still change and remain relevant, even as it has for thousands of years.

    ….It is almost inevitable that someone will trot out a Jewish friend, neighbor, co-worker, dog catcher, whatever, who will say I’m wrong; there’s nothing new with this tactic. Unfortunately there are anarchists, lawless ones, to be found in all groups, including my own. Yet, history has shown us that anarchy only leads to destruction while living under a just system of laws is better for all, individuals and groups. Yes, there are still problems, yes there are sometimes gross miscarriages of justice, but if we are engaged as part of the process, we can work for change, we can work to rectify wrongs and thus make our world a better place for all.

    Judaism is not for everyone; Judaism isn’t needed to make anyone a good person. Those of us who choose to live this life find it a wonderful way to live a life of meaning. I’m not oppressed in the least. “Be careful to do as Adonai your God has commanded you…You will thrive and it will go well with you.” (Deut 5:29-30)(Lekh Lekha)

    I already understand that if I make any statement about Judaism some here will immediately go into the attack mode. However, if someone wants to refute what I say, it would be nice if they actually took the time to read the POV from which I am coming instead of immediately assuming the worst and going off on their own tangent.

    Jason made a comparison of Christian views to Halakhah. I disagreed with his comparison and posted some links to show the difference. But, did anyone even look at those links? Did anyone even go read my blog post from which he pulled this idea so that they’d understand what he was talking about to begin with? No. Instead it was jump right in with both feet immediately casting Judaism into some Christian mold of abusive church hierarchy.

    I suppose rather than being exasperated I should look at it all as an amusing past time. Pavlov’s dog. Truly amazing the power we give to others even on something so non-earth shattering as a blog.

  18. “I have a question for you. Which is worse, if I verbally and emotionally bully you. Or if I punch you in the face. Which will have more of a negative aspect on you?” (John)

    I think I may have answered this before – but physical is the worst. Then again it depends on who you ask. What I have noticed in life is that the verbal and emotional crap usually precedes actual action – physical action I mean. I am a product of a family of abuse – so I can say for certainty this is how spousal abuse actually functions.

    Why I think physical is a huge line to cross is that the other stuff is a lot of ‘hot air’ more or less. Once you move from talking about it to actually doing something physical about it – then we see a line that was once imagined – is now crossed and there is no taking it back. I find the physical violence to be a culmination of the emotional and verbal junk that usually happens prior to it – or even during it.

  19. “Did anyone even go read my blog post from which he pulled this idea so that they’d understand what he was talking about to begin with?” (Yael)

    I did.

    “No. Instead it was jump right in with both feet immediately casting Judaism into some Christian mold of abusive church hierarchy.” (yael)

    I am not sure people are doing that Yael – from a good read of all the comments in the comment section. No one, except for me, has really touched upon Judaism and the way halakah works/functions. So I am not sure what comment is actually bothersome? Is it me?

    “Truly amazing the power we give to others even on something so non-earth shattering as a blog” (Yael)

    I had to laugh at this – isn’t that what we all are seeking…some little bit of power (to influence)? Then again, these are just blogs – and in most of them – comes opinion and some great commentary. I am hoping that none of this does offend you – I am not sure anyone is trying to do that intentionally.

  20. Jason

    I guess it just grates on me whenever there is reference to an abuser, the gender is always male. Its like all the women in the world are just sweet as spice and everything nice. I have seen my fair share of abusive women, both emotionally and physically. I just wish they got some of the air time. Sorry if I am a little off topic.

  21. Jason, hey, we all see things our own way. Anyway, I wasn’t speaking of the power of blogging, I was speaking of the power I’ve been given when all I have to do is post and wait for the inevitable response. On days when my yetzer hara is going full blast I could surely have a lot of fun….. 8) Damn halakhah that sort of keeps me in line, or at least in the general vicinity of said line. BTW, of course I know you read the post. You commented and I responded.

    John T.
    What? After reading here you don’t think all women are sweet as spice? However did you reach that conclusion? Sweet as cayenne pepper perhaps? I’m sure you understand why I prefer hanging out with guys.

    On a serious note, you bring up a good point, one which of course was brought up in the teshuvah, that women are also abusers, that all accusations of abuse are not necessarily true. Certainly men should not be assumed to be abusive. That is something that annoys me with my sons, that anymore it has become somewhat awkward for adult men to be friends and mentors to boys. Having mostly guys for friends at least makes it easier on my kids.

    Back to Jason,
    Thought you might find this link of interest: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s blog on Kirk Cameron, Israel and God’s Plan for the World. Gotta love those comments.

    Perhaps some time in the future we can revisit the conversation on halakhah vs minhag. I’m taking a class on modern halakhah at yeshiva this fall. If you’re interested in learning more right along with me, let’s set up something online and go for it. That’s probably the easiest way to get a good grasp on halakhah anyway, working with it and seeing how it is lived out. Let me know what you think.

  22. great discussion and wonderful post. i won’t comment on the questions here, but wow dude, you really hit one out of the park on this one!

  23. “Thought you might find this link of interest: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s blog on Kirk Cameron, Israel and God’s Plan for the World. Gotta love those comments” (Yael)

    Read it and even commented. I would recommend if people want to see what Jewish people have to face, as far as criticism, from Christians to go and read some of those comments.

    “If you’re interested in learning more right along with me, let’s set up something online and go for it. That’s probably the easiest way to get a good grasp on halakhah anyway, working with it and seeing how it is lived out. Let me know what you think.” (Yael)

    I think…yes…i am down with learning more! You set it up – I can sit and learn and comment back n forth. I am interested in true Jewish perspectives and this can only help me become ‘more learned’. Yael, You’ll make a Jew out of me yet.

  24. “I have seen my fair share of abusive women, both emotionally and physically. I just wish they got some of the air time” (John)

    I agree St John – but since I am not a woman I cannot speak to how they are abusive or what happens in their heart. I would that women would speak out on this issue – I can offer little to nothing in way of experience. But I do agree with you John – my mom was abusive when she was younger (emotionally more than anything – even said she ‘hated me’).

    “i won’t comment on the questions here, but wow dude, you really hit one out of the park on this one” (Luke)

    Thanks St Luke – I only did it because I care (lol). I did it because – we are all judges – and we all must exercise how we use this ability.

  25. Jason

    Youre right, Im not a woman either, not cute enough lol. Its interesting but relationships are like our communal life, we dance the dance together. We each bring our strengths and weaknesses to the table. If we see our boys and men as abusers then we need to look no further than Dad and MOM. The mirrors show their reflection however ugly it may be. The sooner we see Woman as just as capable as men for abuse the quicker they truly become our equals as Humans, no matter what our differences are.

    Thanks Yael.

  26. Societyvs,

    I was reflecting a little bit on something you mentioned in question #2, which struck me the first time I read it, namely the comment that the individual in question “got along with everyone he knew “. I have thought about this further, and I wonder whether getting along with everyone is what a prophetic faith really should be offering us as the ideal role model. Forgive me for being so verbose about this topic (and perhaps I should make this a topic in my own blog), but this is something that does interest me.

    I bring this up because the great prophets of the Hebrew Bible were great precisely because they didn’t always get along with everyone. Jeremiah didn’t get along with everyone, for example, and he nearly got killed for the trouble. Neither did Isaiah, or Amos, or many others. That’s partly what being a prophet is all about. This is really, in my view, what represents the best of the Jewish tradition–prophets who spoke truth to power and who questioned the established paradigms and power structures. Jesus followed in that same prophetic tradition of his Jewish faith, and got executed by the Romans as a result. So should our role models be those who get along with everyone, or should they be those who might step on some toes?

    One of my personal heroes of my lifetime is an American activist who, unfortunately, died an untimely death at his own hands–Abbie Hoffman. My guess is (I’m not sure about this) that he was a secular Jew, but he really carried on the prophetic tradition of his background regardless of his religious feelings. For example, throwing dollar bills onto the trading floor of the Pentagon was a prophetic act of protest against the greed of modern American capitalism. At his funeral, the rabbi who conducted the service said that Hoffman acted “in the Jewish prophetic tradition, which is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Afflicting the comfortable means not getting along with them. Secular Jew or religious Jews, I agree with that rabbi that Abbie Hoffman was a kind of prophet.

    This also relates very much to the question of traditions. What brings this to mind is a book I’ve been reading, “Whose Torah?” by Rebecca Alpert, who was one of the very early women to be ordained as a rabbi. Her book focuses very much on social justice as being what the Jewish tradition is about. And yet, she also points out ways in which traditions have stood in way of the social justice imperative. Thus we have traditions that exist in tension with one another. One tradition, the broader stream, calls for social justice; another tradition imposes sexism, which is counter to the previous tradition of social justice. In my view, ultimately, social justice is the expression of God’s universal love; because it is contrary to the principle of love to treat some people unjustly and unfairly. This evolving understanding of what social justice really means represents, in my view, one way that God continues to speak to us today. Alpert writes in her book about some of the sexism that she faced as she was one of the early, the few, female rabbis.

    She also writes about Jewish feminism. For example, she notes,

    While Jewish feminist theologians never actually changed the words of the Bible itself, they did write new liturgy using female or gender-neutral God-language and changed the way many Jews imagine and pray to God….

    Jewish laws excluded women from other aspects of ritual life. We have either fought to change or found ways to circumvent Jewish law in order to count in a Jewish prayer quorum (minya), to be called to say blessings during the reading of Torah (aliyah), to lead a seder or the blessings after meals, to be counted as witnesses for legal contracts, and to be relied upon as experts in legal and ritual matters.

    How this relates to tradition is interesting. She says, We did this knowing full well that there were many feminists (many born Jewish) who were critical of Judaism (and the other world religions) because they were based on rules defined by men. But our goal was to reclaim our traditions. We imagined how women might have addressed traditional questions and asked new ones of our own.

    Reclaiming traditions is an interesting turn of phrase on her part. I think it illustrates that traditions can be reclaimed by those whom those traditions exclude. Taking the best of these traditions (social justice) means also jettisoning the worst of them (sexism).

    So ultimately, maybe the question we all have to ask ourselves is what the best role model for all of us should be. Can we be silent in the face of evil? And if we not silent, aren’t we then making enemies out of others? And is that such a bad thing?

    Anyway, this is something I’ve been thinking about.

  27. “A man lives quite a hard life and is on his deathbed. He has been to jail for many violent crimes and drank the majority of his life. He has lot touch with his family and has forgone his duties as a parent to his 3 kids and wife – for the majority of his life. He has cheated on his life partner and although he felt remorse – it didn’t stop him from doing it more than once. He accepts Christ on his deathbed. ” – SVS

    This question is very interesting because i just finished reading “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness” by Simon Wiesenthal. GREAT BOOK! A dying Nazi during WWII makes a deathbed confession to Simon and asks for forgiveness of his Nazi crimes?

    I cried, I was angry and I was enlightened. One person person said G-d can only forgive crimes against G-d, Human on Human crimes need to be dealt with in human terms. The husband in the scenario you give is not forgiven, remorse is not enough, what atonement for his crimes did he give?

    The last Scenario, I don’t care for this type of evangelism that pushes Jesus on people like drugs. The subtle message of forceful evangelism is, “I am better than you because I have something you don’t.” It’s sickening, condescending and degrading.

  28. Dagoods Comment 10–Do you see the disconnect?

    Yes, it’s called Dagoods. The Bible is easy to debunk when you dumb it down as you tend to. You cleverly remove the context that wife-beating is not biblically supported. It’s also strong evidence for infidelity. But an open-minded context isn’t relevant when the Bible is in the docket, is it?

    Dagoods—First you make the determination the fellow is not a believer, then you say we don’t know which ones are believers or not, regardless of what they say or do.
    I didn’t make any determination. We don’t know, period, if a deathbed conversion is effective.

    Dagoods–Scenario Three – The liberal acted the better Christian. Luke 18:10-14

    Here-in lies your difficulty with Christianity IMO. The liberal and the fundie were both wrong to some degree. We are ALL wrong to some degree. This is our goal; get the plank out of our own eye. If we are sincere in seeking the best way for ourselves, we must side with God first. Regards.

  29. Dear yaelbatsarah

    I received my copy of “As a Driven leaf” today and I look forward to reading it. It has a forward by Chaim Potok, which i thought was interesting.

  30. Hi Wilfred,
    When you’re through with it, I’d enjoy hearing what you thought of it.

    Chaim Potok is a fantastic writer, himself. My Name is Asher Lev was probably my favorite. It’s another story with a religious/secular tug of war, this time in a more modern setting. Obviously I enjoy those kinds of stories. Too bad you and Jason live too far away. I have a feeling we could get into some really interesting book discussions.

  31. Jim J,

    You said a woman (believer) could “biblically” divorce an infidel. What verse supports that notion? I pointed out verse after verse (and in fact 1 Corinthians states the exact opposite) and you don’t point a single one in reply?

    It is hard to believe I “dumb down the Bible” when I clearly know it better than you do. If I know it better than you, and I “dumb it down,” what does that make your level of knowledge….?

    You make the determination a person is an infidel, and then you go on and say we can’t “see the soul.” Obviously you can’t see the disconnect. I let the readers decide.

    Jim J: You cleverly remove the context that wife-beating is not biblically supported.

    Really? 1 Peter 3 starts off, “In the same way wives be submissive to your husbands…” “Same way” as what?

    Gosh, even we “dumb” ones figure out that means look to the verses before. In 1 Peter 2, it gives two (2) examples of submission. One is a slave being beaten by their master and the other is Jesus suffering and being reviled. Either one is a problem for “in the same way.”

    My problem with Christianity is that it is not true. Plain and simple.

  32. Dagoods,

    1 Peter 2:20 – But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

    Now what good is a wife doing letting her husband beat her? What is she showing him? How is she leading him to Christ? Unless she is being persecuted by her husband for her faith, she has nothing to gain by staying with him. Nevertheless she could still leave him. Jesus hid himself from the Jewish protesters in John 8. Paul escaped Damascus by being lowered in a basket. It is you who are dumbing down the Bible so that Christians would have to be the most unreasonable people alive. No wonder so many secularists have the impression that asserting oneself is “unChristian”. We are supposed to roll over and let everyone beat us, even in arguments.

    You also conveniently make the switch from the wife-beater to the death-bed conversion of the evil man. One is a person who is doing something wrong that demands a response. The other is a dying man who has done things wrong, who is confessing his sins to God. We know what the bad husband is DOING, and we don’t know what God IS GOING TO DO with that evil guy who converts on his deathbed. There’s no inconsistency there. But no, dumb it down, Dagoods style, and it all fits, and….POOF, Christianity is not true.

    Last, by “dumbing down” I am not saying that you are dumb, but that you are excluding certain critical details of context to better corner the Bible. You are a smart person dumbing down the Bible to disprove it. Similarly, a lawyer will leave out a detail that would hurt his case if he can. But I’m sure you knew that already.:-)

  33. Scenario #1:
    I agree with Jim J here. Anyone who is in an abusive relationship has nothing to gain by staying with their abusive partner. Obviously, she should get out of it and report him.

    Scenario #2:
    While the second person’s life is a better example of how to live, I don’t think the first person’s deathbed conversion should be discounted, either. But then, I believe both would be reconciled to God.

    Scenario #3:
    This must be a parallel of the parable about the two men praying in the temple — the first one bragging about his accomplishments and being thankful he wasn’t like the second guy. The second one simply beat himself on the chest and cried out to God to be merciful to him.

    Is [the fundamentalist] saying, “Golly, you’re not saved. I have to pray so you can be saved”? Or is he just saying, “Let’s accept Christ into our hears in prayer.” If it’s the former, the fundamentalist is prideful. If it’s the latter, the liberal is prideful. What’s wrong with accepting Christ into our hearts? Can that be done too many times? (Jim J)

    I interpreted it as the fundie saying the former — believing/asserting the liberal Christian is not saved because he doesn’t attend church anymore or pray in public settings. The next sentence in the scenario reads: “The fundamentalist person then tells the liberal person ‘they are no longer a Christian’ as far as can be seen.” In other words (all IMO), the fundie has determined that because the liberal doesn’t go to church, doesn’t pray in public, and directs more of his energy toward living a moral life than trying to proselytize to the masses, he is not a Christian and must repent (again). (It seems like a lot of fundies believes all liberals are evil, even though liberal Christians do exist in the world.)

    The fundie, to me, was boastful and proud. The liberal was more humble, I think. I believe the liberal was, ultimately, more justified.

  34. 1. What would you advise the lady to do?

    I would have to know each person fairly well and the details of their situation fairly intimately to give advice here.

    2. Who would you hold up as the better role model to youth at a bible study?

    I would hold neither of them up as a role model. Jesus has power to forgive sins, so He is the one to look to. I’ve never heard the thief on the cross held up as a role model. Or the prodigal son.

    3. Who goes home justified in this conversation? Basically, Who do you think acted more Christian?

    There’s no evidence in my mind that either of them was justified. The sinner justified in the parable was justified because he was broken because of his sin, confessed it to God and asked forgiveness. Neither of them in scenario 3 did these things.

  35. Jim J,

    I read through your comment. Twice. Didn’t see the answer to my question. I will ask it a third time:

    “You said a woman (believer) could ‘biblically’ divorce an infidel. What verse supports that notion?”

    Now let’s look at the two passages in 1 Peter 2 & 3.

    “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how it is to your credit, if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20 NIV.

    “Wives, IN THE SAME WAY be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

    Rather than bluster on and on about my “dumbing down the Bible” or how I am a wily lawyer utilizing tricks: Wise us up. Expose my tricks. Show us what “in the same way” refers to. My tactics only work when you don’t have all the evidence. You have a Bible—crack ‘er open and start quoting some verses.

    Jim J: Now what good is a wife doing letting her husband beat her?

    Personally, I don’t think any. This is not my problem! It is you who is claiming the Bible is the inspired word of God. It is you who claim your God is all moral. It is you who claim morals are absolute. It is you who claim 1 Peter 3:1-2 is a moral which is in effect for all of eternity, and especially today. Frankly it is your problem to explain how this is “good.”

    (And I would note, I do not find slavery “good,” either. Yet your Bible does. I do not find beating a slave for doing something right “good,” either. Yet your Bible does. These are your problems. Not mine.)

    But even as a heathen, I can actually read the thing and see it tries to justify the “good” in a wife getting a beating. Re-read 1 Peter 3:1.

    Aw, heck. I will point it out for you. “…if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of the wives.”

    Do you believe coming into conformance of obedience with your God is “good”? The verse says if a wife is submissive like a slave being beaten by a master, the husband “may” (nice qualifier) start obeying God. They may even become saved! Isn’t taking a coupla punches for Jesus a far smaller thing as compared to preventing a soul from burning and burning and burning for eternity?

    More importantly, this is the same God that Christians have to defend the genocide of Numbers 31 as being “good.” This is the same God Christians have to defend the willful refusal to provide beneficial information of Mark 4:11-12 as “good.” The killing of David’s baby for its father’s pardoned transgression as “good.”

    You know skeptics love to point out the atrocities of the Tanakh and ask, “How is this moral?” You know how the Christian reverts to “it must be moral ‘cause God is moral.” Why is this any different? What changes? Is it because the reality of God ordering genocide is not real, but the reality of wife-beating is? That it is so much easier to talk about “A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away…God ordered some nasty bits.” Followed up with a fervent, “But we don’t do that anymore!” Now we come across a New Testament ordering of an extremely nasty bit in which God orders wives to take a beating and Christians want to ignore it.

    If your God is good, and your God ordered it, then this should be enough for you to believe it is good. It is sufficient for you to accept the genocide of the Midianites; why get queasy now?

    Oh, no, Jim J. I most certainly do not dumb down the Bible. Never have. I understood the far greater implications of these verses, even as a Christian. This is an EXTREMELY hard thing being requested by a God. Harder than I could ever imagine. To call it “dumbing down” frankly is an insult to the writer’s intentions, and the many women who take this to heart.

    Luckily for me, I no longer hold the Bible as inspired, so it is not the problem it once was for me.

    Jim J: Nevertheless she could still leave him.

    I love the Americanization of Christianity we see here. Not what the Bible says. Not the hard calling the Christian God says. Oh, no, we will simply make up we think is right and then call anyone who disagrees with us “dumbing down the Bible.” Let’s look at some verses here: (Does it bother anyone else it is the heathen atheist who is using the Bible to determine what the Christian God wants, and Jim J is using his American moral system to determine what the Christian God wants? Hmmm…..)

    We’ve already discussed 1 Peter 3:1. Be submissive even to an unbelieving husband. What happens when he says he wants her to stay?

    “And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife…” 1 Cor. 7:13-14

    Divorce is out.

    “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time…” 1 Cor. 7:5

    Separation is out.

    “Wives, submit to your husbands.” Eph. 5:22

    “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Col 3:18

    Jim J, in light of these verses—can you give me a single verse in which the Christian God gives the justification for a wife to leave her husband—even if he is beating her?

    Finally,

    Jim J: You also conveniently make the switch from the wife-beater to the death-bed conversion of the evil man.

    Right. The situations are different. (I got that.) The methodology (the thing I always look for) is the same—you are determining whether a person is saved by observing their actions. In one situation it is the action of wife beating. In another it is the action of a confession of faith.

    Or are you saying in some situations you can make the determination as to whether a person is saved or not, and others you cannot? Fine. What situations can you determine a person is saved and which situations can you not?

    I guess this leaves us with four questions:

    1. What verse allows a Christian spouse to initiate divorce?
    2. What does “in the same way” refer to in 1 Peter 3:1?
    3. What verse allows a woman who is being beaten to leave her husband?
    4. In what situations can we make the determination a person is not saved?

  36. JJ and Dagoods

    Interesting stuff. Now, seeing that I am slightly uneducated with this debate I would sure love to hear JJ explain Dagoods questions. I think its important to see how a Christian reads his Bible and makes it work in his life. So JJ, fire away.

  37. I just have to answer Dagoods – this is a great conversation.

    “But even as a heathen, I can actually read the thing and see it tries to justify the “good” in a wife getting a beating. Re-read 1 Peter 3:1…What does “in the same way” refer to in 1 Peter 3:1?” (Dagoods)

    I think Dagoods is getting at a fine point here – but the point is actually summed up here:

    1 Peter 3:8-9 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing”

    1 Peter 3:13 “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?”

    The point Peter is making is that people do suffer at the hands of others – this is well known. But you cannot change ‘evil with evil ‘or someone who ‘insults with insults’. The point is that one should not change their behavior for the sake of the evil person. In no way does Peter admonish the evilness of the person – but rather – calls it ‘evil’. So if a man is ‘beating his wife’ Peter does not uphold the standard as ‘good’ – nor does he seem to even hold violence as ‘good’ in any manner.

    “What verse allows a Christian spouse to initiate divorce? What verse allows a woman who is being beaten to leave her husband?” (Dagoods)

    Peter is addressing people within a congregation here – both wives and husbands. The point changes because Peter expects the husbands to treat their wives with respect.

    1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

    I noticed something in this passage – the words – ‘in the same way’ are used for the husband also! What is that way – live with your spouse in an understanding ‘way’. Peter is addressing the wives and husbands both in chapter 3 of his letter…as in…people that are attending this congregation.

    Also Peter uses an example of Sara and Abraham for the model of a relationship. Oddly enough is an example of 2 people that were following the covenant of God.

    I would also like to point out that nowhere in this whole passage is beating one’s wife or husband held up as a moral that is allowable within Peter’s faith. Yes, there will be some suffering – but with the point of not returning ‘evil for evil’ or winning the person to a better ‘morality’. Peter nowhere proclaims the idea ‘woman stay with man even if he beats you to smithereens’. There seems to be some leeway within the conversation for the reader to decide what limit there is to suffering they can endure – namely if it is not converting evil to good.

    Although it is true Peter nowhere is in favour of divorce – we are not sure he was ever faced with the scenario I presented…we have to be reading that into the passage (more or less).

    1 Cor 7:15 “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”

    Paul seems to be making a concession here to the believer – if the unbelieving spouse leaves they are ‘free’. I would also state Jesus’ position on divorce is concerning dealing with infidelity and the problem that can cause. Thus the stronger restriction on divorce. Now if we think that abuse is truly a ‘horrible thing’ – as Jesus thought infidelity was – then it makes sense to make the same concession…since nowhere in scripture (that I can find) is it a law to ‘beat one’s wife’.

    As for slavery, as I kept reading in Paul’s letter to Corinth:

    1 Cor 7:21-23 “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

    I repeat – Paul does not condone the practice of slavery – if he does – then he should advise differently in this case – don’t ya think? No, Paul upholds Torah here actually in his sentence ‘do not become slaves of men’…this was a very common understanding in Judaism and the rabbi’s reiterate this point many years after this.

    The teaching is based on a slave wanting to become a slave forever (the piercing of the ear) – rabbi’s have taken this as something people should not do – it’s becoming a slave to a man – when God is the one who brought you out of slavery (to not be slaves). The teaching is a concession to those who chose it. Judaism has never taught slavery was something to admire…if they did – why didn’t they lead the charge to have slaves – in Roman times? It seems it was the Gentiles (not Jewish or Christian) that admired the practice.

    I think slavery is wrong and I believe people have the right to divorce based on actions that are against the law and the person – which Judaic law was supposed to represent. Moses allows divorce – Jesus allows divorce – and Paul seems to allow divorce. But each one tries to make it as hard as can be – since divorce is not something to be entered lightly (or treated willy-nilly). They are right in my opinion to do so – since divorce ruins families and lives. So as a Christian I do not enter into the divorce topic with some attitude it is easy – it is not – but if someone is being abused beyond what the teachings allow – then they have the right to leave.

  38. A coherent, well-argued piece. Thank you, SocietyVs. While there is some I disagree with, we can further our discussion with this type of conversation.

    Let me start with a few background points before we dive in. I think them of import enough to have firmly in grasp to understand this situation.

    Slavery While Paul does not condone the practice of slavery, nor does he condemn it either. To the First Century Mediterranean mind, slavery was a part of the economic situation. It was neither moral nor immoral—it just…was. Like the fact there are two sexes: men and women. Or different races. Or that taxes and death were a part of life.

    They certainly did not consider it evil. And Paul may not be clear, but the rest of the Bible is. As you know, the Torah even provides laws in how to implement slavery—not a command to eliminate it. (Like having laws on how to make the perfect BLT as compared to laws prohibiting swine. The former would imply eating pork was acceptable whereas the latter would not.)

    Further, both Eph. 6:9 and Col. 4:1 give strict instructions to Christian slave owners. And those instructions most certainly do NOT include granting them freedom.

    Finally, we can look to early church fathers, which were reading and implementing the newly-formed writings as the basis of Christianity during the same time the same slavery was being practiced, and there is no general commandment to release slaves. In fact, the early church fathers, in following the scriptures they had, continued to impose slavery.

    1 Peter 2 is telling slaves (note, no order to search for freedom) that if they are punished for doing something wrong—don’t complain. You deserve it. But if they are beaten for something that was NOT wrong, it is commendable for them to endure it and take it patiently.

    The very simple truth that Christian slaves have a duty to submit to masters regardless of the actions of the masters. In other words, the rule was NOT: “If your masters are kind, then you have to submit,” rather, the rule was “Regardless if your masters are kind or not, you must submit.” The submission of the slaves was not dependent on the actions of the masters.

    I am sure you can see the importance of this concept when we get to 1 Peter 3.

    Divorce I agree with you Paul says, in 1 Cor. 7, if the unbelieving spouse initiates divorce, then the believing spouse is free to marry. However, remember he has just stated the believing spouse must stay married if the unbelieving spouse desires it. (7:13) While Paul talks of the possibility of remarriage in certain instances, he never, EVER allows the believing spouse to initiate the divorce. See also 7:10

    Let’s apply a real life example. I am an unbeliever. My wife, Diane, is a Christian. Plug it into 1 Cor. 7:13

    “And Diane who has a husband, DagoodS who does not believe. If DagoodS is willing to live with her, let Diane not divorce him.”

    I am; she can’t. However, continuing with 7:15:

    “But if DagoodS departs, let him depart; Diane is not under bondage in such cases.” Tying Rom. 7:2-3 and Paul’s use of “bondage” with ability to marry, this would mean she is free to re-marry.

    Now let’s deal with divorce in Matt. 5 and Matt 19. This gets a little tricky, but if you understand this premise, it remains cohesive with the rest of scripture: Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 are about re-marriage. Not divorce. Understand both verses require two (2) acts to happen before adultery occurs:

    1) Divorce
    2) Marriage to the Divorcee.

    What Matthew 5 and 19 would have Jesus say (obviously from my standpoint the author was adding language to appease his audience, when copying Mark. A discussion for another time…) is to look at the basis of event One, to determine whether adultery occurred. We have two (2) proposed situations:

    1) Divorce because of pornea
    2) Remarriage.
    3) Adultery? No.

    OR

    1) Divorce for any other reason than pornea
    2) Remarriage.
    3) Adultery? Yes.

    The reason this must not be an allowance for divorce in the case of pornea would be that it flies in the face of other verses. Specifically Ephesians 5.

    Think about this, SocietyVS [and lurkers.] According to Eph 5:25, you have to love your wife as much as Christ loved the Church. I don’t have to go through how much that is. Even to the point of being willing to humble himself, suffer, be beaten, and die.

    Now, Ephesians 5 says you must love your wife so much, you would be willing to die for her, be beaten for her, suffer the utmost in humiliation for her, but you can divorce her if she commits pornea? Does that make any sense?

    And don’t forget, pornea is an indistinct term, translated “sexual immorality” of some sort. It most certainly is NOT limited to just adultery. (In fact, the Greek word for adultery is used later in the same verse, indicating the difference here.) What is pornea? If I watch a porno—can my wife divorce me? If I have lust in my heart for another woman—is that sufficient?

    Honestly? If pornea was allowed for divorce—is there any situation we could NOT divorce? Has it never happened in any individual who has ever married?

    The only way we can align Ephesians 5 is for Matt. 5 & 19 to be about remarriage.

    All right. Now that this is out of the way (finally!) we can talk about 1 Peter 3.

    I quite agree the author of 1 Peter is not saying the situation of wife-beating, or abusive husband or non-believing husband is moral. It is not “good” (as in beneficial or proper or supportive) either. But the author is not focusing on whether the situation is moral—the author is focusing on a person’s response to the situation, regardless of whether it is moral, immoral or non-moral:

    Slave: I don’t want to be submissive to my master.
    1 Peter: You must.

    Slave: But my master is mean to me and beats me, even when I don’t do anything wrong.
    1 Peter: Doesn’t matter—be submissive.

    Wife: I don’t want to be submissive to my husband.
    1 Peter: You must.

    Wife: But he doesn’t obey God’s word.
    1 Peter: Doesn’t matter—be submissive.

    Notice that it wouldn’t matter if there was a command in the New Testament: “Husbands may not beat their wives.” 1 Peter says even if the husband doesn’t not obey God’s commands—the wife must still submit.

    There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

    While I appreciate no one likes this hard-line approach—it is there in black-and-white. The Christianity that utilizes the Bible to claim what God declares as moral must come to terms to the fact the books were written in extremely different cultures 2000+ years ago. It is Christianity’s problem in how to cross-over the fact it was a culture that found slavery non-moral. It is Christianity’s problem 1 Peter 3 was written at a time women were (with extremely rare exemptions) second-class citizens.

    Now Christians are attempting to use a different culture and antiquated moral system to translate over. Doesn’t work. Instead, what they do (as I pointed out) bend and attempt to mold the Bible to fit the current moral system of their upbringing. Since we find wife beating reprehensible, we attempt to mold 1 Peter to somehow allow the wife to no longer be submissive in that regard.

    I find it untrue to both the author’s intent, as well as failure to deal with the actual writing—but heh? Who am I?

    The “likewise” in the husband’s case of 1 Peter 3:7 is a puzzler. “Likewise, dwell with them with understanding..” where else has the author spoken of dwelling with understanding? Is he talking about Abraham and Sarah? It is not speaking of Jesus in 1 Peter 2.

    I have no quick or easy answer to that one.

    Yes, the Torah allowed divorce. No, Jesus did not. Paul only “allowed” divorce when a non-believer left a believer. And how could a believer stop that anyway?

    SocietyVs: …but if someone is being abused beyond what the teachings allow – then they have the right to leave.

    Again, while this is our instinctual sentiment, there is no verse to support this justification. Never does the Bible provide a believing spouse the “right” to leave.

  39. “A coherent, well-argued piece. Thank you, SocietyVs” (Dagoods)

    Thank You Dagoods – chances are we likely will disagree on the point of this issue – but it serves a very useful purpose…I will get into that in a bit.

    “Slavery While Paul does not condone the practice of slavery, nor does he condemn it either.” (Dagoods)

    Nor does he condemn it…true. But the passage I provided shows Paul preferred slaves to be free than to be slaves at all. He even said, and I quote, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men’…I see a ‘do not’ in that passage.

    I also re-ittirated this was a Jewish rabbinical teaching from Torah – Mishah to be exact.

    “But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master…..I do not wish to be freed,’ his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; then he shall remain his slave for life.” (Exodus 21:56)

    Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai drew the following lesson: Why, of all the parts of the body, is the ear chosen for the ceremony signifying perpetual servitude? The Holy One said: For to Me the people of Israel are servants (Leviticus 25:55) – and not servants of servants! This man heard God call him to freedom, and yet he went and sought out a master: let his ear be pierced! (Mishnah)”

    This tradition goes way back – and this tradition grew out of the Torah. I mentioned that Jewish people were not all about slavery – nor lead the charge for it in Roman times. That’s a Gentile thing – and the reason Paul has to address it and Jesus does not – could be the crowd they are directing their attention to.

    I find it funny the people you claim promote slavery (Judaism and Christians) are the same one’s making concessions (which is fact enough they don’t like it – cause who makes concessions when it is already a law?) and outright showing how debasing the idea actually is.

    To me, it is obvious from history – slavery existed – but not for a religious Jewish person ot Christian to get excited about.

    Ephesians 6:9 “And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

    For me Paul is making a concession to Gentile owners of slaves – and in the end he finishes with equality (in this faith). Paul either firmly believes slavery is okay or is pretty sure that slavery should not be a condition that make someone ‘unequal’ in the eyes of God.

    “The submission of the slaves was not dependent on the actions of the masters.” (Dagoods)

    I would say it is a concession by Peter – who had no way to ‘free the slave’ anyways. Peter is giving instructions about the way to act – likely to avoid any problems for the slave – since there was nothing this early community could to do ‘free them’. They really pulled very little weight with the Roman Empire at the time. Had they had the democratic processes we now exist under – might things have been worded different? We don’t know – but we know slavery is not something we have today – so we do not make concessions for it.

    “But the author is not focusing on whether the situation is moral—the author is focusing on a person’s response to the situation, regardless of whether it is moral, immoral or non-moral:” (Dagoods)

    This is where I have to disgaree to a fault. The whole letter(s) and gospels are dealing with a single idea – morality (on a variety of issues). Peter’s instructions are moral in nature and are concerned with that aspect for the believer/unbeliever. The person’s response in Peter has everything to do with morality (and little less else).

    1 Peter 3:8-9 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

    I think the 5 things listed there are moral in nature – with the idea of converting one’s treatment from evil to good. This is all a matter of integrity in my opinion.

    Even if Peter would that a wife or husband would not divorce – he is stating the obvious in my opinion (for sake of the family). Peter addresses both spouses in his passage – husband and wife – he sees it as a problem from both sides. In the end, he only wants what we see in vs. 8-9. His hope is that a marriage can rectify itself and be something of a ‘blessing’ and not ‘evil’.

    “Notice that it wouldn’t matter if there was a command in the New Testament: “Husbands may not beat their wives.” 1 Peter says even if the husband doesn’t not obey God’s commands—the wife must still submit.There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.” (Dagoods)

    Sure there is questions to looked at. Since we are dealing with literature that seeks a lawful resolution – which is why we must debate the case like lawyers. This all had precedent somewhere – likely in Oral Law, Talmud, or Torah. Which is why you are speaking the right language in this debate (which is my point).

    There is no law to ‘beat one’s wife’. Peter is rendering his verdict based on keeping the marriage together. If he was presented with a certain scenario (like the one I mentioned) would the ruling change? We do not exactly know what Peter is addressing in this context – we can assume spousal abuse within the church – and if so – he addresses both of their behaviors. If not, then he still addresses both of their behaviors and if one cannot be changed from their behavior – will Peter hold up marriage that high? I think Peter expects the people he is speaking with to listen since they are within ear-shot of his letter and respect the ideals of scripture
    .
    But of they will not listen – should we leave a woman to be abused? I don’t think so – Paul makes this concession. The fact Jesus saw adultery as problematic (which there is a law against in Judaic faith) – then why wouldn’t violence/abuse fall under the same criteria? There is no standard or as the rabbi’s say:

    “You are to do what is right and what is good. (Deuteronomy 6:18 )

    A. You are to do what is right and what is good in the eyes of God – What is good – in the eyes of Heaven; What is right – in the eyes of man. This is the view of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yishmael says: Even that which is right in the eyes of Heaven. (Tosefta, Shekalim 2:3)

    B. What is right and what is good? This refers to compromise lifnim meshurat hadin — beyond the strict requirements of the law. (Rashi, Devarim 6:18 )”

    Right and good are defined by the law – but where no law exists then we have to go by what is ‘right and good’ as a definition? I tend to lean to the idea ‘right and good’ does not pre-suppose one can ‘beat their wife’ because the marriage to a woman is for a lifetime. That is not ‘good and right’ in the eyes of scripture/law. Where no law exist we must go by what scripture leans towards.

    Jesus is right to make his statements on adultery…but am I not right to say ‘one cannot beat their wife’ unto abuse for the sake of the goodness of the law?

    I guess it depends on how we want to argue this sucker…but in the end…it is laws we are dealing with.

  40. Regarding passages in Ephesians and Collossians, Paul most likely didn’t write either of those epistles. If you separate out the seven authentic Pauline epistles from the six that are attributed to him but which he probably didn’t write, you get a different impression of the man. Dominic Crossan divides these epistles into three categories. There was the radical Paul of the six authentic epistles, there is the tamer and less provocative “liberal Paul” of Ephesians, Collossians, and 2 Thessalonians, and there is the “conservative Paul” of the pastoral epistles. Crossan shows how the later epistles attributed to Paul but not authored by him show a clear trend towards taming the more radical message that was expressed in the authentic epistles. People who wrote in Paul’s name thus were trying to steer the Christian faith back towards a course that was more “acceptable” to the prevailing culture. You see a less liberating tendency, you see greater sexism towards women, and so forth. Consistent with that, one could argue that in the epistle to Philemon, an undisputed Pauline work, it makes sense that the thrust of the letter is that he asks the recipient of his letter to free his slave (there are, of course, different interpretations of this.)

    The reality is that a lot of the most offensive passages attributed to Paul in the New Testament were probably not written by him. I think that Paul is often given a bum rap for that reason.

  41. Real quick (on my way to a funeral home),

    Me: But the author is not focusing on whether the situation is moral—the author is focusing on a person’s response to the situation, regardless of whether it is moral, immoral or non-moral:

    SocietyVs: This is where I have to disgaree to a fault.

    No, we don’t disagree. I just worded that sentence absolutely horribly!! Let me try again *grin*:

    “The author is not focusing on whether the situation is moral—the author is focusing on a person’s response to the situation, regardless of whether the situation is moral, immoral or non-moral. The Person’s response is a moral decision. The situation (bad master, bad husband) is not.”

    Does that clear it up?

  42. In general, one note of interest in this in terms of slavery being common back then … it’s somewhat of a theme in some of Paul’s writings, in being a slave to Christ, or a slave to God. It’s almost natural enough that it’s a word Paul uses with ease, and one that his audience might be able to connect with immediatly. I also believe that when the word “servent” appears in the Gospels, the original word is much closer to the idea of “slave.” So in terms of whether the Bible is pro-slavery, anti-slavery or just fact-of-life slavery (does that count as pro-slavery?), if Jesus and Paul were anti-slavery, would they have used that word with ease?

    Society,

    **I find it funny the people you claim promote slavery (Judaism and Christians) are the same one’s making concessions (which is fact enough they don’t like it – cause who makes concessions when it is already a law?) **

    How are you using “promote” here? From what I’m reading, DagoodS is going with the idea that slavery was simply a fact of life, and so adapted to accordingly, such as the laws that implimented it. So when you say “promote,” do you mean that he’s claiming the Biblical writers actively pursued that type of slavery as a good thing? That they worked to enforce it?

    **You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”**

    From my study bible, it’s saying that Paul was using this as a metaphor, in that don’t once again embrace the “merely human values and claims.” This is probably (my insertion at this point, not what the Bible is saying) due to the idea that humanity was in bondage/slaves to sin, and so Paul is warning people not to fall back into that state.

    DagoodS,

    I’ve heard in a few different quarters that while the Bible does make allowances for slavery, this type of slavery was still eons ahead of their neighboring nations, in that they made concessions for slavery and such. While we wouldn’t see it as a good moral condition today, in those times, it was much better than any other type of slavery. I see Society leaning somewhat in this direction (note: Society, I”m not saying that you’re saying slavery back then was okay), with his examples Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, in that they weren’t working towards ways to go “yay slavery!”

    How would you address this idea?

  43. “The Person’s response is a moral decision. The situation (bad master, bad husband) is not….Does that clear it up?” (Dagoods)

    Okay – but if we define the situation as ‘bad master or bad husband’ then we are proclaiming something there – a morality within the adjective. A master is ‘bad’ and and a husband is ‘bad’. Even though Peter asks them to stay it is concerned with righting the wrong – from ‘bad’ husband to ‘good’ husband. Peter’s intentions are actually quite good. He is hoping the situation can rectify itself. If not, well…Peter does not get into that since we do not know what happened (we are left to decide).

    So when we have to decide when ‘nothing exists’ then we have to go with the best intentions possible – or what is ‘right and good’ in human terms. Problem here is – the law is against these people – by that I mean the Roman law of the times. It’s not like a slavemaster is going to have to release a slave for bad behavior..that likely is not an option available. Peter is correct in his assertions. As for divorce, well I am guessing the laws allowed that. I would lean towards abuse as one of the factors for release – based on doing the ‘right thing’. Again I am stating law precedent of the time – or within religious law.

    I would compare these situations to what we have today – the abortion debate. Abortion is very legal and a right afforded to all citizens of Canada/USA. Most of Christendom stands firmly against the abortion laws – they cannot see a way to support it…yet they have to accept it as part of the fabric of society.

    So, what do churches do for people in such cases – they make the correct concessions. They will accept people who have had abortions and the like. They may not like those decisions but they accept them. If they were writing letters (or even blogs) they would allow for this indiscretion and make sure those people felt welcomed.

    To me, slavery and spousal abuse fall into those categories. Christians made concsessions for that which they had little control over – yet wanted to make the people feel a level of acceptance (both the slave and the slavemaster are included in that acceptance).

    I would also note some Christians were abolitionists in the slavery in America – so they must of seen this same concession I did in scripture. Now that was some 100+ years ago. Slavery is not seen as something to be supported from scripture – yet an argument can be levied for it from it – the teachings seem to be concessions for something Peter, Paul, and whomever else had no choice but to accept.

    Hope all is well with the funeral thing – peace be with you in this situation.

  44. “So when you say “promote,” do you mean that he’s claiming the Biblical writers actively pursued that type of slavery as a good thing? That they worked to enforce it?” (OSS)

    I am not advocating Christians (or Jews) thought this way at all to promote it – I think they made concessions for what they had no control over. Dagoods is the one making the debate slavery is supported in scripture – and at the least – not tacitly un-supported. I think the bible, in it’s interpretation down the centruies, is not for slavery and if they had their way – all would be free.

    “From my study bible, it’s saying that Paul was using this as a metaphor” (OSS)

    Oh that’s no metaphor.

    1 Cor 7:20-23 “Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

    Paul mentions a ‘condition’ here. If it meant remaining in the condition of ‘sin’ – then Paul is suggesting all stay in that ‘condition’ (sinful). But if one can change – they should become free…free from sin (isn’t that the Christian norm)? The literal makes more sense here – in that Paul is mentioning the condition of ‘slavery’ – and freedom is the best choice. Paul does not admire the slavery condition because it goes against what you mentioned – this ‘slave’ to God idea (you should only have one master/teacher – God).

    “if Jesus and Paul were anti-slavery, would they have used that word with ease?” (OSS)

    Now that’s a good question for me to ponder. There is something to this I think. Maybe the people in Israel saw themselves as slaves to the Roman empire? Making the terminology useful (as in the prophets – namely Jeremiah). To be honest, I am not sure.

    I have to doubt they were in favor due to the Torah – the Exodus is too much proof for me to think they could support the idea. Here we have God freeing actual slaves in Egypt – on which the Torah eventually comes to this same community. God, from a while back, seems to be against slavery as an institution (namely for the covenant people – or those following God). I cannot forget that scenario. I doubt most Jewish people do either.

    It’s like saying Jewish people might have been alright with what Germany did in WW2. Had there been a larger exodus avaliable there – they would of celebrated that freedom…I see Germany’s actions as a type of ‘enslavement’ also. Yet Jewish people are very quick to condemn the actions there and remember the ‘victims’.

    Why would those holding only Torah (not Paul or anyone else in the NT) be strongly against such actions if they are either pro-slavery or pro-genocide? Fact is, they were not and never were since interpretation of those texts. This generation wants to think there is some connection to slavery and Torah (literalists anyways) – but we forget these things have been studied for 100’s of years and verdicts were rendered. Jewish people were not pro-slavery and for me to think Paul and others were – makes no sense based on that history.

  45. And he said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:36

    Dagoods, this is one direct answer to your question(ing). It is unacceptable for anyone to beat anyone. It breaks the Second Great Commandment. The husband is also a criminal in our society should the wife press charges (and I think she should :-). Paul also asks the husband to submit to the wife (Eph. 6). How can he do that if he beats her?

    1 Peter—but also to those who are harsh
    SKOLIOS means unfair, surly, wicked.

    I had a boss like that once. I served him well, but, no…I don’t remember him ever beating me. As far as slaves are concerned, they had rights as well, as did wives. Perhaps you are juxtaposing our country’s awful treatment of slaves onto the bible-era model.

    Jim J, in light of these verses—can you give me a single verse in which the Christian God gives the justification for a wife to leave her husband—even if he is beating her?

    Can you give me a single sign that it includes the husband beating her?

    Answer this question: If there were such good lawyers in Jesus’s day, why did they take such offense at him?

    The problem was that they picked apart the verses of the OT in an attempt to codify them into an enforceable law, just as you are. You ask, what about this case? What about that case? Well, the Word is there to draw us in toward God; not to conform, but to transform. It’s a way of thinking, a breathe of wisdom from God. If you read it as law, then you’ll find “flaws”, especially if you include silences as flaws themselves. Then you are getting into the area of “Jesus should have said….” That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    suffer the utmost in humiliation for her, but you can divorce her if she commits pornea?

    If she sleeps with someone else, she has changed husbands in God’s eyes. Sex is sacred, period. You gotta problem with that? 🙂 Really, I know how you feel. The Bible doesn’t go the way you think it should have. Could it be you’re depending on HUMAN arguments?

    Or are you saying in some situations you can make the determination as to whether a person is saved or not, and others you cannot? Fine. What situations can you determine a person is saved and which situations can you not?

    Did you not read my earlier response? One man is doing something wrong NOW, the other did things wrong in the PAST. The guy who’s breaking the law is punished by the authorities. No one asks if he is “saved” in relation to his transgression.

    Now the other one is on his deathbed, and he confesses Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior during a commercial break in the Olympics. Is he saved? WHO THE HELL KNOWS? 🙂

    1. What verse allows a Christian spouse to initiate divorce?

    The priniciple is that he/she should think about it A LOT before they do anything. Obviously, the goal is to save the marriage. By the way, many unfaithful wives and husbands have come back to their spouses and the marriage went on.
    Brain Lesson #1 – Marriage is sacred. (usually knowing this prior to marriage helps).
    #2 – Divorce with extreme prejuidice.
    Again, you’re missing the whole point. A mistake here won’t send you to Hell. Christ shows us the right way to view marriage by giving us God’s view. It’s not a certificate to shack up nor is it a license to play house in California or Massachusetts. It’s a society’s front line to organized growth if it is followed correctly (i.e. respected).

    2. What does “in the same way” refer to in 1 Peter 3:1?

    It’s supposed to be a teaching on humility, Dagoods. But, fine, we should be submissive even when our spouses are harsh. You should have to sit next to my wife while you’re negotiating through traffic. (Too fast, too slow, watch out!) She can be really harsh on I-95.

    3. What verse allows a woman who is being beaten to leave her husband?

    Is one needed? She should call 911.

    4. In what situations can we make the determination a person is not saved?

    When we see his butt roasting in Hell. 🙂

    As JT requested, I hope I answered all your questions.

  46. Society,

    **I am not advocating Christians (or Jews) thought this way at all to promote it – I think they made concessions for what they had no control over. Dagoods is the one making the debate slavery is supported in scripture – and at the least – not tacitly un-supported.**

    I was more questioning the use of the word “promote.” To me, when something is promoted, people go out of their way to push for something. I don’t see the verses DagoodS provided going out of their way to push for slavery, or to say that one human person owning another is part of the gospel, or something to fight for. I do see the verses accomodating such conditions, and not going out of their way to insist on physical freedom for everyone. So I don’t see it promoting physical freedom, but I don’t see it promoting slavery, either. Slavery simply is.

    **Oh that’s no metaphor. **

    THis is what mine says about all the verses, 7: 20-23, in the notes. It starts with 21.

    7:21: Many converts where slaves (see 12.13; Gal 3:28; Philem 16; also Eph 6:5-9; Col 3.11, 22-4.1; 1 Tim 6.1-2; Titus 2.9-10; 1 Pet 2. 18-25) The insitution of lsavery was fundamental to the social, economic, and political structures of imperial Rome. Freedom could be purchased by of for a slave for a price or coudl be granted for a variety of other reasons. Since the translation make use … ever is uncertain, Paul’s instruction remains unclear. 7.22 The Lord, Chirst. A freed person, not necessarily from one’s earthly master, but from the law, sin, and death; see Rom 6.6-7.6; 8.15; Gal 4.7 A slave of Christ, belong to Christ (3.23), as a committed, faithful Christian; see Rom 6-16-18, 22; 7.6 7.23 Bought with a price. See 6.20. Slaves of human masters, a metaphor for yielding to merely human claims and values; see also Rom 8.12-17; Gal 5.1.

    The key for line 23 seems to be bought with a price — one was purchased from something with Christ, and that doesn’t really signify literal slavery to another person, but rather destructive powers, and hence do not fall back into being a slave with them.

    Now, what you are saying, to make sure I understand, is that Paul says everyone remain in the condition in which they were called — I referenced that in terms of circumcision, in that remain uncircumcised if that’s how one was when called. You are saying that the condition refers to literal slavery, one person owning another? And because Paul is saying don’t become a literal slave, he is saying that slavery is bad? Even though verse 24 says to remain in whatever condition one was called, re-itering verse 21? So you are saying that because Paul says don’t become slaves of human masters, he is not in fact condoning slavery, even though he also says to remain in the condition in which one is called.

    **It’s like saying Jewish people might have been alright with what Germany did in WW2. Had there been a larger exodus avaliable there – they would of celebrated that freedom**

    I’m not sure what you mean here? Are you saying that if the Torah was in support of slavery, there would’ve been no protest of WW2, and based on interpretation of the texts, they should not have been against the Holocaust if the texts were pro-slavery/pro-genocide?

    **Fact is, they were not and never were since interpretation of those texts. This generation wants to think there is some connection to slavery and Torah (literalists anyways)**

    It goes beyond this generation. In the 19th century, people were using Bible quote after Bible quote that they felt directly supported Bible-sanctioned slavery.

    It’s not a matter of being “pro-slavery.” To take a comparison, we have a law today that says people can get their driver’s license at the age of 16. That’s simply how our society operates. I don’t define myself as pro-license at the age of 16, though. NOr am I anti-license. I don’t hold a view either way, I simply got my license when I was 16. We are okay with the idea of getting a license at 16. If someone asked me if I were pro-license at 16, I think I’d look at them blankly.

    That’s what I see the idea of slavery in the Bible getting at — it simply is. Were the writers pro or anti slavery, or did they simply accept it as a part of society? If the writers of the NT were asked if they were anti-slavery as it was practicsed, what would the reaction be? There’s saying that they are in favor as in, “Yes, I support slavery” and then there’s saying they don’t protest because it’s simply a fact of life. That’s why I think the use of “slave” was somewhat heavy, depending on the context of the Gospels or the letters, if it was that fundamental to Roman society.

    But here’s an overview I found on the evolution of slavery in regards to Christianity:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/slavery.htm

  47. As interesting as find the whole discussion on slavery and whether or not it is supported in the bible, I am just wondering what that has to do with anything in our society and in this day and age.

    On the topic of slavery, I think it would be helpful to know how it was viewed in the 1st century Roman society and in 1st century Israel, if we want to truly understand how Jesus, Paul, and Peter were viewing it, but who wants to take the time to study its historical significance, when it has little and perhaps no bearing on what I do today.

    As I read through the comments, I may be wrong, but is someone honestly making the case that wife-beating and all manner of abuse is acceptable?

  48. I may be wrong, but is someone honestly making the case that wife-beating and all manner of abuse is acceptable?

    Just1, That would be Dagoods. But only to try to prove Christianity false. Saying the Bible supports wife-beating is what’s known as a Strawman argument.

  49. JJ

    “That would be Dagoods. But only to try to prove Christianity false”

    Dagoods doesnt need to prove its false, most Christians behaviour pretty much ensures that.

  50. Again, a quick note only. (Funeral) I will catch up later.

    I must not be communicating correctly if people think I am claiming the Bible supports wife-beating. Let me clarify.

    1. According to my understanding the Bible clearly states wife-beating is immoral.

    2. WIFE BEATING IS IMMORAL, even under Christian terms.

    2. wife-beating = immoral

    Is that clear enough for everyone?

    What I AM saying is that the Bible, specifically 1 Peter 3, does not allow a woman to divorce her husband because he is a wife-beater. I AM saying the Bible never allows a Christian to initiate divorce.

    P.S. I ask a favor of ya. Never, ever, EVER listen to Jim J explain my position. He doesn’t understand it, doesn’t try to understand it, and due to repeated conversations, I am quickly coming to the point of believing he deliberately mis-represents me. I try to think better of fellow humans and hope is it merely misunderstanding.

    Can anyone quote me as saying, “The Bible supports wife-beating”? Of course not.

  51. Never, ever, EVER listen to Dagoods 🙂

    Sorry about the funeral. My condolences.

    JT–Dagoods doesnt need to prove its false, most Christians behaviour pretty much ensures that.

    Most evolutionists believed in Piltdown Man. Does that mean that Evolution is false?

  52. Scenario 1: If she is locked into a superstitious belief fostered by her institutional masters that divorce is not allowed, my advice would be, “make it look like an accident.” This would only be given for shock value to drive home the following point: unless something changes, she will soon be given to homicidal or suicidal ideation.

    There is questionable morality in chaining two people together through the institution of marriage. It creates false beliefs about ownership of another person for one thing. The benefit to a social hierarchy in perpetuating the status quo is manifest, but the benefits to the family unit in modern culture are dwindling. In the case of the brute you describe, the benefits plunge into the negative. If he can’t be changed after reasonable attempts to do so, he should be removed from further opportunity to be a role model in this way.

    Scenario 2: Irrelevant outside the minds of the dying men. The only Bible study I would ever be conducting would be one with a goal of pointing out the legerdemain and other shenanigans employed to give the false stamp of authority from a higher power to the self-serving edicts of the clergy. If Jesus ever did exist, he is a thoroughly decomposed human corpse. The mythical Jesus is an attractive idea forced into people’s heads at an early age. The whole construct is no more real than Santa Claus. “Jesus belief” is all the more remarkable for the fact that it continues to flourish alongside the example of Santa. People want to believe, so they do. Back to your example. The shithead who accepts Jesamagod on his deathbed probably did so because he died afraid. This is the last bit of relevant fact about his useless life. The likely scenario is that some dope in an imposing black suit told him if he did this, he would go to happyland. Does this make any more sense, outside the delusional bubble of Christianity, than if that same dope told him that eating four pounds of raw, unwashed potatoes would have the same effect? That sounds ridiculous, but it’s no more ridiculous than the bullshit edicts that come out of the mouths of “mystics” every day.

    Scenario 3: They both go home justified. They both operated within the parameters of their personally accepted version of this delusion. The second part of the question is a non-sequitur. “Christianity” defines a wide range of affectations. Each of these defends itself against all others through endless variations of the “No True Scotsman” argument.

  53. breakerslion

    Those are well written comments and they make some valid points. They also reveal an academic mind that could add to the conversation. But, its too bad that you have alot of bitterness towards Christianity (marriage and possibly relationships also), which comes through loud and clear.

    Anyways, good on you for adding to the conversation.

  54. JT—I didnt say belief, I was referring to behaviour…………..BIG difference

    Not so. Many scholars debunked the mythic bones between 1913-1921. Yet the British Museum, where the bones were, didn’t accept it as a hoax until 1953. Haeckel’s embryos are another pro-evolution fraud that died hard. Does this willingness to believe a fraud mean that Evolution is not true? No. Same difference.

  55. JJ

    My reference is to how many Christians dont act very Christ like, in other words their behaviours are pretty much like every other human on this planet.

  56. O.K., I hope to wrap up my end of this conversation. I am thinking the easiest way (for me) is to quote a few statements, respond, and perhaps bring some brevity. For your reading pleasure here is an interesting article as to how the early church viewed slavery. *WARNING: PDF File.*

    Slavery

    As pointed out, slavery is sanctioned and regulated by the Torah. Jesus frequently uses slaves and servants as an example. Jesus never states that slaves should be set free. Paul frequently uses slaves as examples. Paul never states that slaves should be set free. (The case of Onesimus is nebulous at best in this regard.) The authors of Ephesians and Colossians give instructions to Christian slave owners—and the instructions DO NOT say to “free your slaves.”

    The authors of the other books use slaves as examples and never state they need to release their slaves. Curiously, the Shepherd of Hermas is the only early Christian writing which discussed releasing of slaves. A book most Christians claim is not inspired by God!!

    SocietyVs—you are correct the authors of the New Testament were discussing morality—decisions of people and whether they were moral or immoral. Unfortunately, the best you have, regarding slavery, would be that it was non-moral—neither moral nor immoral. The books never say to free slaves. Not even to Christian slave owners. It never condemns slavery as an institution. It treats it as a non-issue.

    SocietyVs: But the passage I provided shows Paul preferred slaves to be free than to be slaves at all.

    Correct. But can you stay consistent with this methodology? If I am reading you correctly, you are stating: “Paul’s preference is an indication of morality.” In other words, since Paul does not prefer people to become slaves, slavery must be immoral.

    Paul also prefers men to not marry. 1 Cor. 7:1-7. Therefore, using this same methodology, we must presume marriage is immoral. The author of 1 Timothy (if you believe that is Paul) would prefer men to lift up hands in prayer. Women to not wear pearls or gold or braided hair. Women to not teach in Church. 1 Tim 2:8-15. Would you, in keeping with this methodology, agree not lifting hands when praying must be immoral? Women wearing gold, pearls and braids is immoral?

    Paul prefers men to pray with their head uncovered. But women with either a covering or long hair. 1 Cor. 11:3-10 Is praying with a baseball cap on immoral? Is a woman immoral for having short hair?

    Paul said to not go into slavery, because slavery was a despicable situation in life. It was not a condemnation of slavery as immoral.

    SocietyVs: I would say it is a concession by Peter – who had no way to ‘free the slave’ anyways.

    But who was Peter writing to? Christians! You are correct the authors of the New Testament books had no influence over the heathen society—but that was not who they were writing to! They were writing to Christians, giving Christians instructions as to how Christians were to act, regardless of how the rest of the world acted. See. Romans 1 & 2, Gal. 5:16-25.

    In fact, the comparison is repeatedly made, “The world does ____; you must not. The world does not do _____; you must.” The authors, as you discussed, were laying down morals within the Christian society.

    The author of 1 Peter DID have a way to “free the slave.” Simply write to the Christian slave-owners, “Free your slaves.” What I find most problematic (again) are the passages in Ephesians and Colossians.

    Ephesians 4:17: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.”

    Gentiles (non-believers here) kept slaves. If the author of Ephesians was against slavery, s/he has set up the perfect situation to order Christian slave-owners to free their slaves. All they had to do was write, “Gentiles keep slaves. You must not live as they do—free your slaves.” But instead what does s/he do? They give instructions to keep the slaves—simply treat them better than the Gentiles do! There was no freeing of slaves.

    I am honestly baffled how one can get around this. Christians, writing to Christians, specifically saying the instructions are going to be contrary to what the rest of the world does–do not order Christian slave-owners to free slaves!

    SocietyVs: Moses allows divorce – Jesus allows divorce – and Paul seems to allow divorce.

    Again, let us apply this methodology (even though I actually disagree with the statement.) Moses allowed slavery. Jesus allowed slavery and Paul seems to allow slavery. Using the same method you do to justify divorce, we come to the same conclusion regarding slavery—all three “allowed” it.

    Why, then, is slavery immoral and divorce not, according to this methodology?

    OneSmallStep: I’ve heard in a few different quarters that while the Bible does make allowances for slavery, this type of slavery was still eons ahead of their neighboring nations, in that they made concessions for slavery and such….

    How would you address this idea?

    I chuckle and call it poppycock.

    Here’s the problem:

    1) We think slavery is immoral.
    2) The Bible does not state slavery is immoral.

    There are two (2) ways around this situation. Either modify statement One, or modify statement Two. We have been focusing on Statement Two—whether the Bible is making a declaration regarding the immorality of slavery.

    This idea—slavery was somehow “different”—is an attempt to modify Statement One. Rather than claim, “The Bible declares slavery immoral” this is an attempt to say, “Oh, never fear. The Bible says slavery is O.K.—this was just a different type of ‘slavery.’ The slavery of the Americas—that was something the Bible never addressed.”

    I say poppycock and codswallop. Read Numbers 31. Virgin females forced to marry their captors. And that is a “better” type of slavery? Are you kidding me? Read the article I provided—slaves were treated as chattel. Property. As 1 Peter points out—you could beat your slave with no fear of reparation. (Like property, it would be foolish to kill one’s own slave—they were a valuable commodity.)

    Ask them the difference between the slaves of First Century Mediterranean culture, and how it was “better” than the slaves of North America.

  57. Divorce and Wife-beating

    I studied Divorce and taught on it numerous times as a Christian. My studies led me to the conclusion a Christian could not initiate Divorce. God hates divorce. Mal. 2:16. Eph. 5 requires a husband to love a wife as much as Christ loved the church. Considering Christ did the ultimate sacrifice in humbling himself as a human, suffering and dying for the Church, it seemed ludicrous to claim I could be “loving” my wife as much as Christ loved the church, yet justify a divorce. Regardless of the reason. (And as a Christian, I recognized we “committed adultery” countless times in our relationship with Christ by chasing after other lovers—pride, money, power, sin, yet he continued to love us.)

    While I would be struck to the core by my wife’s infidelity—I did not see how I could “love” her and divorce her.

    The only exception ever seen was Paul’s allowance for divorce if a non-believer left a believer. Paul is explicit a believer CANNOT divorce a non-believer. 1 Cor. 7. Paul also talking of “binding” for life in his marriage illustration of Rom. 7.

    Jesus in the parallel passages of Mark 10:1-12 and Luke 16:18 did not allow for divorce. (And you ought to read Mark 10:1-12 for the strength of this teaching.) The only passages with any variance were Matthew 5 & 19. (Sadly Mark 10 gets eclipsed by this addition by Matthew. Which is a shame.) And these two passages, when interpreting scripture by scripture, fit if they talked about remarriage. If they were discussing a reason for divorce, they become an anomaly and a contradiction. Paul did not allow this exception. The authors of Ephesians and Colossians did not allow this exception. 1 Peter did not allow this exception. The authors of Mark and Luke did not allow this exception. This cannot be brushed aside. Under my inerrancy belief, the only resolution was that Matthew was discussing remarriage.

    And then we come to wife-beating.

    1 Peter 3 was a real problem for me. See, we find wife-beating repugnant. Immoral. Evil. We would like to say, “If you are being beaten, leave. Get out.” Our every nerve and instinct cried for that.

    Yet I read 1 Peter 3, and it was talking about the wife being submissive, and in context was referring to submission like a slave being beaten by a harsh master. Considering how limited the New Testament was, due to its length, it was disconcerting that the one thing we would like to allow for divorce, or even separation, was tacitly referred to in context.

    You people watch movies? How many times, in movies, do we see the situation in which the hero informs someone to do something against their desire?

    “Don’t open that box!”
    “Don’t go near that man!”
    “Run from your mother!”

    Of course we, as movie-goers, have been given the background and know (along with the hero) that the box contains a bomb. That the man is the bad guy. That the person who looks like the mother is actually an invading alien impersonating humans in order to suck your brain.

    We know, and understand, why the hero is making the claim. And, as often as not, the hapless victim doesn’t listen, opens the box, and explodes. Or goes near the man and the rest of the movie is spent rescuing the victim. Or doesn’t run and they get their brains sucked out.

    I felt the same way about 1 Peter 3. We were the victim. We didn’t understand why a loving God would order a wife-beater to stay with her husband. The inspired verse indicated it was to win him for Christ—but we didn’t see that. All we could do is trust God and hope, like the victim, that God—the hero—knew what he was doing by ordering it.

    I held this view as a Christian. This isn’t something I made up as a skeptic to bash the Bible, or point out errors in Christians. I never taught on it, and I absolutely never instructed any woman to stay with her husband even when being beaten, because of 1 Peter. This is not to my credit, I never instructed a woman to leave, either. How could I tell a woman to do that which my God appeared to say was wrong?

    I tried to stay consistent with the Bible, while secretly hoping I was reading it wrong, and perhaps God didn’t mean what it appeared to say.

    If you think you can justify informing a woman she could leave, in the face of 1 Peter 3—more power to you. Obviously as a non-believer I heartily and happily concur. I am no longer bound by trying to rectify what seems to be patently obvious in the Bible.

    One final note.

    SocietyVs: Okay – but if we define the situation as ‘bad master or bad husband’ then we are proclaiming something there – a morality within the adjective.

    “Bad” does not always mean “immoral.” I hold morals as being (by definition) a decision by a morally conscious person. Not a “situation.”

    Painting the floor and figuring out you painted yourself in a corner is “bad.” Not immoral. I once cut out a branch which swung down and knocked the ladder out from under me. It was bad—not immoral. A husband who beats his wife is immoral. But the wife is in a “bad” situation, in that she has to make a decision.

  58. Jim J: Never, ever, EVER listen to Dagoods.

    I know you don’t listen to me. Which is why I find it reprehensible you claim to tell others what my position is. You don’t listen to me—how would you know what it is?

    I am glad you find it amusing I find your comment rude, deliberate deceitful, un-informed and completely lacking in charity.

    But in answer to your response…

    I agree it is immoral for the husband to beat his wife. On that I think we all agree. The question I have is this—what is the wife’s reaction supposed to be? Regardless of whether he is being immoral—this does not justify her being immoral.

    The Master has the responsibility to treat his slaves with respect. Eph. 6:9. Regardless of whether the master does, the slave still has to submit. 1 Peter 2.

    You seem to be implying that because the man is doing something immoral, this justifies the woman leaving. No, it doesn’t if the woman leaving is immoral as well.

    Jim J: Can you give me a single sign that it includes the husband beating her?

    Actually, the “likewise” and the comparison of submission like a slave to a master who is wrongfully beating a slave in 1 Peter 2 & 3 is pretty hard to gloss over. For those of us interested in studying the issue.

    But let’s assume 1 Peter 3:1 does not include wife-beating. What other excuses can we give for the wife to leave, since it is not covered in the Bible? Can she leave if he is a drug addict? If he spends too much at the Casino? 1 Peter 3 is silent to those as well? What if he has a non-sexual, but intimate relationship on-line with another woman?

    Here is my problem with the “silence” argument. We can use it conveniently to go whatever way we want. We can claim because it is silent we can’t; we can claim because it is silent we can.

    The Bible is silent as to abortion. Does that make it correct? Or do you look to other verses as to the sanctity of human life, the concept of God working in the womb, and come to the conclusion abortion is immoral? The Bible is silent as to homosexual marriage. Does that make it correct? Or do you look to verses describing marriage, and look to the sin of homosexual acts and come to the conclusion homosexual marriage is immoral?

    I find it amazing Christians must extrapolate out abortion and homosexual marriage is wrong through various scriptures, but when the same extrapolation says women cannot divorce wife-beaters all of a sudden they want explicitly within the verse.

    Bah.

    Jim J: Answer this question: If there were such good lawyers in Jesus’s day, why did they take such offense at him?

    Assuming the Gospels were recorded accurately, because Jesus was violating the moral code, as they understood it, provided to them by their God. Would you be any different? If some preacher came to town and claimed s/he had a “new” gospel that allowed homosexuals to marry—would you find that offensive?

    As to my four questions.

    1. I asked for a verse allowing a believer to initiate divorce. I got a long paragraph weaseling around the issue. But no citation. I presume you don’t have a verse, then.

    2. You seem to agree that “in the same way” is referring back to a harsh master. While you don’t say it, I would note it even refers to a master who BEATS his slave.

    3. Of course a verse is needed. SocietyVs’ point of this blog was how to give advice. I presume, as a Christian, you would like to give advice in line with what your God finds moral. The way to find that, in your view, is to look at the Bible.

    Or are you honestly admitting the Bible does not hold as much relevance as your American sentiment when it comes to determining morality?

    4. “When we see his butt roasting in Hell. Smiley Face.”

    I don’t believe in hell, of course. But you do. You find people “roasting in Hell” humorous?

    I am shocked at you, Jim J. I shouldn’t be, of course—I know too many like you. When I was a Christian, and when I did believe in Hell, I physically ached out of the sadness of people unable to obtain belief in Jesus and being tortured for all eternity.

    You find it funny….

  59. Actually, the “likewise” and the comparison of submission like a slave to a master who is wrongfully beating a slave in 1 Peter 2 & 3 is pretty hard to gloss over.

    Look who’s not listening. I repeat: How do you know the slave is being beaten in 1 Peter 2?

    The Bible is silent as to abortion.

    Nonsense. The first conceived baby in Genesis 4:1. When he is born, Eve says, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” The Bible also contends that the Holy Spirit impregnated mother Mary. The baby in the womb belongs to God (Pslam 22:10, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Genesis 25:23-25, etc., etc. etc. Jesus also says he is the way, the truth and the LIFE. God is pro-life (see 6th Commandment if you’re still confused.)

    The Bible is clearly opposed to two men marrying and it is clearly against killing children (which, scientifically, is what abortion is). To say that it supports wife-beating is a stretch. Skolios is harsh, but is it wife-beating? Prove it. And prove why it’s so inconsistent with everything else.

    1. I gave you Matthew 22:36 and refernces to civil laws that were enforceable.
    2. While you don’t say it, I would note it even refers to a master who BEATS his slave. Show how it does.
    3. The Bible teaches us what God sees as right-thinking, and wife-beating is ungodly. The law during Rachels’ time:

    Few marriage contracts would have been as informal as the brief mention given in Genesis. Agreements included various clauses: the amount of the woman’s dowry, that it would be returned to her along with any other penalty in the event of a divorce, the responsibility of support, the prohibition of the husband from taking other wives, and the taking of a sister or slave as a second wife.

    You’re trying to say that wife-beating is condoned by the Bible due to an embellishment of the word “Skolios” in 1 Peter. If 2,000 years before, the wife had those kinds of rights, I’d put my money on wife-beating being ILLEGAL. There is no controversy about wife-beating at the time, regardless of the controversy in your mind.

    There’s another problem with your argument here. Is the wife being beated forbidden to go to the authorities? What does the Scripture say to that?

    4. You find people “roasting in Hell” humorous?

    Resorting to aesthetic complaints, are we? The point is, it can’t be known until it’s known. And if you don’t believe in Hell, why would you find that offensive?

  60. Jim J,

    kolaphizo “1) to strike with a fist, 2) to maltreat, treat with violence.” 1Peter 2:20.

    Jim J: Is the wife being beated forbidden to go to the authorities? What does the Scripture say to that?

    What happens if the husband tells her to not?

    Jim J: And if you don’t believe in Hell, why would you find that offensive?

    The point being is that you believe eternal torture by flame, pain and darkness is a realty and you find such torture funny. The fact it is not true does not make your humor at the belief others will be tortured any less disturbing.

  61. Sounds desperate, dagoods.
    The point being is that you believe eternal torture by flame, pain and darkness is a realty and you find such torture funny. The fact it is not true does not make your humor at the belief others will be tortured any less disturbing.

    We could debate this all day. (Have we?) I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere.

    One last time, on First Peter.
    V. 21 – But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

    In other words, those beatings Peter – who saw the resurrected Lord by the way – endured are to his credit. He is not to lament over them. Just another way faith breaks the chains of materialism.

  62. **You’re trying to say that wife-beating is condoned by the Bible due to an embellishment of the word “Skolios” in 1 Peter.**

    Isn’t there a difference between saying that Bible says something is acceptable, and the Bible says that one must stay in a situation even if it’s unacceptable? DagoodS stated earlier that based on his understanding, the Bible states wife-beating is immoral. It is immoral even under Christian terms. But even though it is immoral, he does not find support for a wife to be able to divorce her husband even if he’s beating her. And he believes this because what he finds in 1 Peter is that slaves are called to accept the authority of their masters, regardless of the master’s temperment. It is a credit to the slave if the endure pain while suffering unjustly, for it is no credit to them if the endure when beaten for doing something wrong. Yet if they endure (I would assume “a beating” is what the slave is enduring) for doing right and remain silent, they have God’s approval. Thus, the slaves also emulate Christ.

    In the same way, Peter calls for wives to accept the authority from their husbands. The wives are supposed to behave in the same way the slaves do.

  63. DagoodS,

    **Rather than claim, “The Bible declares slavery immoral” this is an attempt to say, “Oh, never fear. The Bible says slavery is O.K.—this was just a different type of ‘slavery.’ The slavery of the Americas—that was something the Bible never addressed.”**

    I’ve been skimming another book that makes this same sort of claim. It states that there was little difference between slaves and the average free person in first century Rome, they made the same wages, and weren’t usually poor, could also buy themselves out. Essentially, I got the impression that slavery wasn’t that bad in first-century Rome. You were like everyone else, treated like everyone else (within your social class), you were just owned by a person.

    Curious, I googled Slavery in first-century Rome, and came across a PBS article, which stated that the lives of slaves were harsh, they were whipped, branded, and mistreated — the slaves could also be killed with abandon, and the owners faced no consequences. I assume that’s because the owners would face no punishment if they had ruined a piece of furniture. And while slaves could become free, either through the owners freeing them or the slave purchasing his freedom, there was still a stigma associated with the idea of one being a slave in the first place.

    So with this going on, I find that the word “slavery” almost becomes relative. Rather than a clear-cut answer of it’s immoral to own people and should not have been accepted at any point in time, we rather fall into a discussion of the different types of slavery. Does this mean we say that the African slavery was wrong because it’s wrong to own people, or it’s wrong because of how brutually they were treated? LIkewise, does this mean that slavery in the Roman Empire is being excused because it really wasn’t that bad?

  64. OSS,
    I understand what you’re saying but the slave is not supposed to use his oppression as an excuse to do evil (i.e. to NOT do good), as in killing his master.

  65. JJ

    “The Bible is clearly opposed to two men marrying and it is clearly against killing children (which, scientifically, is what abortion is).”

    Numbers 31
    17Now therefore,(R) kill every male among the little ones,

    Tell me am I missing something or is this the Bible condoning killing children??

  66. thejust1 said: “… its too bad that you have alot of bitterness towards Christianity (marriage and possibly relationships also), which comes through loud and clear.”

    Point of clarification. I am an atheist. I am a non-denominational despiser of religion, which I believe to be the world’s oldest scam. It just so happens that Christianity is the flavor of the scam that I am most familiar with. I know many deeply religious people who do good works through their religious organization. I believe them to be misguided, but they make a positive contribution to the world. It works for them, I wouldn’t even try to take it away. It most definitely does not work for me. Those that do not share my “live and let live” attitude tend to piss me off. Not always, but often.

    My purpose in commenting here was to share a perspective outside the framework of the Bible and Christianity, and the supernatural. It’s an opnion that is dismissive, in a way, but it’s dismissive for a reason. There is no doubt about the historical accuracy of the Bible. It isn’t. It has been messed with by Hezekiah, Paul, Constantine, assorted Popes and others. It contains contradictory information, and passages that have been subjected to a wide range of interpretation, most of it self-serving. It is crammed with plagiarism, and “hearsay”, anecdotal “evidence”. There are elements of outright scam set down for all to see and some to understand. If you believe the Bible is inerrant, you believe in the power of bullshit.

    “You seem to be implying that because the man is doing something immoral, this justifies the woman leaving. No, it doesn’t if the woman leaving is immoral as well”

    To me, the operant word in that sentence is “if”. Leaving an abusive relationship is a matter of dignity, self-esteem, and quality of life. The only reason it becomes a moral question is the socio-religious mummery that is attached to it, and some ancient and outdated concepts of ownership. It is not a moral question in the same respect as the question of taking a human life that does not belong to you and that you can’t give back. Society has moved on, it’s time for the control-freaks that use religion as a weapon of manipulation to do the same. Marriage is a contract between two people. A contract that can’t be terminated is illegal in business, and unethical. The law in civilized countries extends this recognition to marriage and grants divorces. All manner of interfering authority figures feel the need to butt in with advice, platitudes, and edicts. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should not be given unasked-for. The final authority on any given marriage are the people in it. Everyone else is generalizing.

  67. One more thing. Slavery. Wrong. Bible doesn’t agree? Throw away the Bible. The Bible side-steps this issue because:

    1. Some of the authors had a blind spot where this one was concerned, living as they did in a society that condoned slavery.

    2. Anti-slavery is the sort of stand that makes you unpopular with authoritarian states wherein the king and all the power elite own slaves. This can get you killed, your temples pulled down, and your altars smashed. And no one puts offerings on smashed altars, there just doesn’t seem to be much point if the all-powerful god can’t protect what’s his.

  68. Tell me am I missing something or is this the Bible condoning killing children??

    The Bible is a narrative. The command in Numbers 31 does not apply in the New Covenant. It was specific to its time, when God was leading the Israelites into the promised land. He was removing the people who had mocked him for hundreds of years. The severity in which God treats sin in the OT is meant to show the severity of sin. But if we pound our chests and accuse him of being a meanyhead, I guess we miss the point, don’t we?

  69. JJ

    Hebrews 8:13 (English Standard Version)

    In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

    Im sure this is probably youre favourite NT. scripture………get rid of that nasty OT, its got to much to reconcile with a LOVING GOD

  70. Great debate – this is what happens when I take two days off from here – things pick up (lol).

    I think Dagoods makes a good argument – but I am not sure it totally is the final key to one’s decision as a Christian (from the texts).

    Slavery…did any of the Jewish apostles own one…including Paul? If not, then this is a Gentile issue and not one from the writer’s of the original texts (who likely had little to face when it came to slavery).

    There is an arguement for slavery – this is true – the Gentiles had them and this is acknowledged by Paul and Peter. What they acknowledge is that they deserve fair treatment compared with the rest of society – slave or not. Can that even be argued?

    If this is how Peter and Paul felt for the person that is a ‘slave’ – then why should I not think – if they had the power to change the situation (rather than just merely accept it) they would of? Fact is, they start freeing the slaves they mine as well right the death tag for that same person also (namely if it was not done by Roman law). So what could they do except ask for fair and moral treatment of those same people? Not like Christians had money, power, influence or anything.

    Divorce – which the original question was about – is allowed in the bible. There may be some evidence for the wife (or husband) to stick around for the reason of change – this is what Peter addresses in his letter.

    1 Peter 3:1 “if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,”

    The idea is hoping for the situation to be rectified – how can that be debated? Now if the situation is rectified – we have no problems…but if it is not…then we get into the grey area concerning how ‘long to stay around’. I would say they should leave based on the idea this is ‘right’ and ‘good’ (in human eyes even). My arguement is based on the fact their is no law condemning the lady for leaving based on something that is harmful and ‘un-loving to one’s neighbor/wife/husband’.

    I would also claim that Jesus made a concession – as did Moses – for the reason for divorce (adultery). Now if someone wants to be a literalist about that passage and reason only adultery is grounds – then fine – I will respect their reasoning but I will not respect their decision making process (nor the verdict).

    The fact a concession is made for something that is ‘against the law of God’ should mean that anything that is against the law of God (to the harm of the person) needs to be considered also. I would include ‘wife beating’ in that category. We need to live by what is ‘right and good’ in this faith – and if we support a wife being beaten until she cannot take it (or perhaps will be killed) – then we mine as well be the murderers also. On that point – the law is crystal clear (you shall not murder). So no, I cannot support the innocent being violently brutalized – even as a Christian.

    As for re-marriage – this is not a law I am all too familiar with but I see no problem with it – if the wife has been brutalized by the husband (ie: doing that which is against the law to her). Should an innocent be punished for the violater’s crimes? I don’t think so. As much as she wants to ‘save’ that person from that sin – she should not die to prove her point either – nor be stricken by his crimes concerning re-marriage. I would have to say – she does nothing wrong in re-marriage – again – on this issue I may be wrong.

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