Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The voluntary union for life of one man and one woman

A new group, the Coalition for Marriage, has recently stared a petition asking people to support the "legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others".

It is claimed to have the support, amongst others, of lawyers. I would suggest that anyone thinking lawyers favour an unambiguous and incontrovertible legal definition does not have the slightest idea how the legal profession makes its money.

The above definition can not be found in UK statute. The marriage act of 1949, rather than banning marriage between those of opposite sex, actually prevents marriage between certain men and women. Specifically it makes the Marriage between Abraham and his sister which was blessed by God in Genesis 17:16 illegal in the UK.  It was not until 1971 and the Nullity of Marriage act that same sex marriages were outlawed.

The spotlighted signatories of the petition are predominately Christian leaders. Ironically the list is headed by Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury. One wonders, when signing a petition calling for the union of one man with one woman for life, whether he contemplated the circumstances which caused his Church to separate from Rome. Or indeed whether he considered the traditional lessons about marriage found in the bible. 

God certainly was not a fan of this one man & one woman malarkey. From Lenach in Genisis 4, to Esau, Jacob, David  and Soloman the O.T. has no shortage of polygamy. God even gave rules in Exodus 21: 10 on how to take another wife. Indeed he went further rewarding those marrying again

Deuteronomy 24:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

Paul, the prime mouthpiece for Jesus, on the other hand was clearly giving an anti-marriage message. 
1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 
1 Corinthians 7:7-9 For I would that all men were even as I myself    .... I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 

Matthew 19:10-12 reports Jesus' downer on marriage when he said you are better off castrating yourself than getting married. Jesus' ambivalence further illustrated in  Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35 which all report him saying that marriages are not recognised in heaven.  

So it appears that the 'one man one woman thing' is far from the biblical ideal, what about 'for life'? If marriage was for life why would Jesus encourage the disciples to abandon their wives as pointed out by Mark 10:29-20?
There is no man that hath left .. (his) wife for my sake, and the gospel's. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
And why make divorce is so easy? Back to Deuteronomy and 24:1

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house

We have yet to address the part of the definition concerning the 'voluntary' nature of the union.  Deuteronomy 21 contains a charming moral teaching where wives can be taken without consent.

21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will
Incidentally note in the above there are no issues with abandoning a wife who is not satisfactory. None of that 'for life' rubbish here.

That leaves us with "to the exclusion of all others". Can I just suggest that you search the bible for one of the many references to 'concubine' and draw your own conclusions.

What is clear is that this 'voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others' meme has no legitimate or consistent basis for support in the bible. Wherever it came from it is is not reflected by the traditional Christian Values found in the holy book.

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