Posted on 08-07-2011
Filed Under (Religion) by Rashtrakut

In the last couple of days Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum became the first Republican candidates to sign “The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family” that calls for among other things a “Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage – faithful monogamy between one man and one woman – through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc.”

The pledge also calls for an unconstitutional blanket ban on pornography and a “[r]ejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.”   The oddly phrased reference to Sharia Islam (which is not a particular school of Islam but appears to be a blanket rejection of the entire religion itself) is the latest islamophobic attack for the non-existent Sharia Law threat ginned up by the right.

It is a pity that these wannabe theocrats don’t take a closer book at what their own holy books have to say about “intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous” and for that matter women’s rights in the institution.

Via Andrew Sullivan quoting an earlier Bruce Bawer post on marriage in the Bible:

“Lamech [Noah’s father] married two women, one named Adah, the other Zillah.” (Genesis 4)

“Sarai brought her slave-girl, Hagar the Egyptian, to her husband and gave her to Abram as a a wife.” (Genesis 16)

“When [Rachel] gave [her husband Jacob] her slave-girl Bilhah as a wife, Jacob lay with her, and she conceived and bore him a son.” (Genesis 30)

“Esau took Canaanite women in marriage: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite and Oholibamah daughter of Anah son of Zibeon the Horite, and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth.”  (Genesis 26)

“When a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, if they both bear him sons, and the son of the unloved wife is the elder, then, when the day comes for him to divide his property among his sons, he must not treat the sons of the loved wife as his firstborn in preference to his true firstborn, the son of the unloved wife.” (Deuteronomy 21)

“If, on the other hand, the accusation [by a newlywed man that his bride is not a virgin] turns out to be true…then they must bring her out to the door of her father’s house and the men of her town will stone her to death.” (Deuteronomy 22)

“When a virgin is pledged in marriage to a man, and another man encounters her in the town and lies with her, bring both of them out to the gate of that town and stone them to death; the girl because, although she was in the town, she did not cry out for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife: you must rid yourself of this wickedness.” (Deuteronomy 22)

“When brothers live together and one of them dies without leaving a son, his widow is not to marry outside the family.  Her husband’s brother is to have intercourse with her; he should take her in marriage and do his duty by her as her husband’s brother.” (Deuteronomy 25)

“David’s two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel, were among the captives.” (1 Samuel 30)

“Sons were born to David at Hebron.  His eldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel; his second Cileab, whose mother was Abigail widow of Nabal from Carmel; the third Absalom, whose mother was Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth Adonihah, whose mother was Haggith; the fifth Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital; and the sixth Ithream, whose mother was David’s wife Eglah.”  (2 Samuel 3)

And that’s just a scattering of items from the first quarter of the Bible; we haven’t even gotten around to Bathsheba yet, or to King Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines….

To help matters Boston Bravery came up with a helpful graphical representation of marriage in the Bible:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reality is that most religious texts say things that look ridiculous or even offensive to today’s social mores.  Yet the people Andrew Sullivan refers to as Christianists want it both ways.   They pick on other religions (notably Islam) by highlighting offensive or misogynistic lines in their holy books yet blithely ignore similar language in their own texts.  They also ignore that the reason we do not groan under the type of theocratic tyranny of Iran and Saudi Arabia is the secularization of Western Society after the “Age of Enlightenment” in the 18th century.  As late as the late 17th century, Catholics in England and Protestants in France were not permitted to freely practice their faith.

Unlike the world view of the Taliban (or for that matter originalist readers of the Constitution), our society has evolved and is more tolerant of minorities (racial, religious, sexual) and other points of view.  Yet our wannabe theocrats cling to their version of the Bible, except when as quoted above it does not suit them.

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