Getting a suction grip on the world

Marriage


If America based its marriage laws on all the things the Bible says about marriage, husbands and wives, it would look a lot like this:

Since America is the most religiously observant of all the advanced industrial democracies, it is no surprise that the debate around the definition of the civil contract of marriage is so deeply infused with religious fervor. In the barrage of arguments about the issue, Bible verses are hurled like stones right along side clauses in the Constitution. As a bit of a thought experiment, I decided to see what it would look like if we tried to codify everything the Bible has to say about marriage into a single legislative act.

Now, before you dive in and either love or loathe me for the product, let me explain what follows. I went through the Bible gathering as many verses and passages about marriages, husbands, wives, divorce, adultery, etc. as I could possibly find. I included in my hypothetical law anything commanded by, rewarded by, or allowed by God – either directly or through a prophet or apostle. This certainly does not mean that most Christians would support the law – not all Christians find every verse in the canon to be applicable to today’s society.

Perhaps the most controversial additions to the law will be things that I label “allowed”. For these, I mean this: Yahweh in the Old Testment does not hesitate to point out when His will is being disobeyed and to punish those who stray from His will – whether it be smiting them with leprosy (Num 12:10), having the earth open up and swallow them (Num 16:20-35), or sending fiery serpents to kill them (Num 21:6). And that’s just a tiny taste. Since he does so much punishing, if God (including Jesus) lets it slide, I label it “allowed”.

At long last, I present for your discussion The Biblical Marriage Act.

1. Section I: Eligible Parties

i. MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE OR MORE WOMEN: multiple wives allowed for Lamech, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Solomon, Ashur, Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoiada in: Genesis chs 4, 16, 26, 28, 31; Exodus ch 21; Deuteronomy ch 21; Judges ch 8; I Samuel chs 1, 30; II Samuel chs 3, 5, 12; I Kings ch 11; I Chronicles ch 4; II Chronicles chs 11, 13, 24; multiple wives given to David by God in II Samuel ch 12

1. THE ADDITION OF NEW WIVES SHALL NOT DIMINISH FOOD, CLOTHING AND “DUTY OF MARRIAGE” FOR EACH WIFE: commanded by God in Exodus ch 21

2. BISHOPS AND DEACONS SHALL BE LIMITED TO ONE WIFE: commanded by God in I Timothy ch 3, 12; Titus ch 1

ii. IN GENERAL, ONLY THOSE WHO CONSENT TO BE MARRIED SHALL BE MARRIED, THOUGH FORCED MARRIAGES ARE ACCEPTABLE IN THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES:

1. If a man dies before his wife has a child, then the widow must marry her husband’s brother : commanded by God in Deuteronomy 25

2. If a man sees a lovely prisoner of war, he can make her shave her head, pare her nails, and keep her in his house to bewail her parents for a month, and then he can make her marry him: commanded by God in Deuteronomy 21

3. If a man entices an unmarried maid to lie with him, he must marry her unless the father refuses, in which case the man must pay him market price for virgins: commanded by God in Exodus 22

4. If a man lays hold of an unbetrothed virgin and has sex with her, he must give her father 50 shekels and marry her: commanded by God in Deuteronomy 22:28-29

iii. MARRIAGES IN THE UNITED STATES SHALL ONLY OCCUR BETWEEN PEOPLE OF THE SAME FAITH: commanded by God in 1 Kings 11.

iv. CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT BE WED TO FOREIGNERS : commanded by God in 1 Kings 11, Ezra 9:2, Nehemiah 13

1. A man who kills a husband and his foreign wife by thrusting a spear through both shall be rewarded with everlasting priesthood for himself and his descendants: rewarded by God in Numbers 25

2. Exceptions to the “no foreign wives” rule shall be virgins taken as prisoners of war: allowed in Judges 21

v. MEN SHALL NOT MARRY ADULTEROUS WOMEN: commanded by God in Malachi 2:11

vi. THE CONTRACT OF MARRIAGE SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS TO DENY A MAN CONCUBINES:

1. concubines allowed for Abraham, Gideon, David, Rehoboam in: Genesis ch 25; Judges ch 8; II Samuel Ch 5, II; Chronicles ch 11

2. Section II: The Purchase of Wives

i. FAIR PAYMENT MAY BE DEMANDED BY FATHERS FOR THEIR DAUGHTERS’ HANDS IN MARRIAGE: Allowed by God for Laban, Boaz, Saul, Hosea in Exodus ch 21 and 22, Ruth ch 4, 1 Samuel ch 18, Hosea ch 3

1. An example of an acceptable price shall be 15 pieces of silver and a half homer of barley:

2. While payment may be made in cash and commodities, other forms of payment are acceptable, such as labor or the foreskins of slain enemies: Exodus 21, 1 Samuel 18

3. If a man entices a maiden to sleep with him and the father refuses to give her as a wife, a man may pay the market price for virgins: Exodus 22

3. Section III: Rules for Marriage

i. ADULTERY:

1. IF A MAN SLEEPS WITH A MARRIED WOMAN, THEY SHALL BOTH BE PUT TO DEATH: commanded by God in Deuteronomy 22:22

2. IF A MAN SLEEPS WITH HIS FATHER’S WIFE, THEY MUST BOTH BE PUT TO DEATH. Commanded by God in Leviticus 20:11

3. IF A MAN SLEEPS WITH HIS DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, THEY MUST BOTH BE PUT TO DEATH: Commanded by God in Leviticus 20:12

4. IF A MAN SLEEPS WITH HIS WIFE AND HER MOTHER, THEY MUST ALL BE BURNED TO DEATH: Commanded by God in Leviticus 20:14

5. IF A MAN SLEEPS WITH HIS UNCLE’S WIFE, THEY SHALL DIE CHILDLESS: Commanded by God in Leviticus 20:20

6. IF A MAN TAKES HIS BROTHER’S WIFE, THEY SHALL BE CHILDLESS: Commanded by God in Leviticus 20:21

7. A MAN WHO MARRIES A DIVORCED WOMAN COMMITS ADULTERY: Declared by God in Matthew 5:32

ii. WOMEN’S DUTIES IN MARRIAGE:

1. WOMEN MUST SUBMIT TO AND OBEY THEIR HUSBANDS IN EVERYTHING AND OBEY THEM, LIKE SARAH, WHO OBEYED HER HUSBAND ABRAHAM AND CALLED HIM MASTER: Commanded by God in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3

2. WOMEN MUST BE SOBER, LOVE THEIR HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN: Commanded by God in Titus 2

4. If WOMEN ARE TO LEARN ANYTHING, THEY MUST ASK THEIR HUSBANDS AT HOME, BECAUSE IT IS A SHAME FOR THEM TO SPEAK IN CHURCH: Commanded by God in 1 Corinthians 14:35

5. WOMEN MUST GIVE THEIR HUSBANDS HONOR: Commanded by God in Esther 1:20

6. A WOMAN IS BOUND TO HER HUSBAND AS LONG AS SHE LIVES. IF HE DIES, SHE MAY MARRY ANY OTHER CHRISTIAN MAN: Commanded by God in 1 Corinthians 7:39

7. IF TWO MEN FIGHT AND THE WIFE OF ONE GRABS THE “SECRETS” OF THE OTHER, HER HAND MUST BE CUT OFF: Commanded by God in Ezra 25:11

iii. MEN’S PRIVILEGES IN MARRIAGE:

1. IFA MAN DECIDES HE HATES HIS WIFE, HE CAN CLAIM SHE WASN’T A VIRGIN WHEN THEY MARRIED. IF HER FATHER CAN’T PRODUCE THE “TOKENS OF HER VIRGINITY”, SHE IS TO BE STONED TO DEATH: Commanded by God in Deuteronomy 22:13-21

2. RECENTLY MARRIED MAN SHALL NOT BE SENT TO WAR OR HAVE ANY OTHER DUTY LAID ON THEM OTHER THAN MAKING THEIR WIVES HAPPY: commanded by God in Deuteronomy 24:5

3. IF A MAN GIVES HIS SLAVE A WIFE AND THE SLAVE GOES FREE, THE SLAVE’S WIFE AND HER CHILDREN BECOME THE MASTER’S WIFE AND CHILDREN: Commanded by God in Exodus 21:3-6

a. If the slave wants to keep his wife and children, the master must bore a hole through the slave’s ear and make him a slave forever. Commanded by God in Exodus 21:3-6

iv. MEN’S DUTIES IN MARRIAGE:

1. IF A MAN HATES WIFE AND LOVES THE OTHER, BUT THE HATED HAS A SON FIRST, THE SON OF THE HATED WIFE MUST STILL BE RECOGNIZED AS FIRST-BORN FOR INHERITANCE PURPOSES: commanded by God in Deuteronomy 21:15-17

2. IF A MAN SUSPECTS HIS WIFE OF CHEATING ON HIM, HE CAN HAVE THE PRIEST MAKE HER DRINK “BITTER WATER”. IF GUILTY, IT MAKES HER THIGH ROT AND BELLY SWELL. IF INNOCENT, SHE IS FREE AND WILL “CONCEIVE SEED”: Commanded by God in Numbers 5:12-31

3. MEN MUST HONOR THEIR WIVES AS THE “WEAKER VESSEL”: Commanded by God in 1 Peter 3

4. HUSBANDS MUST LOVE THEIR WIVES AND NOT BE BITTER AGAINST THEM: Commanded by God in Colossians 3:19, Ephesians 5

4. Section IV: Divorce

i. IF A MAN MARRIES A WOMAN BUT FINDS “SOME UNCLEANNESS IN HER”, HE CAN DIVORCE HER AND KICK HER OUT. IF ANOTHER MAN MARRIES HER AND DIES, THE FIRST HUSBAND CAN’T MARRY HER AGAIN: Commanded by God in Deuteronomy 24:1-4

ii. A MAN MUST NOT DIVORCE HIS WIFE: Commanded by God in 1 Corinthians 7:11

1. DIVORCE IS PERMISSIBLE WHEN THE WIFE IS GUILTY OF FORNICATION:Declared by God in Matthew 5:32

2. IF A MAN DIVORCES HIS WIFE FOR ANY OTHER REASON, HE IS AN ADULTERER: Declared by God in Matthew 19:9

iii. IF A MAN DIVORCES HIS WIFE, SHE SHOULD NOT REMARRY. IF SHE DOES, SHE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED “POLLUTED” AND “AN ADULTERESS”: Commanded by God in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Jeremiah 3:1, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9

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