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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


Slacking


A Misleading Brainteaser

It is the month of August; a resort town sits next to the shores of the ocean. It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 dollar bill on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one.
The hotel proprietor takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the butcher. The Butcher takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the pig raiser. The pig raiser takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel. The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the town’s prostitute that, in these hard times, gave her “services” on credit. The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 dollar bill to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.
The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 dollar bill back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything. At that moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 dollar bill, after saying he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.
No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.
Wow, where to start.
The brain teaser combines a rather silly and obvious paradox with some bad macro-economics.
The solution to the paradox is that, when credit claims run in a circle, the residents of the town don’t need an external party to settle. They could simply get together and net out all of their credit positions. Because everyone has an equal asset and liability, everyone could net their position to zero. The introduction of the $100 bill by the rich tourist does nothing that the townspeople could not do by themselves. Suppose you and a friend owed each other $100. You could agree to cancel your obligations to each other without any cash changing hands.
Now let’s look at the bad macro-economics. The town is said to be experiencing “hard times”. It is implied that the downturn is somehow related to the accumulation of debt. The hard times are alleviated canceling out all of the debt. Could this be so?
The town is a resort. This suggests a town that exports tourism services to the external world and imports goods. Suppose that such a town imports more goods than it exports, i.e. the town has a trade deficit. Does this portend any economic problems? Not necessarily. The residents of the town may be voluntarily choosing to spend down accumulated savings. There are many examples of pleasant resort towns where wealthy people go to retire and live off their lifetime savings. Another possible explanation for a trade deficit is an inflow of savings from the rest of the world. Real estate developers in other cities, for example, could investing in the construction of new hotels. The town’s trade deficit in goods would be offset by foreign direct investment. Assuming that the entrepreneurs building the new facilities were correct in their forecast, the increase in the capital stock of the town would raise real wages and increase the volume of employment. After the hotels were complete, the town would be able to accommodate more tourists and increase its export of tourism services.
But this is probably not the explanation. Based on the second paragraph, we can assume that the debt is all internal to the town. The hotel owner has borrowed from the butcher who has borrowed from the pig farmer, etc.
So let’s look at a different model. Consider a town that is a closed economic system in which all necessary goods and services are produced and consumed locally. People can borrow from each other. Under these conditions, the accumulation of debt has no macro-economic consequences. For every debtor, there is a creditor. When a loan is made, the increase in the immediate purchasing power of the borrower is offset by a decrease in the purchasing power of the lender. The interest payments made by the borrower becomes the income of the lender. If someone takes on too much debt and cannot service it, the lender may foreclose on the collateral, in which case the borrower’s forfeit of asset becomes the lender’s accumulation of the same asset.
It is implied, but not stated, that everyone has gotten into debt because their desired consumption levels exceeded their income, so they have borrowed in order to maintain their standard of living. It is implied that the economy of the town is in bad shape because everyone is burdened by excessive debt. This cannot be so. If the town is a closed economic system, then the entire town cannot consume more than it produces through accumulating debt. In a closed system, all that debt can do is to shift purchasing power around. An gross increase in consumption can only happen in a town that trades with the external world. In paragraph two, we learn that each person’s debt is exactly offset by a credit from someone else. This means that everyone’s net balance is zero. No one has been able to increase their consumption (or decrease their consumption) by taking on debt.
If the business people in the town have extended each other credit, and then, net everything out to avoid the inconvenience of unnecessary cash transfers, this tells us exactly nothing about the macro-economic situation of the town. The presence of a chain of interlocking debts is perfectly compatible with a booming economy. As stated above, everyone’s net debt position is zero. These debts could be canceled at any time that they wanted to, or the business people could service their debts out of income.
The final paragraph states that “the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.” It is true that everyone has been relieved of their debt, but everyone has reduced their asset position by the exact same amount. The writer could have equally well reached the opinion that the town can look to the future with pessimism because everyone has fewer assets. Or, more likely, that the mood is unchanged because everyone’s net financial balance is unchanged.


North Korea