There’s a lot of talk about the biblical definition of marriage and the family; however, I can’t find where those terms are explained anywhere in the bible.
Nonetheless, a careful reading of the Good Book provides some basic guidelines that clearly warrant some discussion.
In both Genesis I and II we see a unique parenting by the Ultimate Unwed Single Parent: God. In this model there is no marriage, and apparently no sex either, as God performs like a sponge, an entity capable of sexual and asexual reproduction.
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In Genesis, God is the perfect model for a petulant asexual parent arrogant enough to think children don’t need two parents. In this model we have a celibate male cloning children in any image he prefers, setting them up for failure and callously blaming them when they screw up. We can see in God’s actions many universal parental statements such as “you didn’t get THAT trait from ME… it must have come from your Uncle Beelzebub…”
Genesis also provides a family model, although not one I’d recommend since it begins with an excess of incest and a dose of fratricide – and your local state’s attorney won’t be too keen about either (just as a heads up, OK?).
Erring on the side of charity, however, which by the way is also biblical in case you forgot, we should forgive Adam and Eve and their progeny for complicating our lives since they were obviously abandoned by an asexual emotionally distant single parent who failed at home schooling and had the bad judgment to try to control their behavior by tempting them with a talking snake and a piece of fruit: definitely not the best way to shape the morality of children in their most tender years.
Such training can produce extreme phobias, paranoia and even eating disorders.
As we progress through the bible we encounter more marriage models – many of which begin at the birth of the child or shortly thereafter when the child’s father or other male owner decides to cement the bonds of kinship (again, more incest), close a business deal (when dad would rather not part with a camel), or rather capriciously just wants to screw with the kid’s life (“I’ll have no 9-year-old daughter of mine refuse to marry a 68-year-old goat herder! Keep it up and I’ll sell you into real slavery!”).
Then of course there’s the ever-entertaining form of marriage that begins with the hunt, capture and rape of young virgins such as we are given to study in the Book of Judges (21:19).
The problem with this, however, is it can definitely get you 5 to 20 in most states. However, as we move ever forward to a theocratic model of government I suspect this kind of courtship might once again be in vogue. Won’t that be fun?
No study of biblical marriage is complete without a look at Levirate marriage wherein the brother of a deceased man is obligated to marry his brother’s widow. Clearly, this can get dicey for a number of obvious reasons but the most obvious one may be the question about what happens if the surviving brother is already married.
Luckily, the bible has an answer for nearly every contingency which brings us to polygamy and the circle is now complete: we’ve gone from unwed Divine fatherhood to the ultimate human, albeit male, form of biblical marriage – an old fart with a stable of wives.
Mormons tried to reintroduce polygamy into modern western civilization in the 1800s but Americans rejected the idea (although there are Mormons who still practice polygamy and we all know about it and just try to pretend we don’t). Perhaps we should just make polygamy legal. Think about the social and economic advantages of making each millionaire take responsibility for a minimum of 20 unwed, unemployed mothers. Well, just think about it OK? We don’t need to make a decision about that today.
Finally, we have the open, progressive marriage modeled by Sarah (Gen 16) who arranged for her husband, Abraham, to fornicate with her maid, Hagar. Of course, she later handled it rather badly but nonetheless it seems her original intentions were quite… shall I say “biblical”?
Unfortunately, such largesse is not accorded women by their husbands. Women who take lovers tend to be stoned to death. What can I say except once again we might want to consider the benefits of stoning because, as barbaric as it may be, it has the immediate benefit of reducing the backlog in our divorce courts, will solidify us as a true theocracy and hey, what the hell, if we’re really lucky we can even blame it on Obama.
Clearly, gay marriage is not covered in the bible, but why would it be? Marriage in the bible doesn’t emphasize the most basic human need of all: love.
Gee, who’d a thunk?