Let God be true and every man a liar. Tradition can be a good thing, but not when it contradicts God’s Word, adds to God’s Word or adds burdens upon the people that God did not give them.
These are the top five points of “doctrine” that just about all modern Christians and churchians hold which do not agree with Scripture.
1. Divorce between two married Christians is permitted in cases of adultery.
Christians claim they are no longer under the Law of Moses, but the Law of Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife for sexual immorality. However, there is a specific prohibition on two married Christians getting divorced at 1st Corinthians 7:10-11. The exception for sexual immorality is no longer there because for Christians the only exception to the no-divorce rule is if they are married to a non-Christian who leaves them.
Everyone points at the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 and Matthew 5, and they are correct for people under the Law. For those in Christ there is a special prohibition on two married believers getting divorced. This issue is #1 in terms of getting Christians fighting mad, because both Matthew 19 and especially Matthew 5:31-32 made it clear that God will not accept an illegitimate divorce. That means all those Christians who divorced their Christian spouse for adultery/abuse/whatever are not really divorced, they are still married. If the wife “married” another guy, they aren’t really married because the only thing a married woman can do with another guy is commit adultery. If the guy married another woman, he now has two wives, which leads us to the next one:
2. Polygyny is a wrong, marriage is one man and one woman.
God regulated polygyny in the Law. God condoned polygyny in 2nd Samuel 12:8, taking credit for giving David multiple wives. God commanded polygyny in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, the case of the Levirate marriage. God participated in polygyny, stating in Jeremiah 31:31-32 that He had 2 wives. Unlike the specific prohibition on divorce between two married Christians and the specific prohibition on Christians having sex with prostitutes (that was NOT forbidden in the Law), there is no prohibition on polygyny in the New Testament.
Women hate the idea of polygyny because it robs them of their supreme power within monogamy, the ability to refuse sex to their husband. To add insult to injury, in polygyny the wives are forced to compete for the attention of their husband and the only way they can compete is by giving him what he wants: a sweet, feminine, submissive and sexually available wife. Men hate the idea of polygyny because only about 10% of men are Alpha enough to do it and the idea that some guy has a sexual smorgasbord waiting at home drives them crazy with jealousy and envy.
There are many, many arguments that Christians make to try to say that polygyny is wrong. Every single argument fails. I especially like the “Very Words of Jesus!” argument that claims Matthew 19:4-5 is a prohibition on polygyny. That is my favorite because if it was true, there is no Christianity. You see, Deuteronomy 4:2 is a command not to add to the Law or to subtract from it. That is repeated again in Deuteronomy 12:32 and it’s also the last command of the Bible.
If Jesus meant to forbid polygyny in Matthew 19:4-5, He would have been violating the Law of Moses, which is a transgression of the Law, a sin. If Jesus had sinned He would not have been a perfect sacrifice, the payment for sin would not have been made and Christianity would all be a lie. So, Jesus either didn’t prohibit polygyny and He is the Messiah, or He did, He sinned and He is not the Christ. You choose. I go with the no ban on polygyny.
3. Pre-marital sex is a sin.
In Exodus 22:16-17, if a man (doesn’t matter if he is married or not) seduces a virgin, they are married unless the father exercises his rights under Numbers 30 to annul her agreement to marry. In Deuteronomy 22:28-29 the Law says if a virgin is forced to have sex with a man and they are discovered, they are married and the father cannot refuse the marriage. He has to pay a bride price of 50 shekels of silver (very high) and he can never divorce her all the days of his life. In both of these cases, there is no penalty on the man for having sex with the virgin, in fact, sex with the virgin is the consummation of the marriage so it’s actually marriage sex. ‘
There is no mention anywhere in the Law of sex (by either a married man or a single man) of having sex with a widow or a divorced woman. Sex with such a woman, unlike a virgin, is not the consummation of marriage unless the man and the widow or divorced woman agree to marry. There is no prohibition or penalty for having sex with such a woman, just as there was no prohibition on having sex with an ordinary money-for-sex prostitute.
This is the #3 issue that gets Christians riled up like nothing else. When confronted with what the Bible actually says and more importantly, does not say, they squirm like a handful of worms trying to come up with something- anything -in the Bible that will make extra-marital sex a sin. Because it only applies to men and women who are not married.
4. If a husband has sex with a woman who is not his wife it’s adultery.
Maybe, but only if he has sex with another man’s wife. The crime of adultery requires a married woman. No married woman, no adultery. Women really, really hate this because a married man is permitted to have sex with women other than his wife (unless he took a vow to forsake all others- and where do you think that vow came from?) while the women commit adultery if they do it.
5. Female – Female sex is a sin.
There is literally no mention of female – female sex in the Bible, anywhere. Romans 4:15 and 5:13 say (putting the two verses together) “Where there is no Law, there is no transgression and no sin is imputed.” So, if the Law didn’t say it was a sin it isn’t a sin. In the New Testament there were some additional restrictions that only apply to Christians, but again, there is no mention in the Bible of female – female sex. It isn’t a sin.
Where does that leave us?
In really, really bad shape. If I presented any one or two of these issues, the vast majority of Christians respond “That’s impossible. That can’t be!” Presenting just the top 5, a pattern emerges. Not only does it demonstrate that God’s ideas about proper behavior are distinctly at odds from what is being taught in the churches, but it literally turns at least a third of established doctrine on its head.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. One of the points I made is an observation so devastating to the church and society today that I’m willing to bet none of you have seen it. Yes, the thing about Christians not being allowed to divorce their Christian spouse has created a lot of institutional adultery in the church, but one of the others has created a problem so huge that it dwarfs the problem of divorce within the church. Go ahead, look over the list again and Vote.
All of these issues create problems in the church, but one of the big problems (not the biggest) is the effect wrong teaching and doctrine has had on our definitions of terms that are used over and over again in the New Testament. The right of a man to have more than one wife and the fact that a married man having sex with a widow or divorced woman isn’t a sin means that by definition a married man can only commit adultery if he has sex with someone else’s wife.
Terms like Lust, fornication, sexual immorality, adultery, sodomy and even homosexuality are all incorrectly defined by today’s church, causing a lot of problems. But the biggest problem of all is caused by that issue of pre-marital sex not being a sin. The reason is there is no such thing as premarital sex for a virgin because the Law states that if a virgin is seduced, she is married. Her father has the right to annul the marriage when he hears of it and demand the return of his daughter, but people in the church are taught that having sex does not create a marriage. That, unfortunately, does not comport with what Scripture actually says and does not say.
It is critical to understand that when reading the Law, what is not said is just as important as what is said, and in some cases more important.
Read Exodus 22:16-17 very carefully:
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.”
- The man seduced the virgin and lay with her.
- The man must pay the bride price for his wife.
- If the father annuls the marriage (absolutely refuses to give her to him).
- The man must pay an amount equal to the dowry for virgins.
Consider what this passage does not say:
- Implied (but not stated) is the virgin agreed to give the man her virginity.
- Implied (but not stated) is the man knew the woman was a virgin.
- The text provides no censure, prohibition or penalty for taking her virginity.
- The text does not give the woman a choice about the marriage, only her father.
The virgin has no agency, and that means her father has the authority to give her in marriage against her will, just as he has the right to refuse her a marriage she wants. His authority under Numbers 30 is such that he can negate or annul any agreement or vow she makes when he learns of it. This point is driven home by Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
“If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”
- The man does not seduce the virgin, he seizes her.
- If they are discovered, they are married.
- The man must pay 50 Shekels of Silver to her father
- Because he has violated her he cannot divorce her all his days.
Consider now what the passage does not say:
- The passage does not state the father has a choice in her marriage, she has been seized.
- There is no penalty for the man if they are not discovered.
- There is no penalty for the man if discovered, rather, restrictions on the marriage.
- Nowhere in the text does it state the woman has a choice in whether she’s married.
- The text provides no information on what happens if they are not discovered.
Comparing the two passages, we see that the man who seduces the virgin and takes her virginity is married to her unless her father does not forbid it. In the case of the virgin who was forced, she is married to him unless they were not caught and her father cannot annul the marriage. An example of getting caught is when the 200 men from the tribe of Benjamin hid in the vineyards outside Shiloh and when the girls came out to dance for a festival they each grabbed a woman to be his wife and took them back home to the land of the tribe of Benjamin.
It should be obvious that the virgin does not have agency (the ability to consent or not consent) because she can be married to the guy who forced her. That, no matter how much it causes women to scream, is not the problem.
The problem is with the fact that the virgin who is seduced is married to the man she gives her virginity to. Any serious study of the Bible reveals that the only acts necessary to initiate a marriage is the intent of the man to marry and if the woman is a virgin, the consummation of the marriage. If the woman is a widow or divorced woman, the initiation of marriage requires the intent of the man, the consent of the woman and the consummation of the marriage.
Because the virgin is a special class of woman who does not have the capacity to consent or not consent to marriage, taking the girls virginity is a public statement on the part of the man that he is marrying her and the act of doing so is the consummation of their marriage. Think about that and reflect on the fact that 80% of “unmarried” Evangelical women report they are no longer virgins.
The Evangelicals got it wrong. The 80% of the non-virgin Evangelical women who are not “officially” married are actually married, don’t realize it and they are committing adultery with every additional partner they bed. Why? Their father had the chance to annul the marriage when he heard of it and did not do so. Seriously. What father today understands what the last two passages even say, much less believes that having her cherry popped means his little girl just got married and he has 24 hours to annul it on the day he learns of it (Numbers 30, the Law of Vows)?
And when that woman finally “officially” walks down the aisle wearing a white gown to get “officially” married, she is doing so as a woman ineligible to marry because she is already married to another man and her “official marriage” is simply institutionalizing her adultery. The point of Matthew 5:31-32 was that God will not accept an illegitimate divorce. How much more so when there was no divorce at all?
How many “married couples” in your church are actually married to each other? It’s pretty much guaranteed that only the ones in which the wife has an N=1 are actually married. The rest are ALL committing adultery unless the woman’s father annulled her marriage after she lost her virginity or if she lost her virginity by being raped and not discovered.
Which is worse? The level of adultery in the church demonstrated by what the Word says, or the fact the people in the church refuse to accept what God said about the initiation of marriage and reject teachings of Scripture in this matter?
The real question is how to fix the problem, but it should be obvious that the problem cannot be solved without first recognizing the magnitude of the problem. The refusal of the church to recognize the issue of fraudulent, illegitimate divorces and “remarriage” in the church is sufficient to demonstrate that this is an intractable problem.