Twenty-Four Words That Can Change Your Life

It can be difficult to teach children (and even adults) what the Bible says about marriage, but it’s necessary that they know right from wrong.  There’s no guarantee that they’ll choose the right path and not the wrong one, but at least they should know the difference.

There are three passages of Scripture that deal with how marriage is begun.  The first is Genesis 2:24, the foundational law regarding marriage.  The second is Exodus 22:16-17, which deals with how to handle a case of marriage by seduction.  The third is Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which deals with how to handle a case of marriage by rape.  We’ll start with the general law:

24 words1a

So, there you have it.  The actions of the man are to leave (not necessarily a physical act), because in the act of marriage he is starting a new family and he will be the head of his house; no longer under the authority of his parents.  The man cleaves to his wife.  Some translations say “joined to his wife” but the point is this is where most people get it wrong.  The cleaving is the sex- the consummation of the marriage.  We know this because this is what the man is doing.

Most people will tell you that the “cleave” part is the marriage ceremony, and they’re right, but it doesn’t mean what they think it means.  You can call the act of penetration a ceremony if you want to, but it tends to be one in which there are no witnesses.  The reason most people say the “cleave” part is the whole wedding ceremony with the dress, the stressed out bride, the controlling mother-in-law and all that… is because they assume the next part (becoming one flesh) is the consummation of the marriage.  This is incorrect.

We know the “become one flesh” isn’t the consummation of the marriage because in Matthew 19, Jesus was asked about the grounds for divorce and He quoted Genesis 2:24 and then said:  “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”  Got that?  The “shall become one flesh” part is what God does and it happens when the marriage is consummated.  The Apostle Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 and compared being one flesh in marriage with being one body in Christ, saying they were both a great mystery (Ephesians 5:28-32).   Becoming “one flesh” is a spiritual joining that God performs, not the man.

But, does having sex really make you married?  Doesn’t there have to be somebody else involved?  Let’s look at the next passage, dealing with a seduction:

What we see there is the guy seduces the girl and she gives him her virginity.  They are now married.  Problem is, he didn’t get her father’s permission and maybe her father isn’t so enthusiastic about this marriage.  As it turns out, Numbers 30:5 gives the father the authority to annul any vow or agreement with binding obligations that his daughter makes.  She chose to get married and now she’s not a virgin any longer and she is thoroughly married under Genesis 2:24, but according to Numbers 30:5 her father can forbid that agreement and the man is not eligible so there is no marriage.  And he still has to pay.  In fact, he has to pay either way.

But, if sex makes you married, what about consent?  What happens if the girl is raped?  Surely that can’t mean that the girl has to marry her rapist, right?  Nobody likes this, but as a matter of fact, sex makes her married even if she didn’t consent.  If they are discovered (the evidence proving there was no agreement on her part) then her father doesn’t have an agreement of hers that he can annul and he can’t annul the marriage.  In addition, the guy can’t divorce her all the days of his life.  Seems that they didn’t believe in slut-walks back then…

24 words3

So, what you can see is Genesis 2:24 says the act of taking her virginity makes her married (does anyone claim Eve was not a virgin?).  Exodus 22:16-17 makes the point that if the guy didn’t get permission from the father, her father has the right to forbid her agreement and annul the marriage.  And not to put too fine a point on it, the consent of the virgin is not necessary at all because if she is raped then she’s married to the guy who took her virginity.  If her father sells her into slavery to be married then she is married.  If she is captured in battle and forced to marry then she is married.  In every case without her consent.  Period.

 Objections and Arguments

In their desperation, many try to claim that the “he must pay a dowry” of Exodus 22:16 and “she shall become his wife” of Deuteronomy 22:29 indicates the marriage occurs at some future time with an official marriage ceremony with an exchange of vows and stuff like that.  No, that’s what they want to see but it isn’t there.  Ultimately this devolves to the question of whether the man actually committed to marry the woman.  The claim that he didn’t is somewhat akin to him signing a contract and then claiming that he had no intent to enter the agreement.  He engaged in a singular activity (sex) that permanently and irrevocably changed the woman (she lost her virginity) and the claim of “no intent” or “no commitment” is preposterous.

And yet you will see a plethora of finely tuned arguments trying to convince you that what the text plainly says just isn’t so.  There are long, detailed linguistic arguments that claim, for example, the woman in Deut. 22:28-29 wasn’t raped because the word used for “seized” doesn’t communicate enough force to indicate rape. They ignore the fact that verse 29 states she was violated, the same word used in verse 24 to explain why the man was being put to death (adulterous rape).  The word is also used to describe what Shechem did to Dinah (marital rape), what Amnon did to Tamar, along with one other occurrence of the same thing (incestuous  rape), as well as the woman captured on the battlefield who was forced to become a man’s wife (marital rape).  The text says all of them were violated and in every case there is a distinct lack of consent, which is the fundamental element defining rape.  The evidence thus clearly demonstrates that a virgins consent and/or commitment is not necessary for the act of marriage to be accomplished.

Then it devolves to the man’s intent to commit.  How many times have we heard something like:  “Oh- so you didn’t intend to enter this agreement?  Then you shouldn’t have signed the contract.”  Everyone understands this because there are acts, such as signing a contract, that with the signature on the contract executes the agreement.  A good argument is fraud, that they were tricked into signing the contract and not aware they were doing so because they thought they were signing something else.  It’s actually a claim of negligent fraud and the response is “didn’t you read what you were signing?”   It is a maxim of law that “fraud vitiates the most solemn of contracts” but the burden is always on the individual to prove they were defrauded into entering the agreement.  However, this is modern law.  Other than the father’s authority and responsibility to review his daughters agreements and approve of them or nullify them as he sees fit, the Bible has no provision for annulling a marriage after it has begun.

This is EXACTLY the claim Jacob could have made with his marriage to Leah, but he didn’t because he knew he was now married to her.  The text clearly says her father (Laban) tricked him into the marriage and by the time he discovered she was not Rachel (the next morning) he had already consummated the marriage to her and they were married.  Had Jacob discovered this trickery before he actually married her by engaging in the act of marriage he could have returned the virgin Leah to her father and demanded his proper bride.  But that didn’t happen and he married Leah with the physical act of consummation.

“You say you didn’t intend to marry her… that you didn’t actually commit to the marriage?  It doesn’t work that way.  If you had no intention of marrying her you never should have taken her virginity.  You are now married because you willingly performed the act of marriage with her and that act cannot be reversed.”

Understand the context of Exodus 22:16-17.  Everybody knew the law regarding marriage, that sex made you married because it was literally the consummation of the marriage.  Likewise, everybody understood that the groom had to pay her father a bride-price.  So, what happens if the guy avoids Dad, sneaks in, seduces the daughter and chango-presto they’re married.  He didn’t have an agreement with the father, so should he have to pay for her?  Moses said yes.  And not only that, but if the father says “NO” and forbids the marriage (“absolutely refuses to give her“) then he still has to pay.  So there.

The “she shall become his wife” of Deuteronomy 22:29 is even easier to deal with.  Go back to Genesis 2:24, where we have the man consummating the marriage and God making them one flesh.  When, pray tell, did God make them to become one flesh?  In the act of consummation or at some future point?   The phrase “they shall become one flesh” is an imperative statement.  It’s happened, right now, and there is no way to change it.  We see the same thing with “she shall become his wife” in Deuteronomy 22:29.  The father cannot annul the marriage because there was no agreement and they are married, right now, it’s happened and nothing will change that.

VIRGIN =  Marriage Material.  You break it, you bought it.


This entry was posted in Biblical Illiteracy, Marriage, Marriages Go Their Own Way, Messages to a young man and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Twenty-Four Words That Can Change Your Life

  1. Renee Harris says:

    So one yd old girl can be marry today……

    • What is it with you and this 1 year old stuff?

      The Bible does not forbid suicide, but I certainly don’t advocate it.

      The Bible says to obey the government and there are sure as hell age of consent laws and statutory restrictions on when a girl can marry, so, no. A 1-year old girl cannot be married.

      You been taking classes on Sharia law or something?

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  7. glad2meetyou says:

    Hi Artisanal Toad,

    Thanks for answering my first question about your flowchart. Where did that go? I have other questions and a concern I’d like to explain here.

    Regarding Exodus 22:16, how do you know that the words “to be” are not in the original text, and are an addition by the translators? What Bible do you use? Do you know Hebrew? I don’t know Hebrew, so I consulted 18/21 translations had the words “to be” or an equivalent meaning for Exodus 22:16, and 3/21 translations did not have the words “to be”. Of the three translations without “to be” or an equivalent meaning, one was the “Young’s Literal Translation.” These findings support your claim.

    Still, if the “to be” phrase is not an addition by the translators and is in the original text, then the dowry makes the marriage. Marriage is not initiated when the man breaks the virgin’s hymen during sex. Here God would not have made the two one flesh at the moment the virgin’s hymen breaks and blood is spilled. Here a man must pay a dowry before the woman is his wife. If the “to be” phrase is original, then the dowry creates the covenant. So I think that your arguments hinge on your claim about this verse.

    Furthermore, I don’t see a strong argument to assume “this reason” in Genesis 2:24 is marriage and making babies. Yes, God commanded mankind to multiply right after creating them male and female, but that was back in Genesis 1. It’s a stretch to say that, by “this reason”, God is referring to a command made in the last chapter, before the story of Adam and Eve began. I think it’s more likely that “this reason” refers instead to Adam accepting Eve. Husband and wife become one flesh because the first man and woman did it. “This reason” is the precedent of Adam and Eve, which, though similar, is not the same as the command to bear fruit and multiply from the last chapter.

    • First, I use the older version of the NASB, which places the translator additions in italics. This can be confirmed at biblehub here: The reason I use the older NASB is that I’ve found that it is the best translation in terms of straight translation/transliteration and readability available.

      On Biblehub’ Greek and Hebrew pages, the translators additions are in brackets, meaning those words are not supported in the original text. It took me a few minutes but now I realize what you are referring to, because except for an unexplained strike-out in the graphic for this post I haven’t made that point about “to be” in Exodus 22:16 in any articles on this blog. At any rate, the chart you’re looking for is here:

      It’s changed substantially since the last time you saw it. It still changes as I get time to work on it and I keep an updated link for the most recent version at the bottom of this post:

      Still, if the “to be” phrase is not an addition by the translators and is in the original text, then the dowry makes the marriage.

      Except that it isn’t and the point is completely accepted by the translators, so there goes your argument. I suspect the translators are careful to ensure that “to be” point is made (that those words are added) because they completely change the meaning of that text.

      As to the other translations, notice that the “to be” is presumed when they translate the text and while those words may not be used, the impact of the meaning is the same as if the “to be” is in the original text or was provided in English.

      I don’t see a strong argument to assume “this reason” in Genesis 2:24 is marriage and making babies.

      I suspect the reason you don’t see a strong argument to read the text as it’s written is you don’t have enough training and experience in this. Commands are implemented by laws, statutes, ordinances and eventually/possibly judgments. Commands are general and everything else explains the nitty-gritty of how things work. Genesis 2:24 is the Law of Marriage and it implements the command to “be fruitful and multiply.”

      Your objection that it was in the previous chapter is spurious. There are a number of laws given in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that reference marriage and the command to be fruitful and multiply. All of the incest statutes, for example, are further instruction that arises out of the command to be fruitful and multiply and have nothing to do with any of the commands in the Decalogue. That the laws were added to implement the command books and centuries later is irrelevant because God does not change.

      You are trying to make the argument that the law arose from the description of the act, rather than implementing the command and explaining the act. The question is, what are you really objecting to? This is a critical question when it comes to eisegesis and it appears that you are actually objecting to the Biblical standard that a virgin is married when she has sex the first time. Because that is certainly the point made with Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

      This is a very bitter pill for most men to swallow because it means the woman they thought they were married to isn’t actually their wife because some other man got her first and in doing so he married her. Which means she isn’t his wife because it isn’t possible to be wedded to a married woman because that is the act of adultery, not marriage.

      In Genesis 3:16 God commanded “he shall rule over you” to the woman. Can you explain Numbers 30 as anything other than the law that implements this? Along with all the other points in Scripture commanding the wife to submit to her husband? Can you not see the modification of the ruler-subject relationship created in Genesis 3:16 to the guardian-ward relationship described in Ephesians 5 and 1st Peter 3 in which the man is instructed to not just rule over her but to love her?

      God does not change and His commands last until the end of time and all things are made new again. As to what happens then, I only have faith that I’ll be there to take part in that.

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  14. WonderingTruthSeeker says:

    Please explain how coming to Jesus affects such an adultress union with many children?

    Strongs definition of to lie with includes non-intercourse connotations. What if everything but happened first?

    • If a woman got married, then left her husband and shacked up with another man, that is the crime/sin of adultery. The man she’s shacked up with and regularly having sex with (they have the kids to prove it) is likewise committing adultery with her. That is what Scripture says and it cannot be refuted.

      So, let’s say our man and woman living in adultery “come to Jesus”. Their sins are forgiven, right? Shall they go on sinning? Shall they continue in their sin? What is to be done about this situation?

      The average churchian idiot says “They must separate and that’s horrible because of the children” or some other ignorant blather. It’s ignorant blather because that’s the solution of last resort.

      First, the virgin has no agency and it doesn’t matter that she didn’t know she was being married when she gave some man her virginity and it didn’t matter that she didn’t consent. She’s married with that act (c.f. Genesis 2:24, Deut. 22:28-29).

      However, assuming she agreed to it and if she was living in her fathers house in her youth he can forbid that agreement, which annuls her marriage. It’s as if it never happened (c.f. Numbers 30:5, Exodus 22:17).

      If that happens, she was from that moment a non-virgin and eligible to marry, so when she agreed to marry her husband and had her party with the rings, vows and a dress, she was married. She is still married to the father of her children.

      But, let’s say that her father isn’t around or she waited until she was no longer living in his house in her youth. Assuming her husband is a non-Christian, he can give her a certificate of divorce for her adultery and she’s no longer married to him (c.f. Deut. 24:1, Matthew 19:9). At that point she is no longer married to him and she is free to be with the father of her children.

      Or, perhaps he is the only man she ever had sex with and so she hasn’t committed adultery. If he refuses to live with her and be her husband, he is the unbelieving spouse who would not live with her and she’s free (c.f. 1st Cor. 7:15).

      If he is a Christian man (forbidden to divorce his wife for any reason, c.f. 1st Cor 7:11), he cannot divorce her or send her away. However, if she shows up on his doorstep and demands he care for her and husband her and he refuses, he is violating the Lord’s command to live with his wife (c.f. 1st Peter 3:7). If that’s the case, according to 1st John 2, he is a liar and the truth is not in him, she is free from her unbelieving spouse who refuses to live with her.

      Or, she can refuse to go back to her Christian husband, but she must remain chaste because she is a married woman (c.f. 1st Cor 7:10). She can stay with the father of her children and he is free to take a wife who is free to meet his physical needs and the family does not need to be broken up.

      The bottom line is that if she must have sex she can return to her husband (or maybe visit from time to time). If the father of her children needs sex he can take a second woman and they can all live together.

      And I’m sure that sounds crazy, but those are the options the Bible provides.

      As to your second question, I think you left some words out and I’m not sure what you’re asking.

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