The Easter Bunny And “Zanah”

Looking at Zanah...

This is Zanah. Did she just take that off, or is she just carrying it? We’ll never know, shall we? Zanah is like that…

On my travels through the interwebzs, I once again stumbled across further evidence of the Easter Bunny’s nefarious work and the insidious damage done by his scheming minions.  We all “know” the Easter Bunny isn’t real, but under the right conditions almost everyone claims he exists.  What amazes me is no-one recognizes all the easter-eggs he’s dropped over the centuries and the damage they’ve done…   this is an example:

The Hebrew word “zanah” (whoring) refers to a man who has voluntary sexual intercourse with a woman other than his wife, or a woman who has voluntary sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband. By definition, “zanah” also includes all forms adultery and prostitution. Yet some people have made the false claim that Scripture does not speak against sex outside of a marriage covenant. They claim that the Hebrew word “zanah“, at least as it’s used in Scripture, only refers to sex in exchange for payment (prostitution), denying that it can also refer to sex apart from marriage (promiscuous sex). This article intends to debunk such false claims by demonstrating conclusively, from Scripture, that “zanah” does NOT mean “prostitution” exclusively, but rather “whoring” or “fornication” in general.

I am absolutely convinced that these folks are very sincere in their faith, but sincerely ignorant as well because the Easter Bunny got to them.  Their ignorance is by design and I want you to see not only the truth, but how this ignorance is sincerely used to propagate lies.  Further down that page is the key to the whole thing that conclusively proves the work of the Easter Bunny.  They are convinced that the standard of marriage is the A-J perversion of equally matching exclusively-committed monogamy.

Scripture demonstrates that whoring occurs when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife (including when she prostitutes her body for hire). Scripture demonstrates that adultery occurs when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman who is another man’s wife (including when she prostitutes her body for hire). This is why every single case of adultery is also whoring, yet not every case of whoring is necessarily adultery.

Obviously, these folks don’t understand The Law of Marriage (Genesis 2:24), but honestly, it isn’t their fault.  It isn’t so much that they are wrong, but that they cannot be right.  You say the Hebrew word “zahah” is a sin?  Great!  Have you seen Romans 4:15 and 5:13 recently?  No?  Well check this out:

“for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

“for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”

If we put those passages together, we have something like this:

“Where there is no Law, there can be no violation; and while we know sin it in the world, without a violation of the Law, there is no sin imputed.”

Catch that?  Although sin exists in the world, when the Bible specifically calls something “sin” it’s because there is a specific prohibition in the Law and a violation of that prohibition makes it sin.  So, look at the Hebrew word “zanah”  and what, specifically, are the violations of Scripture that “zanah” might be referring to?  Let’s see:

  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of any close male relative (Leviticus 18:6).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his mother (Leviticus 18:7).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his father’s wife (Leviticus 18:8).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his sister (Leviticus 18:9).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his half-sister (Leviticus 18:9).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his son’s daughter [granddaughter] (Leviticus 18:10).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his daughter’s daughter [granddaughter] (Leviticus 18:10).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his father’s wife’s daughter by his father [half-sister by father] (Leviticus 18:11).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his father’s sister [aunt] (Leviticus 18:12).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his mother’s sister [aunt] (Leviticus 18:13).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his father’s brother’s wife [aunt] (Leviticus 18:14).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his son’s wife [daughter-in-law] (Leviticus 18:15).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of his brother’s wife [sister-in-law] (Leviticus 18:16).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter [step-daughter] (Leviticus 18:17).
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her son’s daughter [step-granddaughter] (Leviticus 18:17).  [Polygyny ONLY]
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter’s daughter [step-granddaughter] (Leviticus 18:17).   [Polygyny ONLY]
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her sister as a rival while the woman is still living (Leviticus 18:18). [Polygyny ONLY]
  • A man may not uncover the nakedness of a woman during her menses (Leviticus 18:19).
  • A man may not have sexual intercourse with another man’s wife (Leviticus 18:20).
  • A man may not have anal sexual intercourse with another male (Leviticus 18:22).
  • A man may not have sexual intercourse with an animal (Leviticus 18:23).
  • A woman may not have sexual intercourse with an animal (Leviticus 18:23).

OK, that’s 12 instances of incest, 3 instances of incest that are restricted to polygynous marriages, 1 of adultery, 1 of male homosexuality, 2 of bestiality and the ever-favorite, having sex with a woman (to include your wife) while she is on her menses.  But, they left something out!

What about all the instances in which sex played a part in the act of idolatry?  The word “zanah” is as often translated with an idolatrous connotation as well as with a sexual connotation, and sometimes…  both.  Because a man or a woman can commit idolatry, which makes a sexual act that would have been lawful a case of sexual immorality.   And the victims of the Easter Bunny all scream “NOOOOOOO!  as they pull out their lexicons and dictionaries and make longwinded arguments about why the Easter Bunny is right.  Except that he’s wrong, and he intentionally lied about this stuff.

Did you notice there is not one prohibition on sex with a prostitute back in the Law?  That’s almost a trick question because it doesn’t appear on the list, but idolatry is forbidden and part of many of the idolatrous practices was having sex with cult prostitutes for money or with ordinary individuals for free.  Deuteronomy 23:17-18 condemns and prohibits both male and female cult prostitutes.  But not ordinary money-for-sex prostitution.   So actually, what would be perfectly legitimate sex, if done in the context of idolatry is now a sin.  Because of the idolatry.  But the Easter Bunny needs the idolatry separated from the sex to claim that sex is sinful.  The Easter Bunny hates sex.

Even in the New Testament, where 1st Corinthians 6:16-17 forbids Christian men to use a prostitute, there is nothing forbidding a woman, even a Christian woman, from working as a prostitute.  That passage is actually not quite what you think, but the fact remains, there is nothing in all of Scripture that forbids or condemns a woman (even a Christian woman) from selling her body as a prostitute.

Notice there is not a single reference, anywhere in the Law, that prohibits a man from having sex with any woman he is eligible to marry, whether he is married or not.  It is not a sin.

But if some lawful act is done under the auspices of idolatry, it’s a sin.  The act of sex with your wife is not a sin but with your neighbors wife it is a sin.  Some might say, yeah- well, they’re different people.  OK, ordinarily sex with your wife is not a sin, but if you have sex with her while she’s menstruating that is a sin.  Same act, same two people, one is a sin and the other isn’t.  The jumbled up focus on the word “zahan” is because there is no prohibition on men having sex with eligible women.  Certain Bible scholars know that, but they don’t know why so they assume its sinful because for 1500 years the Easter Bunny has been telling people it’s sinful.  So, they redefine “zanah” to mean anything but marital sex.  The fact that it’s not prohibited doesn’t matter, it’s “zanah” so it must be sinful.

The prohibition isn’t there and the reason is the Law of Marriage, but nobody knows that because the Easter Bunny and his minions have hidden it in plain sight.  These sincerely mistaken folks even continue into the New Testament, spotting a tie-in between the word Hebrew word “zanah” and the Greek word “porneia” that indicates they mean the same thing:

The verse in 1 Corinthians 10:8, “Neither should we commit whoring (porneia), as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell” links the Greek word porneia with the Hebrew word zanah. Paul is referring to the thousands of men who committed “whoredom” with the daughters of Moab [Numbers 25:1]. Paul is clearly condemning these acts of sexual immorality for married as well as unmarried men.

And even though the men of Israel had idolatrous, adulterous sex with the women of Moab, these guys can’t see that.  All they can see is sex without a marriage so it must be a sin.  Prohibitions?  We don’t need no stinking prohibitions!  We’ve got “zanah”

But, let’s look at the elements of “zanah” in this mix.  The women who did this were not virgins, which means they (according to the Law of Marriage) were already married.  So, they were having adulterous sex as part of the process of worshiping their heathen gods.  That is the very definition of sinful “zanah” but these guys completely skip the idolatry and the adultery and only focus on that which isn’t even prohibited:  sex without being married.  But that sounds really weak so they play the translation game:  The word in Hebrew doesn’t mean what they want but it’s translated into English as “fornicate” because that’s what the Easter Bunny said to do.  Let’s define “fornicate” as sin and now we get our prohibition!

The bottom line is this.  The Hebrew word “zanah” means some form of adulterous sex or some form of idolatrous sex.  It also means an ordinary prostitute or the use of an ordinary prostitute.  Calling someone a “zanah” might mean they are an ordinary prostitute but even if she was, she still hasn’t committed a sin.  Other than cult prostitution (we just covered that with idolatrous sex) there is no Law against prostitution or using a prostitute.  However, anyone studying this will be lost until they understand The Law of Marriage so we’ll assume folks can educate themselves and we’ll compare and contrast:

This “Zanah” Is Sinful

  • If a married woman commits adultery she is a sinful “zanah”
  • If a married prostitute commits adultery she is a sinful “zanah”
  • If a cult prostitute has idolatrous sex, she is a sinful “zanah”
  • If any eligible woman has sex as part of idolatry, she is a sinful“zanah”

This “Zanah” Is NOT Sinful

  • If a money-for-sex prostitute services men, she is zanah but their sex acts are not sin.
  • If an eligible woman has sex with a man she might be called zanah but not in sin.
  • If an eligible woman has sex with a man (married or not) and consents to marriage, their act of sex is the consummation of their marriage and they are married.  She is not a zanah.
  • If an eligible non-virgin woman has sex with a man (married or not) but does not consent to marriage, they are not married and while some might call her a zanah, the sex still isn’t a sin.
  • If an eligible virgin has sex with an eligible man (married or not) they are married.  She is not zanah, they are not “fornicating” or having “premarital sex.”  They are married, not in sin.


How did all these definitions get so screwed up?  The simple answer is the Easter Bunny has had a long time to put this plan into action.  In order to understand how things got this way, let’s go back some 1600 years or so and look at quotes from church history:

The Church Fathers’ views of sex were dominated by ascetic values, for most of the Fathers were, at one time or another in their careers, monks or hermits. The most important patristic authority on sexual matters, the one whose views have most fundamentally influenced subsequent ideas about sexuality in the West, was St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430).  Augustine held strong, deep seated convictions about sexual relationships and the role of sex in human history, convictions that flowed from his own experience and his reflections upon it, convictions that brooked neither denial nor dissent(3).
Sexual desire, Augustine believed, was the most foul and unclean of human wickednesses, the most pervasive manifestation of man’s disobedience to God’s designs (4). Other bodily desires and pleasures, Augustine felt, did not overwhelm reason and disarm the will: one can be sensible while enjoying a good meal, one can discuss matters reasonably over a bottle of wine. But sex, Augustine argued, was more powerful than other sensual attractions; it could overcome reason and free will altogether. Married people, who ought to have sex only in order to beget children, can be overwhelmed by lubricious desires that blot out reason and restraint; they tumble into bed together simply in order to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s body. This, Augustine thought, was not only irrational but sinful (5). Augustine’s underlying belief in the intrinsic sinfulness of carnal desire and the sensual delight that accompanied sexual union became a standard premise of Western beliefs about sexuality during the Middle Ages and beyond (6).
Not only was sexual desire a basic and pervasive evil, according to Augustine, but it was also a vice that no one could be sure of mastering. We are born with it and it lasts as long as we live. No one, whatever his age or position in life, can confidently claim to have conquered it (7). “As I was writing this,” Augustine noted in his polemic against Julian, “we were told that a man of eighty-four, who had lived a life of continence under religious observance with a pious wife for twenty-five years, has just bought himself a music-girl for his pleasure.”  (page 80)
Augustine wrote eloquently on the theology of sex, but he was by no means the only patristic writer to deal with the subject. His contemporaries by and large shared Augustine’s negative attitudes toward the role of sex in Christian life. A few were even more certain than he that sex was a root cause of sin and corruption. St. Jerome (ca. 347-419/20), for example, maintained that sex and salvation were contradictions. Even in marriage, coitus was evil and unclean, Jerome thought, and married Christians should avoid sexual contact whenever possible. St. Gregory of Nyssa was still more emphatic: he taught that only those who renounced sex completely and led lives of unblemished virginity could attain spiritual perfection (13).
Such views as these owed as much to philosophy, particularly to Stoicism, as to religious teaching, and St. Jerome explicitly acknowledged in his treatise against Jovinian that he was drawing upon Stoic sources (14). But although fourth-hand fifth-century patristic writers borrowed heavily from pagan sexual ethics, they nevertheless sought to legitimize their borrowings by finding support for their conclusions in the Scriptures. This sometimes required ingenious feats of imaginative interpretation, but a Scriptural foundation for their ideas about sexuality seemed essential (15).  (page 82)
Patristic writers assumed, as Roman law did, that consent made marriage. They rejected the notion that consummation was an essential part of marriage.  It made no difference whether a couple ever went to bed together; so long as they consented to marry one another, that was what counted (63). If consummation was not essential, it might follow that sexual impotence constituted no reason for holding a marriage invalid, and Augustine at any rate seems to have subscribed to this view (64). (page 92)
The marital debt created a parity of rights and obligations between the spouses. Each had an equal right to demand that it be paid; each had an equal obligation to comply with the other’s demands. Equality of the sexes in marriage meant equality in the marriage bed, but not outside of it (69). Just as each spouse was entitled to sexual service from the other on demand, so each was entitled to require sexual fidelity from the other. Neither had a right to seek sexual fulfillment outside of marriage, even if the other party was, for example, absent or ill and thus sexually unavailable (70). Cessation of marital relations did not break the bond of marriage, just as the beginning of sexual relations was irrelevant to the contracting of marriage (71). The evident aim of patristic matrimonial theory was to separate marriage as far as possible from its sexual component, defining it as a contractual union, separate and distinct from the sexual union of the married persons. (page 93)


What you should be able to see is that the church, the guys who were in charge of holding, preserving, transcribing (reproducing), evaluating and translating the Scripture had a vested interest in defining all sex as sin.  Their attitude, to this day, is “we decided what Scripture is and we decide what it means.”  To illustrate this, look at the public pronouncement at the conclusion of the Council of Trent:

Furthermore, to check unbridled spirits, [THE COUNCIL] decrees that no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, distorting the Holy Scriptures in accordance with his own conceptions, presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, to whom it belongs, to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and holds, or even contrary to the unanimous teaching of the fathers, even though such interpretations should never at any time be published.

Just read the underlined part and you’ll understand what they were saying.  “We don’t care what you just read, we don’t care what you learn and we don’t care what you know: We decide what Scripture means.”

If you ever have the privilege of debating a Catholic priest, especially a Jesuit, you’ll find that they have an unshakable faith that their position is correct no matter what the text says.  This is because the church, in addition to the text of the Scriptures, has the collected traditions and teachings of the church which are held to be the equal of the Scriptures.  If there is a conflict, then the matter is decided in favor of the teachings and traditions.

Got that?  The guys who laid down the traditions and teachings were the ones who hated sex, thought sexual pleasure was the most wicked of filthy sins in existence, rejected Biblical teaching that the consummation of the marriage actually formed it and instead claimed it took public consent; who claimed that both men and women were to be held to the same norms of sexual behavior and decided marriage was to be monogamous with an exchange of permanent and exclusive commitment.

It is the result of this Easter Bunny teaching that causes protestants to be convinced that “zanah” means that any sex outside the bounds of established matrimony is sinful.  That marriage is some form of covenant made by men and not between the man and God.  That the actual marriage takes place when the man makes some form of public confession of commitment to marriage to his woman.

That’s Easter Bunny teaching, not what Scripture says.



  1. Augustine, Contra Julianum 3.11.22, in PL 44: 713: “Nam cum hoc opus in minibus haberem, nunciatus est nobis senex octaginta et quatuor agens annos, qui religiose cum conjuge religiosa jam viginti quinque annos vixerat continenter, ad libidinem sibi emisse Lyristriam.” Brown, Augustine of Hippo, p. 405.
  2. Augustine, Sermo 151. 5, in PL 38: 817: “Ergo semper pugnandum est, quia ipsa concupiscentia, cum qua nati sumus, finiri non potest quamdiu vivimus: quotidie minui potest, finiri non potest.” See also St. John Cassian, Conlationes 4.11.2 and 4.15.1, in CSEL 13: 105, 110, as well as his Institutiones 6.1, in CSEL 17: 115.
  3. Miiller,  Lehre, pp. 22-23; Lecky, Hist. of European Morals 2:281-82.
  4. Augustine, Contra Julianum 4.14.71, in PL 44: 773-74.
  5. Augustine, Contra Julianum 4.5.35, in PL 44: 756: “In quibus [cupiditatibus malis] libido prae caeteris est, cui nisi resistatur, horrenda immunda committit.”


  1. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 390-91; Edward A. Synan, “Augustine of Hippo, Saint,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages,  ed. Joseph R. Strayer et al., 13 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982- ; cited hereafter as DMA) 1: 646- 59. See also Bailey, Sexual Relation, pp. 58-59; Kosnik et al., Human Sexuality,  p. 36.
  2. Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 1.13, 1.26, 1.28, in PL 23: 229-30, 246, 249; Gregory of Nyssa, De virginitate 2, in PG 46: 323-24; Bailey, Sexual Relation, pp. 45-46; JoAnn McNamara, “Cornelia’s Daughters: Paula and Eustocium/’ Women’s Studies 11 (1984) 12- 13.
  3. Jerome, Adv. Jov.  1.49, in PL 23:280-81; Aries, “L’amour dans Ie mariage,” pp. 118-19; Philippe Delhaye, “Le dossier antimatrimonial de L’Adversus Jovinianum et son influence sur quelques ecrits latins du Xlle siecle,” Mediaeval Studies 13 (1951) 68. Jerome found some strands of Stoic ethics so congenial that he numbered Seneca among the saints; De viris illustribus 12, in PL 23: 662. But his use of the Stoics was highly selective; Colish, Stoic Tradition 2: 70-81.


  1. Augustine, De consensu evangelistarum 2.1.2, in CSEL 43: 82; De nupt. et concup.1.11.12, in CSEL 42: 224; Ambrose, De institutione virginis 6.41, in PL 16: 316; D’ErcoIe, “Consenso,” p. 28; Jean Gaudemet, “Indissolubilite et consommation du marriage: rapport d’Hincmar de Reims,” RDC 30 (1980) 29; William Joseph Dooley, Marriage according to St. Ambrose, Studies in Christian Antiquity, no. 11 (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1948), pp. 1-2.
  2. Augustine, De bono coniugali 7.7, 15.17, in CSEL 41: 196-97, 209-10; Josef Lamer, Die Storingen des geschlechtlichen Vermogens in der Literatur der auctoritativen Theologie des Mittelalters: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Impotenz und des medizinischen Sachverstiindigenbeweises im kanonischen Impotenzprozess,  Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Mainz, Literatur, geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse (1958), no. 6 (Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 1958), p. 300.


  1. Augustine, Epist.  262, in CSEL 57: 621-31; Borresen, Subordination and Equivalence, p. 104; Berrouard, “Saint Augustin et L’indissolubilite,” p. 141.
  2. Caesarius of ArIes, Serm. 43.7, in CCL 103: 193-94.
  3. Augustine, De nupt. et concup. 1.11.12, in CSEL 42: 224.


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22 Responses to The Easter Bunny And “Zanah”

  1. SnapperTrx says:

    GAH! That header image! I was eating, too! Put a warning on that thing!

    In other news, I will need to read through this a couple of times. I want to say I have read the article you are referring to in the past, but I will have to revisit it. It’s a lot to take in at one sitting.

    And the ‘frogs’ on the header are not helping.

  2. Mycroft Jones says:

    Augustine was a real piece of work. Bisexual. The way he treated his concubine was disgusting. And his fionse.

    • You have to remember that Augustine was one of the Manichaeans who came in the church at around the time the persecutions of non-Christians started. I have no idea as to his sexual proclivities, what I do know was that he was largely responsible for throwing out Biblical morality when it came to marriage.

  3. Pingback: Fornication, Premarital Sex and the Easter Bunny | Toad's Hall

  4. Pingback: The Lie That Caused The Adultery Epidemic | Toad's Hall

  5. Freedman says:

    Augustine of Hippo was very negative and influential, this is true. He was by no means the only Early father to have an anti-sex approach.

    The Martyr Justin (c. 100-165) wrote in his apology ‘We Christians marry only to produce children’

    Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) wrote a whole treatise regarding marriage and sexual relations (Stromata, Book III), including: ‘Our general argument concerning marriage, food, and other matters, may proceed to show that we should do nothing ‘- from desire. Our will is to be directed only towards that which is necessary. For we are children not of desire but of will. A man who marries for the sake of begetting children must practise continence so that it is not desire he feels for his wife, whom he ought to love, and that he may beget children with a chaste and controlled will. For we have learnt not to “have thought for the flesh to fulfil its desires.” We are to “walk honourably as in the way”, that is in Christ and in the enlightened conduct of the Lord’s way, “not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and lasciviousness, not in strife and envy.” However, one ought to consider continence not merely in relation to one form of it, that is, sexual relations, but in relation to all the other indulgences for which the soul craves when it is ill content with what is necessary and seeks for luxury. It is continence to despise money, softness, property, to hold in small esteem outward appearance, to control one’s tongue, to master evil thoughts.

    John Chrysostom (c. 349-407) has specific commentaries on the verses in Matthew 19:3-12 in Homily LXII on Matthew. From his writings, it is pretty clear that a man is only allowed one marriage unto death, but a second marriage after death of a wife is not without honor. It is also clear that “after the fornication (of a wife with another man) the husband is not a husband” He also addresses Paul’s words in Homily XIX on 1 Corinthians 7: We will, if you please, consider it with a view to actual cases. Thus, suppose a wife and husband, and let the wife be continent, without consent of her husband; well then, if hereupon he commit fornication, or though abstaining from fornication fret and grow restless and be heated and quarrel and give all kind of trouble to his wife; where is all the gain of the fasting and the continence, a breach being made in love? There is none. For what strange reproaches, how much trouble, how great a war must of course arise! since when in an house man and wife are at variance, the house will be no better off than a ship in a storm when the master is upon ill terms with the man at the head. Wherefore he saith, “Defraud not one another, unless it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer.” It is prayer with unusual earnestness which he here means.

    John Chrysostom also discusses porneo very clearly in several homilies on 1 Corinthians. Of special note is Homily XVIII on 1 Corinthians 6 where he talks about fornication with harlots.

    There are probably others in the ante-Nicene fathers and a lot in the Nicene fathers. I just quoted a couple to illustrate.

    • Freedman says:

      I am curious as to the point in time you would place the generally recognized early church writers going off base… because the martyr Justin was right after the last of the Apostles died. In fact, I have yet to see anything more positive than Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215). It seems more likely that the church was just restrictive/repressed about sex and marriage pretty much from the beginning, does it not?

      • That’s actually an interesting question. I am convinced that some of the early church writings were edited in later years to support the positions of the church, so I’m not sure we can really tell.

        That said, I put the beginnings in the generation that followed Christianity becoming the official religion of Rome and the real problem started with the persecution of the pagans because they joined the church and brought their pagan philosophies and beliefs with them.

        Augustine was a Manichean and Jerome was a committed Stoic; they were the two leaders who did more damage to the family down through the ages than anyone else, but there are too many to tell. So, the ideas that were accepted in 400 AD were codified between 500 and 600 AD and at that point it was baked into the cake.

        • Freedman says:

          That was true in the Western Empire (Italy to Spain, and Britannia, as well as North Africa West of Egypt). Not much in the Eastern Empire (Greece, Asia, Balkans, Middle East and Egypt). The writings of Jerome and Augustine are largely ignored by the Eastern Orthodox, Copts, Thomas Christians in India, etc., even to this day.

          Are you suggesting that those groups edited the writings of the early Fathers as well?

          • You have to keep in mind that Augustine and Jerome were writing some 700 years prior to the great schism and by the time the Eastern church was completely off on its own all of their ideas had been thoroughly baked into the cake. They may not quote them but the doctrine they created is certainly alive and well.

            As to editing the writings of the early Fathers, yes. This kid makes the point:


            Read through that page and you’ll see what I mean when I said that the problems started when the church became the official religion of Rome, because they actually became part of the government. If you read the various letters he has posted on his site, you’ll see a huge change from the NT to those letters:

            Ignatius of Antioch wrote in his Epistle to the Ephesians that bishops exist by the will of Jesus Christ. About bishops, he writes “we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself,” and “Wherever the bishop is, there is Christ.” Rebelling against spiritual authority or “doing your own thing” was not only frowned upon, but was looked upon as rebelling against God himself. There was no such thing as a spiritual loner in the early church.

            That is completely contrary to Romans 14 and the concept of freedom in Christ, but it’s completely in line with the church’s later power struggle with the nobility. Deeper than that, we see the demand to obey authority, rather than the praise that Paul gave the Bereans for searching the Scripture to confirm what was said. It’s night and day.

          • Freedman says:

            I read the page and I am not following you regarding “the problems started when the church became the official religion of Rome.”

            Since Christianity became “the official religion of Rome” in the year 325, there are only 300 years in which to frame “the early Church.” The Apostle John lived until about the year 100, which was the end of the Apostolic age. It is only within a window of 200 years then that we have a Church that is not the official religion of Rome.

            Writers like Ignatius and Polycarp were contemporaries of the Apostles (especially of the Apostle John). Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-105) *was* during the Apostolic times and several hundred years before becoming the official religion of Rome. The writings of the Martyr Justin (c. 100-165) were a generation later. If all of these writings were changed (edited, abridged, embellished, etc.) then it is not at all inconceivable that the New Testament scriptures were also changed.

            To argue that their writings conflicted with the scriptures is a fallacy given that the scriptures were not canonized until at least 100 years after Christianity was the official religion of Rome. Especially in the time of Ignatius, what were “the Scriptures” were the Old Testament writings, and even those were not clearly canonized, as evidenced by the rabbinical debates (c. 70-135, the “Jamnia” debates over canonicity of the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes).

            After looking at the timeline and realizing that there was not a “bible” for those first 300-400 years of Christianity (at least in the sense that we have now) but rather a large collection of competing writings, oral teachings, and heresies, the picture is pretty bleak. It also calls into question who “the Church” actually was/is, let alone what was/is the correct doctrine.

          • Notice the focus and emphasis on obedience to authority, which became a key issue around 500 AD and gradually grew in importance through 1100 AD.

            The idea that one is to see one’s bishop as if he were Christ is contrary to what is taught in passages like Ephesians 5:21, which is Paul’s closing statement to the church before he moved on to the family.

            My point is the huge difference between those letters by early church fathers and those letters by the Apostles in terms of how they dealt with authority within the church. The fact that at the time those letters were originally written there was no official canon is irrelevant.

            I could be wrong, because not being Apostles, the early church fathers may have been much more acutely aware of authority issues and emphasized it because the letters of the Apostles provided so very little support for their position in terms of what authority they actually had.

            Still, it just doesn’t pass my “smell” test.

          • Freedman says:

            There are other passages in the canon that refer to submitting to authority, either civil or Church. Hebrews 13:17 very likely refers to the bishop (from the Greek “episkopos”, i.e. overseer). Other passages talk about bishops: 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7. Submission to bishops and elders is pretty fundamental, early, and consistent in both the canon and the early writings of the fathers.

            When Christianity became the official religion of the empire, bishops were already well-established as leaders. They were just put into the position of governmental authorities as the Church was annexed as a wing of state. To say that the structure and function of bishops and elders was not in-place already is not accurate.

            In the Old Testament scriptures, it is pretty clear that God never intended that Israel would have a king, but rather would be a nation that was ruled by God as their king. Yet there were still the levites as priests (among whom there was a high priest), judges, and prophets (including Moses through John the Baptist). The structure of the Church had a lot of similarities. It was only after Israel demanded to have a king like the gentiles that a monarchy was established.

  6. Freedman says:

    I want to note that I omitted Tertullian (c. 150-230) because he became extremely anti-sex and became involved in Montanism. However, he was pretty darn early too.

  7. Chris says:

    So sex with a prostitute is not a sin, but according to your other blog post sex with a virgin equals marriage. Wouldn’t the prostitue be technically married?

    • First, Chris, you have a problem with reading comprehension.

      There is nothing in the Law about having sex with a prostitute. There is, however, a prohibition against Christian men having sex with prostitutes (1st Cor 6:15-16) that is limited only to Christian men.

      Sex with an eligible virgin is a marriage to the eligible virgin. So, if the prostitute starts off as a virgin, the first client is her husband and all the rest are cases of adultery.

      However, if the woman is a widow, a legitimately divorced woman or otherwise not married and not a virgin, then the sex is just sex. Because she is not a virgin she cannot be married with just sex, she has to agree to be married. If she doesn’t agree to marry, it’s just sex.

  8. Pingback: Marriage, Whores and Churchians | Toad's Hall

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