A Tired Old Argument

Commenter RichardP makes an old argument, one that really should be picked apart because it encapsulates so much error.  Rather than respond in-line in the comments I decided to turn this into a post.  Recently he said:

Re. Therefore, what God has joined together ….
Will God ever join together an unbeliever with an unbeliever? A believer with an unbeliever? (Rhetorical)

The question for which the Bible gives no definitive answer is “What constitutes a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ?” .

If God does not join together a believer with an unbeliever, then sex with a virgin does not automatically create a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ” They would both have to be believers, and only God can see the heart. Society, not so much.

(If God DOES join together a believer with an unbeliever, then that opens a whole nother theological can of worms. Primarily because it would give theological backing to the command to “man up and marry that slut” meme.)

Society cannot abide uncertainty. Particularly around marriage (are they married or not) – due to laws regarding who gets to inherit what. So – society creates artificial boundaries where the Bible is not clear what those boundaries are (this is marriage, this is not). In an imperfect world, where there must be a clear demarcation upon which the division and inheritance of property can rest, society is compelled to create such boundaries, artificial as they may be. It makes sense that the church would follow along.

For – in spite of all you say AT, the Bible gives no clear demarcation of what creates a union of which God says “Therefore, what God has joined together …” Because we do not have the skiz to say for certain who is a believer and who is not. But the succession of property rights demands a clear answer.

It basically boils down to that.

RichardP asks a question that isn’t that difficult to answer, then claims it to be rhetorical as if it really doesn’t matter.  The problem is that it is an excellent question that can easily be answered.

“Will God ever join together an unbeliever with an unbeliever”

For those who don’t know the Bible well, this is a great strawman argument and that’s what RichardP is trying to do, but for those who do know what the Bible says it’s the key to unraveling this knot of error.  Let’s first make some observations.

The first commandment to mankind was be fruitful and multiply.
The first law was Genesis 2:24, the law of marriage.
The first judgment on mankind was Genesis 3:16.

All of these things occurred in the Garden of Eden with just Adam and Eve, the mother and father of all.

The first commandment applied to all of mankind, the law of marriage applied to all of mankind and the fact is that all snakes crawl on their bellies, all women bring forth their children in pain and all women are hypergamous and desire a man who is fit to rule them.  To ask whether the believer can be joined to the unbeliever is to ask if Genesis 2:24 still means what it says.

One must ask whether God changed, or whether the law of marriage still applies as written.  Either God changed or He didn’t.  Either God lied or He didn’t.  Either Genesis 2:24 means what it says or it doesn’t.  Scripture helpfully answers these questions.

So, it follows that the answer to the question is yes, God will join together an unbeliever and a believer as one flesh if, according to the law of marriage, they marry.  We know this because Scripture says “the two shall become one flesh.”  Christ helpfully pointed out that God is the one who makes them one flesh in Matthew 19.  Since God does not change and God does not lie, this must apply to all people of all times of all situations.

The command in 2nd Corinthians 6:14 that forbids the believer from marrying the unbeliever is necessary because they can be married.  Genesis 2:24 states that when the man has sex with the virgin, God shall make the two become one flesh.  Therefore it will happen, which is why the command was given.  Otherwise it would be unnecessary.

The idea that some sort of “theological can of worms” is opened and some credence is given to the meme of “man up and marry the slut” is preposterous. RichardP might have read the relevant posts that I’ve written on the issue, but he clearly does not understand that the “slut” was married to the man she gave her virginity to and unless he’s dead or she’s a reader of my blog and has taken my advice, the “slut” is not actually a slut at all. She’s a married woman who has been committing adultery. It is not possible to marry a woman who is already married.

“The question for which the Bible gives no definitive answer is “What constitutes a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ?”

That is a lie.  RichardP claims the Bible is not clear on what constitutes a marriage because it doesn’t define the spiritual act of becoming of one flesh. Richard, that’s what we call a non sequitur. It does not follow.

Sex with an eligible virgin is to marry her because that’s what the Bible says and this blog has carefully pointed that out repeatedly. Did the man and the eligible virgin engage in the act of marriage? Yes or no? If yes, they are married. If no, they are not. Her consent is not required and as we see in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the rape of a virgin who is not betrothed, if they are discovered, results in her marriage to the man who raped her.

Interestingly Deuteronomy 22, which is the only passage in Scripture that discusses the crime of rape, only lists three categories of women. The eligible virgin, the betrothed virgin and the married woman. Not mentioned at all is the widow or divorce woman. Does this mean that God has no problem with the rape of widows and divorced women? No, it’s evidence that the issue is complex, because if for whatever reason the widow or divorced woman claimed that she agreed to be married to the guy  who raped her, they’re married.

The word “irony” comes to mind.  Some might think of “poetic justice” but the fact is, under the system God set up any man should think long and hard about the consequences of putting his penis in a woman’s vagina before doing it.  Because it’s the act of marriage.

Numbers 30:9 clearly says the widow and the divorced woman (the two primary examples of women who are not virgins and not married) are held accountable for their agreements without the oversight and accountability of any man. 1st Corinthians 7:39 says the Christian woman who is not a virgin and not married is free to marry whom she wishes, but only in the Lord. As to the women who desire to marry, Paul says “let them marry.” From the context and in keeping with the rules already laid out, Paul is speaking of women who are not virgins and no longer under the authority of her father or another man. Clearly her consent to marry is required because she is not a virgin.

The Bible is very clear on what the physical standards for marriage are, which is to be expected because adultery is a death penalty offense. How can someone be put to death for adultery if one cannot define when a person is married?  The apostle Paul stated that both the becoming one flesh in marriage as well as becoming part of the body of Christ was a great mystery. Yet, to follow RichardP’s logic, since becoming one body with Christ as part of the body of believers is a great mystery, we should institute arbitrary requirements for becoming a Christian.  You know, because certainty.

Well, no.

The Bible is very clear what physical acts a person must perform in order to become a Christian, stating that the person who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord shall be saved. We can hear the words and get an idea of what happened in the heart by seeing what kind of life they live.  Witness the standard for how to tell if that person who claims to be a Christian actually is a Christian, found in 1st John, chapter two. The fact is, our lack of understanding as to how the spiritual joining of the believer into the body of Christ occurs in no way changes the very real physical requirements that the Bible provides for becoming a Christian. In the same way, our lack of understanding about how the spiritual joining of the two as one flesh in marriage occurs does not change the very real physical requirements that the Bible specifically lists for becoming married.

Did the man have sex with a virgin woman that he was eligible to marry? He is married to her if the answer is yes.

Did the man have sex with a non-virgin woman who was eligible to marry him, after she agreed to marry him? He is married to her if the answer is yes.

This standard is not difficult to understand, there is no uncertainty. God even helpfully provided women with a hymen. If one understands what the Bible says about marriage, it becomes apparent that the woman’s hymen serves multiple functions, all of which are related to the act of marriage and the marriage that occurs when the virgin has sex for the first time.

It’s also true that lots of bells and whistles can be added to this, with betrothal periods and agreements between the father and husband-to-be and ceremonies and celebrations and obnoxious mother-in-laws…  but the basic requirements stay the same.  If other requirements are added, then according to Numbers 30:2 the men are required to keep them, but they are voluntary.  These sorts of agreements affect the eligibility of the woman to marry, they don’t change the standards of when and how the couple is married.

Hidden behind this ridiculous argument is the idea that some authority figure in the form of the church or the state is required in order for a marriage to be legitimate.  Because of property?  No, because of power and control.  That is the argument the Easter Bunny made well over a thousand years ago and it keeps cropping up, but that isn’t part of the system that God designed.  It isn’t that God’s design wasn’t clear on who is and who is not married, it’s evidence that the Easter Bunny rejected God’s design and instituted his own as a scheme to gain power and control.

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9 Responses to A Tired Old Argument

  1. SFC Ton says:

    Yeah man they way most folks confuse law of the land and rather new “traditions” with God’s law is utterly old news and boring

  2. OKRickety says:

    “The Bible is very clear what physical acts a person must perform in order to become a Christian, stating that the person who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord shall be saved.”

    [Rom. 6:4 NASB] 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

    It appears to me that you are skipping this physical action (that is, baptism) to become a Christian, unless you wish to claim that this is referring to something other than baptism by immersion in water.

  3. Just Some Guy says:

    @OKRickety wrote: “It appears to me that you are skipping this physical action (that is, baptism) to become a Christian, unless you wish to claim that this is referring to something other than baptism by immersion in water.”

    I’ve always wanted to try this out. I think we can very easily rule out the “requirement” of baptism by just looking at the crucifixion. The one thief said, “…remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”, to which Jesus replied, “…today you will be with Me in Paradise.” When did the thief get baptized? I’m really curious how those who believe that baptism is a requirement can address this. If Baptism is a REQUIREMENT, how can Jesus say that the thief would join Him? And no cheating saying, ‘He’s Christ and can do whatever He wants’.

    I think you are confusing Rom 6:4 as being prescriptive when it’s obviously an analogy. It’s describing baptism as dying and being reborn. It’s a great thing; a life changing event on a spiritual level, no doubt, but it wasn’t a Requirement for Salvation.

  4. whysoserious? says:


    I was introduced to your blog through your posts at Dalrock’s, and would like to start off by thanking you for creating a space for frank discussion of issues avoided by many. I agree with you on polygyny and lust, and appreciate the word you do to dispel the fictions that permeate contemporary Christianity.

    That said, I do believe you are mistaken about premarital sex. The way I understand it, you say that the Greek ‘kollao’ signifies sex in Matt. 19:4-5 (and so too in Gen. 2:24) because Paul writes about ‘kollao’ with a prostitute in I Cor. 6:16. You assume that, since a prostitute is involved, ‘kollao’ must mean sex. Consequently, if a man marries a woman who had premarital sex, his marriage is actually not valid, and he is really committing adultery against her true husband. Please correct me if I’m misrepresenting your perspective.

    Now, in Ezekiel 23:1-4, we read God describing himself as a man married to two sisters who were prostitutes in their youth. Yet this is not seen as adultery! What gives? I suppose you would say that a) their father annulled their initial marriages or b) they are divorced or widowed. But the text says nothing to support that theory. Likewise, the sexual histories of Rahab and other prostitutes in the Bible are rarely mentioned, which seems odd for a matter of (theoretically) such moral importance. Your view is internally consistent, and you could brush these concerns off as culturally assumed in ancient times, but I think there may be a neater solution.

    I have two alternate theories of sex and marriage to try to explain this, and I would appreciate your feedback.

    1). I Cor. 6 is a continuation of the discussion of sexual immorality that began in chapter five. Here, ‘porne’ is used like ‘zanah’ to signify a sexual loose woman, but not necessarily a cash-for-sex prostitute. ‘Kollao’ means to be contractually joined in marriage, and ‘one flesh’ is the quality which results from marriage. Given the use of ‘kollao’ elsewhere in the New Testament, this isn’t far-fetched at all. Contextually, Paul is discussing sexual immorality – adultery, incest, bestiality, sodomy – and adultery is the only sin that makes sense here. So, Paul is condemning ‘wife-sharing’ practices, or anything else which defiles one’s own wife. Since a man is one flesh with his wife, the immoral practices of his spouse are also his own; as he is a Christian, they also reflect on the Church. Sex with cash-for-sex, non-cult prostitutes is left free of regulation. (See my explanation of the Exodus passage after 2).)

    2). I Cor. 6 is a reference to the widespread use of temple prostitutes in Corinth (immoral behavior according to the Law), and ‘kollao’ does mean sex. However, we interpret Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 differently, focusing on the agent of unification. Genesis 2 explains why sex exists: because the woman was taken from the man, so that man would not be alone. It is a declarative passage, explaining a phenomenon – not defining a moral law. Christ in Matthew 19 explains that divorce is a separation of what God has put together. Where’s God in Genesis 2:24? Nowhere to to be found – the unification is left passive, without an agent. In Ezekiel 16:8, we see an explicit example of marriage being a covenant between a man and a woman, consummated by sex. If a marriage covenant is before God, then God is the unifying agent who made the two into one flesh when the couple consummated their marriage, and his hand in the matter should be respected. This also explains why the blood of a virgin is important to the marriage process – it’s a blood covenant before God. So, if God wasn’t involved in the sexual relationship, the maintained status of being ‘one flesh’ isn’t morally binding, and can be dissolved at will.

    This leaves us with civil laws pertaining to sex, virgins, and oaths. Exodus 22:16-17 deals with the seduction of an unbetrothed virgin. It follows a long list of property violation and reimbursement laws, so I consider this a civil law rather than a moral law. In your Twenty-Four Words piece, you make the error of striking through ‘to be’ in your second infographic. If you examine how that word is used throughout the Old Testament, you’ll see it pertains to the process of becoming a wife, not an existing wife. Also note that the emphatic construction promotes payment associated with marriage, rather than a marriage itself (contrast Deut. 22). Since sex without a covenant isn’t sufficient for marriage, there is no reason to suppose such a couple is married. As for Exodus 22:17 in particular, I would suppose that, in a society with minimally regulated prostitution, this law mostly served to prevent elopements, not one night stands. Thus, if the pair wanted to marry, the father could still prevent the arrangement without forgoing compensation. The relationship to the oath regulations follow as you have written, minus the ‘sex is an unspoken, unintended vow that’s somehow binding’ part.

    Personally, I’m partial to 2), but I’d love to hear what you and your readers think of this. Thanks for your time!

    • I do appreciate the thoughtful questions. However, I think this is something I’ll use as a post rather than try to answer here in the comments because there are several issues presented here that go beyond the questions you’ve asked.

      For now, I’ll give you some food for thought and I’m hoping that you’ll engage when I’m finished with a complete answer.

      “Yet this is not seen as adultery! What gives?”

      I will be covering this in greater detail, but the simple answer is that the text of that passage answers your question, in the text. The key is in the balance between the phrase “played the harlot” and the phrase “their virgin bosom” found at the end of verse 3. When we look specifically at what “played the harlot” means, we find that in some cases it is a specific reference to idolatry which may or may not include sexual activity or work as a cult prostitute. I’ll have a complete exegesis for you in the post that I write.

      Your other points are worth responding to and I will do so, but they devolve from the idea that the term “played the harlot” had to mean the women were no longer virgins even though the text clearly identified them as virgins. A woman’s bosom is her breasts and while having her bosom handled might indicate some form of moral pollution, it isn’t the act of marriage and in no way indicates the women were no longer virgins.

      It may be a day or two before I’m done with the answer because at the moment I’m a bit under the weather. A a month ago I started showing signs an impending attack so I cleared the decks and laid in supplies. Exactly two weeks ago it hit and I started writing. I came up for air on Sunday morning and according to the stats I had 392 pages and 205k words. I’m not done but I’m now at a point at which I can pause. After some rough work with a chainsaw yesterday, I’m now looking at 165k words for the first book and about 40k words for the the first part of the second book. With some brutal editing that will all change, but at the moment I feel like I’ve just done a triathlon.

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  7. RichardP says:

    Just a note to indicate that I have read AT’s response above.

    There is a saying in the computer programming industry that “computers are too dumb to make mistakes”. When the software program is compiled, and it crashes, it immediately becomes obvious what assumtions the programmer made about what the computer would understand. The point being that the programmer must define everything for the computer before his programming “logic” will make sense to the computer. When a program won’t compile, there are usually messages that hint at what the programmer forgot to define.

    So it is with my comments to which AT responded. Seeing his response, it immediately becomes obvious to me the assumption I made – an assumption I did not state before I asked my questions. I was raised to understand that “what God has joined together” comes about only because of a vow that the two make between themselves and with God (a situation that does not require a church ceremony or a state license). Given that not everyone is a “believer”, it stands to reason that some folks will “marry” with narry a thought given to making a vow with/to God. Based on that assumption, why, then, would we consider those marriages (those lacking a vow with God) as unions of which it can be said “what God has joined together”. That is, if “married” is the population, my assumption says that only a subset of that population are unions of which it can be said “what God has joined together”. It appears that AT thinks all marriages are unions of which it can be said “what God has joined together”.

    My comments / questions were based on that assumption. It is clear that AT’s response was not based on that assumption. But his response makes it more clear what his thinking is based on. And my “rhetorical” note was only to indicate that the questions were meant as something for AT to think about and that I didn’t need a response. I wasn’t implying that the questions were not worthy of a response.

  8. RichardP says:

    From here:

    AT’s words: “Upon the act of consummation, the third step is accomplished by God, who seals the covenant of marriage and makes them one flesh.”

    I thought I was on solid ground with my assumption, referenced above. A little research shows me I was, because of the above quote. Perhaps AT forgot that he had previously said this.

    AT agrees that God, as the final step of becoming “married”, seals the covenant of marriage. That union which represents the union of Christ with the Church. The union of believers with Christ. Is God party to that covenant of marriage that he is sealing? Does God seal covenants that he is not party to???? And, if the third step of “becoming married” is God sealing the covenant, and if God doesn’t seal the covenant, no marriage has actually taken place – by AT’s own admission.

    So – I am back to my original – rhetorical, no need to answer me – questions I originally posed: what constitutes a union of which it can be said “What God joins together, let no man put assunder”?

    Does God join believers with unbelievers? Does God seal covenants that he is not party to? And, how can God seal a covenant with folks who reject God’s authority? Can there even be a covenant for God to seal between two unbelievers who reject God’s authority?

    These are not idle questions. If AT genuinely believes that the third step of how marriage begins is God sealing the covenant, he must first prove through Scripture that God seals covenants with folks who reject his authority before he (AT) even begins to unpack Geneis 2-24. I haven’t read everything AT has written, so if he has already laid out this proof, I welcome a link to that writing.

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