Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Falsehoods and an Absurdity

A billboard put up in Kim Davis’ hometown reads:


I have one question for the authors of this billboard.  Who is this “we”?

I did a quick search for cattle and goat prices and found that each costs about $200 a head.  But I also looked up the price of marriage licenses in my home state of Ohio and the cost was $50.  A little cheaper, maybe, but the concept is the same.  Instead of exchanging the animals with the parents for their daughter, now the state is the one who owns the women and the groom must pay their price in order to have her as his wife.  So much for “progressivism”.

Actually, to my knowledge, there has never been a definition of marriage which has required payment of goods, services or money by the groom to the parents.  There is nothing about it in the most reputable law dictionaries of early American history.  For example, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary makes it clear that both the man and the woman must be consenting to the marriage in order for it to be legally binding.  This goes all the way back to King Cnut (1016-35 A.D.) whose laws included this :
And let no one compel either woman or maiden to him whom she herself mislikes nor for money sell her unless he is willing to give any thing voluntarily.

And King Henry I :
Liberty of marriage recognized by Cn Sec 74 is here abridged but it is forbidden to demand money for the licence required as by the law of Cnut.
There is nothing that I have found in British Common Law that requires payments to be made to the parents of the bride by the groom.  Actually they had the concept of a dowry, which is almost the opposite.  Wikipedia defines it as “...wealth transferred from the bride's family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride.”

Yes, there are provisions in these laws for buying of a wife like what is supposed to happen when a man buys a wife and the marriage doesn’t actually take place. But it doesn’t say anything about buying a girl from her parents. What if today a man from the U.S. went to some country where slavery is legal, found a slave girl that he wanted to marry and agreed to buy her if she would marry him and come back to the U.S. with him (of her own free will)? Would this not qualify as a real marriage under the laws of any state in the U.S.? The fact that he bought the girl has nothing to do with the definition of marriage. The fact that they were both willing is the important thing.  The problem was with the slavery, not marriage or its definition.

There is nothing in the Bible that says that a man must pay a price to the parents of a woman for her to be his wife.  There are only two things that are even close to this :

Deuteronomy 22:19 says that a man must pay 100 shekels of silver (not animals!) for lying about the bride’s virginity after they are married.

Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:29 say that a man must pay 50 shekels of silver for committing promiscuity with an unmarried woman.  (Again no animals were being exchanged for that purpose despite the fact that animals were required to be given for a variety of other purposes at that time.)  The man was supposed to marry the woman, unless the father of the woman refused to allow it.  But either way, the man had to pay the 50 shekels.

Some people think that the latter provision implies that this payment was required for any groom.  But this is speculation.  This could have been the tradition of the Patriarchs, the Israelites or the Canaanites living in the land at that time (c.f. Genesis 29:15-18, 34:12), but there is no evidence of a commandment of God to do this anywhere in the Bible. 

It is even a more of a stretch to say that such a provision was ever considered to be part of the definition of marriage according to the one true God, the God of the Bible.  Take for example the tradition of exchanging rings.  If you don’t exchange rings, does this mean that you aren’t really married?  Of course not!  Just because a marriage tradition exists (good or bad), that doesn’t make it part of the definition of marriage.

The commandments concerning the payment of money mentioned above are properly regarded as being for the nation of Israel only.  In particular, Christians are not bound by the Law of Moses.  So even if a “bride price” were included in the definition of marriage in the Law Moses (which is isn’t), the New Testament clearly releases Christians from such requirements because it indicates the Old Covenant has passed away, the people of the Old Covenant are no longer his people, and that God has established a new covenant with a new people, the believers in Jesus (Romans 9:25-6, Galatians 3, Hebrews, etc.).  And even if a “bride price” used to be a part of the definition of marriage, the change was done by God, not the “we” referred to in the billboard.

In early American history, in various states, interracial marriages were illegal.  But these were man made rules, not Biblical precepts.  Moses, an Israelite, married a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman (Numbers 12:1) and Solomon, also a Jew, married a black woman (Song of Songs 1:5-6).

The only time that the real definition of marriage has been significantly changed was when God forbad sexual relations between close relatives (Leviticus 18).  Previously, Abraham had married his half-sister (Genesis 20:12).  But again, it is God who changed the definition, not “we”.  Since God created the institution of marriage in first place, He and only He has the right to change it. 

There is obviously no danger that the tradition of exchanging animals for wives will return (if it ever existed).  But if we continue down the road that these sodomites would have us go, animals won’t be used as a bride price, but they will be the brides!  If “we” can change the definition of marriage in such a radical way as to allow a sodomite relationship to be considered the equivalent of marriage, then “we” could again change it to include bestiality, pedophilia, polyandry and any number of other unnameable sexual perversions.  If we continue in the same direction that we are headed, everyone will be forced to have a same-sex sexual relationship.  Anyone who fails to comply will be considered bigoted or guilty of sexual orientation discrimination.

In summary, the three falsehoods conveyed by the billboard are :

1. In the Bible or in Western Civilization, there is or was some widespread, generally accepted definition of marriage which required a man to purchase a woman from her parents with animals before he could marry her.

2. Some “progressive” activists freed us from this oppressive provision.

3. The same forward thinking leads us to logically conclude that sodomite relationships should be included in the definition of marriage.

And the most absurd proposition of all is that men can change the definition of an institution which was created and defined by God in the first place.

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