Sick and tired of hearing about “traditional marriage” from conservatives? Arm yourself with this information, taken directly from the Bible, and ask them which kind of marriage they are referring to. That ought to shut them up for a bit.
Editor’s Note: Samuel Warde is the editor-in-chief of Liberals Unite (recently re-branded as The Art of Living) as well as a contributor to Mindy Fischer, Writer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. You can view a list of his articles here.
Religion and politics continue being mixed in America with both playing a role in many individuals’ viewpoint on matters such as a woman’s right to choose and same-sex marriage.
The New York Times published an article earlier this year, noting the circular nature of the relationship between religion and politics with each influencing the other:
At first glance, President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court would seem a perfect reminder of why so many religious white Americans vote Republican: to promote conservative moral values. Religious values. Their values. The values that — the story goes — devout white Protestants and Catholics want to see in Washington.
As it turns out, that narrative has it partly backward. It’s not just that our religious beliefs affect our politics — it’s that our politics affect our religious choices. We don’t just take cues about politics from our pastors and priests; we take cues about religion from our politicians.
Turning back to the subject of Biblical marriage, were you aware of the fact that there are 8 different kinds of marriage described in the Bible? Did you know that the Bible doesn’t seem to make any distinction between any of them in regards to which form or marriage might be preferable of the others?
With this in mind, we think it long overdue to explore the concept of “traditional marriage” from a Biblical perspective to assist our conservative counterparts to understand that the concept has never been a simple case of one man and one woman.
So, the next time a conservative starts ranting about “traditional marriage,” or “Biblical marriage,” ask him or her which version of marriage they are references – and then count backwards from 5-to- observing their level of confusion? Frustration? Anger?
The 8 Types of Marriage Described in the Bible
Man + Woman (Nuclear Family, Monogamous, heterosexual marriage)
What you might think of as the standard form of marriage, provided you think of arranged marriages as the standard. Also remember that inter-faith or cross-ethnic marriage were forbidden for large chunks of biblical history. Genesis 2:24
Man + Women (Polygamy)
Probably the most common form of marriage in the bible, it is where a man has more than one wife. For example, Jacob had 2 wives and fathered 13 children. This is rarely spoken about when the subject of marriage and the bible is debated! Genesis 4:19
Esau (3 wives), Gideon (many), Solomon (700)
Man + Brother’s Widow (Levirate Marriage)
When a woman was widowed without a son, it became the responsibility of the brother-in-law or a close male relative to take her in and impregnate her. If the resulting child was a son, he would be considered the heir of her late husband. See Ruth, and the story of Onan. Genesis 38:6-10
Man + Wives + Concubines
A man could have one or more wives and any number of concubines. The definition of a concubine varies from culture to culture, but they tended to be live-in mistresses. Concubines were tied to their “husband,” but had a lower status than a wife. Their children were not usually heirs, so they were safe outlets for sex without risking the line of succession. Genesis 20:10 To see how badly a concubine could be treated, see the famous story of the Levite and his concubine Judges 19:1-30.
Abraham (2 concubines), Solomon (300)
Rapist + Victim
If a man raped a woman and she wasn’t married, she would be forced to marry him. A man could rape any woman that he liked and they would be considered married. The draw back? For the man OF COURSE! He could not divorce her!! Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Man + Woman + Woman’s Property
If a woman was “married” and infertile, she could give her property, her slave, to her husband as a wife. This is also referred to as the famous “handmaiden” sketch, as preformed by Abraham, Genesis 16:1-6, and Jacob, Genesis 30:4-5.
Male Soldier + Prisoner of War
As with many wars, women become the property of the victor. And that is how it was in biblical times. Female captives were forced to submit to their male captors, usually by force, RAPE. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 and Numbers 31:1-18
Male Slave + Female Slave
An owner could order a female slave to “marry” a male slave without any input from the female. The consummation of this “union” usually involved rape. Exodus 21:4
And as an added bonus, we are included a video by Betty Bowers discussing Biblical marriage: