Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Shall Be One Flesh

I Corinthians 6:15-17

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (I Corinthians 6:15-17)

As Christians, we are spiritually members of the body of Christ. Paul uses this imagery repeatedly to help us understand our relationship to Christ, and to one another. The image he portrays here is similar to a modern day transplant. It does not make sense to transplant organs from a healthy person to one who has damaged organs, except in cases where the healthy person will not be seriously harmed by having the organ removed. The risk of failure, and the extreme difficulty of the process makes transplanting parts which are not essential for survival, even from terminally injured patients, almost pointless, even with modern technology.

To transplant an arm or a leg from one person to another will very probably destroy the arm or leg, and will definitely seriously handicap the donor. It is unlikely to be benefit the recipient to the maximum benefit due to the likelyhood that if it survives, it probably will never attain full strength or function, and may be totally useless. By becoming sexually involved with a prostitute, Paul says, we are effectively transplanting a part of the body of Christ to a prostitute.

Sexual intercourse, Paul says under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, joins us to that other person. He then quotes Adam's statement about marriage as proving the validity of that statement. The statement is the basis for godly marriage and is as follows: "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)

Jesus states that that joining is caused by God, and that once accomplished, no man has the authority to separate them. He also quotes Genesis 2:24 as the basis. The person officiating at the marriage does not in fact, join them in marriage, nor does the state or church have jurisdiction over marriage. Matthew 19:3-6makes this clear. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

As Christians, we are not under the law, but Paul tells us, in I Corinthians 10, that those things were given as an example for us. Deuteronomy 22 gives us God's command to israel in the law regarding sexual behaviour. It shows us how God wants such behaviour dealt with. I would like to examine it in reverse order, starting with what is commonly called pre-marital sex.

If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days." (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

If a guy had sex with a girl, he was obligated to claim her as his wife, taking all the responsibilities associated with marriage. If rape were suspected, he could never divorce her. In certain situations, too young or fear of abuse for example, the parents might refuse to allow her to live with him, but technically they were still married, according to Exodus 22:16-17. "And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins." This was not optional.

Sex with a someone who was joined(married) to another, on the other hand, required a mandantory death penalty. Consensual sex required the execution of both parties. Rape required the execution of the rapist. Consider the following.

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her." (Deuteronomy 22:22-27)

This is the standard that God set, and it clearly is in conflict withe the traditions of most Americans. Spiritual people will recognize God's standard, while those who are carnal will retain their traditions, as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:37-38.

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