Why does the Bible make me feel worthless as a woman?

Modern America teaches women that they should judge their own worth by how intelligent they are, how educated they are, how independent they are and by how successful they are in their career.

These new standards of a woman’s worth are a radical shift from the standards by which women have historically judged their own worth.  Consider the table below which illustrates stark contrasts between how women judged their own worth before the 1960’s and the new standards after the 1960’s.

The measure of a woman before and after the 1960’s

Pre-1960’s Post-1960’s
Beauty Intelligence
Potential for having children(age/health) Education Level(College/University)
Submissiveness Independence
Cooking/Home Keeping Skills Career/Income Potential

We can make two primary observations about the differences between these two lists.

The first observation is that before the 1960’s a woman’s sense of self worth was very much tied to what she had to offer a future or current husband.  After the 1950’s women were taught to stop centering their sense of worth on what they had to offer a future or current husband and to concentrate more on what they wanted for themselves regardless of how attractive or unattractive such pursuits or qualities made them to men.

The second observation we can make from these two lists is that the modern list for what woman are told should give them their sense of worth is identical to what men historically have been told should give them their sense of worth.

In other words, women today are told that they must compare themselves to men to have any sense of worth.  So for example, if a woman has a submissive spirit this is not seen as a quality adding to her worth, but rather one that takes away from her worth.  If a woman does not speak her mind whenever she has a disagreement but rather holds her tongue and shows deference to men this quality is not seen as a worthy one, but one that takes away from her worth.

And if a woman has no desire for a higher education or career ambitions, but rather seeks to find a man and serve him by bearing his children and caring for his home this women is viewed today as the most worthless of all.

Recently I received a heart felt plea as comment to my blog from a woman who stated she has recently become a believer in Christ. She said that as she reads the Scriptures I present on this blog on why God made woman she has found herself feeling depressed and worthless by the Biblical view of womanhood.

It actually is easy for me to understand why she might feel worthless after comparing herself to Biblical standards for what should give a woman her sense of worth because they are so different than our modern standards. It is like studying for one test, only to be given a completely different test.

The name she wrote under is Adrienne.

Adrienne’s Dilemma

“As a new believer who is desperately trying to pull myself out of the pit of feminism, I find myself becoming depressed reading some of the articles and comments on biblicalgenderroles.com. I had bought into all the lies about marriage being an equal partnership. The whole “we are a team” as opposed to the master/ servant relationship it really is. I completely understand that everything (including men and women) is made for God’s pleasure.

I struggle with the knowledge that everything I am is made for my husband’s pleasure. Kinda makes one feel worthless as a person. I feel like I am not allowed to have my own tastes or preferences in anything. Should I even bother having an opinion or should I ask my husband what my opinion is?

It also kind of makes me feel like God hates women. After all, there are no women in heaven, and probably never will be. The Godhead is male, the angels are male and from what I understand there will be no marriage or children in heaven/eternity so there will be no need for gender. The pastors I have talked to about this tell me either:

  1. all women will be turned into men at the final judgement.
  2. women have no souls/ no need for salvation and when we die we just cease to exist like the animals.

They said God only created us as women b/c He had to for reproductive purposes not b/c He wanted to. This all hurts and I have no idea what is biblical or not. I just started reading the bible and have not made it past exodus yet. How do I find joy in my role as a woman if I feel like I am nothing to God or anyone else?”

My Response to Adrienne and other women who feel worthless in God’s sight

Adrienne, I could summarize your concerns as a new believer with this statement:

Why does the Bible make me feel worthless as a woman?

The first reason that you feel “worthless”(or have low self-esteem) when looking at the Biblical view of womanhood is because you still have a faulty view of what gives a woman or people in general their worth.  The Bible tells us as Christians that we have been preprogrammed with faulty ways of thinking by both our sin natures as well as the cultures and families we were brought up in.

When we begin our walk with God we must recognize this daily and seek to unlearn what our sin natures, cultures and families have taught us and renew our minds with what is good, acceptable and perfect according to the will of God which is found in his Word.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

Women definitely have souls

I know in past centuries there were some who threw around such rumors as a church doctrine that teaches women do not have souls.  But the Bible supports no such notion.  I am unaware of any Pastors or churches today that preach such nonsense.  I would be very curious to know who you spoke with or at least their denomination.

The Scriptures show us definitive proof that women have souls and here is just one example from Mary, the woman who God chose to give flesh to his Son Jesus Christ:

“46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

Luke 1:46-47 (KJV)

So yes there will be women in heaven and women in hell just as there will be men in heaven and men in hell.  Every soul goes to one of these two destinations.

Did God just create women for procreative purposes?

While the pursuit of motherhood for women is definitely honored and even commanded in the Scriptures (“be fruitful and multiply“– Genesis 1:28) that is not the only reason God made woman.  In fact God could have made men as asexually reproducing beings as other organisms on earth are.  He did not need to create a different type of human being for humans to reproduce.

Instead God created woman for a much more glorious purpose which we will explain next.

Equal personhood does NOT mean equal opportunity

One of the falsehoods we have been taught in American society is that if a certain class of people does not have equal rights or privileges with other classes of people then they are said to be treated as “less than human” or not as persons.

You will find no support for such a definition of personhood in the Scriptures.  In fact the Scriptures routinely show different rights for people based on various classes.  Free women had more rights than slave women.  Indentured servants had more rights than slaves but less rights than free men. Free men had more rights than free women, indentured male and female servants, male slaves, or female slaves.

In other words, in God’s view, our personhood is NOT determined by our social class or the rights we have or do not have.

But now let’s bring this back to men and women.

Every human being is given a soul by God which inhabits our “vessel” which is the word the Scriptures often use to speak to our bodies.  God made two types of vessels, one that is classified as the “weaker vessel” (I Peter 3:5) and thus the other by comparison is the stronger vessel.  The souls of women inhabit the weaker vessel and the souls of men inhabit the stronger vessel.

But then we must understand that God did not arbitrarily make one vessel weaker than the other.  He made one vessel stronger and one vessel weaker for a glorious purpose. The scriptures tell us that God made man to be his image bearer – to bring God glory by imaging him:

“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:7-9 (KJV)

This passage of Scripture, which is part of a divinely inspired commentary on the Genesis account, tells us that God created man to bring him glory by imaging him.  God then created woman from man to glorify man.

But how does a woman fully bring glory to man as God intended in his purpose in creating her? We will answer that question in our next section.

How does a woman bring glory to her husband and thereby bring glory to God?

The scriptures reveal to us the full and glorious purpose for which God designed woman (and man) in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”

Ephesians 5:22-29 (KJV)

Again just as with I Corinthians 11, we have here in Ephesians chapter 5 divine commentary from God regarding the Genesis creation account.  God did not create women as soulless creatures simply for procreative purposes but rather he created them for man to be able to fully image God.  Man needed someone to love as God loves mankind by leading them, protecting them and providing for them.  This is why we God made woman “the weaker vessel” (I Peter 3:7) because just as mankind is weaker than God and needs him for all these things, so too woman was designed to be weaker than man and need him for these things.

So how does a woman glorify her husband as God intended her too? By modeling what God desires from his Church in honoring, reverencing, submitting to and serving her husband as the Church is to serve Christ.

What is the measure of a woman’s worth by God’s standards?

As I said at the beginning of this post, God’s standard’s for what gives a woman her sense of worth and what our culture says gives a woman her sense of worth are two very different things.

The Scriptures tell us that a virtuous woman is worth more than rubies:

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

Proverbs 31:10 (KJV)

In another passage the Scriptures tell us that a virtuous woman is her husband’s crown:

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 12:4 (KJV)

Are rubies not of great worth? Is a crown not of great worth? We know these things are of great worth. But how does a woman make herself worth more than rubies to her future or present husband?

Seven ways a woman makes herself of great worth in God’s View

Do you as a woman want to be of great worth to your future or current husband?  If you reject the world’s definition of the worth of a woman and follow God’s definition you will have great worth both to God and to your husband.

Below are seven ways a woman can be a ruby and a crown in the eyes of God and her husband:

  1. She happily seeks to play her part in modeling the Church’s subordinate role to Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  2. She happily seeks to marry, bear children, and keep the house for her husband. (I Timothy 5:14)
  3. She happily seeks to be obedient to and submissive to her husband. (Titus 2:5, I Peter 3:1-6, Ephesians 5:22-24)
  4. She happily seeks to reverence her husband and never bring any shame to him or God by her behavior(Proverbs 12:4,I Timothy 5:14,Titus 2:5)
  5. She demonstrates her prudence and wisdom by being discreet and kind in when and how she shares her advice with her husband. (Proverbs 11:22, Proverbs 19:14, Proverbs 31:26, Titus 2:5)
  6. She makes both her inner person and her outer person beautiful to please her husband (Psalm 45:11, I Peter 3:3-6)
  7. She happily sees that God not only gave her to her husband to care for his children and his home, but also to bring him pleasure with her body and she never denies him a drink from the well which is her body. (Proverbs 5:15-19)

Is a wife allowed to have different opinions and tastes than her husband?

Adrienne, you asked “I feel like I am not allowed to have my own tastes or preferences in anything. Should I even bother having an opinion or should I ask my husband what my opinion is?”

Absolutely as a wife you are allowed to have your own opinions and “tastes” by which I think you mean preferences.  In fact the Scriptures say these two things are part of what makes a woman of great worth to her husband:

“House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 19:14 (KJV)

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 31:26 (KJV)

So the Scriptures tell us that a prudent and wise wife are of great value to a man.  What is prudence? Prudence is planning for the future.  A wife who has things planned out for the needs of her home whether it be clothing needs or food needs or the other needs of the children is of great value to a man.  And wisdom is not just knowledge, but knowing how to use that knowledge in a right way.  This is also of great value to a man.

So yes you are absolutely allowed to have opinions and preferences and these can be beneficial to your future or current husband. But the key concept to understand is that you are not allowed to express your opinions and preferences in any way you want or at any time you want and you need to accept the fact that your husband may not always follow your opinions.

Let me give a few examples to better illustrate this.

The President of the United States has a chief of staff. The President delegates certain powers and responsibilities to the chief of staff to run the White House and represent the President publicly.  A good chief of staff certainly has his own opinions and preferences as to how the President should do certain things but he keeps those differences private and always shares them in a respectful and reverent way with the President.   If the President says “this is the way it will be”, then the chief of staff submits to that direction.

But from the outside world’s perspective – the chief of staff is always in lock step with his President.   One other thing about what makes a good chief of staff to a President.  The chief of staff realizes he is there to serve the President and not vice versa.  He realizes that he is there to help implement the President’s agenda – but never to set it.

This is the way a wife is to be toward her husband in regard to her opinions and preferences.  When she shares opinions and preferences with her husband she needs to ask herself “I am sharing this opinion or preference to help further his agenda or my own?”

For example – your husband may set these agenda items for your marriage and your family:

  1. He wants to have regular sexual relations with you at least 3 times a week.
  2. He wants the children to clean their rooms on a daily basis.
  3. He wants the children to do their homework on a daily basis.
  4. He wants to have certain budget priorities for the family.

I could come up with a much larger list but you get my point.  Now as a wife you could privately meet with him and share your opinion on how to best meet his agenda goals.  For instance in the sexual arena you could share your sexual preferences to help him better please you and thus have more sexual pleasure in the bedroom.  You could say maybe mornings work better than evenings sometimes for sex.   All of this is meant to further his agenda for you both to have a good sex life together as a couple and not simply to further some agenda that you have.  Maybe he wants oral sex – but you would prefer that he bathe before you do that.  You could share things like this with him in a private setting in a respectful manner.

In regard to the children – you could share your opinions on how to best implement his agenda items that they clean their rooms and do their homework.  The same goes for the budget.

One last thing in regard to your opinions and this would even apply to my chief of staff example with the President.  Sometimes a President will not accept the recommendation of his chief of staff.  Sometimes he may even accept the recommendation of another advisor over his chief of staff. In this same way you must accept that your husband will not always accept and act on your opinion or your preferences.

Your husband may actually take someone else’s advice against yours as his wife and you need to accept that and be OK with that.

A lot of Christian wives get offended by this.  But you need to realize as a Christian wife that if you are angered by your husband taking someone else’s advice over yours this comes from a place of pride.  You are one of his advisers, but not his only adviser as so many wives falsely see themselves.

The other thing to remember is that contrary to false teachings today you are not the Holy Spirit for your husband and your opinions, like his are not inerrant.  To put it bluntly, it is possible for a man to have a wife who is stupid in certain areas or a wife to have a husband that is stupid in certain areas.  But the chain of command remains.  I don’t get to say because my boss does something stupid that I no longer have to listen to him or respect him as my boss.  In the same way the chain of command in a family is not dependent on the husband’s intellect.  A wife must always submit to and obey her husband unless he asks her to directly sin against God.

Conclusion

I hope that if you are a Christian woman like Adrienne reading this that you will realize God has glorious plan in creating you as a woman.  You are not some soulless creature only made to procreate for mankind.  You were created to bring glory to God by bringing glory to man.  You are an indispensable part in helping to model the relationship of the Church to Christ with your future or current husband.

You need to come to reject the lies of this world.  You need to unlearn what the world has taught you gives women their worth and renew your mind according to God’s view of you – not this evil world’s view.

This world will tell you to compete with your future or current husband for power and equality rather than placing yourself in subjection to him so that you can fulfill the purpose for which God made you.

And here is the secret the world won’t tell you that I have heard from so many women through this blog and other ways. You need to realize that the woman God designed you to be, the nature that he gave to Eve is buried within you.  For someone women there is a little rubble to clear to get to it and for others there is a mountain of rubble to clear.  Some of the rubble simply comes from the corrupting influence of sin or to say it another way – some of the rubble you were simply born with.  But other parts of the rubble may have come from the corrupt teachings of our culture, or your parents or even your own bad life experiences.

Either way – you have to recognize this spiritual rubble and clear it away to see the woman that God truly designed you to be.  You need to clear that rock away from the ruby God meant you to be and then you will make yourself of great worth to God and your future or current husband.

The Black Hole of Babydom

“It makes me sad to lose my friends and watch them throw away their promising careers and lives to enter the black hole of babydom” – my wife found this quote from a woman who wrote into an advice column that is featured in our local newspaper.

This advice column is written by a nationally syndicated columnist named Judith Martin a.k.a. “Miss Manners”.  Each week people write in asking her what is the correct way to handle different social situations.

This week a woman whom Miss Manners titled as a “Hater of baby showers” wrote  this to her about why she hated that her friends were having so many babies and baby showers:

I am also alarmed at the shocking number of otherwise intelligent people who, despite this being the First World with various forms of birth control widely available, still have unplanned pregnancies and make no secret of this fact...

For these reasons and others, I am generally not thrilled when my friends become pregnant. I love my friends, but once they have kids, they fall off the face of the earth. It makes me sad to lose my friends and watch them throw away their promising careers and lives to enter the black hole of babydom (which, despite common arguments to the contrary, almost all do).…”

You can read the full letter from this woman and Miss Manner’s advice to her here.

This letter is a pure and unabashed display of just how ugly modern feminism has become.

It is a direct contradiction to what God says about children.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” – Psalm 127:3 (KJV)

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 113:9 (KJV)

While there has always been all kinds of wickedness in the world, never have we seen on such a wide scale the complete visceral hatred of motherhood as we do today.

God never intended for women to find their greatest fulfillment in a career, but rather he designed them to desire and be fulfilled in making and molding human lives.

Photo Source: Jason Ippolito  https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonippolito/3686987657
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women Part 2

Polygyny

My first post on this subject, “The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women” sparked a lot of interest, and most of it was negative as I would expect. Most people have a hard time stepping outside their cultural norms and value systems and looking at things from a wider historical perspective – so the negative responses I received did not offend me or shock me.

What I wanted to do here is answer some of the objections and questions that people raised, as well as clarify some things I was trying to communicate in the first post.

In the first article in this series, I proved that men marrying younger women, and even multiple younger women (polygyny) in past civilizations was not wrong and it was not immoral even though our modern culture frowns on these practices today.

It is not wrong (present tense) in some cultures outside the United States that still practice it today (older men marrying younger women) as they are brought up in a culture expecting to be married at a young age.

Believe it or not there are still many states where the age of marriage with the consent of the parents is as young as 14. According to one study almost 9 percent of marriages in the United States are by those under the age of 18[1].  Out of those 9 percent of “child marriages” as they are classified – 1 out of 9 is age 14 while the remainder are between 15 and 17 years of age.

But what I was trying to say in the last article, and it somewhat got lost, is that even though we are living in a monogamous society, and an equal opportunity for both genders society, this does not change man’s biology.

All men, are biologically capable of impregnating 20 or 30 women in one month. A woman on the other hand, is biologically wired for monogamy, even if she has sex with 20 men in one month, she can only be impregnated by one man at a time. Yes I know there are rare exceptions where a woman has dropped two eggs and had pregnancies from two different men but this is not her design, this is not the norm of how a woman’s body operates.

Man’s biological capacity for polygyny, is not only located in his reproductive organs, but also in his brain. Even though Western men are living within the constraints of a monogamous society, they are still drawn to a variety of women. But in our society men are taught to hide and subdue this natural polygamous mental wiring, because they are taught that they should only desire one woman. There are of course expectations, where some men have a very low sex drive, and some men have no sex drive at all so they will not desire multiple women – but again these are exceptions and not the norm.

The key word is “capacity”

A word I continuously used in my first post, and I continue to use in this post is “capacity”. For instance all men and women (unless they are born with some rare medical condition) have the biological capacity for having sex. But just because they have the capacity for sex, does not mean they will actually ever have sex in their lifetime.

In the same way while all men throughout history have had the biological capacity for polygyny, it does not mean they were able to act on it, or even if given the choice, many did not act on it.

Someone might say, “Well we all have the capacity for sin too, but just because we have the capacity for something does not make it right”. I would agree wholeheartedly with this statement.

If we did not have examples of some of the greatest heroes of the Bible like Abraham, Gideon, David and many others who were practicing polygynists I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If we did not have the Old Testament regulations specifically allowing men to take other wives through various means I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God himself did not say to King David that he had given King Saul’s “wives” into David’s “bosom” (II Samuel 12:8) I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God did not picture himself as a polygynous husband with two wives (Ezekiel 23) I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God did not have the names of the sons of Jacob, a product of a polygynous relationship with 4 different wives inscribed on his Holy City for all eternity (Revelation 21:12), I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

What about the 50/50 ratio between men and women – wouldn’t polygyny take away wives from other men?

The first problem with this train of thought it is that it assumes there has always been a ratio of 1 to 1 for men and women throughout history. We do not know that in the beginning God did not have more women than men born so as to populate the world faster.

Secondly, for arguments sake, let’s say that for all of human history since the dawn of creation there has always been a 1 to 1 ratio between men and women. Let’s go back to my key word “capacity”. Just because man has the capacity for sex, does not mean that all men are going to get married. Just because man has the capacity for polygyny does mean all men throughout history have been able to act on their capacity for polygyny.

Many men could not marry, either because they were slaves or servants (who could only marry if their master allowed them to), or they were in poverty and poor men generally were not able to marry. You usually had to show a father you had the ability to care for his daughter, before you could marry her. Some men would later fall into poverty after marriage, in which case they would have to sell their children as slaves so they would be cared for.

So my point is, there were a lot more eligible women for marriage, then eligible men, which made it possible for many men to have polygynous marriages.

But that brings us to modern times. In our modern America a man does not have to have the means to care for a woman to marry her. In fact it is very common for poor men and women to marry each other and not long afterwards go on public assistance, especially after they have children.

But even in our day, there are still many more eligible women for marriage than eligible men. The reasons are very different than they once were. Now many men don’t won’t want to marry, and our free sex society allows men to follow their polygynous urges without any sort of marital commitment so that is what men do now(they whore around instead of getting married). This is of course just many of the reasons men run from marriage today.

“In 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to 72 percent in 1960.”

Huffington Post – “Marriage Rate Declines To Historic Low, Study Finds”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/22/marriage-rate_n_3625222.html

This leaves a lot of women looking for men who are willing to enter a committed relationship and get married. There are many intelligent and economically well off men that would gladly take on multiple wives as our Biblical forefathers did if our society allowed.

There is no “one-flesh” mutuality in a marriage when a man marries a much younger woman or has more than one wife.

There is a sense in which marriage is a mutual thing.

“In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman”

I Corinthians 11:11(HCSB)

Man needs woman, and woman needs man, we mutually need one another.

However that is where the mutuality of man and woman ends, and the differences between man and woman begins.

A man and woman do not need to be the same age, or the same maturity to be married. As long as the man is in a position to lead and protect his wife, she can be much younger, and much less mature.

Contrary to what modern America teaches, marriage is not a partnership of equals, but a patriarchy.

In the same passage above where Paul talks about men and women needing each other, he also talks about why woman was made:

“A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory.  For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.

I Corinthians 11:7-9(HSCB)

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:24(HSCB)

What does “one flesh” mean in the Bible?

““Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6(HSCB)

“Don’t you know that anyone joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For Scripture says, The two will become one flesh.”

I Corinthians 6:16(HSCB)

So what the Scriptures tell us is, a man can become “one flesh” with his wife, and a man can become “one flesh” with a prostitute. What is the only two things those two relationships have in common? Sex.

This tells us that the primary meaning of “one flesh” when it comes to the relationship of a man and woman refers to their sexual relationship.

The sex act is the binding symbol of the union between a man and woman. In Biblical times, a marriage was not sealed until a man had sex with a woman, which then bound them together by law. I am not saying that there is not an emotional connection that often occurs between a man and a woman as a result of sex, we know this can and often does occur.  I am also not arguing that in marriage there is not more to the one flesh concept than just the sexual reference.

Is there a secondary meaning to “one flesh” in regard to marriage?  Yes. Christ shows us this in the Gospel of Mark:

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

Mark 10:6-8 (KJV)

So the Bible refers to “one flesh” in regard to a man and woman in two ways.  We are told that a man can become one flesh with a prostitute and we are also told that in marriage that a man and woman are no longer two, but one referring to the spiritual, intellectual and emotional union of a man and his wife.

But here is the issue – in our current culture Christian teachers primarily emphasize the second way one flesh is used(one in spirit and mind) and they place little to no emphasis on the most literal meaning of a couple becoming one flesh which is the sexual aspect of it.

But how can a man become “one flesh” with more than one wife?

But how can a man be “one” with more than one wife? Would that not make them many? If this was an intimate relationship of many people with one another, then that would be a polyamorous relationship which is different than polygynous relationship.

In a polyamorous relationship there can be multiple men and women all married to one another.  So you could have three men and two women or one man and three women.  They all consider each other’s spouses in every sense of the word.  Of course we know that such a relationship is a wicked perversion of God’s design for marriage.  A woman must always be married to one spouse and that spouse must be a man who is called her husband according to Romans 7:2-3.

In a polygynous relationship, a husband has a separate and distinct relationship with each of his wives(the wives are not married to each other – they are married to him). He is a husband to each of them, just as God pictured himself as a husband to two wives in Ezekiel 23.

I understand that may be a difficult concept to understand but this is all based in the Word of God. You may struggle with this concept in this life but if you are a Christian when you get to heaven you can ask Jacob – whose sons from his polygynous relationships with 4 different woman are inscribed on the city of God for all eternity (the twelve tribes of Israel).

I encourage the reader to look at my series on “Why Polygamy is not unBiblical” to understand this better.

References:

[1]Yann Le Strat, Caroline Dubertret, Bernard Le Foll (2011), Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/3/524

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women

PolygynyAndYouth

Previously I wrote about why polygyny is not only NOT unbiblical, but it was regulated, allowed and practiced by many of the Old Testament patriarchs. But what about the biological case for polygyny? Did God design men’s bodies for polygynous relationships? What about the marriage of young women to older to men?

Imagine that you were able to take a time machine back to a time in human history around 3000 years ago, deep in the Middle East. You meet a traveler who says he is coming back from a trade journey for his master. You ask him about how he became a slave and he tells you that his parents were in poverty, and that they traded him to his master for some cattle. He says this helped his parents to come out of poverty and to build a life for his other siblings.

He asks you to come meet his master. He tells you that his master was a great hero to his nation, and he is a kind and generous man, a man that worships the one true God. In the distance you can see what looks like a small village. You see what seems to be a celebration of some kind so you ask your companion “what are they celebrating?”

He responds that his master is getting married. As you come closer he points out his master and his bride to be sitting on the ground beside him. The man appears to be his mid-40’s while the girl sitting next to him looks no more than 14. This must be a mistake.

You ask him again – “that girl is his daughter right?” He responds – “No she is his bride to be. My master is very excited, she is his 15th wife and he is hoping she will give him his 70th son!” After wiping the shocked look off your face, you ask you’re travelling companion one more question – “What is your master’s name?” He responds – “My master’s name is Gideon”.

The story I have just given you, while fictional, is based on a true Biblical character and based upon what we know of the culture and times most likely happened (minus the time traveler with one of Gideon’s slaves- LOL).

“Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. And Gideon the son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”

Judges 8:30-32(NASB)

When does a girl become a woman?

While culturally we consider a girl to become a woman at the age of 18, biologically speaking, adulthood is reached when sexual maturity is reached. Before the modern era, a girl became a woman when she experienced her first period (usually around 12 or 13), she was then eligible for marriage and usually her father had her married off not long after this.

Lucien Deiss in his book “Joseph, Mary, Jesus” writes:

“How old could Mary have been? Young girls usually were betrothed as soon as they became a woman.  It was believed they reached puberty at about twelve or twelve and a half. Boys it was believed reached the age if puberty a year later. Marriage could take place one year after puberty a year later. In general, it was held that men could wait until the age of eighteen or twenty before marrying so that they could have time to build a house and plant a vineyard.”[1]

In “Jesus of History, Christ of Faith” we read:

“The women normally married as soon as they were physically able to bear children, which the Law defined as twelve and a half years of age.” [2]

Rev. Dr. Eugene Weitzel stated this about the Jewish view of early marriage:

“As we noted above, the Jews clearly understood that the first command that God gave to Adam and Eve was “increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28). In fact one rabbi firmly believed that “A bachelor is not truly a man at all.” Furthermore, celibacy was looked upon as an anomaly, almost a disgrace.  Now keep in mind that Jesus Christ, a devout, practicing Jew who dearly loved his Jewish faith, grew up with this view of celibacy.  He also knew that his people believed in early marriage.  Many rabbis, even during Jesus’s time, taught that eighteen was the ideal age for marriage for a man but certainly not later than twenty-four. He knew too that girls were ready for marriage as soon as they were physically ready to conceive and bear children, which according to the law was twelve and one-half years. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably no more than fourteen years old when she gave birth to the Son of God.” [3]

Zvi Yehuda in his book on Jews that came to Iraq from all over the world for over 400 years writes:

“Where traditional family structure was unchanged, Jewish girls were betrothed by their parents at age 9-11 and married at age 12-13. A Jewish girl who reached the age of fifteen and was still unmarried was considered an old maid with no chance of a husband.  A girl bride was not asked for opinion in choose her mate and parents occasionally married off their daughters to men dozens of years older than the bride.” [4]

The evidence is clear. Both in Jewish tradition and over historical accounts we know that Jews married their daughters off young.  Why? Because of God’s first command to mankind to be fruitful and multiply.  Men needed more time to prepare a home for their wife – but women as soon they became women(had their first period) and passed the age of 12 were usually betrothed or married and most likely had their first child by the age of 13 or 14.

Teenage mothers were the norm before the modern era

As we have previously pointed out, most scholars believe that Mary was 12 to 14 years old when she was espoused to Joseph to be married. They believe she would have been between 13 and 14 when she gave birth to Jesus. While the Bible does not state her exact age, if she were older it would have stated this as it did with Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist).  Since the Bible makes no mention of her age, then it is assumed she would have been in the normal first child bearing age of women in that era, which would have been around 13 or 14. Joseph is thought to be a bit older than her (perhaps in his mid-20s or older) because he died well before Jesus’s ministry and Mary was a widow.

Just a note – if you look online there are a few Christians (but a small minority) that have tried to argue with the notion that Mary was a teenage mother and instead argue that she was at least 20 years old as this was God’s age of accountability and God would not have asked her to carry his Son at such a young age.

There are few problems with this theory of Mary being much older. The first problem is that first time mothers in their 20’s were considered to be older mothers, and the Bible would have said something about her older age, like it did with her cousin Elizabeth if she were in her 20’s.  Another problem with the magic “20” number is that in most instances of the Old Testament this applied to men being fully accountable, not to women, and even in the one instance in the book of numbers where men are not specified, it does not specify women either, so the assumption always goes to it talking about men aged 20 or older.

Women were accountable to their father as long as they were in his house. He could override any decision she made, financial or otherwise while she lived in his house. His authority over her then transferred to her husband when she got married.

Some Christians want so desperately to believe, against the evidence of historical and cultural data we have of the period and location, that there is no way Mary could have been a 14 year old mother. But this starts with their pre-conceived notion, based upon our modern western culture we have all been brought up in, that marriage of girls at such young ages is an immoral act.

Bearing and Rearing Children is a young woman’s game

Biologically speaking, a woman’s best time to conceive and bear children is from the time of her first period (for most girls between age 12 and 13) and age 24. After age 24 chances of birth defects and problem pregnancies begin to rise. At age 30, a woman has used or lost 90% of the eggs she will ever have and this is why women in their 30’s typically have a much more difficult time getting pregnant.

The reason that God designed a woman to have children at a younger age, as opposed to an older age(like 30s and 40s) is because of the extreme stress that is placed on the body during pregnancy, as well as the energy and physical stamina that is required to care for and wean a child in their younger years.

What about Sarah and Elizabeth in the Bible?

Yes there are few instances of God miraculously causing older women to conceive, but this was by no means the norm of his design. We cannot take these two special cases and try to make a doctrine that God intends for women to wait until their older years to have children.

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

I Timothy 5:14(KJV)

A teenage girl might physically able to bear a child, but she is not psychologically ready

This argument does stray a bit from what is strictly a biological topic, but I think it needs to be addressed. I completely agree that most teenage girls in our culture and time period are not psychologically prepared for having children. But that is because our culture babies children in ways cultures of the past did not.

In Jewish tradition, a boy began his journey to manhood at the age of 13, and a girl began her journey in womanhood at the age of 12. While boys were not fully responsible (for taxation purposes, and conscription purposes and some other legal purposes) until they reached age 20, they were in many ways treated as men from age 13 on. Since women did not have the rights men did, a woman was a full woman at the age of 12 and her status and rights did not change from that point forward.

A young 12 year old girl would have witnessed births by many women by the time she reached 12 and would be fully aware of periods, child bearing and birth long before these things happened to her. She would already have been learning about child care well before she reached puberty. Her whole life would have been leading up to the time when she could finally marry and have children of her own.

So in many ways, a 12 year old girl in pre modern times would have had the maturity level of what many 18 or even 20 year old girls have today.

Also we must keep in mind that before the modern era, families took care of other and were much closer. So when a 13 or 14 year woman had her first baby, her female relatives, whether they were cousins, or aunts, or even her mother were all there to help her learn the ropes of motherhood. Today the tribal family structure has all but been eliminated.

Men can father children at any age beyond puberty

Unlike women who ovulate once a month, and are only fertile for about 5 days, the typical man (unless he has a medical condition) is in essence “fertile” every day. A man completely replenishes his sperm every 24 hours. Before recent research, doctors used to tell men to wait every other day to have sex with their wives during her fertile period. Then they discovered that is was in fact better for them to have sex every day, as all the sperm is at its best every 24 hours or so.

A man since he was not responsible for caring for the child, but for the teaching and disciplining of the child, did not need to have the physical strength and endurance that a woman needed in her duties of child rearing, and this is why a man has no expiration date on his ability to produce children.

The fact of God’s creation in human biology is, men are built for fathering multiple children with multiple women at the same time. They are also built for fathering children with multiple generations of women, as their first wives age and cannot have children, they can continue fathering children with younger women.

This is why men have such a stronger sex drive and can compartmentalize relationships with multiple women, much better than the average woman could with multiple men. Not to mention that a man has a never ending supply of child producing sperm. On the other hand, women are designed with a shelf life when it comes to having children. How else do you explain the extreme disparity between the male and female reproductive systems?

What about my own daughter?

As I write this article in August of 2014, my daughter is 12 years old.  I could not imagine her being married at such a young age. But why could I not imagine such a thing? Is it because it would immoral or wrong? The answer is no.

The reason I cannot imagine it is because of the culture I have been raised in and the culture I have raised my daughter in. Because she has not been raised to prepare for marriage at age 12 she is not ready to be a wife and mother yet. Could she be ready in a few years? Perhaps.

Let’s say my daughter was 16 and a wonderful Christian 25 year old man who was a mechanical engineer approached me about courting my daughter.  I was able to check out the church he attended and verify with many people his Christian character.  He makes over 100K a year, owns his own home and can provide for my daughter well. Would I consider letting him court my daughter and possibly marry her as a 16 year old young lady? The answer is yes. 

Just a quick note on the difference between courting and dating.  Dating is when a couple choose one another apart from any parental involvement and they go out alone together doing various activities together.  They may or may not be going out together with marriage in mind.

Dating is a relatively new phenomenon originating in the last century. Before that marriages were arranged either between parents or between the father of the daughter and a potential husband. Courting came on the scene later.  But courting, unlike dating, is always with the prospect of marriage in mind.   Also a big difference between courting and dating is the couple is never alone together.  They always have a family member from one side or even both sides along with them wherever they go.

How does all this apply to us today?

After reading all this, you might say – “so what if before modern times women got married and had babies way younger, and men had many wives – that’s not how are society is structured today, so how does any of this apply?”

There really are two issues here that apply to our modern times, and in this post I will only address one of them, as I believe the other issue merits its own post.

The first issue is the fertility crisis that the world will soon be facing in the coming century. In most modern countries, because women are waiting so long (average age of first time mothers is now around 26 in highly westernized countries) the birthrates in these countries among the indigenous populations has plummeted. Many European countries are far below replacement levels (just having enough babies to keep their population stable) and even the US population only keeps a modest growth because of immigration (legal and illegal). If we did not have the immigration we have now, we would be experiencing population decline.

I will reference this book in another article on this subject, but I highly encourage the reader to check out the book “What to Expect when no one is expecting” by Jonathan Last.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Expect-When-Ones-Expecting/dp/1594036411

The fertility statistics in this book are a real “inconvenient truth” to modern day feminists. We face a much greater threat from dropping fertility rates than any climate change, real or imagined. But I will have more to say about this subject in separate post dedicated to conflict between women’s rights and the survival of the human race.

But the second issue, and the one that this post is primarily dedicated to is the biological capacity of men for polygyny.

Even if practically speaking, we as men in western culture are for the most part living monogamous lives it helps us and our wives to understand ourselves better when we all come to the realization that men are biologically built with the capacity for polygyny.

There are some men who have lower sex drives, and have less polygynous natures than other men, so that they would never desire to act on their capacity for polygyny. But the vast majority of men have a high sex drive, some higher than others, and definitely if our society allowed it would act on their natural polygynous desires and biological capacity of for polygyny.

This is why happily married men still routinely check out other women.

This is why it is not perverted for a 50 year old man to check out an 18 year old woman.

This is why men typically want to have sex multiple times a week, whereas many women would be happy with sex a few times a month.

Man’s capacity for polygyny is not only Biblical, it is also biological.

References:

[1] Deiss, Lucien (1996), Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Liturgical Press, p. 25, ISBN 978-0814622551

[2] Zanzig, T. (1999). Jesus of History, Christ of Faith. Terrace Heights, Winona: Saint Mary’s Press, Christian Brothers Publication. p. 89

[3] Weitzel, Eugene. J. (2010). I Want to Be a Husband and Father for Life and a Catholic Priest Forever. U.S.: Xilbris Corporation. p. 113

[4] Zvi Yehuda, “The New Babylonian Diaspora: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Community in Iraq, 16th-20th C.E.”, p.97

Related posts:

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women Part 2

Women’s ovaries don’t agree with Feminism

How did God make man?

How did God make woman?

Why polygamy is not unBiblical

Removing the cultural lenses