Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family Instruction of the Day: Stay unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

  • Ouri Maler

    Paul: Asexual, or just a prude?

  • aunursa

    Lord almighty
    I feel my temperature rising
    Higher, higher
    It’s burning through to my soul

    Girl, girl, girl
    You gonna set me on fire
    My brain is flaming
    I don’t know which way to go, yeah

    Your kisses lift me higher
    Like the sweet song of a choir
    And you light my morning sky
    With burning love

  • VorJack

    Neither, apocalyptic.

  • CoolHandLNC

    Por qué no los dos?

  • Lori

    Apocalyptic yes, but I’m also inclined to think there was something else going on. I don’t think there’s enough information to answer the asexual/very low sex drive vs prude question, but I think it’s a legitimate thing to ask. Paul just doesn’t seem to have had any gut level understanding of a positive sex life.

  • Ursula L

    Paul just doesn’t seem to have had any gut level understanding of a positive sex life.

    Paul was also living in a world where the very concept of what we would consider a positive sex life didn’t exist.  

    So, in fairness, I could easily see someone of  that time coming to realize that the way people treated each other, when it came to sex, was always pretty awful, treating people as property, no idea of equality, and with no respect for consent.  And someone in that time and place not having the ability to clearly see alternatives to the horrible way people were treating each other, or to articulate exactly what was wrong.  

    So, potential reasoning for Paul:

    1.  The way people treat each other when it comes to sex is awful.

    2.  People shouldn’t be treating each other awfully.

    3.  Therefore, it is better to avoid sex, as it seems to always be associated with treating people awfully.

    4.  Marriage seems to be, not not-awful, but at least less-awful than the other ways in which people treat each other when it comes to sex.

    5.  So if people genuinely can’t manage to avoid the awfulness that is the first-century concept of sex, they should at least manage their sex life in the least-awful way.  

    6.  And marriage needs to be done with rules to encourage the less-awful ways of being married, while discouraging the more-awful ways of being married.  Because no one had a concept of what we’d consider a positive married life, any more than a concept of a positive sex life.

  • Lori

    Paul was also living in a world where the very concept of what we would consider a positive sex life didn’t exist. 

    Yes and no. Clearly the sexual mores and politics of the day now seem pretty bad, at least to most of us. However,  people did like sex back then. As much as each generation likes to think that they invented it, people have liked sex for a really, really long time.

    Paul does not seem to me to have had any real understanding of that at all. He clearly got it intellectually, but that seems to have been as far as it went. Even back in the day that’s not the person from whom other people should have been taking any sort of guidance on sex.

    About the issue of people treating each other awfully WRT to sex, personally I’d find that view more persuasive if Paul had taken the same approach to other relationships & cultural institutions that we would now consider awful, but he really didn’t. Certainly not to the extent and in the way that he focused on sex.

  • vsm

    Pier Paolo Pasolini thought he was a deeply closeted gay guy who just had to ruin sex for everybody.

  • VorJack

    Well, if we’re going to get into this a couple of things should be said.  Most historians agree that this section reads like a rearguard action.  Paul’s letters were always situational, meaning that they addressed certain problems in the communities he’d visited or founded.  So the best guess is that some members of the community in Corinth were anticipating the encratite movement and taking vows of celibacy.  Perhaps they were modeling themselves after the Essene community.

    So this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as Paul advancing a position.  He speaks very little about sex and marriage in his other letters.  It may simply be that he needed to react to a movement in the Corinthian community that could have destabilized the households he relied on.  This may be another one of his compromises, intended to placate one group yet maintain the stability of the community. 

  • Lori

    This view leads to another problem though. The emphasis that so many Christians (at least in the US) place on Paul’s writings makes very little sense if they’re just context-free letters about specific situations. If Paul wasn’t advancing general positions, but was only reacting to specific situations (which is a perfectly sensible view to hold about the letters) then there’s really no reason for anyone to be bound by those letters today. Especially because, as I said, we have so little information about the context of the letters.

    ETA: Even if Paul was only dealing with specific situations & not advancing general positions it still strikes me that he just didn’t get sex.

  • Daughter

    Did Paul focus on sex that much? There’s this passage, and the one in Corinthians about the man sleeping with his stepmother (but that seems to be more about incest/adultery that even today many people would agree with, not just sex per se). Then there’s Romans, where Paul talks about unnatural lusts.  But I can’t really think of any other passages where Paul addresses sex at all. It seems like he focused a lot more on lack of legalism/freedom in Christ as his big issues.

    And if you look at how Paul addresses slavery, it seems in line with Ursula’s theory – he talks about how to moderate it (slaves, obey; masters, treat your slaves fairly).

  • Lori

     He’s the go-to reference for people who believe that we’re still supposed to hate on the gays and that women need to sit down and shut it. So, as a percentage of his overall output he probably didn’t talk about it that much, but he A) talked about it more than the other writers seem to have and B) said things that people are still using as justification for their moral positions.

    I’m fine with saying that A is a flukes of circumstance and B is a misunderstandings, but that doesn’t really play for people who believe that those writings, along with the rest of what we know as the Bible, were preserved because we’re supposed to follow them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Yay , Chick-fil-A BFotD finally gets to the New Testament!  I was wondering if/when that would ever happen.

  • Chrissl

    This is especially interesting because the conservative emphasis on Family Above All leaves very little room in conservative church culture for people who are single and celibate. Family-centered-ness in practice sometimes means that everyone is expected to be in a (certain type of) family, i.e. to marry and have children. Single people are ignored at best, or at worst they are either looked down upon as immature or suspected of being gay.

    It’s almost as if they are second-class citizens, which is ironic, given that what the verse actually *says* is that theirs is a “better” lifestyle.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know about ironic. People are very good at snubbing the perceived superior along with the perceived inferior, as anyone who’s been bullied for being smart can tell you.

  • wendy

    Paul was also living in a world where the very concept of what we would consider a positive sex life didn’t exist.  

    Solomon found sex extremely positive (at least with his beloved; maybe not so much with the non-beloveds). He thought it was so awesome it was worthy of poetry; everyone else agreed it was so awesome the poetry about it should be preserved in our tribal chronicle alongside our most important history and laws and customs. To this day, many of our wedding rings are inscribed with one of his lines. 

  • Anton_Mates

    Solomon found sex extremely positive (at least with his beloved; maybe not so much with the non-beloveds).

    And Talmudic authorities, and Aristophanes, and Catullus, and Ovid.  By the first century CE, all the cultures that helped shape Paul–Jewish, Greek, Roman–featured fictional and nonfictional examples of a positive sex life, involving mutual pleasure and as much mutual consent as is possible in societies with fairly rudimentary ideas about civil rights.

    They also featured many, many examples of horrific sexual abuse, of course.  But IMO those tended to be obvious offshoots of horrific abuse in general.  E.g., having sex with your slave is a bad thing, but the problem is less with the “sex” bit than the “slave” bit.  And Paul was certainly less explicitly critical of the latter. (In other words, what Lori said.)

    Personally, I think that Paul probably understood the importance of sex in most people’s lives; he just thought that, because it was so important, it was a distractor from  the business of participating in a Christian community.  He wouldn’t be the first or the last social engineer/community organizer to advocate celibacy for pragmatic reasons.

  • Amaryllis

    Mostly for my own amusement, because I never got around to it in a timely manner, the Chick-fil-A Poem of Five Days Ago:

    Paul
    Wrong question, Paul. Who am I,
    Lord? is what you should have asked.
    And the answer, surely, somebody
    who it is easy for us to kick against.
    There were some matters you were dead right
    about. For instance, I like you
    on love. But marriage– I could have thought
    too many had been burned in that fire
    for your contrast to hold.

    Still, you are the mountain
    the teaching of the carpenter of Nazareth
    congealed into. The theologians
    have walked around you for centuries
    and none of them scaled you. Your letters remain
    unanswered. And we, pottering among the foot-hills
    of their logic, find ourselves staring
    across deep crevices at conclusions at which
    the living Jesus would not willingly have arrived.

    -R. S. Thomas, from “Covenanters”

  • j_anson

    I’m just waiting for 2 Kings 6:26-29.


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