Breakdown of Biblical Marriage

Breakdown of Biblical Marriage June 5, 2013

Three biblical scholars from three different universities have teamed up to take on the topic of “biblical marriage.” Dr. Hector Avalos, Dr. Robert R. Cargill, and Dr. Kenneth Atkinson co-wrote an editorial that was published in the Des Moine Register:

Iowa View: 1 man, 1 woman isn’t the Bible’s only marriage view

The debate about marriage equality often centers, however discretely, on an appeal to the Bible. Unfortunately, such appeals often reflect a lack of biblical literacy on the part of those who use that complex collection of texts as an authority to enact modern social policy.

As academic biblical scholars, we wish to clarify that the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.


Although some may view Jesus’ interpretation of Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:3-10 as an endorsement of monogamy, Jesus and other Jewish interpreters conceded that there were also non-monogamous understandings of this passage in ancient Judaism, including those allowing divorce and remarriage.

In fact, during a discussion of marriage in Matthew 19:12, Jesus even encourages those who can to castrate themselves “for the kingdom” and live a life of celibacy.

Hmmmm. I like Hector Avalos, but he’s gonna need some facial hair if he wants to run with this crowd.

It’s worth a read just to see how easily they can point out examples of alternative kinds of marriage in the Bible. They get bonus points for mentioning the New Testament’s advocacy of the celibate lifestyle, which usually gets overlooked.

The comments on the article are surprisingly positive for a newspaper comment stream. My guess is that will change.

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