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Marriage in the Bible and DOMA's 1 man + 1 woman argument

Updated on July 19, 2011

Maggie Gallagher


Bible on Marriage

Maggie Gallagher of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) argues that marriage is valid only between “one man and one woman”.Evangelicals claim that the ordinance of marriage was sanctioned in Paradise citing Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:4-6. Evangelicals also state that monogamy was the original law under which man lived, but polygamy appears quite early: Genesis 4:19.

The laws of Moses regulated but did not prohibit polygamy. A man might have a plurality of wives, but a wife could have only one husband. The wife could be divorced in special cases (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), but the wife could not divorce her husband.

Genesis 4:19 says “Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.” This marriage is scoffed at with the claim that Lamech was of the House of Cain.

Jacob was not of the House of Cain.He also had at least two wives: Leah (Genesis 29:17) and Rachel (Genesis 29:27). They were Jacob's first-cousins. This is incest.

Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 12:10-20), Sarah (Genesis 11:29-31), then “married” (had sex with) her servant Hagar (Genesis 16:1–21:21).After the death of his wife Sarah takes another wife, Keturah, who has six sons (25:1-4).

Esau, the elder twin son of Isaac and Rebekan (Genesis 25:25) married frequently.The names of Esau’s wives differ in two traditions (Genesis 26:34 and 28:9; cf. 36:2-3).

Moses had at least two wives.One was Zipporah (who was Moses’ cousin: Exodus 2:15-16 and in Exodus 18:1-6 and continued the Egyptian practice of female circumcision: Exodus 4:24-26).Moses’ second wife was the “woman of Ethiopia” (; cf. Numbers 11:35-12:2).

Moses’ polygamy is matched by Elkanah.Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Penninah (1 Samuel 1:2).

David had numerous wives. Michal was his first, and the daughter of King Saul (I Samuel 18:20, 28).Michael was unique.She is the first Biblical woman to tell a man that she loved him (the Hebrew word is ahava but it does not mean a romantic love). Saul set a bride-price for the groom David to receive Michal; to risk his life harvesting the foreskin of 100 Philistines, but David returned with the foreskin of 200.

David’s second wife was Ahinoam. She was the wife of King Saul and daughter of Ahimaatz (I Samuel 14:50).She was the mother of Amnon. David married her while Saul was still alive and had not divorced her. This constitutes bigamy.

Abigail, mother of Kileab, was the wife of Nabal (whose name denotes a fool or glutton), a wealthy landowner in the Hebron. She is noted as wise and beautiful (I Samuel 25:3) especially in contrast to her husband.She was the third wife.

Maacah, mother of Absalom and Tamar and daughter of King Talmai of Geshur, was the fourth wife.She was not very popular and so David seldom had sex with her.

Haggith, the mother of Adonijah, was the next wife. Little is written about her.

Eglah was David's sixth wife. She was the mother of Ithream.

David chose Abital as his seventh wife.She was the mother of Shephatiah.

David’s last wife was Bathsheba, mother of Solomon. David married her before her husband was dead. David had his friend, Uriah the Hittite, who slept at the foot his bed, killed so that he could marry Uriah's wife (2 Samuel 11).

Bathsheba is named as the daughter of Eliam (II Samuel 11: 3) himself the son of Ahithophel one of David’s counselors (II Samuel 23:34) and David had sex with her despite the fact she was menstruating, which was illicit according to Jewish law.

It is also possible that David married his own sister: According to the Book of Chronicles David had a sister named Abigail (I Chronicles 2:16).Her husband is named Ithra (or Jether) (2 Samuel 17:26; and I Chronicles 2:17). It is possible that after Nabal’s death David’s sister rule over Hebron, which baits the question of whether or not there were two Abigail’s – one David’s third wife and one his sister, who most likely were sisters-in-law, and even possibly the same person? That implies that David married his sister after the death of his rival Nabal to inherit her estates.

Could David marry his sister?Yes, it was not unheard of in the ancient mid-east (cf. Levenson, Jon D. (1978) in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, p. 27).

David is accused of two sins:murder and adultery.In the case of adultery death is penalty for both the man and the woman (Leviticus 20:10). It is suggested by several scholars that David had sex (marriage) with his own granddaughter (2 Samuel 15).That is incest.

King David also loved at least one man (Jonathan). David’s love for Jonathan is Biblical evidence that marriage (sexual) union occurred between men, as with David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3).In the account we read the Hebrew word ahab, used to describe how Jonathan loved David.It does not mean “platonic” love, but a union.The word occurs 208 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. It is translated love in the KJV 169 times and occurs in the story of David and Solomon in 1 Samuel 16:21, 18:1, 3, 16, 20, 20:17 and II Samuel 1:26.

Solomon outdid all of the men in the Old Testament for polygamous marriages.Solomon had 700 official wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-3).

No where in the Bible is there a statement that marriage must be between one man and one woman, and there are few instances where that occurred. Polygamy is far more common.

The last point is critical.If Jesus was the Son of God, as fourth century Christians claimed, he would have been tempted by the flesh, had a girl friend, and following Jewish custom, would have married and had children.Jesus had neither a girl friend nor girlfriends.He never married but he had 70 or 72 male disciples (it is recorded only in Luke 10:1–24; the number is in dispute, between 70 and 72, as The King James, New King James, and the New American Standard Bible read that Jesus "sent forth 70 disciples," while the New International Version, The Jerusalem Bible, and the New Living Translationreflect that Jesus “sent forth 72 disciples”.

Jesus stayed with twelve men, only one who was married but never was with his wife: Peter (Matthew 8:14), but early Church Fathers claimed that all were married except “John the Beloved of Jesus” who “remained chaste for Jesus”.

Saul of Tarsus/St. Paul was never married: 1 Corinthians 9:5.John the Beloved lay his head on Jesus’ chest (John 13:25 and 21:20). Jesus allowed this “because he loved him”—as he had loved the brother of Mary and Martha who died but after he was restored to life disappeared—when John enters into Jesus community as being “born again” (John 11:1-44).

A naked teenage male followed Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:51-52) leaving behind a linen cloth (σινδόνα).There has been no intra-biblical comment on this episode.Commentators have attempted to explain the youth as a soldier—but what would a soldier be doing in the Garden with Jesus? Some claim that the boy was asleep and the “shirt” fell off—why was not the shirt fastened? All the excuses are weak and are not in keeping with Old Testament injunctions that to be nude is antecedent to sex (Leviticus 20:11 and Genesis 0:23).

Jesus made no statement on marriage. Nor did his disciples Jesus had no quarrel with women. He was rarely around women.

Jesus taught "Judge not, that you are not judged (Matthew 7:1). He told people to love each other (John 13:34). True believers showed charity toward one another and treated each other as equals (Matthew 19:9).

Maggie Gallagher and her partisan supporters of DOMA deny equality and justice to some people. Like Michele Bachmann, Maggie Gallagher judges other people (both ignore Acts 10:24). Both women claim they reads the Bible. My question is: which Bible?


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      Liza 6 years ago

      Thank you, Art! Ignorance is the only thing that keeps most people from accepting same sex marriage and/or relationships. Religion is often used to hide behind peoples' closed minds. It's very sad.