Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jesus said it #03: She committeth adultery

But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32

And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. Mark 10:11-12

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. Luke 16:18

See Matthew 19:9 also.

Jesus had alot to say about divorce. According to him, divorce is adultery. The exception is that if the woman had fornicated. Most christians misunderstand what fornication means here. It's not fornication if the married woman is having an affair with another man. That would be called adultery. Fornication means that she had sex with a man before she was married. IOW, she was not a virgin when she was married. If the wife had an extra-marital affair, the husband wouldn't need to divorce her. He'd just have her killed. The Bible makes a clear distinction between fornication and adultery, so I know that I'm not off base in this assumption.

These passages are very severe in thier judgement. According to the OT law, adultery is punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10). Also, the term adultery is sexist as well. In Leviticus 20:10, it's adultery if a man has sex with a married woman, but not adultery if a married man has sex with an unmarried woman. That's just plain old fornication. That means that if a woman has sex before she's married (consential or not), she would be subject to legal divorce (if she marries), if her husband finds out. For as long as she is alive! To me, this is weird.

Why, should it matter if she is a virgin until she is married? Why just the woman? Why all this mysticism about virginity? I'll go out on a limb on this one. I don't have any books to reference. This is my own hypothesis. It all goes back to an ancient misunderstanding about human reproduction. Today, we know alot there is to know about human reproduction. There are vast volumes of scientific information about reproduction. This is one subject where there are only a few mysteries left. However, up until a few hundred years ago, humans didn't have the vast information about sex and reproduction that we have now. The Bible authors appearantly may not have understood that a woman get's pregnant by the man she is having sex with. In Judges 21:7-14, the Jews defeat a city and kill all the males (including little boys), kill all the married women, and keep all the virgins (many of whom were probably little girls) to give to the unmarried men in the tribe of Benjamin for wives. Why wouldn't an young widow (who wasn't pregnant) do? She could still give birth to children. I think it's because the ancients believed that no matter who a woman has sex with, her children could be fathered by any of the men she has ever had sex with! That's why it's so important that a bride be a virgin. That's why it's such a sin for a man to have sex with a woman married to another man. They may have believed that a child born years after an affair might belong to that other man.

Today in the U.S., the divorce rates are high. This paper from says that 25% of adults (in the U.S.) have had at least one divorce during their lifetime. That's one quarter of the population having been divorced. Further down on the page we have this table.

Over a third of non-denominational christians have been through a divorce! That's what I was raised as. The Baptists are not that far behind. Catholics and Lutherans seem to be the most faithful. Look at the next table from the same page.

So Atheists and Agnostics (what I am now) have a divorce rate similar to Catholics and Lutherans. That's less than one quarter of married agnostics and atheists have divorced. It's not a big difference, but it shows that despite what many evangelical ministers say, divorce rate is still very high in the christian community. I've heard the phrase, "The family that prays together, stays together." so often. These statistics surely puts that myth to rest.

According to Jesus, over one-fourth of his true followers have committed adultery.


Eshu said...

Thanks for the link, Robert. It certainly makes interesting reading.

To be fair, I suspect that the slight correlation between religion and divorce may be due to a third factor such as a low standard of living. Perhaps that could encourage religion and be a risk factor in divorce? Just an idea.

In any case, it's a good place to point Christians who claim (or even imply) that the religious are morally superior.

Robert Madewell said...

Thanks Eshu,
You may be right about the low standard of living. However, in the Ozarks where there's a church on every corner, seems that the divorce rate is very high. One of my observations is that many of the christians that I work with, have been remarried at least once. Two men at work are even on their fourth marriges. Both men are evangelical christians. One man who works with me is an agnostic and he's never been married. I'm an atheist and I'm still on my first marriage and it's doing fine so far.

Hey, readers! Check out Eshu's blog at
I also link to it on the right ----->

Judy Madewell said...

Yes, our marriage is doing fine so far. Okay. . . Our vows said "until death do us part". FYI, I modified that. You and me forever and ever and ever . . . with love.

Robert Madewell said...

I love that girl!