Friday, August 07, 2009

Hank Hanegraaff and another textbook answer to Polygyny

The Self Styled "Bible Answer Man" and another set of pat answers, that don't measure up. Hank asks "Does 2 Samuel 12 approve of Polygamy?"
"A recent caller to the Bible Answer Man broadcast asked for further clarification as to whether 2 Samuel 12:8 might well suggest that God approves of the practice of polygamy. I promised to provide additional perspective to this very significant question, and I say 'significant' in that one may legitimately question a God who approves the practice of polygamy."
Once again the debate is subtly characterized by misuse of the language. Polygamy, monogamy, polyandry, polyamory and polygyny are all part of a spectrum of non Biblical words, they are defined culturally, not in a Christian context. As such we should use them properly, not as they are misused repeatedly. Scripture never advocates polygamy, if it does advocate any form of marriage other than monogamy, it's polygyny. In truth the division is a secular one. It should be significant to note that the Bible recognizes only marriage and other husband-wife relationships known as concubinage. Scripture clearly limits a woman to one husband at a time, and takes a decidedly dim view of serial marriage of women when their former partner is still alive (Romans 7).
"In 2 Samuel 12, the Lord, speaking through Nathan the prophet, says to King David, 'I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added you many more things like these.'

At face value, this seems to suggest that God gave David multiple wives, and then stood ready to add to his harem with divine sanction. Of course, that’s precisely the problem with pressing Scripture into a wooden literal labyrinth, because—in truth—if Nathan’s words are anything at all, they are ironic."
If I understand Hank correctly, this is astounding presumption. He says that Nathan really doesn't mean this, he is saying like Job, "Surely you are the people, and with you wisdom dies?" Nathan is saying God gave David his wives but doesn't really mean it? Let us examine what "giving into your arms" means, which in other translations is "into your bosom." "Into your arms" is entirely translated from one Hebrew word, "חיק (cheyq)," which occurs 39 times. Theologians are fond of "first use" and "first use" for this term is Sarah telling Abraham I " 'חיק (cheyq)' Hagar to you." It generally means close intimate embrace and it is used TWICE by Nathan (imagine that, a full one in nineteen of the entire usage of the word) in the same passage. Bathsheba was in the poor man/lamb illustration, the lamb, that Uriah "חיק (cheyq)'d," so to speak. That brings us to the other use in interpretation that theologians are fond of. How is it used by the same speaker/author? Nathan only uses the word twice and the are the only uses of that term in the books of Samuel, all in 2nd Samuel chapter 12.
"David had just murdered a man in order to have another woman appended to his harem. Despite the generosity of the very God who had made him sovereign ruler of the land, the king had stolen the wife of a servant and that to satisfy his carnal lust."
I agree here with Hank that this is the point, though he uses the term "harem" because of it's pejorative quality. David, who has plenty of wives, has stolen a poor man's only wife. Adultery is wrong, murder is wrong, but I disagree with Hank and say that Nathan (and therefore God) really means it, exactly as it was said. God says; "All you had to do was ASK David, I'd have given you more wives, I already had, so why are you stealing that which is not yours?"
"As with David, Solomon, David’s son, had extravagances in multiplying not only horses, but multiplying wives, and that was a significant factor in the unraveling of a kingdom."
Strangely though Hank, scripture does chide Solomon specifically for his sin, and it is NEVER said to be his many wives. That's odd, because I would think 1000 total wives and concubines had to be "a lot." Perhaps that is because we have a suggestion of how many wives is too much, and how many wives Solomon had, for a time: Song of Songs 6:8:
"There are threescore queens (60), and fourscore concubines (80), and virgins without number."
At the time of the writing of Song of Songs, Solomon has 60 wives of marriage and 80 concubines. So what does Nehemiah chide Solomon for? The number of his wives? He does not. No King of Israel or Judah is ever chided for the number of their wives, anywhere in scripture. Solomon is upbraided in the analysis of Scripture, for the UNBELIEF of his wives: Nehemiah 13:25 & 26:
"I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish "נכרי (nokriy)(stranger, alien, foreign)" women cause to sin."
I can only conclude, that though the number of Solomon's wives almost has to be too many, it is not the number that was his sin, his sin was "outlandish" women. Thus one would conclude that at some point Solomon went from an acceptable number of wives, of local origin, to a large number of foreign marriage alliances with unbelieving women. The bulk of his eventual 300 wives, and 700 concubines coming from this forbidden source. This is backed up by 1st Kings 11:1-3:
"But king Solomon loved many "רב (rab)" strange "נכרי (nokriy)" women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart."
It is only after the word "many" (the same root for the word "many" in Deuteronomy 17) that the strangeness of wives is mentioned. Essentially Solomon's sin was firstly, strange women, of whom he took quite a lot. After the primary sin (he should NEVER take foreign woman of unbelief) Solomon takes "many," a term of subjective value. Three may be enough for me, but another might handle ten well, this is the parable of the talents. A King could have several, but not too many wives, but no outlandish ones at all, just like any other Israelite. It doesn't matter that Solomon may have taken 840 wives of a forbidden sort, the primary sin was they were all forbidden. The OUTLANDISH ones, and a great "רב (rab)" number of them as well.
"Who can forget the explicit admonition of Moses in Deuteronomy 17:17: Do not multiply wives or your heart will be led astray!"
Hank, you're proposing, because of the preceding parallel treatment of horses, in verse 16, that a King could have only one horse. This is ludicrous.
"Moreover, monogamous marriage is clearly taught in Genesis (2:22-24), and then reiterated by Christ himself."
Now Hank downshifts into assertion. When an author is not specific, and buries the lead, like Hank just did, and says it's "clear," it almost certainly isn't. Nothing in the concept of "one flesh" says that monogamy is endorsed. All it says is that married people are "one flesh." Since God in his own law CLEARLY recognizes that you can have more than one wife and since you are in fact "one flesh" with your wife, Hank confuses the condition of "one flesh" with the estate of monogamy which he further confuses with marriage itself, and there is no place in scripture that grants equivalency to the idea "One Flesh"=Monogamy=Marriage. Monogamy isn't even a word in the Bible.
"Jesus went on to say that, 'Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery' (Matt 19:9). Not only so, but marriage is an analogy for the relationship that God has with his people, with the Church His one and only bride."
Now the typical piling on starts. After "clearly" we hear the jumble of arguments shoved on us in rapid fire form. Package the bunk together, and pass it all through the gate "Trojan Horse" style. Hank, what happens if a man DOESN'T divorce his wife, and marries another? Also, you're making the error of analogy as fact by saying that Christ, apparently depicted as monogamous, is serving as an instructive example to us in marriage, in the apparent fact of his monogamy. This would have to be clearly stated as so, you're not free to simply say that "See, this really looks like and probably is a monogamy, so it means we should be monogamous.
"Furthermore, reading the Bible for all its worth involves recognition that the narratives of Scripture are often descriptive as opposed to prescriptive. The fact that Scripture reveals the patriarchs with all their warts and moles and wrinkles is to warn us of their failures, it’s not to teach us to emulate their practices. Far from blinking at David’s polygamous behavior, the Bible reveals that as a result of his sin, the sword never left his home."
Now the outright equivocation and lie. It is NOT David's "Polygamous Behavior" for which the sword never departs his home, David is ALREADY VERY POLGYNOUS in his marriage practice, it is specifically for his MURDER and THEFT through ADULTERY, of Bathsheba. He MURDERS URIAH, after STEALING his wife. 2nd Samuel 12:9 & 10:
"Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife."
NOT POLYGAMY Hank, for there was not even such a word in all of scripture, it is the theft of Uriah's wife, and his MURDER, for which the sword does not depart. You sin yourself by saying it was polygamy for you distort the word of God's Prophet, which is not merely descriptive, it is the WORD OF GOD. This is God's verdict, not the distorted twisted lie you offer up.
"Finally, let me say this, as God permitted divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts, so too He put up with polygamy because of humankind’s insolent stubbornness."
I disagree with this entirely. But for now I shall grant that the interpretation that divorce was allowed because of mens ugly hard heartedness is correct in its spin, presented here. NOWHERE, is the following LIE substantiated. The lie that "Polygyny, like divorce, was allowed because men were hard hearted." This is simple invention. Arguably, Hank and others have found the category to place Polygyny in, if it is indeed reluctantly allowed by God, but their problem is, for Polygyny to BE "Like Divorce" in this way, it must somewhere be said that it is "Like Divorce" in this way. BUT IT NEVER IS.
"The apostle Paul in definitive fashion says just as there are no slaves but only free in the economy of God, so too there is no male or female but all are one in Christ. Indeed, one might well say that the words of Paul in Ephesians 5 have ennobled and empowered women in the West such that far from being chattel, their considered co-laborers in Christ with the very men who are instructed to give up their rights for them."
Hank, would you then have women Elders in the church? Preachers? Would you then sanction Gay Marriage, because after all, why cannot I have a husband as a man? We are all equal, would you deny a woman a wife, like I am able to take? Are children in charge of parents? Did Paul not mean what he wrote to Philemon? This cannot be the interpretation of Ephesians 5, for Paul has just gotten through with telling wives to submit to husbands, yet there are neither male nor female? You twist the scripture grossly out of context to contradict what just went before in the same chapter. We are all equal in Christ after JUDGMENT. Paul is reminding men of that, so that they do not despise the estate of one or the other in this life, because of our eventual status in the next.

(Revised mildly on June 20th, 2010. Expanded information on the Hebrew for "Many")

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1 comment:

Robert said...

Great response. To bad he wont take up your points...He likes to speak it unchallenged.