GENERAL – [St.] Valentine’s Day and the Holy Bridegroom

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYBODY!

One of the pleasant chores in planning our wedding – and thank you everyone for you good wishes, I really appreciated that – was choosing scripture for the ceremony.

Naturally I was drawn to Jesus’ references to himself as “the Bridegroom.” And they’re in there, all over the place.

There is no question that as a religion Christianity is pretty sex-negative. The question is why. There is surely not much support for it in the Gospels, and there is this almost Tantric reference to Jesus as the bridegroom – not the husband, not the householder, not the “head of the house” – but as a bridegroom. That’s a reference to sensuality and conjugal bliss where a reference to a husband would refer to all the other stuff – presiding over the dinner table, settling fights between the kids, bringing home the bacon or whatever – yeah, maybe not the bacon.

Sex-negativity in Christiniaty – when the Church’s definition of sodomy* is any no-procreative sex, it doesn’t get more heterophobic than that. “You can only have sex with your wife to make a baby” – OMG, how gay is that? “My boy, just turn your head and do your duty.”

It’s about sexual joy in a lifelong relationship, and more importantly the image of a the individual person’s relationship to the Absolute as sexual ecstasy. That is Tantra.

So what happened? Where did this go in the religion that came out of all this? You don’t have far to look. For one thing sexual cult practices had been a feature of religions in the area for about ever, so this kind of thing was seen as pagan. In Greek religion, Pan was the big, raunchy, rutting god of testosterone, as he was considered so pagan that eh got re-purposed as the face of Satan in popular or vulgar Christianity. For another there is a really strong current of distrust of women and contact with women in Greek culture – women were emotional, irrational, chaotic, and could sap the rational, logical virtue of men with too much contact. And then too Gnosticism, with its dualistic opposition of spirit and matter taught denigrated anything fleshly, was culturally influential in that era. Probably strongest of all was a family values kind of uneasiness with sensuality and falling in love and all the damage that could do to normal family structures – arranged marriages, total legal subservience of wives to husbands, in a time when Christianity was desperate to look respectable some way any way.

I understand all the reasons, and the results of acting on those we are all familiar with. They just conflict with scripture.

But popular, vulgar religion usually corrects all these imbalances, and in this case it responded with the figure of St. Valentine, who as a historical saint has not much connection with romantic love that anyone has been abler to identify. Who cares; this is popular culture, not scholarship.

In fact the link is so thin that the Church finally came out and made an issue of it, so now there is no St. Valentine’s Day. Too bad, damage is done. What you boot out the backdoor climbs back in through a window. We have a holiday that celebrates romantic love. I can’t think of another religion that does.

 

*Which as it happens is the wrong meaning of “sodomite” and the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Go check out Ezekiel 16:49-50.

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  • TheBiboSez

    The notion that the sin of Sodom equals some sort of non-heteronormative sexual practice is explicitly DENIED in Ezekiel – this sin of Sodom was inhospitality to strangers, not some sexual offense. Just to be precise – in literal, Biblical terms – when an angry bigot is cruel to a homosexual, the angry bigot is the sinning Sodomite.

    In the actual story of Lot, no actual sex occurs in the city of Sodom at all – hell, even Lot’s married daughters are depicted as virgins, and it is not until well after the destruction of the city when the Lot’s daughters rape the drunken Lot.

    Now, when the angry townsfolk confront Lot, they tell Lot they want to “yada” the strangers staying with him. The Hebrew word “yada” is oft translated as “violently rape”, although the word occurs nowhere else in the bible and its actual meaning is controversial – so, when Jerry Seinfeld says “yada yada yada”, he may or may not be making a triple-down rape joke.

    The sex-negatively in Christianity flows from Jesus’s statements about families. In the Gospels, Jesus addressed the question of biological families about 26 times, and in 25 of those references, he is clear in his hatred and contempt for them. In the 26th and final reference, as he is dying on the cross, Jesus assigns the care of his mother to the “beloved disciple” (John), who was unrelated to Mary. This sound like Jesus was being nice to his mum until you notice that other biological relatives of Mary are standing right there, AND as a true disciple, John lived in penury and was in no position to provide her with any food, shelter, or protection at all.

    Oh, and the parable of the bridegroom includes one groom and ten brides, which might make a fun marriage but a contentious family.

    NOW, the best scriptures for marriage come from Ruth’s love for Naomi, the mother of her dead husband, and David’s love for Jonathan.

    Ruth, speaking to Naomi:

    “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

    The Love of David and Jonathan:

    “And it came to pass..that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”

  • Ginkgo

    “Jesus addressed the question of biological families about 26 times,”

    Does those 26 times include the one where some Pharisees asked Jesus which of seven brothers would be some hypothetical woman’s husband in heaven and he flat-out said there’s no marriage in the Kingdom of Heaven? How’s that for the Biblical view of marriage?

    “Oh, and the parable of the bridegroom includes one groom and ten brides, which might make a fun marriage but a contentious family.”

    Good catch. That one really backs up the soul’s union with God as the meaning of the parable. Those maids represent all the various members of the Church, all the souls. And it clearly is not a reference to an actual marriage.

    “Just to be precise – in literal, Biblical terms – when an angry bigot is cruel to a homosexual, the angry bigot is the sinning Sodomite.”

    Bibo, you bitch. That will surely make their heads explode. You are my kind of bitch.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner
  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner
  • Tamen

    It should come as no surprise that Schwyzer a while back have written a post which goes into details why what the daughters did to Lot really wasn’t rape and how it really was his fault.

    That Thought Catalog article really had it all. Encouraging violence against the male bitch who go home with the bar slut instead of the righteous woman. Misandry and misogyni all wrapped up in a nice concoction lapped up by many female commenters stating: “Great article, just what I needed now!”.

  • Tamen

    Actually the word yada occurs several other places in the bible as I understand. It literally means “to know” which can change meanings depending on context.

    The short and simple:
    http://yadadrop.com/about/what-does-yada-mean

    The long and more detailed :
    http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/3045.htm

  • Clarence

    Stoner:
    Maybe that article was meant as satire, but if so it’s a failure.

    Regardless, I doubt I could get this article published over there, satire or no:
    How to Properly Spank Your Annoying, Childish Woman.
    I could see starting it off something like:
    Sometimes the women in your life – be it “that time of the month”, or because they didn’t iron your shirt properly- need a good hard bare bottom spanking.

    Just that first sentence alone, I could see the steam rising and feminists getting on their winged monkeys to attack me.

    Yet both slapping and spanking are minor (usually) forms of violence that are associated with humiliation more so than physical harm when done to adults. The difference? One is primarily done by women to men, the other is mostly done by women to children. And we all know we must take all Violence Against Women seriously!

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner

    “Yet both slapping and spanking are minor (usually) forms of violence that are associated with humiliation more so than physical harm when done to adults.”

    Clarence I know you have a fetish for S&M stuff like Clarice Thorn and as I’ve said before if a woman wanted me to slap her, I’d run out of the room. If she slapped me there a good chance real violence ™ as opposed to S&M violence ™ would happen. I even said here or somewhere else my mother, the second wave feminist used to slap me around frequently. Around when I was 12 and I asked why I’m not being hit anymore she said it was cause I’m bigger than her now.

    The article is extremely condescending and shows female entitlement. If a woman isn’t getting the relationship she wants she should leave. She should only hit in self defence.

    If a guy complains he can’t get a relationship, he is a subhuman POS Nice Guy ™ –if a womyn is a booty call and she deserves sooooooo much better, she should hit him, humiliate him,etc–you go girl, grrrl power ™ ….

  • Clarence

    Stoner:
    I hope you did not read my comments as somehow disagreeing with you.
    I was merely stating they almost certainly have a double standard about articles involving violence.

  • Ginkgo

    SWAB, nice catch on that first link. I thibnk that merits a post of its own on disproportionate violence. And the first page of comments is great too doing the gender flip. The pushback trnedline is upward.

  • IogSotot

    I’m just commenting to congratulate you, Ginkgo! Best wishes!

    (I had to stop thinking about gender/feminism for a while. I’m impressed you all can keep going and going!)

  • Ginkgo

    Thanks IogSotot, and welcome, by the way.

    We take breaks. I have the advantage of a decently wide circle of acquainatance so I get some perspective on gender issues from real life. One of the things I see is how the system works – men shitting on men and using women as an excuse; women shitting on women and suing ment odo it, aand of course all their own nasty policing all on thier own.

    And I see it form a minority angle, as a sexual minority. The heterosxual dance looks very different from the outside..

  • TheBiboSez

    @Tamen – as I mentioned, “yada” is controversial. The definition of “yada” as “violent rape” (unique) is a part of the controversy.

    Now, the Hebrew Scriptures (“the Old Testament” in Christian Terms) suffer from a lot of imprecisions – much of our understanding of them comes from traditional Jewish teachings that were mostly lost, then refiltered through Christianity, then returned to a marginally reunited Judaism that continues to study and debate them. The Hebrew language itself has some massive gray areas that distort the meanings as well.

    Here’s an example – written ancient Hebrew has no vowels. The implications of this are vast, so here’s an example of how convoluted this makes interpretations:

    Question: So, who killed Abel, the son of Adam and brother of Cain?

    CN did. (Cain?)

    Now, we’ve been taught that the first vegetarian Cain slew his cattle-rancher brother Abel because of jealousy over Abel’s tasty meat, but…

    In modern terms, we can put the vowels into CN wherever we want. So, CaiN slew Abel. Or, “a CaN” slew Abel (hit him square in the noggin, poor lad). Or, a severe case of aCNe slew Abel (a lot of suicides trace to somatic dysmorphia). Or, Abel was CaNed to death. Or…

    See the problem? I’ve used English interpretations of “CN” as a proxy for Hebrew for illustrative purposes, but regardless, the severe imprecision of this particular written language means that a whole host of alternate understandings are tenable.

    Now “yada”, or “yd”, can be a lot of different terms, too, but only in the story of Sodom does a mob seek to yada strangers. So, it might appear once (in context) in the bible, or a dozen times: only one of which means the brutal gang rape of a couple of guys by a bunch of other guys. So, multiple arguments can be supported, but each undermines the other.

    When considering modern scripture translations condemning “homosexuality”, the term “homosexuality” wasn’t even coined until the 19th century, so, ANY translation of scripture that mentions “homosexuality”, pro or (always) con, is most likely a constructed bullshit political narrative that any loving deity would be ashamed to be associated with.

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    TheBiboSays:

    Now “yada”, or “yd”, can be a lot of different terms, too, but only in the story of Sodom does a mob seek to yada strangers.

    Is it not used in the same sense in the virtual replay of the same story in Judges 19, when the Levite and his concubine lodge with a man of Benjamin and “the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.'” (RSV)?

    In this story, the Levite gives them his concubine and they rape her to death, and this is the cause of a war against the tribe of Benjamin that almost wipes them out. Considering Judah, the tribe of king David’s dynasty, eventually eclipsed and absorbed Benjamin, the tribe of king Saul, this is obviously a piece of political propaganda to justify Benjamin’s demise. I agree with Richard Elliott Freidman that the Sodom and Gomorrah story is a deliberate foreshadowing of the Benjamin story, and that both come from the J document.

  • IogSotot

    @Ginkgo:

    I have bisexual tendencies but pretty much no sex life and not very much libido. Honestly, I doubt I have much of value to contribute, but, then, I’m really here to learn.

    That should be read in a matter-of-fact tone, not a kiss-ass one :)