Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Cult of the Orgasm

Indeed, a bold title from Christianity Today.  And  certainly bold content from Anna Broadway .  A seeming reaction against Russell Moore's article- which disparaged romance novels,

Now, you can probably tell where Anna is going from the pejorative title itself.  The sensationalist 'poisoning of the well', so to speak.  And her article diffuses this poison.
Yet, Anna is to be commended for playing boldly where few women have played before.  Certainly not a prude as suggested in the comments (which are far better than the article itself).  She certainly tries to be biblical.
And has some sense of being contextual.  But got waylaid by fear and 'tremble-ers'.

So, let's look at Anna's presentation:

The case of Onan is poorly presented.   I have covered it here.
The case of Matthew 5 is poorly presented.  I have covered it here.
Have addressed the "specific silence of the Bible on this".  And the general 'lack of silence' here.
Have addressed the Trinitarian implications of this "cult".  With an opposite conclusion here and here.
And have done more than just 'a word study' here.  Not just "a carefully argued interpretation of one passage or verse".

Now Anna also mentions  the 'implausibility of masturbation without fantasy'.  An implausibility that I and others happen to dispute.

Implicit in this assertion of course- is the suggestion that  'fantasy is always wrong'.
Which again begs the question of my extensive study on this subject- "Is fantasy always illicit?".

A question that the Bible is certainly not silent on. 

Yet, it seems middle-age Anna would rather be safe than sorry.
Would rather feel misguided bitterness- than feel misguided guilt.

Would rather lean towards asceticism. 
Lean towards an endorsement of those who say, "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch [yourself] (Col 2:21 ESV).
Rather than towards an endorsement of "things that are excellent, praiseworthy and encouraging".
By avoiding an expression that is in fact excellent, praiseworthy and encouraging.

Indeed, avoiding an expression because illicit fantasies are "probably" involved.
Although, illicit fantasies are not necessarily involved.

Yes, Anna would rather avoid an expression that actually discourages temptation (1 Cor. 7:5).
And often encourages faithfulness.

Certainly not an ungodly expression- to be swept under the rug.
 And as Anna puns, "There's the rub".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Was Joseph Permitted to Kiss Mary?

(HT. Triablogue)
Catholic Answers had a thread on their Forum- Was Joseph Permitted to Kiss Mary ?

And of course, Rome's foremost defender on this thread- not willing to "sully the purity of the Virgin Mother" says,  "No!".
Unless of course it was a "chaste kiss".  A kiss 'like Mary would have for her infant son'.
How cute.

But of course we know the real question was, 'Did Joseph ever have intercourse with Mary?'.  The real purity issue.

Now this defender is somewhat more firm here, "NO!" (Rome made it official in 1854).
And this defender maintains Joseph's celibacy with Mary..  
And knowing where this is leading- insists that 'not having intercourse with your spouse would not at all be unusual or improper in their culture'.
Really?  Beware when they play the specious 'culture-card'.  Culture hasn't changed all that much.

And this is where this forum moderator (AmbroseSJ) tries to appeal to some specious tradition.  A tradition without an apostolic source (unless early church-father Ambrose of Milan is an some kind of apostle).
According to historian-Phillip Schaff, it is thought that Ambrose of Milan was the first to promote this form of asceticism.
The notorious Pelagius was soon prominent  in popularizing this ascetisism in the 4th century.  It seems Pelagius appealed to Ambrose's slavishly allegorical interpretation of Ezekiel 44:1-3. 

And it was this same Ambrose that was one of the first to suggest that intercourse was "impure".  According to Schaff, he was likely the church father who established the first  monastery in Italy (see Schaff here).  And Ambrose was a church father of whom many mothers forbade their daughters to hear 'lest their daughters go the barren way of Ambrose's sister, the nun.'.

But let's get back to Joseph. 
Now it is suggested by Rome that the text in question (Matthew 1:18-25) was "requiring" Joseph to keep his impure hands (and lips) off of Mary in perpetuity.  A view that 4th century Jerome (with his very low view of marriage) would have no problem with.  And a requirement that Joseph himself would allegedly have 'no problem with'.

But is this what the text says?
Well, let's look at that seemingly obscure Ezekiel text first.  The text that Ambrose appeals to.

Constables notes are very helpful  here. 
Indicating that this "gate" was certainly not an allegorical gate (womb) as Ambrose supposes.  And that this very human "Prince" was certainly not Jesus as Ambrose supposes.
Pretty dull of Ambrose on that one too.

Now what of Rome on the Matthew text?
Well, Rome likes to pander to both Ambrose and Jerome [and yes, even to the heretic Pelagius].
Pander to them by reading stuff into the text that just isn't there.
By insisting that Joseph maintained Mary's virginity.  And by insisting just as Jerome insisted, that "until" doesn't necessarily mean "only until" (v.25).
But then even the word "until" is unnecessary, isn't it?  Unnecessary and diversionary.  A definite waste of ink and inkling.

Yet isn't the context of this text about the purity of Jesus- rather than the purity of Mary or Joseph?
The fulfillment of the virgin prophecy 'spoken by the Lord'- rather than Joseph's maintenance of Mary's virginity?
Isn't this about the divinity of Jesus- rather than 'the divine calling' of Joseph?
And about Joseph's calling the Divine One "Jesus"?

And what of the angelic preamble?  Was Joseph truly "afraid" of taking Mary as a wife?  Or merely "reconsidering" (v.20)?
Or did the angel actually tell Joseph to, "Be truly afraid of taking Mary as a wife in the fullest sense"?
Or to, "Be truly afraid of a 'usual and proper' marriage"?

In other words, was the angel actually telling Joseph to be a mere 'surrogate husband'?  A mere 'surrogate daddy'?

No.  That is too much reading into the text.  With no supplementary evidence to support it.

And with no evidence to the contrary- I believe that Joseph remained "a righteous man" (v.19).
And became a husband and father in the fullest sense of the tradition.

Indeed, so much more than a surrogate husband.
And so much more than an aspartame daddy.