Support the Family

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Support the Family

fschmidt
Administrator
This post was updated on .
The Old Testament doesn't have a specific section on the family, but it has many commandments related to the family.  All of these are designed to support stable families.  I will list the commandments and their implications, and then discuss the reasoning.

The Old Testament says "Be fruitful and multiply"
therefore help single people find a spouse
and practice monogamous marriage.

The Old Testament says "Do not commit adultery"
therefore do paternity tests on your children
and tolerate prostitution.

The Old Testament says to teach the Old Testament to your children
therefore do this and educate your children so that they have understanding.

The Old Testament clearly specifies the conditions for divorce
therefore divorce should not be initiated in other ways.

Now I will explain the reasoning for the above.


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God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.
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Genesis 1:28

The first implication of this is to help single people find a spouse.  Modern society provides advanced tools and services for almost all areas of life, but in regard to helping people get married, modern society is one of the least helpful in history.  Even in primitive societies, it was natural for people to help look for spouses for their single friends.  In order to be fruitful and multiply in a civilized way (within marriage), people must find a spouse.  And since this is a commandment in the Old Testament, we should help others to find a spouse.

The second implication is to practice monogamous marriage.  The Old Testament clearly tolerates polygamy, and with good reason.  There are times when polygamy makes sense and times when monogamy makes sense.  When there is a shortage of men, as there was in biblical times due to men dying in war, then polygamy makes sense so that all women can be fruitful and multiply.  But when the number of men and women are roughly equal, polygamy results in some men not being able to find wives.  Therefore, in such times, monogamy makes sense so that all men can be fruitful and multiply.  We live in such times, therefore we must practice monogamous marriage.  This means that a man can only have one wife.  A mistress is like having a secondary wife, so this too is prohibited.


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Do not commit adultery.
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Exodus 20:14

We should do anything that discourages adultery.  Paternity tests were not available in biblical times, but they are now.  This is an excellent tool to discourage adultery because if the wife knows that her children will be tested, she will be much less likely to have children through adultery.  If an individual husband asks her wife for a paternity test, it may be insulting to her since it appears to reflect a lack of trust.  So it is far preferable to make this a religious mandate on all families.  This way it will not be insulting to any particular wife, but will discourage adultery in the Mikraite community in general.

Prostitution is another tool to help prevent adultery.  If a man strongly desires sex and can't easily find it, he will take it from wherever he can get it, including from a married woman.  Prostitution provides a safe outlet for male sexual desire, so it will lower adultery.  This reasoning goes against both modern culture and modern religion, but it is directly supported in the Old Testament.

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For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread,
but an adulteress goes after a precious life.
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Proverbs 6:26

Furthermore, this is backed up by facts.  Those countries which effectively ban prostitution have the highest divorce rates.  Tolerating prostitution helps support family stability while banning prostitution encourages adultery.  So anyone who supports banning prostitution is indirectly violating the Old Testament by indirectly promoting adultery.


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Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
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Deuteronomy 11:18-19

So parents are required to teach the Old Testament to their children.  But teaching the Old Testament effectively isn't so easy.  One can't effectively teach the Old Testament to a stupid child because he will not be able to understand it.  Therefore it is the responsibility of the parents to develop the intelligence of their children so that they can understand the Old Testament.  Young children should be encouraged to play games and do activities which develop their minds.  Then, when they get older, they should be taught the Old Testament with open discussion so that they can really understand it.


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If he takes an additional wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. And if he does not do these three things for her, she may leave free of charge, without any exchange of money.
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Exodus 21:10-11

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If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house.
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Deuteronomy 24:1

These are the only passages in the Old Testament describing how a divorce may be initiated.  Initiating a divorce in any other way is a violation of the Old Testament.  Apparently Karaites allow divorce to be initiated by a Karaite court.  In this case, the Karaites are clearly adding to the Old Testament, and therefore are violating the Old Testament.  And ironically, in this case Rabbinic Orthodox Jews are more closely adhering to the Old Testament than the Karaites are.

The Old Testament does not give a court the power to initiate divorce for very good reason.  It is natural for men in power to side with the wife against the husband and to abuse their authority to destroy marriage.  This is why no court should ever have the power to initiate divorce.  This is the only case I know of where the Karaites are clearly violating the Old Testament, and violating morality along with it.

The first passage says that if the husband diminishes his support of his wife because he has another wife, then she has the right of divorce.  Formal polygamy is rare now, but informal polygamy in the form of mistresses is not so rare.  A mistress is a secondary wife, therefore if a husband has a mistress and reduces his support for his wife as a result, then she may divorce him.  This is the only reason given in the Old Testament for a wife to divorce her husband.

What if a husband is a real monster and beats his wife or does other unreasonable things?  In this case, he should be punished for these actions by a court.  If nothing works, then he should be cut off from Mikraites and be declared non-member of the community.  At this point, all Old Testament marriage law no longer applies and the wife can divorce or do whatever she wants to him.

The Old Testament law on divorce does not allow a husband to divorce his wife arbitrarily, he must actually find "something improper about her".  What is considered improper should be defined by the Mikraite community.  In other words, the Mikraite community would dictate what is reasonable grounds for a husband to divorce his wife, and if he find these grounds apply to his wife, then he can divorce her.  Divorce should be discouraged, what is "improper" should be things like adultery or other truly intolerable acts.

Why is the Old Testament sexist in regards to divorce?  Because women are much more likely to file for divorce on a whim.  In America, two-thirds of divorces are filed by women.  So this is the reason that the Old Testament gives husbands more right to initiate divorce, in order to discourage divorce in the first place.
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Re: Support the Family

qwerty
A few questions:

-Do you think that establishing a system of arranged marriage would be a good idea? On one hand, it would be the best way to ensure that everyone can find someone to marry. On the other hand, it might not be the best way of pairing people who are a good match for each other, and a more informal system where people help their friends find spouses might be sufficient as long as the society values people with positive qualities.
-I can imagine that even in a patriarchal society, most women wouldn't want their husbands to see prostitutes. What are your thoughts on how to resolve this situation? Do you think that the man should avoid going to a prostitute except if there is a lack of intimacy in the marriage? Or do you think that going to a prostitute is okay in all cases and the women is in the wrong if she objects? Or do you think that this is something that should be worked out on an individual basis between each husband and wife?
-Also, what if one partner (either the husband or wife) refuses to have sex or decides that he or she does not want children? Should divorce be allowed in those cases? I think that since many people consider sex and having children to be an essential component of marriage, this should be an acceptable reason for divorce.
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Re: Support the Family

fschmidt
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We are much too small for arranged marriage to work.  We should just help other members find spouses, who will mostly come from outside the group.

Whether or not a husband sees prostitutes is really none of the religion's business.  That is up to him.  But I personally would strongly discourage any husband from promising unconditional sexual fidelity.  This relates to your third question.  If a wife refuses to have sex with her husband, this is not grounds for divorce.  The husband should simply inform his wife that he will see prostitutes and do so.  On the other hand, if the husband refuses to have sex with his wife, this is grounds for divorce as explained in Exodus 21:10-11.

The case of people not wanting children will be so rare that I haven't thought about it.  But it is a violation of "be fruitful and multiply" so I think divorce is reasonable.
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