The Monogamy Method
While the missionary movement has been credited with bringing about the emancipation of women by introducing female education, health care, and monogamous marriages, Southern feminist theologians charge that the imposition of a colonial system and patriarchal church structures actually reinforced a sexual theology that prescribed a dualistic and hierarchical ordering of the sexes. Mananzan (1991) observes that the Roman Catholic Church, accompanying the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines, curtailed women's freedom by confining them to the church, kitchen, and children, and the social status of Filipino women became lower after colonialism. The gender ideology of the church exerted pressure in Filipino communities, where the relations between the sexes had hitherto been more inclusive and egalitarian and where matrilineal heritage predominated. During the nineteenth century, Victorian assumptions of sexual prudence and female domesticity influenced missionary sexual theology...
African feminist theologians are also concerned about cultural practices around rites of passage for women, and issues such as fertility, dowry, widowhood, sexuality, polygamy, and female circumcision. Western feminists have vehemently condemned the practices of polygamy and female circumcision from the perspective of sexual freedom and control of women, but Oduyoye (1992 22-23) and Kanyoro (2001 109-11) caution that these practices must be placed in the wider contexts of religious beliefs in Africa, the socioeconomic structure, and assumptions about human sexuality. While Western feminists advocate women's rights to control their bodies, freedom to seek pleasure, and monogamous companionship between two individuals, African cultures may have different understandings of human sexuality grounded in their own beliefs. Polygamy sometimes arises out of dire economic conditions and cannot be condemned outright without considering the situation. While some African feminist theologians call...
In the Fall of 1995, I completed the first draft of Sex and the Church (Rudy 1997), a book which argued that sexism and homophobia were inextricably intertwined (especially for the Christian right), that the socially constructed distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality was a poor way to conceptualize Christian ministry, and that progressive Christians should stop encouraging gays and lesbians to take up monogamous relationships and try instead to understand the value of a lifestyle built on community. Although it would be 18 months before the book would be published, I felt happy that Fall to be finished with the first stage, and sent the manuscript to my editor and to several of my colleagues at Duke University At that time, I was just starting my second year of a joint appointment at Duke between the Divinity School and Women's Studies. It was a great job for me because my partner also taught at Duke, we owned a house in Durham (North Carolina), had two dogs and a kid...
That is why God commands Christians who divorce for other reasons to remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to their spouses (CP 1Cor 7 10-11). This is a directive to married Christians, and while Paul addresses it from the wife's perspective, the principle applies to both husbands and wives. The only other ground permitted in scripture for remarriage by Christians is the death of a marriage partner. The surviving partner is then free to remarry (CP Ro 7 2-3 1Cor 7 8-9, 39 1Ti 5 14). In all marriages however - not only when a marriage partner dies - Christians must marry other Christians. They cannot marry an unbeliever (CP 2Cor 6 14-16). The reason there has to be restrictions on marriage, divorce, and remarriage in God's order, is because in the first instance divorce and remarriage were not options God considered in His eternal purpose for marriage. God intended marriage to be a permanent, monogamous relationship between a husband and a wife. There was no provision for divorce and...
Sex, within practices of the church, is analogous to the body-language of adoption. Adoption is not symbolic of childbirth, but the day-to-day bodily presence that makes us who we are. Monogamy and practices of fidelity and lifelong endurance are a way of the body, a cultivation of intimacy and mutual possession through the everyday agency of our embodiment. We bear each other's presence. Through our bodily agency, we belong over time such that our presence cannot be exchanged for another. Through this binding, our bodies are made and made known. In this way, sexual practices are intrinsically fecund.
Man and a woman, is practically a paraphrase of the words of Genesis quoted by Christ (Mark 10 6-8). Christians can build on this, taking seriously the idea of faithfulness implicit in it. Marriage is a man and a woman consenting to belong to each other for life, whatever religious or secular ceremony they find suitable for blessing, or simply for making public, their commitment. What Christians may still think wrong with 'fornication' is lack of commitment, not lack of ceremony. Christian affirmation of monogamy can encourage life-enhancing hopes that sexual union expresses fidelity and nourishes it and that fidelity deserves the time it needs to become deeprooted.
After the period of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and before this, in the case of Adam and Noah, monogamy ruled. The Prophets were monogamists. Moses commanded regarding a man of God that Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away. (Deuteronomy 17 17) And, admittedly, the polygamy of David and his son Solomon ended the Israel twelve-tribe united Kingdom. Their hordes of pagan wives, and foul, pagan altars broke down any Godly spirit which had formerly united them. However, reversing the Bible once again, Pharisee Sages embroider upon the above words of Moses against polygamy, their permission to have 18, 24, or 48 wives. (Talmud, Sanhedrin 20b-21a) The Mishna asks Why then is it written, neither shall he multiply wives to himself . Rabbi Simeon said He must not marry even one who may turn away his heart From which it might be inferred that he may marry a lesser number even if they should corrupt him.
Eros, the handsome god of sexual love - ''the most beautiful of all the gods'' - also is associated with the chaos and death accompanying the violent physical desire seen in the stories of Paris and Helen, Zeus and Hera. Paris gave the ''apple of discord,'' a gold apple inscribed ''for the fairest,'' to Aphrodite who thereupon promised him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. So Paris carried off Helen, the wife of Menelaus, thereby setting in motion the Trojan War, the destruction of Troy, the death of Achilles, and his own death. The Olympian gods, of whom Zeus is the ''father,'' were not paragons of monogamous or faithful marriages, but rather it seems the initiators and models of the dysfunctional family. Their love stories are
The late twentieth century is a strenuous time, full of danger and hope. One of its best hopes is a renewed appreciation of our embodied natures. The tendency of high-minded people to try to keep 'the soul' separate from the body is being replaced by a good emphasis on the wholeness of the human being. There are practical explanations for this change. Medicine, hygiene, and reliable contraception make the body less of an enemy, easier to appreciate (Oppenheimer 1988 33-4). There are possibilities today of a more generous and lively understanding of human embodiment. If the upshot turns out to be traditional, encouraging faithful monogamous unions, it can be based on promise rather than on threat.
In the OT, wives became more or less the property of their husbands, who could divorce them for 'something offensive' (Deut. 24 1). In earlier times polygamy was practised later Judaism became more aware that monogamy represented the ideal. Jesus himself drew images from weddings for some of his parables (e.g. Matt. 21 1 14 25 1 13). John's Gospel reports how Jesus attended a wedding during his public ministry (John 2 1 11) the other Gospels show how Jesus strove to safeguard the institution of marriage. He wanted to restore the original plan of God for a married partnership as expressed in the story of creation (Gen. 2 18, 24) hence Jesus excluded divorce and remarriage as contrary to the divine will 'what God has joined together let no one put asunder' (Mark 10 9).
Within the queer symbolics of Christianity - he is also exemplary of modernity's straightening of that tradition of its heterosexualization. Jane Shaw's chapter on the Reformed and Enlightened Church, on the effects of Reformation and Enlightenment on Christian thinking about the sexes and their relationships, ably shows how new concerns with marriage and sexual difference (and complementarity) broke with earlier tradition and led to a peculiarly modern obsession with heterosexual monogamy.
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