Saturday, January 29, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #53 - Islam and Christianity A Common Word: 12 Year Old Child Bride In The New Testament

Sometimes an argument starts good, but most times it goes off the rails and quickly when someone is trying to justify something. Case in point: thegrandverbalizer wrote:

It's quite sad and hurtful to find many of those who have anger issues towards Islam and hatred towards the prophet of Allah (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) will heap up animosity upon him over a practice that was very common in that age. Namely that God has never stipulated an age in the Torah, TNCH, New Testament or the Qur'an that a person can or cannot marry.

And then he quotes one of my favorite scriptures.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
(Proverbs 3:5)

I agree with him that Bible does not tells us at what age a person should be married. But why is he bringing this up? There is an objection raised against the founder of Islam, Muhammad, that when he was in his 50's he married and had sex with a 7 year-old girl. Most Muslims who live in the West try to explain this away by saying that Muhammad never did this. Others, especially some fundamentalist Muslims, actually practice marry prepubescent girls (see this article). But thegrandverbalizer's approach is one that I have never seen before and truly Facepalm worthy: argue that the prophetess Anna was married when she was a Child.

He tries to argue that there is ambiguity among various English Translations of Luke 2:36:

New International Version (©1984)
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
New Living Translation (©2007)
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years.

English Standard Version (©2001)
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

International Standard Version (©2008)
Now Anna, a prophetess, was also there. She was a descendant of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage,

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Anna, a prophet, was also there. She was a descendant of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was now very old. Her husband had died seven years after they were married,

I don't think that the text is ambiguous at all. Anna was a widow. She was a descendant of Phanuel from the Tribe of Asher. She was very old and her husband had died after only 7 years. I see nothing in either translation saying anything different than these facts. Why does thegrandverbalizer want there to be ambiguity in a text that is clear as a Summer's day? It is so that he can make the following argument:

So she lived with her husband for 7 years FROM THE TIME she was a virgin? So when was that? Like when was she a virgin? Or better yet since when was she not a virgin? If you look at the way the text is constructed here you can understand it that she has always been a virgin (and than it is assumed she is no longer after marriage). In otherwords she was married at age 7/8.

What?!? In first century Jewish culture, a woman was supposed to remain a virgin until she was married (men too). I see absolutely nothing in either translation to give the impression that Anna was seven or eight when she married her husband. Look at how thegrandverbalizer tries to continue his arguments.

All these translations ultimately point to the fact that the Christians are either uncertain about the original Koine Greek Text or that someone is trying to shield a fact from the masses.

thegrandverbalizer has failed to show that Luke 2:36 can be construed to show that Anna was 7/8 years of age when she got married. Then he tries to make the suggestion of conspiracy to hide "facts" from people.

I believe in the latter, because from the times of European domination of Muslim lands, many orientalist have tried everything they can to demean the charachter of the Prophet Muhammed (saw).

If marrying pre-pubescent girls is morally defensible why does alleging that Muhammad did it demean his character? As a Christian, I would argue that there is an objective moral standard rooted in the nature of our Creator Himself. I would think Muslims would agree. So the question to ask is this: Is it consistent with God's character for an adult to marry a child and expect the same responsibilities and needs as an from another adult? If marrying a child is good, then why is homosexual marriage wrong, which Islam affirms is wrong? Vice Versa? I'd argue that marrying a child is just as outside the definition of "marriage" as it would be to marry someone of the same-sex.

It is very clear to those who have eyes that can see that Anna was at least 7/8 years of age at the time of her marriage if not no more than 12 years of age can be agreed upon. This is in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit did not inspire to write down "and by the way this practice was wrong or is wrong"

There is nothing in the text that tells us how old Anna was when she got married. I find the argument that something must be okay if scripture does not tell us is wrong to be very problematic. Anyone with some level of maturity knows how bad things work out if you carry out any kind of relationship that way. The "Well, you didn't say I couldn't do it" mentality always lead to problems. It's presumptuous to assume you don't need to ask permission.
There is no disgust and no reprimand any where in this text. You would think if the idea of a girl being 12 or 9 years of age getting married was so morally repugnant to the creator that there would have been some clear law stipulating an appropriate age for marriage.

I would remind thegrandverbalizer that people use arguments like these to say that the Bible and the Qur'an condones slavery because neither text says that Slavery is wrong. Do we really want to go down the road that says that marrying and having sex with children because Muhammad may have done it and God did not tell us not to do it? I don't. Thegrandverbalizer has posted many stories of people claiming to be Christians molesting children. He is right in condemning such evil. But if it's okay to marry and have sex with children, then child molesters are only guilty of rape (bad enough).

Instead the Creator in infinite wisdom allowed this to be dictated by local cultures, customs and practice.

How does thegrandverbalizer know that God has allowed the age at which people get married be dictated by local cultures, custom, and practice? I'd argue that this mindset is what has led to a 50% divorce rate in the West. So the question remains, how does thegrandverbalizer know that God is alright with people marrying children? And would it be okay for an adult woman to marry a 7 or 8 year-old boy? Why would it seem to be only okay for little girls? There is no really good reason to allow for such practices. Would I allow an adult marry my daughter or son while they are still children? Not while I'm still breathing. I reject moral relativism. Somethings are just wrong because they are wrong and no matter who does them and when. Just because God allows something to happen does not mean He condones it or commands us to do it.

I have two examples: Divorce and a statement that puts light to questions such as these.
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” - Matthew 19:7-12

Jesus clearly taught that divorce is not ultimately God's will, but God allows it because of our limitations not God's. We know that God hates divorce.
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. - Malachi 2:16

Divorce is not the only thing we do that God used to give us grace about and not bring judgment against us right away. I would lump the way we demean and misdefine marriage to suit us instead of how God defines it as some of those things. Judgment will definitely come.

29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. - Acts 17:29-31

Islam and Christianity A Common Word: 12 Year Old Child Bride In The New Testament
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