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Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby Big Ed » Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:57 pm

Had Adam and Eve not eaten the apple, thus ushering in Sin for all mankind, would men not be physically attracted to women?

To be clearer, I find myself "coveting" other women. I do not act on them and am happy with my marital sex life.

Sex is a key "part" of quite a few downline sins: Pornography, adultry, cheating, stealing, lies, etc. The list of sins with "natural attraction" as a root cause is endless.

Can anyone see where I'm going with this? If there was no sin the world, would I still find women absolutely desirable? And, if I would not, where would nature get the motivation to procreate?
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:26 pm

Original sin had nothing to do with sexual desire. Humans were created to be fruitful and multiply, and sexual desire would have been part of a good and virtuous picture of human and reproduction. Sexual desire is not sin, sex is not evil, desiring women (or men) is not a sin, and the motivation to procreate is a blessing given by God.

Now, since you mentioned "coveting," I should talk about that. Exodus 20.17 says you shouldn't covet your neighbor's wife. Not all coveting is wrong. It's a neutral word for "desire; take pleasure in." There is nothing wrong with desires, even sexual desires (1 Cor. 12.31); the problem is with desires directed in the wrong channel, or that cause us to want something that belongs to someone else, or to go after something we have no right to. Instead, we should learn to be content (Heb. 13.5). By highlighting the wife, Moses refers to the special relationship between a husband and a wife, not just any sexual desire. It means you're just after sexual pleasure, and you're willing to take what belongs to another to get it. It's forbidden because "your neighbor" has a right to a healthy and secure marital relationship.

But we should also talk about Matt. 5.28, and Jesus' famous "lust statement. Jesus is not talking about sexual desire, per se, but voyeurism disconnected from any actual personal contact. We're not to treat people as sexual "things". There's nothing wrong with finding someone sexually attractive; the problem is treating other people pornographically ("lust"): the misdirected will to take, use, and abuse.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby God of Mind » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:16 am

> By highlighting the wife, Moses refers to the special relationship between a husband and a wife, not just any sexual desire.

Moses doesn't appear to have had any sort of special relationship between a husband and wife in mind. The text indicates you are not to covet others' property: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17).

To me, this raises an interesting question: For anyone who follows the modern trend of viewing wives as people instead of their husband's property, does a prohibition on coveting your neighbor's property even continue to apply to his wife?
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:40 am

The problem with your interpretation is that it doesn't hold unless you are reading this verse superficially and out of context. Just a few commands earlier, in Exodus 20.12, children are commanded to give their mother honor equal to that of the father. A mother was to have equal authority over her children. The wife wasn't considered to be property at all. Women in Israel were not sellable items like houses, oxen, or donkeys (other items referred to in the verse). Another item of interest is that in other cultures in the ancient Near East, the mother was often under the control of the son in the household, but not so in Israel. The Mosaic Law presents a completely different picture than "wife as property." In Lev. 19.3 Moses commands a son to revere mother and father alike (look also at Prov. 12.4; 31.10)—and the mother is even listed first.

In a more technical way, also, Dr. Daniel Block explains that "Some interpret the transposition of 'wife' and 'house' in the last commands of the Decalogue as symbolic of 'the interchangeability of woman with other items of property.' Moses' adaptation of the command in Deuteronomy 5.21, however, suggests the very opposite. Aware of men's propensity to abuse women, Moses seems to have recognized that men might marshal the ambiguous wording of the Exodus version of the Decalogue to justify treating their wives the way one treats a slave or an ox. By isolating the neighbor's wife from the household and giving her priority over the property associated with the household, Moses highlights the special nature of the relationship between a man and his wife. He reinforces this distinction by reserving the verb ̇amad for the illicit lust of a man toward another man’s wife and substituting it with hita'awweh when speaking of the desire a man might have for another man's household property. Sivan rightly recognizes that these modifications to the commands reflect 'scales of desires.' In Sivan’s words, the Deuteronomic version 'elevates women as the most desirable objects of coveting. It also implies that covert coveting of other men's wives is more pervasive and more complex than the rest of the listed inventory.'

"The reasons for desiring a neighbor's wife obviously go beyond her utilitarian value as a part of the economic unit; she could also be coveted as an instrument of sexual pleasure, as well as tool to demonstrate superiority over one's neighbor, which would be implied by taking his wife. However, contrary to Sivan, the intent of the Deuteronomic version is not so much to secure the welfare of men, as if another man's wife is his enemy, but to curb a fundamental weakness in men and to secure the rights of one's neighbor to a healthy and secure marital relationship. This goal is achieved by elevating wives above the status of household property and treating the marital covenant relationship as sacrosanct. Coveting one's neighbor's wife is a particularly heinous moral and social malady, and the general good of the community can only be preserved by 'fencing off the home.' And this is best achieved by disciplining the passions of the heart, which is precisely Jesus' point in Matt. 15:19, 'For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.' This notion is expressed even more explicitly in Matt. 5:27–28, where Jesus seems to have combined the prohibition against adultery (command #6 in Deuteronomy) with the present command: 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' "
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby God of Mind » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:02 pm

I see a number of problems with this apologetic.

First, the Bible is not a monolith. The views expressed by the authors of Proverbs, Matthew, etc. are not relevant to determining the status of women under Mosaic law.

Second, the fact that you can strip a few offhand verses of context—ironically, the thing you accuse me of—and present them as though they indicate equality in gender relations does not impact the readily-apparent fact that the Hebrews of that era viewed women essentially as property. It permeates the Torah. Abram purchased his wife. Jacob purchased his wives. Rapists were obligated to purchase their victims. Wives could be obtained by slaughtering their families. Virginity itself was given a monetary value. Your rose-colored version of history is simply not consistent with the Torah's overall treatment of women.

Third, and admittedly of least importance, you're advocating a less-than-parsimonious reading of the actual verse we're discussing. Context is one thing, but it cannot justify rewriting the sentence at issue. It would be rather odd, grammatically speaking, for the commandment to begin listing things that are property, randomly throw in wives, list more property, and then conclude with a catch-all relating specifically to property. Had the original been written in English, this canon of construction would be essentially conclusive. I relegate it to lesser importance here only because we have no means of confirming the precise text of the original in Hebrew.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:41 pm

Thanks for your comments. I enjoy a good discussion.

You're right that the Bible is not a monolith, and that's one of the factors that gives it such quality and impressiveness—its consistency through generations, authors, and even continents. One staple of bible theologians and translators is its consistency from book to book. The first rule of good Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) is to let the Scripture interpret the Scripture; nothing explains the Bible better than itself. Therefore it's always justifiable to use other biblical books and other biblical authors to help us explain any text. The Bible does it quite well. Therefore the views expressed by Solomon in the Proverbs and Matthew in his eponymous gospel are not only relevant to Exodus and Deuteronomy, but tools in understanding. The whole Bible works this way.

The primary verse I used to interpret Ex. 20.17 is Deut. 5.21, the exact same command in its deuteronomical context—not at all a "stripping out of context." The context of both is the decalogue as given to Moses and presented to the people of Israel. You can hardly get a tighter textual relationship.

Your perception of women and the Torah is woefully lacking. Abram is mentioned as being married to Sarai in Gn. 11.29, with no mention of dowry or purchase. Gn. 12.5 mentions that he took his wife, his nephew, and his possessions with him. Notice that Sarai is mentioned as "wife," not as "possession." There is no basis for what you have claimed.

As far as Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, the dowry in the ancient Near East was not a purchase of property, but financial provision. Payment was made to the bride's family by the groom (or his family) to provide a trust fund of sorts should the husband die, desert, or divorce. It was an insurance policy, protecting her against destitution.

> Rapists were obligated to purchase their victims.

Oh my. You're the victim of Internet falsification, reading snippets of links instead of doing the real research. I'm going to assume you're referring to Ex. 22.16-17? First of all, the Hebrew word in v. 16 for "seduces" is *patah*, a term that implies that the woman has to see extent given her consent for the sexual liaison. It's not rape. Secondly, the teaching protects her; she cannot be tossed aside like trash, or even as "property": the groom's household will pay the bride's household the standard dowry. It builds in legal protections for her, even in this situation where she is to some extent complicit.

> Wives could be obtained by slaughtering their families.

Hm. I assume you're in Deut. 21.10-14? Part of warfare is the disposition of prisoners, unless you're given to the barbarity of slaughtering everyone. The law here allows soldiers to spare the lives of these women and adopt them into Israelite society as brides. The law is serving as a protective measure for the woman; it defends her rights and personhood. She wasn't to be raped (a common practice in war). Other texts tell us that she was to be brought back to the homeland, given a one-month transition period of time, given a change of clothing, and then taken as a full-fledged wife. And during the month if the man changed his mind, she was under no obligation.

> Virginity was given a monetary value.

Don't know where this is from, but so what?

> you're advocating a less-than-parsimonious reading of the actual verse we're discussing

That's exactly the point: I'm not. You are making an interpretive assumption that the woman in Ex. 20.17 is regarded as property, but you can see from the verse itself that no such thing is said. You are choosing to interpret it that way, but it's not in the text. There are many reasons the wife could be and has been listed, "property" being only one of them. So what makes your interpretation valid? "House" (Hebrew *bet re'eka*) means "household". Then Moses lists various "covetable" items in one's household, the primary of which is a wife. We're back to Dr. Block's comments. Then Moses mentions servants (other humans in the household), then valued animals, and then the kitchen sink. There is no reason to conclude the wife is being treated as a mere object to be possessed.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby God of Mind » Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:48 pm

> You're right that the Bible is not a monolith, and that's one of the factors that gives it such quality and impressiveness—its consistency through generations, authors, and even continents. One staple of bible theologians and translators is its consistency from book to book. The first rule of good Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) is to let the Scripture interpret the Scripture; nothing explains the Bible better than itself. Therefore it's always justifiable to use other biblical books and other biblical authors to help us explain any text.

I couldn't possibly disagree with this any more strongly. It strikes me as rather immediately evident from reading the Bible that the various authors of the different component books subscribed to different, and often wildly different, theologies from one another. We see this by comparing the different gospels to one another, by comparing Paul's letters to the gospels, and quite dramatically by comparing the new testament to the old. The first two-thirds of the Bible is, fundamentally, the holy text of a religion that rejects Christianity.

The concept of a consistent theology was imposed retroactively when the books that would end up composing the Bible were selected from hundreds of candidate books. It may make some sense to consider elements of OT theology when interpreting the NT, because the NT authors had the OT available (or at least the Greek translation), but the reverse is decidedly not the case.

> The primary verse I used to interpret Ex. 20.17 is Deut. 5.21, the exact same command in its deuteronomical context—not at all a "stripping out of context." The context of both is the decalogue as given to Moses and presented to the people of Israel. You can hardly get a tighter textual relationship.

Different authors writing at different times for different reasons. Again, the Bible is not a monolith. Or do you subscribe to the faith position that Moses actually wrote the entire Torah?

> Oh my. You're the victim of Internet falsification, reading snippets of links instead of doing the real research. I'm going to assume you're referring to Ex. 22.16-17?

Actually, I'm on Deuteronomy 22:28–29. I can't even begin to imagine how one would go about twisting that passage to mean something other than rape victims having to marry their rapists. Am I about to find out?

> Hm. I assume you're in Deut. 21.10-14?

Yes, I am. The text simply does not allow for your interpretation to be even possibly correct. It says nothing about the woman consenting to any of this. There's a word for the act of invading a woman's city, killing all the men, taking her back to your homeland without consulting her, giving her a month to mourn her parents, and then having sex with her without consulting her. The word is "rape." The word remains "rape" even if it's "for her protection."

Ask yourself honestly what would have happened if the man attempted to "go in to her and be her husband," as the text describes it, and she indicated that she wasn't in favor? There's only one honest answer.

> You are making an interpretive assumption that the woman in Ex. 20.17 is regarded as property, but you can see from the verse itself that no such thing is said.

I'm interpreting it that way because it's a listing of items of property. If we put the wife aside for a second, any debate about this vanishes. But absent a clear signal in the text itself that the wife should be construed as something other than a member of the category to which every other listed item clearly belongs, it's simply the most parsimonious reading of the sentence. In the event you still disagree, I'm not sure I'll be able to add much more in the way of analysis beyond "You're wrong," or "You don't appear to understand how parsimony works." And I expect that would be more confrontational than productive, so this is probably all I have to say on the point of parsimony.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:58 pm

> Or do you subscribe to the faith position that Moses actually wrote the entire Torah?

The Bible itself claims that Moses is the writer (Josh. 8.31; 23.6; 1 Ki. 2.3; 2 Ki. 14.6; Mt. 8.4; 19.7; Mk .7.10, and many others). Jesus affirmed repeatedly that Moses was the author. The books of the Pentateuch are ascribed to Moses, not only in later books in the Bible, but also in the earliest extrabiblical literature, including Josephus. Mosaic authorship continued to be accepted among both Christians and Jews until the rise of critics in the seventeenth century.

Despite the elaborate theories of Wellhausen and those who came after him, Absolutely no textual evidence exists for the fragmentation of the Pentateuch. No archaeologist has ever uncovered a copy of J, E,
D, or P, or indeed any references to them in secondary literature. The Documentary Hypothesis and its kin are the result of pure speculation. Those who insist on empirical evidence should be ashamed to cite these theories, which claim no such evidence whatsoever. The Documentary Hypothesis is based on a reconstructed picture of the history of Israel presupposing an evolutionary model of gradual
movement from polytheism to monotheism for which no evidence exists. Such a theory assumes a social-science perspective on religion and how it develops.

Walton (The Lost World of Scripture) claims that though the authorship of the Pentateuch by Moses cannot be verified, it is clear that he was considered the authority behind the Torah that we have. His words, teachings, and actions can be considered to be represented with accuracy in the biblical text. As the leader of the people, "Moses was generating information…that would be considered important enough to preserve in written documents. Some undoubtedly would have been recorded in his time and under his supervision. Others may well have been produced by later generations after some time of oral transmission. It matters neither how much material is in each category nor which portions are which; the authority derives from Moses and he is inseparable from the material." Even if Moses didn’t actually write it, there is no verified reason to doubt that the material is his, even if it was not written down until much later.

> Dt. 22.28-29

Dt. 22.28-29 is an expansion of the casuistic law of Ex. 22.16-17. In each of the 3 scenarios, the *man* is guilty. Most critics try to accuse that the woman (the rape victim) is being treated like she is her father's property: she has been violated, and the rapist gets off by paying a bridal fee (as if there is no concern for the girl). And then, it is claimed, she is apparently forced to marry the dude.

This is not a valid claim. Even if the man has been too aggressive, the woman is complicit; she doesn't act against her will. The text says *they* are discovered, not *he* is discovered. Both are culpable. It's more like our current nation of statutory rape: he is guilty, but she gave in.

As it would have been far harder for her to find a husband if she has been sexually active, her bride-price (economic security for her future) would have been as risk. Both passages suggest two courses of action:

1. If the father and daughter both agree to it, the seducer (statutory rapist) must marry the woman and provide for her all her life, without the possibility of divorce. This is for her protection, but notice that she is not required to do this. She isn't just a piece of property.

2. The father also has the right to refuse any such life-long arrangement, but can still demand the payment that would have been for a bride, even if the rapist won't marry her. (Since she has been sexually compromised, marriage to another man would be difficult, if not outright impossible). The girl has to agree to this arrangement; she is not just a piece of property.

> Dt. 21.10-14

You must be reading a different text than I am. Deut. 21.11-14: "if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails, and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."

Where does this say anything about having sex with her without consulting her? Where does "the word is 'rape' " show up? There is no notion of rape in this passage. I'll grant that she is taken captive in an act of war, but that's as far as I'll go with you. She is not raped. She is brought into the home, allowed time to mourn, live with him for a month, and then the marriage takes place. Dr. Daniel Block says, "For women, few circumstances are more fearful than the conquest of their towns by a foreign army. This ordinance was designed to rein in the potential for male abuse of women in such contexts. This paragraph serves not as a legal provision for a soldier to marry a woman in circumstances where contractual arrangements with the bride's family are impossible, nor as an authorization of divorce from a foreign bride—both practices are assumed—but as an appeal to Israelites to be charitable in their treatment of foreign women, who, through no decision or fault of their own, are forced to become a part of the Israelite community. Verses 10-13 call for the charitable treatment of foreign brides when they are first taken; verse 14 for their charitable treatment in divorce."

> Ex. 20.17: I'm interpreting it that way because it's a listing of items of property.

You're interpreting it as a list of items of property, but it's not necessarily warranted. You have no Biblical evidence that the wife was considered to be an item of property. If you have it, put it on the table.

> But absent a clear signal in the text itself that the wife should be construed as something other than a member of the category to which every other listed item clearly belongs

I gave you a crystal clear one: Just a few commands earlier, in Exodus 20.12, children are commanded to give their mother honor equal to that of the father. A mother was to have equal authority over her children. The wife wasn't considered to be property at all. Women in Israel were not sellable items like houses, oxen, or donkeys (other items referred to in the verse). Another item of interest is that in other cultures in the ancient Near East, the mother was often under the control of the son in the household, but not so in Israel. The Mosaic Law presents a completely different picture than "wife as property." In Lev. 19.3 Moses commands a son to revere mother and father alike (look also at Prov. 12.4; 31.10)—and the mother is even listed first.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby God of Mind » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:20 am

> The Bible itself claims that Moses is the writer (Josh. 8.31; 23.6; 1 Ki. 2.3; 2 Ki. 14.6; Mt. 8.4; 19.7; Mk .7.10, and many others). Jesus affirmed repeatedly that Moses was the author. The books of the Pentateuch are ascribed to Moses, not only in later books in the Bible, but also in the earliest extrabiblical literature, including Josephus. Mosaic authorship continued to be accepted among both Christians and Jews until the rise of critics in the seventeenth century.

>there is no verified reason to doubt that the material is his.

We don't really have a debate about textual interpretation here, so much as a disagreement on what kinds of epistemologies are sufficient to establish background facts. The notion that there existed an actual Moses who actually wrote the entire Torah is not supportable in empirical terms, and is effectively impossible to reconcile with a lot of things we do know. The central plot of the Exodus, for instance, is known fiction. The Jews were never slaves in Egypt and didn't wander the Sinai Peninsula as described in the book. These propositions are well established by application of what is sometimes called "negative evidence," and are not seriously disputed by anyone using empiricism as their standard epistemology. The opinions of anyone not using empiricism as their standard epistemology can be safely ignored due to faulty methodology.

> You must be reading a different text than I am. Deut. 21.11-14: "if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails, and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."

You can use any translation you want. What you will never find in any of them is the notion that the woman has a say over whether she is taken as her captor's wife. All of these decisions are being made without her input.

Obviously, being taken as a wife implies intercourse with the husband. It may not say in so many words that the woman's captor-husband is going to have sex with her, but you'd have to be a very special kind of either ignorant or deceitful to dispute the point. This entire passage is an express sanction that soldiers take women captive and make the captive women their wives—a relationship that implies intercourse. Nothing about this marry-women-you-capture arrangement envisions the women's consent being either sought or obtained.
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Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:32 am

> The notion that there existed an actual Moses who actually wrote the entire Torah is not supportable in empirical terms

Actually, the *notion* of Moses is very supportable. Since he never came to power in Egypt, there's little reason to think he would be recorded in their records, especially given that he would have been considered a rebel against the crown. Given that we only know about 3% about the ancient Egyptian culture (a figure given by Egyptologists), we can safely conclude that absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. The argument of silence doesn't even get off the starting blocks.

> ...is effectively impossible to reconcile with a lot of things we do know.

Such as???

> The central plot of the Exodus, for instance, is known fiction

This is a blatant falsehood. I don't want to write a wall of text, but I have researched and found 17 points of corroboration between the Exodus account and archaeology/history/geography, etc. And again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Your argument from silence empty.

> The Jews were never slaves in Egypt and didn't wander the Sinai Peninsula as described in the book

You cannot say this with any certainty. It's an argument from silence.

> are not seriously disputed by anyone using empiricism as their standard epistemology

Empiricism is not the only path to knowledge, even when dealing with history.

> You can use any translation you want

The translation is immaterial. All renditions will lead us to the same place.

> What you will never find in any of them is the notion that the woman has a say over whether she is taken as her captor's wife. All of these decisions are being made without her input.

You're right, but that wasn't your point. Your point was, "The word is 'rape.' The word remains 'rape' even if it's 'for her protection,' " and that's where you have misunderstood the text. She was not considered as property, and she was not raped, and I've given you many proofs of it.

You also seem to be making a cultural mistake, an anachronism, if I may. Romance had absolutely nothing to do with marriage in the ancient world. Marriage was a cultural and financial arrangement for the perpetuation of the species and the enlargement of the clan for protection and economics. You may be thinking that in the brutality of war, she would not marry him because she loved him but only because she was forced by the situation and survival. Her feelings for him, in the ancient world, were totally immaterial. Those are modern thoughts, not ancient Near Eastern ones.
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