Monday 25 October 2021

Monday quote

The wise king is not the universal expert. Rather, he is to be someone with mastery of the task of judgment. And he exercises such judgment well through his gifts in the discerning, taking, and weighing of expert counsel. Ruling with expert counsellors is a rather different thing from rule by experts.

Alastair Roberts.

Monday 18 October 2021

Monday quote

All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy of the name of king but he whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws.

King Canute (c.990–1035), king of England (1016–), Denmark (1018–) and Norway (1028–1035).

Monday 11 October 2021

Monday quote

Information is always "metachemical" with reference to the information carrier just as "software" is always "metaphysical" with reference to the "hardware". Information cannot be measured by physics and chemistry nor be described and certainly not be explained....

Reinhard Eichelbeck. The Darwin Conspiracy. Rise and fall of a pseudo-scientific worldview. (Das Darwin-Komplott. Aufstieg und Fall eines pseudowissenschaftlichen Weltbildes.)

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Marital rape

There are arguments for and against the proposition that a husband can rape his wife. The disagreements are, in part, over what the phrase actually means. When one asks if a husband can rape his wife there are several different questions one could be asking.

  1. Is a man able to force his wife to have sex against her will?
  2. Does sex with one’s wife against her will constitute rape?
  3. Does marriage give a man permanent consent to sex with his wife?
  4. Is a wife permitted to refuse to have sex with her husband?
  5. May a husband override his wife’s refusal of sex?
  6. Should the state legislate marital rape laws?

All these are related but distinct questions. They are questions that might be assumed but not articulated when discussing the issue of marital rape. Throughout I am discussing the situation of a husband physically forcing his wife to have sex while she is trying to prevent him. Similar responses would relevant for a wife physically forcing sex with her husband against his will, although that would seem to be an uncommon situation.

Question 1 may be what some people mean by the question: Can a husband rape his wife? Many men are physically capable of forcing sex on a woman when she is unwilling, and that remains the case in marriage. If a wife absolutely refuses sex with her husband, it is the case that many husbands would be physically capable of forcing coitus. Question 1 is obviously true. It is in the other questions where the debate really lies.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul argues that in matters of sex, the husband and wife no longer retain dominion of their own bodies. Husbands are not to refuse wives and wives are not to refuse husbands.

The husband must fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. And likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. Do not defraud one another, except perhaps by agreement, for a time, in order that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and then you should be together again, lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control. (1Co 7:3-5 LEB)

That Paul is commanding this to the husbands and wives means that there is a possibility that a spouse may refuse sex. Paul states that refusal is forbidden, moreover that the refusal of sex is fraudulent behaviour towards one’s spouse. But note who the command is given to: the command is given to the husband to fulfill his obligation and the wife to fulfill hers. There is no command that states that if a husband or wife refuses then the other is entitled to force the non-compliant spouse. The question of forcing sex is not being addressed by Paul here, rather the question of refusing sex. A wife could wrongly refuse sex and a husband could, in response to being wronged, wrongly force it. And it would seem from elsewhere in the Bible that obtaining what one is otherwise entitled to by force can be wrong. The principles of laying down one’s life for another, of loving to our own detriment, of fighting battles for others and asking God to fight our battles, of turning the other cheek; these biblical principles are all consistent with not forcing sex when a spouse wrongly refuses it.

So why does Paul give these commands to the Corinthians? Because they were needed. Men and women in Corinth may have been refusing sex to their spouses—though possibly out of a pious motive of a perceived heightened spirituality. Of course this is not true piety, it is not more spiritual to break one’s marriage vows however pious one claims to be otherwise. The Pharisees excused a son’s obligations to his parents if he offered service to God instead. Jesus rebuked false piety and noted that it is in fact rejecting God’s commandment (Mark 7:9-11). Marriage is a commitment between one man and one woman for life with sexual fidelity. As such, marriage vows are an agreement to be both only and always sexually faithful to one’s wife. In modern parlance, marriage vows are a permanent consent to sex with one’s spouse.

This is why the terminology of “rape” is so difficult to apply. How do you apply an idea about consent, or lack thereof, in a situation where permanent consent has been vowed? The idea that a spouse can consent, or not, to sex on a daily or hourly basis in antithetical to marriage vows. The question of marital rape is asked in a language (or culture) of consent whereas the Bible has a language of sexual fidelity. Sex outside of marriage is wrong regardless of the amount of consent given by both parties. And sex inside of marriage is what has been vowed. The whole question of marital rape would seem absurd to many women in ancient times. “What do you mean you refuse to have sex with your husband because you don’t want to?”

Monday 4 October 2021

Monday quote

Perfection is not when you have nothing to add. It's when you have nothing to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday 1 October 2021

The world into which some scholars stray

Adrian H N Green-Armytage writes in John Who Saw.
There is a world—I do not say a world in which all scholars live but one at any rate into which all of them sometimes stray, and which some of them seem permanently to inhabit—which is not the world in which I live.

In my world, if The Times and The Telegraph both tell one story in somewhat different terms, nobody concludes that one of them must have copied the other, nor that the variations in the story have some esoteric significance. But in that world of which I am speaking this would be taken for granted. There, no story is ever derived from the facts but always from somebody else's version of the same story.

Writers of books need earlier books as sources when they write ‘em.
Those earlier books, yet earlier books, and so ad infinitum.

In my world, almost every book, except some of those produced by Government departments, is written by one author. In that world almost every book is produced by a committee, and some of them by a whole series of committees.

In my world, if I read that Mr. Churchill, in 1935, said that Europe was heading for a disastrous war, I applaud his foresight. In that world no prophecy, however vaguely worded, is ever made except after the fact.

In my world we say, "The first world-war took place in 1914–1918." In that world they say, "The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century."

In my world men and women live for a considerable time—seventy, eighty, even a hundred years—and they are equipped with a thing called memory. In that world (it would appear) they come into being, write a book, and forthwith perish, all in a flash, and it is noted of them with astonishment that they "preserve traces of primitive tradition" about things which happened well within their own adult lifetime.

Turning to more detailed matters, in my world, if a fisherman makes an unusually good catch, he counts and weighs and measures each fish and can accurately (even maddeningly) recall these statistics to memory until the end of his life. In that world a ‘draught of 153 great fishes’ is necessarily fictitious and the number must be symbolical. In my world, if a party of uneducated and probably superstitious men is sent out by moonlight to arrest a man who is said to be in league with the devil and to be able to work miracles, they go in some trepidation; and when the wizard suddenly appears out of the darkness and challenges them, using those words so awe-inspiring to Jewish ears, ‘I AM’, they are apt to be considerably taken aback. But in that other world it is ‘ludicrously unhistorical’ to suppose that the high priest’s servants ‘went back and fell to the ground’ in precisely these circumstances. In my world a man of even the humblest origin can become, by the end of his life, a very learned man. In that world a Galilean fisherman can never, as long as he lives, become acquainted with the writings of Philo or the terminology of contemporary religious and philosophical thought.


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