Slog Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 7:9


What if you don't have an internet connection. What the hell are you supposed to do then?
Which is why gays & lesbians can marry, and fundies can burn!
Says you.
Burn? How? Cooking for yourself? The clap? In imaginary hell? Ironing your own clothes? BTW, never, ever fry bacon in the nude!
I'm pretty sure Paul was referencing gonorrhea. Presumably if you married a virgin you'd be safe from this and other STIs of the time.
They're obviously talking about STD's. If you and your spouse are both virgins on your wedding day and never fuck anyone else as long as you live, you'll never get burning piss. That's unassailable logic, which is why God commands it.
Christian fundamentalism has this weird ambivalence about marriage.

On one hand, it's the centre of civilisation and the true reflection of the relationship between Christ & the church. On the other hand, the bible suggests marriage as a way to deal with lust & to keep young widows from becoming lazy gossips.

So, is marriage a precious and sacred thing, or a utilitarian tool to keep people in line? Depends on the day, I suppose.
If you read "The Wisdom of Psychopaths", the author suggests that Paul was a psychopath.He makes a very convincing argument for this diagnosis.

If you could just chop out everything that Paul is said to have wrote, the new testament becomes infinitely more readable. Still badly written drivel, but its at least tolerable. I wonder how different this religion would have been if the guys setting the canon had listed his writings as apocryphal, along with the books of Acts and Revelation?
If it's true that "burn" meant STI than it could also be true that monastic life was a way to keep disease at bay and still meet your sexual needs by pretending to be celibate.
Obviously, this passage disproves the popular contention that the Bible's authors were familiar with cannabis.
It sounds like a bad punchline to a Rodney Dangerfield joke.
@8, Ah, but without Paul, Christianity may have remained a Jewish cult, and as such the canon might never have been set. Christianity is as much (or more so) a religion created by Paul than by anybody else.
The obvious is: fornication sends you to straight to hell, and Paul the misogynist ranks marriage just above that.

Marriage: better than burning in hell for all eternity.

Makes a "Christian" marriage sound quite delectable , doesn't it?
I'm sure Gold's ex-wife would disagree after she let that ugly slug crawl on top of her and start grunting.
@13: that is how I have always read Paul, even when I was still trying to be a Christian.

It seems to me that Paul was really, really hung up on sexuality, to the point of serious self-loathing and yes, misogyny.

I think it is great that a lot of modern evangelicals have embraced sex (albeit only within the confines of hetero marriage) but I really don't know how they reconcile it with what Paul had to say about it.
I've tried marriage; I should have chosen the burning.
Marriage is a very good thing. I fought for months this past election cycle to gain that right, and I did so out of respect for marriage.

I don't see it merely as a means of social control, though, which is where I differ from :Paul. To me, marriage is an expression of deepest love. Its a voluntary and committal association with another human being in which both parties declare that their marital partner is someone they are willing to spend all their lives supporting, nurturing, loving.

If one wishes to remain single, they will not burn. There is no burning, save the burning of the minds of madmen like Paul. Christianity would have been better as a Jewish sect, because Judaism has always been more accepting of love than Pauline christianity has.

I think Paul genuinely could not love. It is possible that, if he really was a psychopath, that he had no human emotions at all. How then could he understand marriage? And why on Earth would anyone trust his judgement to speak of the subject?

Marriage predates human history. It certainly predated Paul, and those before his proscription of burning engaged in the practice unaware of the alternative.
I think he was talking about burning with lust, Like Johnny Cash sang about.
I concur with the interpretation that the burning was the body and mind being overwhelmed, even consumed with lust. How to get rid of that, as well as any anxiety related to falling in and out of love (or consecutive beds), other than celibacy? Just get married and one would never have to worry about burning with lust again. [J/K]

Some people might consider the security and monotony (oops ... monogamy) a worthwhile trade-off (even more so during times of famine and war when people died young). And TPTB would be more assured of a stable and productive society. The latter isn't an ancient concept either. Well into the 20th century, men weren't generally eligible for promotion in white collar jobs until/unless they married.
Marry, don't marry, whichever -- doesn't make much difference. Either way, you eventually end up masturbating in front of the computer.
@ 16, psychopaths don't lack for human emotion. They lack empathy, but they can feel the whole gamut of emotions like the rest of us.
Whoops, make that @ 17.
Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.…

more's the pity.

too bad Jewish notions of marriage (and slavery. and homosexuality. and rape....) from Leviticus and Deuteronomy couldn't prevail.

right Slug?
The full quote ends "than to burn with lust." Paul was definitely speaking to the use of marriage to control and sublimate sexual desire. Particularly desire of the more forbidden variety. I figure Paul for a closeted screaming queen. A first-century Ted Haggard. If he were alive today he'd be the head of NOM, or running some megachurch and blowing choirboys in the rectory.
@8 "Still badly written drivel"

Translating NT Greek accurately and poetically ain't easy. Barring some textual complications and a few problems with interpretation of vocabulary (there's one passage interpreted as being against homosexuality in Paul that depends on a hapax legomenon, a word that we have only one instance of anywhere, so translating it accurately involves some guesswork, for instance), Paul's Greek is actually pretty readable.

The passage in question basically sets up Paul's discussion of sexual morality. He thought chastity was the best course to follow, but also recognized that that was a difficult road that not everyone could follow. For those in the latter group, he advocated monogamous marriage as the next best option.

This is the theological foundation for the celibacy of the priesthood, incidentally.

Which is the very thing that makes this book so specious.

The claim that the Bible is the word of God and that it is perfect and fundamentally true and correct comes into question when we run into difficulty while translating it. Does the lord god only speak Latin and Greek? Is his omniscience so limited that he cannot speak English?

Or is his omnipotence so limited that he cannot express himself clearly enough that the text will translate well into any language?

The bible was not written by god. It was written by human beings, and then it was re-written and re-translated a billion times over, with each hand that scribbled its words imbuing the script with what that writer wanted to hear god say. Each of the people of played a hand in copying, translating, and rewriting this text added material that supported their own personal views and deleted material that contradicted it. What we have is not so much the perfect and unchanging word of the lord so much as a constantly shifting collection of prejudices, fears, hopes, and dreams. It is like meandering through the collective subconscious mind of European civilization. Here we find elements of ancient Roman emperors like Constantine who wanted to sue the fledgling religion as a tool to reinforce the power of his government. There, we see traces of the terror Nero inflected upon the citizens under his rule. Over there, we can see justifications for horrible acts committed during times of war in the ancient Near East. And here, we find early attempts to explain natural phenomena based upon what was known at the time before the Greeks. We can see passages that originated during the struggle within Judaism between the Hellenistic-influences believers and the more radically conservative elements. There, we can see hints of a time when Yaweh was but one of many gods in a pantheon. And over there, we see an account of the time when the Caspian Sea overflowed its banks.

Why do we spend so much effort trying to preserve this hodge-podge? Epistemology? Then we do we ignore the Enuma Elish or the refuse to discuss the apocryha? Morality? Then why do we retain passages where the faithful are commanded by god to commit genocide and infanticide and slavery and rape? Its certainly not out of a love of literature. There's passages where 95% of the text is the word "begat" repeated over and over again. Nor can it be from a desire to impart critical reasoning skills, since readers are told that thinking for themselves is anathema to faith.We are warned against asking such questions as "where did Adam and Eve's children get their wives" and "why are there two contradictory accounts of the creation in genesis" or "why are there two separate and unalike listings of the ten commandments" or "how did Moses write about his own death and what came after" or "why is Lot a role-model for offering his daughters up to be raped", or "why is there no account of marsupials or dinosaurs before the flood" or "why does Mary always need to be reminded that jesus' dad is god? Seems like something she wouldn't have forgotten easily after Gabriel did the vision thing and all" or "why can't the Gospels agree on fundamental things like the nativity" or "why are there no gospels written by people who were there as eyewitnesses, and they were all written decades after the events took place by people jesus never met" ?

What is the point of this text?

We'd do better to meditate on our mutual responsibility to our fellow man, and about how its not good enough to simply wait for a better afterlife when we could focus on making this world we now inhabit better. We coudl talk about how god doesn't need churches or cathedrals or synogogues or mosques to live in, that if he's the all powerful, then the grass of the field and the mountains and the sea is the only church he'll ever need. We could talk about how the Vatican would do more good as a shelter for the homeless or a hospital. We could talk about what we can do to stop HIV from killing half of Africa. We could talk about what we can do to end war. We could talk about how we can make wise use of the resources here on Earth, so as not to deprive future generations of beauty and health just so we can glut our insatiable desire for SUVs and plasma screen television sets. We could talk about why we need to be better parents to our children, and not abuse them if they are gay, or introverted, or physically different. We could worship god by going into the fields, the mountains, and the sdea, and looking all around us with awe at the wonder that is nature. We could stop memorizing bullshit "miracles" and other sleights of hand, and instead look at the magic of reality as expressed through math, physics, chemistry, and biology. We could talk about how we are all one species, and how we have a mutual responsibility to care for every living thing. We could say that all life is sacred, and marvelous, and beautiful.

But instead we memorize this drivel. Because it's infallible and yet flawed.

What a colossal waste of our lives.

@27 First things first: I'm not a Christian (or a Jew or Muslim). I read the New Testament in the original language precisely because I'm interested in the history and want to get as close as I can to the original texts and thoughts. FWIW, I do read other works from the same time period, mostly written by pagans, in the original languages too (I don't read the Tanakh in the original because I don't have any Hebrew, which is a bit of a personal deficiency)

Textual criticism of ancient texts, including the Bible, is a rather arcane branch of knowledge, but it's based on a couple relatively simple concepts:

1) Older manuscripts are generally more reliable

2) Looking at lots of copies from a wide variety of geographical areas and comparing them is better than looking at a few

Because the Bible was such a popular book, we've got enough to go on to be reasonably confident of having a good text that's pretty close to what the original authors wrote, especially with regard to the New Testament (texts in the Tanakh are older, some of them much older, so the chain of manuscripts is longer and more tenuous).

Then, of course, there are all the problems of translation, which is why there's such a profusion of them out there. Translation is an art as much as a science, so there'll never be a perfect one. I've always thought that any serious Christian really ought to learn at least Greek so they can really get to know the text, since it is supposed to be the foundation of their beliefs after all.

So basically, I'd say we've got a pretty high confidence that the New Testament canonical books are legit from a textual perspective, much more so than most other classical texts. That's not to say there aren't issues and controversies, but they're fairly minor.
TT, I, an atheist, would encourage anyone to study the Christian literary cannon we call the Bible, Catholic or Protestant, because it's part of our heritage, just like one might study the works of Plato, Marx, or John Locke. (Which I haven't, though years and years of Sunday school and post-apostasy reading have taught me my way around the Bible, but that's besides the point.) For example, numerous popular phrases are derived from the Bible and Biblical references abound in European art and literature. I find it really cool to run across some little passing phrase and know why the author chose that figure of speech, or maybe note some little sculpted or painted figure that seems out of place - like a fisherman holding a net - and realize immediately that it's not. "Come with me and I will make you fishers of men."

Plus, so much of it IS beautifully written! Have you ever read the first chapter of John? Psalm 23? Psalm 150? Paul's own writing? (Muscularly forceful and clear.) Basically all the stories are fascinating, in addition to fun to read, some of them bringing up some very intriguing questions that are still relevant today. Proverbs actually has a lot of practical advice. The character of Jesus, as well as the Gospels themselves, is, I find, truly inspirational, the ultimate model of the sort of person we would like to be, though we know we couldn't be. (Because, you know, it's just a story.) Whenever I hear one of God & Jesus's elite Earthly representatives mouthing off, I wonder if they've read the Gospels since graduating from Sunday school, and, if they have, whether they related more to Pharisees than to Jesus.

Bottom line, there's a lot that's golden in that hodgepodge packaged as the Bible. The drivel is kept to a relative minimum. Yeah, some of it's a lot more fun than other parts. For instance, I'd read Daniel twenty times before I read Jeremiah. (And we shouldn't feel this shameful obligation to read the Bible cover-to-cover. That's for Christians.) If you want to know what actual drivel is, read any page of the shoddy imititation knockoff of the Bible: The Book of Mormon. (Remember our Mormon study? Goldy would like to forget.) It's true that the Bible was created by fallible men, but so were the works of Renaissance Italy and the music of Chopin. We shouldn't dismiss the Bible just because it's not the work of gods.
I think many a married couple would dispute that. *rim shots*