SWM018: Judaism had it right all along

Sex Within Marriage Podcast Image for PostsLet’s face it, Christianity is not the perfect religion we like to make it out to be.  At least, not the way we imperfect humans play it out in our lives.  And one area of life that we’ve really made a mess of over the centuries is sexuality.  In this facet of life, Judaism seems to have gotten it right, and I think we should have paid more attention to them.

The Bible is clear

  • Our bodies are good
  • Our spirits are of God
  • Together, our body and the spirit of God makes a soul
  • Separate, we don’t exist

Greek and Roman mythology influenced Christianity and taught that:

  • The body is sinful
  • The spirit is good
  • Sex, being a bodily function, is not spiritual and thus sinful

Christianity ran with this false teaching

  • We outlawed sex on all but 44 days of the year
  • Sex on Sunday was a sin
  • When sex was permitted, it was only for procreation
  • Sex was considered a necessary evil
  • Some believed that the “original sin” of Adam and Eve was that they had sex

Meanwhile Judaism

  • Made rules and laws promoting healthy sexuality
  • Taught a sex-positive view of marriage
  • Taught that it was a blessing and a good dead to have sex on the Sabbath
  • Taught that sex should be pleasurable to both the husband and the wife
  • Sometimes they got overzealous (if you want to conceive a boy, the Rabbis taught you must insure the wife orgasms before the husband), but their intention was good

So, what can we do?

  • Stop teaching that it’s a sin, but rather that context is what defines the sin or not
  • Stop teaching that it’s dirty, naughty, or bad
  • Teach that this is something that God made, and that is good, when used appropriately
  • Be willing to pray about sex. If you can’t talk to God about it, you won’t be able to talk to others effectively
  • Start being more willing to discuss sex with other Christians

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14 thoughts on “SWM018: Judaism had it right all along”

  1. LatterDay Marriage says:

    That Greek/Roman philosophy had impact in other areas too, like upholding celibacy as being a more holy lifestyle than marriage, claiming that Mary remained a virgin all her life and never was intimate with Joseph even though the Bible talks of Christ having siblings, and more.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh, agreed. I could have spent a lot more time on that, but I had already gone over my 15 minute goal for podcast episodes. Besides. I didn’t want to upset my Catholic readers any more than I probably already have.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        They can get upset with me instead. 🙂
        While I’m at it I might as well tick off the Protestants by tying that philosophy to the Westminster Confession’s language about God being ‘without body, parts or passion’

    2. Brian says:

      The idea of soul mates is another way the Greek mythology and mindset infected our worldview. Very damaging when every love story fosters this idea that another person will ‘complete” you.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        Doesn’t the idea of soul mates go back further than that? It would be easy to argue that Christ taught that a man or woman is incomplete on their own. God made Eve by taking something out of Adam to make her with, and “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord”. The idea that there is one and only one person you can be happy with or that you are destined for doesn’t seem tied to Greek/Roman philosophy about the body as far as I can tell.

        I can say however from personal experience that God does pair people up sometimes. God was very directly and blatantly involved in getting my wife and I together and getting us to the alter, but if either of us had made different choices in our lives we would have wound up with somebody else.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          The idea of soul mates originates with Plato’s Symposium, so far as I know. It doesn’t show up in Rabbinic teachings until after the Roman era either. One would think it would have pre-existed that if it was considered part of the biblical teaching. Adam and Eve were sort of a unique case that I’m not sure you can extrapolate to all of humanity. Certainly Paul argues against soul mates, at least for those who should remain celibate.

          Now, that would contradict the Mormon doctrine which, if I recall, states that marriages are eternal, just as souls are immortal. However, I get confused by that, because the Mormon doctrine, again, if I recall correctly, states that if you are “good”, if you go to the … telestial heaven (is that the right term), then you’ll get your own planet and be god to it, along with your many wives, in order to breed more spirit-babies, who will then become sentient beings and the cycle starts again (I always had a problem with the idea that Mormons don’t believe God is the ultimate God, but just a child of another god, who is the child of another god, and another, ad infinitum, but oh well). Now, mix this with the mormon belief that marriages on Earth are eternal (if done in a temple?), and that men can by polygamous, then isn’t there a requirement for men to be soulmates to multiple women (and then women share a soulmate with the other wives?). Is that right? If so, since you are expected to be polygamous gods…is there is not a requirement to marry multiple women here on Earth? After all, the Bible is clear there will not be new marriages in heaven… or do you say that’s only in some of the three realms of heaven? Sorry, I find it hard too keep it all straight. It’s been a while since I spent time with Mormon missionaries.

  2. Brian says:

    Preach, brother Jay.
    /puts hands in the air

  3. LatterDay Marriage says:

    There is a lot in that post that needs correcting about LDS doctrines. First, regarding Heavenly Father, Elder Packard summed it up nicely when he said “The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Elohim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him.”

    The idea that he is a child of some god before him is not our doctrine at all. That idea, and others in your post like ‘getting your own world’ are a caricature of our faith, usually pushed by those who want to mock us.

    What we do believe is that Heavenly Father is the father of the spirits of every human (Heb 12:9). If a couple have their marriage ‘sealed’ by the same power God gave to the apostles (Matt 16:19) and they keep their covenant to God, then their marriage may continue to be in force by God’s authority after the resurection, if they both wish it. A husband and wife can remain husband and wife for eternity that way. Their children are still their children and they may continue to raise a family together, including having spirit children of their own who will likewise have the opportunity to progress to the same point, but we really don’t have any details about that or much else about what the afterlife will be like beyond families being forever.

    Irenaeus said “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is” and many other early Christian fathers (Clement of Alexandria,
    Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Augustine of Hippo) taught the same concept, that through Christ a person could become a god by grace. Likewise with C. S. Lewis and William R. Inge, Archbishop of Canterbury. The concept of Theosis is still part of Greek Orthodox theology as well and several verses in the Bible indicate that the reward for the righteous is to become a join-heir with Christ, receiving all from the Father that Christ did.

    We believe those things too. Men and women, as children of Heavenly Father has the divine potential to become like Christ, but we still remain a child of Heavenly Father. For a man or woman to achieve their full divine potential requires they be in an eternal marriage but there is no requirement for having plural wives.

    Getting back to the actual topic: I think some definitions are in order. When I hear the term ‘soul mate’ I think of it meaning some person who is the one and only one person you can fall in love with and be happy in marriage with, or some one and only one person that you are destined to be with no matter what.

    We Mormons don’t hold that to be true. But that doesn’t change our belief that men and women need to be married to achieve the highest rewards of heaven. I see God taking Adam’s rib to make Eve as symbolic of how neither man nor woman is complete on their own. My referring to “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” was about being incomplete without a spouse, not about there being such a thing as soul mates as I described above.

    God wants men and women to be married, have good marriages, and have those marriages become eternal so he can bless us with all he has. That doesn’t mean there some specific individual who is the one and only person and you have to find and marry them. But that also doesn’t mean God won’t at times nudge (or shove) a couple together like he did with my wife and I. We still had our free will. We could have chosen different paths before hand that would make us a bad match (or not even meet), or we could have made foolish choices after we met that would lead to a break up. No destiny, no single shot at being happy and if you miss it you’re done for.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      The idea that he is a child of some god before him is not our doctrine at all. That idea, and others in your post like ‘getting your own world’ are a caricature of our faith, usually pushed by those who want to mock us.

      My apologies. I was going from memory from my weeks spent studying with LDS missionaries. When I raised these questions, they neither disagreed nor corrected me. Perhaps they were still too young in LDS doctrine to know how to correct me. No mockery intended. Thank you for the correction.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        No problem, there are a lot of common misconceptions out there, and as a missionary sometimes you have to pick your battles, give milk before meat and keep the focus on Christ rather than get pulled into a bunch of less important side issues you can deal with later. When we think of the afterlife, we look forward with hope to being reunited with our Heavenly Father, Christ, and loved ones. Nobody is dreaming of the day they have a planet, although we may joke about it. I’m pretty sure when Christ said the meek will inherit the earth, he meant this one.
        LatterDay Marriage recently posted..Fight For Your Marriage Part 4: Delivery

        1. Jay Dee says:

          You misunderstand. I didn’t ask those questions…I had no prior knowledge of any of that. This is what they taught…or at least, what I learned from them. Those may be two different things 🙂

          1. LatterDay Marriage says:

            True, and I can’t deny that there are some missionaries who don’t know their stuff, at least at first. They try and pair new ones up with more experienced ones but it doesn’t always work out that way.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Yep, that’s how they did it. One new, once with a couple years experience.

  4. Eric says:

    Great post! It is interesting how this enlightened definition of what is allowed within married sex and which is better: singleness or marriage, has exploded with acceptance within the Christian community, especially after the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s. I think there is a lot to be contributed to that our interpretations of the Bible are greatly influenced by societal norms. I guess my only question is, if the Christians of old got it so wrong, how do we know that we got it so right? I guess time and society will tell, right?
    Keep up the good work, Jay!
    –Eric

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