Over on Dalrock, there is scuttlebutt about a new commandment by the Christian god, that all Christian men must marry.
Cane Caldo explains:
there is a command is for each man and each woman to marry, but that concessions–exceptions–might and should be made in specific cases for specific reasons.
Later on, BillyS agrees and amplifies:
God said it was not good for a man to be alone and made a woman for him. That is the baseline principle. Exceptions, such as Paul, exist, but they are just that, exceptions. Review the Scriptures I already posted.
The problem that Cane and Billy have is a simple one. There is no “Thou shalt marry” commandment, anywhere in the new testament. So, Cane and Billy are fabricating new commandments, and weaving justification for their new commandments from minor allusions found here and there in the text.
Astute readers will remember that Artisanal Toad seemed to do something precisely similar. When asked where the “Thou shalt marry multiple women” and “Thou shalt let thine wives dyke out in weird lesbo group sex orgies” commandments were, he’d go on a long, dull tirade, about how ya boy Boxer was too worldly and too stupid to get the hidden meaning in the text.
Now Billy and Cane are asserting that the Christian god says something which he clearly doesn’t say. Their motivations for making this assertion are unclear, and don’t matter anyway. Let’s assume that both Cane and Billy are perfectly sincere in their beliefs, and are not trying to lead anyone astray for the sake of any ulterior motive. Since their beliefs neither correspond nor cohere with the propositions in the New Testament, there are a finite number of possibilities available to explain the disparity.
- The Christian god has given a new commandment, by revelation, through internet bloggers.
- Cane and Billy are starting a new, post-Christian religious movement.
- Cane and Billy are reading the text through the lens of ideology.
While all of these are plausible scenarios, the first doesn’t seem likely. The text itself warns against false prophets, and implies that it constitutes both the completeness of the theory and a final revelation. It also pronounces a curse on anyone who claims to have had a subsequent revelation (Galatians 1:8-9). Billy and Cane both study the New Testament, so they know this themselves.
The second also doesn’t seem likely. Neither Billy nor Cane has ever denounced any of the central tenets of Christianity, nor have I ever seen either of them claim to be anything other than a sincere Christian.
So, assuming (as I do) that these guys aren’t purposely lying to people, I am left with the final scenario as the one that seems most likely to be the case. They are reading the New Testament through the lens of ideology.
What is ideology, and what does it mean to read a text through the lens of ideology?
Ideology is a Marxist term which (like most weighty philosophical items) takes some effort to unpack. We might say that it is a social phenomenon, which originates in the false state of consciousness, arising out of the mode of being prevalent in our particular historical epoch. Marx would point out that the mode-of-being in the epoch is brought into being by the mode-of-production, but we’re not going to go that far. The bare concept is itself hard to understand.
We live in a world that prioritizes certain things (fame, money, status, women) and thus we adopt certain inherent biases that color any new sense data we are exposed to. When sense data hits our eyes, our brain instantly begins working to translate such stuff into intelligible information. It does this by making associations through a conditioned structure. That’s part of ideology.
The warm fuzzies that the wimminz get when they see a lavish wedding, or the sympathy that a man feels when he sees a suffering child… some of that may be inborn, but most of it is ideology. We have each been conditioned and socialized to respond in certain ways, and the conditioning is at least partly subconscious.
The Marxist term is usually considered a subset of what Hegel called a world-spirit (weltgeist). We theorize about history, that is about our place in society, as we navigate all the currents that brought us to the now, in terms that our place in society offers us. To some extent, we are limited by language and pop culture to certain channels of thought, whereas other possibilities are closed off to us.
So what does it mean to speculate that some people read texts through the lens of ideology? In truth, we all do. This is why so many texts can be interpreted in such a variety of different ways.
The truth of this statement often gives way for linguistic relativism, and an idea that nothing inherently means anything: that in the war between text and subtext, context is the only winner. While students of ideology should examine the truths available from a variety of interpretations, we should also be careful about adopting the view that the interpretation is everything. If meaning is chiefly interpretive, then text is deprecated.
In an answer to the bizarre assertions of Cane Caldo, I had to ask:
Where is this command that each man marry? Chapter and verse, please.
Of course, Cane had no answer. Neither did anyone on his side of the argument. I did get a few replies, though. My man Earl said:
It’s not there. There are commands on what you are supposed to do when you get married…and what you are supposed to do if you are not married (the common theme for both is sexual morality)…but there is no command that states you are to get married.
That’s the way I read the text also. Of course, I read the text at face value, and try to keep my Marxist critique-of-ideology shades on, whenever I turn a new page in it.
One thing many of my secular readers might not appreciate are the differences between the Christian god, and the Mormon god. These are, despite all the protests to the contrary (by Christians and Mormons both) very different gods. Mormons have a specific commandment to play up our similarities when among Christians, but in private we tell our children the score. We can pass as Christians, but we are not Christians.
One of the differences between the Mormon god and the Christian god is what each calls his people to do. The Christian god does not make any specific commandment to marry; but, the Mormon god did command his people to marry.
To obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a man must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (D&C 131 1-4)
The Mormon heaven is only for married people. Mormons who never marry will not be allowed in. Not only this, but the Mormon man or woman who marries in a secular ceremony, will also be counted as an unmarried person after death, and will likewise never be allowed into the Mormon heaven.
If a man marry a wife not by me, their covenant and marriage is not of force when they are dead (D&C 132 15)
Mormons are not only commanded to marry, but they are further commanded to marry other Mormons, in temple ceremonies. Failure to do so precludes a brother from any leadership positions in the church, any sort of benefits or employment within the church, and he will die condemned.
This, in fact, is the greatest example of the superiority of Jesus (the name of the Christian god) and his disciple St. Paul over Elohim (the Mormon god, who definitely has nothing to do with Jesus) and his disciple Joseph Smith. Jesus allows for those of us who may want to choose another vocation to do so.
I will always be a Mormon, and I will always love my people; but I will never bow the knee to the Mormon folk religion, and I encourage my Mormon brothers to explore the truths that can be found in the works of St. Paul, and, for that matter, Karl Marx.