Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Marriage Is Sanctified From Concubinage Through the Law, Not the Bride and Groom ("The Jewish Way")

Comparing patriocentricity to the practice of Orthodox Judaism according to Rabbi Maurice Lamm in “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage

In this post, I would like to lay the groundwork for the understanding of Ephesians chapter 5 and what Paul's language meant, based upon the significant similarities between “sanctify” and “marriage” within the Hebrew language. In the post that follows this one, I will explain why I believe Paul teaches and uses the language that he does to explain how Christ takes His Church Bride and sanctifies her to present her holy to God the Father. Paul, as an expert in the Jewish law and all things Jewish, once the Jewish legalist who demanded Steven's death to further the purification of Judaism, held nearly unrivaled academic expertise in the Jewish Law in his day. He was a “Pharisee's Pharisee.”

The patriarchy movement misinterprets Ephesians 5:25-27 to mean that the husband (who is seen as the direct image of God) governs or mediates the sanctification and holiness of his wife (who is seen as the indirect image of God and subordinate to man in essence) and other women under his care. The false teachings that support that woman is a lesser creature in essence and origin and a lesser example of God's Image promote the view that woman requires the spiritual mediation of a man in order to experience the ongoing process of transformation into Christ's image over time in order to “prove the good, perfect and acceptable will of God.” Taken to its logical conclusions, this view maintains that a woman cannot be a Christian in the fullest sense unless God's work in her is mediated by a man. This ideology is obliquely communicated through the publications of Vision Forum and other patriocentric sources, primarily though through unstated assumption and intentional vagueness (see "Propaganda Techniques") without using a direct statement in the manner that I do here. I believe that most people would outright reject the logical conclusion if it were clearly and directly stated. By avoiding direct statements, that a female Christian needs a male Christian “keeper” to fully realize her salvation in Christ and apprehend God's will for her life, they can deny that they believe this when it becomes expedient for those who propagate the doctrine.

At the time of Paul, though one did not need to follow Jewish tradition in order to be justified and sanctified before God as a Christian, that did not mean that the Christian stood apart from the Law and the Prophets of Judaism (the writings of the Old Testament). Jesus came and fulfilled the Jewish Law to set us free from eternal separation from God (and His holiness) that the law required. Therefore, by walking after the Spirit in Christ's grace and forgiveness – our sins imputed unto Him and His righteousness before God imputed unto us – the law is written on our hearts through the Spirit. Sin is no longer “covered” by the blood of animals and man is no longer “set apart” from other nations by following the law, but Christ Himself becomes our justification and our sanctification as holiness (through the process of sanctification) is worked into us through the Spirit over time. Salvation no longer comes to us through works but through God's grace to us through our faith alone.

Note that distinction: for the Jew, ALL sanctification (setting apart, making holy) comes through the law and man's works. For the Christian, sanctification comes through Christ alone by faith. Though the Christian will see the fulfillment of the righteous requirement of the Law when they walk in the Spirit in Christ and sanctifies the Lord in his heart as an act of his own, “internal process” of obedience, Christ replaces the law and frees us from it, becoming the only source of a Christian's sanctification.

Consider how Rabbi Lamm's writing demonstrates how works and the Law of God in the Old Testament sanctifies marriage from paganism and not the participants themselves. The only thing sanctified within marriage is the “work” and “action” of marriage, not the persons within the marriage. Marriage then becomes an act of worship (a work) THROUGH THE LAW, rather than an indulgence of physical desire and as a purely physical, “bodily function.” Sanctification can only come through “works” for the Jew. There is no working of holiness before God in the inner man that can ever come through the law. The best a Jew could do was live so that he did not violate the law by “setting apart” his works through an act of his own will and worship under the law.

From Pages 32 - 33

The Torah motivated the Jew to sanctify sex within marriage...

On a basic level, sanctity means separating oneself consciously from immorality and illicit thoughts. Maimonides incorporates the laws of sexual morality in a section of Kedushah (the Book of Holiness), and states that the deliberate separation from the illicit is an act of self-transcendence that constitutes sanctification. Ramban goes beyond Maimonides in his comment on the verse in Leviticus “Be you holy” (19:2): “Sanctify yourself even with that permitted you” is a call to those who strive to a higher level of spirituality and sensitivity to separate themselves from gross acts and uncouth behavior, even that which is technically permitted, so as not to become naval bi-re’shut ha-Torah, “a nave within the realm of the Torah”

Kiddushin – which signifies sanctity and betrothal – leads inevitably to nishuin – nuptials, elevation. Thus sanctification raises the physiological act of sex onto a higher, more spiritual level...

Sanctity also implies mystery. The Holy of Holies of the Temple, its
inner sanctum, was visited only once every year, and then only by the High
Priest. In the imagination of the people, it was a subject of awe and

From Page 218:

[From and about the Marriage Covenant Ceremony]:

"Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning illicit relations; and has prohibited us those who are merely betrothed; but has permitted to us those who lawfully married to us by chuppah [nuptials] and kiddushin [betrothal]. Blessed art thou God, who has sanctified His people Israel by chuppah and kiddushin."

[Lamm's Explanation of the Ceremony]:

Who Has Sanctified Us.
God has not merely allowed human beings an erotic indulgence by legal validation of marriage. God has sanctified us by giving us the institution of marriage. Through it we achieve a closer relationship with Him and a more intimate relationship with other people. Thereby we enrich the family and perpetuate the species, for God created the world with the specific purpose that it be inhabited and civilized.

With His Commandments.
The Rabbis pondered whether this blessing could technically be classified as bikhat mitzvah (a blessing that precedes the performance of mitzvah), as the blessing over the shofar, for example. The predominant opinion held that it could not be so classified, since the mitzvah is not completed until after the couple had conjugal relations. In any case, the mitzvah did not depend on him alone, and the bride had not yet formally consented. Nonetheless, the Sages could not bring themselves to exclude such a mitzvah from having a blessing. Thus they instituted a special blessing for the sanctification of the Jewish people for practicing marriage that was properly authorized by the law.

God sanctifies Israel through a work – holiness (or “setting apart” from other nations) that comes through a human work as provided for under the law. God sets His people apart from other nations through the law of the Law, sanctifying His people through marriage by setting them apart from the practice of those outside of Israel. There is no spiritual holiness or purification conferred to the bride and groom, but Israel as a nation is “set apart” (sanctified) unto God, even though the practice does bring those involved closer to one another and "closer" to God. In the marriage ceremony itself, there is no statement that either husband or wife are either personally “set apart,” save as one another's exclusive mates as we've established in previous posts with quotes from Lamm.

If marriage in Judaism – a system that could only seek works for the “setting apart” of those works as worship unto God – conferred the “role” to husband of one who governs the worship and actions of his wife to bring about her sanctification, would we not see language and mandates that spoke of husbands “setting apart” of their wives for moral activities and acts of worship to confer some spiritual transcendence? Lamm says that marriage brings about a type of transcendence of sin through works because the married status makes the physical union holy by and under the law. The law sets marriage “apart.” The institution of marriage is “set apart” from concubinage. The bride is “set apart” for union with one, specific man. Yet in all the laws and even in the marriage ceremony itself, such as the evidence that the Jewish Law did not hold a husband accountable for his wife's immoral actions that we addressed in the previous blog post, there is NO LANGUAGE or LAW or Torah supporting that men sanctify their wives on a moral basis.

If patriarchy believes this, it did not come from Orthodox Judaism which follows the Old Testament law and tradition.

From Page 151

By formalizing marriage, Judaism saved marriage. By stamping it “legal acquisition.” it made firm that which was vague and inchoate. It held the family fast – so fast that the family eventually held together the whole exiled and hopelessly dispersed Jewish community. This surely hinted at the betrothal blessing, when God is praised as me’kadesh ammo Yisrael al ye’dei chuppa ve’kiddushin, “He who sanctifies his people Israel through marriage and betrothal.” [Blog host note: Through a work of the Law!] Through the laws of marriage, God enhances family life, personal morality and Jewish survival.
Coming in the final post in the series on “The Jewish Way”:

Why Paul uses the reference to sanctification in regard to Christian marriage and how suggestion that marriage spiritually confers powers or “roles” of sanctification onto a husband makes a mockery of Christ's fulfillment of the Law and establishes men as a demi-gods.

Copyrighted material quoted here
under fair use for educational purposes from
“The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage”
by Maurice Lamm. San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1980.