Religion and Sexuality – Marriage and Concubine

  • The strictness of the law prohibiting concubine relationships where priests could be together with nuns secretly may be the cause of the worst of two evils which is sexual abuse.
  • A concubine relationship if done in the right way requires the woman to accept the concubine relationship with all the obligations of marriage except if she will decide to separate from her man divorce is not required.
  • Religions have their good reasons to prohibit sex and love before marriage; but there is also a good reason to allow people the freedom to judge for themselves when they will be ready for marriage.

The three major western religions which are Christianity, Muslim, and Judaism all agree that it is forbidden to have sex before marriage. Marriage is for the sake of making a family. In all three religions marriage begins with a sacred ceremony. Religions seek to control the life of its constituents through controlling relationships between men and women.

In biblical times only the kings of Israel were allowed concubines. A concubine is a female companion without marriage. A concubine relationship if done in the right way requires the woman to accept the concubine relationship with all the obligations of marriage except if she will decide to separate from her man divorce is not required. The woman however has to wait three months before she can begin a relationship with another man. The three months is also required by a married woman after divorce to insure that if she is pregnant which is determined by not having signs of pregnancy the identity of the father is known. Jewish marriage requires the signing of a marriage contract called Ketuba which obligates the man and woman according to the Law of Moses and Israel. Concubines remain free of the obligations of the marriage contract including sexual and financial obligations. In marriage the two parties become legally one for the sake of their children. In concubine relationships each one is a free soul.

A concubine relationship is sometimes called a girl friend. The three major religions all agree that it is prohibited to have sex with a girl friend. Today in the modern world the youth who are not Orthodox religious begin to socialize with the opposite sex at a young age in Junior High School or High School. Socializing leads to contact between these couples which may result in sex. In this way the girl or boy get their first experiences in sex before marriage. Orthodox religious watch over girls that they should be virgins at the time of marriage. In Judaism a virgin has more value when it comes to writing the marriage contract. She receives a double recompense if the marriage ends up in a divorce. When marriage begins with two virgins the male and female it has a stronger beginning, a stronger bond.

Muslims are also strict about sexual relationships in their religion. They allow their girls only to marry Muslim men. Sex before marriage is strictly forbidden. However, for older men and woman who have already been married and divorced they are lenient to allow concubine relationships. In Judaism according to Jewish law all relationships out of wedlock are forbidden even for older men and woman. The stringency of marriage in Judaism is emphasized in the Talmud that it is necessary to have a formal marriage ceremony. There is a story in the Talmud of an engaged couple who were tested by Anti-Semites for their sexual purity and were placed together in the same bed. They were warned that if they would not have sex they would be killed. The couple gave their life rather than to transgress on the prohibition of sex before marriage. A man needs a woman. When a righteous man has a woman he no longer is subject to temptation by other women. The Talmud tells of a great Rabbi who would travel to different cities to teach Torah. In each city the congregation would find for him a bride so that he would not be without a woman. On the first day of the dedication of the tabernacle a fire came down from heaven to kill and punish the two sons of Aharon the High Priest (the brother of Moses) for serving in the temple without being married. The high priest needed two wives in event one would die, the other was needed as a reserve to insure that he would always have a wife during service in the temple.

For Catholic Christians even though marriage and having children is not an obligation since celibacy is encouraged, sex before marriage is still prohibited. The Catholic Church has even stricter laws about marriage and divorce than the Old Testament. Divorce in Jewish law must be given by the man to the woman if the rabbinical court decides that divorce is necessary. The man can be beaten until he will willingly give the divorce when it is requested by the court. Men are not allowed to marry until they give a divorce to their wife. There is a conflict between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Judaism about allowing more than one wife. Sephardic allow more than one wife. In the Ashkenazic western world about a thousand years ago was made a decree to allow a man only one wife. Muslims are allowed more than one wife. Sephardic congregations were primarily in places where also lived Muslims where there was no pressure on them to restrict the amount of wives for each Jewish man. Ashkenazic European Judaism based in Christian countries that opposed polygamy made the decree for each man to have only one wife. In Israel today a man is allowed only one wife. However one of the leaders of the Moroccan Jewish communities in Israel at the age of 70 took a second wife who was 14 years old even though it was against the law. There are Muslims living in Israel who are also hiding their second and third wives from the Israeli authorities. Polygamy is prohibited in Israel. The courts convicted a Breslov Chassidic Jew who had several wives after one of the wives informed on him to the police. He was sentenced with twenty years. However in Israel there is no restrictions on how many girlfriends a person can have as long as their relationships are without sexual abuse. There is a difference in Torah law between concubine relationship and Kedosha which is forbidden like prostitution. Concubine is considered a respectable relationship not only for sex.

Marriage is a relationship between man and woman authorized by religion. Concubine when done properly is also a relationship with respect between the opposite sexes. Not a one day lay or for a one week vacation. All of the three western religions prohibit sex before marriage. Religion encourages family life. In religion procreation it is more important than love. When men and women love each other and want to grow closer sometimes they may not be ready for marriage for different reasons. To prohibit all relationships between opposite sexes intrudes on human rights and interferes with the freedom to love. Love is a gift from God; it is more than just sex. Religions have their good reasons to prohibit sex and love before marriage; but there is also a good reason to allow people the freedom to judge for themselves when they will be ready for marriage. Most people are not suitable to be celibates and also find difficulty waiting years to get married before having sex. Concubine relationship is a compromise.

In the times of Judges before was established the Kingship of Israel by King David was allowed concubine relationships. The movement to establish a Kingship with strict laws against concubine relationships created a war between the tribes of Israel connected to a concubine who was molested and killed in opposition to the privacy and freedom to love. The event in Jewish history is written in Judges: 19. The tribe of Benjamin was separated from the rest of Israel for their desecration of the rights of the concubine couple. When the Kingship took power in Jerusalem they not only prohibited concubine relationships; they also prohibited couples before marriage to be alone in one house without a chaperon. These decrees are still respected in Judaism. There is no doubt that the strictness of these laws not only in Judaism but in all the three religions cause people to reject religion and become secular. They can also cause sexual abuse and homosexuality. However these prohibitions of sexual purity protect the world from sexual promiscuity which can result in abortions like is done today even until the last day of pregnancy. It protects and strengthens the family structure.

The picture is of Rabbi Jacob Emden who three hundred years ago wrote a lengthy essay on Jewish law which gave permission for special Jews to have concubine relationships.

Catholic priests are being indicted for sex abuse. They are also being attacked for concubine relationships with nuns. Catholic priests have taken a vow of celibacy. Many of them took this vow without realizing the difficulties of being respectable and celibate. They should be respected for their desire to grow close to God and to serve mankind. The strictness of the law prohibiting concubine relationships where priests could be together with nuns secretly may be the cause of the worst of two evils which is sexual abuse. Why shouldn’t a priests love a nun and have together a child and remain a priest in the church? Communal life on monasteries with orphan children belonging to priests and nuns may be an answer to the scandal in the church. A great Rabbi Jacob Emden about three hundred years ago wrote a lengthy essay on Jewish law to allow a concubine relationship done modestly and privately. Judaism from the time of King David maintained this prohibition. Even after this decree of Rabbi Jacob Emden most congregations still do not accept concubine relationships even for older couples that are divorced or after the death of their spouse and have already fulfilled the good deed of having children. Judaism has taken a step ahead to solve the problem of sex abuse through allowing concubine relationships. The church can also take this step.

Even though Sharia law prohibits concubine relationships it is well known that there are exceptions in Muslim communities. Sharia law is very strict even to sentence Gays with stoning. The strictness of the laws of marriage in the Church is a cause of sex abuse amongst nuns and priests.

The Bible in Genesis points to the problem of being overly strict in religions. God told Adam and Eve that they should not eat from the Tree of Knowledge and if they eat from the tree they will die. When the snake approached Eve, she told the snake that God told her not to touch the Tree and if she will touch the tree she will die. The snake pushed her into the tree and she didn’t die. She then thought that she could also eat from the tree. Eve was trying to be too religious. Being extremely religious can cause more severe sins than the smaller sins. Jesus said that the Jews are being too religious when they are afraid to eat a live bug in fruits as is their custom; and instead they eat a camel. More severe sins. King Solomon advised not to be too righteous or very wicked. The Church has prohibited concubine relationships which has caused the sin of sex abuse.

Rabbi Jacob Emden gave permission to people to have concubine relationships when they can’t marry. There are many reasons in life why people who are in love can’t marry. They should try their best to make marriage possible. If they can’t work out a marriage relationship they can continue with a concubine relationship rather than break up and be alone the rest of their lives.

People are waiting for the Messiah to come to solve all of the problems of life. They have already given up hope and even have given up their faith in God. Already all people even Jews can believe in the two Messiahs of spirituality who are the Messiah of World Unity and Peace the son of God who was revealed through resurrection, and the Messiah the servant of God who was revealed in Judaism by Elijah the prophet who never died and went up into heaven on a cloud. Through the belief in the two Messiahs of the Unity of God on earth is reached the perfect faith which is united with eternity. Man cannot be woman. Man is from mars and woman is from Venus. Judaism cannot become Christianity. They are two opposing faiths. They don’t have to fight between each other. They can love each other without becoming one through marriage.

David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality.  He has two sites at:  www.progressivejewishspirituality.net and www.worldunitypeace.org
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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