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Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality


The "cleaving to wife" issue in Gen 2:23-24
The Hebrew "issa" means "women". In Gen 2:23 it has been incorrectly translated as wife. Women not wife is more true to the original text every time "issa" or "isha" appears in the OT. Therefore it can be taken as cleave to women, not necessarily a wife, and it says nothing about men having only 1 women, or one wife, as men clearly had many wives in the culture and God never rebuked their polygyny.

God never say anything about all the wives and concubines that were common from Abraham all they way through out Hebrew history. David and Abraham about much was written were never rebuked for having multiple wives. Since the ratio of males to females was basically equal, in a society where almost everyone was married, there was no available surplus of women for polygomy. This was the prime reason it was not more common in biblical times. Not until the 10th Century was pologamy forbidden for Jews. But usually it was practiced by wealthy men who could attract and keep many wives with their wealth.

Also 1 Cor 7:2-4 "wife" is "gune" in Greek. It means "a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow". Likewise "husband" is "aner" which can include "a male, of a husband, or a betrothed or future husband", not just a husband.

Many scriptures have been twisted in the history of the church in an attempt to prove a monogamous rule, but the interpretations do not stand up under serious scrutiny in their contexts. The classic example is Genesis 2:24, the text on leaving father and mother and cleaving to one's wife. This text is repeated various places in the New Testament, including by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6. In the first place, the Jews of the Old Testament never understood this text as prohibiting polygamy and it is never cited for this purpose in the Old Testament. No Jewish authority in history called for a ban on polygamy until 1040 AD, although for social and economic, not moral, reasons the practice had probably begun to disappear among the Jews during the captivities.

Jesus' use of the passage in Matthew 19 is in the context of a exhorting the Jews regarding their careless practices of divorce (see verses 7-9) and has no application to the question of monogamy.

One of the errors in the attempt to support monogamy from this passage has been to take the reference to "one" flesh as a numerical reference and therefore as meaning that each person shall have only "one" mate. But this interpretation is completely off the point of the text. The reference is not to numerical oneness but to the unitary oneness of Adam and Eve. The interpretation and application of this text elsewhere in Scripture must follow this meaning and, indeed, that is what we find in the New Testament. In particular, the well-known teaching about marriage by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 quotes this same Genesis passage and clearly shows that the unitary sense was understood by Paul. Greek lexicons also support this meaning of the Greek word for "one" in the Matthew passage and in other places where the Genesis passage is quoted in the New Testament.

In summary, there is no support for the notion of monogamy in Genesis 2:24 or in any text in which this one is discussed, for it is true that a person can certainly be in meaningful union, emotionally, spiritually and sexually with more than one mate.

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