THE TWO TESTAMENTS: A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION
But before going further in this investigation, it would perhaps be appropriate to backtrack and draw attention to one relevant and conspicuous distinction, both in theme and in content, between the New and Old Testaments of the Holy Bible.
It is often claimed that the Old Testament deity (named as YHWH in Exodus) is warlike and aggressively destructive, while the Christ-God of the New Testament is pacific and kindhearted. Christ, it is declared, presents himself as meek, mild, and self-sacrificing in temperament, rather than being vengeful, wrathful, and fiercely self-assertive. This ostensible dichotomy, while superficially compelling, is, however, not borne out by a careful examination of the Scriptural evidence.
Christ is certainly no milquetoast; his parables, in fact, quite often speak of the reality of Hell for the unrighteous, unrepentant, and prideful. Further, he declares “woe” upon the rich, the comfortable, and the complacent, while asserting that he brings “not peace, but a sword,” having come into the world for the express purpose of creating conflict and strife between fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and husbands. He even commands his followers to (in a hyperbolic sense) “hate” their family members, in addition to similarly despising their own lives, presumably in contradistinction to loving God and valuing doing His will above every other consideration.
THE TWO TESTAMENTS: A DEFINITIVE DISTINCTION
But while this alleged duality between the “ass-kicking” Father God of the Old Testament and the kindly, sweet-tempered “Son” of the New isn’t in fact accurately borne out by a sober examination of both Testaments, a far less remarked-upon thematic dichotomy seems a far more conspicuously existent, even pronounced, phenomenon: While the Old Testament prominently highlights and extols the central importance of marriage, family, and procreation, the New Testament markedly downplays all of these institutions and activities, to the point of rendering them insignificant, if not positively useless—at best a “necessary evil”—from a spiritual perspective.
To be sure, the Old Testament is loaded with tales of wives and husbands, as well as their progeny. With the exception of certain fire-breathing desert prophets, marriage is the normative state for nearly every prominent, or even minor, Old Testament figure. The marital bond between man and woman is emphasized and implicitly endorsed, with numerous prototypes of wedlock to which a reader may refer: Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Zipporah, Jacob and Rachel, Isaac and Rebecca. There is even a bit of romance (in the Book of Ruth, the title character is memorably courted by the ‘hunky’ suitor Boaz) as well as even what could be termed a collection of erotica (the Song of Solomon features a sensual dialogue between lovers).
Fecundity, rendered both as a blessing and as a command, also plays a large role in the Old Testament. After the flood, Noah’s family is instructed to “be fruitful and multiply.” Genealogies, which are nothing if not signifiers of fecundity, occupy a massive space in numerous Old Testament books. The narrative of the text frequently stops dead for pages and pages while a list unfolds before our eyes of who begat whom. (To be fair, two of the New Testament Gospels also feature genealogies; however, in their case the context is quite different, as I intend to argue in a bit.)
Generally speaking, across the entirety of the Old Testament, from the first chapter of Genesis through the final verse of Malachi, marriage and reproduction are ubiquitously-invoked and universally held in high-esteem. God’s will is broadly understood to work through the conjugal union of man and wife, the better to populate the earth.
THE NEW TESTAMENT ETHOS: ‘BETTER NOT TO MARRY’
With the New Testament Gospels, and the Epistles which follow, however, a radical shift is clearly afoot. Even in its most putatively pro-marriage passages, the New Testament is notably tepid in tone when speaking of the supposed advisability of wedlock.
Nowhere, in fact, do we find a discussion of marital relations displayed in a “carnal” light in a manner that would imply that spiritual improvement is a likely result of a conjugal coalition.
Nor are there any married “characters of note” in the entirety of the text, with the one notable exception of the married pair Joseph and Mary; however, the union of these two is more than just an instance of an exception proving the rule; instead, it is notable for being marked by an absence of carnal relations.
Mary, after all, has been impregnated through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit; thus, she is a wife and mother who has never copulated. And Mary is married to a husband who likewise never engaged in that activity to which many in our day refer, with a strange combination of euphemism and ominous portentousness, as “it.” (e.g., “They did it,” meaning, “They had sex.”)
Thus, Joseph and Mary’s marriage is one in which husband and wife never “do it.” Though of course perfectly legitimate marriage (having been sanctified by no less than the Third Person of the Holy Trinity), one must still note that it was a marriage was never consummated. Yet was the Holy Family less of a true family? Was it not, rather, a prototype of the most perfect family; indeed, a family of saints, through which God was fit to render himself manifest to the world?
Andy Nowicki, assistant editor of Alternative Right, is the author of eight books, including Under the Nihil, The Columbine Pilgrim, Considering Suicide, and Beauty and the Least. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so. His author page is Alt Right Novelist.com