Marriage in the Old Testament, Celibacy in the New Testament

Andy Nowicki

The passage below is taken from Andy Nowicki’s just released collection Ruminations of a Low-Status Male, Volume 2, now available for purchase (along with Volume 1) in paperback and on Kindle.


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).

Ruth-and-Boaz_0 (1)

Boaz and Ruth

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?

Ruminations of a Low-Status Male, Volume 2: Celibacy and Hypergamy

Andy Nowicki, assistant editor of Alternative Right, is the author of eight books, including Under the NihilThe Columbine PilgrimConsidering 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

5 comments

  • “..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” – having been under the roof of new-born-christian family member while (my self) being atheist/agnostic I can assure you there was no hyperbole in it the hate was real

    Like

  • An interesting take, but stops a little short. It ignores the number of times that Christ compared the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast. He seemed to enjoy the partying and even provided many gallons of extra wine to an earthly wedding feast. Also the supposed negativism of the New Testament concerning marriage and children sort of demands an explanation of how marriage got to be one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and why contraception is considered such a no-no. Maybe that is covered in the book.

    Like

    • No it’s not the “7 sacraments” like the “7 deadly sins” and much much more was invented in the Middle Ages(otherwise known as the Dark Ages), the Church has been making stuff up as they go along for the past 2000 years – not even the “Virgin Mary” was considered a virgin till many centuries after the fact

      Like

      • The Church was in the business of blessing marriages (or not) and making rules about marriage from apostolic times. There are several instances in the epistles of St. Paul. Even if a definitive list of 7 sacraments was not made until the Middle Ages (some of which were not so dark), the question of how the Church got from an allegedly anti-marriage and anti-natalist position to the opposite is one which I don’t think is adequately answered by claiming they just made stuff up as they went along. Why did they make up that particular stuff? Were they just returning to Old Testament Jewish roots? That would be implied by Andy’s analysis? Or is something else at work? Or is Andy perhaps mistaken in reading too much anti-marriage and anti-natalism into some of Our Lord’s statements?

        Kirt Higdon

        Like

  • The Gospels are full of platonist, essenian and kyón taste, which are quite antinatalist movements. The kyón philosophers were not only antinatalist but a bunch of jokers, counter cultural, “don´t give a damn” and “john” guys. Having fun with the “pornai” but never getting married. The proto MGTOW.

    Jesus was a white Mediterranean man, probably with Greek lineage, but Jewish religion. Or maybe he was pure Semite but with a strong Greek cultural influence.

    Regarding the dicotomy Old Testament-New Testament I think the Marcionist heresy nails it.

    Christianity is the background religion of Europe and Euro-descents due to Emperor Theodosius I, born in Cauca, Hispania, made it the one and only religion of the Roman Empire.

    Like