Expert Opinion on

missionary dating

Eureka! I decided that rather than argue once removed with some mysterious "expert on missionary dating," I would read an actual expert to see how he takes Paul. I won't say we agree, because that would be like comparing apples with oranges—I'm no expert—, but his teaching is certainly compatible with my thoughts on the subject—per my previous answer. I will say that he parses up the Corinthian letters in a peculiar way which other experts don't even agree with—and on which he himself does not even insist—, but as that is not the real issue, I shall skip it.


JOHANNES WEISS was one of the ablest New Testament scholars of this century. His work has become recognized classic and is used in universities and seminaries throughout the world.

... A long and important article in the Archiv für Religionswissenschaft for 1913, 'The Problem of the Rise of Christianity,' together with his Commentary on First Corinthians (1910; ninth edition in the Meyer series), and his voluminous works on the gospels, laid the foundation of what was to be his greatest work, The History of Primitive Christianity, the second part of which now lies before us in the present translation.

... Professor Weiss's writings were characterized not only by wide and accurate knowledge and by a clear and readable style, but also by a sympathetic understanding of opposed, even alien points of view, and by genuine religious insight. For him, theology was more than a science dealing with facts. To be sure, the facts were indispensable, and as a scientist his method was sound and trustworthy; but theology was also an art and dealt with religious values, which he succeeded in unfolding and interpreting with rare skill. He placed little reliance upon formulas, and insisted upon getting inside the inner structure of every system of ideas with which he dealt—for example, Jewish Apocalyptic, or the religious experience and teachings of the Apostle Paul. He never overlooked the paramount fact that in dealing with early Christianity and its literature (chiefly the surviving books contained in the New Testament) we are dealing with the history and literature of a living religion: vital once, and still 'alive and on the march' today. He makes the pages of the New Testament live, for many readers, as never before; and he does this because for him the New Testament has never lost its newness—there are still fresh discoveries to be made on every page! ... He was a realist, not a theorist, in his writing of history. And as a realist he recognized fully the deep significance, the powerfully moving and determinative influence of what we vaguely designate today as 'religious experience.' Hence in his hands the beginnings of Christianity remain the beginnings of a religion, not of some social-economic or ethical or humanitarian movement; and among his personal qualifications for the task of interpreting those origins, religious insight, equipped and sustained by adequate scientific knowledge, stood easily first. Hence the unity of the picture he sketches. And hence likewise the penetrating psychology: Christianity was for him no mere system of ideas, however impressive or sublime; it was from the outset a living, personal faith—in short, a religion. It is no wonder then that this great work on Earliest Christianity is still looked upon as one of the two or three most important treatises ever written upon the subject.

So I've got here an expert on earliest Christianity who is in the top two or three in the world. Maybe his opinion will count for more than mine. We agree perfectly on the following:
Another reason for the difficulty in understanding the epistles lies in the fact that the author on the whole presents his material, as in Galatians, II Corinthians, and Colossians, in positive, sharply formulated, contrasted points of view, claims and counter-claims. What these are may occasionally be discerned in the form of allusions, but not with sufficient frequency and often without sufficient clearness, in most cases without verbally and precisely reproducing the positions which he is attacking. We can therefore neither discern his opponents' attitude nor entirely understand the author's opposition to it. But what does this imply? Not, in any case, that the first readers could not understand them either. On the contrary, they must have seen the precise meaning of the allusions, the answers, the cut and thrust as it were, otherwise all this writing would have been just a sorry fencing with shadows. The occasional character of these writings becomes apparent from these observations; they were struck out on the spur of the moment, they had their origin in quite definite historical situations, they were anything but 'literature' meant for the future and for general publication or essays with a universal appeal. Hence, it is really letters that lie before us, written in reply to letters from churches (I Cor. 7:1).
—Johannes Weiss, Earliest Christianity347
If we compare the preface of the NIV™ to the foreword of the J.B. Phillips Version, and to a lecture on the science of translating, we'll see how some go wrong on that concept. When Paul was trying to straighten out the Corinthians, was he aware that he was writing the Bible, taking care that all seeming inconsistencies were dealt with? Or was he using an image of yoked oxen familiar to their agrarian society without concern for how it would all look in some distant future when that familiarity was lost?

What's happened is we start with a vague concept of yoked animals and then try to iron out all seeming inconsistencies in Paul's letters without regard for how the Corinthians themselves would have seen it, and without regard for harmonizing it with the rest of the canon of which these two letters are but a part, and so we end up with the NIV's rendering. I think it must go like this: Paul says mixed marriages are sanctified, then he tells us not to be unequally yoked which looks like he's telling us not to marry an unbeliever after all, so we'll just make "only in the Lord" refer to marrying a Christian so that way we've harmonized the two sayings. God will sanctify the marriages entered into before conversion, and once one is converted he will obey the commandment not to marry an unbeliever. This is what Paul must have meant, so we'll reword our translations that way with confidence in our studied effort. Bravo!

Okay, let's try something now. Let's put "unequally yoked" in modern terms.

The essence of conflict seems to be disagreement, contradiction, or incompatibility. Thus, conflict refers to any situation in which there are incompatible goals, cognitions, or emotions within or between individuals or groups that lead to opposition or antagonistic interaction.  This definition recognizes three basic types of conflict:
—Hellriegel, Slocum & Woodman, Organizational Behavior349
     §  Goal conflict is a situation in which desired end states
         or preferred outcomes appear to be incompatible.

     §  Cognitive conflict is a situation in which ideas or
         thoughts are inconsistent.

     §  Affective conflict is a situation in which feelings or
         emotions are incompatible; that is, people literally
         become angry with one another.
Let's try to apply them one at a time to modern situations: "Goal conflict is a situation in which desired end states or preferred outcomes appear to be incompatible."
He could still remember the day of her graduation, summa cum laude, in Hebrew studies. Raful had stood side by side with her mother, tears streaming down both their faces, while the strains of "Hatikva" floated beautifully, gravely, above the throng; dinner afterward; the stunning blow she had delivered over nightcaps in the Baka apartment: no government service, not one hour on a kibbutz, no boyfriends, no life in Israel ...  but to London!  She would go to London, there to study fashion design and spend the rest of her life making clothes for rich Goyim.

The war between them had been long, one of the few Raful ever lost.

—John Trenhaile, Blood Rules350
In our times lifestyles are goals. The government seeks to promote certain lifestyles that Christians oppose, which resulted in conflict when the Salvation Army in California agreed to benefits for domestic partners and the Christians supporting that ministry withdrew their support.

What about goal conflicts in marriage? Well, the ultimate goal of marriage is children, and Paul in 1st Corinthians 7 said the children of a mixed marriage are holy, which means the marriage itself is sanctified, so we go to the next conflict: "Cognitive conflict is a situation in which ideas or thoughts are inconsistent." Certainly the ideas and thoughts of homosexuals/cohabitants are different from those of Christians. And in marriage if one spouse is a Christian and the other is not, then their thoughts and ideas would not be the same either. Yes, but in Paul's epistle he puts forth the hope that the unbelieving spouse would be converted and then his or her thoughts would conform to the other's. That leaves us: "Affective conflict is a situation in which feelings or emotions are incompatible; that is, people literally become angry with one another." As for marriage, if the two people can't stand each other, we wouldn't expect them to get hitched, now, would we? And if the unbeliever is not pleased to stay, he or she may depart in peace, says Paul.

In modern terms of conflict we can see how the Salvation Army's compromise results in conflict in ways that we cannot apply to mixed marriages to condemn them.

Okay, let's now take a look at a situation of the Corinthians where they could apply the "unequally yoked" teaching, and with their understanding of yoked oxen, we'll see if it would tend to forbid them mixed marriages.

At the time of his letter to the Corinthians, sin was rampant in Corinth. In fact, idol worship was rampant. Towering above the ruins of old Corinth is a two-thousand-foot-high mountain fortress called Acrocorinth. In Paul's day, the Temple of Aphrodite sat atop that hill. Aphrodite, goddess of fertility, was worshipped by the people of the day. In Aphrodite's temple, as many as a thousand prostitute priestesses would carry on their immoral activities, all in the name of worship, of course. History records that these prostitute priestesses would walk through the streets of Corinth, wearing specially designed sandals that left the words Follow me imprinted in the sand. Many citizens of Corinth did just that. They followed the priestesses to the high places, where their pagan temple was located, and they "worshipped" Aphrodite——an excuse to commit adultery, idolatry, and immorality.
—Greg Laurie, The Great Compromise351

How would poor Joe Christian struggling with that kind of sin apply Paul's exhortation not to be unequally yoked, seeing he is actually familiar with yoked oxen? Well, we see from a historical novel:352

...the oxen...are symbols of friendship and goodness, because every ox at his work turns to seek his companion at the plow; if by chance the partner is absent at that moment, the ox calls him with affectionate lowing. Oxen learn obediently to go back by themselves to the barn when it rains, and when they take refuge at the manger, they constantly stretch their necks to look out and see whether the bad weather has stopped, because they are eager to resume work.
By that book "if by chance the partner is absent, the ox calls him with affectionate lowing" and from the quote above "prostitute priestesses would walk through the streets of Corinth, wearing specially designed sandals that left the words 'Follow me' imprinted in the sand." From the library book, the oxen "are eager to resume work," and from the above quote, "Many citizens of Corinth ... followed the priestesses to the high places." So when Joe Christian with a priestess is doing "immoral activities, all in the name of worship," and he remembers Paul's exhortation that all worship is not the same worship, couching it in terms of unequally yoked oxen, I'd say that Corinthian Christian is going to know exactly what Paul is talking about.

How will he extricate himself? Well, he remembers Paul's letter that says marriage is a way to avoid fornication. Fine. In Corinth where Christians are a real minority, he does have at least one marriage option, but to an unbeliever. That's fine too, according to Paul's letter. Maybe he marries her to avoid immorality, and maybe she becomes a Christian herself through association with his people. At any rate, he is not going to see the unequally-yoked exhortation as opposed to mixed marriage.

Our modern rendering of conflicts does not oppose mixed marriage as biblically taught, and the way Paul phrased it does not oppose mixed marriage as the Corinthians would have understood it in their situation. The way I see it being applied to oppose them is by sleight-of-hand using our very vagueness about both the conditions in Corinth and an agrarian symbol. I don't think we can do that, at least not without some sound corroborating parallel passages.

Looking at Weiss:353

Here in the section II Cor. 6:14-7:1 in rigorous fashion a thorough breach with heathenism is demanded. At the same time it is so clearly stated that it is heathenism itself with which Christians should have nothing more to do, that Paul could scarcely have interpreted this letter as is done in I Cor. 5:11, viz. that he had only required a break with Christian brethren who act in this way.

Neither Weiss nor I want to use the "unequally yoked" passage to countermand what Paul allows—worldwise liaisons, mixed marriages—in First Corinthians.

I made the point that the equally yoked marriage relationship epitomized by Aquila and Priscilla gets no mention in Paul's reply to marriage questions, only in the salutations at the end of I Corinthians. That's consistent with Weiss.

The Second Period of Paul's Missionary Activity

7. Corinth354

Paul then arrived at Corinth alone (Acts-18), probably because he knew that he would find companions there. He got lodging and work with a fellow countryman and fellow craftsman, Aquila. In accordance with its cursory and casual method of recording events, the Book of Acts does not disclose to us whether or not the Jew from Pontus and his wife Priscilla (Prisca in I Cor. 16:19, Cor. 16:3) were already Christians when they came from Rome, or whether they were won over to Christianity at this time by Paul. In them, at any rate, the Apostle gained true and valuable friends. Both at Ephesus (Acts 18:26, I Cor. 16:19) and at Rome (Cor. 16:3), their well-to-do home was a base of operations for the church, and when Paul's life was threatened, they intervened at the risk of their own lives; hence all the churches of the Gentiles are under obligation to them (Cor. 16:5f). His taking up quarters with a Jew proves once more that he has not renounced his mission to his countrymen in the Dispersion, but has sought out the Gentiles from the synagogue as a base. At Corinth, however, this strategy came to an abrupt end, although, or it may be because he had won for the Gospel Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and his whole household.
If "in them the Apostle gained true and valuable friends," and "all the churches of the Gentiles are under obligation to them," why did Paul not use them as an example of marriage, if equally yoked marriages are the end-all in Christianity? He mentioned Crispus as an example of baptism (I Cor. 1:14). My thoughts are right in line with the expert.

Okay, let's see how the expert treats the actual passage on (mixed) marriage in First Corinthians.

It is not true that fornication is something that concerns the body only; not only the lower members of the body, but the whole body as the form and mode of the personality, indeed the personality itself, which has been called to eternal life, this unity of body and spirit is involved in it; and this body, this personality, belongs in the case of Christians no longer to themselves but to their exalted Lord. Christ is dishonored if the Christian is joined with a harlot. Therefore 'flee fornication' (6:18; cf. 10:14), keep out of the way of temptation. This section forms a complete parallel to the one on idolatry (10:1-23). There is correspondence not only in the earnest, serious tone of the whole, but especially in the profound religious argument that fellowship with the exalted Lord is violated by participation in idolatry and fornication. Hence we assign 6:12-20 also tentatively to the first letter.

The letter of the Corinthians which presents to the apostle objections and scruples about marriage seems to have been the answer to these statements. From Paul's words that intercourse with a harlot cannot be reconciled with a Christian's communion with his Lord, it could be inferred that a Christian ought not to be married or, at least, ought not to live as husband or wife. This application of the argument could be made all the more readily since Paul had made use of the ancient word at creation, "the twain shall become one flesh" (6:17). In any case, as we learn from ch. 7, a movement was set on foot in which the ascetic demand was made that a Christian should not touch a woman, and it was held essential that there should either be a divorce or at least a cessation of matrimonial intercourse, especially in the case of mixed marriages. In other cases continence or the institution of spiritual betrothals or virgin marriages was recommended. These questions Paul answered in detail in an essay on marriage in which each problem was carefully discussed. We will not here follow Paul in detail, but will only mention his two guiding principles in the discussion. In principle, he takes his stand on the side of the ascetic movement; in this matter he has not the slightest sympathy with the libertines: it is, he argues, best to remain unmarried in any case (7:1,7f,26,32ff,37,40), not only on account of the urgent need of the time (vs. 26) which the unmarried will endure more easily (vs. 28) than the married, but especially on religious grounds, since the married cannot have that ardent concentrated devotion to the Lord (vs. 35) which is now the Christian's ideal, even though they attempt 'to have their wives as though they had none' (vs. 29). Paul however well knows that this cannot be demanded of all, since not everyone has (like himself, vs. 7) the gift of continence, and a violent repression of desire in the case of the married leads to still greater temptation (vs. 5) and to breaches of propriety which should be just as little tolerated (vs. 35). So from his practical knowledge of human nature, he recommends a normal married life even if he considers it here only as a protection against fornication (7:2-5). Here he puts the matter on lower grounds than in I Thess. 4:4f. He quite decidedly prohibits divorce, which of course had been forbidden by a saying of the Lord (7:10f,39). In a case of mixed marriage, a dissolution should under no circumstances originate with the Christian partner, but no compulsion should be used if the unbelieving partner chooses to go. A new marriage should only be contracted 'in the Lord' (7:39). The discussion of spiritual betrothals or virgin marriages occupies a great deal of space (7:25-28,36ff). Here, too, he is sufficiently broadminded and practical to dissuade from anything unnatural and overstrained, and in a case where this difficult relationship for one reason or another cannot be carried out, to recommend marriage either with one another or with another, and this in spite of the high opinion which he elsewhere expresses in favor of self-chosen virginity. In other cases he adopts the point of view that Christians, generally speaking, should not change the condition in which they were at their call (7:17-24), for the purpose in their call is just this, that Christians should await the Kingdom of God in whatever condition they may happen to be. Thus we see the Apostle striving to give practical, elastic and individual solutions for those difficult moral and religious problems which arose for the heathen who had entered the church, solutions that would be consistent with the main fundamental requirements of purity and sanctity. In his wholly unsystematic way, he foreshadows a settled system of Christian ethics and of statutory canon law.355

One of the conditions youth must eventually deal with is emerging sexuality, to prepare for eventual marriage if that is their calling. They face numerous difficulties in this world.

Who can lay down the rules?356 —    Physicians, teachers, ministers and parents are often called upon to establish definite rules for the conduct of the unmarried. When such questions come up they must be answered freely and honestly, but before they can be so answered, the instructor must know what he is talking about. The whole subject of sexual science has been so neglected, its essentials have been so clouded in mystery and modesty, that not one man or woman in ten actually does know what he is talking about when he attempts to give advice.
I've seen a lot of ministries try; I've been in some of them, and I haven't liked all their approaches.
In most Jesus People groups, courtship was often discouraged and tightly regulated. Our data seems to indicate that courtship eventually loosened up a bit in Shiloh with most of those marrying after 1975. ... It is not surprising then that over a decade and a half later there are a few retrospective thunderous complaints about how male/female relations were handled in Shiloh in the 1970's. There is, however, only one report of "sexual misconduct" from any of our respondents in either Highway Missionary Society, House of Elijah, or Shiloh.
—Joe V. Peterson357
Mine was one of the "retrospective thunderous complaints about how male/female relations were handled." If "not one man or woman in ten actually does know what he is talking about when he attempts to give advice" applies to experts—it does—, then being one of the top three is no guarantee either. I have earlier submitted some opinions on the widow marrying "only in the Lord" that do not conform to this top expert's seeming misapplication of a saying out of context, against which some of us hold a strong complaint.

Paul's viewpoint is, (I Tim. 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." In that case giving "practical, elastic and individual solutions" for the widow, he would be expected to say, (I Cor. 7:39) "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." He did not specifically tell her—as the NIV™ mistranslates—to marry only to another Christian, and this individual restraint is not even mentioned for the other cases in the chapter, especially not where our top expert has applied it to the discussion of mixed marriage. That is my loud complaint.

As my earlier answer suggested, and as our expert here even agrees, once we remove the widow statement to its proper context, the betrothal—or even modern playing the field or whatever—belongs to the "other" category covered in principle if not in specifics, "In other cases he [Paul] adopts the point of view that Christians, generally speaking, should not change the condition in which they were at their call (7:17-24), for the purpose in their call is just this, that Christians should await the Kingdom of God in whatever condition they may happen to be." If I am a heathen playing the field and I become a Christian, to remain as I am called is not to all of a sudden restrict my pool of possibilities to the few who are chosen, but to stay with the many who are called, whence missionary dating.

According to our expert, Paul "is sufficiently broadminded and practical to dissuade from anything unnatural and overstrained, and in a case where [a] difficult relationship for one reason or another cannot be carried out, to recommend marriage." If I am dating around and we fall in love, it would be unnatural and overstrained to stay apart, so we would marry. Therefore I would not want to date from a class I would never want to marry into. After the disruption in my extended family due to my sister's elopement with a colored, I figure I myself would not add to it by ever marrying a Negress, so I would not date one in the first place. But that is a personal decision, and I don't see why I should restrict myself further to automatically never marry (date) someone nonchristian—certainly not from Paul's teaching.

Now to think about the circumcision and servanthood comments. Our expert characterizes Paul's 1st Cor. 7 as a response to an earlier "letter of the Corinthians presenting to the apostle objections and scruples about marriage." What scruples about marriage relate to circumcision or what objections about it to servanthood? Let's see.

When Paul ironically calls them 'ministers of righteousness,' we can discern the whole system of legal religion as the basis of their program. To be sure, it is certain that they did not put forward the demand for circumcision, for the way in which Paul speaks in I Cor. 7:18 of the possibility that a Christian might let himself be circumcised, shows that this matter was not a subject of serious controversy at Corinth. He could not have spoken of it so quietly and incidentally if it had still been a question which threatened the very foundation of his Gospel. So, too, the question of the imposition of the rest of the Law is nowhere raised, not even in the discussion of meat offered to idols. Furthermore, it can hardly be assumed that far-reaching legal demands could still be made on the Gentile Christians in the name of Peter, after he had yielded to Paul at Jerusalem on the question of freedom from circumcision and later on had rejected the extreme Judaistic requirements.358
This is a painful subject, to take circumcision down to the level of the Corinthian debate. Their bickering over whose leader was best must have descended to the level of, "Mine is bigger that yours," or to be precise, on whether to circumcise or uncircumcise their "yardsticks" for some perceived superiority. Somehow that affected the squeamish women among them (witness Zipporah and Moses) and ultimately their marriageability. It's not that we've never seen such issues:

"As always, Olga's incisive eyes went right to the critical detail and detected that the corpse was circumcised—recently. My sources in the Jewish community tell me the ritual was dropped here ages ago, but it's—"

"Indeed. The day your heroes in the Kremlin outlawed religion."

"—but it's become somewhat mandatory for men who've emigrated to Israel. Sort of a barbaric, middle-age rite of passage, if you will." His face twists with imagined pain. "No wonder you've chosen to remain here, rather than join them."

"Come on, you'd be lost without me."

—Greg Dinallo, Red Ink359

Here is a fictionalized account of Michal's squeamishness over her bride price of a hundred (200) foreskins of the Philistines:

Now, under Solomon there is peace. David defeated all our enemies so thoroughly that Solomon can reign in peace, erect his stately buildings, and spread his fame as the wisest of kings. Formerly—when I was a child and my father ruled—the outcome of battle was often uncertain and the women lived in constant fear: Would they ravish us? Carry us off to slavery? Do away with us?

Even before we had settled in Canaan, the Philistines had been there. A people that had come from over the sea, that lived on the coast. Not without culture, but foreign, different from us, with different features, with other customs, other gods. We called them the foreskinned ones, scornfully, disparagingly, as if it were a disgrace that their men still had what was taken away from our little boys with a flint knife.

"Do you want her, shepherd?" asks Saul without looking at David. A cattle merchant at market. If you want to buy the cow, that's fine, if not, that's fine too. David says with restraint: "I love Michal, but I am a poor and lowly man. With what shall I pay the bride price?" Father smiles. Like a block of stone the smile closes out my happiness. Saul knits his brow, has a puffy, sly face. "I do not want a bride price from my musician. It suffices if he brings me the foreskins of a hundred Philistines." He is using me as a noose that is to tighten around David's neck. I perceive my own scream as if another had uttered it. No one pays attention to it. Let the women scream. Their way of meddling in the affairs of men.

David bows with the grace that is his: "As my king commands."

I cannot prevent him from marching out at the head of his troop of a thousand men. "He will return," says Jonathan. "Jahwe is with him." I see in his disturbed face that he is not so sure. "Jahwe is with him," I repeat despairingly and no longer believe that there is a Jahwe.

I do not take the foreskins literally. A figure of speech. But I will not be bought by David with a hundred slain Philistines. With the tears of a hundred weeping women. I do not want to be bought at all.

My poor flayed love. And the feeling that I have missed the moment to keep from having myself bought.

He returns. After just a few days. It is evening, we are sitting, as we do most of the time now, around Saul's throne, which he hardly leaves anymore, as if another might quickly sit on it in his absence. The oil lamps have been lighted, in the fireplace fragrant cedar wood is burning. David goes quickly up to Saul, two of his men drag in a basket, set it down. "My king," he says with a strange voice, "I bring the bride price. Not a hundred, that strikes me as really too little for a king's daughter, but two hundred Philistine foreskins." He opens the basket and, counting loudly, begins to take out one blood-smeared penis after the other and set them down in front of the throne.

I wish I would faint, but I would not even object to falling over dead. But I do not faint, nor do I die, not visibly to the others, but within me everything that I have been dies at this moment. I hear David counting on and on with his new voice: "...seventy four, seventy-five, seventy-six ..." Then my stomach churns, I have vomit in my mouth, run out, down the stairs, stand in front of the palace, spit out until finally all I retch up is acidly fluid. Think: were they still alive when their penises were cut off, want to know, and do not want to know, and am certain that I will never find out. Exhausted I lean against the wall.

The following day I am wedded to the one whom I have so much wished for myself. Two blood-stained children, we stand before the altar.

My father has given me a house as a wedding present, on the edge of Gibeah. We move in on the evening of our wedding day, the marriage bed stands ready and puffed up. When the maids have taken away my jewelry and veil and have departed after undressing me down to the shirt of soft linen, I lie down. How happy I should have been, how humiliated I am. Softly David enters, a small knife in his hand. Says laughingly that he must cut my finger, so that, according to tradition, he can throw a bloody cloth out of the window as a sign of the consummated marriage. "Give it here," I say, cut my thumb deeply and let the blood drop on a cloth that he holds out to me.

He lies down next to me, embraces and kisses me, I permit it without feeling, a wife must serve her husband, I have heard that since I was a little girl, that is deep-seated, but when he wants to penetrate me with his member, I see the blood-smeared penises again, revulsion seizes me, despair, and I thrust him away.

He does not understand, wants to take me by force, does not succeed, I have immense strength tonight. At first he tries lovingly, then he becomes enraged, strikes me, chokes me. Finally he leaves me alone, throws the bloody cloth out the window, laughing loudly, murmured approval drifts up from those awaiting down below. Lies, deceit; and I begin to cry uncontrollably. He fetches his shepherd's flute and plays. If he had not taken the knife away from me I would try to kill myself, perhaps him, too, I do not know.

The music stops, he lies down beside me and now he is crying too. I stop crying, stroke and comfort him as a mother does her child, tell him that I love him, sometime my revulsion will pass, I am sure of that. "David, my dearest, have patience, give me time, I will give you a son who is blond like you, dark-eyed like I am, a great singer, a prince to whom people will bow because he has brought them peace." He is no longer weeping. "Why do you say a prince? I am a singer and a warrior, and my son will also be a singer and a warrior." "You, David will be king over Israel."

What am I saying? What have I done? Betrayed Jonathan. I could scream, my words hurt me so much, but some sort of strength—Jahwe? Not Jahwe?—makes me believe in them. I, too, see David with a crown, he will wear it, the shepherd boy, the harp and flute player, the unsullied one who ... cuts the penises off two hundred men or has them cut off.

Mother looked at me searchingly from time to time. Did she sense that things were not at their best between David and me? But when she asked me over and over: Nothing yet? I realized that she was only concerned about my becoming pregnant as quickly as possible. It appeared shameful to her to have a barren daughter. ...

I went often to old Eleazar, I trusted him. He took me and my troubles seriously. "Now you are disgusted," he explained, "time will heal. But you must talk about it with David."

I tried again and again. In vain. David did not understand me. Considered me a prude and thought I just needed to lie down and let him into me, he would put up with the fact that I had no desire, what mattered to him was the child. Our child, he said gently, your prince. But even this dream that had originated in the despair of the wedding night had passed. Then he became angry and cursed: "Your damned father, that fool who wanted the foreskins and I, the fool who brought them to him."

I said: I cannot and he said: you can. Tried to break me with harshness. I could not be broken because I had already been broken. He did not see that. He did not see anything any longer that lay beyond his world. And it was narrow: no world, but a road that led straight to power. Of the labyrinth he would have to go through before becoming king, he had no inkling.

—Grete Weil, Der Brautpreis360
I don't think David in fact coveted the crown, and there is nothing in the scriptural account itself that would force me to conclude Michal was so squeamish, but the nexus of quest for power and squeamishness over some foreskin(s) seems reminiscent of Paul's reply to the Corinthians where he has in fact the serious concern of old Eleazar in listening to their troubles and giving them good advice. His advice to these men is to stay as they are, circumcised or uncircumcised, not to change their condition as they have no good valid reason for doing so.

Here is a historical fiction account of a circumcision with the approval of the wife, the uncircumcised being disapproved of:

And so I eagerly beheld for the first time the legendary pages of the Book of Festivities, which recounted the circumcision ceremonies of Our Sultan's prince. When I was still in Persia, I heard stories about his fifty-two-day circumcision ceremony wherein people from all occupations and all guilds, all of Istanbul, had participated, indeed at a time when the book that memorialized the great event was yet being prepared.
circumcision ceremony

In the first picture placed before me, fixed in the royal enclosure of late Ibrahim Pasha's palace, Our Sultan, the Refuge of the World, gazed upon the festivities in the Hippodrome below with a look that bespoke His satisfaction. His face, even though not so detailed as to permit one to distinguish Him from others by features alone, was drawn adeptly and with reverence. As for the right side of the double-leaf picture showing Our Sultan on the left, there were viziers, pashas, Persian, Tartar, Frankish and Venetian ambassadors standing in the arched colonnades and windows. Because they were not sultans, their eyes were drawn hastily and carelessly and focused on nothing in particular besides the general commotion in the square. Later, I noticed in other pictures that the same arrangement and page composition repeated—even though the wall ornamentation, the trees, the terra-cotta shingles were depicted in different styles and colors. Once the text was written out by scribes, the illustrations completed and the book bound; the reader, turning pages, would each time see completely different activities in completely different colors in the Hippodrome which remained under the same watchful gazes of the Sultan and His crowd of guests—who always stood identically, forever gazing at the same area below.

There before me I saw people scrambling for hundreds of bowls of pilaf that were placed in the Hippodrome; I saw the live rabbits and birds emerge out of the roast ox and startle the crowd that descended upon it. I saw the master coppersmiths' guild riding in a wheeled cart before Our Sultan, its members hammering away at copper but never striking the one among them lying in the cart with the anvil balanced on his bare chest. I saw glaziers embellishing glass with carnations and cypresses as they paraded before Our Sultan in a wagon; confectioners reciting sweet poems as they drove camels laden with sacks of sugar and displayed cages holding sugar-parrots; and aged locksmiths who showed off a variety of hanging locks, padlocks, dead bolts and gearlocks as they complained of the evils of new times and new doors. Butterfly, Stork and Olive had worked on the picture that depicted the magicians: One of them was causing eggs to march down a pole without dropping them—as if on a broad slab of marble—to the beat of a tambourine played by another. In one wagon I saw precisely how Sea-Captain Kiliç Ali Pasha had forced the infidels he'd captured at sea to make an "infidels' mountain" out of clay; he'd then loaded all the slaves into the cart, and when he was right before the Sultan, he'd exploded the powder within the "mountain" to demonstrate how he'd made infidel lands wail and moan with cannon fire. I saw clean-shaven butchers wielding cleavers, wearing rose- and purple-colored uniforms and smiling at the pink carcasses of skinned sheep hanging from hooks. The spectators applauded lion tamers who'd brought a chained lion before Our Sultan, provoking and enraging it until its eyes shone bloodred with rage; and on the next page, I saw the lion, representing Islam, chase away a gray-and-pink pig, symbolizing the cunning Christian infidel. I indulged my eyes at length on a picture of a barber suspended upside down from the ceiling of a shop built onto a cart, as he shaved a customer while his assistant, dressed in red, held a mirror and a silver bowl containing fragrant soap, waiting for baksheesh; I inquired after the identity of the magnificent miniaturist responsible for the piece.

"It is indeed important that a painting, through its beauty, summon us toward life's abundance, toward compassion, toward respect for the colors of the realm which God created, and toward reflection and faith. The identity of the miniaturist is not important."


He said he wanted to see the last pages I'd illustrated. I seated him at my worktable, among the paints, inkwells, burnishing stones, brushes, pens and reed-cutting boards. Black was examining the double-leaf painting I was in the process of completing for the Book of Festivities, which portrayed Our Prince's circumcision ceremony, and I sat beside him on the red cushion whose warmth reminded me that my beautiful wife with her gorgeous thighs had been sitting here recently; indeed, I had used my reed pen to draw the sorrow of the unfortunate prisoners before Our Sultan, as my intelligent wife clung to the reed of my manhood.

—Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red361
The sorrow of the uncircumcised prisoners was a turn-on to the wife whose husband had the right kind of reed. Paul, however, seems to downplay this physical sign and doesn't want us to traumatize ourselves either way to present our wives with the proper reed. It's more important to keep God's commands than to fiddle with such a sign.

Anyway, in the spirit of the whole man, I have applied this teaching to not traumatizing ourselves emotionally by breaking up with our love interests upon becoming a Christian, but to focus on keeping God's commandments.

Now, for servitude.

Paul in general treats the church as entirely Gentile (I Cor. 12:2), only occasionally (7:18) considering the Jewish minority which certainly existed. It was quite predominately composed of the dregs of the population, the lower elements which were without culture and social importance; slaves and laborers were in the vast majority; it was in fact the kind of population one would expect in a sea-port town.362
Paul occasionally considered the Jewish minority which certainly existed, and the population was composed mostly of slaves and laborers. (Exodus 21:1-6) "Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." So what would becoming a Christian mean to a Hebrew servant, who had a wife provided by his Hebrew master, and who in the course of time would be set free in the seventh year, leaving behind his wife and children with his master, unless he at that time made himself a bondservant forever in which case he would remain with master and family? How could that question not have come up with the other marriage-related ones?

I am not saying my own application here to the scriptural remaining in one's calling as being free in the seventh year because God has liberated us for him is the most direct one we could find, but it does have relevance: that just as God's grace can operate in two different ways for free and bond, so can it operate in two different ways for both mixed and unmixed marriages, and just as being Christ's freeman takes precedence over the supposed many objections of the brethren regarding the servant wife he has left behind, so the liberty of mixed dating and/or mixed marriage takes precedence over the vocal objections of the brethren.

The NIV™ by treating Paul's letters as some treatise that he wrote for the general public, mixes up some concepts that were not written to go together, and so the translators rewrite the expected requirement that a widow not marry wantonly against Christ to say something Paul never intended, but it goes along with the thinking of seemingly more than nine out of ten Christians who get it wrong anyway. In the middle of this the NIV™ completely reworks the concept of virgin marriages to statements addressing modern situations. Thus the NIV's teaching on marriage matters is in large part worthless, and since recognizing an authority in spiritual matters would mean I had agreed that the NIV™ rules well in family matters, I must reject it spiritually as well.

I've hoped in this answer to set my reader's mind at ease that my case can be reconciled with the "expert" opinion once he gets the contexts right at a certain place.

Dating Questions, God's Answers
Questions of Greek scholarship, context, sanctification, dating, God's authority, & authority of the church
Yoked Together in Christian Ministry,
an attempt to sort out the confusion.
KJV | Context | Mixed Marriage
Comparing the KJV with modern English versions; looking at mixed marriage and being unequally yoked in their own contexts; proper handling of the word of God; vulnerability of widows addressed.
Parable of the Laborers
Episcopalians & diversity. Parable of the laborers.
Unequally Yoked Metaphor
"Unequally yoked" metaphor. New translations muddy the waters regarding a widow marrying "only in the Lord."
Holy Seed
Evil report & good report; King James Bible; "unequally yoked" examined; holy seed means sanctified marriage; marrying "only in the Lord"; Christian liberty; Corinthian epistles
Only in the Lord
"Only in the Lord" for a widow's remarriage; application to the times; sanctification of marriage; accuracy of Bible translations.
Breaking Up Blues
Breaking up is the pits.
Missionary Dating
Missionary dating; circular arguments; "expert" disagreeing opinions; Priscilla & Aquila; parallels in Paul's writing; spread of primitive Christianity; parable of the laborers.
Pauline Triads
Questions from Corinthian cultural framework; the expert's opinions; triads in Paul; courtship.
Expert Opinion
Eureka! An actual "expert;" the Corinthian's perspective; modern framework; Paul's thought.
Note on Paul's Triad
Note on the triad.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


Copyright © 2003, 2006, 2007 Earl S. Gosnell III Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this study--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I have used material from many sources for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The sources are included in notes. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

Passages taken from the Preface to the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION™. NIV™. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Any particular questions or requests for permissions may be addressed to me, the author.

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Expert Opinion on Missioinary Dating