Friday, August 31, 2007

Blueboy, Every Nation / Morning Star International

The Blueboy story doesn't concern anyone particular famous. It also is borderline in terms of church discipline. The man involved volunterily quits the church and they later take action against him in a secular context. The church involved is Morning Star International which is now known as Every Nation.

Major points of interest:
  • The very explicit teachings regarding how this organization believes the mind is distorted and one should reason with their heart.
  • Blueboy discuss his ideas of love bombing vs. friendship and recruitment. The ideas aren't fully developed but he does provide examples.
  • Very explicit discussion of the God is a republican theme
  • The writer has a behaviorist perspective on the conversion experience, that behavior induces belief. While many Christians believe this with regard to morality its unusual to see it with respect to conversion from a still active Christian.
Blueboy is active in Factnet discussions. I will also invite him to join us here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Federal Vision and Catholicism

This is a discussion with David Hodges
on the connection between Federal Vision and Catholicism. David is the son in law of Steve Schlissel who along with Douglas Wilson, John Barach, Steve Wilkins "founded" the movement. About three years after the movement started, Dave Hodges and his wife Sarah Faith Hodges joined the Roman Catholic Church.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Kosher Was Khomeini?: The Case Against Religious Coercion

This is an essay by Shmuley Boteach from the early 1990s when he was an Oxford. Its always been one of my favorites and so I'm copying an abridged version here

.... Thus, when the students asked me to go and speak to the stall holders, I had no intention of disrupting these friendly terms, but rather to ask that they promote their own cause without needing to denigrate or scorn the cause of the Jewish students just across from them. Surely, there were aspects of Islam that were not militantly opposed to the existence of the State of Israel. But I met with a hostile response. We were told categorically that we had no right to interfere with what they were distributing.

When we pointed out that we felt we did have a right to oppose literature which could be used to incite hostility, even violence, to the Jewish and Zionist organisations at the University, one of their representatives picked up one of the tracts by Khomeini and began to read aloud of the Zionist crimes and vices which had to be eradicated.

Familial Origins in Iran

I told this student that my father was born and raised in Iran, specifically from the city of Ispahan. Although he has lived for many years in the United States, all his culture and mannerisms were still distinctively Iranian. I, therefore, could not support the views of the new Iranian leader which were so blatantly hostile toward the many such Jews around the world who loved Iran and had contributed so much to its society.

The student looked at me quizzically. 'You're a Rabbi, are you not?' I replied in the affirmative. ' 'Are you observant of your religion?' the Palestinian student inquired, to which I again responded in the affirmative. 'Then how could you not support this cleric who had done so much to rescue Iranian culture form Western atheism and the systematic destruction of religious belief that pervaded Iran before his rise to power.'

Divide and Conquer

This was a classic tactic. Divide and conquer. This clever student of course noticed that the six Jewish students surrounding me were not observant, they weren't wearing Yarmulkes. So better to establish how he had more in common with me, than even they, and thus obscure the real issue of his distribution of offensive material.

But the Jewish students standing in the wings seemed uneasy with his question. Perhaps I, as a Chassidic Jew, indeed shared the goals of my Arab counterpart. Did I too not share this zeal for religious observance spreading and dominating secular culture. I did not want to debate the issue here, where the issue was clearly a different one. But when we got back to our stall, defeated because they did nothing in response to our protests, I told the students that I would address his question that Friday night at our Centre, and ever since then I have been forced to return to the issue of religious coercion, and explain the Jewish view on the subject, on many occasions.

Khomeinism in a Jewish Guise

I should say that it not only serves as a response to Khomeinism and religious coercion in general, but to Israeli politics in particular. Anger at the Israeli religious establishment has been quite vociferously expressed at Oxford since I arrived. The idea that small religious parties should blackmail the Israeli government into enacting religious measures in order for them to join a ruling coalition is one of the greatest sources of anger pertaining to Jewish matters that I have seen displayed by friends and acquaintances. Even those who are most sympathetic to the Jewish religion in general, and to traditional Judaism in particular, feel that these efforts are counter-productive, and I tend to agree. While I would support enforcing the closure of businesses on the Sabbath, the same way England has legislation penalizing businesses from opening on Sunday, I completely oppose the mixing of religion and politics, for the reason this article demonstrates.

Rabbi Meir Kahane' Legacy

When I first arrived in Oxford, I became friendly with an extremely left-wing Israeli D.Phil student who was writing a paper on Kahanism. While he despised everything Rabbi Meir Kahane stood for, he had a soft-spot for religious tradition, and once asked me to explain the differences between the policies of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who clearly would like to see a more observant State of Israel, and those of Meir Kahane. 'It appears to me,' he told me, 'without wishing to be offensive, that the goals of your Rebbe and Rabbi Kahane are similar.'

'In many aspects,' I retorted, 'that may be so. But there is a fundamental difference which separates them. Whereas Kahane has set out to change governments, the Lubavitcher Rebbe has set out to change people, one at a time,' and this answer sufficed for him.

[I should mention that I had a great deal of respect for this student, because he didn't just talk about liberalism, but embodied it completely. He may have hated Kahane for his policies, but he was mature enough to separate that from any hatred of the man. When, two years later, I awoke to the BBC headlines that Rabbi Kahane was mercilessly gunned down by a Palestinian assassin, I called this student, who today teaches politics at Tel Aviv University, to tell him what had happened, and he was genuinely saddened. 'Shmuley,' he told me, 'I did not support a word he uttered. But he did not deserve this. Nobody deserves this.' Other students, who preach of how they value human life, and criticise the Israeli military for shooting Palestinian stone-throwers, openly chuckled and told jokes to each other, in my presence, when they heard the news.]

Khomeini Is a Serious Force Reckon With

For more than a decade an elderly sage with long white beard, traditional black head-dress, and passionate religious zealotry dominated world news in a manner equalled only by the State of Israel. He challenged the technologically advanced world we live in, and our appraisal of modern society and its meaning, by showing that a theocratic state, steeped in the uncompromising ways of ancient tradition, could sustain itself in relative stability despite its turbulent revolutionary beginnings. His name, of course, was Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, and although he is now gone,the legacy he left his people remains as strong as ever.

Upon hearing of his death, I myself breathed a sigh of relief even while watching with sympathy the intense grief and anguish of the Iranian people as they abused their bodies at the funeral processions for the Imam. As I observed this spectacle, a powerful question suddenly overcame me. Why was I, an observant Jew, along with the entire body of traditional Jewry, not more sympathetic to his cause? Here was a man, as the Arab student at the Polytechnic had argued, who had rescued the mores and zealotry of religion from the secular and acculturated values of the Shah's regime. He acted like a modern-day Maccabee, rescuing a traditionally religious people from the smouldering cauldron of hellenism, the by-product of which is often the moral decadence of an atheistic melting-pot. He took a westernized society committed to the spiritual suicide of the people and delivered religious belief from systematic liquidation. Are these not values to which Judaism also aspires?

Khomeini's reform and Transformation of Iranian Society

A brief examination of the Ayatollah's legacy will help clarify my inquiry. Khomeini denounced the immorality of Western civilization to the point where Western and immoral tended to become synonymous. 'Westernisation,' in his vivid language, meant "[a man] parading around the streets with a European hat on [his] head watching the naked girls" (i.e., the women in provocative Western dress).

The look up in origianl published version in Chai Today for this.IRP programme is required reading in Iranian schools and argues: "For decades our society has been consuming imported culture and education. In order to strengthen their political and economic imperialism, the world-devourers have used cultural imperialism." Therefore, Western patterns of life had to be eliminated in all areas: food habits, clothing fashions, architecture and city planning, education and manners.

In order to gain 'cultural independence,' Khomeini declared a 'cultural revolution' in the spring of 1980 (Khomeini's speech on 26 April, 1980) and established the 'Headquarters of Culture' to coordinate the effort.' To date, the government Islamisation programme has indeed affected nearly every area of life in Iran. Media, art and entertainment, clothing, and the family all became subject to moral regulations. Prostitution and pornography were of course totally outlawed, carrying with them severe punishments. The fundamentalist regime also imposed hijab (the Islamic code of dress) on women so that none could be immodestly attired. Western-dressed Iranian women were denounced as "cabaret dancers" by Khomeini. Even coeducational schools were outlawed having been classified as "houses of prostitution, and thought of adversely affecting the concentration of the student due to the emotional appeal of the opposite sex (NY Times, 22 April, 1979)."

Khomeini's regime converted the media, artistic expression, and films into morality exercises promoting religious culture and values. The IRP characterized the media as a 'university' for the education of the population. It declared that 'printing anti-religious ideas and beliefs is not permitted in Islamic society.' Radio and TV programmes were changed to reflect 'the true message' of religious life,' as well as 'art so that it be in conformity with genuine Islamic and religious themes.'

Watching Iranian television became the kind of experience any parent could trust would only serve to enhance a child's Islamic education, rather than exposing their son or daughter to secular violence and nudity. A typical day's broadcasting is as follows: Channel 1: 4:30 pm - Sign On; 4:35 - Verses of the Holy Koran; 4:45 - English News; 5:00 - Programme for children; 6:00 -Provincial News; 6:30 - Sports Report; 7:10 - Call To Prayer; 7:30 - Desert Architecture; 8:30 - Iranian and World News; 9:30 - Economics Programme; 11:00 - Programme in Arabic Channel 2: 10:00 - Sign On; 10:05 - Verses from the Koran; 10:10 - Children's Programme; 11:05 - Family Programme (lessons in sewing, child care); 16:45 - Sign on Again; 6:50 - Verses from the Koran; 7:00 - Cultural, Art and Economic News; 7:10 - Call to Prayer; 7:20 - Lessons in Arabic; 9:20 -Selection of Students by the university; 9:50 - Miscellaneous (cartoons, etc.); 21:50 - The Shrines of Iran; 22:30 - Iranian and World News.

The regime also monopolised all means of mass communication, banning secular papers in an attempt to prevent sexual perversion from infiltrating the country's consciousness. Religious songs became the principle musical expression, replacing rock and disco; mixed dancing was forbidden.

No one in Iran seems to doubt that since the Revolution, and the introduction of its fierce penalties, crime rates, and violent crime in particular, have dropped considerably. Iran at present enjoys one of the lowest urban crime rates of any country in the world.

Consonance with Jewish Goals

In striking similarity to the rudimentary principle of Judaism being a complete way of life, Khomeini's Iran represents a return, not simply to the ideals of Islam, but to the maximalist conception of it as a guide to the details, great and small, of everyday life. As it happens, Khomeini published his own commentary on these matters. In the 1950's, at the Faizieh Theological School in Qom, his reputation as a teacher was growing and people would write to him from all over Iran to ask his opinions on points of religion. These opinions were collated and turned into a book, which he published in 1960; after this he was entitled to refer to himself as an ayatollah.

The book, Towzhih al-Masa'il, or 'Explication of Problems', is a best-seller in Iran, an immense volume which contains more than three thousand rulings on the conduct of daily life and religious observances, from laws on inheritance to matters of personal cleanliness and the right way to slaughter animals.

Nothing was private enough to prevent Ayatollah Khomeini from laying down the law on it. In Western eyes, at any rate, it seems intrusive to describe the different varieties of bleeding in a woman's menstrual flow or to prescribe the correct way to face when defecating, and the correct way to clean oneself afterwards. Similarly, the Torah espouses laws governing all of our actions, encouraging one to know G-d 'in all your ways'.(editor, please check reference)

A further significant point to note is that Khomeini did not only heighten the observance of Islam in Iran, but in many cases he coerced Jews into observance of their religion as well. In one instance, told to this author by one of the individuals who personally witnessed the event, he summoned a group of wealthy Jewish industrialists to his chambers. All of them had factories that were operative on Shabbos and, to their amazement, he condemned them for forsaking their commandments. He declared that in an Islamic country, just as Friday was revered by Muslims, the Sabbath had to be revered by Jews. He concluded by ruling that henceforth, if any Jewish factory opened on Shabbos the owner would be punished with a firing squad. All present complied.

Clearly, ideologies differ in cmplexity, and although it may not be so complex as others, Iranian fundamentalism, like many totalitarian ideologies, nevertheless provides its adherents with a sense of mission and a holistic concept of persons and society, and it has its own distinctive style and rhetoric. The original question posed to me then returns: In light of the moral, ethical, and religious achievements of this man of faith, why was no voice heard from within the camp of traditional Jewry to applaud this religious leader while alive, or eulogize him at his death?

Khomeini's Brutality Is not A Complete Response

No doubt Khomeini's brutality serves to repulse us from praising the Imam's achievements, and it may well be argued that the results in Iran may not owe as much to the vigilance of the Komitehs as to the punishments that are inflicted. But in explaining traditional Judaism's outright rejection, nay repulsion, of everything Khomeini stood for, means aside, the reason of his brutality alone remains somewhat superficial. Aside from the means taken to achieve his ends, traditional Judaism has so far latched onto somewhat incomplete reasons for its outright dismissal of Khomeini's regime. Surely, in the quest for intellectual maturity humans should have learned to extract good from evil. If the Imam's goals were good but his means evil, we should at once commend his ambitions and achievements, yet remain able to decry his methods. Yet Khomeini as an icon of religious values and leadership has been utterly rejected by the Jewish world, goals and methods alike.

When Politics ousts Religion

I suggest that Khomeini was rejected not merely because the gore of his use force to accomplish religious ends repelled the traditional Jew. Rather, it was the light that this use force shed on the Imam's very perception of religion as a whole, a perception which is loathsome to traditional Judaism, which has engendered a loathsome response to his policies.

There are those who believe that religion is a mountain to be climbed, a goal to be reached. To them, a person's status in the eyes of G-d is ascertained solely by where he or she now stands. If any actions manifest any tendency toward evil, then, in essence, the person has accomplished nothing. It is only the one who arrives at the peak of the mountain, whose journey has reached its climax, who has banished all evil from within him, who may justly be referred to as 'a religious individual'. In the minds of the leaders of this school of thought, it is not a person's slow progression in affinity with G-d which is commendable, but his rapid rise to the throne of the Creator.

Judaism does not subscribe to this outlook. In the eyes of Jewish thought it is not the goal which is significant, but the path. The distance a person has traversed, how far they have progressed, is what G-d measures. Of the Talmud's most central themes is the idea that a returnee to Judaism (Baal Teshuva) is far greater than a tzaddik, the reason being that the returnee has come much further, and travelled a far more torturous path. The Talmud even declares, 'In the place where a ba'al teshuva (returnee) stands, a tzadik cannot stand. look up the referenceThe tzadik, whose righteousness and good deeds by far outweigh those of the returnee, may indeed be standing at the mountain's summit, and from his vantage point he may gaze down at the struggling climb of the ba'al teshuva, as he slowly rises from the ash-heap in search of sublime and transcendent meaning. Yet, the tzadik is pronounced inferior for he did not travel any great distance to reach the mountain's top. Everything was handed to him on a silver-platter, from the cheder he was sent to by his parents, to the yeshiva he attended with the rest of his friends. The Baal Teshuva, on the other hand, has clambered from the abyss of spiritual despair and has, at the very least, started back onto the proper path by his or her own efforts.

Not Righteousness But Transformation

Stated in other words, what the A-mighty searches for in man is not righteousness, but transformation. A person's gradual change from being a materialistically inclined, indulgent organism governed by physical needs and tendencies, to a being with spiritual foresight and disposition. This is the purpose of religion and G-d's calling to man. What the A-mighty desires is that we make and effort to change ourselves for the better. Not that we merely become good. He desires to see a significant expenditure of effort on our part. He want to see that we give a damn. Therefore, if one is born righteous and is reared in a religiously wholesome environment, he will not be judged by how good he is, but by how much better a person and more righteous an individual he became, after embarking on the road of life.

Becoming an Outwardly Oriented Individual

Torah and mitzvot are the critical ingredient in the development and growth of humans. With every passing mitzvah one slowly becomes an outwardly oriented individual. Whereas a child's first words on learning to speak are 'Mine!', or 'Give me', each mitzvah is a lesson in reorienting this natural state to one of giving, rather than taking. As a living organism man first learns to take rather than give. It is vital to his existence. One needs to be clothed, fed, bathed, nurtured, and loved if one is to survive. Our initial stage of life is almost completely passive, and as our first lesson about life we internalize the idea of drawing in all that others are prepared to do for us. What changes this process of taking is of course responsibility. People become older and they learn that their contribution on a microcosmic level, such as family and friends, and on a macrocosmic level, such as community and the world at large, is very much needed if the world is to continue.

But before life makes any demands of the human, the very first calling to which he must respond is to that of His Creator. Before a child is old or responsible enough to help Mommy around the house, he first learns that he must say a blessing before eating food, and must give a coin to charity every day. The reason: because G-d needs him, and he must therefore learn to give, and not just to take. In slow gradual increments, then, man learns, through a religious education, to transcend physical necessity and focus on the needs of others.

Further still, the spiritual person learns to utilize their own physical desires for the purpose of understanding another's needs as well. When one understands how vital it to feel loved, one understands how critical it is to display love to someone else, for their needs are the same. And as in the process of learning how to give, and in the process of becoming an outwardly-oriented individual, man learns to discover G-d and simultaneously emulate His ways. In the words of the Talmud, 'Just as He is kind, so too should you be kind.'editor; find ref. and add one or two more lines from the quote. It is not good for Man to be alone

Marriage serves as the classic illustration of the principle of growth outwards to reach others. While a mitzvah in its own right, marriage is also the premise for the fulfilment of many other mitzvot, not least among them being the perpetuation of humanity and the Jewish people. Why did G-d choose the framework of marriage as necessary for human existence? To paraphrase the Bible, why indeed is it not good for man to be alone?

Marriage serves as the classic illustration of this principle, and the ultimate institution to constantly reeducate an individual away from his or her natural predisposition. Even the mechanical structure of marriage is such that one must learn to give constantly, from the highest things, like comforting a husband during tragedy, to the seemingly insignificant, like refraining from eating until one's wife comes to the table. It is precisely these 'mechanical' matters which are of pivotal importance to the success of every marriage.

Children Continue a Process of Reorientation

Soon children follow and every parent is faced with a new challenge in the art of generosity: giving without receiving in return. An infant is born with no saving grace, save that of the parent's intuitive love for the child. They have not yet become doctors or lawyers, or generated any nachas for their parents. Yet their dependence on their parents is absolute, needing everything from food to mobility. There are no guarantees that the child will ever reciprocate. Indeed, scores of adult children abandon their parents to nursing homes in their old age. Nevertheless, the idea of a parent coercing his offspring to sign a contract at birth mandating that child-care will be provided only on the express condition that child agree to aid his parents in their hour of need, is laughable. No mountain is too high, no sea to vast, to impede the unrestrained love of parent to child. But, why is this all so important?

Because through the love, giving, kindness, and compassion of everyday experience, a married man or woman learns to find G-d. An man slowly transforms himself into an outwardly oriented being, he learns to perceive an existence higher and greater than himself. One learns to obey the commands of that Being. Not for the prospects of reward, but out of deep-seated love and conviction. And man becomes G-dly.

G-d's laws are for people, not states

When religion is practised for any external consideration, force being the extreme amongst them, inner transformation cannot follow. Nothing changes, no-one becomes spiritual, and the purpose of religion is defeated.

Ayatollah Khomeini changed government without changing people. His theocracy was not merely tarnished by the methods it pursued in procuring religious observance, but was actually supplanted by those methods. He succeeded in bringing about a religious government, but not a religious society. And although, it may be argued, Iranian society today may indeed exist at the summit of the spiritual mountain, officially void of sexual deviance, theft, rape, or impropriety, the population did not climb that mountain. Rather, they were like a cannonball shot there by the religious zeal of the Iranian National Guard, with fear and intimidation serving as gunpowder. The population did not traverse any distance; no-one struggled with internal self-doubt, none felt the terrible tension of religious turmoil that tears the soul asunder, and the internal dialectic that make up the religious experience. In short, they were not personally touched by the sublime hand of G-d which can only be felt when one works with oneself decades to reshape oneself into a vessel for G-d. Time will tell whether the changes Khomeini brought to Iranian society will have any permanency, but one suspects that if the constraints were removed the people would naturally fall back to their previous existence.

Khomeini's Objective: Seize the Reigns of Government

The transformation of government, irrespective of whether the people kept pace, was Khomeini's intention all along. It accounts for his infatuation with absolute governmental control. He always argued the importance of politics and domination of the political and social systems by 'true believers'. In his own words:

"If in a society all its members are Muslim and they observe Islam in their personal lives while their social relations are not governed by pure Islamic laws, it is not an Islamic society. On the other hand, if in a society all its members are not Muslim.... or some of its members are weak Muslims and do not behave according to Islam in all their personal obligations, while the values and laws governing social relations are Islamic, that society is Islamic." (Mavazihi-Ma pg. 26)

In yet another of Khomeini's works, Al-Hukumat-ul-Islamia, he states:

"When a Mujtahid who is just and learned stands up for the establishment and organisation of the government, he will enjoy all the rights in the affairs of the society that were enjoyed by the Prophet, and it will be the duty of the people to listen and obey (him) and this Faqih and Mujtahid will hold the supreme power in the government and the management and control of social and political affairs of the people in the same way as the Prophet and Hazrat Ali (used to do)." Clearly, to Khomeini the exercise of governmental control was the highest religious achievement, something Judaism cannot embrace. The Jewish world-view is about changing people through direct exposure. It sees religious ultimately growing from the grass-roots level of the human condition and human experience.

put shagalov in hreReligious Conviction and Governmental Control Become Synonymous

Samuel Huntington has commented that "the most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government." (Political Order in Changing Societies) The main characteristic of Khomeini's fundamentalist ideology is its totalitarian approach to politics. The regime sought to promote the politicisation of all spheres of social and even private affairs: its world view is in fact predicated upon a removal of these distinctions. In Islamic government, Khomeini had asserted: "there is not a single topic in human life for which Islam has not provided instructions and established norms." (Islamic Government in Islamic Revolution, pg. 80) The IRP program states that it aims at establishing a 'tawhidi' ('unitary') society, "a society in which Islamic values, commands, and laws govern all social relations." (Mavazihi-Ma, pg. 26)

What this has lead to is the politicisation of religion itself. In his many fiery speeches, Khomeini favoured violence and oppression to bolster religious observance, but did not offer a convincing, positive argument for the beauty and necessity of religion. The lack of explanation was not due to personal ignorance; after all, he was a recognised scholar. Rather, it is fundamentally inconsistent with his view of religion. In his eyes the only matter which was of importance was that the people should adhere to Islamic living standards. As government serves this purpose well, it has become the personification of Khomeini's religious zeal. He had no desire for the inner transformation of his people. Shiite fundamentalism has abrogated its intellectual dimension, and when this happens, fanaticism is sure to follow.

Suppressing Human Development

Khomeini has indeed expressed a distaste for the natural state of humanity, preferring to stunt it rather than allow it to fully develop. "An Islamic regime must be serious in every aspect of life," the Imam said in a broadcast on Iran Radio six months after the Revolution. "There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun or enjoyment in whatever is serious." To Judaism, happiness is representative of extraordinary energy and fervour which should be cultivated and nurtured for the service of G-d. Like everything, it can be utilised for evil or for good. Khomeini was disinterested in Man's spiritual growth and chose to eliminate any form of joyous expression, fearing that if frivolity were allowed to coexist with religion it might prevail. Judaism thrives on our constant use of material existence for good, despite the temptation that it be used otherwise. In this manner one constantly reaffirms that everything is in G-d's possession, thus substantiating His absolute sovereignty over creation.

Thorn in the side of Khomeini

This uncompromising outlook on life led Khomeini to oust his self-appointed successor, Ayatollah Montazeri, only months before he died. While Khomeini genuinely believed that the establishment of Islamic government in Iran was an end in itself, Montazeri saw the capture of political power by the clergy only as a means which ought to be used in order to improve the material and spiritual conditions of the people. Khomeini maintained that, if need be, people should be forced to behave in an Islamic way. Montazeri, for his part, argued in favour of persuasion through setting good examples.

Both men advocated a return to the simple life and helped popularise such notions as frugality, a reduction in one's expectations from life, a cut in consumption and a distaste for luxuries. Both wanted the Iranians to sleep on the ground, sit on the floor, eat only one or two simple meals a day, make do with very few clothes and be content with living in one or two rooms (Amir Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, pg. 294.)

The difference was that Montazeri believed that human nature of itself tends towards good if given the chance. Khomeini, however, pinpointed the little devil he saw hiding within every person, and thought nothing of enforcing the good at bayonet point if necessary. Between 1981 and 1985, the two leaders adopted basically contradictory positions on almost every major issue, with Montazeri playing the liberal and Khomeini remaining true to his image of the uncompromising radical.

Good Cop/Bad Cop

Opponents of the regime accused the two men of offering an Islamic version of the soft-cop/tough-cop interplay in order to confuse the people. This is almost certainly unfair: the two men genuinely had variant approaches. The difference between Khomeini and Montazeri extended to the important issue of exporting the revolution as well. Montazeri emphasized proselytisation and propaganda; Khomeini inclined to see an effective answer only in the use of force. In 1981 the Imam ordered the creation of an 'Army of Twenty Million' which, when and if fully ready, would fight to hoist the flag of Allah in every capital of the world.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, Judaism chooses to reject and finds repulsive Ayatollah Khomeini's entire perception of religion, not merely its implementation. The individual to Khomeini's conception of religion is what the incongruent piece of a puzzle is to the hammer. Although the piece may not fit or even belong to that puzzle, it must be banged in place. The puzzle must be complete overall. Needless to say, with sufficient banging its form will eventually be altered, and it will enter, but the fact that it has a different picture printed on it will forever remain. Judaism does not believe in people being banged out of shape so that they fit the spiritual puzzle. Rather, it advocates an inner transformation so that the human pieces fit the puzzle both in shape as well as content, in deed as well as in heart. The result is a truer, more beautiful whole that will no longer be a puzzle.

Attacked by Colleagues

When I first expressed this idea in print, in an American Jewish magazine by the name of Chai Today, I received several letters of disagreement, one of which was exceedingly abusive and was subsequently published in an alternative Jewish periodical. In the letter, the author attacked me for my 'misrepresenting Judaism' and accused me of possessing 'a severely misguided understanding of Judaism at best, and a liberal mind-set at worst.'

The author, who is an Orthodox rabbi from California, made the following argument, which I shall summarize.

He maintained that I had misrepresented Judaism because indeed Judaism did possess many of the mechanisms employed by Khomeini. Judaism calls for very severe physical punishment, in many cases capital, for religious transgression. For example, one who breaks the laws of Shabbos can be put to death if all the criteria is met, such as witnesses and warning, etc. Moreover, for even the slightest religious infringement, the offender would receive lashes from a Jewish court, in Temple times. 'What Rabbi Boteach is seeking to do,' he concluded, 'is to whitewash Judaism of its similarities to the Khomeini regime, so that it conforms with today's liberal values.'

To be sure, the good Rabbi, whose attack saddened me because of its hostile tone, is correct. Indeed Judaism does mandate physical punishment for religious offenders. Where he grossly errs, however, is in his understanding of the purpose of these warnings and punishment, and what the Torah is seeking to achieve by stipulating them.

One Apple Should Not Infect Another

The purpose of these punishments is not to make the population religious. Rather, their purpose is to preserve the religious observance and devotion of a population that is already religious.

To explain: G-d wishes that people approach religion from a stance of joy, interest, and personal involvement and conviction. There are numerous statements throughout Jewish literature which show that these qualifications are not just preferable in serving G-d, but rather they are what it is all about. If so, the question may be asked, why did G-d institute such severe punishments for religious infraction? The answer is that these laws were instituted for a society which used to be the norm, i.e., the majority of the population were observant and devout. The problem was, what if a few rotten apples began to appear within the group? In order to prevent them from infecting everyone else with their faithlessness, and to protect the offenders themselves from acting upon their faithlessness, the Torah instituted that punishment be instituted both as a deterrent, as well as a way of weeding out those who could adversely effect the faithful.

The Sanhedrin Exiles Itself

That this is true is easily demonstrated by a passage from the Talmud, which tells of how forty years before the destruction of the second Temple, when the terrible suffering which was being visited upon the Jews caused them to be a lawless people, many of whom having incurred a capital penalty under Jewish law, the Sanhedrin, the high Jewish court, exiled itself from its chambers on the Temple Mount. The reason: They were only allowed to pass capital judgments when they were in the chamber, and there were so many who were deserving of it, they did not wish to put so many to death.

In other words, once the death penalty no longer proved an effective means of retaining and preserving the spiritual devotion of the people, it was abandoned. And although the Sanhedrin could have used it as a means to reinstall fear into the population and thus make them religious again, this is not what Judaism is about. It is not engendered by fear or intimidation, but by love, allegiance, and an inner desire on the part of man to reach out to his Creator.


See Also:
  • Aaron Blumer, Are rules dangerous part1 part2 (takes the opposite position from this essay)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How to leave a church

While many churches have a clear notion of leaving the church others don't really recognize this. Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses can have problems leaving a church without being excommunicated (disfellowshipped). Some conservative Presbyterians are moving towards "covenantial membership". Catholics can have trouble leaving under any circumstances. The purpose of this blog post is to walk through the process of quitting a church. If a discipline process is underway you may want to examine (How to Survive Discipline series in particular there is overlap with How to Survive Discipline -- Resign quietly (part 7) ).

The first question is whether you really want a transfer rather than to sever your membership. Most churches have transfer processes, and most churches will be amenable to a transfer process. A transfer is going to cause a lot less anger and resentment. You will also most like not burn your bridges. Almost all churches have rules for conducting a transfer and it is many times not looked on as harshly. Note, however that many churches will not issue a letter for someone starting the disciplinary process unless you are willing to have them cite the problems. Sometimes an unethical pastors will start a process so as to avoid the rules regarding transfer. Such a pastor is likely to be a problem regardless of how you leave, so the important thing is to keep good records. If either is the case make sure that the receiving pastor is aware of the disciplinary process. Coordinate your actions with the receiving pastor if possible.

If the receiving congregation is not seen as "of like faith and practice" a member can request a certificate of standing rather than transfer. That is you aren't asking the congregation that you are leaving to approve of the move but rather to simply certify your current status. (i.e. they are certifying you were a member in good standing prior to your desire to join a "bad church"), This is also more friendly and cooperative then simply leaving. The act of going through this process reduces the bridge burning problems and in general members probably should try and go through the transfer process. In summary:
  1. Find out what your church's transfer process is.
  2. If you need to transfer to a specific congregation, inform the pastor (and hand him a written document) that you are initiating a transfer process and will be "shopping" for an alternate church.
  3. Once you have a specific congregation:
    1. Ask for a letter of transfer.
    2. If they refuse because "the other congregation is not godly" ask for a certificate of standing
    3. If they still want to get you involved in a long drawn out process then it is time to simply terminate membership.
  4. Join your new church.
In this rest of this I'm going to be assuming that a letter of transfer (under practical conditions) would be or has been denied. That is you wish to terminate membership in your current congregation and then join the receiving congregation rather than transfer or simply terminate membership and not have a receiving congregation (which may for your church constitute apostasy).

The key here is to make clear your intention and leave behind a paper trail. Church discipline is dependent upon informed consent. Your goal here is to be withdrawing consent. Words like:
  • Termination of membership
  • Disaffiliation
  • Withdraw of consent
Are absolutely key. If possible try and use all 3 terms.
The Catholic church is probably the most difficult to leave so they provide an excellent example of a "worst case scenario". Most Catholic literature about people who leave the faith assumes one is joining a heretical or schismatic church and thus the heresy or schism in itself constitutes an excommunication. However it is possible to leave the church voluntarily without specifically joining another (which would be the closest equivalent of erasure or "renouncement of jurisdiction" in presbyterianism). The process here requires an assertion of understanding: that is they have required that a person must (APCAM)
  1. Perform an act to indicate they wish to separate (mere thought is not enough).
  2. The act must be persistent that is it must take place over a long period of time, in particular it can't be a single event.
  3. The person must be contumacious that is they must be firm in their conviction and not express hesitation.
  4. They must be aware that their acts lead to an end of their membership (excommunication, erasure...) That is they must be aware of what they are requesting.
  5. Finally they must actually be a member. The church cannot expel non members (the pope is exempted from this).
If you are intend to leave a church making sure you qualify for all of these 5 criteria will be key. Most churches do hold that the above list is sufficient to terminate membership. Note however in the above list how important it is to use strong language regarding your status. Weak language indicates a lack of awareness and a lack of contumacy.

For a Presbyterian example the Orthodox Church's Book of Discipline is quite clear on how one severs their relationship.
When a member of a particular church, whether or not he be charged with an offense, informs the session that he does not desire to remain in the fellowship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and the efforts of the session to dissuade him from his course have failed, it shall erase his name from the roll and record the circumstances in its minutes, unless the session institutes or continues other disciplinary action against him.
One act that meets all of the criteria is for you to issue a letter of disassociation. A letter of disassociation has a few key parts.
  1. Formal statement of disassociation, terminating your membership.
  2. A brief history of your introduction to the church and your positive impressions
  3. A discussion of "major issues" that forced you to disassociate. This part can be grouped by related topics, such as "Doctrinal", "Personal", "Social", "Organizational" and so on.
  4. An explicit list of requests (e.g. "Don't do follow-up calls", "Don't try to shepherd my children"). If you have no specific requests, you can leave this part out. This is the withdrawal of consent.
  5. Conclusion. (e.g. wish them well on their quest to find meaning, and assure them that you are pleased to have made your decision to broaden your search for truth).
The formal statement is simply statement indicating you are no longer a member. They look something like:
  • I hereby renounce all claim to membership in church XYZ.
  • It is with great reluctance that I am forced to resign my membership from church XYZ
  • Many hundreds of hours and over seven hundred compiled scriptures later, my clear conscience will no longer allow me to uphold the convictions common among (name of denomination)
This has to appear somewhere in the letter to make it clear that you no longer consider yourself a member. This can appear anywhere but its the most important part. If you signed some sort of church covenant agreeing that you can't leave you want to explicitly acknowledge signing it and renounce it here, "including in this renunciation of membership is renouncing the contents of the church covenant I signed on March 13, 2001". Religious freedom is a civil right not a contractual right, you cannot sign away your right to leave a church. The covenant is in effect only as long as you want it to be.

The second part is important for explaining your reasons for membership. Because it occurs in the letter you are acknowledging you were at one time a member and that this is being drawn to a close. It goes hand in hand with the 3rd section which explains why you've decided that the new information/status is causing you to leave. I.E. you are indicating the bad outweighs the good. These two sections are often far too specific to offer much advice. The key thing is (if possible) you want to include some point of disagreement with a statement that is required for membership (generally the profession of faith). By doing this, you can establish you are not merely fleeing a disciplinary procedure but no longer share their beliefs. You'll want to pick a genuine area of disagreement. So for example:
  • Quiting the Mormons: I no longer believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet or that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
  • Quitting a Baptist Church: I have come to believe that children are part of God's covenant and should be baptized at birth.
  • Quitting Soka Gakkai: I no longer believe that chanting the Gongyō will bring benefit to my life.
If doesn't have to be that fundamental it could be much more minor proving its a part of the creed:
  • Quitting Baptist church: Our profession of faith requires assent to the Nicean creed, however I no longer believe that Jesus is of one essence with the Father.
  • Quitting the Mormons: I no longer believe in the gift of tongues
If there is no areas of theological or ritual dispute that you can mention inform them that you agree you are engaged in an out of process erasure and they are free to record it as such.

After this the next step is to establish how you want the church to treat you as an x-member. This is where you can make explicit your request that oversight of you (including discipline) halt. This is where you can indicate what the contents of the announcement should be, for example you may (and probably should) indicate that this letter is public and they may read it in full and show it to people if they feel the need to make an announcement. For organizations that tend to be resistant to allowing you to leave you may need to be a bit harsh. However nothing more than something like:
Since I have voluntarily resigned from the organization, and are therefore no longer a Jehovah's Witness, I expressly prohibit you from disfellowshipping me or in any way defaming my character before others. If I am disfellowshipped or am slandered in any way, I will have to take legal action against you.
I have prayerfully considered the vow I made. Jesus said "My yoke is light." I am casting off the burden I have been under for so many years while under the scrutiny of the man made organization, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In full faculty I am stating that I am disassociating from that organization. I no longer want to be recognized as a Jehovah's Witness because it does not fill the expectations I was led to believe.

(1) I do not want my family to contacted or coerced in any way.
(2) At my death I do not wish to be remembered as a Jehovah's Witness.
(3) There is no need for prayers or further attempt to reverse my decision.
(4) When the Congregation makes an announcement it should be an announcement of disassociation not apostasy

Finally the conclusion. Again this should be friendly if possible. A thanks for good times, a statement of best wishes or blessing on current members... are all appropriate.

some samples: Gloria Muscarell, Juliann Velasquez, Melissa C. Thiring, Mormon no more sample

Now go on and do what you want. At this point you are no longer a member according to any Christian tradition. Legally you have withdrawn your consent and you have a much greater degree of legal protection against defamation and harassment. Congratulations, its over!

There is for some poeple a tricky part. Convincing yourself that you aren't damned or evil or fallen for wanting to leave. David Rattigan wrote a terrific article about the issues and fears you are likely to face. You may even want to join (or at least read) a group for people leaving whatever faith you are leaving. This blog maintains a leaving list of support groups.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Leaving list

The following is a list of links for people leaving various religious organizations.

Informational sites
Recovering from spiritual abuse
  • Detoxing from Church -- An article series about the dechurched (people who keep their faith but leave the church system)
  • Letters from Leavers -- A site of letters from people who have decided to leave their churches.
  • Christian Recovery -- A spiritual abuse support group. Not recommended.
  • eX Christian -- A support group for people who decided to leave the faith all together
  • de-conversion -- Information for people who decide to leave the faith
For particular denominations / substreams
Please feel free to list additional suggestions in the comments

Friday, August 10, 2007

Peggy Penley and Buddy Westbrook (followup)

This article is a follow up to the article 6 weeks ago about the Peggy Penley and Buddy Westbrook case. The Supreme court of Texas has rendered its decision in this case. All filing can be found at their website.

The court in my opinion accurately captured the key point of dispute:
Westbrook contends Penley’s suit encroaches upon the autonomy of churches to decide matters of internal church discipline and governance. He acknowledges that there are exceptions to the concept of church autonomy, but claims they should be narrowly drawn by allowing judicial interference in church disciplinary matters only when a claim arises from a purely secular act. Westbrook describes actions that are purely secular in nature as those that are clearly nonreligious in motivation, like intentional torts or sexual misconduct. According to Westbrook, if there is any doubt as to the secular or religious nature of a particular action, courts should proceed no further. Any less deferential standard, Westbrook claims, would require a case-by-case analysis that would in itself excessively entangle the courts with religion and infringe upon the church’s authority. In this case, Westbrook asserts, once Penley admitted that she looked to him as both a counselor and a pastor, the trial court was precluded from adjudicating her claim. The rationale, Westbrook explains, is to avoid courts having to determine which acts are done in a secular role and which are done in an ecclesiastical capacity, particularly when there is such a blend of roles, as here, that makes it impossible to perceive where one ends and the other begins.
The court first noted that Westbrook was a licensed counselor. They did hold that Westbrook did violate ethical standards of conduct but that the courts should impose no liability. In their explanation latter in the case, they argued that the state does have a compelling interest in preserving counselor patient confidentiality but that those interest do not trump the interest in protecting the first amendment. They explicitly drew the analogy to employment discrimination cases. The court felt that deciding this the other way would have in essence been back door judicial oversight of church discipline,
"In sum, while the elements of Penley’s professional-negligence claim can be defined by neutral principles without regard to religion, the application of those principles to impose civil tort liability on Westbrook would impinge upon CrossLand’s ability to manage its internal affairs and hinder adherence to the church disciplinary process that its constitution requires. See Idleman, 75 Ind. L.J. at 254 n.96."

Or from earlier in the document
For purposes of our review, we presume the counseling at issue was purely secular in nature as Penley claims. Even so, we cannot ignore Westbrook’s role as Penley’s pastor. In his dual capacity, Westbrook owed Penley conflicting duties; as Penley’s counselor he owed her a duty of confidentiality, and as her pastor he owed Penley and the church an obligation to disclose her conduct. We conclude that parsing those roles for purposes of determining civil liability in this case, where health or safety are not at issue, would unconstitutionally entangle the court in matters of church governance and impinge on the core religious function of church discipline. Accordingly, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction.

The biggest weakness however in the Penley case was an inconsistency. All claims but the professional misconduct ones had been dismissed by the first court. That is the court explicitly held ecclesiastical functions were not subject to judicial review. Penley had argued that her suit was regarding Westbrook's disclosure to the elders and not the elders disclosure to the church; because the later had first amendment issues. The court essentially dismissed this since the damages were as a result of the second not the first disclosure; that is the defamation came from the church hearing about her "inappropriate relationship".

The court made a few interesting observation. Penley had paid for counseling in 1998 but for the group sessions she did not pay, further evidence that strengthens Westbrook's claim that she wasn't engaged in secular counseling.

The court also noted that the church constitution regarding discipline was very explicit and Penley agreed to the constitution. Further the letter sent to the was not explicit and contained minimal information. Further it explained this was a member's only issue. While not stated explicitly the point of these statement was to establish that the church had met the informed consent burden.

As an editorial aside I think the Texas court decided wisely. I also believe the court may have wanted to have been a bit more specific. Clearly the first amendment issues are real had the Penley case been decided the other way. Moreover in the court did establish a fairly high burdon in that they noted:
  1. non payment for the sessions in which the adultery was revealed.
  2. that Westbrook was her pastor and not just another church member
  3. That Westbrook took minimal action
However the court failed to address what would have been their ruling if any of the above had not been true. The initial and final statements are much stronger than the body of the decision and I believe that the possibilities for extension left open are quite large. For example what about disclosure between a catholic and his catholic criminal lawyer?

This case is likely to be big news so we will add other interesting commentary as we find them.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

De Fide

De Fide is an interesting cite for those interested in church discipline. They are a catholic organization which files for excommunication against pro choice politicians. They've come under intense criticism for not similarly filing against politicians that violate the church's view on the death penalty of the just war doctrine.

They describe themselves:
DE FIDE is a non-profit association founded specifically to use every available means of Canon Law to defend the Faith and Church from Heresy and other grievous crimes. To accomplish its mission, DE FIDE initiates lawsuits in Ecclesiastical Court to protect the rights of the faithful and unbaptized.
In terms of defense I've noticed one thing already. De Fide only goes after pro choice politicians. They do not go after politicians which are pro death penalty or violate the just war doctrine.
In particular readers may want to focus on their very careful distinctions they make regarding the high bar required to establish a heresy vs. a simple act of disobedience. This has the making of a heresy defense.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A defense against Patriarchy (part 4)

Our last chapter addressed the gender model that developed during the ancient age. Originally the argument of the patriarchs had been that there's was the position of Christian Orthodoxy until very recently. What we found instead was that for the first two centuries of Christianity their was no unified view and that as one emerged it rejected core premises of the patriarchal view, most importantly their belief in a theory of sex over a theory of gender.

In this we look at the next five centuries (the dark ages) we will see an entirely different model. The notion of sex as a repulsive animalistic activity lowering the spiritual state of everyone involved disappears. Sex is natural, child birth is highly desirable and marriage is considered the Christian norm. In many ways we see that the patriarchal view of marriage is being practiced by the population. However we shall discover, that its a nightmare which while bad for men is simply horrific for woman. The church far from supporting patriarchy is opposed to this nightmare, and works actively to soften things up. The society (with support and encouragement of the church) create a parallel institution (concubinage) to allow for the existence of a long term consensual loving relationship with a sexual component.

To be specific in the period, we look at the period after the sacking of Rome and before the Gregorian Reform, that is the late 5th through mid 11th centuries, and we treat the Carolingian dynasty, as or point of reference. That is after Rome has long since fallen but before feudalism has stabilized the economic system.

The dark ages is characterized by the low level of economic production. The economic system of the Roman empire based on slavery had been destroyed. At the same time feudalism had not yet formed. The net result was the economic projects that required complex organization of large quantities of labor were very difficult if not impossible to achieve. Those people capable of that sort of organization took on the most profitable uses: war and plunder. The irrigation system and the road system of the empire had collapsed and trade was infrequent and a minor part of the economy. Individuals had moderate amounts of wealth and were able to farm. Government was little more than a protection racket, so taxes were tolerable. The peasant farmer had been born.

Because most wealth was tied up in the farm inheritance became key for most people and not just the aristocracy. Sons were willing to work on the farm to create wealth (savings) which would later be split between them. Wives carried with them a dowry (which was often quite large) and thus marriage was very profitable for the small land owner. After marriage the wife became tied to her husband until death (however see below) and thus provided a source of labor. If she died the husband could remarry and thus acquire another dowry. Conversely if the wife outlasted the husband and he did not yet have heirs, she inherited the farm minus anything owed. Thus parties in the marriage had a strong financial interest in their spouse's death.

The results were predictable. Husbands burned out their wives quickly forcing them to have children and then return to intense labor. Authors at the time commented about how woman (whose death was profitable to the head of household) were treated much worse than livestock (whose death was quite costly), The situation resulted in very short life expectancies for woman:
Both mother and child were in serious jeopardy during the birth and the following crucial years. Infant mortality rate is know to be appallingly high throughout the Middle Ages. The physical strain of childbearing, coupled with the intense labor and poor sanitary conditions made life harsh, cruel, and short for mast women. Where most men during this time died between the ages of forty and sixty, most women died between the ages of twenty and forty (Cipolla, Carlo M. Ed. The Fontana Economic History of Europe page 45).
Reading this entirely bleak picture one might wonder why any woman would choose to marry ever. The reason was avoidance of poverty and starvation on which the whole system depended. A concubine lived at the pleasure of her mate and had no claim on him. A woman who lost her looks could be cast out of her home to starve. A wife by contrast could lay claim to the house she lived in. She was entitled to food and shelter.

Even better was marrying a man without any heirs a quite older man. Since many husbands were so much older we see teachings that "the wife's two main goals were the salvation of her soul and the comfort of her husband" (Power 99). "Though many conflicts arose from the vast age difference between husband and wife, the chief duty of a wife was to make the last years of her husband's life good ones" (Power 97). In the treatises and manuals of the high middle ages describing the duties of a wife in detail we see reference to traditions, which must date back to this period.

We have here many of the very aspects of marriages the patriarchal preach for put into practice (see Tenants of Biblical Patriarchy )
  • Woman owe absolute obedience to their husbands and the state does not interfere in a man governing his home (#5)
  • The church, the family and the state existed in parallel and tried to limit their interference with one another (#8)
  • Non membership in the church often deprived one of their civil rights (like title to their property) and thus virtually everyone belonged to and supported their local church (#9)
  • Church and state were governed by men (#11)
  • To her husband her primary role was a helper and a bearer of children (heirs) (#13)
  • Procreation was practiced widely and wives were expected to produce children (#15)
  • Children were home educated and taught skills by their parents (#16-21)
  • A woman serves her father and then her husband (#22)
  • Marriages formed by parents, or at least men negotiating with the girl's parents (#23)
  • Men worked hard to make sure their families sacrificed for the good of the farm and individualism was not practiced or preached (#25)
As well as things they've pushed for in the political scene.
  • Strong financial incentives for men to marry
  • No prenuptial agreements. All property is family property and a woman was entitled to a husband's property on his death (assuming no heir).
  • Divorce does not exist under any circumstances and remarriage is possible only after the death of one of the parties
  • Marriages outside the church are not recognized as marriages
  • Excommunication often carried with it real penalties (like loss of all property)
If Christian Orthodoxy throughout time had supported biblical patriarchy we would expect then when a society produced such a structure on its own accord the church would be thrilled. The reality is quite different the church was horrified. As these institutions had started to develop the church had almost immediately acted to try and curtail them.

We first need to define some terms as they were used for the reader. There are four classes of woman a man might have sexual relations with:
  1. A wife is a woman legal married in a church approved ceremony who lives with a man and shares his bed
  2. A concubine is a woman who voluntarily lives with a man in a consensual sexual relationship. This relationship can be dissolved at any time by either party (i.e. "shacking up")
  3. A prostitute is a woman who maintains a separate residence and trades sex for money on a per incident basis.
  4. A mistress is a long term sex partner and companion that maintains a residence separate from her lover.
One can see immediately that the status of the woman depended primarily on her rights with respect to the household. A wife was entitled to live in the household, a concubine lived there by choice (essentially the same relationship an adult son would have).

The church has always held that relations of types 3-4 were prohibited under the laws against fornication and sometimes adultery -- with the possible exception of 4 between a widow and a widower which many churches looked leniently upon . The church however given the depressing state of marriage was supportive of concubinage. They interpreted Genesis 21:9-14 allowing for a sexual relationship with no claim to property.

In the year 400 Council of Toledo ruled that having no wife but a concubine instead of a wife is not grounds for excommunication. However having wife and a concubine was an excommunicating offense. That is they recognized the two as an "either or" choice. This worked to protect wives and concubines individually in the same way that the prohibition against polygamy worked. Further, the church was so strong on this protection for wives and concubines, that it was willing to enforce these rules. The most famous case being enforced when Pope Adrian II forced King Lothar of Lorraine not to have intercourse with his concubine.

The church has up until this point recognized the rights of woman to remain virgins and join a convent, and continued to do so (again not supporting the patriarchal view regarding the relationship between a girl and her father). This right to essentially dissolve a marriage had existed for men (monks) but it was extended to woman (nuns), that is rights of a woman (even a married woman) to take a vow of chastity and enter a convent was secured. The Life of Mary ten Neas (Mary the Younger) (written 903 C.E) details the story of a woman who flees her husband and abandons her children to him, to become a nun. Multiple church officials assist her in this endever and the writer (and the church) consider her a saint (additional information in Holy Woman of Byzantium). The introduction refers to her as "the wonder of our generation", which cannot be confused with condemnation of her actions. As another example from almost the start of the dark ages we have Saint Matrone de Perge who escapes her husband to flee to a convent....

The church went even further with the standardization around the promotion of celibacy, and a shift from virginity for men and woman.
  • A virgin is a person who has never had sex
  • A chaste person is one who has sworn not to have sex, though they may have in the past
  • A celibate is one who is sworn not to marry
As discussed above, chastity not virginity becomes the criteria for both a nun and a monk. The battle between those who believe priests should marry and those who believe they should remain chaste ends in compromise. Priests are required to take a vow of celibacy but not a vow of chastity. In particular they are free to enter into relations of concubinage, just not to have legitimate heirs. That is, where the church had the most influence the church acted to prohibit the sorts of marriage that the patriarchs advocate as being less Christian than "shacking up". Its hard to even ask for stronger evidence that the patriarchal position was not the position of the church through the centuries than this. While we do not deny that protection of church property was a strong motive in the development of this doctrine we do assert that this doctrine would not have been considered without the general antipathy that the church held for patriarchal marriage. Can one imagine in today's climate the church advocating concubinage over marriage?

Additional rules to protect woman were classifying clandestine marriages as concubinage. That is that the church held that a marriage contracted outside the presence of a priest had no force in law and thus the state could not require the woman to remain with her "husband". This put teeth behind the church's doctrine that a woman's consent was needed for her to marry, regardless of her father's wishes (site).

The church also supported consent in the opposite direction. Pope Callixtus I had in the time of the empire permitted slaves to marry without their master's consent. He had also allowed for church marriages between slaves and woman of noble birth. The church while not being able to declare persons married without a girl's father consent, did take the strongest action they could. They reapplied the ruling of Callixtus to the modern situation and recognized the holiness of lifelong commitments (that is a promise to maintain a relation of concubinage throughout life), even though without a father's consent this promise had no legal weight. In all but terminology, the church had adopted the doctrine "It is consent, not law, which defines sacramental marriage". Again, we see another example of the church giving official sanction to acts which undermine patriarchy and supporting the development of the parallel institution of concubinage. Moreover we see the church equating the status of woman under patriarchy with slavery, much as modern critics do.

The church also supported concubinage by reversing their earlier hostility towards the marital product. That is the church recognized 3 not 2 grades of children
  • uxor -- This was the child of a wife and had full legal rights
  • spurii -- Literally spurious or bastard children that had no legal claim on the father. For example the product from a man's relations with a prostitute
  • naturales -- This was the child of a concubine and the father and they had moral claim and if the father so choose at any point legal claim. Note such a child could never reach the status of full heir but for example might be able to claim the right to remain even if his father and mother had dissolved their relationship or require enough money to sustain his mother's household (analogous to paying child support)
With the recognition of naturales children the church was allowing for concubinage to continue to develop as an alternative to marriage. To pick an example Charlemagne's naturales are not heirs but they have titles.
We've reached the midway point of the last 2000 years. We have shown that not only did the church not preach the patriarchy model, that is it was the not the orthodox model but that once the model arose naturally the church actually opposed it. I think we can leave patriarchal marriage in the dark ages. There are good reasons that the patriarchy found its natural home alongside poverty, ignorance, barbaric cruelty and anarchy.

The high middle ages presents us with "the romantic age". Love flourishes, men and woman strive for a godly noble love, of humility, charity, kindness, temperance and purity. Love poetry thrives, education and economics both improve. The church is at its height, and the Pope is the greatest king in all Europe. The court of love is governed by woman who teach the men how to politely treat woman (which today is remembered with the word courtship). Men are governed by a code of chivalry, and yet from the court of love they learn to love wives as Christ loves his church, questing to be worthy of their beloved. The modern woman can only envy the woman of that period, the height of beauty and romance is not the virgin girl but the married woman. While there are far more protections for woman the most important shift is that now a husband's and wife's economic interests correlate. This will allow for something almost as strong and with many of the aspects of patriarchal marriage of this section but without the cruelty.

I can see the patriarch smiling, "yes finally here is the test, case". Oh, so then let us close with a line from the greatest poem of the romantic age:
I know not if thou understand; I speak
Of Beatrice; her shalt thou see above,
Smiling and happy, on this mountain's top.