Thursday, August 5, 2010

334: Give Him to Satan, That his Spirit May be Saved

1 Corinthians 5-8
"When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Paul really loses it today.

The first thing he says to the Corinthians is that he's heard about sexual immorality among them. The sexual immorality being that men have been sleeping with their fathers' wives (aka their mothers?). He goes on to say that, instead of being in fellowship with these men, they should hand them over to Satan that their sinful nature will be destroyed and their spirit will be saved. Wait. What? Send them to Satan so their spirit will be saved? Now Satan is saving people's souls? I must be missing something here.

This is not to mention that Paul has just spent numerous chapters saying that people shouldn't judge each other because everyone is a sinner. In fact, if you judge someone for a sin you're probably doing the sin yourself (says Paul). Now we're not only supposed to judge the person, but we're supposed to personally deliver him to Satan?

Paul then says that he's written that it's ok to hang out with people that are immoral. But now, says Paul, "I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." This is most definitely a verse that Christians have intentionally passed over (and probably for good reason, considering Jesus would not have approved). You're not even supposed to eat with sinners? One of Jesus's main messages was that it was ok to be around sinners (he did it himself all the time).

In the beginning of chapter 6 Paul tells the Corinthians that they shouldn't take their disputes before civil courts, but they should judge among themselves. We know how well that worked out with the Catholic church.

Paul then continues his completely anti-Jesus rant: "Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." He goes on to say that that's what some of them were until they found Jesus, but now they're somehow cured of their nastiness. I thought it was all about believing in Jesus, not your actions. After all, Paul just said that we're all sinners, but we'll be saved through salvation in Jesus. Contradictions abound.

The last part of chapter 6 is about how terrible sexual immorality is. Paul says that all other sins are outside the body, but sexual immorality is against the body. This is especially terrible because our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit. I guess we all have the Holy Spirit now?

Chapter 7 is long and repetitive. Paul says that divorce is terrible, and once a man and a woman are married, they should stay together forever. He then says if a man is married to a non-believing woman, or vice versa, then the non-believing spouse is sanctified through the believing spouse. Does this mean all non-believing spouses go to heaven?

Paul then lays down an interesting rule, he says that if a man is already circumcised, then he should not be uncircumcised when he comes to Jesus, and vice versa. I didn't realize it was possible to uncircumcise someone.

Paul spends the rest of the chapter explaining that it's a far more noble position to remain unmarried. The only reason you should get married is if, as a result of not getting married, you would have to give into lust and sin.

The entirety of chapter 8 is Paul trying to overturn the Apostles decision on eating meat sacrificed to idols. He again says that it doesn't matter what a man eats, even if it's food sacrificed to idols. Who the hell does Paul think he is? What gives Paul the authority to overturn a decision made by the twelve? Paul's only source of authority seems to come from his own over sized ego.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this article:
Sometimes I wonder what it's like to be an atheist. We all know an atheist is a person who does not believe in God.

A lot of atheists have their own reasons why they do not believe in God including parents who never brought them to church. The parents may be believers of God but the simple act of not bringing the child to church puts this non-belief in them.
Oh no, not this again. I thought I didn't believe in God because I'm a rebellious teenager, or I have deep seated father issues that I don't know about. Anyway, go on:
I once stayed in an atheist's house when I went to another place for a few days. It was interesting experience to go to a non-believer's house because the atheist housed us, fed us, treated us very well, talked with us, and made sure our stay was very comfortable. These are basic values that any person has around the world.
They gave you food? They talked to you? Someone find out who this is and take away their atheist card!

Was this person expecting to be beaten and thrown into the iron barred dungeon that every atheist has? This is what happens when biblical illogic (i.e. all atheists are nasty, immoral people) meets reality. People generally treat guests with basic hospitality, whether they're Christians, Jews, Muslims, or atheists. I'm shocked that this is news.
I could swear by the atheist's actions that he believed in God.

Even without God, the basic premise of being a good person was written all over him. This guy did not drink, get violent, treated his wife and child well.
You mean, morality isn't based on the illogical belief in an inherently unfalsifiable God? This is a classic case of why it's important that atheists make themselves known. This person had someone in their life tell them that atheists were nasty, terrible people (it could have been the bible), only an atheist can break that stereotype. Harvey Milk said it about the gay rights movement, but it seems to apply here:
Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters...


  1. 1 Cor 5-8

    Here Paul lists the problems that he's heard about from Chloe's people and the letter from 3 members of the church. Keep in mind, all of these people are Xians who supposedly have received the Holy Spirit.

    1 Cor 5:1. Bryan, it sounds like the "father's wife" means the stepmother. Divorce was allowed back then, or the father could've been a widower. It was only one member of the congregation who was alleged to have done this.

    1 Cor 5:3. Paul doesn't even judge himself, but he is willing to judge others. Apparently he didn't hear that bit about "judge not lest you be judged," or else he doesn't mind being judged.

    1 Cor 5:5. This one doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but as near as I can tell (based on a more literal reading), that by delivering him up to Satan (there's that "deliver up" verb again), Satan will destroy his willingness to sin (lit., his flesh, which for Paul is synonymous with materialism and sin), which will leave his spirit. Or something. I have no idea how one would go about handing over someone else over to the devil. Is Paul proposing that these people kill the wretched sinner, they way "God delivered up Jesus" means he had him executed? Or is Paul just suggesting that he should give in to sin to get it out of his system (sort of like Oscar Wilde's famous quote: "the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it")?

    1 Cor 5:8. All these references to yeast and bread, and Paul still makes no association with any of Jesus' various quotes on the Kingdom of God being like yeast worked into dough, or him being the bread of life, or watching out for the yeasts of the Pharisees. I guess Paul just wasn't familiar with them.

    1 Cor 5:9-11. Paul again makes a distinction between "sexually immoral" people and other garden-variety types of sinners, or at least, he did in his first letter, which has been lost. Originally he said that one should shun these sexual deviants (exactly which behaviors are sexually immoral he doesn't specify), but not other types of immoral people (and also the greedy, swindlers, and idolaters, who apparently are not "immoral"), because one cannot avoid them (as if one can deduce someone's sexual practices from a casual acquaintance). But now one cannot associate with Xians who are "sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler." Other categories of Xians behaving immorally are OK, though. And Paul doesn't add any new restrictions for associating with non-Xians.

    So for those keeping score, the new classification is:

    Off-limits: Xians who are sexually immoral or greedy, or who are idolaters, slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. Non-Xians who are sexually immoral.

    OK: Everybody else.

    How do they conduct Alcoholics Anonymous meetings?

  2. 1 Cor 6

    1 Cor 6:2-3. Xians will judge the world and even angels?! I thought only Jesus and/or God was going to do that. What would it mean for them to judge angels, anyway? Will the angels die and be resurrected at the apocalypse? It sounds like Paul is really on a power trip in this letter.

    1 Cor 6:4: "Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church." Now we know how Scalia and Thomas ended up on the SCOTUS.

    1 Cor 6:7. I am reminded of what Jesus said about settling before going to court. I guess Paul wasn't familiar with that tradition either.

    1 Cor 6:9-10. Didn't Jesus say that tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of heaven?

    1 Cor 6:15. Paul asks if Christ's member should be united with a prostitute. I guess that's up to them. What business of Paul's is it?

    1 Cor 6:18. Paul once again puts sexual issues in a special category. It's really unfortunate that so many people have hang-ups about sex because of one very influential closet case.

    1 Cor 7. I thought everyone's body belonged to God. So now you have to share your body with both your spouse and God? Kinky.

    1 Cor 7:1,7-8. Paul wishes that all men were as hung up as him. If Xians followed his advice, there wouldn't be any of them left. But Paul thought the world was going to end in his lifetime anyway (verses 29-31), so it didn't matter if nobody procreated.

    1 Cor 7:10-11. When did Jesus say that a woman could divorce her husband so long as she didn't remarry? And how can there be an exception ("but if she does...") to an absolute prohibition ("a woman must not...")?

    1 Cor 7:12-15. Paul thinks his own opinion can override that of the Lord. He allows unbelievers to divorce believers, against the Lord's express command.

    1 Cor 7:17. So if someone was a homosexual prostitute (to use Paul's example) before he was called, he is supposed to continue doing that?

    1 Cor 7:18. How does one become uncircumcised? Is Paul thinking of those guys that hang weights from their foreskins in an effort to stretch then back to the original length?

    Actually, what Paul probably intends here is that if someone was a Jew before becoming a Xian then he should remain a Jewish Xian. But then, how does this fit in with his idea that the Law has been obviated by Jesus?

    1 Cor 7:21. Here we have another passage in the Bible that endorses slavery. A favorite of slaveholders before the Civil War.

    1 Cor 7:32-35. It's ironic that Paul thinks unmarried people make better Xians. What modern Xian believes that?

    1 Cor 8:5. Even if there are gods in heaven? Is Paul allowing for the possibility of polytheism? (More than Xianity already does, with it's 2-headed God and all those angels, saints, and demons?)

    1 Cor 8:6. All things came through Jesus? He is somehow responsible for the creation of the world? How did anyone elevate a recently killed itinerant preacher to such lofty status in such a short time after his death? Doesn't Paul even feel the need to defend such a proposition?

    1 Cor 8:9-13. If you base what you do on what other people think about it, where do you draw the line? If someone else thinks that having sex at all is sinful (even in marriage), does that mean that you shouldn't have sex with your spouse?

  3. 1 Cor 7

    There is a very telling silence in this chapter: Why doesn't Paul mention Jesus' marital status here?

    There are only 3 possibilities: (1) Paul knew Jesus was single (as per the Gospels), (2) Paul knew Jesus was married, and (3) Paul didn't know. But how could Paul have not known? The identity of his wife, if he had one, would've been known to all of the original disciples, and not just them but all Xians in Jerusalem.

    If Jesus was single, then why doesn't Paul offer Jesus as the example one should follow, rather than just himself? It would have settled the whole issue. After all, if he is going to rely words of the Lord, why not mention the Lord's actual practice, which would've spoken even louder.

    OTOH, if Jesus was married, Paul could've used that to illustrate why it was OK for Xians to marry as well. Now, this would've conflicted with his own opinion a little, since he said it was better to be unmarried, so he would be forced to explain why Jesus' example was not better than his own, but in any event the people of Corinth would've known Jesus' marital status as well (Paul was not their only source of information about Jesus, as he acknowledges in this letter), so he couldn't have expected to convince them without addressing this discrepancy.

    In short, there just doesn't seem to be any logical explanation of why Paul doesn't discuss Jesus' marital status here under the conventional picture of the historical Jesus.



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