Ambiguity in the Bible

See this index.

One of those common things you often see in the fundamentalist Christian manosphere is the general belief that the Bible must be easy to explain: that the simplest interpretation is the correct one. Most of the time the person making this claim believes that their own arguments are simple because they’ve simplistically simplified their own beliefs into unquestioned assumptions.

Naturally, if your views are immune to debate, then any explanation you give based on that belief is necessarily going to be simple because there is no argument to be made. And since your opponents don’t agree with your assumptions, then they—logically—must have a more complex explanation from your perspective. If you then cite Occam’s Razor, you are essentially arguing that:

Occam’s Razor teaches that the simplest way to win an argument is to declare victory.

This comment by frequent reader and commenter Sharkly aptly demonstrates this:

I do want to be corrected if I’m wrong somewhere. But if your modus operandi is to twist the definitions of logical fallacies so you can try to pin them on me, keep that sort of dysfunctional turd flinging to yourself. Your most persuasive arguments are going to be the simple ones that people will easily recognize the truth of the moment you mention them. If you have to construct a Rube Goldberg machine to make your point, you’ll probably only lose credibility by employing such a contrived argument as your ideological defense. Like Occam’s razor teaches: The simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Occam’s Razor is fine as a heuristic for moving through life when snap decisions need to be made, but it is almost completely useless in a debate or when identifying the truth is critically important (such as Bible interpretation).

Occam’s Razor teaches that simplistic thinkers don’t understand the complexities of the arguments enough to use Occam’s Razor properly.

See how that works?

The only time Occam’s Razor should be used is when one has sufficient evidence to make a determination between conflicting positions. For example, years ago I used Occam’s Razor to decide between a SARS-CoV-2 lab-leak vs zoonotic transfer back when the evidence for either was not readily available. I couldn’t improve my viewpoint, because the evidence was lacking, so I was forced to choose the simplest explanation.

However, to use Occam’s Razor in place of evidence, argument, and reason is itself fallacious. The latter must always be prioritized over the former. The assumptions that one’s own views are simple and so should be accepted while one’s opponents’ views are more complex and should be rejected really do beg-the-question (i.e. circular reasoning).

Sharkly’s attempt to use the Razor to dismiss my arguments out-of-hand is the irrational avoidance of necessarily complex arguments. When it comes to scripture, many (if not most) explanations are complex and not subject to simple analysis. Let me demonstrate this with a few simple examples. At the end, you’ll see that…

Occam’s Razor teaches that a simplistic explanation of a complex topic is probably wrong.

The Placement of a Comma

A while back, I reviewed James Attebury’s comments regarding “Luke 23:34 and Sheol.” I explained that the placement of a comma dramatically alters the meaning of the passage:

Luke 23:43b can be translated in two ways:

Truly I tell you,
today you will be with me in paradise.

…and…

Truly I tell you today,
you will be with me in paradise.

The placement of a comma determines whether or not a person goes to Paradeisō immediately upon death or whether one’s salvation is ensured at the time of one’s confession of faith. This is a big problem: there is no punctuation in the original text. All puncutation in the Bible was added after the fact.

Punctuation is not part of inspired scripture.

Yet, if one gets this wrong, their views of salvation and of heaven and hell will likely be critically incorrect. This ambiguity cannot be easily resolved: there is no simple explanation. This is an inherently complex problem with no easy answer.

Punctuation is a short-hand. It is intentionally simplistic in order to short-cut analysis to avoid having to frequently engage in complex debate. It does not—and cannot—eliminate or replace the need for complex debate. Citing Occam’s Razor to choose the simplistic over the complex is plainly circular reasoning.

And yet many will simply abandon reason by reading the punctuation in their English Bible translation and saying something like “the Bible is unambiguous.” It’s absurd.

Punctuation Changes the Meaning

In his discussion on Genesis 2:24, Artisanal Toad compared the modern translation…

“…then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

…with another that simply alters the punctuation:

“…then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver and she shall become his wife. Because he has violated her, he cannot divorce her all his days.”

He notes that the former implies that a rape victim is forced to marry her rapist as punishment (literally, victim blaming), while the latter implies that the man committed a violation and is punished by losing the right to divorce.

Bible-haters love to quote this passage to say that the Bible commands raped women to marry their rapists, but the Bible never says that. Yet, if one gets this wrong, their entire view of God’s justice will be critically incorrect.

And yet many will simply abandon reason by reading the punctuation in their English Bible translation and saying something like “the Bible is unambiguous.” It’s absurd.

The Meaning of a Word

Years ago, Artisanal Toad wrote the following:

1st Timothy 3:2. Again, this passage does not mean what you think it means. the word that is translated as “one” is also defined as “first” and so would be a better fit. That is, a man still married to his first wife. — Artisanal Toad

His interpretation of the Greek word (μιᾶς) as “first” instead of “one” directly and unambiguously implies that Paul approves of polygyny. I retorted that while “first” is a valid meaning in the lexicon, the meaning of “one” is mutually exclusive: it implies that Paul is categorically forbidding polygyny.

It is rather amusing that on the face of it one wife husband explicitly rejects polygyny while first wife husband implies it: they are mutually exclusive defeaters of each other. A single word ambiguity leads to completely opposite conclusions! — Derek Ramsey

And so once again we are left with a problem. To understand what the Bible says, one must know how Paul meant by his use of that Greek word. If you get it wrong, your theology on polygyny—as well as the qualifications for a Christian pastor—will be critically incorrect. This is hardly a minor issue, but it is also a complex problem with no easy answer.

And yet many will simply abandon reason by reading the words—chosen by a translator in their English Bible translation—and saying something like “the Bible is unambiguous.” It’s absurd.

Curse or Command?

Genesis 3:16, God says this to the woman:

“I will increase, yes, increase your pain and toil in childbirth. In pain and toil you will bear children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

This is a very important verse for those interested in the manosphere and patriarchy. But is this a curse or a command? Is it normative or exceptional? These distinctions are extremely important, and yet unclear. In “An Analysis of Genesis 3:16,” I covered one debate where assumptions about this verse dramatically altered the plausibility of each viewpoint.

Now, consider “The Context of Genesis 3:16.” There I discuss the views of Deti, another fundamentalist who believes that his personal interpretation is correct because it is the simple one:

Thedeti begins his exegesis of Genesis 3:16 in the context of quotes of Ephesians 5:22-24, and 1 Peter 3:1-6 and says:

This isn’t hard to understand. [..] 1) Submit to your husbands [..] 2) Submit in everything. [..] 3) When you submit, do so gently and quietly.
— comment by thedeti @ SigmaFrame, “The Tennant Authority Structure”

Given Deti’s supreme confidence in the exclusivity and obviousness of his viewpoint, you can easily imagine him characterizing and dismissing opposing viewpoints the same way that Sharkly did:

Your most persuasive arguments are going to be the simple ones that people will easily recognize the truth of the moment you mention them. If you have to construct a Rube Goldberg machine to make your point, you’ll probably only lose credibility by employing such a contrived argument as your ideological defense.

Of course there is nothing wrong with Deti arguing for a particular interpretation of Genesis 3:16 and then interpreting Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 in light of the context of Genesis. If we can agree that his interpretation of Genesis is correct and that he has made no unsound arguments, then he will have won the day! But by making the interpretations of the latter dependent on the interpretation of former, if it turns out the former only shows a negative or cursed view of a husband’s authority over his wife, then the interpretations of the latter are not evidenced by the former.

This is a big problem, because if one is wrong about Genesis 3:16 being a curse or not, then their view of patriarchy will also be critically incorrect. This is hardly a minor issue, but it is also a complex problem with no easy answer. I gave no less than ten different possible interpretations for Genesis 3:16, and the list was not exhaustive! There are also at least seven questions that have to be answered correctly before one can interpret the passage dogmatically.

And yet many—as Deti displayed—will simply abandon reason by reading the words—chosen by a translator in their English Bible translation—and saying something like “the Bible is easy to understand.” It’s absurd.

Punctuation and Submission

Did you notice Deti’s citation of Ephesians 5 above? He also said something quite similar here:

I promote the submission of wives to their own husbands. Because that’s clearly what Eph 5:22-24 states, quite unequivocally.

Unequivocal! But, pay attention to Deti’s citation. Here is part of the passage in the NIV:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Notice how the mutual submission described in v21 is separated from the submission of wives to husbands in v22 by a period. But there is no punctuation in the original. In fact, there is no verb for submission in v22. Deti has literally cited a sentence fragment containing no verb to say that the Bible is unequivocal on the topic. Simplistic indeed!

Here is a more complete example of the sentence:

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled with the Spirit

speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

singing and be making music with your heart to the Lord

giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

submitting to one another out of fear of Christ, the wives to the husbands as to the Lord

When the punctuation is removed, the meaning of the passage is suddenly very different and no longer unequivocal. Indeed, there are many reasons to think that submission is mutual between husbands and wives.

And yet many will simply abandon reason by reading the punctuation—chosen by a translator in their English Bible translation—and saying something like “the Bible is unequivocal.” It’s absurd.

Response to Ambiguity

What can we do in response to ambiguity?

Well, for starters, we should not judge and condemn fellow Christians for disagreeing, nor arrogantly claim that one’s personal views must be treated as if they were the Word of God itself. Dismissing the views of others is precisely the wrong thing to do.

This, of course, means we can’t use Occam’s Razor to dismiss the viewpoints we don’t like. The dismissal of complex arguments on complex topics—because they are not simple—will almost certainly result in the dogmatic acceptance of falsehood. Why? Because applying the Razor in such a fallacious manner demonstrates one’s susceptibility to error. Indeed, the most significant error one can make is assuming that a simple answer exists.

Instead, we have to engage the ideas on their own merits. If we are unable to do this, we must stand aside. If we are able to do this, then the only way to deal with ambiguity is still to allow “Christian Discernment“: stepping aside and agreeing to disagree. After all, a little humility goes a long way. The best way to do this is to only ever attack the idea and never attack the person.

Since the Bible translations and Christian theology are both designed to simplify God’s Word into a more digestible simplified format, one would expect the truth to require a more complex and nuanced argument, not a simpler and simplified one. Simplistic thinking always requires a less simplistic explanation to overcome. To wit:

The expectation that truth must be delivered to you in easily digestible, unambiguous chunks is a serious error. It really is quite simple to believe a falsehood, requiring almost no effort at all. It is utterly trivial to be believe in almost anything, like those green jelly beans and acne. What’s difficult and complex is overturning established beliefs, often requiring an extremely complex approach. In many cases, it is completely impossible. Avoiding this conclusion by using Occam’s Razor will only lead you to more error.

As I said before:

Sharkly believes that the Bible plainly teaches that only men are made in the image of God. Yet it appears that he may be the only person alive out of billions who believes this. If this viewpoint is so plain and obvious, why is he the only one who believes it? This is logically self-defeating: a thing cannot be actually plain to see if it isn’t plain to see. If we apply Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation is that Sharkly is wrong and that everyone else is right.

Nonetheless, I’m willing to agree to disagree.

28 Comments

  1. professorGBFMtm

    ”The Placement of a Comma
    A while back, I reviewed James Attebury’s comments regarding “Luke 23:34 and Sheol.” I explained that the placement of a comma dramatically alters the meaning of the passage:

    Luke 23:43b can be translated in two ways:

    Truly I tell you,
    today you will be with me in paradise.

    …and…

    Truly I tell you today,
    you will be with me in paradise.

    The placement of a comma determines whether or not a person goes to Paradeisō immediately upon death or whether one’s salvation is ensured at the time of one’s confession of faith. This is a big problem: there is no punctuation in the original text. All puncutation in the Bible was added after the fact.”

    i don’t remember if it was a skyangel tv program or radio preacher talking about that when this first came to my attention.

    Curse or Command?

    Genesis 3:16, God says this to the woman:

    “I will increase, yes, increase your pain and toil in childbirth. In pain and toil you will bear children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

    This is a very important verse for those interested in the manosphere and patriarchy. But is this a curse or a command? Is it normative or exceptional? These distinctions are extremely important, and yet unclear. In “An Analysis of Genesis 3:16,” I covered one debate where assumptions about this verse dramatically altered the plausibility of each viewpoint.”

    The GBFMian view is that most importantly Genesis 3:16 is GOD speaking that woMEN are sinners just like MEN with their own ”burden of performance”& don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Nonetheless, I’m willing to agree to disagree.

    DEREK your suppose to obey without questioning in the least any guy that yells red pill , read some dalrock posts pre-Feburary 19th 2024 or even after for that matter and knows greek and latin , don’t ya know?

    Even though the above would also include doug wilson.

    Whom sharkly thinks is ”the most correct of the heretic pastors dude!”.

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      “i don’t remember if it was a skyangel tv program or radio preacher talking about that when this first came to my attention.”

      There are so many places in the Bible where there is ambiguity like this. Do you recall how Sharkly’s argument on only men being in the image of God in Genesis 1:27 came down to the placement of a period? He firmly believes that a period is implied there, even though he admits that it doesn’t exist in the original.

      I don’t mind people who take opposing viewpoints regarding that ambiguity, so long as they come about it honestly. My problem is with those who (1) act as if the ambiguity doesn’t exist; and (2) criticize people for considering various possible explanations for that ambiguity. This is similar to those people who think biblical inerrancy means that what is printed in an English translation Bible cannot be in error. But of course that just begs-the-question. How do you know if your English translation got the placement of a comma correct or not?

      How can someone argue that the Pericope Adulterae should be removed from the Bible and then condemn me for saying that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 may also be a forgery? The latter suffers from the same kind of ambiguity I describe in the OP:

      “The decision by translators to place the verses after v33, after v40, or in the margin or in a footnote changes the exegetical meaning. It is not a neutral choice by translators.”

      What do you say about those who think that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was a quotation? Can I insert quotation marks there? Why not?

  2. “… frequent reader and commenter[,] Sharkly …”

    I probably wouldn’t frequent here nearly as much if I wasn’t so often the topic du jour.

    The notable Sharkly once wrote: “Your MOST PERSUASIVE arguments are going to be the simple ones …”

    I’m not sure how that got twisted into: Sharkly must believe complex things to be false.

    If Occam’s Razor is wrong, do tell.

    I previously asked that I not keep getting linked by association in your posts with thedeti. Although I like reading thedeti’s thoughts, we are not of the same mind on many fundamental things. If you’d like to attack my personal beliefs, I’d ask you to do that directly, and not by attempting to blur my teaching with thedeti’s beliefs, by addressing them both together.

    Sharkly’s verses for the day (again): 1 Corinthians 11:6(ASV) For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled. 7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      Sharkly,

      “I previously asked that I not keep getting linked by association in your posts with thedeti. Although I like reading thedeti’s thoughts, we are not of the same mind on many fundamental things.”

      The two of you may differ on many fundamental positions, but you largely share the same epistemology.

      Both of you discount biblical ambiguity and elevate your own opinions to the level of unambiguous doctrine, as if your views are not subject to debate. Both of you embrace ad hominem, sitting in judgment and condemning those who disagree with your “divine” opinions.

      Since you share an epistemology, the fact that you both hold different opinions isn’t especially relevant. I will continue to use both of you as examples of those who (1) attack the person rather than the idea; (2) hold debatable beliefs axiomatically; and (3) refuse to acknowledge the relevance—and often the existence—of ambiguity in scripture (see here for example).

      “The notable Sharkly once wrote: “Your MOST PERSUASIVE arguments are going to be the simple ones …””

      You can find very persuasive arguments coming from any High School debate team, where the tactics used are all about winning, rather than truthseeking. Prioritizing persuasion over truth means you must eventually sacrifice the latter to achieve the former when they inevitably conflict. It is quite evident from scripture that, normally, the truth is not persuasive.

      If your set of tactics include both honesty and dishonesty, you will be more persuasive than only having tactics that involve honesty. Everyone knows this. It’s why politicians are always corrupt, one way or another.

      “Occam’s Razor teaches that the simplest way to win an argument is to declare victory.”

      I’m sure you find yourself to be highly persuasive in your simplistic use of the Razor to declare yourself victorious. By invoking the Razor to avoid engaging with my ideas, you only demonstrate my point.

      Peace,
      DR

      NOTE: A person concerned with truthseeking understands that they might be wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t need to be a truthseeker! No one who thinks they might be in error would utterly condemn another person. This is why, in real science, no scientist is ever condemned for holding a viewpoint that conflicts with the consensus: no scientific view is—or can be—sacred. A zealot cannot be a truthseeker.

      1. I don’t have the time to address your unending and repetitive claims against me unendingly and repetitively. (1) You have used Ad Hominem arguments against me, questioning my intelligence and such. (2) You hold debatable beliefs axiomatically. (3) you refuse to admit that Genesis 1:27 might not actually be saying that females are the image of the Father, when a professor of Biblical languages has admitted that there is no verse that specifically states that. And in so doing you not only deny any possibility of ambiguity in that verse, but you do so in service of your axiom that women must be images of our masculine Godhead, contrary to the text of 1 Corinthians 11:7.

        …the simplest way to win an argument is to declare victory.
        And that you do. Almost everything you disagree with gets labeled with the name of some “logical fallacy” and thereby you claim victory often without even addressing the substance of the argument. You’ll put up pages of text just to claim you get to redefine words and terms to allow your errors to stand. Like when you misused survivorship-bias and circular-reasoning and can’t admit that your definitions are not the standard ones and that for you to continue using terms which have a defined meaning to mean something else even after having been corrected makes you a liar, because you’d rather lie to avoid admitting your mistakes, by making things appear as they are not.

        A zealot cannot be a truthseeker.
        Was the disciple “Simon the zealot” not seeking the truth as he followed Jesus Christ?

        Much like thedeti often does, you try to make absolute conditions out of generalities, which is an unforced error on your part.

        And no, I don’t want to continue wasting more of my time debating truth with a dishonest man. Most of your arguments are just repetitive at this point, and I’ve responded to them before. So, at this point you’re not seeking truth, but are being a propagandist against me, rehashing points I’ve addressed already on your many other blog posts against me and my views.

        [Editor: the response to this comment is here]

        1. Derek L. Ramsey

          Sharkly,

          “You have used Ad Hominem arguments against me, questioning my intelligence and such.”

          An example of an ad hominem regarding intelligence would be like this:

          “I don’t like your argument, so you must be stupid”

          I have never done such a thing.

          You have demonstrated on many occasions that you don’t understand logical fallacies and how they are applied (see here). Demonstrating that you lack cognitive ability by being unable to reason logically is not an ad hominem, it is an observation: you keep getting it wrong over and over again, so the logical and rational conclusion is that you are unable to get it right (The only alternative explanation is that you are intentionally lying about me misapplying logical fallacies, which would be a personal attack).

          Notably, this observation not an attack, though you obviously are defensive about it and feel attacked. The truth of the matter is orthogonal to your feelings. See, rather than attack you, I suggested you learn more by acquiring a college textbook and learning. This is constructive, which wouldn’t be possible if it were a personal attack that didn’t address what we were debating: the nature of logic itself. You and I have been arguing over the meaning and application of logical fallacies. Given this, one’s cognitive ability is directly applicable to the discussion, and cannot be an ad hominem.

          Furthermore, in treating intelligence as a moral issue, you are projecting leftist/blankslatist views upon me which I do not hold. The level of one’s intelligence is not a matter of personal worth. To wit:

          “It is a dangerous mistake to premise the moral equality of human beings on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once revealed, then becomes an argument for moral inequality.” — A.W.F. Edwards, Lewontin’s Fallacy, 2003

          There is nothing wrong with differing levels of intelligence and ability. I’ve said this numerous times: the fact that you are wrong to think I misapplied logical fallacies is not a personal failing on your part. It doesn’t mean you are a liar. It just means you are incorrect, which is no big deal. Everyone gets stuff wrong, but you have utterly lost your mind over it.

          But you think I’m a liar. YOU are projecting your own issues onto me. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. You are taking your own axioms and beliefs and forcing them on to me, going as far as to condemn me to hell, and so until you stop making stupid claims about me…

          “I don’t have the time to address your unending and repetitive claims against me unendingly and repetitively.”

          …I’m going to keep standing my ground. When you are ready to stop attacking me personally, then we can have a meaningful discussion. Until then, I’m entitled to defend myself from your one-directional personal attacks.

          “Almost everything you disagree with gets labeled with the name of some “logical fallacy” and thereby you claim victory often without even addressing the substance of the argument. “

          It’s not a label. It’s a correct description of what you actually did. You commit logical fallacies. Often. Each time you do, it invalidates your argument. I don’t address the substance of invalid arguments. That would be stupid. Actually stupid of me. If I addressed the substance of your argument while ignoring your fallacious reasoning you would be correct to call me unintelligent and it wouldn’t be an ad hominem.

          The fact that you don’t understand that your fallacious reasoning means that I don’t have to address the substance of your argument—and that you think it is a personal attack instead—is a clear indication that I overestimated your abilities.

          You can take issue with me not being stupid if you’d like, but I’m not going to argue the substance of your argument until you fix your fallacious reasoning.

          “You’ll put up pages of text…”

          That right there is a logical fallacy. It is quite literally not dealing with the substance of what I wrote, but talking about something which has no bearing at all on what I had to say. Over and over again you do this. All you need to do is have some self-reflection and see that this is, quite obviously, not addressing anything that I said, but is in fact an attempt to avoid doing so.

          Like when you misused survivorship-bias…

          Nope.

          …and circular-reasoning…

          Nope, never happened.

          …and can’t admit that your definitions are not the standard ones…

          I literally cited multiple sources which showed that I used them correctly, and I asked someone else to make sure that you were just gaslighting me and that I wasn’t crazy.

          “…and that for you to continue using terms which have a defined meaning to mean something else even after having been corrected…”

          This only happened in your mind.

          …makes you a liar

          And there is the personal attack. Look, you have no idea what my motive is, so you can’t possibly know if I’m a liar. Now that I’ve pointed it out to you, you know it too, so if you don’t retract your statement, you will make yourself to be a liar all on your own. Rather than constantly telling falsehoods about me, why can’t you stick to the argument? Why do you come here and waste so much of your time making ludicrious statements just to avoid the substance of what I have to say.

          …because you’d rather lie to avoid admitting your mistakes, by making things appear as they are not.

          I correct my mistakes all the time. I edit my articles in response to criticism on a routine basis. I most notably did so when Gunner Q called me a liar. He was wrong then, but he wasn’t wrong about everything he said I did wrong, so I corrected them when it was pointed out.

          The difference here is that you’re not actually pointing out an error I make. You are mistaken in thinking I made an error. The error is entirely yours. When you finally get around to dealing with the substance of my arguments, you have a chance of finding an error in my reasoning, but you’ve not done so yet.

          “Much like thedeti often does, you try to make absolute conditions out of generalities, which is an unforced error on your part.”

          I’m talking about absolutes, about ideals, so it makes sense that I am talking about absolute conditions. It is not an error so much as just what I happened to be talking about.

          “Was the disciple “Simon the zealot” not seeking the truth as he followed Jesus Christ?”

          A truthseeker is one who puts truth above all else. To wit…

          “Real science does not happen unless scientists are truth seekers and truth speakers, and truth seeking is an end not a means – truth is not confined by methods; and truth is a whole, not a part – an excess focus on one aspect is equivalent to the gross exaggeration of one virtue at the expense of virtuous-ness.” — Bruce Charlton

          …being a truth seeker is where truth is the whole focus of what one does, the primary motivation. Everyone can see truth, but unless it is the primary end goal, one will sacrifice it for some other “virtue.” Simon the Zealot had to choose between truth and zealotry, for he could not have two masters. If you were concerned about truth seeking above all else, you wouldn’t call me a liar, you’d say I was incorrect. In telling falsehoods about me, you show that you have a master that is different than the truth.

          For me personally, seeking truth is my primary goal. No man can achieve this goal absolutely, but they can choose this to be their highest goal. I have done so, and am acting in accordance with that choice. This is one reason I talk about fallacies so much: I cannot accept fallacious reasoning, for that would be to abandon truthseeking. You are, literally, asking me to recant of truthseeking, something I will never do, even if you wrote a million words here.

          Peace,
          DR

  3. Liz

    I’ve seen enough Biblical debates by experts (real experts, like I believe Sharkly and Derek to be) that I just listen and noodle.

    The only thing I am fairly certain of is that if my husband tells me to kill my family, and I do, this would not please God. That would seem pretty self evident.

      1. As you’re probably aware, my position is that 1 Corinthians 11:3 is a chain of command. And the husband isn’t delegated any authority to countermand his divine superiors, nor God’s laws. If a husband commands something clearly contrary to God’s rules which are currently applicable to us, then his command itself is mutinous and does not have the backing of God, who has already published a relevant and irrevocable commandment to the contrary.

      2. Bardelys the Magnificent

        A husband cannot command his wife to sin. Not even God will ask you to sin. A wife is well within her bounds to disobey if he’s asking her to do something sinful. That’s the hard stop. The problem is that women and weak pastors will cry out that all sorts of unsinful things are sinful as a get-out-of-jail free card. But the principle is not hard to grasp.

        1. Liz

          BtM,

          No, it is not a hard principle to grasp.
          At least, I didn’t think so but the internet always surprises with the odd ideas a confirmation bias environment will produce.
          This was one of the odder ones, to put it as kindly as possible.

          Wanted to thank you for disputing the assertion that “Islamic orient was a refuge of science and knowledge” in the Middle Ages, over at Jack’s.

        2. Derek L. Ramsey

          BtM,

          “A husband cannot command his wife to sin”

          This is evident throughout scripture. Paul, in Colossians 3:18, handles this explicitly, saying…

          Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is proper behavior in connection with the Lord.

          …that submission must be both proper and in the Lord. This necessarily excludes sin.

          “The problem is that women and weak pastors will cry out that all sorts of unsinful things are sinful”

          …and men. Lots and lots of men. The god of equality cares not for sex differences, only the sins of merit and disparate impact.

          “A great deal of our “common sense” is actually propaganda and mind-games. A great deal of our motivation has been socially and by the mass media inculcated artificially and with malign intent.” — Bruce Charlton

          Men still largely dominate management positions in business, and they still refuse to fire incompetent people or hire based on merit, in large part because it is illegal to do so, as other (mostly) men passed laws to enforce these mandates. Very, very few men are bold enough to run counterculture:

          “When Elon Musk purchased Twitter, he immediately fired three out of four employees, resulting in outrage. And yet, the vast majority of those employees were purely dead weight. Who else is willing to stand up and do such a thing? Your local School District Board isn’t going to fire underperforming teachers or aggressively cull excess administrators. Nor are your hospitals, airlines, and government regulatory offices (e.g. department of health). There is a reason that we are used to underperforming employees getting transferred.”

          If every pastor was replaced by persons handpicked by you, it wouldn’t change anything because the problem is much, much wider than “women and weak pastors.” Without repentance of the masses, Churches would just fail faster. You can’t fix the problem of too many scolds by installing more scolds:

          “In general, the Bible talks about what men—or men and women collectively—should do. The Bible rarely singles out “female” behavior. It simply isn’t all that concerned about correcting women’s behavior.”

          The problem is fully embedded in culture itself and requires a cultural change. Churches merely reflect the wider culture.

          Peace,
          DR

  4. professorGBFMtm

    What guys like sharkly ,jack and Deti won’t acknowledge is that the golden age MANosphere that set the stage for the ”Christian MANosphere” most closely resembled the fun version of spawnyspace that existed up until about 2 or so years ago.

    Once it got super serious and all about arguing over bible translations and word meanings it’s popularity faded as has spawnyspace’s diffrent commenter and commenting numbers ever since TON first left then i leaving the first time about 6 months later , then LIZ 6 months after that in May ’22 then Elspeth in May ’23.

    AME nor RichardP has been there in a while either.

    So my leaving now is just another sign it’s time for more black pillness like Deti offers too much of.

    Sharkly acting like my mainly epic metaphysical red pill/white pill adventure=quests were ”ruining the fine work of all the fine commenters” is just turning spawnys even more into a depressed(mood,commenting and traffic wise)place like jack’s sf and sharkly’s sites have been for 2+years now.

    Or as the modern ‘sphere has done is told here from long ago “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”Hosea 8:7

    While they argue about translations,meanings,blog or video formating and the best arrangment of seating on the sinking titanic of the world as did the dalrockian ”Christian Manosphere” before it fell too nearly a decade ago .

    ’nuff said.(like LIZ said above indeed)

  5. professorGBFMtm

    ”Deti’s reasoning has a lot of weird implications.
    What if the husband has lost his mind?
    Paul didn’t account for insanity! Stilll kill your family!”

    Deti main reasoning was saying at spawnys & @sf before was”how many husbands would actually command their wife to rob a bank or murder?”

    i guess anti-”lawlessness” sharkly objections to being” lumped with theDeti” is based on that plus the jack and rpa morally(jack is big on morality ya know) -approved mike davis harcore wife strapon porn stuff sharkly said he would troll sf with @spawnys.

    1. Liz

      ”how many husbands would actually command their wife to rob a bank or murder?”

      Kind of beside the point, when the reasoning itself is suspect… that this is what God wants, expects, and demands if the husband says it.
      He literally claims that a woman who does NOT kill her family when her husband tells her to will have to “take it up with God” having done the wrong thing.
      I’d think it was parody on a level of Monty Python, but he has made it clear he is serious as a heart attack on the matter.

      1. Liz

        Which, yes, kind of leads into support for pornographer Mike.
        Hey, if the husband wants to pimp out his wife for cash, because excites him to do so (he has admitted as much) she is just being a good wife.
        This too, is “pleasing to God” in their weird estimation.

        They cite Sarah to support such behavior. Because obviously there can be no distinction between a wife working an only fans account for fun, and a woman saving her husband’s life.

        1. liz

          Guess that kind of leads into the topic on “Biblical ambiguity”….

          Most (sane) people would read Sarah’s sacrifice as the act of a dutiful wife saving her husband’s life, short of other options. But there is a subset of folks on the internet who seem to have found each other and view this as confirmation that wives can be pimped out for any reason and as long as this satisfies the husband’s wish (for any reason) God is pleased. Indeed, it would be a great sin to think otherwise.

          1. Derek L. Ramsey

            Sarah—as the dutiful wife of Abraham—is quite relevant to the topic of Biblical ambiguity.

            In 1 Peter 3, Peter notes that Sarah obeyed her husband Abraham. “Aha!”, you say, “Surely, this must mean that wives should obey their husbands. There is no ambiguity at all!” The problem is that the Greek Septuagint translated Abraham’s obedience to Sarah—described in Genesis 16:2—using the exact same word that Peter uses of Sarah’s obedience to Abraham. You know, the time she called him “lord” (or “master”).

            And so we are left with a conundrum. If ‘obey’ necessarily and unambiguously implies obedience to a rightful authority, then Sarah must have had authority over Abraham, for the Bible says that Abraham obeyed her. But if the word does not imply such authority, then we cannot rely solely on the meaning of the word itself, which can be used with different connotations. The word itself is too ambiguous to establish that obedience to authority is being described and mandated.

            If they were intellectually honest, proponents of headship would be obligated to state that ‘obey’ does not necessarily imply authority, undermining their own exclusive claims in the process.

            This is a key difference in how I operate. I make arguments that a particular thing should be interpreted a certain way and I give reasons for it. But I’m well aware that most of what I argue is based on things with a large amount of ambiguity. Intellectual honesty requires that I understand that the reasons I give and the claims that I make do not (and can not) eliminate counterarguments, for my claims are not exclusive. Unfortunately those who assume my motives cannot understand how a person can make an argument without insisting that everyone else is wrong.

  6. Derek L. Ramsey

    NOTE: This is a response to this comment.

    Sharkly,

    “You hold debatable beliefs axiomatically.

    Correct. Examples include “God exists” and “sola scriptura.” I often freely describe my axiomatic beliefs. But, do you know what? When those axioms come under debate (e.g. from atheists), I set my axiomatic belief aside and argue as if they are falsifiable anyway.

    To the best of my knowledge, none of my axioms are under debate in our discussions. The key differences between us is that (1) you misidentify my axioms (see below); and (2) you do not admit that your own axioms are axioms.

    “you refuse to admit that Genesis 1:27 might not actually be saying that females are the image of the Father”

    You are projecting again. I considered here that neither men nor women are in the image of God, unless they are Christians. Thus, I don’t—and can’t—believe my view is exclusive.

    In any case, there is no need for me to make a specific declaration that any particular viewpoint is hypothetically possible, because that is inherent in my epistemology. If you took the time to understand me, you’d know that already. But you’re not trying to understand me, nor even to persuade me: you are trying to tell me what to think and condemn me if I don’t agree with you.

    “When a professor of Biblical languages has admitted that there is no verse that specifically states that.”

    I already addressed the substance of this argument, and I’m unclear why you keep repeating this after I’ve already responded to you and you had no answer to my response.

    Let me say this again: I agree that there is no specific combination of words that denotes this exact phrase literally. That’s all I can conclude from your uncle. You read far more into his comments that is logically justified.

    The fact is, Genesis 1 explicitly states that both male and female were made in the image of God. In actual, biblical language. It doesn’t say that women are made in the image of God, it says that “male and female” are. This isn’t complicated and nothing your uncle said changes the fact that it doesn’t matter that the Bible doesn’t have a phrase that reads “women are made in the image of God”. God isn’t obligated to spell it out according to the precise demands of his followers, just as he doesn’t have to explicitly state that an unborn child is a human and that you shouldn’t kill it.

    “And in so doing you not only deny any possibility of ambiguity in that verse”

    You already know my epistemology, so feel free to cite this claim if you think you can.

    “in service of your axiom that women must be images of our masculine Godhead, contrary to the text of 1 Corinthians 11:7.”

    You are mistaken. It cannot be my axiom, because I have a literal post on this blog where I present the case that women lost the image of God. Since I’ve presented two mutually-exclusive claims, I can’t possibly hold either of them axiomatically.

    I also already addressed 1 Corinthians 11:7 here. Using your own hermeneutical method, we are forced to conclude that Paul did not, in fact, say that women are in the image of the Church, nor does he say that they is not in the image of God. In fact, the only thing it says regarding the image of God is that the husband is in the image of God. It is completely silent on anything else. Remember, we can’t infer anything about what Paul believed unless it states it so explicitly that it can only mean that.

    And also here I addressed it by noting that:

    “The most obvious retort is that by being a woman in the image of man, who is in the image of God, that she too must also be in the image of God. Women might be a reflection of a reflection, but are nonetheless still a reflection of the original source. I don’t see how you can simply discount this explanation. “

    John Chrysostom, writing in the late 4th century, agrees with me:

    ““But the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Here the heretics rush upon us with a certain declaration of inferiority, which out of these words they contrive against the Son.”

    Also, you are incorrect that God is solely masculine. He is both masculine and feminine. Wisdom, in particular, is a feminine attribute of God. The creation of life is also a feminine attribute. Your own hermeneutical method forbids you from making the claim that God is solely masculine, because even your uncle would be forced to admit that the Bible never uses those words.

    Peace,
    DR

    1. “The fact is, Genesis 1 explicitly states that both male and female were made in the image of God. “
      I consider that statement to be a lie. I first came to be of the opposite belief by reading that first chapter of the Bible and noticing how meticulous God was to absolutely never say that the woman was His image or likeness, while clearly indicating that the one man, Adam, was, four times.

      Perhaps I’ve described your opinion wrongly. You are OK with women not having the image of God, so long as you can also snatch it away from men. Saying that both sexes don’t have it, or else they both have it. You seem not to be seeking the truth, but to always be committed to maintaining the presumed fundamental “sexual equality” that both Feminism and Mariolatry were founded upon.

      If all men are categorically superior to all women by reason of only men’s created being imaging God the Father and the Son, then it would only be fitting and expected that God would categorically subject all wives under their husband’s dominion. For it is right that the lesser should serve the greater, like a son obeying his father. Even the ancients naturally understood that concept:
      https://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-so-it-is-naturally-with-the-male-and-the-female-the-one-is-superior-the-other-inferior-aristotle-61-28-82.jpg

      1. Derek L. Ramsey

        “[Editor: personal attack removed here, please stick to the ideas]”

        I bet you do.

        “I first came to be of the opposite belief by reading that first chapter of the Bible and noticing how meticulous God was to absolutely never say that the woman was His image or likeness, while clearly indicating that the one man, Adam, was, four times.”

        Yes, you came to be. Prior to that you understood the most natural reading of the passage. Then, after some time, you convinced yourself what you wanted to believe about it, and abandoned the correct understanding. You had seen a pattern where no pattern exists, like finding faces in clouds, and told yourself that they were real. People keep pointing out that you are just seeing phantoms, but you know that your “lived experiences” are valid.

        Far from being meticulous, your belief leads to absurd conclusions.

        “Perhaps I’ve described your opinion wrongly.”

        Described it wrongly?! You didn’t like me pointing out that you hold debatable beliefs axiomatically, so you (unsuccessfully) tried to turn it back at me, a rather plain example of tu quoque. So, yes, you definitely described my opinion wrongly, but you seem to have missed the point of why it was wrong, because you related it to this unrelated issue instead:

        “You are OK with women not having the image of God, so long as you can also snatch it away from men. Saying that both sexes don’t have it, or else they both have it.”

        It has nothing to do with what I’m okay with: my motivations are not relevant or applicable. Until you pointed it out to me, I didn’t even know there was another position! As I did with your claim that women were not made in the image of God, I took the position that the image of God was lost, and used the Berean approach to find out if it was true or not. The only difference was the result of the examination.

        The Bible talks about humans having the image of God before the fall, and then it talks about Christians having the image of God. What happened in between is not stated. The Bible simply doesn’t say one way or the other.

        So, I may take either position. You seem to want to pin me down to one position, but it is just not possible to be dogmatic about it.

        “You seem not to be seeking the truth, but to always be committed to maintaining the presumed fundamental “sexual equality” that both Feminism and Mariolatry were founded upon.”

        It does not logically follow that humans being created in the image of God (or not) obligates one to subscribe to “sexual equality”, feminism, or mariolatry. Your reasoning is invalid.

        “If all men are categorically superior to all women by reason of only men’s created being imaging God the Father and the Son, then it would only be fitting and expected that God would categorically subject all wives under their husband’s dominion.”

        Yes, that seems like a logically valid proposition, but it is still unsound. Given your assumption, I guess God meticulously forgot to say “only” (as you did above) and then meticulously made a mistake when he said he named them—male and female—”Adam” when he created them.

        “For it is right that the lesser should serve the greater”

        You have it reversed:

        “The greatest among you shall be your servant.”

        I place Jesus over Aristotle. YMMV.

        1. “Yes, you came to be. Prior to that you understood the most natural reading of the passage. Then, after some time, you convinced yourself what you wanted to believe about it, and abandoned the correct understanding.”

          That’s your story of my conversion to the truth.
          I certainly didn’t originally want to place myself at odds with all of today’s churches. Prior to my discovery I really hadn’t given that passage or the related doctrine too much thought and just generally accepted that which I had preached at me for my whole life, that men and women both image God and are therefore equivalent in the highest possible regard.

          One day when reading the passage, it appeared to me that God went to extreme lengths to not just plainly say that women are His image, as I had been taught. So, I delved deeper into the Hebrew and noticed that God also used a singular masculine pronoun to refer to the “Adam” he had made in His image. (was that a mistake?) Then I decided to see what else the Bible said about God’s image and likeness, and I found passages like (1 Corinthians 11:7) and in James 3 where the image of God is again only ascribed to the masculine sex, and I found nowhere that said that any woman was the image of God. So, then I looked to see if anybody else thought that only men are the image of God, and the Feminists on the internet pointed me to the fact that the earliest church fathers had written that women were not the image of God like men are, mostly prior to the Romanization of the church. Which triggered alarm bells that I was believing in an unoriginal doctrine, of later origin, that the early church fathers would have rejected as heresy.
          —————————————————————-

          Jesus Christ was saying that the men who shepherd His supposed bride are not to rule over the church like the men who rule the rest of the world. He was calling them out to be different from what is usual and normal. The church was betrothed to Christ, not to those men. But those husbandmen have led her into becoming a great whore, who commands that husbands must serve their wives’ defiling emotions and whims rather than serving God as God leads them to, and that wives owe their husband’s little if anything except their curse of contempt for their leadership.

          You serve me appealing lies and fancy Feminist excuses. I serve you the bitter truth, that stubborn rebels against The Father’s rule don’t want to hear. Who serves The Father’s rulership and promotes His holy order of patriarchy, and who serves women?

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