After mutual foot-washing

Via Classical Cipher in a comment, via Rebecca Watson at Facebook, via who knows what – marriage the old-fashioned way.

Let’s discuss this.

Marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church – so what is that then? What is the relationship between Christ and the Church? Does Christ have long interesting conversations with the Church, or does he just grunt now and then? Does Christ spend all his time with the Church or does he go out to work and leave the Church at home? Does Christ go to parties with the Church?

What exactly is that relationship, and how does the loon who wrote this stupid letter know what it is? How does anyone? What does that formula mean? What does it mean that can translate into a relationship between two (non-dead) humans? Is it just a fancy way of saying I am the boss of her the way Jesus is the boss of the Church? But even then…does Jesus tell the Church what to do every day/hour/minute? Did the loon who wrote this letter just give his wife a pamphlet of cryptic sayings and then disappear? In what way can these two people’s marriage be “a picture” of the relationship between Christ and the Church? I want to know.

And then husbands are to love their wives the way Christ loves the Church. Same problem. What way is that then? Husbands are to love their wives the way a guy who’s been dead for two thousand years loves an institution?

The part about the man asking the woman’s father for her as if she were an inflatable doll is too obviously disgusting to bother pointing out.


  1. Didaktylos says

    I found it really creepy, especially that underlined section about the woman not having the right to choose: institutionalised perpetual rape, or what?

  2. Stewart says

    This relationship between Christ and the Church – this is presumably subsequent to his death by crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. If that’s the case, let the men in these marriages start off by emulating that bit. Once they’ve been resurrected, there’ll be something to discuss.

  3. quantheory says

    I’m trying to figure this out.

    Jesus negotiates with the Church’s father, so that he can essentially own a bunch of people whether they like it or not? Admittedly, that’s not inconsistent with his character according to the Bible. So then is the Church going to wash Jesus’s feet (and vice versa), and then have sex with him? Or did that already happen? At what point do they casually mention this to the wedding guests in a letter?

    Did Jesus choose the Church the way this guy chose his wife? (Presumably when he was young and horny, with a brief and unromantic courtship, and based on a combination of superficial sex appeal and pathologically submissive behavior?)

  4. says

    You are now getting adverts for a Christian Prayer Centre, where you can post a prayer request and thousands will pray for you.

    Ophelia, I think you’ve broken their advertising algorithm so badly that it’s just bounced into a million bits. Some of those bits are now in geostationary orbit…

  5. Stewart says

    The ad is very funny under these circumstances because it talks about Christ building his Church – what, like that guy built his wife?

  6. sailor1031 says

    “the relationship between Christ and the Church”

    I think it’s just one of those christian metaphors that we atheists just don’t understand because we take it literally. As a metaphor it can mean anything or nothing…..or maybe it’s a palindrome – I dunno.

    BTW, “ephesians” is one of the several epistles reckoned by scholarly consensus to be “pseudepigraphic” (i.e. a forgery). How knowledgeable about their scripture can someone be who bases such a large part of their life on a forgery….?

    …..or maybe it’s an allegory on the banks of the Nile…

  7. Ophelia Benson says

    that we atheists just don’t understand because we take it literally.

    I like to do that. So much of this stuff is sheer waffle that you’re expected not to take literally (and yet to act as if you take literally all the same) – well if these loonies are going to live their lives and raise their unfortunate children according to it, I’m going to take it literally so that I can ask what the sam hill it’s supposed to mean.

    Besides, it’s amusing.

  8. sailor1031 says

    @OB: quite. The absurdity of basing your belief on a series of historical events and then saying that it’s only a metaphor so those events didn’t actually have to happen, boggles my mind. It’s the height of mental laziness and, yes, it is so amusing

  9. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Which part of the Gospel is it where Christ takes the Church out back for a quick knee-trembler after mutual foot-washing? I should have paid more attention in Sunday school.

  10. Stacy Kennedy says

    Maybe foot-washing is the only way Mr. Christ’s Representative can raise Lazarus from the dead?

  11. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Yay, you posted it! For me, the most jarring moment in the letter is the unabashedly negative usage of “consent.” Perhaps my experience is skewed, but I’ve never seen “consent” used in a way that suggests it’s a bad thing, something that would sully a marriage. But the whole thing is just skin-crawlingly creepy though.

  12. llewelly says

    The recognition of a civil government cannot marry any two people in the sight of God, and this should be obvious from the state’s recent confusion in “marrying” same-sex couples engaged in the sin of sodomy.

    wait wait wait.

    The same-sex couples were “engaged in the sin of sodomy” while the state was marrying them? Why didn’t I see this in all those pictures of the New York marriages?

    Also, is just me, or is this document a blatant give-away, which reveals the real reason these people object to gay marriage, is that it leaves them unable to decide which “marriage” partner is the master, and which is the perpetual rape slave?

  13. Pen says

    Isn’t a woman’s consent to marriage a legal requirement in this country? Aren’t we going to ‘oppress’ this Christian guy by at least forcing him to go through the motions?

  14. Jeremy Shaffer says

    The ad is very funny under these circumstances because it talks about Christ building his Church – what, like that guy built his wife?

    What… you mean, like, in the basement? With power tools?

  15. Ophelia Benson says

    Good question about the legal requirement. I suppose everyone simply assumes the woman has tacitly consented…but really, who knows. Maybe he locks her up any time he has to leave her side.

  16. Jeff says

    I’m not entirely sure how it works in the US, but usually the marriage license itself has to be signed by the officiant and the people getting married, so she has consented by signing that document.

    It seems like such a strange way to live, though, that I wonder what kind of notions and concern for consent the bride-to-be might have?

  17. Justin says

    Wow! I wonder if any of the wedding gifts they receive will match the decor of the cave they must live in. I’ve been an atheist since birth, none of this religious stuff will ever be anything but batshit craziness to me!

  18. sunsangnim says

    Well, now we know what the traditional marriage they’ve been trying to defend looks like.

    I’m also quite disturbed by the absolute determinism described before the underlined passage. In most theology, god is a dick, but you have to think about it for a second to realize how much of a dick he is. But this just puts it totally up front. God chose who will be saved and who will burn long before you were born, and there’s nothing you can do about it. He condemned you before even making you. Well, if that’s the case, why believe in him at all? Why go out of your way to appease him by following all these insane rules? If they believe they are the chosen group, they should leave the rest of us the hell alone. After all, all the evangelizing and forcing us to accept their moral laws won’t change a thing. We’ve been forsaken by god with no choice in the matter. We can indulge in all the sinful acts we want, and it doesn’t matter. Sort of nullifies the concept of heaven and hell as a punishment/reward system for maintaining a prescribed set of behaviors.

  19. jose says

    I’m surprised this letter isn’t written on a scroll made off goat skin or something. It also lacks a big, convolutedly ornated first letter and little angels in the corners.

  20. Not John Norman says

    I think this is the first case I’ve seen where search-and-replace to change the references to be about John Norman’s Gor would cause it to make more sense.

  21. JimC says

    These numnuts are really bizarre. Marriage is a contract plain and simply. It’s a contract recognized by the stae with certain culturally endorsed benefits. These two are not married despite he wierd ideas on the concept.

    At the end of the day he is an unmarried dipshit and she is someone who I genuinely feel sorry for as I can only imagine what her life will be like day to day in a few years.

  22. jaranath says

    I think what disturbs me the most is the fact that this was, apparently, handed out to wedding guests. Openly. Casually. How many guests agreed or “respected his beliefs?”

  23. Michael Swanson says


    Also, is just me, or is this document a blatant give-away, which reveals the real reason these people object to gay marriage, is that it leaves them unable to decide which “marriage” partner is the master, and which is the perpetual rape slave?”

    Well, if that doesn’t ring true I don’t know what does.

  24. Sheesh says

    The ad is very funny under these circumstances because it talks about Christ building his Church – what, like that guy built his wife?

    Wait, wait! Maybe it’s more like Weird Science!

  25. sailor1031 says

    I think “mutual foot washing” can certainly go on the list along with “hiking the appalachian trail” and “lifting the luggage” as euphemisms.
    One question: was this patriarchal sadsack going to consummate right after the wedding in front of all the guests? That’s how I read it, but I thought biblical weddings were all about comsummations after the party and “bloody proof” of the woman’s (now lost) virginity displayed next morning. With a good old stoning party if no blood on the sheets…..methinks this loon needs to read his scripture more closely.

  26. Stephen Turner says

    I wonder what “obeying his marital principals” means.

    Re consummation: In Montesquieu’s “The Spirit of the Laws”, he talks about abuses by the medieval church in France, and says that at one time, a newly-wed couple were not allowed to spend any of their first three nights of married life together unless they had purchased a special license from the church. Likewise, you couldn’t have a funeral service or get buried unless part of your estate had been donated to the church.

  27. Corry says

    Possibly the most absurd tenant of Christianity is the metaphor of Christ the bridegroom. If I was never around (for two millennia!) and expected my wife to do EXACTLY everything I ever told her to or risk eternal torture, I would be coming home to a house as empty as today’s churches on Sunday morning. Oh, wait…

  28. says

    Aside from being a rape apologist’s dream, and the analogy not working because salvation and marriage aren’t comparable, he’s saying that True Marriage(TM) is a transaction wherein the female (a chattel of her father) is given to her new owner. Yep, that sounds biblical, all right. Ephesians being a later forgery is just the decoration on top of the wedding cake.

    Please, someone build a time machine so this jerk can go back to the twelfth century where he belongs.

  29. Christina says

    What’s really screwed up is that the early church *introduced* the concept that a marriage depended *solely* on the consent of both partners, and not the consent of family members. (Or even the Church – priests were not necessary for a marriage to be valid until much later, though an optional religious blessing came about pretty early). The Roman pagans required (nominally) the consent of both partners and their families, but in practice, the woman’s consent could be overridden if everyone else agreed. Lack of consent has long been grounds for annulment in the Catholic Church, on the grounds that without consent, a marriage never actually took place.

  30. says

    Since you didn’t receive (or even ask) e woman’s consent, you have her in involuntary servitude — slavery — which is forbidden by the Constitution (and has been so for a while).

    I hope that you realize you’ve just publicly described your commission of a Federal crime. If you don’t have an attorney, you may want to get one.

  31. Ophelia Benson says

    I have that thought quite often while exploring this Dominionist/Patriarchal stuff. Much of it does seem to violate the law in one way or another – like Michael Pearl instructing people to commit gross child abuse. But law enforcement doesn’t like going after religious groups, for obvious reasons…

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