Movie Friday: Wife-beating etiquette

“Wow,” you’re probably thinking “where exactly is Crommunist going with this?”

Exactly where you think:

Yeah… that just happened.

Apparently, according to this man’s religious convictions, the way that Allah honors the wife is to prescribe the specific way in which her husband is allowed to “discipline” her through physical beatings. Allah also sets out the circumstance under which it’s permissible to do so: if she won’t sleep with him. Thus is the majesty and mercy of Allah displayed – a woman has a choice of whether to be raped or beaten. God surely is great!

I don’t think any of my readers here are Muslim, or if I do have any Muslim readers I doubt they’re particularly devout, so I don’t think there’s much to be gained by expressing my complete disgust for this particular religious tradition; however, there is a larger point to be made. I’m sure someone somewhere looks at this and says “this is how you know Christianity is true – Jesus would have never allowed this.” Despite the fact that Jesus doesn’t say a single word about whether or not it’s permissible to beat your wife (I’d imagine he wouldn’t be cool with it, but we don’t know that for sure – I guess it wasn’t a very important topic to him), this is a completely circular argument:

A. Beating your wife is bad
B. Christianity says that beating your wife is bad
C. Therefore, Christianity is true

Here’s the problem: A is assumed to be true completely independently of the other premises. I happen to agree with A, but that in no way says anything about C. If A is a true premise, there is a way of establishing its truth outside the framework of any religious tradition. The logical way to follow B is to say “C: therefore,  Christianity is right about wife abuse.” If I start my own religion and say that it’s okay to murder penguins for lulz, but also say that the Earth orbits around the sun, does that make my religion true? Of course not – it just means that one specific claim that I have made is based on something we understood already.

Back to these two fucks in the video clip. The only words I can use to describe someone so debased, so twisted and depraved, so…

Y’know what? Let’s let Hollywood take care of the insults, shall we? (OMFG is this ever not safe for work)

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  1. says

    Just disgusting, a religion that carries with it a guide book for how to be an abusive asshole. Look at me being kind I as I don’t hit you in the face.
    Can we now start pumping oil into those fuckwits’ brain cases instead of into our cars.

    This goes against my usual mode of communication but there is no way to express my thoughts about the beliefs expressed in that video but with anger and foul language.

  2. grassrute says

    You’re sure that someone somewhere is saying “this is how you know Christianity is true – Jesus would have never allowed this”

    An equally stupid argument:
    I’m sure somewhere someone is saying “This religion (Islam) encourages violence against women and is barbaric, therefore all religion is wrong.”
    A Beating your wife is bad
    B. Islam (a religion) says that beating your wife acceptable
    C. Therefore, all religion is bad
    I happen to agree with A, but that in no way says anything about C. While the bible (yes Brian, I am referencing the Bible, you can either understand why it’s applicable or render this comment irrelevant, you choose) does teach the way in which a Christian husband should treat his wife:
    Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. NIV
    How does atheism teach one to treat his wife? Who determines how any person ought to treat another?

  3. says

    I’ve never heard anyone make the claim that all religion is bad based on any single flaw of a particular religion, you’re absolutely correct that the argument you outline is a false one. I’m not sure how this refutes anything I’ve said, but maybe that was not your intention.

    The asshole in the video doesn’t think he’s being “harsh” – he thinks he is being completely reasonable. In fact, he thinks he is paying homage to his wife by not beating her in the face. Where does it say “husbands, do not hit your wives or physically intimidate them into sex?” It seems like the definition of “being harsh” is entirely up to the individual. In that case, we have to look to an external source for right and wrong, which is the entire point of my post. Well, that and the fact that (despite claims to the contrary) following a religious tradition does not make you moral, and can be used to justify great evil.

    As a response to your first question, atheism doesn’t teach anything about how we should treat each other. Atheism isn’t a moral or ethical system, it’s a lack of belief in one specific concept. In response to your second question, perhaps Brian would be able to better educate you on the specifics of this, but ethical and moral philosophy do a great deal to inform us not only about how we should treat each other, but why. It is on this second point that religion (all religion) fails – it makes a number of assumptions that do not hold up to any critical scrutiny whatsoever, relying instead on the premise that someone already believes that God exists and wants certain things.

  4. grassrute says

    My intention was simply that the example of the circular argument you provide is fictitious. No one is saying “this is how you know Christianity is true – Jesus would have never allowed this.” It’s as stupid as an atheist saying “I know, without a god telling me, it’s wrong to beat my wife so there must not be a God”
    In addition to this, your attempt to use this video for an argument against Christianity is far-reaching. I could have just as easily done the same thing, using the atheist quote above, to say that this obviously doesn’t prove there is no God. You would have been better off to post the video and express your disgust rather than drag another religion into it that DOESN’T condone wife beating.
    Considering you are of the opinion that the definition of “being harsh” is up to the individual, I will provide you with another text. This one is the ‘golden rule’ that everyone ought to try and live by:
    Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. NIV
    Now, do you know of any husbands that want to be beat-up as long as their face isn’t dismembered, their bones don’t get broken and they aren’t cursed in the process? Of course not! So then according to this text, husbands shouldn’t do it to their wives either. It’s rather simple and shouldn’t need to be spelled out in black and white. Would you think it was okay to beat your wife (or anyone else) if Canadian law (or maybe some philosopher) didn’t say it was wrong? Do you need it specifically stated “You shall not beat your wife” before you realize you’re doing something wrong?
    I think we can both agree that this idiot is an asshole. We can both agree that it is living proof that Islam is an oppressive religion that degrades women. From your perspective, it demonstrates what belief in God can do to a person. From my perspective, it demonstrates how retched and sinful people (including myself) need Jesus. So to summarize – you’re an atheist (anti-theist) that doesn’t believe it’s okay to beat your wife and I’m a Christian who knows that wife beating violates God’s law. That means we each get one point, but I don’t think anyone of us can claim that it proves our view is the correct one. What the asshole on the video says speaks volumes about Islam and I think you should have left it at that.
    In answer to my question, you mention an ‘external source.’ What ‘external source’ do you intend to turn to in order to distinguish between right and wrong? The same one that permits the murder of a baby at 8 months gestation? The same one that’s fighting for the legalization of euthanasia? The same one that gives the green light to Mixed Martial Arts? If a woman willingly submits herself to Islam and her husbands beating, recognizing them as her due punishment for disobeying her husbands rule, can this ‘external source’ condemn the beatings if they are mutually accepted by the husband and wife as Allah’s will? This ‘external source’ you speak of is just as barbaric as Allah.

  5. says

    Actually, depending on our interpretation of Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus may have backed up all of the nastiness in Leviticus, which I’m pretty sure includes all the rule of thumb nastiness.

  6. says

    Sorry it took me so long to reply, Grassrute. I was away from the blog this weekend.

    It’s interesting to note that the “Golden Rule” is not originally Christian – Jesus invokes it when asked what the most important commandment is (you probably know the passage), and makes reference to Jewish scripture. It also shows up in Confucius’ writings, completely separate from the Judeo/Christian heritage.

    I’m not sure that my statement is accurately represented by “this is how you know Christianity is true – Jesus would have never allowed this.” My intention was to highlight the (non-fictitious; I’ve seen it often when discussing Islam – I’m sure you can find it in the comments following the video) statement that when comparing Christianity to Islam, Christianity is demonstrably more correct because its moral teachings do not permit the kinds of abuse that are permissible under Islam. My point was that in so saying, people are automatically invoking a standard of good and evil that lies outside their religious teaching, thus invalidating their own claim.

    Your comment as well recognizes that the specific admonishments under Christianity are not true because they are God’s laws, but because they are subject to a sense of rightness and wrongness that is either intuitive or the product of human reason. This point on its own does not speak to whether belief in God is true or not, but whether or not such belief or religious adherence makes a person more moral; stated another way, it is a question of whether or not religions can lay a reasonable claim to morality. My argument, based on the fact that the standard for right and wrong exists outside of religion, is that such a claim is false.

    As far as your examples, I am not sure who aborts 8-month old fetuses, but assuming it does happen, and that the other examples you provide are similarly morally wrong (not really sure how MMA made it in there), you are invoking the same external source for right and wrong that I am talking about. The Bible forbids murder, but since the authors had no concept of abortion or embryology, they are mute on the topic of abortion. You are extrapolating a stricture against the murder of an adult (unless in time of war, or if they have blasphemed, or worked on a Sabbath, or if they are a disobedient child, etc.) to include the removal of a living embryo. You are free to do that, but you have already stepped outside the explicit teachings of your religion and created an external standard for good that is based on philosophical consideration of the gestalt of your scriptures. It is the same for me when I examine the gestalt of secular (and some religious, to be sure) philosophy and make my conclusions. However, in doing so, I am at least honest about where my morality comes from and can defend my position without deputizing personal faith into my argument. The same goes for euthanasia, MMA, and any other moral quandary I choose to discuss.

    As far as “I think you should have left it at that” goes, you’re free to disagree with me on any post or argument I make, but you are not free to admonish me about what I should and should not say. This is my personal blog, and I do not seek approval or permission from anyone who reads or comments, especially if they are a random from the internet.

  7. grassrute says

    Crommunist – there’s no need to apologize. Considering the time you put into this blog, weekends off are more than justified!

    I’m sure there are many Christians who cater to the secularist definition of morality to “prove” that Christianity has merit. To me, it’s a non-starter to judge Christianity and the Bible using a secular moral code. It’s the equivalent of Canadians trying to justify Canadian values to Islamic countries using Sharia Law.

    You can say the standard for right and wrong exists outside of religion, but human reason without the application of scripture will always be morally lacking. The examples I provided are evidence of this. I’ll pick on abortion. Whether committed at 8 months or 1 month, it can only be defined as wrong using scripture. Reason justifies abortion using many tactics like a ‘woman’s choice’ or ‘fighting poverty.’

    Abortion can easily be condemned using the Bible. Value is given to the unborn in Exodus 21: 22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” You’re right about the (physical) authors having no concept of abortion or embryology, but God (actual author) did. In addition to this, considering science tells us that the fetus is human life, the law ‘you shall not kill’ applies.

    Value is given to all life for the simple reason that all are created in the image of God. This sharply contrasts the secular view that hinges human value on personal autonomy. Christians derive their morality from the Bible, although external sources may influence them, it’s not their foundation for morality.

    I am not trying to prove to you, or any one else, that the Bible is true. I would, at one point, like to show that Christianity has a positive influence on the world, but it’s impossible to do without distinguishing between Bible believing Christians and those who are Christians only by membership, a distinction I don’t think you’re willing to accept.

    Although you are probably in line with the idea that “Religion poisons everything” the bible teaches how sin poisons everything. But then again, the bible declares intself to be ‘foolishness to unbelievers.’

    I know this is your personal blog and realize that you don’t need my permission to post your views. I guess I would have been wise to word my refutation differently so you didn’t feel so ‘admonished.’ I’ll work on that.

  8. says

    I find it baffling that you can extrapolate a passage about causing a woman to miscarry as the result of a fight to apply to abortion (one that, taken literally, would prescribe the death penalty for abortion doctors), but then dismiss the number of other strictures in the Bible about food and dress and working on the Sabbath as being “out of context” or something along those lines. Well, it’s not baffling that you do it; it’s a process I understand quite well. What baffles me is your inability to see that you’re doing it. Also, science doesn’t tell us that a fetus is human life. You’re entitled to your opinion; you’re not entitled to your own facts. Contextual understanding of “thou shalt not kill” reveals that it means “thou shalt not murder other Jews” – just so you know.

    I’m not saying that it is impossible to cobble together a moral framework from the writings of Christianity, I’m just saying that there is no “correct” interpretation. Your morals diverge strongly from Shelby Spong’s, for example. He has buckets more Biblical knowledge than you do; an appeal to authority perhaps, but he’s read the scriptures and the apocrypha and the commentaries, so he actually knows what he’s talking about. I’ll bet Hugh Ross has a different interpretation from you too. So too does Fred Phelps, probably. Which one of these people is not a “real Christian”? I’d actually really like to hear how you draw that distinction.

    Can you see how circular the argument you’re making is though? The Bible is the source of morality because all of the things in the Bible are moral. Abortion is wrong because the Bible says it is (well, kinda… if you squint and tilt your head to the left), and the Bible is correct in this statement because we know abortion is wrong. Yes, if you believe all of the nonsense in there about floods and whales and loves and fishes then it can all be made to hang together. However, if you don’t believe, it just reads like a bunch of nonsense. There is a word for things you have to believe in for them to work – they’re called placebos.

  9. grassrute says

    The following is an attempt to show that there is a correct bible interpretation, but I don’t expect you to accept that.

    I didn’t extrapolate anything. The text I provided places a very high value on the unborn life. Abortion supporters don’t acknowledge the unborn as living, never mind having any value. The application here is legitimate and simply speaks of the character of God placing high value on the life He created. It’s elementary, no need to squint and tilt your head to the left.
    In response to your statement that “science doesn’t tell us that a fetus is human life” I’d like to point you to a kid who does. In this video, explains the insignificant difference between a fetus and a new born child:

    As for the death penalty, the laws were originally given to the theocratic Israel. This being both the ‘religious’ law and civic law, punishments for crimes are listed. Today, with God calling his people from among many nations, they are to live among the unbelievers and submit to the governing authorities. I won’t get into church/state faith/politics now, but I will say that the Bible doesn’t teach the imposition of Christianity.

    You’re interpretation that “thou shalt not murder other Jews” is incorrect and I don’t know where you got that from. The command not to murder was already given immediately after the flood In Genesis 9:6 long before there were any Jews.

    There is a correct interpretation and it tends to be the easy one. (easy, but requires a leap of faith)

    Spong can easily be written off as a fraud for the simple reason of rejecting the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection. Rejection of the resurrection is nothing new for “believers. We read about it in ”I Corintians 15 : 12 -19 which finishes with the words that if it were not true, “we (Christians) are of all people most to be pitied.”

    Ross compromises the whole creation account found in Scripture but accepts Christ. Although this is a contradiction, I won’t judge him for that.

    Phelps is simply a trouble maker that doesn’t appear to be motivated by love. Perhaps he thinks his self-induced persecution will get him brownie points later.

    As to how I draw the distinction of who the real Christian is. He/she would be the one who loves God with his/her whole heart and loves his/her neighbour as him/herself. The one who possesses the Holy Spirit and thus the fruits of the Spirit:
    joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
    Luke 6:44 “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.”
    (I would expect God’s own people to recognize this fruit, not those who oppose the church)

    Considering you grew up in a Church, some of what I’m saying may make sense. Then again, I think the Catholic Church only serves to confuse people.

    Oh, and for the record, there are many who have buckets more Biblical knowledge than I do

    I’ll stop now.

  10. says

    “Science says this – at least according to this Youtube video made by a random kid I found on the internet”

    Look man if you’re not even going to try not to appear ridiculous, you can’t expect me to try and take you seriously.

    The text you provided said that the penalty should be equal to the offense – namely, that someone who performs an abortion should be killed. Also, you’re not allowed to deputize the Old Testament when it suits you, and then throw it out when it doesn’t. That’s poor argument.

    There is a correct interpretation and it tends to be the easy one.

    What you call “easy”, I call “convenient”. The “correct” interpretation is whatever one suits your beliefs. Are you for abortion? No problem, the Bible is too! Are you for the death penalty? The Bible’s got an app for that too! Against it? Just scroll further down the page.

    Spong still fits your “definition” that you’ve provided, unless you think he (and millions of other liberal Christians) don’t really love God, they’re just faking it because he buys them stuff. In fact, given the wide variety of supposedly genuine experiences of Jesus, doesn’t that cast a bit of doubt as to whether you are a “real” Christian? If you’re not, then your definition is completely meaningless, since by your own admission, only “real” Christians recognize other “real” Christians.

    Oh, and for the record, there are many who have buckets more Biblical knowledge than I do

    Which is why I’m more inclined to believe that Shelby Spong’s interpretation of the Bible is probably more correct than yours.

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