Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alpha Mail: obedience and patriarchy

KG asks about paternal ownership:
I was wondering what your perspective is on patriarchy as it relates to the father/daughter relationship. This has become a very personal issue for me in the last couple of years. Ill try to spare you the details, but my father in law believes his children, and especially his daughters are obligated to obey him. Regardless of age, circumstance or physical location (living at home or not). The only exception is if he has "released" them or given them away in marriage. And I do mean literally given, as in property transfer. If not properly given, the daughter is then said to be stolen, and must be returned.

What is your perspective? Is this kind of thing Biblical? Are children required to obey their parents regardless of age or circumstance?
My view is that the father-in-law's perspective is reflective of an ancient Mesopotamian tribal law that is no more valid today than the Roman custom of the paterfamilias who had the legal power to execute any member of his family who disobeyed him. The custom is from the "eastern peoples" of Paddam Aram in northwestern Mesopotamia and although it is described in the Bible, it is not Biblical in the sense of Mosaic Law, much less the New Testament Christian teachings.

While the Bible teaches that a father has a property right in his daughters, it is not an immutable one. Consider Deuteronomy 22:28.

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

So, clearly KG's father-in-law is wrong, even from a literal Old Testament perspective, as his permission for marriage is not required and even a "stolen" daughter need not be returned so long as compensation is duly paid. Given that a silver shekel is 8 grams of silver, or .257205 troy oz, and silver presently goes for $32.80 an ounce, KG can simply write a check for $425 to the old man and tell him to keep his nose out of his family's business. Or, alternatively, he could simply point out that they are not living in northern Mesopotamia circa 1850 BC.

And no, adults are obviously not required to obey their parents regardless of age or circumstance. One can make a reasonable Biblical case for daughters being required to be obedient to their fathers until they marry, or for sons being required to be obedient until they leave their father's house, (and indeed, one can make a strong secular and practical case as well), but in either case, there is a clear Biblical limit to the extent of paternal authority.

57 comments:

Shimshon said...

There are two Hebrew terms used regarding a child's obligations to his parents. "Honor" and "fear." Those words have many connotations, and obeying them to a certain level is always an obligation. But it changes with age (eg when the age of majority is reached) and marital status, among other things.

Ian Ironwood said...

This is not an uncommon tradition from many agricultural cultures in which the daughters were considered tied to the father's land holdings. Extreme patriarchy such as this is a hold-over from the depths of Agricultural civilization and culture, and even in those times this was one of those customs that was very unevenly enforced and respected. And since we no longer live in a time when wealth is measured nearly exclusively by acreage, even the custom is obsolete.

But y'all are lucky with the 30 shekels of silver thing. In my religion, based on Celtic customs and law, the price of a daughter is seven cows. That's worth a LOT more than $425.

Anonymous said...

Dumb question, Vox, what is the email address to submit a question for AlphaMail? Or do you pull them out of the comments? thanks.

Viking said...

The commandment to honor your mother and father can be seen to include obedience for a child still in the father's household but as Vox points out that ends when either the son leaves to create his own household, hopefully with a father's blessing but that doesn't seem to be specifically required. Or when his daughter is given in marriage and enters the household of her husband.

After that point the commandment to honor mother and father is usually regarded to mean that the children should, when the time comes, welcome mother and father into their households so that the parents don't descend into poverty. Jesus, even while dying on the cross, saw to his mother's needs by giving her to John. But seeing to their well being and showing them deference and respect when they speak is not the same as obeying them.

Love is doing what the other needs not what the other wants.

KG said...

"One can make a reasonable Biblical case for daughters being required to be obedient to their fathers until they marry"

Consider this: if a daughter should obey until she marries, does this include a command to not ever marry? Under such a circumstance a daughter would be destined to be trapped in her fathers house forever doing his bidding, rapunzel style.

Vox, surely this is not something you would advocate. There has to be a line where both realistically and Biblically we can tell grown (25 plus) but unmarried women they no longer need to obey their fathers.

father of 10 said...

Well Put Vox and Shimson. When I gave my #2 daughter in marriage I presented her husband with a sword representing the authority over her. I told him(in public during the wedding) that if I ever tried to take it back he should point to the sword and remind me that I had transferred that authority to him.

Daniel said...

This is silly to the extreme. The rule wasn't a subroutine in a computer program and fathers are not bad data. After all, there are other rules where fathers are ordered not to place undue burdens on their children, too.

Although I think it would make for good musical comedy to have an ancient misunderstanding literalist patriarch doing everything he can to abuse the rules of an angry god of his own making by following the rules to the letter. They could call it The Shoggoth-Fiddler on the Roof.

Ghost said...

10??? Are you kidding?? I'm pulling my damn hair out with 5 kids, how are you still talking in coherent sentences?

RM said...

10? Pfft. . . Where I come from that's known as "a good start". My uncle has somewhere around 20. The guys who are more ambitious have 10 within their first 5 years of marriage. The highest I heard of was around 70, tho the father of that family is in his 60s. Polygyny for the win. Joking aside, good on you father of 10. Sounds like you have a good handle on things.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Those Romans were on to something.

Anonymous said...

Ehh..if I dated a girl whose father tried to pull that crap I'd punch him in the mouth.

Goddamn bunch of chumps. Only a sucker would think he can control a woman using that kind of strategy. You should be glad she's out of your hair.

Jestin Ernest said...

KG Mar 27, 2012 07:21 AM
Vox, surely this is not something you would advocate. There has to be a line where both realistically and Biblically we can tell grown (25 plus) but unmarried women they no longer need to obey their fathers.



you aren't reading for comprehension, KG. Vox answered your question in the original post.

if ever a daughter wishes to stop obeying her father, she need only sleep with a man. any man. heck, she could get unconscious drunk in a seedy bar while wearing no panties and see which of ~20 guys ( wouldn't want Vox to call me "innumerate" ) she wanted to pick for a husband.

VD said...

Consider this: if a daughter should obey until she marries, does this include a command to not ever marry? Under such a circumstance a daughter would be destined to be trapped in her fathers house forever doing his bidding, rapunzel style.

Playing the sperg, as Roissy says, is pointless, KG. If you want to draw a bright line, why not ask at precisely what age a father should kick his grown daughter out of the house and quit paying her bills? How can you demand one bright line and ignore all the other concomitant ones?

If we're going to get completely pedantic, at what age should a father permit his retarded daughter to marry whomever she wants? This is the sort of nonsense that hyper-reliance upon law rather than relationships and common sense produces.

A wise daughter won't marry against her sensible father's wishes because he has her interests at heart. If she is a fool or he is an idiot, who cares what they do. They'll figure out a way to make disasters of their lives one way or another. If Daddy is a lunatic, the probabilities are that Rapunzel is too, you just haven't realized it yet.

SouthTXRedneck said...

Having only three kids. The youngest a daughter, if a good man comes along, great. If an asshole comes along, I would feel sorry for him if I cared. Told the son's to watch out for their sister. Would figure out how to clean it up later. Interesting about the double standard. When my freshman son came home with a hickey from a cutie. Third in her class, I was proud after calming his Mom down. But if the daughter came home in the same condition? It wouldn't have ended well.

SouthTXRedneck said...

Told the Mrs that when she (daughter) starts dating and brings a boy home for the first time, I will make it a point to be cleaning my M-4 at the kitchen table in my underwear while drinking whiskey. If it doesn't traumatize him, he may be a keeper.

Nate said...

ya know I once had a daddy try the intimidation thing with me when I was about 16. God that went badly. Honestly I was a respectful kid... but I had no tolerance for that kind of thing at all. He started talking down to me... making veiled threats and such. So I just told him the terrifying truth. I said something like this...

"Sir... Your daughter is gonna have a great time with me... and she will be returned safely to you at the appointed time or before. that said... if your daughter wants to have sex with me... I'm not going to stop her... and sir... if that's what she wants... there is nothing you can do to stop her either."

He blinked... and walked off. I took her out... and he and I didn't speak of anything but guns, sports, cars, or john wayne movies until about 4 years later when he asked if I had ever had sex with his daughter... and I chuckled a little inside and said, "yes. since she was 14."

Oh stop it you sick bastards... I'm not a sigma. She and I were the same age.

Nate said...

of course now I have a daughter of my own...

which is why I am an even stronger advocate for arranged marriage.

Josh said...

Nate's daughter's suitors will probably have a mortality rate that rivals deep sea fishermen

Mrs. Pilgrim said...

So basically, he was a weak and blinkered man whose daughter, predictably, became a slut before she'd stopped growing?

Or was your point something else, Nate?

Nate said...

I don't think the man was weak or blinkered. I think he had not actually thought the matter through. He was a football coach and a guidance councilor at another high school... and looking back I suspect my words simply confirmed what he already knew. It wasn't up to him.

And the plain truth is... it is NEVER up to the parent.

Ultimately the terrifying truth we as parents must all face is... our kids are free to make their own choices and there is very little we can do to stop them from making poor choices if they so choose.

That battle was already fought for he and his daughter. She was already raised at that point and his time for teaching her what to choose and what not to choose was over.

We can kid ourselves but it does us no good. If you want your kids to make good decisions then you have to start teaching them those things when there 2 and 3 and 4 years old... and you have to work at it constantly and consistently. If you think you're going to start when they're 15... you've already lost.

Also... I wouldn't call her a slut. I don't know what your definition of the term is... but she had sex with one guy. If banging 1 guy... even if you bang him a WHOLE LOT.. makes you a slut... then you live in a strange world that I don't recognize.

KG said...

"A wise daughter won't marry against her sensible father's wishes because he has her interests at heart."

I agree, but based on your earlier statements, why doesn't this sentence read : "An obedient daughter won't marry against her sensible father's commands because he has her interests at heart."

Also....who decides if a father is sensible? And what if he doesn't have her interests at heart?

Thankfully I was somehow able to finangle a blessing out of my father in law, but my wife's sisters may not be so lucky. Its a classic case of pulling the leash too tight, with the natural reaction being rebellion.

The reason I ask all of this is because these are not actually "what if" scenarios, but rather real life issues, and since I will likely have to choose sides at some, I really am wondering if a grown daughter is required to obey her father; the command in this case is to not marry. This is probably getting redundant, but the answers so far aren't quite satisfactory.

And sleeping with the first guy she runs into at a bar is not a viable option.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Shoot, shovel and shut up applies to punks too.

Nate said...

ya know... even if convicted... the average prisoner only serves 20% of his sentence before parole... so... you gut the first little bastard that shows up on your doorstep with a knife...

They sentence you to 20 years... average murder sentence in the US... and you're out before your daughter gets out of high school.

Nate said...

KG
Look... who she marries is not up to the daddy. Its up to her. End of story. Why are you asking us who's side you should be on?

Daddy sounds like a dickhead. Treat him as such.

Markku said...

Silver's main advantage at the time would have been rarity. In other words, my feeling is that it mostly served as a pseudo-fiat currency, with implicit guarantees on very small inflation because of the fact that everybody knew it wasn't going to get any easier to acquire in the near future. If there was a genuine fiat currency that people could trust to retain its value, it would have served the same purpose as silver.

These days it is much easier to mine for large amounts of silver. So, my question would be, how many days would a man have to work according to the average wage of the time to buy a daughter? Or, if that information is not available, then how many cows' worth was a daughter? I might expect that the ease of mining silver has increased quicker than the ease of breeding cows.

Mrs. Pilgrim said...

then you live in a strange world that I don't recognize.

The world is a strange place. It's a little hard to recognize anything from the bottom of that whiskey bottle, though, so I forgive you, man.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Here is a chart that emphasizes your point. Not sure if it's accurate but it does make more sense. Another point is that it's still more silver than Jesus was worth.

Nate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

So you stand by the accusation then? A girl that has sex with one guy is a slut? By that definition... the word effectively has no meaning at all.

Nate said...

THat's something I've brought up before. Judas sold Him out... and it wasn't even very much money. We're not talking about something he could live like a king for the rest of his life with. He probably would only live off it for a very short time... and certainly not like a king.

Mrs. Pilgrim said...

I don't think the man was weak or blinkered.

More seriously, let's try this:

He sent his daughter, who he knew was now fertile and likely to get in trouble, out of his sight on a daily basis. He was in a unique position (guidance counselor) to know what kinds of temptations were before his daughter. And then, he deals with you, a smartass 16-year-old who tells him you'll bang her if she offers, and he backs down rather than connecting your butt and his toes. Worse still, by the point of the last conversation you mention, she's been sleeping with you for six years, and he still has to ask you if that's the case.

Yep, great guy there with his head on right straight.

If you want your kids to make good decisions then you have to start teaching them those things when there 2 and 3 and 4 years old... and you have to work at it constantly and consistently.

Well, there's the problem right there, isn't it?

Mrs. Pilgrim said...

A girl that has sex with one guy is a slut?

Were you married?

Nate said...

1) No one can keep their eye on their kid 24/7. Its not possible. Even it were possible the end result would be a fucked up kid.

2) He knew the answer when he asked. He probably just wanted to see if I had the balls to admit it.

3) Planting his foot in my butt would've gotten him nothing but jail. I didn't threaten him or insult him... nor did I threaten or insult his daughter. I just pointed out the observable reality. His daughter went to school with me. We were together every day. I lived less than 2 blocks from them. Keeping her away from me was simply not possible.

Do you have kids? I just ask because a lot of people that don't have kids... or who have very very young kinds have a very idealized view of how this stuff works... and its almost entirely false.

The man's bed was laid... and now his daughter either would be.. or wouldn't be. The choice was hers. Not his. That's reality for every parent.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Were you a Christian when you were banging her? or did that come later?

Mrs. Pilgrim said...

1) No one can keep their eye on their kid 24/7. Its not possible. Even it were possible the end result would be a fucked up kid.

You know, "one extreme or the other" is hardly a winning strategy in a discussion.

2) He knew the answer when he asked. He probably just wanted to see if I had the balls to admit it.

This does not impress me that he had any himself.

3) Planting his foot in my butt would've gotten him nothing but jail.

Now now, Nate. We both know you're smarter than that. You know full well it was a figure of speech.

I didn't threaten him or insult him... nor did I threaten or insult his daughter.

How times have changed.

I just pointed out the observable reality. His daughter went to school with me. We were together every day. I lived less than 2 blocks from them. Keeping her away from me was simply not possible.

Well, if he'd raised her right and/or you'd actually been worried about what he might do...

Do you have kids? I just ask because a lot of people that don't have kids... or who have very very young kinds have a very idealized view of how this stuff works... and its almost entirely false.

Yeah, I was never a kid before. I never had raging hormones. I didn't have parents. And I sure as hell wasn't a virgin until my wedding night at 25. What was I thinking?

The man's bed was laid... and now his daughter either would be.. or wouldn't be. The choice was hers. Not his. That's reality for every parent.

So are you agreeing she was a slut, or just spinning your hamster wheel to try and maintain your high opinion of everyone involved?

I caught you out trying to brag at her daddy's expense (because even at 16, you were such a badass that even a loving father trying to do the right thing quailed before you), and now you're backpedaling. Simple truth.

Markku said...

The interesting philosophical question is, what is closest to a universal unit of value? I would argue that it is certainly not silver. It has very few unique properties.

Perhaps gold? It is unique in that it requires particularly small amounts of maintenance. You find 2000 years old gold artifact and it's still shiny.

Perhaps dem bitches? They are unique in that they require particularly large amounts of maintenance. But mysteriously, putting a torus of the former on an appendix of the latter has traditionally been the ritual of acquiring the latter.

So, you tell me.

KG said...

"KG Look... who she marries is not up to the daddy. Its up to her. End of story. Why are you asking us who's side you should be on? Daddy sounds like a dickhead. Treat him as such."

My FIL thinks its very much up to him to decide who she marries. Under the guise of "protection" he makes these kinds of decisions for her. Of course, "protection" is code for "control".

Anyhow, I'm not asking whose side to be on. If you'll notice, my questions are aimed at Vox, who seems to have a good understanding of the Bible. Obviously vox is not the arbiter of truth, but in my attempt to understand this, I thought his insights would help.

Nate said...

who's backpedalling? More than anything I pity the guy now. You drew all kinds of conclusions about the guy. I'm simply pointing out that they aren't necessarily accurate. They could be accurate... I just don't think your characterization fits.

I can't say for certain he could've done much better with the girl. Her mom was psycho and emotionally abusive. He stood up for his daughter as much as he was able. He was in a tough spot. Most girls fuck boys to make their daddy mad... she was probably doing it to hurt her mommy... but it was her daddy that ended up getting slapped in the face with the fact.

I figured at the time he had it coming for talking down to me. Now I'm older and have been through a lot more and I just pity the guy. Pity is not the same thing as a "high opinion". Its charity.

As for her being a slut... again... if your definition of slut is "any girl that has sex out-of-wedlock" then yeah... she's a slut. I think that's a stupid useless definition.

As for you being a virgin until you were married at 25... good for you. No really... I'm very impressed. ***eye roll*** Your being a kid has absolutely no bearing on your knowledge of parent dear girl. There are lessons that can only be learned by raising your own. What you experienced will allow you to arm them for the same fight.. but it will not allow you to fight the fight for them.

Nate said...

Mr Nightstick,
Its a much nicer story if I say I wasn't a Christian back then... that I was some kind of asshole atheist that didn't give a damn about anything but my own desires.

The truth is much uglier. I knew for a fact what I was doing was wrong... and did it anyway. I didn't even rationalize it with myself. I would lay awake at night about it.... I would pray for forgiveness and pray for the strength to overcome the temptations... and then I would go right out the next day and do the same things over and over again. It went on like that for years. Overcoming it was a long... painful... difficult process... and in fact even claiming to have overcome it at all is actually somewhat of a lie. I didn't "overcome it" at all when I think about it. I just tried it all... found it empty... and now reject it.

Sometimes I think its very easy for Christians to talk about the evil they did prior to being saved. Its like they get a pass on it because they are somehow magically immune now. Well... this is the stuff I did while I was a practicing prayerful struggling sinner that called himself a christian.

Nate said...

Nothing in the Bible indicates that the father gets to decide who his daughter marries under all circumstances. As Vox pointed out... in many cases its not up to him. But hey... Christians assume all kinds of things are in the bible that aren't.

Mr. Nightstick said...

No, that was a good answer. As someone who has been a Christian since I was 7 years old, all the bad stuff I have done in my life I have done as a Christian. Thanks for sharing, I know I have been encouraged and I'm sure other readers have as well.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Perhaps it's the human soul. Imago Dei as it were. It might be the only thing on earth that God values.

Markku said...

Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

One world for one soul means too little granularity to measure the worth of dem bitches.

KG said...

1 Corinthians 7:36-38 NASB
"But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better"

This is the prooftext I was given. However, I tend to agree more with the ESV which substitutes "virgin daughter" with "betrothed" and reads completely different.

Also, there's the oft repeated verse Ephesians 6:1, " children obey your parents in the lord for this is right"

My FIL is quick to point out the greek word for children is teknon, which carries no age limit. It may as well say "offspring, obey your parents." I counter this assertion by looking at verse 4,

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This verse, being the immediate context, implies that the aforementioned "children" are ones still being "brought up" I.e. not mature, actual children. Therefore, the verse commanding children to obey is just that, children, not adults. Vox, or anyone, Do you think this is a solid exegesis?

Anonymous said...

Actually no. The passage of deuteronomy 22:28 is not about rape but just like exodus is about the seduction of a virgin here is a link to explain:

http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/ot_and_rape.htm

Anonymous said...

I really wish I had sex with 14 yr olds when I was 14.

Though, I would have a lot of kids by now because I definitely would not have used condoms.

Daniel said...

How seriously does he take the plain meaning of "do not provoke your children to anger?"

After all, if he makes her angry by forbidding a marriage, is he not, in fact leading her astray and sinning against God?

KG said...

"How seriously does he take the plain meaning of "do not provoke your children to anger?" After all, if he makes her angry by forbidding a marriage, is he not, in fact leading her astray and sinning against God?"

Good question. Numerous people have confronted him with this. He defines "exasperation" as "demanding your child to do something impossible"

So apparently commanding your child to lick her elbow is included in this command to fathers, but demanding they cut all ties with the love of their life or be shunned from the family falls outside the realm of exasperation/provoking to anger, since, according to the definition, can in fact be done.

Its sad.

Besdies, everyone knows you can get a free pass on obeying if you are commanded to sin, but no free pass if the commander is in sin, right? ;-)

Nate said...

try having a threesome with twins when you're 12... Whoever thought up Truth of Dare should have a 200 foot statue somewhere in their honor.

Drew said...

Yes, it is perfectly solid exegesis. Your father-in-law is an idiot. Besides, the wife's duty is to submit to her husband, not her father.

Drew said...

Also, if the NASB translation were correct (it is not), then that would plainly contradict 1 Timothy 4:3, which says that it IS a sin to forbid to marry.

Anonymous said...

"So, clearly KG's father-in-law is wrong, even from a literal Old Testament perspective, as his permission for marriage is not required and even a "stolen" daughter need not be returned so long as compensation is duly paid."

Actually, Exodus 22:17 says the guy has to pay up and the father can still deny the marriage. This is because the girl's marriage value has just gone to zero and in those days SMV had a dollar price tag.

I think the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Romans had more wisdom than we give them credit for: marry them off at 13.

caballarius

Anonymous said...

And the word is: παρθένον (virgin). As for "if she is past her youth" bit, a better rendering might be "if she has hit puberty." None of the ancients waited around on their pubescent daughters to enter slutdom or whoredom.

Caballarius

Anonymous said...

That is your payback Nate LOL. Having a daughter. Of course, you will be able to see most of the little Nates coming at her....

:) Carlotta

Anonymous said...

What are you going to do when you have a daughter? Are you going to expect your adult daughters to obey you and disregard their own will regarding marriage?

Make your own decision and stick with it. This is his. And by the way, his adult daughters get to make their own decision. See, everyone is free and everyone is accountable.

Carlotta

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