"It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." - Mark Twain
You may never have asked: "How many Asian women did the Catholic Marco Polo have sex with, and were all of these women saved by it, even without knowing?"
The Good News Bible tells that "The unbelieving husband is made acceptable to God by being united to his wife," and vice versa, "the unbelieving wife is made acceptable to God by being united to her Christian husband." [1 Corinthians 7:14-16]. This is taken to mean "put right with God through sex", which is "saved by sex". And weddings in the early, early church were not necessarily Christian, but rather Jewish. For example, the Jewish marriage of Peter is never gainsaid in the gospels.
"The unbelieving husband has been sanctified* through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. . . . How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" [1 Corinthians 7:14-16 according to TNIV]
A man or woman may save or sanctify his or her mate by love-making - that basic feature of a marriage in the Jewish meaning of marriage: either it does or it doesn't. Here are some other intricacies to the Biblical art of saving, marital sex:
The New Testament does not say that "one man and one wife" is the only legal option either, and does not set a limit for how long a marriage should last for the wedding-blessing to take effect. Having several wives is nowhere forbidden in the New Testament. And Jesus taught a parable about one bridegroom and ten virgins. It allows for different interpretations, though. - In the Old Testament, to have many wives at once was one of the most common marital arrangements for wealthy men. But it may not have been common among average Israelites because of the costs.
Moreover, the church father Justin Martyr mentions that in his time Jewish men were permitted to have four or five wives. Martin Luther of the Reformation wrote: "I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture . . . In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter."
Today, most Christian polygamists believe that polygyny (a man with multiple wives) is acceptable to God but that polyandry (women with multiple husbands) is not.
[Wikipedia, s.v. "Christian views on marriage," "Polygamy in Christianity," and "Christian views on marriage."]
❋ Don't believe everything you are told. Blind belief equals faith in too many cases, and makes the mind narrow and biased.
Marco Polo's Possible, Overlooked Salvation Sex
In the 1200s Marco Polo travelled from Venice to China by the overland Silk Road. He stayed in China for 17 years, then departed from Quanzhou in Fujian Province and returned home via the maritime Silk Road. His travels, dictated to a writer, created a stir in Europe when they were published. But many people did not believe him.
The devout Catholic Marco Polo (1254-1324) is the most famous of medieval European travellers. The reason is his book about his travels with his father Nicolo and his uncle. Their journeys and stays in Asia lasted for twenty-four years.
In Marco a growing attraction for Asian women was apparent. He described the North Persians as "a handsome race, especially the women, who, in my opinion, are the most beautiful in the world." In a region farther east, he said: "The women are in truth, very handsome, very sensual."
Later in his book, he praised the virtues of Chinese women: "They have much beauty, as has been remarked, and are brought up with delicate and languid habits."
He portrays the Chinese society in general as very advanced and sophisticated.
He reached further than any predecessors from the West, beyond Mongolia to China. He became a confidant of Kublai Khan (1214-1294) who kept China under Mongol rule.
The Great Khan, Kublai, was hospitable. Marco mastered four languages, and became a favorite with the khan. He was appointed to high posts in his administration and served at the court where he achieved, by report-stories, greater and greater respect in the eyes of his master - and so Marco became a kind of court writer. He was sent on special missions in China, Korea, Burma, Tibet and India. The Brahmins there were the most honest tradesmen in the world, he wrote. They never lied and they helped foreigners to sell their goods without profit to themselves.
He travelled a great deal in China and also served as a governor in the province of Manzi in southeast China. Manzi comprised the greater part of China. Marco was amazed with China's enormous power, great wealth, and complex social structure. His writings tell of someone who was thoroughly impressed with the nature of Chinese civilization. As a matter of fact, many of the organised and efficient systems that he saw working in China had yet to be developed in Europe. And many places which Marco saw were not seen again by Europeans until the 1800s.
Marko liked to watch the skills of the Buddhist lamas, who mostly came from Tibet. He says that they could stop storms, and one of them made a wine vessel fly from the table into Kublai's hand and back to the table again, after the Khan had drunk it.
Marco somewhere described what he thought was the most beautiful baths in the world; some hot baths large enough for 100 persons to bathe in together. They were in Kinsai [Kinsay, the modern Hangchow], a city with 3000 baths, and one of the greatest centres of culture, education and art at the time. [◦Link]
He also told about the monstrous birds which dropped elephants from a height and devoured their broken carcasses. In the story of Sinbad the Sailor's second voyage - from the 600s AD - the Arabian Nights tells of the "roc" bird from Madagascar - so strong that it could carry three elephants.
Marco Polo discovered the use of coal and eye glasses, of ice-cream, fireworks and spaghetti, of jade, porcelain, silk, and ivory. He noted regional histories, very impressive cities, architecture, languages and governments, lifestyles, diets, styles of dress, marriage customs, rituals, religions, trading practices, crafts, manufactured products, plants, animals, minerals, and terrain.
And he came back to Venice to tell, after Kublai Khan reluctantly had agreed to let his trusted men, the Polos, return after seventeen years in his service . . . the best years of Marco's life, filled with exciting happenings, merchant business, diplomatic missions, and love affairs.
When Marco was forty-one years old, the Polos returned in rags to a Venice at war with Genoa. No one believed Marco's stories of the vast riches and culture he had witnessed in Asia. Much because his tales showed that China and other parts of Asia were superior to and more advanced than Europe in many repects, the explorer was not hailed. Instead, the phrase "It's a Marco Polo" came to denote an exaggerated tale. He was considered the "man of a million lies".
But Marco knew what strings to pull: He organised a banquet. During it, to the amazement of the incredulous Venetians, rubies, sapphires and emeralds started to fall from their rags. Marco showed off! Kublai Khan had given him and his relatives ivory, jade, jewels, porcelain, silk, and other treasures. That made Marco Polo famous.
In 1296 he was taken prisoner by the Genoese, long-time rivals of Venetians. While in jail, aided by his notes, he dictated to a fellow prisoner what he had seen and heard on his travels. The other was a popular writer, Rustichello of Pisa. He translated the tales into Old French, the literary language of Italy at the time. The book was completed in 1298 and is one of the most famous travel book in history, if not the most famous one. It has captured readers through the centuries.
After Genoa and Venice made peace in 1299, Marco was freed and returned to trading in Venice. When he was near death, a priest came in his room to ask him if he would like to admit that his stories were false. Instead, Marco said as his last words,
"I did not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me."
❋ It can be terrible not to be believed when you have something important to tell.
In 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 it is held that one mate can put the other(s) right with God through having sex, and there is no need to believe to get saved in this way. Thus, the really lucky guys around don't have to ask and wail to get helped and saved. Question: How long does such an asserted effect last, in case? Maybe the saving work appears to operate quite as a sexually transferred disease - there is or is not any medicine against it.
But to sit down and like it - Zen sitting - is the core of the Soto Zen of Dogen (1200-53). Inside one's own heart is Buddhahood. And there is no absolute need for another. That is a fundamental teaching of Zen. There are sex teachings (Tantra) in Buddhism too, but they are hardly superior to the core teachings alluded to right above.
Utter nonsense or the wisdom of God or something in between the two?
"The unbelieving wife is made acceptable to God by being united to her Christian husband. [From 1 Corinthians 7:14, in Today's English Version (TEV) of the Bible, also called Good News Bible]. TEV is held to be an accurate and a esteemed translation. In another famed version, NIV, the passage is rendered into: "The unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband." [1 Corinthians 7:14]
The terms "sanctified " and "made acceptable to God" are taken to be synonymous here. "Put right with God" equals "saved" in the Biblical sense. Here is a very small sample to highlight it: Romans 1:17, 2:13, 3:24 5:9 9:30. Titus 3:7, James 2:24.
As for weddings, there appears to be no claim they had to be Christian weddings. Marriage rites and customs of Hebrews suggest a core meaning: A marriage rests on a sexual union, which is celebrated. Jesus often said he came to put God's people right with God and spoke of the saviour as the bridegroom.
We should perhaps assert too, that sex can be precious in the right hands and loins, and that there is no reason to interpret central verses out of context, except for having fun or expose folly.
What about Jews and Jesus? He claimed to be for Jews alone, yet the vast majority of his own "sheep" would not know his voice and follow him. They discarded him.
The lesson about sex that saves and what you possibly could do about it - it is in the New Testament. If conditions are suitable or very decent, you might sit down with one fit marriage partner, make love and be happy. Maybe that is "all" you get or all you can feel.
HERE a Christian can be put at ease about having many wives as well. There is no demand in the Bible to have just one at the time, although is best to have just one, according to Jesus, but then again the Bible allows for having several wives and concubines and even slave women to have children with. Big guys in the Bible had their harems - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, David, and so on. They are not the only ones that the Bible talk well of. And note as well:
The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes." (TEV)
Interestingly, far and wide you may find that eating blood food (black pudding, Brat, Wurst (and what about hamburgers with added blood proteims?) is not thought to be as bad as adultery today - isn't that it? But having many wives is not forbidden. Not having blood food (Brat, Wurst and so on), which is clearly required of a Christian, is phased out - and very few seem to hav got that point anyway. Is that sophisticated?
What is "sexual immorality"? It is not pinpointed in details, as it was in the Old Testament, in the Law - the Law that Christians were to be above, according to Paul. Do you believe it? Or that blacks were born to be slaves? What is OK? It depends on the times in some cases. Abraham had sex with his half-sister, married her, and later the Law of Moses forbids such copulation as adultery that is to be punished with being stoned to death or something like that. Compare:
The Lord said to Moses, "The man who obeys [My laws and decrees] will live by them.
Two crucial words above are "defile" and "burden" as to unions. One had better refrain from speculating about how far a person may avoid getting defiled and burdened by adultery with his half-sister in the light of Abraham too.
An adulterous someone married someone who became a tongue-talking slut, perhaps. That guy had done all the forbidden things above and some others added to it, but Paul says he could be put right with God (for some time or ever?) through having sex. "Can be" is not "is always". The teaching sounds idiotic or biblical. Much that sounds idiotic may be true all the same;. And a Christian is told not to rely on feelings. May I add: it depends on how deep and well-founded they are in any case, though. Some should rely far more on their feelings (intuitions and so on downwards), whereas sick sheep (i.e., Christians) perhaps should refrain because they are morally depraved, and so on, according to Jesus in a few places. [Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13]
❋ Sex grace: idiotic and biblical or . . .?
Did you know? The word 'Bible' comes through Old French, Medieval Latin and Greek biblion, book, which in turn comes from biblos papyrus, named after the port Bublos, where Greeks got Egyptian papyrus. There are many bible versions around, for one thing.
A bible is also a book that contains significant information on a subject, and/or it is a book that the publishers call a bible to make it sell.
Hence, there are many bible versions, many kinds of bibles, and some may bring some wisdom for the long art of living. Here are just a couple of bibles:
Bakos, Susan Crain. The Sex Bible for Women: The Complete Guide to Understanding Your Body, Being a Great Lover, and Getting the Pleasure You Want. Beverly, MA: Quiver, 2008. —— Aimed at sex confidence and wellness.
Harwick, Amie. The New Sex Bible for Women: The Complete Guide to Sexual Self-Awareness and Intimacy. Beverly, MA: Quiver, 2015. —— Amie Harwick, MA, is a Marriage and Family Therapist.
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