Monday, May 12, 2008

Marriage, Adultery, Fornication, Luther, and Hooters

I have a wicked ass headache which is preventing me from reading. And so I am very miserable. Because reading is about the only thing that makes me happy. Well, mass quantities of sexual intercourse with Kiera Knightley would make me happy (and would probably get rid of my headache as well), but fornication is a mortal sin, and even if Miss Knightley did show up and said, "Let me feel your throbbing manhood, you textbook example of a Roman War God you!" (which is as likely to happen as President Ralph Nader) and if I succumbed to that barely resistible temptation, I would more than likely be brooding under the enormity of Catholic guilt for the next, say, two decades. No thanks.

So, since I am in no condition to read and am safe from the soul-endangering blandishments of Miss Knightley, I have nothing to do except attempt to make other people as miserable as I am. And this I will do this by baiting a MySpace "friend" of mine who is wont to channel "Saint" Luther when she needs to write a paper for some course in Protestant (hence, gnostic, hence, heretical) Theology.

First off, Luther was not a saint. What he devoted his life to was the destruction of Christian Unity. A saint should be one who unifies the people under the Faith, but Luther did the opposite: he divided the faith into lots and lots of quarreling sects. If he knew what he was doing, then he is now delighting Satan with his notorious flatulence. But I choose to be charitable and think that, perhaps, he did not know what he was doing, in which case he cannot be held culpable for the evil he visited upon Europe. Of course, that would make Luther a raving madman. But if someone really wants Luther to be a saint in heaven, then you have to hope the guy was looney tunes. Then again, such a lunatic won't help you write a paper. Well, he might help you write a paper for a professor who is a Lutheran lunatic herself because lunacy looks like sanity to the insane. So, okay, Luther can be a saint but only if he is a lunatic, and a lunatic will indeed help you write a paper for a lunatic professor. Ergo, my MySpace "friend" may well be doing a useful thing channeling Saint Luther for academic help. But how this all jibes with Luther's notion that the soul sleeps until the eschaton, I do not know.

Now when I say that Luther was lunatic, I am not being a Catholic Chauvinist. I used to be a Catholic Chauvinist, but then my fellow chauvinists--in this country, at least--went neo-con on me and told me that true Catholic Chauvinists vote for George W. Bush and revel in such things as imperialism, unfettered capitalism, and torture. My Catholic Chauvinism shriveled up in shame. When the Pope issues an encyclical denouncing the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War--and he just well might, Papa Ratzi is in many respects a Chomskyite--, then, perhaps, my Catholic pride will resume, but not until then.

Anyway, back to the main point: I say Luther is a looney not because of any sectarian triumphalism but because I have common sense. When Luther says scripture interprets scripture, for instance, what little thought I can muster under a migraine still screams, "Books, even holy books, don't read themselves, you stupid fuckwit. People do, and reading precedes interpreting." Or, when Luther came up with the brilliant plan of letting the princes take over the Church because he thought the princes were positive paragons of perfect virtue and the clerics hellbound rot. And then he stood idly by as the princes slaughtered the rebellious peasantry. And then he gave his blessings to the open bigamy of Phillip of Hesse. Luther was a true German: at the throat of those who don't have weapons and at the knees of those who do.

But at least Luther made it finally possible for Germans to read the Bible in their own language. Well, no. There were eighteen translations of the Bible into German before the great Luther. Besides, his translation sucks. Because "faith alone" is never mentioned in the Bible except James 2:24 where it is unequivocally rejected, Luther added "alleine" to Romans 3:28. And that "alleine" remains even in today's "bearbeitete" version of die Lutherbibel. I know. I have one, and Romans 3:28 is printed in boldface so that Luther's error appears with quite literal boldness. How very appropriate.

Another one of Luther's infamously boneheaded translations is "Ehebruch" for porneia in the so-called Exceptive Clause in Matthew 5:32. "Ehebruch" is the German word for adultery, and, therefore, adultery justifies putting asunder what God has joined. But porneia in koine Greek does not mean adultery. Moicheia does. Porneia covers a range of pre-marital sex from temple prostitution to just simple general fornication (what I would like to have lots of with Kiera Knightley, for instance). It does not refer to extra-marital sex, and Christ in Matthew's exceptive clause (which is absent in the other synoptic rendering of Christ's statement about the indissolubility of marriage) refers not to the grounds for divorce but to grounds for a declaration of nullity. A null marriage is nothing other than co-habitation and, hence, fornication.

Of course, if you understand the Bible as teaching that adultery justifies divorce, you must also accept the Biblical definition of adultery, which includes looking at Playboy with bulging eyes (and other anatomical parts). In other words, coveting is adultery, and the infallible Luther said that no one can control his coveting. Therefore, every married person commits adultery. Therefore, no marriage can last. And since the vast majority of men covet about once every, say, five minutes (that's a very conservative estimate, gelinde gesagt), most marriages can't last beyond the wedding night. Thus, a Lutheran can understand Christ statement's about marriage only as Our Lord's Blessing of the Sigheh or what we know in the vernacular as the One Night Stand.

Hey, wait a minute. I kind of like this. I can go up to a chic, propose marriage, promise that I will stay with her until my eye wanders, have a really enjoyable, er, wedding night, and then the next night go to another singles bar and get, er, hitched up again. Fine, I am becoming Lutheran. This pecca fortiter thing does have its conveniences, eh?

Of course, I'll have to get my eyes back in the habit of wandering. For the past few months I have been going to Hooters to practice custodia oculorum by reading really dull books on Spinozan philosophy or economics, and actually I find the books more interesting than, er, the scenery there. Ah Middle Age!

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