Biblical Marriage — Sarah and Abraham

A lot of Christians and a few atheists have mentioned 1 Peter 3:15, either as the reason they are always ready to defend their faith, or sometimes a big reason why they left it. I decided to check out the verse, which is a command to be always ready to say why you believe, but first I saw this whopper:

Wives and Husbands

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

This is one of those places in the bible where we get all this nonsense of women having to submit and obey their husbands, telling women how to dress or not dress in this case, as well as the statement that men need to honor women as the “weaker” vessel. But then I saw the statement about Sarah and Abraham, which reminded me of Seth Andrews recent Sunday School lesson on Abram and Sarai (their tribal name back before God decided to covenant with Abraham).

And no offense, but the story of Sarah and Abraham is full of messed up tales and is basically a lesson on what isn’t a healthy marriage. It’s got, Abram renting out his wife, cheating on his wife with her servant or slave, and of course, the story of Isaac, where Sarah was nowhere to be seen as Abraham carted him off to slaughter (obeying means what she thought didn’t matter, apparently).

Let’s start with Sarai and Abram during a trip to Egypt:

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

Here is the gist for those who don’t want to read the whole thing: Since the Bible considered women as property, Abram was afraid the Egyptians who could kill him in order to take his smoking hot wife from him. To beat this, he asked Sarah to pretend to be his sister, since bros get props for being the gatekeeper to giving out their hos. But Pharoah really wanted to bang Sarai, so Abram let the king take his wife into his house and sleep with her. In return, Abram got lots of bling for giving his “sister” away to the Pharoah, until the family realized that Sarai had some STDs and they all started getting sores on their sensitive bits.

Biblical marriage at its best. But this isn’t the only time Abram’s household decided to be polygamous. When his wife couldn’t give him kids, Abram decided he’d just spread his seed around with his wife enabling the deed:

Sarai and Hagar

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.[b] And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!”But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

For those wishing to follow 1 Peter 3:6, remember this: If you can’t pop out a kid, it’s your duty to set your husband up with a chick, such as the nanny, to be his extra wife with which to have some kids with. And if you get jealous afterward, you can totally beat and be a bitch to the woman, since she’s only your property. Also, remember that this child, Ishmael, is considered to be a prophet and ancestor of Muhammad in Islam, which means God’s plans really don’t work out very well.

Eventually, Abraham and Sarai got new names, not because they were likely wanted by the Egyptian authorities or were likely the couple at the family reunion you hope don’t stay too long and don’t start drinking, but because God figured Abraham’s lineage was the chosen one, so he gave them new names. And they did finally have a son, Isaac, who God decided he wanted barbecued:

The Sacrifice of Isaac

22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy[a] will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Where was Sarah in all this? Was she submitting to her husband and obeying? Did Abraham even tell her he was going to go and slice up their son, then light him on fire because god loves the smell of burning human flesh and crisping human fat?

Remember, this isn’t the only time God wanted this kind of sacrifice. Exodus also commands the faithful to provide their first-borns on the altar for his pleasure. Biblical definitions of marriage and family, indeed.