Farkel – “Quite pedantic. Please let me rephrase: Without the Fall in Eden, a religious conservative is left with a huge pile of bullshit to explain. Thank you.”
Sorry. Just tryin’ to be tactful. You’re welcome. :D
flipper – “I believe the GB member Ray Franz was referring to that said they "couldn't allow the brothers and sisters too much rope or they'd take advantage " was Ted Jaracz. He REALLY mistrusted everybody, probably even himself, though he wouldn't admit it.”
Everything I’ve read about the guy suggests he was what Bob Altemeyer (http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/) calls a “Double High”; a devout, ultra-conservative religious individual (they’re almost exclusively male, BTW) who combines the characteristics of high Right-Wing authoritarianism and “Social Dominance” orientation. Combine that with potentially deep self-loathing (I’ve heard rumors – rumors, mind you – that he was briefly accused of some form of alleged sexual assault) and the type of persecution complex common to most fundagelical Christian denominations, and you have a recipe for full-on religious paranoia.
flipper – “The Adam & Eve story instills a guilt and fear into MOST conservative religions and their people so it pushes a negativity hard to overcome.”
Yeah, thank the Apostle Paul and Augustine of Hippo for that one. Ironically, I think I recall the WT once labeling Augustine an “apostate”.
Botswana – “Farkel, Please explain more! This is the FIRST time I have ever heard that fornication and adultery don't mean what I have previously thought them to mean. A Biblical example I think of is Phineas...Didn't he bang a moabite woman and was killed for it?”
I might be able to field this one.
I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that there was some historical linguistic evidence that suggested that the ancient terms that Biblical translators have rendered “fornication” and “adultery” meant essentially the same thing; i.e. unlawful carnal knowledge. The dicey part is which part the emphasis is on, the "unlawful" or the "carnal".
It goes like this: unmarried daughters were the property of their fathers and married women were the property of their husbands, therefore extramarital sex was likely viewed not as inherently “bad” in and of itself, but as a form of theft; hence the “unlawful” aspect of the act.
In addition (assuming the Biblical historians who subscribe to this are correct), even that far back, the loosely-aligned tribes which eventually came to be known as the Hebrews (being a demographic minority) were anxiously waiting for some form of messiah through a particular lineage, so geneology was of paramount importance; illegitimate children of dubious ancestry would have been considered extremely problematic.
This would explain why, in the OT (Leviticus, I think), the penalty for horny unmarried youths gettin’ busy was A) a shotgun marriage just in case there was a bun the oven, or if that didn’t work out, B) the young fella having to pay the girls’ dad a monetary fine roughly equivalent to a dowry, and all parties involved were required to put the matter behind them in the interests of community solidarity. Look it up if you don’t believe me (and read between the lines if you're able). After all, even back then, seasoned adults with a smidgen of reason probably understood and were at least a little sympathetic to how hormone-happy teenagers could get.
By that logic, theft of “carnal knowledge” of an unmarried young woman was excusable; dad would be pissed, but everybody’d get over it eventually, particularly if no pregnancy resulted.
On the other hand, theft of “carnal knowledge” of a married woman was a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and they took it way more seriously. Clearly, it didn’t always result in execution; after all, if marital fidelity statistics back then roughly matched what they do now (and we have every reason to assume they did), and capital punishment was applied liberally when evidence was clear, the Hebrews would have gone extinct within a few generations (overlapping?;D). Most likely, the cuckolded (and probably polygamous) husband was - more often than not - willing to accept compensation of some sort, and simply directed his attentions to a new “favorite” wife or concubine (once again, in the interests of community solidarity).
That being said, seriously messing with inheritance and geneology was askin’ for a whole ton of hurt, and if it got messy, potential feuds between clans (that would otherwise be tight) could be in the making. Given how small a group the Hebrews purportedly were, it seems to me that tribal survival would have trumped personal issues among adults of responsible community age.
I could be wrong.
With regards to the account of Phineas and the Moabite hottie, they way I’ve always understood it, they were put down for defying a capital edict made by Joshua and the rest of the Judges; she’d have been executed even if she’d walked into the camp wearing a burka, three layers of mummy wrapping, and a chastity belt.
The way the account reads, the Moabite women were specifically commissioned as agents provocateurs, and instructed to use whatever means necessary (up to and including the ancient equivalent of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll) to undermine the Hebrews’ family, tribal, and national affiliations, and thusly undermine their military effectiveness.
Remember, the religious rites of many Caananite tribes reportedly involved multiple sexual partners, so they were very experienced, not to mention seducing the (relatively) sexually naïve young Hebrew soldiers probably wouldn’t have been considered an overly unpleasant duty “for their country”.
Intelligence agencies still do that even 3500 years later.