The Debate, Genitals, the Bible

Rehoboam

Maybe I’m a prude.   Maybe I’m out of touch.

I never thought I was. But, maybe I am.

But, I just wasn’t prepared for a penis joke in a presidential debate.  I haven’t been prepared for a lot of things said in this presidential campaign.

As a pastor and Bible student, my mind immediately went to the Bible.
The Bible?  What does the Bible have to do with this?

Most of us agree that penises are out of bounds for a Presidential debate, but they aren’t out of bounds for the Bible.
You probably haven’t heard a sermon or Sunday School lesson on these stories but, they’re all in the Good Book.

Story 1:  In Exodus 4:24-25 we read about a woman named Zipporah who cut off a piece of her son’s foreskin and threw it at her husband, Moses.

I have a hard time getting over the first part of that passage, “…the LORD met him (Moses) at the lodging place and sought to put him to death.”  Whoa.  One moment God is calling Moses toward his destiny as Israel’s deliverer; the next moment God is trying to kill him because he neglected to “snip the tip”!  It’s stories like this that give God a bad rep.

The next part of the story is just weird when mom does the deed and throws the circumcised skin at Moses.

Story 2:  Every boy has doubled over after a below-the-belt injury.   Hope the damage isn’t too great!    If it is, you can’t enter the temple.  Here’s the verse: “If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1)- sorry John Bobbitt.

Story 3: The Song of Solomon, most realize, is a love poem, romantic and sexual.  Very sexual. Check out this verse: “…His abdomen is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires” (5:14).  Some translations say “His body is carved…”  “Abdomen” is closer to the Hebrew word.  But, she’s not saying her man has a six-pack stomach.  What she’s getting at is seen in the use of the word “carved ivory.”  She is calling to mind the original form of ivory – an elephant’s tusk.

Ivory – elephant’s tusk.

Yep.  You got it.  The lady in 5:14 is admiring her well-hung husband.

Story 4:  (See the photo at the top of post)  After King Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel split in two, Israel to the North, with Samaria as the capitol and Judah to the South, with Jerusalem as the capitol.  Solomon’s son, Rehoboam takes the throne, and pretty much all of Israel comes to ask him to go easier on them than his father did.  It was like, “You know, your dad treated us like slaves.  Can you, like, not do that so much?”  The wise older guys, who had been around the block, tell Rehoboam that he should have a “kinder and gentler” administration than his dad’s and he if does, he’ll win the hearts of his people.

But Rehoboam was having none of that wimpy stuff.  He was going to be tough. So, Rehoboam gets his frat bros together who advise him on the situation: “Here’s what you should say to the people who spoke to you , saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’  But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins!’ Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father discipline you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’” (1 Kings 12:10-11).

Some of you have rushed to your Bibles and found that your translation is much tamer, “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist.”  Yes, that reading sounds much nicer when reading during a Sunday morning service.  But is it an accurate translation?  Not according to the experts:

Baker’s Bible Dictionary gives numbers and various ways the Hebrew word can be translated, then it says this:   “Loins can also refer to the genitalia (1 Kings 12:10).”

The message is clear, “My little finger is bigger than my dad’s penis, so you can just imagine what I’m packing.”  Rehoboam got into a measuring contest with his dad, the king who was famously able to satisfy a harem of 1000 women.

Sounds a bit like the recent “size of the hand” debate, doesn’t it?

Speaking of size, here’ the last of several genital stories in the Bible that I’ll  mention:

Story 5: The verse is Ezekiel 23:20“There she lusted after lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.”

We asked, “Why are Presidential candidates talking about “the size of hands?” Are you asking, “Why is the Bible talking about the genitals and emissions of barnyard animals?”

Ezekiel 23 is a long allegory about two sisters Ohola and Oholibah, representing Samaria and Jerusalem.  Both of these sisters grew up to be prostitutes.  Ohola was a prostitute for the Assyrians.  God was so angry with her that he had the Assyrians kill her and take away her children.

Oholibah sees her sister’s death but does not stop her prostitution.  In fact, she takes it one step further.  She goes to the Babylonians and has sex with them.  Disgusted by the Babylonians, she moves to the Egyptians.  She decides to stay with the Egyptians because their penises are like donkey penises and their semen is like horse semen.  Thanks for that image, Bible.

As uncomfortable as that image might make us, the rest of the story really disturbs me.

“Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stir up your lovers against  you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side…They will come against you with fury…I will hand you over to them for punishment so they can do with you as they please…They will cut off your nose and ears.  Your children will be taken and everything you own will be burned.  They will strip you of your clothes and jewels – slaughtering by the sword!  They will treat you with hatred and rob you of all you own, leaving you stark naked.  This is your fault and your shame will be exposed to all the world.  I will force you to drink from your sister’s cup of terror, filled to the brim with scorn and derision, distress and desolation.  You will drink it all and smash the cup to pieces, plucking off your breasts in anguish.  Yes, you will suffer the full penalty. Then you will know I am the LORD.”

Put yourself in the story.  Imagine the scene.  The blood-curdling screams as her ears were cut off without mercy.  The pain and shame as she was endlessly gang raped by her enemies.  Imagine being so desperate for your own death that you give in to the demands to rip off your own breasts with  your bare hands.  Imagine watching your own children being murdered with swords right in front of you.

Yes, this is an allegorical warning against turning away from God. But, I have to wonder if it is representative of how female prostitutes and adulterers were actually treated.

What are some take-aways from these stories, among many other stories, that are found in the Bible?

*Most “Bible-believing Christians” squirm at genital talk, so, isn’t it ironic that the Bible is actually filled with a lot of this kind of talk?

*Are we reading the Bible thoughtfully?  Are we reading it at all?  How could we have missed these stories?

*Maybe the Bible is more interesting than we thought!

*It makes me wonder, “Did God know that kids would be reading this?”  Should parents monitor their children’s Bible reading?  Should we think twice about “Bring Your Bible to School Day?” I’m kind of joking, but kind of not joking.

*Why do translators “sterilize” the text?

*Why do preachers and teachers do the same?

*How does the person and life of Jesus help us understand some difficult passages in the Bible?  How does the portrayal of God in Ezekiel 23 fit the portrayal of God in Luke 15?

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