Bill's Biblical Behavior
by Carol Faulkenberry
Carol Faulkenberry is a member of the Alabama Freethought Association. The following article appeared in the 10/98, Volume 2, Number 11 issue of
The Alabama Freethinker, and is reprinted with special permission of the
For weeks, months, the newspapers and magazines, the TV and radio stations, have deluged us with information and speculation, comments and laments, about President Clinton's alleged sexual escapades. Pollsters have dashed madly around the country, asking the citizenry what they think of the president, while preachers and politicians, columnists and commentators, have indulged in a spree of witch-burning, telling us over and over that the president is a degenerate scumbag who uses women as if they were Kleenex; that he no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation; that he ought to confess, repent, apologize, and resign.
As a woman, a wife, a mother, a feminist, I understand some of this outrage. If my husband were guilty of the things that Bill Clinton has been accused of, I would alter Al's anatomy. And I wouldn't be a bit outraged if Hillary bobbitted Bill.
But I'm baffled-and heartily amused-when the Bible-thumpers start bashing Bill. For according to biblical standards, Clinton hasn't done anything that is wrong. For starters, according to biblical standards, Bill Clinton has not committed adultery. Adultery is an act that involves a married woman or a woman who has been betrothed (engaged to be married.) It has nothing whatsoever to do with a man's marital status. If a married or betrothed woman has sexual relations with a man other than her husband or husband-to-be, both parties are guilty of adultery, and are to be put to death. If a man, married or single, has sex with a single woman who is not betrothed, he is required to pay the woman's father, and if the father agrees, to marry the girl. (See Deuteronomy 22:23-29 and Exodus 22:16-17.) There is not the slightest hint that cheating on one's wife constitutes any kind of wrongdoing.
Doesn't the requirement that he marry the girl he has seduced, or raped, hint that this sort of hanky-panky is off limits for a married man? Not at all. Men of Old Testament times were allowed to have as many wives as they wanted. King Solomon, whom the Bible describes as the wisest man of all time, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Nor did marrying multiple wives cause an economic hardship. Wives produce babies. And, in a culture where most people earned their living by herding and farming, children were a financial asset-unpaid laborers for their father. The more, the merrier!
Of course, our modern laws (which are not based on the Bible) prohibit Clinton from marrying Monica and Jennifer and all the rest. Perhaps he should have followed the example set by some of our previous presidents and set them up as mistresses. Or maybe he could exculpate himself by paying their fathers a really big sum of money.
Christians will maintain that I am basing my arguments on the Old Testament and that standards changed with the coming of Jesus. Not much! Jesus did say that a man is guilty of adultery if he divorces his wife for any reason other than her lack of chastity and subsequently marries another woman (Matthew 19:9.) He did not say that it is wrong for a man to have multiple wives, to cheat on his wife, or to abandon his wife. We might have a better understanding of Jesus' views on all this if we remember that he and his disciples (some of whom had deserted their families) roamed around the countryside with, and were financially supported by, a bunch of women (some of them married to men who were not disciples.) Far from rebuking his disciples for this immoral and irresponsible use and misuse of women, Jesus promised them great rewards in heaven! (See Luke 8:1-3 and Matthew 19:27-30.)
Actually, the Old Testament view of adultery has been the accepted view in Christian countries until fairly recent times. Consider King Henry VIII of England, who had six wives, one of whom he secretly married while still legally married to another. One wife outlived him. Of the other five, one died a natural death, and Henry had his marriage to one annulled, divorced another, and had two executed for their alleged adultery. Throughout all these shenanigans, Henry maintained his position as King of England and Defender of the Faith! In more recent times, when King George I came to the throne of England in 1714, he had his wife put under house arrest and kept her there for 32 years because she had committed adultery. This was, of course, no great inconvenience for him, for all the while he had two mistresses. Adultery was a crime for wives!
Not only has Clinton not committed adultery by biblical standards, but there are good reasons for him to indulge in sexual dalliances.
According to the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 23:1,) God is very concerned about the condition of a man's genitals. If a man's penis is missing or if his testicles have been crushed, he is not allowed into the assembly of the Lord. If his tools are not intact, a man cannot worship God! I have no idea what provision the ancient Israelites made for checking men out, but I am positive that no modern Christian denomination has a genital review board. What is a man to do if he wants people to know that he is fully qualified to worship? Perhaps our president has hit upon the perfect solution to that problem: make passes at indiscreet young women who will rush out and tell all. Probably no person who lives within earshot of a radio has any doubt that President Clinton meets the manhood test for worshippers.
Further, virility is the biblical test of a man's ability and fitness to be a national leader. David was the greatest king Israel ever had. According to the Bible, he was a man after God's own heart. David was a randy old goat who had multiple wives and concubines (see Samuel 25:39-44 and II Samuel 5:13-16). Nobody complained, and God expressed no disapproval until David got involved with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:1-12:30). Even then, God's disapproval had nothing to do with the fact that David was a married man, but only with the fact that he had taken another man's wife and arranged for her husband to be killed. And how did God punish his favorite for committing adultery and murder? Not by killing David or having the throne taken away from him. He caused David's and Bathsheba's first son to die!
When David was old, his attendants searched the kingdom for a beautiful young virgin to share his bed. David did not, probably could not, rise to the occasion. He didn't have sex with the girl. Noting that, his advisors pressed David to immediately name a successor to his throne. Within a matter of days, Solomon was crowned king of Israel (I Kings 1:1-49). It was not David's sexual dalliances that brought an end to his reign, but his inability to keep on dallying! Perhaps President Clinton's escapades are merely his way of reassuring us that he is still virile enough to be a great leader. Think of it! The poor man has only one wife, no concubines, no slave girls, and no sons, and he has never even been accused of either rape or murder!
Personally, I hope we never have a president who meets the biblical standards for leadership.