Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flee from Masturbation?- pt. 2

So… here we go with some “historical-grammatical analysis” of the aforementioned-disputed-practice.  But, allow me to preface this with an apology to the aforementioned Steve Hays (whom I happen to have tremendous respect and appreciation for)- for a woefully brief analysis.  Yet, an analysis that yielded surprising results.  Results with strong support.

Now, for this analysis, all the major lexicons were consulted for grammar on numerous words.  A standard methodology for determining meaning.

Also for this analysis- many marvelous on-line translations of these words- in numerous historical works at Perseus were examined. The methodology used by the lexicons.

Predictably, lemmas such as πορνείᾳ (Mat 19:9 ), κοίταις (Rom 13:13) and their cognates were examined. 
Yet, as suggested in the previous post- it is my considered opinion that the operative word to be examined is ἀσελγείαις  (3 Macc. 2:26, Wisdom 14:26, Mark 7:22, Rom 13:13, 2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Eph 4:19, 1 Pet 4:3, 2 Pet 2:2,7,18, Jude 1:4)A vague Greek word that is overwhelmingly translated “sensuality” in Romans 13:13.  A translation that appears to suggest the notion that "sensuality" in and of itself is a bad thing.  
Yet, it is this word in conjunction with another word that is generally glossed as "bed" that carries some bad connotation.  
Not that "bed" in and of itself is a bad thing.  Or that "sensuality in bed" is necessarily a bad thing. 
What appears to be a bad thing is "unrestricted sensuality".  "Sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness" (Eph. 4:19 NASB).  And not necessarily in bed.

I would suggest that a more accurate formal translation of  ἀσελγείαις might be "unlicensed conduct".
And a more accurate dynamic translation of  ἀσελγείαις might be "screwing around".

To support my case lets look at the BDAG lexicon- which is currently considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in lexicons:

1176  ἀσέλγεια
• ἀσέλγεια, ας, ἡ (ἀσελγής; Pla., Isaeus et al.; Polyb. 1, 6, 5; 5, 28, 9 al.; Plut., Alcib. 8, 2 [195]; Lucian, Gall. 32; BGU 1578, 15 [II/III AD]; PMagd 24, 2; PLond V, 1711, 34; Wsd 14:26; 3 Macc 2:26; Jos., Ant. 4, 151; 8, 252; 318; 20, 112; TestJud 23:1; Ar.; Just., A II, 2, 3; Tat.; Mel., P. 50, 364) lack of self-constraint which involves one in conduct that violates all bounds of what is socially acceptable, self-abandonment. In sg. and pl. ἑαυτὸν παραδιδόναι τῇ ἀ. give oneself over to licentiousness Eph 4:19; πορεύεσθαι ἐν ἀσελγείαις live licentiously 1 Pt 4:3; cp. Hm 12, 4, 6. τὴν χάριτα μετατιθέναι εἰς ἀ. pervert favor into licentiousness (i.e. they interpret divine goodness as an opportunity to ignore God and do what they please) Jd 4 (cp. Diod. S. 16, 87, 1, where ἀ. is used of the insolence of a scoffer); πολλοὶ ἐξακολουθήσουσιν ταῖς ἀ. many will follow in their licentious tracks 2 Pt 2:2. Cp. Hv 2, 2, 2. Esp. of sexual excesses (Philo, Mos. 1, 305; Hippol., Ref. 9, 13, 4) w. κοῖται Ro 13:13; w. ἀκαθαρσία (cp. Eph 4:19) and πορνεία 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19, in a long catalogue of vices, like Mk 7:22; Hs 9, 15, 3. ἡ ἐν ἀ. ἀναστροφή indecent conduct 2 Pt 2:7; cp. vs. 18. αἱ ἐπιθυμίαι τῆς ἀ. licentious desires Hv 3, 7, 2 (cp. Polyb. 36, 15, 4 ἀ. περὶ τ. σωματικὰς ἐπιθυμίας).—DELG s.v. ἀσελγής. M-M. TW.

Now it appears to me that BDAG’s interpretation (as well as the interpretations of much older lexicons) of this Greek word- is quite removed from the traditional “sensuality” translation.
That BDAG's “licentious” gloss of this word is considerably more accurate.   

With numerous historical references that support this more accurate gloss. 
Historical references and gloss supported by the more recent Friberg lexicon (with its narrow history window) as well.

A word in our English dictionary- that is derived from its 16th century Latin origin of "license".
A word that might be  better understood as ‘unlicensed conduct’.

Now it appears to me, that such interpretation applies to the conduct in dispute here… is the individual “licensed” to practice such a practice?  Is such conduct truly "indecent"? 

And it appears to me, that the married individual no longer has that operating “license”.  Is no longer “licensed” to practice such a practice.  Is not licensed to “deprive their ‘co-licensed’ spouse- of what rightfully belongs to them by such practice.  Is not “licensed” to violate the boundary stone of Exodus 21:10 (re-enforced in 1 Cor 7:5).   A clear violation of the ‘lesser commandment’ presented in the previous post.

Unless of course…such practice was not in fact “depriving the ‘co-license’ holder.   

And unless of course- such practice were to be in the ‘co-licensed’ spouse’s best interest as well.   If the operative purpose of the practice were to allay immorality.  Were to "constrain" immorality.  For “immorality purposes”- as Paul points out in 1 Cor 7:2.  Which Paul points out to his dull enquirers- 'is the intuitive and instructed purpose for becoming a ‘co-license’ holder in the first place!'

For such purposes then, would not such a constraining practice be virtuous- rather than a violation?  Decent rather than "indecent"?
A practice then in adherence of the ‘lesser commandment’ -rather than a violation of it?

We shall conclude with how such adherence ought to be in our concluding post.