Sunday, May 18, 2008

Religious issues with virginity pledge.

Completely a side point, but it's something that I ran across a few years ago when I started this pledge research and have never remarked upon before.

Many academics believe that early Christianity was a product of rabbinic Judaism. Since rabbinic Judaism strongly opposes vows and pledges, when I started the virginity pledge research I briefly looked at the Christian texts to see what they had to say about vows.

The view at least in the Sermon on the Mount seemed similar to the rabbinic view, that vows were forbidden.

Somehow, though, the US acquired many pledges and vows, such as swearing in for political office, testimony in court, the original alcohol abstinence pledges in the 19th century which also came out of religious movements, and now the virginity pledge.

1 comment:

Myke Cuthbert said...

Janet -- I don't know how long the history of vows in Christianity goes, but I'm pretty sure that they long predate the United States especially in the one that is probably most interesting to you, the vow of chastity, which goes at least to St. Benedict in the middle of the first millennium A.D. ("Religious vows" at Wikipedia seems to have info that confirms my notion, FWIW) Since these vows come from monastic life, I wonder if the views on vows in Egypt (or elsewhere in the periphery of the late-Roman world) would shed some light on this departure from Jewish tradition (a tradition that some Christian sects have returned to).