Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And Onto Polygamy

Imagine seeing this article from CNN just a decade or two ago.  Bet you wouldn't have seen it.  Or thought of it.  This stuff used to be on the extreme fringes of society, but now, it's making opinion headlines.

And it is little wonder.

Ethics in our nation has made a monumental shift over the years.  I have argued (based on the work of Richard Neuhaus) that our nation's great experiment was to have our laws founded on Judeo-Christian principles without establishing Christianity as the formal, national religion.  There were numerous reasons for this, and I will not go into those again.

What has progressively happened is a tectonic shift away from those Judeo-Christian principles and an ethics based in science/reason. 

I personally am not worried about this shift in our nation.  The Church in all of its expressions has existed and even thrived in cultures which were hostile to it.  And our nation is far from hostile to religious expression.  It just no longer bases much of its moral law upon it. 

Once gay marriage would have been unheard of.  Now, several states allow it, and the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. 

Polygamy is next on that slope.  Strictly adhering to the Constitution, I see nothing that can prevent polygamy laws from being struck down.  Consenting adults are basically allowed to do as they please.

Now, before anyone starts saying, "Polygamy isn't Christian."  Please, take a look at your Bible.  Polygamy is never outlawed in Scripture.  There is only one prohibition against it, and that is only for a bishop of the Church.  In fact, some of the greatest pillars of the faith in the Old Testament practiced polygamy in some form or another: Abraham, Jacob, and David to name a few.  In each case, polygamous relationships led to some pretty unhealthy results--which is one of the reasons I do not support such a thing--but it is important to note that God remained silent about such marriages.

Christian tradition in reading Scripture and seeing the negative results of polygamous marriage has discerned God's expectation for marriage to be between one man and one woman. 

In the culture which surrounds us now, I believe the Church must be a faithful witness to this in spite of the laws which change.  I believe we must be ready to argue, without anger, angst, and with respect to others who share a different view, for the sanctity of the one man/one woman relationship--allowing for the brokenness of relationships and the reality of divorce; never condoning it as God's will, but offering grace and mercy.  We must be ready to defend our position with much more than, "God said it should be that way, and the Bible says so too." 

Remember, the Bible never condemns polygamy.  If we meet someone who knows what the Bible says, we will lose the argument right then and there.  It is important to know the reasons behind our teaching, and I encourage everyone to study up on the matter.

We will need to know our stuff more and more as our culture and laws become more and more secular and reason based.

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