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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Polygamy

From CNN: Polygamist sect leader Warren Steen Jeffs was found guilty Tuesday of being an accomplice to rape for using his religious authority to push a 14-year-old girl into a marriage she did not want.

Compare: Jacob married two women, plus two baby mamas. Abraham basically had two wives, Sarah (the good one) & Hagar (the bad one). This passage from Deuteronomy deals with the sticky situation of loving the child of one wife more than the other.

So, am I cherry picking to reject polygamy--clearly accepted by the Bible, there's lots more I wasn't even through the first five books--and accepting homosexuality--again, I think you'll trust me when I say there is plenty of condemnation there?

I think not. Polygamy, like slavery, like homosexuality in the time the Bible was written was a different phenomena than the modern practice bearing the same name. Polygamy exercised by Jeffs and his followers, who are not Mormon BTW, is evil. Some of that is related to the modern values--equality of women, marriage for love--and some of it is related to modern conditions--living long enough to be 30 when you have a family, fewer men killed by bears. But, polygamy is different than it was in the Bible.

If you are a literalist, you may be stuck accepting polygamy. You'd think that would be enough to convert anyone away from literalism.

10 comments:

Luke said...

Sorry for focusing on your tangent, but how do you mean "not Mormon"?

"Polygamy exercised by Jeffs and his followers, who are not Mormon BTW, is evil".

I think that The LDS Church believes "Mormon" only applies to their members, but there are those that claim to be Mormons that are not part of LDS but claim belief in The Book of Mormon.

I'm not saying I disagree with your statement. I'm actually rather curious how the distinction between The LDS Church and other "Mormons" is different than say Catholic and early Reformation churches.

JimII said...

Jeffs' church is the FLDS church. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At Religous Tolerance dot org (http://www.religioustolerance.org/flds.htm) you can read up on how close they are historically. My point is just that Jeffs and Mitt Romney are not members of the same church.

I have a special sympathy for LDS members because my church is basically merging with a church called the "United Church of Christ." There is a link on my blog for them. They are very open-minded an liberal, accepting of everyone. There is another demonination called the Church of Christ. These are some of the most conservative churches in America. For example, they do not serve communion to divorced members.

Judean People's Front? No! We're the People's Front of Judea. See, that's why it's funny.

Matt Dick said...

Jim, you didn't cite any references with regard to how polygamy is different now than it was then. Unless I am shown otherwise, it would be my argument that it hasn't changed a whole lot. Yes, fewer men were making 40, so the opportunity of there being a lot of older men needing 14 year-old wives was less, but you can't make a good case that there weren't miserable 14 year-old girls being forced to marry and have sex with 40 year-olds, can you?

What has changed is the culture, and Christianity has molded itself to fit our standards. Thank goodness, by the way, I'm very pleased that we live in an age where this stuff is unacceptable.

And it is good that you make the Mormon distinction -- because Jeffs holds the same books as holy as Romney doesn't make them the same religion any more than the fact that you and David Duke holding your bibles as holy makes you two the same religion. Of course we've had that discussion before.

Again, I'd be interested in how polygamy and homosexuality do not warrant the same treatment outside of the non-biblical influence of equal legal treatment for adults.

Mystical Seeker said...

Never underestimate the ability of literalists to rationalize away logical arguments. You are right that it is pretty obvious that the Bible accepted polygamy, and the Deuteronomy passage in particular seems pretty clear about that. But I am sure that literalists just compartmentalize that passage in some fashion that doesn't interfere with their dogma.

Matt Dick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Dick said...

From Answers In Genesis: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4074.asp

Matt Dick said...

By the way, I encourage anyone to do a kind of random-walk around Answers in Genesis. It's a fascinating look into cherry picking and ret-conning. This bit on polygamy is less insane than a lot of it.

JimII said...

Yeah, it is impressive. I should probably use it as a reference from time to time.

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