Thursday, August 21, 2008

Polygamy

I have been getting lots of notices from various organizations about the Netherlands accepting the polygamous marriage of immigrants (typically Muslim). The notices have been written in a horrified tone similar to homosexual "marriage". While I do not think that polygamy is the way God designed marriage, I do consider it a marriage. Why? Because God did. Throughout the Old Testament there are polygamous marriage. God never has people send away their second or third wives. He did have them send away their non-Jewish wives during the rebuilding of Jerusalem. God never sends a prophet to confront a leader with many wives. He did send Nathan to confront David and (in the New Testament) John the Baptist to confront Herod about adultery.

Now I agree that God planned for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. That is what he created in the Garden of Eden.

That fact doesn't stop us from recognizing remarried couples as married. We recognize them as married whether or not they got divorced for scriptural reasons (adultery would be a scriptural reason, he golfs too much would not).

My mother has told me of a dilemma in the African church. Many people when they come to Christ are in a polygamous marriage. She said most of the time they must send away their extra wives and kids or leave their husbands before they can be baptized. I think this is a grave error. Those kids need both parents. I would baptize them and just admonish the men not to marry any more women. I would admonish the women to stay married even if their unbelieving husband marries again.

I know it isn't ideal, but to me it seems more in line with what God would do (and has done in the past).

9 comments:

Rebecca said...

I agree with you. And God actually chose to "bless" David and Solomon and others in the OT with many wives. I also think it's interesting that in the New Testament, the elders are required to be "the husband of one wife," which makes it clear that that is the way God wants it to be, but it doesn't in any way reproach those who have more than one either. It's an odd issue, I think.

Applied Christianity said...

It is great to hear from you, Rebecca.

I am surprised that you are agreeing. I expected lots of "you're crazy" comments.

Just goes to show I am a terrible predictor of people.

Your comment about David made me think about Abigail. It is almost as though being David's third (or so) wife was a reward of sorts for being wise.

Jeremy Pierce said...

I agree with you also. But one of your arguments has further implications. What about a gay couple who adopt children, and one becomes a Christian? Should the Christian stay in the relationship (and refuse for it to be sexual, of course) so the children can have both parents? That raises some harder questions. I know heterosexual couples who stayed together and even lived in separate rooms for the sake of the children, so this can be done. The relationship had ceased to be a marriage in all ways except that they were committed to raising their kids within a family context with two parents. Should the same be true of a same-sex relationship when children are involved? If you think the answer to that is also yes, then you're likely to get a lot more "you're crazy" responses than with polygamy, since there are no instances in the Bible, but the principles are almost entirely the same.

Applied Christianity said...

Jeremy,

I think you bring up some excellent points. I think that it would be extremely rare for a homosexual couple that had adopted to both come to the Lord. I haven't really thought about what should happen if that extreme rarity should occur. I have been thinking about the polygamy thing for a year or so because my mom goes to Africa every year.

SteveinTX said...

Jeremy,

I am going to have to disagree with you on the homosexual couple with a child.

The key point, I think, is that a mother and a father are a superior way two raise children, not just two parents. Men and women have different charges from God in the family and are diffently enabled to meet the needs of a child.

I don't think that it is just a question of two warm bodies. There would be no "pretty" way of dealing with the change in the relationship because one of the partners fundemental world view would change and continue changing.

That doesn't mean that the other partner should be excluded from the child's life, but there would be no way that it wouldn't be awkward. I think that the key difference between the heterosexual couple sleeping in separate rooms and the homosexual couple is the necessarily sinful nature of the latter.

The heterosexual couple is still fulfilling their call to raise up their children - romantic love is not a biblical requirement but a secular one (in my not always as humble as is should be opinion).

What are your thoughts?

SteveinTX

Applied Christianity said...

Excellent points, Steve. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Jeremy Pierce said...

Steve,

The case I envision is when you have a couple who have together adopted and raised a child. These parents are then already both parents of this child. Or what if it's the biological mom, and her adoptive lesbian partner wants to keep the kids? It's the biological mom who wants out of the relationship. A judge can (and did in Oregon, I believe) award custody to the lesbian partner when the Christian mom has left the relationship. So for the sake of continuing a Christian influence on the kids, isn't there an argument for staying as a parent in a family without being in the lesbian relationship?

As for being sinful, you're going to need an argument for that. How does happening to live in the same house as someone with joint custody going to count as sinful when there's no sexual relationship going on? The only thing the Bible condemns about homosexuality is the sexual act. I don't see how what I'm suggesting is remotely sinful.

SteveinTX said...

AC,

Thanks for having me! I found your blog via a link on Thinking Christian to this post. I plan to peruse more of the blog. Looks like we are near neighbors - I'm near Lake Livingston.

Jeremy,

Thanks for your response. On your second point, you are correct. I was not clear in my point. The sinful relationship was the original homosexual relationship - not living as roommates.

The awkwardness would be from the joint custody - legally acknowledging the previous sinful relationship. Sorry about leaving the wrong impression.

On your first point, I don't think that you have to be a parent to exert a Christian influence on a child. I don't think that the previous partner should be excluded from having a relationship with the child, but I don't think that codifying the previous homosexual union would be helpful in most cases.

With the specific example you raised, my first thought is "hard cases make bad law." I don't know the details of this case, but my guess is that the judge likely gave custody to specifically reduce Christian influence. Presumptive mother-custody is the de facto law of the land; this is clearly a step away from the norm.

I don't think that we can effectively use the courts to maintain a positive relationship with the child - visitation, for example, is NOT enforced by the courts. I think that we have to rely on good will to enable a continuing relationship with the child. With Christian parents this should not be a problem, with anti-Christian parents, the courts will not help.

SteveinTX

T said...

I am still wondering where people get the notion that polygamy is contrary to scripture.

Personally, I have trouble imagining being able to afford more than one wife (or even ONE wife for that matter), or having the wisdom to lead in such a setting, but I still don't see where it is "unscriptural."

Great discussion!