Sunday, August 30, 2009

Confronting the Church on Marriage, Part IV

I had claimed to Woody (Stewart Lauer) that the directive to Kings to not have רבה (rabah) wives is not a directive to have only one wife. It is a directive to have not too many wives.

This is a relative state which I believe to be defined roughly by the terms of concubines and their treatment in Exodus 21. A wife is owed regular consort (regular is relative), food and clothing. Poverty can overtake us all, but if a wife is deprived as a direct result of the addition of another wife, this is wrong. Exodus 21:10:
"If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."
It should be noted that this is God himself speaking, and he's just finished up with the Ten Commandments in the preceding chapter, stating "thou shalt not commit adultery." I find it hard to believe then that God turns right around and without scowl or sign proceeds to regulate what we now regard as adultery. God says to provide for your wife or wives in their physical needs, including sexual relations. Depriving your wife of these things as the direct result of taking another wife, is wrong. Stewart "Woody" Lauer:
" 'Neither shall he multiply wives for himself (Deu 17:17 NAS),' is a command that Solomon violated by polygyny, irrespective of the wives’ citizenships."
I had mentioned the foreign origin of Solomon's wives and also said:
"You're arguing that a King could only possess one horse"
"I don’t know who the 'you' is, but I make no such argument. Holladay gives the hifil [sic]* stem for this verb as, 'make many, increase.' Both NASB and KJV render it 'multiply', which means 'increase in number,' or 'make more numerous.' V 17b, when proscribing riches adds the adverb, 'greatly', thereby allowing possession of riches in moderation. As such, vv 16 and 17a are best taken as absolute proscriptions, prohibiting multiple wives and prohibiting what we might call a calvary [sic] or a chariotry. The king was the ruler of God’s people of old."
My first observation is that I am not a King. If it is found, ultimately, that this is indeed a prohibition against a King having two or more wives at a time, well, so be it. I am not a King. Woody also compares this to elders, and I have too, so we are in rough agreement there. I will deal with that issue in the next post.

I had also mentioned to Woody that the sin for which Solomon is chastised in scripture, is not the sin for which Woody chastises him. In Nehemiah 13:25-27 it says:
"I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, 'You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin. 'Do we then hear about you that you have committed all this great evil by acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?' "
Nowhere is the number of Solomon's wives mentioned as the primary concern, though it seems almost certain to our sensibilities that his number was indeed too great and a violation of Deuteronomy 17:17. Nevertheless, scripture at least sees this as a lessor problem, choosing not to make overt mention of it. The Bible also does not chide Solomon for excessive wealth or horses, both of which he also seemed to have in excess. Apparently, these things are not as big a deal as we would like to make them even if wrong, and it may well have been that Solomon's primary sin was the foreign nature of his wives, and the greater number of them he took, were of foreign origin. Nehemiah may be saying, "What's the real problem here?" and saying that if you took the foreigners out of the mix, there would be no problem at all. In any case Solomon is never directly chided for his many marriages and concubines, only his foreign ones.

Woody also tries to sneak in the idea that it's "one wife," "not a lot of horses," and "not a whole lot of gold." I'll accept only the last. In context, Deuteronomy 17:16-17 is parallel in construction. It shows two unlike things, and says identical things about them. In essence, the passage says "horse or wives, Kings are not to "רבה (rabah)" them, whatever that is. Here is the passage:
"Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply [רבה (rabah)] horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' He shall not multiply [רבה (rabah)] wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly [מאד (meh·ode')] increase [רבה (rabah)] silver and gold for himself."
In the last case, Woody's contention is supported. Using the modifier "meh·ode' " to go with "רבה (rabah)." But in the cases of the first use of "rabah" in verse 16, the "stem" and "aspect" of the verb is the same as in the case of it's use with wives in verse 17. It is the "Hiphil" stem and "imperfect" aspect. This renders the two constructions parallel. Furthermore, there are some other uses of the same stem and aspect that are worth looking into. Genesis 16:10:
"Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.' "(NAS)
Or Genesis 17:2:
"I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly."
Genesis 22:17:
"...I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies."
Genesis 28:3:
"May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples."
This simply cannot be a word that is confined to the use "more than one." As it is used, in the immediate context, and others, the Hebrew "rabah" in the Hiphil stem and imperfect aspect means "a bunch." It may mean "a really big bunch."

If interpreted to mean "more than one wife" which is distinctly inconsistent with it's usage elsewhere by Moses in other books, it would also have the effect of limiting a King to one horse. The sentence construction again, is parallel. Whatever is said about a wife, is also being said about a horse. If a King is not to have more than one wife, he is also being said not to have more than one horse. If a King lives in a way that is instructive to the rest of the populace, then indeed we are to have only one wife, as the King would, and indeed, only one horse. This would make animal husbandry problematic, and getting horses a really big problem because in this same passage we are told that a King was not to go down to Egypt again, for the purposes of multiplying horses. Why not say "don't have horses at all?"

I am not one to say that the translations are in error. I think they are more than adequate, whether it be the King James, or the NASB or the ESV. They do get spun over time though, as politicians do focus groups and find buzz words, theologians work the margins of word meanings until we become accustomed to hearing them in contexts that dictate meanings not shared by the original text. Multiply has interesting meanings. The word "rabah" is translated "Multiply" or "Many" depending on your version. In English, depending on context, two is not many, nor may it be an accurate rendering of multiply. It's just barely multiply, and it's certainly not many. It can't be said to dictate only one wife, though it might, if read a certain way in the English. In the Hebrew, it simply can't be said to dictate one wife.

Next, I'll deal with Woody's similar contention on elders. And with a surprise admission on his part.

* Woody in this case, an alternate spelling, not an apparently incorrect one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Interlude and Panhandle, then on with our regularly scheduled programming

Writing this series on my interaction with the OPC is a very taxing pursuit. Outwardly, it may not seem to be, after all, what is writing anyway? It's just typing and typing and typing. One of the worst forms of writing can be blogging, which is what Vermont Polygamy is, a blog.

Bad writing and blogging are not necessarily hand in hand. At times I do look back on some things I have written, make minor edits, and in other cases, wonder how anybody can understand the tangled gobbledy gook that flowed off my fingertips. I rarely write with an outline, though at times I do. In being timely, it's hard to do that.

As a consequence, I sometimes write, am interrupted, write, am interrupted again, table something for a day, write some more, and so on. The result is often not what I fully intended. Sometimes the result is something even after post publishing tweaks, I don't like very much. I rarely delete any material on either of my blogs. If I blather, honest editorial policy is to leave that blather out there to be criticized.

It is my intention to weave the continuing series on the church discussions into a book. The brief exchange with the intelligentsia of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church provides more than adequate fodder to characterize the position of the Reformation on marriage and monogamy or more accurately, marriage as equivalent to monogamy. It provides me with more than adequate fodder to refute it.

As a reformed person, I can take no public political position, without reconciling it to my religious belief. I do not pretend to take my religion on the road, and force others into accepting it in practice, but I can ask for my legal cul de sac in which to practice my religion, this is what I do.

After this series on the OPC, I will go on with the book, and blogging about the progress of Same Sex Marriage in Vermont. There is a limit to this. As I point out at Modern Pharisee, I am becoming increasingly more popular as a blogger. An anonymous commenter says this must be because so many people wish to keep track of me and what I'm doing. As if. No followers and all surveillance? That would be a commentary on paranoia like I've rarely seen. Not mine though. It would seem that the forces of polygamy watching are populated by high school educated young mothers. At least that's what the site stats of "the Pharisee" indicate.

Ultimately, this is another mention that I need real support to continue the effort. With as many of you as are out there, that are supportive, there should be some support. I am not among the idle rich, I am among the working renting population. I live paycheck to paycheck. I could do this far better if it was all I had to do. To do this in the future, it may very well be that this can be all I do. Just picture yourself as my employer, with me on the evening news espousing even what this generation views as a deviant lifestyle. I would be on to a sole proprietorship of nothing and speedy bankruptcy in nothing flat.

I am a registered lobbyist in the State of Vermont for this cause. The next legislative session is this coming January. If I can't do this alone as a livelihood, I really can't do it much longer, other than as a simple observer. I'm not sure how much interest I have in that.

I am increasingly pointing out to my friends in this cause, some practicing polygynists, and some merely advocating for the practice, that I have no desire merely to serve as a front for men who want greater variety on their sexual menu. This is the frequent criticism of the average polygynist, is that they are simply sex crazed men looking for a booty call that they can make look legitimate through religion.

I may be forced to at least superficially, agree with them.

Zero support means that at best the Christian Polygynist is hiding out in their lifestyle, laying low, not calling attention to themselves, and bed hopping. I understand this. Attention means problems. Ask the FLDS. String the words compound, polygamy and religion together and it reads like an engraved invitation to a visit from the SWAT team and the FBI. Who would want that?

Unless though, it is the intention of such persons to hide their lights perpetually under a bushel (albeit a bushel with lots of tail in it), it's time to come out in support of the effort. Don't, and I won't.

I am as Dr. Andrew Selle has named me, the leading public advocate and debater of the cause of Christian polygyny, in the world. Musings about site stats on my other blog are designed to show you that people care about the cause, from a pro polygyny standpoint.

Faith without works though, is nothing. I would very much enjoy an exchange of ideas on this topic. You can comment here, or you can email me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Confronting the Church on Marriage, Part III

Picking up where we left off on the 9th of this month, I progress to Woody's last statement, which I said I would let hang out there, and soak in. I will paraphrase his answer, as I understand it, having written him on some points for clarification, and using the statements he made. His argument is, "marriage is one man and one woman because Genesis 2:24 is a definition of marriage." This is an argument I can accept, easily. I'm not sure it's precisely correct, but I can accept it.

So Woody accuses me of Red Herrings by mentioning that we don't marry our own ribs. Not so. But in an effort to meet him more than half way, I shall concede that God never meant for us to emulate Adam and Eve in ways that we cannot, and that creation was fixed at the time of Eve, with no more first generation men, women or animals on the drawing board. God rests. All generations subsequent to Adam and Eve are to come from them as Paul says and henceforth all men are out of women, not woman from man.

This again creates a problem for Woody since it is now mandated that some things be done in ways unlike Adam and Eve. Adam never marries in fact. Adam has a wife created for him. She is the only being created as a wife. Does Woody now argue for all marriages being arranged? Certainly Adam's father arranged for his marriage. Does Woody propose that Adam and Eve's children were to be married as they were? God has mandated in man's perfection that man be "fruitful and multiply." Creation is closed on the 6th day. Is Eve to serve as a sort of hive queen, whelping all the children who are sexual, but never engage in sex or was it God's divine intent from the beginning that Adam be polygynous and marry his own daughter(s) or that Eve be polyandrous and marry her own son(s)? Is it more likely that it was God's intent, from the beginning, in Man's perfection or fallen state, that they marry siblings? If we accept God never meant parents to marry their own children, then Adam's children, two of them at least, must marry one another. Herein is a mandated difference that is not as Adam and Eve were, from the beginning. Once it is established that Seth's marriage was never meant to be like Adam and Eve's in all ways, then it is established that we can only follow Adam and Eve in ways that we are able.

So are we to marry exactly as Adam and Eve did in ways that we can? Again, Woody necessarily returns to the Adam and Eve archetype and argues rigorous betrothal practice by default. Am I to betroth all my female children from the womb? This is in fact what he argues, and if he does not then he readily concedes to me that we are not even to follow Adam and Eve in all ways that we are able. Since we do not follow them in all ways that we can, we must settle on one method: We are to follow them in all ways that we are instructed to follow them. I could make other arguments similar to the female betrothal from the womb example given above, but I shall leave this for now as the only one on the table. Let Woody defeat this. He is defeated in extracting monogamy as in instruction from Genesis 2:24, he must find it clearly held up, as a monogamy, as instructive in that regard. It must be said "Adam married only Eve and you should never marry more than one at a time, like Adam and like Eve." This is never said.

Woody and I agree that Genesis 2:24 is a comment by the author Moses, this is what he means by "Mosaic interpolation" (Moses introduced). From there Moses commented with flawless divine inspiration that marriage is defined forward from this moment. All the business about the "waw-consective narrative" is just bombast. Having been accused by Woody of attitudes, I feel it is my right to point out here that he could have said "Moses introduced this comment into the text, which defines marriage," instead he resorts to belittling by throwing out seldom used phrases (meaningful though they may be) like "Mosaic Interpolation" and "waw-consecutive narrative." Woody then dumps in terms like "anarthrous generic 'man' " instead of simply "man" and so on. Anarthrous, by the way, is a word so little used, my spell checker doesn't recognize it.

Woody next makes a dense (layered and complex) argument about what Jesus said in quoting the passage. I say it means what it meant. Jesus says that in Matthew 19. This is one of the unintended consequences of "from the beginning it was not so." Jesus is reaching back, quoting Genesis 2:24, probably in Hebrew and saying "it means now, what it meant then, no changes." That does not mean "Marriage must be exactly like Adam and Eve" though, it means that as defined, at that time, marriage is and was and will always be, exactly the same thing. If the definition was inclusive of different patterns of marriage for subsequent generations than the exact pattern laid out by Adam and Eve, then these differences are included in that definition. Where Woody errs, where all err on the monogamy side is to say that this means "any deviation" is not marriage. There are necessarily deviations from the pattern of Adam and Eve. The question is only; what are the allowable and righteous deviations.

Woody then makes what I think are deliberately confusing points about the "LXX" (Septuagint) and the Samaritan Pentateuch, implying however vaguely that there is some new inspiration revealed in Christ's words because of the Greek Translation of Genesis. I'm going to insist that there is more evidence that Christ spoke these words in Hebrew, or possibly Aramaic, as opposed to Greek. He was sent to the Lost Sheep of Israel, and at this point, was ministering to them. Thus, any implication or drift in meaning or new meaning that Woody or others pick up from the use of Septuagint by the authors of Matthew or Mark is not drift at all. They report accurately as possible what Christ said in those passages, as a translation of his words, not his words exactly. So when Christ quotes scripture, he quotes it in the original Hebrew or in Aramaic.

So, back to the top. If as Woody claims, and I accept, at least for the sake of discussion, marriage is "one man and one woman," where does that leave me? Quite simply it leaves me with the alternative declaration that a man can have several marriages, while he and his spouse(s) live. Romans 7 entirely takes care of any supposition that a woman can have concurrent marriages. I can accept Woody's work and declare the above to be correct, it's just that he claims somewhere that this means "only" and that, is never said. Either marriage is defined as being open to the addition of several wives, or men are said to be morally capable without any sin of marrying several times concurrently. I can make my view easily fit with this argument, and so it is no argument at all.

Some will point out that it is wrong to marry siblings and I agree. Remember that this is a change, the sort of change Woody maintains can occur, and in this case, did occur. Whereas Seth marries a sister or another brother does, and Abram marries his half sister, we may not. The change is clearly laid out. There was no law, and men and women married freely it seems in and out of their families. Later there is a law. Leviticus 18:9:
"The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover."
There is no such passage regarding multiple wives. There are in fact passages that compel such relationships, even if they are mere side effects of obeying other laws. What are we to make of this?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Confronting the Church on Marriage, Part II

As you recall, from my last post, Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church devoted time and resources to the defeat of the Same Sex Marriage bill in Vermont. Dr. Andrew Selle (What's Next? POLYGAMY?) who is a teacher, elder and ordained Orthodox Presbyterian pastor testified publicly against the bill. He also testified before the various subcommittees that cleared the bill in it's various and final forms to go out to the floor for a vote in both the House and Senate in Vermont.

Let me be clear that I would greatly prefer the Government not be involved in marriage at all, but as long as they classify people for income tax status based on whether they are married or not, there is no hope at all of getting them out of marriage. Thus we must license ourselves and marry to be classified for tax purposes and the Government climbs into bed with us.

I don't want Same Sex Marriage. It's an oxymoron as I have often pointed out. Beyond that I don't care if homosexuals live together and call themselves married, they are not married in the eyes of God just because they think they are. This I humbly submit, should also be the position of the church. We should not invade the homes of the unbeliever and tell them how to live. If we wish to, let us evangelize until there is a Christian Majority, and then elect officials to rule us that see it the way we do. Job one in that formulation? Evangelism, not lobbying for "Traditional Marriage." This is the backdrop for what follows.

I had gone into a membership class out of a desire to be in submission to the authorities of my local OPC church body. There is nothing in the membership requirements for the prospective membership about marriage views. There is nothing that says I should submit blindly to the dictates of the session in doctrinal issues. There is in fact a statement that no prospective member should blindly submit. With that in mind I emailed the entire session April 18th, in advance of their session meeting on 20th of this year. There was an ongoing verbal discussion between Carl Durham (the pastor) and I, and he had requested that he be able to show my work, shown below, to someone else. That someone else would turn out to be Kobe (Japan) Reformed Theological Seminary Hebrew professor, Stewart "Woody" Lauer. (Pictured Below)

I emphasized the epidemic of divorce as one of my concerns, and the effect of understanding acceptable polygyny on divorce doctrine. I emphasized that we are eroding confidence in the Old Testament narrative, and the relative virtue of it's primary figures by degrading their family states. I equated that to taking a low view of the first several chapters of Genesis.

These are the arguments I presented, which I will edit to direct them at the audience of this blog. Any who dispute this record, I will answer by presented the original text of the emails and their historic origins. There were several arguments to the church, which Woody did not deal with, so for now, I will not deal with those, but present them later, as uncontested or misunderstood. Woody was frequently give to terse wording about not understanding an argument. I will table those and deal with those he did understand. It is interesting how the general argument I have been making in public for years is less complex when presented to a member of the Reformed Theological community. I said:
"Many people will say the advocacy of Polygyny is frivolous as few peace seeking Christians would flaunt the laws of the land by taking other wives. I have several things to say in that area. One, in those nations promoting monogamy through law, there is still divorce, and the pattern of polygynous marriage leads to a better understanding of that unfortunate human necessity born of our sinful natures. (Also) you can get on a computer in Afghanistan or Iran or any other nation in the world, and you can access this forum and others like it. It shows serious myopia to think that we in the west own this discussion. Conservative denominations like our also draw the line at degrading the truth of the first third of Genesis or any other section of scripture for that matter. The denial of a polygynous pattern of marriage in the Old Testament as moral, where more marriages mentioned are polygynous than are not, threatens the veracity of God's in the eyes of men in the same way that adherence to the theory of Evolution does. It makes the word a fairy tale. It makes it of no value in our life today."
And Woody replies:
"These are unsupported pretentious claims. If God chooses to permit something at an earlier period, and then proscribes it later in the flow of redemptive history, God’s veracity suffers no injury. While the case of divorce ('Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.') does not prove polygyny was temporary, it does prove that God allowing one ethical standard before Christ and forbidding it afterward is consistent with God’s self-revelation, even if someone might seek to fault God as inconsistent."
Woody immediately wrestles for the upper hand by characterizing a conversation starter as "unsupported and pretentious." This is irrelevant to the discussion. It goes to the politics of the discussion, not it's substance. I am being characterized as having made my whole argument. I am also be characterized as having an attitude. Neither are true.

I agree that God can change the rules and patterns by which we live. Mandating one thing though, and then forbidding it later requires clear direction in both cases. "Do this," and then "Don't do that anymore." The command to refrain must be clear and not buried in nuance subject to interpretation. An example would be the absolute need to marry in your immediate family at the outset of creation, and the later forbidding of that practice by God's law. Seth could marry his sister, in fact someone in Adam's progeny was required to do so. We cannot do that.

Woody also immediately tries to throw polygyny in a bucket with divorce. We don't even agree on the existence of the bucket to begin with (classifying divorce as a sinful behavior reluctantly permitted), but if it did exist, there is no passage that places polygyny in that bucket, there's just the bucket, the category. So for now we'll grant Woody his bucket, but dare him to show as none of his allies in the argument have ever been able to do, when polygyny was thrown in that bucket.

I then assert the following:
"It is my declaration that the practice of Polygyny is just as valid today as it was when it was practiced in the Old Testament. There are a couple of tired arguments against it that I would like to discourage up front. In that I am addressing these arguments up front, the simple repetition of them would be to engage in one of the most ancient fallacies known as 'argumentum ad nauseam.' Since I have made the argument already, repeating it is now a fallacy since the argument is answered and that answer must now be replied to."
This is an intentional throwing down of the gauntlet. It is not for the purposes of creating strife, but to say "move the ball" don't echo these arguments. It's like the opening moves in a chess game. Each assertion I will subsequently make needs an answer that adds information to the discussion.

Woody replies:
"I would not demand agreement with the WCF on this matter in order to find a profession of faith valid. However, if an inquirer seriously opposed to our church’s confession on some point seems unwilling to listen humbly and carefully to the church’s official teachers, I would doubt his sincerity with respect to vow #4 (cf. Heb 13:17; 1 Tim 4:15). He seems to be saying: don’t bother me with anything I think I have heard before, and I’ll be the judge of whether or not you are worth my time to deal with."
First and of foremost importance is the outright admission that my stance does NOT call my faith into question. Other things might, but my marriage stance does not. This then classifies it the same way one might classify infant baptism or believer baptism, Sabbath (Saturday) or Sunday worship. Perhaps a larger item of this category of permissible difference, but it is still the same thing. Doubting my "sincerity" is something Woody may not do, though he does anyway. He does not know my heart, and he is wrong about my intentions.

Woody though goes on to try immediately to spin it as foundational. We're now not talking about faith, but 100% compliance with a extra Biblical confession of faith. This is the equivalent of asking me to comply with the misguided pharisees tithing of the spices. Man made interpretive rules win out. We must all swear to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), not just the Bible.

This is part five of the membership questions presented to a prospective member of Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church:
" 'Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of his church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed it's discipline?'

Q. What does it mean to 'submit in the Lord' to the government of this church?

A. It means that you heed the teaching and admonishment of the elders as long as they are teaching what the Bible teaches (1 Thes. 5:12ff). No one, including church leaders, has the right to make any requirements that go beyond those given in the Word of God.

Q. If you ever have a disagreement with the leaders of the church or any other member, how should you handle it?

A. If you believe it is important, you should go directly to the person(s) involved and talk it through. Never gossip, but get appropriate people involved if necessary to help bring peace. God commands us to 'make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace.' (Eph. 3:3)."
So we progress to my first argument, that Woody deals with. It's about the "bucket," referred to above. Woody:
"If John Murray’s treatment of the progressive revelation of God’s kingdom ethic respecting divorce is faithful to Scripture (Divorce, Presbyterian & Reformed), then the connection is indirect, strictly proving only the possibility of progressive revelation of marital ethics when moving into the NT period of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. The actual revelation of a proscription against polygyny must be shown, separately."
So Woody puts off the argument. In debating the topic, I've learned that this is usually to cover up a weak argument. Promise to solve the problem, but solve it later, then put as much distance in between this assertion, and actually showing the connection "separately" and maybe you won't have to. Maybe your opponent will tire. Probably your supporters won't ask you to produce it. Maybe it won't look as weak when there is distance in between your claim you can produce it, and actually producing it. Woody then skips a few arguments pretending not to understand, and then answers them, showing that he did. I have italicized the snippets of arguments he picks up from those he claimed not to "get." First the argument he "answers," his answer being an answer to several arguments he brushes aside as unclear.
" 'It's Adam & Eve, not Adam & Eve & Amber & Crystal' which is a variation of the 'Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve' argument against homosexual 'marriage.' This is a 'Faulty' or 'Hasty Generalization.' Neither argument holds water. This is not to say I condone Adam & Steve, I don't. There are other reasons why Adam and Steve should stay away from one another, but they aren't spoken to in the creation story. Using the Adam and Eve monogamy example assumes the story in all it's details, before the fall, to be an archetype for all marriage that we must follow without deviation. It is not possible to argue monogamy from their example unless you embrace all parts of the example."
Woody's reply:
"This reads like a mere ungrounded assertion. Jesus does appeal to the way things were from the beginning (pre-fall) as normative, archetypal if you like. 'Unless you got married buck naked, I urge you not to go there.' – A thoroughly unpersuasive, irrelevant argument. God himself sanctioned the covering of nakedness after the fall. That would sufficiently justify the change, irrespective of whether or not the first marriage was intended by God to be normative. 'There are other ways this supposed archetype gets strained as well. You're probably not named Adam, or Eve, you aren't made from a rib or you're not missing one.' – Red herrings. Gen 2 portrays the first marriage as normative of marriage, not of everything having to do with Adam and Eve. 'The list goes on. Adam and Eve's marriage is an archetype ONLY in ways stated elsewhere in scripture to be an archetype or ideal.' I see no more than a high handed pronouncement, here. Gen 2:24 itself (apart from later usage) reads like an editorial (Mosaic) interpolation into a pre-existent (inherited) narrative (the Hebrew grammar supports such an inference, with a break in the waw-consecutive narrative). The author of Genesis is best understood taking the first marriage ('this cause') normatively ('shall leave … and shall cleave') for mankind thereafter. This ('they … shall become one,' marital unification) is what God has established as a normative pattern for the seed of Adam (mankind) through creating the woman as the helpmeet of man and joining them together as one (flesh). The Hebrew tense in v 24 is imperfect (w/o waw) which in this context reads as a decree (cf. 2:16b, 4:7b, 6:15a). While the impf. can be merely predictive (e.g. prophecy, cf. 9:25b), that force makes no sense here since the subject (ish = a man) is an anarthrous generic ‘man’ (as male). (It would make no sense non-generically, for then Moses would then be predicting—based upon what God did for Adam—that one unspecified man (‘a [particular but not contextually identified] man’) will [at some particular future time] marry a wife. What possible sense would that make in context?)

Arguably, Jesus, too, takes 2:24 in this (decretive) way when he appeals to it normatively (definition 3)(Mat 19:5-6): 'For this cause a man shall leave … and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh … Consequently … let no man separate [3rd person imperative].' Interestingly, Matthew (who from time to time appeals directly to the Hebrew (e.g. Mat 8:17) has Jesus following the LXX’s paraphrastic, 'the two shall become …,' implicating the Lord’s agreement that the 'two' is indeed implied in the original Hebrew decree. As such, 'two' shall become 'one' is normative. (The Samaritan Pentateuch, too, has it.)"
And with that, I'm going to give Woody the floor for a while, let that soak in, and reply to it in my next post. This is a kitchen sink reply. It is a lot like talking to a Neo-orthodox theologian who piles on the Big Words, and the God Words so that his answer sounds as if it means something. His argument though is that the Two become One. I agree, they do. What difference does that make though?

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Ever since I saw the somewhat apocryphal movie "Michael," one scene in particular has stuck in my mind. The misguided Angel wandering around muttering "Battle!" Well Battle it is, though Battle I have sought to avoid now for over a year.

It is fair to say that I had been dragged kicking and screaming from Montana, to Vermont. I did not want to be here, and like Jonah, similarly dragged from one place to another, I still don't want to be here. To channel Tina Fey's version of Sarah Palin, from here "I can see Sodom and Gomorrah, from my house." Or Nineveh. Whatever fits.

I arrived late Friday, August the 1st 2008 in a rain storm with a blown out tire on my trailer, a rough start. After showing up at the work God in his mercy provided for me, my next order of business was to pick a church, and I quickly found an OPC representative right in the Barre Montpelier area, Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Since I was moving because of the necessity of work, it was move first, pick a church next. The representative of my other denominational preference, the Presbyterian Church in America, was in St. Albans, which was a bit of a hike. Being short on funds and fuel, I chose COPC which was 3 miles from where I as staying. I first went there on August the 3rd, 2008. Olivia and Carl Durham graciously invited me to their home for dinner, the 3rd was communion Sunday, I cleared my participation in the sacrament with Carl (pictured below) and later that evening in his home, I let him know where I stood on marriage, and promised not to seek the spotlight on the issue.

I didn't seek the spotlight, but it came looking for me. I have long maintained that the "Gay Marriage" issue was tied to the legal practice of polygyny, since if it is preference that guides marriage rights and laws in our country, and there are "bisexuals," then if homosexuals are entitled to marriage, then bisexuals ought to be as well. The minimum configuration of a "bisexual marriage" is at least two members of the same sex and one member of the other. One of the members of the same sex has to be bisexual. To be married, and bisexual, and protect your relationships with all the benefits of civil marriage, three people must be married. Voilà! Polygamy.

It's harder to argue the issue of preference for numbers. A man might want lots of partners, or similarly a woman. We sure know that there are some of us that have a hard time confining themselves to one bed. It can be argued this "preference" is more widespread than gay or bisexual tendencies. So this too can be argued in the following way. A man or woman has a high sex drive, a desire for variety. His or her partners don't have such needs. Partner them all together and everybody gets what they want. If your wife wants sex once a month, and you find five such women, you could pretty much have met everyone's needs in marriage and sexual relationships.

When I was thinking of pushing the marriage issue I looked first at California and asked a friend to go with me there, and try to obtain a marriage license. The idea was, we don't have to get married, but if we go and get the license, the precedent is set. Once legally allowed to marry when married already to someone else, polygamy (and thus polygyny) is legal. I similarly wondered if someone would do that in New England, but of course, I had no desire to BE in New England. Ack! Ptooie! Yuck!

So what does the LORD in his foreordination do? He moves me to Vermont, and then in the 2009 legislative session, Vermont passes the first Same Sex Marriage law by exactly the number of votes necessary to override the Governor's veto of the bill. This is significant for several reasons.

One is that we are not bending a law written for heterosexual monogamy as marriage, we will now be testing and bending a law in Vermont based on sexual preference. Whereas I would have understood a defeat of polygynous marriage in the courts because of the excess of the courts in the first place, I have no problem with vying against the state for the rights of polygynists in Vermont when the voice of the people, it's state Legislature, has passed a law, intentionally protective of preference.

Next is that I have been brought into direct contact with with the point of the spear when it came to the Reformation's defense of marriage in the person of ordained Orthodox Presbyterian minister, Dr. Andrew Selle. Dr Selle, as you may recall, invested a lot of time and effort into the defeat of the Same Sex Marriage bill in Vermont. This same Dr. Selle cannot find the time to discuss the true Biblical "Traditional marriage" with someone in his own church and denomination. In retrospect, how good a representative of the Reformation is he, if he says "What's Next? Polygamy!?" No Andy, that was first, and it's never gone away. We have hymns in our hymnbooks written by polygynists. Many are based on the Psalms of David and more recently it is said that Martin Madan was a polygynist. In my church we all received an email from Carl about this, the church was very involved with time and resources:
"Today’s Times Argus says the public time for input on same sex marriage bill has already been set - Wed March 18 at statehouse. This will be for BOTH House and Senate so it will probably be the only one. I want to encourage people to go to and/or pray for this event - simply our presence is important, most don't need to say anything."
I completely agree that there is no such thing as "Gay Marriage" but when confronted with that specter, the church turned out. They turned out and worried aloud through an official representative that "what's next" would be Polygamy.

During this same time frame I sought to become a member of the local OPC church. I was again revealing to the session, not the congregation as a whole, about my beliefs about marriage. I have been denied membership at Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church, even though I have complied with all the questions on their membership requirements adequately. They seek to bar me from membership on the basis of my marriage beliefs, but those are not said to be core issues by the church.

COPC farmed out their response to me to a Hebrew Scholar, half a world away, Stewart "Woody" Lauer (Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary). His answers were inadequate and I will be discussing them later, here. God willing. The church has now put me off referring to their faith in an argument as yet undiscovered, that they plan to answer me with, when they get the chance to spend the time looking for it. I have now cleared the internal requirements of the church to be private in our disputes, not public. Their refusal now clears me to be public. I have also been turned away by the Presbytery.

These are important hurdles to clear. There are a number of things happening in the next few weeks. Same Sex marriage becomes legal in Vermont next month. It is necessary first to find someone willing to submit to a test case of marriage law. If someone were to come forward and attempt to register their marriages to more than one legally, then we would have the beginning of a test case in Vermont for polygamy.

A legislative agenda is farther away. My registration as a lobbyist in Vermont had no more than symbolic importance this year. There was no possibility of crafting and advancing a legislative solution so quickly on the heals of the narrow passage of the Same Sex Marriage bill in Vermont. January 2010 is really the first opportunity to push for that in the legislature. I don't think the gays will be on our side. The Polyamory crowd so far has seemed to me to be arrogant and bent on the entire destruction of marriage, though in theory they should facilitate the legal framework necessary.

Polyamory groups are for entirely egalitarian approaches to marriage as expressed in civil law. That is an anathema to the concept of either polygynous marriage or monogamous marriage in the Biblical sense. If they craft the agenda, marriage laws will be used against our marriages, not for them.

I urgently seek contact with someone willing to register their marriage legally in Vermont as a polygamy. If this goes to a legislative agenda, it's going to be expensive. I would remind everyone that this is an activity not likely to make many friends, and it will put me in real danger, though that danger is probably more related to stress and economics than it would be physical.

At this point I need support of all kinds, and so far I have not seen much at all. If there is no support, I have to question doing this at all. I am a husband, I do have a family, if this pursuit threatens those priorities, and no one cares, I have to re evaluate what I am doing and ask if all I am doing is casting things in front of others, to be trampled.

There is a large Christian polygyny crowd out there right now. I know this. What I do I do primarily for YOUR protection. Expect to see more in the way of posting to Vermont Polygamy as September approaches. I will be going into greater detail on my interaction with the church during this month. Barring extraordinary events, the only thing that will stop me will be my denomination choosing to engage me internally on the topic of marriage. Something at this point, that would greatly surprise me.