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June 25, 2014

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The "new definition of marriage" isn't just "people who intensely care about each other," but it's people who are ready to make a total lifelong commitment to each other. Therefore, one reason against polygamy could be that a person can't make a total lifelong commitment to more than one other person. You can't serve two masters, and you can't divide "total" devotion between two partners.

Remember how we were charged with faulty reasoning for thinking this would happen?

It was, of course, always inevitable that it would.

You can even use some of the arguments against the latest re-definition of "marriage" to include homosexual unions to argue for yet another redefinition of "marriage" to include polyamorous unions. Because a state interest can actually be served by polyamorous unions. In contrast, deciding to tag homosexual unions with the term "marriage" only serves to make them feel better about themselves.

The state interest is this. Polyamourous unions, at least those between men and women, have the chance, in and of themselves, of producing members of the next generation of citizens. Homosexual unions, by themselves, have no such chance. The men or women in homosexual unions must be aided by some combination of (technologically-aided) adultery and child abandonment in order to produce children.

And monogamous or monandrous homosexual unions have no possibility of nurturing these children in a gender-diverse environment Polyamorous unions render it possible that the crop of future citizens they create will be raised by at least one man and at least one woman. Another clear advantage for the state over homsexual unions.

Then again, gender-diversity in such cases is literally the only kind of diversity that is not to be prefered. Indeed, my pointing out the gender-diversity advantage to mixed-sex marriages probably constitutes h8 speech.

Maybe Ron will remind us now that such unions might be abusive because he read a book once about it (as he did back when he jumped on the bandwagon of saying that traditionalists were commiting the slippery slope fallacy).

Or maybe such disingenuous arguments will be forgotten in the mad rush to push over the next domino.

We are fast running out of things to reference in reductio ad absurdum arguments, and those left to us are often deemed too offensive to mention.

WisdomLover

Great points, but Id like to quibble a bit. A polyamorous group as a whole cannot produce a child together. Any child is the result of a man and woman who happen to be part of larger group of romantically involved individuals. That they are part of that group is incidental to the fact that they have a child together.

DR84-

True. No union other than 1-man-1-woman can produce children. A mixed-gender polyamorous group does, at least, offer the possibility of several 1-man-1-woman couplings. In contrast, a same sex marriage (or a homosexual polyamorous union) offers the possibility of zero such couplings.

Let's see what the "IT'S A SLIPPERY SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE FALLACY! IT'LL NEVER HAPPEN!" crowd says now.

My guess? What they usually say when caught in their silliness - NOTHING.

Hi John Moore, you are so hateful to the poly amorists when you say they cannot love and make lifelong commitments to their significant others.

This kind of profiling of a particular group of people and restricting their rights because of your anti poly amorist fundamentalism is bare naked bigotry.

Well-done, Brad B! I get it - but it took me a minute. :-)

What exactly is so bad about polyamorous unions again? If there is something bad about them, then that could be your reason. If instead there is nothing bad about them, then it's hard to see how it would be so terrible for the state to recognize them.

WorldGoneCrazy...just couldn't resist. Although I am thinking John Moore is not so far lost, he has a pretty high standard for committed relationships--if we are to believe that what he writes, he lives by.

@Ben, the state has no reason to recognize any ole' deviance that comes along. Nevermind that civil government only gets it authority to rule from God alone as His ministers for good.

Heterosexual committed relationships are foundational to any societal stability--no other can compare. Civil magistrates should promote monogomous, committed, heterosexual relationships/behavior because without them, society fails to thrive. Whether you want to use the word recognize synonomously with approve or not, I use the word promote because civil magistrates dont just punish the evil doer, but also reward the righteous.

Well, of course there's nothing wrong with polyamorous unions Ben. One thing I've always wanted was a harem for my very own. I'm sure everyone can see how harmless something like that would be.

And since there's nothing wrong with polyamorous unions then the state should privilege them with all sorts of benefits right?

Point of clarification. In the last post I used the commonly accepted meaning of "X is harmless". To wit, "X does not involve the immediate butchering or maiming of any individual...at least not in public."

In truth, in a society where one actually has to explain why abortion and 'sex-reassignment' surgery is bad (which are forms of butchery and maiming...just not in public), I don't think we'll get very far in explaining why anything is bad.

WisdomLover,

I don't think we'll get very far in explaining why anything is bad.

Quite so.

Unless there is blood on the battlefield, live and let live. But only for some.

The others and the government must be made to love and embrace it.

Brad B and WL,

I agree that just because something is harmless doesn't mean the state should formally recognize it. However, if something is harmless, or mostly harmless, then it's hard to see why it would be so terrible that the state should recognize it. At worst, that would mean the state is wasting some resources. And, although we don't want the state to waste resources, it's not the end of the world.

Well, I would like to marry my television, my dog and my brother. I also want to get suitable state benefits for each so I can do a matrimonial triple-dip.

What's the big deal? The state should let that happen right?

Isn't it just h8 speech to deny me?

Ben,

However, if something is harmless, or mostly harmless, then it's hard to see why it would be so terrible that the state should recognize it.

On the flipside, why then can’t the state say, “This stuff doesn’t help the state one iota. If you want to carry on in such a matter, you’re free do so, but we will not put pen to paper and enact into law anything of the sort. There is no case for us to do so.”

We don’t have widespread polyamorous unions. That being the case, how do you even know that it wouldn’t be bad for society? Have you thought through all the ramifications of such a thing?

Are you just guessing?

So what's the Biblical argument against polygamy exactly, considering Abraham had three wives (Sarah, Hagar, Keturah) and that Kings David and Solomon had dozens? There's not a single passage that explicitly condemns the practice. It holds up a two-partner union as the ideal, that's all. Given the fact that people were stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, don't you think there would have been some penalty for it if the God of the Bible found it offensive?

Actually, there are times where Scripture implicitly commands it (such as levirate marriage when a man was required to marry the wife of his deceased brother whether he was married already or not).

Further: who are the folks usually interested in polygamy? Fundamentalist Muslims and Mormons who are usually seeking polygamous unions as an expression of religious freedom.

Of course, it's convenient to blame gays for everything under the sun. Par for the course here.

Wisdom Lover ironically writes: "Well, I would like to marry my television, my dog and my brother."

How does an animal or an inanimate object become a consenting partner in a legal contract, exactly?

As far as your brother, well again ... Abraham married his half-sister and Lot got his own daughters pregnant without any hint of condemnation from the very testy God of the Old Testament, so who knows about that one. I still don't get Biblical "family values".

"Abraham married his half-sister and Lot got his own daughters pregnant without any hint of condemnation from the very testy God of the Old Testament, so who knows about that one. I still don't get Biblical "family values"."

Well James, it's no supprise you dont get Biblical "family values", you probably dont read the bible without bias.

Here's the account of Lot and his daughters.

"Gen 19:29 Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

Gen 19:30 Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters.

Gen 19:31 Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth.

Gen 19:32 “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.”

Gen 19:33 So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

Gen 19:34 On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.”

Gen 19:35 So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

Gen 19:36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.

Gen 19:37 The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.

Gen 19:38 As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.

This doesn't really bolster your argument as you seem to want it to. Even in this account, the daughters reason in desperation to become pregnant from their father because "there is not a man after the manner of the earth to come in to us". This hardly speaks to support of poly amorist unions.

Again, a quick reading finds that Abraham married Keturah after the death of Sarah his first wife.

I dont see this reference helping your argument either.

Interestingly, in the genealogy of Abraham, Ismael is said to have been "bore" to Abraham while Issac is said to have been "begotten" by Abraham. Not making this point to anyone in particular but these accountings are in no way approving/disapproving to certain actions overtly, but maybe so in subtle ways.

How does an animal or an inanimate object become a consenting partner in a legal contract, exactly?

H8er.

Woman Marries Bridge

Woman Marries Eiffel Tower

Woman Divorces Husband, Marries Dog

Man Marries Dog
(A hoax built up around this one that the man and his pooch were married in San Francisco and the state recognized it...sadly we're not that broad-minded yet)

True. Such marriages aren't legal yet. Our society hasn't yet found it in its heart to be inclusive and embrace these lovers.

When will the miscegenation laws end?!!

Why can't Karl Lagerfeld wed his true love?

Brad writes: "This doesn't really bolster your argument as you seem to want it to"

How drunk do you suppose Lot was when he got his daughters pregnant? I've had a few crazy nights when I was younger, but I've never been drunk enough to seriously contemplate the idea of having sex with my own offspring or a relative. Sorry, but Lot knew in some fashion what he was doing. Besides, aren't your trying to advance moral relativism by excusing his daughters for this whole scene simply because they were "desperate" for kids?

In terms of polygamous patriarchs, perhaps Abraham was not the best example (although he still had two concurrent lovers). Kings David and Solomon had scores of wives, all without condemnation from God. Jacob seems to have had four wives: Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah.

My point stands: polygamy was not held up as the ideal in Scripture (particularly when it came to church leaders), but nowhere was it explicitly condemned, and it was, on occasions, commanded.

Thus, if you're going to assert that legal gay marriage "leads to" polygamy, then so does any honest reading of the Bible. Since we both oppose legal polygamy, we will have to rely on other arguments against it.

@WisdomLover: Anyone can have a ceremony blessing any union whatsoever. We're talking legal unions, and the question is how a tree designated as a spouse can make medical decisions for a human that's incapacitated.

You cannot remove informed consent from legal unions and contracts without undermining our entire system of law. It's not going to happen.

"Thus, if you're going to assert that legal gay marriage "leads to" polygamy, then so does any honest reading of the Bible. Since we both oppose legal polygamy, we will have to rely on other arguments against it."

Hi James, several things pop out to me here.

1)When you say "any honest reading of the Bible", I have to ask...is that what you think you are doing? So far I see no attempt to take into consideration the plain meaning that these passages offer.

2) Since gay marraige [as you want to call it] is a departure from one man/one woman marraige, it is no stretch to suggest that other unions would lay claim to the same morphed definition.

3) I see no reason to oppose polygamy if marraige is defined as other than one man/one woman, so no we dont both oppose legal polygamy...not on the same grounds anyway.

So, if you are going to argue from the Bible against Christian opposition to homosexual union being called marraige and suggest that the mention of polygamous activity reported in the scriptures is an endorsement, you should treat the scriptures more honestly than you have so far.

Your dismissal of my explanation of the Lot passage is sorely lacking if you are trying to prove polyamorism by it...much more lacking if you want to prove endorsement of polyamorism. I dont believe the Bible ever makes positive light of any of the examples you've given but in fact reports terrible side effects because of it. I am not guilty of moral relativism by reporting what the Bible says as to why the sisters took the actions they did...you however are guilty of taking the plain meaning and dismissing it without argument. The Bible reports that Lot did not know when she lay down or arose. You are incredulous...if you are going to argue from the Bible, at least be consistent...you cant say the Bible says such and such on one hand then immdiately disregard what it says next.

So, maybe you go ahead and present the hard case, the commanded instances or Levirate marraige to see if the Bible says what you want it to say. I'll respond after you present your case...since you bring it up, I hope to see an honest reading here.

Anyone can have a ceremony blessing any union whatsoever. We're talking legal unions, and the question is how a tree designated as a spouse can make medical decisions for a human that's incapacitated.
Surely, just as there are other aspects to marriage besides procreation, there are also other aspects besides medical decisions.

Would a marriage be nullified if both partners became incapacitated at the same time?

Of course not.

You cannot remove informed consent from legal unions and contracts without undermining our entire system of law.
So you are saying that our entire system of law is founded on hate for people just because they love differently from you.
It's not going to happen.
That's what they said about gay marriage.

polygamy was not held up as the ideal in Scripture (particularly when it came to church leaders)... if you're going to assert that legal gay marriage "leads to" polygamy, then so does any honest reading of the Bible
You really have no idea what you are talking about here.

Church leaders, according to the NT, are explicitly required to be the husband of one wife.

This rules out bachelors, divorced and re-married men, and men with harems.

As for Lot and his daughters, the Bible reports what Lot's daughters did. And Lot was anything but a church leader. As far as the Bible records, he was someone marginally worth saving from a city filled with rapists.

He was a character in the Biblical narrative, and he had procreative sex with his daughters. That's all.

And it's hardly an endorsement. You might as well say that the Bible teaches we should enslave Jews, kill other men for their wives and worship Molech, because characters in the Bible do so.

And the offspring of Lot's union were perpetual enemies of God's people. In truth, if you were going to read anything normative out of Lot's story, it's a condemnation of Father-daughter incest.

Now, I'm not entirely sure how proponents of gay marriage argue against father-daughter incest. The state's whole interest in marriage, the next generation, has been taken off the table and been replaced with individual satisfaction of desire, so please don't bother talking about the offspring of such unions.

Returning to polygamy in the Bible. Lot's example is not the only one that resulted in trouble. I don't think you'll find a case where it comes off as a great idea to have many wives. It almost always leads to trouble, both in the short term and over time (and I say "almost always" not because I can think of a case where polygamy didn't lead to trouble, but because every case I've thought of has led to trouble, but I'm not sure I've thought of every case). Biblical history is littered with nations who are enemies of the Jews, including their Samaritan cousins in the north, but who would never have existed had the partiarchs and kings been monogamous.

Error: I'm not sure why I left this out and put in an ellipsis in the quote from James Bradshaw:

but nowhere was it explicitly condemned, and it was, on occasions, commanded.
It's kind of important both to his point and to my response. Sorry James.

The full quote I was responding to should read:

...polygamy was not held up as the ideal in Scripture (particularly when it came to church leaders), but nowhere was it explicitly condemned, and it was, on occasions, commanded.

Thus, if you're going to assert that legal gay marriage "leads to" polygamy, then so does any honest reading of the Bible.

As for levirate marriage, the case where the Bible supposedly commands polygamy, the actual passage reads like this

When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
When do brothers live together? When the younger brother also has his own wife?

The passage isn't entirely clear, but my inclination is to think that it's probably not that case.

It's probably a case of a younger brother living with his elder brother and his family after their father died, but before he's started his own family. So we're probably looking at a case where the surviving brother doesn't have wife.

In all events, there is nothing in the text to suggest that the surviving brother must carry out this duty even if he is already married. (Though, in fairness, no explicit exception for that case either.)

Oh wow!!! I really did not mean to put in that typo at the beginning of the last post. Help me Amy please and fix it. Many apologies.

Done. :-)

Brad: You seem to be implying that if boundaries can change, it is rational to conclude that there should be no boundaries whatsoever.

By this strained logic, to lower the legal age of marriage from 18 to 17 MUST imply that we could or should decrease from 18 to ... 4. To the contrary, to lower the age by one year implies in no way that there should be no legal age of marriage at all.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

In terms of the plain words of Scripture, I'm talking about the same face-value approach to reading it that those who oppose homosexuality read it: literally and in the simplest interpretation possible.

Not so fast James, if there are arbitrary boundries then there are no boundries. You have taken the position that the definition must change to fit a broader meaning without anything more than special appeal. What is it you can say to deny poly amorists the same treatment under the law. You are the one who opened the door and now you want to close it...only problem is that you broke the door irreparably.

As to your exegesis, bring on your best case. WisdomLover has already jumped onto your plain and literal reading...you'll have to do much much better...on this topic or homosexuality being clearly forbidden.

Hi WL, just to remind you Boaz was not the first in line for Ruth..the process to defer was displayed inthat passage where the primary had to go in public and give her a shoe and take public scorn for not fulfilling his duty. In that case he had a much bigger inheritance that he would lose so he defered to Boaz even though dishonor was his reward.

Brad writes: "You have taken the position that the definition must change to fit a broader meaning without anything more than special appeal."

What are you talking about? I've laid out very explicit and clear reasons why I think civil marriage should be extended to gay couples. None of these reasons are "arbitrary".

"What is it you can say to deny polyamorists the same treatment under the law."

Well, how about the fact that the law as it exists cannot possibly accommodate the issues that arise from polygamous relationships? None of these issues exist with two gay men or women. For example: if a man with five wives dies (and absent a will), which spouse gets his assets? Is it divided equally? Does the spouse of the longest duration get a larger share? What about federal benefits? Must the survivors share the amount that would be given to one spouse?

No. Polygamous families would have to devise an alternative to civil marriage to deal with these issues.

Look, I'm fine with "civil unions" for gay couples just to appease those like yourself who are completely unsympathetic to gay couples and their families. Let's face it, though: you'd fight any legal recognition, whatever the name of it was.

Wisdom Lover writes: "As far as the Bible records, [Lot] was someone marginally worth saving from a city filled with rapists."

That's your opinion. Scripture referred to him as "righteous". You and the Bible apparently differ.

"You might as well say that the Bible teaches we should enslave Jews, kill other men for their wives and worship Molech, because characters in the Bible do so. "

You really want to go there? The Old Testament asserts that God ordered His armies to enslave other men and kill every man, woman, child and animal within a society that rubbed Him the wrong way. Moses had his armies slay Midianiate children and take captive the virgin females (presumably against their will). If you want chapter and verse, I can provide it, but I'm thinking you know Scripture well enough already.

"No. Polygamous families would have to devise an alternative to civil marriage to deal with these issues."

Oh James, you are just so intolerant...stop the H8!

I could / would say more about that but I just dont have time.

The fact that Lot was righteous in the sense of being minimally unsmiteworthy hardly makes Lot a church leader. And it hardly changes the fact that the product of his incestuous relations with his daughters (though they were apparently against his will...since the girls needed to liquor him up to do it) were enemies of God. Nor does it change the fact that the incestuous and polyamorous relations between Lot and his daughters were thereby condemned.

And the supposed injustices of God in commanding various killings hardly means that we should now start assuming that whatever any character in the Bible does is thereby condoned.

For starters, none of those supposed injustices are, in fact, unjust. God is a unique individual in the universe because He alone knows all ends. It may be acceptable for God to command all sorts of specific acts that it would be wrong for any other individual to take it upon himself to perform.

And that is, in any case, beside the point. What the Bible reports and what it condones are different things, but you are trying to treat them as if they were the same.

I find it interesting that many people on the left will often selectively read and interpret portions of the Bible, both (1) literalistically and (2) with little or no regard for context or literary genre, even as they themselves have been critical of others for doing so. Bill Maher has made a career from doing it.

The very same people who mock and deride literalistic accounts of the creation narrative, for instance, turn around and, when it suits their agenda, literalistically interpret certain portions of the text as if it were determinative of the meaning, and almost always without due consideration of the context. Lot in Genesis 19:30-38 is but one example.

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