Little-Known Bible Verses XI: Polygamy

In recent years, anti-gay bigots operating under the guise of “defending traditional marriage” have made many statements like this one:

“Since the dawn of mankind, the sacred bond of marriage has been correctly defined as a union between one woman and one man.

…Our views on marriage are shaped not only by America’s laws, but by God’s laws. It is part of the shared heritage of the civilized world.”

—Pat Boone, “Marriage: One man, one woman“. Knight Ridder, 14 May 2004.

Pat Boone is wrong on both counts, even by his own standards. What the religious right would like very much for us all to forget is that marriage has not been “defined as a union between one woman and one man” since “the dawn of mankind”. On the contrary, the very written records that Boone and others hail as “God’s laws” show that quite different standards have often been in vogue. To see just what I mean, consider the following little-known Bible verses – the ones which show that, in Old Testament times, polygamy was not just accepted but common.

One of the Bible’s earliest polygamists was the Israelite patriarch Jacob. When Jacob lusted after Rachel, the daughter of the wealthy landowner Laban, Laban pulled a switcheroo and sent his other daughter, Leah, to the bridal bed instead. When Jacob discovered that he had been tricked, he didn’t bemoan the fact that his wife was not the woman he wanted. Nor did he seek a divorce. Nope, he bargained with Laban and ended up marrying both his daughters!

“And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.”

—Genesis 29:28

Ultimately, Jacob ended up with four wives/concubines – not just Leah and Rachel but their handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah. Jacob was not condemned by God for this arrangement, and in fact the twelve children he had by his multiple wives ended up becoming the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jacob was just one of many polygamists in the Bible. Some others included Gideon (Judges 8:30), Elkanah, father of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:2), and kings such as Abijah (2 Chronicles 13:21), Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:21), and Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:3). Most famously, Solomon himself had “seven hundred wives… and three hundred concubines” (2 Kings 11:3). None of these royal polygamists were chastised or punished by God for this – except for Solomon, but even here the exception proves the rule. According to the Bible, Solomon’s sin was not that he married many wives, but that he married foreign wives who turned him away from worshipping Yahweh (11:4).

Was polygamy just a Hebrew tribal custom, disliked but tolerated by God? Hardly: the Torah itself, God’s law book, endorses polygamy by giving rules on when and how a man was allowed to take more than one wife and how the rules of inheritance worked in this situation.

“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.”

—Exodus 21:10

“If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn.”

—Deuteronomy 21:15-16

Like many big men in primitive tribal societies, the biblical kings and patriarchs took multiple wives as status symbols, a way of showing off their wealth and power. Naturally, the women were treated as property and expected to be subservient to this arrangement. If Yahweh had problems with this arrangement, he never said so; like many fictional characters, he evidently shared the moral outlook of his creators.

By the New Testament, things seem to have changed, though verses commanding that bishops could only marry one wife (1 Timothy 3:2) suggest that the custom still lingered. And even in the New Testament, the polygamists of old times were never explicitly condemned. On the contrary, polygamists like Gideon were proclaimed to be heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

Biblical polygamy undercuts the anti-gay bigots by showing that the definition of marriage has evolved through history and is still doing so. Most of this change has been for the better, making marriage an ever-closer approximation to the ideal of a joining between consenting equals, rather than a transfer of female property from father to husband, as it once was. Tragically, even today there are some sects that keep alive the abuses of patriarchy and polygamy, perpetuating the same cruel, unjust treatment of women that was the custom in biblical days. Like the opponents of gay marriage, their addiction to unjust and irrational dogma continues to cause harm to real people in the name of faith.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • silentsanta

    I disagree with your wording about the ‘abuses of patriarchy and polygamy’.

    To my mind, if polygamy is entered into by consenting adults who are of sound mind, I don’t see any reason to chasten them or make such a relationship illegal.

    As with homosexuality, and gay marriage, the world needs to step back and make sure it can link prohibited behaviors to actual harm before it restricts liberties. I have yet to come across any compelling argument against polygamy, even though I can’t imagine ever wanting to engage in it myself.

    I do agree that polygamy as historically practised (polygyny rather than polyandry IIRC) has often grown out of a sexist and property-based mentality; but if I were to write off polygamy due to that, I feel I would be falling victim to the genetic fallacy.

  • Valhar2000

    To my mind, if polygamy is entered into by consenting adults who are of sound mind, I don’t see any reason to chasten them or make such a relationship illegal.

    Didn’t Ebonmuse write something about uncharitable interpretation just a few days ago? The actual meaning of his words (which differs little from yours’) was quite clear, given the context they are in. And if you follow the link they represented, even more so.

  • Valhar2000

    Polygamy cannot be popular, given that most people experience too much sexual jealousy to be able to engage in it (if all parties concerned consent, of course; if the sexual jealousy of some of the partners is ingored, then it wil be a stable arangement). Only a small section of the population will be sufficiently easy-going to be able to tolerate it.

    If polygamy becomes accepted, and the idea of sexual jealousy disparaged, more people would learn to suppress the feeling: I wonder how many people who are now not polygamists would become so in that case? It cannot be a very high percentage of the population, though.

  • silentsanta

    I am familiar with uncharitable interpretations, and I do apologise as I appear to have implied Ebonmuse was making an argument against polygamy. From the article, I got a vague, general feeling of dismissal of polygamy from the both the phrase I quoted (‘abuses of patriarchy and polygamy’) and also the positive-connotations given to the ‘evolution’ of the definition of marriage, implying progress (where I contend that the exclusion of polygamy from the more recent definitions was actually a negative infringement on liberty).
    The article linked to, while not criticising polygamy, did mention that polygamy raised ‘difficult moral issues’, which I misinterpreted as some sort of reservation. Perhaps partly because the article went on to talk about ‘consenting adults’ (which I don’t see as morally difficult) and then child abuse and rape (again, not morally difficult), so I was left to wonder what the ‘difficult moral issues’ actually were. In retrospect, I see he was probably talking about determining consent and competence.

    I was far from certain of Ebonmuse’s intentions, and this was why I intoduced my post ‘I disagree with your wording’, because I wasn’t certain whether I disagreed with his intent, and I have agreed with so many of Ebonmuse’s positions in the past. To me, the plain word ‘polygamy’ in that phrase just seemed wrong without an additional qualifier.

  • Wedge

    Perhaps something to keep in mind is the difference between polygamy and what the Bible is talking about–polygyny. Consentual polyamory or polygamy is about relationships between more than two people without specifying gender or implying the historical view of women as property.

    The Bible examples, and the most common religious examples brought up, take for granted that it will be one man with many wives and include a historical perception of women as property handed from father to husband which was a part of this tradition.

    It is this restricted view, based in the history of relgious/cultural suppression and exploitation of women, that raises the moral reservations with regard to the woman’s consent and lack of equality in the relationship.

    All of which is off-topic to the main point, which is that marriage is not and has never been the simplistic ‘one man, one woman’ institution which is trumpted by the anti-homosexual faction. Marvellous article as usual.

  • Quath

    I have tackled this debate with some Christians. One rebuttal is that God saw polygamy as he saw divorce: needed by man’s sins but not desired. So the counter to this argument is that God takes credit for giving multiple wives to David in 2 Samuel 12:8.

    Some Christians argue that marriage is based on the “one flesh” concept given in Genesis 2:24. However, 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 shows that “one flesh” just means sex since a man becomes “one flesh” with a prostitute.

    Some Christians also claim that God shows disapproval with polygamy in Deuteronomy 17:17. However, this is a command for a king not to have too many wives. The same language is applied to horses and Christians do not think God limited kings to 1 horse.

    Also, King David’s sone was killed by God because David committed adultery. Since David had been having sex with all of his wives and comcubines up to that point, God must not have seen David as being in a proper marriage until his real adultery.

    I do agree with silentsanta that it appears that Ebonmuse is coming down hard on polygamy itself. There is nothing wrong with polygamy itself as long as it is between consenting adults. People do learn to live happy lives in a polyamorous relationship by coming to terms with their jealousy. Jealousy has two roots; envy and insecurity. If you are envious of a person, make your situation better. If you feel insecure in a relationship, work to build up security in that relationship.

    Christians argue that gay marriage will lead to polygamy, and they are right. For the same secular reasons that make gay marriage acceptable, polygamy should be acceptable. If we do not accept this, then the Christians have a point when they deny gay marriage because it is a slippery slope issue.

  • http://obsessedwithreality.wordpress.com/ Freidenker

    Gosh, I wonder why it is that in the English translation to the OT all the names are so jumbled up. It’s not like it’s impossible to say them in English. I’m an Israeli and I’ve spoken Hebrew since toddlerhood – and in Hebrew, it’s “Ya’akov” for Jacob and “La’vahn” for Laban. I wonder if the fact that the bible was mostly orally transmitted in the olden days has anything to do with it.

    Anyhow – any “well-educated” religiot with simply wave off your insights by using a variant of the phrase “well, that’s not what it means” or “it’s no longer this way”. When you want something to be true, then there’s no limit to the mental gymanstics possible to accomplish a stout faith in the absurd.

    When we learnt Torah when I was a kid, we’ve learnt about polygamy and how it’s just not okay to do today. Nobody asked why. We were kids, and most of us really didn’t care enough to ask.

    Not that I’m in for polygamy. But that’s just me. As infringements of personal rights are concerned – this one isn’t too horrible.

  • nfpendleton

    Aside from that microscopic portion of the population that desires/could handle being in a multi-spouse relationship, polygamy really only works if one party (in this case the females) are treated as property rather than individuals. Even those women (girls, often) who have “willingly” entered into polygamist marriages are still understood and expected to be totally subserviant to the husband. These situations almost exclusively depend on a master-servant relationship. Pretty hard to defend UNLESS you argue the exception rather than the rule.

  • mikespeir

    I’m not convinced polygamy (or “polyamory”) really works for anyone. I know there are those who will claim otherwise, but I suspect their motives. The foundational impulse behind intimate relationships is a yearning for security. Indeed, that’s true for any relationship. When worse comes to worst, who will stand with us when all else fail us? If I only have time to rescue one of my friends from a burning building, which will it be? Exclusivity is a pre-selection of the favored one. It is in effect a pledge to that one person that he or she means more to me than anyone else and that he or she will be my highest priority against all eventualities. If I had two wives, which one could count on me soonest in times of crisis? How would either know for sure she was my first consideration? There would always be that uncertainty, with the resulting bit of insecurity.

  • Brad

    Wow, this strikes a huge nerve in the religious sphere. Or at least it should.

    I decided to take a look at the other side, and so here’s Sarfati’s explanation via AiG:

    It is more like the case of divorce, which God tolerated for a while under certain conditions because of the hardness of their hearts, but was not the way it was intended from the beginning (Matt. 19:8). But whenever the Mosaic law had provisions for polygamy, it was always the conditional ‘If he takes another wife to himself …’ (Ex.21:10), never an encouragement. God put a number of obligations of the husband towards the additional wives which would discourage polygamy.

    Ah, God was obviously displeased, and so he discouraged it! Good going, God! You’re so clever! And to think we doubted you. Also, smart move to imply monogamy in the language you employ. That should really clear things up.

    PS: Reading the above comments, I am reminded of a specific thread at IIDB where a man was talking about how he and his wife were growing towards having a second woman in their relationship. It was a very good thread – so does anybody know or remember what I am talking about? Links? I am very interested in seeing it again …

  • Joffan

    I tihnk society would need to consider carefully the correct approach to polygamy if such relationships were given formal status in society.

    The benefits of marriage (of two people) are clear, I think. When two people marry, they designate each other as next of kin, as protected inheritor and as someone with the right (to a limited extent) to speak and give consent for them, and also take on some (again limited) liability for each others actions. As well as these legalities, which extend into the sphere of customary expectations also, they will tend to support each other in difficult times to some extent rather than looking to a centralized state mechanism – which is beneficial to all. It is not clear to me how these mechanisms would work, especially inheritance and consent, in a fully-consensual and equal relationship of more than two people.

  • Jim Baerg

    How many of the people posting comments here have read _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ by Heinlein? Part of the background of that novel is that marriages consisting of several adults of both sexes as well as polyandrous marriages are common in the society that develops on the moon.

    I doubt such marriages would work as well as portrayed, but they are far more appealing than the polygynous marriages that we see in certain Mormon sects.

  • http://deconbible.blogspot.com bbk

    Isn’t polygamy a problem specific to marriage? I’m single, so I can have relationships with as many people as I wish if they also wish to have those relationships with me. If I was married to them all, then it would be polygamy. Is polygamy wrong, or is it that marriage is just a contrived method of controlling people’s lives?

  • Christopher

    bbk,

    “Is polygamy wrong, or is it that marriage is just a contrived method of controlling people’s lives?”

    Bingo! Marraige only exists as an institution because society wants it to exist – if we get rid of this archaic vestige of our partriarchal past, such issues as gay marriage and polygamy become completly meaningless as theirs no context for those actions to occur in!

    Personally, I’d like to see promiscuous relationships become the dominant form of sexuality – think about the advantages: no commitments are required (concepts like “love” and “romance” lose all value, so there’s no guilt in ending a relationship), such things as “patronage” won’t matter any longer (read: no more bastard children), individuals become free to define families through any means they find convenient (as opposed to having a definition forced on them by society); society as we know it would come unglued, allowing the individual to finally let do as thou wilt become the whole of the law!

  • Mrnaglfar

    When it comes to polygamy, the minority of the countries in the world don’t allow it, even if the option itself is taken advantage of that often simply out of resource constraints.

  • Brock

    Heinlein’s thesis in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” was that the forms marriage takes are culturally determined. The Lunar colonists developed varying forms of polyandrous marriage, because the use of the moon as a penal colony resulted in a lack of balance between the sexes, with men far outnumbering women. He also noted that all of the forms he describes had analogues in various Terran cultures. What this says to me in light of the current debate, is that polygamous marriages would serve little purpose in our society, and will therefore remain rare, but that with the growing acceptance of gays and gay lifestyle, the institution of gay marriage is inevitable.

  • Quath

    A lot of objections to polyamory could be applied to having more than one child. For example, mikespeir mentions a burning building example. But if you had two kids, you will have to make such a choice as well. But we don’t feel that parents should have one child because such a possibility may happen.

    Likewise, we don’t feel a parent can only love one child. We don’t think a couple should have one child because their children will be jealous of each other. We work out such issues and they are culturally acceptable.

    Polyamory can work, but it involves a lot of communication. It also means that you have to discover happiness when your partner is happy with another person. It means that if your partner loves someone else, that does not diminish any love for you.

  • mikespeir

    A lot of objections to polyamory could be applied to having more than one child. For example, mikespeir mentions a burning building example. But if you had two kids, you will have to make such a choice as well. But we don’t feel that parents should have one child because such a possibility may happen.

    Hmm. Something to think about. I may be back later with a rebuttal, but I can’t think of one right now.

  • Entomologista

    One of the reasons I think conservatives hate gay marriage so much is because it really is a partnership between two equals. This does actually undermine traditional marriage, where traditional marriage means a man obtains a woman to cater to his needs. Much of society is moving away from the slave-wife model of marriage, and this pisses off religious conservatives and men in general who feel entitled to the services of women.

  • lpetrich

    Freidenker:

    Gosh, I wonder why it is that in the English translation to the OT all the names are so jumbled up. It’s not like it’s impossible to say them in English. I’m an Israeli and I’ve spoken Hebrew since toddlerhood – and in Hebrew, it’s “Ya’akov” for Jacob and “La’vahn” for Laban. I wonder if the fact that the bible was mostly orally transmitted in the olden days has anything to do with it.

    I checked on the Blue-Letter Bible, and it has the original Hebrew and Greek versions in the “C” buttons for each verse (no Hebrew for the NT, Septuagint Greek for the OT, but you get the picture).

    The two names are Ya`aqob (yod-ayin-qop-bet) and Laban (lamed-bet-nun) in Ancient Hebrew, and generations of Hebrew speakers since then turned non-initial /b/ to /v/ giving the Modern Hebrew pronunciation. In the Septuagint, the names became Iakôb and Laban, with Modern Greek speakers turning the first name into Iakovos (/b/ > /v/ again, but still spelled with a beta). In Latin, the names became Iacob / Iacobus and Laban, but in the Middle Ages, its speakers turned initial /y/ into /dZ/ (Italian and Old French), /Z/ (Modern French and Portuguese), and /h/ Spanish. They also often turned non-initial /b/ into /v/. This is why medieval scribes invented the letters “j”, “u”, and “w”, to make the spelling follow the pronunciation better.

    English uses the Old French pronunciation, which is where all the initial j’s come from, with their pronunciation /dZ/.

    Also, the English pronunciation of “Rachel” is an English-spelling pronunciation; the original Hebrew was more like “Rahhel”.

    Wikipedia has a nice list in Jacob (name), and similar lists for other names.

  • Adam

    What the religious right would like very much for us all to forget is that marriage has not been “defined as a union between one woman and one man” since “the dawn of mankind”.

    I do not have time to look up all of the documents regarding marriage. Here is a to the CCC if you’re interested, Bible verses and documents cited in the endnotes: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a7.htm#1638

    Mt 19:5-6 leave your father and mother and two shall become one flesh.
    Mal 2:14-16 The lord hates divorce
    Mt 19:8-9 to divorce wife and remarry is adultary
    lv 20:13 a man lies with a man is abominable deed
    ….
    Just to name a few

    Here’s some more info:

    On the subject of polygamy, Scripture indicates that for a time God did tolerate this practice during the Old Testament. However, it was portrayed even then as a negative thing. When Scripture describes the domestic life of polygamists, it brings out consistently the negative effects of polygamy—jealousy, taunting, conflict, favoritism—as different wives and children struggle for position within the family. (Take for example the strife between the wives of Abraham, Jacob, or Elkana; see Gen. 21, 29–30, 1 Sam. 1).

    The problems were so clearly recognized that, even if there was not then a flat-out prohibition on the practice, there had to be special legislation concerning polygamy. Thus a husband playing favorites among his wives was not allowed to deprive the children of his first wife their inheritance rights in favor of the children of a more recent wife (Deut. 21:15–16). Unfortunately, this prohibition was often not followed.

    As time progressed, the problems with polygamy became more and more obvious, and it stopped being practiced.

    The clincher came in the time of Christ, when Jesus indicated that marriage was to be restored to the state God had intended in Genesis 2. Thus Jesus prohibits divorce (Mark 10:2–9) on the grounds that it was not provided for in God’s original plan. God made one man and one woman to be together. Polygamy is ruled out by the same logic. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to be together, not for Adam to be married first to Eve and then later to Barbara, and certainly not for Adam to be married to Eve and Barbara at the same time.

    (cite:http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0110qq.asp)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I have to say I’m amused by this argument: “God couldn’t have told people of ancient times not to practice polygamy at all, because then they would have rebelled against him, so instead he just tolerated it until people had reached the stage where it could be abolished entirely.”

    First: In the Old Testament, God commands the Jews to practice circumcision – a painful, dangerous surgical procedure which involves cutting off healthy, sensitive foreskin from the penis – a procedure which in Old Testament times would have to have been done without sterile surgical tools or anesthetic. If the Jews didn’t rebel against that commandment, I would think that they were more than capable of handling monogamy.

    Second: Adam appears not to have noticed that his own argument implies that God is a moral relativist, issuing different commands to cultures at various stages of development, and holding back rather than condemn some acts which those cultures did not consider to be a crime.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    In response to silentsanta’s comment upthread: No, I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically immoral about non-monogamous relationships. If consenting adults freely choose to enter into such a relationship, I don’t think it’s mine or anyone’s business to tell them how to live their lives. The problem, of course, is that such relationships have historically existed mainly as a tool of sexist and patriarchal societies that essentially enslave women. Society in general has a compelling and justified interest in preventing that sort of abuse and oppression from occurring. As to how we can prevent the abuse and harm of polygamist cults without taking away the freedom of truly consenting adults to enter into any sort of relationship they please – that’s a tricky question, and I’m open to suggestions. (I tend to think that more stringent enforcement of age-of-consent laws would do most of the work.)

    One thing I would say is that, unlike interracial or gay marriage, I don’t think there’s a straightforward equality-under-the-law argument for legally recognized polyamorous marriage. That would be a truly new arrangement, rather than the mere removal of discriminatory boundaries on an existing legal arrangement. There are many benefits offered to couples that would present all sorts of problems if we tried to naively extend them to relationships with an arbitrary number of partners. Think of the right not to testify against a spouse in court, the right to gain citizenship by marrying a native, or the right to share Social Security or other benefits. This is a hugely complex area with many potential problems, and I think we as a society would be best advised to enter into it very carefully, and only after much preliminary discussion.

  • Alex Weaver

    To say nothing of the potential for abuse if there’s no limit to the number of people who can share these benefits under any one person’s umbrella.

  • Adam

    Second: Adam appears not to have noticed that his own argument implies that God is a moral relativist, issuing different commands to cultures at various stages of development, and holding back rather than condemn some acts which those cultures did not consider to be a crime.

    First please define moral relativist as related to your comment, just so that I am clear on what your saying.

    Second, in the Old Testement God is converting a pagan people! He gave the people as much as they could handle at a time, always respecting there free will. To say he held back things is absolutly true, they were pagan illiterates.

  • lpetrich

    Bertrand Russell once noted the blasphemies of those who think themselves pious, and Adam’s argument is yet another one — he presents God as an incompetent bumbler, when an omnimax god would have no trouble reprogramming people. And what’s so great about free will if it leads to committing sins? Jesus Christ taught that one ought to remove parts of one’s body that make one commit sins, and he’s supposed to be God, right?

  • Christopher

    Adam,

    Second, in the Old Testement God is converting a pagan people! He gave the people as much as they could handle at a time, always respecting there free will. To say he held back things is absolutly true, they were pagan illiterates

    1. There’ no “free will” and there never was, so stop using that assinine arguement!

    2. If your “god” is half the things relgion claims it to be it would have had no trouble causing a group of primitive nomads to confrom to its will – the very fact that your scriptures keep reporting rebelions against it tells us that this thing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (assuming it truly existed at all).

    Face it, your “god” is an incompetent bungler and if it ever existed it should have been ashamed of its inadequecies!

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Second, in the Old Testement God is converting a pagan people!

    No he most certainly was not. Nice try at revisionist Bible reading, but the people he was talking to was his chosen people that he created to be his chosen people, not some random pagans.

  • Joffan

    If polygamy was legal, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in order to get some jobs, you had to marry into the company.

  • Brad

    The Bible gives me the impression that God did not really respect “free will.” (The very phrase “The Ten Commandments” demonstrates against this.) Also, how can God be converting a pagan people and at the same time be “respecting [their] free will” in the sense that you use it, Adam? That appears to me as a simple contradiction.

  • mikespeir

    Okay, to stray a little further from the intended topic of this thread, would anybody be worse off if we continued to not allow polygamy?

  • Christopher

    To take that line of thought even further, would we be worse off if marraige suddenly disappeared from our social structure?

  • Adam

    Chris,

    If you do not believe there is free will then I guess I can not engage in this converstaion with you any more.

    Trying to defend free will here on this thread would be off topic

    No he most certainly was not. Nice try at revisionist Bible reading, but the people he was talking to was his chosen people that he created to be his chosen people, not some random pagans.

    I did not say random, just pagan. His chosen people, who were pagan illiterates. Why do you have a problem with that?

  • Adam

    Brad,

    how can God be converting a pagan people and at the same time be “respecting [their] free will” in the sense that you use it, Adam? That appears to me as a simple contradiction.

    I am a parent, and I can teach my daughter to do things and tell her not to do things…I even make her stand in the corner when she throws a fit about it, but ultimatly its going to be her choice when she’s 18 years and leaves the house to put the things I have taught her to use. She can do it if she wants or she can not. It’s up to her.

    Same is true with God and his teaching of his chose people in the OT

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Adam,

    If you do not believe there is free will then I guess I can not engage in this converstaion with you any more.

    We’ve been down this road before. If your god truly is omni-max, then there can be no free will.

    I did not say random, just pagan. His chosen people, who were pagan illiterates. Why do you have a problem with that?

    Because I have a problem with you contradicting yourself in the space of one sentence. They can’t be both god’s chosen people and pagan.

    Same is true with God and his teaching of his chose people in the OT

    Then why doesn’t he do so now? He showed himself to them, why doesn’t he show himself to us now?

  • Adam

    Then why doesn’t he do so now? He showed himself to them, why doesn’t he show himself to us now?

    That’s the best part. He does. Everyday. You can meet him at the mass. Physically in the Eucharist.

    They can’t be both god’s chosen people and pagan.

    Why not? You have to start somewhere. Many were pagan, look it up in the OT. Then God came to Moses’s and said. “Tell them that I AM” being One God. Once they learned this, they were no longer worshiping many pagan god, but the One God, “I AM”

    This is getting off topic from Polygamy

  • heliobates

    That’s the best part. He does. Everyday. You can meet him at the mass. Physically in the Eucharist.

    Will you come to my house for the UnSacred Feasting? You can meet the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He’s physically present in the “Noo-charist” and also inhabits our nifty beer fountain. No, really. I talk to Him all the time.

    Then God came to Moses’s and said. “Tell them that I AM” being One God.

    This was after Yahweh stopped being one of the seventy children of Asherah, brother to Baal. And therefore it’s also after Yahweh was worshiped with Asherah as his consort. By the Southern Hebrew tribes.

    What you really refer to is the re-visioning of the Bronze Age Israeli ethnic group into an Iron Age monotheistic nation-state, right? Yanno, several centuries after the Exodus (which didn’t happen) and the conquest of Canaan (which also didn’t happen) when Yahweh became ascendant in the Hebrew pantheon.

    I mean, there’s no evidence: zero, zip, nada, that Moses ever existed, so anything that was supposedly said to him by He-Who-Became-The-Cracker-God is not even hearsay. This is just basic archaeology. We don’t even have to get into J, E, P, D, the “maximalist vs. minimalist” views of the Monarchy, the Shasu Migration and the Sinai Covenant legend…

    So we take your point about your mythology, and all, but you do realize that it didn’t really happen, right?

  • heliobates

    To take that line of thought even further, would we be worse off if marraige suddenly disappeared from our social structure?

    In the short run, yes. It’s too deeply ingrained in all of our legal institutions. I’m more familiar with Canadian laws, and the real reason I support gay/lesbian marriage vs. the “why bother” stance is that SCC rulings have confirmed that cohabitive relationships are not on equal footing with state-licensed marriage.

    In the long run: all costs are variable ;o) But it’s going to take generations of work to deprecate this antiquated institution.

  • Brad

    Adam, your analogy fails to connect. In what you describe, you do not give your daughter a free choice until she’s 18. Until then, you raise and teach her. So, to translate this into your analogy, God is converting us pagans, and therefore not respecting out free will until we finally fulfill all that he wishes for in our cultural growing-up. Therefore my observation of a contradiction still stands.

    That’s the best part. He does. Everyday. You can meet him at the mass. Physically in the Eucharist.

    I was a Roman Catholic for about the first 14 years of my life. Nearly three years after deconversion, here I am now, and I can tell you this with complete certainty: not once did God reveal himself to me. I will not pretend my thoughts are his, or are inspired from him, or anything else that is indirect. If God truly wants to show himself to me, then he can go ahead and do it any day now. I will not pretend that questionable but god-silent events happening around me are anything more than the natural world working as expected. I got fed up with pretending; why couldn’t God pick up some of the slack? I deserve a reason to believe, not a command.

    People don’t believe me and think I just looked away wherever I saw God. I am well-qualified to dispute this claim. Now, on the Eucharist: Why does God meet us through bread? Why not more directly, over a more infallible medium? And surely you jest about Christ’s “physical” presence in the wafer? Doubtless that scientific tests, or just mere tasting, would indicate otherwise. I am now forced to conclude that the doctrine of transubstantiation is really a made-up, post-hoc type of ontological presence that somehow inexplicably differs from both physical presence and the “omnipresence” that God is supposed to have everywhere anyway.

    I stop my personal rant here so I don’t get smited for off-topicity.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Adam,

    Why not? You have to start somewhere. Many were pagan, look it up in the OT. Then God came to Moses’s and said. “Tell them that I AM” being One God. Once they learned this, they were no longer worshiping many pagan god, but the One God, “I AM”

    You mean the same Jews that worshipped Yahweh during their time in Egypt, right? This is ridiculous. You are trying to assert that god wanted marriage to be between one man and one woman but couldn’t tell them that because they somehow believed in many gods even though they already worshipped your god, and this makes sense how?

    Face it, if your god were laying down rules as to what constitutes moral behavior, he would have come out and said that polygamy was wrong. Yet, he did not do that. You are revealing your god to be a moral relativist. What’s more likely is that the writers of the OT wrote about a god that just so happened to share their views (how convenient) just as god conveniently tends to always share the views of the authors of the books in the NT or the Koran or any other holy scripture.

  • Adam

    You are trying to assert that god wanted marriage to be between one man and one woman but couldn’t tell them that because they somehow believed in many gods even though they already worshipped your god, and this makes sense how?

    I don’t think your understanding the time of Moses and the bible as well as you might believe. The reason for the Commandment:That you should have no other God’s before me Exodus 20:3, was because they were worshiping other pagan gods.

    In regards to polygomy: It’s pretty clear: He did not approve of Sodom and Gomorrah, and later he gave man the commandment that you should not commit adultery Exodus 20:14.

    Again,

    When Jesus (God) indicated that marriage was to be restored to the state God had intended in Genesis 2, Jesus prohibits divorce (Mark 10:2–9) on the grounds that it was not provided for in God’s original plan. God made one man and one woman to be together. Polygamy is ruled out by the same logic. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to be together, not for Adam to be married first to Eve and then later to Barbara, and certainly not for Adam to be married to Eve and Barbara at the same time.

    (cite:http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0110qq.asp)

  • Adam

    Brad,

    I would be more than happy to email you about Catholism. This tread is not for that.

    Please get my email from Ebon, and I will try answer any questions you might have.

  • Adam

    Ebon

    Second: Adam appears not to have noticed that his own argument implies that God is a moral relativist, issuing different commands to cultures at various stages of development, and holding back rather than condemn some acts which those cultures did not consider to be a crime.

    When we were all in kindergarten we were given colors to learn and use: red, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple, black, white. We could define all of our surroundings with these colors, draw everything and anything. By the time were in 3rd grade, we wanted the 48 crayola box! Some even got the 98 crayola Box! We now experienced our world differenty and could not imagin a time when we only used 8 color crayons to draw everything; what was our life like with out gold, silver, Caribbean Green, Atomic Tangerine, and Electric Lime.

    The same can be said for the developement of the Israelites.

  • Adam

    heliobates,

    I appriciate what you’re saying. But to answer your points would be way off topic.

  • heliobates

    But to answer your points would be way off topic.

    It’s directly on point, since you’re attempting to argue that historically He-Who-Became-The-Cracker-God has always disapproved of polygamy.

    Do you not experience even a slight cognitive dissonance when you’re providing a historical justification for the Catholic church’s stance against polygamy that doesn’t reference any history outside of Catholic dogma?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Adam,

    I don’t think your understanding the time of Moses and the bible as well as you might believe. The reason for the Commandment:That you should have no other God’s before me Exodus 20:3, was because they were worshiping other pagan gods.

    Or maybe it’s because there were other reported gods out there to worship. According to your own holy book, however, the ones that stayed on the straight and narrow in worshipping only Yahweh were the ones that god favored and brought out of Egypt.

    In regards to polygomy: It’s pretty clear: He did not approve of Sodom and Gomorrah, and later he gave man the commandment that you should not commit adultery Exodus 20:14.

    Nice non sequitor. Nowhere does it say that god disapproved of Sodom and Gomorrah because of polygamy. And, adultery is defined as sex or intimacy outside of marriage. If a man is married to two women, then he is not committing adultery by being intimate with one of those women.

    When Jesus (God) indicated that marriage was to be restored to the state God had intended in Genesis 2, Jesus prohibits divorce (Mark 10:2–9) on the grounds that it was not provided for in God’s original plan. God made one man and one woman to be together. Polygamy is ruled out by the same logic.

    No, it is not. Divorce is the splitting of a marriage, polygamy is the joining together of more people. It has nothing to do with divorce. And, you have no grounds to assert that god intended one man one woman arrangements considering Ebon’s OP as well as the fact that god instructs people to take concubines and extra wives at times, and glorifies those that do, like Solomon or David. IOW, your arguments are all bunk and Biblical revisionism.

  • Brad

    To make the crayon allegory more fitting, we would have to imagine that the teachers give and take crayons throughout the grades, and only after periods of time do they introduce the best, most useful crayons, after which point many many children have finished drawing and can no longer use them. Some of these crayons also serve no purpose in making good pictures, and others still only do damage to the attempted images made from them.

    The crayon allegory also only serves to prove Ebonmuse’s point: by declining to hand us an absolute morality, and by instead holding a list of changing morals and laws for us, God would be upholding moral relativism.

  • Christopher

    heliobates,

    In the short run, yes. It’s too deeply ingrained in all of our legal institutions. I’m more familiar with Canadian laws, and the real reason I support gay/lesbian marriage vs. the “why bother” stance is that SCC rulings have confirmed that cohabitive relationships are not on equal footing with state-licensed marriage.

    Personally, I’m all for uprooting 90% of our legal system and just throwing it away – so such consequenses I would view as being a positive as it would make people less reliant on government to spell their lives out for them through “law.”

    In the long run: all costs are variable ;o) But it’s going to take generations of work to deprecate this antiquated institution

    Well, many people thought that institutions like slavery would be there for ages to come too – perhaps it will only take a couple generations of “illegitimate” children to mature and reproduce to make society see how unnecissary this vestige of patriarchy is…

  • Christopher

    Adam,

    If you do not believe there is free will then I guess I can not engage in this converstaion with you any more.

    Translate: I’m taking my ball and going home.

  • Leum

    perhaps it will only take a couple generations of “illegitimate” children to mature and reproduce to make society see how unnecissary this vestige of patriarchy is…

    Is there really still that strong of a stigma against children born out of wedlock? Prejudice against single mothers, yes, but I haven’t noticed criticism of “illegitimate” children.

    Also, marriage does more than grant “legitimacy” to children. It grants couples a whole host of legal rights that are very difficult to secure otherwise, but you’re probably opposed to that sort of thing as well.

  • Adam

    heliobates,

    This was after Yahweh stopped being one of the seventy children of Asherah, brother to Baal. And therefore it’s also after Yahweh was worshiped with Asherah as his consort. By the Southern Hebrew tribes.

    What you really refer to is the re-visioning of the Bronze Age Israeli ethnic group into an Iron Age monotheistic nation-state, right? Yanno, several centuries after the Exodus (which didn’t happen) and the conquest of Canaan (which also didn’t happen) when Yahweh became ascendant in the Hebrew pantheon.

    I mean, there’s no evidence: zero, zip, nada, that Moses ever existed,

    I believe these guys….
    http://www.bib-arch.org/

    Adam

  • Leum

    Um, Adam, do you want us to read the entire Biblical Archaeology Review, or is there a particular article you want us to read? If you want to say that BAR is a reputable organization that agrees with your take on the Bible’s historicity, fine, but BAR’s “About Us” section makes no mention of its position on historicity, so I’m not sure what ground you’d have for making that claim.

  • Christopher

    Looks to me like those BAR fellas are among the few remaining archeologists that still have a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other – this brand of “archeology” whent out of style decads ago when legitimate scholars took over the digs from religious fundamentalists seeking validation for their beliefs.

  • heliobates

    I believe these guys….

    So? What do they have to say about this argument?

  • Adam

    heliobates,

    It’s on topic Here…interesting debate http://forum.bib-arch.info/index.php?topic=89.15

    Page 2,3,4,5,6 are good

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I fail to see how your link is on topic. I also fail to see what’s interesting about it. Is it the part where people are claiming that the Bible is evidence for the Bible? Is it the part where people are claiming that the Bible is true until you prove it is false? Is it the part where one person claims that the stories came directly from Noah since he lived 300 years after the flood, so therefore they are true? Maybe it’s the part where someone tried to upbraid another by stating that bitumen wasn’t used before 900 BCE and that that somehow supports the Bible being written before then because it says they used bitumen?

  • heliobates

    Ya lost me, coach.

    Perhaps you could point to the archaeological and historical (extra-textual) evidence for Moses, the Exodus and, well the accuracy of anything pre-6th century BCE. I read six or seven of those pages and couldn’t find any of it.

    This does not bode well.

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    Great post Adam, a translation has been published here:

    http://www.elhorror.net/colab64.htm


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