Abstinence education is just “too strict”

Nearly half of the states are turning down federal funding for abstinence education, turning away millions of dollars. In this article on the subject, it appears that the reason is not that these programs are ineffective in reducing teenage sexual activity. It’s that many officials just disagree with the concept that sex outside of marriage is wrong. The programs, said one official, are just “too strict.”

I would say, however, that I see a weakness in the programs. They reportedly focus on the social, psychological, and health benefits of abstaining from sex until you are married. But the main reasons against extra-marital sex are not pragmatic but MORAL. I’m sure that avoiding the M-word is out of fear of seeming religious and thus becoming ineligible for federal funding.

But morality, in itself, is not necessarily religious at all. (Christianity is not some moral code but the means of finding forgiveness for violating the universal moral code.) We need to teach children, as well as adults, to think in the moral dimension. If we avoid that and instead just re-enforce the materialistic pragmatism that destroyed our moral consciousness in the first place, of course we will not have moral behavior.

HT: David Halbrook

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    When I was a teenager my mom said “No sex before marraige!” OK, but as long as I am not having sex-sex then I am ok, right? On the one hand I listened to her, but on the other hand I didn’t connect waiting until I was marriage to living out a forgiven and redeemed life. As I grew older, the usual arguments weren’t working very well and chastity became really difficult. I mean at 26 years old I knew how to prevent pregnancy and disease, etc, etc. I was plenty mature enough to handle that sort of relationship, so WHY NOT? Thankfully, during this time I got a crash course in “deep chastity” (thinking about it the way we think about deep ecology or deep organic.) This is the only way that chastity education works, but if public schools are offering one worldview chastity doesn’t fit in well. (At least not after graduation!)

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    When I was a teenager my mom said “No sex before marraige!” OK, but as long as I am not having sex-sex then I am ok, right? On the one hand I listened to her, but on the other hand I didn’t connect waiting until I was marriage to living out a forgiven and redeemed life. As I grew older, the usual arguments weren’t working very well and chastity became really difficult. I mean at 26 years old I knew how to prevent pregnancy and disease, etc, etc. I was plenty mature enough to handle that sort of relationship, so WHY NOT? Thankfully, during this time I got a crash course in “deep chastity” (thinking about it the way we think about deep ecology or deep organic.) This is the only way that chastity education works, but if public schools are offering one worldview chastity doesn’t fit in well. (At least not after graduation!)

  • Paul

    My Jr. Confirmation students (7th & 8th grades) respond with deep interest and good discussion – particularly from those most heavily surrounded by sex – to the moral issues behind the sixth commandment. They know the commandment, but are quite interested in knowing “why” sex outside of marriage is a problem. I take this to show that they’re not getting any moral discussion from home or society. They appreciate the adult discussion instead of just more “because I said so.”

    Without becoming perverse, I can point out that sex is a moral issue throughout the Scriptures. Scripture then becomes more relevant to their everyday lives than then had previously realized.

    What was God’s purpose for sex? Not just for procreation or as forbidden pleasure, but as a means of two people becoming one — not three or four or dozens. Sex is the highest form of physical intimacy which is linked to intimacy of also the mind and the spirit. More than anything else in life, sex touches and changes the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. To “know” another person and “be known” by them in this way is the closest thing on earth to the way that God knows us (the whole person).

    Being a part of the Moral Law, this is something that secular society, public education, and even the media could easily teach or at least reflect because the implications are clear even on psychological or social levels much in the same way that war, murder, theft, and so forth are ‘values’ which are built-into creation – even if you insist on calling it evolution.

    However, there are so many today who would be ‘judged’ or be judging themselves by this view because of their earlier promiscuity (consider that those who are at the top of public education remember “The Summer of Love” (1969)) that they must find some other way to think of and teach about sex because they know of no forgiveness and have no hope of restoration. Without Christ, what is lost is lost and cannot be undone or reclaimed which is just too painful to think about.

    By the way, this is also, in my opinion, the best approach to discussing homosexuality, procreation without two parents who are married and together, and other moral issues which branch off from this one. The communion within the Godhead could not be with two fathers or two sons or no spirit or any other combination of three Distinct Persons in One God. So also the ‘communion’ or ‘at-one-ness” of husband, wife, and children cannot be the same as “two daddies” or “two mommies” or no daddy or mommy at all. This also is a moral issue which is demonstrated also in the secular sciences; that such relationships cannot be the same or on the same level as the nuclear family. But again, saying this would cause some to feel they are or have less than others which would be judging. Do we not judge other social constructs such as the relationships between nations, “boundaries” between genders and age groups, etc.? So why not talk about boundaries within the family? I believe it is because those who are teaching would be judging themselves and don’t know how to deal with being less than their illusion of themselves no thanks to those who were silent when their baby-boomer children were growing up.

    But to say that would be judgmental.

  • Paul

    My Jr. Confirmation students (7th & 8th grades) respond with deep interest and good discussion – particularly from those most heavily surrounded by sex – to the moral issues behind the sixth commandment. They know the commandment, but are quite interested in knowing “why” sex outside of marriage is a problem. I take this to show that they’re not getting any moral discussion from home or society. They appreciate the adult discussion instead of just more “because I said so.”

    Without becoming perverse, I can point out that sex is a moral issue throughout the Scriptures. Scripture then becomes more relevant to their everyday lives than then had previously realized.

    What was God’s purpose for sex? Not just for procreation or as forbidden pleasure, but as a means of two people becoming one — not three or four or dozens. Sex is the highest form of physical intimacy which is linked to intimacy of also the mind and the spirit. More than anything else in life, sex touches and changes the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. To “know” another person and “be known” by them in this way is the closest thing on earth to the way that God knows us (the whole person).

    Being a part of the Moral Law, this is something that secular society, public education, and even the media could easily teach or at least reflect because the implications are clear even on psychological or social levels much in the same way that war, murder, theft, and so forth are ‘values’ which are built-into creation – even if you insist on calling it evolution.

    However, there are so many today who would be ‘judged’ or be judging themselves by this view because of their earlier promiscuity (consider that those who are at the top of public education remember “The Summer of Love” (1969)) that they must find some other way to think of and teach about sex because they know of no forgiveness and have no hope of restoration. Without Christ, what is lost is lost and cannot be undone or reclaimed which is just too painful to think about.

    By the way, this is also, in my opinion, the best approach to discussing homosexuality, procreation without two parents who are married and together, and other moral issues which branch off from this one. The communion within the Godhead could not be with two fathers or two sons or no spirit or any other combination of three Distinct Persons in One God. So also the ‘communion’ or ‘at-one-ness” of husband, wife, and children cannot be the same as “two daddies” or “two mommies” or no daddy or mommy at all. This also is a moral issue which is demonstrated also in the secular sciences; that such relationships cannot be the same or on the same level as the nuclear family. But again, saying this would cause some to feel they are or have less than others which would be judging. Do we not judge other social constructs such as the relationships between nations, “boundaries” between genders and age groups, etc.? So why not talk about boundaries within the family? I believe it is because those who are teaching would be judging themselves and don’t know how to deal with being less than their illusion of themselves no thanks to those who were silent when their baby-boomer children were growing up.

    But to say that would be judgmental.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    I was just thinking yesterday about the correlation between abstinence education (wisdom regarding when it’s right or wrong to have sex) and one aspect of media discernment (wisdom regarding when it’s right or wrong to see a particular movie).

    The arguments against such are the same: people are going to “do it” regardless; let’s just teach them how to make the most of it while engaging in it. Those advocating for appropriate abstinence are ridiculed as prudes. And so on.

    This may be the wrong place to explore this similarity, but maybe it could be for a future blog post. :-)

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    I was just thinking yesterday about the correlation between abstinence education (wisdom regarding when it’s right or wrong to have sex) and one aspect of media discernment (wisdom regarding when it’s right or wrong to see a particular movie).

    The arguments against such are the same: people are going to “do it” regardless; let’s just teach them how to make the most of it while engaging in it. Those advocating for appropriate abstinence are ridiculed as prudes. And so on.

    This may be the wrong place to explore this similarity, but maybe it could be for a future blog post. :-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I waited till I was married. But I remember thinking I was awfully stupid for waiting so long to get married. I think society over all is awfully stupid in this regard. Somehow were supposed to wait till our late twenties, or early thirties and still maintain our chastity, which I think results in a neurological disorder. At least, I think it does for many.
    As for the two that become one flesh bit. You don’t become 3 or four dozens by the way, you keep becoming one flesh with your fornicating partners. That is why Paul uses the phrase in regards to prostitution (very doubtful a whoremonger returns only to one prostitute time after time.) Those who want to espouse biblical morality (a good thing to do by the way) ought to read the Bible a little more closely, what you find may shock you.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I waited till I was married. But I remember thinking I was awfully stupid for waiting so long to get married. I think society over all is awfully stupid in this regard. Somehow were supposed to wait till our late twenties, or early thirties and still maintain our chastity, which I think results in a neurological disorder. At least, I think it does for many.
    As for the two that become one flesh bit. You don’t become 3 or four dozens by the way, you keep becoming one flesh with your fornicating partners. That is why Paul uses the phrase in regards to prostitution (very doubtful a whoremonger returns only to one prostitute time after time.) Those who want to espouse biblical morality (a good thing to do by the way) ought to read the Bible a little more closely, what you find may shock you.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’d be interested in hearing a definition/explanation of “deep chastity” here or elsewhere, Sarah. Never heard the term.

    My take is that I don ‘t know that you can formulate any coherent moral argument without the knowledge of God–so a forcibly secularized government school is going to run into problems no matter how hard it tries. That conceded, philosophical friends of mine would point out as well that even pragmatism is a philosophy, and by extension, a religion in itself.

    (reason # 512, 236 why my family homeschools)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’d be interested in hearing a definition/explanation of “deep chastity” here or elsewhere, Sarah. Never heard the term.

    My take is that I don ‘t know that you can formulate any coherent moral argument without the knowledge of God–so a forcibly secularized government school is going to run into problems no matter how hard it tries. That conceded, philosophical friends of mine would point out as well that even pragmatism is a philosophy, and by extension, a religion in itself.

    (reason # 512, 236 why my family homeschools)

  • Don S

    Bike Bubba, I’m with you on “deep chastity”. Chastity seems like an all or nothing proposition to me — you are chaste or you are not.

    This is also an important reason why we homeschool. There is no easy way to impose a moral code on people when you are, at the same time, teaching them there is no absolute truth. Talk about a mixed message!

  • Don S

    Bike Bubba, I’m with you on “deep chastity”. Chastity seems like an all or nothing proposition to me — you are chaste or you are not.

    This is also an important reason why we homeschool. There is no easy way to impose a moral code on people when you are, at the same time, teaching them there is no absolute truth. Talk about a mixed message!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, you said “In this article on the subject, it appears that the reason is not that these programs are ineffective in reducing teenage sexual activity.” Really? The first reason given against the program is its ineffectiveness: “But many have doubts that the program does much, if any, good …” And then there’s the last three paragraphs:

    In April 2007, a federally funded study of four abstinence-only programs by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that participants had just as many sexual partners as nonparticipants and had sex at the same median age as nonparticipants. …

    For Colorado, the study results sealed the decision to get out of the program. Dr. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, said Mathematica’s methods were the gold standard for scientific studies.

    “To show no benefit compared to nothing, that was striking,” Calonge said. “These are tax dollars that are going for no useful purpose, and it would not be responsible for us to take those dollars.”

    To me, one reason the abstinence programs don’t work is because they seem so heavily based on fear: if you have sex before marriage, you will be a mental wreck and you’ll contract several STDs. But kids know that people around them are having sex and seem just fine, so that message seems pretty heavily countered by the facts on the ground.

    Is the fear message grounded in truth? Of course. But given the intense curiosity about sex, peer/culture pressure, the desire to be loved, and so on, if kids know that they stand a good chance of not getting a disease or a complex, they’ll probably risk it — such is the nature of the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Unless, of course, there’s something better to appeal to, such as morals (as Veith noted) or, ideally, one’s secure relationship with God — and not, as the programs usually substitute pitifully, self-esteem.

    Also, Bror (@4), what does your last sentence refer to? I’m not sure I got your point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, you said “In this article on the subject, it appears that the reason is not that these programs are ineffective in reducing teenage sexual activity.” Really? The first reason given against the program is its ineffectiveness: “But many have doubts that the program does much, if any, good …” And then there’s the last three paragraphs:

    In April 2007, a federally funded study of four abstinence-only programs by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that participants had just as many sexual partners as nonparticipants and had sex at the same median age as nonparticipants. …

    For Colorado, the study results sealed the decision to get out of the program. Dr. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, said Mathematica’s methods were the gold standard for scientific studies.

    “To show no benefit compared to nothing, that was striking,” Calonge said. “These are tax dollars that are going for no useful purpose, and it would not be responsible for us to take those dollars.”

    To me, one reason the abstinence programs don’t work is because they seem so heavily based on fear: if you have sex before marriage, you will be a mental wreck and you’ll contract several STDs. But kids know that people around them are having sex and seem just fine, so that message seems pretty heavily countered by the facts on the ground.

    Is the fear message grounded in truth? Of course. But given the intense curiosity about sex, peer/culture pressure, the desire to be loved, and so on, if kids know that they stand a good chance of not getting a disease or a complex, they’ll probably risk it — such is the nature of the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Unless, of course, there’s something better to appeal to, such as morals (as Veith noted) or, ideally, one’s secure relationship with God — and not, as the programs usually substitute pitifully, self-esteem.

    Also, Bror (@4), what does your last sentence refer to? I’m not sure I got your point.

  • Ryan

    School can give out condoms now, why not chastity belts? (Give the keys to the parents). ;)

  • Ryan

    School can give out condoms now, why not chastity belts? (Give the keys to the parents). ;)

  • fw

    hey I am with todd on this one. people who work in these parts of society want policy based strictly on “what works” . this means that if abstinence training actually brought down percentages of teen pregnancies and transmitted sexual diseases, they would in fact be adopted… but they don’t work.

    now the debate is if public policy 1) should rightfully based purely on “what works” 2) what the definition of “works” should be here (I think it needs to be something measurable or statistically valid), and if and in what way morals need to shape these policies.

    take condoms in prisons or clean needle exchanges. the moralists argue that we “condone” certain behaviors(and so sinfully participate in wrongdoing) by trying to deal with them by acknowledging we cant prevent the behaviors, we can only try to ameliorate the damage those behaviors cause. I am not sure that is a moral position that is valid in fact.

    secondly morality involves choice. I would argue that a person who really wants to do something but does not do it purely out of fear (of being caught in the act by god or neighbor), is not really being moral.

    a moral person considers that he in fact COULD choose to do something , but his VOLITION is to not do that think. This is actually reality. I do not see God striking corrupt politicians, drug lords, prostitutes, and religious false teachers with lightning bolts. He is much more likely actually to bless THEM and curse the righteous as He did with Our Lord on a Tree. We ARE truly free to do anything at all morally in that sense.

    Now someone like me, who knows he was redeemed to be free with a terrible price, and knowing and firmly believing he has that complete freedom to murder a hundred today and STILL be forgiven….. what does someone like me DO with that perfect freedom? By some miracle (the bible calls this “sanctification”)…. I choose daily to enslave myself to Jesus and in service to my neighbor. Out of love. Not out of fear.

    I would suggest that all sin comes from a place of fear. we will miss out on something fun or desirable or our lives will be less alive if we don’t go for something that is in fact bad for us and leads to death.

    love is the fulfillment of the law. There is no more profound statement in the entire bible other than those about our Lord. it is about the opposite of fear. it is about trust in something trustworthy.

    People can and should be made to avoid doing the wrong thing and do their duty out of fear of punishment. this includes us christians. it is called “the power of the sword” and god has given that to governments as a gift to us to bring us a peacable and structured society precisely to allow the gospel free course among men and to bless us as a true father does with all material goods for all our needs.

    But the purpose and result of this is not to produce a moral populace. Being good out of fear of punishment is not to be moral. far from it. do i sometimes refrain from doing wrong out of pure fear of punishment? absolutely. even as a christian. I am a sinner. I welcome the curb of the law on me and others. My volition as a born again believer welcomes that, even when it seems to clip my wings and punish me.

    We need to have an open discussion when a young person asks why it is wrong to have multiple sex partners. we are NOT training the young to be moral by treating their sincere questions like they are looking for legal loopholes to do what they want to do. We need to teach them how to descern and decide independently.

    I think that abstinence education COULD work very well, but the authors of the education start with the premise that “God says it is wrong. period”. it is really hard to start a moral conversation where anyone can learn to think morally starting a conversation in that way. I do believe by the way that “God says it is wrong.” is true. But the statement also MUST end any conversation. No one can argue with God . but argument should be free if we want to teach someone.

    a discussion about teaching morality paradoxically cannot start with “god says…. period…” I am asserting. even if God IS the true and only source of all true morality.

  • fw

    hey I am with todd on this one. people who work in these parts of society want policy based strictly on “what works” . this means that if abstinence training actually brought down percentages of teen pregnancies and transmitted sexual diseases, they would in fact be adopted… but they don’t work.

    now the debate is if public policy 1) should rightfully based purely on “what works” 2) what the definition of “works” should be here (I think it needs to be something measurable or statistically valid), and if and in what way morals need to shape these policies.

    take condoms in prisons or clean needle exchanges. the moralists argue that we “condone” certain behaviors(and so sinfully participate in wrongdoing) by trying to deal with them by acknowledging we cant prevent the behaviors, we can only try to ameliorate the damage those behaviors cause. I am not sure that is a moral position that is valid in fact.

    secondly morality involves choice. I would argue that a person who really wants to do something but does not do it purely out of fear (of being caught in the act by god or neighbor), is not really being moral.

    a moral person considers that he in fact COULD choose to do something , but his VOLITION is to not do that think. This is actually reality. I do not see God striking corrupt politicians, drug lords, prostitutes, and religious false teachers with lightning bolts. He is much more likely actually to bless THEM and curse the righteous as He did with Our Lord on a Tree. We ARE truly free to do anything at all morally in that sense.

    Now someone like me, who knows he was redeemed to be free with a terrible price, and knowing and firmly believing he has that complete freedom to murder a hundred today and STILL be forgiven….. what does someone like me DO with that perfect freedom? By some miracle (the bible calls this “sanctification”)…. I choose daily to enslave myself to Jesus and in service to my neighbor. Out of love. Not out of fear.

    I would suggest that all sin comes from a place of fear. we will miss out on something fun or desirable or our lives will be less alive if we don’t go for something that is in fact bad for us and leads to death.

    love is the fulfillment of the law. There is no more profound statement in the entire bible other than those about our Lord. it is about the opposite of fear. it is about trust in something trustworthy.

    People can and should be made to avoid doing the wrong thing and do their duty out of fear of punishment. this includes us christians. it is called “the power of the sword” and god has given that to governments as a gift to us to bring us a peacable and structured society precisely to allow the gospel free course among men and to bless us as a true father does with all material goods for all our needs.

    But the purpose and result of this is not to produce a moral populace. Being good out of fear of punishment is not to be moral. far from it. do i sometimes refrain from doing wrong out of pure fear of punishment? absolutely. even as a christian. I am a sinner. I welcome the curb of the law on me and others. My volition as a born again believer welcomes that, even when it seems to clip my wings and punish me.

    We need to have an open discussion when a young person asks why it is wrong to have multiple sex partners. we are NOT training the young to be moral by treating their sincere questions like they are looking for legal loopholes to do what they want to do. We need to teach them how to descern and decide independently.

    I think that abstinence education COULD work very well, but the authors of the education start with the premise that “God says it is wrong. period”. it is really hard to start a moral conversation where anyone can learn to think morally starting a conversation in that way. I do believe by the way that “God says it is wrong.” is true. But the statement also MUST end any conversation. No one can argue with God . but argument should be free if we want to teach someone.

    a discussion about teaching morality paradoxically cannot start with “god says…. period…” I am asserting. even if God IS the true and only source of all true morality.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, the Mathematica study was on a single 9 week course of pre-adolescent children that was not followed up with anything. Does the result surprise you?

    I’ve done a bit of analysis myself (I do stats at work a lot) on a MN program that was said not to have worked. When I looked, I found that the so-called “statistical study” did not try to establish a control, nor did it perform any statistical test on the results. It merely assumed that if a single teen in the program lost his virginity, the program was a failure.

    When I did put together a control and performed a statistical test, the confidence level of a statistically significant reduction in likelihood of having sex exceeded 99%.

    In other words, “abstinence doesn’t work” in this case meant “Statistical firm hired to evaluate program didn’t perform their work.” I tend to treat these announcements very skeptically for this and other reasons.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, the Mathematica study was on a single 9 week course of pre-adolescent children that was not followed up with anything. Does the result surprise you?

    I’ve done a bit of analysis myself (I do stats at work a lot) on a MN program that was said not to have worked. When I looked, I found that the so-called “statistical study” did not try to establish a control, nor did it perform any statistical test on the results. It merely assumed that if a single teen in the program lost his virginity, the program was a failure.

    When I did put together a control and performed a statistical test, the confidence level of a statistically significant reduction in likelihood of having sex exceeded 99%.

    In other words, “abstinence doesn’t work” in this case meant “Statistical firm hired to evaluate program didn’t perform their work.” I tend to treat these announcements very skeptically for this and other reasons.

  • fw

    interesting bike! would like to hear more about this.

  • fw

    interesting bike! would like to hear more about this.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    All I was getting at is if you are going to start expositing on what the Bible says, you ought to read it. It will save you from embarrrising yourself with statements like you are to become one flesh, not three or four dozens. Pauls argument in first Corinthians was that you are making yourself a sanctified believe in Christ one flesh with the prostitutes you visit. It is very doubtful there was any monogomous commitment to on prostitute.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    All I was getting at is if you are going to start expositing on what the Bible says, you ought to read it. It will save you from embarrrising yourself with statements like you are to become one flesh, not three or four dozens. Pauls argument in first Corinthians was that you are making yourself a sanctified believe in Christ one flesh with the prostitutes you visit. It is very doubtful there was any monogomous commitment to on prostitute.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Why’s everything have to be so complecated. Doesn’t God simply say its a Godly vocation, so just do it, have some kids, be responsible, just don’t commit adultery.

    When we stop fiddling with it, maybe we’ll figure out that God’s gift of procreation really does work quite well (plus its kinda fun).

    As Paul says, the preaching of the Law and henceforth, abstinence education, just pisses people off.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Why’s everything have to be so complecated. Doesn’t God simply say its a Godly vocation, so just do it, have some kids, be responsible, just don’t commit adultery.

    When we stop fiddling with it, maybe we’ll figure out that God’s gift of procreation really does work quite well (plus its kinda fun).

    As Paul says, the preaching of the Law and henceforth, abstinence education, just pisses people off.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    So Paul called me up and asked for an apology, then belittled me for being in a small faithful congregation here in Utah,that only worships 45. Hinting I was hidden here because Ft. Wayne was embarrased by me, and only being out for four years. He then tried to compare being a Lutheran congregation in Utah, to being a Lutheran congregation in some town in Michigan. Wow! Not quite the way to get an apology out of me.
    Quite frankly, I will say it publicly though. I think I may have misunderstood what Paul (the man above, and not the saint) was saying.
    I do think that God holds the idea of one man and one woman to be the ideal for marriage. However, he no where limits marriage to that. He explicitly allows the Israelites in Exodus 21 to have more than one wife. (1 is enough for me but….). The fact is in having sex with someone you do become one flesh with that person, no matter how many partners you have previously had. That is what I was getting at. I heard Paul saying the oposite, but he didn’t mean to, for that I apologize.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    So Paul called me up and asked for an apology, then belittled me for being in a small faithful congregation here in Utah,that only worships 45. Hinting I was hidden here because Ft. Wayne was embarrased by me, and only being out for four years. He then tried to compare being a Lutheran congregation in Utah, to being a Lutheran congregation in some town in Michigan. Wow! Not quite the way to get an apology out of me.
    Quite frankly, I will say it publicly though. I think I may have misunderstood what Paul (the man above, and not the saint) was saying.
    I do think that God holds the idea of one man and one woman to be the ideal for marriage. However, he no where limits marriage to that. He explicitly allows the Israelites in Exodus 21 to have more than one wife. (1 is enough for me but….). The fact is in having sex with someone you do become one flesh with that person, no matter how many partners you have previously had. That is what I was getting at. I heard Paul saying the oposite, but he didn’t mean to, for that I apologize.

  • Paul

    Bror misreads my post (#2) which actually said, “What was God’s purpose for sex? Not just for procreation or as forbidden pleasure, but as a means of two people becoming one — not three or four or dozens.” Let me say it more clearly: sex is NOT meant to bring together more than two people. How can it unless we envision sexual activity of several in the same bed. And even in a polygamous marriage, sex is not meant to bring together two or more wives, but one man and one woman in an intentional, life-long, loving relationship.

    By misreading this, he claims that I embarrass myself by using “the two shall become one” to suggest that God’s Divine Plan in creation was for one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment. I checked with him offline, and he confirmed that he does in fact believe that polygamy is not in conflict with this plan.

    I would use the words of Jesus “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But from the beginning it was not so.” to apply also to polygamy — God allowed it because of sin, but it was not part of his Divine Plan or of His will for us.

    Regardless of whether a man is monogamous or polygamous, the point is the same: sex is not to be entered into casually or lightly but requires the commitment of marriage. That’s the moral point.

    Even so, I take issue with Bror’s view of Divinely Approved Polygamy; for if the ultimate comparison is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church, then are we willing to say that Christ is Groom to Many Churches or is He faithful to One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church?

  • Paul

    Bror misreads my post (#2) which actually said, “What was God’s purpose for sex? Not just for procreation or as forbidden pleasure, but as a means of two people becoming one — not three or four or dozens.” Let me say it more clearly: sex is NOT meant to bring together more than two people. How can it unless we envision sexual activity of several in the same bed. And even in a polygamous marriage, sex is not meant to bring together two or more wives, but one man and one woman in an intentional, life-long, loving relationship.

    By misreading this, he claims that I embarrass myself by using “the two shall become one” to suggest that God’s Divine Plan in creation was for one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment. I checked with him offline, and he confirmed that he does in fact believe that polygamy is not in conflict with this plan.

    I would use the words of Jesus “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But from the beginning it was not so.” to apply also to polygamy — God allowed it because of sin, but it was not part of his Divine Plan or of His will for us.

    Regardless of whether a man is monogamous or polygamous, the point is the same: sex is not to be entered into casually or lightly but requires the commitment of marriage. That’s the moral point.

    Even so, I take issue with Bror’s view of Divinely Approved Polygamy; for if the ultimate comparison is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church, then are we willing to say that Christ is Groom to Many Churches or is He faithful to One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church?

  • Paul

    Some apology! I did not hint that you were an embarrassment to Fort Wayne nor can you take me to task for hearsay. I did say and will also say publicly that one who is newly out of school and with limited experience should be careful when throwing around insults. I do also believe and suggested privately and now, at his request, publicly, that it would be prudent for him to refrain saying that polygamy does not usurp God’s plan for marriage. For a thorough discussion on this, see the CTCR document “Divorce and Remarriage” (1987) esp. pp. 10-12 on “Mutual Commitment” and “One Flesh.” I apologize to other readers who have to follow this off-subject thread from a misreading of one sentence I wrote.

  • Paul

    Some apology! I did not hint that you were an embarrassment to Fort Wayne nor can you take me to task for hearsay. I did say and will also say publicly that one who is newly out of school and with limited experience should be careful when throwing around insults. I do also believe and suggested privately and now, at his request, publicly, that it would be prudent for him to refrain saying that polygamy does not usurp God’s plan for marriage. For a thorough discussion on this, see the CTCR document “Divorce and Remarriage” (1987) esp. pp. 10-12 on “Mutual Commitment” and “One Flesh.” I apologize to other readers who have to follow this off-subject thread from a misreading of one sentence I wrote.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Thank you Paul for your clarification.
    As I said in my post above. I do believe God intended one man and one woman to be the IDEAL for marriage. But I also see that he very explicitly allows for polygamous relationships, not only by example but codifies rules for it in Exodus. So I am not as apt as you to apply what God says about divorce, to the realm of polygamous marriage. Does God only allow it for the sake of hardened hearts? Maybe, but where does he say that?
    That being said, I have often thought that the whole medium of blogging was for people to discuss and challenge ideas publicly. Maybe I’m wrong. But this is why I took issue with you calling and trying to belittle me over the phone. If you want to belittle me do it online. I stand by what I say until proven wrong. Check with me online, then everyone gets to see in my own words what I have said and what I have not said. At times this is helpful, I have in the past been shown to have read something wrong. It is then to the benefit of everyone.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Thank you Paul for your clarification.
    As I said in my post above. I do believe God intended one man and one woman to be the IDEAL for marriage. But I also see that he very explicitly allows for polygamous relationships, not only by example but codifies rules for it in Exodus. So I am not as apt as you to apply what God says about divorce, to the realm of polygamous marriage. Does God only allow it for the sake of hardened hearts? Maybe, but where does he say that?
    That being said, I have often thought that the whole medium of blogging was for people to discuss and challenge ideas publicly. Maybe I’m wrong. But this is why I took issue with you calling and trying to belittle me over the phone. If you want to belittle me do it online. I stand by what I say until proven wrong. Check with me online, then everyone gets to see in my own words what I have said and what I have not said. At times this is helpful, I have in the past been shown to have read something wrong. It is then to the benefit of everyone.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    FW, that’s about what I’ve seen. Only thing that I can add right off hand is that the MN study also missed a golden chance to “pair” the data and get even more statistical power. Of course, if you’re not interested in statistical work to begin with, you won’t do that.

    Yes, I’m toying with the idea of doing a little more work here. Lots of political games are being played. I used, if you’re curious, a standard two sample proportion test to take a look at the MN study. Other information can be found at http://www.family.org.

    Though, for what it’s worth, I’m not terribly convinced that nine weeks of 50 minute classes on abstinence (only 25 minutes spent in actual instruction most likely) is going to be sufficient to really change things–those teens have, of course, close to 200,000 hours of other experience besides their 40 or so hours in abstinence based sex ed at best.

    You want to change things, you’ve got to communicate clearly that laws about age of consent and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse will be enforced. (there go most of your teen pregnancies, BTW) You’ve got to make clear that lewdness in clothing and music isn’t going to be allowed in schools, and “turn down the temperature” on society that way.

    That said, it still appears that those 20-50 hours have been working wonders for a lot of kids. Too bad the issue has become politicized by the SIECUS crowd.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    FW, that’s about what I’ve seen. Only thing that I can add right off hand is that the MN study also missed a golden chance to “pair” the data and get even more statistical power. Of course, if you’re not interested in statistical work to begin with, you won’t do that.

    Yes, I’m toying with the idea of doing a little more work here. Lots of political games are being played. I used, if you’re curious, a standard two sample proportion test to take a look at the MN study. Other information can be found at http://www.family.org.

    Though, for what it’s worth, I’m not terribly convinced that nine weeks of 50 minute classes on abstinence (only 25 minutes spent in actual instruction most likely) is going to be sufficient to really change things–those teens have, of course, close to 200,000 hours of other experience besides their 40 or so hours in abstinence based sex ed at best.

    You want to change things, you’ve got to communicate clearly that laws about age of consent and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse will be enforced. (there go most of your teen pregnancies, BTW) You’ve got to make clear that lewdness in clothing and music isn’t going to be allowed in schools, and “turn down the temperature” on society that way.

    That said, it still appears that those 20-50 hours have been working wonders for a lot of kids. Too bad the issue has become politicized by the SIECUS crowd.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, you might apply 1 Corinthians 7:2 to the argument about polygamous marriage. If each man is to have his own wife, and each woman her own husband, it seems to me that polygamy is effectively proscribed there.

    You’ve also got the image of the bride of Christ, not brides, and most of the prophetic descriptions of “virgin Israel” show her as the only prospective spouse, not one of many, and the deacon, elder, or overseer must be a “man of one woman.”

    Genesis 2:24, moreover, notes that the marital union shall create “one flesh”; this is not possible with a polygamous family. So I’d have to argue that the mass of Scripture would suggest that allowing for polygamy is merely for the hardness of Israel’s hearts. Certainly polygamy didn’t work out too well for those who practiced it.

    And of course, the first clause of Matthew 6:24 clearly demonstrates why polygamy is wrong. Mr. Clemens gave that answer when asked why it’s un-Biblical when he was out your way, Bror.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, you might apply 1 Corinthians 7:2 to the argument about polygamous marriage. If each man is to have his own wife, and each woman her own husband, it seems to me that polygamy is effectively proscribed there.

    You’ve also got the image of the bride of Christ, not brides, and most of the prophetic descriptions of “virgin Israel” show her as the only prospective spouse, not one of many, and the deacon, elder, or overseer must be a “man of one woman.”

    Genesis 2:24, moreover, notes that the marital union shall create “one flesh”; this is not possible with a polygamous family. So I’d have to argue that the mass of Scripture would suggest that allowing for polygamy is merely for the hardness of Israel’s hearts. Certainly polygamy didn’t work out too well for those who practiced it.

    And of course, the first clause of Matthew 6:24 clearly demonstrates why polygamy is wrong. Mr. Clemens gave that answer when asked why it’s un-Biblical when he was out your way, Bror.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Forgive me Bike,
    I like your attempts here. However, I don’t think your conclusions necessarily follow in the case of 1 Cor. 7.
    In the case of 6:24 in order to apply that you would have to nullify everything the Bible says about the headship of the husband.
    My truck here is not that I think we should all go out and marry many women. Or that the United States should repeal its laws against Polygamy. I don’t think that at all. I am very happy to abide by these laws. My truck here is in the often very cavalier way people go to the Bible to find passages in support of their view while ignoring what the Bible says in other areas about the same subject. I have been very guilty of this sort of hunt and peck method myself in the past. Probably am in the same way. And then we have well if it didn’t say it, it should say it attitude. In regards to divorce, this has put an unnecessary burden on the hearts of many victims, and has justified a pharisaical attitude by those in the church. In regards to polygamy it has caused untold harm in many areas of the world where men were forced to choose between the wives they had made a commitment to, and Christ. A choice forced on them by men in the church, and not Christ. I try to read the Bible for what it says, and leave it at that. I try, not sure that I always do.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Forgive me Bike,
    I like your attempts here. However, I don’t think your conclusions necessarily follow in the case of 1 Cor. 7.
    In the case of 6:24 in order to apply that you would have to nullify everything the Bible says about the headship of the husband.
    My truck here is not that I think we should all go out and marry many women. Or that the United States should repeal its laws against Polygamy. I don’t think that at all. I am very happy to abide by these laws. My truck here is in the often very cavalier way people go to the Bible to find passages in support of their view while ignoring what the Bible says in other areas about the same subject. I have been very guilty of this sort of hunt and peck method myself in the past. Probably am in the same way. And then we have well if it didn’t say it, it should say it attitude. In regards to divorce, this has put an unnecessary burden on the hearts of many victims, and has justified a pharisaical attitude by those in the church. In regards to polygamy it has caused untold harm in many areas of the world where men were forced to choose between the wives they had made a commitment to, and Christ. A choice forced on them by men in the church, and not Christ. I try to read the Bible for what it says, and leave it at that. I try, not sure that I always do.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with Bror here. Are you gonna go over to Sudan and force all the new Christians there to give abandon their second and third wives and all their children? Some stupid Christian missionaries are doing just that! Praise God for an oppressive culture that makes you dig a little deeper into the Word of the Lord.

    “Every word of God is pure; He is a Shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with Bror here. Are you gonna go over to Sudan and force all the new Christians there to give abandon their second and third wives and all their children? Some stupid Christian missionaries are doing just that! Praise God for an oppressive culture that makes you dig a little deeper into the Word of the Lord.

    “Every word of God is pure; He is a Shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

  • Paul

    There is a very real difference between saying that God “allows” for polygamy (#17) vs. saying that polygamy is just as acceptable as monogamy in the eyes of God. The reference to Sudan is an apt one; but one which demonstrates my point: they should be allowed to remain with their wives because sin is not mitigated by another sin. However, our Lutheran co-redeemed even in Sudan believe and practice that a man who is an overseer should be “the husband of one wife” and neither do they allow new plural marriages. Why would this be if they did not also recognize the Biblical view that marriage is intended by God from the Creation to be the lifelong union between one man and one woman.

  • Paul

    There is a very real difference between saying that God “allows” for polygamy (#17) vs. saying that polygamy is just as acceptable as monogamy in the eyes of God. The reference to Sudan is an apt one; but one which demonstrates my point: they should be allowed to remain with their wives because sin is not mitigated by another sin. However, our Lutheran co-redeemed even in Sudan believe and practice that a man who is an overseer should be “the husband of one wife” and neither do they allow new plural marriages. Why would this be if they did not also recognize the Biblical view that marriage is intended by God from the Creation to be the lifelong union between one man and one woman.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “overseer” = “pastor” = “elder” in the Bible. This prohibition in the Bible against more than one wife is only for the called and ordained shepherd of the congregation. So, the Sudanese husband and father may not even be sinning as He remains faithful to his wives and children until death. The Bible nowhere declares that what His culture and society and government have allowed are sinful. But we would not want to call this man to be the pastor of a new Christian congregation.

    I somewhat agree with you, Paul: God does want to show the ideal of His relationship with us through the living picture of the Pastor’s family. However, He nowhere in Holy Writ requires by divine law that others do this or that cultures change to exactly match this ideal picture of Christ and His bride. God demands faithfulness within marriage, yes. But he is not as specific about this topic for the laity for some reason.
    I don’t know why. But His word does not do what you want it to do, Paul. I might want it to be more specific here too, but it just isn’t.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “overseer” = “pastor” = “elder” in the Bible. This prohibition in the Bible against more than one wife is only for the called and ordained shepherd of the congregation. So, the Sudanese husband and father may not even be sinning as He remains faithful to his wives and children until death. The Bible nowhere declares that what His culture and society and government have allowed are sinful. But we would not want to call this man to be the pastor of a new Christian congregation.

    I somewhat agree with you, Paul: God does want to show the ideal of His relationship with us through the living picture of the Pastor’s family. However, He nowhere in Holy Writ requires by divine law that others do this or that cultures change to exactly match this ideal picture of Christ and His bride. God demands faithfulness within marriage, yes. But he is not as specific about this topic for the laity for some reason.
    I don’t know why. But His word does not do what you want it to do, Paul. I might want it to be more specific here too, but it just isn’t.

  • Justin

    I think one thing that is missing is the parents. Shouldn’t parents be teaching their kids about sex through an example of a loving marriage and giving their children a Biblical Worldview? Secondly the federal government does not have the Constitutional right to meddle in education even though they do. I don’t want Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton teaching my kids about sex. Abstinence education to be effective must in my opinion be Biblical. Teaching from a secular perspective by telling kids they will get pregant or contract an STD if they have sex only tells part of the story.

  • Justin

    I think one thing that is missing is the parents. Shouldn’t parents be teaching their kids about sex through an example of a loving marriage and giving their children a Biblical Worldview? Secondly the federal government does not have the Constitutional right to meddle in education even though they do. I don’t want Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton teaching my kids about sex. Abstinence education to be effective must in my opinion be Biblical. Teaching from a secular perspective by telling kids they will get pregant or contract an STD if they have sex only tells part of the story.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    If its federally funded, they can meddle all they want. That’s the problem, Justin.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    If its federally funded, they can meddle all they want. That’s the problem, Justin.

  • Paul

    Bryan: I do not desire Holy Scripture to require “that others do this or that cultures change to exactly match this ideal picture of Christ and His bride” as you suggest that I do. Neither do I suggest that those who become Christians divorce their several wives or even that those Christians who through their ignorance have had or may even already have multiple wives should do so. I use the Sudanese requirement that overseers be the husband of one wife in the same way that an overseer should be self controlled, etc. Would that all Christians would be these things (although I can see that not every Christian should be apt to teach) and give witness to the fidelity of Christ to His One Bride, the Church. But so that the Gospel might not be offended and that the Pastor’s family might not become the source of much talk instead of the Gospel, there is, I understand, a higher standard for those who aspire to the Office of the Holy Ministry. We have no disagreement on this.

    You say: “The Bible nowhere declares that what His [Sudanese] culture and society and government have allowed are sinful.” But I was speaking (#22) about Sudanese Christians. All Christians, regardless of ethnicity or origin or culture — even Christian in the U.S. which allows sequential polygamy and abortion as birth control, which winks at divorce for no reason at all and doesn’t bat an eye at marital infidelity of any sort — all Christians should put these things behind them; not by compounding sin, but by abstaining from those things the pagans do without a guilty conscience simply because it is ‘allowed’ or because ‘everybody’s doing it’.

    I must be quick to add that I nowhere intend to elevate certain sexual sins above others. Divorce happens because we live in a sinful world – because our hearts are hard. The same is true of adultery, fornication, pornagraphy, nudity, debauchery and the like. We all are guilty because our consciences condemn us. Therefore, no one can be made alive by the Law but the law brings death.

    And here is the root of my concern: to say that polygamy is allowed by God for those who are not Pastors would be to say the same for drunkenness, divorce, proclivity for anger, and all the rest. The Moral Law holds the same standard for all: perfection. Pastors have the higher standard not because of some higher Moral Law just for them, but for the sake of the Gospel. As one wise Pastor once said: Pastors who commit public sins can be forgiven just like everybody else. They just can’t be Pastors any more.

    Thanks be to God who GIVES us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • Paul

    Bryan: I do not desire Holy Scripture to require “that others do this or that cultures change to exactly match this ideal picture of Christ and His bride” as you suggest that I do. Neither do I suggest that those who become Christians divorce their several wives or even that those Christians who through their ignorance have had or may even already have multiple wives should do so. I use the Sudanese requirement that overseers be the husband of one wife in the same way that an overseer should be self controlled, etc. Would that all Christians would be these things (although I can see that not every Christian should be apt to teach) and give witness to the fidelity of Christ to His One Bride, the Church. But so that the Gospel might not be offended and that the Pastor’s family might not become the source of much talk instead of the Gospel, there is, I understand, a higher standard for those who aspire to the Office of the Holy Ministry. We have no disagreement on this.

    You say: “The Bible nowhere declares that what His [Sudanese] culture and society and government have allowed are sinful.” But I was speaking (#22) about Sudanese Christians. All Christians, regardless of ethnicity or origin or culture — even Christian in the U.S. which allows sequential polygamy and abortion as birth control, which winks at divorce for no reason at all and doesn’t bat an eye at marital infidelity of any sort — all Christians should put these things behind them; not by compounding sin, but by abstaining from those things the pagans do without a guilty conscience simply because it is ‘allowed’ or because ‘everybody’s doing it’.

    I must be quick to add that I nowhere intend to elevate certain sexual sins above others. Divorce happens because we live in a sinful world – because our hearts are hard. The same is true of adultery, fornication, pornagraphy, nudity, debauchery and the like. We all are guilty because our consciences condemn us. Therefore, no one can be made alive by the Law but the law brings death.

    And here is the root of my concern: to say that polygamy is allowed by God for those who are not Pastors would be to say the same for drunkenness, divorce, proclivity for anger, and all the rest. The Moral Law holds the same standard for all: perfection. Pastors have the higher standard not because of some higher Moral Law just for them, but for the sake of the Gospel. As one wise Pastor once said: Pastors who commit public sins can be forgiven just like everybody else. They just can’t be Pastors any more.

    Thanks be to God who GIVES us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    But, Paul, God is more general in His Word about sins of “drunkenness, divorce, proclivity for anger,” and a bunch of other things. Against polygamy, He in His word is specific only toward pastors. These other problems we can find plenty of other places in God’s Holy Word which speak clearly toward Pastor and Laity alike. Just trying to stick to what God actually says here.

    I agree that God calls and enables by way of forgiveness, the Sudanese Christian layman to be a mirror of God’s fidelity. But I would not be so quick to equate polygamy with adultery or infidelity. I challenge you to show me a place in God’s Word that does this which isn’t making some reference specifically to the pastoral office. I have looked long at this and I know people get frustrated with nothing really being there, but that is because we are so culturally conditioned by our Western worldview (which had been influenced unchallenged for a much longer time by the ideal of Christianity and the One woman and One Man image that God gives us between Christ and His bride, the Church).

    I think you and I and Bror can agree here and I appreciate you struggling through this with me.

    We must unite against all forms of adultery and unfaithfulness in our culture. I don’t think calling polygamy intrinsically sinful when God’s Holy Word does not do so is very helpful. There might be good reasons against it, but I’m not going to use Scripture for those arguments.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    But, Paul, God is more general in His Word about sins of “drunkenness, divorce, proclivity for anger,” and a bunch of other things. Against polygamy, He in His word is specific only toward pastors. These other problems we can find plenty of other places in God’s Holy Word which speak clearly toward Pastor and Laity alike. Just trying to stick to what God actually says here.

    I agree that God calls and enables by way of forgiveness, the Sudanese Christian layman to be a mirror of God’s fidelity. But I would not be so quick to equate polygamy with adultery or infidelity. I challenge you to show me a place in God’s Word that does this which isn’t making some reference specifically to the pastoral office. I have looked long at this and I know people get frustrated with nothing really being there, but that is because we are so culturally conditioned by our Western worldview (which had been influenced unchallenged for a much longer time by the ideal of Christianity and the One woman and One Man image that God gives us between Christ and His bride, the Church).

    I think you and I and Bror can agree here and I appreciate you struggling through this with me.

    We must unite against all forms of adultery and unfaithfulness in our culture. I don’t think calling polygamy intrinsically sinful when God’s Holy Word does not do so is very helpful. There might be good reasons against it, but I’m not going to use Scripture for those arguments.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Here in Utah, the polygamist is breaking the law or trying to find loopholes in order to have more than one wife without calling her a wife legally. Plus many of these men claim to be leaders or Bishops in their wards, but they’re not pastors, so maybe they have another loophole there. These men are clearly sinning and their whole culture has been thumbing its nose against the law of the land and the Word of the Lord from its very beginning. Utah polygamists certainly need to hear God’s call to repentance. But this would be the rub, once they repented and were brought to faith in Christ, what should a faithful shepherd tell them to do with their families after they have begun to deal with the consequences of their violation of the civil code?

    Bror, I would like your thoughts here. Oh, if only this wasn’t hypothetical.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Here in Utah, the polygamist is breaking the law or trying to find loopholes in order to have more than one wife without calling her a wife legally. Plus many of these men claim to be leaders or Bishops in their wards, but they’re not pastors, so maybe they have another loophole there. These men are clearly sinning and their whole culture has been thumbing its nose against the law of the land and the Word of the Lord from its very beginning. Utah polygamists certainly need to hear God’s call to repentance. But this would be the rub, once they repented and were brought to faith in Christ, what should a faithful shepherd tell them to do with their families after they have begun to deal with the consequences of their violation of the civil code?

    Bror, I would like your thoughts here. Oh, if only this wasn’t hypothetical.

  • Paul

    Bryon and Bror:

    I can understand that since you are both in Utah this question must be one that you struggle with regularly.

    First: you have not addressed my concern for giving, by implication, a higher or even a different Moral Law for Pastors. Or perhaps you hold “husband of one wife” as being commensurate with “apt to teach”.

    Second: Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (NIV Matt 19.8-9, pp. Mark 10.1-12). If polygamy is allowed, then Jesus’ logic is faulty: i.e., if gaining a divorce for marital unfaithfulness allows a man to marry another woman without committing adultery, then marrying another woman for ANY reason besides unfaithfulness must also be adultery. In other words,
    ‘Jesus’ point is that improper divorce does not nullify a marriage, and if the first marriage still stands, then a “second” marriage is adultery–and NOT simply ‘polygamy’!”an improper marriage (source: http://www.christian-thinktank.com/polygame.html)

    Again: “any man who divorces his wife is not really divorced, and if he marries someone else, he commits adultery.” (source: The Bible Background Commentary-NT. Keener, Craig. S. , IVP, 1993.)

    Fourth: Pastors are told to be examples to the flock, and the believers are told to follow the example of the apostles, disciples, and leaders. [Phil 3.17; 4.9; 1 Thess 1.6,7; 2 Thess 3.7,9; 1 Tim 4.12; Tit 2.7; 1 Pet 5.3; 1 Cor 4.6; 1 Cor 11.1]

    Fifth: one measure of the ‘godliness’ of a widow, worthy of welfare support from scarce church funds, was that she be a “wife of one husband” in I Timothy 5.9.

    None of these points are my own. I found them in about 5 minutes on the internet. Please don’t accuse me of plagiarism. The sources are noted.

  • Paul

    Bryon and Bror:

    I can understand that since you are both in Utah this question must be one that you struggle with regularly.

    First: you have not addressed my concern for giving, by implication, a higher or even a different Moral Law for Pastors. Or perhaps you hold “husband of one wife” as being commensurate with “apt to teach”.

    Second: Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (NIV Matt 19.8-9, pp. Mark 10.1-12). If polygamy is allowed, then Jesus’ logic is faulty: i.e., if gaining a divorce for marital unfaithfulness allows a man to marry another woman without committing adultery, then marrying another woman for ANY reason besides unfaithfulness must also be adultery. In other words,
    ‘Jesus’ point is that improper divorce does not nullify a marriage, and if the first marriage still stands, then a “second” marriage is adultery–and NOT simply ‘polygamy’!”an improper marriage (source: http://www.christian-thinktank.com/polygame.html)

    Again: “any man who divorces his wife is not really divorced, and if he marries someone else, he commits adultery.” (source: The Bible Background Commentary-NT. Keener, Craig. S. , IVP, 1993.)

    Fourth: Pastors are told to be examples to the flock, and the believers are told to follow the example of the apostles, disciples, and leaders. [Phil 3.17; 4.9; 1 Thess 1.6,7; 2 Thess 3.7,9; 1 Tim 4.12; Tit 2.7; 1 Pet 5.3; 1 Cor 4.6; 1 Cor 11.1]

    Fifth: one measure of the ‘godliness’ of a widow, worthy of welfare support from scarce church funds, was that she be a “wife of one husband” in I Timothy 5.9.

    None of these points are my own. I found them in about 5 minutes on the internet. Please don’t accuse me of plagiarism. The sources are noted.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    Have I had to struggle with that one too! What does a faithful pastor and shephard tell the polygamist when he has converted? Keep breaking the law of man, and be faithful to all the wives? I do think at the very least the man has financial obligations to these women for life. The Bible says he also has conjugal obligations. But it does put one into a bind.
    I think there are a couple of other issues here that haven’t been brought up. Christians in Utah miss the big picture in talking to the LDS about polygamy. Monogamy, and not Christ come to define Christians. This has disasterous effects, as most mormons know what the Bible really says. They can only conclude that we do not hold God’s word in as high esteem as we espouse.
    The other issue is we Lutherans hold to the idea that scripture interprets scripture, except on this issue, then our western preconcieved notions take precedent. I am absolutely convinced that 90% of pastors have not bothered to read the Bible through from cover to cover, because when this issue comes up they are dumbfounded that God allows for it. It makes me wonder how we can say scripture interprets scripture and yet remain ignorant of so much of it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    Have I had to struggle with that one too! What does a faithful pastor and shephard tell the polygamist when he has converted? Keep breaking the law of man, and be faithful to all the wives? I do think at the very least the man has financial obligations to these women for life. The Bible says he also has conjugal obligations. But it does put one into a bind.
    I think there are a couple of other issues here that haven’t been brought up. Christians in Utah miss the big picture in talking to the LDS about polygamy. Monogamy, and not Christ come to define Christians. This has disasterous effects, as most mormons know what the Bible really says. They can only conclude that we do not hold God’s word in as high esteem as we espouse.
    The other issue is we Lutherans hold to the idea that scripture interprets scripture, except on this issue, then our western preconcieved notions take precedent. I am absolutely convinced that 90% of pastors have not bothered to read the Bible through from cover to cover, because when this issue comes up they are dumbfounded that God allows for it. It makes me wonder how we can say scripture interprets scripture and yet remain ignorant of so much of it.

  • Paul

    I concur, Bror, that many often seek too quick an answer and thereby look silly at best. And I do feel for you both in what must be a very difficult field of Ministry!

    Another regular to this blog has reminded me that with regard to sexuality we must remember that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. It helps to take all sexual sins together so that the harder cases are informed by the easier ones and the easier ones are not simply swept under the carpet. So, perhaps some reflection I have had on homosexual activity might be of use to you (thanks to FW).

    First, we must remember that we are all totally depraved and without the Gospel would be lost forever. For Jesus has said (I paraphrase) “If you so much as even look at a woman with lust in your heart you have already committed adultery — which is damnable.” In this regard, we should not think of the person who has sinned in the past or who has sinful thoughts or desires to be any worse than the heterosexual man who looks twice at the woman in a bikini. I say this because we expect from others more than we allow ourselves when it comes to sins of the heart. We should remember this lest “the measure we use” becomes “the measure we get.”

    And yet, the heterosexual man who sins in his heart is no less damned than the homosexual man who sins in his heart. “That which I would not do I keep on doing! Wretched man that I am!”

    The polygamist who becomes Christian should not condemn himself any more than the condemnation that all men (and women) are under. And neither should we condemn them any more than we ourselves already stand condemned.

    Instead, the Law of God becomes our guide to faithful living. Each day we arise to put to death the old man and “go and sin no more” as we are empowered to become the Children of God by the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, the Law continues to condemn us but we cling to the Gospel ever more tightly, confessing that we have been set free from the condemnation of the Law. This goes for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US!

    From this perspective, dividing Law and Gospel and applying them to the individual sinner/saint takes the greatest Pastoral care. Here is where we, as Pastors, must ever hold most tightly to the Gospel lest we become like the Pharisees.

    I will confess that I have never faced the issue of a man in my congregation having more than one wife at the same time. But I have had men with two wives sequentially and children by both wives. I have also had men with one wife with children and with a mistress with children by the same man. In these cases, I agree that he owes them financial and other types of support. But then he must “release them” to find their own husbands and he must remain with his own wife from that time on. If they find a new husband, he may or may not still have obligations to them; but he will always have obligations to the children which his one wife must honor out of love for him if she chooses to remain with him. By the way, she would have Biblical grounds to divorce him and marry another if she cannot stay with him. But reconciliation is better.

    I did not realize that polygamy was still such an issue among the LDS in Utah.

    Overall, I believe that we have greatly neglected the Doctrine of Sanctification and those other doctrines that it touches. Sanctification, properly understood and applied, can be of great comfort, strength, and hope for the Christian man or woman. It is correct that it can easily be supplanted by legalism or moralism, but that is no excuse to leave it unmentioned for those who are spiritually mature enough to distinguish it from the Chief Doctrine.

  • Paul

    I concur, Bror, that many often seek too quick an answer and thereby look silly at best. And I do feel for you both in what must be a very difficult field of Ministry!

    Another regular to this blog has reminded me that with regard to sexuality we must remember that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. It helps to take all sexual sins together so that the harder cases are informed by the easier ones and the easier ones are not simply swept under the carpet. So, perhaps some reflection I have had on homosexual activity might be of use to you (thanks to FW).

    First, we must remember that we are all totally depraved and without the Gospel would be lost forever. For Jesus has said (I paraphrase) “If you so much as even look at a woman with lust in your heart you have already committed adultery — which is damnable.” In this regard, we should not think of the person who has sinned in the past or who has sinful thoughts or desires to be any worse than the heterosexual man who looks twice at the woman in a bikini. I say this because we expect from others more than we allow ourselves when it comes to sins of the heart. We should remember this lest “the measure we use” becomes “the measure we get.”

    And yet, the heterosexual man who sins in his heart is no less damned than the homosexual man who sins in his heart. “That which I would not do I keep on doing! Wretched man that I am!”

    The polygamist who becomes Christian should not condemn himself any more than the condemnation that all men (and women) are under. And neither should we condemn them any more than we ourselves already stand condemned.

    Instead, the Law of God becomes our guide to faithful living. Each day we arise to put to death the old man and “go and sin no more” as we are empowered to become the Children of God by the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, the Law continues to condemn us but we cling to the Gospel ever more tightly, confessing that we have been set free from the condemnation of the Law. This goes for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US!

    From this perspective, dividing Law and Gospel and applying them to the individual sinner/saint takes the greatest Pastoral care. Here is where we, as Pastors, must ever hold most tightly to the Gospel lest we become like the Pharisees.

    I will confess that I have never faced the issue of a man in my congregation having more than one wife at the same time. But I have had men with two wives sequentially and children by both wives. I have also had men with one wife with children and with a mistress with children by the same man. In these cases, I agree that he owes them financial and other types of support. But then he must “release them” to find their own husbands and he must remain with his own wife from that time on. If they find a new husband, he may or may not still have obligations to them; but he will always have obligations to the children which his one wife must honor out of love for him if she chooses to remain with him. By the way, she would have Biblical grounds to divorce him and marry another if she cannot stay with him. But reconciliation is better.

    I did not realize that polygamy was still such an issue among the LDS in Utah.

    Overall, I believe that we have greatly neglected the Doctrine of Sanctification and those other doctrines that it touches. Sanctification, properly understood and applied, can be of great comfort, strength, and hope for the Christian man or woman. It is correct that it can easily be supplanted by legalism or moralism, but that is no excuse to leave it unmentioned for those who are spiritually mature enough to distinguish it from the Chief Doctrine.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    First, “the husband of one wife” is instruction for pastors specifically. Laity are not in Paul’s view in these pastoral instructions. Fidelity and no adultery – the same moral law for pastors and laity.

    Second, in the passages you cite from Matthew and Mark Jesus is speaking of divorce and adultery. Not a man who is faithful to one (or more) women for life. Again our repugnance at this idea of polygamy is culturally conditioned. But you are inventing logic from the Bible that really is not there if you actually read the text (You give another good example of why you shouldn’t trust everything you find in a five minute internet search). Jesus doesn’t say anything of instruction here (or anywhere else) which would instruct a man who had two wives (living in a culture that actually encouraged that sort of thing) and was committed to lifelong fidelity with both of them that he would be sinning in any way. God just doesn’t speak to that situation in His Word, except for allowing it. And of course Jesus logic is impeccable here as always, so don’t go around saying He’s talking about something He’s not talking about. As we learn about in arguing the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, Lutherans stick to Jesus’ Words.

    Your third point doesn’t seem much different from the second. Your taking Jesus words about divorce and adultery and equating them without any reason to do so with polygamy. I’m not following your logic here at all.

    Fourth, Yes, The sheep should follow the example of their pastor. I think this may be why the Western Church is so culturally conditioned (perhaps for good reason) against polygamy. But it is a Gospel example, not one of Law. Pastor’s show a picture of the ideal. When and if they ever live that out well themselves, the laity may just want that image of Christ and His bride reflected in their own marriages and perhaps even culture. But that still doesn’t put a prohibition in God’s Word against those cultures which do maintain that practice. Again, where is it in the Bible?

    Fifth, I don’t think God anywhere says or implies that a wife can have more than one husband, you’re right on that one, but again, that’s not polygamy.

    I’m glad none of those points were your own – because as I hope I have shown, they are not very good points. Which is why I said what I said about this before. I would not use Scripture to argue against the difficulties of polygamy to a culture in which it is an acceptable living out of God’s gift of family.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    First, “the husband of one wife” is instruction for pastors specifically. Laity are not in Paul’s view in these pastoral instructions. Fidelity and no adultery – the same moral law for pastors and laity.

    Second, in the passages you cite from Matthew and Mark Jesus is speaking of divorce and adultery. Not a man who is faithful to one (or more) women for life. Again our repugnance at this idea of polygamy is culturally conditioned. But you are inventing logic from the Bible that really is not there if you actually read the text (You give another good example of why you shouldn’t trust everything you find in a five minute internet search). Jesus doesn’t say anything of instruction here (or anywhere else) which would instruct a man who had two wives (living in a culture that actually encouraged that sort of thing) and was committed to lifelong fidelity with both of them that he would be sinning in any way. God just doesn’t speak to that situation in His Word, except for allowing it. And of course Jesus logic is impeccable here as always, so don’t go around saying He’s talking about something He’s not talking about. As we learn about in arguing the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, Lutherans stick to Jesus’ Words.

    Your third point doesn’t seem much different from the second. Your taking Jesus words about divorce and adultery and equating them without any reason to do so with polygamy. I’m not following your logic here at all.

    Fourth, Yes, The sheep should follow the example of their pastor. I think this may be why the Western Church is so culturally conditioned (perhaps for good reason) against polygamy. But it is a Gospel example, not one of Law. Pastor’s show a picture of the ideal. When and if they ever live that out well themselves, the laity may just want that image of Christ and His bride reflected in their own marriages and perhaps even culture. But that still doesn’t put a prohibition in God’s Word against those cultures which do maintain that practice. Again, where is it in the Bible?

    Fifth, I don’t think God anywhere says or implies that a wife can have more than one husband, you’re right on that one, but again, that’s not polygamy.

    I’m glad none of those points were your own – because as I hope I have shown, they are not very good points. Which is why I said what I said about this before. I would not use Scripture to argue against the difficulties of polygamy to a culture in which it is an acceptable living out of God’s gift of family.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, I just read comment 31 after I posted.

    And I’m going to insist that adultery is adultery and that polygamy doesn’t necessarily include any adultery. It would of course include that if the faithful husband of two wives in Southern Sudan went out and slept with a prostitute one night, or with his neighbor’s wife, or secretly lusted in his heart over internet porn (wherever he would get that). They are two seperate things and God’s Word does not equate them. You and I might even want it to. But that does not mean that it does. We still have much law which we can preach to the polygamist over his sexual sins, but we should encourage him to faithfulness to his wives in his sanctified Christian life.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, I just read comment 31 after I posted.

    And I’m going to insist that adultery is adultery and that polygamy doesn’t necessarily include any adultery. It would of course include that if the faithful husband of two wives in Southern Sudan went out and slept with a prostitute one night, or with his neighbor’s wife, or secretly lusted in his heart over internet porn (wherever he would get that). They are two seperate things and God’s Word does not equate them. You and I might even want it to. But that does not mean that it does. We still have much law which we can preach to the polygamist over his sexual sins, but we should encourage him to faithfulness to his wives in his sanctified Christian life.

  • Paul

    Bryan, you seem already convinced and have constructed your own means to reach your foregone conclusion that the Bible does not explicitly condemn polygamy. You are convinced that we are merely averse to polygamy because of our Western cultural conditioning. The same has been argued for the Ordination of Women, homosexual marriage, and more; yet all of Christendom around the globe stands firmly against it. The early church fathers were certainly sola scripture as were the reformers and many theologians before us, and yet, not one of them to my knowledge has made the assertion that marriage is anything different than one man and one woman in a committed, exclusive relationship for a lifetime. At least Luther had the clear positive Word of God when he stood against Christendom. You stand upon the muted Word. Can this new teaching without the positive Word of God be allowed to stand in the LCMS? It will be interesting to see.

    I wonder if anyone can refute the argument from Matthew 19 with anything more than just saying that the text doesn’t apply. What is the logical fallacy in the argument I cite besides saying “they are not very good points.”

    Anyone here more scholarly than us common Pastors?

  • Paul

    Bryan, you seem already convinced and have constructed your own means to reach your foregone conclusion that the Bible does not explicitly condemn polygamy. You are convinced that we are merely averse to polygamy because of our Western cultural conditioning. The same has been argued for the Ordination of Women, homosexual marriage, and more; yet all of Christendom around the globe stands firmly against it. The early church fathers were certainly sola scripture as were the reformers and many theologians before us, and yet, not one of them to my knowledge has made the assertion that marriage is anything different than one man and one woman in a committed, exclusive relationship for a lifetime. At least Luther had the clear positive Word of God when he stood against Christendom. You stand upon the muted Word. Can this new teaching without the positive Word of God be allowed to stand in the LCMS? It will be interesting to see.

    I wonder if anyone can refute the argument from Matthew 19 with anything more than just saying that the text doesn’t apply. What is the logical fallacy in the argument I cite besides saying “they are not very good points.”

    Anyone here more scholarly than us common Pastors?

  • Paul

    Some more scholarly than myself have written:

    [16] Polygamy apparently was a common practice in ancient Israel (Lamech and Cain Gen. 4:19- 26:34-35; Abraham Gen. 16:14; Jacob Gen. 29:26; 3.0:4, 9; Elkanah-1 Sam. 1:5; Gideon Judges 8:30; David 2 Sam. 5:13ff.; 20:3; Solomon 1 Kings 11:1, 3: Rehoboam 2 Chron. 11:21) and was assumed in the legal code (Ex. 21:10; Deut. 21:1-17). The desire for offspring seems to have been the principal motivation, though other factors undoubtedly contributed to its acceptance as well (see David Mace, Hebrew Marriage [London: Epworth Press, 1953], pp. 121-22). Although polygamy as such is not condemned by the Old Testament, neither is any attempt made to justify the practice or to give it divine sanction. In those passages which are fundamental for our understanding of marriage, monogamy is presupposed (Gen. 1:26ff.; 2:18-24). In light of Jesus’ confirmation of the original institution of marriage, polygamy, like divorce, must be regarded as evidence of Israel’s refusal to be bound by the constraints of God’s will expressed in the pattern set down at creation.
    [Source: Divorce and Remarriage: An Exegetical Study.
    A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
    November 1987 http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/mosynod/web/divrem-2.html

  • Paul

    Some more scholarly than myself have written:

    [16] Polygamy apparently was a common practice in ancient Israel (Lamech and Cain Gen. 4:19- 26:34-35; Abraham Gen. 16:14; Jacob Gen. 29:26; 3.0:4, 9; Elkanah-1 Sam. 1:5; Gideon Judges 8:30; David 2 Sam. 5:13ff.; 20:3; Solomon 1 Kings 11:1, 3: Rehoboam 2 Chron. 11:21) and was assumed in the legal code (Ex. 21:10; Deut. 21:1-17). The desire for offspring seems to have been the principal motivation, though other factors undoubtedly contributed to its acceptance as well (see David Mace, Hebrew Marriage [London: Epworth Press, 1953], pp. 121-22). Although polygamy as such is not condemned by the Old Testament, neither is any attempt made to justify the practice or to give it divine sanction. In those passages which are fundamental for our understanding of marriage, monogamy is presupposed (Gen. 1:26ff.; 2:18-24). In light of Jesus’ confirmation of the original institution of marriage, polygamy, like divorce, must be regarded as evidence of Israel’s refusal to be bound by the constraints of God’s will expressed in the pattern set down at creation.
    [Source: Divorce and Remarriage: An Exegetical Study.
    A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
    November 1987 http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/mosynod/web/divrem-2.html

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, I don’t like polygamy at all. I can’t imagine it working for a family. Its against the law and contrary to the prevailing culture all around me. I have a hard time understanding how one would go from one to two wives without committing adultery. I think the Bible clearly portrays the ideal of one husband and one wife. I get all that. But I do not see a prohibition in scripture against polygamy practiced in a culture which encourages it, the wives are both (or more) okay with their marital status. The husband sticks to his vow to remain faithful to each wife unto death. Perhaps we might go so far as to say that after he becomes a Christian he may want to limit his wives to the ones he already has. But if he has not taken another man’s wife, then he cannot have committed adultery. I don’t think the Bible is as clear as you do, even despite the ruling of the Missouri Synod’s CTCR. I see the passages they cite as pointing to the ideal and I do too, but they do not explicitly condemn polygamy in a culture with laws that condone it. Implicit, perhaps, but the Gospel is for all cultures. Of course, as stated above, even in that culture we would not want to call a polygamist to be a pastor of a Christian congregation there.

    Of course, the Bible is very clearly against serial polygamy with is obviously adultery.

    In post 34 you bring up women’s ordination and homosexuality which have nothing to do with polygamy and both are deviations from the order of creation spoken against explicitly in Holy Writ. I argue against these two topics from God’s Word all the time, because God’s given us plenty of material there. That’s the problem I’m trying to get you to see with polygamy. What you and I want the Word to say, to impose on it ourselves (which I don’t think either of us really want to do) it doesn’t say.

    I’m simply in this argument which is, I admit, a bit off topic (sorry for that everyone), trying to read God’s Word very carefully and letting the Word itself mean what it says, interpret itself, and stand. Without anyone imposing our preconceived notions to inform Scripture on what we think it ought to say. God be praised that He has Given us His holy Word.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Paul, I don’t like polygamy at all. I can’t imagine it working for a family. Its against the law and contrary to the prevailing culture all around me. I have a hard time understanding how one would go from one to two wives without committing adultery. I think the Bible clearly portrays the ideal of one husband and one wife. I get all that. But I do not see a prohibition in scripture against polygamy practiced in a culture which encourages it, the wives are both (or more) okay with their marital status. The husband sticks to his vow to remain faithful to each wife unto death. Perhaps we might go so far as to say that after he becomes a Christian he may want to limit his wives to the ones he already has. But if he has not taken another man’s wife, then he cannot have committed adultery. I don’t think the Bible is as clear as you do, even despite the ruling of the Missouri Synod’s CTCR. I see the passages they cite as pointing to the ideal and I do too, but they do not explicitly condemn polygamy in a culture with laws that condone it. Implicit, perhaps, but the Gospel is for all cultures. Of course, as stated above, even in that culture we would not want to call a polygamist to be a pastor of a Christian congregation there.

    Of course, the Bible is very clearly against serial polygamy with is obviously adultery.

    In post 34 you bring up women’s ordination and homosexuality which have nothing to do with polygamy and both are deviations from the order of creation spoken against explicitly in Holy Writ. I argue against these two topics from God’s Word all the time, because God’s given us plenty of material there. That’s the problem I’m trying to get you to see with polygamy. What you and I want the Word to say, to impose on it ourselves (which I don’t think either of us really want to do) it doesn’t say.

    I’m simply in this argument which is, I admit, a bit off topic (sorry for that everyone), trying to read God’s Word very carefully and letting the Word itself mean what it says, interpret itself, and stand. Without anyone imposing our preconceived notions to inform Scripture on what we think it ought to say. God be praised that He has Given us His holy Word.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Paul,
    You write:
    “The early church fathers were certainly sola scripture as were the reformers and many theologians before us, and yet, not one of them to my knowledge has made the assertion that marriage is anything different than one man and one woman in a committed, exclusive relationship for a lifetime. At least Luther had the clear positive Word of God when he stood against Christendom. ”
    I’m glad to hear that you have read all the early Church fathers. Awesome. I haven’t. I have read the Bible a couple times and you don’t get around the fact that polygamy is allowed explicitly and implicitly. I have also read a few biographies of Luther. (something you might want to consider, Kittelson has a great one.)On this one the reformer is not behind you. Luther was convinced that the Bible banned divorce but permited polygamy. It was these convictions that led him to give some very bad advice to Philip of Hesse. It was bad advice because it broke imperial law.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Paul,
    You write:
    “The early church fathers were certainly sola scripture as were the reformers and many theologians before us, and yet, not one of them to my knowledge has made the assertion that marriage is anything different than one man and one woman in a committed, exclusive relationship for a lifetime. At least Luther had the clear positive Word of God when he stood against Christendom. ”
    I’m glad to hear that you have read all the early Church fathers. Awesome. I haven’t. I have read the Bible a couple times and you don’t get around the fact that polygamy is allowed explicitly and implicitly. I have also read a few biographies of Luther. (something you might want to consider, Kittelson has a great one.)On this one the reformer is not behind you. Luther was convinced that the Bible banned divorce but permited polygamy. It was these convictions that led him to give some very bad advice to Philip of Hesse. It was bad advice because it broke imperial law.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, you’re tending to use the ‘hard cases’ (new polygamous believers in Africa for example) to define things–and we should remember that “hard cases make bad law.”

    While certainly the Scriptures don’t specifically say that the Mosaic prescriptions for polygamy were because of the hardness of peoples’ hearts, the numerous other things in the Scriptures about the practice, plus the inherent abusiveness of it, at least ought to steel our resolve to prevent MORE of it from occurring, no?

    (inherent abusiveness; you’ve got to do something drastic to persuade a pretty young thing that she needs to marry a 50 year old guy instead of her young sweetheart–generally things not terribly nice to that sweetheart)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, you’re tending to use the ‘hard cases’ (new polygamous believers in Africa for example) to define things–and we should remember that “hard cases make bad law.”

    While certainly the Scriptures don’t specifically say that the Mosaic prescriptions for polygamy were because of the hardness of peoples’ hearts, the numerous other things in the Scriptures about the practice, plus the inherent abusiveness of it, at least ought to steel our resolve to prevent MORE of it from occurring, no?

    (inherent abusiveness; you’ve got to do something drastic to persuade a pretty young thing that she needs to marry a 50 year old guy instead of her young sweetheart–generally things not terribly nice to that sweetheart)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    I think you are confusing me with another commentator here. But here is the thing, I don’t think it is inherently abusive. The young thing marrying the 50 year old happens in monogamous relationships too. (I am not defending the practice of men marrying underage girls here either.) Many monogamous marriages are abusive, does that mean we should do away with marriage?
    Tell me what other things do scriptures teach us about the practice? Our legalism in this regard has brought about situations more abusive and have blinded us towards what God actually says. We have made divorce a lesser evil than polygamy. God seems to see things drastically different. I don’t like to contradict God. I’m absolutely certain I have done it before, but I don’t like to. I don’t like to put words in his mouth either, or make laws where he has not made them. I find the ones he has given me to be hard enough to keep.
    Abuse is another issue. I don’t condone abuse, within a monogomous or polygamous relationship.
    I’m reminded of Pauls warning to Titus about those who teach the law without understanding. If we insist on teaching the law, we ought to try understand it. understanding it, will probably also help us proclaim the Gospel.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    I think you are confusing me with another commentator here. But here is the thing, I don’t think it is inherently abusive. The young thing marrying the 50 year old happens in monogamous relationships too. (I am not defending the practice of men marrying underage girls here either.) Many monogamous marriages are abusive, does that mean we should do away with marriage?
    Tell me what other things do scriptures teach us about the practice? Our legalism in this regard has brought about situations more abusive and have blinded us towards what God actually says. We have made divorce a lesser evil than polygamy. God seems to see things drastically different. I don’t like to contradict God. I’m absolutely certain I have done it before, but I don’t like to. I don’t like to put words in his mouth either, or make laws where he has not made them. I find the ones he has given me to be hard enough to keep.
    Abuse is another issue. I don’t condone abuse, within a monogomous or polygamous relationship.
    I’m reminded of Pauls warning to Titus about those who teach the law without understanding. If we insist on teaching the law, we ought to try understand it. understanding it, will probably also help us proclaim the Gospel.

  • Paul

    Bror, you continue to insult those who disagree with you:

    #4 “Those who want to espouse biblical morality (a good thing to do by the way) ought to read the Bible a little more closely, what you find may shock you.”

    #12 “All I was getting at is if you are going to start expositing on what the Bible says, you ought to read it. It will save you from embarrrising yourself”

    #20 “My truck here is in the often very cavalier way people go to the Bible to find passages in support of their view while ignoring what the Bible says in other areas about the same subject.”

    #30 “The other issue is we Lutherans hold to the idea that scripture interprets scripture, except on this issue, then our western preconcieved notions take precedent. I am absolutely convinced that 90% of pastors have not bothered to read the Bible through from cover to cover, because when this issue comes up they are dumbfounded that God allows for it. It makes me wonder how we can say scripture interprets scripture and yet remain ignorant of so much of it.”

    #37 “I have also read a few biographies of Luther. (something you might want to consider, Kittelson has a great one.)”

    #39 “I’m reminded of Pauls warning to Titus about those who teach the law without understanding. If we insist on teaching the law, we ought to try understand it. understanding it, will probably also help us proclaim the Gospel.”

    Such insults suggesting that others (whom you do not know) have never read the Bible (90% of Pastors? Really?!) or Luther or have no understanding of the Law of God simply because they disagree with you is childish and not at all helpful to the discussion.

    Eccl. 5:1-3

  • Paul

    Bror, you continue to insult those who disagree with you:

    #4 “Those who want to espouse biblical morality (a good thing to do by the way) ought to read the Bible a little more closely, what you find may shock you.”

    #12 “All I was getting at is if you are going to start expositing on what the Bible says, you ought to read it. It will save you from embarrrising yourself”

    #20 “My truck here is in the often very cavalier way people go to the Bible to find passages in support of their view while ignoring what the Bible says in other areas about the same subject.”

    #30 “The other issue is we Lutherans hold to the idea that scripture interprets scripture, except on this issue, then our western preconcieved notions take precedent. I am absolutely convinced that 90% of pastors have not bothered to read the Bible through from cover to cover, because when this issue comes up they are dumbfounded that God allows for it. It makes me wonder how we can say scripture interprets scripture and yet remain ignorant of so much of it.”

    #37 “I have also read a few biographies of Luther. (something you might want to consider, Kittelson has a great one.)”

    #39 “I’m reminded of Pauls warning to Titus about those who teach the law without understanding. If we insist on teaching the law, we ought to try understand it. understanding it, will probably also help us proclaim the Gospel.”

    Such insults suggesting that others (whom you do not know) have never read the Bible (90% of Pastors? Really?!) or Luther or have no understanding of the Law of God simply because they disagree with you is childish and not at all helpful to the discussion.

    Eccl. 5:1-3

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Paul,
    If the shoe fits wear it. You have shown ignorance concerning the Bible and what it says about the issue. You have shown ignorance concerning Luther. You have claimed all the church fathers but have not quoted one.
    And yes I am convinced that 90% if not more pastors have read in the Bible but have not read the Bible. I got called on it when I was 16 quoting it to a girl. So I went home and started to read it cover to cover. I was shocked, stunned, and changed. Since I became a pastor I have resolved to read it at least once through in the English every year, and to study it in the Greek and Hebrew systematically book by book. Not to mention read the Book of Concord, year after year in the English, and German. I am still working on my latin. Each time I am shocked, stunned, and changed. So if you want to consider them insults, go ahead. I consider them as challenges.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Paul,
    If the shoe fits wear it. You have shown ignorance concerning the Bible and what it says about the issue. You have shown ignorance concerning Luther. You have claimed all the church fathers but have not quoted one.
    And yes I am convinced that 90% if not more pastors have read in the Bible but have not read the Bible. I got called on it when I was 16 quoting it to a girl. So I went home and started to read it cover to cover. I was shocked, stunned, and changed. Since I became a pastor I have resolved to read it at least once through in the English every year, and to study it in the Greek and Hebrew systematically book by book. Not to mention read the Book of Concord, year after year in the English, and German. I am still working on my latin. Each time I am shocked, stunned, and changed. So if you want to consider them insults, go ahead. I consider them as challenges.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, is proscribing divorce or polygamy really an either/or? Certainly in my church it isn’t.

    Also, I don’t know that you can say it isn’t that bad….does 1 Cor. 7. say that the husband’s body belongs to the wife, or does it say she can have a time-share arrangement? And while yes, lots of money can get a pretty young thing (or several) for a rich man, most polygamous societies that I’m aware of (really all of them) pretty much send the rival young men off to war.

    That’s how the balance of payment works; youth generally overrides wealth, so to get the girls, send the boys off to war and get them killed. I’d call that “abusive” by any sane standard.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, is proscribing divorce or polygamy really an either/or? Certainly in my church it isn’t.

    Also, I don’t know that you can say it isn’t that bad….does 1 Cor. 7. say that the husband’s body belongs to the wife, or does it say she can have a time-share arrangement? And while yes, lots of money can get a pretty young thing (or several) for a rich man, most polygamous societies that I’m aware of (really all of them) pretty much send the rival young men off to war.

    That’s how the balance of payment works; youth generally overrides wealth, so to get the girls, send the boys off to war and get them killed. I’d call that “abusive” by any sane standard.


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