Chris from Midwest Conservative Journal takes issue with me in my comments box below
He writes (with my replies interspersed):
Monogamy’s not the “clear teaching of Scripture?” How do you figure?
Read the excerpt from By What Authority?. It describes how I figure.
Christ quoted Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12 and it seems pretty clear to me.
I know it does. Because you are reading it (as I did) through the lens of Sacred Tradition without realizing it. Really, read the excerpt and you’ll see what I mean.
In Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus also had quite a bit to say about the excessive exaltation of anyone’s religious “tradition.”
Yes. I know. My book (trust me) takes those passages fully into account. It turns out that’s not all Jesus has to say about Tradition. Nor is it all the apostles have to say.
We Protestants agree with you about something so we agree with Catholic tradition without admitting it?
Sometimes, yes. Though more often it’s a case of agreeing with Catholic Tradition without being aware of it.
That’s as valid as saying you Catholics agree with us about some matter so you agree with the Luther and Calvin without admitting it.
Umm, no. For where Luther and Calvin are teaching the Tradition correctly they are merely handing on what was already there before them. And, by the way, Luther would take issue with you about monogamy as the “clear” teaching of Scripture. He, in fact, said:
“I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in such a matter.”
Luther, by the way, was not alone in this view. John Milton, a Puritan who was no slouch in his extreme familiarity with and devotion to Scripture, likewise said that polygamy was perfectly acceptable.
Typically, at this point, my Protestant friends will say something like “Well, Protestants don’t think Luther or Milton were infallible.” I quite agree. And this would mean something if I were arguing they did think this. I’m not. I’m merely pointing out that serious Protestant voices who were not flakes but quite mainstream exponents of sola scriptura noticed the same thing I did: that the case for monogamy in Scripture is actually quite weak when you remove Scripture from the environment of Sacred Tradition. Happily, most Protestants don’t do this and so continue (at least at present) to Teach the Right Thing. But the Unitarians are blazing the same trail that pro-contraception and then pro-abortion people have. And, like them, they will exploit the Protestant insistence on a sort of vague “scripture only” view of revelation to weaken the committment of Christians to monogamy since they will have the same success in showing that Scripture really isn’t all that clear on the matter, so it’s a matter of “Christian liberty”. As long as there is a greater committment to an unbiblical doctrine of “scripture alone” (and this is typically fueled by a fear of getting too cozy with Catholics) than there is to preserving authentic Christian truth, Christians will be easy marks for the rats who are nibbling away at the Christian revelation. Many good Christians will attempt to resist the rats and will have hearts in the right place, but will be helpless to give a coherent account of *why* polygamy is wrong, or homosexual practice is contrary to the teaching of Christ, or (dare I say it?) contraception is likewise a sin. They will confidently point to the verses you have pointed to, and then be roundly defeated in clean combat by pro-polygamy forces who will deploy all the arguments John Milton employed, with devastating effect.
Really. Honest. The case against monogamy as the one and only form of marriage is very strong–if you buy the notion that Scripture alone is the sole source of revelation and Sacred Tradition is not a vehicle of revelation as well. There are other essential Christian teachings in danger as well. I only mentioned that one cuz the Unitarians brought it up.