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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Polyamory

When I was in college, I once had to take a sociology class to meet the basic education requirements for graduation. The class was taught by a frumpy old hippy woman who liked to wear long, multi-colored skirts. She also smelled like ginger flavored cigarettes, which was probably from the incense sticks she burned in her office all the time.

Anyhow, I remember that in spite of her vain attempts to pass along her radical hippy worldview to all these rural farm kids, I actually liked the class. She showed lots of films; documentaries to be precise. Each one explored various aspects of social cultures, mores, norms, and taboos.

My absolute favorite, a documentary I still recall to my wife now and again and I am bound to use for sermon illustrations, was how different cultures around the world practice marriage. There was a family in Iran where one woman was the wife to five men, an African guy who was married to two wives, and a Papua New Guinea tribe, where a man's ability to multiply wives to himself was based upon the number of pigs he maintained in his pig pen. All of these "marital" arrangements (of course) were contrasted against a childless, middle aged British couple who kept a hum-drum, boring marriage of convenience, or so it was portrayed in the documentary.

The film maker, and I am certain my teacher, saw the film as a blast against the Christian view of marriage being between only one man and one woman. In fact, I remember the narrator of the film making some comment about how the Christian west was unique because they were virtually alone in the world with their view of marriage intending to be between only one man and one woman.

As the idea of marriage has been captured by homosexual advocacy groups who have forced their way into the collective conscience of our culture, proponents of biblical marriage have tried to meet them ideologically. One of the arguments they have used against gay marriage has been, "If we allow gay marriage to be normalized, then the next move will be to normalize polygamy."

Welp, an argument that at one time would only stir a terse, 45 second exchange on The Larry King Show between a Republican senator, a liberal rabbi, and that bald singer guy from Smashing Pumpkins, is now slowly becoming reality.

The Next Sexual Revolution

Now, a sharp thinking critic will point out that homosexual orientation and the number of participants with marriage are unrelated and to force them to be morally equivalent is illogical. As Andrew Sullivan, a well known same-sex marriage advocate, pointed out in a quote from the article, "I believe that someone's sexual orientation is a deeper issue than the number of people they want to express that orientation with." In other words, sexual orientation is biological, where as how many partners a person chooses to share his or her orientation with is a preference issue.

Ah, but this is where Charles Darwin comes to the rescue once again. (Isn't it amazing how the Darwinian worldview has major social impact?). From a strict, biological stand point, I believe a person could make a clear, compelling case for how multiple partners can confer an advantage for a species. We witness this in nature all the time. The "alpha" male, who is the strongest of the bunch, is able to pass along his traits to the largest number of females. That is because the male has "defeated" as it were the other competing males. We see this with all sorts of primate groups, who, by Darwinian standards, are related through ancestry. So, one can easily argue that the pursuit of polygamous arrangement in our modern society is a biological orientation just like same-sex attraction. People don't necessarily "choose" multiple, long term partners. Polygamy could very well be the biological engine that drives their orientation.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Jay said...

While I do agree that there is such a thing as a homosexual orientation in a clinical sense (the causes of which could be biological or environmental, or a combination of both), I don't think having a particular orientation necessarily gives one the right to marry. It certainly doesn't change God's laws about sexual behavior.

12:09 PM, August 01, 2009  

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