Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Phuture Pharisee

There's the Modern Pharisee of today, and there's the Pharisee of the Phuture, or is there?
I'm at a decision point for what happens next. There are a number of things on my plate, and some that had been removed. Right before the YFZ raid debacle kicked into the absolute mess and disaster that it turned out to be, and still is, I contemplated the apparent failing of God's leading in my life. Not the real failing of God, as God never fails at anything, and is successful in all he plans, but the failing from my perspective. The fact that I can't understand where God is going, though at times it seems obvious.

That "failing" was an attempt to buy the Polebridge Mercantile on a wing and a prayer. I would have been investing the savings of my son and all of my time in running an out of the way bakery/general store that is parked on the North West entrance to Glacier Park. Another couple made a similar wing and prayer attempt about a year later, and accomplished exactly what I and my wife did not. Just a year later. With them. Not us. Their plan went precisely like we had planned, only they did it and we did not. I truly wish them well, but that finally and completely closes the door on me and my plans, unless Stuart and Flannery fail, which I cannot really hope to happen. That would be ugly. So cross that off the list, I'm not a young man and I don't have any reason to think I'll have another chance at that dream. It continues to be hard to have a plan, a plan that you think will work, and see someone else do exactly what you wished to do, on the same time table, only it wasn't you. There is the strong temptation to feel cheated.

Up until last week, the Mercantile was my backup plan in case things didn't work out in my latest non profit venture, the legalization of polygyny. Just as the Mercantile failed to materialize for me, things are not developing on the Polygamy Advocacy front. Just as with the Mercantile I've taken the first steps towards being really serious and then what happens next is the equivalent of driving into deep mud. For any of you who have done that you go from 50-60 miles an hour to zero very quickly and then you're stuck. So it's Deja Vu all over again. I went in the direction God clearly led me in, and find another dead end or at least what looks like one.

To be clear (as I hope I was last year) God does not take us down the Candy Aisle because we're going to get candy. That may look to be the goal, but being led clearly down the Candy Aisle may not mean that I reach out and get a handful of Candy, it may mean I'm on the way to the Broccoli instead, and the Candy Aisle was the shortest way to get there. From the spiritual child's perspective I'm filled with anticipation at the prospect of getting what I want or think I'm supposed to get and the next minute I'm wailing in fury because my parents didn't stop and give me the treat I was expecting. But this just keeps happening and I just keep not going anywhere.

I'm in Vermont. I'm far away from every one of my children. In my chosen profession I'm not exactly succeeding but I do have a job which I am thankful for since quite a few "F and I Guys" don't have any work at all right now. It's paying he bills, but only just barely. I'm in a boarding house. My RV is in Montana. I can't afford to go get it so that I can stop paying rent and live in the small space that I do own, and so on. Stuck in the mud, again, going nowhere.

Up until the the Mercantile sold I harbored the notion that if my attempt to legalize polygamy in the North East failed, I could say that I'd done my time in the service of the cause and could head back to Montana and take another swipe at that dream. It's not going to happen. I am painted into this corner of the world, sink or swim.

The status of my polygamy (actually polygyny) fight is as follows:

I have been seeking to join my church for a variety of reasons. Within the "Reformed" community, there is what I think amounts to an undue emphasis on formal church membership. A written list. People that have passed an examination by the elders and are on the formal voting roll for church business. Unless you are on that roll, you're not really in the eyes of any conservative reformed denomination, "One of Them." The church is aware of my polygyny stance and now seems to be taking the position that I'm not really a Christian, even though there is nothing in their membership requirements that says a belief in monogamy is a "core belief." They're also stonewalling me ferociously on the issue of membership. There are five questions for membership, most of which relate to who and what you believe in for salvation, and the last section is this:
" 'Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of his church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed it’s discipline?'

Q. What does it mean to 'submit in the Lord' to the government of this church?

A. It means that you heed the teaching and admonishment of the elders as long as they are teaching what the Bible teaches (1 Thes. 5:12ff). No one, including church leaders, has the right to make any requirements that go beyond those given in the Word of God.

Q. If you ever have a disagreement with the leaders of the church or any other member, how should you handle it?

A. If you believe it is important, you should go directly to the person(s) involved and talk it through. Never gossip, but get appropriate people involved if necessary to help bring peace. God commands us to 'make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace.' (Eph. 3:3)."
In short, there is a way to disagree, to resolve disagreement and to "agree to disagree" all embedded in this section of the membership "exam." I qualify easily on the first portion of the membership test, I even qualify on this last portion, as long as I handle it in the way described above. I would then become a member who disagreed with the denomination on a "non core" issue. The local church would doubtless not have me teach Sunday School, or become an "elder" but I would be a communicant member. I would then fall under the authority of the church from their perspective, and if they thought my "teaching" was wrong, outside the church, they could approach me to deal with that issue. They'd have to prove their case formally though.

Suffice it to say we've reached an impasse where from my point of view, it's the church that knows it cannot really refuse me membership based on the way their requirements are framed, but the church doesn't want me because of what having an otherwise theologically conventional polygynist on their rolls would mean. I will have achieved partial legitimacy for the practice, and I am in the middle of New England where Same Sex Marriage is passing through State Legislatures like a freight train. Vermont and New Hampshire both have Same Sex Marriage laws, Maine will if it does not reject it's law through a "people's veto" and New York seems poised to pass their own law.

I will say without fear that I am the most public and widely read advocate of legal polygyny in this country. I am probably the only one in the Reformed Community. This probably makes me the most articulate one as well by virtue of the fact that I might be the only one. This laughably makes me the most inarticulate one as well. I'm a sort of theological/political "snail darter" or "Last of the Mohicans" so it's not hard to be both things at once. I am physically placed in an ideal position to push the issue in all the New England States that have passed an Same Sex Marriage law, being literally in the State Capital of Vermont, less that 160 miles from Albany NY, 120 miles from Concord NH and 190 miles from Augusta Maine. Same Sex Marriage is legal in Massachusetts as well and Boston is only 180 miles away. The whole North East is going in the SSM direction, most by act of their freely elected legislatures. Without trying to call too much attention to where I go to church, this territory is almost identical to the Presbytery of my local congregation. It's really hard for a good Calvinist not to say the discussion, bare minimum, was ordained for both church and state. Since all things only work together for good for the saints, it's also logical to say this discussion is for the good of the church. I don't presume to declare it's outcome.

There then is the "family front." Among professing polygynists who are not necessarily practicing polygynists there is generally disagreement between husband and wife over the practice of polygyny. Usually most of these men, of whom I am one, come to a realization polygyny is acceptable after they have married under what is probably a traditional (read monogamist) set of vows. Usually the wives accept that polygyny is legitimate but it almost always seems counter intuitive (to them) that they might be at least as well off if not better off in a polygyny so they resist. I've gotten vague clearances from my wife regarding the practice of polygyny, most of which involve a quantum leap in wealth so as to not put her in direct contact with an additional spouse. If I had made that quantum leap, I'd already own my dream business and I'd have never moved to Vermont, so you can guess how much progress I've made on that front. This by the way would be one way of legalizing the practice, the easiest way, that being me trying to marry another woman in Vermont to set up a court challenge.

There's the problem though of wanting to marry again for the same reasons I'd want to have gotten married in the first place. Love, Sex, Children, Godly Companionship. "Just to make it legal," is not one of the things on the list. It's even more difficult to arrange for marriage the second time because I lack none of the preceding things. I have Love, Sex, Children and Companionship. I would still marry for all of those reasons but there's no rush as I have those things. There's also no one on the horizon and I'm not exactly looking for someone, like I said, legalization is just to utilitarian. So I'm "looking" but only in a philosophical sense. You add to that the cautious requirements of marriage I now place on the table such as Chastity and Parental Permission and that seems to be a small set of persons exceeded only by my dubious classification as the Reigning Reformed Advocate of Acceptable Polygyny.

Frankly, though my wife is not head of the household, I have a concern for my wife's desires out of love for her and out of obligation placed on me by God. She's not precisely enamored at the moment of gaining another companion wife, she can't see where all of this is going as far as advancing the McBryde Family Plan which is about 10 years from retirement age and that gets the fingers to drumming and the foot to tapping and the brow to scowling. She is my concern and I have to think along the lines of how long do I at least seem to ignore her concerns while I tilt at what appear to her, to be windmills. It's a question of allocating resources and I'm not a young man. We don't even own a house. We haven't, for over fifteen years.

I've also learned that the domain name "" is also for sale. It's a bit pricey as you might imagine. I'm sure I could do a lot with it just as I was sure I could do a lot with the Mercantile. It's certainly less pricey than the Mercantile was, and I can do a lot more with it in my spare time trying to advance "the cause" but again, it's out of my reach. I hadn't said anything about this for fear I'd mortgage any small chance I had at buying it, just as I had kept quiet on the Mercantile, but I'm really developing a "what the heck" attitude about such things. It'll happen, or it won't, and it probably won't. I really don't care any longer if I tip off a competitor to the opportunity. I'm just describing the landscape.

In short, as I regularly but infrequently point out it's a money thing. To date I have gotten $70.00 in donations in my Pay Pal bucket all coming from only one donor. $60.00 went as promised to register as a lobbyist in Vermont. I've earned but not received $88.59 in ad revenue from "Google Ads" and won't get of that revenue until a month after I earn $100.00. The bottom line is that I've made $10.00 off of being a Blogger.

Luther, who was a (grudging) polygyny advocate, had his patron. Such revolutionary pursuits are usually quite thankless. You end up like Jan Hus if you don't have backer, to a greater or lessor degree. The organized Church won't touch the subject until they have to, at literal gunpoint. The polygyny advocates and practitioners are largely a collection of the "Gamma Delta Iota" fraternity (in other words no collection at all) and would rather do what they do independent of any church accountability (which I think is bad) in a quasi legal informal way, which is always dangerous. Ask the FLDS. I don't see how it is a witness to anybody if you have to hide what you do so that you can survive, and if you can't gather publicly without calling dangerous attention to yourself. It's OK to separate into communities to maintain some sort of religious discipline, but you can't be perceived to be far outside the law, our you're going to end up with tanks in your front yard, the guest of honor at a barbecue or both.

Polygynists need to go legal and I've been volunteering as ideally placed, right minded and ready to rumble now for a while. I'm getting no response at all. The thing is, I know you're out there. Christian. Polygynists. People who would benefit from polygyny being legal. There is still a window now. There is a rather well oiled minority of polyamorists out there waiting to define the law in their way and recent trends suggest they will get what they want. I still insist that we can protect forms of marriage that are Biblical now, legally, both monogamy and polygyny if we act to help frame the next version of legal progression. If we don't, we're going to get something that will make both groups vulnerable.

I'm only in this portion of the public debate until the precedent is set, then I'm probably out. Once the trend towards "open marriage" is started it will be defined increasingly without our input and to our detrement. Without support I'm faced with simply wasting my time, aggravating my church, exhausting my family and rolling the dice with my only form of gainful employment who won't at some point want a notorious polygyny advocate on their payroll who gets more time in the spotlight as a polygyny advocate, than as their employee.

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