Saturday, July 21, 2012

Polygyny morphing to Polyamory


"Dr. Keith Allen" (A "nom de plume") and I sat down for coffee two weeks ago. We've had our agreements and our disagreements (sadly, mostly disagreements). In an effort to find or produce unity, I stay in touch with a few congregational sorts hoping that they might change, or that I might. I don't really care who changes as long as the one who changes, changes from what isn't true, to what is. That hope is fading fast.

"Dr. Allen" at least countenances bisexuality as a matter of Christian conscience, and I will have none of it.

We will start here:

Ecclesiastes 5:7 - "For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear."

Ecclesiastes 12:11-13 - "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (KJV)

"Dr. Allen" is fond of many books and many names, pouring both out like a busted dam. We spent four hours July 8th, talking over a matter that really shouldn't even be named among us, but there is at least a glimmer of a question that he raised, so I agreed to think about it.

The great difficulty with "Dr. Allen's" approach? It needs way too many words. Words about a topic to which God devoted very little time. But in fairness, that's also Keith's best argument.

Contrast though, what Keith devotes all this time, and all his words (both spoken and written), to what God says:

Deuteronomy 30:12-15 & 19(b) -
"For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; (snip) therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..."

Then there is Ockham's razor (lex parsimoniae, or parsimony or succinctness): Which is to "select from among competing hypotheses that which makes the fewest assumptions."

Then there's always "KISS:" "Keep it simple, stupid."

Or as Festus said (albeit to the wrong guy): "Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad."

Keith writes an article (to which I linked above) that is a reply to our conversation of the 8th, that is longer than "Song of Songs" (from which he derives his only positive proofs), or longer than the letters of James (the brief), Peter, John, and Jude combined. Solomon, God, Moses and Christ's brother all beat Brother Ockham to the punch, indeed, "There is nothing new, under the Sun."

Lest I multiply words myself, there is a difficult question here, but only if you ask the wrong one. You see, if the answer is "42," you really need to know what the question is.

So, having been too wordy myself in an effort to deal with Keith's question, I will downshift to the punch line:

It's really a question of whether or not The LORD says who you can have sex with or who you can't or which sex acts you can perform, and which sex acts you cannot.

We're a marvelously and dangerously inventive people, being rebellious as we are. Naming everything you can (and contrarily what you can't) do sexually is called the "Kama Sutra." God wanted to write the Bible, not "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (but Were Afraid to Ask)." Once we start naming sex acts as unacceptable or acceptable, you've got a section of the Library.

Our problem is a legitimate question at least in Western society: The whole of the Old Testament says nothing specifically about Lesbian/Bisexual behavior among women. We don't get to that until we get to Romans 1:26 & 27:
"God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."
Without going into too much detail (and information), Keith states that "Unnatural" in this context is anal sex, and his immediate justification was that there was no lubrication in the anus, so it's "unnatural" and "Sodomy." Hard to justify since to begin with, "Sodomy" is not a word in the original text, but a word for which variations are used in some translations.

We're out on a ledge here, so let's crawl back quickly to the original jumping off point in our discussion of what God permits sexually, and does not. It's either who you have sex with, or what you do as a sex act, or some combination of the two (the last being nearly as complex as the second).

I contend that scripture tells us you can only have sex in the "Husband - Wife" relationship. I say it this way because "Concubinage" is a legitimate form of that relationship, but not exactly "Marriage."

Keith says scripture gets into what you can do sexually, and since it doesn't say you can't (as a wife) "go down" on your "Sister Wife," you can. Particularly if the Husband who has "Headship" over the wife, asks or tells them to do so.

Fair enough, let's take that for a test drive:

Keith also appeals to Leviticus 18:22. If "unnatural" is anal sex, and that is what "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" means, then is it alright to give your neighbor (mano a mano now), a "blow job?"

We can extend this:

Is it alright for your two sons to do so?

Your sons and daughters? Your daughters to "play" with one another? You to school your kids sexually, as long as no one "shoves their show" into a place without lubrication or a vagina?

You see, once we define "unnatural" so narrowly, and start taking it out for a test drive, we've opened Pandora's box, and we're in the "Sex Reference" wing of the bookstore. The last time I looked, "Masters and Johnson's" sex manual at least weighed more than the Bible did.

You might be able to take me out on one of the above speculations as to who you can "play" with under Keith's rules, but please remember that first of all, they're not my rules. I don't think they're God's rules either (to put it mildly). I'm in the "who you can have sex with" camp, and to me it's "husband and wife." Women are for the man scripture tells us, from the beginning, and I only need to cite one sex act that isn't prohibited, for the door to be so open, that we won't need to speculate what Sodom and Gomorrah looked like, we'll be able to see it in our living room.

Keith also says that wives are "one flesh" with one another and that a polygyny is in essence a marriage to all the parties involved for all the parties involved. That leaves us with a Lesbian marriage if in the polygyny, the husband dies. That also means you can't marry other men if your husband dies, you all have to marry the same man, provided you want another man. He made extensions to kinship that I don't think work too well with other family members. I'm not sure he realized the problems he created.

This is why we need Ecclesiastical authority, a denomination. An over arching group to block the "reign of error" of an individual. After all, Paul submitted to James and to Peter.

Keith and his teaching are anathema, for any who listen to me, or see themselves under my authority, until he recants entirely and repents of this error. For what it's worth, I really hated writing this, but Nehemiah kicked butt and Paul wished (in illustration) that people would get their business hacked off. I still hated doing this and writing about such topics in such detail.

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Vulture said...

A thoughtful and well-written post. Here's hoping that "Dr. Keith Allen" is receptive to your arguments.

Dale Kemp said...

You might have hated writing it but some things just need to be said. I've heard the whole lesbian sister-wives theory and just don't buy into it as truth.

The Pharisee said...

As I stated, Paul checked with James (Jesus' brother) and Peter, prior to taking his findings out on the road. Depending on how you read the "7 year" accounting, he either took 7 or 14 years to reach his conclusions, and then he brought them to the church in Jerusalem to vet them.

I'm a Presbyterian, in a very small Presbyterian denomination. Our form of governance is in part designed to preclude such nonsense from seeing the light of day.

Anonymous said...

It's amusing this comes down to a power struggle between you.


1. Natural use in Romans is being with her husband and childbearing. Anal sex is one way childbearing was (and is today) avoided, this is why early Church Fathers saw this passage as teaching on Anal Sex. Pure lesbianism would also cause this problem, as would a good many other things. It's actually not necessary (or indeed possible) to pin that verse down to any one thing.

Keith is right that to the audience of the time 'unnatural' in that context would generally mean anal sex. He didn't say that 'unnatural' in any context meant that, and it's rather disingenuous to apply his context out of context isn't it Hugh? That's a strawman, and you're a better debater than that.

Also, the Leviticus passage doesn't use the term (or any equivalent term) to unnatural. I don't know why the two of you are mucking about there... Even the part of Romans that deals with male homosexuality doesn't call it 'unnatural' it calls it 'unseemly' or indecent.

I tend to agree that Allen's work with the Song of Solomon falls somewhere between 'bemusing' 'amusing' and 'highly questionable' in general. He's looking for a positive proof. That's always foolish to do with scripture, the vast majority of things you can do will never have nor need any kind of positive proof. Scripture isn't a list of things you can do, though it does have a list of things you cant.

I would like to point out that you of all people should know better than to try to derive the condemnation from a later New Testament passage. The new testament did repeat some restrictions, but it didn't create new ones.

You know how many people have taken Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8 and tried to use it to ban polygamy. The words of Christ can be manipulated to ban it if you look at them just so. But we know better than that. Why do you think you're doing any better with Romans than monogamist-only are doing with Mathew?

Really this issue seems quite trivial to me. Keith has support with his PoV, it's not as if he's never checked it with other Believers. You won't find an unacceptable yet unprohibited sex act in scripture, it covers them all. If you're trying to say there is an act that is wrong that scripture doesn't say is wrong then you're the one on your own, you're not preaching God's law but your own...

The Pharisee said...


I guess it's a power struggle for me, if it's a power struggle for him. This is a lot like saying a fight is "between people" in such a fashion as to imply the location of the action is what it's all about.

That's the light show. I'd move past that if I were you.

Keith is not right to say "unnatural" means anal sex. I implore you to show your work, you're not.

I am not trying to derive a proof out of a later New Testament passage, that is in fact what Keith is doing. What it comes down to is this. A woman's use is for the man. She is "One Flesh" with the man, not with her other wives. If you follow the hyperlinks in the above post, you'll see the sourcing in scripture.

A wife is subject to her husband. She is for her husband. Scripture talks about who you can have sex with primarily or entirely, not what sort of sex you may have with that person. Sex is restricted to the husband-wife relationship.

A better argument on your part might be to launch from the starting point of there being no specific punishment in Torah. More on that if it's the road you choose to take.

The problem with Leviticus is it must be harmonized with what Paul (the Jew of Jews and wunderkind of academic Judaism of his time) is saying in Romans 1. We take from Keith's interpretation that the problem is penetration below the belt from the south end. That is man lying with man as he would with a woman.

Now you have the issue that if this is the case, Leviticus is not speaking to male oral-genital contact. More appropriate is to use the language of Leviticus 18 to define Romans 1, in which case, don't do things you might do with a woman with a man, what's wrong is what Leviticus 18 is saying, and then Romans 1 isn't about anal sex, it's about sex with a man.

Thus "unnatural" isn't anal sex, it's same sex. Then the preceding verses, Romans 1:26, is also about same sex relations, but between women. The same sex aspect is what makes it "unnatural."

Please also remember, again, that I am asserting there is a positive statement about what women are for, as opposed to there being no prohibition. It's not that scripture says they can't be with one another, as much as it says who they may be with. That would be their husband.

You really need to read the post again, and cease to be so snarky about all of this. Making it personal conflict is a way of shoving the issue aside.

Really and truly if you work it through, you are either permissive of same sex relations (at least between women) or you're not. You're either for the idea that the women are married in a polygyny to one another, or you're not. If they are, a husband dying doesn't sunder the marriage, marriage is for life and you have same sex marriage. If they're not married, you've said sexual contact is (as long as it's not of certain types) ratified outside of the husband-wife relationship.

You've just said your daughter can blow her prom date, swallow, and he can go down on her. All you wanna know is did he stick his business anywhere below the Mason Dixon line, and if he didn't she's still a "Good Girl."

By the way, the bridesmaids can Par-Taaaaaaaaaay any way they want to.

Do I hear someone singing "I Kissed a Girl, and I Liked it?"

You have to go farther than just the initial justification of a behavior. You must set up allowed scenarios and drive them around scripture, and see how they fit in.

Same sex relations for either sex, don't fit and I did provide support for my POV, let's hear you deal with it.

Unknown said...


God's silence on an issue does not equate license (think age of consent).

The clear teachings of the woman being made for the man, the sexual relationship being between a man and his wife, and becoming one flesh being a seal of the marriage covenant are positive proofs of the absolute requirement for woman to be sensual or sexual only with their husband.

To delve into other areas is a recipe for disaster, as it destroys the headship of the man and causes the woman to form an improper bond to someone other than her head.

Any man who supports this concept is either ridiculously naive as to the sexual emotions of a woman, or desires this type of activity between wives for his own perverted pleasure.

A Plural Wife