Polygamy is coming…
Issues like this breed confused dialogue and quasi-religious tangents faster than rational folk can respond. Before very long, one gets cynical and dismisses the rest of the world as a thinly-veiled looney-bin, generally speaking. But if instead one pauses to examine the reader comments left in the wake of a news story of this kind and contemplate what, other than simple craziness, might lay behind seemingly arbitrary assertions of morality – a pattern emerges.
The notion being advocated, yet not otherwise stated, is simply that “Behaviour contrary to the ‘preferred lifestyle’ (i.e. outside of traditional heterosexual monogamy) is wrong, because it is also contrary to the written word of God. Questioning the accepted interpretation of the written word of God necessarily indicates a lack of faith, which is also wrong. Therefore in order to behave rightly, it’s best to not think critically lest it lead one to question the accepted understanding of God’s word.” One might add to this that lip-service may be paid to openness to such questioning – provided that the discussion results in the unequivocal affirmation of the accepted understandings of God’s intentions.
Granted, not all of this resistance to what gets labelled “secularism” is the result of rooms full of mostly clergymen enforcing doctrine. In many cases, the church’s own congregation is to blame. And there are all kinds of sociological reasons one could forward to characterize individual scenarios. But again, in general, churches are attended by people looking for enlightenment from a higher power – a power that has been type-cast and is universally accepted as being opposed to gay marriage and polygamy. So if the clergy aren’t entirely in control of how God’s word is interpreted, the congregation is already stacked with generations of followers, raised from childhood with a healthy list of preconceptions (too often disguised as mere tradition) that achieves the very same thing.
Now, of course even the most devoutly fanatical, stem-cell detracting, pro-life, bible-thumping, church-going Christianette (a term I use to describe the televangelist or Sunday zealot-led religious automaton, loosely associated with the more secular marionette) will deny that critical thinking is discouraged by their like-minded. But one need not read very far into some of the posts coming back to the polygamy article in yesterday’s Citizen to find corroborating evidence:
“Wish that people would STOP referring to same-sex unions and polygamy as ‘marriage’; it is NOT marriage as God intended. It is an abomination. So bite me.”
— June, responds to ‘Polygamy is Coming”, Ottawa Citizen,
March 28, 2009
When mulling over what it must be like for people who think at this level, I can’t escape the notion they’ve got to harbour hatred or at least some kind of disdain for those they consider “an abomination”. To use that kind of adjective – which intones ideas of inherent wrongness; a malignancy that needs to be eradicated to set the world right again – there’s certainly an idea here that a kind of mercilessness and disregard for the needs or desires of the other party (or “the abomination”). And, admittedly it’s been a while since I found myself paging through the New Testament, but from what I remember this doesn’t reflect Christ’s teachings.
And strangely, this is a recurring theme of late. It seems we keep finding religious groups sounding the trumpet, leading the attack on tolerance and acceptance for gays and now again on polygamy. Christianettes are being rather ill-served by their puppeteers since those of us who didn’t abandon critical thought realized long ago there was a certain inconsistency in opposing equal rights for gays and polygamists when it states repeatedly in the Bible that God regards each person as equals – sinners all. Not to mention that other little bit about “Judge not lest ye be judged…” (Matthew 7:1)
The inevitable comeback concerns whether being gay or even polygamous is itself sinful or, in other words wrong. We don’t hear a lot of those opposed to gay marriage or polygamy using the word “sin” or “wrong” when they intone their opposition – very likely because it’s understood that the vast majority of the population simply doesn’t agree there is a moral issue permitting either. Occasionally, we’ll hear a televised zealot cite scripture where it indicates ‘man shall not lie with man’ or whatever (I can’t cite a specific example at the moment), but outside of the 10 Commandments, the Bible wasn’t ever intended to catalogue behaviour into ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ indices. The overwhelming theme of the Bible is one of studying the all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God. Even if there were a few passages that could only be singularly interpreted as stating ‘gay marriage is wrong’ or ‘polygamy is wrong’ (and I’m quite sure there aren’t), there is much more evidence that He would rather we looked for ways to eliminate specific harm to our fellow human beings; to make life as pleasant as we can for each other.
To the Christianettes, this will all seem irrelevant, of course. One can’t pick and choose which of God’s directives to follow, they’ll say; or some other argument that willfully misses the point. But while still believing polygamy is wrong for the same reason being gay is wrong – because God says so – will not be cited aloud during the general public debate. Instead, this same group will conjure up all kinds of other reasons why polygamy is harmful; perhaps it spreads disease, or it creates health issues. Perhaps organized crime is involved somehow – something will come up.
Fortunately, we live in Canada where people seem inclined to be more pragmatic in evaluating issues of this sort. So I suspect the polygamy debate will run much the same as gay marriage – with a well-reasoned outcome. But the religious wing-nut is an increasingly thriving species hereabouts and this resistance not only to reason, but to remembering God’s disposition toward those traditionally rejected by society demands vigilance by all who crave tolerance and freedom.