Polygamy, monogamy etc (long)

Kenneth Piers (PIER@legacy.calvin.edu)
Tue, 20 Aug 1996 12:03:49 EST5EDT

Some more thoughts on polygamy, monogamy and homosexual relationships:
Dennis has raised the question of whether or not polygamy is proscribed in the Bible and
suggests that there is evidence in the OT at least where it is tolerated. He also suggests
that the Bible does not prescribe monogamy. I am hardly a biblical scholar, but I seem to
recall a text that reads something like "...therefore shall a man leave his father and
mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh ..." That sounds
something like monogamy to me. Again I think that in the NT somewhere, in speaking
about leaders in the young christian church, there is a text that says something like
"...and the man shall be the husband of one wife ..." This text seems to suggest that there
were marriages at that time in which there was more than one wife, but to be a leader in
ths church only one wife was the norm. Again it sounds like monogamy to me.
Some have suggested that when one brings the gospel to a polygamous culture that it may
be best to live with the polygamous situation for the sake of the people involved, since
putting away excess wives may result in extreme hardship for those so dealt with. I
agree, that in some circumstances this may be the best thing to do, even though polygamy
does not seem to meet the scriptural norm. But for the sake of the peolple involved it may
be best to live with the distorted situation.
Is it posssible to think of homosexual relationships in somewhat the same way? What
does mean it to bring the redemptive gospel to a homosexual community in today's world?
Many have referred to the extreme distortion and brokenness in human relationships that
exists in the un-redeemed homosexual community - perversion, shallowness,
promiscuity, hedonism and so on. So in bringing the gospel to such a situation, in
circumstances where neither re-orientation to a heterosexual inclination nor celibacy
seem possible, is not holding out the principle of committed monogamy a great
improvement over what previously existed? We acknowledge, just as in the case of
polygamous heterosexual relationships, that these kinds of mongamous relationships may
not fully meet scriptural norms, but because we live in a distorted and broken world, it
may be the best we can achieve. Then should we not live with the situation for the sake of
the people involved?
Some have expressed their opinion that monogamous relationships betwwen two
committed homosexual persons is injurious to those involved. They refer to various
biological trauma that may result and also refer to the very low life expectancies that
homosexual persons seem to have. I do not know how homosexual persons express their
physical needs. But it seems likely to me that there may be ways to do this that do not lead
to biological trauma. Part of cahnged, redemptive behavior then, would be to engage only
in those behaviors that respect the health and well-being of the partner. Then acts that
result in injury to one or both would be avoided. And the statistics on life expectancies
that exist are those that result from the homosexual lifestyles that are extant today -
many that exhibit great licentiousness and which pose great hazard to the practitioners. It
is just this situation that needs the redemptive gospel message that results in changed
behavior leading to healthier lifestyles. I suspect that if we were to establish a pattern of
homosexual behavior that holds out for the homsexual the same norms - committed
monogamy - that we set for heterosexual persons, then we would find a considerable
improvement in the life expectancies of homosexual persons.
It seems that several persons on this list are very clear that persons who engage in a
homosexual lifesyle can not be saved. I respect their opinions. But I would also gently
like to suggest that is not you or I who decides who will be saved and who will not be
saved. This is not our job. Our task is to witness to the saving power of the cross, and
then to encourage lifestyles that express, as clearly as possible, gratitude for the
redemption that such salvation brings. Could it not be that for some homosexual persons,
this means a call to commited monogamy?
Finally, a comment on the privacy of homes. As far as I know there are no ordinances or
laws that make it illegal for two persons of the same gender to share a home or apartment
and to live in a committed relationship with one another. But there are laws against
pedophilia, prostitution, bestiality, and incest. Again, all of these latter behaviors are
destructive to the persons (or animals) involved in them. And in the case of mutually
consenting adult incest, there is also likely injury to the off-spring that may result from
such unions. I know of no such necessary consequences that need result from committed,
loving homosexual unions provided that they respect, in their behavior, the full integrity
of both persons involved . So, isn't it so then, that what such couples do in the privacy of
their own home is ultimately between them and God?


Kenneth Piers e-mail: pier@calvin.edu
Dept.of Chemistry and Biochemistry. ph. 616-957-6491
Calvin College fax: 616-957-6501
Grand Rapids. MI 49546
"... and withal he seemed bisier than he was..." - Chaucer