Re: Social Problems (was Social Problems--Part A)

Russell Maatman (
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 16:46:25 -0600

Charles Cairns wrote on Sunday, February 22, 1998 6:21 AM


Concerning Calvin's condemnation of homosexual activity:

> You wrote re: Paul's words in 1 Timothy 3:2: (A bishop then must be
> blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour,
> given to hospitality, apt to teach)
> >My thoughts on this verse: I've consulted John Calvin's commentary on
> >passage. First, Calvin agrees with Chrysostom, a church father, and says
> >that "in a bishop [Paul] expressly condemns polygamy," whereas Jews of
> >Paul's time thought they could imitate the patriarchs and middle
> >of Paul's day...

> Paul was well aware of the weakness of the flesh. I believe it's very
> that because he knew how weak men are, and that men in church authority,
> like bishops, should remove themselves from temptation, that it would be
> good idea if they married. It's not entirely unlikely that this feeling
> informed his words in 1 Timothy 3:2. It can't be the only reason, because
> don't think the grammar supports it, but I think it's a component of it.
> >"But here it might be objected, that what is sinful in all ought not to
> >have been condemned in bishops alone." Calvin then remarks that the
> >original law, laid out in Genesis 2:4, was never repealed. "But [God]
> >might, to some extent, bear with that in others which, in a bishop,
> >have been excessively vile, and therefore not to be endured."
> If this behavior was as "excessively vile" as Calvin says, why didn't
> say so? What I think instead is that polygamy ran so counter to Calvin's
> beliefs and environment that he couldn't fathom it a part of a
> life, so he interpreted scripture in a way that made him comfortable.
> I don't understand the relationship of Gen 2:4--can someone help me?)
> >We certainly should have no difficulty with the idea that God bears with
> >even in our sinfulness, and gently leads us along so that eventually,
> >perhaps after centuries, his people have changed. No doubt we can recite
> >many practices "taken for granted" say, a thousand years ago, which are,
> >however, considered wrong, wrong, wrong today.


> Yes, I'm convinced God does bear with us. I, for one, have disappointed
> time and time again, and he's never left my side. But during those times
> knew what I was doing was wrong, and there was biblical precedent to
> me of having been wrong. I don't see the biblical precedent that would
> convict me were I a polygamist living in a community that allows it. In
> fact, just the opposite. There is a long tradition in the Old Testament
> (which continued in the Church Age) of responsible polygamy. Yet at each
> opportunity to address it, the bible is either silent or selective.

Of course I agree that God suffers along with us as we disappoint him from
day to day. But my point was a larger one: Over thousands of years, he
leads us along to acknowledge what he laid down in the beginning. No
slaves. No autocratic form of government. And, marriage should be what it
was for Adam and Eve before they sinned--covenantal and one-to-one. Each of
the pair helps the other.


Russell Maatman
Home: 401 5th Avenue
Sioux Center, IA 51250