Thursday, December 19, 2013

It has officially begun.  Episcopal priest (but you would have figured that out eventually even if she hadn’t mentioned it) Danielle Tumminio comes out for polygamy:

When I heard a federal judge struck down part of Utah’s polygamy law last week, I gave a little squeal of delight.

Of course you did.

To be clear, I’m an Episcopal priest, not a polygamist.  But I’ve met the family who brought the suit, and these people changed how I think about plural marriage.

Granted, there was a time when the idea wouldn’t have pleased Danielle.

Before I met the Browns – made famous by the reality television show “Sister Wives” – I had the kind of reaction most modern-day Christians would have to their lifestyle: Polygamy hurts women. It offers girls a skewed perspective of who they can be. It happens on cultish compounds. It’s abusive.

What changed her mind?  See if this sounds familiar.

Yet when the Browns’ show debuted, I began to question some of those assumptions, and when I had the opportunity to meet them a few years ago, I questioned them further.

In getting to know Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, and their children, I saw that these parents were extremely invested in raising girls and boys who were empowered to get an education, become independent thinkers and have a moral compass.

Indeed, children were so important to them not because they wanted to create more young polygamists – the Browns want their children to choose their own beliefs – but because their children were the people who would join them in heaven, and they wanted to raise a family kind enough, good enough, to achieve that goal.

One of the “arguments” the Episcopalians frequently use in defense of their innovations is that they claimed to see the “fruits of the spirit” in the lives of gays, both single and in couples, so that, according to them, ordination of gays, giving gays pointy hats and hooked sticks or marrying gays in their churches was no longer optional.

This is exactly the same “argument.”  This is obviously okay with God because look what decent, honorable, goshdarned nice people they are.  So by Ms. Tumminio’s reckoning, a pornographer who regularly goes on Habitat for Humanity builds or puts in time working the parish food bank doesn’t have a single thing to worry about when he dies.

And hey, continues Ms. Tumminio, maybe, just maybe, polygamous “marriages” are actually better than the so-called “normal” ones and polygamists have a lot to teach the rest of us.  Ever thought about that, you disgusting little bigot?

But it’s crucial to remember that, when done well, polygamy works because the participants have a different goal for marriage than monogamous couples: Most Americans believe that marriage is for the purpose of cultivating intimacy between two people, both sexual and emotional.

But for the Browns that takes a distant second to the goal of cultivating a community that together can reach heaven. It’s a different way of thinking about marriage and family, but it’s not inherently an abusive one.

Ultimately, I support the decision to loosen restrictions on polygamy because families such as the Browns exist who endeavor every day to live kind, healthy lives that are not harmful, not abusive.

Okay.  But what’s the Christian justification for at-least-three-ways?

I also believe there are theoretical reasons why, as a Christian, it makes sense to support healthy polygamous practices. It’s a natural extension for those Christians who support same-sex marriage on theological grounds. But even for those opposed to same-sex marriage, polygamy is documented in the Bible, thereby giving its existence warrant.

It does mean, though, that there is room for Christians to support the right of consenting adults to make choices about marriage that align with their religious beliefs in a country that prides itself on religious freedom.

Finally, like us, they want to practice their faith. And as long as that practice is in the service of cultivating loving, healthy relationships that strive to honor God and neighbor, I believe it is possible for even nonpolygamous Christians such as myself to support their calling.

Danielle?  A bag of hammers just called and told me that that was the dumbest thing it had ever read.  On the bright side, Tumminio just inadvertently awarded a whole lot more stature to those online “churches” and their online “ordinations.”  I’ll take one of those “ordinations” over Ms. Tumminio’s “ordination” any day of the week and I’m not kidding.

Kitten, I realize that you’re an Episcopal priest so your Biblical knowledge is limited to non-existent.  But for crying out loud!  Lots of things are “documented in the Bible” but that doesn’t make them acceptable to God.  And what on Earth are you going to do with this?

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the TWO shall become one flesh’?

To me, that basically blows the “Jesus never said anything about it” claim clean out of the water for this case but you Episcopalians have negotiated a whole lot tougher obstacles than that one in your quest to edit God.

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