Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Modest Response to Matt Walsh's Attack on Jen Hatmaker; or When Christians Attack!

A Modest Response 
to Matt Walsh's Attack on Jen Hatmaker; or When Christians Attack!

In this corner....Matt Walsh
I mostly just keep my trap shut about things, outside of an occasional Facebook post or review of a movie or a graphic novel here and there.  This blog is what I reserve for those times when I feel like I need to open my big mouth about something serious.  In this case, I'm about to open it about one of these public Christian-On-Christian "heresy" fights.  And I'm particularly going to focus on Matt Walsh's loathsome recent column in The Blaze where he blasted a fellow Christian, Jen Hatmaker, for simply answering some questions, posed to her by Religion News, in a way that reflected reason, love, and compassion rather than arrogant, hateful, judgement.  In Matt's particular worldview, the latter 3 are what reflects the mind of Jesus rather than the former.

This is a warning/disclaimer that this blogpost is going to be long as I'm essentially going to be copying nearly the entire column because almost every line is deserving of a response.
Annnnd in this corner....Jen Hatmaker

For context's sake, here's the link to Jen's original comments where she made such horrifying statements as "I want the very best for my gay friends. I want love and happiness and faithfulness and commitment and community," "For me, pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim," and even (HORROR) concedes that she would be "open" to voting for Hillary Clinton:  The politics of Jen Hatmaker: Trump, Black Lives Matter, gay marriage and more

Matt's reponse to the Jen Hatmaker interview will be in red and my responses to his will be in black.

Right off the bat, I need to take issue with his own headline:
Dear Christians, it doesn’t matter how you feel. It matters what the Bible says.  Actually, Matt, from an intellectually honest standpoint as a Christian it matters a great deal how you feel and while it does "matter what the Bible says," getting any two people to actually agree on what the Bible "says" is near impossible.  The evidence is the literally thousands of split-off denominations, dead denominations and sects, hundreds (if not thousands) of translations and variations of the text, the hundreds of thousands of people put to death over it, and the fact that the Bible itself actually "says" nothing.  It is a collection of disparate works, none of which were written with the expectation or knowledge that at some point after the author's death someone else would come along and collect them into a singular book collection and then attempt to pretend and convince everyone else that they are somehow magically a single work of mystical writing.   When someone like you says the "Bible says," what you actually mean is that "this is what I think the Bible means when it says such and such."  And then you go beyond that and expect your interpretation of what it means to be a universal absolute that applies to everyone else.  Which is fine for you but not so much for everyone else.

Jen Hatmaker is a prominent Christian author and speaker. My wife tells me she had a show on HGTV for a while. These days, she’s apparently moved away from renovating homes to renovating Scripture.

I accept that you may not have been aware of who Jen is.  I was not aware of her until I was shown her interview by someone else.  Although, I suspect that you are feigning unawareness for the sake of a lousy attempt at diminishing her influence right off the bat.  Your attempt at being clever with the "moved away from renovating homes to renovating Scripture" would only be clever if there were anything in that interview that came even CLOSE to "renovating Scripture."  All she did was answer questions honestly from her own flawed and human perspective.  Which, in my view of God, is actually a lot more close to the Divine truth than regurgitating dogma and doctrine from others as if it is how I actually feel.  She answered how she feels about things but NOT as any kind of statement about scripture or the church.  She makes it very clear that this is how she sees it.  Just because her worldview doesn't line up with mine or your worldview precisely  is irrelevant.  Whether it lines up with scripture has all to do with what her beliefs are about the authority of the Bible and how her own relationship to God is defined by it, not Matt Walsh's.

I just reread the interview with Jen.  She never once quotes a Bible verse or twists a verse out of context.  So how exactly is she "renovating Scripture?"  You do realize that Christians can have opinions apart from the 27 letters and other writings collectively known as the current Protestant New Testament?  If you do not realize this, then I would suggest you are either brainwashed or brain dead.

That’s a problem, because unlike an old ranch-style house with ugly carpets and 1970’s wallpaper, God’s Holy Word doesn’t need any updates. It’s eternal, unchanging, and always right, no matter how we happen to feel about it.

Ad hominem dig at Jen for being a home renovator followed by a declaration of your view on the Bible and your declarative statement that it is "always right, no matter how we happen to feel about it."  So, who decides which interpretation is "right"?  And what do we do with portions of the Bible that even the most conservative of scholars admit were not even written by the author who the church has given credit to?  How does this sustain the idea that it is "eternal, unchanging, and always right?"  I believe that claiming authorship of something, or assigning authorship of something after the fact, to someone who the church authorities knew quite well could not have been the author is what I would consider duplicitous at best and outright deception at worst.  Either way, couple that with the fact that we have found enough early scraps and completed texts to have a pretty good handle on what sorts of insertions, deletions, and wholesale additions have happened to these writings over the centuries leading up to the printing press (which made the book into a widely distributed and accessible volume), the concept of "unchanging" requires checking one's brain at the door.  And as for the title of "God's Holy Word," none of the works in the collection itself has ever made that claim -- at least for the whole because none of the works were ever written with the knowledge that it would be collected with other works later.  Within what we call the Protestant New Testament the scriptures referenced by the writers are references to the Jewish scriptures at that time, which included most of what we call the Old Testament but also other known and lost writings.  And mystically, Jesus himself is the only thing actually referred to within the New Testament as the "Word" -- which is something to really take some time to ruminate about, Matt.  Meditate on this: Jesus is the Word.  Not the Bible.  Elevating the Bible to the level of God's Word is a way for the Church to effectively deify it so as to make it above criticism and assume a role as final authority on how to interpret and apply it.

Christians like Jen Hatmaker would do well to remember this. Especially if they’ve been given, or have claimed for themselves, a position of leadership in the faith. It’s a grave responsibility to be a Christian with an audience. As someone with an audience of my own, I know this well. If we contradict Christian teaching, if we misrepresent Christ’s commandments, if we lead people away from the truth and into the darkness, we have not only put their souls in jeopardy but our own. Christ says it would be better for us to drown in the sea with a stone tied around our necks than to cause someone else to stumble into sin. I believe He meant that quite literally.

And herein lies the major stumbling block to your understanding, Matt.  The word "literally."  You need to climb out of that dank, dark cave of literal thinking and remember that we are talking about mystical writings, by their very nature.  The writings that make up the Bible are what we call "inspired" which does not mean they are infallible or the literal "word of God."  It means to "arouse, animate, or imbue with the spirit of a supernatural or divine influence."  Being inspired by God does not make you God nor does it make your writing infallible or the actual literal word of God.  If God has the power to control our writing in such a way, I am also positive that he would have the power to make sure that all translations are perfectly accurate, that there are no typos or mistakes, and most of all that there are no misunderstandings or differences of opinion on what the words mean or how to apply them.

Jesus is metaphorically the "word of God."  This need to construct a literal "word of God" says more about our own carnal inability to comprehend the Divine and the metaphysical world than it does about God or how to live a right and good life.

When asked about gay “marriage,” Hatmaker declared that homosexuals have the “right” to marry members of the same sex. She said our churches should offer support and instruction to those in gay “marriages.” In other words, she believes that churches should not only accept the abomination of gay “marriage,” but actively facilitate it. When asked if she would attend a gay “wedding,” she said she’d be there with “gladness,” ready to pop the champagne and celebrate their sin with them. She said that if her own child turned out to be gay, she would want him to enter a “faithful, committed marriage” with another man. And, in final act of heresy, she announced that gay sexual relationships are “holy.”
This is the Gospel according to Jen Hatmaker. Many supposed Christians in our culture have a similar Gospel. But it may be useful to pause here and reflect on what the Actual Gospel has to say on the subject. Indeed, we either believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God or we don’t. If we don’t, then we shouldn’t be writing books and giving interviews and going on TV and speaking in front of crowds while waving the “Christian” banner. We should renounce the faith, declare ourselves agnostic or atheist or whatever, and then we’ll be free to promote moral relativism and hedonism all we want. We’ll still be wrong, but at least we’ll no longer be heretics. But if we do actually accept the Bible as the unalterable and eternal truth, then we must make sure that we aren’t publicly contradicting it.

As is so often the case, Matt, you immediately zero in on the "gay" comments and blow them way out of proportion, which indicates profound homophobic tendencies within you.  But I am particularly disturbed by the dismissive manner in which you call anyone who might not share your viewpoint as "supposed Christians."  Why are you so tight-assed that the mere concept that someone may believe in the very same Gospel you do but not interpret it exactly the same way as you must be a fake or a poser?  Why are you so threatened by a different point of view?  As a mature adult you should be able to recognize that even within the umbrella of Christianity there are a myriad of varying beliefs. Or maybe you've never really done any historical or archaeological reading or studying about the early years of Christianity and especially about how the gospels and the other writings of the New Testament came to be collected in the first place.  I recommend you read a couple of books by Bart Ehrman.  He's a great place to start on this.  Maybe expanding your severely limited view of the Bible itself and the higher principles of love as espoused by Jesus of Nazareth would lead you to embrace this larger community of believers who love God and love their neighbors to the degree they love themselves, which I think is a rule of thumb you might be familiar with.

Remember, she's not "publicly contradicting" the "unalterable and eternal truth" of the Bible in this interview.  She is giving her personal beliefs on current social topics.  Now, implicit in this, as she is a Christian, is that Jen obviously does not find her beliefs to be "contradicting" the "eternal truth."  She must somehow find them compatible.  Why do you think she would find them compatible when you do not?  She finds them compatible, I believe, because the views she espouses in the interview are consistent with Jesus's teachings about love and acceptance as he demonstrated through both his words and his deeds.  I fully believe that the Jesus that I read in scripture would say almost identically what Jen said, only he would have the Divine imprimatur on his words that would give them authority.  But, as far as I know, nobody actually asked Jesus to give an opinion on what we call "Same-Sex Marriage" because this was not a topic du jour in those days.  So, all we can do is take the higher principles of love and respect and apply them.  And having a different approach or an expanded understanding of the Bible does not mean she is contradicting anything, and especially not contradicting God.

So, for the benefit of those Christians who think Scripture was silent on the issues of marriage and sexuality, here are a few relevant passages:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” – Romans 1:26
“Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” – 1 Timothy 1:8
“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” – Jude 7

I think Justin Lee, author of the book TORN, addresses all of these much better than I could but the bottom line is that those verses are not quite so clear as they may seem once a fuller understanding of each verse is brought to light.  And for those who are not up for reading an entire book on the subject, the always-excellent Rachel Held Evans published a series of blogs discussing Lee's book.  The one pertinent to this chunk of Bible-verse-bludgeoning would be this blog from 2013:  Torn, Chapters 12-13: Back to the Bible.

Hatmaker called gay relationships “holy,” which means divine, while the Apostle Paul called them degrading and unnatural, and promised that anyone who practices homosexuality and does not repent will be barred from the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we are left to ponder who is a greater authority here: The Apostle Paul or the lady from HGTV.

Again, Matt, you need to go reread Romans 1:18-32 in its full context.  I'll wait here while you do that.  Here's the link.

You done?  Okay, now that you've read it you will surely notice that it is not a selection focused on same-sex marriage.  This is a section in which Paul (or whoever may have actually written this part) lists off the sorts of people who are going to be inhabiting Hell and it consists of gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful people, as well as lust-filled hedonists (gay and straight).  If all you see in this is a statement about gay people then you are once again missing the higher point. The higher point is selfishness. It is about people abandoning their innate love and respect for others and sociopathically indulging themselves in whatever way they want to, including abandoning their "natural" desires for those that are "unnatural."  Technically, the same syllogism would work for someone who was gay but got inflamed with "unnatural" lust for someone of the opposite sex.  In other words, using these verses to somehow extrapolate as a directive by Paul (who was not married) concerning marriage is absurd and makes the scripture speak to something that it is not addressing at all.

And, by the way, I would sure like to see how you take that scripture-stretching muscle of your's and somehow ignore away the fact that "disobedient children" are also in that list of people burning in your literal Hell.  How many blogs have you written condemning those Christians who raise children who are disobedient?

Now, you may struggle with the Biblical teaching on homosexuality, just as you may struggle with any other teaching. You may not understand it. You may find it harsh and difficult and emotionally distressing. But before we even get into explaining why the Bible says what it says, all we really need to establish is that it does say it. Period. We are commanded by God to accept this teaching or risk losing our souls. It’s not an option. We are not required to follow Christ only in the areas where we can find mutual agreement with Him. Our consent and agreement does not matter. At all. Not one tiny bit. We are called to follow regardless. That’s what it means to love God.

I think the only one struggling here is you, Matt.  You are struggling to make scripture mean what you want it to mean because your eisegetical bias makes you literally incapable of reading the Bible outside of the prism of your own dysfunctional fears and prejudices.  Following God does not mean checking our individualism at the door.  That is not what it means to love God.  To love God means to be who you are -- who God created you to be -- and to be a light to the world by loving others as he has loved us.

If Mrs. Hatmaker finds herself grappling with doubt and uncertainty about this teaching or any other, she should pray about it, consult her pastor, read Scripture, read Christian apologetics on the topic, pray some more and then pray again. She should do all of this in private, speaking only with close Christian friends and mentors who may be able to help her sort through it. But what she should not do — what she absolutely cannot do — is stand in front of the world and declare these teachings moot just because she finds them distasteful. How she feels about them personally is of no consequence. She is not God. Her thoughts and feelings don’t become reality just because they entered into her head.
Just because someone holds a different Biblical perspective than you, Matt, does not mean that person is "grappling with doubt and uncertainty."  Sometimes I feel like people who arrogantly present their own personal view of Biblical interpretation as the "right" one are the people are grappling with their faith and certainty.  It's often a truism that those who yell the loudest about what's "right" tend to privately be the ones who are struggling the most because the cognitive dissonance between what they think they are supposed to believe is not compatible with what they know.

And no, I do not agree with your advice that she deal with this privately.  I think it is perfectly right and reasonable for believers to process through our growth and understanding publicly.  God may not change, but we do.  And our understanding of what God wants can and should change.  I personally don't find the Bible passages distasteful on these topics.  I do, however, find your judgmental interpretation of them to be.  You are not God either.  Your beliefs and feelings are just as valid and potentially flawed as Jen's.  In other words, if you want people to respect your feelings on these matters then you should extend the same respect to others.  Her thoughts and feelings don't become reality just because they enter her head and neither do your's just because you wrote them down in a snide column attacking a fellow sister in Christ.

Obedience is not emphasized in churches very often these days, but it should be. Obedience to God means following Him, standing by Him, affirming His teachings at all times, even when we struggle to understand them. We are commanded to submit to God. Submit. That means give in to His Word and His Law, no matter how it makes us feel.
So, why is gay marriage wrong? Well, first of all, because He said so. I know that reason will not be enough to convince unbelievers outside of the church, but for Christians, if we intend to continue being Christian, it is reason enough. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding,” Proverbs reminds us. If you don’t understand why God condemns the homosexual act, that’s because you lack wisdom and insight. It’s not because God is wrong. Don’t rely on your own understanding. Trust God. That’s the fundamental problem with Christians who try to “update” the sexual morality of the Bible: They don’t trust God. They don’t believe Him. And if they don’t believe Him, it’s hard to see how they could really believe in Him.
Obedience is not emphasized in churches very often these days for a very good reason:  obedience robs believers of their identity, of their individual personality, of the ability to think for oneself, and it puts them in a position of subservience to flawed authority claiming a Divine imprimatur.  Following God does not mean blind obedience.  Even the story of Abraham and his near sacrifice of Isaac is a metaphor for saving faith not a literal teaching on obedience.  No, I do not believe the God that Jesus described is the type to demand blind obedience.  And because of that, the key is what Paul further explained.  We all know what is right.  It is written on our hearts.  We know it even apart from scripture and we glean it from our conscience, which is where we feel God.  As the writer of the first letter to Timothy wrote:  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"  In other words, it is "inspired" and it is "useful."  It does not say it is absolute.  It is "useful."  And in that, I will agree. I will also remind you that at the time of the writing of the letter to Timothy there was no New Testament scripture, so this was a reference to whatever Old Testament writings and other writings they may have been using as teaching material, including such extra-Biblical sources as The Book of Enoch, which was quoted authoritatively by Jesus himself.

A reminder:  Jen is not trying to "update" the sexual morality of the Bible.  Saying something over and over like that does not make it true.  You are extending her comments to mean things that she did not say.

But if we do want to understand why God has declared the homosexual act a sin — even if the why of God doesn’t matter nearly as much as the what — I would recommend that we do three things:
First, read the first chapter of Genesis. God looked at Adam alone on Earth and decided that he needed a partner. It is not good for man to be alone, He said, so he made Eve.  This tells us that men and women were, in a very intimate and profound way, made for each other.

According to you. There are plenty of valid interpretations of that text that are not the same and none of those different interpretations mean that you are the only one who is correct.  I understand Genesis to be a metaphorical poem of myth.  There is a great truth about the relationship of God to humanity but I don't force a literal interpretation onto it any more than I would onto one of William Blake's great didactic mythological poems.  I would say the more likely point is not one of sexuality but of the equality and intertwining of the human species as fits more appropriately with Paul's admonition that in Christ there is no slave, nor master, nor female or male, etc.

Second, read the early passages in the Gospels. Christ was born of a woman and raised by His mother and His earthly father. We call Jesus, Mary, and Joseph the “Holy Family,” but you might also call them the “correct” or “true” family. If we want to know what a family is supposed to look like — and if all of the Biblical words and commands and teachings on the subject are somehow not enough — then we need only observe the physical, literal demonstration God provided for us. He said, “Here is a family, THE family. Make your families like this one.” How much clearer could He be?
This is a prime example of the worst possible hermeneutical approach to Biblical interpretation.  Telling the story (or monomyth) of Jesus's birth has absolutely nothing to do with presenting an image for future generations of what a family is "supposed to look like" unless you mean an adult male making a baby with a 13 year-old virgin out of wedlock and then roaming the countryside looking for a place to stay. <-- See?  This is me illustrating bad hermenutics with bad hermeneutics.

Third, read Matthew 19. Jesus, casting away any lingering doubts, describes a lawful marriage in detail: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 
According to the Son of God, a marriage occurs when a man is united to his wife and the two become one flesh. There you go. There it is. There’s the truth. What part of “man united to his wife” is difficult to understand? 
These three passages are especially important because they tell us something about the nature of things. Marriage has a certain nature. It serves a certain function. It does certain things and exists for certain reasons, and those things and those reasons and those functions are all made clear by God and His prophets and Apostles. If we read the Bible, we come to understand that gay “marriage” is not simply immoral, but intrinsically impossible. It doesn’t just defy God’s commandments, it defies logic. Speaking of gay “marriage” is like speaking of “dry water” or “rectangular triangles.” It’s simply incoherent.

Again, you're making the Bible say what  you want it to say rather than taking the clear meaning within a proper context.  The context for Jesus's words was that the Pharisees were attempting to "catch" him with a question about the propriety of divorce within that culture.  It's not a question inquiring about the state of love between man and woman or man and man or woman and woman.  It is a statement about the joining of two souls into a matrimonial state with a divine compact between the two.  In first century Palestine, the idea that the Pharisees would be asking about same-sex marriage is absurd.  So there is no commentary being made here by Jesus about same-sex love.  But there IS a higher principle about two adults making a marital commitment to each other.  And this is a principle that can be applied to all marital relationships regardless of sex, gender, or plurality.

This is not an oxymoron or incoherent.  It is actually using the same method of interpretation that Jesus regularly used himself when trying to teach the people.  He would point out some concrete belief they were accustomed to claiming a scriptural foundation for and when they all agreed he would then confound them by challenging their presuppositions and forcing them to expand their perceptions and try to see the higher principle behind the rule or the law.  And he also expressed his frustration that sometimes even the Disciples were not getting it.

Now, there are many aspects of the faith that I find challenging and mysterious. Personally, for me, this isn’t one of them. It all seems quite sensible and utterly consistent with the innate moral intuition that all human beings possess. But even if I couldn’t see the logic in Biblical marriage and even if I couldn’t intuit it based on natural law, it would still be just as true, and I would be called to affirm it and profess it all the same. There are many concepts that my puny little brain can’t seem to wrap itself around, but that’s why I must lean on God’s understanding. Not mine. And certainly not Jen Hatmaker’s.

Good. I'm glad to see you growing her in your point of view to recognize that this is a personal belief on your part and not some incontrovertible Divine truth.   You have spent an inordinate amount of typeface explaining to the world why Jen Hatmaker's "feelings" do not matter and yet now you are referencing your own (and humanity's) "innate moral intuition."  Intuition sounds remarkably similar to feelings.  I would suggest that you lean a little more on God's understanding because your own understanding is remarkably unhinged, even setting aside your own attempt at faux self-deprecation.  But let me encourage you with this, if you find something in your faith that is "challenging and mysterious"?  Stop looking to apologetics to try and understand it.  That's just letting someone else do the thinking for you.  I would encourage you to look not for a set of concrete rules to tell you what to think but instead seek to view the Bible from above rather than within.  This way you can see the whole picture first perhaps and glean the higher principles for proper context for the individual verses.  And then break outside of that comfort-zone box and encounter God in his fullest and infinite potential.  This is freeing.  And it fits the picture of the God that Jesus shared.  A God who is not so petty as to fixate on behavior but rather on growing the heart, like the Grinch, because when the heart grows two-sizes in one day, it's going to hurt but the love that flows after it is worth celebrating.  This is the heart of the Christian and it is the heart of one of who loves without condemnation.

So I would ask Mrs. Hatmaker what she believes has happened in the last few years that all of a sudden changes the fundamental nature of marriage? What exactly have we learned, in our modern and enlightened state, that even Jesus Christ did not know? What is the truth that we’ve discovered that debunks the truth given to us by God Almighty? Yes, a lot of us have icky feelings about Biblical sexual morality, but feelings aren’t truth.
Of course I’m being a bit flippant. Nothing has happened or can ever happen to debunk or disprove God’s truth. All that can happen is that we, in our weakness and stupidity, become blinded to it. And if we are blind then we should pray to have our eyes opened. But until that happens, all we can do is follow God’s voice in the darkness, wherever it leads. That, we should always remember, is the very essence of faith.

I would suggest that nothing has changed Jen's view on the fundamental nature of marriage.  What has changed, if anything, has been her understanding of how God loves unconditionally.   Instead of attacking her, maybe you should examine the principles of unconditional love and think beyond this limited box you've comfortably settled yourself into.  Your God-Box appears to be extremely small, in my opinion.

The essence of faith, to me, is the confidence that we know there is something more than what we can see, that we should be a light of love to the world, and that no matter how much I believe something there is always a chance that I could be wrong.  And that's okay.

God knows it and he's okay with it too.

Love.  Just love.









Friday, May 22, 2015

SLOUCHING TOWARDS HEAVEN....

SLOUCHING TOWARDS HEAVEN;
OR UNLOCKING THE GOD BOX;
OR THE RAMBLING CONFESSIONS OF A CHRISTIAN HERETIC

Know thyself.”
Socrates

In the 2014 film “I Origins”, there is a short but profound scene with the protagonist, an agnostic scientist, who is experimenting with the DNA of a specific type of earthworm that is born completely blind; in fact, with no genetic capability of sight at all. He is attempting to manipulate the DNA so that he can force the earthworms to pass on the genetic traits for an eye to their offspring and thus demonstrate how the “eye” as we know it may have evolved. His fiance, who is deeply spiritual and in tune with her individual concept of God, challenges him. Since the earthworm does not have the sense of sight, he is limited in his perceptions, she asks how an earthworm suddenly gaining sight would explain “light” to the other earthworms.
As she presses further, she begs him to consider whether it might be possible for some humans to have a rudimentary “sixth sense” that might actually enable them to capture a glimpse of reality outside our normal five senses. And if that is possible, how would they explain their perceptions to the rest of the world?

He is confused by what he obviously thinks is a childishly simplistic question but is incapable of delivering a competent answer precisely because altho simplistic, the question just pushed him to think outside of his own perceptual box. With that simple question, she upsets his paradigm with the implication that all that is knowable is not necessarily perceivable by his own limited five senses. He is suddenly challenged with the idea that there might be aspects of reality that exist but we simply are unaware and incapable of conceiving of them because we have no sensory starting point.

This was a cinematic moment that perfectly illustrated my own spiritual journey of understanding. It is fiction but it is grounded in a deeply philosophical rock that I have been climbing for a number of years. We humans are limited in our perceptions in so many ways, some of them by our basic DNA but also by our choices (both conscious and unconscious). It's like being given a closed and opaque box. We know there's something inside there but we can't touch, taste, smell, hear, or see it.

Do you remember the thrill as a child of being given a beautifully wrapped gift box? In a lot of ways, it rarely matters what is actually inside the box because it can never match the feelings of excited expectation and curiosity. But also, no matter what the gift actually is, it is utterly meaningless until the box is opened. Only then do you begin to appreciate the gift for what it truly is rather than the blind anticipation. Both are true and real feelings but only one is allowed to be fully actualized. If you never unwrap your gift and open the box, allowing the real gift to be experienced, you will stay in blissful ignorance, distracted by the beautiful trappings others have wrapped it up within, but you will also be missing out on the real and untarnished gift.

Now imagine that you have an image of God trapped inside that box and you feel the security of knowing that you have Him inside that box, but the longer you put off opening the box the more comfortable you become just letting it stay wrapped and unopened. Now what if I told you that until you open that box and allow your perception of God to expand outside of that comfortable box you will never touch the face of God or ever reach within to understand who you are in this infinite universe.

I believe this imaginary God-box is humanity's trap supplied by the institutionalized church (including Temples, Mosques, and Synagogues as well) and keeps us mired in the muck of confusion and conflict rooted in our battle to stay spiritually stagnant – even though our individual spirits are always craving more even if we choose not to listen.

I visualize the God-box like this:

A Venn diagram of three interlocking spheres (of influence). One sphere is labeled “Traditions, Rituals, Rules.” One is labeled “Culture, Media, Politics.” The last is labeled “Family, Friends, Peers.” Where the spheres intersect with each other is labeled “God (perception of).” The entire Venn diagram fits tightly within a square that I call the “God-box.” And this is where those within institutionalized churches are comfortable existing. However, if we would just take that small step to look outside that box we would see an infinite space in which God actually exists, but we cannot perceive Him because we have locked ourselves inside our God-box. Unlike The Doctor's T.A.R.D.I.S., the God-Box is actually smaller on the inside and infinite on the outside. Most people never even glimpse God because they are terrified of ever even looking outside that box, for to go outside the God-box means the very difficult (and sometimes painful) task of introspection and going within. Introspection is not a trait commonly encouraged by the institutions of power that control the flow of information in this world. Growth should be uncomfortable. If you're comfortable where you are then you are not growing and you are probably stagnating.



The real Truth in terms of an actual spiritual journey is that it can only come from within us individually for that is ultimately the only place we really can know God's heart – not from printed ink on thin paper and bound by faux leather with our names embossed in gold. I part company with institutionalized church dogma (those beliefs I am supposed to agree to as “sound” and “correct” as defined by other flawed humans) in my view of the Bible because they are circular and self-serving. Institutional churches, by necessity, require some sort of authoritative control over thoughts and behaviors. To accomplish this they must deify the Bible and arbitrarily declare it to be infallible and inerrant. I do not blindly accept the truth expressed by any individual or any institution that asserts such a thing. Perfect knowledge of the spiritual cannot be perfectly produced or understood by imperfect beings and most especially within the context of a hive-minded institution. The Bible is not God's "word". This is a term concocted to end debate with a “God said it. I believe it. And that's that.” type of thinking. What we call the Bible is not “God-breathed” nor is it “God-authored.” By its own terms, Jesus himself is the “Word,” not this disparate collection of writings and letters that range from the metaphysical to the historical to the mythological to the poetic to the prophetic to the didactic. It was not constructed by a magical hand appearing and writing it down. It was not written on golden plates and transcribed by a human. There is most likely some Divine inspiration within the text but Divine inspiration is not inerrant because for it to be expressed it must be filtered through the limited human prism of understanding and the personal biases of the one delivering the inspired thought. Divine inspiration can, and does, happen throughout history and throughout humanity and oftentimes in the most unexpected ways and requires us to seek it out intuitively to glean that inspiration. To believe that God can be captured inside a single antiquated collection or an institutional box of any kind, in fact, possibly borders on the blasphemous from my personal perspective.

That being said, I do not discount the importance of the collection as our best preserved source of the oral teachings passed down from Jesus of Nazareth. I accept the Bible as authoritative only in that sense and only so much as I believe the text translations are mostly reliable and accurate (unicorns in the King James Version notwithstanding). I do not believe it has been, or is, properly interpreted or applied by the institutional churches worldwide. My method of interpretation is very simple: I look to the words and the actions of Jesus as an example for my life and the prism through which I read and interpret the rest of the Bible (and other texts as well). What I see in Jesus is a very simple call to authenticity -- to know myself and be true to myself. To seek ever deeper understanding of the world we live in, the way people think and feel, and the spiritual realm. In so doing, I develop empathy and understanding of those around me and as I grow in my understanding of God and myself I can exhibit ever increasing love and grace to those I encounter. This inevitably allows God to shine through me and spread the good news that Jesus has bridged the gap between us (the physical) and God (the spiritual). He is the open door to the Divine. He brought the Kingdom of God to us in the here and now. The good news (gospel) is not really about the future, or eternity but the here and now. What happens in eternity will happen or not, that is beyond our ability to really understand on a human level. But we can understand the world we live in. We can see the suffering. We can see the horrors and the beauty. Jesus did not come to build an institution; all structured churches are entirely man-made -- the modern pharisees. There is value to the gathering of fellow believers to show God's love to each other and to the world. However, as soon as “Roberts Rules of Order” is invoked at a business meeting and task-forces start forming, then a political institution has been created and not the church that Jesus referred to.

The institutional church lives on but it's on life support as it attempts to sustain itself as the only source for proper validation of spiritual experience and beliefs. But we all can take comfort that there is no need to have this validated by someone else, even if you adhere to an authoritative view of the Bible from a personal perspective. As Paul explained in his letter to the first-century church in Rome, God's law is written on all of our hearts and our consciences bear witness to it. So, stop looking for external validation. Your own conscience will validate your experience with God and your understanding of Him. My rule of thumb is considering whether the philosophical destinations I arrive at are grounded in increasing humility based in love and understanding of humanity and the world at large or in self-aggrandizing judgment and condemnation of people and people-groups outside my comfort zones. I hold on to the former and work to discard the latter.

Jesus came to start a movement based on the two-part highest principle. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul; and Love your neighbor as yourself. Every single other rule, law, prescription, or restriction should be able to fall under this without jumping through the horrific and contradictory hurdles erected by Christian apologetics. In fact, if you need someone else to provide for you books and classes to memorize arguments for your “faith” and “beliefs” then I would question whether you really have a faith or are just trodding the path of the familiar because the unfamiliar is scary.

It may sound trite to say "What Would Jesus Do?" But it is the easiest way to suss out what is truly "authoritative" and not just what we want to be authoritative for whatever reason. If you drop your institutional, denominational, and doctrinal walls and simply step back and examine things moment by moment through the highest principle prism -- you will find out just how much we call "Christianity" is nothing more than prejudice, politics, and tribalism draped in the bloody cloak of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to tell us to set ourselves apart and above everyone else. If he did then he failed in his example to us. His recorded words and actions are those of someone who expected his followers to be a part of the world around them and not to sit in self-righteous judgment of others who are different. Jesus embraced everyone except the religious hypocrites. Why? Because they were using the religious institutions of the day as a means for greedily enriching themselves as well as a weapon to bully those around them to conform to their own arbitrary interpretations and applications of the accepted holy scriptures of that time (which included some, but not all, of what the modern Christian churches accept as authoritative today). The example of Jesus is one who lived with a culture of religious systems of the time but never conformed to them and instead challenged them to think outside their closed box and embrace the higher principle that this God of love always intended. The community of believers who caught the wave of Jesus' "Good News" were just that, a community, and how did he say the world would know them (us)? "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35. Now do some research of the world outside your local church and ask yourself "How does the world know me(us)?"

With this view comes great humility and a willingness to be wrong so long as I am true to who I am and true to God as I know him through Jesus. What also comes is a great love for people and cultures that are very different from mine and it is a great equalizer in terms of beliefs and practices. So long as someone is earnest, authentic, and true to their beliefs without causing harm to others then I will embrace a fellow sojourner. As soon as your belief system starts requiring you to harm others or be an ass towards someone else (or a group) then as far as I'm concerned you have left the path that Jesus set forth for us all and are stomping your way through the overgrowth making your way down your own path of self-destruction. Good luck with that and ever attaining any real peace or understanding in this life or the next. You see, the beauty of finally shedding yourself of this God-Box defined by others is that for the first time in your life you will be able to experience the presence of God in a real and meaningful way without any need to paste on your Sunday church smile or drop another meaningless “God bless you.”

If God is love, then God is not political; God is not institutional; God is not cultural. If God is love, then God is transcendent and that means unknowable by our physical senses. God requires us to meet him inside.

It is only within that we can ever find the key to unlock that box and enter the infinite space God inhabits.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck Commander Singled out and Crucified? Let's Get Some Perspective

Phil Robertson of DUCK DYNASTY was punished by his employer A&E for some rather crude and insulting comments that are going to be published next month in a lengthy interview in GQ Magazine.  Besides the graphically crude descriptions of sex and his rather tilted tunnel-vision view of Christianity, he also expressed some severely ignorant opinions about his understanding of the experience of black Americans before and during the Civil Rights era.

Normally I really wouldn't care because the Robertson clan and their nauseating brand of Hillbilly homilies and self-righteous bumper-sticker talk do not appeal to me at all.  And honestly, I can't really even put myself into the mindset of those who do care for it.  I can understand chain-smoking and shooting up heroin before I can understand why someone would subject themelves to squatting in front of their television for that nonsense covered in gross rat's nest homeless men beards.

I'm just going to link to another article for anyone who wants to focus in on the details of what he actually said but to me, the issue boils down to him speaking publicly in a gross and inappropriate way under the guise of just "speakin' the trooth" and demonstrated himself to be drastically ignorant of the life experience of gay people and black people in America while posturing himself under a self-righteous mask of Christian love.

Now it seems to me that people are going utterly and ridiculously insane over this without using reason or rationality at all.  On the left side of the spectrum, A&E is being cheered on and even being encouraged to go further and actually fire Phil from the show (which makes no logical sense as there will not be a DUCK DYNASTY without him).  Those on the right side of the spectrum want to attach themselves to him as their personal representative who is being unfairly punished for speaking forth the truth of their Christian beliefs.

The bottom line is simply that this guy is a celebrity and he works for A&E.  When he spoke up publicly like that in the way that he did and without the benefit of the DUCK DYNASTY editors around to cut and bleep his words, then he reflected back on his employer in an embarrassing (and potentially harmful to the ratings and marketing) way.  So, they punished him. 

This is not a free speech issue. The government is not constraining his speech here and A&E is not discriminating against him because of his beliefs.  He is being punished for publicly embarrassing his employer, who depends on the public consumption of their broadcast, with politically incorrect and plain stupid comments.  And this is not something that is unique to conservative Christians speaking their mind.  This is all about idiots speaking out publicly in such a way that embarrasses their employers.  It happens to Christians and non-Christians.  Without even hitting the Internet I could rattle off 10 similar instances of some media personality who mouthed off publicly and got in trouble or fired by his employer and none of them were for being Christian and all of them were for being inappropriate and stupid.


1.  DON IMUS

In 2007, radio/tv personality Don Imus was fired by CBS for an off-the-cuff racially insensitive remark.

2. ORSON SCOTT CARD

Earlier in 2013, author Orson Scott Card was fired by DC Comics from a SUPERMAN comic he was scheduled to write.  The reason was because of his outspoken anti-Gay statements and efforts in opposition to Gay Marriage.


3. MARTIN BASHIR

Earlier this month, broadcaster Martin Bashir "resigned" from MSNBC after embarrassing the company by saying on-air that "Someone should shit in Sarah Palin's mouth."









4. JUAN WILLIAMS

In 2010, broadcaster Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio because of comments about Muslims he made on the O'REILLY FACTOR that were deemed by NPR to be inappropriate.











5. PAT BUCHANAN

In 2012, commentator Pat Buchanan was fired from MSNBC for statements he made in a book that they believed were bigoted in racial, ethnic, and gender-related ways.






6. DAVID CHALIAN

In 2012, Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian, was fired by Yahoo News over a hot-mic moment capturing him uttering a racially offensive remark.






7. JIMMY THE GREEK

In 1988, broadcaster Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was fired by CBS for some racially insensitive and ignorant statements he made in an interview on a local station.

8. DIXIE CHICKS

In 2003, singer Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made some politically charged anti-Pres. George Bush statements during a concert in England. The negative backlash resulted in their tour sponsor Lipton pulling their sponsorship.






9. CHARLIE SHEEN

In 2011, actor Charlie Sheen was fired from the TWO AND A HALF MEN tv show because of his self-destructive public behavior and belligerent statements about his employer.






10. MICHAEL SAVAGE

In 2003, MSNBC fired broadcaster Michael Savage after he made hateful anti-Gay statements on his show in an angry response to a caller.







So, yeah, I'm sure there's more if I wanted to start digging.  The point is, this is a business decision that has absolutely nothing to do with persecuting Christians and everything to do with punishing an employee who said stupid and insensitive things that embarrassed his employer.  Don't turn it into something it is not.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Debating the Morality of Polygamy from a Biblical Perspective

Debating the Morality of Polygamy from a Biblical Perspective


The recent ruling by the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act opened up the doors (from a Federal perspective) for any and all states to define marriage without Federal limitations.  While this paves the way for more and more states to readily allow same-sex marriage, I believe the language in the ruling sets the first rung on a ladder that may soon lead to challenges against another Federal law still in effect today – The Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882.  This law offends my sense of moral indignation because it was implemented expressly to discriminate against and imprison citizens because of their religious beliefs.  The law was passed specifically to persecute members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Now, it has continued to be upheld because the Government continues to maintain non-discriminatory rationale for their regulation of marriage as to be limited to one man and one woman and not multiple men and/or multiple women.  Most of this rationale is similar type of hysterical nonsense associated with the anti-homosexual zealots with assertions that polygamy leads to incest or polygamy leads to sexual abuse of children.  This is absurd prima facie propaganda.  There really is no rational reason for it outside of a religious bias against it.  Which brings us to the root of the problem. 

Remove the anti-Mormon bigotry from the equation as to The Edmunds Act and it all boils down to the Christian influence of American culture and by extension, our government.  And this is what I specifically wanted to address right now.  The following springs from a debate I had with a fellow Christian about 9 months ago over the proper Biblical stance on the issue of Polygamy.  By Biblical I am referring to The Holy Bible as accepted and used by orthodox Protestant Christian denominations.  The reason why I want to use her words here is because I believe she presents a commonly held position and thinking from within orthodox Christianity on this topic, and it’s a position I think is wrong and springs from flawed thinking.  Her position was that she is opposed to Polygamy because the Biblical Scriptures teach that it is morally wrong in God’s eyes.  My position in response was that Scripture in no way teaches that it is morally wrong, but rather presents it as morally neutral and any “immorality” associated with it was her imposing her own beliefs onto Scripture rather than doing a plain reading and understanding of the text itself.

For ease of reading, I will present each of my friend’s arguments (in italics and edited but just for clarity) against Polygamy, and then follow each argument with my response in bold.  In the end, I will leave it to the reader to decide for him- or herself as to which position is more sound.

From the very beginning God made one woman for one man and God said THIS is good. This was His design from the beginning. There is a "Bride theme" through out all of Scripture that gives us a picture of the truths that God intends for marriage to reflect (from God presenting the first Bride to the "first Adam" in Genesis to the Bride in Revelation being presented to the Bridegroom--or the "second Adam"--which is Christ.  Also, the prophet Jeremiah's “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you." (Jer. 3:14) to Paul's admonition "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her", (Eph. 5) and his "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor.11) The institution of marriage and its message spans the whole of Scripture. It is very much a metaphor and those of us who are married; we are literally "living object lessons" that point to something much bigger.
 This is all true but none of it really speaks to Polygamy, they merely stress the importance of the husband and wife relationships in a practical and metaphorical sense.
Polygamy violates this beautiful typology and is strictly something that began with those who rejected God's teachings. This particular sin eventually infiltrated into Israel and its leadership, but not without consequence.
This is not necessarily true. There is no Scriptural evidence that Polygamy began with those who rejected God’s teachings.  It’s a declaration without support.  If it were, then the incidences of such would have been met by direct and clear condemnation by God rather than passive allowance.

Recognizing an ideal to aspire to does not make it morally superior – simply an implied preference.
 In the Old Testament, the first reference to polygamy (multiple wives) in the Bible was with Lamech a descendant of Cain. (Gen. 4:19) I think this is key as it is a precedent for what will become a "cultural norm" for those people groups that Israel was to drive out of the Promised Land.

Saying something emphatically does not make it true. This is a presentation of an historical occurrence presented within the text without moral judgment.
 The next incident of Polygamy is in Gen. 26:34,35 "When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah." I don't think this is a mistake that the next time we see Polygamy it is with someone that has the character of Esau. Interestingly, Hebrews 12:16 even calls Esau a "fornicator". 
There is no moral judgment concerning Polygamy made in those references to Esau. There is simply an historical event that is recorded without judgment. The fact that the women brought grief to Esau has nothing to do with Polygamy. And the HEBREWS text does not either. The text reads "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." The use of “or” here separates the fornication reference from Esau. And even if you do want to extend the use of the word to Esau here, ignoring the grammatical structure, then it is a spiritual fornication or profane act by Esau that is actually identified here in the text – “who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” The logistical hurtles to get to a condemnation of Polygamy here violates all hermeneutical sense because the intent of the word is defined in the sentence itself. To better comprehend the meaning in a clearer sense, I would reference the New Century Version translation which properly breaks it up like this: “Be careful that no one takes part in sexual sin or is like Esau and never thinks about God. As the oldest son, Esau would have received everything from his father, but he sold all that for a single meal.”

God's Scriptural instructions for the leaders of the country in Deut. 17. says specifically... "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself." Well, yeah, I don't think they did so well with that... Solomon I think was the "poster child" for that one. (1 Kings 11:11) But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites, from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods." I think with both David and Solomon they were drawn into the cultural norms of their day. It was a strategic and expected thing for a king to make alliances and ensure political protection to marry into these neighboring people groups.... but God did WARN them about such things, and with both David and Solomon the women got them into trouble. This was NOT a good thing!

Again, looking to other translations, the more correct translation of Deut. 17:17 as to the things to look for when choosing a king is “The king must not have many wives, or his heart will be led away from God.”

This is not a statement of one wife, but not having “many” wives.

This is a nebulous statement that recognizes a truism that was played out with Solomon and David as you point out. Too many wives, especially too many foreign wives who bring their foreign gods into the equation, and you have a recipe for disaster by distracting the King away from God.

But it’s not anything that presents a universal moral principle of one spouse only.

Sorry to say, when the Kings behave as such then the "church leadership" slips down the slippery slope as well. (Ezra 9:1-3) "When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, ‘The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.’ So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished." (Mal. 2:11) "Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the Lord’s holy institution which He loves: he has married the daughter of a foreign god."
These verses have nothing to do with marrying more than one woman and everything to do with marrying foreign women who worshipped foreign gods and brought those into the families and the nation tainting God’s people.  But let’s move on out of the Prophets and talk New Testament now.

Who were the Men of God in the New Testament that had multiple wives?

None.

No one that I can find has more than one wife. (Let me know if you find one!) There may have been a few cultural hold-outs within the converted Gentiles, (hence Paul's admonition in Tim. and Titus,) but as far as I can tell Israel had abandoned Polygamy.

What does the New Testament say about Polygamy? 
It is true that the New Testament does not bear record to Men of God having multiple wives, but for a very good reason. By the time of the New Testament, monogamy was the norm for Greek and Roman societies but it was still residually hanging on within Palestinian Judaism. For example, Josephus records that Herod in the first century had 10 wives plus a large harem and the school of Shammai was still a proponent of polygamy as a cultural practice. The practice was a dying practice, however. But not because God’s command through Scripture or prophecy. It was an intellectual debate between the different rabbinical schools and leaders that was stemming the tide toward a more ordered society which benefited by the carnal restraint of monogamy.

Again, this does not do anything more than utilize the New Testament as a source for recognizing a cultural shift between the end of the OT period and the beginning of the NT period. It does not give support to the notion that Polygamy itself is anything other than morally neutral.
 So here are the New Testament verses concerning wives and marriage: Christ echoes the original intent of marriage in Matt. 19:4 “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’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 
This is true, but it has no bearing on the topic of the morality of polygamy. Becoming “one flesh” is simply a reference to sexual intercourse as evidenced by the verse in 1 Cor. 6:15-17: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Messiah? Shall I then take the members of Messiah and make them members of a whore? Let it not be! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a whore is one body? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ And he who is joined to the Master is one spirit."

In other words, be careful who you have sex with because it is not simply a physical union between the two of you but the two of you become one flesh together – it is a carnal and spiritual union whether we want to admit it or not. Sex is not to be entered into frivolously.

But that has no bearing on Polygamy itself as a concept. It is entirely possible for someone to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and then take another wife. In fact, we have centuries of recorded scriptural history where this was the case and done without moral judgment against it by God. In fact, in some instances, where a man’s brother dies and he is obligated by moral and scriptural law to marry his brother’s widow (regardless of whether he is already married), it could be argued that God encourages it.
 Again in Mark 10:6-7 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.’" 
Again, you can maybe argue a certain spiritual “ideal” here, but all I see is the basic recognition of man and woman as intended to be together but no requirement that it be exclusive.
 The "husband of one wife" verses: (1Tim 3:2) "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach." (1Tim 3:12) "Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." 
A great verse, but all it establishes is 2 things: (1) Polygamy must have been practiced in the church for him to make this point. (2) the author, as led by the Holy Spirit, pronounces no moral judgment against Polygamy itself but instead recognizes the practical reality that the type of person the church would want in leadership should not be trying to manage a house with multiple wives and all the distractions that would create (most especially the number of children). I say this, because all of the references are combined with other level-headed practical aspects and not focusing on the spiritual side so much. These are examples of the type of person who would be well-suited for leading out in what amounts to a miniature sub-society within the greater society.

There are plenty of times that Paul rebukes sin within the church. He avoids doing it here, further driving home my point that he may have believed Monogamy was the proper ideal (he was a Roman citizen and so was likely raised with that cultural belief) but he avoided condemning the Polygamous practice in the church. Further evidence that Polygamy itself is morally neutral.
 (Titus 1:6) "if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination." 
Actually, this is not just a general reference to the generic “man.” It is direction from Paul to Titus specifically about the qualities to look for when appointing “elders” in the churches he planted. His words are simple variations of the same words used to Timothy for appointing elders/bishops and deacons. Paul obviously believed the better ideal was monogamy but avoided condemning the practice of polygamy because he had no moral or scriptural authority to do it.
 The instruction is in reference to wives in the singular and not the plural: (1Cor. 7:1-2) "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." 
Actually, the word translated “own” as in “let each man have his own wife” is the Greek “heautou” and the word translated “own” as in “let each woman have her own husband” is the very different “idios.”

Heatou” is singular possessive such as “eating his own bread”.

Idios” is the more passive sense of being the one to whom I belong such as serving your “own” master (who may well have other servants as well) or as when scripture refers to Jesus returning to His “own” country (which would be the country of many other citizens as well).

Paul is reinforcing Genesis 3:18 where God said that it isn’t good for man to be alone. He is not addressing Polygamy or Monogamy. However, if we are going to go there with that scripture, it actually supports the notion of Polygamy rather than work against it by establishing that the man “owns” the woman as a possessive but that she is “owned” by him as one of possibly many.
 (Eph. 5:33) “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” 
That statement has no bearing on Polygamy.  Why is it impossible to love more than one wife as himself? The directive to the wife would apply to all the wives.  Just as we can love all of our children fully and equally, if a man has more than one wife there is nothing inherent in our make-up that says he can’t love both (or more) equally – even if that is hard for us to understand because of our cultural bias.
  (1Pet. 3:7) “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 
This has nothing to do with polygamy and everything to do with loving and honoring your wife (or wives if you so chose).

Exo. 21:10 and Deut. 21:15 both expressly allow a man to take more than one wife – even a wife he does not love.

Remember when the Sadducees attempted to trap Jesus by giving him a hypothetical based on Deut. 25:5 about the aforementioned requirement of a brother to marry his brother’s widow (a requirement that makes no distinction as to whether the surviving brother is already married or not – in fact, within the culture, it is implicit that unless each surviving brother in the hypothetical were just reaching marrying age, they would already be married or at least promised to someone else). Jesus did not take the bait and instead responded back to them that they obviously do not know the scripture or they would realize that there is no marriage in Heaven and that in the resurrection none will marry – so it is effectively an irrelevant emphasis by them that misses the point of eternity.

So, does that mean I’m positing or advocating support for Polygamy as the norm across this nation and the world? No. I am asserting that when the whole of Scripture is read without imposing a presupposition, then there is no support for the notion of a moral basis against polygamy itself as an institution. There are practical reasons to avoid it, for sure. There have even been societal reasons that highly support the notion of Monogamy as the most conducive to a Western-type of culture. And there are demonstrative problems with the practice as imposed by religious inculcation where it is abused and used as a means of controlling women and indulging in lustful behavior.

But abuse of the practice does not make it inherently “wrong.”

What it means is that it is a practice with a greater probability of problems. But, of course, we also live in a society now where more than 50% of the marriages end in divorce, and the number is actually slightly higher than the national average among professing Christians. So, I think throwing stones at those who desire a Polygamist lifestyle is just tossing them through our own glass house and perhaps it’s time we stopped using scripture to justify our own misgivings about something that simply rubs us wrong primarily because we were raised in a culture that tells us it is wrong. It is the ongoing debate over malum in se versus malum prohibitum – something that is wrong in itself versus something that is wrong because it is against the law.

I do not subscribe to the doctrine of malum prohibitum on moral issues (free will and individual responsibility reign in these areas) and Polygamy is not malum in seor God would have been explicit about it rather than requiring us to connect disparate dots buried out of context throughout the Bible.