March 2006


Social conservatives have long said the fight for same-sex marriage will logically extend to other non-traditional forms of marriage such as polygamy. The homosexual community and same-sex marriage apologists balk at the idea, claiming this is nothing more than a slippery slope argument intended to undermine same-sex marriage by scaring people into believing that legalizing same-sex marriage will open the flood-gate for the legalization of other relationships society disapproves of for moral or social reasons. Recent events appear to vindicate the merits of the conservatives’ argument. A pro-polygamy message is emerging out of Hollywood.

 

Hollywood has been instrumental in shaping society’s view of homosexuals. The portrayal of homosexuals and homosexual relationships has been pushed mainstream. Popular TV shows such as Will & Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Ellen have changed cultural perceptions of homosexuality by portraying homosexuals in a humorous light. It’s hard to disapprove of those who make us laugh. Other popular TV shows have featured episodes in which prominent characters experiment with bisexuality, often involving on-screen kisses between members of the same gender. There is an endless list of movies that include gay characters who are portrayed in a positive light as well: My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Mexican, and Brokeback Mountain to name a few.

 

Having sufficiently penetrated the small and big screens with homosexuality to reshape public conception of homosexuality from bad to good, Hollywood is turning its attention to another social agenda: polygamy. On March 12th HBO began a new series entitled “Big Love,” produced by none other than Tom Hanks. It is about a Salt Lake City businessman named Bill Henrickson, played by Bill Paxton of “Titanic” fame. Bill has three wives and seven children. While the show portrays the peculiar struggles of polygamous relationships, overall it portrays polygamy in a positive light. The message appears to be: “They are a loving family who has occasional family issues just like every other family. They are like the rest of us, so we should be accepting of them.”

 

On Tuesday March 28th, ABC’s left-leaning legal drama, Boston Legal, also aired an episode casting polygamy in a positive light. The show features an all-star cast including William Shatner (Captain Kirk of Star Trek), Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown), and James Spader (The Practice), and reaches a viewing audience of approximately 7.5 million households. In this particular episode Denise Bauer defended a polygamist, arguing that polygamy ought not be illegal because (1) today’s social climate is much different than in years gone by, (2) polygamist relationships “work” for those who are involved in them, (3) and because we are already practicing non-institutionalized “successive” polygamy in our high rates of divorce and remarriage, and non-institutionalized “concomitant” polygamy in our high rates of extramarital affairs.

 

Whatever you might make of these arguments, the fact that they are being made on a national TV show is significant. On the face of it the arguments sound pretty convincing, and I have little doubt that the show impacted the beliefs of many who watched it. I doubt that this will be the last bout of polygamy-friendly displays Hollywood will turn out. With each exposure the moral fabric of this nation will be trimmed down.

 

In days gone we got our philosophy from philosophy books and lectures; today we get our philosophy through the media. TV and movies shape the worldview of many people. They pushed the envelope in promoting homosexuality, and now they are beginning to push the envelope on polygamy. If Hollywood continues with this trend, I would not be surprised if public opinion begins to shift on this issue. And since the principles used to justify same-sex marriage apply equally to polygamy, I would not be surprised if a cultural and legal victory for same-sex marriage will also spell an “around-the-corner” victory for polygamy as well.

 

Quote of the day:

 

“What I didn’t care for about modernism was its tendency toward dogmatism; what I don’t care for about postmodernism is its tendency toward skepticism. I think we’ve jumped out of the frying pan of modernist certainty and into the fire of postmodern uncertainty.”—Dan Wallace

 

Quote of the day:

 

“The concept of God is general and benign–no real threat. But if you talk about Jesus, sparks fly. Jesus is God with a face, not the fill-in-the-blank variety we conform to our own tastes. He can’t be twisted and distorted and stuffed in our back pocket. And that bothers people. If God is silent, it’s anyone’s game. We can speculate all we want and think what we like. But if God speaks, then our opinions don’t matter. He’s the authority on what He’s like and what He wants. We have to take Him as He is, shy brunette or fiery redhead, on His terms not ours.”–Greg Koukl

People tend to have a hard time receiving compliments and correction. When complimenting someone it’s not uncommon for them to deny the compliment, saying something like “No, no, I’m really not X.” The form this takes among pious Christians cautious to avoid the appearance of enjoying the compliment is, “It’s not me. It’s God.” There is some merit to this response, but often it is little more than a false humility we are putting forth. Why can’t we acknowledge our part, and thank the person for their compliment, all the while giving the glory to God? Other people receive compliments so well that they go to their head. Why do we have such a hard time receiving compliments in a balanced and godly manner?

 

 

For most people correction is much more difficult to receive than a compliment. Why? Because no one likes to be wrong, yet alone be told they are wrong. While part of our response to correction may depend on how the correction was delivered, the other part is dependent on our personality and human nature. How do we hear and receive correction with a Christ-like attitude? How can we overcome our natural tendency to become defensive and/or angry with those who correct us?

 

 

What I want you to chime in on, then, is the following questions: What advice do you have on how to receive a compliment, and how to receive correction? What are some basic principles we might follow? What are some basic “responses” that will allow us to comfortably receive compliments and correction without being vain or contentious? Any thoughts?

Should we tolerate hatred and racism? Should we tolerate rape and pedophilia? No. Not even postmodernists would be willing to say yes to this. Clearly, then, tolerance has its limits. John Locke argued that while there is much we should tolerate, there remain some things that are simply intolerable. Our job is to figure out which is which. One thing is clear: tolerance is not a blank check to allow any sort of behavior that man may choose to engage in.

Mark Allen of Life Training Institute had an interesting blog entry today about a case being dubbed “Roe vs. Wade for Men.” Mark wrote:

Here is an interesting article about a lawsuit filed earlier this month by a group called National Center for
Men.
The director of NCM, Mel Freit filed the suit on behalf of 25 year old Matt Dubay in Federal District Court in Michigan. The gist of the lawsuit is that Dubay should not pay to support a child he neither intended to conceive nor wanted to have. At first the argument seems patently absurd, why should men have a right to
insist on a woman having an abortion? 

As the article points out, there is logic in the position being taken by NCM, a logic driven, by of all things, feminism. After all, if the choice of having a child should be the woman’s and the woman’s alone. Shouldn’t the woman, and the woman alone bear the responsibility of that choice? As a feminist attorney put it:

Feminist attorney Karen DeCrow, a former president of the National Organization for Women, has written that “autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.”

 


Interesting argument.

The Barna Research Group’s latest study is concerns the unchurched adult population in America. They found that one third of adult Americans have not attended church in the last six months. Of the nonchurched population, 62% consider themselves Christians, and 24% atheist. Three out of ten non-churched are Catholics, 1 out of five are Baptist. The area of the country with the greatest amount of unchurced adults is the West (43%) and the Northeast (40%). Click here to read the article, to read more about the beliefs and practices of those we are trying to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

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