Sunday, January 8, 2017

To Whoever is Spreading Rumors

In the last 6 months I've gotten a few comments that have surprised me:

  • "Did you take a plural wife?" (at least 3 times from different people)
  • "I heard you proposed plural marriage to <name withheld 1>. Is that true?"
  • "I heard you took <name withheld 2> as a plural wife. Is that true?"

Because this is apparently established itself as a pattern, I'm going to write up my thoughts on the matter here so I can respond with a link instead of having to rewrite my thoughts every time.

First, what I find even more surprising than the content of these questions is that anyone would have the audacity to ask in the first place. Don't you know that gossip is a sin?

  • Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. (Psalm 101:5)
  • Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)
  • malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. (Titus 3:2)
  • At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. (1 Timothy 5:13)

The troubling thing about it is that I have yet to hear from the originator(s) of the rumor(s), only people further down the chain. At some point, one or more people spun up false statements and sent them out. To them I say:

  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
  • You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:16)
  • Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another, Or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away. (Proverbs 25:9-10)
  • You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. (Exodus 23:1)

Now, none of what I have said so far has anything to do with the subject matter. Let's get on to that.

I have written extensively about plural marriage. My position on the issue is no secret. My reasons for holding that position are also no secret, and no one has yet to give me any good reason to change my position. That being said, I don't really care if people think I have more than one wife, am looking for more than one wife, have proposed to women after my first wife, etc.

But almost all of you think very differently about plural marriage. You think it is an abomination, a violation of God's commandments, a filthy affair, etc. Did you ever stop to think of the people you are hurting by coming up with or spreading accusations such as this? Not me, but the name withhelds above? These are good people, people that I know would be very upset to know their names are being associated with plural marriage.

While you may not care about vilifying me, you ought to think twice before hurting people that are not only innocent but would be horrified to be associated with plural marriage. It's one thing to insult someone who claims to be keeping God's commandments to them. It is another to drag someone into it who has nothing to do with it.

I know of at least two women who caught wind of their names being included in these false rumors. You really ought to reconsider your sinful behavior in starting and/or spreading these rumors.

Now, onto the third point I need to make. As I said, my position on this issue is no secret. Knowledge of whether or not I have multiple wives does not add to the discussion. Oddly enough, your perverse obsession with it is exactly what you (the anti-polygamists) are accusing people like me (who understand God's word to indicate it is something he has, can, and may command individuals to practice) of being guilty of, when the opposite seems to be the case.

For the record, as of today (8 January 2017), I have not ever proposed plural marriage to anyone. I have not asked anyone out on on any dates other than my one and only wife since we were originally engaged. I will not update this record, or answer any further questions about the issue. Don't ask.

It is kind of funny to me that people would assume that plural marriage is something I would rush headlong into. It took me over 100 first dates in four states before meeting and proposing to my wife. That huge labor was conducted as a single person with very little other responsibilities. I am married, have a very demanding job, an equally demanding farm, a lengthy list of books God has asked me to write, and a quiver of young children to take care of. I do not have free time. I live in a rural area in an isolated region. My social networks are saturated with people who think plural marriage is an abomination. How on earth a person in my situation would manage to even meet someone who wasn't instantly repulsed from the concept, let alone in find myself in a situation where enough time would be available to get to know and vet this person, let alone find someone who meets the requirements (given that the bar would be at least as high as it was in my initial search, if not higher) is a mystery to me. Nothing is impossible to God, but I would set the odds about equal with God raising up a son of Abraham from one of the rocks in my backyard. I'm not holding my breath.

Finally, I anticipate fully that one principle reason these rumors are being spread is to discredit the things I teach, which tend to chafe against the traditions we love so much.

How many wives I have or don't have doesn't give anyone license to dismiss out of hand what I write. Quoting from this post,

Teachings can be true or false. Teachers are neither.
There are several ways we can misunderstand the way this works. God makes use of vessels to do his work. Sometimes these are righteous vessels (like Isaiah), and sometimes these are wicked vessels (like Nebuchadnezzar). Most times, however, they are a little righteous and a little wicked (like Gideon, who did some things right and some things wrong). The righteousness of a man does not indicate that anything he says is true. The Bible is full of examples of true messages from God being delivered by men who were not worthy of emulation. On the other hand, the wickedness of a man does not indicate that a particular belief he has is not from God. The high priest who killed Jesus delivered a true prophecy (see John 11:49-51)!
We ought to assume that God will use anyone and anything around us to teach us all the truth we are willing to receive. We ought to prove all things, instead of just assuming something is false because it doesn't agree with what we currently understand. In fact, if we expect that there are things we do not yet know, and glory to which we have not yet attained, we ought to assume that the space between where we are and where we want to be will be spanned by new truth that will necessarily clash with what we currently understand, for if it did not, would we not already embrace it? We ought to avoid dismissing people out of hand because they believe differently than we do. Did Moses dismiss Jethro out of hand when he possessed truth that Moses had not yet heard? No. Rather, he proved all things, and found that much of what Jethro taught was useful to advance his own understanding.
Jesus himself was dismissed as wicked by the majority of people that witnessed his mortal ministry. Isaiah said that Jesus "hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2) There was nothing overtly obvious about Jesus' true role that would have caused people to listen to what he said. Instead, those who followed him did so on the merit of his message.
When we dismiss truth presented to us by our fellows, we are cutting ourselves off from the blessings God intends to give us. I have personally witnessed many occasions where someone I know has prayed for certain blessings or deliverance from God only to reject the person he sent to provide the requested blessings.
We should not look for true messengers, or disqualify messengers as false. We should not listen more to people (ministers, spiritual giants, popes, priests) we assume are righteous. We should not listen less to people we assume are wicked. Instead, we ought to try all things and hold fast to what is true.
By testing all things, you are relying on the Holy Ghost for truth, and not man, despite recognizing that God might be sending you new truth via association with other individuals who know something that you don't.
If people worked half as hard to read what I write as they do to discredit what I write, well, I'd have to write a whole lot less!

I hope that satisfies your lusty desire to pry into my life. Hopefully now that we got that taken care of, we can all get back to repenting of our sins.