New Covenant Patriarchy
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Tom Shipley Responds ... Part 2
Mr. Yeager: So, what about all the men who would not be able to find wives if polygamy was allowed? The ratio of male children to female children is about 50/50. If a man has four wives, that means that there are three other men who cannot marry. In the Old Testament, the men who did not marry were the ones who could not afford to marry. In today’s society, that distinction does not exist.Also, one-to-one marriages are not a limitation on the number of children that can be born. My parents had eight kids, and I have several friends whose parents had 10 or even 16 kids.It seems to me that polygamy is actually damaging to children. Many studies have found that the lack of a good father figure causes significant to children. Now, my father is a great man, and was easily able to be a good father to his eight kids. But, if one man has 50 children, how can he spend time with all of them?
Excess Single Women in Western ChurchesPolygamy as the New Testament’s ideal standard for marriage has occasionally been defended by anti-establishment religious groups as a supposed means of strengthening the family – always the “patriarchal family.” This is a strange argument. Polygamy did not strengthen any family in the Old Testament. It surely does not strengthen families that it keeps from being formed by reducing the pool of eligible women for marriage. But what about the disparity between the number of male and female members in the Western Church? Would polygamy solve this problem?
It is not widely recognized that Western Christianity for many centuries has been afflicted by an imbalance of men and women church members. This may not be the case with Greek Orthodoxy, where equality seems to prevail,36 but it has been the case with all other major denominations.37 Women outnumber men, sometimes by wide margins. In African-American congregations in the United States, in Latin American and Italian Roman Catholic churches, and in white Pentecostal churches, women outnumber men by two-to-one or more. If Paul’s rule against marriages between Christians and non-Christians were honored by unmarried women in these groups, the formation of families would decrease.
Assume that unmarried women in the churches turned down all offers of marriage by non-Christians. Non-Christian males could not marry Christian women, who would refuse their offers. Meanwhile, many single Christian women would find no husbands. Unless the churches could find a solution to the problem of gender disparity, the widespread presence of churches in any society would produce increased crime, other things being equal. There would be too many unmarried young men.
The practical solution to this Western social problem has been simple: most Christian women marry covenant-breakers when asked, if no one else has asked or is likely to ask. This practice has continued for centuries. Adult sons of these religiously mixed marriages more often refuse to join the church than adult daughters. They imitate their fathers. Daughters imitate their mothers. They join the church and then marry non-members, just as their mothers did. In a book on this continuing disparity of membership, the author does not mention this imitation phenomenon as the reason why this disparity continues, generation after generation. He offers no explanation for the disparity, which appears in all branches of the Western church, nor does he explain why the problem does not afflict Eastern Orthodoxy. He recognizes that sons reject their mothers as role models, imitating Chapter 3 . . . I Timothy 3:1–2 their fathers,38 but he does not discuss the obvious: their mothers have broken God’s law by marrying non-Christian men, and their daughtersfollow their example. Establishing a family covenant becomes more important to unmarried Christian women than maintaining the church covenant. Romance defeats confession.
Would polygamy in the churches reduce this problem? I have twice been asked this question by a prominent African-American pastor, whose congregation is filled with unmarried women who cannot find husbands. Polygamy might solve the problem for some of these woman, but it would raise all of the other problems by setting a legal precedent which, if authorized by civil law and imitated by the general culture, would produce increased social disorder. Polygamy would not solve the underlying problem, namely, an excess of women in the churches. Because this problem is rarely discussed in public, churches have done nothing to solve it for several hundred years.The negative aspects of not being married seem very great to eligible unmarried women. When asked by covenant-breakers to marry, they do not look into the future and acknowledge that their sons will go to hell if they imitate their fathers, which most of them will. Meanwhile, their parents and their churches offer no serious negative sanctions for this act of covenant-breaking. The lure of the benefits of marriage is not offset in their minds by the threat of immediate negative ecclesiastical and family sanctions or by longterm negative sanctions: the eternal fate of their sons and the temporal miseries of sharing a life with covenant-breakers. So, they marry these men. The disparity of church membership continues. To put it somewhat graphically, theology and sanctionless ecclesiology are no match for sexual passion during women’s child-bearing years. As a result, Satan harvests the souls of many sons of Christian mothers, century after century.Monogamy and Social Order
39. Gary North, Inheritance and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy, 2nd electronic edition (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Dominion Educational Ministries, Inc.,  2003), Appendix D: “The Demographics of American Judaism.” Page. 111
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