Thursday, June 30, 2005

Marriage: Is "Poly" the Next Step?

Spain has just joined Belgium and the Netherlands by making same-sex marriages legal. Canada is poised to do the same. In both instances, the arguments are the same, and can be summed up, essentially, as, "fairness" and "equality."

According to the folks in Canada, a "nation of minorities," the legalization of same-sex marriages is necessary, because "a right is a right." (This begs the question of marriage as a right; life, liberty, and marriage? Ask any husband about the first two in light of the third! But we won't go there now...) The anticipated approval of the measure to create this "right" will, according to the national co-ordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage, Alex Munter, show Canada to be a nation that is "open, inclusive, and welcoming." Meanwhile, in Spain, Beatriz Gimeno, a longtime leader of the gay rights movement in Spain, said, “Now comes the hardest part, which is changing society’s mentality.”

OK, let me see if I follow this: Marriage is a right which all citizens -- no, wait, all persons -- are entitled to exercise. Any attempt to restrict the application of this right is unfair, and should not be permitted. Minorities, in particular, need to be protected by the state; and this is true even if the preferences and practices of these minority groups do not agree with those held by the "mainstream" of society, and established, historical positions. After all, the members of these minority groups are just as capable as anyone else of entering into stable, fulfilling, long-term relationships -- right? And as for "historic positions," well, there was a time when everyone knew that certain minority groups were inferior to others; and that slavery was an acceptable practice; but now, in this enlightened age, we all know better -- right?

As I have said before in this space, if we make the argument for or against the permitting of same-sex marriages (so-called) without reference to anything beyond, shall we say, constitutional law, we will (ultimately) lose the debate. (We ain't doin' so well now anyway...) Those who, for the most part, oppose the legalization of same-sex marriages tend to do so from a moral, rather than a legal, standpoint. We appeal to the beliefs of our faith groups -- where, remarkably, there is a considerable degree of agreement on the question of recognizing (blessing) the union of a man and a woman, while not extending the same to any other pairing (with one exception: polygamy). Christians, Jews, and Muslims don't agree about the Person of God, or the way to live in accordance with the will of God -- but all three of the world's monotheistic religions agree that the union of a man and a man, or of a woman and a woman, is contrary to the will of God. We cite as well that, in the inability to procreate the species, such unions are against "nature," in that a male-male pairing cannot produce offspring under any circumstances; while a female-female pairing can only do so with "outside help." (This is a family-oriented blog, so we won't go into any details here...) Those who do not share our religious beliefs do not accept the revelation of God as an acceptable line of argumentation; and they have other explanations as to why the "natural vs. unnatural" aspect of human reproduction has no significance when considering the question of allowing two persons of the same gender to enter into a union as "married partners."

Well, let me go ahead and throw caution to the wind (again). As a student of history, I recognize that a significant part of the foundation for the laws of this land is a Biblically-based morality. For two centuries, this foundation was essentially unquestioned: had the phrase existed, the response of "Duh!" would have been heard had someone seriously attempted to raise the question of same-sex marriages before, say, the 1960's. I'm not directly equating these, mind you, but I don't think it is a coincidence that the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's was follwed by the "sexual revolution" that began in the 1960's. Since that time, many, many things have changed -- not always for the better, in my not-so-humble opinion. As the state -- our nation -- has been moving faster and faster to distance itself (not necessarily knowingly or intentionally) from a morality that arises from the country's Puritan/Protestant roots, those who cling to the arguments and "traditions" that are established therein have an increasingly less-effective voice when the topic turns to debating these issues; including same-sex marriages. So, I'll say first, we're going to lose.

While the proponents of same-sex marriages deny that they favor any developments beyond extension of the right to marry to same-sex couples, the "wall" that will be torn down by their efforts will no longer be effectively in place to address any other definitions that may be advanced for marriage. All of the arguments being advanced today to "change society's morality" to gain acceptance of same-sex marriages -- fairness; equality; acceptance of minority (that is, non-mainstream) points of view and practices, and so on -- can be made in favor of the "polys"; polygamy (one husband, many wives), and polyandry (one woman, many husbands). Indeed, here in the "wild, wild west," we have a group with significant money, power, and influence, whose central tenets at one time required its adherents to practice polygamy as the best way to salvation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (known to many as the "Mormons") only rescinded this as a principle of belief when required to do so by the federal government as a condition for admitting the territory of Utah as a state. Why would they not return to this practice if the mood of the nation is to change the "traditional" understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman to allow same-sex marriages? After all, the proponents of polygamy have Biblical precedent on their side (at least, in the Old Testament), where many of the patriarchs had multiple wives. The practitioners of the Islamic faith also are permitted as many as four wives. Why should either of these groups refrain from entering the fray, and extend the definition of marriage to allow their religious beliefs to be practiced? Granted, part of the problem is that the practice has often been abused, with men marrying girls under the usual state-established age of consent -- girls young enough to be their daughters. But the abuse doesn't abrogate the right; and there's no reason why, with proper documentation, women of legal age to marry should be denied entry into a polygamous marriage if they choose to do so of their own will.

Nor should the legalization be limited to polygamy. After all, that would be unfair to that part of the female population who would prefer instead to have several husbands provifding for their care, comfort, and pleasure. Again, as long as everyone is at or above the age of consent, and enters knowingly into such a union, registered with the state, why should anyone object? And, while there isn't (so far as I know) a "poly" for more complex relationships, there's no need to limit the establishment of some sort of "multiple amrriages," where, say, three men and two women, or three men and four women (or "a" men and "b" women) desire to be joined in marriage and be recognized as each other's spouses. With everyone at the age of consent, and all open and above-board, why not? After all, we can't use Christian morality as an argument against any of the "polys"; that argument is out-of-bounds in the dialogue today. And, after all, just because only a few people, comparatively speaking, will actually want to enter into these forms of union doesn't make them wrong. Even though they are only a small minority, hey, minorities have rights, too -- remember? (See above.)

Well, I guess I'm about ranted out for now...

On a side note: I'm not sure what's going on with my template that's producing this incredible gap between the headline and the body of the most recent posting. Please bear with me while I try to find a solution; and, if any of you blog experts have any suggestions on how to fix this, I'd be grateful to hear about them from you!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Evidence Against the Theory of Evolution!

Right now, the state of Arizona, after over six years of drought, is beset with a number of wildfires that are burning across the state, with a cluster in the center causing the most concern. One of these, the "Cave Creek Complex" fire, has burned over 86,000 acres, destroying 11 homes and 3 other structures (that is, storage sheds). The fire, which has been reported on national news, is only 20% contained at the present time. (It should be noted that the winds, which shifted Friday, are moving the fire away from the towns of Cave Creek and Carefree, which are located to the north and northeast of the Phoenix metro area. The area now threatened by the fire is essentially undeveloped.)

In a report earlier today, carried in the Arizona Republic newspaper at its on-line site,, I found the following paragraph:
At the "Cave Creek Complex" fire, Chris Cantrell, of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, spent Saturday extracting nearly 200 of the endangered Gila topminnow from Lime Creek, where ash in the water could suffocate the inch-long fish.

The fish will be relocated to the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery in Page Springs until the water is clean enough to bring them back.

Cantrell walked the rocky, remote stream bed, undeterred by the triple-digit heat.

"This is an endangered fish," he said, "and we need to save it."

"Undeterred by the triple-digit heat..." Of course, living in Phoenix, we contend with triple-digit heat all the time; but not usually in the form of flames in our immediate vicinity. It takes something special to put yourself at risk in order to save... minnows. Granted, it's an endangered species -- but how many of us would endanger our lives to save a fish?

So, for those who think that human beings are really nothing more than another form of animal, I offer, as one exhibit, Chris Cantrell of the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, who, at some personal risk, acted to save an endangered fish. Only a being made in the image of God would contemplate such a thing. Therefore, I must conclude that we are more than just what our physical being suggests we are; that is, while it is true that we have a physical, animal being, we are more than what we appear to be. Of course, we have the example of the Son of God becoming incarnate in order to save us, a sort of "endangered species" -- and we act as He has acted, and acts today, to save others.

'Nuff said!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Church Fire in South Phoenix

Arson is suspected in a fire at the Rhema Full Gospel Baptist Church, at 28th Street and South Mountain Avenue in Phoenix. The brick church, which was soon to be renovated, was gutted by fire, which destroyed virtually everything inside.

Why make mention of this? To ask your prayers for the congregation of that church; and for ours. Holy Archangels Orthodox Church is one block north, and about eight blocks west, of the Rhema Full Gospel Baptist Church's location -- and there have been a number of arson fires set in our area in the last few months.

Monday, June 20, 2005

An Outrageous Exorcism in Romania

By now, some of you will have learned about the "exorcism" that led to the death by crucifixion of a young Romanian woman, a nun of three months, at the direction of her spiritual father, the priest serving the monastery where this young woman lived. The priest, Fr. Daniel, himself only 29 years old, believed that the 23 year old nun was possessed by the devil; and that, other methods having failed, crucifixion was the only option. Her body was found gagged and bound by chains to a cross. Fr. Daniel, saying that his actions were "entirely justified," is nevertheless seeking "a good lawyer" in anticipation of being charged with murder.

How could such a thing be possible? How could Fr. Daniel have come to believe that crucifixion is a means for exorcism? How could any rational person who accepts the possibility of demon possession help but conclude that a person who thinks crucifixion is an option for exorcism may actually be the one influenced by a demon?

As for what would constitute proper conduct in an exorcism, we need, I think, look no further than the Gospels, where our Lord meets people possessed by demons. Again, would anyone knowledgable about the Orthodox Christian faith seriously entertain the idea that the demon-possessed man our Lord met in the tombs, which, when he was exorcised, led the herd of Gadarene swine to rush off the cliff into the sea, would have been put to death by our Lord if the exorcism had failed? Or the woman, from whom He cast out seven demons? He came to save sinners, not to put them to death! And, when the apostles failed to cast the demon out of the boy who threw himself into the fire and into the water at the influence of a demon, so that he had to be brought to the Lord for healing, He told them (in response to their question), "This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting." Their failure was due to their lack of faith; and their lack of labors.

Thus, this Fr. Daniel, who ordered the young nun to be crucified, shows, I think, his failure to confront the demon (if, indeed, the young lady was actually possessed) by prayer and fasting. The news story about the event mentioned that she had been locked in a room without food or water for several days -- an involuntary form of fasting; but we are not told whether Fr. Daniel made any special preparations for the struggle at hand. There is an account in the book of the Acts of the Apostles of some young men (the seven sons of Sceva), not believers, who are casting out demons "in the name of Christ Jesus whom this Paul preaches." The demon does, indeed, come out, saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" He proceeds to beat them and wound them. (Acts 19:13-16)

I think this tragic murder may be part of the fruit of the persecution of the Orthodox Church under the Communists in Romania. Good, faithful, knowledgable elders having suffered, and being rare, there would seem to be many people, perhaps, who have some level of understanding of Orthodoxy, but cannot be said to truly have wisdom -- and this is an extreme example. Personally, I think his actions can only be described as murder. If the young woman was truly possessed, and he was unable to cast out the demon, he should have consulted with, or turned the matter over to his spiritual father and/or his bishop. His failure to do so is frightening.

Please, of your mercy, pray for the soul of the nun Irina; and for the priest-monk, Daniel.

UPDATE: An additional report with more details is found at