Gary: This week’s item is from Sun News, under the headline, Christian Polygamists Cite Biblical Justification. Steven Butt lives in Utah with three wives and five children, ministering to nearly 1,000 people around the country who call themselves “Christian Polygamists.” Unlike the estimated 25,000-35,000 polygamists living in the West who trace their roots to historical Mormonism, Butt and his protestant peers say plural marriage comes straight from the Old Testament. “We believe that plural marriage is allowed for in the Bible to meet practical, real needs, and this should be acknowledged by the Christian church,” Butt said.
He points to passages that say David, Solomon, and other patriarchs had many wives. “Obviously, polygamy can’t be something that’s immoral if God allowed it with these people whom He showed so much favor.” To spread the word, Butt and his family moved to southern Utah recently and bought Circleville’s original Mormon chapel. They plan to start the first “Be Free Patriarchal Christian Church” in this town of about 300, settled by Mormon pioneers in 1864. They intend to take their message to the polygamist families living in Southern Utah and expand into California, the Southeast, and then abroad, to countries with polygamist cultures.
“It will be easier to convert cultural polygamists to Christianity,” Butt figures, “than to persuade mainstream Christian churches to accept plural marriage.” Many practitioners, rejected by their churches for abandoning monogamy are trying to reconcile their lifestyle and their faith, said Dave Hutchison, who organized a Phoenix-based group called Liberated Christians. “You have a lot of Christians feeling this way, then feeling guilty they’re feeling this way, so they come to us and see the biblical basis,” he said. “And, all of a sudden, they become liberated.”
Tom: Dave, here’s someone who’s—it’s interesting, you know, as the article pointed out, the guy is not a Mormon. Reading a little bit more of the article, which Gary didn’t read all of it, but he was involved with cults beforehand, and one of his wives was a former cult member, whom he helped leave the cult.
Dave: Now, what do you mean “involved with cults”? Do you mean getting? people out of cults?
Tom: Getting people out of cults.
Dave: And he’s supposedly a real Christian who’s standing up for the truth?
Tom: Well, he’s…that’s right.
Dave: Except in this area, he’s not standing up for the truth.
Tom: Well, he thinks he is.
Tom: And he also thinks that he has a ministry to get people out of Mormonism.
Dave: Right. Tom, let me just make a few observations.
Dave: Number 1, it’s not practical, first of all, for a number of reasons. There are about an equal number of women as there are men. So now, if we’ve got some men who are taking two or three or four wives, then there’s not enough to go around, just from a practical standpoint.
Dave: Number 2: In the Old Testament it was practical, because the men were always going to war. They were getting killed. So, there were extra women to go around. However, this was not condoned…I mean, it was condoned by God—Paul says, “God winked at this ignorance,” you know. There were certain things, but He never said that this is what man should do.
Christ said, in the New Testament, “God made them male and female,” and He said, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” It doesn’t say “to his wives.” And God did not create several Eves for Adam to have. So, from the very beginning it was only supposed to be one man and one woman.
Now, when you come to the New Testament—and there were those who did not obey God’s Word in the Old Testament—they didn’t obey God’s Word in a lot of ways. But that is not what the New Testament says. Now…
Tom: Well, and it caused them plenty, plenty of grief.
Dave: It did. There is great grief today—jealousy among wives and so forth. But is it biblical? No, it’s not biblical. First of all, the Old Testament, Jeremiah:31:31, God says, “I will make a new covenant with Israel, not according to the covenant that I made them.” So, if this was part of the Old Covenant, which it wasn’t, but even if you want to just say that, there’s a New Covenant.
Now, in the New Testament, it’s very clear. It says that an elder or a deacon is to be the husband of one wife.
Tom: Right. Dave, in particular here, this man is starting a church. We have a ministry that believes that they’re doing what’s right as Christians. But as you’re pointing out here, Paul writes to Timothy, he writes to Titus, that anyone who teaches in the church is to be the husband of one wife.
Dave: So polygamy was not practiced in the early church—it was not allowed. Now, it’s amazing, this man is not only practicing it and allowing it, but he’s preaching it, as though this is some kind of a benefit. You know, it sounds like the prosperity gospel of Hagin and Copeland and so forth, who say, “Well, God has called us to preach a prosperity gospel.” I think what…if this man is a true Christian, and he wants to get people out of the cults, he needs to emphasize the gospel of Jesus Christ. He needs to renounce, of course, his disobedience to scripture. How can he be a teacher—I presume at least an elder, a pastor…
Tom: He’s going to be a pastor of his own church, he says.
Dave: Yeah, but he cannot be, because the scripture very clearly says he must be the husband of one wife. But not only is he disobeying scripture, now he’s making a gospel out of this and trying to bring other people into this thing, which he calls “liberation,” but in fact it’s anti-biblical, and it’s not even practical! It creates all kinds of problems. So, Tom, it’s an interesting article, but it just is illustrative of some of the strange ideas that people get and try to blame the Bible for them when they’re not biblical at all.