Who Wrote the Formula?

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So one member of a lesbian couple decides she needs a man, and her partner agrees to bring one into the relationship. ABC News has the story. They are now polyamorists, the parents of two babies, and crusaders in the cause of getting their sexual choices and family setup validated by the broader community. One of the women in the “throuple” (this appears to be the default preferred spelling for this neologism, according to Google stats) claims the mantle of anti-racism:

We’re just trying to be the pioneers, like in the civil rights movement. (2:55)

The Commenters

I always find it interesting to survey the comments on a piece like this. I find that people aren’t illogical, exactly: they reason straight from their moral premises.

BillyBobJohnson’s moral premise is that coercion is bad:

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Waterwench’s moral standards are 1) self-fullfilment is good and 2) inequality is bad:

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Pdiddy Dduh and jenny have a straight-up utilitarian ethic:

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One person offered what I take to be a just-the-facts, secularist perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.44.58 AMBut then again, this commenter presumes that those 12% of men who lose the battle for mates shouldn’t have to. What about the possible retardation of evolutionary progress if we let those men’s genes into the pool? A high number of single guys is only bad if your value system says it is.

Justifying Moral Premises

Comments on an article like this on a mainstream site are a pretty good barometer of where our country is with regard to moral philosophy. And it’s a little much to expect people in a setting like this to work on justifying their moral premises. But then no one ever seems to get around to that work… It’s all just assumed—believed.

So I like the “who are we to…?” questions, because they raise the issue of moral legitimation:

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One of the women in the throuple, in fact, asked what has to be the key question in the discussion over the morality of their sexual arrangement:

Who wrote the formula “one man, one woman, and their two-and-a-half kids”? (2:50)

Who indeed. Who—not what—defines the norm for human sexual relationships? And who says we have to tie sex to the bearing of children? If we leave it to Internet commenters, we have a profusion of moral standards, some used to condemn and others to condone the throuple. And if we leave it to moral philosophers, we have that same profusion. What gives any human the right to tell any other human that his or her sexual desires are wrong?

This is one of those rare times when I have to call in Richard Dawkins for his wisdom:

It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.

God defines what marriage is, and we discover what it is as He reveals it in Scripture and in creation. God is the only person standing above the fray of human disagreements over what constitutes the good life. He’s the only one who has the authority to tell us what marriage is.

A lot of American Christians seem to me to be looking for a neutral, secularism-friendly way to hold onto the marital moral order we had a few minutes ago. They don’t want to be as gauche as Crusader Ron :E:

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I do think Crusader Ron :E could have been more discreet, but if any non-Christian people are out there asking the key question—”Who sez?!”—it is our duty to answer. We have to use the G-word in the public square.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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