Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gay marriage? Yes. Polygamous or polyandrous marriage? Nope.

I believe in marriage. Not the Biblical view, where a man can marry dozens of women & take on a few handmaids as well and women have to be subservient - the evolved one, where marriage is an EQUAL partnership between two people and establishes a family - and that family may be just two people. I believe it's a real commitment, not something you do for a party or on a whim. Marriage is a legally binding contract and provides the married couple very generous financial and cultural benefits - that's to encourage the formation of families, even if that family is just two married people, and people living in families are healthier and less of a burden on society as a whole, statistically speaking. And I believe every adult should have the right to marry, to enter into this very special commitment with another person if they so choose, this formation of family.

I've been in this fight for marriage equality for a looooong time, and that early & ongoing support has cost me friends & at one point put my life in danger. But it sure feels good to be on the right side of history.

I've blogged before about why do Atheists get married.

So now the question - do I support polygamous or polyandrous marriage?

No. I see nothing wrong at all with polygamous or polyandrous relationships. While it's not something I would ever choose, if it's something you want to do - go for it!

But I don't support polygamous or polyandrous marriage. Here's why:

While polygamous marriage is Biblical marriage, it's also one that, as practiced even today, with or without state recognition, usually leaves the women involved at a profound legal and cultural disadvantage. Unlike gay marriage, polygamous or polyandrous relationships put women in those relationships at a severe disadvantage - she is NOT equal to her husband nor to other wives. I do not want that unequal treatment called "marriage" codified in the eyes of the law. If you want to call it that in your own eyes, in your own church, fine. Lots of people in one-man-one-woman marriages live their lives in such a way where the woman is subservient to the man, but IT IS NOT CODIFIED IN THE LAW; should a woman in such a marriage ever want to assert her EQUAL, legal rights in that marriage, she's got the law (but probably not her church or mosque) on her side.

What would make me change my mind about polygamous or polyandrous marriage?

  • Seeing lots of long-lasting, committed polygamous or polyandrous relationships all around me, where those involved were healthy, happy, and personally prosperous - where such standards are the norm, not the exception, in relationships with multiple partners.
  • Getting lots of invitations to 10 year and 20 year anniversaries of polygamous or polyandrous relationships like I've just described. 


By contrast, I see lots and lots of long-lasting, committed gay relationships all around me, where those involved were healthy, happy, and personally prosperous, and where the partners are EQUAL in decision-making.

When that changes, when I stop seeing women at a profound disadvantage in polygamous or polyandrous relationships, and when I see such long-lasting, committed multi-partner relationships all around me - proving that they really are marriages - I'll change. But for now - no.

My other blogs on on marriage:

North Carolina votes for... what?

Why do Atheists get married?

Should I be allowed to marry?

Gay marriage no, child marriage yes?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Stephen King knows horror, but not how Atheists think

I decided to start this blog when a Christian blogger I thought was a pretty decent guy, and often downright reasonable, posted a blog entry called What Atheists Have Dead Wrong About Religion.

As I read the blog, it dawned on me that he really has no idea what an Atheist is. None. I started reading his previous posts and further realized that, as much as I didn't want to believe it, this guy is just like most other Christians: he lumps all non-Christians, including Atheists, into one category -- and we're all secretly miserable because we don't share his faith in his particular magical, invisible friend.

I responded to his blog specifically in my own blog, What Religious People Have Dead Wrong About Atheists.

That blog from two years ago came back to me when I heard Stephen King talking to Terry Gross on her show. You can hear it for yourself (around the 15:45 mark) or read it here:
“I choose to believe [in God]. … I mean, there’s no downside to that. If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, ‘Well, if this is God’s plan, it’s very peculiar,’ and you have to wonder about that guy’s personality — the big guy’s personality.”
Here we go again...

Mr. King, the stars, sunrises, sunsets, bees pollinating crops and flowers - this and more brings me, an Atheist, joy and wonder and amazement. I marvel at all of the variables that have brought the world to this point - the forces of evolution, the forces of plate tectonics, the forces of physics in the universe. And I marvel at the specifics and the generalities. I marvel at what I understand and, even more, what I don't, when it comes to all of the beautiful thing in the world. And I became so much more in awe and wonder of it all when I embraced my Atheism - it freed me from the oh-so-limited thinking of people such as yourself.

I no longer wonder how a God can allow babies to be raped every day - every minute. How a God can allow people to be slaughtered, en masse, by other people or by a storm, a hurricane, an Earthquake, etc. That's the downside of choosing to believe in God - you have to believe that he or she or it watches all that horror and does NOTHING. You have to believe your God is a perverted sicko. I was washed clean of that confusion and anger when I embraced my Atheism. While you and others say sickening things at those moments such as, "It's all a part of God's plan," things that must tear apart those who hear such and are in so much pain, I look for ways to help, ways to respond, and ways to prevent. I accept that I cannot prevent every horrible natural act that the Earth or the cosmos may throw my way, but I don't accept man's inhumanity to man. I look at what I can do, what I can influence, and I do my best to act. I don't wait for an invisible magic friend to decide, based on people's desperate prayers, that maybe he'll do something about it. Instead, I embrace my responsibility as a part of the human race to do all I can.

As Hemant Mehta said in his blog on this same subject, "Letting God take credit for all of that just cheapens it all — it makes everything just a part of someone’s blueprint instead of something that turned up naturally yet came together beautifully."


Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Deists, whatever - please stop lamenting about what Atheists don't get, don't understand, don't enjoy in this incredible world of ours. Stop telling me I don't feel joy or wonderment. Stop telling me I don't enjoy life and the world. Stop telling me that there is no mystery or poetry in the world for me. You're wrong - on all of these points. Life is a rich tapestry for me, an Atheist - a tapestry of mystery, wonder, joy, poetry, excitement, confusion, pain and comfort. Unlike you, however, I have no borders in how I have to think about it all.