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    Plagarism and
    Christian Polygamy:
    Is it a Serious Problem?

    Every now and then Christian/Messianic groups get embroiled in petty disagreements which lead to factionalism and disharmony between brethren. A few centuries ago some of the fiercest debates centred on pathetic issues like how many angels could you fit onto a pinhead. More serious ones, which blighted the name of Christendom and led to murder and persecution by so-called 'Christians' were fuelled by disagreements on the nature of the Godhead. In recent times petty and infantile squabbles have arisen between Christian Polygamy ministries as to who was 'first' to promulgate the doctrine of Christian polygamy with even two ministries shamefacedly nearly taking the matter to court. The latest (2001) has been a round of accusations as to who has plagarised whose scholarship and thoughts as though anyone - let alone a Christian professing all glory and honour to Yahweh - has a copyright on truth.

    It is of course polite and heart-warming to be recognised for the work one may have done in, say, an exegesis, though crediting people for bringing Yahweh's truth to the earth seems not to have been a problem for the apostles. Indeed, Paul specifically repudiated that the Gospel was his in any way even though he had done the most to give the key events of the Gospel a theological foundation. Paul, as we know, liberally quoted and paraphrased the Old Testament in his writing without hardly ever citing his sources or giving credit to the prophets who had earlier brought forth Yahweh's revelation. And today we do not go combing through all his references and wagging our fingers at him as though he had committed some unpardonable offence. Yet today this very immature practice is now happening amongst some Christian polygamists who are saying that they originated this word, or that phrase, or this piece of biblical exegesis, complaining that others are citing them without reference to them or giving any credits. What is worse, they are trying to paint those who cite them as ungodly. I well remember being severely repremanded by someone for using the word monogamy 'mindset' as though this was a copyrighted word that only the originator - of those the originator approved of - had the right to use it. (Out of defference - though goodness knows why - I have tried not to upset the person in question by using my own word, 'mindframe' ... but is it really mine? I couldn't care less). Can you imagine what would happen if Dr.Johnson had copyrighted many of the words he invented in our dictionaries? Or Shakespeare? How would language progress under such suffocatingly impossible and absurd restrictions?

    A busy and active writer like myself is quoting and citing materials all the time. In time, such material gains such currency in certain quarters that if effectively belongs to the 'language' of the group and the originator is quietly forgotten. One often hears the analogy cited for the 'Trinity' of ice, water and steam even though I am confident that almost nobody can remember who originated the comparison. Who really cares? I know that my own ideas have spread far and wide and have appeared on other sites often without mentioning me. And if the material is second, third or fourthhand, my name was probably lost along the way with no malice aforethought. My pleasure is not in having my name set in golden letters in books or in websites but comes from knowing that the truth is getting out and Yahweh's Kingdom is being built. Of course I would react rather strongly if someone duplicated a large portion of this website and claimed it as his own, and perhaps even marketed it. Actually, some people have actually copied my articles and claimed them to be theirs.

    A great fuss was recently made over an early article published at this site called, What the New Testament Says About Polygamy which was originally emailed to me a couple of years ago because the sender thought it would be useful in my work defending Christian Polygamy. As you can see, it is not an article but a collection of studies quickly pasted together for use in chat rooms particularly (where, incidentally, it has been used to good effect). I was never told the source and frankly didn't care too much - who cares where the bullet is made when your enemy is charging you on the battlefield? One receives so many bits and pieces of research work that one naturally throws it altogether and uses it as appropriate on the mission field. The long and short of it was that I was accused of plagarism and painted as some sort of thief.

    That's as it may be. I have people getting upset with me because I copyright my articles but forget that I am more than generous in allowing people to reproduce the materials, my main concern being that I don't want anything altered or material taken out of context, and an opportunity to defend it myself should it be attacked elsewhere. Funnily enough, one ministry which refused to copyright its materials claiming that 'God is owner' eventually copyrighted everything they produce when they understood what my motives were, viz, to maintain the integrity of the original material. We live and we learn.

    There are some people who are good at citing sources and some, like myself, who are just plain forgetful who do not intend to be disrespectful. (Today I am much more careful). Rather like Paul who couldn't remember who he had baptised, not that he viewed any of those he baptised with any disrespect because of his memory lapses. Of course there will always be accusers who say that one forgets 'on purpose' in order to smear but such people will always be around. If we are wise, we will not get sucked up into their petty controversies and attempts to divide the Body but just move on and attend to our respective stewardships. If Christ could rebuke His disciples when they were squabbling over who was the greatest and who should sit at His right hand, then I think we may be given a measure of latitude in doing the same thing when glory-seeking men seek the limelight instead of focusing the beam on the One who deserves all of it, the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus).

    I bear those who have, from time to time, tried to smear my name, or tried to portray me as a little school boy who needs some gentle reproof, no ill-will, for they will reap their harvest in due course and come to understand. We need no 'Balkan Wars' in the Christian/Messianic Polygamy movement even though we have had our occasional 'Bosnias' and 'Kosovos'. If the kids of other parents want to squabble, that is none of our affair. We do not need their approval in order to be about our business.

      "For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom Yahweh commends" (2 Corinthians 10:18, NKJV).

    Author: SBSK

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    First created on 24 August 2001
    Updated on 18 February 2016

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