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Dave counters that no message is stale if you're hearing it for the first time. "I just wish that I had had me to listen to 15 years ago," he says.
Aware that fundamentalists will probably see them as shop teachers in the devil's workshop, the founders of Liberated Christians suggest that their critics should take another look at original Scripture, not latter-day adaptations he says mistranslate or misapply the intent of the original text.
"The guys in the pulpit have been telling us that God says only one-on-one couple relationships are right," explains Dave. "But if you go back to Hebrew times, that's not how it was practiced."
Trotting out Biblical factoids (Solomon had 700 wives and umpteen concubines, the old swinger), Dave says, "We seek to understand what was really said in the original Greek/Hebrew texts as understood by the culture in which it was written. We believe that a more loving, caring, open and honest lifestyle"--read: "responsible nonmonogamy"--"is totally compatible with true Christianity and Christ's love."
But what about the seventh commandment, the one that takes a dim view of adultery?
No problem, says Dave. He explains that, as originally written, the edict "was understood only to apply to women, because back then they were understood to be the property rights of man." And, he reasons, since men no longer "own" their wives, the commandment theoretically doesn't apply to anyone.
While there's debate among learned theologians over translations and interpretations of some aspects of the Bible, some observers dismiss Liberated Christians' manipulation of the facts and half-truths as little more than a means to an end.
"There are lots of people making the kinds of arguments they're making," concedes Joel Gereboff, associate professor of religion at Arizona State University. "But the point is that if you're going to do that, you need to develop a consistent position and then apply it consistently--something these people don't seem to be doing. You can't simply cherry-pick your way through the Bible, ignoring things that don't happen to strengthen your case."
Adds Gereboff, "Their arguments sound very self-serving."
Which is probably to be expected. Claiming he isn't at all surprised to hear that Christianity has somehow infiltrated the swing community, another religion authority at ASU who prefers to remain nameless says, "People are constantly trying to find justifications for their behavior."
Having seen the light, Dave and Bill are eager to share the lamp. Truth be told, even Liberated Christians' founding fathers haven't yet got it made in the shade.
"I'm sure there have been people turned off by us because they think we're a couple of horny guys," admits Bill. "We're both working away from that, though."
Both guys have a ways to go.
Bill already has a partner, a female minister named Julie. Trouble is, she lives in Pennsylvania. "We're trying to get her out here, though," says Bill.
Dave is not as lucky. Although he estimates he's met "hundreds" of women through newspaper personal ads, he's still looking for that certain Christian someone who shares his "the more, the merrier" zeal for loving.
There was someone a while back, but Dave says the relationship fell apart when he and the woman couldn't find another twosome who measured up. "We were looking for something between the ears, not just between the legs, and we couldn't find a couple like that," he says.
The courtship ended on a bittersweet note when Dave helped the woman find another man through a personal ad in the paper. The couple eventually married and today, Dave reports, leads an idyllic--and monogamous--existence.