In February of 1848, the man about to found one of America’s most successful utopias composed a plan to bring Christ and social reform to upstate New York entitled Bible Argument: Defining the Relations of the Sexes in the Kingdom of Heaven. The communitarian venture envisioned by John Humphrey Noyes aimed to duplicate life in Christ’s kingdom—a place of communal ownership and group marriage—in order to bring that kingdom to earth. At the same time, the community’s unconventional sexual practices would transform society and correct its ills. As a prospectus for an intentional community, the Bible Argument contains “almost every important idea for the revision of relations between the sexes that Noyes would implement during the subsequent thirty years at Oneida.” It explains why the Oneida Community (1848-1880) was to come into being and what it is meant to accomplish.

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