COURT RULING ON POLYGAMY IN UTAH
Finally, a court ruling that backs Tenakh (Old Testament) Law. (Updated 12/24/2013)
On December 13, 2013 U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups handed down a ruling that a provision in Utah law prohibiting cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment right of freedom of religion. But his ruling was not what we have heard so much about the last few years as President Obama has led the fight in favor of homosexual marriage. No, this ruling said that our Biblical Patriarchs such as Abraham and Jacob as well as other key figures in Jewish history were within their rights to marry the women (plural) that they did. Is this encoded in Torah? Yes. The axis term on the matrix below is POLYGAMY (MULTIPLE WIVES). Overlapping it by one letter (resh) is LEGAL. At an ELS is IN UTAH. Touching IN UTAH is AND THE HANDMAIDS CAME NEAR, which is from Genesis 33:1. The handmaids spoken of were really two of Jacobs; four wives – Bilhah, mother of the tribes Dan and Napthali; plus Zilpah, mother of the tribes Gad and Asher. Jacob's most loved wife was Rachel. In the open text is AND JACOB KISSED RACHEL. His first wife was actually Leah, from whom I am descended.
ON VARIOUS RELIGIONS AND THE ETHICS OF POLYGAMY
Mormonism. We cannot overlook the fact that the ruling by Judge Waddoups was made in Utah which in 2012 was 62.2% Mormon, and that the history of Mormon polygamy began with Joseph Smith, Jr., who stated he received a revelation on July 17, 1831 that "plural marriage” should be practiced by some Mormon men who were specifically commanded to do so. This was later published in the Doctrine and Covenants by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The Church’s position shifted after that, but what I want to establish here for my readers is that I am not a Mormon, nor do I believe that Joseph Smith was anything but a false prophet. I need to do this up front because when I endorsed Romney over homosexual-marriage loving Obama I got e-mails accusing me of being a closet Mormon. The reasons for my belief are posted elsewhere on my site. If you want to read them, click HERE. For now, however, let's move on to how polygamy was viewed in Christianity and Islam, then back through the ages in my own Jewish religion, which now almost (but not quite) universally rejects polygamy. I will conclude with a brief visit to the polygamy position of the Libertarian Party, which I have not yet joined, but which becoming a tempatation to afiliate with for many reasons.
Christianity. Wikipedia says the New Testament does not specifically address the morality of polygamy. 1 Timothy, however, states that certain Church leaders should have but one wife: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...(3:2); see also verse 3:12 regarding deacons having only one wife). 1 Corinthians (7:2) states, "let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." In modern times a minority of Roman Catholic theologians have argued that polygyny, though not ideal, can be a legitimate form of Christian marriage in certain regions, in particular Africa. The Roman Catholic Church teaches in its Catechism that "polygamy is not in accord with the moral law. [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."
At times Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone (sola scriptura) have at least temporarily accepted polygyny as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ), Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication," a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret, however, to avoid public scandal. Earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.")
Islam. Wikipedia states that in Islam a man can have four wives at any one time. The Muhammad had total nine wives, but not all at the same time, depending on the sources in his lifetime. He had nine wives at the time of his death. The Qur’an clearly states that men who choose this route must deal with their wives justly. If the husband fears that he cannot deal with his wives justly, then he should only marry one. The Qur'an does not give preference in marrying more than one wife but allows it to make it easier on a woman who has no support. A husband does not have to have permission from his first wife. However, the wife can set a condition, before marriage, that the husband cannot marry another woman during their marriage. In such a case, the husband cannot marry another woman as long as he is married to his wife.
Polygamy was considered a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertility like in the practice of levirate marriage, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow, as mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5–10. Scholars do not believe that polygyny was commonly practiced in the biblical era because it required a significant amount of wealth. Michael Coogan, in contrast, states that, ″Polygyny continued to be practiced well into the biblical period, and it is attested among Jews as late as the second century CE.″
The Torah includes regulations on the practice of polygamy. Exodus 21:10 states ″If he takes another wife for himself; her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish″. Deuteronomy 21:15-17 says that a man must award the inheritance due to a first-born son to the son who was actually born first, even if he hates that son's mother and likes another wife more; and Deuteronomy 17:17 states that the king shall not have too many wives. The king's behavior is condemned by Prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 8. Jewish perspective on co-wives may also be derived from the Hebrew word Tza'rah for co-wife found in the Tanakh forms the same root as the Yiddush word, Tzoo'rus, meaning "trouble.” Still, many important figures had more than one wife, such as in the instances of Esau (Gen 26:34; 28:6-9), Moses (Ex 2:21;Num 12:1), Jacob (Gen 29:15-28), Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1-8), David (1 Samuel 25:39-44; 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13-16), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3). Of course major problems are associated with Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines - especially the fact that many were idol worshippers.
Rabbi Chaim Gruber speculates that the intent of the allowance of polygamy is “not to say that monogamous marriage isn’t ideal,” but rather to create a social structure inclusive of this natural phenomenon; “…as a man may be linked to several women at once, it is better to consider these multiple relationships legit, than to criminalize them and put them outside the bounds of normality. Doing so would wrongly shame many as ‘living in sin,’ and also unjustly condemn countless kids as ‘bastards’.”
The Babylonian Talmud, in Yevamot 65a appears to repeat the precedent found in Exodus 21:10: ″Raba said: a man may marry wives in addition to the first wife; provided only that he possesses the means to maintain them.″ The Rambam's Mishneh Torah, while maintaining the right to multiple spouses, and the requirement to provide fully for each as indicated in previously cited sources, went further: ″He may not, however, compel his wives to live in the same courtyard. Instead, each one is entitled to her own household.″ Finally, the most authoritative codex, the Shulchan Aruch, builds on all of the previous works by adding further nuances: ″…but in any event, our sages have advised well not to marry more than four wives, in order that he can meet their conjugal needs at least once a month. And in a place where it is customary to marry only one wife, he is not permitted to take another wife on top of his present wife.″ While the tradition of the Rabbinic period began with providing legal definition for the practice of polygamy, by the time of the Codices the Rabbis had greatly reduced or eliminated sanction of the practice.
Most notable in the Rabbinic period on the issue of polygamy, though more specifically for Ashkenazi Jews, was the synod of Rabbi Gershom. ″About 1000 CE he called a synod which decided the prohibition of polygamy. His prohibition remained in force for one thousand years. Ashkenazi Jews have continued to follow Gershom’s ban since the 11th century. Some Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews (particularly those from North Africa, Kurdistan and Iran) discontinued polygamy much more recently, as they emigrated to countries where it was forbidden. However polygamy still occurs in non-European Jewish communities that exist in countries where it is not forbidden, such as Jewish communities in Yemen and the Arab world.
Israel has made polygamy illegal, however, provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal. Furthermore, former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef has come out in favor of legalizing polygamy and the practice of pilegesh (concubine) by the Israeli government. Tzvi Zohar, a professor from the Bar-Ilan University, recently suggested that based on the opinions of leading halachic authorities, the concept of concubines may serve as a practical Halachic justification for premarital or non-marital cohabitation. To read article in the Jerusalem Post about the move to restore polygamy in Orthodox Judaism, click HERE.
ORTHODOX JEWISH AND LIBERTARIAN PARTY VIEWS ON POLYGAMY. As An Orthodox Jew, I agree with much or most (but not all) of the Libertarian Party's position on Polygamy. It is given below. My opposition to their general position is only with respect to marriage between homosexuals which is clearly prohibited by the Torah (in Leviticus 18:22), and which even goes so far as to assign a death sentence to committing homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13 which states, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.". However, I want to make clear that based on rabbinical understanding of how dificult it is to justly carry out a death sentence, Orthodox Judaism is NOT in favor of killing homosexuals.
THE ISSUE AS DEFINED BY LIBERTARIANS: In response to changing social mores which allow for alternatives to the "one man, one woman" marriage, government is escalating its enforcement of the traditional rule of marriage. This is infringing upon the rights of association of those who do not wish to partake in the traditional relationship.
THE PRINCIPLE: Marriage is a social institution whose meaning is given not by the state but by the social mores of those participating in such a union. Most government regulation of marriage is based in the religious mores of those who populate government offices. The concept of separation of church and state requires that the state stay out of defining marriage.
LIBERTARIAN SOLUTIONS: We call for the abolition of all state laws and regulations restricting marriages, including the marriage license. We call for the abolition of all laws prohibiting marriage between any consenting adults, or any number of consenting adults.
LIBERTARIAN ACTION/TRANSITION: In order to achieve freedom to choose one's mate or mates, society as a whole must come to understand that no one person, group or religion has the authority to define "marriage" for everyone else. Separation of church and state necessitates the removal of religious iconography from government regulation to the extent that any citizens are denied equal protection of the laws. Also, we must understand that one person's sin is another person's love, and the law should only concern itself where force or fraud is involved.