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The Hypocrisy of Monogamy: Divorce and Adultery Versus Polygamy

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo
The Hypocrisy of Monogamy: Divorce and Adultery Versus Polygamy "Lord, I have no husband!" "Indeed, You Have Had Five Husbands And Are Now Living With A Man Who Is Not Your Husband!" Jesus to the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well. In my opinion, there is at least one matter the Muslims and the Mormons have that right-Polygamy. Polygamy is the most ancient practice found in all human societies and almost every non-human oxygen breathing life form. The wolf is one of the few exceptions. Those who believe that the Old Testament, God or Jesus, condemned polygamy, is in blasphemous error. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the theological and civil legality of polygamy. King Solomon is noted for among other things his vast collection of beauties, 700 wives and 350 concubines. (1 Kings 11:3) In addition, King David had between 10-15 wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13). When David was dying, despite his many wives, his staff scoured the land for the most desirable female in the Kingdom and came upon the alluring beauty, Abishag, the Shunamite, whose beauty was irresistible, to sleep with him, keep him warm and should they have sexual relations, to heal him in that way. The Jews believed that a once strong man, even taken seriously ill, could be revived by the sexual attentions of a great beauty, and thus the King, could be restored to his full powers. Abishag cared for him but so ill was he that even she could not seduce him, thus could not restore him, and so he died. Rabbinic sources and the bible speak of the Temple Prostitutes, which were part of an honorable, respected profession. The Old Testament even portrays injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deut. 22:7). The only restriction on polygamy was a ban on taking a wife's sister as a rival wife (Lev. 18:18). The Talmud advises a moderation of four wives, the Qur'an agrees, Mohammed thinks five are the voluntary maximum. European Jews practiced polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews practiced polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it was forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law which overrides civil law in such cases, it was/is permissible. 
 Father Eugene Hillman writes, in his book, Polygamy Reconsidered, "Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy." As I do, he cites that Jesus never spoke against polygamy, which was practiced by the Jews of his society. Father Hillman emphasizes that the Church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to the Greco-Roman culture (which dictated only one legal wife but heartily tolerated concubines and prostitutes). Father Hillman quotes St. Augustine, "Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed taking another wife." I know of at least two priests, who refused to give absolution to friends who were living in an ongoing, loving, monogamous, relationship (one seven years and the other ten years) though both couples and their mates were divorced and later annulled by the Catholic Church, and the relationship though committed, was financially an advantage for both over marriage. I know of other couples, which chose to live-in without marriage, happily, one for 18 years, one for 20 years, one for 11 years and several other newer relationships for several years, and have been virtually excommunicated. Many good, sweet, pious people I know are divorced and remarried... and excommunicated. How unjust, how hypocritical is that? Compare: A person aborts their baby-the baby is dead, never to return, according to the church (an error on their part but more on that later). The person goes to confession, is forgiven and is restored to receiving communion and all the sacraments. So far, fair enough, but the baby is still dead-DEAD! Now a woman is abused, or otherwise realizes that she has made a grave mistake, so she gets a divorce. She meets a man with whom she falls in love-they marry. Her ex-husband finds a woman he loves, reforms and remarries also. Both are content-both are still alive! Both have found new lives and new loves. Both are also excommunicated. They are living and happy. They have forgiven each other or nor but remain civil and content in their new lives. Again, and More importantly both are still alive! And still excommunicated, without absolution! However, the murderer of the aborted baby is no longer excommunicated, has received absolution and is allowed to revel in her free will at receiving the sacraments. However, the victim-aborted baby remains dead, has been deprived of life, therefore free will, marriage and children of it's own and never, in the eyes of the church to have those joys it of which it was robbed forever. In the divorce, the victims, still live and still have free will and can remarry and have children-God has not acted to remove those joys from them, but the church, made up of men and women who do not practice human sexuality or marriage, a gift of God upon which they have turned their backs, have refused them a God Given right. Having read the above thoroughly, do you think in your heart of hearts, in your soul of empathy and love of your fellow creatures, devoid of a envy, jealousy and hatred, that the church has ben just or even logical. The punishment in one case far exceeds the crime-if any, which there is not. In the second place the mercy shown a murderer, far exceeds the mercy and the punishment with which it tortures the divorcee'. It appears that their priests were not at all familiar with the concepts of John 4:1-42. I have heard hypocritical, sanctimonious suburban couples gossiping and casting malicious glares at older men with much younger, attractive wives. (They seem not to mind much when the younger female is unattractive). I have watched their unctuous, Judgmentalism concerning mixed-racial couples and unmarried couples co-habitating. Those who condemn such couplings are not Christians, they are hypocrites. As if because of the glare, the couple will suddenly stop loving each other to find one closer to their age or their race to please the envy of the whited sepulchers in human form, wagging their heads and tongues and losing their souls in the process. I find this especially interesting because the divorce rate is now standing at 55% for first marriages. 93% of those divorced are within 1-5 years of each other's age, whereas in marriages of 10-30 years difference in age, the divorce rate is at 28%, or less than half of those of modern traditional age differences . The custom of younger women marrying older, more mature and accomplished men is ages old, not something new, but it is threatening to both men and women who are not in such relationships. That is their misfortune. This hostility toward mixed-age marriages is nothing more than Pecksniffian cases of envy, jealousy, fear and avarice. The scandal given in such situations is purely on the side of the onlookers, with malice, and evil in intent. Let us review the rather uninformed rather unenlightened state of marriage as it is now practiced (and I do mean practiced, because few get it right). Between 17 and 24 years of age, when people are at an age least qualified under present modern, commercially inundated, cultural settings, to make such decision, is the time when they are under most pressure from peers and family to do just that. Fortunately all over the western world young people are rebelling against this ill-advised ideal, and marrying later and later, many opting not to marry at all. The churches and polite society in their ignorance of the cultural realities of their first error of sanctifying marriage for selfish reasons, fail to understand why monogamy never has and never will work. They point to the myth of Ozzie Nelson, Ward Cleaver, Archie Bunker and the "happy marriage" where divorce was something that happened to "low-lifers." The reality is and always was that those who could afford divorce opted for it at the first opportunity. Marriages stayed together because people were afraid of family pressures, wrongly asserted by women afraid to leave abusive marriage partners and enforcing upon their offspring the same ignorance as "tradition." The divorce rate began to skyrocket in concordance with the end of WWII, wherein women learned they could earn a living independent of men. As they became better educated, they opted out of marriages in droves, as did men. That trend was accelerated in the fifties and sixties among younger women with children because settlements favored them against men. Face it, anthropological instincts still direct women's decision making in mating. In hunter-gatherer cultures, it behooved the physically dependent and diminutive females to exploit her eroticism to gain the protection of the strongest, most assertive, powerful males instinctively, for protective reasons, especially during pregnancy and child rearing. The need to protect the womb was and to some degree still makes women paranoid about intrusion, rape and other incursions by aggressive males, as recognition of their physical inability to compete with the larger more muscular males. The need to protect the womb, the child and themselves during their most vulnerable period has translated, in modern times into seeking security in wealthy, politically powerful, or highly intelligent males, to protect them against the world. Better educated and more competitively well trained women now are opting for the same lifestyles their mothers and grandmothers excoriated single men for choosing, that of the serial-polygamist, the natural state of humans. There never was a period in history when the happy monogamist marriage was the standard. The wealthy in those times had a cadre of lovers and the poor suffered in their miserable marriages, though the lucky and the lazy, by far the few, maintained happy stable monogamous marriages, but these were and are the vast minority. Constant data shows that all other prejudices cast aside, like financial status; family pressure and child security, 85% - 90% of marriages would end in divorce. As it is now, 55% of all marriages end in divorce, and since 1980, 75% of marriages end in divorce, and far fewer are marrying at all, indicating that the former figures would be higher if they had. In times when polygamy and today in polygamous cultures, there were/are far fewer divorces because people understood/stand sexuality as a part of instinctual, genre-survival instinct, not as a morality factor. They did not take sexuality and personal relationships in quite the ignorant state as moderns, who are steeped in puritanical error by an authority consisting of those ineffectual, anthropologically incompetent, religious misinterpretive powers, concerning sex, love and offspring production. Thus Western churches, in totally misunderstanding the message of God and Jesus, and because they have been dominated by psychological and or physical Eunuchs, have distorted and imposed upon mankind an abusive and erroneous chastity of monogamy, never intended by God or nature, as what should be a choice between monogamy and polygamy as a mandate for either celibacy or monogamy, just as the did between the various beliefs of early Christians before Constantine, making what should have been free-will choices into life or death mandates. These horrible decisions are not inspired by any Holy Spirit, but by a crippled mentality by psychologically and physiologically crippled mentalities. The tiny minority of what should be the inmates has run the vast institution. For sexual beings to be morally directed by non-sexual beings or beings with a twisted sense of sexuality, is not at all short of insanity or mass stupidity. Maybe not however, look at the psychological cripples we elect to public office. Just as how we should have the freedom as God intended to chose how we worship Him and view Jesus, men should have the freedom to choose their mating habits without pietistic social interventions. Having one or three or sixty wives is not a matter of morality or a majority decision, but individual choice, with God alone as judge, just as how we view, and accept Jesus, should be a matter of free-will within Christianity. The fears, insecurities, envy, jealousy of those women who reject polygamy and men who fear the competition, should not be a factor. The right to choose polygamy, monogamy or celibacy should be a legal choice, those who don't like it may opt not to do it. How does one family's polygamous marital choice concern any other family's monogamous marital choice or another person's choice to remain celibate? These are not morality matters; they are choices that should be made by each man and woman exercising the free will with which God endowed them. So, Abraham, David and Solomon were evil because they practiced polygamy, so why do we venerate them? So we are good, wake up and use your sawdust-filled heads fellow believers, for crying aloud! If that is true, than why do we venerate them? That is the greatest proof of addle-brainlessness of mankind, but it is right in keeping with our acceptance of a man as president who was not elected president, and our listening to men who choose not to have sexual relationships on how to handle sexual relationships. The case of marriage as a sacrament attended by official ceremony, tying two people together for life, is a late "Christian" idea, not necessarily an idea of God's. The sacramental nature of marriage stands upon a twig so flimsy as to be non-existent except in the minds of late period Christians and modern fools and bigots. They claim that by turning water into wine, Jesus was symbolizing the sacramental nature of marriage. If Jesus had meant to say that marriage was a sacrament, he would have done that in so many words. There are far more examples in the New Testament, of his enjoyment of dinner parties and meals combined with conversation than of marriage festivals. His entire ministry was dappled in conversational-meal episodes, does that mean that he was trying to tell us that meals are a sacrament? So, then, when he multiplied the loaves and fishes is that what he meant? How many of his best lines, lessons and stories were told while eating? His was, as John Dominic Crossan so rightly says, a ministry of open meal Commensality. If subtlety were a trait of Jesus, which it wasn't, meals would also be considered a sacrament. When he allowed his feet to be bathed in tears and dried with hair, and when he allowed a cask of perfumed oil to be broken over his head, was he saying that, washing, drying and perfuming of head and feet were sacraments? Rather, the tying together of men and women in a locked-tight, iron-clad marriage made for a stable environment for the church's own security and financial health and gave them a most patronizing way in which to domesticate men into family life to ensure a steady stream of bound, familial structures, stabilizing a steady partnership with families. Single men or women provide no such structure. Conversely, the stabilization into families did not include marriage and children for priests, only for those supporting the church, not for those being supported by the church. In the early days of Judaism, until well after Jesus death, polygamy was the wise practice (And may still be the wisest choice of all). Even as late as St. Paul in 1-Timothy 3:2, So that less attention will be focused within his own household and more upon matters of the church Paul urges that: "A Bishop should be irreproachable. The husband of only one wife, with children of the faith." Tit-1: 7" "A Presbyter should be a man unimpeachable, the husband of only, one wife, with children of the faith." Later the church sanitized the above comment by Paul, which was a suggestion to his community in which polygamy was still practiced by those wealthy enough to afford it, for bishops because they had so many clergy reporting to them and so many duties they needed to be able to devote themselves to their flock. Having a polygamous life would be more distracting, with so many wives and children about which to worry and tend that his job might suffer from lack of attention (Or rather too much attention to wives and family. What else might we expect from Paul, who preferred after a bitter marriage, to remain single?) The church twisted the comment to read as though bishops, if widowed, should not remarry. Then in a masterfully brilliant idea came up with the notion that even lay people, should their wives die, should be limited in their lifetimes to three marriages. Where is the Scriptural documentation for that silly idea? Today, more often than not, divorce is not a major sin. Divorce in Jesus day had negative implications for the women of His time. Those implications were not sexual; they were societal, economic and empathetic. What did Jesus say about divorce? In His day, he forbade it, in his day for some rather specific reasons, the least of which were life-long sexual exclusivity. See His discussions with the Samaritan Woman (John 4:4-42). To say that a man must, should love only one woman, and cannot divide his love between many and that polygamous relationships are merely about sex is stupid and uninformed. It is like saying that a husband and wife should have only one child because they cannot love more than one and such love divided between many children is not possible. Ludicrous. When Jesus made his proclamation forbidding divorce, it was during an era in which polygamy was still in practice, though but because of economic conditions, not as widely as in Nomadic times for Jews. Divorcing a woman in Jesus' day was tantamount to condemning her to abject poverty, loneliness, starvation, slavery, or prostitution in order to subsist. That is no longer the case. Divorce was banned by Jesus on the moral grounds of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, charitable acts, for that reason, not solely, or even predominantly on grounds of sexual exclusivity. Under those circumstances divorce was a cruel punishment, plus in that era a man could divorce a wife for any reason no matter how trivial: she served a bad meal, she was not pleasing, she was barren, she talked-back to him, or any other reason, serious or trivial. By not recognizing divorce in the absence of polygamy, the church is guilty of a spiritual, mental and physical cruelty nearly as bad worse than that of the Inquisition, because it is psychological torture, killing the souls of husbands, wives and children, sentencing them all to living in a perpetual, relationship of hellish abuse one by the other. This sadism is nothing new; it is simply an arrogant extension of the mental and physical torture of the Inquisition. Sometimes, in some men who are deprived of sexual fulfillment, sadism and masochism is the outlet. In most divorces today, women are not only adequately cared for, they are often in better financial positions than the man or men they've divorced. I know many saintly men and women, who truly do have access to God daily, who are divorced and either remarried outside of the church or living with a member of the opposite sex "in sin." Saintly ones whose company seems preferred by God to the company of many prelates and many "happily-married" couples. Sexual modesty/selectiveness was not necessarily at the heart of the issue of which Jesus spoke in divorce, though those who believe otherwise, mostly those who are uninformed, poorly educated and know nothing of the people and the times in which Jesus operated, and most especially by those threatened by the idea of the male libido having an outlet other than themselves. Monogamy is an attempt by women, governments and of late by attorneys, to control men through the carrotless whip of divorce American-Style. I know well what Jesus is reported to have said about divorce, but I have two reasons for being skeptical about it. One is not that I don't believe that he said something like what the gospels report concerning divorce; he probably did say something like prohibiting divorce. However, he probably expected that people would use common sense about the context of divorce in his day. Think about the inequities of divorce in Jesus' time. Why could only the man ask for and receive a divorce? Why in the "woman caught in adultery", was only she prosecuted by stoning to death? Mosaic law explicitly demands that both participants in adultery (man and woman) be stoned. He was pointing out the injustice of their judgment, and questioning the nature of any such judgment, both of divorce as it was practiced, and adultery as it was punished. "Whomever among Thee which is without sin, let him cast the first stone." He was telling them to mind their own damned business. In other words, if you are perfect, stainless, without hidden vice, then you have at least a chance at credibility and thus to recognize error. But even for those who think they are pure, Jesus, elsewhere states unequivocally, that not even He is "good" but only the Heavenly Father is perfect. "Judge Ye not others, lest ye be judged!" Thus He and only He, is capable of any recognition concerning the actions of others. "Thou strain to pick out the spec from the eye of Thy brother, when Thine own eye hast a log protruding from it? First remove the log from Thine own eye, then ask Thy brother to remove the spec from his." "Vengeance is mine alone, saith the Lord!" Divorce does not break any natural law. The natural law of human sexual behavior is and has always been polygamous, and should stay polygamous. There is, according to Almighty God The Father and Creator More than 85% of the world's population is polygamous either legally, in countries where it is allowed, or illegally in countries like the USA where it isn't. If you wonder about hose statistics, in every sexual survey done since WWII, from Kinsey onward, an average of 75% of all married persons admitted to adultery and the majority admitted to serial-adultery, or adultery with more than one person regularly. The breakdown between men and women was about equal, with women having a slightly higher percentage recently. I say admitted to adultery, because many people, under such conditions, for a variety of reasons, will not admit that they have done something "wrong". President Clinton refused to consider oral sex as adultery, many people agree with his categorization that unless there is actual sexual intercourse, there is no adultery. Many others will deny that they have had intercourse outside of their marriage. The truth? Counting heavy petting, oral sex, intercourse that is denied, probably more like 80% of Americans have committed adultery at one time or another. Certainly most men and women I know who were married after 1964, when, rightly or wrongly, the Pill became the liberation of human sexuality, practiced serial polygamy and many still do. Interesting enough, for those women who argue what about polyandry, my answer is, fine if you can men who wish to participate. The reality is that there are not only STD's present in the cases of many husbands and one wife, or many males and one woman STD's are rampant. Moreover, women can easily acquire Papillomaviruses, which have been found in seminal fluid of men suffering from severe chronic warts, which have been implicated in 100% of cancerous cervical cells, and, if the cancer spread to other organs, the virus was found there. Moreover, in polygamous relationships, when the wives have had sex only with the husband and no other males, there is never STD's present. How odd, you may ask? Those who believe that polygamous is the Will of God as the natural way and thus protected by Him and that those who oppose it are displaying contempt for God, will simply smile knowingly and ignore the misplaced, envious little sister attitude of those who oppose polygamy and God's will. I recommend to upscale suburbanites that they read John 4:4-42. Here the most despised of people to the Jews, the Samaritans show up for the second time (The Good Samaritan, Luke 10: 29-37 was the first) in the New Testament. More than simply being the people least likely to entertain a Jew or to be approached by one, the person Jesus engages in conversation is a woman, and a Samaritan, at that. It was highly unlikely that a Jewish man, most especially not a teacher (Rabbi), would stop to have conversation with a woman, especially not a Samaritan woman. This is the story of the Samaritan Woman at The Well (of Jacob). Jesus does, however, engage her in a conversation asking her to go get her husband and when she says she has no husband, he tells her, to her utter astonishment, her entire marital, sexual history. This woman has a lot in common with many contemporary American women. She has engaged in serial monogamy (or, perhaps even serial polygamy). She has had five husbands and the man with whom she was then living was not her husband. Today many men and women have serial monogamous relationships. That is, they are sexual with a person for a while, then drop them or are dropped and go on to another, or they have several sexual relationships at once serially, (or ongoing). However, Jesus does not condemn her, nor does he tell her that she must go back to her first husband. He does not tell her to dump her present lover and get an annulment, nor does he even tell her to go and sin no more. He makes no judgment except that she open herself to embracing his words about life and partake of the living waters that flow from the man with whom she speaks. He subtly hints at his identity as the Messiah by telling her that if she knew to whom she spoke, she would heed his words and she notices that comment, saying that she had heard that a Messiah was to come. She is amazed at his insights and knowledge of her life. "Come" She tells her friends, "See the man who has told me everything I have done!" Through her, a woman many might dismiss as a loose woman, an undesirable, one to be avoided and whispered about glaringly from afar by polite society, through her, an entire town of outcasts, marginal Jews, are opened to accepting his mission. He did not, please notice, go seek out the wealthy, pious women of renown, those respected and admired by the poorer less socially acceptable women. This Samaritan woman would definitely, not be comparable in her era, to a contemporary, suburban, SUV driving, soccer mom. Americans and Europeans pretend that polygamy is immoral, yet the answers to male female desire and boredom are divorce, Adultery, or serial polygamy. Often this ends in divorce, a division of assets, and children raised by a single parent. When that parent is male, the crime rate is higher as is the drug use among offspring. Among women, it is much higher, and the death rate of children of single adult female parents is astronomically higher as is If delinquency were a response to excessive maternal identification, however, the presence of a stepfather should reduce the criminogenic effects of paternal loss. This does not occur. In fact, studies have consistently shown higher rates of delinquency for boys who had substitute fathers than those having no fathers in the home (Glueck and Glueck; Hirschi; McCord, McCord, and Thurber). One of the signs of change, however, has been acknowledgment that not all single-parent families are "broken." Another has been renewed examination of family dynamics in a context in which effects of having a single parent in the home can be considered apart from concomitant poverty, or effects of poor supervision and disruptive child rearing. "The most important part of education," said the Athenian in Plato's Laws, "is right training in the nursery" (li. 643) Classical theories endorsed the popular view that good child development requires the presence of two parents. WHAT HAPPENS TO CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF THEIR NATURAL FATHERS Compared to children in male-headed traditional families where their natural parents are married to each other, children living in female-headed single-parent, lesbian or other environments where they are deprived of their natural fathers are: Source: "The Garbage Generation" by Daniel Amneus Ph.D. It is posted in HTML format at 1. 8 times more likely to go to prison. 2. 5 times more likely to commit suicide. 3. 20 times more likely to have behavioral problems. 4. 20 times more likely to become rapists. 5. 32 times more likely to run away. 6. 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances. 7. 9 times more likely to drop out of high school. 8. 33 times more likely to be seriously abused. 9. 73 times more likely to be fatally abused. 10. 90% less likely to be A students. 11. A 44% higher mortality rate. 12. A 72% lower standard of living. Fathers' Absence 85% of children fatherless homes exhibit behavioral disorders. Fatherless homes produce 90% of all homeless and runaway children. Fatherless homes produce 71% of high school. Fatherless homes produce 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers. Fatherless homes produce 63% of youth suicides. Fatherless homes produce 80% of rapists. Fatherless homes produce 80% of juveniles in state-operated institutions Fatherless homes produce 85% of imprisoned Children of single parents produce 71% of teenage pregnancies. Daughters of single parents are 2.1 times more likely to have children during their teenage years than are daughters from intact families. Daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers' Daughters of single parents are 164% more likely to have a premarital birth. Daughters of single parents are 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages. These intergenerational consequences of single motherhood increase the likelihood of chronic welfare dependency. A 1983, a study found that 60% of perpetrators of child abuse were women with sole custody. 96% of child murders were by mothers, 85% of those by single mothers or their boyfriends lovers, or new husbands. In most human societies, females outnumber males. In the U.S. there are, at least, eight million more women than men. Is, or should this be considered a matter of legalizing polygamy? Many of those who favor polygamy say it should. I do not agree. One has little or nothing to do with the other. There is no correlation between the excess of females and the desirability of anyone to marry them, nor should that be a consideration unless the figure is astoundingly greater than it is. In most African societies today, polygamous marriage is a cultural, socially accepted, and respected institution. Misunderstood in the West is that women in other cultures do not look at polygamy as a sign of women's degradation. That idea is one put forth by those envious of, jealous of and hateful of beautiful women and their attractiveness toi men. It is likewise a majority of young African brides, whether Christians or Muslims, would prefer to marry a married man who has already proved himself a responsible husband. Many African wives urge their husbands to acquire a second wife as company for the wife, children and husband . A survey of over six thousand women, ranging in age from 15 to 59, conducted in the second largest city in Nigeria showed that 60 percent of these women would be pleased if their husbands took another wife. Only 23 percent expressed anger at the idea of sharing with another wife. Seventy-six percent of the women in a survey conducted in Kenya viewed polygamy positively. In a survey undertaken in rural Kenya, 25 out of 27 women considered polygamy better than monogamy. These women felt polygamy can be a happy and beneficial experience if the co-wives cooperate with each other. Polygamy in most African societies is such a respectable institution that some Protestant churches are becoming more tolerant of it. A bishop of the Anglican Church in Kenya declared that, "Although monogamy may be ideal for the expression of love between husband and wife, the church should consider that in certain cultures polygyny is socially acceptable and that the belief that polygyny is contrary to Christianity is no longer tenable." After a careful study of African polygamy, Reverend David Gitari of the Anglican Church has concluded that polygamy, as ideally practiced, is more Christian than divorce and remarriage as far as the abandoned wives and children are concerned. I personally know of some highly educated African wives who, despite having lived in the West for many years, do not have any objections against polygamy. One of them, who lives in the U.S., solemnly exhorts her husband to get a second wife to help her in raising the kids. The problem of the unbalanced sex ratios becomes truly problematic at times of war. Native American Indian tribes used to suffer highly unbalanced sex ratios after wartime losses. Women in these tribes, who in fact enjoyed a high status, accepted polygamy as the best protection against indulgence in indecent activities. European settlers, without offering any other alternative, condemned this Indian polygamy as 'uncivilized'. After the Second World War, there were 7,300,000 more women than men in Germany (3.3 million of them were widows). There were 100 men aged 20 to 30 for every 167 women in that age group. Many of these women needed a man not only as a companion but also as a provider for the household in a time of unprecedented misery and hardship. The soldiers of the victorious Allied Armies exploited these women's vulnerability. Many young girls and widows had liaisons with members of the occupying forces. Many American and British soldiers paid for their pleasures in cigarettes, chocolate, and bread. Children were overjoyed at the gifts these strangers brought. A 10 year old boy on hearing of such gifts from other children wished from all his heart for an 'Englishman' for his mother so that she need not go hungry any longer. We have to ask our own conscience at this point: What is more dignifying to a woman? An accepted and respected second wife as in the native Indians' approach, or a virtual prostitute as in the 'civilized' Allies approach? In other words, what is more dignifying to a woman, the Quranic prescription or the theology based on the culture of the Roman Empire? It is interesting to note that in an international youth conference held in Munich in 1948 the problem of the highly unbalanced sex ratio in Germany was discussed. When it became clear that no solution could be agreed upon, some participants suggested polygamy. The initial reaction of the gathering was a mixture of shock and disgust. However, after a careful study of the proposal, the participants agreed that it was the only possible solution. Consequently, polygamy was included among the conference final recommendations. The world today possesses more weapons of mass destruction than ever before and the European churches might, eventually, be obliged to accept polygamy as the only way out. Father Hillman has thoughtfully recognized this fact, "It is quite conceivable that these genocidal techniques (nuclear, biological, chemical) could produce so drastic an imbalance among the sexes that plural marriage would become a necessary means of survival.... Then contrary to previous custom and law, an overriding natural and moral inclination might arise in favour of polygamy. In such a situation, theologians and church leaders would quickly produce weighty reasons and biblical texts to justify a new conception of marriage." To the present day, polygamy continues to be a viable solution to some of the social ills of modern societies. The communal obligations that the Qur'an mentions in association with the permission of polygamy are more visible at present in some Western societies than in Africa. For example, In the United States today, there is a severe gender crisis in the black community. One out of every twenty young black males may die before reaching the age of 21. For those between 20 and 35 years of age, homicide is the leading cause of death. Besides, many young black males are unemployed, in jail, or on dope. As a result, one in four black women, at age 40, have never married, as compared with one in ten white women. 67 Moreover, many young black females become single mothers before the age of 20 and find themselves in need of providers. The result of these tragic circumstances is that an increasing number of black women are engaged in what is called 'man-sharing'. 68 That is, many of these hapless single black women are involved in affairs with married men. The wives are often unaware of the fact that other women are 'sharing' their husbands with them. Some observers of the crisis of man sharing in the African American community strongly recommend consensual polygamy as a temporary answer to the shortage of black males until more comprehensive reforms in the American society are undertaken. By consensual polygamy, they mean a polygamy that is sanctioned by the community and to which all the parties involved have agreed, as opposed to the usually secret man sharing which is detrimental both to the wife and to the community in general. The problem of man sharing in the African American community was the topic of a panel discussion held at Temple University in Philadelphia on January 27, 1993. Some of the speakers recommended polygamy as one potential remedy for the crisis. They also suggested that law, particularly in a society that tolerates prostitution and mistresses, should not ban polygamy. The comment of one woman from the audience that African Americans needed to learn from Africa where polygamy was responsibly practiced elicited enthusiastic applause. Philip Kilbride, an American anthropologist of Roman Catholic heritage, in his provocative book, Plural Marriage For Our Time, proposes polygamy as a solution to some of the ills of the American society. He argues that plural marriage may serve as a potential alternative for divorce in many cases in order to obviate the damaging impact of divorce on many children. He maintains that many divorces are caused by the rampant extramarital affairs in the American society. According to Kilbride, ending an extramarital affair in a polygamous marriage, rather than in a divorce, is better for the children, "Children would be better served if family augmentation rather than only separation and dissolution were seen as options." Moreover, he suggests that other groups will also benefit from plural marriage such as: elderly women who face a chronic shortage of men and the African Americans who are involved in man-sharing. African churches and African Christians often remind their European brothers that the Church's ban on polygamy is a cultural tradition and not an authentic Christian injunction. The Qur'an, too, allowed polygamy, but not without restrictions: "If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one" (4:3). The Qur'an, contrary to the Bible, limited the maximum number of wives to four under the strict condition of treating the wives equally and justly. It should not be understood that the Qur'an is exhorting the believers to practice polygamy, or that polygamy is considered as an ideal. In other words, the Qur'an has "tolerated" or "allowed" polygamy, and no more, but why? Why is polygamy permissible? The answer is simple: there are places, times in which there are compelling social, and moral reasons for polygamy. As the above Quranic, verse indicates, the issue of polygamy in Islam cannot be understood apart from community obligations towards orphans and widows. Islam as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times could not ignore these compelling obligations. In 1987, a poll conducted by the student newspaper at the university of California at Berkeley asked the students whether they agreed that men should be allowed by law to have more than one wife in response to a perceived shortage of male marriage candidates in California. Almost all of the students polled approved of the idea. One female student even stated that a polygamous marriage would fulfill her emotional and physical needs while giving her greater freedom than a monogamous union. In fact, the few remaining fundamentalist Mormon women who still practice polygamy in the U.S also use this same argument. They believe that polygamy is an ideal way for a woman to have both a career and children since the wives help each other care for the children. It has to be added that polygamy in Islam is a matter of mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. Besides, the wife has the right to stipulate that her husband must not marry any other woman as a second wife. The Bible, on the other hand, sometimes resorts to forcible polygamy. A childless widow must marry her husband's brother, even if he is already married (see the "Plight of Widows" section), regardless of her consent (Genesis 38:8-10). It should be noted that in many Muslim societies today the practice of polygamy is rare since the gap between the numbers of both sexes is not huge. One can, safely, say that the rate of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much less than the rate of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, men in the Muslim world today are far more strictly monogamous than men in the Western world. Billy Graham, the eminent Christian evangelist has recognized this fact: "Christianity cannot compromise on the question of polygamy. If present-day Christianity cannot do so, it is to its own detriment. Islam has permitted polygamy as a solution to social ills and has allowed a certain degree of latitude to human nature but only within the strictly defined framework of the law. Christian countries make a great show of monogamy, but actually, they practice polygamy. No one is unaware of the part mistress's play in Western society. In this respect Islam is a fundamentally honest religion, and permits a Muslim to marry a second wife if he must, but strictly forbids all clandestine amatory associations in order to safeguard the moral probity of the community." It is of interest to note that many, non-Muslim as well as Muslim, countries in the world today have outlawed polygamy. Taking a second wife, even with the free consent of the first wife, is a violation of the law. On the other hand, cheating on the wife, without her knowledge or consent, is perfectly legitimate as far as the law is concerned! What is the legal wisdom behind such a contradiction? Is the law designed to reward deception and punish honesty? It is one of the unfathomable paradoxes of our modern 'civilized' world.
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Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Professor Bagnolo has majored in: Cultural Anthropology, Architectural design, painting, creative writing. As a child prodigy, abed with polio for almost two years, he was offered an opportunity to skip three grades at age 8.
Later He was a (more...)
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