Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Christians And Polygamy

 Shall I really go there? You bet I will:)

We've been reading out of the OT, namely about eating of the holy things (meat) in Leviticus. The priest's daughter who is a childless divorced or widowed woman who returned to he father's house is allowed to eat it, but a married daughter isn't. 

This passage made me think about two things. First, many men, contrary to their protestations, support feminism because real patriarchy means a huge financial and otherwise responsibility for their womenfolk. If you had a misfortune to get a childless widowed daughter she would return to your house and you'd be expected to take care of her until death do us part, or until she marries again, and if father died the responsibility would go to her brothers and even male cousins, as it was the case here in Europe not so long ago. 

And second, OT allowed divorce. And then by analogy, it also allowed polygamy. Of course, we as Christians should all hopefully agree that the ideal is one man one woman for life, as described in Genesis. Yet, there is also a difference between what the society deems an ideal and what this society tolerates. 

Now Jesus Christ expressly calls divorce adultery except for fornication, and St Paul adds desertion, too. The only thing he says about polygamy though is that any man in church authority should be a husband of one wife. Polygamy is obviously not ideal, it's stressed once again, but there is no severe prohibition given against it, either.

In fact, early church tolerated both divorce and polygamy to a certain degree, just as most priests were married (Eastern Orthodox prohibited polygamy later on, but always allowed their priests to marry, and divorce for adultery for either spouse).

Here I'm going to open a big can of worms. I know that some of my readers are Catholics and I have respect for their faith, nevertheless I'm a convinced Protestant myself and I do think that modern pedestalisation of women and even feminism and other issues has its roots in some of the things the Catholic Church invented out of the blue, which were never in the Bible.

Under their doctrine of no divorce whatsoever, a man could have a wife who had  slept with the whole town and he couldn't get rid of her, at least, officially (and honour killings fell out of fashion in many European countries somewhere around the time of the Renaissance). If he was lucky, he could get a divorce of table and bed, i.e. legal separation, which at least allowed him not to acknowledge any bastards she would produce, but he couldn't get remarried and have legal children, and having a legal heir was often very important in this period.

But he could take a mistress or go to a wh*rehouse or sleep with all the maidservants and the church authorities wouldn't say a peep.

Kinda not logical, don't you think?

In fact, many wealthy men used to have many mistresses (and still do) and sired lots of illegitimate kids as well. And as we all probably know, the Catholic stance on divorce was one of the reasons behind the European aristocracy's support of the Reformation which legalised divorce for adultery and abandonement but not polygamy, though some Protestant leaders pointed out it wasn't really prohibited by the Scriptures.

In Catholic France before the revolution, the punishment for bigamy was death by beheading. Yet prostitution and all sorts of fornication were tolerated, before and after. You couldn't sell your daughter to be a concubine of a rich man, but you could sell her to a br*thel and it was fine. (described in the classic literature abundantly). BTW, if we believe writers such as Honore de Balzac some of these girls were like 10 years old.

Our society was pretty selective in tolerating s8xual sins, it seems. Now please understand me correctly, I'm not suggesting men should all start taking many wives. In fact, many men nowadays can't even support one and send her to work while they search for the work-life balance and suffer burnouts from having to work the whole of 36 hours a week (by some reason, girls continue to marry these losers), but the fact is, that some sort of official contract, may be with lesser rights, but with financial obligations towards the 2nd wife and her offspring in combination with restrictions on extramarital s8x would probably be an improvement on serial monogamy, mistresses and prostitution. 

Which is still happening, btw. I once watched a British TV program about life of aristocrats. Some or other lord separated from his wife who had given him legal heirs, but they weren't officialy divorced, they just lived in different countries. He lived together with a woman 30 years his junior whom he called his wifelet. He told the reporter he had had many "wifelets" throughout the years.  

I have a feeling he is not the only one...

Christian society the way we know it is nearly totally destroyed in all the Western countries. Victorian times or 1950s aren't coming back. If and when the revival happens, it's up to us to build something new. So the question is, should we turn to some OT things, yes or no?


  1. As an older male, I would be ok with an FWB situation. There is not much legally in marriage for men in the West. Besides, are women not 'strong and independent'? Though it only works one direction most of the time.

  2. :)
    I know I must be stupid but what is FWB?

  3. I see, thanks:) I'm afraid it's not really a way out for Christians tho.

    1. If you look up the Christian libertarian Laurence Vance, he has pointed out the absurdity in today's society how prostitution is illegal but it's perfectly okay for adults to gather together and film a pornographic film. So this moral hypocrisy is not a new thing.

      I realize the ideal is a heterosexual two parent family taking care of a child until they can become independent, but reality gets in the way sometimes.

  4. No it's not. It's immoral.

    It's something the world has come up with.

    And it doesn't even work, for most, because feelings desiring longer term, more exclusive commitment, often develop in at least one of the two, which generates tension. That can spell the end of many such 'friendships'.

    God's way is not only the only right and proper way, it is the best way. As always

  5. Prostitution is allowed where I live. If I'm not mistaken, btw, I thought that (some) Catholic theologians consider p*rn worse than visiting a wh*re. P8rn does something to your brain.

  6. Will, unfortunately we live in a society where everything is made disposable, including feelings. I think that's one of the reasons that popular entertainment is so shallow. No concept of honour, no deep passions, everything rather trivial.

    But we got a bit off topic, I'm afraid:) What do you guys think of polygamy? Could you envision a (future) Christian society where it would be to some degree tolerated? Is it better than prostitution, yes or no?

  7. I can't imagine it; God's people haven't tolerated it in New Testament times, compared to Old Testament times.

    It goes against God's plan of A man and A woman joined together, which reflects, in microcosm, Christ and His bride, the Church.

    The Old Testament God's people not only tolerated polygamy but prostitution as well, and if one looks at the Scriptures there which do condemn prostitution, it seems the strongest condemnation is reserved for temple prostitution, which is idolatry, rather than regular transactional prostitution - which is also condemned but less harshly.

    If we were going to return to OT ways, it would involve tolerating not only polygamy but prostitution and yes pornography, which existed in non-photographic forms, e.g. cave paintings, sculptures, etc.

    I'd rather have a godly New Testament society that condemns all.

  8. Oh yes, I agree it's not the plan. What I meant is that when you look at OT laws, it has severe punishments for things like adultery. Actually, death penalty. Yet, in Catholic countries such as France they turned a blind eye to it and you couldn't divorce your unfaithful wife because mercy, and prostitution was tolerated also. And mistresses. All the wealthy elite men had them, and they shared wives, too. Just look at Henry of Navarre.

    Yet, if you committed bigamy as a man, no mercy for you, off with your head.

    Strange, isn't it? Also, as a woman, of course I'm not suggesting men start taking additional wives. But, in a traditional society, is it worse when a wealthy man takes a concubine whom he is legally obliged to support (and the children, too) than when he is banging all the maidservants in his house and produces bastards? Because that''s what happened.