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The Great Omission (Christendom’s Abandonment of the Biblical Family)
This book presents twenty years of study, taking a candid look at the issue of multiple wives in Scripture and society. The book chapters are:
The Problem: The Sad, Ignored Epidemic
The Divine Provision
The Marital Gift
The Old Testament Scriptural Precedent
The New Testament Scriptural Precedent
The Religious System’s Destruction of the Biblical Family
The History of Its Practice
The Cultural Issue
The Benefits of Plural Marriage
Who Is Immoral?
This book also has 14 appendixes.
It’s amazing how proud Christendom is of their “Judaeo-Christian” roots, i.e., established on the foundation of “the law” of the Old Testament. Yet when it comes to Polygamy, how easy it is for them to explain away those same Old Testament precepts because it doesn’t match their current religious morality.
Polygamy is as old as humanity … I do not know at what point in time the Christian civilization legislated polygamy out of existence. All that I know is that at a certain point in time, that time honored tradition of polygamy flourished to the benefit of mankind. It was a realistic age. It was a forthright age. It was the golden age of realism. King David of the Old Testament could not even hold himself. When he could not bear the heat, he succumbed to the spectacular lure of polygamy. God never punished him for that …
Christianity and its practitioners are sometimes the epitome of double standards. Yet, they mount the higher ground to preach superior moral values … The advent of monogamy has led to prostitution. It has led to matrimonial infidelity. It has led to late marriages or the non-existence of it. It has led to serial divorce and has broken more homes than when the fine ideal of polygamy ruled the world.
Jim Baker was a fine gentleman. A high-flying televangelist who stood tall behind the pulpit and the television tubes from where he preached against marital infidelity, fornication, adultery and everything so associated. At the height of his career, he had free access to the White House. He preached to presidents and provided for all the spiritual needs of men of timber and caliber. But behind the scene, he was a serial adulterer …
Reverend Jesse Jackson too. He was well loved. He was well respected. He was well heeled. At nearly the age of 70, while still married and preached one man, one wife, he fell in love once more. He made a lady pregnant and kept it secret. It was only after the story leaked that he sought redemption and forgiveness. Other prominent Americans who preached monogamy such as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Henry Hyde of the Clinton impeachment saga had practiced polygamy while pretending to be married to one wife at a time.
Polygamy by other names is very pervasive in the American culture, and in fact the culture of most Western civilizations. Still, it is highly frowned at in public places and official government settings. A poor man from the west who is caught practicing polygamy in whatever guise is treated with leprosy hate …
Honorable Henry Hyde was the Chairman of the US House of Representatives Ethics Committee which sat in judgment over President Bill Clinton’s sexual recklessness, particularly, the Monica Lewinsky issue. At the height of it, words leaked (thanks to Larry Flint, the publisher of the Hustler Magazine) that Mr. Hyde himself, while still married, had had an affair with a married woman. His retort, which bordered on absurdity and laughable tongue in cheek explanation, was that the incident, which happened when he was in his early 40s was a case of youthful indiscretion and exuberance. Americans, especially the Democrats, almost laughed their heads off. He could not continue chairing that all-important committee and it was thereafter that the impeachment saga of Bill Clinton began to have a K-leg [Nigerian English used figuratively to refer to something that has gone awry, as in: “his plans have developed K-leg.” – ed.].
Senator Bob Dole married his present wife, Elizabeth, after his first wife (who nursed him back to good health after he had suffered amputation from World War II wounds), had been abandoned by him. We could go on and on to point to examples of men of substance who have married severally (or maintained a double standard life of one woman at home and another outside, in the Western world, thereby circumventing the Christian doctrine of one man, one wife at a time.) Newt Gingrich, Larry King (King is living with his seventh wife), are shining examples. Those who preach monogamy[-only] are thoroughbred hypocrites.
They preach one thing and practice the other. You find most of them in Western civilization. Unfortunately for us in Africa, we tend to ape Western Christian culture (marriage-wise) without a thorough scrutiny. We ape Western civilization in all its ramifications, without question. Is monogamy really in tune with our traditional values? Is it in tune with our culture?
Do Africans have strong social value systems or established mechanisms put in place by government to check the devastating impact of monogamy[-only] on the entirety of our social lives and value systems? Has monogamy really worked in Africa? When shall we be realistic to call a spade a spade in order to do away with a blatant hypocrisy forcibly foisted upon us by that strange, alien culture which Chinua Achebe lamented in his classic novel “Things Fall Apart”? Yes, that alien culture which put a knife on the things that held us Africans together, for which reason, things fell apart.
Let’s therefore pause, and pay deserving tribute to the great people of Oyo kingdom whose study shows they have very low HIV/AIDS incidence. The HIV/AIDS prevention team, of which I was a member, was startled at the low rate of infection within the kingdom.
We had asked questions relating to our mission before observing our surroundings with clinical attention. Yes, Oyo kingdom in the present day Oyo State of Nigeria – that place where the Alaafin reigns as it would please his ancestors – has a low rate of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. We were pleasantly surprised at our discovery which had nothing to do with any special education or enlightenment program, that the absence of HIV/AIDS within the kingdom has a direct corollary to polygamy. We discovered that the people of Oyo town and its entire two local government areas are custodians of the finest variant of polygamy.
We saw it with our two naked eyes. We saw, because we lived amongst them for days sometime in 2006 – while on a special assignment for Africa AIDS Watch. There, our team saw men of little means, oblige nature. We saw Okada riders have as many as three wives. We saw young girls in their teens bear somebody’s Mrs. [to take the husband’s name – ed.] – with pride. Our team saw grown-ups – university educated women of diverse professions, bear someone’s Mrs. as second, third or even fourth wives.
We observed them live happily with their spouses. We saw even the husbands of this bevy, stray into town as occasion would permit, to look for concubines. We saw them all and we wandered in deep thought – of an aspect of our culture – an aspect which has never ever been taken into consideration when analyzing the cause(s), effects and prevention of HIV/AIDS amongst the people of rural Africa.
The result is that in Oyo, we found a very low rate of sexual immorality and promiscuity. We saw that there were few, if not a complete absence of, kids born out of wedlock. We also noticed that the schools brimmed with healthy, appropriate school-going age population. We saw few or no AIDS- or HIV-positive people. The people’s internally/naturally generated HIV/AIDS prevention mechanisms have been carefully implemented through the prescriptions of the natural laws of nature. When men and women of marriage age do not stay in perpetual wait for the right partner that may never show up, vices associated with sex disappear.
In most traditional African settings, men of worth – successful farmers, wrestlers, warriors, great hunters, and traders – married as many wives as possible. Because of this and many more, the paupers amongst members of the community aspired to be like the successful ones. Getting the best women in town as a trophy made possible by success therefore became an added incentive for young adult men to work hard. That was what we saw manifested in Oyo kingdom.
I feel very sorry for Africans who ape social prescriptions defined by Western standards. You would often hear a supposedly educated African talk and make wild references to Western ways without facts to corroborate. “If it were in America, this would not happen.” “If it were in Europe this or that would not happen.” It’s all lies. Westerners who introduced Christianity with powerful evangelization were masters of deceit.
Fashion that at the time they were preaching Christianity with the concomitant admonition for man to love his neighbor in one breath, they had a gun in the other hand pushing deep into Africa in an unbridled conquest. Thus with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other, the progenitors of Western civilization wreaked the greatest havoc ever recorded in human history against Africa. As we write, Africa and the entire world is yet to recover from this. The result is that Africans have without discrimination thrown the most important segments of our cultural values overboard. How can we succumb easily without hesitation, without scrutiny, without question?
How could we have imbibed Western culture so wholesomely without resistance? How could we have in good conscience jettisoned important aspects of our culture in order to please the white man?
Polygamy is an essential part of African traditional values. It’s part of our culture. It is the jettisoning of it that has led to unimaginable crimes in today’s African setting. It is wicked for men of worth, of circumstance and means not to have more than one wife, or as many as they could sustain as was the case in the good days of our ancestors.
It is wicked and a punishment on the womenfolk to have been abandoned into solitude, into rejection, into poverty with the allure of prostitution. And talking of prostitution, if there were no buyers, would there have been any sellers? The menfolk who mount the pulpit of higher moral compass to preach against social evils as prostitution, are even the worst culprits. They abet that crime which directly or indirectly is associated with the idea of monogamy.
They encourage the debasing of our womenfolk by preaching against one sin during the day while helping in the propagation of that same sin at other times, usually, at night. It is wicked on the part of successful African men or those of means not to have embraced the time tested values inherent in polygamy. It is only a crime if the women so involved kick against it. For in the innermost hearts of most women, it would have been better to get married to a polygamist than to stay unmarried or marry a man whom they do not love.
At the time the Right Reverend Jesse Jackson was having his own affair with a woman other than his wife, he was the official spiritual counselor to the then beleaguered Bill Clinton. He would counsel Clinton in the day only to, at night, retire to the warm embrace of his lover. The result of that dalliance, you already know.
While President John F. Kennedy was the commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces and the loving husband to Jackie, he was having a running affair with Marilyn Monroe.
Every successful man or woman on earth that we can recollect has at one time or the other been connected with multiple sex partners. Even Jimmy Carter, the righteous-looking Baptist gentleman at least conceded to have once looked lustfully at a woman. The point is that even our role models have come to live by example that sexual variety is the spice to life. The multiple partners of the Reagans are legendary … Ronald was the master of it all. I could go on and on.
If the aforementioned examples were the cases, why then the loud hypocritical disposition towards polygamy, particularly by men and women of substance? Why do journalists and supposedly people of conscience shout at the rooftops in protest whenever a man who society thought ought to have only one wife takes a second, third and maybe more wives? Leading us now to ask the salient question: Is it better to be a serial divorcee than a celebrated polygamist? Why can’t mankind be realistic – call a spade a spade?
Why can’t biological man be the way God created him? Why shouldn’t he get into the world to increase and multiply? African woman, yield to the enticement of the African man. Women (African women in particular) please, be the way you ought to have been before the Westernization (in Africa) of [the one] man-[one] woman relationships. Don’t be shy about it. The powerful ones amongst humanity have seized the center stage of [the one] man-[one] woman relationship while the weak amongst them sulk on end and would rather resort to moral prescriptions of Western standards as a cover or a helping hand. Anything that is not natural is not natural, full stop. It’s time to roll back those aspects of Western culture that appear counterproductive and or strange to our cultural values.
“Let’s Get Real, Monogamy Has Collapsed”
The Daily Sun (October 18 & 25, 2010) (edited)
… If the role of government in maintaining “legitimate” forms of marriage doesn’t make you uncomfortable, it should. In most other areas, the government steadfastly avoids this type of religious squabble, separating governmental functions from religious faiths. Marriage, however, has always been a conspicuous door placed in the wall of the separation between church and state.
The government’s distinction between legitimate and illegitimate marriages takes sides in a controversy that has raged since the formation of the first religions. Many religious groups, which include tens of thousands of Americans, believe in plural marriage or polygamy as a human right and divinely ordained …
While many fundamentalists believe that marriage can only be a union of a man or a woman, other Christians reject this interpretation and embrace same-sex marriage.
The reason that marriage licenses are so valued by advocates is precisely the reason it should be expunged from public documents: It conveys a religious or moral meaning. Conversely, the state interest in marriage concerns its legal meaning. It is the agreement itself, not its inherent religious meaning, that compels the registry of marriages by the government. Once married, the legal rights and obligations of the couple change in areas ranging from taxes to inheritance to personal injury to testimonial privileges.
The government’s policing role over legitimate marriages also produces curious contradictions. While the government criminalizes the marriage of same-sex couples without official licenses (denied to them as a matter of policy), it does not police religious practices governing divorces.
For example, Orthodox Jews believe that a woman remains married regardless of any civil divorce until her former husband gives her a “get,” or voluntary termination of the marriage. Some women have been left “married” for decades by former husbands refusing to recognize the termination of their marriage. Even so, the government still recognizes that they are indeed divorced because we view a registered divorce as ending their civic obligations to each other.
The same approach should apply to marriages, leaving the moral validity of a marriage to religious organizations. For state purposes, couples would simply sign a civil union agreement that confirms their legal obligations to each other and any progeny. Whether they are married in religious ceremonies would be left entirely to them and their faith. The government’s interest and role would be confined to enforcing the civil contract, as it would any other civil agreement.
Consenting adults should be able to assume the obligations of a civil union regardless of how their neighbors view their morality. As in other areas, adults should be able to follow the dictates of their own faith so long as they do not endanger or harm others, particularly minors.
Whether damnation awaits monogamists or polygamists or same-sex couples is a matter between citizens and their respective faiths. The government should address that aspect of marriage that concerns its insular needs: confirming the legal obligations of consenting adults. As for our politicians, there are levees to be rebuilt, corruption to end and wars to win.
Of course, this solution would deprive both sides of the debate of a controversy that has been a political and financial windfall. Nonetheless, the public certification of the moral relationships is not the call of government; it is the call of the faithful. It is time we move beyond moral licensing by the government and return marriage to its proper realm: in the churches, temples, mosques and the hearts of every citizen.
Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington Law School
“How to End the Same-Sex Marriage Debate”
USA Today, April 2, 2006
… For polygamists, it is simply a matter of unequal treatment under the law.
Individuals have a recognized constitutional right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of partners. Thus, a person can live with multiple partners and even sire children from different partners so long as they do not marry. However, when that same person accepts a legal commitment for those partners “as a spouse,” we jail them …
The difference between a polygamist and the follower of an “alternative lifestyle” is often religion. In addition to protecting privacy, the Constitution is supposed to protect the free exercise of religion unless the religious practice injures a third party or causes some public danger.
However, in its 1878 opinion in Reynolds vs. United States, the court refused to recognize polygamy as a legitimate religious practice, dismissing it in racist and anti-Mormon terms as “almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and African people.” In later decisions, the court declared polygamy to be “a blot on our civilization” and compared it to human sacrifice and “a return to barbarism.” Most tellingly, the court found that the practice is “contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity has produced in the Western World.”
Contrary to the court’s statements, the practice of polygamy is actually one of the common threads between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Deuteronomy contains a rule for the division of property in polygamist marriages. Old Testament figures such as Abraham, David, Jacob and Solomon were all favored by God and were all polygamists. Solomon truly put the “poly” to polygamy with 700 wives and 300 concubines. Mohammed had 10 wives, though the Koran limits multiple wives to four. Martin Luther at one time accepted polygamy as a practical necessity. Polygamy is still present among Jews in Israel, Yemen and the Mediterranean.
Indeed, studies have found polygamy present in 78% of the world’s cultures, including some Native American tribes … As many as 50,000 polygamists live in the United States.
Given this history and the long religious traditions, it cannot be seriously denied that polygamy is a legitimate religious belief. Since polygamy is a criminal offense, polygamists do not seek marriage licenses. However, even living as married can send you to prison. Prosecutors have asked courts to declare a person as married under common law and then convicted them of polygamy …
The First Amendment was designed to protect the least popular and least powerful among us … The rights of polygamists should not be based on popularity, but principle.
I personally detest polygamy. Yet if we yield to our impulse and single out one hated minority, the First Amendment becomes little more than hype and we become little more than hypocrites. For my part, I would rather have a neighbor with different spouses than a country with different standards for its citizens.
I know I can educate my three sons about the importance of monogamy, but hypocrisy can leave a more lasting impression.
Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington Law School
USA Today, October 3, 2004
The first time I watched “Sister Wives” on TLC, I thought to myself, “How can people that seem so normal be so weird?” For those of you who have not seen the show or its promotional advertisements, it follows a modern, polygamist family – the Browns – who live in Utah. They wear jeans and T-shirts, curse and even encourage their daughters to finish college before they marry. How exceedingly … normal. I have since realized that the Brown family confronts the negative stereotypes and stigmas associated with plural marriages, and also present the positive side to a debate that society has long ignored. State governments, in examining the equality and justness of marriage, should not only debate same-sex marriage, but plural marriage as well.
Of course, the biggest concern to opponents of polygamy is that such relationships may force underage girls to embark on marriages and sexual relationships with older men. But this happens in monogamous relationships, as well. Additionally, there are age of consent laws to address such issues associated with polygamy: If these young girls are too young to consent, then the government must interfere. It could even be argued that if the state recognized polygamy, such marriages would become more transparent and consequently be more open to the enforcement of consent laws. Essentially, the government could better monitor polygamist marriages if they are not forced underground.
Another reasonable concern with polygamy, many argue, is that it is inherently a patriarchal institution that promotes the subordination of women. As true as this may be, heterosexual marriage is argued by many to be a patriarchal institution, as well. Fathers “give” their daughters away to the husband; brides traditionally take the last name of the groom; and old laws of coverture gave a woman’s rights to her husband upon marriage. Is this to say that heterosexual marriages in which the wife takes her husband’s name or is subordinate to him financially should be illegal as well? Clearly we do not and cannot legislate based on the threat of female subordination.
But despite the negative aspects of polygamy, there are positives as well. Elizabeth Joseph, a lawyer from Utah who lived in a polygamist family until her husband died, argues in favor of the lifestyle by asserting that it is a “whole solution” to the problems faced by modern mothers. Joseph argues that polygamy “enables women, who live in a society full of obstacles, to fully meet their career, mothering, and marriage obligations.” A mother can go to work while allowing her children to stay at home with another “mother” who cares for all of the children as if they were her own. This arrangement enables a mother to fulfill her own personal goals while her children reap the benefits of a stay-at-home-mom.
Furthermore, the government should not be able to legislate who its citizens may love and marry. Just because the majority of America’s love is of the heterosexual, monogamous kind does not make this love suitable for all people and lifestyles. As long as all parties are of the age of consent and do, in fact, consent to plural marriage, government should not be able to interfere. And to support this, I invoke John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” Simply put, citizens’ actions should only be limited when they become harmful to other members of the community.
Of course, all of this is a very cursory examination of the plural marriage issue. And there are concerns that go unanswered by proponents of polygamy, most prominently the practical implementation of the legalization of plural marriages. What would it mean for tax benefits? For insurance companies? How many wives is too many? Surely allowing polygamy would be a headache for the government, but is this reason enough to keep it illegal, especially if legalization would promote liberty and equality among citizens? The debate is undoubtedly a controversial and difficult one, and there are valid points from both sides. But it is a debate that deserves attention in the equal marriage conversation. As Elizabeth Joseph noted, “Both polygamy and homosexuality aren’t going away.”
Associate Editor, The Cavalier Daily
(The independent daily newspaper at the University of Virginia)
October 25, 2010