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Quaker views on Polygamy, Plural Marriage and/or Polyamory?
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Turtle



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: Quaker views on Polygamy, Plural Marriage and/or Polyamory? Reply with quote

Hello. I have a question regarding Quaker views on polygamy (polygyny or polyandry), plural marriage (spiritual wifery), complex marriage, and/or polyamory.

I've noticed a wide range of beliefs regarding GLBT lifestyles, so I am curious about what thoughts exist on alternative relationships outside of the dyadic type.

Has there been any condemnation or support of such relationships? Anything statements in an official or unofficial capacity? Any blogs, books, or articles written on the topic from a Quaker perspective?

Certainly, this is a sensitive issue, so lets please be civil. Thank you.
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michaeldavidjay



Joined: 21 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both are very common. Quaker men have often taken another, after the first had died. Widows have also taken new husbands.... Sometimes divorced people have remarried without being disowned.

**

Ok, you mean at the same time... I once had a professor (Quaker actually) point to a situation where a tribe became Christian, and the chief had several wives. He had to put all but one of them away to be Christian -- the professor asked us if the requirement was cultural, or religious... and if it were cultural, if it were right to ask them to make such a sudden break with their culture.

I have never met anyone, anywhere, not even LDS (Mormon) who saw plural marriage in a positive light. You will not find anything supporting Plural marriage in traditional Friends writings -- your other sources -- well, you will find connections between Quakers and communist terrorists if you search blogs. Quaker seems to be a placeholder for some people, with a meaning to be assigned later (like widget).
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punkrainbow



Joined: 24 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've discussed this on a Forum elsewhere and can only say what my own feeling is. If we read the Bible, the sexual mores alter over time from polygamous relations being the norm i.e Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and Hagar, Genesis 16:1-4) to the Second Testament ideal of the single couple, Ephesians 5:23). symbolizing the relationship between God and his the Church. The differences between Abraham's sexual arrangements and Paul's ideal clearly did not affect the Apostle's verdict on him as 'right with God'. It is also interesting to note that Jesus view of marriage does not necessarily prohibit polygamy, even though we have decided on the basis of the same passage to practice monogamy. As Walter Wink notes,

Quote:
Jesus' teaching about marital union in Mark 10:6-8 is no exception, since he quotes Gen. 2:24 as his authority, and this text was never understood in Israel as excluding polygamy. A man could become "one flesh" with more than one woman, through the act of sexual intercourse. We know from Jewish sources that polygamy continued to be practiced within Judaism for centuries following the New Testament period.


http://www.godweb.org/wink.htm

For me, a great many of the social arrangements we count as 'ordained' or 'God-given', are actually historically conditioned human constructions, which vary, depending on time and place. Certain restrictions on sexual intercourse during the seven days of the menstrual period (Lev. 18:19; 15:19-24, or a taboo on ever seeing one's father naked (Gen. 9:20-27) made sense in the context of Hebrew culture and it's purity codes, just as polygamy did, but these arrangements seem rather nonsensical or strange to us. What matters to God in my opinion, are not these cultural externals, but rather what is going on at the level of the heart. Are people in their diverse relationships living up to Jesus' trans-cultural ideal of reciprocity, 'So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets', (Matthew 7:12). As long as we treat our sexual partners with gentleness, responsibility and hospitality, then surely God's love cannot be shut out?

As long as there is honesty and a commitment to safe and responsible behaviour between sexual partners, there is no reason why monogamy should be the primary blue-print for someone's relationship. I would argue that inward 'fidelity of the heart' is the most central ingredient in any relationship, as opposed to 'not straying'. Holding a concept of 'inward fidelity' means that both partners acknowledge the centrality of each other emotionally e.g. supporting their partner, drying their eyes when things go wrong, facilitating their aspirations and meeting problems that may arise, collectively. This does not preclude, if both partners agree, sexual contact for sex sake outside the bounds of the relationship.
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Shay



Joined: 01 Jun 2005
Posts: 885

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW- I found this article on Judaism and polygamy-
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=425&letter=P
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Guy Janssens



Joined: 13 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shay wrote:
FWIW- I found this article on Judaism and polygamy-
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=425&letter=P


So God takes a component' from Adam, a complementing part, and makes it into a 'helper fit for him'. Then the translation I was referring to continues in Genesis 2:24 as follows: " That is why man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, that they become one being again. " When in Ephesians 5:31-32 Paul describes the deeper meaning of marriage, he says: " For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." At the marriage of the Lamb in Revelation we see that Jesus and His church become one spiritual entity with the Father. Please note that the animals are incapable of expressing unity like this. In them the female has not been taken from the male. Animals, therefore, are unable to commit adultery, whereas a monogamous marriage is part of man's spiritual make-up, for this is the way it was from the beginning. (Mark 10:6). This is also why Malachi 2:15 (in certain translations) says that no man who has sufficient spirit will be unfaithful to the wife of his youth. God does not seek fellowship with angels, nor with the spirit of life in an animal which is only united with the earth. He only yearns jealously for the spirit which He made to dwell in us. (James 4:5). It is not amazing that polytheism (the worship of many gods) is usually accompanied by polygamy (having many wives). The only true God seeks followship only with the one human spirit which came from Him, which is His 'component', and which is fully focussed on Him in the re-creation

Guy,
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Shay



Joined: 01 Jun 2005
Posts: 885

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://bibleforums.org/forum/showthread.php?t=19552

I don't know if you're quoting yourself or others again, but take any sentence from your paragraph and it shows up as being from there.

And once again, I'm not seeing any correlation besides the general subject matter between what I posted and what you're copy-pasting.

If these are not your original articles, please stop pasting them, you could possibly get the board owner in trouble for copyright infringement if soeone decided to make enough of a stink about it. I actually prefer your one-sentence responses- at least they're yours.
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michaeldavidjay



Joined: 21 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And no monthly meeting ought to permit any marriages to be proposed in the said meeting, sooner than a year after the death of husband or wife.


(That would be a very old Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Discipline)
http://www.qhpress.org/texts/obod/marriage.html

I should say that this is a pretty standard expression of the view in the united states meetings.

My yearly meeting is somewhat more permissive, saying:
Quote:
Local churches shall not, in any case, recognize marriage proceedings under circumstances which would violate the laws of the state in which the marriage is solemnized.


and,

Quote:
If any objections have been presented to the local Elders Board, which they shall judge reasonable, they should inform the local church, and a committee should be appointed to investigate and report, when the meeting may dismiss the case or proceed with it, as shall appear right.

If no objection appears, the parties shall be left at liberty to accomplish their marriage according to the Practices of Government.

(from http://www.efcmaym.org/faith_and_practice/part_3/chap_4.htm#chapter4 )
Divorce is not mentioned, and divorced people have found that there was no objection to their marriage before -- but, we also have people who object just to be contrary. I have heard unfortunate, and unchristian whispering about a widower who was in a relationship 'too soon' after his wife died.

As I said, other than a classroom exercise that looked at polygamy as a cultural norm, and questioned the limit of how much cultural norms should be forced on other cultures, the reaction to Polygamy that I've encountered has been rather negative. Likely there are... fear of dangerous cult reasons for this.

One interesting thing to note: Paul considers monogamy (Husband of one wife) to be necessary for church leadership positions. I've heard debate whether this monogamy requirement forbids a widower to remarry, whether it is about divorce, or whether it is about polygamy. Personally I think the last is likely -- because, ... well... I think monogamy, if not commanded does seem to be encouraged.
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Last edited by michaeldavidjay on Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:30 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Guy Janssens



Joined: 13 Nov 2008
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

michaeldavidjay wrote:
Quote:
And no monthly meeting ought to permit any marriages to be proposed in the said meeting, sooner than a year after the death of husband or wife.

michaeldavidjay!
http://www.qhpress.org/texts/obod/marriage.html

I should say that this is a pretty standard expression of the view in the united states meetings.

My yearly meeting is somewhat more permissive, saying:
Quote:
Local churches shall not, in any case, recognize marriage proceedings under circumstances which would violate the laws of the state in which the marriage is solemnized.


and,

Quote:
If any objections have been presented to the local Elders Board, which they shall judge reasonable, they should inform the local church, and a committee should be appointed to investigate and report, when the meeting may dismiss the case or proceed with it, as shall appear right.

If no objection appears, the parties shall be left at liberty to accomplish their marriage according to the Practices of Government.

(from http://www.efcmaym.org/faith_and_practice/part_3/chap_4.htm#chapter4 )
Divorce is not mentioned, and divorced people have found that there was no objection to their marriage before -- but, we also have people who object just to be contrary. I have heard unfortunate, and unchristian whispering about a widower who was in a relationship 'too soon' after his wife died.

As I said, other than a classroom exercise that looked at polygamy as a cultural norm, and questioned the limit of how much cultural norms should be forced on other cultures, the reaction to Polygamy that I've encountered has been rather negative. Likely there are... fear of dangerous cult reasons for this.

One interesting thing to note: Paul considers monogamy (Husband of one wife) to be necessary for church leadership positions. I've heard debate whether this monogamy requirement forbids a widower to remarry, whether it is about divorce, or whether it is about polygamy. Personally I think the last is likely -- because, ... well... I think monogamy, if not commanded does seem to be encouraged.


1 Timothy 3:12 >>


International Standard Version (©2008)
Deacons must be husbands of one wife and must manage their children and their families well.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
A deacon must have only one wife. Deacons must manage their children and their families well.

King James Bible
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

American King James Version
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

American Standard Version
Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Bible in Basic English
Let Deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their houses well.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Let deacons be the husbands of one wife: who rule well their children, and their own houses.

Darby Bible Translation
Let the ministers be husbands of one wife, conducting their children and their own houses well:

English Revised Version
Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Webster's Bible Translation
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children, and their own houses well.

Weymouth New Testament
A deacon must be true to his one wife, and rule his children and his own household wisely and well.

World English Bible
Let servants be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Young's Literal Translation
Ministrants -- let them be of one wife husbands; the children leading well, and their own houses,


Geneva Study Bible
{5} Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

(5) They that have than one wife, at one time, must neither by called to be ministers, nor to be deacons.

People's New Testament

3:12 The husbands of one wife. The same Greek word, gune, is used in the Greek here for wife that is used in 1Ti 3:11. On one wife, see PNT 1Ti 3:2.

Ruling their children and their own houses. See notes on 1Ti 3:4,5.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

12. husbands of one wife-(See on [2470]1Ti 3:2).

ruling their children-There is no article in the Greek, "ruling children"; implying that he regarded the having children to rule as a qualification (1Ti 3:4; Tit 1:6).

their own houses-as distinguished from "the Church of God" (see on [2471]1Ti 3:5). In the case of the deacons, as in that of the bishops, he mentions the first condition of receiving office, rather than the special qualifications for its discharge. The practical side of Christianity is the one most dwelt on in the Pastoral Epistles, in opposition to the heretical teachers; moreover, as the miraculous gifts began to be withdrawn, the safest criterion of efficiency would be the previous moral character of the candidate, the disposition and talent for the office being presupposed. So in Ac 6:3, a similar criterion was applied, "Look ye out among you seven men of honest report." Less stress is laid on personal dignity in the case of the deacon than in that of the bishop (compare Notes, see on [2472]1Ti 3:2,3).

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:8-13 The deacons were at first appointed to distribute the charity of the church, and to manage its concerns, yet pastors and evangelists were among them. The deacons had a great trust reposed in them. They must be grave, serious, prudent men. It is not fit that public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any, till they are found fit for the business with which they are to be trusted. All who are related to ministers, must take great care to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ.



Children Conducting Deacon Deacons Good Household Households Houses Husband Husbands Leading Manage Managers Ministers Ministrants Rule Ruling Servants True. Wife Wisely

Children Conducting Deacon Deacons Good Household Households Houses Husband Husbands Leading Manage Managers Ministers Ministrants Rule Ruling Servants True. Wife Wisely

Conducting Deacon Deacons Household Households Houses Husband Husbands Leading Manage Managers Ministers Ministrants Rule Ruling Servants Wife Wisely

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:
1 Timothy 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Timothy 3:4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, (NASB ©1995)

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

See on ver. 2,4,5

Bible Gateway: 1 Timothy Chapter 3 Verse 12 NIV ESV NKJV NLT KJV Message Amplified

Alphabetical: A and be but children deacon Deacons good his household households husband husbands manage managers must of one only own the their well wife

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. For Permission to Quote Information visit http://www.lockman.org.

GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.

NT Letters: 1 Timothy 3:12 Let servants be husbands of one wife (1 Tim. 1Ti iTi 1tim i Tm) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools

1 Timothy 3:12 Bible Software

1 Timothy 3:12 Multilingual Bible

1 Timothy 3 Parallel Chapters

Online Parallel Bible
this should not!? Everyone is unique said FOX,
Guy?,
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BillSamuel



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Kenya (which has over half of the world's Quakers), polygamy is an accepted practice. Friends do not ask men with more than one wife joining Friends to put aside any of their wives, but they do not permit a married man to marry additional women once he has become a Friend.
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michaeldavidjay



Joined: 21 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad to know of that Kenyan reference. I was curious about that.
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Shay



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polygamy bothers me as someone who believes in equal worth. Polyamory, less so, although I know very few people who can make it work and personally, I have no inclinations in that direction so I hold it under the idea of "Do no harm."

The problem with polygamy is that is automatically sets up a system where a woman is valued less than a man, because they are more interchangeable or more a source of variety than a force of personality. It also sets up a power exchange in which men are given the nod as the choosers, not ever the chosen, in real life practice.

Add in that polygamy is often dealt with in practice with child brides (or betrothed) and you set up an even more lopsided relationship, where not only are the women (or girls) devalued as a person, but not even accepted as a full and independent adult as they enter into marriage.

As a Friend, I reject polygamy as being inconsistent with my values.

Polyandry is almost invalid as a concept expect for certain related male relatives (usually brothers) married to the same woman, for the sake of preserving family lines- which is considered fractal polyandry, and is not the same thing as currently practiced polygamy at all. There are certain exceptions (willingly cuckolded husbands) but the power exchange is still heavily skewed in favor of the husband(s).

As for spiritual wifery... I believe we used to call that chivalrous love, yes? I think the original idea had little to do with sex or marriage and everything to do with being destined to meet and love someone. Still, the name alone should point to my dissatisfaction with the term.

Do I believe you can love more than one person at a time? Yes-my experience as a child, sister, friend, and parent has shown me that loving more than one person equally is completely possible. And I don't think that marriage in and of itself cements a bond for all life- the divorce rates (and my own) proves that lie. However, I still find that a one on one sexual relationship works best for me.

Now the obvious question is whether the idea of equality depends on sexual/romantic freedom. I am not going to say what people should do in their bedrooms or who they can write love poems about. However, I think one of the hallmarks of a commited relationship is rejecting that freedom for a level of (obviously) commitment, be it as little as "I'll always come home to you"or as onerous as "I'll cover myself when in other's presence." Part of freedom and equality is recognizing that,on a personal level, you can reject other choices without fear of missing out.

Darn- I'm sure there's exceptions I haven't covered, but if I tried covering every peccadillo the human imagination could come up with, I'd be here all night!
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Spyridon



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 7, 2009 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Matthew 5:27-28 is the famous passage in which Jesus quotes the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery," and adds: "But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

The most important thing to remember about this passage is that what Jesus is really discussing is not sexual activity with a person other than one's spouse, but actually divorce (v. 31-32). The real point of this passage (and of a similar one in Mt. 19:3-10, mentioned earlier) is to discourage Jewish men from frivolously divorcing their wives after spotting a more desirable mate who probably belonged to someone else, thus violating both the traditional view of male ownership of wives and the greater principle of true emotional possession. (See section below regarding the meaning of "adultery.") This "skirt chasing" is what is being referred to in Mt. 5 in terms of "lusting." This has nothing whatever to do with sexually admiring or even fantasizing about someone of the opposite sex and likewise has nothing to do with premarital sex.
http://www.libchrist.com/bible/compatible.html#two
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Dan



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would hold out for the verses in NT that state marriage is for the man to have one wife. Christ even states that it was "God's original design".

Some might argue the one passage only applies to deacons and not all. But I believe it's simply stating the elders and deacons were to be the examples that the rest should follow.

The original question was very good, and I believe never fully answered?
Yet I, too, have wondered.
If "modern society" accepts homosexual relationships as being a "normal marriage relationship". Then what in the worl is there to stop polygamy?

One could argue "for" it from the Bible, though I think thee'd be hardpressed to argue in favor of gay marriage from the Bible.

Could not one argue that the Mormans for example should be free to practice their religion and therefore polygamy should also be made legal, especially if gay marriage is accepted? Where do we stop then? What if some infidel wishes to marry his dog?

Is there a standard, and what is it?

Thy Friend,
Dan
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Shay



Joined: 01 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan wrote:
If "modern society" accepts homosexual relationships as being a "normal marriage relationship". Then what in the worl is there to stop polygamy?...(a)
Could not one argue that the Mormans for example should be free to practice their religion(b) and therefore polygamy should also be made legal, especially if gay marriage is accepted? Where do we stop then? What if some infidel wishes to marry his dog(c)?


a) Because marriage is still a couple? Is this somehow misunderstood?

b) Mormons don't do that any more than Quakers wear bonnets and beards. Some still may, but it's not widely accepted as the norm, and certainly not the standard, by any means.

c) Infidel? Really. Besides, dogs would make horrible spouses- even laying aside the fact they'll follow anyone with a treat home, they can't sign contracts, as animals are not citizens. I'm surprised you don't consider that.

I await your eliding over these points with baited... well, with whatever you were baiting for.
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james



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite aside from what "Quakers" think, I don't see polygamy or polyamory as clearly wrong, though I do see it as problematic. Of course, lifelong monogamy is problematic too, especially if you make a mistake and marry a bully or someone you discover you just don't like. Monogamy has suited me very well--I like being, and having, a one and only. At it's best it is intimate and inspiring.

But I've also heard stories of self-supportive communities of wives raising a family and maintaining a household as a team, finding a strength and unity in numbers that many monogamous wives might envy. I'm reluctant to judge that.
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