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  #1  
Old 09-13-2008, 03:22 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Do religions that approve of polygamy also approve of threesomes?

It is my understanding that there are still people who practice polygamy, either illegally in the U.S. or legally in countries where it is accepted. In these religions (FLDS and Islam), is a man with more than one wife allowed to fuck multiple wives at the same time? Is the idea that they're your wives and you are free to do whatever you want with them behind closed doors, or is there some kind of religious rule that you can only have sex with one of them at a time?
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  #2  
Old 09-13-2008, 04:18 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I actually have researched the issue with Fundamentalist and 19th century Principle era Mormonism (a big distinction twixt the two, incidentally). IANA Mormon but I had a near obsession with the life of Brigham Young for a couple of years and still have a huge interest in the Fundie sects. Get to those in a second.

I don't know as much about Islam, but I do know that the religion makes no bones [no pun intended] about sex being for pleasure as well as procreation, and it allows concubines, so while I doubt Muhammad ever said anything on the matter I can't imagine it's a big deal or no-no. It definitely wasn't in Chinese culture: there were even manuals and drawings of how to perform 3-ways.

Mormonism:

The sex life of Joseph Smith is a sensitive subject but basically "it was what it was at any given moment". It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn he enjoyed three-ways as he was a bit malleable. (For example, several of his early plural wives were women who were married [including the wife of Orson Pratt, about whom more in a moment] even though the revelation about plural marriage clearly said "if a man espouse a virgin" she is his.)

While Smith was a closeted polygamist (though it obviously wasn't a well kept secret), Brigham Young was very open once he got to Utah. As he was not a well educated man (went to school nine days in his life) his sermons were as apt to be folksy advice and general observations as they were theological in nature, and of course he addressed the issue of plural marriage a good bit. One of his big pieces of advice was that a polygamist should have as many houses as his income would allow, the ideal being one for every wife (not always feasible- in fact Young, one of the richest and most married of the polygamists, housed as many as 12 wives in the dormitory like Lion House, most of them the older or childless women he was married to [lots of his marriages- probably most- were platonic] though he did build or rent private homes for most of the ones he was actually sleeping with [he had children with 16 women and probably consummated at least a few more marriages that didn't result in kids). He personally lived in Beehive House which is connected to Lion House by a large office and waiting room, but maintained a separate bedroom from Lucy Decker, the wife who presided over Beehive House (also his first plural wife; they had 7 children together biologically plus her 2 from a previous marriage and several adopted). Young advocated a schedule system for sex with his wives, actually marking the doors with a chalk X at Lion House or going to his various homes around the city (his believed favorite wife for many years, Emmeline Free, had 10 children with him and lived a few doors down), but he also visited fairly frequently even with the childless/platonic wives. He also had wives who lived on farms and at his summer house in St. George (that one, Lucy Bigelow, wasn't platonic-she had three daughters with him- though she was somewhat out of favor due to... well, long story [involves her sister and one of their daughters]), but usually wound up back in his own bed. (It is known that he still visited and occasionally spent the night with his senior wife, Mary Ann [second but the legal one- he married her when his first wife died] who lived in "White House", a small cottage behind Beehive and Lion House.)

UNTIL he married Amelia Folsom. Total harpie she, the other wives hated her with a purple passion (especially the fact he essentially made them wait on her) and he even shared her bed most nights, or she his while waiting for her mansion Gardo House to be completed. (It was designed by her father, who also designed the temple and was also a cousin of Francis Folsom, wife of Grover Cleveland.) After Amelia he basically had to sneak off to see his other wives- only had 2 kids after he married her in fact (neither with her), though he was in his late 60s.

Anyway, more detail than you needed about him specifically, but the point is that "one wife at a time" was very much the ideal in Mormon polygamist households of the era. Orson Pratt, probably the most educated of the Mormons (autodidactic mostly, but he was extremely well read) wrote voluminously including many practical (but non canonical) manuals on plural marriage. He did not speak directly to the issue of threesomes, but he did state the importance of every wife having her own unique marriage with the husband; again, if circumstances allowed she was to have her own house, at very least her own room in the house, and her time with her husband was sacrosanct. (He also implored them not to physically discipline the children of another wife.)

Point is: it was continually preached that when you were with a wife, you should be with her alone. Threesomes would be a violation of that. OTOH, nothing about this was really canonical, more on the order of practical advice, and there were men who lived with 2 or more wives in one room houses so I'm sure it came up [no pun intended]. (Young himself shared a 3 room cabin with several of his wives while in Winter Quarters, and his successor Lorenzo Snow lived in a one room house with 6 wives for a time when he first reached Utah territory, so it probably happened.)

In general Mormon polygamists were very prudish about sex, and that's probably a lot more true today than it was 125 years ago. Dorothy Allred Solomon is the author of two memoirs on growing up the daughter of Dr. Rulon Allred (google his name if interested), a Fundie cultleader who was murdered in his Salt Lake office in the 1970s by members of the Lebaron Cult (fictionalized as the Greens on BIG LOVE incidentally), a thoroughly messed up rival cult. Solomon recalls her father, who had a dozen wives and more than 50 children, being proud of the fact he had never seen any of his wives naked save for when he was delivering their babies (he was a chiropracter and homeopath and tended most of the family's medical needs with one or the other), and NOTHING was explained to children about sex. (She referred to her brother learning the facts of life from their dad only after he found the book EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK in the son's possession and giving him the browbeating of a lifetime, but then taking the boy for a long ride to explain a few things to him- the brother was 22 at the time.) In other words- Rulon, even though he was married to identical twins who shared a house, would never have had a three-way.

Allred-Solomon states that the sexual repression in the family, especially with TVs and "sex all around", proved disastrous in their family, leading to at least a few cases of brother-sister and cousin-cousin incest due to teen curiosity, close quarters, and total ignorance, and lots of really effed up relationships. (Solomon herself is a monogamist but still close to many of her polygamous relatives.)
=========

The problem with most of the Fundie Mormons is that isolation, paranoia, inbreeding, hypocrisy, power madness among leaders, etc., has led to a huge degree of a small class of "elect apostles" (like Warren Jeffs and his inner circle in the most famous branch) who basically do whatever the hell they want and then justify it later if they feel like it. One cult, the Kingston family, not only practice but openly preach incest- half-brother/half-sister marriages were the norm for most leaders, and one daughter was beaten severely when she refused, in her mid-teens, to marry her half-uncle (the half-brother of both her parents). The Kingstons are filthy rich, incidentally- the Harry Dean Stanton character on BIG LOVE is, I think, based on the Kingston patriarch, who [unlike Stanton's character] was inbred and homicidal but also was a brilliant business man with interests in slot machines, small casinoes, liquor, and bars (which he did not see as hypocrisy but as profiting from the vices of people who were damned anyway).

According to people who've left pretty much ALL of the major polyamous Fundamentalist Mormon cults (the official FCLDS, the Allreds [or Apostolic Brethren], the Kingstons [which is more than just their family, though relations are impossibly complicated], the LeBarons [largely absorbed or disbursed now, but absolute horrors in the 70s and 80s with some branches still in effect- they had compounds in Mexico and Guatemala as well as Arizona, Utah, and Idaho), sexual perversion ran rampant. Child molestation is extremely common; Dorothy Solomon said her own father- a man she had a complex love-hate with, became almost suicidal when he learned one of his sons was molesting his grandchildren and that to him it was anathema of anathemas, but among the current generation it became much more widespread and, per Solomon, she's heard from several refugees from the cults, including a few of her own relatives, of father's convincing their daughters that it's their paternal right and duty to take their virginity. And of course Jeffs is accused of molesting and raping (statuatory in some cases and forcibly in others) underaged boys and girls, and some of the "Lost Boys" who have left the cult turned to prostitution because they were already "experienced" and had no other way of earning money with no education to speak of and what they had by way of education being perverted (U.S. History and Algebra According to the Prophet).
So point: on the compounds of today, weird sex, consentual and non-consentual, is rampant. The more traditionalist polygamous Mormons of today and the originals were a lot more "Victorian"- threeways wouldn't have happened, or at very least wouldn't have been talked about, and the "one wife per night" rotation was almost granite, which meant on the night you're with April you're not even going to see Bernice and Claudia, let alone bed them.

============

Another odd thing about 19th century Utah: the women were in many ways among the least oppressed in the nation, and I honestly believe that many women in plural marriages (always a minority of women) entered into them completely willingly; many even proposed to their husbands. The Utah Territory was also the first to grant adult women across the board the rights to vote, own property/conduct business in their own names without having to be legally declared a free dealer, etc., and while they weren't allowed to serve in high church offices they were allowed to enter the professions more often than their eastern counterpoints. Many Mormon women (including one of Brigham Young's many widows, Zina, who received numerous awards for her charity work in Hawaii from non-Mormon organizations) were extremely outspoken in not wanting Utah to become a state because to do so would actually cost the women rights, and it did- they lost the right to vote.

Though I doubt they'd have voted for three ways.

Don't know if this answers a damned thing, but it's a subject I always enjoy writing about.

Last edited by Sampiro; 09-13-2008 at 04:21 AM..
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  #3  
Old 09-13-2008, 04:36 AM
even sven even sven is online now
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In Islamic Cameroon I don't think it would have happened. Wives generally lived very separate lives- usually they had their own house in a compound (but may even live in a different city all together) and were responsible for their own children, fields, and household. The husband had his main house in the compound and would spend each night eating (and presumably sleeping) with a different wife.

It's not like here where we think of husbands and wives as a team. People lived rather independent lives within marriage. It wouldn't be uncommon to only see your husband a few times a week. And it wasn't usually a very emotional relationship, except in that "well we've lived with each other all this time" sense. Companionship was for same-sex friends. Marriage was more about children, status and the practicalities of keeping a household going.

Usually relationships among wives weren't great. In a situation like that, nobody is going to think they are getting a fair deal and there are plenty of fights about money, children, etc. Women tended to regard their co-wives as a fact of life, the way a woman in a loveless marriage might tolerate a mistress. Anyway, it's not like they were cooking dinner together every night and gossiping like sisters.

Finally, Cameroon at least wasn't the most sexually in touch place. Women got married at a young and age and didn't really have a chance to explore their sexuality. Privacy was at a minimum. And nobody really talked frankly about sex. So sex was usually a semi-clothed thing that happened very quickly. I knew one woman whose husband didn't even notice that she was pregnant until she popped out the baby! People had some very strange ideas about homosexual activity (all gays are in secret cults who sacrifice family members for great riches) and the whole idea of lesbian activity was pretty murky to people.

So in short, I don't think it would have happened.
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Old 09-13-2008, 04:43 AM
Sublight Sublight is offline
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The traditional versions of Hinduism and Taoism didn't seem to have a problem with it. In fact, there were extensive writings on how to best conduct them.
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Old 09-13-2008, 04:47 AM
Darryl Lict Darryl Lict is offline
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Wow Sampiro, thanks for the exhaustive and fascinating summation. I've got a condo in Utah, and it as my knowledge grows, things start getting curioser and curioser. You too even sven!
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  #6  
Old 09-10-2013, 11:35 PM
herhusband herhusband is offline
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two wives in one 19th century bed

William Clayton was Joseph Smith's clerk and scribe. They worked very closely. William married Margret ____ (can't remember). His first wife is Ruth. The following is a journal entry that seems to verify that it did happen...

24 August 1843, Thursday
Nauvoo 2

Thursday 24.

At night I asked mother (his mother-n-law) if Margret
might sleep with Ruth & me she appeared very rebelious & would not
consent but said we might do as we had a mind.
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  #7  
Old 09-11-2013, 12:07 AM
simster simster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herhusband View Post
William Clayton was Joseph Smith's clerk and scribe. They worked very closely. William married Margret ____ (can't remember). His first wife is Ruth. The following is a journal entry that seems to verify that it did happen...

24 August 1843, Thursday
Nauvoo 2

Thursday 24.

At night I asked mother (his mother-n-law) if Margret
might sleep with Ruth & me she appeared very rebelious & would not
consent but said we might do as we had a mind.
do you have a source for this 'cite' that you can reference?

(and please note that this is a 5 year old thread)

Last edited by simster; 09-11-2013 at 12:08 AM..
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:20 AM
Neidhart Neidhart is offline
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What happens in Colorado City stays in Colorado City.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:11 PM
Steken Steken is offline
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I do not believe that Islamic law ever addresses the practice directly.

Over at Aqoul.com, however, there's an article discussing whether group sex is "halal" or "haram."

One fatwa on the subject (unfortunately, the article fails to mention which Islamic authority issued the fatwa in question) explains that, first, according to Islamic law, a woman may never see another woman's awrah; second, that according to a certain hadith, it is forbidden to "discuss affairs of the marital bed in public"; and thirdly, that yeeesh, dude, no way, that's fucking disgusting.

The article reaches another conclusion:

Quote:
So, if the threesome is in the dark where the women cannot see each other’s awrah and there is no discussion afterwards, then surely the husband is only fulfilling his duty to treat both wives equally and thus justify his decision for taking another wife in the first place.

Last edited by Steken; 09-11-2013 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:38 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
I actually have researched the issue with Fundamentalist and 19th century Principle era Mormonism
[snip]
What an unbelievably great post.

Quote:
[...]He also had wives [...] one, Lucy Bigelow, wasn't platonic-she had three daughters with him- though she was somewhat out of favor due to... well, long story [involves her sister and one of their daughters])
I know it's a zombie, but still, the hell with the rest, that's the story I want to hear.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:44 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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A biography says her daughters were born 1852, 1856, 1863...
Sounds like with that many wives, BY had difficulty making the rounds with any frequency...
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:19 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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The Pagans I've known who were in polygamous relationships had no problem with it. "All acts of love are acts of worship."
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:34 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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In Islamic Cameroon
....three ways approve of YOU!
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:17 PM
Blue Blistering Barnacle Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
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There was an interesting episode of 'This American Life' on NPR about factions, which describes a huge split in a small polygynist Mormon community over this very issue.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi.../21/transcript
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:32 PM
Bartman Bartman is offline
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There was an interesting episode of 'This American Life' on NPR about factions, which describes a huge split in a small polygynist Mormon community over this very issue.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi.../21/transcript
Five years after the OP and I'm an hour and a half late to mention the True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days and the Hearts and Flowers doctrine.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:18 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
Don't know if this answers a damned thing, but it's a subject I always enjoy writing about.
{contemplative silence, followed by enthusiastic clapping}

Stranger
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:25 PM
get lives get lives is offline
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Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle View Post
There was an interesting episode of 'This American Life' on NPR about factions, which describes a huge split in a small polygynist Mormon community over this very issue.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi.../21/transcript
That, and the articles that follow it on that same page, are some of the better stuff I've ever read on the internet.

Thank you.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:49 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro
Don't know if this answers a damned thing, but it's a subject I always enjoy writing about.

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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
{contemplative silence, followed by enthusiastic clapping}

Stranger
+1

Should be a macro on my keyboard.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:31 PM
Steken Steken is offline
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The Pagans I've known who were in polygamous relationships had no problem with it. "All acts of love are acts of worship."
Which sort of "pagans" were they? It's a pretty broad term, you know.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:14 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is online now
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I see this thread is an old one that I missed on the first go-around.

The answer for Judaism (in which polygamy is premitted by Biblical and Talmudic law, and was only banned since around the year 1000) is absolutely not. I can't find the exact cite right now, but the Talmud says that one should not be thinking of one woman while having relations with another, even if they're both his wives. Certainly if all three are doing it together, this sort of thing would be inevitable.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:14 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Sampiro I want to add my kudos to the pile. Besides everything else, your post made it clear why the aliens in Plan 10 From Outer Space have beehives for heads.

One of these days, I've got to see that film.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:19 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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The traditional versions of Hinduism and Taoism didn't seem to have a problem with it. In fact, there were extensive writings on how to best conduct them.
But, when Draupadi married five husbands, it was made very clear that she would only spend one day with each of the five. I forgot what they did with Saturday and Sunday, but it was not gang-bang-city.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:26 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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two things

#1 I feel I should point out that OTTOMH the only reason you don't have Jewish polygamists is that the Talmud enjoins us to obey any just and moral man made law as though it came from G-d. So, bigamy laws must be followed. Jacob had two wives. Solomon had numerous wives. Some of whom weren't even Jewish.

Re Hinduism

I'd like more posts and more cites on this. I've been following Draupadi's hair care regimen and it's been going great!
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:36 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Upon reading some things, it seems that Draupadi was promsied by Shiva that every morning she would regain her virginity, after marriage. What kind of bullshit is that? I wouldn't want that!

Sometimes it is also said she was to spend one year with each husband, and no other husband was to see her while she was with that one. If they did, they woudl be exiled for twelve years.

Each of her husbands married other women, as well. She loved Arjun (middle brother and the one who actually won her) best, but was loved by Bhima (second brother) best. I don't blame her. I love Arjun best, too.

One day Arjun interrupted Yudisthr's (elder brother) time with Draupadi to get weapons to protect a Brahmin (sage) and was exiled for 12 years.

The Mahabharat in many ways is the story of weak men. Yudishtr was not a good eldest brother, and had Arjun been the eldest brother, things would have gone drastically different. Yudishtr was weak and greedy and lustful - not as bad as his enemies, and he was also the strictest in religion, but he gave in a lot. Bhim was strong but not very bright.

Arjun was the best and brightest star in the family, and had he been born first, perhaps the Mahabharat (literally: great war) might never have happened.

Ironically, there is a son elder than Yudishtr, but he was a bastard (I mean as in his mom was not married when she had him) and so he could not claim his rightful place. His name was Karn.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:41 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Which sort of "pagans" were they? It's a pretty broad term, you know.
In this day and age, Pagan with a capital P is generally understood to mean neopagans, aka "modern pagans," and may be members of any one of hundreds of New Religious Movements or solitary practitioners with no formal group.

Add I'll nitpick a wee bit. There are no polygamous Pagans in the US, because that's illegal. There are plenty who are polyamorous, which is accepted by many (but by no means all, or even the majority), and I'm certain that's who Sunspace was referring to. Some of them may have entered into religious/spiritual group marriages, but not legal ones, obviously.

And my answer is that it depends. Some polyamorous people are okay with group sex, some aren't. Even when you have a "triad" or "quad" who all consider themselves (not legally) married to one another, they may or may not have group sex. It tends not to be a moral or religious issue, but a matter of personal preference and logistics.

ETA: For non-poly Pagans, it still depends. I know Pagans who are "whatever works for y'all" about the issue (more common), and I know Pagans who are harshly judgemental and die hard monogamists and think everyone should be (less common, but not hard to find). It's not really a group that you can make generalizations about easily; there's a huge variety of opinions on every topic you should imagine. Ask 6 Pagans a question, and you'll get at least 8 answers.

Last edited by WhyNot; 09-12-2013 at 02:45 PM..
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:43 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Anaamika Could you please start a thread on the Mahabharat? I know a little about it (PBS had a live action mini series a few years back. IIRC They cut the story down to 8 hours), but I would love to know more.

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Ironically, there is a son elder than Yudishtr, but he was a bastard (I mean as in his mom was not married when she had him) and so he could not claim his rightful place. His name was Karn.
Karn was the one born with a golden breastplate? And it was his spear that killed the son of Bhima and the rakshassa?

ETA You're the second person who's told me that there's no -a on the end of these names. The PBS series had Arjuna, Yudishtira, and Mahabharata. I ask in all seriousness, is this a regional thing? Or does it reflect different theological traditions?

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Old 09-12-2013, 02:54 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Anaamika Could you please start a thread on the Mahabharat? I know a little about it (PBS had a live action mini series a few years back. IIRC They cut the story down to 8 hours), but I would love to know more.



Karn was the one born with a golden breastplate? And it was his spear that killed the son of Bhima and the rakshassa?

ETA You're the second person who's told me that there's no -a on the end of these names. The PBS series had Arjuna, Yudishtira, and Mahabharata. I ask in all seriousness, is this a regional thing? Or does it reflect different theological traditions?
Transliteration is not a precise science. Let's put it this way. Almost every Hindi letter comes with a short a at the end. So it's not

K
Kh
G
Gh
D
Dh

But

Ka
Kha
Ga
Gha
Da
Dha

(This is how our alphabet begins, btw. Vowels are separate and we have more of both>)

However that short a is a tiny a. We never say 'Arjuna', we say 'Arjun'. We never say Bhima, we say Bhim.

If you look at my name, Anaamika, it's spelled like this in Hindi

short A
N
long A, directly attached to the N, this negates the short A
M with a long "EEE" directly attached to the M. this negates the short A
K
long A directly attached to the K, which negates the short A

So I tend to drop the final a's, even though the "right" way I guess is to include them. But they are silent! I never would say Yudisthra! His name ends on the R. So it makes not much sense to me.

Karn was indeed the one born with the golden breastplate, and was a ferocious warrior in the Mahabharat - on the losing side. His story is very sad.

I think I tried to start a thread on the Mahabharat before, but it was on the TV series, which was roundly mocked. Admittedly it is terrible in some places, but goddamn if it isn't my favorite story of all time. let me dig out my book on the Mahabharat so I can check my facts!
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:18 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is online now
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Doc Cathode:

Quote:
#1 I feel I should point out that OTTOMH the only reason you don't have Jewish polygamists is that the Talmud enjoins us to obey any just and moral man made law as though it came from G-d. So, bigamy laws must be followed.
While it is true that there is a principle of "Dina D'Malchusa Dina" (the law of the land is law) in Judaism, the ban declared circa 1000 by Rabbi Gershom is the primary reason that there are no Jewish polygamists today. While it once was considered binding only on Ashkenazic Jews, the Rabbis of the Sephardic and Eastern Jews accepted the ban as binding on their communities when the State of Israel was founded. (Grandfathered-in bigamists were allowed to remain married.) A Jew who lived under Rabbi Gershom's ban would not marry more than one wife even if he relocated to a country where it was not illegal under civil law. (Admittedly, what you said is true as well - a Sephardic or Eastern Jew before they accepted Rabbi Gershom's ban would be required to observe the law of the land if said land forbid polygamy.)
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:20 PM
Running with Scissors Running with Scissors is offline
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:35 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
the ban declared circa 1000 by Rabbi Gershom is the primary reason that there are no Jewish polygamists today.)
Googling gets me a lot biographical information about Gershom, and reiterations that he made such a ban. What I can't find is any detail about his reasoning, the torah verses he based the ban on (if any), or his authority to make such a ban. I don't want to practice polygamy (I'd be delighted to find just one woman crazy enough to marry me). But I am confused. Without cites from the torah, how can a ruling mean anything?

ETA According to Wikipedia (I know. It ain't a strong cite) some Jews in Yemen still practice polygamy.

Last edited by DocCathode; 09-12-2013 at 04:36 PM..
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:44 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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More googling turns up an SDMB thread. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=216872


Wherein, we may read

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing
A Takanah (singular of Takanot) is a Rabbinic law, touching on something not directly addressed in the Torah, kind of similar to an Islamic fatah, and it's binding on those individuals and communities that accept it. In Rabbi Gershom's case, because he was so respected, the entire Ashkanazic world accepted his takanot, and so they've become binding law.
I'm confused. So Gershom's ban is binding only if I choose to accept it and not for any other reason? What halacha is stopping me from moving to Yemen, declaring Gershom's ruling null and void and becoming a polygamist?
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:47 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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An interesting simple question, yet no one has answered it?
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  #33  
Old 09-12-2013, 07:04 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is online now
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Doc Cathode:

Quote:
Googling gets me a lot biographical information about Gershom, and reiterations that he made such a ban. What I can't find is any detail about his reasoning, the torah verses he based the ban on (if any), or his authority to make such a ban. I don't want to practice polygamy (I'd be delighted to find just one woman crazy enough to marry me). But I am confused. Without cites from the torah, how can a ruling mean anything?
There was no Torah source for the banning of polygamy per se. However, there is a general Torah injunction to be modest, and Rabbi Gershom considered it important in fulfilling it that the Jewish people not appear immoral in the eyes of the society in which they lived, and European Catholic countries in medieval times, and polygamy was at least one thing that apparently made Jews a target for such accusations.

His authority was that of being the consensus pre-eminent Torah scholar of his generation in the Rhineland. Since the dissolution of the official Sanhedrin by the Romans in the 3rd-4th century CE, a Rabbi only has authority to the degree that the Jewish community in which he resides respects him. However, having accepted his ban's authority upon themselves when he declared it gave it the authority of having been declared law by an earlier generation of Rabbi, so that later Rabbinic authorities (whose own authority derives from the Torah knowledge that they had been taught by those of earlier generations, and therefore they'll hold their teachers, and their teachers' teachers, and so forth, in high esteem) do not feel they have the right to overturn it. As such, the ban remains in effect for the descendants of those who originally accepted it, and for followers of the Rabbis who succeeded Rabbi Gershom, however many generations removed. So moving to Yemen and marrying two women would not be kosher for an Ashkenazi.

However, the Sephardic (Spanish/North African) Jews of the time, as well as the Jews of Middle Eastern communities (such as Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Uzbekistan) had a) their own Rabbis, who they respected more than Rabbi Gershom, and b) a surrounding society in which polygamy was not considered to be immoral, so from the start they never felt the ban applied to them. Since it had not been accepted back then, it does not apply to their descendants now.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:27 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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First I heard of polygamy in the State of Israel, back when.

How many marriages were "grandfathered" in?
Shouldn't many of them still be around, struttin' their stuff and causing weird vibes among the Sephardim, let alone the Ashkenazim, let alone the (thankful) melting pot of Israel?

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 09-12-2013 at 07:27 PM..
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  #35  
Old 09-12-2013, 08:07 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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NOTE- In all likelihood, I am about to make an ass of myself. I am a Jew- arguably not a very good one. I feel just as being a natural born US citizen and 40 will qualify me to be President in the next election, being a Jew qualifies me to question any rabbi or sage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
There was no Torah source for the banning of polygamy per se.
Then I personally view as nothing more than a secular recommendation and non-binding.


Quote:
His authority was that of being the consensus pre-eminent Torah scholar of his generation in the Rhineland.

You know the story of the two sages and G-d better than I do, I'm sure. A walking tree, a river that changes its course, walls that bend, even the voice of G-d are not valid cites when it comes to Jewish law. If Gershom had no cites from the torah, his argument was invalid.


Quote:
]. However, having accepted his ban's authority upon themselves when he declared it gave it the authority of having been declared law by an earlier generation of Rabbi
How exactly does this work?

Quote:
so that later Rabbinic authorities (whose own authority derives from the Torah knowledge that they had been taught by those of earlier generations, and therefore they'll hold their teachers, and their teachers' teachers, and so forth, in high esteem) do not feel they have the right to overturn it.
Why not? Seriously. If his ban wasn't based cites from the torah, I personally feel I have the authority to overturn it. It may be a good idea. But that's all it is.


Quote:
As such, the ban remains in effect for the descendants of those who originally accepted it, and for followers of the Rabbis who succeeded Rabbi Gershom, however many generations removed.
How does the ban remain in effect for descendants? I know the laws of Noah are considered to be binding on all of humanity. If you were born, you're supposed to follow those seven laws. I know that any Jew is considered bound by 613 laws. If you came out of a Jewish woman, you're a Hebrew and must hold up your end of the Covenant. But I don't know where in the Torah it says 'if your ancestors accepted the opinion of a rabbi, then you are bound by that opinion'


BTW Gut Yontiff may you and yours be inscribed for a happy and healthy year
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:21 AM
Steken Steken is offline
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Hell, let's bring it back! Let's bring it back right now!
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:30 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is online now
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Doc Cathode:

Sorry for the delay in responding, I hadn't had a lot of computer time over the weekend, and a lot of work waiting for me afterward.

Quote:
How exactly does this work?
It works because the rabbis who followed Rabbi Gershom's generation were students of the rabbis of Rabbi Gershom's generation. If their teachers acknowledged the wisdom of Rabbi Gershom's ban, they weren't going to consider themselves wiser than their teachers, so they as well acknowledged Rabbi Gershom's superior wisdom and continued to maintain the ban. And the next generation wouldn't consider itself wiser than THEIR teachers, etc, etc.

Quote:
Why not? Seriously. If his ban wasn't based cites from the torah, I personally feel I have the authority to overturn it. It may be a good idea. But that's all it is.
Because the underlying wisdom of it was Torah-based. The Torah does not ban polygamy specifically, but if the underlying principle of not giving the appearance of immorality does come from the Torah, then when someone of the stature of Rabbi Gershom says that the best implementation of it is to not marry more than one woman at a time, there is a respect for that.

Quote:
How does the ban remain in effect for descendants? I know the laws of Noah are considered to be binding on all of humanity. If you were born, you're supposed to follow those seven laws. I know that any Jew is considered bound by 613 laws. If you came out of a Jewish woman, you're a Hebrew and must hold up your end of the Covenant. But I don't know where in the Torah it says 'if your ancestors accepted the opinion of a rabbi, then you are bound by that opinion'
Well, there are two principles that inform this matter:

1) The law of "Honor your mother and father." If your parents adopted certain customs out of respect for the Rabbi from whom they heard it, that's not something to be taken lightly. That's not to say that if for religious reasons you find another Rabbi's path more compelling that you may not make a principled change in your own practice, but it's not something to do without very good reason.

2) The agreement to ban polygamy on Rabbi Gershom's say-so wasn't just by a mass of individuals in the community, but by the Jewish courts (Batei Din) who administered the Jewish community's religious affairs. While they do not have the punishment powers of the old Sanhedrin, anyone defying the court's edicts will effectively find himself socially ostracized, and back then, most cities' courts would honor "excommunications" declared by another court. If a French/German Jew, after Rabbi Gershom's ban had been accepted, went to Yemen and married two women, he might get away with it, but if he came back to his hometown and flouted his rejection of Rabbi Gershom, his disregard for communal norms might earn him some nasty consequences.
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