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complementarity

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 28, 2008

Mark Steyn backhands the Brits for their capitulation to political Qur'ectness:

You can't (for the moment) marry multiple wives within the United Kingdom, but if you contract a polygamous marriage in a jurisdiction where polygamy is legal, such as certain, ahem, Muslim countries, your better halves (or better eighths?) are now recognized as eligible for British welfare payments. Thus, the concept of "each additional spouse" has been accepted both de facto and de jure.

Steyn's witty wording inadvertently puts into sharper relief some aspects of the theology of marriage. A man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. Would there be any wife to wife one-flesh-ness between a Muslim's multiple brides (or, to take an OT example, between Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel)? Hard to see how.

More debatable is his contention that a Muslim holding a full house might refer to his "better eighths" rather than "better fifths." Would it be a different man made whole in a different way by each of his four wives (wedded either serially or concurrently) so as to produce eight marital relationships? Or does the hub to which the spokes are attached remain constant (so as to produce five)? Most Britons must realize that neither understanding is easy to reconcile with the traditional Christian notion of the nuptial bond. But come to think of it, Henry VIII had his own ideas about marital cleaving, didn't he?

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 29, 2008 3:50 PM ET USA

    What hypocrisy! The Brits outlawed polygamy in Hongkong! It was perfectly accepted and common for a man of means to have more than one wife and family, if he could provide for more than one household (of course, each needed separate accommodations.) As long as the husband provided well, the wives were happy, especially if they had enough "legs" to play mah-jong. But, under British common law, it was outlawed! Now, if you're Muslim, it's not only legal, but the gov't will pay for it!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 28, 2008 1:19 PM ET USA

    Another step down the slippery slope: If one form of ex-territorial plural marriage has obtained legal recognition, then what is the principled legal objection not to recognize any and all forms of ex-territorial plural marriage? And if it recognized in law post-hoc, what is the principled objection to contracting a new plural marriage in the UK? If a marriage is formed and recognized in its "1 man/2 women" form, what stops the 2 women from divorcing the man in this relationship?

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