I Love You…and You….and You…

Aside from being a supreme disappointement (a show about having three wives on HBO, with an explicit Nudity warning beforehand, and all we see is Bill Paxton’s butt? Repeatedly?) Big Love is actually an interesting show, that got me thinking to some interesting issues.

For all those in my vast audience who define marriage as between one man and one woman, and defend that definition as being crucial to the concept of “family,” tell me, who does more damage to the beloved institution of family? The man who marries a second (and third) wife to expand his family or the man who divorces his wife, leaves her to fend for herself (even if he makes alimony payments) and shacks up with his mistress?

So then why is divorce legal (and accepted?) and polygamy so frowned upon (to say nothing of homosexual marriage, which we’ve discussed before)?

Is there a moral imperative against being married to more than one woman? I would say no.

Speaking only with regard to natural law, as one law professor of mine put it, “monogamy is dubious.” Our natural inclination is to spread our seed as far as it will go, and procreate with the best mate possible, as often as possible.

Of course, we’ve evolved (or been created suprior, whatevs) into superior, rational, moral beings. Now we believe in marriage. But the Torah clearly has no problem with Polygamy (or divorce). So what’s the big deal?

We may have solved the shidduch crisis!

updated 3/28/06 9:25am in response to comments


7 responses to “I Love You…and You….and You…

  1. Very interesting point you make about polygamy being less damaging than a guy who runs off with a mistress. I feel that if women, as they seem to in the show, feel perfectly OK with that kind of lifestyle, then why the heck shouldn’t it be allowed. Of course if you’re going to have 15 year old’s marry old guys, that’s just sick.

    By the way, at first I thought the show was pretty lousy, but its got a few great characters, mainly, Roman, who is one creepy SOB. And while I have no idea if the show acurately portrays the lives of polygamists, it’s very hard not to be interested in the relationships between the wives and between the husband and each wife.

    One more thought—what does this guy’s joint income tax return look like?

  2. I did not see this show, and don’t plan to, but allow me to nitpick.
    ” who does more damage to the beloved instiution?”
    Well, it seems to me divorce does not damage the institution, although it may damage the people involved. In fact, divorce makes sense, for without a ‘safety valve’ the instituion would seriously be in trouble.
    On the other hand, if marriage is so defined (between one man and one woman), then polygamy does stretch the bounds of the institution.
    Note I am not arguing the relative value of divorce vs polygamy, only commenting specifically on the institution itself. But perhaps this is part of the answer to your question as to why one’s accepted and one not.

  3. First of all, I clarified my intentions in the post.

    Second, let me take issue with the assertion that divorce doesn’t harm marraige.

    Divorce as safety valve, I think, doesn’t make sense. Not when the divorce rate is so staggering. Something is clearly already wrong with the institution of marriage, and I think the easy availability of divorce is certainly a factor. So, yes, absolutely, I think divorce, as a concept, is harmful to the institution of marraige. I would guess that more people see it as divorce as escape hatch. You see divorce as a way for people to get out of a bad marriage, I see divorce as a way for people to say “i’ll marry him, and if it doesn’t work out we’ll divorce.” Without divorce available, maybe she’s hesitant to get into a long term committed relationship with someone she’s not sure about. I see divorce as the easy way out, instead of working through many fixable problems.

    Finally, like I changed above, I meant who does more harm to the family.

  4. This is completely unrelated, but Noyam, just wanted to let you know that Gordo was at the Rangers game last night. He got a really nice introduction and many cheers and boos. I was disappointed though, to see him leave before the third period, also I would’ve like to have him drive the 24 car onto the ice and do some doughnuts, that would’ve been sweet.

  5. Noyam said:
    “I see divorce as a way for people to say ‘i’ll marry him, and if it doesn’t work out we’ll divorce.’ Without divorce available, maybe she’s hesitant to get into a long term committed relationship with someone she’s not sure about. I see divorce as the easy way out, instead of working through many fixable problems.”

    I think you’re focusing too closely on our little Orthodox Jewish world. While the divorce rate definitely applies to the whole country, I can’t help but think of all of the people out there who live with eachother for years and sometimes even have KIDS, all without getting married. If divorce was such an easy escape, or even something that influenced people to get married sooner than later, why do these people do the exact opposite?

    Of course, you can then say that these people hold off on marriage because they’re so afraid of divorce, which would still mean that divorce hurts marriage – just in a different way. But you didn’t say that, and I’m not even so sure that I could finger divorce as the number one contributing factor to the fear of marriage.

    I personally think that divorce helps “marriage” because it tends to weed out the bad ones, including both the ones that never should have happened as well as the ones that went sour and beyond repair for whatever reason.

    Does divorce allow people to wuss out and run away from fixable problems? I’m sure it does in some cases, but I’m also sure that:

    1) It helps to prevent “throwing good money at bad money.”

    2) Many people get married because they think that the problems they currently have with one another will go away once they’re married.

    Personally, I don’t know how comfortable I’d be with EVER getting married if it meant I was going to automatically be bound to that person for the rest of our lives no matter what. And I don’t think a long, drawn out pre-marriage relationship would completely assuage my fears.

  6. I’m not saying divorce is entirely bad. Obviously, in certain cases, divorce is the only option, and the right one.

    Divorce clearly has halachic sanction, and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s wrong.

    However, I do think that the option for divorce as a safety valve is overused.

    It’s not always wrong, but it frequently is. And fear of divorce being a marriage preventer is a chicken/egg thing. They go together. Divorce harms people and harms marriage. So people don’t get married for fear of divorce. Now it harms the institution of marriage from the back end. Hard to say what’s direct cause and effect.

  7. All I can say is that polygamy seemed a lot more fun before I ever watched this show. Now I realize there is a lot of extra crap to deal with. And you have to be pretty wealthy to make it work.

    Cherno – I’m with you. I’m primarily watching to track the Roman aspect of the story.

    Noam – now that you are already editing the post, why not cite B.S. as a source?

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