5000 Years of Marriage

So I just listened to a Daily Show episode where Jon Stewart interviewed our old friend Mike Huckabee about gay marriage. He (Stewart) asked, "if marriage is the bedrock of society, why would you want to limit it?"

And Huckabee replied, "Marriage is one man, one woman. For five thousand years, that’s the way it’s always been."

And I’ve got some problems with that.

Apparently Huckabee’s never heard of Sinbad, because Wikipedia, at least, defines concubinage as "the state of a woman or youth in an ongoing, quasi-matrimonial relationship with a man of higher social status"…and typically a man has an official wife, then several concubines, which are basically mistresses with legal rights.

And before anyone goes on about how it was just the Indians or the Chinese or whatever who had concubines, wise old King Solomon had a couple hundred.

Abraham, David, and Jacob were polygamists.

In Ancient Greece, marriage was a verbal contract rather than a legal one. The pederasts of old technically could have married men if they wished.

In the Mahabharata, Draupadi marries the five Pandava brothers.

Finally, in medieval and Renaissance Europe, marriage was a legal contract, a business deal. If populations permitted, polygamy was approved-of:

"On February 14, 1650, the parliament at Nürnberg decreed that, because so many men were killed during the Thirty Years’ War, the churches for the following ten years could not admit any man under the age of 60 into a monastery. Priests and ministers not bound by any monastery were allowed to marry. Lastly, the decree stated that every man was allowed to marry up to ten women. The men were admonished to behave honorably, provide for their wives properly, and prevent animosity among them."*

And in "Der Beichtrat", Martin Luther gave the Landgrave Philip of Hesse a dispensation to take a second wife; fifteen years earlier, he said that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture."*

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here; mostly, I think, that Mike Huckabee needs to shut the fuck up and check his facts.

*Quoted or paraphrased from Wikipedia

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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