SUPREME COURT TURNS DOWN SISTER WIVES PETITION

240px-sister_wives_tv_series_logoSupreme CourtI regret to report that a few minutes ago, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed in the “Sister Wives” case. The case is Brown v. Buhman, No. 14-4117. As lead counsel for the Browns, I was joined on the petition by co-counsel Thomas Huff and Adam Alba.  My prior assistants, including my current assistant Seth Tate, and law students worked countless hours into many late nights to maintain this litigation.  We are greatly in their debt for their pro bono work on this case.  The attorneys and law students who worked on this case came from different religions and held different values.  Many disagreed morally with plural families. However, we all believed strongly that every family has a fundamental right to follow their own faiths so long as they did not harm others.  We all believed that the Browns were denied those rights when they are singled out for public condemnation and criminal investigation due entirely to their public support for plural marriage.  It is particularly difficult to prevail on the merits in establishing constitutional violations only to be reversed on standing issues on appeal. However, our victory in Salt Lake City will remain as a cautionary decision for legislators who wish to marginalize or sanction this community in the future.

I also wanted to extend my deepest gratitude and respect to the Brown family which allowed us to represent them in this historic action.  The Browns remained steadfast in their commitment to equal rights and have become the voice for not just plural families but many families which do not meet the strict definition of monogamy practiced by the majority of citizens.  The Browns have kept their show and this litigation largely separate to allow the courts to fully consider the merits of our case without interference or aggrandizement.  They continue to have faith in our country and our legal system despite this decision.  More importantly, they have faith in the right of all families to enjoy the protections of our Constitution and will continue to fight to make that promise a reality for plural families throughout the country.

The petition asked the Court to resolve a longstanding conflict among the courts of appeals concerning the extent to which the government can strategically moot a constitutional challenge to a statute by announcing a new non-enforcement policy during the pendency of litigation.  Last April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued its decision in Brown v. Buhman, No. 14-4117, reversing the decision striking down the cohabitation provision of the Utah polygamy law. The opinion of the panel is attached below. The panel ruled entirely on mootness grounds and did not address the merits of the constitutional violations committed in the case.

In 2014, United States District Court Judge Clark Waddoups handed down his final ruling in favor of the Browns on the last remaining count. Previously, Judge Waddoups handed down an historic ruling striking down key portions of the Utah polygamy law as unconstitutional.

ad611-sister-wives-season-4Notably, in his appeal, Buhman did not challenge the facts or holdings in the prior standing and mootness decisions. Buhman did not contest that the appellate panel should reach the merits of the decision below and did not claim that the case was moot. He also did not challenge the factual findings below. He did not challenge prosecutors targeted the Brown family after their public discussions of their cohabitation, including television interviews and university presentations. Defense counsel admitted to “endless” condemnations by the Attorney General of polygamists and express public condemnations of plural family members as “criminals.” Buhman admitted that the law is a “means” to make it easier to investigate and perform searches or seizures on plural families (while other families do not face the same risk). It was also uncontested that the Brown family “fled from Utah to Nevada for fear that they would be criminally prosecuted for practicing bigamy.” The lower court found that past prosecutions discredited assertions that no “credible threat of prosecution exists.” Judge Waddoups also found that “Utah County expressly declined to disavow that Plaintiffs may be prosecuted for bigamy” during most of the pendency of the trial proceedings. The court found that Buhman’s belated issuance of a new “policy” only was made after losing key motions in court and facing a final decision. The trial court refused to yield to such a tactical move and questioned both the existence of a real policy and the guarantee that the Browns would not be prosecuted.

The Tenth Circuit did not reach any of the constitutional violations of religious freedom, equal protection, due process, or free speech. Instead, it ruled that the district court should have dismissed the case after Buhman announced, in the middle of litigation, that he no longer intended to prosecute the Browns and others similarly situated. Even though Buhman continued to defend the statute’s constitutionality, the panel said that it would not consider his timing and motives in issuing this new “policy” change, expressly concluding that “it does not matter [if] the prosecutor ruled out prosecution because he wished to prevent adjudication of the federal claim on the merits.” The panel acknowledged that a future County Attorney could change this policy at will, but ruled that this possibility too was insufficient to defeat mootness.

The team is obviously disappointed by the denial but not surprised.  It is often difficult to secure review with the Supreme Court and those odds have gotten worse during the period with only eight members (due to the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia).  The decision will obviously not end the struggle for equal protection and due process under the law.  The Browns have remained committed to that cause and will continue to advocate on behalf of religious freedom and plural families.

The underlying rights of religious freedom and free speech are certainly too great to abandon after prevailing on the trial level in this case. Judge Waddoups’ opinion remains a passionate and profound defense of religious liberty in this country.

This is a legal battle that began seven years ago with the airing of the first episode of the Sister Wives and the announcement of a criminal investigation by Mr. Buhman. It has been a long road for all of us and it is not the end of the road.  Plural and unconventional families will continue to strive for equal status and treatment under the law.  They will continue to seek the promise that led to the formation of this Republic: the right of every family to live according to their own faith and values.  The refusal of the Supreme Court to hear their case will not make tens of thousands of families disappear or resolve the underlying claims of discrimination and harassment.  These families will remain (as will their demand for freedom of religion and equal protection).  All civil rights movements have faced such disappointments and setbacks.  Yet, having just celebrated Martin Luther King Day, it is important to consider his assurance that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Jonathan Turley
Lead Counsel for the Brown Family

 

88 thoughts on “SUPREME COURT TURNS DOWN SISTER WIVES PETITION

  1. I am not to familiar with the story, however, if same-sex can marry and carry on why can’t a guy loose all his hair and brain matter by taking on multiple wives.

  2. I’m very sorry to get this news, and it’s a sad day for the right to privacy or better the right to be let alone as Harry Blackmun put it. A 4-4 split at best or a five-four opposition with the new Trump nominee would have made it an inefficient exercise in light of the Court being perpetually overwhelmed with its caseload. If this is the basis for not granting review, it’s even more disappointing because dissenting opinions on issues of social justice are important for future litigation.

  3. Something I learned many years ago, is the largest ‘group’ whose Petitions for Cert. are routinely denied by the Supremes are lawyers themselves in seeking review of attorney disciplinary cases with In re Ruffalo probably leading the group.

  4. Below are the results of a study I was compelled to do in late 2009 when I came across a Muslim gentleman challenging the Christian community. The Muslim gentleman made the statement “Why does the Christian Church condemn a man for having more than one wife when the Christian Bible does not?” He listed a few scriptures and I was surprised to find that my knowledge on the subject was so limited I didn’t have any type of rebuttal to his statement. I decided to go straight to the scriptures and find verses stating that a man should have only one wife, and the Lord rebuking men for having more than one wife. To my surprise I found that the statement made by the Muslim gentleman were accurate and I was unable to defend what I had been taught all my life by our culture and the Christian Church.

    As I provided this information to people over time I noticed a common objection that a man would only take more than one wife out of lust. I began to realize just what a thorough job the spirit of lust had done to the Christian church. The statistics of Christians that view and save pornography on their computers or have it in their home is astounding. Any relationship based on lust will not be a lasting relationship which also explains why the divorce rate among Christians is just as high, and often higher, than non-Christians. A man that takes more than one wife does so because he loves them, and that love is unique to each woman and does not diminish the love he has for his other wife or wives.

    We need to understand a few basic principles that apply. Jesus stated that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor (other people) as our self. He continues from there to state that ALL the law and teachings of the prophets hang on these two commandments. We also see in the scriptures that human jealousy and selfishness, as well as lust, are sinful. When a man takes an additional wife it must be out of love and selflessness, to provide for her and to husband her, not out of lust. If a woman resists her husband taking an additional wife (out of love not lust) from jealousy and selfishness she is not adhering to the command of Jesus to love her neighbor, and soon to be sister wife, as herself. Rather than giving into lust and taking an additional wife, or resisting your husband due to jealousy and selfishness both should adhere to the command to love others as themselves. Approximately 40% of the women in the world today are unmarried because these simple truths are ignored or denied by most. Sadly another 20% of people in the world are unhappily married – again due to ignorance or denial of these very simple truths.

    What do the scriptures say about Polygyny?
    (A man having more than one wife)
    (Polygamy is not gender specific)

    First and foremost, God is not double minded. Either it is adultery for a married man to sleep with an unmarried woman or it is not. The following scriptures show conclusively that adultery is when a married woman breaks her marriage covenant; in fact that is its very definition as you will see. Scriptures also state that if a man (married or otherwise) takes an unmarried woman he is either involved in fornication (if there is no intention of taking her as a wife), or she becomes his wife, or his second wife, etc…..

    The purpose of this document is simply to introduce a few of the scriptural examples that support this view. While this view is a minority view in the Christian community it has significant strength based on the scriptures themselves. Remember God is not double minded; He does not “allow” sin at one time and condemn it at another time. There are many different arguments against this view which are typically ill-informed opinion that twist or misinterpret a passage here and there and are easily dismissed based on a thorough knowledge and understanding of the scriptures as a whole.

    It should also be noted that it was a common practice of Jewish men to have more than one wife until and even after around 900 A.D. Legislation by the Jewish leadership then caused it to be illegal to the Jewish community due to persecution and pressure from the ROMAN Catholic Church. This persecution had started hundreds of years earlier based on the Roman cultural practice of monogamy only not on any biblical basis.

    There were 40 men listed in the scriptures that likely had more than one wife:

    http://www.biblicalpolygamy.com/polygamists/

    Not once were any of them accused of fornication or adultery with their wives. Only when David took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, was a man with more than one wife accused of adultery. Neither is there any recorded event where an individual repented for having more than one wife as if it were sinful.

    Martin Luther, the founder of the “Protestant Reformation” had this to say:
    “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.”

    Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

    Lamech is the first man listed in scriptures to have multiple wives. It has been suggested that since Lamech is considered to be less than righteous that having more than one wife is the result of a hardened or evil heart. To make this assumption one has to simply defy any rational line of reasoning. If we use this type of illogical reasoning we can then conclude that it is evil to be a farmer because Cain was a farmer and he committed murder. Making this association between having more than one wife and being an evil person would lead to the ultimate conclusion that anyone having more than one wife was/is evil. With that in mind we must consider Abraham, the “father of our faith”, King David “righteous in the eyes of God”, and many others to be evil – hardly the case. Also, while Lamech is the first man listed in the scriptures that has multiple wives, we cannot conclude that he was actually the first man to do so as that is not indicated.

    Genesis 16:3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.

    Gen 25:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

    If it is adultery or sexually immoral for a man to have more than one wife did Sarai (Sarah) knowingly temp Abram (Abraham) to commit adultery or be sexually immoral? Did Abram (Abraham) knowingly and willingly commit adultery or act sexually immoral? If so, why was it not addressed as such by the Lord? Abraham had numerous concubines presumably while he had a wife or wives, yet is considered to be righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

    Unfortunately Hagar taunted Sarai and Abraham was forced to make her leave their family. Hagar’s sin does not make a polygamous family a bad or evil thing however, it simply shows that people are sinful and can cause problems in relationships.

    To argue that “God allowed” adultery or sexual immorality then, but not now is nothing short of blasphemy of the character and Spirit of God.

    Exodus 21:10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.

    This should be obvious in itself…if a man takes another wife he is not to reduce the provisions for his first wife or other wives. This clearly would have been an opportunity where the Lord could have stated that it was wrong for a man to take additional wives, but instead the Lord gives instruction on how to treat your first wife IF you take additional wives.

    Exodus 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.

    The text does not say an unmarried man, any man that seduces a virgin also becomes her husband regardless of his marital status.

    Leviticus 18:18 And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.

    Here is a command not to take a woman’s sister as a wife while she is still alive. This is another example of the rules set forth for having multiple wives. If a man was not supposed to have multiple wives the command would have read “And you shall not take another woman as a rival to your wife.” Then it would be abundantly clear that having more than one wife is prohibited…but clearly that is not the case.

    Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

    While the death penalty is the maximum sentence allowed we rarely see it being enforced. We see God being merciful to David, and Jesus showing mercy to the woman caught in adultery. The word used throughout the Old Testament for adultery is “na’aph” and its definition and scripture verses where it is used are listed below. It means “woman that breaketh wedlock” or in modern terms “woman that violates her covenant”. In the New Testament a different word is consistently used but that is because it was written in a different language; they have the same meaning. A married woman that breaks her covenant with her husband, or sleeps with a man other than her husband, commits adultery and so does the man that is with her. It does not indicate adultery if a married man sleeps with an unmarried woman.

    Strong’s No. 5003: na’aph, naw-af; a prim. root; to commit adultery; fig. to apostasize:- adulterer (-ess), commit (-ing) adultery, woman that breaketh wedlock.
    adulterer
    Lev 20:10, Job 24:15, Isa 57:3
    adulterers
    Psa 50:18, Jer 9:2, Jer 23:10, Hos 7:4, Mal 3:5
    adulteress
    Lev 20:10, Hos 3:1
    adulteresses
    Eze 23:45, Eze 23:45
    adulterous
    Prov 30:20
    adultery
    Exo 20:14, Lev 20:10, Lev 20:10, Deu 5:18, Prov 6:32, Jer 3:8, Jer 3:9, Jer 5:7, Jer 7:9, Jer 23:14, Jer 29:23, Eze 16:32, Eze 23:37, Eze 23:37, Hos 4:2, Hos 4:13, Hos 4:14
    wedlock
    Eze 16:38

    Numbers 30:16 These are the statutes that the LORD commanded Moses about a man and his wife and about a father and his daughter while she is in her youth within her father’s house.

    This is a good example of the use/misuse of the language. Many would use this verse to say “”a man and his wife”…see it means that a man can have only one wife”. If we read a little further it says “a father and his daughter” does this mean that a man can have only one daughter? When a man and a wife are mentioned it refers to the relationship between a man and his wife/wives or daughter/daughters on an individual basis; it is not indicating a limitation on the number of wives or daughters a man may have.

    Deuteronomy 17:17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

    1 Kings 11:3 He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.

    This command was given long before Israel ever had a King, and was directed solely to the future Kings of Israel and not to anyone else. “he” is the King as indicated in previous verses. Then it states the purpose of the command that “his heart turn away” from God. The word used for “many” is “rawbaw” and indicates a large or exceeding number but is not specific in that it does not refer to a particular number as a limit but rather indicates a great amount. Notice that King David had a number of wives but his heart was not turned away from the Lord, yet his son Solomon had an exceedingly high number of wives and his heart was turned away from the Lord. This is not a command that the king should not have more than one wife, but rather a command not to have an exceedingly high number of them.

    H7235 ??? ra^ba^h raw-baw’
    A primitive root; to increase, abundance, enlarge, excel, exceeding (-ly), be full of, (be, make) great (-er, -ly), heap, increase, many, more (in number), much (greater, more), (make to) multiply.

    Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

    Again, death is the maximum penalty allowed, but is rarely applied. God was merciful to David, and Jesus was merciful to the woman caught in adultery. This is another verse in scripture that shows the definition of adultery as a married woman sleeping with a man other than her husband. Notice that it states a “man” meaning a man in any marital condition…married, single, widowed, or divorced. When mentioning adultery the scriptures could easily state that “a married man that sleeps with any woman other than his wife commits adultery” but the scriptures never make that statement or anything like it. Clearly it is the other way around and the focus of the verse (and others like it) is on the married woman.

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

    Once again it states “a man” and does not indicate his marital status because it is irrelevant. If the man was married and taking an unmarried woman was adultery the command would be for them to both be stoned to death as it is elsewhere in the scriptures for adultery. On the contrary, it shows that a man regardless of his marital status must take responsibility for the woman/women he has slept with. In this case it is assumed that he forced himself upon her which takes away his right to divorce her thereby protecting her honor.

    Deuteronomy 25:5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

    The first interesting thing is that she is no longer considered the responsibility of her original family but the family of her husband. Regardless of the brothers marital status his duty is clear; he is commanded to sleep with her. It does not state that the brother providing the service for his dead brother, to raise up children in his name, must be unmarried.

    1 Samuel 18:27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.

    David’s first wife.

    1 Samuel 25:39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife.

    David’s second wife.

    There is no mention of David doing anything wrong or any rebuke from the Lord whatsoever. According to the double standard taught by most (Roman) “Christian” churches Abigail and David lived in adultery for their entire lives as David had other wives. This should be impossible for anyone with even a limited knowledge and understanding of the scriptures to believe. Adultery is one of the 10 Commandments, and would be immediately addressed by the Lord as it is with Bathsheba as you will see shortly.

    2 Samuel 3:2-5 And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

    At this point David has 7 wives that we know of, and yet there is no mention anywhere of David committing adultery, or any indication whatsoever of any rebuke from the Lord. Some will say that a man with more than one wife does so out of the hardness of his heart, but the Lord had this to say about David to his son Solomon:

    1 Kings 9:4 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules,

    2 Samuel 11:26-27 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.

    Here we do have a rebuke by the Lord for what David had done…he had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and had Uriah killed in battle to try to cover it up.

    If David committed adultery with his other wives why wasn’t he rebuked for that? Is God unjust? Does God “allow” adultery, but pay attention to adultery if there is murder involved? That type of illogical (and blasphemous) argument would be thrown out of any court instantly due to the fact that adultery is one of the Ten Commandments and certainly would be addressed by God.

    2 Samuel chapter 12 clearly shows the Lord’s rebuke of David for his adultery buy sending Nathan the prophet to tell him a story that focuses strictly on a man taking something dear to another man…the analogy being David with many wives taking the only wife of Uriah. Also notice in the story of the man and his lamb it never addresses the killing of the owner of the lamb…the entire focus is on David’s adultery and does not even address the murder of Uriah.

    God goes on to tell David this through the prophet Nathan:

    2 Samuel 12:8 And I (God) gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

    God gave David all the wives of Saul to be his wives when Saul died. Understand that the Kings chose the most beautiful women of the kingdom to be their wives, so David would have been very pleased to have them as his wives. God also states that if that had not been enough He would have added “to you as much more” … God would have given David yet more wives if he had but asked instead of taking the wife of Uriah and committing adultery. So if having more than one wife is adultery, did God force David to commit adultery by giving him all of Saul’s wives?

    Sleeping with the wives/concubines that belonged to the previous King was a sign of complete authority and power for the new King.

    2 Samuel 15:16 So the king (David) went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house.

    2 Samuel 16:22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

    Absalom was making a statement by doing this publicly; that he was the new King and had all authority and power. Saul’s wives were not given to David “into your arms” to cuddle with and pat on the head. That argument is nothing short of ludicrous. In a time when sons were highly valued and daughters rarely even mentioned it would be impossible to believe David wanted to collect a house full of daughters, while clearly he had numerous wives and was interested in adding to their numbers. They were not to him as daughters, but as wives.

    2 Chronicles 24:2-3 And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada got for him two wives, and he had sons and daughters.

    Jehoiada was a priest to the Lord in the first temple, the temple that Solomon built where the spirit of the Lord dwelt. This priest obtained two wives for Joash whom God said did what was right in God’s eyes all the days of Jehoiada. Would God’s inspired Word make such a claim if polygyny was sinful or sexually immoral in any way?

    Ezekiel 16:32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband!

    Another example of the actual definition of adultery.

    Jeremiah 29:4-6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.

    This letter from the prophet Jeremiah was addressed to the Israelites in captivity and can be understood to mean that a man should take a wife, but it does not stipulate only one wife and can easily mean that men should take more than one wife as the purpose of the letter was to encourage them to build up their population quickly. A man with more than one wife would be able to contribute far more to the population than a man with one wife.

    Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    The verse is instructing men that they are not to dismiss or send away (as Joseph was about to do to Mary for getting pregnant) a wife without cause. Scriptures state that a woman is to be a man’s wife for his/her entire life so he should not dismiss her unless she has broken the covenant between them. The original text may be more accurately represented if it is translated:
    Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except in the case of a broken covenant, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has divorced her husband, except in the case of a broken covenant, commits adultery.

    Notice that if a woman divorces her husband without cause (his breaking of the covenant) she commits adultery and so does anyone that marries her.

    Eph 5:30-32 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

    The “great mystery” is now revealed. Becoming “one flesh” is prophetically speaking about the church being transfigured into the same kind of imperishable flesh and bone that Yeshua has. We, the church, are members of His body. We will inherit an imperishable body like His in flesh and bone. Jesus left the comfort of His Father in heaven and the safety of His home with Mary His mother and joined with His Bride-Wife, the church, that they would become like Him, imperishable in flesh and bone – one TYPE and the SAME kind of imperishable flesh.

    Malachi 2:15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

    Matthew 19:5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

    1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

    When a man and woman come together sexually to ratify their marriage covenant they become one family, not one piece of meat. This does not mean that a man can have only one woman in his family. If he takes a second or more wives they too become part of his family upon ratifying their covenant sexually. Clearly if a man (again it does not stipulate the marital condition of the man because it is irrelevant) comes together with a prostitute the action is the same as if he was taking her to be a wife, yet that commitment is not fulfilled. The Hebrew word translated “flesh” in the Old Covenant actually means “kin” and the Greek word used in the New Covenant for “flesh” is “kindred”. It is actually rather bizarre to think that when two people come together sexually that they become one piece of meat. We also see a warning not to be faithless to the “wife of your youth”, which indicates the first wife or wives that the man took when he was young should not be divorced unless there is cause to do so (broken covenant). When a man and a woman come together the scriptures state that God gives them a portion of His spirit in their union because He is seeking “godly offspring”. It does not say that this portion of spirit is limited to a man and the first woman he sleeps with, or even to his first wife.

    The word “faithless” used in Malachi indicates to secretly and deceitfully pillage. In today’s language we might say “He used her, got what he wanted from her, and left her”.
    ba^gad baw-gad’
    A primitive root; to cover (with a garment); figuratively to act covertly; by implication to pillage: – deal deceitfully (treacherously, unfaithfully), offend, transgress (-or), (depart), treacherous (dealer, -ly, man), unfaithful (-ly, man), X very.

    Matthew 19:8-9 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries, commits adultery.”

    Just as in Matthew 5:32 The purpose of the verse is to instruct men that they are not to dismiss or send away (as Joseph was about to do to Mary for getting pregnant) a wife. Scriptures state that a woman is to be a man’s wife for his/her entire life so he should not dismiss her except in the case of a broken covenant. The same word is used here in 19:9 as in 5:32 for “divorce/put away”. A man is not to divorce a wife and replace her with another wife. It is not indicating that a man cannot take another wife but that he cannot replace her with a new wife without cause.

    1 Corinthians 7:10-11 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

    If a woman leaves her husband she should remain unmarried because she would cause her new husband to commit adultery since she had left her covenant with her husband. Notice that the man is not commanded to remain unmarried, only the woman. In fact the man could marry another woman at any time, and if his first wife has left and requests to be reconciled, he is to allow the reconciliation of their relationship which would cause him to have more than one wife. And again it is stated that a man should not “divorce/put away” the same word that is used in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

    1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

    This is self-explanatory. Once a woman is married to a man it is for life. In the case of a broken covenant divorce is allowed but reconciliation is preferred.

    1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one (mia) wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    1 Timothy 3:12 Let deacons each be the husband of one (mia) wife, managing their children and their own households well.

    Titus 1:5-6 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one (mia) wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

    If these translations are accurate, men aspiring to hold specific positions in the church are commanded to be the husband of “one wife”. This leads to two logical conclusions:
    1) Polygyny was common at the time or there would be no need for any such command.
    2) It is not sinful for a man to have more than one wife nor is it prohibited unless he desires to be an Elder, Deacon, or Bishop of the church.

    mia mee’-ah
    Irregular feminine of G1520; one or first: – a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.

    The most cohesive rendering of 1 Tim 3:2, 3:12, and Tit 1:6 regarding “mia” is as an expression of unity rather than quantity. The early Hebrew translations of Timothy used “Echad” here, which is the same word as in Deuteronomy when ‘the Lord your God is One God’. The Septuagint shows that Mia is the translation of Echad in that Mia is the word used for Echad in the Septuagint in all but one place.

    That said, no sound Christian theology says God is quantitatively one; this passage is an expression of the unity in God. That said then, this passage is rendered “A bishop must be blameless, in proper unity with his “gune” (wife/wives – woman/women as the case may be), vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous. One that rules his own house well, having his children in subjection with all gravity. For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

    Read like that everything relates to personal and family character. You can, after all, tell when someone is not in harmony with his wife, and such a condition of family makes it hard for such a man to lead anywhere else. It’s a valid rendering of the passage based on word usage, and it makes more sense than saying this passage deals with polygyny. Saying these few verses where a ban on polygyny is nonsense, to think that Paul was trying to establish a new law in passing without explaining why or making any formal discussion of it would be completely out of character for Paul as well as the Holy Spirit that inspired all scripture.

    Further, since gune (wife) is like the English word sheep (in that you can’t tell if it’s singular or plural when it is standalone) the fact that in English this passage is translated as wife not wives is irrelevant.

    The most basic and natural translation would simply require that an Elder, Bishop, or Deacon be married not indicating a limitation.

    1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, married, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    1 Timothy 3:12 Let deacons each be married, managing their children and their own households well.

    Titus 1:5-6 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– if anyone is above reproach, married, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

    First and foremost no government has the right or authority to regulate personal relationships. Now as to the matter of obeying man’s law versus obeying God’s law. Obviously a good example is the fact that preaching from the scriptures about homosexuality is prohibited in Canada as “hate speech” (however, it is legal in Canada to have oral sex with animals). This is no different than a government having a law stipulating that a man can legally have only one wife. The scriptures clearly and conclusively show that the LORD did not address having more than one wife as a sin of any kind at any time, nor were there any laws prohibiting having more than one wife. In fact there are numerous passages/commands providing guidance to those who have more than one wife. My GOD does not change His moral law, nor does He consider having more than one wife to be a sin of any kind. It is certain that in the near future the “laws” in America that prohibit a man from having more than one wife will be struck down as unconstitutional, and for good reason, these laws defy the scriptures and prevent Christian men from obeying the command of God to be fruitful and multiply. “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” and again “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

    Matthew 12:1-2 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

    Jesus goes on to chastise the Pharisees again for their lack of understanding. Just because men make laws saying that something is not lawful does not necessarily mean the scriptures prohibit these things; nor should men put any such restrictions on other men. Jesus defended the “unlawful” acts of his disciples, and would likely defend polygyny today.

    Because it is up to the discretion of the man whether or not he chooses to have more than one wife the scriptures do not need to address the situation except to provide guidance and give examples of where the situation was not handled correctly. The scriptures are replete with examples of mistakes made in all aspects of our lives that are to serve as examples to us, why should polygyny be any different? Hagar tried to usurp Sarah’s position, Jacob ignored Leah, and David did not discipline his children. All these examples and more are due to human failings and are to teach us how to handle these situations appropriately.

  5. I do not know, this case goes against my ideas. What happens if this man is without a job? Are all the wives and their children eligible for Welfare? I believe that our society and laws are based on two people per couple not in multiple wives. That is to far outside of our system. I believe they have the right to get recognition in their own countries, not here. Here we have basic principles that anybody that wants to come to live here needs to accept. Otherwise they are welcome to follow their customs in their own countries. Otherwise how near are we to confront Muslims requiring that we change our laws (there was already a case in Washington I believe) because God is not included in them. Here the law of the land has nothing to do with with the law of God. We are trading deep stormy waters. The basics of our Constitution cannot be changed to satisfy immigrants of other countries. They are welcome to come if they follow our laws.

    • They are all born and raised Americans not foreigners. The adults have jobs and own businesses. They choose to live a plural life. Meaning one husband and 4 wives. Check facts before speaking would be a good thing.

    • pitiful and gutless judges giving gays rights but withholding them from straight family people living biblical style lives!

  6. Of course, the State also once ruled that the horrible crime of miscegenation should be punished by imprisonment, as the mingling of the races was a matter of State concern. Disobedient wives was once a matter of State concern. Both of these issues affected society, and some would argue that it changed society in a negative fashion. And saying society has ‘evolved’ is terribly science.

  7. Forgot to clarify in my above comment about polygs sharing the same house – that was not directed at the Browns. They currently have separate houses for each of the wives, although they all lived in the same house previously in UT, when there were only 3 wives. Many plural families share the same house, which just boggles my mind.

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