Bigamy Polygamy - from the actual text

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Posted by Stuart Gilman ( on November 07, 2002 at 05:22:33:

In Reply to: Concept of Gender posted by anon on November 04, 2002 at 14:35:33:

As usual, I prefer to present the official text, unedited, in order to better present a comment. Here is the authorized paragraph pertaining to polygamy in the Kitab-I-Aqdas by Baha'u'llah (pub. circa 1873).

"63 God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety. Such is the ordinance which, in truth and justice, hath been recorded by the Pen of Revelation. Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves."

1. We are warned not to take more than two wives. Not commanded. "Beware" is the chosen word. Then we are told that if we content ourselves with a single wife, we would benefit by "tranquillity". I can tell you that there is wisdom here, from experience. Not that I have ever been a bigamist, but certainly shared my abode and bed with not merely two but more women, leading to catastrophes.

2. Next comes the line "And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety." A second wife is acceptable but not as good as one, but if you really need a second female companion, better to take a maid, not a second wife. And this act would be propitious. As a youngster I noticed that it was nearly sanctified that "maidservants" would have sexual relations with not only the husband but the male child or children. I know personally men who divorced their wives and married their maids. I always felt negatively strange when a friend would openly tell me of these sexual acts. My own father did it, I did not. It disgusted me.

3. In fact, this ordinance, (take a maid), is raised in rank by the "Pen of Revelation" in this paragraph.

4. The final line is strangely self-serving - enter into marriage so your offspring can spread the name of Baha'u'llah.

I do not think I am interpreting or misinterpreting. I am commenting on the text as officially presented by the UHJ. I know that as the decades moved forward many changes were made to this paragraph and the entire subject by the successors up to and including the present day.

Yet, I am always drawn to the source before the modern day gradualistic reformations on any subject. I listen with amusement every time - hundreds of times - friends say "That was then, this is now". Who can argue?

Let me be somewhat bold: I often say, "Would it not be great if the Faith had been passed from Bahaâuâllah to a "Bahaâuâllah" to a "Bahaâuâllah" to a "Bahaâuâllah" and finally, in these times, a living "Bahaâuâllah". By that I mean that each successor would have the same Divine Greatness as Bahaâuâllah himself. In this scenario, as the gradualistic changes are made, the authority figure in each phase of our evolution or gradualism would have equal stature to Bahaâuâllah.

Which is not the case.

We simple Baha'is barely scratch the surface of the inner meaning, perhaps inner secrets of Baha'i. One thing is certain, for those of us who follow the precept of study, there is no shortage of mind-mazes and delectable puzzles.


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