by: David Chastity
You know what I’m tired of? Conservative, heterosexual, monogamous Christians being the only ones who get to talk about family values. I’ve recently decided to reclaim the word family for my partners and theirs and those other dear wonderful people who float around my inner circle and whom I used to refer to as my Herd. Because then I can claim that I’m not willing to do something because it conflicts with my family responsibilities, and that shuts people up real damn fast.
Of course, you don’t have the real Moral High Ground until you can prove that your family is Biblically based. Fortunately, my views on family are way more supported by the Abrahamic faiths than this bullshit about one man who is in Total Control and one obedient woman. Here are some of my favorite marriages in the Bible:
This dude is looked to as both the first Jew AND the first Muslim, and Christians are also a big fan of how he and God were BFFs who ate dinner together all the time. So what did Abraham’s marriage look like? Well, his legal wife Sarah happened to be his half-sister, but he’s early enough in the Bible that people don’t seem to care about that. Abraham really wanted people to know that fact, though, so much so that, every time he arrived in a foreign land, he would introduce Sarah only as his sister, only to find that suddenly she got swooped up and placed in some king’s harem and then Abraham would have to go and apologize and awkwardly free her. This literally happens three times, guys. But don’t worry, Abraham wasn’t a sad mono partner. When Sarah failed to get pregnant, she generously offered her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham, with whom he promptly conceived a son. Of course, then Sarah got jealous and threw Hagar and Ishmael out, which is really poor poly manners. No matter, the First Family Of Three Major Religions remains poly as all get out.
Jacob is Abraham’s grandson, and picked up his grandfather’s polygamous ways after Isaac, who was completely monogamous, proved to be a Really Boring Character Who Couldn’t Even Tell His Own Damn Sons Apart. Jacob did it kind of my accident, though, because he fell in love with this girl Rachel, but her dad switched her for her sister Leah at the last minute and apparently Jacob didn’t notice until the next morning and then they were already married, so whoops? Anyway he got to marry Rachel eventually, too, creating the first literal Sister Wives. What I actually love most about Jacob’s marriage is this wonderful little scene in Genesis 30, when one of Leah’s sons has harvested some mandrakes, which apparently were supposed to increase fertility. Rachel was desperate to get pregnant, and so she asked Leah to help her out. Leah agreed, but only if Rachel let her have a Sexy Date Night with Jacob. This kind of metamour bargaining happens all the time in my life, and I’m charmed to see it so plainly in the Bible.
David is considered the Best King Israel Ever Had, and he’s deeply associated with the Messianic myth. Neither Christians nor Jews can pretend they don’t venerate him. And do you know how many wives David had? I don’t, actually, because no one can quite keep track of them all. Everyone knows about Bathsheba, the woman whose husband David had murdered after he got her pregnant via extramarital affair. David’s divine punishment for this action? That baby died, but then the next baby Bathsheba had was his heir Solomon, aka the embodiment of all Wisdom. David’s got some other wives with good stories, though! Abigail is my favorite. She’s married to this guy Nabal, who refused to help David when he was fleeing Saul’s armies (long story). Abigail apparently had a big crush on David, though, because she sent him supplies without Nabal’s knowledge. God apparently was so touched at Abigail’s generosity that he immediately struck Nabal dead so that David could marry her. Even though David was already married. God really wanted to make sure David had lots of variety among his wives, you see.
David’s son Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. It would take him two and three-quarters years to have sex with all of them, if he fucked only one per day. Respect.
Hosea was a prophet, and his prophetic career began when God told him to marry a prostitute. Because Israel had been slutty, see, and just like Sarah Palin opposes abortion so much that she had a special needs baby, Hosea opposed Israel’s spiritual sluttiness so much that he married a real slutty lady and raised the children she conceived by other men. And probably lived off her prostitution profits, because Political Performance Art can’t be that lucrative.
I also want to give a Special Bonus Mention to the Prophet Muhammad, who was a proud polygamist. What I like about Islam is that it does set limits on polygamy (four wives per man), which is a pretty good practical rule for polyamorists, too. Once you get past four serious partners, scheduling gets real damn hard. The Prophet had way more than four wives, though (13!), because he is Special. He actually seems to have been a really great guy to them; many of his wives were widows or orphans, i.e. women who didn’t have a lot of options on their own. Marrying the Prophet gave them status, security, and opportunity they never would have had otherwise, and that’s honorable.
So, there you have it. That Bible folks love to thump is chock-full of families that look like mine, only with a lot more murders and a lot fewer happy dinners followed by board games and beers. I think I’ll stick to my Family Values, thanks very much.
David Chastity is some girl who lives in a city on the East Coast and likes kissing. She also really enjoys doing the Onion A.V. Club crossword puzzle, drinking good beer and finding the secret sexual meanings in popular music. She’s working on her MDiv and convincing Jesus to marry her.