[Edit 23 Jan 2019: more added below the postscript.]
[Edit 22 Jan 2019: A postscript is added below.]
If a man has had a number of LTRs [ONS’s, and other sub-optimal relationship configurations] throughout his life and then marries the ostensible “last one” he had relations with, which one of them is he married to according to the model you put forth?
If a man has a long term relationship (LTR) with a woman including sex, then by any measure other than the government marriage license, he married her. If the LTR ended when he dumped her for something other than her infidelity, then he is guilty of adultery, according to Christian scripture, specifically, the words of Jesus of Nazareth. His only escape clause is her infidelity.
If a man has a one-night-stand (ONS) with a woman, then he’s whoring. This is also forbidden in Christian scripture, and for the same reason. The Christian letter-writer, Paul, usually describes such behavior as “fornication,” and the meaning of the word hasn’t changed much since the King James Bible. Jesus, in the same conversation where he describes dumping a loyal woman to be adultery, ironically suggests that a man who can’t manage to marry a woman, but instead indulges a “number of LTR’s, ONS’s, and other sub-optimal relationship configurations” would do better to cut off his dick.
So, I’ll answer your question, “If a man had a number of LTR’s throughout his life and then marries the ostensible “last one” [with which] he had relations, which of them is he married to according to the model you put forth?”
Potentially, ALL OF THEM.
Let’s say, for sake of argument, that you’ve had three LTR’s during your lifetime, two ONS’s, and one fuck-buddy (FB). Right now, you’ve obtained a marriage license for your marriage to a seventh woman. [If your notch count is higher, the same rules apply, but the accounting gets more difficult.] This can get complicated, so we’ll need to list this out.
For simplicity, let’s assume you’re not Christian, but you’re asking me what (I think) Christian scripture requires of all men, even men who aren’t Christian. Again, for simplicity, you have no children. Children muddy the argument but aren’t technically relevant.
- LTR’s: Jane, Jill, Janet
- ONS’s’: Meg, Mary
- FB: Sally
- Wife: Prudence (Pru)
Jane cheated on you, broke your heart, and eventually married your (now former) best buddy.
You had a one-night thing with Meg not long after Jane left you. You have no idea what happened to Meg after, since you met her at the lake while you were on a vacation.
Your next steady high-school girlfriend, Jill, went to college and never came back.
You and Janet always had a rocky relationship which ended when you slept with Mary, a hot number who invited you home from the bar one night after you ran some Game on her.
Last you heard, Mary was shacked-up with a guy you remember meeting at a party. They aren’t legally married.
You were fucking Sally before you met Pru. It was a no-strings thing, so you used condoms and didn’t ask her whether she was fucking other guys.
Pru knows about Jane, Jill, Janet, and Mary, but not Sally or Meg.
Of all the above, Christian scripture only lets you off unequivocally for your failed relationship with Jane. She fucked another guy and you were hoping to legally wed her, so you’re off the hook. Her responsibility to you is entirely different, but you’re not obliged to take her back.
For everything that follows, you owe each woman at least an apology, including your wife. You’ve probably been fornicating ever since Jane.
You may be married to Meg. Your obligation is to find her and see how things are for her. If she didn’t think much of your fling, moved on to the next guy (and the next, and the next), and isn’t interested, then, as with Jane, you’re off the hook. You’re not obliged to her. On the other hand, if she’s one of those rare women who hasn’t bedded a man since a teenage summer fling, then your obligation is to ask if she would like to restore the relationship. Your legal marriage to Pru is about to get interesting, in the sense of the Chinese curse.
[At this point, I suspect the reader is thinking, “A man can’t be married to more than one woman.” My answer is, “You’re mistaken.” Christian scripture does not prohibit marriage of a man to a woman even if he already has one wife. While it is true that scripture does exclude a man from church leadership except if he is a husband with one wife, it does not force a man to divorce a woman whom he has married – EVEN FOR HER ADULTERY – because that would violate the instructions of Jesus himself, make the woman an adulterer, and also make the man an adulterer, and – here’s the worst part – make the church itself an adulterer for severing a marriage.]
You may be married to Jill. Again, as with Meg, the question is “What has she done since, and would she want to be with you now?” If Jill is legally married to another man, then you’re probably (but not necessarily) free from obligation. Chances are she never thought much of you and moved along to the next guy. On the other hand, if she’s a righteous unmarried woman and never fucked another man since you, you’re married. In this degenerate era, the chance a college-bound girlfriend is chaste after leaving you behind is essentially zero, but you never know, so you’ll have to ask.
Another possibility with Jill is that she’s “unhappily married” to the very next guy who she settled for when she couldn’t find somebody better than you because when she finished college, you weren’t “available” (because you were fucking Janet, then Mary, then Sally, then Pru). This is where things get nasty. According to Christian scripture, you’re married, and YOU are the adulterer, not Jill. This means that Jill, who did the best she could, has the option to quit her “unhappy” marriage to the “next guy” so that she can return to her marriage with you… except there’s a technicality. I wrote that Jill “went to college and never came back” intentionally. Jill knew where you were. At any time, she could have come home and said, “I’m back. Can we pick up where we left off?” If, instead, she just married the next guy, then you’re off the hook – not white as snow, but off the hook.
Janet is totally your fault. If she’s not yet “moved on,” then you’re totally married. One way out is if she returned to a “boyfriend” preceding you after that boyfriend dumped her or after she cheated on him with you, and he then decided to take her back anyway. Another is if Janet left you after your ONS with Mary to fuck another man, then, technically, you’re off the hook (for reasons I’ll explain later).
Mary is also totally your fault. Let’s assume she’s a known “easy lay,” so that’s fornication for both of you, but if none of the other guys want her, you’re her “knight in shining armor” whether you want to be or not. That may be difficult to fathom, so I’ll explain. Let’s say Mary has fucked 5 guys before you and one since. A few were “good” men by modern estimates, but they weren’t looking for a “long-term” relationship, and she obliged anyway. At least once, she cheated first. None of these other men are interested in “marrying a hoe.” For the first guy, his obligation is to keep her, but he didn’t. Instead, he dumped her, or used her from the outset, just like you, and she moved along to the next guy, because that’s what American girls do in our culture. Every guy after that is, technically, adultery, but at some point, she becomes the Samaritan Woman at the Well, who has “had five husbands” and now lives with a man who “is not her husband.” In modern parlance, we call this “serial monogamy,” and “shacking up.” What Jesus acknowledges with the Samaritan woman he met at the well is that each sexual relationship (LTR, ONS, and FB) is a marriage, while also acknowledging that in her then-current relationship, her husband did not recognize her as his wife. [Scripture is silent regarding whether her then-current arrangement included fucking, but it’s safe to assume that after five husbands, no man wants to commit to her.] Now, if you’re the last in a string of men, then you’re “the man [she] is now living with [who] is not [her] husband.” You knew she was a hoe, but you fucked her anyway. Fucking is marrying. You’re married. If, by luck, you’re not the last guy in line, then the only question is whether the guy(s) following you rejected her. If she’s settled with the latest guy, then you’re not married, but if she hasn’t, and nobody else wants her, then you’re “it.”
You may reasonably ask, “Why must I wife the hoe?” If you went about fornicating, the best way to repent fornication is to oblige yourself to what you should have done: integrate sex with marriage. If Mary is a hot slut, and you wanted her, then why didn’t you just marry her in the first place? If she’s still available, then your obligation is to the marriage. If she isn’t interested, fine. But if she is (and, don’t forget, she’ll have to know about Pru, too), then congratulations, you have another wife!
Sally, your “fuck buddy,” is your worst mistake, even worse than Mary. As a rule, you never asked because you didn’t want to know. Just like with Mary, the pertinent question is, “If you want(ed) to fuck her, why won’t you recognize the marriage?” So, now your future hinges on what Sally wants now that you’ve fucked her. If she never really wanted marriage, and still doesn’t want marriage, then you’re off the hook, assuming she’s fucking other men. But if she’s willing, you’re stuck, AND if she’s not fucking other men, even if she doesn’t want to be “married” you’re still stuck. See, if she’s not fucking other men, then she is, technically, chaste, even if she won’t recognize the marriage as such. You have your wife Pru (and maybe others), so you’ll have to balance priorities, but if Sally wants a fucking, then she gets a fucking. Obviously, or maybe not obviously, for Sally to be treated as a wife, then she must act the part of a wife, else you’re not obliged to act the part of a husband. If she isn’t submissive and deferential and obedient and so on, then you don’t have to jump when she says, “Frog,” but if she’s doing what she should, then until she quits the marriage (by fucking another man), then you’re stuck with her, even if you’re stuck in a holding pattern.
Finally, what about Pru? Well, Pru knew you had other women in your past, even if she didn’t fully understand the consequences. Any pretense at “forsaking all others” is nonsense. At best, you innocently promised something you couldn’t. Pru may have hoped to have you all to herself, but she didn’t select for her husband a man above reproach who never put a finger on another woman, she chose instead a pre-selected man whose sexual character had numerous references. She can reasonably demand that you don’t “add to the harem” further, but what’s done is done regarding your past. If she decides she can’t hack it, and wants a man entirely devoted to her, well, that’s chivalry for you. She can head off and find her knight in shining armor. If Pru fucks another man, you are not obliged to take her back.
I promised to explain why I wrote that if Janet fucks another guy after your one-night stand with Mary, you’re off the hook. In all the above cases, a man can divorce a woman (recognize the marriage has ended) for adultery, which is when a woman fucks a man who is not her husband, or, written differently, when a man fucks a woman who is another man’s wife. The popular definition of adultery is when a person (male or female) who is married consensually fucks a person (male of female) who is not his/her spouse, but such a definition or prohibition is not found anywhere in Christian scripture. In all Christian scripture, occasionally a man has more than one wife at once, but never does a woman have more than one husband at once. You may agree with a woman that the pair of you are sexually exclusive, but this is not required by Christian scripture. Further, if you break that promise and fuck another woman, then your wife, per Christian scripture, has no means by which to divorce you, because Christian scripture is sex-specific regarding rules for divorce. Also, if the woman you fuck is not obligated to another marriage, your decision to fuck her is your decision to marry her, and you will be obliged by Christian scripture to recognize your marriage to the “other woman,” as will your first wife. Nowhere in Christian scripture can you find instructions for how a woman is to divorce her husband. She’s locked-in for life (his or hers) unless her husband ends the marriage for her adultery [Edit 23 Jan 2019: …or for some unlawful reason]. The only plausible exception to that rule would be that a man may be obliged to take back an adulterous wife who wants to return to her husband if he ended the marriage by telling her to go away, because his decision to send her away BEFORE her adultery is the cause of the adultery. Every sexual relationship a woman has after a divorce initiated by her husband and not justified by her adultery during the marriage is an adultery on the part of the husband who divorced her, so long as she’s willing to reconcile the marriage.
Alright, so that’s the case-by-case approach. What’s the general rule? Each woman you fuck you marry. The only exception to this rule is the case where you fuck another man’s wife. In that case, you have sinned (adultery according to Christian scripture) and you may or may not be married. If her husband forgives the adultery, you’re off the hook, but you still sinned and must repent (turn back from fucking the wife of another man). If her husband does not forgive her, and justifiably divorces her, then you are not off the hook (you broke it, you bought it), you sinned (adultery), and now you’re married, too. Good luck with that, especially if you already have one wife (or more).
The marital status of a righteous man who fucks an unrighteous woman in our modern world is almost entirely dependent upon what that woman chooses once that man fucks her, and the temporal window during which she can make her choice is indefinite (assuming she is willing to sin). Per Christian scripture, the only termination of marriage is adultery or death. In modern America, adultery is easy.
While the entire preceding explanation makes polygyny entirely justified by Christian scripture, I’ll warn that the devil is in the details. Christian scripture is replete with caution for the ambitious harem-builder. In my opinion, the best warning is the reaction of Jesus’ disciples, upon being told divorce is only possible if a woman commits adultery: “It is better not to marry.” They knew, and Jesus knew, that the problem most men experience in marriage wasn’t female hypergamy, it was female intransigence. The Christian god is merciful, but firm: “I expect you to fuck, and when you fuck you marry, but you aren’t required to stay married to a hoe.” There’s mercy in those rules, but only enough to make them work, and not a drop more.
[Postscript 22 Jan 2019: Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, verse 32, slightly adjusts the wording of the exception permitting divorce. In that passage, the exception is for fornication, not adultery. Such wording implies a man may divorce his wife for fucking BEFORE their marriage. This explains Joseph’s option to divorce his betrothed, Mary, the mother of Jesus, when he discovered she was pregnant before he had fucked her.
I suspect, but have not confirmed, that if a man KNOWS he’s marrying a woman who is not a virgin (ideally a widow or a rape victim, but also a known hoe), then this justification for divorce no longer applies, although I can imagine that a proper “jewing” of such an interpretation would require full disclosure of all previous sexual partners of the bride. Again, as with divorce, no equivalent requirement appears to apply for men, even if we might wish that there are limits to the deceit a woman is required to endure.
Another passage in Mark’s gospel, chapter 10, verse 12, states that a woman who divorces her husband also commits adultery. The phrasing (in Greek) is different than in verse 11 for when a man divorces his wife. Specifically, the words used are similar to passages elsewhere which mean, “the husband who divorces his wife causes her to be an adulterer (and thus brings the sin of adultery onto himself, not his wife),” whereas for the wife, “the wife who divorces her husband (directly) commits adultery (herself).” I have still not found any reference for how a woman divorces a husband, or for what cause it is permitted. This does not seem to be an oversight, since there is plenty of Christian scripture describing what to do with women and what women may do inside and outside of a marriage.]
[Postscript 23 Jan 2019: I found an opinion, here, by William Luck which argues that a woman may divorce for abandonment or physical abuse. There relevant portion follows (emphasis mine, annotation in brackets).
The Law of Moses contains several passages that relate to the question of when marriage ends. The first is Exodus 21. Comments on the propriety of using this passage in regard to “full” marriage (insofar as the passage speaks of servant girls) may be found in chapter 2. Our concern here is to note how the text relates to the ending of marriage.
Recall that the main focus of the chapter is on the rights of the woman. Two sorts of rights are discussed: the right to adequate physical provision (vv. 10 f.) and the right not to be seriously abused (vv. 26 f.). Breach of covenant in either case justified the nullifying of the legalities (written or unwritten) of the covenant. Where the passive abuse [abandonment] occurred, the text tells us that “she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.” In the context (vv. 2-7) “go out” clearly entails a full release from contractual commitments. The one who has gone out (or at least her father, in this case) owes nothing to the former covenant partner. And where aggressive or active abuse of one partner by the other (vv. 26 f.) has occurred, the refrain continues: “go free.” Further, we note that whenever the covenant is nullified the aggrieved partner has the understood privilege to contract a new covenant with someone else.96 Put negatively, the aggrieved partner has no encumbrance from the former relationship that would inhibit a new covenant from being entered into.
The following conclusions can be drawn from these verses: First, when the husband, who owes provision to his mate, intentionally fails to produce that provision, his claims over his mate are thereby nullified. The fact of (moral) nullification precedes the legal recognition of it. Second, the legal release is the right of the offended partner. Third, the released offended party is free to establish a new covenant of the same sort with a new partner. (Or, put simply, the old marriage in no way precludes remarriage.)
The question may now arise as to why this passage was not more explicitly discussed as a divorce passage by the rabbis in the days of Jesus. Two suggestions present themselves. First, the text may well have been thought not to apply to marriage per se, insofar as it deals, prima facie, only with concubinage. Second, the chief concern in the day of Jesus was to find a passage giving the husband a right to divorce the wife; in this text [Exodus 21:10-11. 26], the right of the wife to force a divorce from her husband is the prime concern. In other words, this text did not lend itself to the social concerns of Jesus’ enemies.
I am convinced that the failure of the Church to integrate this passage from Exodus into the theology of divorce is the single most significant reason for our failure to present a harmonious and reasonable doctrine of marriage/divorce. As we shall see, the principles that arise from this text establish a basis for Paul’s teaching that “departure” is grounds for considering the marriage completely ended and for allowing the deserted partner the freedom to remarry (1 Cor. 7:15). In fact, understanding the Exodus passage enables us to understand the meaning of “free” in the Pauline teaching. A similar comment could be made with regard to the teachings of our Lord himself (cf. Matt. 5:32 f., et passim).
These arguments do not alter my conclusion that a woman may not divorce her husband. William Luck presents two excuses for a woman to divorce: first, when she is abandoned, and second, when she is physically abused and harmed by that abuse, by the example of losing a tooth or an eye. As Luck acknowledges, these are specifically applicable to “servant girls,” but I will agree with him that the first case is applicable to marriage, specifically, and the first case and second case are applicable to any person subordinate to another. However, neither of these provides a woman a right to a divorce. Rather, both define the conditions upon which a man has de facto (here meaning “unlawfully”) severed a relationship with his wife, and providing that wife de jure (lawful) recourse.
For modern consumption, the two cases may be examined according to the examples of all the women Scott hypothetically abandons during the course of his life, from the point-of-view of the women abandoned. Except for Janet, each abandoned woman may argue, “He left me for another woman, didn’t support me (or pursue me), and so we were de facto divorced.” Janet, in contrast, has no undeniable claim to a divorce of the marriage, since she abandoned Scott before Scott abandoned her, but she may have a reasonable claim since Scott moved to Mary, and then to Sally, and then to Pru, and never called Janet to restore that relationship.
There is another opinion floating around Luck’s argument and the arguments of others, which is, “Once a man divorces his wife, she may not return to him.” This is grounded in Deuteronomy 24-1-4 (KJV).
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee foran inheritance.
Again, the condition described is a de facto (unlawful) divorce, for which a woman may claim a de jure (lawful) divorce. This is not alleged abandonment or abuse, for which a woman may assert that her husband divorced her, but instead a “hard-hearted” divorce initiated by a man against his wife. Since he has actively told his wife, “Go away,” he can’t have her back, ever. Jesus explains that this sin – the de facto divorce – is adultery on the part of a man, not his wife, because he forces her to find another husband.
William Luck published his entire book on the subject of marriage and divorce here. I would need to read his entire book to competently disagree, but from the portion I have read so far, I disagree with him regarding three assertions.
- Luck argues that monogamy is necessary for marriage in our current world to guard against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and because monogamy is the law of most of the world, specifically, the USA. In the first case, just as the poor have always been with us, so have STD’s. The provision for polygyny is not for the benefit of men, but for the benefit of women. While monogamy is the ideal, polygyny is not prohibited and no Christian should imply otherwise. Second, the “law of the USA” also permits gay marriage, among other atrocities, and de facto custom not merely permits but encourages fornication of every imaginable configuration. It is my opinion that a rigorous sequence of reconciliations will eventually necessitate polygyny, at least until all the sins have been repented.
- The injured/innocent wife cannot divorce her husband (although I recognize it may be expedient to file for a divorce in a US court); she is seeking recognition that her husband has unlawfully divorced her by abandonment or harm. No Christian should tell a woman that she may divorce her husband for cause, only that she may seek recognition that he has divorced her.
- I may be quibbling, but Luck’s sentence is, “…the innocently divorced should not be treated as sinners but should have full respect as brothers and sisters in Christ, including in matters of church leadership.” To be precise, this should be written, “…the woman who is an innocent victim of her husband’s divorce should not be treated as a sinner but should have full respect as a sister in Christ; and the man who is an innocent victim of his wife’s adultery should not be treated as a sinner if he divorces her.” I am not aware of an exception to the rule that a man may not be a church leader if he is the husband of more than one wife, especially in the case of de facto divorce, unless Luck relies on the tense of the predicate, “…is married…” Reasonable people could disagree regarding the qualifications of a man who is the victim of a wife’s adultery, but I wouldn’t make an exception for a man who divorced his wife for any other reason.
Ultimately, we’re still back where we started, which is that Scott’s hypothetical predicament places him at the marital whim of several women who have not performed acts for which Scott may declare a de jure (lawful) divorce, but the women may make de jure (lawful) his de facto (unlawful) divorce.]