Have you ever noticed how some political, and even religious leaders have two sets of rules? One set of rules they have for the masses and another set for themselves.
James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that Congress should be under the laws which it makes. He wrote that Congress should “make no laws which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society.”
However, our Congressional leaders have routinely exempted themselves from the laws they make, and are imposed on everyone else. In time past they have exempted themselves from the Equal Employment and Opportunities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, national labor laws (particularly concerning overtime pay for employees), There was even a bill introduced which would have exempted Congressional members from Hillary Clinton’s national health care plan (should it have been enacted all those years ago).
The Qur’an limit’s the number of wives one may have to a maximum of four at any one time. It says, “Marry such women as seems good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one” (4:3 from the A.J. Arberry Translation). Muslims admit that this restricts the number of wives to a maximum of four. It is also generally admitted that Muhammad exceeded this number. Robert Morey provides a list, from Muslim scholar Ali Dashti, of the women in Muhammad’s life. The number is twenty-two (16 wives; 2 slaves or concubines; 4 devout Muslim women who ‘gave’ themselves to satisfy the Prophet’s sexual desire – see The Islamic Invasion, p. 85-86). It is estimated that he had as many as nine wives simultaneously (Dave Miller, The Quran Unveiled, p. 53).
The Qur’an prohibits the marriages between certain near-kin, and close relations. It reads, “You shall not marry the women that your fathers married… Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal and maternal aunts, the daughters of your brothers and sisters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, the mothers of your wives, your step-daughters who are in your charge, born of the wives with whom you have lain… the wives of your own begotten sons. You are forbidden to take in marriage two sisters at one and the same time” (4:20-ff from N.J. Dawood Translation). Yet, special rules existed for the Prophet. “Prophet, we have made lawful to you… the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts… any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet and who the Prophet wishes to take in marriage. This privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer” (33:50 from Dawood).
There were other special rules. There were rules about what you spoke to the Prophet about, “Do not engage in familiar talk, for this will annoy the Prophet (33:53-f, Dawood), and how you spoke to the Prophet “do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet… speak softly in the presences of God’s apostle (49:1-ff, Dawood). There were rules about how one relates to the Prophet’s wives. It states, “If you ask his wives for anything, speak to them from behind a curtain… nor shall you ever wed his wives after him, this would be a grave offense in the sight of God (33:53-ff, Dawood).
One of the biggest scandals of Muhammad’s life concerned his adopted son’s wife. Zaid (his adopted son) had married a beautiful young woman named Zaynab of Jahsh. Muhammad desired her, and asked his adopted son to divorce her, and give her to him. The couple refused. Eventually, Zaid and Zaynab were convinced that this was God’s will. The Prophet even had a revelation to justify such, and also to answer any question some might have had over the relationship issue (33:36-38, Dawood).
Another scandal worth mentioning, there was strife within Muhammad’s house between the women. Some of the wives were jealous of a Coptic slave named Mariyah. Muhammad promised to separate from her. Yet, he was later seen by one of his wives, Hafsah, with this woman again. A revelation from God came forth, “Prophet, why do you prohibit that which God has made lawful to you, in seeking to please your wives? God is forgiving and merciful. God has given you absolution from such oaths” (66:1-ff, Dawood). Two of Muhammad’s wives, Hafsah and A’ishah, who had complained are urged to repent (66:4-ff). If they refused, “It may well be that, if he divorce you, his Lord will give him in your place better wives than yourselves” (66:4-ff, Dawood).
Moreover, all wives were to be good wives. But, this is especially true of the wives of the Prophet. It reads of them, “wives of the Prophet! Those of you who commit a proven sin shall be doubly punished… But those of you who obey God and His apostle and do good works shall be doubly rewarded” (33:29-ff, Dawood).
Religion: Joseph Smith
Originally the Mormons rejected polygamy. The Book of Mormon forbade it saying, “there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27). “Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord (Jacob 2:24). “Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines…” (Ether 10:5). This Book of Mormon was printed in the year 1830. Early on, the Doctrine and Covenants seemed to teach the same, saying in the year 1835, “we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to remarry again” (101:4).
The teaching changed. In 1843 added to the Doctrine and Covenants was these words, “God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law…” (132:34). In fact, all of Doctrine and Covenants 132 is in defense of Polygamy. In the year 1876 the Doctrine and Covenants had removed from it 101:4 mentioned in the previous paragraph.
When polygamy began to be practiced by Joseph Smith is a matter of uncertainty. We know that there were accusations that Joseph Smith loved one Fannie Alger (a neighbor’s daughter that lived with the Smith’s for a while), and even accusations of adultery between them as early as 1837. Benjamin F. Johnson (a friend of Smith’s) said, “Without doubt in my mind, Fannie Alger was, at Kirkland (Ohio – B.H.), the prophet’s first plural wife, in which by the right of his calling, he was justified of the Lord” (Quoted in the 2001 Spring Bible Institute Lectureship, p. 384; original quote from Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism – Shadow or Reality, p. 202). Whatever the uncertainty of time, it is certain that polygamy was being practiced by 1843 when Doctrine and Covenants section 132 was added, just a year before Smith’s death.
It is also clear why it was added. Smith’s first wife, Emma, was unconvinced by her husband that polygamy was okay. Smith’s ‘revelation’ was to persuade Emma. It said, “Let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph” (132:52). Note it did not work both ways “I command mine handmaid Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph and to none else” (132:54).
It is true that Smith’s new ‘revelation’ wasn’t just for himself, but for all. But, the revelation did come at a very convenient time, didn’t it? Note: It is thought that Joseph Smith had at least 44 wives and that Brigham Young had at least 17 (Spring Bible lectures, p. 525, 556).
Another situation arose on August 8, 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois. Sidney Rigdon (apostate member of the church of Christ, and helper in starting the L.D.S. church and later the Church of Jesus Christ – “Bickertonites”, a splinter group located mostly in Pennsylvania that rejected Brigham Young’s leadership and polygamy) had a daughter Nancy Rigdon. Smith called for her and took her in a room and locked the door. He supposedly stated that he had affections for her for some years. He made advances on her and told her that it was okay for he had received a revelation on the subject. He then supposedly told her that if she had scruples of conscience that he would marry her privately and secretly. She threatened to raise the neighbors if he did not unlock the door and let her out. Sidney Rigdon then supposedly confronted Smith who responded that he did what he did to “ascertain whether she was virtuous or not” Sidney Rigdon never trusted him again. (SBL p. 545-546, referencing F. Mark McKeirnan, Sidney Rigdon The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, p. 116). I cannot say with certainty if this is accurate or not. All we have is Nancy and Sidney’s testimony.
Do you ever find Moses, Jesus, Peter or Paul ever making special rules and exemptions for themselves? I don’t.
Do you ever find Moses, Jesus, Peter, or Paul receiving convenient revelation to defend something they want to practice? I don’t.
I do find God requiring Moses live by the circumcision law (Exodus 4:24-26). Moses clearly was not exempted from anything. The rules for all was also the rules for him.
Jesus lived under the law (Galatians 4:4). He never expected any to do what He, Himself, was unwilling to do (Read Matthew 17:24-27; 20:25-28; John 13:14-15, 34-35; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Phil. 2:1-8; Colossians 3:13; Hebrews 12:2-4; 1 Peter 2:18-25; 3:14-18; 4:12-16; 1 John 3:16-18;1 John 4:11; 1 John 4:19).
This lack of double-standards speaks to the integrity of the Bible.
May we always keep before our minds the fact that: what I preach and teach to others (children, church, world) equally applies to me. There are no special rules of exemptions. Romans 2:21 asks, “Thou therefore which teaches another, teachest thou not thyself…”