Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When A Culture Rejects Morality Where Can They Draw A Line? A Bizarre Case in France

Source: Polygamy Controversy Presents Dilemma for Post-Christian France

France has been more or less estranged from the Church for quite some time.  In moving towards secularism, they have become more and more distant from traditional religious morals.  Of course once one has erased a moral line on the basis that it has a "religious origin" it becomes very hard to justify forbidding a thing.

The case which struck me is the case of Lies Hebbadj, a French butcher whose wife was fined for driving with a veil (they are Muslim).  When investigating the case, the police learned that she was one of the wives of Mr. Hebbadj.  It seems he has four wives, and the French government is seeking to see whether they can revoke his citizenship and deport him because of polygamy grounds.

Mr. Hebbadj's defense?  Life Site News reports:

Objections to his alleged polygamy were answered by the woman’s husband, Lies Hebbadj, an Algerian-born Muslim, who pointed out that, in accordance with modern French customs, he does not have four wives but one wife and four mistresses, plus 12 children between them.

“If one can be stripped of one’s French nationality for having mistresses, then many French could lose theirs,” Mr. Hebbadj, a halal butcher, said after consulting his legal counsel. “As far as I know, mistresses are not forbidden, neither in France, nor in Islam.”

Thus we see the dilemma when a nation rejects certain moral requirements such as marriage.  If it is socially acceptable for the French to keep mistresses and have children by them, then how can they reject polygamy from a foreign culture if three of the wives can be classified as mistresses and only one as a wife?  It seems that under such a system as France possesses, the fact that Hebbadj can undergo ceremonial Islamic marriages with only one of them legally recognized as a wife.

Don't think I am rooting for Hebbadj of course.  Polygamy was rejected by Christianity for the most part (except for aberrations like Luther sanctioning a polygamous marriage for Phillip of Hesse) because it goes against God's intent for one man and one woman, and polygamy (properly speaking, polygyny) reduces the woman to an object, inferior to men.

The problem is, France is trying to have it both ways.  It has more or less spurned the Christian sexual morality, openly tolerating things which are generally seen as wrong in most cultures.  Yet, when a Muslim exploits the fact that France has spurned Christian morality to seek to justify his polygyny, the French government really has no basis to invoke the common good.  After all, if polygamy is wrong, it indicates it is because a person can have only one spouse, and other relations are outside of that one marriage.

The problem is, they can't divide the line so that polygamy is forbidden but mistressing is not.  To be consistent, either both must be forbidden or both must be tolerated.

They can't even use the issue of asking whether the other women consented to this arrangement unless they also apply it to the practice of keeping mistresses as well.  Really if society sanctions the keeping of mistresses, there is very little which justifies keeping multiple wives either.

Ultimately, France has to decide what the basis is for morality.  If it is created by the society, and French society boasts of plurality in society, then logically they cannot do anything against the encroachment of Islamic customs into France.

However, if morality is outside of us, then France has to recognize that certain customs and practices it performs are out of line with this morality and must be rejected if they want to reject the obviously wrong practice of polygamy.

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