I find it interesting that Tibet has banned Polyandry.
Buddhism neither prescribes to, encourages or discourages marriage.
The third precept of Buddhism deals with “sexual misconduct”. There are many interpretations of this and most of them depend on the social culture in which Buddhism is being practiced. On face value a main concept is that sex is consentual and this is adheared to in all forms as being a basic tenent of sexual misconduct. While monks and nuns are prohibited from sexual contact and are “dismissed” from their roles if found to have broken this precept, there are only basic and sometimes vague guidelines for lay people.
As with all Buddhist tenents, breaking one is not a sin, as there is no God to sin against. If broken it is said that one has failed to follow the prescribed guideline to following a pure Buddhist path.
Some Sangha hold that if sexual bonding is consentual and compassionate then there is no misconduct. Some Sangha even have not problem with homosexuallity.
Sex outside the line, bad. Although monogamous marriage is the ideal, Buddhism generally takes the attitude that sex between two people who love each other is moral, whether they are married or not. On the other hand, sex within marriages can be abusive, and marriage doesn’t make that abuse moral.
So, why is Polyandry, when it is consentual and compassionate banned in Tibet?
But is it?
While it appears that officially it Polyandry has been banned in Tibet, the practice is going on rather strongly. Fraternal Polyandry, the practice of a woman marrying two brothers is relatively common. Unfortunately, there is ample evidence of women and men being forced into this life and it may be for this reason that it has been banned.
It would seem that the same reason would be used to argue that polygamy and polyandry should be illegal in North America. It is the negative practitioners that ruin it for the rest of us. Situations such as cultish and religious extremist actions such as young women being forced into marriage have saturated the public immage of group marriage.
In other predominately Buddhist nations such as Thiland Polygyny was made illegal in 1935. While in Burma it is still recognized as being legal.
Therefor it can be said that strictly following a Buddhist framework of life does not, in most interpretations of of the precepts, negate the following of Polyandry.
This may be due to the fact that marriage, in Buddhist cultures is not a religious union. As long as the precepts are followed, regardless of the interpretation, one is not “failing” if one takes more that one consentual and compassionate partner.
This can also be said for most other religions as there is nothing strict in most scriptures that negates the value of the rightiousness of plural marriage.
Most Christians that argue against Polygyny use Mathew 19:4 to prove that marriage between more than one is not allowed. However this passage deals only with divorce and Jesus’ answer refers to the Old Testament. This shows that Jesus, while bringing a new light to the way of a pure life, still follows the precepts of the Old Testament and as such it must be noted that the Old Testament allows Polygyny.
In addition, the New Testament describes marriage as a man becoming one flesh with his wife. There is no indication that he cannot become one flesh with another wife etc etc.
In Matthew 22:24-28, the Jews referred to Deuteronomy 25:5 from the Old Testament where it states that if a woman’s husband dies, and she didn’t have any kids from him, then she must marry his brother regardless whether he had a wife or not. When the Jews brought this situation up to Jesus in Matthew 22:24-28, Jesus did not prohibit at all for the childless widow to marry her husband’s brother (even if he were married).
So, it can be inferred that Pylandry and Polygamy are not essentially religious faux-pas but have been translated into state issues for some other reason.
Polygamist sects have argued that their way of life is a Religious freedom and as such should be allowed within the States laws. There is very little grounds for this assumption. However, there could be an argument that making Polygyny illegal is a contravention of the constitutional rights of the populous. If we remove the religious aspest of Polygyny perhaps we will have a better argument for allowing it.
We must distance ourselves from the religious fanatical sects in order to gain some ground.
Tibet is a prime example of the polar opposites that Religion and State hold as being true and just.
In our “Marriage” we are all Athiests and as such hold no bond to a following of the precepts of a God. While we respect that one can be Polyamourous and follow the life of Polygyny while still being religious for whatever reason, we have separated the issue of State and Religion in our own lives.
Hopefully the rest of society can come to believe this as well.