Monday, 27 July 2009

Is bigamy a crime?

There is an old joke that if you are caught as a bigamist then the penalty is two mothers-in-law. Emily Horne was in court today in Manchester charged with serial bigamy. In fact she had married five times which means that there were four offences. What penalty did she receive? Was it five fathers-in-law? In fact she was sentenced to ten months but this was suspended for two years so many people would say that she got away with it. This equates to two months per wedding. If she did have to go to prison she would probably get time off for good behaviour. I can see the point of reducing sentences for good behaviour because I am a great advocate of prison supporting the reform of prisoners, but this court case makes it look like bigamy is no longer an offence.

There are some who relate social decline in this country with the decline of marriage. There is probably a link between the two, and with this court case and with the general marriage malaise. Many would just see marriage as a social union. It is obviously the case that two families are joined together. You see this at least during the wedding celebrations. Love should also play a central role, but what is love? To Christians the answer is given by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. Japan has few Christians. Most people are either Shintoists or Buddhists or both, but when it comes to marriage then Christian-style ceremonies are in fashion. These include hymns and a bible reading, and the passage read is almost always this one.

If you don't have a good definition of love then you may think that love will improve with the next person who comes along. Misunderstand love and you misunderstand marriage. I am not sure if Emily Horne has a good definition of love, but she must have had a good explanation for bigamy.

Chang the world

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