March 1, 2017

It's not wrong — is it? — for a widow to form a new love relationship with her dead husband's brother.

The headline "Beau Biden’s widow having affair with his married brother" in The Daily News seems unnecessarily mean.
Hallie was devastated when her husband, Beau, died after suffering from brain cancer in May 2015. But she has since struck up a romance with Beau’s brother Hunter, 47, who has separated from his wife, Kathleen. We’re told Hallie and Hunter are now officially a couple.
That's rather opaque on the subject of whether the relationship broke up the marriage, but if you put that aside, it's not considered bad — is it? — for the brother of a dead man to marry the widow.

In some traditions, it's required — of both the widow and the dead man's brother. That's called Levirite marriage. If it could once have been regarded as an obligation, shouldn't it be at least a positive thing when both parties desire it?

74 comments:

Bob Loblaw said...

Assuming she didn't actually break up the marriage, they still probably should have waited until the divorce was final.

TwilightofLiberty.com said...

Why would anyone other than the Biden family need to know this?

buwaya said...

These problems are so easily solved with polygamy.
The way of the future, mark my words.

Ken B said...

It once famously required a Papal blind-eye, and then was a pretext for a divorce.

In the Bible it is forbidden as incest in one place and required in another. These, to believers, seem not to be contradictory injunctions.

The Godfather said...

In my day we used to say, At least she could have waited for the body to be cold.

gspencer said...

A little icky !

Humperdink said...

The groundwork was laid (ha) for this by a New Jersey Devil goalie, affectionately known as Uncle daddy.

Ken B said...

What a weak article from wiki.
The biblical proscription is in Leviticus 20:21

David said...

No it's no wrong. Unless, of course, you know . . . .

I wonder how long the press had the basic facts of all these goings on before being forced to write this somewhat opaque article?

It's actually kind of nice that they kept these personal matters out of the papers, but I have this itchy feeling that not all politicians of all persuasions would get similar treatment.

Man, that's itches a lot.

traditionalguy said...

True Love filled with true emotion. But is he divorcing his current wife by sending her away like Moses says to do, or is he having her killed. That is one issue.

Or maybe it should be the divorcing husband's duty to find a new husband for his X'ed out wife.

Delaware hijinks.

Bay Area Guy said...

It's certainly gonna make for awkward Thanksgiving dinners, I'd say.

donald said...

There is no way this is not despicable.

Course it's the Biden's so no big deal I suppose.

Rob said...

Joe's given them his blessing, so it's all okay.

IgnatzEsq said...

My grandfather, who recently died at the age of 90, was married twice - both for 30+ years. After his first wife died, he married his deceased brother's widow. Since I was so young at the time, I really don't remember it ever being an issue (though it was to the family at the time). That faded, but it still does make explaining family relationships a bit difficult. (Cousin-Brothers?)

Skeptical Voter said...

I may be misinformed, but I believe that the Koran encourages a Muslim to marry his brother's widow. Understandable enough in a warrior religion.

Kathryn51 said...

Meh - they are Liberals. There are no moral absolutes. Whatever Feels Good.

Bob Loblaw said...
. . . . they still probably should have waited until the divorce was final.

gspencer said...
A little icky !

Yep. No regrets. No shame. They were married for YEARS (I can't find a wedding date) and have 3 daughters. But.. . . whatever feels good.

MadTownGuy said...

It's "levirate." The Leviticus passage applies if the woman's husband is still living; Deuteronomy 25 applies if the husband has passed. It's also referenced in Matthew & Mark.

Bob Boyd said...

Hunter puts the leave her in Leverite.

Martha said...

Yes, it is wrong. So wrong. And Hunter's three daughters will probably be screwed up forever.
Hunter is the cocaine user kicked out of Navy Reserve in 2013 after failing a drug test. Exceptions from normal people rules have long been made for Hunter Biden. His drug abuse was certainly no surprise to the Navy, which issued him a waiver for a previous drug offense before commissioning him as a public affairs officer at the age of 43.

Big Mike said...

That's rather opaque on the subject of whether the relationship broke up the marriage, but if you put that aside, it's not considered bad — is it? — for the brother of a dead man to marry the widow.

Well, if it contributed to the breakup of the marriage then it certainly is wrong. Way wrong. Could not get more wrong. If not, then they're two consenting adults like any other two consenting adults.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry to have misspelled "Levirite." Corrected.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Agree with Twilight. Consenting adults, nobody's business. Are we supposed to care because it involves Biiden spawn?

n.n said...

buwaya:

Polygamy or friendship with "benefits", where the latter is the former without the commitment. Although, there will have to be another "=" movement to establish legal parity.

Mary Beth said...

I admire his self-confidence if he never wonders if she is only with him because he reminds her of her late husband.

Bob Boyd said...

I went looking for petrified Megolodon teeth in Florida one time. I found what I thought was a likely specimen and asked the guy I was with, who knew what he was doing and had an impressive collection, "Is this one?"

He said, "That's Leverite."

I said, "What's Leverite?"

He said, "Leave her right there, it's just a rock."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'm thinking Henry VIII here. Why oughtn't I to care? I mean, his reign did result in two beheaded women. We've seen a lot of those lately, but no so many in between. I suggest that the Religion Of Peace might have something to do with the latter outbreak.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Do we also have to put aside whether the relationship started before the brother died? The absolute worst case is Claudius in Hamlet. But putting aside the three creepy scenarios, the real problem here is that he hasn't yet married her. A marriage is always respectable.

holdfast said...

And yet I keep reading taunts on Facebook and various internet fora about "inbred, hillbilly Republicans". And instead we have this ickiness in the "Second Family".

Qwinn said...

Hardly surprising. Democrats put a Grand Kleage of the KKK within 3 heartbeats of the Presidency, but you know Republicans are the racists.

RichardJohnson said...

In some traditions, it's required — of both the widow and the dead man's brother.

Somewhat related: A family friend was from an Italian immigrant family. Her mother died when the family friend was a young child. Her widower father married the younger sister of his deceased wife. He didn't marry the younger sister until she turned 18. Instead of having a stepmother who was a stranger, the family friend had a stepmother who was her aunt.

It turned out pretty well. When her widowed aunt/stepmother was in her 70s, she and her niece/stepdaughter took a trip back to Italy. Before the trip, the family friend expressed some aprehension about how the trip would turn out. Her aunt's reply: "How can we not have a good time? We no have-a men!" Which is how the trip turned out. Both spoke Italian, but the aunt was labeled as Italian, while her niece was labeled "la Americana."

Sebastian said...

Dem love is all good.

Nels Nelson said...

Funny - I was just reading Hamlet tonight.

Gospace said...

Bob Loblaw said...
Assuming she didn't actually break up the marriage, they still probably should have waited until the divorce was final.


Gotta agree with this. The way this looks like it played out is icky. Poaching another's spouse is not a good thing.

My mother after over 30 years of being divorced remarried. She married her late bosses husband. Once her late boss was hospitalized and realized she wasn't leaving under her own power, she encouraged my mother and her husband to head out to dinner together and do things together that she could no longer do. She set them up. I always liked my mother's late boss. When they finally go around to telling us kids they were thinking of getting married, thinking we would be upset at the notion, we all asked "What took you so long?"

Gahrie said...

It seems a little creepy...but given what passes for normal in today's culture....eh........

Achilles said...

That's the best subject in the world right? Who is banging who? I mean if we are going to talk about a creepy subject that I don't want to talk about lets make it as uncomfortable as we possibly can.

Was the brother jealous all those years?

Did they hook up previous to that?

Whose name does she call out when she cums?

What when she's like OH YEAH! BEAU! DO IT LIKE THAT! err... sorry Hunter your cock is almost as big as his was...

What an awful subject. I can make it more awful too.

Paul McKaskle said...

Marrying a deceased brother's wife was an underlying issue in King Henry VIII's break from the Catholic Church. Henry married Catherine of Aragon, widow of his late brother (who died before his father Henry VII so that Henry was next in line for the throne). Divorce was not allowed in the Church so when he decided to get rid of Catherine (because he believed she couldn't bear any more children) he had to seek an annulment. His asserted basis for the annulment was that it was illegal to marry his brother's widow citing Leviticus Chapter 20 Verse 16 - “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an impurity; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless." He further argued that he could be absolved of this sin only by an annulment.

The Pope refused to grant the annulment doubtless under pressure from Catherine's nephew, Charles V, who was both King of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor hence ruler of half of Europe and, obviously its most powerful monarch.

jaed said...

Meh. Levirate marriage, as I understand it, is only for the purpose of making an heir to the dead husband, to inherit for him and carry on his name. (The child although biologically the child of the brother will be considered legally the child of the dead husband.)

It doesn't apply if he and the widow had children together. Since Beau Biden had children with his wife, it doesn't apply in this case. (Well, wouldn't apply in this case, in the hypothetical that the family is Jewish.)

So Althouse's third paragraph is, as they say, non-operative.

harryo said...

In the 21st century, it's just creepy to marry your mother in laws other boy.

Wilbur said...

None of my damn bidness.

lgv said...

"If it could once have been regarded as an obligation, shouldn't it be at least a positive thing when both parties desire it?"

Traditions change or often disappear, like stoning adulterers and putting gays in prison. We have abandoned lots of traditions that we would consider not a positive thing to desire.

It's my same argument against "traditional" marriage. Traditions should be allowed to change and/or die. I would like Faroe Islanders to quit slaughtering whales because of tradition.

As for the specific case of Bidens, who cares. None of our collective business. The only sad part is the accomplished son died, while Hunter, who got kicked out of the Navy reserves, and also had an Ashley Madison account, is a step down for the widow. Of course, Hunter is quoted as believing, "family comes first". Guess so.

Breezy said...

I find it sad that their overwhelming grief over Beau could be the foundation of their relationship. Does the relationship lock in the grief?

William said...

Within the family, it's bound to cause ripples and undercurrents. Outside the family, it's no one's concern........If such a event occurred within the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie orbit it would be worth discussing, but this is a minimal scandal to a minor celebrity. Public outrage should be rationed according to the fame of the celebrity and the tawdriness of the scandal.

Daniel Jackson said...

What JAED said: such a marriage is required ONLY if the departed left no sons. Then the first son born of the union is actually the child of the dead brother.

Be that as it may, this practice (except for Yemeni Jews) passed out tradition many many years ago, along with taking more than one wife. Hence, in the days of yore, when a brother took his brother's widow to wed (to give his brother a legal heir) it meant taking a second wife if he was already married. The good book says that when taking a second wife, the first wife cannot be loved less. There is also a strong warning against such a practice given in the following paragraph.

Needless to say, it really is none of our collective business in our current world culture. In the words of the Old Deep South, we should leave them where Jesus flang (sic) 'em.

CStanley said...

It's not really our business but making it public triggers reactions and mine is that it is icky and unhealthy for the children (probably for the couple as well.) Justifying this based on the practices of ancient cultures is stupid- clearly the same conditions don't apply in our culture, and we've abandoned many practices that were once encouraged or considered normal.

So I agree with commenter lgv here:

Traditions change or often disappear, like stoning adulterers and putting gays in prison. We have abandoned lots of traditions that we would consider not a positive thing to desire.

...but not here:

It's my same argument against "traditional" marriage. Traditions should be allowed to change and/or die. I would like Faroe Islanders to quit slaughtering whales because of tradition.

Shouldn't the standard be based on whether or not the traditional practice was healthy for the stability of society? We shouldn't argue against change solely because the practice is "traditional" but if the tradition has coincided with a period of increased peace and prosperity then I'd say the burden of proof is on those who want change to show how the new practice won't disrupt the positive effects of the longstanding practices. Weighing in on "tradition" is a means of evaluating the collective net good of the old vs proposed practices.

As for the specific case of Bidens, who cares. None of our collective business. The only sad part is the accomplished son died, while Hunter, who got kicked out of the Navy reserves, and also had an Ashley Madison account, is a step down for the widow. Of course, Hunter is quoted as believing, "family comes first". Guess so.
Generally agree here too...but actually the worst part about Hunter Biden- which was scarcely reported- was that he took a seat on the board of Ukraine's largest gas company at the time when his father was involved with our government's support of the coup that ousted the former pro-Russian government there. I'm sure it was all a coincidence though.

Curious George said...

"That's rather opaque on the subject of whether the relationship broke up the marriage, but if you put that aside..."

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln did you enjoy the play?

JAORE said...

Looking over my wife's three sisters......


Here's to your continued good health, my love.

Kevin said...

Unless this can possibly lead to Trump's impeachment, it can't possibly be considered wrong.

Stay on topic people! We're working hard going tie that Oscars accountant to Putin!

Rob McLean said...

Reminds me of the old brainteaser: In (name of state), can a man marry his widow's sister?

Mac McConnell said...

Now we know what Biden's son really told him on his deathbed.

glenn said...

Sounds like Democrats too me.

Angel-Dyne said...

AA: If it could once have been regarded as an obligation, shouldn't it be at least a positive thing when both parties desire it?

Have no interest in the private lives of these people, but the above is a doozy of an assertion, in both clauses.

1st clause: Really want to give weight in moral judgments to "things that were once considered an obligation"? Especially in our multi-kult globalist paradise? Oh, this could be fun.

2nd clause: Non sequitur relative to first clause, and question-begging as a stand-alone.

"Traditional obligation" shotgun-married to "consenting adults". A Clown World inevitability, I suppose.

One of those delightful mornings when one can't tell if Althouse is trolling us willing victims, or just getting her inner loopy 60s' chick groove on.

MadisonMan said...

MYOB. That's about all I can say about this.

Basil said...

Adultery is always a sin. Doesn't matter who the people are.

Maybe one should ask the soon to be ex-wife and their kids what they think.

Narcissism is crazy persistent, is it not?

tcrosse said...

As the Stomach Turns

Jupiter said...

buwaya said...
"These problems are so easily solved with polygamy."

Like curing a headache with a hand grenade.

"The way of the future, mark my words."

Certainly, the way of the past.

Jupiter said...

jaed said...
"Meh. Levirate marriage, as I understand it, is only for the purpose of making an heir to the dead husband, to inherit for him and carry on his name. (The child although biologically the child of the brother will be considered legally the child of the dead husband.)"

As I recall, the Sin of Onan was actually his refusal to participate in this practice. He "spilled his seed on the ground" instead.

Amadeus 48 said...

Hamlet had such trouble when Claudius tried this. Gertrude fell for it. Then Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz, Gildenstern, Claudius, Gertrude and Hamlet all were killed.

Look out Hunter, prince of Wilmington.

M Jordan said...

I'm against it. Of course, I'm against Biden. That fake-grinning debate he had with Paul Ruan was too much for me.

sparrow said...

Hunter is not free to marry in any case, under Catholic regs.

wendybar said...

Ewwwwwwwww....

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jupiter,

Dorothy Parker named her parakeet "Onan" for precisely that reason.

Fritz said...

Did they scare the horses?

Birches said...

I agree with the other few commenters who don't think it's bad as long as they were separated before.

My spouse was apart of a wedding of a brother marrying his brother's widow. No kids. Both families were very supportive.

Known Unknown said...

Life is way too short to worry about other people's relationships.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Who said she wants to marry him?

She's grieving, she's young, she still has sexual needs. If the brother is a "safe" choice to meet her needs, and takes what he can get "on the rebound", and neither of them care much about their kids... go for it.

Smart money says she is through with him in short order, and no marriage ever takes place.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Life is way too short to worry about other people's relationships.

This.

To people sniffing about the separation with his wife: lemme do you a favor and share what fifteen years of a bad marriage, divorce and blissfully happy remarriage have taught me: you never, ever, ever, know what goes on in another person's marriage. Ever. Judging is a complete waste of time.

People judged my husband for leaving his first wife.....because he's a gentleman he never shared her secret drug addiction, infidelity, and domestic violence. Things looked fine on the outside and after all MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE.

People judged me for leaving my first husband......they had no idea it was a stone-dead and loveless marriage that brought me no joy or companionship but still kept me in straitjacket of miserable obligation because MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE.

Yes, absolutely, raise kids in an environment where the above is what they experience as normal because MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE.

gimme a break

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Also, another fun fact: happily married people don't cheat. No one 'breaks up a marriage.' A marriage has already been broken by its inhabitants if either one of them is in the least bit susceptible to infidelity.

urbane legend said...

Sex, cocaine, heroin, coffee; all those needs. How does the helping community keep up?

Interesting to me that in Genesis 30:1:
And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said to Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.,

Rachel didn't say " give me sex lest I die. "

Krumhorn said...


Hunter puts the leave her in Leverite.


THAT's some funny shit right there. I'm slow. I had to read it three times, but I got there.

- Krumhorn

Martha said...

Dating his dead brother's wife may be the least unseemly thing Hunter is engaged in.
According to the POST:

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s surviving son, Hunter, is squandering his family’s money on hookers, strip clubs, drugs, booze and gifts to multiple lovers, according to explosive new divorce papers obtained by The Post.

The accusations, filed last week by Hunter’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Kathleen Biden, offer a peek at the sordid, big-money accusations being flung behind the scenes in the popular veep’s squeaky-clean-seeming family.

Unknown said...

It seems a little creepy...but given what passes for normal in today's culture....eh......

Thing is, it seems abnormal now, whereas it was normal in the past.

And it's none of our damn business. Unless you're spending your days with them, you have no idea about the real story behind their relationship.

damikesc said...

If it was a Palin, you'd never hear the end of the jokes.

Just sayin'.

This is what a redneck shithead would do.

Steven said...

Given Hunter Biden and his wife met while working as Jesuit volunteers, they are both presumably Catholic and married in the Catholic Church. Since an annulment is not granted, as I understand it, until after a civil divorce has been granted, Hunter's marriage is still presumably valid in the eyes of the Church. For someone who has publicly flaunted his Catholic faith, Joe Biden's apparent endorsement of the new relationship seems odd. But perhaps under Pope Francis, the paterfamilias is allowed to grant approval to his children for second marriages. I guess this is the logical extension of the Kennedy Rules and it has the advantage of eliminating the need for any bishop to involve himself in enforcing Church law.