Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Samuel 1:26

Go read this:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/24/polygamy.investigation/index.html

When I first read this article, the first thing I thought of was Jorge Luis Borges's short story, "La intrusa," or translated, "The Interloper." The sexual dynamics of shared love have to trouble all relationships. I cannot imagine a lack of jealousy between people who choose to, or are forced by traditions, share their sexual partner with others. This system seems to work for them.

I've been thinking about the political repercussions of the sea change in legal recognition of same-sex marriage in our country. One challenge I've yet to hear from the right is that a redefinition of legal marriage opens the door to other non-traditional unions, including polygamy and polyandry, group marriages, incestual marriages, and so on.

It would seem to this non-legally-trained citizen that the recognition of same-sex marriages stems from respect for equal protection clauses in state constitutions and from the judicial precedent set by the Texas case that the state cannot regulate sexual morality between consenting adults.

Reynolds vs. The United States was the famous challenge of the Morrill Act and the Poland Law that made polygamy and bigamy illegal in the United States and its territories. Here is an excerpt from that decision from a neutral website commenting on the issue:

"Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and,until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people. At common law, the second marriage was always void, and from the earliest history of England polygamy has been treated as an offence against society . . . In the face of all this evidence, it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law."

I think that the growing acceptance of same-sex marriages will lead to new legal challenges to this court precedent, and it will be overturned, though I doubt greatly that my Church would ever embrace polygamy again. I know that sharing my love with someone else would be inconceivable. The inevitable outcome of all these loosening of the definition of "marriage" as a civil recognition of what used to be a sacred obligation is that marriage will lose its current meaning. I foresee group marriages between groups of people, marriages to animals, marriages between animals (especially as they start to become inheritors of property), polygamy, polyandry, and so on.

Funny that we arrest and charge people for openly saying they're married to more than one person, but if they never marry, the state does nothing.

For the record, I am not in favor of polygamy, and I think the practices of forced marriages and marriage of minors to adults are crimes. I feel that reassigning wives and claiming wives as spiritual spouses so you can have sex with them but not support them temporally are sins. I do not sympathize with any polygamist groups, sects, or doctrines. I just think that constitutionally, the First Amendment protects homosexuals, polygamists, polyandrists, and other ways of living foreign to my own. Whether the state should formally recognize those, or any, unions is for the courts to decide, but even though I don't care for the practices, I don't think the government can justify prohibiting them without a Federal Constitutional Amendment.

What do yall think? Am I wrong?

3 comments:

Thewmes said...

Concerning incest, the government has a strong interest in protecting against the negative traits that become prevalent through inbreeding. As for other forms of consenting adult relationships, I don’t know how they keep that door closed if they open it up to allow marriages that traditionally have not fallen under the definition of marriage. To try to differentiate between one nontraditional marriage against another would truly be arbitrary.

Matt the Treehugger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt the Treehugger said...

Sorry about the delete, Mac. I did it by accident. You already read the first part of my comment via email, so I will start where I left off.

As to a rationale a court could use to disallow certain types of non-traditional marriage while allowing other such marriages, creative courts have many options. It's easy to craft a rationale that allows homosexual marriage and disallows beastiality and incest. Beastiality and incest are problematic for reasons other than morality. Incest causes psychiatric problems (i.e. the DuPont family). Beastiality is dangerous (to say the least) and by its nature cannot be consentual.

Distinguishing between polygamy and gay marriage is the tough one. I'm not sure how a court could distinguish between those, but where there's a will, there's a way.