Polygamy effectively decriminalized in Utah

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dmicah's picture

The promise of the Messiah, and the beginning of the Jewish nation came through a polygamist.

The man after God's own heart, and on whose figurative throne Jesus will reign, was a polygamist.

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon were written by a polygamist.

At some level, God is apparently not that concerned with the idea of a man marrying multiple women.

Mark_Smith's picture

Judah, whom the Messiah had His lineage through, visited prostitutes! So, obviously God doesn't mind if I do too!

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

DMicah,

I don't know you, so I have to ask if your post was serious or tongue in cheek?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

x_delete_jhowell's picture

Chip, for the clarifying question to dmicah. I wondered if I was the only one who was unsure of how to take the comments.

Bert Perry's picture

.....noted that a Biblical reason to reject polygamy was found in Matthew 6:24.  No man can serve two masters.  Duh. :^)

And regarding Micah's thoughts, since Judah had a son by Tamar, we would infer from the historical narratives that incest is OK, too, I guess.  Or we could assume that he was speaking tongue in cheek, as I was in my first comment.  And the second.

But seriously, this appears to be a far less damaging precedent than I'd anticipated.  I was assuming that the court would go whole hog and say that a man could have multiple marriage contracts, which he did not.  He merely argued that if people wanted to cohabit, they could, even if they were having sex.  However, unless Christians and others come up with a good argument against polygamy quickly (see "harem system" for details, as well as the behavior of fundamentalist (?) Mor[m]ons), I am guessing that a judge somewhere is going to write that states must issue multiple marriage licenses to the same person, thus legalizing not only polygamy but also legally sanctioned polyamory.

With 1000 provisions in the law or more dealing with the differences in how the married are treated vs. the single, this should be worth billions of billable hours and should have inestimable damage on women and children as we forget that the purpose of family law is to protect the vulnerable.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

was it broad definition of bigamy.  If I read the article correctly, in the other 49 States, there has to be multiple marriage licenses.  Please see the article for how Utah operates.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Bert Perry's picture

Rob, good point. That said, it's worth noting that the multiple marriages that got Joseph Smith in trouble in Nauvoo (expelled by some of my ancestors, for what it's worth) were as far as I can tell not legally sanctioned.  I don't think that the county clerk in Carthage, a non-Mormon, would have issued the license.  So interestingly, it is (was) Utah's anti-polygamy law that would have stopped the Mormons, and not that of most other states.

Interesting that, given the prevalence of STDs and the known problems when people try to "share" a mate, that the state of Utah couldn't show a compelling public interest in defining their polygamy ban as it was.  It's not like we don't know the risks.....or is it because they tried to ban cohabitation for the married without banning it for the single?   What a mess.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

were written when it was still a territory looking for statehood.  To get the approvals, they wrote the most stringent bigamy laws they could write.  In every other jurisdiction I know of, bigamy only arises when more than one marriage license

Irving and Mary Sue get a license and then are married by an authorized officiant.   Some time late Fred decides to marry Frieda with a license and a ceremony without divorcing Mary Sue.

However, let's say Irving and Mary Sue decide to add Frieda to their "marriage" without the benefit of a license.  The three live in the same household and MS and F refer to themselves as Irving's wives.  The trio says, "We're married in God's sight if not the state's." Most jurisdictions I know of wouldn't call it bigamy.  It would be considered adultery but not bigamy.   But, up until now not Utah.

Bert Perry wrote:

Rob, good point. That said, it's worth noting that the multiple marriages that got Joseph Smith in trouble in Nauvoo (expelled by some of my ancestors, for what it's worth) were as far as I can tell not legally sanctioned.  I don't think that the county clerk in Carthage, a non-Mormon, would have issued the license.  So interestingly, it is (was) Utah's anti-polygamy law that would have stopped the Mormons, and not that of most other states.

Interesting that, given the prevalence of STDs and the known problems when people try to "share" a mate, that the state of Utah couldn't show a compelling public interest in defining their polygamy ban as it was.  It's not like we don't know the risks.....or is it because they tried to ban cohabitation for the married without banning it for the single?   What a mess.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rob Fall's picture

In the post above, (at this time who knows the direction the marriage kertuffel will take) a marriage only covers two persons at a time.  So, (to my non-lawerly mind) there is no statute benefit to a Irving, Mary Sue and Frieda's declaration of marriage.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Steve Davis's picture

dmicah wrote:

The promise of the Messiah, and the beginning of the Jewish nation came through a polygamist.

The man after God's own heart, and on whose figurative throne Jesus will reign, was a polygamist.

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon were written by a polygamist.

At some level, God is apparently not that concerned with the idea of a man marrying multiple women.

I'm not sure if Micah was completely tongue-in-cheek. However it is interesting that God gave Saul's "wives into [David's] arms" (2 Sam.12:8). I guess that can be interpreted metaphorically. I'm not a proponent of polygamy (whether polygyny or polyandry) but it's stretching the argument against it by comparisons with visiting prostitutes or incest. God at least permitted polygamy although not His ideal. In addition in some societies the desire for more than one wife was connected with having more field workers, wives and children, and in the case of barrenness of the first wife, descendants.

But I must say the "two masters" comment is convincing (but don't tell my wife).

Steve 

dmicah's picture

Yes, partly tongue in cheek, but partly serious. I'm not advocating we get extra wives because these biblical forefathers did. But we must at some level look at how God deals with someone who blatantly does not follow what we consider to be biblically normative, i.e. one wife. I guess I'm saying the polygamy of biblical forefathers should give us some insight into how God thinks/operates..(if such a human process can be applied to the Creator God.) It should stretch our thinking and make us at least ask questions.

And I don't think visiting a prostitute or incest is an equivalent comparison.

JC's picture

Luke 16:18 indicates that there is not much difference between visiting a prostitute and re-marrying.   Both are adultery.

x_delete_jhowell's picture

That God faithfully records the actions of others, and accomplishes His own decrees and plans despite some of those actions. No argument there, I am sure. But, I guess all partial kidding aside about the "serving two masters" line, we still have the Genesis 2:22-24 passage of becoming one flesh to deal with here. Jesus makes it clear what the obvious best scenario is when dealing with the divorce question and attempted entrapment by the Pharisees in Matt. 19:3-9. My opinion is the fact that God gave Saul's wives to David is really not an endorsement nor an ok for polygamy, but a simple reporting of facts. This giving is a fulfillment of God's Word's to Saul regarding the total loss of his rule/reign/kingdom to his neighbor in 1 Samuel 15:27-28, for the control of a vanquished king's harem/palace/family was most visibly seen in this way. Absalom did the same thing to his own father David during his attempted coup.

Todd Wood's picture

Just as God desired stories of heartache to be recorded in the Bible, we have books upon books recording the family heartaches in Utah and Southeastern Idaho.  Humanity is no wiser.  We simply repeat.  But in the midst of our sinful struggle, redemption from on high visits us.  God's mercy.  Where sin abounds, grace comes in like a tidal wave.

Bert Perry's picture

dmicah wrote:

Yes, partly tongue in cheek, but partly serious. I'm not advocating we get extra wives because these biblical forefathers did. But we must at some level look at how God deals with someone who blatantly does not follow what we consider to be biblically normative, i.e. one wife. I guess I'm saying the polygamy of biblical forefathers should give us some insight into how God thinks/operates..(if such a human process can be applied to the Creator God.) It should stretch our thinking and make us at least ask questions.

And I don't think visiting a prostitute or incest is an equivalent comparison.

Micah, your comment reminds me of a joke; 

Q.  What is the Biblical punishment for polygamy?

A.  You have more than one wife.

Sorry, couldn't resist.  BTW, Steve, if indeed we dare not tell your wife that you enjoyed Mark Twain's exegesis of Matthew 6:24, haven't you just about proved he was right?  :^)

(my wife loves both of these jokes, FWIW)

OK, to try and be serious, I'd agree that polygamy and prostitution really do have similar moral import.  Both are about men arguing that their finances entitle them to have more than one woman, sexually speaking, and in both, there is a strong tendency to use hideous violence to implement and protect the system.  Regarding that last bit, pimps are well known to use drugs and assault (including rape) to "convince" women to join the "profession."  In the same way, polygamists (e.g. Islamic harem system) got their wives with raids on neighboring countries where the women were subjugated in much the same way (ritual humiliations, assaults, etc..) and the men who should have become their husbands end up killed or castrated.  Large portions of Eastern Europe still remember this system, and portions of Africa and Asia still suffer it, not to mention the nasty stuff that's gone on in Rotherham, England over the past decade or so.  (1400 girls sexually assaulted, authorities knew but did squat)

Put differently, it takes some doing to convince a young lady that she's going to share a man with other women when she thinks she can have her own, and similarly it takes a fair amount to convince a man that he's not going to have a wife of his own.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.