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Giving Polygamy a Chance

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Russ Saltzman:

Giving Polygamy a Chance
by Russell E Saltzman


Pr. Steve Sabin writes in Forum Online ( http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=1466.msg55127#msg55127):

"In reading [California state supreme court decision allowing gay marriage], the larger issue for the majority was equal standing before the law for relationships consensually contracted by adult citizens, and the equal availability of the obligations and privileges afforded such private contractual relationships by the state."

Hear, hear. I'm all for "relationships consensually contracted by adult citizens." So, heads up everybody: Iím thinking of trying out polygamy, pretty soon now. I could use the extra income a second wife would provide. Retirement is coming in a few years and, well, the 401(k) is sort of sputtering. So, a second wife, and preferably one with a teaching degree and no outstanding student debts. The primary wife recently became an older second-career teacher, but her student debts, whew. By the way, I've learned to emphasize "second career" over "older."

Iíve been playing with budget figures and it would work fine. Itíd be okay, too. I think it is reasonably certain that within a few years some state supreme court somewhere will declare it is discriminatory not to issue marriage licenses for plural marriages composed of three persons in a relationship "consensually contracted by adult citizens."

Thatís what the Massachusetts supreme court did in November 2003 when it heard Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, brought by several gay couples. A constitutional convention subsequently defeated an amendment to the state constitution forbidding same-sex marriage, so I guess everybody was happy with the original decision.

And in California, the state supreme court just did the very same thing on May 15, ruling for equal marriage rights for all the guys who want guys and all the gals who want gals, despite a 2000 state referendum on the books (Prop. 22) limiting marriage to opposite-sex persons, which, incidentally, was adopted statewide by a 61% margin. But as these were only voters and not judges expressing an opinion, it hardly counts for anything at all.

Couples Only
What? Yeah, yeah, I know. Those decisions were for gay couples, two persons only, any two people but just two per marriage. A silly restriction, in my judgment.

Seems to me, as soon as somebody says marriage can no longer be defined in terms of a woman and a man, it can then be defined by something else, like me and two women. Or the other way Ďround, say one woman and a couple guys, just to keep the equal rights perspective in play. Once we finish overturning, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, ďthe laws of nature and of natureís God,Ē well, hey, the way is open for my second wife. As long as I still have my looks and haven't become Viraga-dependent, I figure I'm a good catch.

So, with the reasoning of the California and the Massachusetts courts before me, so what if three people wish to join in matrimony, holy or otherwise? Is anybody in a position to say no anymore? Not in my book.

Itís all personal choice, isnít it? Not all opposite-sex couples bother with marriage these days. Gay couples, really, hardly bother with it at all. But if they want to, though, increasingly marriage is available for them same as for opposite-sex folks ó or not, as they like.

M&M's
There are some media images weíll have to overcome on polygamy. Muslims and Mormons. Call them M&M's for short.

Early Islamic polygamy arose as a way of caring for the widows of slain jihadists, and their children. In that sense, it wasnít much different than what is described in the Hebrew scriptures as Levitical marriage. Of course, itís been spiffied up and tricked out and expanded by male Arab societies a bit beyond what the Koran had in mind originally. But we in the West have gripped about Arabists not modernizing things, so it hardly seems fair of us to complain when, in the area of polygamy, they have. I donít know if I would want to have the widow of a fallen jihadist as my second wife, with or without a teaching degree. If I get really serious about it, I may have to consider it if no other options arise.

The other image is the spectacle of "fundamentalist polygamist Mormon sects,Ē as the press always refers to them. To believe the press and, alright, DNA tests, they seem to have a propensity for under-aged child marriage. But I donít think this a real problem in any social sense, merely one of poor marketing in the end. Mormons like these have to get new members some way, and what better way exists than propagating their own as often and as early as possible.

I think the M&M' s can be handled with a couple good reality shows.

Constitutional Restriction
Oh, and I really want to avoid another misunderstanding. Two people are called a marriage. Three people, a plural marriage. But add a third wife and make it four, and the arrangement becomes a ďcommuneĒ living in a ďcompoundĒ surrounded by federal agents.

This isnít what I want at all. So I do think marriage "relationships consensually contracted by adult citizens" legally should be strictly reserved to just three persons. Any more and thatís just too weird. This may take a constitutional amendment but it would be worth the effort.

Pr. Jerry Kliner:
Well you know, Russ, in the words of the Draft Sexuality Statement:
"This church does not favor or give approval to cohabitation arrangements outside of marriage.  It has a special concern when such arrangements are entered into as an end in themselves.  It does, however, acknowledge the social forces at work that encourage such practices.  This church also recognizes the pastoral and familial issues that accompany these contemporary social patterns.  In cases where a decision is made for cohabitation, this church expects its pastors and members to help the couple recognize a special obligation to be clear and candid with each other about their plans, expectations, and levels of mutual commitments." (lines 1072--1079)

So, while I applaud your courage to be a prophetic voice to our culture, if our statement goes through as is, as long as your clear about your plans, expectations, and mutual levels of trust, I must ask the question: Why bother with pursuing marriage (status) at all?  ;D (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

buechler:

--- Quote from: Pr. Jerry Kliner on June 05, 2008, 02:44:11 PM ---Well you know, Russ, in the words of the Draft Sexuality Statement:
"This church does not favor or give approval to cohabitation arrangements outside of marriage.  It has a special concern when such arrangements are entered into as an end in themselves.  It does, however, acknowledge the social forces at work that encourage such practices.  This church also recognizes the pastoral and familial issues that accompany these contemporary social patterns.  In cases where a decision is made for cohabitation, this church expects its pastors and members to help the couple recognize a special obligation to be clear and candid with each other about their plans, expectations, and levels of mutual commitments." (lines 1072--1079)

So, while I applaud your courage to be a prophetic voice to our culture, if our statement goes through as is, as long as your clear about your plans, expectations, and mutual levels of trust, I must ask the question: Why bother with pursuing marriage (status) at all?  ;D (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

--- End quote ---

What you quoted from that draft study reminds me of a conversation I heard from one of my parents when my brother and I got old enough to get interested in sex. It went something like this: "Well, I would really frown on you boys having sex before marriage, but since you will probably do it anyway make sure you wear a condom." Talk about taking away from what the real message should be.

Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler

jebutler:
There was a great editorial on this question recently on the _Christianity Today_ website.

He argues that, given the decisions of these courts, there really is no reason for the US to ban it any longer. Not that he approves, but that's the direction of things.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/mayweb-only/121-52.0.html

Jim

Dave_Poedel:
Here's another one by R. R. Reno that is also good on the logic of our current state of reasoning.


http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1088

Kyrie eleison!

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