A case for polygamy?!
July 2015 Soon after the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal, a Mormon polygamist has applied for a license to marry a second wife. According to The Associated Press, Nathan Collier, 46, and his partners, Victoria and Christine, applied for the marriage license in Billings, Montana. (You may know them them from the reality TV show “Sister Wives.”) Collier legally married Victoria in 2000, but his “spiritual” marriage to Christine is not legally recognized. I saw this coming nearly 15 years ago while writing this newspaper column:
May 2001 [Another well-known polygamist], Tom Green, has bragged on numerous talk shows about being married to five women—at the same time—and fathering 25-29 children (“Hey, kids, stand still so I can count you!”). He’s now facing up to 25 years in prison and a second trial on “child rape” for marrying his first wife when she was a 13-year-old. All this brings up an important question, “Isn’t having five wives and 25-29 kids punishment enough?!”
Actually, the case brings up several questions, including our culture’s “tolerance” for sexual behavior.
If Green had been simply living and procreating with five women, that would be completely legal (provided members of his harem were all over 16 years of age). The laws vary from state to state, but in general, if you don’t ask for a marriage license from the state for your first marriage, then you can legally cohabit with as many people as you like and it is not illegal. Bigamy and adultery are only crimes for a married person, not for people who are living together. A few states have laws against having unmarried sex, but they are rarely, if ever, enforced.
If Green had been living with and cavorting with five LGBTs or the entire cast of “La Cage aux Folles,” that would be completely legal.
If Green’s wives would have aborted all 25-29 children that would be completely legal in all 50 states.
And if author David L. Riegel (Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers) had his way, Green could have sex with his children without any legal consequences. Riegel claims, and I quote, “Men who sexually pursue young boys are not monsters, but sincere, concerned, loving human beings who simply have a sexual orientation that is neither understood nor accepted by most others.” He goes on to claim, “long assumed ‘harm’ of such activities has failed to be supported by research.”
If our culture is going to be truly “tolerant” of “alternate lifestyles” because “there are no moral absolutes,” then it’s going to have to accept polygamy, pedophilia, and all the other forms of sexual expression. After all, if there is no standard for what is right and wrong, there’s no ethical way to label what’s right or wrong.
The Green case also brings up questions of our country’s “tolerance” for religious liberty.
Mormon polygamists are simply obeying Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smith claimed that God had given him new revelations which remain today in the current Doctrine and Covenants:
“I, the Lord justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines… Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory . . . . They shall be gods, because they have no end” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132).
“Fundamentalist Mormons” believe that only polygamist males and married women will become gods and goddesses populating their own planets. (Smith reportedly had five wives while his successor, Brigham Young, had 55! Currently, there are an estimated 20,000-100,000 Mormons involved in “plural marriages.”)
The “everlasting covenant” was abandoned by modern Mormons when the U.S. Calvary was sent to Utah to enforce the 1882 Edmunds Bill which made polygamy illegal.
Even the Utah Chapter of the National Organization of Women argues polygamy can be a solution for the problems of working mothers. “It seems like a pretty good idea for professional women, who can proceed with their careers and have someone at home they can trust to watch their children. It solves the day care problem” said Luci Malin, vice chairman of Utah NOW. Meanwhile the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to challenge Utah’s bigamy law.
If a culture abandons Judeo-Christian standards in the name of moral relativism, it only follows that it allows any sexual behavior. And if the Constitution doesn’t defend all religious groups, who is to decide which religions are to be tolerated and which are not?
So, if the government is determined to prosecute Tom Green and a purported 100,000 others, may I suggest “house arrest.” Can you imagine being cooped up with 25-29 kids along with five wives?!
Copyright © 2001 James N. Watkins
Legalizing polygamy sounds unimaginable. But keep in mind, 50 years ago, few imagined same-sex marriage. For the majority of United States history up until 1962, “sodomy,” “fornication,” “adultery,” and “cohabitation” were legal terms and considered criminal offenses in all states and Washington, D.C. (Sodomy was punishable by death in the colonies.) As recently as 1986, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of these “sodomy laws.” In less than 30 years, the highest court has gone from ruling homosexual behavior as a “crime” to a constitutional “right.” Tectonic shifts in what constitutes socially and morally acceptable sexual behavior are occurring under our feet. “After shocks” will continue.