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Monday, May 15, 2006

Virtuous Polygamists

If you think that same-sex "marriage" can be explained and justified without inevitably explaining and justifying polygamy, then you're an idiot.

Just saying.

Just in time for this debate, the ever-vigilant worthies at the Claremont Institute remind us that Mark Twain, as a young man, traveled through Utah, and had this observation respecting the Latter Day Saint's peculiar institution in 1861:
Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter. I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here—until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely" creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, "No—the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure—and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence."

Comments on "Virtuous Polygamists"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:47 AM) : 

If you think that same-sex "marriage" can be explained and justified without inevitably explaining and justifying polygamy...



Blogger Selfish Country Music Loving Lady said ... (9:49 AM) : 

I’m not sold on your first assertion there (OK, except for the part about my idiocy). The legalizing-gay-marriage-inevitably-leads-to-legalizing-polygamy argument would only work if the arguments for keeping them illegal were analogous, which I don’t believe they are. Against gay marriage they tend to run along the lines of “gay marriage threatens the institution of traditional marriage,” and while you could make a similar argument for polygamy, the more important (and legitimate) objection is that polygamy is inevitably exploitive, which gay marriage isn’t. So you have a perfectly good policy reason for keeping polygamy illegal even if gay marriage were allowed.


Blogger Gentleman Farmer said ... (11:45 AM) : 

Well, what do you propose is the purpose and nature of marriage? I will be interested in any response that sanctions same-sex "marriage," but excludes polygamy, other than by wholly arbitrarily inserting the word "two" somewhere.

Give it a try.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:17 PM) : 

Well what is wrong with polygamy?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:19 PM) : 

Also, define your definition of marriage without arbitrarily inserting "two" or one of this and one of that.


Blogger Gentleman Farmer said ... (1:54 PM) : 

I didn't say there was anything "wrong" with polygamy, did I? And my own definition of "marriage" might not be shared by my interlocutor. It would be best, I would think, for us to begin with something we can agree on. So I thought we might start with someone else's definition.

I would begin with Genesis 1:27-28, and Genesis ch. 2; But that's just me.

Where would you start?


Blogger Gentleman Farmer said ... (2:00 PM) : 

Oh, and (before I forget), SCMLL, Andrea Dworkin insisted that ALL marriage, and all heterosexual relationships, were inherently exploitive, did she not?

So why do you include in your definition of polygamy some aspect that is necessarily exploitive?

Do you believe polygamy to be exploitive, but polyandry not to be so?


Blogger Selfish Country Music Loving Lady said ... (2:32 PM) : 

No, I disagree with anonymous, polygamy is bad news. Polyandry is so incredibly rare as to be barely worth discussing, but where it occurs, yes, it is exploitive too. It has to be, because given the extent of people's in-born, human-nature sexual jealousy, no one is going to agree to be one of many wives (husbands) unless she (he) really has no other choice.

"purpose and nature of marriage"... I'll have to think that one over. Something about equal, consensual partnership though, a definition that excludes polygamy of all kinds. One could arguably call this an overly soft and lovey-dovey definition and insist that procreation is a central part of marriage also.

I'm not trying to argue in favor of gay marriage here, I'm just saying that you can be against polygamy without being against gay marriage. If you accede only definition 2, fine by me, but I think definition 1 is at least something everyone can agree on as a kind of baseline. So polygamy is out.

Sorry for rambling a bit there.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:42 PM) : 

Rambling is impermissible because, while adequately superficial, it is glib-deficient.


Blogger Yeoman said ... (5:45 PM) : 

An added problem with stating that polygamy is "explotative", while same sex marraige is not, and therefore the former should be illegal, while the latter open to debate, is that you instantly acknowledge that it is a value judgment.

Why is polygamy explotative?

Now, I agree that it is. It is inheritanly so, and particularly as practiced in the US, where the practitioners tend to gravitate towards recruiting underaged teenagers, and therefore are engaging in serial statutory rape. But that is also a value judgment. I am comfortable with making that judgment, as I'm comfortable with the view that sexual relations, to include those inside and outside of marriage, ultimately concern values.

That works its way back around to what is marriage. Whether you define it by your faith, or by culture, it's still the case that every culture had recognized it, and they all recognize that it's a male to female, female to male, relationship of a hopefully permanent nature. There's a natural order at work in that. Yes, I know somebody is going to maintain that isn't so, but the contrary arguments are based on taking liberties with facts and history.

There's a host of reasons that cultures make that judgment, as do individuals, but once you stray greatly from it, you usually start emphasizing something else. And things tend to go astray.

As an aside, on a Constitutional basis, if you have to recognize homosexual marriage under a state constitution, you definately have to recognize polygamy. There's no sensical argument for the alternative view. I suppose that demonstrates that once the old statutes on criminal conversation, and cohabitation, went out the window as quaint, that window was open to everything else coming on in.


Anonymous explotative marraige said ... (2:58 PM) : 

yeoman may have a good point. I wouldn't know, though, because I stopped reading after the fourth misspelling in three paragraphs. Having written him off as an idiot, I didn't see much value in hearing his opinion.


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