Less than a week ago, activists got what they wanted from the Supreme Court: marriage “equality.” By that they meant any two adults, of the same or opposite genders, could marry. Or so they said. They also cried, “Pooh, pooh!” to warnings that polygamy – plural marriage – would come next. Yesterday someone gave the game away. He filed in a Montana court to have that court grant him marriage to two women at once.
Plural marriage: see, we told you so
Rush Limbaugh, on the Monday after the Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, etc., warned his listeners. He cited bloggers (whom he did not name) and their posts. “They are already gonna agitate for it,…they want it, and they think they know…this opens the door for it.” Why not? Because Justice Anthony Kennedy did not ground his reasoning on the law. He grounded it in “self-esteem and dignity and not being denied things that make you happy.” Don’t just take Rush Limbaugh’s or our word for it. Read the opinion.
Rush then reminded people of the obvious. God defined marriage, about seven thousand years ago, then again two thousand years ago. But today, Scripture carries no weight with the Supreme Court. Originally they gave Scripture a lot of weight. No more.
And now see what!
Yesterday afternoon (1 July), Mr. Nathan Collier of Billings, Montana, applied at the county courthouse for a marriage license for three people instead of two. He has a legal marriage to one of two women who share bed (yes, bed) and board with him. Now he wants the government to recognize his rights to both of them, not only one. The Associated Press carried it. Political Outcast and WND picked it up from the AP.
Steve Chapman at Townhall.com knows the reasoning for plural marriage parallels that for SSRSB marriage. And he warned: the court, in making SSRSB marriage legal, cleared a path for plural marriage.
In fact, “religious liberty” holds even less well against plural marriage. Nathan Collier, the likely plaintiff in the likely case of Collier v. Gillen, came from the LDS (“Mormon”) church. Recall: Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, the first and second ranking leaders of the LDS church, each famously collected many wives. (This writer once traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, and toured the Mormon Temple Square and the Brigham Young house.) Joseph Smith likely composed the Book of Mormon to give him license to satisfy his lusts. Of course, when the Utah Territory asked Congress to admit it to the Union as a State, Congress told the territorial leaders: first give up polygamy. Not only that, but put it in writing. They did, in the Woodruff Manifesto of 1890. Will the current Prophet sue on his own to nullify that Manifesto, and Utah’s anti-plural-marriage laws?
He might not have to. Two years ago, CBS Television carried a “reality” show (a show without a script) with the title Sister Wives. Naturally authorities arrested the husband. Then a court struck down that part of those laws under which the authorities nailed him.
Plural marriage in Israelite history
The Colliers and their lawyers need only point to Mr. Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell to make their case. But the court of public opinion still values more ancient evidence. Activists will surely offer it, in the form of plural marriage among famous leaders of the Hebrew people. From Abraham (Sarah and Hagar) to Jacob (Leah and Rachel), to Kings David and Solomon, examples of plural marriage abound.
But that does not mean God truly let those men do this. God often takes the least promising men and makes heroes and leaders of them. Abraham first received God’s promise, among all the descendants of Shem. Jacob conned his father, then his father-in-law. (Actually, Jacob and Laban conned each other.) Kings David and Solomon, quite simply, made mistakes. Those mistakes cost them. Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, gave rise to the militant Arab Muslims of today. David paid with a civil war. Solomon paid after his death: his kingdom split.
Scripture describes the clear idea: one man and one woman.
Plural marriage: how it goes wrong
Plural marriage always ends badly, for at least someone concerned, usually one or more of the children. The sole father (as is the usual case) always plays favorites. Favoritism causes enough harm in monogamous marriages (or the serial monogamy we have with no-fault divorce). Put two or more wives together, and the harms multiply.
Society might suffer a worse harm. Again, most plural marriages will qualify as polygyny (one man, many women). Very few cases of polyandry (one woman, many men) will happen. This will shut many men out of marriage altogether. And they won’t all, or even mostly, prefer other men. Not even close. They will become the same kind of outlaw the early colonists had to deal with: men with nothing to lose. These men will turn to crime. In the seventeenth century they turned to property crime or highway brigandage. The kind of crime to which the shut-out men of tomorrow will turn, let the reader guess!
Courts will then use this highly personal crime wave to make legal the next step in redefining marriage: the commune. Alvin Toffler conceived that. Orson Welles dramatized the concept with a household having three each adult men and women. Even that will not satisfy. For the next step, courts will rule that no person has exclusive rights to another. And that the government will take responsibility to raise all children. Today, parentless children go to an orphanage. Tomorrow, women will bear them and surrender them to a crèche.
People tried that in modern Israel, in that ultimate multi-purpose commune they called kibbutz. That kind of child-rearing did not bring good results. Even in its heyday, children who grew up on kibbutz rarely, if ever, married inside their home kibbutz. How could they, when from their cradles they had lived as closely as brothers and sisters live, with every other child in the village? Even those who defend kibbutz life, know they must change the communal child-rearing model to produce well-adjusted graduates.
The Supreme Court has started a social experiment. We know already how it will end: not well. So we don’t need to run it. We must stop it any way we can.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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