New Same-Sex Marriage Ruling; Same Old Polygamy Stereotypes

Shawn Larsen church, Culture, gay, homosexuality, love, marriage, Mormon, polygamy, sexuality 81 Comments

Unless your last name is Van Winkle, you likely already know that, yesterday afternoon, the California Supreme Court concluded that the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage (SSM, for short) is unconstitutional. Put more simply, in 30 days, SSM will be a reality in California. For those of us here on the Left Coast, things are about to get very interesting. Within hours of the ruling, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, without a hint of irony, told a gathering of reporters: “I plan to marry as many people as I can.”

Like many others, I’m still working my way through the 100+ page opinion. We lawyers sure love our footnotes, and one in particular has got me thinking. To be clear, I am no fundamentalist Mormon, and I certainly am not bucking for the opportunity to bring another set of problems wife into my happy family. But I can’t help but be annoyed by the apparent fact that, over a century later, courts are still content to rely on outdated and prejudicial attitudes towards Mormon polygamy.

The key holding — one that will be contested in the coming months by way of a final ballot initiative — is that the right to marry “guarantees same-sex couples the same substantive constitutional rights as opposite-sex couples to choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” The Supreme Court dropped the following footnote to this sentence:

We emphasize that our conclusion that the constitutional right to marry properly must be interpreted to apply to gay individuals and gay couples does not mean that this constitutional right similarly must be understood to extend to polygamous or incestuous. Past judicial decisions explain why our nation’s culture has considered the latter types of relationships inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the right to marry. Although the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay individuals and gay couples clearly is no longer constitutionally permissible, the state continues to have a strong and adequate justification for refusing to officially sanction polygamous or incestuous relationships because of their potentially detrimental effect on a sound family environment. Thus, our conclusion that it is improper to interpret the state constitutional right to marry as inapplicable to gay individuals or couples does not affect the constitutional validity of the existing legal prohibitions against polygamy and the marriage of close relatives. (emphasis added; legal citations deleted).

As I read it, this footnote is the Court’s way of brushing aside fears of a “slippery slope” resulting from their decision. According to this argument, which has featured prominently in both the California and the national debate, SSM should be banned because legalization necessarily will open the door to all manner of heretofore prohibited martial relationships. Inevitably, polygamy is at the top of every list of “loves that dare not speak their name.”

Here’s my question for you: Do you agree with the Court that polygamy between is truly “inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the right to marry?” Is polygamy so nefarious a practice that, by its very nature, it will have a “detrimental effect on a sound family environment?”

This is the same logic the U.S. Supreme Court relied on 120 or so years ago to validate legislative efforts (including the Edmunds-Tucker Act) to stamp out polygamy (in Reynolds v. United States (1879) and Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1890)). As Sarah Barringer Gordon deftly illustrates in her book, “The Mormon Question,” this analysis was flawed to the extent it relied on a hodge-podge of ill-informed and simply false ideas about Mormons promulgated by the popular (and very loud) anti-polygamy movement, i.e. Utah women were enslaved by the Church, etc.

I see that same sort of stereotypical thinking in yesterday’s ruling. As a starting point, the Court lumps polygamy in with incest without bothering to draw any distinction between the two. From there, the Court treads on shaky legal ground. To wit, the jurisprudence cited by the Court holds that laws restricting certain marital relationships are necessary for reasons such as (i) “protecting persons who may not be in a position to freely consent to sexual relationships”; (ii) “guarding against inbreeding”; and (iii) “promot[ing] and protect[ing] family harmony and protect[ing] children from the abuse of parental authority.” As applied to polygamy, these concerns — just as the notion of white slavery in turn-of-the-century Utah — rely on a profoundly distorted vision of the practice wherein underage girls are forced to marry adults, including their own parents. The message sent is clear — polygamy, just like forced sexual relationships between parent and child, is malum per se (evil in itself).

I, for one, am not persuaded that this is the case. I believe that consenting adults could create polygamous relationships in which there is no coercion and certainly no inbreeding. If polygamy were to be legalized, would society run the risk of such untoward practices? Of course — if reports are to be believed, the FLDS practice polygamy in a similar fashion. But the more important question is whether that risk is so great that polygamy should be outlawed entirely. Inherent in any marital relationship — be it a monogamous heterosexual couple, a monogamous homosexual couple, or a polygamous arrangement between 3 people — is the risk that one partner will force his/her will upon the other(s). As of today, we permit the first categories of marriages; why not polygamy?

You may be asking yourself, why should I care, since polygamy in the LDS church has gone the way of the dodo? Here’s why: despite the best efforts of the men in the big buildings on Temple Square, we will always be associated with polygamy. That’s just a fact. And that’s OK by me, as long as folks take the time to disabuse themselves of the same sort of prejudicial notions lurking behind the Court’s formal language. My progenitors, while they may have been many things, were not involved in relationships equatable with incest. So, when I see discussions of polygamy that require that conclusion (i.e., polygamy = incest), I cannot help but think it sets us all back a few steps. That’s why this little footnote, buried amidst hundreds of pages of legalese, is stuck in my craw.

Comments

comments

Comments 81

  1. Shawn….this is an excellent and timely post. I really enjoyed it.

    Whilst reading your post I had an abberation of what a world would be like if polygamy were legal…could the church then move back on it?? WOULD IT???

    I honestly….must say that I have a live and let live policy about the way I treat other people unless they coerce and hurt other people physically or mentally.

    In this case, and logically speaking, I must agree with you that to me the justifications for polygamy and homosexual relationships would be similar. Use scientific evidence to show that children can be brought up well, that the family can function and that people can have happy lifestyles.

    There is a major whiff of hypocrisy about it but maybe the FLDS and other polygamous groups should form a lobby group and start putting up the dosh to pressure the courts and politicians to change the law. And I think with enough money and with enough time it would turn out the same as it has for homosexuals. Not that it is a bad thing at all…but that it is what it is….and like you say…bad because the state has said so….

    Biologically speaking…it makes more sense to me to allow polygamy then homosexuality…and then at the bottom of the list, I hope we can all agree is incest…it is both socially and biologically harmful. I dont see homosexualty as being socially or biologically harmful to the children as soon as homosexuality is fully accepted in society and it will be. In a way I would like to see the same with polygamy, though I am completely and forever more monogamous.

    Nevertheless I would not like to see incest practiced if just from a medical and genetic perspective.

  2. The court cited “the nation’s culture” as justification for discrimination against polygamy? When did culture become the legal standard? What social scientific findings are they basing this on? None. Pure laziness.

  3. >>> What social scientific findings are they basing this on? None. Pure laziness.

    It wasn’t laziness.

  4. I think the problem many progressives have with polygamy, which they don’t necessarily have with homosexual marriages stems from their view of women’s rights. In a polygamous marriage, what standing does a woman have with her man? She is not equal with him, because she is competing with however many other women for the right to be with him. Polygamy is inherently sexist, inherently places the man above the woman (or women in this case). There is no equality between one man and one woman. The equation is as follows: 1 man = 5 women. That means that each one of those women is only 1/5 equal to the man. I can see the rationale very well, and it makes sense to me. In a homosexual relationship, the equation is: 1 man = 1 man. Or 1 woman = 1 woman. That’s an equal relationship.

  5. As a practicing Mormon and lawyer, I guess I should be offended by both the Court’s ruling and rationale. The fact is, I don’t really care. I will admit, however, that my first thought after hearing about the Court’s decision yesterday was that my good friend Stuart Matis is probably somewhere smiling.

  6. Post
    Author

    #5 — “Polygamy is inherently sexist, inherently places the man above the woman (or women in this case).”

    I don’t think this is a foregone conclusion. In fact, some proponents (including women) argue that polygamy is actually empowering to women, as it builds community amongst the wives. In fact, in a house of 5 women v. 1 man, I would say the women, acting as collective, have it all over the husband in terms of power.

  7. But Shawn,

    Think about that, if it takes five women (or two, or three, or seven) to come to equal terms (or greater) than the husband, that still makes each one individually weaker than the man.

  8. #5–Dan,

    without taking this as an indicator that I support polygamy, that’s not necessarily a valid interpretation. I can see the logic that 1 man + 5 women means that each woman is of lesser value in the overall relationship, but I don’t think it really works that way except from a purely sexual standpoint.

    From a ‘who could have sex with whom according to the law of chastity’ as I understand it, that logic is probably correct. But in terms of expected contributions, it’s pretty far off the mark. So while the women weren’t married to each other in the Brigham Young days (and so according to the church’s view, wouldn’t be sleeping with each other), they were all expected to be equal contributors to the functioning of the household, and I rather suspect were told to get along in peace, harmony and love.

    Remember also that in many cases where the Lord has sanctioned polygamy, the first wife has often had the right to select or at least refuse a subsequent wife. I personally have interpreted this as a way of the Lord saying, “you need to both agree that this is someone that you can love or at least get along with”.

    That’s my interpretation. I think a modern expression of polygamy would be somewhat similar: in order for a third person to be brought into a marriage both persons would need to give full and binding legal consent, it would need to be very open and very clear that no coercion was involved in any way. Once that was dealt with, I see the math being very different: it becomes an equation where it actually liberates women to be married to a man, have children in the home, but not necessarily be tied to staying home, as there may be another woman who would be much happier staying home with the children.

    When I think of all the women out there who would love children, but cannot have their own, polygamy would be a way that this situation could be handled, I think, with very little resistance (and I think was probably the reason for it in the past). There also some women who are very much fertile, able to have children, but aren’t particularly interested in raising them. Matching them all up into a single family doesn’t seem harmful in any way to me, as long as it is done in a proper and orderly fashion, which is what the early church did.

    That said, I can see, similarly, why people have an almost phobic reaction to it. The idea of women being exploited is anathema, and rightfully so. The incestuous relations that some idiots have propagated is so insulting to marriage. The practice of marrying off young teens before they have had a chance to learn who they really are or even finish their education is abusive. The practice of polygamy when it is illegal is plain silly (of course, the reverse is also true–taking a formerly legal form of marriage and making it illegal just because you don’t like a religious group is frankly insulting).

    Is it logical or even right to say that polygamy is inherently exploitative? I don’t think so. I think certain forms of it are, but those forms are not the only forms that it can take.

    Note that there are some countries that allow polyamorous (wherein both women were not only married to the man, but also to each other, and all three slept together in one bed) marriages, but the church has even more reason to oppose that bit of oddity.

    I personally am going to stick with the prophet on this one though–if the church itself continues to frown upon polygamy, I will not do anything else. I have no problems, however, musing about why the Lord would command it in a particular time, or what form it might take.

  9. Post
    Author

    #8 — Your formulation, and interpretation of my comment, presumes that in all polygamous marriages, the man always holds more power than every individual woman. And that’s where I disagree. If a woman freely enters into a polygamous relationship, why is she automatically playing second (or third or fourth) fiddle? In your first comment, you said that it was the “competitve” nature of the relationship amongst wives that caused this. But again, if women go into these relationship with eyes wide open, what makes them automatically subordinate? I don’t see it.

  10. Benjamin,

    Now, I am not as familiar with the polygamous history of the church. I’ve frankly stayed away from that part. But one thing that troubles me greatly (and my wife too) about polygamy is what we see in the FLDS today: the Lost Boys. The thing is that nature has given us a fairly equal ratio between men and women (though I have been told that today there are actually more men than women in the world). If one man takes on five women, that is four women that do not go to other men. What becomes of those men? In the FLDS, they kicked the boys out to save the girls for themselves. That is utterly reprehensible.

    As to the equality of the relationships, I still cannot see how one women in five would be equal to the man (aside from the sexual inequality). There isn’t an equal share of work, as the man would either do 50% and give 10% to each of the five women, or spreading it equally among all six, that gives the man a workload of only 17% and the rest of the women have to do 83% of the labor. Again, unequal.

    Remember also that in many cases where the Lord has sanctioned polygamy, the first wife has often had the right to select or at least refuse a subsequent wife. I personally have interpreted this as a way of the Lord saying, “you need to both agree that this is someone that you can love or at least get along with”.

    What happens when the first wife decides she no longer likes wife number 4? When Sarah had enough of Hagar, she had her husband throw her out in the wilderness. Again, unequal.

    And furthermore, the four remaining women will have an unequal say in the relationship, because the first one is given preference. Does the fifth, and last, one have much say at all above the other four? How short will her leash be?

  11. In typical fashion, the California State Supreme Court has defied the will of the people (our culture?????) and concocted a ridiculous argument to support what they wanted to legislate through the courts.

    What I wonder is whether the Church is more bothered by same-sex marriage or the potential “slippery slope” it creates. As we have probably discussed time and time again, Does it “obey the law of the land?”

    the argument about the diminishment of women in Polygamy only holds water if, like the FLDS, they are forced into it. Any voluntary actions speak for themselves.

  12. Shawn,

    Your formulation, and interpretation of my comment, presumes that in all polygamous marriages, the man always holds more power than every individual woman.

    Well, real power vs perceived power is a whole other matter. In other words, you are very right, that some women will hold far more sway than the man, while in other cases the man will be domineering and controlling. I don’t presume in all cases. I’ve learned not to generalize that way.

    If a woman freely enters into a polygamous relationship, why is she automatically playing second (or third or fourth) fiddle?

    Well, as Benjamin said, the first wife usually had preference as to who could be the second or third or fourth wife. Automatically that places the second, third, or fourth wife as second, third or fourth fiddle. Automatically she is on a lower scale than the first, and thusly unequal with the first wife.

  13. The idea that legalizing polygamy would necessarily place women on an unequal setting with their husbands only works if one specifically equates polygamy with polygyny (the one husband/multiple wife arrangement). However, any legalization of polygamy would simply be that of “group marriage” — with any number and proportion of participants. (Yet more shoddy writing in the footnote. As if “polygamy ‘n’ incest ‘n’ all that” weren’t enough).

    Given that one really couldn’t legalize polygyny without legalizing polyandry and all other forms of group marriage, I can’t see that one could logically conclude that legalized polygamy would necessarily be an affront to women’s rights, any more than the model of a two-person standard heterosexual marriage is necessarily an affront to those rights (though in practice it may be so in any given case). Specific churches and institutions could naturally preach against and limit by bylaw their membership from entering into specific configurations of marriage, of course, just as I’m sure most of the conservative Christian world will react to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

  14. Seems to me that one of the big problems with polygamy is precisely that it’s illegal and thus plural spouses don’t have legal rights. This creates a situation ripe for abuse. I’m sure there are many polygamists who are quite annoyed at the black eye given their practice by the FLDS church.

    BTW, one historic aspect of polygamy is that the average number of births per wife was lower than for non-polygamous marriages. (My ancestors apparently didn’t get the memo, since my paternal, great-grandfather had, I believe, 12 children by each wife, which is just nuts no matter how you cut it.)

  15. The problem with the restatement of the ruling against polygamy above is that it relates only to the type of polygamy practiced by the FLDS, one rife with abuse and with hints of incest. But, nobody is going to fight that, thank heaven, because the church wouldn’t touch this topic with a 50-foot pole. I’m not convinced by a long stretch that Joseph really was threatened by an angel if he didn’t practice it–I’m not sure what the heck happened, truth be told. Who would voluntarily enter such a practice? Especially one who loved his wife so much. I don’t have a testimony of the principle, nor do I feel compelled to get one since in practice it has always been the exception and never the rule (the Lost Boys problem is only an issue because the FLDS compel all to participate in polygamous marriages). Even as practiced in the OT, there were a lot of difficulties between the wives as was pointed out with the Sarah/Hagar example. Jacob’s family was no picnic either, with rivalries between wives, and their sons, and wives using root vegetables to barter for sex.

    I do wonder, however, about immigrants from those countries (e.g. Islamic) where polygamy is legal. There needs to be a way to deal with these arrangements without marginalizing the rights of the pre-existing wives and children. They did not violate the law in entering their arrangements.

  16. The “court” said: “Although the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay individuals and gay couples clearly is no longer constitutionally permissible, the state continues to have a strong and adequate justification for refusing to officially sanction polygamous or incestuous relationships because of their potentially detrimental effect on a sound family environment.”

    Let me get this straight. So when we’re talking about not letting gays get married, the court calls it “discrimination”. But when we’re talking about not letting polygamists get married, the court calls it “refusing to officially sanction” polygamist relationships.

    Nice Double Speak.

  17. I live in southern CA and I remember when we passed prop 22. I have since changed my mind on the issue of gay marriage for several reasons. The main reason is that I am convinced that some people are born gay. And I think the church can improve quite a bit on the way it treats its gay members.

    Seriously, why does the church get so concerned about gay marriage? Marriage is a civil institution and therefore in my opinion it should be decided by the people by vote. So it goes back to my question on why the church is so worried about gay marriage. What does it have anything to do with living the gospel?

    I do not believe that polygamy will become legalized either, because there is not a powerful lobby backing it. Perhaps if the church was lobbying for polygamy to become legalized it would. However, it is abundantly clear that the church is going the opposite direction. However, it would be interesting to see how the church handled the situation if polygamy became legal.

    Going back to the issue of gay marriage, the church is against it because they view homosexuality as immoral. Fine, you can think that, but just because YOU think it is immoral is no reason to alienate THEIR rights.

    The main arguments against gay marriage do not hold water. Some say there is no benefit to society because gay people can not procreate. People that say this are uneducated or living under a rock, because gay couples are adopting children in California all the time.

    Other arguments say that gay couples will devalue the sanctity of marriage. I think that heterosexual couples have done that on their own.

    An argument is that a child growing up with gay parents will not have as stable an environment as a mom and dad. Is there any scientific data to back that up, or is that just your opinion?

    The truth is that here in California, gay people already have civil unions, they call it a domestic partnership. Giving them the right to marry will simply change the title of their relationship. The only difference between a domestic partnership and an actual marriage is equal rights, and THAT is why the CA supreme court made the decision that it did.

  18. I think present day practitioners of polygamy are the best resource to the wisdom of permitting or forbidding polygamy.

    Certainly, they are presently small (in terms of the whole population) and exclusive communities but they make clear the mathematics of polygamy. It is not very long before the ratio of men to women (for purposes of discussion 1:1 and, in fact, not materially different in any case) put men in fierce competition for women — assuming we’re talking polygyny. This leads to the abuse of abandoning adolescent boys.

    In addition, there is only a window in which the breeding population is made up of distinctive DNA groups. When multiple spouses mean drawing from various of these groups in a single marital group they can be quickly drained. Incest and degenerated DNA with attendant birth defects such as can be seen in the Fumarase Deficiency whose world-wide population has been more than doubled within that small TX community of Yearning for Zion are the necessary result.

    Thirdly, the potential for population growth that would exhaust our resources and economy is ugly given the strained state of US financial problems we’re already dealing with. What’s more, if polygamy were generally practiced, the government couldn’t and wouldn’t continue to support such families with the welfare they presently depend on to support the number of dependents in families.

    The problematical gender ratios can be alleviated by allowing polyandry to exist concurrently with polygyny but the depletion of the DNA pool would remain a problem. Overpopulation and strained resources less so. In fact, several husbands supporting a single wife and her offspring could make the US a net provider rather than a net drain on world resources. That would reverse about 100 years of American history in the world!

    I don’t see polygamy moving from the serial- and extra-marital phenomenon that it presently is any time soon.

    Meanwhile, I am proud of my California judiciary today and grateful that equal protection under the laws and Constitution of this land is stronger than it was last week. I leave judging people for the sexual nature He gave them to HF. And I recognize that the unchanging nature of the church has had to incorporate some fluidity such as the move first to and then away from polygamy, the abandonment of the concept of the Catholic church as an abomination and the inclusion of Blacks into the Priesthood. I assume we will be able to adapt just as we have in the past when the time comes for a more realistic view of human sexuality dawns within the LDS community as it already is in much of the nation.

  19. #12:
    In typical fashion, the California State Supreme Court has defied the will of the people (our culture?????) and concocted a ridiculous argument to support what they wanted to legislate through the courts.

    Jeff, I think we both enjoy our exchanges, even when we vehemently disagree with one another. Right now, there are several blogs in which posters and commentators are expressing their strong feelings with regard to the decision of the Supreme Court of California. So far as I can tell, Shawn has not proposed that discussion in this particular blog post. Now, when I see something like what you wrote above, my natural tendency is to confront you with my strong disagreement. If I was to do that, we would launch a massive threadjack, and eventually just become angry with one another.

    I’m willing to not go there in this discussion of plural marriage. I hope you feel the same way.

  20. #15:
    Seems to me that one of the big problems with polygamy is precisely that it’s illegal and thus plural spouses don’t have legal rights. This creates a situation ripe for abuse.

    I couldn’t agree more. Particularly where we’re talking about individuals’ sincere belief as to what deity requires of them, laws against plural marriage simply drive otherwise decent people underground. That creates an atmosphere of secrecy and distrust, to the point that the “insiders” can easily be corrupted by the power they hold in their group.

  21. Argh….Jeff, I should have read the rest of the comments before writing my #20 to you. Please don’t think that I merely objected to you on the basis that we might not agree. I feel the same way about any of us getting sidetracked with reactions to the marriage equality decision. Please, friends, let’s focus on the interesting questions Shawn has proposed! 🙂

  22. Zelph – “Other arguments say that gay couples will devalue the sanctity of marriage. I think that heterosexual couples have done that on their own.” Good one!

  23. Good post. I personally think there is a greater chance of alien invasion from Alpha Centauri than that the church will ever bring back polygamy. But, I think we would do well to view our own past with less prejudice, in an attempt to see more clearly into the motivation of Jospeh and others in living ‘the prinicple’ in the first place. (My hint to myself: in spite of what we are lead to beleive, sex is not the sole motivating factor in even the most over-sexed person’s life.)

    ~

  24. The big difference between same-sex marriage and polygamy in this context is that (as far as I can tell) the polygamists are not requesting that the state actually license their marriages and accord them all the benefits thereof–they just want to be left alone to practice their religion without the threat of jail time hanging over them. (And please don’t conflate polygamy with statutory rape, etc. That’s a different matter.)

    The implications of state licensure of polygamous marriages similar to what California must now do for same-sex marriages extends far beyond who can have sex with whom. For example, in a polyandrous marriage, what legal responsibility would men have for their wife’s children by a different husband? How would “family coverage” in the health insurance market be affected? I think the state would have a real interest in not having to deal with such issues.

    But I am for extending the Lawrence decision to polygamists and decriminalizing the practice.

  25. I can’t help but wonder if those who think yesterday’s ruling will automatically lead to legalized polygamy are jumping the gun.

    I can see the equal protection argument regarding gay marriage; the state was allowing hetero-couples to monogamously marry and refusing to monogamously marry gay-couples. Equal protection was violated as the State was privileging some over others and yesterday’s ruling works to fix that.

    Now let’s say a monogamously married couple wants to married an additional person into the legal relationship. Is there unequal treatment here? The State offers all the ability to be legally connected to one person at a time. All are forbidden from adding a third person legally to the mix, hetero- and homo-couples alike. Since no state is forced to offer marriage in the first place, I have a hard time seeing where a state that says “one at a time” is running afoul of equal protection under the law.

  26. Re: “Other arguments say that gay couples will devalue the sanctity of marriage. I think that heterosexual couples have done that on their own.”

    You see examples of this everywhere. I am thankful that the sanctity my parents placed on their marriage countered these examples. I’m sure that gay couples who take marriage seriously model their aspirations of marriage from the successful examples they have seen as well.

  27. Bewildering!

    Why consenting gay adults can marry but consenting polygamists/polyandry adults can’t……judicial prejudice.

    And didn’t they have anti-gay laws all based on this ‘potentially detrimental effect on..family’ or ‘societies well been and health and safety’ ..seems the gay lobby just won over the CA supreme court!

    And why can’t two 74 year old brother/sister marry (yuk) if gays can? Because they surly won’t have kids in their 70’s!

  28. “I can’t help but wonder if those who think yesterday’s ruling will automatically lead to legalized polygamy are jumping the gun. ”

    Yes. For one thing, there have been well organized and determined advocacy groups taking up gay people’s interests. They’ve been working towards ending discrimination against gays for a lot of years, by now. We’ve seen a real sea change in public opinion over the last couple decades – and that has a lot do with the political approach that has been taken by gay advocates. Polygamists have nothing like that. And they have prejudices to overcome (see the topic: polygamy in conflated by child rape) just as surely as gay people have had. The fact that many of the arguments used to justify gay marriage can also be used to justify polygamist marriages doesn’t put an end to the feelings that underlie bigotry towards polygamists – and that, rather than the law, in the primary barrier to legal polygamy.

    It seems to me.

    ~

  29. Apologize for the chaos of conjunctions.

    *runs head into brick wall*

    Read before posting.

    *runs head into wall*

    Read before posting.

    *runs head into wall*

    etc.

    ~

  30. re: “An argument is that a child growing up with gay parents will not have as stable an environment as a mom and dad. Is there any scientific data to back that up, or is that just your opinion?”

    Most studies report something like this:

    ABSTRACT—Does parental sexual orientation affect child development, and if so, how? Studies using convenience samples, studies using samples drawn from known populations, and studies based on samples that are representative of larger populations all converge on similar conclusions. More than two decades of research has failed to reveal important differences in the adjustment or development of children or adolescents reared by same-sex couples compared to those reared by other-sex couples. Results of the research suggest that qualities of family relationships are more tightly linked with child outcomes than is parental sexual orientation.http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00444.x?journalCode=cdir

  31. Let’s look at Acts 2. We could judge that a “true church” must be a socialist-like commune. There are many culturally descriptive forms within scripture that we must weed out to know whether they truly are prescriptive or proscriptive doctrine. I’m not saying that’s always easy. We have Paul (and also the Didache authors) clearly affirm anti-sodomy and anti-pederasty teachings while also being not particularly friendly always on female gender issues and relatively silent on slavery. Yet we saw within mainline Protestantism, especially American and British much work in the past to define to gospel as socially driven — and we have anti-slavery, suffrage and other female gender causes advocated. More limitedly, the prejudice against sodomistic relationships has begun to change, because of media, education, advocacy — and I believe experience. As many Americans have got to know more practicing homosexuals who seem sympathetic, likeable, or at least not hate-able, many prejudices get harder to reconcile.

    While America is not a Christian nation, the cultural perspectives of Christianity, including extra-Christian ones, certainly inform policy. This seems to be what is speaking in justification for the California decision, more than any objective legal argument. Therefore, while a case could (and perhaps should) be made toward the recognition and legalization of polyandrous or polygynous marriages, it will not happen until the cause is embraced in the media, in mainstream culture, and picks even a marginal amount of sympathy within American liberalized mainline Christian culture. Especially, until more everyday Americans know polygamists in their lives that seem more normal, and easier to relate to — that create the cognitive dissonance the fuels the abandonment of “non-exportable-to-future-generations” cultural paradigms — polygamy will not garner support and sympathy. It’s hard to imagine that PR battle being won. Even as sympathetic as “Big Love” portrays the Henricksons, it is not divorced from pushing the buttons that feed cultural revulsion.

  32. Well said, JfQ.

    I know the following is not an easy position to understand coming from a generally conservative Mormon, but, at the very core, I believe in the **legal** standard of treating all people equally within the law. Iow, ANYONE who violates a core standard should be punished equally. In that light, I can’t support the violation of the sanctity of marriage by heterosexuals and not support the same violation of the sanctity of marriage by homosexuals. Both are fornication or adultery; both are condemned in scripture; both are manifestations of the natural man; both are violations of the Law of Chastity. Regulate and/or punish both or neither; don’t regulate and/or punish just one.

    I am concerned DEEPLY about the weakening and breakdown of traditional marriage, and I support measures that will strengthen traditional marriage, but I don’t think banning gay marriages and (for example) not banning common law heterosexual marriages strengthens traditional marriage. I believe such an action actually weakens marriage in a much more fundamental way, since it explicitly legitimizes common law, heterosexual marriage – a form of fornication condemned in our canon just as vehemently as homosexual activity. However, the heterosexual, religious community will NEVER support equal treatment of ALL fornicators and adulterers. That barn door is open and will never close in this country. This decision came about because of the actions of the heterosexual community, not the homosexual community.

    If you want to strengthen marriage, imho, have the state issue civil union licenses to whomever it decides should have basic *social* benefits – and allow religions and churches to define “marriage” and hold it to a higher standard than the government does. Mormon marriage and Catholic marriage and other denominations’ marriages would mean something then – unlike now, when marriage means absolutely no more than the price of the certificate that shows the arrangement – and is just as easily dissolved. Some religions would accept polygamy and not homosexual activity; some will accept both; most will accept neither. Some churches and religions will add requirements for marriage that will make it truly special and strong. Either way, “marriage” will become a religious institution, making it a mark of dedication and effort and commitment – not just an arrangement to qualify for some financial benefits that can be arranged and destroyed on a whim.

  33. “If you want to strengthen marriage, imho, have the state issue civil union licenses to whomever it decides should have basic *social* benefits – and allow religions and churches to define “marriage” and hold it to a higher standard than the government does.”

    Ray – My thoughts exactly. Render unto Ceasar. Personally, when my wife and I were sealed in the temple, I was not thinking “Gee, now I have the civil rights of marriage…” – rather, that’s what I was thinking when we got the license, however.

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    #13 — “Automatically she is on a lower scale than the first, and thusly unequal with the first wife.”

    That’s a different issue. Polygamy certainly may raise issues amongst and between the wives, but that certainly doesn’t equate to sexism. I think, as you concluded, every martial relationship — be it monogamous or polygamous — differs in the power balance between the respective partners.

  35. Post
    Author

    #19 — “I leave judging people for the sexual nature He gave them to HF.”

    I agree, but does that necessarily equate to required consent to the Court’s ruling? Put another way, can I support restrictions on behavior while still refraining from judging the individual who participates in that forbidden behavior?

  36. Re: “An argument is that a child growing up with gay parents will not have as stable an environment as a mom and dad. Is there any scientific data to back that up, or is that just your opinion?”

    Well, it would seem from the citation below that lesbian mothers have raised the bar for their sons:

    “http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/6908.html o Teenage boys raised by lesbians are more sexually restrained, less aggressive and more nurturing then boys raised in heterosexual families.

    o Adolescent and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to be more sexually adventurous and less chaste. Sons of lesbians display the opposite – boys are choosier in their relationships and tend to have sex at a later age than boys raised by heterosexuals.”

  37. Re: “I am convinced that some people are born gay.”

    I don’t know for myself whether some people are born gay or have early infant/childhood influences that shape their sexual orientation, although I would say that being born gay is a possibility. I would say, without statistics to back me up, that if children are born with a preset sexual orientation, that the most common sexual orientation would be heterosexual, the second most common sexual orientation would be bisexual, and the third most common sexual orientation would be homosexual.

    The California courts descision for homosexual marriage recognition doesn’t do anything for bisexual individuals to allow them to express their sexuality in the confines of legally recognized relationships. Bisexual individuals are expected to choose one aspect of their sexual orientation to live in a legal relationship and lead the other aspect of their orientation “on the side”. Alternatively, they are expected to “shun” the other aspect of their orientation and live as one or the other. For judges who make accommodations to include homosexual unions in the context of legally recognized marriage, exclusion of the same accommodations to individuals of bisexual orientation seems discriminatory by their own standard.

    A friend of mine was invited to join a group of individuals who practiced “polyfidelity”. The individuals in this group participated in intimate relationships with any member of the group, but ONLY with members of that group. I took it to mean that invitees were expected to live, if possible, in the same community with the other members, although not in the same household. I didn’t get the impression that there was any push for legal recognition of this relationship, but who knows who will seek recognition in the future in the brave new world.

  38. In terms of being born gay…there are studies using monozygotic twins where one will be gay and the other straight whilst they have exactly the same genetics.

    As with anything in psychology it is most likely a mixture of nature and nurture. Your behaviour can change your physiology and your physiology can change your behaviour. There has been great scientific evidence showing the homosexuals men have physiological differences the best evidence I have found is that the INAH3 in the anterior hypothalamus is the same in gay men, in size and density, as it is in women. It is linked with sexual behaviour in primates.

    It could infact be a physiological “defect” but I do not see it as such. We know that homosexuality is well documented in 500 other species and prevlaent in 1500 more. It is very common in species of animals….

    And interesting to this conersation…so is polygamy.

    I think that if we were to make homosexual marriage law, and I am in favour of this, then I also think we should allow polygamy. For goodness sakes, my neighbour has fathered children with about 3 women he has not married….this is legal but yet committing to them and having them commit to him is??

    Completely illogical….I think the biological and sociological impact on society should be looked at scientifically without prejudice from convention, societal acceptance, or tradition.

    And as long as there is no coercion or malfeasance then I would see polygamy and homosexual marriage being acceptable whilst incest and paedophilia would not be.

  39. We frequently see health benefits cited for the participants of heterosexual marriage such as:

    Married adults are less likely than other adults to be in fair or poor health, and are less likely to suffer from health conditions such as headaches and serious psychological distress.

    Married adults are less likely be limited in various activities, including work and other activities of daily living.

    Married adults are less likely to smoke, drink heavily or be physically inactive. However, married men are more likely to be overweight or obese than other men.

    Adults who live in cohabiting relationships are more likely to have health problems than married adults and more closely resemble divorced and separated adults.”http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/04facts/marriedadults.htm

    If these benefits are likely ones of stability, then you would think that participants of gay marriage will see them as well (without the one where married men are more likely to be overweight, perhaps), but time will tell.

    Whether we have gay marriage or domestic partnerships in my states, it won’t change the way I raise my children. I will always love them no matter what. I will encourage them to pursue their interests with recognition inside that I bias that encouragement with the assumption that they are heterosexual rather than the assumption that they should have a gender neutral upbringing. I will encourage higher level education for children of both genders and careers of their choosing, but I will also teach them that the best careers are the ones that allow an individual to have ample time to be with their families.

    As to polygamy, it was put very well by Shawn in saying, “I certainly am not bucking for the opportunity to bring another (set of problems)wife into my happy family.” Regarding the afterlife polygamy that the LDS church continues to teach, my wife has advised me that if she should die, I should only marry any other woman for time and not be sealed for eternity. There’s the final word for me.

  40. Official announcement from the church:

    SALT LAKE CITY 16 May 2008 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes that same-sex marriage can be an emotional and divisive issue. However, the Church teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is the basic unit of society. Yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision is unfortunate.

  41. “However, the Church teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is the basic unit of society.”

    …which is why straight Mormon men and women find themselves married to people who, eventually, can’t keep up the pretense that they’re not gay when HF sent them into the world that way. When that happens the confusion, frustration and tragedy is compounded by every unknowing spouse and all the children involved. And what might have remained a personal challenge before marriage and children becomes gossip for entire wards.

    It’s time for the GAs to recognize that homosexuality is not a wanton choice made by deviant individuals. I suspect HF is doing his best to reveal it to them and using the turmoil of entire country as His voice to demonstrate that there can be no serenity while we ignore and persecute some of His children. You know, like he did in 1978.

  42. “It’s time for the GAs to recognize that homosexuality is not a wanton choice made by deviant individuals.”

    alice, they have. Read the latest pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”. It states unequivocally exactly what you just said – and so have the latest statements by Elder Jensen and Elder Oaks. I know there are aspects of the pamphlet that homosexuals still find simplistic and offensive, but it teaches quite clearly that “homosexuality is not a wanton choice made by deviant individuals”.

  43. As the entire mess in http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2008/05/most-evidence-for-possible-flds.html rolls out, there is an excellent chance that by the end of the day there will be a change in the law.

    The question then becomes what next?

    Because

    In terms of being born gay…there are studies using monozygotic twins where one will be gay and the other straight whilst they have exactly the same genetics.

    As with anything in psychology it is most likely a mixture of nature and nurture. Your behavior can change your physiology and your physiology can change your behavior. There has been great scientific evidence showing the homosexuals men have physiological differences the best evidence I have found is that the INAH3 in the anterior hypothalamus is the same in gay men, in size and density, as it is in women. It is linked with sexual behavior in primates.

    It could in fact be a physiological “defect” but I do not see it as such. We know that homosexuality is well documented in 500 other species and prevalent in 1500 more. It is very common in species of animals….

    And interesting to this conversation…so is polygamy.

  44. i dont have much time to comment…but i would like to say the following realizing that my comments do not reflect the many nuances and caveats i could add to the following…

    1) if for some reason polygamy were to be legal in the US, the church would be in a VERY awkward position
    2) i do not have a problem with consenting adults willing entering into such polygynous, polyandrous, polyamorous, etc relationships, BUT religious persuasion, compulsion, etc. should not be the impetus
    3) even though i would allow for such marriages to take place, polygamous marriage systems are not practical (as several posters have already mentioned) and serve no practical purpose (unless they are polyandrous in which case they could be a form of population control)

    by the way, just a question for anyone out there; if polygamy were legalized, would the lds church bring back polygamy? and if they did why would they? or what reasons would they give for doing so? (i am pretty sure the lds church would not, but thats my 2 cents)

  45. As I’ve stated before, I believe the state has a compelling interest (democratically) in using law to promote ideal relational situation – for purely demographic as well as moral reaons. Deomgraphically, the ideal relationship is monogomous between a man and a woman as the central family unit that propagates future citizenry. I think the gay marriage battle is a “come to terms” fight not so much compelled by being declared married, as it is in being declared equal. It’s kind of a red herring in my opinion. Many gay friends I had in California defined marriage differently than heterosexuls did AND it they were much more open allowing for “fun on the side.” I think we can declare equal rights for individuals regardles of sexual orientation and still hold up marriage in the same way we use adultery laws – to promote the ideal and keep the sematical definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” and also allow for domestic partnerships; the partnerships don’t even need to be sexually relational in nature – they can be two widowed sisters, two best friends, etc. However, this should be only between two. More than two is more complicated legally.

    Now as far as this relates to polygamy, if the state feels compelled (again democratically) to promote monogamy as the ideal, so be it. I do think that the equal protection clause should force states to have a “live-and-let-live” attitude with polygamists – which is what they want anyway. The only difference between a polygamist, a serial monogomist, or an adulterer is the ideal of commitment. We live and let live with mongomists who don’t monog, so we whould be okay with polygamists since they are higher on the moral totem pole in my opinion.

  46. Alice,

    Ray’s comments about the church’s pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” and the pamphlet itself address the notion of homosexuality as a choice.

    The PS&Rs who run the church seem to have taken a step back from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. In it they “declare” that “the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan”. I take that to mean that it takes one part male and one part female to create mortal life on earth. I’m not sure how butt sex between two men accomplishes the “multiply and replenish the earth” mandate from God. However, DH Oaks has put it out there that homosexual urges, tendencies, desires, etc. are not present in a person by choice.

    You seem to empathize with those who “can’t keep up the pretense that they’re not gay when HF sent them into the world that way.” According to the Family Proclamation HF DIDN’T send anybody into the world THAT way. Again from the Family Proclamation: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Also, “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family (Infer: Father, Mother, children based on other parts of the proclamation.) is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” How is it that a man can fulfill the measure of his creation and his eternal destiny if he is going around having butt sex with other men?

    A rude awakening is coming for the ultra-conservative TBMs in the church when the PS&Rs knuckle under to the gay mafia (in and out of the church) and allow gay, celestial marriage in the lds temples. After all, men are that they might have joy. The PS&Rs will find a way to spin the Family Proclamation to include gays in the the “Plan of Happiness”.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “If homosexuality is not a choice, then how can the PS&Rs who run the church deny gays the same privileges and blessing afforded to heterosexuals who also don’t choose their orientation?” Good luck with that.

  47. You seem to empathize with those who “can’t keep up the pretense that they’re not gay when HF sent them into the world that way.” According to the Family Proclamation HF DIDN’T send anybody into the world THAT way. Again from the Family Proclamation: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

    Gender (mind you, the Proclamation incorrectly uses “gender” when it really means “biological sex”) and sexual orientation are separate and distinct issues. Being a gay man, for example, has nothing at all to do with not wanting to be male. In fact, the vast majority of gay men I’ve encountered look upon effeminate behavior with attitudes varying between amusement and outright contempt. Yes, even gay men can be intolerant about some things–grin!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “If homosexuality is not a choice, then how can the PS&Rs who run the church deny gays the same privileges and blessing afforded to heterosexuals who also don’t choose their orientation?” Good luck with that.

    If the time ever comes that the LDS church accepts homosexual relationships, they will very likely begin to teach that the Proclamation “always” meant something quite different than it is now understood. LDS leaders did the same thing, with the help of apostle Charles Penrose, with regard to D&C 132 after the Manifesto was issued. Despite the fact that the Proclamation was largely issued as a response to the same-sex marriage debate, the new interpretation will claim that the Proclamation never addressed matters of sexual orientation at all.

  48. “Gender (mind you, the Proclamation incorrectly uses “gender” when it really means “biological sex”) and sexual orientation are separate and distinct issues.”

    Maybe, but let’s suppose that God put two men in the Garden of Eden instead of Adam and Eve and commanded them to “multiply and replenish the earth”. How would that work exactly?

    When you read the Family Proclamation, you have to read it as a complete message. In other words, each paragraph is a piece of the equation. Gender in the pre-existence, marriage ordained of God, Father, Mother, children, destiny, etc. inform the reader that homosexuality has no place in God’s plan for eternal families.

    With the release of “God Loveth His Children”, the PS&Rs want to appease the gays in and out of the church, but the nose of the camel is never going to be enough. The next demand will be the head and neck, eventually the front legs, and then the whole herd. It’s the end of the church as we knew it.

  49. “With the release of “God Loveth His Children”, the PS&Rs want to appease the gays in and out of the church, but the nose of the camel is never going to be enough. The next demand will be the head and neck, eventually the front legs, and then the whole herd. It’s the end of the church as we knew it.”

    Why does everything have to have an ulterior motive? Why can’t new statements simply reflect new understanding? Do you really think the Brethren don’t *really* believe what’s in the pamphlet – that it was *just* an attempt at political appeasement?

    Also, people said the exact same thing when polygamy ended and when the priesthood ban ended. For some, they were right; it really was the end of the Church as THEY knew it. For others, it wasn’t. People see things individually and vary radically in what they see. It’s not much more complicated than that, imo.

  50. Maybe, but let’s suppose that God put two men in the Garden of Eden instead of Adam and Eve and commanded them to “multiply and replenish the earth”. How would that work exactly?

    Your question suggests there’s some sort of dichotomy, where I don’t believe there is one. If the Garden of Eden story is historically true (and solid LDS sources confirm that it is at least partially figurative), it makes complete sense for deity to begin with a fertile heterosexual couple, since the goal was to populate the earth. Such a beginning point, however, doesn’t rule out the idea that deity intended earth’s growing population to become diverse in a variety of ways. Some people think they’re clever, quipping “god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” It would be just as logical, however, to say that persons with dark skin color shouldn’t exist, because deity made Adam and Eve white (a debatable proposition, of course, but one that seems to be largely assumed in Western culture). The biological characteristics of Adam and Eve are in no way a final statement on what deity intended the entire human race to reflect. If it was, we’d all look and act identical.

    When you read the Family Proclamation, you have to read it as a complete message.

    Nobody seriously questions that the Proclamation was intended specifically to address the issue of homosexuality (among other issues). My point is simply that if the LDS church changes its position on homosexuality, it will, as demonstrated by past behavior, radically change its representation of what the Proclamation is about–and LDS leaders will act as if the “new” interpretation was that way from the start.

    It’s the end of the church as we knew it.

    Wow…and I thought we gay men were the experts on drama.

  51. “I thought we gay men were the experts on drama.”

    You are, Nick – you and straight women, that is. We straight guys simply try and fail to live up to the standard you set.

  52. Nick said: “Such a beginning point, however, doesn’t rule out the idea that deity intended earth’s growing population to become diverse in a variety of ways.”

    As far as I can tell, the command to “multiply and replenish the earth” has never been rescinded. Once again I ask: How does homosexuality fit into God’s Plan?

    Nick also said: “If the Garden of Eden story is historically true (and solid LDS sources confirm that it is at least partially figurative)…”

    IF? I think you need to consult JS as one of your lds sources. Didn’t he claim to have knowledge of the location of the Garden of Eden? Since he proclaimed himself a PS&R, shouldn’t we give heed?

    Ray said: “Why does everything have to have an ulterior motive?”

    Gay members who leave the church don’t pay tithing.

    I have a question for you: When did homosexuality cease being “an abomination” in the sight of God?

  53. Also from Ray: “Why can’t new statements simply reflect new understanding?”

    “New understanding” or “revelation” is just a smokescreen for “We the PS&Rs of the lds church can change anything at anytime to suit any purpose we feel is necessary to keep the corp. of the president afloat.”

    When you can’t defend a position any longer, change your position and call it “new understanding” or “revelation” and the Kool-aid drinkers will fall in line.

    “You can believe us, because when we have spoken the thinking has been done.”

  54. Stu, I don’t want to continue this particular threadjack when the post is about gay marriage and polygamy, but the following is what I wrote on another blog months ago:

    “I believe the account of Eden is mostly figurative and might refer more to the War in Heaven than to events on this earth; I believe in evolution as the mode of creation for our physical bodies (but not for “mankind” as a distinct species); I believe that there were two individuals (Adam and Eve) who were literally the first “humans” – made a separate species by divine intervention; I absolutely love the Garden account; I love even more Joseph’s repositioning of the Garden narrative to his own life – in the Missouri revelation (which I can accept as just as likely as any other location, since nobody knows where it actually was IF it actually existed) and even more so in the endowment; I love that the Garden of Eden now is less than two hours from my house (in **two** locations: Columbus, OH and Louisville, KY) – and that I can visit Eden on a regular basis. It’s one of my favorite teachings of Mormonism.”

    If your last question is directed at me, I never made that claim. Neither does the pamphlet. Neither have the Brethren. The change has been a recognition that homosexuality is not always a choice that can be discarded through effort – that it is NOT “unnnatural” – that homosexuality may be seen as a natural inclination just like MANY other natural inclinations that are “abominable” but “common to man”. That might not be far enough for many gay and lesbian members, but it is a very profound shift in one critical way. It finally views people who engage in their own “abominations” in the same light as you and I are viewed – as individuals who are affected by the Fall in varying ways and who, as a result of the Atonement, have a chance to be exalted **even if they never fully overcome their own personal “abominations” in this life.

    If you and I were held to the same standard as homosexuals have had applied to them over the years, neither you nor I would have ANY chance at exaltation, since both of us have inherited, natural weaknesses that will plague us until the day we die. Personally, I think that’s a much better, more accurate description than the former perspective – based on how I view the Atonement.

  55. As far as I can tell, the command to “multiply and replenish the earth” has never been rescinded. Once again I ask: How does homosexuality fit into God’s Plan?

    Perhaps in the same way that infertility among heterosexuals “fits into” deity’s plan. If lack of procreative ability was determinative of a relationship’s validity, which is precisely what you’re suggesting, then it would be a “sin” for any infertile person, let alone any person who didn’t want to have children, to marry. I think deity’s “Plan” is far broader than you conceive it to be.

    IF? I think you need to consult JS as one of your lds sources. Didn’t he claim to have knowledge of the location of the Garden of Eden?

    Absolutely! How does the mere existence of the Garden of Eden prove the entire story is historically factual? While I certainly tend to favor Joseph Smith’s teachings over those of the men who have presided over the LDS church, it’s worth pointing out that various LDS presidents, including Spencer W. Kimball, specifically stated that the Genesis account was “figurative” as it pertained to “the man and the woman.” Kimball’s statement was incorporated into the opening words of the LDS endowment ceremony for many years.

    Since he proclaimed himself a PS&R, shouldn’t we give heed?

    I would suggest that “since he proclaimed himself a prophet, seer and revelator” is perhaps the very worst reason to “give heed” to anything Joseph Smith said. After all, many people through history have “proclaimed themselves” to be the voice of deity on earth. One would hope that you “give heed” out of your personal spiritual conviction that Joseph Smith was a prophet, rather than because “he proclaimed himself” as such.

    Gay members who leave the church don’t pay tithing.

    Neither do a substantial percentage of actively-attending LDS members. The last statistics I heard, perhaps five years ago, was that only about 50% of active LDS members declare themselves as full tithe payers.

    I have a question for you: When did homosexuality cease being “an abomination” in the sight of God?

    Since I am aware of the cultural conditions which prevailed at that Leviticus was written, as well as those of the time of Paul, I’m not as convinced as you seem to be that deity ever considered homosexuality, per se, to be “an abomination” in the sense that you seem to interpret that word. What is clear is that the author of Leviticus claimed that deity pronounced those men (not women, interestingly enough) who engaged in sexual relations with those of their own biological sex to be unfit for ritual service in the tabernacle (the real meaning of the word, “abomination,” as used in the Old Testament). It is also clear that the author of the epistles of Paul considered the practice of men having sexual relations with pagan male prostitutes (which featured in local religions not devoted to Yahweh) was improper. I am also well aware that never, in all of recorded scripture, was Jesus quoted as teaching that deity condemned homosexual relations as such.

    Since there is no objective evidence that deity condemned homosexuality per se, I am unable to answer your question as to when deity “stopped” doing so. Your question is akin to me asking you, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

  56. While I agree with the basic points Nick made in #57, I just want to point out that it is a good example of what I have said many times here at Mormon Matters. All of us interpret “evidence” based on how we “see” that evidence.

    Too often, we classify those who tend to disagree with us and see what they do as “mental gymnastics” – all the while practicing our own high bar routine in our own private gyms.

    I repeat, I am NOT accusing Nick of mental gymnastics. Rather, I am asking others to avoid accusing him of that. I am asking everyone to recognize we all see things the way we see things – and there is no reason to classify that by using a derogatory term like “mental gymnastics.

  57. Post
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    #46 — “if polygamy were legalized, would the lds church bring back polygamy?”

    No way, no how, nope. The Church won’t go near legalized polygamy with a 10-foot pole. Legal scholars, for quite some time now, have questioned the validity of the Supreme Court’s century-old polygamy precedents. In other words, if it were really interested in bringing back “the Principle,” the Church certainly could launch a broadside attack. It has not done so. Re-embracing polygamy would be a practical and theological nightmare for the Church.

  58. “Perhaps in the same way that infertility among heterosexuals “fits into” deity’s plan. If lack of procreative ability was determinative of a relationship’s validity, which is precisely what you’re suggesting, then it would be a “sin” for any infertile person, let alone any person who didn’t want to have children, to marry. I think deity’s “Plan” is far broader than you conceive it to be.”

    That is NOT precisely what I’m suggesting. What do you think the statement “the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.” is saying? “The means” consist of one part male and one part female to create life. We are not talking about whether one part or the other or both function properly (infertility) only the “means”. These “means” are NOT the same. They are heterogeneous and according to mormonism, these means are “divinely appointed”.

    Notice also that the Family Proclamation doesn’t say marriage between a man and a man is ordained of God.

    How then can a diversion from that which is divinely appointed and ordained of God be acceptable to God?

  59. Ah, yes, the old “well, an infertile heterosexual couple at least LOOKS like they could procreate, so they’re a SYMBOL of procreation” argument. We’ve seen the evangelicals (from whom LDS leaders have borrowed their entire game plan for opposition to marriage equality, including the verbatim soundbytes) fall back to this as well, when rational folks point out the inconsistencies in the “marriage is only/primarily for procreation” argument. It’s a silly retort, and honestly, it’s a desperate grasp for straws.

    Ultimately, of course, the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” chant relies on the presumption that marriage is only, or at least preeminently, for the purpose of procreation. If marriage has any other legitimate purposes, then the current inability of same-sex couples to procreate together must be dismissed as any sort of dispositive point. Of course, the mere fact that we allow infertile heterosexual couples to marry is proof that our society (including the LDS church) considers marriage to have legitimate purposes other than procreation.

    How then can a diversion from that which is divinely appointed and ordained of God be acceptable to God?

    Let’s see. At one point, LDS believed it was “divinely appointed” that they build a temple in Independence, Missouri, during the natural lifetime of those who were contemporaries with Joseph Smith. When that proved to be unworkable, the early Mormons diverted from that “divine appointment,” and deity expressed direct approval for the change of plans. It seems that deity “divinely appointed” a temple in Independence, and then “divinely appointed” that it didn’t have to be built by that generation, after all. It is a well-established doctrine of Mormonism (and even of LDS-ism, really) that deity holds men accountable according to their particular circumstances and abilities, rather than issuing absolutist edicts.

    Likewise, at one point, The Book of Mormon indicates that monogamy was “divinely appointed.” Wisely, however, Jacob noted that deity could just as easily “divinely appoint” plural marriage at any time. As Joseph Smith wrote, when discussing this same subject, he explained that “whatever god commands is right,” even if god had said, under different circumstances, that it was wrong.

    In any case, I certainly challenge you to find any canonized source where deity “divinely appointed” that marriage was only to take place between a man and a woman. I’ll even give you a head start, by pointing out that deity’s evident approval of Adam and Eve’s nuptuals didn’t include any statement to exclude other, additional family relationships.

  60. Nick, as much as I shook my head in consternation (while grinning a bit, I admit) at your parenthetical comment in the first paragraph (Really, how many times can you say that just to say it in comments where it isn’t needed?), I agree 100% with your logic. Claiming that marriage is all about procreation absolutely should lead to a prohibition on marriages for the infertile.

    I mentioned common-law marriages in #33, but on BCC I made the point that those who give reasons to oppose gay marriage generally ignore the heterosexual applications of those reasons. They use them against “others”, but they don’t use them against “themselves”.

    The best example might be, “Children deserve to be raised by a father and a mother.” If you REALLY believe that enough to disallow gay couples to adopt or raise children on that ground, you also should take children away from single mothers and fathers – and do absolutely whatever it takes to make orphanages extinct. You should exempt single parents completely from adoption and foster care – and remove all children from unwed welfare mothers at birth – etc.

    If ANY statement is used to justify a restriction on gay marriage or activity, to be a *valid* LEGAL reason, it MUST be enforced equally to ALL – or it is discrimination in practice. That’s my primary problem with the way this issue generally is addressed; it’s rank hypocrisy. I simply can’t support that.

  61. Nick,
    You have missed the point completely. I am not arguing procreative “ability”, I am arguing what the PS&Rs have said is the “means” for creating life. God is a mean prankster to give a person the means to procreate, and then endow them with attraction to the same sex. Seems to defeat the “purpose” doesn’t it?

    You said: “I certainly challenge you to find any canonized source where deity “divinely appointed” that marriage was only to take place between a man and a woman.”

    Bob Millet in “What is our Doctrine?” (which is available on lds.org) gives the test for sources of doctrine:

    “In determining whether something is a part of the doctrine of the Church, we might ask, Is it found within the four standard works? Within official declarations or PROCLAMATIONS? Is it discussed hi general conference or other official gatherings by general Church leaders today? Is it found in the general handbooks or approved curriculum of the Church today? If it meets at least one of these criteria, we can feel secure and appropriate about teaching it.” [Emphasis added.]

    I have quoted the Family Proclamation and it is clear: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly PROCLAIM that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” [Emphasis added.]

    And don’t give me your el toro poo poo such as “this statement doesn’t EXCLUDE other types of marriage.” If other forms of marriage are ordained of God, the 15 PS&Rs of the corp. of the president had an opportunity to include them in this proclamation of lds doctrine.

  62. You have missed the point completely. I am not arguing procreative “ability”, I am arguing what the PS&Rs have said is the “means” for creating life.

    Oh! Then I can only suppose that your comments were completely irrelevant to the issue of homosexuality, since nobody has argued that homosexuality should be a “means” of procreation! I’m glad you’ve cleared that up, Stu.

    You said: “I certainly challenge you to find any canonized source where deity “divinely appointed” that marriage was only to take place between a man and a woman.”

    Bob Millet in “What is our Doctrine?” (which is available on lds.org) gives the test for sources of doctrine:

    Now it’s your turn to “miss the point entirely,” Stu. Where did I ask what the doctrine of the modern LDS church is? Nowhere. We’re all quite aware of what modern LDS church leaders have to say on the subject of homosexuality. I asked you to find any canonized source. Don’t try to weasel out with the broad LDS definition of “scripture.” In LDS understanding, not all of what falls under the term of “scripture” is canonized.

  63. “Don’t try to weasel out with the broad LDS definition of “scripture.””

    I didn’t use Millet to define “scripture”, I used it to define lds “doctrine”. Don’t call yourself a believing member of the lds church if you are not going to accept its various sources of doctrine.

    Don’t worry Nick. As you pointed out previously, “…if the LDS church changes its position on homosexuality, it will, as demonstrated by past behavior, radically change its representation of what the Proclamation is about–and LDS leaders will act as if the “new” interpretation was that way from the start.”

    So you see, all of this arguing doesn’t matter. The PS&Rs will cave to the gay mafia that exists within the church and to pressure from without. A “revelation” will be given that God always intended for gays to be celestially married and then EVERYONE will enjoy the blessings of temple marriage and homosexual members of the church won’t have to feel guilty about having all the butt sex they want.

  64. Don’t call yourself a believing member of the lds church if….

    Where, exactly, did I do any such thing, Stu? Are you paying any attention at all?

    I didn’t use Millet to define “scripture”, I used it to define lds “doctrine”.

    Which means, as I’ve already noted, that you completely avoided the original challenge to find any canonized source, wherein deity “divinely appointed” that marriage was only to take place between a man and a woman. I have to conclude that either you don’t read questions carefully at all, or you are simply unwilling to honestly acknowledge that no such source exists.

    The PS&Rs will cave to the gay mafia…

    I keep hearing about this “gay mafia.” Where the heck is it? How do I join? You sure make them sound like a powerful bunch! Are they only limited to making LDS leaders “cave,” or do they control the major world governments and monetary systems while they’re at it?

  65. So, Nick, you aren’t a believing member of the lds church and you don’t believe in lds doctrine. Have I got that right? If so, then why the heck do you care about anything the PS&Rs say concerning marriage?

  66. Actually, Stu, the whole question of LDS doctrine on the matter arose with your question about when homosexuality “stopped being an abomination” to deity. I’m quite capable of having a discussion of LDS doctrine, even if I don’t personally accept that doctrine. I continue, in fact, to maintain a historical and sociological interest in the LDS church.

    I would gladly fight to protect the right of LDS leaders to teach their beliefs on the subject of homosexuality, no matter how I view those beliefs. When they spend millions of dollars in an effort to codify those beliefs into civil law, thereby impacting the rights of millions of free citizens who are not members of their faith, I will certainly raise my own voice to object.

  67. “When they spend millions of dollars in an effort to codify those beliefs into civil law, thereby impacting the rights of millions of free citizens who are not members of their faith, I will certainly raise my own voice to object.”

    What groups on either side of an issue don’t spend large amounts of money to further their own BELIEFS to be imposed on others (free or otherwise)? Why condemn the lds church for doing what is in their own best interest?

  68. I think it is useful to remember what “abomination” was biblically used in context with: halakha — or religious community behavior standards. These ultimately defined sociopolitical state of the nation of Judah and Israel. Therefore a Leviticus law “abomination” is literally “feeling of disgust, hatred, loathing”; it is something that separated one from one’s fellow community of believers. Just because violation of some rules were punishable by death or stoning, we should not read salvation-weight into it. The biblical content and context does not support it. In fact the Torah is surprisingly light on after-death salvation doctrine, which was one reason why the Sadducees could make a case from scripture for there not being a resurrection and afterlife. (But it wasn’t a water-tight case, if we place faith in what Jesus is said to have claimed.)

    Therefore, in Leviticus we have anti-sodomy laws shoulder to shoulder with different versions of the ten commandments, dietary injunctions and Sabbaoth regulations. If most of this law was fulfilled in Jesus, at least for Gentile converts, then why did Paul (and the Didache writers) still affirm Jewish anti-sodomy teachings? Again, Paul was quite “unenlightened” on female issues and slavery, which we have considered it a cultural standard now free to deviate from. Was he more likely arguing against the negative products of Hellinization which included sexual standards — including the wide practice of fornication and pederasty — that were liberalized far greater than he considered healthy for a Christian community? Was Paul condemning homosexual relations in descriptive practice or the form in which it took in the culture of the day?

    This is the argument that is gaining persuasion, even among Christians. If homosexuality is not condemned in practice, then it is its form which makes it an acceptable or unacceptable community holiness standard. Ergo, if gay or lesbian people are in committed, monogamous unions/marriages, then isn’t that ultimately the form that most closely identifies acceptable community sexual practice?

    I’m not entirely persuaded that the time has come for the form to be changed of what is the Christian community holiness standard relating to marriage. So I appreciate the slow process this is, and must be, if and as change happens. But it seems quite clear to me that anti-sodomy teachings, in its state of being an abomination, reflects a holiness standard, a standard of community belonging, and not a state of salvific acceptableness/non-acceptableness before the Lord. In that way I think much of Christianity is wresting the Bible too greatly, and especially in their “righteous hatred” of GLBT persons, and in applying that religious perspective to American legal standards. However, I generally affirm the Christian holiness standard, if altered, need not to be done swiftly, summarily and without sympathy for the historical Christian standard. IOW, Christian denominations should be free to alter their community holiness standard to accommodate homosexual marriages if they wish or don’t wish, without other Christian denominations who feel differently using that as a standard by which to measure whether they are accurately Christian or not.

  69. What groups on either side of an issue don’t spend large amounts of money to further their own BELIEFS to be imposed on others (free or otherwise)? Why condemn the lds church for doing what is in their own best interest?

    That’s just it, Stu. Those who support marriage equality, like myself, aren’t trying to impact the rights or beliefs of the LDS church or its members. The legal recognition of same-sex marriages does not require the LDS church to change its doctrine. It does not require the LDS church to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. It does not require the LDS church or its members to ecclesiastically accept same-sex marriages. It does not limit the LDS church or its members from expressing or teaching their belief that homosexuality, or even same-sex marriage, is morally wrong.

    On the other hand, the LDS church, along with many of its members, is actively trying to detrimentally impact the rights of homosexuals, the vast majority of whom do not fall under that church’s ecclesiastical authority in any way. Does the LDS church have a legal right to exert its resources and influence in this way? Yes, though it must abide by the restrictions of the federal tax code in doing so, or face lawful consequences.

    Whether or not this is a moral activity, undertaken with full respect for the moral agency which the LDS church teaches that all humans have, is quite a different question. When those outside the LDS church went to similar efforts to detrimentally impact the rights of LDS members to live according to the dictates of their religion, LDS members rightly called in persecution. Evidently they don’t apply the same standard of behavior to themselves, that they did to “gentiles.”

  70. Nick,

    Your interpretations of scriptures are always interesting and give me something to think about. I’m wondering what other differences may exist from the traditional interpretations in the “NLT” version of the bible. I wonder what your take is on the Jonathan and David story…

  71. I think the story of David and Jonathan is certainly interesting, but I’m cautious about leaping to the conclusion that it was a romantic relationship. We know, of course, that David had a genuine thing for the ladies, as evidenced by his relationships with Bathsheba and others. It was not particularly unusual, however, for powerful men of the time to have intimate relationships with a male servant or companion, in addition to being married to one or more women. We shouldn’t be hasty in expecting that prominent Old Testament figures had the same notions of chastity that are currently taught in the LDS church. Look at Judah, for example, who seems to have faced no condemnation whatsoever for hiring a prostitute (who just happened to be his daughter-in-law in disguise) and impregnating her.

  72. Tamar was the daughter-in-law, if I’m not mistaken, and that lack of condemnation is, indeed, eye-opening from the perspective with which we read. Wasn’t there also something about the sons/guards of Boaz with regard to Ruth and other women gleaning in his field where they were free to take them as wanted without condemnation unless, like in the case of Ruth, Boaz restricted it?

  73. Yes, you are correct that it was Tamar. Also, if I recall correctly, the lineage of Jesus was said to have come through the child of Judah and Tamar, adding even more implications to the story!

  74. Nick, if you trace back the references to women who are mentioned by name in the OT as having played a role in the lineage of Jesus, it is interesting that most (all?) of them either provide examples of those who “should” have been seen as “suspect persons” or, even more interestingly, were not Jewesses – or even Israelites. Ruth, for example, was a Moabite.

    I think the OT goes to great lengths to show that Jesus was born King of Humanity, not JUST King of the Jews – or even King of the Abrahamites – or even King of the Righteous Good – or King of the Chaste – etc.

  75. Ray —

    I think one should be hesitant about Jesus’ lineage as they differ in Matthew from what they do in Luke. But like you infer, these people may have had an actual “role” in the real lineage, whatever it was. That the generations are arranged numerologically significant, I think hints us toward the interpretation that you espouse: That Jesus is a King of Humanity. Given Matthew’s Jewish halacha-focused audience, I don’t think it insignificant that the lineage is not strictly patriarchal (which was the only authentic Jewish lineage), and that the four women included are gentiles or unclean. Fits nicely in arguing against those of the day who rejected Jesus because he was considered a bastard child.

    And of course, the nice message of Luke’s lineage is that Jesus is Priest of Humanity who broke all the literal, hierarchical and cultural barriers of Divine access — which dovetails nicely with Acts and Paul’s Grace-focused epistles, given that Luke is credited to have accompanied Paul in missions and written Acts.

  76. What about polyadry? If people are proposing that one man can marry multiple women, why can’t one woman marry multiple men? How would the men handle this? Polygamy and same-sex marriage are different. One is sexist, the other is not.

    Polygamy is the perfect world for men. They get to have sex with many women (which is what most men want) and they have a whole community of people to do the housework and take care of the children.

  77. The court cited “the nation’s culture” as justification for discrimination against polygamy? When did culture become the legal standard? What social scientific findings are they basing this on? None. Pure laziness.
    If “culture” was justification enough for discrimination, then it would have justified discrimination against black people in the 1950’s.

    In Re Marriage Cases was a badly worded, discriminatory decision clothed in equal protection. It is akin to a court ruling that equal protection on the basis of race applies to people of black descent, while a footnote states that this protection does not apply to people of Asian descent.

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