Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The horror.

That Althouse article on anti-polygamy laws, by the way, has generated a heck of a lot of comments in a short time, the majority hostile to the plaintiffs. Allow me, if I may, to summarize the primary objections:

1 - "Marriage was exactly the same from the beginning of the universe to the time all these hommo-sexurrals and other preverts started redefining it."

2 - "This is exactly the same as bestiality, incest, and marrying a clock."

3 - "See? I told you if we stopped discriminating against one kind of minority family, other kinds would start demanding equality too!"


  1. Re: 1, I guess they don't read the bible? speaking of which, is there a biblical prohibition against plural marriage? I just sort of assumed there wasn't, based on Solomon et al)

  2. The lengths conservative religious folks will go to demonstrate that something they don't like is immoral even though there's a Biblical model for it are pretty stunning sometimes.

    The Bible doesn't endorse or condemn plural marriages. In the older books, it's just the way things are; in the later books the societies it describes have changed and men don't have multiple wives any more. Solomon is the only case where multiple wives are connected to divine punishment, and the punishment isn't because of their plurality (Solomon's crime is endorsing or tolerating the worship of his foreign wives' gods).

    The usual excuse for the conservative busybody who usually uses the Bible as an excuse to condemn gay people but also doesn't like polyamory is to say that while plural marriages have always been immoral and undesirable, it was one of the elements of our base nature that God didn't think was serious enough to condemn specifically. It was a tolerable failing. But we should, the idea goes, strive in our lives and laws for a more perfect morality than the minimum required. The mental gymnastics required to excuse this kind of hubris, presuming to know God's law beyond what he chose to share, I haven't looked too far into.

    Saint Augustine took essentially the same tack, but said that God tolerated polygyny as a "diversion" from his plan for marriage because the young world needed to be populated. I'm not sure that math works, as having high-status men bogart the women doesn't seem like it would make those women any more "productive" than if they'd married all the now-wifeless low-status men, but then I'm not a famous theologian.