Friday, February 03, 2006

Dissolving Marriage Via Polygamy

The assault on traditional marriage, and by extension on the basic unit of society, the family, continues, now in our neighbors to the north--Canada. Stanley Kurtz over at NRO has an excellent article on gay marriage, polygamy, and the complete dissolution of marriage. It's a must read for anyone concerned about the legal and political assault on traditional marriage in the West.

Notes Kurtz:

Canada, you don’t know the half of it. In mid-January, Canada was rocked by news that a Justice Department study had called for the decriminalization and regulation of polygamy. Actually, two government studies recommended decriminalizing polygamy. (Only one has been reported on.) And even that is only part of the story. Canadians, let me be brutally frank. You are being played for a bunch of fools by your legal-political elite. Your elites mumble a confusing jargon to your face to keep you from understanding what they really have in mind.
Martha Bailey, a Queens University law professor authored a report advocating the decriminalization of polygamy. This report played a critical role in the formation of the Beyond Conjugality project, which was a report published by the Law Commission of Canada. Kurtz argues the project was really the disolve marriage project. Kurtz' thesis is that the legal and political elites of Canada are actually attempting to abolish marriage completely by making all marriage legal:

It’s like this. The way to abolish marriage, without seeming to abolish it, is to redefine the institution out of existence. If everything can be marriage, pretty soon nothing will be marriage. Legalize gay marriage, followed by multi-partner marriage, and pretty soon the whole idea of marriage will be meaningless. At that point, Canada can move to what Bailey and her friends really want: an infinitely flexible relationship system that validates any conceivable family arrangement, regardless of the number or gender of partners.

But why would Bailey favor that? Simple. Canada’s anti-polygamy laws stand in the way of Bailey’s true goal: the creation of a modern, secular, “non-patriarchal” relationship system that would allow for marriage-like unions in any combination of number or gender. That would mean the effective abolition of marriage. But to get to the postmodern version of multi-partner unions, Canada’s old-fashioned anti-polygamy laws have got to go.
These social/political/legal experiments by the social, legal, and intellectually elite will lead to nothing but the disintegration of the family, which in turn will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. This is the stark warning of modern prophets, seers and revelators as outlined in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It's well worth re-reading.


Blogger Ronan said...

I'm a practical bloke, Guy. Tell me how legalising consensual polygamy (John Taylor would be delighted!) or gay marriage will lead to the "disintegration" of my family.

Friday, February 03, 2006 7:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an important distinction to be made between decriminalization and recognition. Closely related is the distinction between religious marriage and civil marriage.

The government should have nothing to say about religious marriage. If a church wants to perform religious ceremonies for same-sex couples or multi-partner arrangements, they should be allowed to do so. No criminal sanctions should be applied either to the church or to the parties to the ceremony. I view "decriminalization" as nothing more than repealing the Edmunds-Tucker Act (or its Canadian equivalent).

But governments should not be obliged to recognize any union that a church sees fit to bless. Indeed governments may have good public policy reasons not to recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages. The state need only address the question of what public purpose is served by civil marriage and whether that purpose is advanced or hindered by extending it to same-sex or polygamous arrangements.

The fact that civilly recognizing such marriages may have no impact on Ronan's family is a trivial consideration from a public policy perspective. It is the families that haven't formed yet that are the issue.

Friday, February 03, 2006 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Guy. Tell me how legalising consensual polygamy (John Taylor would be delighted!) or gay marriage will lead to the "disintegration" of my family.

It is the families that haven't formed yet that are the issue.

I agree with you last Lemming. I have considered the issues and sometimes I think that we should let this erosion happen, but we should make sure our families are raised right.

But if the degradation of the family becomes a slippery slope, and in 20 - 40 years we can find few people in traditional families, where will society be then? How difficult will it be for people in the church to keep righteous?

That's how I see it anyway. I don't think we should be ballistic about defending traditional marriage, ignoring all of the other issues on the table, but I always think of the future you know.

Friday, February 03, 2006 9:27:00 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Last Lemming and Ian:

Thank you for your thougts and ideas. I agree for the most part with both of your comments; but, particularly the idea of the future impact these currentl lifestyle choices will have.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 2:05:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...


I'm just a simple bloke. I'm not a psychologist or sociologist; but, when I read the words of individuals whom I consider to be living prophets, seers and revelators, I believe them. I have no idea how legalizing consensual polygamy or gay marriage will disintergrate your particular family; however, I think Last Lemming and Ian have a point about society as a whole, and the future impact current lifestyle choices will have on society, families, and individuals.

Can you tell me how legalizing consensual polygamy or gay marriage is consistent with the idea that that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God?

Can you tell me how it would strengthen the family, which is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children?

Can you tell me how it is consistent with the idea that gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose?

I could go on and on; but, I'm sure you see where I'm going.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your ideas

Saturday, February 04, 2006 2:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan" (from the Family proclamation)

I see no quantities given.

I do not mean to be a devil's advocate, or anything contrary. I mean no contention. I, for one, though, do not mind our history of, or the concept in general of polygamy. I would welcome and embrace it, if it were to be allowed, sanctioned, and ordered again by God.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 4:25:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...


You'd make a fine devil's advocate ;-)

Blogger has been acting up lately; however, I did find your comment. I will quibble with you just a bit. I think the literal sentence construction requires a singular interpretation. Man, Woman, both singular vs. Men, Women plural. But, that's an inherently weak response to your comment I think.

I too have no problem with the Church's history involving polygamy. I don't know all the why's or wherefore's. But, it doesn't really matter now. The fact is the Church no longer practices polygamy. Maybe one day again it will. I think from a legal perspective at the time the Church did practice polygamy, it had a strong First Amendment free exercise argument protecting that practice. But that was a different time, and a different place.

I think the Proclamation on the family was meant specifically for our time and our place in the world's history. Those who want to practice polygamy now are not divinely sanctioned or inspired. Those who want to legitimize gay marriage are likewise not divinely sanctioned or inspired. I think the gay movement's assault on the traditional family is one of the movements the Brethren had in mind when they issued the Proclamation.

At this place, and during this time the good Lord has not seen fit to sanction that particular practice. If and when He does reinstate polygamy, then, I have no disagreement with you.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if and when"
That is key to my support, as well.

I do believe, in my heart, that the language in the proclamation is, by the Lord's purpose, not exclusive of multiple wives. It is not "one man and one woman" or "a man and a woman" It is man and woman, which really is what each marriage within a polygamous family is. Man to woman, (same) man to (another) woman, man to woman, and on. It would have hurt my heart, from a doctrinal continuity standpoint for the wording to be exclusive of such. Whether it is for the sake of the past, or a future that we do not yet see, I take comfort in the Lord's non-exclusive wording.

I have not read it recently, but I do believe that the declaration recinding the practice of polygamy never states that it is for doctrinal, theological reasons; simply that it is a matter of, as it says in the Articles of Faith, a matter of being loyal subjects to our government. i could go read it, but I'm racing the clock to get to bed on time. So forgive my slovenly 'I think it says' comment. :)

In my heart, I do believe it to be the Lord's true practice. I also believe that it is in His hands, meaning, that I would never pursue it without express authorization and call from his living prophet. As to whether that would ever come to pass, from our point of view, only time will tell, but, in the meantime, I would be wary of saying that polygamy is an undoing of the very institution of which it is the perfect model, the Lord's model.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naiah, a very good job playing devils advocate. My question did God ever abolish Joseph Smiths eternal and ever lasting covenant.
I do not believe so! So if Canada sanctions polygamy as legal then members should embrace the eternal covenant. Abraham Lincoln may have abolished the covenant but D&C makes it clear the covenant is only suspended to comply with the laws of the land.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...


I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Given the Official Declaration 1, and its content, I do not believe The Brethren would issue a proclamation on the family that in any way implies or authorizes Polygamy, particularly given the very clear and unambiguous statements by Church authorities about polygamy since 1890. Now, that is not to say that future revelation may change the proclamation or even OD 1 at some future and different time and place.

Whether it's doctrinal or simply practical, I have absolutely no idea; however, I don't think it is an issue. The fact is that Church does not now sanction polygamy. It just doesn't matter the why of the prohibition, in my opinion.

You may be right in your heart that polygamy is the Lord's true practice. I just don't know. I'm still very busy understanding and practicing faith, repentance, etc., etc. But, like you, I don't foreclose the idea that it may and can return at some future time. Christ's Church is founded on the rock of Revelation. Things do change.

I do believe that polygamy as practiced by individuals today is harmful to families. See this story


about how the uninspired and unauthorized practice of polygamy is and can be harmful to families. As long as the practice remains uninspired and unauthorized, I believe it runs contrary to the explicit terms and spirit of the proclamation on the family

Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 4:12:00 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

My custom and practice is not to respond to anonymous comments; however, in this case your comments run so contrary to current Church practice and teaching, I feel compelled to make an exception. A fair and accurate reading of OD 1 in no way suggests that if Canada or any other state should recognize polygamy that members should "embrace" this "eternal covenant." That is not what OD 1 says, and it is not what it means.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 4:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think we disagree that intensely, actually, Guy. Neither of us would sanction anyone's practice of polygamy without a revelation to do such from the Lord, delivered to and through the First presidency. I am right with you there.

I should clarify that I do not believe that the Family Proclamation in any way, overt or implicit, supports the current practice of polygamy.

I simply purport that it, in fact, does not condemn it either, and that the language of it is not worded in a way that would exclude polygamy--for whatever reason (be it our past, or an unrevealed-as-yet future), and that it neither can nor should be cited as part of an argument against polygamy, because it plainly does not take a stance on it one way or the other.

Friday, February 10, 2006 8:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also--the article you cite is not an argument against ploygamy, per se, but, rather, against intermarriage of close relatives--a well established fact, that simply hyappens to be a problem for some people who also happen to be polygamists. The number of wives is not the problem, the close genetic relation of the husbands and wives is.

Had you cited an article about the giving of young daughters to uncles, etc, as wives, I would have said the same thing. That is not an argument against polygamy, per se, but rather an argument against the abuse inherent in such a giving of any child to any man for such purposes, regardless of whether he has other wives or not.

Friday, February 10, 2006 8:35:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...


You're probably right--we likely have more areas of agreement on this than not. I think the meat of my argument is that the Proclamation discourages any lifestyle that is harmful to the family.

Currently, the Church teaches that marriage is ordained of God, and is between one man and one woman. Anything else, is not ordained of God (at the present time).

Lifestyles not in harmony with the Proclamation and current practice in the Church, in my own opinion, contribute to the disintegration of the family. Currently, polygamy would fall within that definition. As an example, one who currently practices polygamy is not legally and lawfully married. Any sexual relationship between polygamous spouses is actually an adulterous relationship. This is clearly out of harmony with the Proclamation.

This is not the same polygamy once authorized by God either in the Old Testament, or during the early days of the Restoration--when the practice was specifically sanctioned by God.

Since those who currently practice polygamy are not inspired by God, or authorized by him (or the secular legal authorities) to practice it, I believe the practice is detrimental. At some future time and place, that may change.

The article to which I cited you is only one example of why the current practice is harmful to society and the family. It is a direct "consequence" of the "choice" of a certain lifestyle. A prolific LDS writer once wrote that "we are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose their consequences. Again, we are not free to choose their consequences." I agree with her--and, I think you would too ;-).

The consequences of living a lifestyle outside the parameters of the Proclamation can only lead to the disintegration of the family. And, it will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

That said, I agree the text of the Proclamation does not specifically mention polygamy; however, I don't think God would need to leave Himself an out on this issue. If and when He decides to reinstate the practice, He will do so--even if there were some specific document, i.e., OD 1, that prohibited the practice.

I hope I haven't made matters murkier than when I started.

Thanks as always for your thoughts.

Friday, February 10, 2006 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...


I think one other blurb I would add: If The Brethren were to receive a revelation rescinding OD 1, and restoring polygamy as a practice, I still think they might change the wording of the Proclamation just slightly from the current singular man and woman, to man and women. I don't really know--just a thought. In other words, I'm with you on the concept that the current Proclamation does not specifically address the issue of polygamy. That's the beauty of revelation.

And, the reason I use the Proclamation as a current argument against polygamy, is that the Church does not currently authorize the practice: Hence it is not a valid form of marriage, ordained of God. If that changed, my argument would fall.

Finally, it's only my opinion the Proclamation does not currently support polygamy. I, of course do not speak for the Church. As far as I know the Church has made no statement on the Proclamation and the practice of polygamy.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 7:58:00 AM  

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