2014 November 22 Saturday
Will Mormon Polygamy Return? In Latin America?

First Ross Douthat in an opinion piece and then Rod Dreher says the Mormons abandoned polygamous marriage and embraced monogamous marriage as part of a political deal to join the United States. But

It’s a provocative thought: if traditional marriage is no longer exclusive in law and culture in the United States, and if the American people have come to believe (as we have) that marriage is something we have the right to redefine as we wish, then why shouldn’t the polygamous instinct buried deep within the LDS faith not reassert itself? If I were a Mormon inclined to return to the fundamentals of my faith, I would wonder why, exactly, honoring the old bargain still mattered.

Douthat is Catholic and Dreher is Eastern Orthodox. They think about doctrinal debates and splits in churches. They have the backgrounds needed to think that doctrinal changes matter.

Will the Mormons remain Mormon? In Latin America Pentecostalism is making big inroads. But I do not see an obvious alternative church that can appeal to Mormons. A splinter church might be more likely.

The problem with any of these scenarios: The Mormons are going to want to stay law abiding. Legalize polygamy and Douthat's thought experiment suddenly becomes a like more plausible. But a movement to legalize polygamy faces a much tougher road. The American Left found putting homosexual and heterosexual unions on equal legal ground extremely appealing. But where will the supporters come from to legalize polygamous marriage? You might argue that it is inconsistent to favor some forms of marriage over others. But the same people who made that argument in favor of gay marriage will be about as consistent about that as university administrators are about free speech. They'll see polygamous marriage as innately patriarchal and oppressive.

Oh wait, there is one other source of support for polygamous marriage: Islam. Will some European (culturally formerly European) countries legalize polygamy for their Muslim residents?

One thing I'm watching for: rise of a religion that aims to develop great influence to create legally favorable conditions in a small Latin American country. Recall that some Mormons lived in colonies in Mexico in order to practice polygamy. Well, Mexico is too big for the Mormons to get control of it. But suppose they focused on a much smaller country? Could they or another religion carve out a legal sphere in which they could follow whatever practices they desired?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 November 22 08:30 PM 


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at November 22, 2014 11:41 PM:

The concept of monogamy (if we assume that by definition it means that while men are allowed to simultaneously marry more than one woman, women don't have the right to marry more than one man at a time) is inherently feudal and even warlike. Polygamy can be a leading cause of war because if each member of the elite top 20 % men can afford to take 4 wives, then this means that the remaining 80 % of men will have to compete for the remaining 20 % of women. This means that at least 60 % of men will not find a woman to marry. This means that the only way the latter group of men can marry and procreate, is by militarily invading foreign countries.

On the other hand, in some Scandinavian countries people often choose to have children without getting married.

bob sykes said at November 23, 2014 4:41 AM:

In our judge-dominated culture, it is very hard to oppose the various unravellings generated by Griswold v. Connecticut. Sexual acts and unions between consenting adults is now an established right with wide popular support. I think it is almost inevitable that polygamy will be legalized by some courts (probably state level) in a decade or so. Prostitution will also be legalized, as it is in much of Europe. The line will have to be drawn at pedophilia (sex with prepubescent children) and bestiality. NAMBLA right now is testing the age of consent for post-pubescent children, and some demented leftist will likely test the animal taboo.

By the way, the big push to legalize polygamy and child marriage will come from Muslim immigrants, who have become a favored class of the left.

Feminists will, or at least should, oppose these developments, but the broader culture will support them.

Moses Maimonides said at November 23, 2014 10:14 PM:

But suppose they focused on a much smaller country? Could they or another religion carve out a legal sphere in which they could follow whatever practices they desired?

In fact , this was the standard arrangement between Christian rulers and the Jewish community for hundreds of years in Europe and the Middle East. The Jewish "Klal" ruled itself under its own King rabbis, courts and legal systems. Some kings let them punish their own people with prison or physical torment, levy and raise taxes, and decide all family and descent matters. Other kings even let them impose the death penalty. They did have to bend in some regards, however. Jews eschewed polygamy for practical reasons (it is still acceptable in Jewish law) around 1000 AD. Google the "Thousand Year Heter". As the Christian culture of America weakens further I suspect we are going to return to such self-rule by ethnic groups.

In our own countries this creeping independence is happening right now. Members of the Jewish community are starting to ask American judges to refuse to grant a civil divorce to a man until he religiously divorces his wife. Muslims are trying to get some family matters taken away from the secular courts, too. Before I am dead I expect the US legal system to permit people to get married and (if they consent to religious jurisdiction at the time they get married) to turn over their divorce settlement and child custody matters to religious courts.

But even before that the US courts will legalize polygamy ... by degrees. First step: if you are a citizen of a foreign country and you have two wives, you can bring them both to America as wives. Second step: if you are a citizen of a foreign country AND of America, you can go back to the foreign country and marry a second wife there and bring her back to America as your second wife (as long as the first wife agrees). This cascade of cases will proceed over a period of years until someone born and raised in the USA says "why does HE get two wives and I DON'T simply because he came from a polygamous homeland? Equal protection under the law! Since you have accepted polygamy for them within the USA, not letting me marry a second wife here in the USA is religious discrimination, or discrimination on the basis of national origin!" It will take two to four decades to complete, but it is going to happen, much the same way as the NAACP and ACLU took decades to get mandatory racial quotas and homosexual marriage.

albatross said at November 24, 2014 6:49 AM:

Practical polygamy is probably legal now. If I have two women I'm sleeping with on alternating days, and both are raising my kids, then whether this is bigamy or having a couple simultaneous baby mamas is alll in whether I bothered to get the formal marriage license for both women. I'd say accepting practical gay marriage and poly marriage (though not necessarily legally recognized marriages of these types) is a natural consequence of accepting that private sexual arrangements and behavior among consenting adults are none of anyone else's damned business. I prefer that policy to one where private sexual behavior among consenting adults is subject to a lot of legal restrictions, but that plus acceptance of single motherhood means that polygamy in fact (maybe not in name) is something we won't be able to stop.

James Bowery said at November 24, 2014 5:06 PM:

You're behind the times.

I knew an ESL teacher in San Diego who had students that were proud spawn of polygynous "Mormon" families -- bragging not only about that but the fact that they were anchor babies in the US with their fathers living in Mexico.

That was the late 1980s, just after the Reagan amnesty.

ErisGuy said at November 26, 2014 3:19 AM:

IIRC, Dreher was Catholic until he realized how frequently and enthusiastically the Church supported and protected pedophiles.

WJ said at December 14, 2014 8:23 PM:

"I'd say accepting practical gay marriage and poly marriage (though not necessarily legally recognized marriages of these types) is a natural consequence of accepting that private sexual arrangements and behavior among consenting adults are none of anyone else's damned business."

Once you have a welfare state as massive as our own, it very quickly becomes everyone's damn business. Something like half of all the people in Hilldale/Colorado City are on Medicaid and food stamps. Their Medicaid bills are probably high, too, given the large numbers of genetic diseases their shallow gene pool has created. And then of course there are the black man - polygamists de facto if not de jure.

Our society used to deal with these problems naturally. The Mormons were driven out of the United States, and then after Utah became part of the United States, the federal government shut them down.

Today the government has gained a monopoly on violence, and yet refuses to use that monopoly in ways that uphold the social order. Illegal immigration isn't stopped. Polygamy isn't stopped. The only people the violence is being used against is those, ironically, who aren't parasites.

painlord2k said at December 17, 2014 12:17 PM:

>>"I'd say accepting practical gay marriage and poly marriage (though not necessarily legally recognized marriages of these types) is a natural consequence of accepting that private sexual arrangements and behavior among consenting adults are none of
>>anyone else's damned business."

>>Once you have a welfare state as massive as our own, it very quickly becomes everyone's damn business. Something like half of all the people in Hilldale/Colorado City are on Medicaid and food stamps. Their Medicaid bills are probably high, too, given the
>>large numbers of genetic diseases their shallow gene pool has created. And then of course there are the black man - polygamists de facto if not de jure.

Marriage was, in the past, a private matter and later a matter between people and the Church. It just become government business when Germany started asserting control over Church and people two or three centuries ago.
It was the first step in the start of welfare state.

The current arrangements will not last.
The welfare state require too much resources and prevent the grow of the economy, so the welfare state will fade away. I don't know when exactly, I don't know if it will be with a bang or a puff.
The polygamist in the lower strata of the society will stop receiving support as soon as the welfare state go bust. The higher strata can be polygamist as much as they want, because they can afford it.

In a free capitalistic society, without too much government interference, it is very difficult to have a lot of polygamists, because there are limits to how much money you can make before it become counterproductive and you start to give it away in charity. And more women and children you have, more your wealth is dispersed and the second generation will not be able to afford to do the same.

Bill Gates could have 1000 children, if he so wanted. Just hire 1000 Indians or Ukrainians or whatever buy some high quality eggs and 20-50 millions USD after he would have 1000 childrens. And he do not lack the money to raise them even if he needed to pay for the nurses to take care of them. But then, his children would inherit just 90 millions each.

In old ages, wealthy polygamists would be kings and princes and many of their offsprings would be killed in the selection process to decide the next king or prince.


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