Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Political action on Polygamy, Marriage contracts.

Polygamy is associated with the LDS faith, and Mormons and splinter sects of the LDS like the FLDS. That shows you what a short attention span we have and how deep the national consciousness is on the subject. It's got all the depth of dew on pavement. Polygyny has been practiced by Christians and endorsed by it's theologians dating back to Augustine and Luther. We've never gone away, we're just really unpopular, and yet let the LDS practice it for less that 50 years, and it's, well, Mormon.

I am not "Mormon". I am a very conservative Presbyterian. I refer to myself as being "Reformed" and "Hyper Calvinist" in my outlook. Doctrinally I am very far apart from the FLDS. In the past I have rejected offers to investigate and work with LDS factions still practicing polygamy and with other groups such as Muslims because I believe there is no intersection between Christianity and those two religious groups. I've also said that when it got to the political arena, I would ally with those groups to gain passage of legislation permitting or reinforcing polygynous practice.

Now there. I did it again. I said a word that a lot of you don't use. Polygyny. I did not typo either. What the FLDS practice and what Muslims practice and what a small minority of Born Again Bible Believing Christians practice is polygamy in the larger sense, but it's similar to saying we practice "humanity." We're all humans, but that doesn't distinguish male from female for instance. In terms of ADVOCACY, the group of Christians I am part of, the FLDS/LDS and Muslims advocate and practice POLYGYNY, not polygamy.

I have on more than one occasions pointed this out to major publications in letters to the editor, I've debated the topic frequently enough in some internet venues to get the language changed for the duration of the discussion, but people always lapse back to saying polygamy, not polygyny. This shows an entrenched misunderstanding that is a good part of the battle. I know the editors of those magazines have a dictionary. I know they check, yet every time you discuss the topic with them they call you a polygamist or polygamy advocate. I've dealt with it so long it's swear word to me, by the time an educated person in the topic gets to the third syllable of the word my blood pressure bumps ever so slightly upward.

The legalization of Polygamy is on it's way. I am convinced that the egalitarians in the media and intellectual community insist on using the word because they refuse to accept what is really being told to them. I, as a Christian and Muslims as Muslims and the FLDS/LDS as well, do not, will not and are not going to practice polygamy. We don't think women can have more than one husband. We think men can have more than one wife. This brands us as throwbacks and sexists. I am convinced that a good portion of the knowledgeable opposition continues to use the word polygamy because they are egalitarean and will not accept what they see as a narrow view. Sure, that group will allow polygamy some day, but never just polygyny.

So, we have a need for solutions that fit us, and fit other groups in the population at large. Solutions that will PREVENT the state from breaking up marriages and prosecuting husbands on the basis of paedophilia. A word with lots of impact, but in practice, a thing that is used to demonize men who are simply older than their brides, and committed to them. It's just that they are committed to more than ONE of them. Thus FLDS polygynists are characterized as lechers and paedophiles only because they choose to have more than one bride and occasionally marry young girls. Monogamists can step out of marriage all they want, and have a 14 year old bride, and be just as OLD as a polygynist can be. What they do though is more dangerous, less commited and not illegal.

I propose MARRIAGE CONTRACTS. A marriage contract could be constructed to preserve and protect the things that people already choose to do. Right now the bulk of what we can accomplish in terms of marriage contracts is in the area of prenuptial agreements. We should go a step further. Create an agreement that once entered into, could not be altered by the state.

Imagine for a moment a sort of "Sub Chapter S" corporation that was a marriage. A charter is drafted, shares are issued, and so on. Bylaws are made. I for instance would have a marriage contract that would have only one husband and however many wives. Divorce conditions would be outlined in the bylaws, who is in charge would be defined and all the wealth of the "family" would be a corporate asset and wives would have shares based on a roughly Biblical model of dowry and bride price.

The state would insist that I allow wives to exit the arrangement for reasons I would not, but there would be a penalty clause for breaking the arrangement specified in the marriage contract.

There are of course, more details to work out but I propose this would work for polygamists of all stripes, the FLDS, the Muslims and persons such as myself. It would unfortunately work for gay marriage and communal marriage (several men and several women) and polyandries as well.

I am not concerned with what the unsaved do with their lives. They will in fact do it anyway. It doesn't justify it but we will end up facilitating it along with our preferred style of life brought about by our beliefs. If we want the rest of the world to live like us, we must convert the world willingly to the way we believe. Until that time, I wish to protect my family, my life (based on my faith) and keep the busybodies of the world at bay. I propose we legalize polygyny and all that comes with that as a consequence, and legalize marriage contracts. If we don't, the courts will eventually do it for us, and we're not going to like what they come up with at all.

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John said...

Battles against English usage are hopeless. Give it up, Modern Pharisee.

IIRC, polygamy is the general term. From an anthropology course decades ago I recall that multiple husbands is polyandry (many men, Greek roots) while multiple wives is polygyny (many women, Greek roots).

The distinctions make sense technically in anthropology or other disciplines. But language doesn't belong to the specialists, it belongs to all of us.

Data is/data are was the one that bugged me. Respecting Latin plurals in English gets me. Data are indeed! So why this respect just in the nominative? We should have "of the datorum", "to the datis", and so on. And why just "data"? How about "stadium (singular, nominative)/stadia (plural nominative)?

Pure nonsense.

You have to give it up. English is what English speaking people speak.

As Oscar Wilde said, bigamy is one wife or husband too many, and monogamy is the same.

Hugh McBryde said...

Thanks John, but I'm a Pharisee, remember? Give me a shaker of salt or dill, or cumin and I will count every particle.

We will, in the end legalize Polygamy, which is the larger point I am trying to make. In that legal description will come all the permissions that go with the more general term. English also belongs to the lawyers.

Elkanah said...

Excellent thoughts. Perhaps we could chat, my email is admin@pkas.org We might be a different religious bent of Christianity than you, but we are very much interested in the area of Marriage contracts that would allow plural families to exist with protections and equity. The government needs to get out of the "nanny" business and start functioning like a government that is "for" and "by" the people, not just "big brother" of the people.