Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mormons and Marriage

Being thrice married myself, I'm pretty reluctant to advise anyone else about his or her marriage. I'm always cognizant of the fact that my ex-wife might interrupt one of my most lustrous pearls of domestic wisdom to inform my listeners of the true facts of my track record as a marital partner. If the wisdom of taking my own past into consideration before making public pronouncements on other people's lives is self-evident to me, someone with no communication with divine beings, one would think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose leadership claims to be in touch with the Creator of the Universe, could see the same thing.

However, this does not seem to be the case. The Mormon Church recently organized the donations of millions of dollars from its members to support Proposition 8, the anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the California Constitution. The amendment passed. This is the same church whose founding prophet, Joseph Smith, had at least 28 wives and whose charter was revoked by the United States Congress because of its practice of polygamy.

One might think that, given this history, the Mormon Church would be among the most sexually tolerant of religious sects. After all "Joe and Emma and Fanny and Lucinda and Louisa and Zina and . . ." makes "Adam and Steve" look like small potatoes when it comes to marital unconventionality. But no such luck. With the zeal of a convert, the LDS Church, which abandoned its revealed doctrine of "celestial marriage" in the face of political and legal opposition in the late 19th century, now advocates a particularly stringent version of the orthodox Christian sexual code.

Nobody likes a hypocrite. And Mormon hypocrisy is particularly annoying. The passage of Prop 8 sets back the move for full equality for sexual minorities. I have confidence that, in the end, justice will prevail. In the meantime, what goes around comes around.


kateg said...

oddly, part of their argument is that legal same-sex marriage will lead down the slippery slope to...polygamy! And, marrying toasters. Why this would happen I'm not sure, though legal polygamy wouldn't bother me either.

Texan By Chance said...

Well, the valid argument against legalizing polygamy is a a practical one, not a moral or constitutional distinction. Many of the rights of married people would be more expensive or more complicated to administer if people could have more than one spouse. If your employer pays for your spouse's health insurance, it would be more than he bargained for if you all of a sudden have 3 spouses. Similarly, if my spouse has the right to stay in our homestead after my death--who gets that right if there are 4 of them?

The nice thing about same sex marriage is that all you have to do change "husband" and "wife" to "spouse 1" and "spouse 2" on the marriage license application!

kateg said...

It will be more expensive for employers and/or the government...now theres an argument likely to convince me. As we used to say in the 90's "NOT!"

Anonymous said...

(This is Erik)

To be fair to the Mormons, there are some apples and oranges here between one taboo and the other, so I wouldn't call it total hypocrisy. De facto hypocrisy maybe.

A related discussion is how religion evolves in order to remain within the borders of societal norms. E.g., the Mormons considered Black individuals as something less than human, then voila! "Oh, I guess they're equal now." I guess God changed his mind. There are a gazillion examples from every religion.

And I see plenty of humor in religious zealots trying to explain away advancing scientific discoveries that challenge their beliefs. I once heard a Baptist say Satan planted the fossils of early humans on the earth in order to tempt us away from God. Sheesh.

Texan By Chance said...

guess its true that same sex marriage and polygamy are "apples and oranges" in the sense that they are not exactly the same thing. But in the 19th century (and, I think, in the 21st)people who disapproved of polygamy (i.e., the vast majority of Americans) viewed it as a degenerate practice that gave vent to men's base impulses. That seems very similar to the views of portion of the public who oppose the legitimization of same sex marriage.