Of course, this could never happen in the U.S., as polygamy is prohibited.
But why should that be? What if three or more people are in love with each other and want to pledge commitment, experience the legal benefits of marriage, etc.? Polygamy has been practiced in various societies through the ages, and still is in some. What right do we have to tell such people they can only marry one, and not two others?
Of course, I'm being facetious, but many who've objected to same-sex marriages have raised these kinds of slippery-slope arguments.
- e.g. http://americamagazine.org/iss...at-same-sex-marriage
Being from Africa, I have to confess to a great deal of confussion about the slippery slope arguments. They seem to assume that polygamy is something worse or more unnatural than homosexual affairs. They seem to say that we must reject gay marriage in order to prevent something far worse, polygamy. But that is simply ridiculous.
I mean, how could that possibly be true? It is not strictly as unnatural for a man to be married to more than one woman as it is for a woman to be married to one, two or more women or a man to one or more women. It is more contra nature to recognize a marriage or sexual affair between people of one sex, whatever the number, because what they do be it two or more, cannot be considered a marriage, ever. Not so with bigamy/polygamy of one man and two or more women.
Apart from anthropological evidence from various cultures throughout history, as Christians, we need only look at the history of God's dealings with ancient Jews. We can see polygamy practiced by the patriarchs and permitted in the Mosaic Law, a form of concession to human weakness if we recall Jesus's explanation of the Mosaic allowance of divorce and remarriage, which in the christian sense is a form of polygamy as the first marriage is present. I understand that monogamy is the law in the supernatural order of grace, or sacraments. But I do not believe that polygamy is illicit outside the order of grace, that is, in purely natural marriages between non Christians. This must be the only explanation for Gods tolerance of it among his people before Christ. No such allowance or concession anywhere for homosexuality! That is clearly forbidden in all circumstances, for all people, at all times. Even those in Sodom and Gomorrah who did not receive a clear law telling them not to engage in gay sex. God still punished them. Not so, anywhere, for polygamy.
I therefore find it rather strange when I hear Western Christians speak as if polygamy is a few degrees worse than homosexual lifestyles. African thinking on this issue would go like this; Polygamy should already be legal in a society for a very very long time before the topic of gay marriage even comes up! In other words, it is a little insane to have something like gay marriage while describing polygamy as wrong, like a really bad joke.
St. Rubia, I wasn't meaning to say that polygamy is of a lower moral status than homosexual unions, only that once the standard of marriage as consisting of the commitment between one man and one woman is lost, then pretty much anything goes. That's the main point of Msgr. Sokowloski's article.
Christianity clearly affirms and blesses heterosexual, monogamous marriages. It's not at all clear that other unions are acceptable, much less bless-worthy (at least if one is going by Scripture or Tradition).
A separate but related question concerns what the state ought to legally recognize. Clearly, Christian thinking prevailed in the West until a decade or so ago, when gay rights advocates began pushing hard to have their relationships recognized as marriages. Meanwhile, Muslims and Mormons have been denied polygamous marriages (which their religions permit) because of the state's recognition of the Christian standard. So where we are now is in a most unusual situation, where the Christian standard of monogamy is being upheld as acceptable, only applying it to homosexual couples as well as heterosexuals. The "three-way same-sex marriage" raises the obvious question: why not polygamy for hetero- and homosexuals? Once we unlink marriage from heterosexuality, why not unlink it from monogamy as well?
Speaking strictly from the nonreligious, legal point of view, the advantages of heterosexual marrriages were for the sake of children (inheritance), for the sake of the protection of women (so that the man didnt throw away a woman when he's no longer interested, and for the sake of the man who wanted to be sure that the kids are his. Now it seems to be all for the sake of the adults who want privileges of some sort, but not so much about the kids and the stability of the family unit.
The privileges, Mt., are much the same, except for those pertaining to children. Social recognition and legitimacy are also reasons cited for recognizing homosexual unions to be marriages.
I can understand and empathize with these concerns, but this doesn't address the key principle raised by Msgr. Sokolowsky (and Mt.), which has to do with the state's interest in recognizing certain relationships as marriages. Recognizing heterosexual, monogamous relationships to be so was largely out of concern for the stability of family life and the welfare of children. Granted, not every heterosexual marriage brings forth children, but the principle of "marriage as a union between a man and a woman" adequately covers all the possibilities, including re-marriages by the elderly where grandchildren might be concerned.
Once state-recognition of marriage is unlinked from heterosexuality, why not unlink it from monogamy as well, since the procreative rationale is secondary, at best? What is the guiding principle for the state's definition of marriage? Because of inheritance and a wide variety of other concerns, it's unlikely that the state will opt out of legally sanctioning certain relationships as marriages any time soon. But what are the criteria the state will use for pronouncing certain relationships as "marriages?"
(Note: this doesn't even begin to get at the question of why certain Christian churches are advocating for recognizing homosexual unions, and what their criteria for doing so might be.)
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. Justice Alito inquired about the feasibility of four lawyers entering into marriage with one another. Take a listen:
Is the decision of the Supreme Court of the U.S. completely autonomous? I mean, the judges vote and they don't have to listen to anyone (congress, the states, public opinion etc.) and later everyone has to submit to this resolution?
I don't know the american constitution that well. But is it not bad that it is dissociated from the will of the nation and given to a dozen of lawyers?
It's all part of the U.S. "balance of power" between the Executive (President), Representative (congress) and Judicial branches of government. The Supreme Court can strike down a law that is deemed unconstitutional, and if they do so, they state the reasons and Congress can then take up the issue and amend the law so that it does pass muster.
There are only 9 Supreme Court justices, and their decisions do come down to 5-4 votes on many issues. The current court is split between conservative and liberal interpretations of the Constitution, with one or two justices swinging one way or the other on different issues.
The Judicial branch protects the American people from a majority rule that might have little regard for the Constitution, which is much more difficult to change than a law. This balance of power set-up works quite well, imo -- a stroke of genius from the U.S. founding fathers.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
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