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Planted by the Eastern Mennonite Missions in 1948, the Ethiopian Meserete Kristos Church is the largest national body in the Mennonite World Conference. With 484 official congregations, and 834 congregation planting centers, it is also the largest national Anabaptist conference in the world.

This Ethiopian Mennonite Church has included polygamy in its definition of marriage. A Mennonite Weekly Review article entitled What is a Mennonite? An Ethiopian Definition states that plural marriages are sanctioned by the denomination.

Disciplined, holy lives are important, but the church is also committed to redemptive approaches, meeting people where they are. Several years ago the church agreed a man and his multiple wives can all be instructed and become full members, barred only from leadership roles.


Many Americans believe that marriage was instituted by God as a covenant between one man and one woman, and to mess with that is to trifle with one of the basic pillars of civilization.

When pressed for proof of that belief you might be directed to check the Bible, where (surely) it plainly states that God only blesses a traditional one man/one woman sort of a marriage. But if you actually crack open the Bible, you find that it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Polygamy, for example, is very common throughout the Old Testament and is never condemned as a sin. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon are just a few of the biblical luminaries who had more than one wife and were never chastised for it (although Solomon was led astray from the true faith thanks to the influence of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, proving that there is always a hazard in getting too much of a good thing.) It seems like an argument could be made that a biblical view of marriage is that it should be between one man and as many women as that man can afford to keep up with.

Bill Ferguson
The Telegraph
Macon, GA

Polygyny (polygamy) is always morally right as it was a product of sound wisdom when society faced a terrible imbalance in the gender ratio. Who would like to see his sister or daughter unmarried for life or be a prey to casual marriage practitioners? Hence having only the option to sniff the married life for a while and then return to permanent loneliness. The greedy modern man likes it this way. The crowd of women who have once tasted marriage between one month and seven years is swelling by the day. They will have to live the rest of their lives without a husband, while the men endlessly taste the married life with one prey after the other; most of them ending as bedmates. One once told me that he had tasted up to eighty women. Mere tasting of the honey is now the game. Who cares for a permanent deal? Who is victimized here?

Now, what I am saying is that, at any time there is this gender ratio imbalance, polygyny (polygamy) is intellectually fine, it is not against civilization. In fact, opposing it in such a situation is sadism. Are we taking along sadism in our modern civilization? The only challenge, which monogamy also faces, is having responsible men accepting marriage. Responsible men should not be programmed to hate polygyny (polygamy), which the current circumstance requires, while irresponsible men take charge of the most precious human institution. Polygyny (polygamy) cannot be for every man in any generation because marriage is not for heartless or lazy people, how much more polygyny (polygamy).

Ishiusah on Nairland
South Africa

I’ll have to admit I had severe reservations as I sat down and watched Lisa Ling’s Our America episode on plural marriage. I mean what kind of crazy person would purposely allow their spouse to engage in relations with another woman. And how selfish those men must be to try and have their cake and eat it too. But as I watched the episode I realized something. The people, at least in the community Ling was interviewing, are really truly committed to each and every person in the relationship. The wives seem to form emotional bonds and friendships with each other and often spend more time together than with their husband.

And here’s something that really took me by surprise, it’s the women that actually control the relationship, they get to decide what man they are going to marry and it’s up to the elders to make it happen. As I watched the interviews I discovered that plural marriage isn’t necessarily something that should be shunned, it could possibly be a way to balance and possibly decrease the rate of divorce in America.

I know you are probably thinking I’m crazy right now, but hear me out for just a second.

It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in some form of infidelity at some point throughout their marriage and that 2-3% of all children are the product of infidelity (source: Buss and Shackelford).

The U.S. Census Bureau in November 2009, estimates that there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today and those parents are responsible for raising 21.8 million children (that’s about 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today).

U.S. News and World Report magazine reports that one-third of children born today are illegitimate and half of those children live in poverty.

In a plural marriage no one is left alone to raise their children as a single parent because if the husband isn’t around, the wives still have each other to help raise and support their children, both financially and emotionally. You have a support system at ALL times, not just on a court ordered schedule.

Legalizing plural marriage can potentially reduce the divorce rate and decrease the amount of single-parent households and most important, may even reduce the amount of illegitimate children born in the United States.

What would you do if plural marriage became legal in the United States? Keep in mind that for every 100 single women of marriageable age in the United States there are fewer than 70 single men, and as we get older the numbers spread further apart. That means statistically if marriage is still considered only a monogamous relationship, there will always be more women than men which probably means there will always be infidelity in what we are calling monogamous relationships.

Do you think the government should reconsider their stance on plural marriage? Could this be a way to save the American family?

Stephanie Elie
Lifetime Moms
December 12, 2011

Economics of Sex and Marriage: 
Studied Through the Logical-Deductive Science of Praxeology 

by — Mike Anderson

We can look all around us and observe many things about human behavior regarding sexuality and marriage.

Using the logical deductive approach of the Austrian economists, this book attempts to provide a unified theory explaining some of the major phenomena of human mating relationships. The seemingly “pro-polygamy” conclusions presented here are bound to make this work controversial, but this was certainly not the author’s intent.

These conclusions follow inescapably when the basic principles of economics are applied to human sexual behavior.

86 pages paperback
$10.95 (+ $3.99 s&h = $14.94)


Since the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, Americans have enjoyed unprecedented freedom in their lifestyles and private relationships. The decision held that states could no longer use the criminal code for social engineering, dictating the most intimate decisions of citizens in their choice of partners and relations. …

Utah and eight other states make polygamy a crime, while 49 states have bigamy statutes that can be used to prosecute plural families. While widely disliked, if not despised, polygamy is just one form among the many types of plural relationships in our society. It is widely accepted that a person can have multiple partners and have children with such partners. But the minute that person expresses a spiritual commitment and “cohabits” with those partners, it is considered a crime.

One might expect the civil liberties community to defend those cases as a natural extension of its campaign for greater privacy and personal choice. But too many have either been silent or outright hostile to demands from polygamists for the same protections provided to other groups under Lawrence.

The reason might be strategic: some view the effort to decriminalize polygamy as a threat to the recognition of same-sex marriages or gay rights generally. After all, many who opposed the decriminalization of homosexual relations used polygamy as the culmination of a parade of horribles. In his dissent in Lawrence, Justice Antonin Scalia said the case would mean the legalization of “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity.”

Justice Scalia is right in one respect, though not intentionally. Homosexuals and polygamists do have a common interest: the right to be left alone as consenting adults. Otherwise he’s dead wrong. There is no spectrum of private consensual relations – there is just a right of privacy that protects all people so long as they do not harm others.

Others have opposed polygamy on the grounds that … some polygamous families involve the abuse or domination of women. Of course, the government should prosecute abuse wherever it is found. But there is nothing uniquely abusive about consenting polygamous relationships. It is no more fair to prosecute [polygamists families] because of abuse in other polygamous families than it would be to hold a conventional family liable for the hundreds of thousands of domestic violence cases each year in monogamous families.

Ultimately, the question is whether polygamy is allowed under the privacy principles articulated in Lawrence. The court did not state exclusions for unpopular relationships. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the case “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter” but rather “two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle.” …

Civil libertarians should not be scared away by the arguments of people like Justice Scalia. We should fight for privacy as an inclusive concept, benefiting everyone in the same way. Regardless of whether it is a gay or plural relationship, the struggle and the issue remains the same: the right to live your life according to your own values and faith.

Jonathan Turley
Law Professor at George Washington University
(Abridged from his column in the New York Times)

When a woman leaves an abusive monogamous marriage, one never reads, “Woman Escapes Monogamy.”

When a monogamist man embezzles money from his workplace, one never sees the caption, “Monogamist Guilty of Embezzlement.”

Articles begin with titles such as, “Polygamist Cult Leader …”, as if polygamists somehow owned a monopoly on cult leadership; after all, have you ever seen “Monogamist Cult Leader …” as an attention-grabbing headline?

As is evidenced by past newspaper headlines, they would apparently have us believe that monogamist men aren’t quite the scoundrels that polygamist are!

Polygamist Investigated for Welfare Fraud
Polygamist Arrested for Rape
Polygamist Charged with Sexual Assault
Polygamist Suspected of Drug Abuse
Polygamist Questioned for Murder
Polygamist Charged with Spousal Abuse
Polygamist Indicted on Kidnapping
Polygamist Found Guilty of Abuse

With such crimes being so exclusively perpetrated by non-monogamists, there is little wonder that polygamy is despised by Western culture.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.

Q: Was polygamy accepted during the first century? How common was it in the first century?

A: The best record we have, from a traditional Jewish perspective, on first-century life would be the Talmud, the first stages of which were published around the year 200. Any legal matter pertaining to marriage very clearly accounted for the possibility of more than one wife – e.g. the Talmud discusses how to divide an estate between multiple wives, or how levirate marriage works if there’s more than one wife. There is one mention of a limit of 4, just as a practical matter of how much, um, “physical attention,” a normal guy can be expected to provide to all these women.

Jewish Life & Learning
Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture
Isaac E. Moses, Editor

I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the Word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.

Martin Luther
Letter to Chancellor Gregory Bruck, January 13, 1524
(De Wette II, 459, pp. 329, 330)

Imagine you had committed a crime that could send you to prison for several years, and the cops had found out, but you can rest easy because in your back pocket you have a letter from the State’s Attorney General saying that even though he knows about it, he is not going to prosecute you, because he hasn’t got anything else on you. How should you feel?

Relieved you no longer face the threat of jail?

Worried, in case something else you’ve done ends up with you facing two sentences instead of one?

Puzzled, that the State says something is a crime, but doesn’t enforce it?

Angry, that the State seems to be using the law to paint you as a criminal, when you are never likely to be convicted of a crime?

All of the above?

That’s the emotional quandary faced by Kody Brown and his family now that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has attempted to strike out Brown’s legal bid to decriminalize polygamy. The A.G.’s argument goes something like this:

OK, polygamy may be unconstitutional in the US, but we’ll never get to know that because the Attorney General wasn’t going to prosecute you until we had something else to get you for at the same time, and as you’re not currently under threat, you don’t have sufficient standing for the court to proceed with your case.

The A.G. even quotes the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2006 judgment in Winsness v. Yocom, that

The mere presence on the statute books of an unconstitutional statute, in the absence of enforcement or the credible threat of enforcement, does not entitle any to sue, even if they allege an inhibiting effect on constitutionally protected conduct prohibited by the statute.

However this also means that, if the court agrees with him, his policy of not prosecuting nice polygamists will result in polygamy never getting to an appeal court with a “clean” defendant, but only with someone who has at least been tried, and probably convicted, for some other offence. Someone for whom the public and appeal court are unlikely to feel much sympathy.

As these will be the only convictions for polygamy, it reinforces the stereotype that polygamy is linked to domestic violence, child abuse, welfare fraud, etc., etc. It also means that polygamists get to face trial for these other things tainted with the evidence of their ‘criminal’ activity as a polygamist. Not much ‘equal protection’ there.

It seems like Utah is in a similar position to British Columbia a few years ago – preferring the limbo of polygamy being an unenforced crime, to the risk of a court finding the law unconstitutional.

But is it really that simple? The Lehi police launched an investigation of the Browns – which probably felt like a bit of a threat at the time, and the County attorney has had the file since October 2010 without coming to a decision on whether to prosecute Kody and the Sister Wives. He doesn’t have the A.G.’s official policy of only prosecuting polygamy when there is another crime, although he is at pains to point out that it just hasn’t happened in fifty years. Maybe he doesn’t want to be the prosecutor who gave the green light to all the polygamists that his county was the one to move to, but at the same time doesn’t want to prosecute the case that results in the polygamy law being overturned across the US, and splitting the Mormon church.

It will be up to the federal court to decide whether the Brown’s were sufficiently threatened to have “standing” and for the case to progress. But if they deny the Brown’s standing, that has to leave us all wondering if something is really illegal if you are not going to be prosecuted for it.

Samuel Chapman

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