not in Primary anymore

should polygamy have been illegal?

For those who haven’t heard yet, a federal judge has decriminalized polygamy in Utah. Some are beginning to wonder if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will begin practicing polygamy again.

The question I have is why we made illegal polygamy in the first place.

The outlawing of polygamy hurt polygamous families.

Nevertheless, the way polygamy was practiced also hurt polygamous families. Arranged marriages by priesthood leaders with younger girls isn’t going to always create the healthiest power structures and most loving homes.

On one hand, polygamy has its share of problems, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a little happy the U.S. government stepped in and stopped its practice so that my ancestors didn’t have to suffer from it any longer.

On the other hand, I try to remember that the U.S. government stepped in as colonizers trying to “civilize” the Mormons. That’s what Nate Oman claimed in a law review that was quoted by the judge who decriminalized polygamy.

It’s a sick and terrible thing that early Mormons tried to colonize the Native Americans in Utah. 

The U.S. government tried to do something very similar to the Mormons of Utah. One wonders if it was ever the U.S. government’s place to stop a practice between consenting adults, whether said practice was at times done with spiritual blackmail and essentially arranged marriages.

What say you dear readers? What are your thoughts regarding polygamy and its decriminalization? Should it have been illegal in the first place?

6 Responses to “should polygamy have been illegal?”

  1. SMason

    From what I understand, the polygamist family in question sued the Utah government because it was using anti-bigamy laws against them while the state does not actually recognize polygamist marriages as legal. Put otherwise, the state cannot arrest people for just living together. Think of how many people they would have to arrest!

    Brigham young used this same argument when one if his wives sued him for alimony in a divorce. he said, the Government never recognized my marriage to this woman so it can’t require me to fulfill other laws related to that one. She was fully aware that she was not entering a legal marriage and so she should realize that she isn’t going to get a legally recognized divorce.

    The Utah government is not legalizing polygamy, it is just realizing it can’t legally use anti-bigamy laws to punish polygamy because those marriages are not recognized by the state.

    • bdallmann

      SMason is correct. The polygamy law now just states that second (or third, or fourth) marriages will not be recognized by the government, meaning benefits cannot be collected for them. I think this is fair.

      What was deemed unconstitutional was the part of the law that said that someone who is married cannot live with another person. Again, a fair decision in my opinion.

  2. Ashley

    Yes, polygamy should have been illegal. Why? Because It promote discrimination against women. A man can have multiple wives, but a woman cannot? Sorry, but as a feminist, that’s offensive.

    • curtispenfold

      Of course it’s offensive and wrong and harmful on so many different levels, but does that mean it should be illegal?

      Should it be illegal for a family to teach gender roles? Should it be illegal for a church to not allow women to be full participants?

  3. erincita33

    The constitution does not put marriage in the domain of the federal gov’t. Therefore it has traditionally been left to the states. The fed. gov’t is encroaching more and more on what is not theirs.

    If a state is to hold that marriage is between any 2 consenting adults- then they will eventually HAVE to allow polygamy. If Bob is married to Sue and I want to marry Bob and enter into polygamy and Bob wants to marry me, then we have 2 consenting adults. If the state says no you can’t marry Bob- he’s already married- I will say. But i LOVE him. I can’t help whom I love. And he loves ME. Who are you to tell us whom we can love and whom we cannot. We are both adults and we can enter into any agreement we choose.

    The only true solution is that marriage should have nothing to do with the state. Why do we need to get permission from the GOVERNMENT to enter into a personal contract with someone else- a social agreement that for many of us is religious? God commanded us to marry. Yet we need to get permission from our government?

    When the state takes control over our ability to design our personal relationships with people there is something fundamentally not right happening.

    We are just conditioned to believe it makes sense. But really it doesn’t. Imagine if we needed permission from gov’t to get baptised. Endowed. Receive the priesthood. We’d be outraged. Look at it logically and you will see that we should not need permission from the gov’t to enter into a sacred agreement with God and another person to be with them for eternity and to have a family together.

  4. Monika

    Hi there!This post could not be written much better! Reading through this article reminds
    me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this.

    I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read.
    I aplreciate you for sharing!


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