Religion Dispatches is a web site we have monitored regularly at this web site since its inception. It has a very liberal agenda and indiscriminately attacks religion in pursuit of that agenda. It arose after Prop 8 in California. While it rarely attacked Romney directly, it has been after Mormonism tooth and toenail since its founding.
A piece appeared there today, that has echoed a bit, that I find stunning. Using the recent admission by the CJCLDS that Joseph Smith did practice polygamy as a springboard for the discussion, the gang at RD “reveals” that polygamy is still an active part of Mormon theology through the doctrine of celestial marriage. Therefore, of course, Mormons should be excluded from any serious discussion on marriage – especially the conference that is happening at the Vatican this week, which has featured the likes of Rick Warren and Russell Moore.
That the Mormon concept of celestial marriage allows for polygamy in the hereafter is not news. Anybody that takes more than a minute or two to learn about Mormon teaching will know this. And what, exactly, does what a particular religion believes happens to marriage in the hereafter have to do with a discussion of marriage in the here-and-now? Many of the Christian expressions that are participating in the conference do not believe marriage exists at all in the hereafter. Does that disqualify them from discussing marriage in the here-and-now as well? The discussion simply is not about eternity, it is about this life and this place and the marriages that are present in it.
There is one interesting tidbit from the discussion. It seems clear that they intend to avoid the slippery slope of same-sex marriage leading to polygamy and bestiality and other aberrant forms of marriage by relying on the old tried and true “polygamy hurts women while same-sex marriage produces no harm.” That is so ignorant of history as to not even be funny. It must be remembered that historically, marriage was a woman’s means of obtaining property, wealth, standing and security in a society. Even in our egalitarian age there is no doubt that a successful marriage produces greater economic stability than the alternatives. Polygamy arose in the Old Testament as a means of providing security to women that otherwise were without prospects. Polygamy as traditionally practiced in the Old Testament was far from an act of oppression and was instead an act of grace and mercy.
But then if ones concept of marriage would permit same-sex marriage, this glaring misunderstanding of historical polygamy is not surprising. Theirs is a view of marriage based solely on the legitimization of sexual activity, not in the concepts of bonding, covenant, reproduction, or economic activity.
So let me sum up their argument. A church that used to, but no longer, practice polygamy (which includes them all by the way) has no standing to discuss same-sex marriage because they still think plural marriage exists in heaven. That’s not an argument, that’s attempting to play “peek-a-boo” with a ten-year-old. It’s just not working. As the aforementioned peek-a-boo game reveals only how little the adult understands of a ten-year-old, this discussion reveals how little these particular proponents of same-sex marriage understand about serious, committed traditional marriage.
Don’t you think you should fully understand something before you attempt to change it completely?