I was reading this article about laws that are no longer really enforced, of which anti-polygamy laws are one. I’ve read about this other places, too. The only time anti-polygamy laws are prosecuted is when someone is being prosecuted for something else (i.e. they’re prosecuted for enabling statutory or other rape, or for misusing the welfare system, or something, and since they’re also a polygamist, that charge gets tacked on, too). No one really wants to prosecute anyone for having more than one spouse unless they’re doing other things we don’t approve of. And the next logical step to our society’s acceptance of polygamy as a valid life choice (even if most people don’t want to participate in it) is to make it legal to make that choice.
What do you think the church would do/say if there was a push to get anti-polygamy laws off the books? This question really struck me as I was reading the article, and made me think (which is quite a feat in and of itself right now, and a sign I must be starting to feel a little better, since I’m able to have any thought other than “I hate pregnancy”).
My first thought was that they would oppose it. After all, right now not practicing polygamy is what differentiates “us” (the mainstream LDS church) from “them” (fundamentalist Mormons), especially out west where the fundamentalist Mormons are. And if there were no anti-polygamy laws then not only could a man have more than one wife, but a woman could have more than one husband. “Brother-husbands” is not a concept I see many Mormons being at all comfortable with. And really, if we’re okay with alternative forms of marriage, then why not gay marriage? All of this is not something I see the church being happy about.
On the other hand, wouldn’t it be sort of hypocritical for the church to oppose legalization of polygamy, given our history? We fought hard to have those laws declared unconstitutional, but now we think they should stay? We honor our ancestors who followed the teachings of the prophets and practiced polygamy, but we think it’s morally wrong to allow it now? It would be hard to for the church to oppose legalization of polygamy.
What do all of you think? What would the church say if there was a possibility that the anti-polygamy laws were going to be taken off the books?