With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage to be released very soon, the social arguments and debates are again ramping up in the familiar venues – Fox News, social media, you know the circuit. Now, a common argument against marriage equality that hasn’t been addressed to my satisfaction is that same-sex marriage will “pave the way for polygamy, marrying children, and bestiality.” This objection is not new of course, it’s been around for quite some time, but I’m pretty tired of hearing it. Its popularity is due, in part, to its simplicity. On its face, to a person who is against LGBTQ+ rights to begin with, it doesn’t sound unreasonable. Redefine the institution of marriage, and the door opens for other non-traditional family arrangements … right? Well, no actually. It’s a non-sensical argument for a couple of reasons.
My bias toward polygamy, and polygyny, is that I don’t understand it. Jealousy and other factors would plague me, I just couldn’t do it. That being said, any first-year Anthropology student can tell you that polygamy is practiced in many parts of the world, and it appears to work just fine when all parties are consenting adults of similar minds, and nobody is getting hurt.
The existence of polygamy as a taboo subject in the evangelical community appears somewhat contradictory given the disconnect between what many self-professed Christians say vs what they do. Studies consistently show unusually high numbers of infidelity and porn consumption within the most religious regions of North America, and the same goes for the multitude of bar-hoppers who can be seen on any given Friday night – throwing around slurs like “faggot” while hooking up with whoever will sleep with them, and sitting tight in their pews on Sunday morning. Polygamy and polygyny, committing to multiple partners within the confines of matrimony, may be something that some of us find distasteful … but it’s a more stable and healthy way to live than running around sleeping with multiple strangers. Now, I’m well aware of the Christian arguments against those who cheat and sleep around, I’m not suggesting that all Christians are sex-crazed fiends. My point is that as a community fighting “moral decay,” evangelicals live in a big glass barn. If you’re going to condemn, get your own house in order first.
Polygamous marriage isn’t for the majority of people, but it’s been practiced within humanity for millennia (even in the Bible). It’s not new, and if consenting adults want to do it, and nobody is getting hurt, I have no moral objection.
This could take two forms. (1) Children marrying children, or (2) adults marrying children. Both forms are wrong, and here’s why: Consent. Adult opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples have the capacity for consent. Children do not. Children marrying children cannot be allowed because there is a fundamental issue concerning brain development and the ability to make rational decisions with foresight and maturity. Adults marrying children, practiced in India and some other countries, is a disgusting example of adults using their power to dehumanize and degrade helpless youngsters. A young girl of 12 cannot consent to marrying the 54-year-old pedophile who has paid her parents a dowry. It’s slavery, it’s child rape, it’s dehumanizing, demoralizing, and demeaning. Same-sex marriage is none of these things, it is the union of two consenting adults who commit to one another for the long term. Same-sex marriage and marrying children do not belong in the same category – they just aren’t comparable.
What a disgusting thing to say that marriage between two loving human beings is akin to a person marrying a dog or a horse. The consent issue is blatantly obvious in the case of bestiality, but how about the fact that the very suggestion that same-sex marriage could pave the way for this is beyond insulting? How hateful do you have to be to suggest that two men or two women getting married is no different from a marriage between a person and their family pet? People come up with this, and then have the nerve to say that gay people are immoral and disgusting.
And so …
If same-sex marriage paved the way for polygamy, so what? Polygamy is kind of a non-starter, or at least it should be. Where there is consent, and nobody is getting hurt, I really don’t know that we have any right to deny what comes naturally to those involved. We may disagree on that, but ultimately I don’t think polygamy is an issue.
Same-sex marriage could not pave the way for children marrying children or adults marrying children, since children do not have the capacity or maturity to give consent to such a thing. I might add, just because I think it’s noteworthy, that I haven’t yet seen any Christians holding signs against pedophiles taking child brides.
Same-sex marriage could not pave the way for bestiality because animals cannot give consent, and humans marrying humans is not comparable to humans marrying animals. Again, those making this argument have no authority to call anybody immoral.
“Same-sex marriage will pave the way for …” is the height of ignorance and desperation. It’s what people resort to when they’ve lost every other argument. Those who believe it are either ignorant of consent, not to mention human decency, or just don’t care. The goal is to put down and stop legal love between people they disapprove of, and the fallacies in the argument don’t matter to them in the least. What same-sex marriage will pave the way for is more people in loving relationships entering into the institution of marriage; just like the rest of us. All that changes is that a state-sanctioned loving commitment becomes available to more people. It doesn’t pave the way for polygamy, child marriage, or bestiality – it paves the way for inclusion and equality.