Utah’s Prohibition Against Polygyny Struck Down In Federal Court

In Brown v. Buhman, the US District Court of Utah, Central Division, Judge Clark Waddoups struck down a portion of the Utah Bigamy statute, removing the phrase “or cohabits with another person” as being unconstitutional.

The Utah Bigamy statute, Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-101, provides:

  •             (1) A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.
  •             (2) Bigamy is a felony of the third degree.
  •             (3) It shall be a defense to bigamy that the accused reasonably believed he and the other person were legally eligible to remarry.

As I have written before, there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits polygyny nor is there any condemnation for the practice.  The practice is regulated in God’s Law, God took credit for giving King David multiple wives and Isaiah 4:1 says that polygyny will occur in the Millennial Kingdom.

It is my opinion that polygyny (in the form of a written cohabitation agreement (marital covenant)) is the only way for a man to avoid the dangers of Marriage 2.0.  Likewise, it meets the needs of the High-N sluts who are (by their own choices) now wholly unsuitable for monogamous marriage.  Such women self-selected to ride the carousel and share a man with other women.  Fine, let them share.  Three or four such women should band together, move in together and solve their interpersonal problems.  Once they’ve done that they need to go husband hunting and when they find one they all agree is suitable, make him the offer of a lifetime.

This case will in all likelihood be appealed, but only because they’re elected officials and a majority of the voters think polygyny is wrong.  As the Salt Lake Tribune put it: “[Judge] Waddoups was probably aware an appeal was likely and that’s why he took almost 11 months to write a 91-page opinion.”  Having read the opinion, if the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals makes a hash of this and tries to overturn the ruling, I think this is headed for the Supreme Court.  Waddoups reasoning is well cited and tight.  The fact that the State basically didn’t even respond to any of the seven significant constitutional points raised by Brown is not going to help.

I call this a victory for privacy and a strong blow against Marriage 2.0

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21 Responses to Utah’s Prohibition Against Polygyny Struck Down In Federal Court

  1. bodycrimes says:

    In many parts of the Western world, de facto arrangements are coming to have the same significance as marriage, in terms of property rights. Also, once children are involved, a man can be sued for maintenance. So in practice polygamy would just set up a nasty and expensive legal tangle for all concerned. Unless it’s simply a private sexual arrangement with no children involved, in which case why would you bother? It would be easier and more convenient (and cheaper) to have a mistress on the side, or a paid-up membership to a swingers’ club. Also, you have to wonder what sort of woman would be so desperate for male attention that she’d agree to such an arrangement – sounds like it would open a whole sack of crazy.

    • You are correct in terms of de facto arrangements beginning to have the same significance as marriage, but here on this side of the pond things are a bit different. In many cases, issues such as insurance, social security benefits and other things only accrue to a spouse. Informal arrangements don’t cut it.

      Also, there’s the issue of the religious folk who believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong. As far as the entanglements, currently in the US there is a strong financial incentive to divorce in many areas. If married for more than ten years, a woman can often get alimony for life as well as child support and half the marital assets. With a polygynous marriage that’s set up as a simple cohabitation, there are multiple incomes coming into the marriage which provide a much higher standard of living than any single woman could acquire on her own. If she leaves the marriage she could get child support but no alimony, and the child support would be bases solely on the income of the father.

      As to why women want male attention, why does any woman want a man’s attention? Or his dick, for that matter? The current state of marriage in the US is the sack of crazy, I’m just advocating for solutions that actually provide the children with a stable and safe structure to grow up in.

      • bodycrimes says:

        The problem is, these things always go horribly wrong. The nineteenth century is basically littered with the corpses of communes that people tried and failed to make work. The only ones that seem to work are ones where retirees band together as a cheaper alternative to retirement villages.

        The idea of a situation where mutual money was flowing in and being used communally without a full legal framework is horrifying to contemplate. You’d either have to have a full social framework for such a situation, or a loose arrangement that would probably collapse at the first sign of trouble.

        • I advocate it only for religious people, first; and second, it would need a really tight cohabitation agreement. In reality I’m talking about a polygynous marriage. Given the fact that about half of all marriages in the US are destroyed by divorce, I don’t think your analogy to communes is working. The issue is to get all the incentives arranged to continue the union rather than to destroy it.

          There are plenty of examples of societies in which polygynous marriages *don’t* go horribly wrong. My point is simply that there are a lot of women out there that are unfit for monogamous marriage because of the choices they’ve made. Why not give them an alternative structure into which they’d be able to make a go of it?

  2. Ton says:

    A poly household is not difficult to run if the man leads, sets up impartial rules and enforces them and let’s the women know household peace is above all else.

    • Agreed. Not only that, but the whole dynamic makes the man more dominant, dread game is built in and it’s easier for the women to get their emotional needs met from the other women than from the man. If the culture supported monogamy that would be great, but it doesn’t and way too many women these days are completely unfit for monogamous marriage so the only way to give the children a stable home life is to go poly.

  3. sn0rkmaiden says:

    In a polygamus society how is the gender imbalance resolved? Unless you alter the gender balance to a ratio of two or three women per man, won’t that mean the majority of men being shut out of family life? Or would polyandry also be acceptible in your utopia?

    • There is a difference between a society that is accepting of polygyny as a valid form of marriage and a polygynous society. However, you’re erecting a strawman with the issue of gender imbalance. To say that polygyny is accepted is not to say that all men either will or must have more than one wife. The reality is that the vast majority of men are ill-equipped to deal with one wife, much less two or more. Likewise, the vast majority of men are now incapable of supporting one wife without the wife being required to work outside the home.

      Your argument is that if polygyny were acceptable there would be an excess of men who would not be able to marry. This viewpoint ignores the reality that’s presented in present US society for Christians. It cannot be denied that a very significant percentage of young women today are high-N sluts who chose to chase alphas and readily spread their legs for him knowing that he was maintaining sexual relations with other women. Women claim they do so in hopes of getting commitment. As a result of their behavioral actions they have so destroyed their ability to pair-bond that they are wholly unfit for monogamous marriage. The likelihood that they’re alpha widows is very high, also making them unfit for monogamous marriage.

      The problem is the children being raised in single parent homes (of which over 90% are headed by a woman). The panoply of social pathologies that result from such an arrangement are well documented and cannot be refuted. Likewise, the economic reality is that single-parent households headed by women strongly tend to be on the lower end of the economic ladder if not in outright poverty. Children need to be raised by a man and a woman working together in a stable family. The only viable solution at this point for the church (which has about three times as many women as men) is to encourage the women to get together in groups of two, three or four, consolidate their housing and bills, establish a reasonable level of uniform family discipline and then find a guy that is attractive to all of them and make him an offer.

      In simple terms this would not impact the greater society as a whole because the number of women choosing to do this would be small. Keep in mind that these are women that are basically unmarriageable at this point- either because they already nuked their previous marriage or because they’re single moms.

      • sn0rkmaiden says:

        The Strawman I had in mind was the very real phenomena of ‘Lost Boys’, where young men are frequently excommunicated from fundamentalist, polygynous mormon communities so that there are more women available for fewer men. Such practises are very harmful to the young men involved, and an example of how excessive patriachy oppresses men just as much as it oppresses women.

        But your idea is not to advocate a polygynous society, but to simply tolerate polygymy within a society where monogamy is still the norm, is that correct? While I don’t entirely disagree with that (we should all be largely free to do as we please without harm to others), I can see why what you envisage would have some flaws.

        For example you cite this as a solution to ‘sluts’ all wanting the same limited number of ‘alphas’, the trouble with this is that a polygynous marriage is still a marriage, and the wives within it are expected to limit themselves to only their husband, as the husband can only sleep with new women if he marries them into the fold. I realize ‘slut’ is a subjective word, but by my understanding, faithfulness and monogamy aren’t usually associated with ‘sluttishness’, therefore a woman who has been labeled a slut is unlikely to be suitable for any form of marriage, unless all polygynous marriages are permitted to be open ones.

        Perhaps what would be more workable is polyamory?

        • Yes, you are correct, I advocate polygyny as merely an acceptable and Biblical form of marriage. I don’t claim everyone should do it because I believe that monogamous marriage is the ‘gold standard’ as far as marriage goes. However, there are some men who are predisposed to desiring multiple women and are economically successful enough that they can support such a situation.

          The problem today is that the current form of marriage places all the power in the hands of the woman. “Putting a ring on it” means signing over half of one’s assets, giving up control of any reproductive rights one might have had and being subject to having the partnership destroyed for any or even no reason at all with the attendant separation from children and decades of child support and alimony payments.

          Polygyny, OTOH, is a structure in which the man is automatically placed in a dominant position and the women are disempowered (their favorite weapon, denial of sex, is not applicable) and the structure (if done correctly) is virtually immune to the caprices of a family court judge. It’s not possible to get divorced if one was never married (in the eyes of the state).

          In a situation in which a man forms a family with four women, one woman can be the stay at home mom while the others continue to work outside the home. This results in a 4-income family with a much higher standard of living than any of them could achieve in a monogamous marriage short of marrying a very wealthy man. In other words, their incentive would be to remain in the marriage. On the other side, a woman attempting to bail out of the relationship would result in a situation in which the children produced by the relationship would in all likelihood remain with the father. If not, the most she could get would be child support based only on his income.

          The problem with sluts is the high likelihood that they’re alpha widows. That’s a recipe for disaster in monogamous marriage, but a polygynous marriage has such a different dynamic that it can overcome the issues related to the husband not being as dominate as a former partner. The carousel riders have already pre-selected for sharing a dominate man and the polygynous arrangement places the man in a very dominant position. The women can get their emotional needs met from the other women in the relationship and the man can’t be sentenced to sexual starvation. The structure is stable and offers the best chance to raise the children without running the risk of destruction because somebody wasn’t happy.

  4. infowarrior1 says:

    @Artisanal Toad
    Genesis 2:24
    “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

    Matthew 19:3-13
    And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”

    The original design is for monogamy. It appears. You cannot become one flesh with multiple women. Polygamy is perhaps a compromise that is done in light of the brokenness of man.

    Matthew 19:9
    “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    Jesus appears to be saying that since the original marriage is still in effect to also subsequently marry another is to commit adultery. Therefore it appears that polygamy is a sin.

  5. @infowarrior
    1st Corinthians 6:16 says that a man becomes one flesh with a harlot when he has sex with her, so it’s obvious that a man can be “one flesh” with more than one woman.

    I explained the issue of divorce in Suma Contra Divorcio, but I’ll review it here again. If you look at Matthew 23, you’ll see that Jesus (in His earthly ministry as a man), as a member of the Tribe of Judah, was under the authority of the Pharisees who “sit in the seat of Moses.” That’s important, because in Matthew 19 the Pharisees tested Him with a judgement of Moses. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was not part of the Law given by God, it was a judgement given by Moses in his position as the judge of Israel. If you look carefully at Matthew 19, the first thing Jesus said was “what therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” In other words, no divorce.

    They came back at Him with the judgement of Moses, and Jesus said “Moses permitted you” so you can see that everyone was on the same page, but then He said “but from the beginning it was not so.” Again, no divorce. However, because He was at that time in His earthly ministry and was completely a man, He was under the authority of the Law of Moses, so after twice objecting to divorce, He then gave them the strictest interpretation of that judgement: only for sexual immorality.

    Matthew 5:31-32 is more on point to the issue you’ve raised, and the clear message is that God will not honor an illegitimate divorce. The only way the woman can be committing adultery is if she was still married to her husband, and obviously the man who marries her is also committing adultery if she were still married.

    The nature of God is such that He does not tolerate sin. We cannot call polygyny a sin because God regulated it. Exodus 21:10 is one example of this, Deuteronomy 21:15 is another example. Now, with the issue of divorce, after Jesus expressed His dissatisfaction with that ruling, the question becomes, did He ever do anything about it? Yes, He did. In 1st Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul is very careful to explain that this is a commandment from the Lord. Following that, in verses 12-17, Paul effectively restated the law of the bondservant (Exodus 21:1-6) in what is now known as the “Pauline privilege.”

    The bottom line is that in Genesis 2:24, the grant of authority to initiate marriage was given to the man. Family was the first covenant entity God created, the other two are the state and the church. The authority of the husband described in Ephesians 5:22-24 goes all the way back to Genesis 2:24. As nearly as I can tell, the elements of a Biblical marriage are the permission of the father, the agreement of the woman to marry, consummation of the marriage and cohabitation. There was no involvement of church or state because with respect to the family, the man is the supreme authority. In Matthew 19 notice that Jesus said “what therefore God has joined together, let no MAN separate.” This is because in the judgement of Moses, if the man (who had the authority to initiate the marriage) wanted to divorce his wife, HE divorced her. Not the elders or judges.

    The authority of the man to initiate a marriage did not limit him to one wife. As I have stated over and over again, I think that monogamy is the best choice, but that speaks to conditions in which both the men and women involved are fit for monogamous marriage. You may have seen discussions on Dalrock’s blog, Sunshine Mary’s, The Social Pathologist and others that the N matters. A lot. Statistically, high-N sluts are not fit for monogamous marriage. I have also stated that I believe polygyny is a solution to the problem in the church today, which is overrun with high-N sluts and severely lacking in men (who have been driven away). Polygyny is not an ideal, it’s simply a Biblical form of marriage.

    The reason the church so frowned on polygyny is not because the Bible frowns on it, but rather because of the power struggle with the nobility.

  6. DJ says:

    Have you ever been outnumbered and ganged up on in an argument by 2 or three women your closely related to? Its not fun. For that reason I think all that poly stuff is a bad idea

    • It’s all about frame and leadership. Some men aren’t cut out for it, that simple. Some men take to a poly relationship like a duck to water. Some should recognize their limitations and not go there. That said, who is to say that a man who can’t handle it should be restricted from doing so? Family is a covenant entity created by God, with the man in charge.

  7. infowarrior1 says:

    There is also the other problems of younger surplus men shut out of the mating market by polygyny to consider. You should familarize yourself with the lost boys of Mormon polygyny:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jun/14/usa.julianborger

    This alone leads to higher intrasexual competition among men. Leading to increased social instability, crime and proneness to war. Polygynous societies are seldom stable and exist on a lower level of civilization in contrast to societies based on patriarchal monogamy. As well as lower selection of women based on quality.

    Combine that also with the reduced paternal investment in each child due to the situation of multiple wives.

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