Slate has an article on why we should legalize polygamy. What’s interesting to me are the Christian responses to the idea. Tim Challies had a short, rather fatalistic comment:
It’s just a matter of time. Society’s got no foundation left to battle this…
As mentioned in the Slate article, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council worries:
If love becomes a definition of what the boundaries of marriage are, how do we define that going forward? What if someone wants to immigrate to this country from a country that allows multiple spouses? Right now they can’t immigrate with the spouses, but if the parameter are simply love, how do we prohibit them from coming into this country? If it’s all about just love, as it’s being used, where do we set the lines?
And Rick Santorum also sees the slippery slope:
“So, everybody has the right to be happy?” he said. “So, if you’re not happy unless you’re married to five other people, is that OK?”
The thing that confuses me is why Christians seem to see polygamy as a greater evil than homosexuality. There’s ample room for arguing in favor of polygamy from the Bible, which is not the case for homosexuality. The Old Testament, at least, offers a number of examples of polygamy from important characters (Abraham, Jacob, David, etc.), and while it’s possible to argue that they were all in sin (which is the standard argument I’ve heard), it’s also at least possible to see the record of their behavior as an implicit justification.
The problem for me is not that Christians should agree that they have to support polygamy because of these examples in the Bible. What bothers me is that in this case, where there’s at least a legitimate argument for seeing polygamy as valid, there seems to be a sense that it’s actually worse than something that’s much harder to see as valid.
It gets down to a fundamental attitude of intolerance–that is, an unwillingness to see reasonableness in an idea that you don’t like or agree with. Maybe for many Christians the idea of homosexual marriage is too much at odds with the Bible to be seen as reasonable. But polygamous marriage does, at least, have a strong, reasonable argument from the Bible. If we can’t get along with people who support something we don’t like, if we can’t get past the fact that we don’t like it to see the reasonable arguments that can be made for it, then we’ll continue as a society to keep trying tactics to have our opinions forced on everybody else, and there will be no peace.
Incidentally, while this post focused on Christians, so-called “progressives” suffer from the very same ailment.