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Religion vs. Law – Revisited

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A few weeks ago I blogged about how religion and the law don’t always play so well together.  I meant to provide some follow up comments on this much sooner; however I became sidetracked with work, midterms and my other hobby – painting.  Now that I’ve provided sufficient enough explanation for denying you – my adoring readers – your weekly peck of squawky goodness, I’ll move forward with a promise not to make promises about when I’ll post next.  That being said, I promise to post at some point in the future – always 😉

I have many thoughts on the subject of law and religion.  So many that I think this is going to be an ongoing conversation.  Where I’d like to start is on the subject of polygamy.  There’s been a lot of debate in the last year about whether polygamy should be legal or whether it violates the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman.  This sounds awfully familiar to me.

I appreciate that many religions hold that marriage is a sacrament; however I don’t believe it’s fair to attest that marriage is exclusively a religious institution.  Sure, it may have been that way long ago when society was essentially bound by religious notions; but I’d like to believe that we’ve evolved as a society.  We are no longer bound by a single religious ideology – at least those of us fortunate to live in “free” (more on this later) societies.  Plenty of non-religious people marry.

If anything, marriage has become a government institution.  It allows two people to be intertwined such that they reap financial and legal benefits of being married.  In some countries, two people don’t even have to be legally married to enjoy the same benefits that those who sign the paperwork do.   Merely living together, as a couple, for a prescribed length of time allows for reaping some of the advantages that legal marriage does.  So, if marriage really isn’t a religious institution the idea of any faith holding exclusivity over it falls flat.

Where does this leave polygamy?  Is there anything fundamentally wrong with plural marriage?  There are arguments that women and young girls are exploited, but I fail to see how this is mutually exclusive to plural marriage.  Wouldn’t more protection be afforded to those women and girls who may be being exploited by plural marriage if it were somehow legislated like more traditional marriages?  As it stands now, a woman who is in a plural marriage and not legally married has little in the way of protection should she choose to leave that marriage.  Through making plural marriage a legally accepted practice, I believe we’d be making it more transparent and thus actually protect more people.

Truthfully, this conversation could go on at great length.  I’ll leave it here for now, so you can digest it.  Often those things that are unusual or unfamiliar to us make us uncomfortable.  I think we’ve got to break out of our bubbles and realize that there’s a bigger world that doesn’t necessarily conform to the nice little confines of our bubble.  It’s time to burst out and start seeking out grander truths.

I’ll close with comments from My Dad that sum up rather nicely how I feel about these matters we’ve been discussing:  “Marriage is a man made institution created by religion to support it. I say marry whom ever you want, pray as you choose to. Protect childhood at all cost, stand up for what you feel and try to keep an open mind”. So glad to have a Dad that taught me to burst out from my bubble and experience a grander world.

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  1. Sarah
    March 8th, 2011 at 20:20 | #1

    Great post Melissa! Excellent food for thought.

    There have been more than a few days where I wish I had a few sister wives to help out around the house. ;-P

  1. March 26th, 2011 at 07:49 | #1