Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Big Love or Big Problems?

Recently, a secret polygamous sect in Texas was raided and children were taken from their mothers due to a call authorities received from a 16-year-old who claimed she was in an abusive marriage to a 50-year-old man.

Coincidentally, I led a discussion on polygamous mormons and their way of life just weeks before news of this incident broke. The HBO show 'Big Love' and recent arrest of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs brought the secret religion into the spotlight, and many unsettling factors of the polygamous life came to light. 

I think that it is not the practice of plural marriage that is the problem, but the lifestyle polygamist's practice that should be outlawed. If there were a way to do so. 

Maybe there are some that could truly be happy in a marriage that involves one man marrying multiple wives. Maybe it can work and you do become one big happy family, like in the show. Better chances are it's not going to work, even if it is a marriage outside of the infamous Polygamist sects. But trust me, I'm not signing up for either any time soon. 
Here are the common problems: 
  1. The prophets. Prophets have always believed themselves to be gods, and because of this they believe that they have the right to force their followers into marriages. In many cases, these marriages are with girls as young as 13, and to relatives.
  2. As soon as these young girls are married, they are expected to procreate. At 13. Pregnant teen mothers were found all over the recently raided sect. 
  3. Women and children are often put through abuse for not submitting to their husbands, or to be "put in their place". And I'm talking all kinds of abuse...from emotional to sexual. One woman talked about the abuse of listening to her husband have sexual relations in the next room-with her sister. Girls have been beaten severely for trying to resist their marriage arrangements. Children of the raided sect were found denied of nutrition and reported being locked in closets for hours. This list goes on.
  4. It is all about the men. Children often feel a lack of fathering, women feel a lack of attention. These men are marrying up as many of them as they can, because the doctrine says only then can they become gods. Wow, I can benefit myself on earth and become a god if I'm a Polygamous Mormon? You can't lose! If you're a man. 
  5. The men can lose. If the prophet decides a man is competition or not suitable for marriage, the prophet excommunicates them from the community. Forever.
These are some of the big problems...but there are more, and plenty of them. The law says that polygamists will not be prosecuted until they break other rules. Sadly, they are, and far too many of them.
This is not a gay marriage issue, because it really does not matter whether plural marriage be legalized or not. What does matter is the abuse, the negligence, and the manipulation. 

This is a documentary I watched featuring ex-Polygamists and their stories. After seeing it, it becomes difficult to defend the lifestyle, if you had any doubts at all. 

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