“My heart breaks for the destruction of the family, which was a gift to mankind by the Creator in the Garden of Eden. It survived as the fundamental unit of society for 5,000 years, but now appears to be headed toward the ash heap of history.” James C. Dobson
The following blog is Dr. Dobson’s response to a recent polygamy decision in Utah. It deserves a careful and prayerful read….editor
SPECIAL REPORT: DR. JAMES DOBSON’S RESPONSE TO RECENT POLYGAMY DECISION IN UTAH
To my conservative friends,
In 2004, I published a book entitled Marriage Under Fire. In it, I expressed alarm over what was happening to this 5,000 year-old institution, and said its demise appeared to be eminent. It was clear to anyone paying attention that the advent of same sex marriage would lead directly to polygamy, which would provide the final push down the slippery slope toward ruin. Here is what I wrote almost a decade ago:
The introduction of legalized gay marriages will lead inexorably to polygamy and other alternatives to one-man, one-woman unions. In Utah, polygamist Tom Green, who claims five wives, is citing Lawrence v. Texas as the legal authority for his appeal. In January 2004, a Salt Lake City civil rights attorney filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of another couple wanting to engage in legal polygamy. Their justification? The Supreme Court ruling known as Lawrence v. Texas. The ACLU of Utah has actually suggested that the state will “have to step up to prove that a polygamous relationship is detrimental to society”—as opposed to the polygamists having to prove that plural marriage is not harmful to the culture. Do you see how the game is played? The responsibility to defend the family now rests on you and me to prove that polygamy is unhealthy. The ACLU went on to say that the nuclear family “may not be necessarily the best model.” Indeed, Justice Antonin Scalia warned of this likelihood in his statement for the minority in the Lawrence case. It took less than six months for his prediction to-become reality.
Why will gay marriage set the table for polygamy? Because there is no place to stop once that Rubicon has been crossed. Historically, the definition of marriage has rested on a bedrock of tradition, legal precedent, theology and the overwhelming support of the people. After the introduction of marriage between homosexuals, however, it will be supported by nothing more substantial than the opinion of a single judge or by a black-robed panel of justices. After they have done their wretched work, the family will consist of little more than someone’s interpretation of “rights.” Given that unstable legal climate, it is certain that some self-possessed judge, somewhere, will soon rule that three men and one woman can marry. Or five and two, or four and four. Who will be able to deny them that right? The guarantee is implied, we will be told, by the Constitution, Those who disagree will continue to be seen as hate-mongers and bigots. (Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against Christians who espouse biblical values!) How about group marriage? Or marriage between relatives? Or marriage between adults and children? Anything allegedly linked to “civil rights” will be doable. The legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed.
I was ridiculed mercilessly by homosexual activists and liberal commentators for this dire prediction, but today, it came to pass. Here is an account of the December 13, 2013 announcement, posted by Ken Klukowski, senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Does it sound familiar?
In a game-changer for the legal fight over same-sex marriage that gives credence to opponents “slippery slope” arguments, a federal judge has now ruled that the legal reasoning for same-sex marriage means that laws against polygamy are likewise unconstitutional.
In his 91-page opinion in Brown v. Buhman, on December 13, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down Utah’s law making polygamy a crime. In so doing, he may have opened Pandora’s Box.
As a condition for becoming a state in 1896, Congress required Utah to outlaw polygamy, which is marriage between three or more persons. This case involved a family of fundamentalist offshoots of nineteenth-century Mormonism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints disavowed polygamy in 1890, and again in 1904, but some splinter groups continue the practice.
Waddoups’ opinion would not only cover such groups, however, but also Muslims or anyone else who claims a right—religious or otherwise—to have multiple-person marriages. He notes that the Supreme Court ruled against polygamy in its 1878 case Reynolds v. U.S., but said he cannot simply rest upon that decision “without seriously addressing the much developed constitutional jurisprudence that now protects individuals from the criminal consequences intended by legislatures to apply to certain personal choices.”
In its 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, the Supreme Court overruled previous sexuality precedents by declaring unconstitutional laws that made homosexual sodomy a crime, holding that although the Constitution says nothing about sex or marriage, there is nonetheless a right to consensual sexual activity between adults that government cannot regulate. This was over the vigorous dissent of conservative justices, who said that the Constitution commits such questions of marriage and morality to the states and the democratic process, and that therefore federal courts have no power to impose their own moral judgments.
The Lawrence case lays the foundation that has been cited for a decade now in court to make the case for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. If government cannot forbid homosexual conduct, this argument goes, then neither can it deny those who define themselves by homosexual behavior to officially recognize any such relationship as a marriage. It began a political, religious, and philosophical debate in America between two different definitions of marriage and family.
For over 5,000 years of recorded human history, marriage laws worldwide were about providing a social structure for producing and raising children. These laws simply acknowledged the biological reality that only sex between a man and a woman can produce a baby, and that, correspondingly, that every child born into the world has two parents, one of which is a man, the other a woman.
Marriage laws were designed to secure parental rights for that man and woman over the child they had created, and also imposed strict duties and obligations on each of them for raising that child. As part of that, those laws also bound the man and woman to each other, imposing obligations of sexually exclusivity, mutual care, and support.
Those laws were created for the nurturing of those children, and assign the gender role of demanding the man’s protection and support of the woman during pregnancy and once the children were born. They were designed primarily for the protection of children, and secondarily for the support of women. A man and woman would form a new family to act as a single unit in society, and care for any children resulting from their monogamous sexual relationship. Thus, marriage has been defined as the union of one man and one woman. More precisely, it is the union of (1) two consenting persons, (2) of opposite biological sex, (3) who are not close blood relatives.
The new conception of marriage, rooted in the proliferation of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s and the sexual revolution, is that marriage is about personal happiness and fulfillment. People should be free to form whatever relationships they find personally satisfying and to follow whatever their personal sexual inclinations are to engage in whatever form of sexual behavior they find gratifying.
If, therefore, you have a right to officially recognize those homosexual relationships through redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, then there is no reason to say it cannot include more than two people, so long as everyone is a consenting adult.
So wrote Ken Klukowski.
My heart breaks for the destruction of the family, which was a gift to mankind by the Creator in the Garden of Eden. It survived as the fundamental unit of society for 5,000 years, but now appears to be headed toward the ash heap of history. It has been losing ground steadily for nearly 3 decades. In 1984, I began urging people of faith to recognize what was happening to marriage and parenthood. It’s been a long hard slog since then. We fought passionately in 2004 for a Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, but the countering argument by more than 20 unconcerned senators, including many “conservatives” who are still in office, was, “It isn’t needed. Marriage is secure.” They were wrong, but who remembers? Today, society heads into increasingly dark and murky waters.
I would offer one more prediction for our future: Women and children will be the ones to suffer most by the loss of the traditional family. And just as same sex marriage led straight to polygamy, the destruction of the family will quickly undermine the foundations of the nation. We will not defy God’s laws with impunity.
Please pray with us for the spiritual renewal of our country.
James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Found and President