Image Credit: Ricketyus
Mormons have an obsession with “traditional marriage”. It’s always been a thing for them, really. I grew up hearing about how important it was for a child to have a Mom and a Dad and only that. In 1995, they took it a step further when they came out with The Family: A Proclamation To The World. According to Mormons, their Prophet speaks to God directly, and this piece of work, came from God himself.
Although, in 50 years, they might say the Prophet wasn’t speaking as a Prophet, but as a man who had some clearly bigoted ideas. That’s not important right now, though.
In this Proclamation, you’ll find gems like this:
We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Basically, the entire thing is a carefully worded, (sometimes, not so much) declaration that only men and woman deserve to be married, have children and be awesome. The rest of us? The single mothers? The people who had children before marriage? The LGBT community? We’re all going against The Mormon God. We are all perpetually screwing up some greater eternal plan, and one day we’ll be held accountable for our heathen ways.
It looks like I’ll have some decent company, if they turn out to be right.
The Mormon church is well known for their involvement in things like Prop 8 in California, for the more recent opposition to gay marriage in Utah. On a personal level, I can speak to the animosity that they have toward mothers who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock, more specifically the aggressive nature they take in order to coerce and convince women to relinquish their parental rights. They completely believe and breathe their static definition of traditional marriage and family. There is no grey area available in this discussion, absolutely no flexibility or understanding that not every family looks identical nor subscribes to the same ideals they do. They’ve elevated themselves on a pedestal, believing they’ve been ordained as the Traditional Marriage Spokespersons for the world.
Besides the obvious reasons they are so wrong about their stance on this topic, it’s remarkably hilarious that they’ve continued to play the Traditional Marriage card with so much veracity, judgment, and, well, hypocrisy.
Let me demonstrate:
This week, splashed across the front page of the New York Times, and many other major news sources was the fact that Joseph Smith had 30-40 wives. Back in October, the Mormon church posted an anonymously written essay about the founder’s involvement in polygamy. For most, the admission that Joseph Smith practiced what they call Plural Marriage, is no surprise. It’s a pretty well known topic within the church, and even outside of it. However, there are a few things that have not been widely discussed or admitted. Mostly, the church has taken the “it’s in the past, so it’s behind us” stance. When I asked my own leaders as a teenager, after finding sources that touted the very information presented in the essay listed above, I was told point blank that the information was anti-Mormon literature, it was false, and that either way, it was of no importance. Even Gordon B. Hinckley went on Larry King, and said something very similar, even going as far as to say the practice itself is not doctrinal. If there has been further discussion on Joseph Smith in the realm of mainstream church resources or lessons, I was not ever privy to that when I was a practicing member. The amount of wives he took? The child brides? The fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy before his supposed revelation from God that he must practice polygamy. Not discussed at all. It isn’t terribly surprising that the bulk of these concerns and many others are not addressed within the article, or are brushed aside as though they are of little significance.
For instance, Joseph had seven wives under the age of 18, two of which were sisters,and one who was 14. There are several accounts of women who refused Joseph’s proposals to become his wife, with him ultimately using the religion to coerce them into submission. Although, ethical non-monogamy isn’t something I have an issue with, Joseph Smith also practiced what would be deemed unethical polyandry, demanding men share their wives with him, and sending them away on missions (a full diagram of all his wives, with sources can be found here). These aren’t just minor anecdotes in this story and yet, they are still omitted. Members should be profoundly concerned by the lack of transparency being offered to them by their leadership.
However, this is the meat of the whole polygamy debacle that I wish to point out, specifically for practicing Mormons:
You know these plights against anyone who is supposedly destroying the “traditional” family with their gayness, or singleness, or sex having before marriage-ness? It has to stop now. You don’t get to discuss traditional marriage anymore. It’s over. No longer can you tell anyone, now and in the future, what marriage should or shouldn’t look like. You don’t get to cry persecution because other people who don’t carry the same beliefs as you want to institute laws that would allow for marriage equality. You do not get to condemn anyone for how they love, who they love, or how they choose to build their families. You do not get to wail and gnash your teeth because the world is going to hell in a hand basket because no one respects your so called traditional marriage.
Game over, guys.
You don’t practice polygamy anymore, you say? Physically, no, you don’t because it’s illegal, but….
It’s still discussed in church, and it’s still believed that it’s a law that will be implemented at the Second Coming. Polygamy is still practiced by leaders, by male members who remarry in temple marriage. You believe that polygamy is a Celestial Law and will be practiced in Heaven.
And, if that’s what you believe? Fine. This fact remains though: You do not get to have the above set of beliefs and still self-righteously preach to the rest of us that we’re damning the world with our non-traditional marriage ways. From what it seems, you are happily eating your own non-traditional marriage cake in the closet, and trying to hide the icing smears all over your face.
This may blow your mind – We, the rest of the world, don’t fucking care what you believe or practice. Like, really, it matters to us, not at all. It’s become such a hot news story because for years, you’ve worked hard to tell the rest of the world that some of your history didn’t happen. That you aren’t weird, and that your past is golden, even though it’s not. Now that the internet has a plethora of amazing resources on the history of Mormonism, the head guys in Salt Lake realized it was time to face the music or risk losing more of their faithful. It’s a smart move for them. Yet, beyond the hype of the headlines, the rest of us non-Mormons don’t really care.
If you want to enjoy your celestial plural marriage laws (though, please try to find some ethical way to practice it), carry on. Have all the wives you wish, maybe even have all the husbands too! If we’re not interested in the lifestyle you practice (and I assure you, we’re not) or if we disagree with your reasons for practicing, we’ll still leave you alone. What you do in your home is of little or no concern to the rest of the world. Much like the marriages and family your church fights so vigorously to abolish.
Take a page from our book, if you could, please. Maybe refrain from acting like hypocritical assholes regarding marriage, and families. Your Traditional Marriage Advocate card has officially been revoked, and we know you guys are just as “non-traditional” as the rest of us. Welcome to the club, Mormons.