‘I take thee and thee and thee . . .’

Many people could see it coming. The seemingly unstoppable redefinition of marriage in our culture to include same-sex marriage was bound to open doors to other forms of marriage, most notably polygamy.

Lisa Brown, in an online post for The Washington Post, lays out the basics of the debate very succinctly even though the headline is about an academic who is saying, in essence, that two is good, three or more is bad.

John Witte Jr., a scholar of religion and law at Emory University in Atlanta, offers four non-religious defenses of monogamy:

1) Unlike most other animals, “humans crave sex all the time, especially when they are young and most fertile. They don’t have a short rutting or mating season, followed by a long period of sexual quietude.”

2) Human babies are “born weak, fragile, and utterly dependent for many years. . . .  Most human mothers have a hard time caring fully for their children on their own, especially if they already have several others. They need help, especially from the fathers.”

3) Most fathers will “bond and help with a child only if they are certain of their paternity.”

4) Unlike virtually all other animals, “humans have the freedom and the capacity to engage in species-destructive behavior in pursuit of their own sexual gratification. Given the lower risks and costs to them, men have historically been more prone to extramarital sex than women, exploiting prostitutes, concubines, and servant girls in so doing and yielding a perennial underclass…who have rarely fared well in any culture.”

These conclusions by Witte are derived from the social sciences. For those of us who are non-scientists, Witte’s conclusions seem intuitively correct, although I’m not so sure about the third one.

If, however, one is going to accept the logic of his points, then it would seem one should see both polygamy and same-sex marriage as socially destructive. Witte makes the obvious, natural connection between the union of one man and one woman. That, it seems, is the way it should be whether one is looking at it from a religious or a sociological perspective.

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