There has been some discussion on polygamy, after the recent revelation that the Liberals commissioned a study into the subject, to fuel the same sex marriage debate.
Since last night, I have been pondering a fundamental question.
Should polygamy become legal in Canada, what would marriage be?
Consider first of all that it is extremely unlikely that polygamy would be allowed but polyandry forbidden. Women's rights groups would be up in arms. If men can do it, then women must also have the same "right." Under this new law, our marriage system would have to allow marriage between the following groups:
one man and one woman,
one man and one man,
one woman and one woman,
one man and multiple women,
one women and multiple men,
one woman and multiple women and
one man and multiple men.
This arrangement gives us seven different definitions for marriage instead of only one. In the future when someone says "I'm married," what will they mean? What significance will a wedding ring have? Unfortunately, I am afraid the answer will be "Marriage will mean nothing and a wedding ring is just a piece of jewellry with a bit of stone in it." That's too bad, because I happen to like my ring.
Last night on the Michael Coren show, guest Scott Piatkowski tried to argue that marriage is a fundamental right. Of course, we know it's not. His argument was largely based on the issue of choice. Everyone must have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. This is a particularly poor argument, since it invalidates arranged marriages. Just because the parents select the spouse in no way invalidates the marriage. Although I would not be in favour of such a thing for my own daughter when she comes of age, there are many cultures (Indian and Sri Lankan come to mind) where this is quite common.
Our society places far too much emphasis on the issue of choice. There is not enough discussion on benefits or detriments to a society as a whole. There is not enough long-term thinking. It concerns me, because whenever a society fiddles with their fundamental values, and like it or not marriage is a fundamental value, the destruction of that society is not far behind.
The Spartans come to mind.