Same-sex Marriage, Polygamy & Apes

I was reading an old issue of First Things (Aug/Sept 2008). The Texas polygamist case was still raging and Richard Neuhaus (along with Lionel Tiger, whom Neuhaus quotes extensively) had some pithy commentary:

[The Texas polygamist case is] a real tragedy on several scores, not least being the forcible separation of some four hundred children from their mothers. And it came just at the time of that California ruling that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. I’ll get to the connection in due course. Lionel Tiger, an anthropologist at Rutgers, notes that the Texas affair has attracted a phalanx of lawyers, judges, law enforcers, and psychologists. He writes: “Those responsible for coping with this astonishing disaster would be well-advised to add a primatologist to the team. The fact is that, despite all the blather about faith and freedom of religion, the men operating the various compounds in question are behaving in virtually the same manner as countless dominant males in countless primate troops observed over the years. The essence of the case is that the men who control the politics of the group (as well as the hapless women and children who live there) have used junk theology about heaven, hell, paradise and salvation to maintain their unquestioned access to all females of reproductive age (or younger). That’s the reproductive fantasy of any adult male primate.”  Tiger writes that the victims of these bizarre arrangements include also young men who are effectively disenfranchised because they pose a threat of competition to the older primates and are therefore forced to leave the communities “to become hopeless, ill-schooled, misfits in the towns of normal life.”

He adds this: “One of the triumphs of Western arrangements is the institution of monogamy, which has in principle made it possible for each male and female to enjoy a plausible shot at the reproductive outcome which all the apparatus of nature demands. Even Karl Marx did not fully appreciate the immense radicalism of this form of equity.”

As for the connection with same-sex marriage, one of the key questions in dispute is whether we should as a society abandon male-female monogamy. To do so is to change marriage from a legally recognized and reinforced social institution into any form of affective relationship. The celebrated academics who signed a while back the statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage” are very explicit in endorsing “polyamory,” meaning relationships of any number of persons of one or both sexes legally recognized as marriage. The more “moderate” proponents of same-sex marriage deny that that is what they want but have failed to come up with any convincing reason why that is not what same-sex marriage, in principle and in fact, means. The California and other courts that engage in the usurpation of political decisions about the meaning of marriage are, as Lionel Tiger suggests and whatever their intentions, on the side of the most powerful adult male primates. Too easily forgotten in this dispute is the fact that the triumph of monogamy was chiefly a triumph for women and children.

(emphasis mine. SDJ)

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25 thoughts on “Same-sex Marriage, Polygamy & Apes

  1. But but but but it’s wrong for us to force our outdated ideas of what constitutes a free association of like-minded individuals upon everybody, especially those whose ideas of morality do not match yours.

    Or so I’ve heard.

  2. I’ve heard many people use the fact that homosexuality can be found among primates as justification for its normalization in humans. Discounting for a moment that, whether you subscribe to Darwinism or not, we are not monkeys now, it’s worth pointing out that chimpanzees also rape and cannibalize. Just because monkeys do it doesn’t mean that humans should.

  3. I’ve often referred to the conduct of the Yearn for Zion compound to former Lone Star Times and current residiential anarchist libertarian when he/she/it would proclaim that marriages are “totally private” and government should stay out of it completely. No response yet from the residential marriage/free society expert.

    Glad to see you’ve been indentured to the Hamous plantation. You’re serving your payment to Master Hamous well. Good post.

    One definitive agreement is that polygamy is very hard on women. I cannot necessarily say so in a equally blanketed statement that polygamy is hard of the children but it definitely can be.

  4. it’s worth pointing out that chimpanzees also rape and cannibalize

    And that sometimes hamsters eat their babies. 😉

  5. Some women drown their entire family in the bathtub too. Others just cut off the child’s appendages or boil them alive or drive them into the river. It’s up to society to determine what kind of behavior is acceptable. The Muslims seem to have a pretty good handle on it – just mutilate the females, kill any who give a wink or a nod, keep them ignorant and locked up, and when they are old enough, sell them to the highest bigger – no one seems to be too concerned about that. There’s all kinds of sick stuff out there. Why can’t the rest of us figure it out.

  6. Too easily forgotten in this dispute is the fact that the triumph of monogamy was chiefly a triumph for women and children.

    Future headline:

    Gay Marriage Legal Throughout the Land; Women and Children Hurt Worst

  7. The wise ones will recognize that there is an objective standard by which we all should judge our individual behavior(s). THE AUTHOR caused it to be written down so that all could read it and know and there would be no excuse.

    Isa 5:20-21
    20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    And clever in their own sight!

    If we want to be truthful we need to define “evil” as that which HE defines as “evil”. When in doubt look it up!

  8. #9, Simple,

    The only thing worse than multiple wives is multiple daughters from each of those wives….. 🙂

  9. Well done, Shannon, good to see you contributing!

    I have touched on this subject rather tangentially with my students. I have explained the id, ego, and superego to my students, and that we operate on the level of superego. Those who operate on the id level simply do whatever they want, whatever feels good, whatever fulfills a basic need. I was pointing out that sex belongs best inside the structure of a marriage, where God is present, etc., etc. I made the comment that dogs in the street are good examples of id, and that God expects more of us than that type of behavior. “Just because that girl is hot, doesn’t mean you have to have sex with her!” The kids laughed, but I hope I made my point.

    This whole polygamy things smacks of id.

  10. I have explained the id, ego, and superego to my students, and that we operate on the level of superego.

    In an ideal sense, yes. In practice however, I think most people operate more in the ego. Just my opinion and it’s not to say that I think teaching ideals is a bad thing.

  11. Well, we certainly shouldn’t operate on id!

    Absolutely not. We should operate in the superego. Just my personal observation that most operate in the ego instead.

  12. This topic is also making me think about “fractured families” where there is often not even a marriage, just hooking up and making babies. So you have women with multiple children by different men and vice versa.

    Best example I know of is Calvin Murphy who was a big shot in Houston until it came out that he had 14 children by 9 different women, and I think had only been married to one of the mothers.

  13. What’s all this psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo?

    Well Hamous, Freud would have categorized your reaction as the most common ego defense mechanism: denial (arguing against an anxiety provoking stimuli by stating it doesn’t exist). You’ve probably had a negative experience with psychoanalysis in your past and underwent suppression; at least to the extent that you could. It always bubbles back up to the surface though, doesn’t it?


  14. BTW, in support of what I was saying:

    In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the id, not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation. Not an easy job by any means, but if the id gets too strong, impulses and self gratification take over the person’s life. If the superego becomes to strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals, would be judgmental and unbending in his or her interactions with the world.

  15. and how does this make you feel, Hamous, being a Virgo…

    Well, because I’m a Virgo, I also tend to favor earth tones … and that’s why yellow makes me sad, I think.

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