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15 December 2013


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David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

William Fitzgerald was responding to a correction by ‘scott s.’ of an earlier comment be me.

When ‘scott s.’ pointed out what the Anglican 39 articles say, I realised I had made an ass of myself in suggesting that the sacramental nature of marriage is part of Anglican doctrine. Both Luther and Calvin, as I understand it, restricted the sacraments to Baptism and the Eucharist, leaving out the five further traditional sacraments, including marriage, and when the 39 Articles were issued in 1571, Article 25 did the same.

However, there are divergencies within the Anglican communion. From the Wikipedia entry:

‘Five other acts are regarded variously as full sacraments by Anglo-Catholics or as "sacramental rites" by Evangelicals with varied opinions among broad church and liberal Anglicans. Article XXV states that these five "are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God."

It remains the case that as William Fitzgerald notes, the symbolism used in relation to marriage is very strong – and among other things, makes it quite different from a contract. Meanwhile, I think that BM is quite wrong in suspecting men regard Islamic polygamy with envy. Affairs, a mistress, even a change of wife are one thing – the notion of having more than one wife at the same time still goes deeply against the grain.


David habakkuk

Catholicism considers matrimony to be a sacrament. As for polygamy making one uncomfortable as a concept I suppose that my long association with Muslims has eliminated that in me. pl


IMO a lot of the outrage about Polgamy is rooted in deep rooted and persistent protestant anxieties about the matter of sex.

There is a beautiful Monty Python sketch about that in the meaning of life.

" Harry Blackitt: Look at them, bloody Catholics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people they can't afford to bloody feed.

Mrs. Blackitt: What are we dear?

Harry Blackitt: Protestant, and fiercely proud of it.

Mrs. Blackitt: Hmm. Well, why do they have so many children?

Harry Blackitt: Because... every time they have sexual intercourse, they have to have a baby.

Mrs. Blackitt: But it's the same with us, Harry.

Harry Blackitt: What do you mean?

Mrs. Blackitt: Well, I mean, we've got two children, and we've had sexual intercourse twice.

Harry Blackitt: That's not the point. We could have it any time we wanted.

Mrs. Blackitt: Really?

Harry Blackitt: Oh, yes, and, what's more, because we don't believe in all that Papist claptrap, we can take precautions.

Mrs. Blackitt: What, you mean... lock the door?

Harry Blackitt: No, no. I mean, because we are members of the Protestant Reformed Church, which successfully challenged the autocratic power of the Papacy in the mid-sixteenth century, we can wear little rubber devices to prevent issue.

Mrs. Blackitt: What d'you mean?

Harry Blackitt: I could, if I wanted, have sexual intercourse with you...

Mrs. Blackitt: Oh, yes, Harry.

Harry Blackitt: ...and, by wearing a rubber sheath over my old feller, I could insure... that, when I came off, you would not be impregnated.

Mrs. Blackitt: Ooh.

Harry Blackitt: That's what being a Protestant's all about. That's why it's the church for me. That's why it's the church for anyone who respects the individual and the individual's right to decide for him or herself. When Martin Luther nailed his protest up to the church door in fifteen-seventeen, he may not have realised the full significance of what he was doing, but four hundred years later, thanks to him, my dear, I can wear whatever I want on my John Thomas...


Harry Blackitt: ... and, Protestantism doesn't stop at the simple condom. Oh, no. I can wear French Ticklers if I want.

Mrs. Blackitt: You what?

Harry Blackitt: French Ticklers. Black Mambos. Crocodile Ribs. Sheaths that are designed not only to protect, but also to enhance the stimulation of sexual congress.

Mrs. Blackitt: Have you got one?

Harry Blackitt: Have I got one? Uh, well, no, but I can go down the road any time I want and walk into Harry's and hold my head up high and say in a loud, steady voice, 'Harry, I want you to sell me a condom. In fact, today, I think I'll have a French Tickler, for I am a Protestant.'

Mrs. Blackitt: Well, why don't you?

Harry Blackitt: But they - Well, they cannot, 'cause their church never made the great leap out of the Middle Ages and the domination of alien Episcopal supremacy. "

When you say that America is nuts about sex that's probably just on point, and, clearly, Monty Python provides essntial context ^^

Getting outraged about them outrageous Mormons was an opportunity to talk about what those Mormons do with their many wives behind closed doors. Before the Mormons it was what was happening in them Catholic monastries and so forth. Now it's the Muslims.

Other religions appear to be a protestant's pornography.

William Fitzgerald

I wish I'd said it like that.




Yes, this obsession with sexuality arrived in the USA with my puritan ancestors. Along the way Catholicism picked up a lot of that from them prods as well as such baleful influences as Jansenism. pl


Some of these discussions invariably remind me of another bit of dialogue:

Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious...service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

[The men all look thoughtful.]

Russian Ambassador: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.


I've debated whether to share this, but here goes. When it comes to polygamy, I think it depends on how the culture implements it. There seems to be a general idea among some here that it's fine and limited in the cultures that use it. Only people with enough wealth do it, so the net impact of it is not too bad. That's not always the case.

Several years ago, I was part of a team commissioned by an agricultural company that had a lot of dealings in West Africa, particularly in Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana. One of the problems the company faced was a rash of incendiary media reports of child labor and trafficking in the region. As part of a much larger farm rehabilitation effort, we conducted interviews in country and underwrote the research of several anthropologists to help us understand the situation. We wanted to see a) if there was anything we could do to alleviate the problem, and b) make sure no one talked stupidly about it.

The bottom line finding was something like this. Nearly all of the affected children were from Muslim ethnic groups, particularly from Mali and Burkina Faso. What was happening was that, contrary to the logic expressed here, men were marrying multiple wives and having children with them--while having absolutely no means of supporting them. I remember the women of one village joking about the local Lothario, who had four wives and 39 children. This in an area where the 'rich' guys had tin roofs on their houses.

At a certain age the children were introduced to a larger network of connections and assigned to people who either did not have children themselves or had the ability to support them. They were not sold or stolen, as you might expect, they were voluntarily given in to them (though instances of kidnapping did exist). In theory, these networks were linked by kinship groups, etc. but once the children were in the network, the oversight ended. Sometimes, this would work out well for the kid. But most ended up going to farms where they would work at dangerous tasks until their majority in exchange for sustenance and little more. They were essentially slaves until 15 or so (the age of adulthood is lower there).

Of course, the situation was ripe for worse exploitation than this. There is little administrative reach (none really) in most of these areas. No schools, clinics, policeman etc. The entire child trafficking task force in Cote D'Ivoire consists, I believe, of five people. So there were plenty of instances where the children were badly mistreated. Some, as you might expect, ended up as sex slaves in brothels in the cities.

The anthropologists (extremely liberal) tried to educate us on how this was a custom and folk culture, all that stuff. Sure, we could get that. But we didn't think the public would appreciate the niceties. Children were being sent away from their mothers very young. Some of their new "parents" treated them as their own children; others did not. And some treated them very badly indeed.

I'm obviously not a bleeding heart. I was a hired gun, trying figure out if a series of shocking media reports on the situation were fair, or whether they were sensationalistic and misrepresenting a cultural dynamic that Westerners could not understand. While we found a mix of both, it wasn't a pretty picture overall. And if you wanted to place your finger on the cause, it was polygamy.

I don't think this affects the debate on what should happen in the US, but it is food for thought.


Polygamy is going to increase the sexual cachet of certain types of men and likely force a lot more out of their perpetual adolescence in order to compete.

For American women, it will change the landscape like the atomic bomb did for warfare. It would be ironic if polygamy brought back a return to Hawksian Women & Good wife/wise mothers of the 50's - I find them preferable to the angry, overeducated under experienced women in their 20s today.

William R. Cumming

Serial monogamy outside marriage seems to be the cultural trend in the evolving remnants of Western Civilization!

Children and taxes appear to be the big drivers of marriage in the west.


re: 'Gay marriage" as far as I am concerned that was always a legal practical matter, a problem in want of a solution.

Contracts oftered no satisfactory alternative.

It is impossible to adress with contracts the issues of status, inheritance, representation or the issues of partners having children, because many of those are all matters of administrative law and beyond the reach of contracts.

In the absense of a legal framework such relationshits are quite messy legally.

The reality of such couples living together had to be addressed legally one way or another. In that sense, a legal framework is a sensible step because it allows to adress such matters in a coherent way and not on a case by case basis.

As long as 'gay marriage' as a legal framework solves the legal problems and is unlike marriage and about consenting adults the construct is to me a sensible one.

The problem in the US arises from calling it 'marriage'. Cons in the Us are consistently incapable or unwilling to reconcile themselves with the fact that something that's called marriage not necessarily is marriage. Calling it by that name dosn't change that.

To the best of my knowledge, the constructs chosen in the US differed from marriage, but by necessity had to adress many of the same areas in similar or identical ways.

An identical solution to the same set of problems does not indicate equalling marriage and such a legal framework, but may simply be the what a fair and equitable solution suggests.

Just a thought.

William R. Cumming

BTW Utah courts have carefully avoided PALIMONY issues!


" But it does seem plain that extending marriage rights to such parties may have ramifications for public policy in a way that simply adding a new class of couples doesn't."

Ahahaha. That's what we were saying about gay marriage all along, but now that it's rural whites versus effete cosmopolitans you discover there's a problem!

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