Polygamy in BC – Can a Young Lady Really ‘Consent’?

VANCOUVER — It would be an “abuse of power” if a woman was forced into a plural marriage, a Mormon scholar told a B.C. court Wednesday, as the case testing Canada’s law against polygamy resumed following a three-week break. Dr. John Walsh…testified that Mormon theology decrees that people not be forced into polygamy and that “God would not recognize” the marriage if a woman was forced into such a situation. “It would be an abuse of power and a deviation from Mormon standards,” he said.

Walsh admitted his comments were restricted to the theological doctrines of Mormonism, and did not necessarily reflect what is actually happening in communities that practise the religion….the issue was referred to the court after two leaders in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful, B.C., — Winston Blackmore and James Oler — had polygamy charges against them stayed in 2009.

Walsh testified Wednesday there is no dogmatic statement in the Mormon religion on the age of marriage for women and men. He admitted under cross-examination he had heard of a girl marrying at the age of 13, but insisted that was a “deviation” and that most Mormons would frown on marriage at such a young age. Walsh — who has a PhD in religious studies, but described himself as an “independent scholar” who does not work at a university — was allowed to testify as an expert in Mormon theology after his qualifications came under close scrutiny from several lawyers at the trial. (Leader Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, January 6, 2011)

Now I don’t care about the polygamy laws per se – not my issue today. What I am concerned about is young impressionable ladies being ‘forced’ into marriages of a plural sort without any real action they can take to say ‘no’. Do these women have any recourse to say ‘no’? If not, then it is for all practical reality a ‘forced’ marriage.

The problem is these girls are part of a religious sect that believes in order to achieve a higher state in paradise plural marriage is part of that pathway/livelihood to achieve it. Wiithout plural marriage the believer is somehow stripped of this higher state. I am not sure these women are being given a choice inside of that peer pressure to please family, man, and God. This is basically the denial of rights to women in this community since they cannot neccesarily stand up for themselves on this issue, they are the pawns in the game.

This is the problem with religion not modernizing – the denial of equal rights to women and believing archaic ideas about the greatness of plural marriage leads to confinement, decreed by Joseph Smith some 140 years back. We see that not modernizing in this case is actually leading to the abuse of nice people and causing them to be hurt by the very people they love.

Religion gone wrong? Yes. It’s aiming for a mark that is leading to the degredation of women.


4 thoughts on “Polygamy in BC – Can a Young Lady Really ‘Consent’?

  1. If polygamy was legal though, wouldn’t that stop underage women from being married as it would require a marriage license? So government could help the sect modernize and conform to current standards.

  2. “If polygamy was legal though, wouldn’t that stop underage women from being married as it would require a marriage license? So government could help the sect modernize and conform to current standards.” (Xander)

    Never thought of that. It’s got some reasoning (truth) but who is to say the young marriages still don’t happen in ‘unoffical religous ceremonies’ and then are reported to the country when the woman reaches the right age? Gotta think like a criminal to catch one.

    The problem is not the marriages – the problem is the mindset that excludes a woman’s right to her freedoms and voice her concerns to her oppressors. Some of these women are so brain-washed (or peer pressured) they don’t even know they are being dehumanized or devalued. They think their value is to share the all important Adam with a few Eve’s. They may have came from dust but no one says they need to have dust for brains.

    What needs to occur in this community is the equality of women – like the rest of democratic society. A woman should have the right to say ‘no’ in the face of marriage, abuse, etc and have the law of the land defend her. Society has come around to this modern notion – shouldn’t also religion?

  3. Adults have sex with minors. That happens with and without religion involvement

    What if the woman feels like she loves the other person? Is it wrong then?

    How do you force religious groups to accept thoughts that are against their beliefs?

  4. “What if the woman feels like she loves the other person? Is it wrong then?” (Xander)

    Yes. No matter how much someone says they might love a minor (someone 16 and under) this does not make it any more ‘right’. In fact I would say it’s an adult male taking advantage of their role in society as someone of ‘importance’ or ‘sway’. They then move in on the younger impressionable girl, who at this age has not fully developed her sense of ‘being’, and use their role as a male adult in their life to win them over sexually or as some type of trophy.

    It’s true religion is not needed for this, I have seen this behavior in grown male adults in school systems – including universities. However, it never makes it right or honorable. That girl, young and quite impressionable, may not realize she is being manipulated by that older, somewhat endearing and seemingly important man.

    “How do you force religious groups to accept thoughts that are against their beliefs?” (Xander)

    I am not into ‘force’ so let’s scratch such a notion as useful. I’ll leave it to the law to handle that type of thing.

    Theology is key here. This is a religious group that can be ‘reasoned’ with via their own scriptures and traditional ideas. It is important for the people in power within these organizations to stand up and start looking at these issues critically and speaking out. I also think people like us play a role in this knowledge expansion. How will they hear if they don’t have someone speaking it? Everytime we are confronted with these issues we need to speak out and lend support where we can to the women entrenched in these issues and to the men perpetrating them. Silence is not golden in this case, it’s tragic.

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