The biggest thing opponents of gay marriage like to whip out is the Pandora’s Box argument: that letting two men or two women file joint returns and claim dependents will lead to Marriage Armageddon. Sisters will marry brothers. Men will marry their pets. Women will marry their Hitachi Magic Wands. Bill O’Reilly will marry his falafel.
But the most heavily lubricated slippery slope is polygamy. What, they cry, will prevent men and women from taking more than one spouse?
This waling and gnashing of teeth recently caused a starry (green) light to shine above HBO, which married The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, and Wife Swap into Big Love. Big Love’s caused some controversy with Mormons, who want to assure the world that despite having a religion that approves polygamy, their religion doesn’t approve polygamy.
The other night, however, God sent me a message. That message was channeled through my thumb. I had just finished my nightly Daily Show/Colbert Report freedom hating, when my thumb triggered the guide and scrolled to A&E. The network famous for providing little art or entertainment was re-running an old Bill Kurtis documentary: Inside Polygamy. Or, as I would have called it, The Jesus In Mrs. Jones(es).
The show talked about how there may be as many as 50,000 polygamous couples in the United States (circa 1999, when this was filmed), many but not all of them Mormons. Despite all these men and women practicing something illegal, the state of Utah more or less looks the other way. While one of the Utah state senators, a clean-cut Mormon, was shocked—shocked, I say!—at the idea of polygamy, he also laughed off the idea of prosecution. “Where are we going to put these people if we arrest them? Are we going to release the Mafia and drug dealers to make room for them? We don’t have money to build that much jail space.”
I imagine if 50,000 African-American crack addicts resettled in Utah, they’d find the funds to build new jails pretty darn quick. But I digress. (This illustrates why I have trouble having visions from God: I’m easily distracted by the voices of the devil or my cats).
As the show marched on and interviewed the multiple spouses of multiple families, they all shared three characteristics:
1. The women all looked like they wanted to bludgeon their rival wives with Precious Moments figurines. I heard the word “jealousy” more times than in the song, “Hey Jealousy.”
2. All of the men looked like extras from Jesus of Nazareth after too many baskets of deep-fried loaves and fishes.
3. The marriages all originated when the men received some sort of orders from God. They were “called” to do this, even though the idea of having their own harem did not appeal to them (said, admirably, with a straight face in every case).
(3a. And to demonstrate the vast, icy grip of political correctness on even the most religious retreads, the families practicing polygamy didn’t call it polygamy. They called it “plural marriage,” kind of like when someone who’s into being pissed on calls it “watersports.” You’re not fooling anybody except yourself.)
TLB, my lovely (and only) wife, was also watching the program with me. “What if I came home,” she said, “and told you that God ordered me to take another husband?”
“God wouldn’t do that,” I said.
“Because that’s not how it goes down in the Bible,” I replied. “It’s always the man taking on multiple wives.”
“But it shouldn’t be that way,” TLB said. “It makes more sense for the woman to have more than one man.”
“Only from a sexual sense,” I said, before realizing that was the PAC my wife was lobbying for.
Before I had to once again explain that as long as we didn’t have a pool, we weren’t getting a pool boy, God slapped me in the back of the head and told me to pay attention. For on the screen, one of the super polygamists, a guy with eight wives (suck it, Larry King!), blathered on about how this lifestyle was normal because it was condoned in the Bible, “and God doesn’t change.”
Why wouldn’t God change? Does an omnipotent being not have the power to change His/Her mind? In fact, that logic invalidates the Mormon religion, which relies on God writing a sequel to the original bestseller.
"Brando, you dunce!" boomed a voice from the heavens. "I am changing my mind. Quit making your stupid jokes and look up here."
And lo, I looked toward heaven, and above me I saw cherubim and seraphim driving Miatas and Outbacks. And I saw two giant swords, swatting at each other, until the blades wrapped together and they were one. And then they were replaced by two donuts bumping together, until their sweet, cakey walls became one. And it was good.
"Spread the Word," God said. "Do a good job, and I’ll forgive you for the thoughts you had during Mass last week."
So there you have it. It’s time to stick an erratum in the backdoor of Leviticus. The Lord hath spoken, and we are compelled to listen. After all, he speaks to the Preznit about invading Iraq, he speaks to Pat Robertson about killing uppity South American presidents, and he tells guys who look like Meat Loaf after some bad meat loaf to marry in bulk. How can my vision be any less legitimate?