Polygamy ruling a complex issue

Polygamous marriages has become a hot talking point in Vanderhoof as in so many communities across country and province.

Polygamous marriages has become a hot talking point in Vanderhoof as in so many communities across country and province. It may well end up being overruled by the Supreme Court of Canada some way down the line.

Polygamy is often associated with Mormon groups, a very few of whom adhere to the practice although the Church of Latter Day Saints officially rejected Polygamy over 100 years ago.

But the growth of multi-ethnic societies has also made it something of a live issue. In our “western” cultures monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is still regarded as the norm and is vigorously defended.  Many have felt greatly threatened by changes in law and practice relating to a general liberalization – in relation to gay and lesbian relationships for example.

Polygamy, albeit rare, is feared as a further undermining of that institution of marriage that is seen as a bedrock of family, community and national life. This editorial is not a suitable place to address the complex specifics of the issue of polygamy and we have heard much of the evidence on either side. What this case highlights, however, is the ethical minefield created across all “western” societies following the collapse of a once universally accepted understanding of traditional Christian morality. Even the churches themselves are divided on these issues. On what basis can lines be drawn? How far can the tentacles of the law justifiably stretch into the realms of personal relationships?

Many will have breathed a sigh of relief at news of the last week’s decision. However, it serves only to remind us of the huge complexities and dilemmas we face. The ways in which individuals choose to conduct their personal relationships is increasingly complex . Family lives have rarely been so complex. Where does the law stop?  Pierre Trudeau was perhaps wise in saying “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” The deeper question is profound. On what basis do our modern post Christian societies decide on what is right and what is wrong? The debate will no doubt continue in Vanderhoof and across the country.