The Spectacle Blog

Natural Marriage

By on 3.23.06 | 12:34PM

Polygamy overload!

Bill Tucker, as you already know, tackles it in our "pages" today, arguing that monogamy is essential to civilization. (But if you want the full story, you'll need to subscribe and read his full treatment in our March issue, including an afterword by Tom Wolfe.)

Over at Slate, Will Saletan gives distinguishing polygamy from gay marriage the old college try. His lynchpin? Jealousy. Monogamy is based on human nature because one mate gets mad when the other is sleeping around.

If this comes off as rather conjectural and contrived, that's because it is. To stem the march of progress of marital norms from accepting polygamy, an arbitrary line is necessary because the natural one has already been crossed: the natural law principle that marriage is properly ordered toward union and procreation. So without a hint of irony, Saletan is left justifying gay marriage against polygamy through some vague "human nature." The irony here is that while monogamy may be a natural evolution toward civilization, a la Tucker, natural law philosophers like Aquinas decline to declare the practice as opposed to natural law. Rather, it's generally understood as an area that divine law clarified.

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