stillstanding's blog

History of Marriage Laws  (Marriage Compact, part two)



Marriages are as old as mankind itself, and certainly predate government. We can find examples of both monogamy and polygamy in the King James Bible, and even much older, but that is not the point of this section.


Most state and federal statutes today are a restatement of older laws that have been handed down over time. You may already know that most western law is derived from English commonlaw which, in turn, derived from Mosaic Law (Moses).


We tend to think of weddings as ceremony, but when you look at the elements of ceremony you often find solid reasons in law for those elements to be in there.


The first element of a lawful wedding has always been public notice. A weddingoften affects more than just those who marry, whether for good or ill. Others may have been interested in a particular man or woman; families may consider themselves joined by a marriage between two of their members; entire dynasties have been created through marriage. One or another may move to a different town, in which case one town may lose a blacksmith, or a teacher, or other craftsman, while another town gains one.


I’m sure we’ve all been to a wedding and heard the preacher say these words, “If anyone knows of a reason why these two should not be joined in the bonds of Holy Matrimony, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace!?”Consider that if prior notice is not given, how might someone who does know of a reasonhave the opportunity to speak up?


Proper notice has taken different forms over the years, from public announcements at church, to written notice posted at the general store or saloon, to printing a wedding announcement in the local newspaper of record. I suppose it might be considered lawful now to give notice on Facebook, although I would personally like to see Facebook decline in significance in western culture. For a very long time it has been considered proper to give at least thirty days notice prior to a wedding.


Certain marriages have been prohibited, at various times and places throughout history. Examples include marriages between close family members, different races or religions, same gender, and multiple (plural) partners.

Different locales have varying views on age, some younger than others. It has long been customary in most places that people younger than the usual minimum agecould still marry with parents’ permission.


When you look closely, a wedding is very much like a contract. Vows are exchanged, in the presence of witnesses. In most cases some kind of property changes hands (lawful consideration), even if it is only rings.


Traditionally it has been churches which managed and imposed all these rules. The idea of a marriage license was first thought up by the churches. Gradually, government began taking over this role. Today, when most people plana wedding, they also think theyneed to go down to city hall, or the county seat, and obtain a marriage license. I’ll write more about the marriage license in the next section, "Understanding Government Encroachment."

I’m a new member here, my name is Greg.


Just like everyone else using this site, I have my own particular way of looking at the world. I decided to write this blog because even though I’m sure there are folks here who have lived polygamy, and know much more about it than I, still, I may be able to contribute something of value.


I’ve never actually practiced polygamy, or personally known anyone who does, but I’ve been interested in the subject, and attracted to the lifestyle for many years; long before any of the TV shows came out.


I married for the first (so far the only) time when I was thirty-one. It was a monogamous marriage that lasted twenty-eight years, and we raised four children.


She was Mormon. I never joined the church, although I attended many times over the years. I like the Mormons; they are mostly good people who believe in self-reliance, as I do. They take care of their own, and in some ways I admire them, but I think a lot of their views are superficial. I didn’t realize until after we were married, how rabidly anti-polygamy the mainstream Mormons are. In spite of this, Big Love, and Sister Wives became two of my wife’s favorite shows. Of course any discussion that led to talk of bringing a sister wife into our family was quickly shot down.


I quietly accepted my family would never be plural, and never pushed the issue. Our marriage split, more than two years ago, in spite of my best efforts to keep it together. Now that I’m single again, I see an opportunity to do things differently this time around, which led me to join this site.


I’m not an attorney, but I am interested in the law and have studied for many years. My real interest is in the basis of law, the fundamental underpinnings.


A few years after I was married, among other things, I learned about an instrument called a "Marriage Compact" (MC). The MC has been used by the educated and monied people of the world, for thousands of years. You could think of the MC as a kind of prenuptial agreement, although the scope of a true MC is much broader. Pre-nups deal almost exclusively with protecting the premarital assets of one or more parties, whereas an MC can be detailed enough to cover nearly every aspect of a marriage.


Very few people these days except, of course, the folks from the very old monied families, have ever heard of the MC. I believe if I had known about it, and used one with my first marriage, my ex-wife and I would still be happily married today. If we were not, then our divorce would have been considerably less expensive.


I’ve read enough of the blogs and forum posts here to see that this site tries, at least, to function as the glue to hold together a kind of loose-knit community. I’d like to be a part of that, so I’m writing to share what I know about the MC, in hopes it may help others here to have greater success in their marriages.


Monogamy vs. Polygamy


As I see it, Polygamy shares many social problems with Monogamy. These are really just people problems. Sometimes people don’t get along. Maybe they start with different, or even unrealistic expectations. In monogamy it can be maddeningly difficult sometimes to get two people to agree on the simplest of issues. Add a third, fourth, or more to the mix, and I’m sure it can be like trying to get a unanimous vote in Congress.


Where polygamy differs is in its limited acceptance. In most places in the United States, polygamy is illegal. This puts whole families in danger. Families who are peaceful, and otherwise law-abiding, must worry about the safety and freedom of every family member, for no other reason than how they choose to privately live their lives.


This worry goes beyond the fear of law enforcement. As I understand it, many plural families are made up of a husband and first-wife, who were married by virtue of a marriage license, followed by additional wives who have no protection under the law. Those additional wives have no claim on marital assets, no rights of inheritance, and little or no help from the courts in case of dispute, divorce, or abuse.


What’s more, families are potentially vulnerable to unscrupulous sister-wives who might bring a child into the marriage and then leave the family, taking with her the child, and a sizeable portion of the family’s wealth through child-support or other means.


Before I write about how the Marriage Compact can help with these issues, I’m going to try and give you a better understanding of how things got to be the way they are. The next segment will be titled, "History of Marriage Laws".


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