December 16, 2013 Print

Federal Judge Strikes Down Part of Utah Law Banning Polygamy

by Bethany Monk

A federal judge on Friday struck down part of a Utah law making polygamy illegal. Family advocates say the ruling, if carried out, will harm children.

The family of Kody Brown — made famous by the TLC reality series “Sister Wives” — filed suit against the law in 2011. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups claims the part of the law making cohabitation illegal violates the Constitution.

Jeff Johnston, sexuality and marriage analyst for Focus on the Family, said this case “piggy-backs on same-sex cases that legalize same-sex marriage.”

“What these cases do,” he said, “is put adults ahead of the children. That’s the way we’ve moved in our culture — we’ve made marriage more about the wants and needs of adults rather than kids. The judge is just following this ‘logic,’ which is leading to same-sex marriage in different states.”

As Utah became a state in 1896, Congress required state lawmakers to outlaw polygamy as a condition of joining the Union. Friday’s ruling removes the ban on cohabiting. If appealed, the case would head to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Johnston explained that just because there are examples of polygamous relationships in the Old Testament, it does not mean it has God’s stamp of approval.

“The Bible is really honest about human relationships, human failings and human sin,” he said. “It describes all kinds of problem-relationships, and it shows the problems in those relationships. There’s often jealousy between the spouses and between the children, and there’s conflict a lot of times.”

God’s design for marriage, though, clearly involves just one man and one woman.

“While the Bible describes these other relationships, the only kind of relationship that the Bible prescribes is a marriage relationship between one husband and one wife,” Johnston said. “We know that is what’s best for children.”

Read the opinion in Brown v. Buhman.