Kirsten Andersen

Former ‘sister wife’:  Polygamy was ‘like living with adultery on a daily basis’

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, February 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A woman who lived in a polygamous ‘marriage’ in Utah for 18 years has spoken out to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, telling the paper that despite practitioners’ increasing push for public acceptance and legal recognition, all is not well behind closed doors.

“The only way that I can explain it is like living with adultery on a daily basis, and having the woman come home,” said Marion Munn, who spoke to the Daily Mail after a federal judge struck down Utah’s anti-cohabitation law, which the state had previously used to prosecute polygamists. 

Munn says that although she despised the idea of polygamy, she was convinced by her religious superiors that she risked God’s wrath if she failed to submit to the lifestyle.

“Certainly within Mormon-based polygamy, it's not really much of a choice, because Mormon scriptures teach a woman that if she doesn't consent to living in polygamy, God's going to destroy her,” Munn told the Daily Mail. “So for me going into it, I didn't personally want to live it, but I felt compelled to as a matter of faith.”

Munn was born in England, but moved to Utah after converting to a fundamentalist sect of Mormonism that still practices plural marriage.  Some 40,000 people are thought to live in polygamous ‘marriages’ in Utah, where their unions are recognized by their sects, but not the modern Mormon Church or the state. Nationwide, up to 100,000 people are estimated to be living in such arrangements.

Ironically, while Utah was forced to officially stamp out polygamy as a condition of statehood, it may now be the United States government that forces the practice back into the mainstream. As state officials fight to preserve the state’s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, the federal courts have been their biggest obstacle.  The decision to strike down the anti-cohabitation bill came on the heels of another federal court ruling redefining marriage to include homosexual couples (that ruling has been temporarily halted pending appeal).

In December, citing Lawrence v. Texas, the controversial 2003 Supreme Court decision that overturned anti-sodomy laws nationwide, Judge Clark Waddoups of the United States District Court ruled that Utah’s anti-cohabitation law was an unconstitutional intrusion of the state into the sexual behaviors of consenting adults. 

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the stars of the popular reality show “Sister Wives,” who have made a career out of popularizing polygamy in the mainstream media.  Kody Brown and his four ‘wives’ – one legal, the others not – moved to the suburbs of Las Vegas after their hit television program attracted unwanted scrutiny from Utah law enforcement.  But they sued to overturn Utah’s anti-cohabitation law, arguing it violated their religious freedom and privacy rights.

“This is essentially the Lawrence v. Texas for plural families,” said the Browns’ lawyer, Jonathan Turley. 

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes vowed to appeal the ruling.

While Kody and his ‘wives’ strive to put a positive spin on their polygamous lifestyle – their catchphrase is: “Love should be multiplied, not divided” – cracks sometimes appear in the shiny façade, revealing simmering resentment, jealousy and hurt feelings just below the surface.  Forced to compete for Kody’s time, money, and affection, the four women – Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn – have fought bitterly with him and each other over housing arrangements, pregnancies, child rearing, leisure time and just about everything else. 

“Part of the pathos of the Sister Wives show comes when patriarch Kody Brown introduces a new wife and mom to the ‘sisters,’” wrote legal analyst Marci Hamilton in a scathing article attacking the family’s lawsuit.  “For those who believe in gender equality, this arrangement should be seen as more than just television entertainment; it is a recipe for oppression, and a foot in the door for the patriarchal principle that unfairly ruled our world not so long ago.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

“No collection of individuals—even those with their own reality-television show, or a set of religious beliefs—has the power or right to define what marriage is,” added Hamilton.  That is the obligation and power of the state legislature.  When marriage is defined, it also determines a wide range of issues, including who is responsible for which children, who inherits from whom, and who owns what.  These are crucial constitutive elements of our society that cannot be left to the whim of each individual.”

Hamilton drew attention to the high profile case of Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence behind bars for molesting underage girls he “married” within his sect.  

“Utah has declared polygamy illegal, and for good public-policy reasons,” Hamilton wrote.  “When practiced in a community, it leads to the necessity of each man looking to younger and younger women, and the abandonment of some of the boys to make the odds work for the men.  Even if the Brown clan can make polygamy look banal, as opposed to outright evil, the structure has a sure tendency to suppress women, foreclose the full flowering of their potential, and make children defenseless.”

Indeed, women and children who have escaped the lifestyle have long told horror stories about what it is like to live that way.

In her 2007 memoir Escape, Carolyn Jessop recounted her experience being married off to a 50-year-old member of Jeffs’ sect when she was barely 18. 

As one of six of the man’s ‘wives,’ the teenager, who had never even kissed a boy before, quickly realized that “the only way to protect myself in my marriage was by remaining of sexual value to him.  Sex was the only currency I had to spend in my marriage - every polygamist wife knows that.  A woman who possesses a high sex status with her husband has more power over his other wives.”

“If she becomes unattractive to him, she is on dangerous ground - usually winding up as a slave to the dominant wife,” Jessop explained.  “So although I hated Merril touching me, I knew I had to make myself attractive to him, even though there was no chemistry between us and our sex life was always perfunctory.” 

Eventually, Jessop had eight children by her husband, whom she says he beat regularly.  But when her seventh baby became ill with cancer as an infant, she realized that “no one cared” about her or her children.  Not one of the other wives came to see them during the long hospital stay or offered so much as a word of sympathy or support.

“This was a mark of the essentially competitive relationship we all had - the internal rivalries between six wives were hugely complex,” wrote Jessop.  But she said the experience was “a wake-up call.”  She began planning her escape, and in 2003, she fled with her eight children.  “Within hours,” she wrote, “Merril was hunting me down like prey, but I didn't care. I would rather be dead than live that way another minute.”

‘Better off dead’ is a concept revisited again and again in the gripping 1882 treatise The Women of Mormonism: The Story of Polygamy as Told by the Victims Themselves, which is filled with firsthand accounts of suffering by ‘sister wives’ in polygamous households.

“The house was a perfect hell, and every polygamous household is,” wrote one woman. “I defy any man or woman in [Utah] Territory to cite one instance of a polygamous household where there is anything approaching harmony – where there is not bickering, constant jealousy and heart-aches, even where the semblance of good relations is most rigidly observed.” 

“[Polygamy] renders man coarse, tyrannical, brutal, and heartless,” wrote another woman.  “It deals death to all sentiments of true womanhood. It enslaves and ruins woman. It crucifies every God-given feeling of her nature. She is taught that to love her husband as her heart prompts her to do, and to feel the natural jealousy that comes from seeing her husband marry another woman, is wicked, and springs from her innate depravity; that she must crush out and annihilate all such feelings.”

Yet another wrote, “How can a wife have those holy and tender feelings which should always be associated with the marriage tie, and which are inseparable from a true union, when she can speak, and to all appearances calmly, of her husband's having ‘gone to stay with some other woman?’ What ideas of home love and home associations can children have who talk about 'father's week at the other house,' and who discuss freely which woman is his favorite, and why she is so, and which woman's children he is most indulgent to, and provides for the best?”

Chris Gacek, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews he believes polygamy is inherently unfair to women.

“Monogamy benefits women on many levels, and research shows that includes the emotional and spiritual,” Gacek said.  “Efforts to undermine the definition of marriage in one area (e.g., number of marital partners) inevitably lead to conceptual murkiness about the nature of the conjugal relationship that men and women can expect of each other.”

Only 6 days remain!

Support pro-life news. Help us reach our critical spring fundraising goal by April 1!


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, ,

Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

Advertisement
Featured Image
Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Red Alert!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook