The following has been prepared for fellow Polygamists living in the Kingdom of Sweden where of late there has been some discussion about the admission of polygamy as a lawful estate of marriage in that country.
As of 1 January 2000 the Kingdom of Sweden broke its ties with the Lutheran Church which thereafter ceased to be the official state religion. This means that Sweden is no longer officially a Christian state but a secular one. As Christian polygamists we have very mixed feelings about this major move towards a secularist state.
For one, as Christians/Messianics, we believe that Christianity should have as much influence in society as possible and consider this to be morally, ethically and spiritually beneficial to the community at large.
For two, we are not entirely happy with the way that the Swedish Church has moved in the last half century as it has progressively yielded to liberal secularist pressure by acknowleging doctrines and practices which are both heretical and destructive to the Lutheran fellowship.
For three, even had the Lutheran Church stayed on course and not yielded to demands to be 'politically correct', we consider the Lutheran Reformation to be incomplete. So whilst we are very definitely evangelical reformers ourselves we do not believe that Luther went far enough, the reforming process being impeded by the perceived need by the Reformers to be 'politically correct' in their own day. They concluded, with some justification, that to take the Reformation any further than they did would be to jeopardise it altogether and risk its being completely overwhelmed by the Catholic Counter-Reformation. As I have discussed in another article (Luther, the Anabaptists and Polygamy: A History), Protestantism was far too fragile to be taken to its logical conclusion in the 16th century. It needed to be consolidated against its very powerful secular-religious Catholic opponents.
Protestantism, for all its defects, was the best Christianity of its time and continued to be the purest Gospel of Christ available for the next three centuries. In its environment many radical sects appeared which were more politically-motivated than spiritually guided at times, forcing the nascent Protestant Church to bring them under its hegemony. I am thinking mostly of the radical Anabaptist sects, and most especially the polygamous one which took power in the German city of Münster before being utterly exterminated by a combined Catholic-Protestant army. I do not wish to debate the rights and wrongs of the Lutheran action at that time, for in many respects this was a brutal era, its actions we would not wish to imitate in any way today. My point in mentioning this historical incident here is but to point out that the question of polygamy was voiced by the Lutherans but rejected only on political grounds, namely, that it would endanger the young Reformation Movement. And I hasten to add that we are not Anabaptist polygamists, neither would we attempt anything on the lines which they did. They belong to a bygone era.
And so the Lutheran Church continued in the monogamy-only Catholic tradition. Protestantism survived only after considerable warfare and bloodshed. Historically Protestantism owes its survival to the Kingdom of Sweden which was, for a time, the dominant nation in Europe and resisted attempts by a Catholic league to crush it completely. As an evangelical/messianic Christian living in a Catholic country (Poland) I have to say sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart: thank you Protestant Sweden for spilling your blood for freedom and for what you considered to be the true apostolic faith.
This essay is not, however, addressed to the Swedish Lutheran Church which remains monogamy-only and will probably never change. It is a Church, sadly, in its death throes, and perceived as having little revelence in one of the most liberal, socialistic secular (and possibly pagan-occultic) democratic states in the world. Sweden is the darling of feminists, liberals, socialists, atheists and pagans worldwide and is probably today one of the least Christian of western countries aside from perhaps the Czech Republic and Estonia. For all its faults, for which it will one day pay dearly, it does have many commendable points. It has a 'live, and let live"' philosophy, thanks to its multiculturalism, making it a relatively safe place for those who wish to live alternative lifestyles.
As Christian polygamists we find ourselves somewhat on the horns of a dilemma because the Swedish system is both favourable and unfavourable to Swedish polygamists. It is favourable because polygamists may, so long as they do not attempt to take out official marriage licences, live their lifestyle in relative peace - but it is unfavourable because the powers-that-be which, though outwardly tolerant of different lifestyles and religions, has a deep inbuilt prejudice against polygamy which is considered to be antisocial and (in a very feministic society) highly oppressive to women. And because it is perceived in these terms, such people feel they must 'step in' and 'intervene' politically as one might in a case involving slavery, child-abuse, or other crime where the police force has a duty to intervene and apprehend the supposed culprits.
Polygamy does not have nearly the same sort of exposure in Sweden or other European countries as it does in America where Mormon polygamy is well established and where evangelical and messianic Christian polygamy is on the rise. American polygamists are receiving a lot of media attention these days and is considered by many the 'next' revolutionary lifestyle to break forth on the public scene in the wake of the acceptance of homosexuality. The typical argument heard today is: 'If homosexuality is acceptable, why not polygamy?' And, of course, there is no answer to this question if you are not a monogamy-only Christian: if homosexuality is acceptable, there is no moral (in a world of moral relativism) reason for preventing the legalisation of polygamy either. It is, without a doubt, the next item on the social-political agenda in the USA and it is the belief of most polygamists like myself that the anti-polygamy Edmunds-Tucker Act, passed to repress early Mormon polygamy, will soon be repealed. It is already a crime to discriminate against polygamists in the work place, a law that ironically contradicts the Edmunds-Tucker Act!
Sweden, like most Western nations, keeps its eye on 'big Daddy' across the sea. And it is not therefore surprising that the issue has been raised by some politicans in your country (Sweden). Of course, it may take many decades for it to be accepted as homosexuality has been, though perhaps with the ever accelerating rate of change, we may not have to wait for so long. The issue will be, from a secular perspective, whether it is a secular right of people to live such a lifestyle. And if homosexuality and lesbianism are accepted as a 'right', then logically polygamy cannot be opposed. It is, after all, a very ancient instutution, and the majority of worldwide cultures practice it. And like every other practice, it is is sometimes abused. Any secular legislators will wish to be satisfied, if it is to become legal, that those who participate in this lifestyle will be doing do out of freedom and not compulsion and legislation will have to be formulated to protect the welfare of all those involved in such a lifestyle. They will need to discuss whether polygamous marriage falls under the category of 'true' marriage or whether, because of the concensus, it better falls under a common law umbrella. I somehow doubt that in the beginning it would be viewed as 'marriage' as monogamous marriage is (a legacy of Catholicism and Lutheranism) but must start as common law marriage did (called samboerskap in Scandinavia).
For myself I am not so much interested in polygamy becoming an alternative state institution (since I don't believe the state has any right to control 'marriage' in the first place) as I am interested in it becoming socially acceptable (generally-speaking) and financially fair. There are moves in Sweden's neighbour, Norway, to extend the exclusive tax concessions given to married couples to common-law couples as well - or to take them away from married couples and so both get more tax as well as diminishing the motivation to be married. As far as being financially fair is concerned, polygamists do suffer a great deal because there are no tax concessions to them as may be found in monogamous marriages, nor any laws to ensure the fair distribution of wealth amongst wives and children when the husband dies. This is in itself a whole can of worms. Scandinavia has a very peculiar system indeed which prevents the husband from distributing his wealth in the way that he wishes when he dies. He is forced, by the state, to distribute it equally amongst his children even if he wishes to disinherit a child. What this means is that his wealth is not ultimately his own but the state's, which I consider to be a form of robbery. However, that is as it may be.
The secularist politicians will, if confronted with polygyny (one man, many women), also be forced to consider polyandry (one woman, many men) and, in order to be 'fair' (as well as to appease the feminists), will probably institute both forms. The latter will present more problems because of the difficulty of establishing paternity when it comes to inheritance rights and similar issues. These practices (polygyny and polyandry) will also force them to examine claims for polyamory (a term also used by many to include polygyny and polyandry) mixed marriage (several men and women all joined in one 'marriage') which will cause no small number of bureaucratic headaches. A guiding principle will, of course, be social pressure from the polygamy minority to show that is actually an alternative and that it is stable as well as healthy for children. Since polygyny is such an ancient institution there will be far fewer hurdles to jump than with polyandry and polyamory lifestyles which have never proven themselves successful. In the few cases where polyandry has been stable it is known that the moving force behind it has been poverty (see my article, Understanding Biblical Polygyny through Polyandry and Sexual Communism). However, many Wiccans (for example) are experimenting with this lifestyle but the few I have had contact with have admitted that as yet they have never been able to create more than short-term relationships - polyandrous and polyamorous relationships have a high incidence of failure.
The great strenghth of polygyny is that (minus the inevitable cases of abuse which trouble every marriage institution or sexual relationship) is that it has:
In respect of the latter this ought to be especially attractive to the modern social state which is overburdened to maintain its present system of benefits, for the natural dynamic of polygamy is self-sufficiency. Christian polygyny, moreover, is also naturally geared to taking care of the old, thus releasing the state from the responsibility of the approaching nightmare in which they know that they will not, in a few decades, have the financial resources to take care of pensioners.
(a) a long history;
(b) it is stable;
(c) it is family-positive; and
(d) it is economically dynamic and tends in the direction of self-support.
Unlike other lifestyles which often are a drain on the economy and create all sorts of problems, polygyny offers relief to an increasingly financially burdened secular state from the ever growing welfare demands created by an increasing pensioner population. Even now they are exploring ways to solve the 'pensioner problem' such as American-type insurance. The recent mass influx of refugees since 2015 has only exaccerbated the problem.
One thing secular and other feminists are going to have to realise and accept is that women must have the right to enter polygyny if they want to. They have no more right to prevent several women marrying one man of their own free will than they (using their own code of ethics and morality) have the right to stop homosexual and lesbian liasons. This is sometimes called the 'Tolerance Doctrine'. And they know it. As ever, though, the issue is rarely logic and rights but personal prejudice and preference. Of course, they have the right to be as prejudiced as they want to be but they can't also claim the right to act from under the secular-liberal umbrella which protects minority views and which denies any absolute truth beyond the 'consensus'. But even 'consensus' is a nebulous word because consensus implies majority - in which case, in any true consensus, there is no such thing as minority rights!
Sweden is a pluralistic society and whilst the polygamy movement is not remotely as strong as in the United States there are polygamists in Sweden even if they for the most part live underground.
A related question as to whether polygamy ought or ought not to be legally accepted in Sweden is whether such a practice will have a growing rôle. I believe it will, and for several reasons:
The state must accept that many Christian women will prefer to marry a Christian polygamously than marry a non-believer and the state must allow her to do so if she wishes. This is true of any type of community where there is a gender imballance
(1) There is a gender imbalance in most countries with a surplass of women, being accute in places like Canada, for example;
(2) The imballance is more accute within certain sub-communities such as the Christian one where women outnumber men 2:1 or more.
There should, if the state is to be consistent, be two forms of polygamous marriage:
(b) Polygamous common-law marriage or samboerskap.
That way polygamists can decide what kind of polygamous marriage they want to enter - life-long or 'sunset clause'-type. This system also allows for polygamists like myself who, whilst wanting a certain amount of state recognition and equality in tax and other financial matters, also want to live the principle without having the marriage controlled by the state. Thus common-law marriage might be an attractive alternative. (I do not, incidentally, believe in 'sunset clauses' but they would be necessary to obtain the rights that Swedish polygamists want).
Needless to say the state will not be motivated to do much for a minority such as polygamists unless there is some sort of political pressure from the minority themselves and support from the majority. For now I should imagine that polygamists in Sweden will just continue the way they are, keeping a low profile. The real injustice surfaces when poor people wish to enter the practice but cannot because they are excluded from state support. I am sure that many more would enter the lifestyle if they knew they had the same economic safety net and tax concessions as monogamists, common-law couples, and others. It would be naïve to hope that polygamy will become socially acceptable to everyone as monogamy is or homosexuality is becoming, and for this reason polygamists will probably want to keep a lowish profile in order to continue to live in peace. I cannot forsee, for example, a militant polygamous movement as there is amongst homosexuals because it simply doesn't lend itself to that sort of behaviour. For the issue of polygamy is not simply one of 'sexual rights' but also of 'family rights' and the family unit isn't so popular in Marxist Sweden. Thus the polygamy and homosexual movements lay very different stresses - indeed, they may be said to be opposites in many respects, the former wanting the right to build large families and the latter to be sexually promiscuous. The agendas are completely different. Polygyny may therefore be said to be a conservative force whereas hedonism in general is more anarchistic and left-wing.
Whatever the state decides to do, or not do, the polygamy movement will grow in Sweden and elsewhere in the West. In its anxiety to be embracing of all lifestyles, liberal Sweden might just be the first European, if not Western nation to make polygamy legal. I personally doubt it but we shall see. Though Sweden does recognise polygamic marriages performed abroad (between Moslems in a Moslem country or those of other religious beliefs in Africa who migrate to Sweden) it does not otherwise recognise Swedish polyagmous marriages. I have heard of a native Swedish man marrying two Zambian women polygamously in Africa and being allowed to retain them in Sweden only because of a (probably unrepeatable) loophole in Swedish Law: