I personally have not married any minors, and I think that most American girls are poorly equipped for the rigors of marriage - let alone plural marriage - at the tender age of 18. I shall invite my teenage daughters to choose carefully and seek inspiration when it comes to choosing a spouse. I have a friend who lives in the Czech Republic - a western European country of mostly Caucasian Christians. He laughs at American hypocrisy. In the Czech Republic, if a man has sex with a girl under 15, he will go to prison. After 15, there are no constraints.
I Googled the U.S. state ages of consent and found the following:
| || |
| ||New Hampshire||16|
| ||New Jersey||16|
| ||New Mexico||17|
| ||New York||17|
| ||North Carolina||16|
| ||North Dakota||18|
| ||Rhode Island||16|
| ||South Carolina||16|
| ||South Dakota||16|
| ||West Virginia||16|
In 2005, Texas' legal marriage consent age was 14. Mark Shurtleff went to Texas and, with Harvey Hilderbran's help, he persuaded the Texas legislature to raise the age of consent (for sex) to 17. What else could Shurtleff have been doing other than trying to ensnare the FLDS people, since he knew that they had a tradition of sometimes marrying earlier than the rest of society?
Could someone help me to understand why today's promiscuous society feels that it has somehow sanitized itself by viewing young marriages as rape, sexual assault and pedophilia, and raising the age of a licensed marriage? The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, and Texas has the highest teen birthrate in the nation (with 24% of those births being a second pregnancy).
My point is this - a significant number of U.S. states are happy to allow not only marriages for 16-year-olds, but also unmarried sex at 16. Since Raymond Jessop is not legally married to the girl in question, his alleged crime is sexual assault. But what if the marriage (and conception) occurred in a venue other than Texas? And what if it occurred when Texas' age of consent was 14?
Again, I am no fan of "arranged" marriages, and I don't encourage marriages with minors, but most Bible scholars will assert that Jesus was born to Mary when she was 15 or younger. Would that make our Heavenly Father a child-molester? Most of this marriage-age stuff is based on time-honored, cultural and religious traditions, and state interference in marriage age patterns is a relatively modern innovation, fraught with political implications and posturing.
I think that this series of scheduled bigamy/sexual assault trials is a naked and inexcusable attack on the people of the FLDS Church. I would not be surprised if it were driven by a need for retaliation for the horrible embarrassment suffered by Texas CPS as a result of the shameless raid and kidnappings of April, 2008.
It was not long ago that attorney Rodney Parker argued in behalf of Rodney Holm that his informal marriage to (16-year-old) Ruth Stubbs should have been considered just as legally permissible and binding as if it had been legally licensed. The court disagreed. Later, however, in the Utah Supreme court hearing of Holm's appeal, deputy attorney general Laura DuPaix argued passionately to Chief Justice Durham that the union between Holm and Stubbs absolutely WAS A MARRIAGE !!! (in order to preserve the "bigamy" conviction).
Here's the paradoxical hypocrisy of this situation - the State adamantly argues that the relationship is not a bona fide marriage, so that it can advance the assertion that the crime of "unlawful sex with a minor" was committed. Then, a few minutes or days later, the State fervently argues that the relationship absolutely IS A MARRIAGE, so that it can charge the defendant with having committed the crime of bigamy (getting two or more marriages). Try using that kind of twisted, contradictory logic in an argument with a teenager and see how far you get !!! The State (Utah AND Texas) wants to have its cake and eat it, too.
If you are not convinced that this is a usurpation of the justice system, then you are as wicked and inebriated with your own hubris as is Barbie.
My sincerest prayers go with Raymond and his family(ies).