Friday, December 31, 2010

Your Wine or Your (Second) Wife

History says that you've got to have one or the other, so either the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants (the LDS prohibition against alcohol) or Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto (the LDS prohibition against polygamy) will have to go. According to a new paper from the American Association of Wine Economists (an organization I would definitely make fun of if I wasn't an academic myself), the discontinuation of polygyny (multiple wives) is closely linked to the rise of viticulture--the drinking of alcohol and, especially, the phenomenon of intoxication (getting drunk).

In "Women or Wine?" the authors "find evidence of a positive correlation between alcohol use and monogamy both over time and across cultures," meaning that as social groups transition from polygamy to monogamy they begin to consume alcohol. This historical trend, obviously, is one that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have bucked; the church officially disavowed polygamy in the aforementioned 1890 Manifesto from President Woodruff. If the relationship between monogamy and alcohol were causal, then we would have expected members of the church to take up drinking alcohol at some point over the past 120 years; instead, if anything, church emphasis on the Word of Wisdom and abstinence from alcohol has been strengthened over that period.

I'm not sure what there is about the prospect of spending the rest of your life--"till death do you part"--with just one person that has driven men and women to drink, but perhaps eternal marriage provides a substitute form of intoxication; the beautiful Mrs. Monk certainly makes my head spin (which I hear is a common side effect of alcohol).

ps--as a side note, the research for this paper was prompted by the existence of fundamentalist LDS sects that continue to practice plural marriage AND obey the Word of Wisdom's prohibition against alcohol.


Jo Jo said...

I vote on leaving the second wife.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Professor.

Silence DoGood

Jenny said...

I'm speechless.