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Legal recognition of

Burkina Faso
The Gambia

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Sierra Leone

Recognized in some regions

Eritrea (Sharia only)
Palestinian territories
Western Sahara

Recognized, not performed

United Kingdom

Recognition debated

DR Congo


In botany, "polygamous" means bearing both hermaphrodite and unisexual flowers on the same plant. See plant sexuality

The term polygamy (a Greek word meaning "the practice of multiple marriage") is used in related ways in social anthropology, sociobiology, and sociology. Polygamy can be defined as any "form of marriage in which a person [has] more than one spouse."[1]

In social anthropology, polygamy is the practice of marriage to more than one spouse simultaneously. Historically, polygamy has been practiced as polygyny (one man having more than one wife), or as polyandry (one woman having more than one husband), or, less commonly as group marriage (husbands having many wives and those wives having many husbands). (See "Forms of Polygamy" below.) In contrast, monogamy is the practice of each person having only one spouse. Like monogamy, the term is often used in a de facto sense, applying regardless of whether the relationships are recognized by the state (see marriage for a discussion on the extent to which states can and do recognize potentially and actually polygamous forms as valid). In sociobiology, polygamy is used in a broad sense to mean any form of multiple mating. In a narrower sense, used by zoologists, polygamy includes a pair bond, perhaps temporary.


[edit] Forms of polygamy

Polygamy exists in three specific forms, including polygyny (one man having multiple wives), polyandry (one woman having multiple husbands), or group marriage (some combination of polygyny and polyandry). Historically, all three practices have been found, but polygyny is by far the most common.[2] Confusion arises when the broad term "polygamy" is used when a narrower definition is intended.

[edit] Polygyny

Polygyny is the situation in which one man is either married to or involved in sexual relationships with a number of different women at one time. This is the most common form of polygamy.

[edit] Polyandry

Polyandry is a practice where a woman is married to more than one man at the same time. Fraternal polyandry was traditionally practiced among nomadic Tibetans in Nepal and parts of China, in which two or more brothers share the same wife, with her having equal sexual access to them. Polyandry is believed to be more likely in societies with scarce environmental resources, as it is believed to limit human population growth and enhance child survival. A woman can only have so many children in her lifetime, no matter how many husbands she has. On the other hand, a child with many "fathers", all of whom provide resources, is more likely to survive. (In contrast, the number of children would be increased if polygyny were practiced, and a man had more than one wife. These wives could be simultaneously pregnant).[3] It is a rare form of marriage that exists not only among poor families, but also within the elite.[4]

[edit] Group marriage

Group marriage, or circle marriage, may exist in a number of forms[citation needed], such as where more than one man and more than one woman form a single family unit, and all members of the marriage share parental responsibility for any children arising from the marriage.

Another possibility, which occurs in fiction (notably in Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) but isn't an actual human practice, is a long-lived line marriage. In a line marriage, deceased or departing spouses in the group are continually replaced by others so that family property never becomes dispersed through inheritance.

[edit] Bigamy

Bigamy is the act or condition of a person marrying another person while still being lawfully married to a second person. Bigamy is listed (and sometimes prosecuted) as a crime in most western countries. For example, in the United Kingdom, by law, a married person is not allowed to marry again as long as their first marriage continues.

[edit] Serial monogamy

The phrase serial monogamy has been used to describe the lifestyle of persons who have repeatedly married and divorced multiple partners.

[edit] Other forms of nonmonogamy

Other forms of nonmonogamous relationships are discussed at Forms of nonmonogamy. One modern variant is polyamory.

[edit] Patterns of occurrence worldwide

According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of the 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry.[2] At the same time, even within societies which allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs relatively rarely. There are exceptions: in Senegal, for example, nearly 47 percent of marriages are multiple.[5] To take on more than one wife often requires considerable resources: this may put polygamy beyond the means of the vast majority of people within those societies. Such appears the case in many traditional Islamic societies, and in Imperial China. Within polygynous societies, multiple wives often become a status symbol denoting wealth and power. Similarly, within societies that formally prohibit polygamy, social opinion may look favorably on persons maintaining mistresses or engaging in serial monogamy[citation needed].

Some observers[who?] detect a social preference for polygyny in disease-prone (especially tropical) climates, and speculate that (from a potential mother's viewpoint) perceived quality of paternal genes may favour the practice there.[citation needed] The countervailing situation allegedly prevails in harsher climates, where (once again from a potential mother's viewpoint) reliable paternal care as exhibited in monogamous pair-bonding outweighs the importance of paternal genes.[citation needed]

[edit] Patterns of occurrence across religions

[edit] Buddhism

Marriage is considered an issue in Buddhism. According to Theravada Buddhism, polygamy is discouraged and extramatrial affairs are considered sinful. It is said in the Parabhava Sutta that "a man who is not satisfied with one woman and seeks out other women is on the path to decline". In Tibetan Buddhism, namely Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, it is not uncommon to take a consort in addition to a spouse, though it is namely for certain spiritual practices that the spouse may not be able/ready to participate in—or if the husband/wife are at different levels on their spiritual path.[citation needed] A consort is appropriate in such cases. Within this context, either the husband or wife, occasionally both, might take a spiritual consort. This is known as Consort Practice, and there are specific teachings and meditations that go along with it. Consort Practice is often very private, however, and not openly discussed outside of followers of Tibetan Vajrayana—which tends to be a very private form of Buddhism in general – hence it is not very well known. Husbands and wives also engage in Consort Practice together, monogamously.

The 2008 BBC documentary series "A Year in Tibet", however, recorded three distinct cases of polyandry in and around the city of Gyantse alone (the pregnant farmer's wife in episode 1, "The Visit"; Yangdron in episode 2, "Three Husbands and a Wedding"; and the young monk, Tsephun's, mother in episode 5, "A Tale of Three Monks"). In "Three Husbands and a Wedding", a 17-year-old girl is also shown being forced into a marriage that would have been polyandrous, except that the younger, 12-year-old, brother had to attend school on the wedding day (his parents hint that he will marry his older brother's new wife at a later date). The programs include statements from the women involved that indicate they did not enter the polyandrous marriages willingly, and commentary that indicates young women in Tibet are routinely forced by their families into polyandrous marriages with two or more brothers.

Polyandry (especially fraternal polyandry) is also common among Buddhists in Bhutan, Ladakh, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent.

[edit] Hinduism

Both polygyny and polyandry were practiced in many sections of Hindu society in ancient times. Concerning polyandry, in the ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata, Draupadi marries the five Pandava brothers. Regarding polygny, in Ramayana, father of Ram, king Dasharath has three wives, but Ram has pledged himself just one wife. The god-figure Lord Krishna, the 9th incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu had 16,108 wives which were his most sincere devotees. Historically, kings routinely took concubines (such as the Vijaynagara emperor, Krishnadevaraya). In the post-Vedic periods, polygamy declined in Hinduism, and is now considered immoral [5], although it is thought that some sections of Hindu society still practice polyandry, along with areas of Tibet, Nepal, and China. After independence from the British, religions in which polygamy was still practiced were allowed to continue. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, polygamy is considered illegal for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs [6]. However, Muslim men in India are allowed to have multiple wives. Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the subject in question.[6]

[edit] Judaism

[edit] Biblical practice

The Hebrew scriptures document approximately forty polygamists. Notable examples include Abraham, who lost faith in God's promise and bore for himself a child through his wife's maidservant (however, Abraham never formally married Hagar)[7]; Jacob, who had fallen in love with Rachel, but was tricked into marrying her sister, Leah[8]; David, who inherited his wives from Saul[9]; and perhaps most famously, Solomon, who was led astray by his wives[10].

In general, however, polygamy was never considered the ideal state,[11] with multiple marriage a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertility.[12] One source of polygamy was the practice of levirate marriage, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow, as mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

The Torah, Judaism's central text, includes a few specific regulations on the practice of polygamy, such as Exodus 21:10, which states that multiple marriages are not to diminish the status of the first wife (specifically, her right to food, clothing and conjugal relations). Deuteronomy 21:15-17, states that a man must award the inheritance due to a first-born son to the son who was actually born first, even if he hates that son's mother and likes another wife more; [13] and Deuteronomy 17:17 states that the king shall not have too many wives.[14] The king's behavior is condemned by Prophet Samuel in 1Samuel 8. Exodus 21:10 also speaks of Jewish concubines. Israeli lexicographer Vadim Cherny argues that the Torah carefully distinguishes concubines and "sub-standard" wives with prefix "to", lit. "took to wives."[15]

The monogamy of the Roman Empire was the cause of two explanatory notes in the writings of Josephus describing how the polygamous marriages of Herod were permitted under Jewish custom.[16]

[edit] Modern practice

In the modern day, Rabbinic Judaism has essentially outlawed polygamy. Ashkenazi Jews have followed Rabbenu Gershom's ban since the 11th century.[17] Some Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews (particularly those from Yemen and Iran) discontinued polygamy much more recently, as they emigrated to countries where it was forbidden. The State of Israel has made polygamy illegal[18][19], but in practice the law is not enforced, primarily so as not to interfere with Bedouin culture, where polygamy is common. Provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal.

Among Karaite Jews, who do not adhere to Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah, polygamy is almost non-existent today. Like other Jews, Karaites interpret Leviticus 18:18 to mean that a man can only take a second wife if his first wife gives her consent (Keter Torah on Leviticus, pp.96–97) and Karaites interpret Exodus 21:10 to mean that a man can only take a second wife if he is capable of maintaining the same level of marital duties due to his first wife; the marital duties are 1) food, 2) clothing, and 3) sexual gratification. Because of these two biblical limitations and because nearly all countries outlaw it, polygamy is considered highly impractical, and there are only a few known cases of it among Karaite Jews today.

[edit] Christianity

Saint Augustine saw a conflict with Old Testament polygamy. He writes in The Good of Marriage (chapter 15) that, although it "was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce. For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there then was, when, even when wives bear children, it was allowed, in order to a more numerous posterity, to marry other wives in addition, which now is certainly not lawful." He refrained from judging the patriarchs, but did not deduce from their practice the ongoing acceptability of polygamy. In chapter 7, he wrote, "Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed to take another wife, so as to have more than one wife living." [emphasis added]

The New Testament authors seem to prefer monogamy from church leaders. Paul writes in 1Timothy 3:2, " A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" Something similar is repeated in the first chapter of the Epistle of Titus.

The Roman Catholic Church has subsequently taught that

"polygamy is not in accord with the moral law. [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."[20]

This is also the normal position among Protestant Churches, and it can therefore be said that the mainstream Christian position is to reject polygamy in principle.citation needed

Periodically, Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone (sola scriptura) have at least temporarily accepted polygamy as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ),[21] Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication,"[22] a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret however, to avoid public scandal.[23] Some fifteen years earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.")[24]

"On February 14, 1650, the parliament at Nürnberg decreed that, because so many men were killed during the Thirty Years’ War, the churches for the following ten years could not admit any man under the age of 60 into a monastery. Priests and ministers not bound by any monastery were allowed to marry. Lastly, the decree stated that every man was allowed to marry up to ten women. The men were admonished to behave honorably, provide for their wives properly, and prevent animosity among them."[25][26][27][28][29]

The modern trend towards frequent divorce and remarriage is sometimes referred to by conservative Christians as 'serial polygamy'.[citation needed] In contrast, sociologists and anthropologists refer to this as 'serial monogamy', since it is a series of monogamous (i.e. not polygamous) relationships.[30] The first term highlights the multiplicity of marriages throughout the life-cycle, the second the non-simultaneous nature of these marriages.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there has often been a tension between the Christian churches' insistence on monogamy and traditional polygamy. In some instances in recent times there have been moves for accommodation; in others churches have resisted such moves strongly. African Independent Churches have sometimes referred to those parts of the Old Testament which describe polygamy in defending the practice.

[edit] Mormonism

The history of Mormon polygamy begins with belief that Mormonism founder Joseph Smith received a revelation from God on July 17, 1831 that some Mormon men would be allowed to practice "plural marriage". This was later set down in the Doctrine and Covenants by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[31] Despite Smith's revelation, the 1835 edition of the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, written before the doctrine of plural marriage began to be practiced, publicly condemned polygamy. This scripture was used by John Taylor in 1850 to quash Mormon polygamy rumors in Liverpool, England.[32] Polygamy was illegal in the state of Illinois[33] during the 1839-44 Nauvoo era when several top Mormon leaders including Smith, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball took plural wives. Mormon elders who publicly taught that all men were commanded to enter plural marriage were subject to harsh discipline.[34] On June 7, 1844 the Nauvoo Expositor criticized Smith for plural marriage. The Nauvoo city council declared the Nauvoo Expositor press a nuisance and ordered Smith, as Nauvoo's mayor, to order the city marshall to destroy the paper and its press. This controversial decision led to Smith going to Carthage Jail where he was killed by a mob on June 27, 1844. The main body of Mormons left Nauvoo and followed Brigham Young to Utah where the practice of plural marriage continued.[35]

In 1852 Apostle Orson Pratt publicly acknowledged the practice of plural marriage through a sermon he gave. Additional sermons by top Mormon leaders on the virtues of polygamy followed.[36] Controversy followed when writers began to publish works condemning polygamy. The key plank of the Republican Party's 1856 platform was "to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery".[37] In 1862, Congress issued the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act which clarified that the practice of polygamy was illegal in all U.S. territories. The LDS Church believed that their religiously-based practice of plural marriage was protected by the United States Constitution,[38] however, the unanimous 1878 Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. United States declared that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution, based on the longstanding legal principle that "laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."[39]

Increasingly harsh anti-polygamy legislation in the U.S. led some Mormons to emigrate to Canada and Mexico. In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff issued a public declaration (the Manifesto) announcing the official discontinuance of polygamy. Anti-Mormon sentiment waned, as did opposition to statehood for Utah. The Smoot Hearings in 1904 spurred the LDS Church to issue a Second Manifesto against polygamy. By 1910 the LDS Church excommunicated those who practiced polygamy. Even so, many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.[40]

Enforcement of the 1890 Manifesto caused various splinter groups to leave the LDS Church in order to continue the practice of plural marriage.[41] Polygamy among these groups persists today in Utah and neighboring states as well as in the spin-off colonies. Polygamist churches of Mormon origin are often referred to as "Mormon fundamentalist" even though they are not a part of the mainstream LDS church. Such fundamentalists often use an 1886 revelation to John Taylor as the basis for their authority to continue the practice of plural marriage.[42] The Salt Lake Tribune stated in 2005 there were as many as 37,000 fundamentalists with less than half of them living in polygamous households.[43]

[edit] Islam

In Islam, polygamy is allowed for men, with the specific limitation that they can only have up to four wives at any one time, by considering first wife's wishes[citation needed]. The reason for allowing polygamy in Islam is high female population throughout the world. Holy Qur'an is the only religious book which says and encourages "marry only one, which is better". The Qur'an also states that men who choose this route must deal with their wives as fairly as possible, doing everything that they can to spend equal amounts of time and money on each one of them. If the husband cannot deal with his wives fairly, one is enough. Women on the other hand, are only allowed the one husband, although they are allowed to remarry after a divorce, unlike many other cultures further east. Although many Muslim countries still retain traditional Islamic law which permits polygamy, certain elements within some Muslim societies challenge its acceptability. For example, polygamy is prohibited by law in Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tunisia and Turkey.

Polygamy, and laws concerning polygamy, differ greatly throughout the Islamic world and form a very complex and diverse background from nation to nation. Whereas in some Muslim countries it may be fairly common, in most others it is often rare or non-existent. However, there are certain core fundamentals which are found in most Muslim countries where the practice occurs. According to traditional Islamic law, a man may take up to four wives, and each of those wives must have her own property, assets, and dowry. Usually the wives have little to no contact with each other and lead separate, individual lives in their own houses, and sometimes in different cities, though they all share the same husband. Muhammad, who had a monogamous marriage with Khadija for twenty five years till her death, married many of his wives because they were war widows who were left with nothing and took care of them. Thus, polygamy is an exception rather than the rule and is traditionally restricted to men who can manage things, and in some countries it is illegal for a man to marry multiple wives if he is unable to afford to take care of each of them properly.

In the modern Islamic world, polygamy is mainly found in traditionalist Arab cultures[citation needed], Saudi Arabia, West and East Africa (In Sudan it is encouraged from the president as female population is high)[44]. Among the 22 member states of the Arab League, Tunisia alone explicitly prohibits polygamy; however, it is generally frowned-upon in many of the more secularized or Westernized Arab states, such as Syria, Egypt, Morocco, and Lebanon. Libya requires the written permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry a second, third, or fourth wife. It is also allowed in many other countries in which Muslims form a majority or significant plurality, like Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many other countries.

[edit] Legal situation

Most western countries do not recognize polygamous marriages, and consider bigamy a crime. Several countries also prohibit people from living a polygamous lifestyle.

In some States of the United States, the criminalization of a polygamous lifestyle originated as anti-Mormon laws, although they are rarely enforced.[45]

Polygamists may find it harder dealing with government agencies, such as obtaining legal immigrant status.

[edit] By country

  • Canada: Illegal according to the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 293.[46]
  • Iran: Legal with written consent from the first wife.
  • Ireland: Illegal.
  • Libya: Legal up to four wives, but requires a written consent from the first wife. See Polygamy in Libya.
  • Poland: Illegal.
  • Tunisia: Illegal.
  • Turkey: Illegal.
  • United Kingdom: Illegal if the marriage took place in the UK, but recognized (for some private purposes; but not for e.g. pension, immigration or citizenship rights) if it took place in another country where the law allows it if the parties were domiciled in that country.[47]
  • United States: Illegal in all 50 states.
  • Uzbekistan: Illegal.
  • Morocco  : Permitted for Muslims, restrictions apply.
  • Eritrea : Legal in areas under Sharia only.

[edit] Africa

Polygamy existed all over Africa as an aspect of culture or/and religion. Plural marriages have been more common than not in the history of Africa. Many African societies saw children as a form of wealth thus the more children a family had the more powerful it was. Thus polygamy was part of empire building. It was only during the colonial era that plural marriage was perceived as taboo. Esther Stanford, an African-focused lawyer, states that this decline was encouraged because the issues of property ownership conflicted with European colonial interest.[48] It is very common in West Africa (Muslim and traditionalist).

[edit] South Africa

In South Africa, traditionalists commonly practice polygamy.[49] The leader of the ANC, Jacob Zuma is also openly in favor of plural marriages, being married to numerous wives himself.[50][51] The wives live in small houses in a circle around the master compound.[52]

[edit] Sudan

Polygamy is encouraged in countries such as Sudan, where President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has encouraged multiple marriages to increase the population.[53]

[edit] Asia

The Chinese culture of Confucianism and thus the practice of polygamy spread from China to Korea and areas that are now Vietnam. Before the establishment of the modern democratic mode, Eastern countries permitted a similar practice of polygamy.[54]

[edit] South Asia

Polygyny, permitted under Islamic law, is present amongst some Muslims in South Asia. Polygamy is considerably more widespread among Hindus in Nepal than in India.

[edit] India

Polygyny is illegal in India for Hindus under the Hindu marriage Act. It remains legal for Muslims under the terms of The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, as interpreted by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Ironically, according to the 1961 census (the last census to record such data), polygamy was actually less prevalent among Indian Muslims (5.7%) than among several other religious groups. Incidence was highest among Adivasis (15.25%) and Buddhists (7.9%); Hindus, by comparison, had an incidence of 5.8%.[55]

Polygamy is generally quite rare in urban areas, and among the cosmopolitan middle classes.

[edit] Mongolia

In Mongolia, there has been discussion about legalizing polygamy to reduce the imbalance of the male and female population.[56]

[edit] Thailand

Until polygamy was outlawed by King Rama VI, it was expected that wealthy or upper-class Thai men were historically recognized to maintain mansions consisting of multiple wives and their children in the same residence. Among the royalty and courtiers in the past, wives were classified as principal, secondary, and slave. Today, the tradition of minor wives still remains, but the practice is different from that of the past. Due to the expense involved, minor wives are mostly limited to the wealthy men. While a "proper woman" (Kulasatrii; Thai: กุลสตรี) must remain faithful to her husband, there were no equivalent rules in history mandating fidelity in the "virtuous man."

Regardless of the historical acceptance, male polygamy or plural marriage is no longer legally or socially acceptable in the contemporary Thai society. However, the practice of having "minor wives" (Mia-Noi: เมียน้อย) continues in modern days in secrecy from the "primary wife" (Mia-Luang: เมียหลวง).[57] Almost all married Thai women today object to this practice, and indeed for many it has been grounds for divorce.[58] Minor wives are viewed with contempt by the Thai society along the lines of being amoral women or home breakers.[59]

[edit] China

Since the Han Dynasty, technically, Chinese men could have only one wife. However, throughout the thousands of years of Chinese history, it was common for rich Chinese men to have a wife and various concubines. Polygamy is a by-product of the tradition of emphasis on procreation and the continuity of the father's family name.[citation needed] Before the establishment of the Republic of China, it was lawful to have a wife and multiple concubines within Chinese marriage. Even though before the Communist Revolution, taking concubines were legal, very few men in the Chinese society could afford to have more than one wife. Even for those who are wealthy and powerful enough to do so, taking too many wives was considered immoral. In Confucianism, taking concubines were allowed, but a man must have a just reason for it. For example, if his wife is not able to give birth to a son, he would be allowed to take a concubine. If a man wants more wives for sexual indulgence, it would be unacceptable.

[edit] Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, polygamy was banned in October 1971. [60] Some Hong Kong businessmen[who?] have concubines across the border in mainland China, but concubines do not have the legal or social status of wives and so this should not strictly be called "polygamy". Kevin Murphy of The International Herald Tribune[61] reports the cross-border polygyny phenomenon in Hong Kong in 1995.[62]

The traditional attitude toward mistresses is reflected in the saying: "wife is not as good as concubine, concubine is not as good as prostitute, prostitute is not as good as secret affair, secret affair is not as good as the affair you want but can't get" (妻不如妾, 妾不如妓, 妓不如偷, 偷不如偷不著).[citation needed]

[edit] Current proponents and opponents

[edit] Secular

David Friedman and Steve Sailer have argued that polygamy tends to benefit most women and disadvantage most men, under the assumption that most men and women do not practise it. The idea is firstly that many women would prefer half or one third of someone especially appealing to being the single spouse of someone that doesn't provide as much economic utility to them. Secondly, that the remaining women have a better market for finding a spouse themselves. Say that 20% of women are married to 10% of men, that leaves 90% of men to compete over the remaining 80% of women. Friedman uses this viewpoint to argue in favor of legalizing polygamy, while Sailer uses it to argue against legalizing it.

In the US, the Libertarian Party supports complete decriminalization of polygamy as part of a general belief that the government should not regulate marriages.

Individualist feminism and advocates such as Wendy McElroy also support the freedom for adults to voluntarily enter polygamous marriages.

In Uruguay the "Colorado Party" supports polygamy.[citation needed]

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, USA, is opposed to Utah's law against bigamy.[63]

Those who advocate a Federal Marriage Amendment to the American Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage generally word their proposed laws to also prohibit polygamy. Many proponents of same-sex marriage are also in favour of maintaining current statutory prohibitions against polygamy, arguing that while same-sex marriages do not involve toleration of pedophilia amongst practitioners, the same is not true of most polygamists in the United States..[citation needed]

Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, lamented the modern arguments increasingly being made by various intellectuals who call for de-criminalizing polygamy. Kurtz concluded, "Marriage, as its ultramodern critics would like to say, is indeed about choosing one's partner, and about freedom in a society that values freedom. But that's not the only thing it is about. As the Supreme Court justices who unanimously decided Reynolds in 1878 understood, marriage is also about sustaining the conditions in which freedom can thrive. Polygamy in all its forms is a recipe for social structures that inhibit and ultimately undermine social freedom and democracy. A hard-won lesson of Western history is that genuine democratic self-rule begins at the hearth of the monogamous family."[64]

[edit] Religious

The Roman Catholic Church clearly condemns polygamy; the Catechism of the Catholic Church lists it in paragraph 2387 under the head "Other offenses against the dignity of marriage" and states that it "is not in accord with the moral law." Also in paragraph 1645 under the head "The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love" states "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive."

Currently the vast majority of Protestant congregations take the Catholic view on polygamy.[citation needed]

The illegality of polygamy in certain areas creates, according to certain Bible passages, additional arguments against it. Paul of Tarsus writes "submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:5), for "the authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1) St Peter concurs when he says to "submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:13,14) Pro-polygamists argue that, as long as polygamists currently do not obtain legal marriage licenses for additional spouses, no enforced laws are being broken any more than when monogamous couples who similarly co-habitate without a marriage license.[65]

At the present time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports enforcing laws against polygamy, although historically this denomination practiced polygamy which they considered to be a principle revealed by God, and fought vocally against those seeking to establish such laws. Today, the church will excommunicate any member found to be practicing polygamy.

Controversial Christian vegetarian activist and leader Nathan Braun implies a positive stance towards polygamy in his fourth edition of The History and Philosophy of Marriage.

[edit] Polygamy in fiction and popular culture

The quip "Bigamy is having one spouse too many. Monogamy is the same." is popularly misattributed to Oscar Wilde.

A popular joke with Mark Twain has Twain asked to cite a Scripture reference that forbids polygamy, and he responds with, "No man can serve two masters."

[edit] Science fiction, utopias, dystopias

A number of writers have expressed their views on polygamy by writing about a fictional world in which it is the most common type of relationship. These worlds tend to be utopian or dystopian in nature. For instance, Robert A. Heinlein uses this theme in a number of novels, such as Stranger in a Strange Land. Polygamy is practiced by the Fremen in Frank Herbert's Dune as a means to pinpoint male infertility. It is socially accepted as long as the man provides for all wives equally. Cultures described within the Dune novel series have intentional similarities to Islamic, Arab, and other cultures – i.e. desert cultures. Similarly, the Aiel society in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series practice a form of polygamy, in which multiple women may marry the same man; in that fictional culture, women are the ones who propose marriage. Among Aiel, sisters or very close friends who have adopted each other as sisters, will often marry the same man, so that he will not come between them. Ursula K. Le Guin describes a planet O, where the cultural norm is a "sedoretu" or four-person marriage (a set combination of both genders and sexual orientations). Dan Simmons describes a culture of three-person marriages (any gender ratio) in his book Endymion. In David Weber's Honor Harrington series, the inhabitants of the planet Grayson practice polygamy (polygyny) due to the human colonists to the planet acquiring a genetic defect that gave rise to a large women-to-men birth ratio combined with a high infant mortality. Honor Harrington herself is married to Hamish Alexander as his second wife alongside Emily Alexander. Their surname then becomes Alexander-Harrington. Wen Spencer's science fiction novel A Brother's Price describes a society where men are very rare and protected, and multiple sisters typically marry one man

In the Star Trek television series Enterprise, the ship's physician, Dr. Phlox (who is a Denobulan) has three wives, each of whom has three husbands of her own (including him). One of his wives seemed to be interested in having extramarital relations with a human, which Phlox himself did not oppose, and even encouraged. It has also been stated that the Andorian species enter into group marriages (although whether this is due to societal custom or biological necessity has not been firmly established.) In the Sci-Fi television series Babylon 5 the Centauris allow for men to have more than one wife. In Star Wars Expanded Universe, it is explained that Cereans (like Ki-Adi-Mundi) have a much higher birth-rate of girls than boys. Thus, every male Cerean must have one wife and multiple "honor wives", to increase the chance of giving birth to another male. Jedi Cerean Ki-Adi-Mundi was allowed to marry multiple times, although Jedis were not supposed to marry at his time; but Ki-Adi-Mundi got a dispense of that norm.

[edit] Prehistoric and historic fiction

Jean M. Auel in the pre-historic Earth's Children series depicted several instances of "co-mating," where a person could have more than one mate. Examples included the headwoman Tulie in the Mammoth Hunters, and a man who married a pair of twins in the Shelters of Stone. Also of note was Vinavec, the headman of the Mammoth Camp who wished to mate with the protagonist Ayla and was willing to take her Promised, Ranec, implying a bisexual relationship as well.

In Duke of the Mount Deer/The Deer and the Cauldron the Hong Kong writer, Louis Cha (Jin Yung), assigned seven willing wives of different characters to the very capable hero Wai-Siu-Bo (Wei-Xiao-Bao). This politics, office-politics, romance, and kung-fu survival story was based in the early Ching (Qing) Dynasty (of Kangxi reign 1654–1722). The saga has been made into films and TV series several times since the 1960s. Famous actors like Tony Leung (Leung Chiu Wai), Steven Chow (Chow Sing Chi), and Dicky Cheung (Cheung-Wai-Kin) have played the male role.

[edit] Contemporary settings

Noted libertarian author L. Neil Smith included a character married to two sisters in his book The American Zone. The dominant culture in the novel sees one's religion and personal living accommodations as no one else's business, and "acts of capitalism between consenting adults" as the norm instead of something immoral. A Home at the End of the World is a novel by Michael Cunningham about a polygamous family. It was later adapted into a film. Both explore issues of homosexuality and families. Big Love is an HBO series about a polygamous family in Utah in the first decade of the 21st century. In the series, Bill Henrickson has three wives and eight children, who belong to a fundamentalist Mormon splinter group. Big Love explores the complex legal, moral, and religious issues associated with polygamy in Utah. Henrickson's three wives each have separate houses beside one another, with a shared backyard. By outward appearances, he lives with his primary wife, and has two "friends" living close by, while in reality taking turns sleeping at a different house each night. Henrickson effectively balances his work, the continuing demands of his wives, and his wives' relatives. Random House published David Ebershoff's novel The 19th Wife in 2008. It is about Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's wives, and the legacy of Mormon polygamy in the United States today.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Polygamy at socialsciencedictionary.org
  2. ^ a b Ethnographic Atlas Codebook derived from George P. Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas recording the marital composition of 1231 societies from 1960-1980
  3. ^ (Linda Stone, Kinship and Gender, 2006, Westview, 3rd ed, ch 6)The Center for Research on Tibet Papers on Tibetan Marriage and Polyandry. Accessed: October 1, 2006
  4. ^ Goldstein, Pahari and Tibetan Polyandry Revisited, Ethnology. 17(3): 325-327, 1978, from The Center for Research on Tibet. Accessed: October 1, 2007
  5. ^ Diouf, Nafi (May 2, 2004). "Polygamy hangs on in Africa". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20040502/ai_n10968614. 
  6. ^ Marriages-Divorces section at general information website on Indian laws by Sudhir Shah & Associates
  7. ^ Genesis 16:1-2: Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
  8. ^ Genesis 29:25-28: So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?" But Laban said, "It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. "Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years." Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife.
  9. ^ 2Samuel 12:7-8: Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 'I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!
  10. ^ 1 Kings 11:1-4: Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
  11. ^ http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/558598/jewish/Does-Jewish-law-forbid-polygamy.htm
  12. ^ http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/770990/jewish/Why-does-Torah-law-allow-polygamy.htm
  13. ^ Deuteronomy 21:15-17
  14. ^ Judaica Press Complete Tanach, Devarim - Chapter 17 from Chabad.org
  15. ^ Women, similar to wives
  16. ^ "The Jewish Family: Metaphor and Memory", David Charles Kraemer, p21, Oxford University Press US, 1989, ISBN 0195054679
  17. ^ Judaism and Polygamy: "Originally, Gershom's ban was limited in time to the year 1260," and a man "could marry more than one wife if he obtained the special permission of 100 rabbis in 3 countries."
  18. ^ Israel 2008: State of Polygamy
  19. ^ Victims of polygamy
  20. ^ Catholic Cathechism, para. 2387 April 05, 2009, Vatican website
  21. ^ Letter to Philip of Hesse, December 10, 1539, De Wette-Seidemann, 6:238-244
  22. ^ The Life of Luther Written by Himself, p.251 [1]
  23. ^ James Bowling Mozley Essays, Historical and Theological. 1:403-404 Excerpts from Der Beichtrat.[2]
  24. ^ Letter to the Chancellor Gregor Brück,[3] January 13, 1524, De Wette 2:459.
  25. ^ Larry O. Jensen, A Genealogical Handbook of German Research (Rev. Ed., 1980) p. 59.
  26. ^ Joseph Alfred X. Michiels, Secret History of the Austrian Government and of its Systematic Persecutions of Protestants (London: Chapman and Hall, 1859) p. 85 (copy at Google Books), the author stating that he is quoting from a copy of the legislation.
  27. ^ William Walker Rockwell, Die Doppelehe des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen (Marburg, 1904), p. 280, n. 2 (copy at Google Books), which reports the number of wives allowed was two.
  28. ^ Leonhard Theobald, “Der angebliche Bigamiebeschluß des fränkischen Kreistages” [“The So-called Bigamy Decision of the Franconian Kreistag”], Beitrage zur Bayerischen kirchengeschichte [Contributions to Bavarian Church History] 23 (1916 – bound volume dated 1917) Erlangen: 199-200 (Theobald reporting that the Franconian Kreistag did not hold session between 1645 and 1664, and that there is no record of such a law in the extant archives of Nürnberg, Ansbach, or Bamberg, Theobald believing that the editors of the Fränkisches Archiv must have misunderstood a draft of some other legislation from 1650).
  29. ^ Alfred Altmann, "Verein für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnburg," Jahresbericht über das 43 Vereinsjahr 1920 [Annual Report for the 43rd Year 1920 of the Historical Society of the City of Nuremberg] (Nürnberg 1920): 13-15 (Altmann reporting a lecture he had given discussing the polygamy permission said to have been granted in Nuremberg in 1650, Altmann characterizing the Fränkisches Archiv as "merely a popular journal, not an edition of state documents," and describing the tradition as "a literary fantasy").
  30. ^ Fisher, Helen. The First Sex. Ballantine Books. pp. 271–72, 276. ISBN 0-449-91260-4. 
  31. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 132 as found at lds.org
  32. ^ THREE NIGHTS PUBLIC DISCUSSION Between The Revds. C. W. Cleeve, James Robertson, and Philip Cater, And Elder John Taylor, Of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, At Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. Chairman, Rev. K. Groves, M.A., Assisted By Charles Townley, LL.D., and Mr. Luddy. pg 8-9
  33. ^ Greiner & Sherman, Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, pg. 198-199
  34. ^ Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pg. 423, February 1, 1844
  35. ^ [4]Lifting the Veil of Polygamy (2007, Living Hope) A documentary concerning the history of Mormon polygamy and its modern manifestations.
  36. ^ JD 11:128 Brigham Young - June 18, 1865 - "Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious."
  37. ^ GOP Convention of 1856 in Philadelphia from the Independence Hall Association website
  38. ^ Free Exercise Clause - First Amendment
  39. ^ Reynolds v. United States at findlaw.com
  40. ^ Polygamy entry in the Utah Historical Encyclopedia, University of Utah, 1994.
  41. ^ "The Primer" - Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities. A joint report from the offices of the Attorney Generals of Arizona and Utah. (2006)
  42. ^ "An 1886 Revelation to John Taylor"
  43. ^ "LDS splinter groups growing" by Brooke Adams, August 9, 2005 - SLT Article ID: 10BF07C805DE5990
  44. ^ Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has urged Sudanese men to take more than one wife to increase the population
  45. ^ Turley, Jonathan. Polygamy laws expose our own hypocrisy
  46. ^ "CBC News in Depth: Polygamy". CBC.ca. 2008-04-25. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/polygamy/. Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  47. ^ 1,000 men living legally with multiple wives despite fears over exploitation Times online
  48. ^ Polygamy in Africa - Polygamy in Africa
  49. ^ South Africa Polygamy debate
  50. ^ Zuma charmed wives and nation The Australian
  51. ^ Zuma to wed on Saturday M&G
  52. ^ South Africa Polygamist Christians
  53. ^ Omar Hassan al-Bashir has urged Sudanese men to take more than one wife to increase the population
  54. ^ The Legacy Lingers On: Korean Confucianism and the Erosion of Women’s Rights by Hildi Kang, Research Fellow, Center for Korean Studies, University of California, Berkeley]
  55. ^ Puniyani, Ram (2003). Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths . SAGE.
  56. ^ ?? — article in Chinese
  57. ^ Interpersonal Heterosexual Behaviors of Thai People, Extramarital Sex
  58. ^ The rights of husband and wife, Family Law in Thailand
  59. ^ A research on Thai view of sexuality and sexual behavior funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted jointly by the Institute of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University, Bangkok, the Population Studies Center, University of Michigan and the Department of Sociology, University of Washington
  60. ^ Hong Kong, article by Man-Lun Ng, M.D.; part of "The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality" Volume I – IV 1997–2001, Edited by Robert T. Francoeur
  61. ^ Graeme Lang, Josephine Smart (2002). "Migration and the “second wife” in South China: Toward cross-border polygamy". The International Migration Review 36 (5): 546–569. 
  62. ^ Hong Kong Targets Its Two-Family Men, Kevin Murphy, International Herald Tribune, Tuesday, February 7, 1995
  63. ^ ACLU of Utah to Join Polygamists in Bigamy Fight, 7/16/1999 press release.
  64. ^ "Polygamy vs. Democracy" The Weekly Standard, June 5, 2006
  65. ^ "Law of the Land" page at BiblicalPolygamy.com

[edit] Bibliography

  • Cairncross, John (1974). After Polygamy Was Made a Sin: The Social History of Christian Polygamy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-7730-0. 
  • Campbell, James (1869). The History and Philosophy of Marriage. First published in Boston. 
  • Chapman, Samuel A. (2001). Polygamy, Bigamy and Human Rights Law. Xlibris Corp. ISBN 1-4010-1244-2. 
  • Hillman, Eugene. Polygamy Reconsidered: African Plural Marriage and the Christian Churches. New York: Orbis Books. ISBN 0-88344-391-0. 
  • Korotayev, Andrey (2004). World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective (First Edition ed.). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-6310-0. 
  • Living Hope (2007; Video Documentary). Lifting the Veil of Polygamy. Living Hope.  Available for online viewing
  • Van Wagoner, Richard S. (1992). Mormon Polygamy: A History (2nd Ed. ed.). Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-79-6. 
  • Wilson, E. O. (2000). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Harvard Univ Pr. ISBN 0-674-00235-0. 

[edit] External links

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