What's wrong with polygamy?

The debate on Utah’s anti-polygamy,anti-homosexual marriage law got me thinking: What business does the government have outlawing polygamy? If a man wants to have more than one wife (or a woman wants to have more than one husband, if that has ever happened here) why should it be forbidden? As long as all partners are consenting adults, what’s the problem?

To me, this sounds like just another case of the government persecuting consenting adults who don’t subscribe to popular notions of what a “normal” family should be.

Heh, doesn’t really make sense from a religious standpoint either. If memory serves, aren’t there several prominent men in the Bible with more than one wife? Personally, I think it’s hard enough to stay married to one woman much less two+.
You’d have to be a real sadist to actually VOLUNTEER for that. :wink:

This is an excellent question? Here is one social-sexual prohibition from mainstream Christianity,perfectly harmless and consensual that is not being challenged in western society today. We do permit serial polygamy however which takes the pressure off wealthy sexually inclined males to add to the harem in order to sustain a prolific and safe sex life.

This sentence should end in a period.

Yes, there are.
But, on the A&E special on sex & love in the Bible, they reminded viewers that things went straight downhill every time a prominent man decided to take more than one wife.

I don’t see what’s wrong with it. Except that both sexes should (IMHO) be allowed to have multiple spouses, not just males.

Ethically I don’t see what’s wrong with it…if they are all consenting, that is.

Wouldn’t this kind of wreak havoc…with divorce and alimony and child support…you could just see things getting out of hand. A divorce settlement is bad enough one on one…maybe this is a reason?

polygamy just isn’t fair to those guys who cant get ANY pussy… so it’s outlawed to make 'em feel better and leave more women for them. Also, one woman to each man is better for widening the gene pool. Don’t want a gene-bottleneck.

I have a better question… what business is it of the Texas government to tell me I can’t buy alcohol over 14% on Jesus Day… err… Sunday?

Ah, interesting that you would bring up the biological aspect of this. I agree with your point but I have to wonder if polygamy was ever practiced beyond the elites (they were the only men who had the resources to care for more than one wife). In our society, we seem to practice ‘serial polygamy’ where-in some (if the media coverage is to be believed, more of them do than don’t) powerful men tend to have one or more mistresses. So, these women are still unavailable to poorer single men AND they don’t get as many of the financial benefits that wives do. On the other side of the coin since these powerful men can have only one wife, they can only ‘trade-up’ by divorcing their original wife. Whether or not she’s better off financially with or without the slime-ball depends on her lawyer. Anyway, I’m just not sure the biology argument washes here. I personally think you’re not much of a man if you can’t keep your zipper zipped and stay faithful to one woman but, sad to say, it seems boys have all the positions of power these days. :frowning:

That’s like saying women’s washrooms should have urinals as well. What, one more husband to pick up after ? :wink:

Everyone is assuming 1 man and 2+ women, or 1 women and 2+ men. Well, how about 2+ on both sides of the equation, sort of a group family. Equally illegal but why?

FWIW, I’m living in the Middle East and polygamy is alive and well here. Guys are legally entitled to have up to 4 concurrent wives if they can afford them. From an outsider’s point of view, it seems to mostly work well. The local people have various rules and regulations determining inheritance, divorce, and other matters so everyone knows what to expect. Some couples actually sign a sort of “pre-nup” on whether the guy is allowed to have additional wives or not.


Becuase almost every time in the USA it had led to incest & pedophilia. If we change the marriage laws so only 18yr old can marry- maybe. But it is legal to marry a girl as young as 14(?) in some states, and these pervs usually do- they will often marry their wifes baby sister for eg.

But why do we have to persecute consenting adults if we want to go after perverts? That’s like outlawing the internet because there’s child porn on it.

(1) There’s no genetic argument re a “gene bottleneck” That’s just irrelevant.

(2) Adding to Testy: of course outside of Saudi and the Gulf, polygamy is less-and-less practiced. I don’t believe I’ve ever met a man with more than one wife in North Africa. Not that its not there, but it is rare (although legal).

(3) If one can control for consent issues – does the girl get to freely choose within some practical definition of the word, well… logically why not? Pain in the ass though.

Oh boo hoo hoo…We can’t even BUY alchohol in Massachusettes on Sunday.

Re: Collounsbury’s point ( or one of them ) - My former Islamic history professor said that there has been something of a gradual shift in the Muslim world away from polygamy. To the point where some liberal theologians have decided that polygamy is de facto banned by the Koran. Why? Because the Koran says the husband must treat each wife exactly the same. And given human nature, that is impossible for virtually all men :wink: . Muhammed, of course, being the archetypal rare exception.

For what it’s worth, my opinion is that relatively few people have the emotional maturity and stability to make a ( non-exploitive ) long-term polygamous relationship work smoothly. However, I am not fundamentally opposed to the concept.

  • Tamerlane

Polygamy should be allowed, but then so should same sex marriage. Of course it should be with full consent of all parties involved. THis means no sneaking around keeping a wife ont he side. This means no marrying a partner too young to fully consent. But if all parties involved are consenting adults, what is the harm?

If married people are lucky enough to find others to add to their union, why should the government oppose that? Why should the government care at all? Polygamy is illegal in many specific ways in the United States, mainly because the Mormons practiced it and the rest of the United States did not like the mormons. Outlawing polygamy for that reason is like outlawing curcumscision because of anti-semitism. Did you know it is specifically unlawful to bring over someone from outside the country in order to practice polygamy? This was set up just to harass Mormons.

How does polygamy cause harm that pair marriage does not?

Cite, please. I was of the understanding that polygamy was outlawed in the US far before Joseph Smith had his visions. Yes, the government did threaten to refuse statehood to Utah unless the Mormons dropped that part of their theology, but how is that different from requiring them to abide by any other existing law of the country?

An earlier poster questioned why women aren’t allowed to have multiple husbands. One reason that societies tend against this is that with one-man-many-wives, it’s readily apparently who the father is. With one-woman-many-husbands, once she gets pregnant, it’s up in the air as to who’s responsible.

Yes, with modern scientific methods we may be able to determine who the father is, but the notion is already firmly ingrained in societies around the world (blame it on patriarchal powermongering, if you’d prefer) that polyandry is a no-no.

Is that true? Aside from Jerry-Lee Lewis? LOL It’s certainly not a typical place from a US perspective but I don’t think that’s the case in Saudi. (Please don’t ask me to provide a cite on that, the Saudis aren’t keen on washing that kind of dirty linen in public!S)
I’m not really disputing what you say, (at least not TOO much) but can you back that statement up? And define incest. Where I’m living right now the most common marriages are between first cousins, something that I believe would get you locked up anywhere outside of Louisiana. Would you consider that as incest?



A couple questions:

  1. If a man takes a second wife, are the two women considered married to each other?

  2. How do the laws on taxation figure in? If married people get a tax break that singles don’t, a man who has 14 wives on paper could be helping them to save a lot of money on taxes, without necessarily being involved with them.

  3. If it’s legal for a man to marry someone, how can it be pedophelia?

  4. If a man marries his wife’s sister, how is that incest? Sleeping with his wife’s sister is no more incestuous than sleeping with his wife’s wife…

Point of personal reference: My ancestors bailed out of Utah back in 1850 to get away from “the religion of polygamy.” Several of their siblings, aunts and uncles were polygamists.