Polygamy

Sounds like a fun idea, right? In a truly free country, multiple mates ought to be common practice, it would seem. It was, after all, common practice in history. Polygyny (many women), one male with multiple wives, has been the commonest form and likely contributed to humanity’s survival. Polyandry (many men), a female with multiple husbands, is the least common in history. Polyamory (many lovers) is a mix that takes many forms, including incorporated marriage and, maybe, no marriage. Polygamy (multiple spouses) serves as an umbrella term with which we refer to all of them. We have no way to know how a decentralized polygamy would function in a truly democratic setting.

Polygyny, the picture that forms in most minds upon any mention of polygamy, has been mainly practiced in patriarchal religious settings dominated by a strong authority, although some unattached groups can be found in Midwest USA, but still religion-based. That I have found no example of a democratic system from which to learn stands to reason due to the nature of polygyny as being patriarchal from the ground up, built around a male at the center. The fictional book, Plygs, based on the cult at Little Creek, well describes the patriarchal religious setup and the ills inherent to it.

Love Times Three, with input from all the adults involved, describes a politically more moderate, still religious (Mormon), setup of a lone male with three women. The setup still centers on the male but, when the females organize to resist his too-demanding desires, he has no backing of a central authority to enforce any overbearing wishes onto them. This family’s structure seems healthy and grounded in ethics, based on input from various family members as presented in this more interesting than expected book.

While thoughtless fantasies about polygyny might seem desirable to men, consider life where you can find no woman to marry. The main gripe against polygamy comes from evolution, wherein women seek to attach themselves to men able to provide the best care and security for themselves and their children (King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines in 1st Kings 11:3). Given unlimited freedom, such men will gather up as many women as they can, and deplete the pool. The cult at Little Creek was accused of banishing teenage boys and leaving them to fend for themselves or die in the desert. The purpose given for banishment was to rebalance the gender populations, the elders having considered the young males expendable.

I write this as a dedicated monogamist after more than half a century of marriage with the same beloved woman. I realize monogamy comes with its own set of problems, but I do not want government agents surrounding my home and scaring my neighbors just because only two of us live here. Still, the concept of freedom to engage in polygamy gives rise to serious questions regarding potential eventual depletion of a pool of potential partners for men, accompanied by increased temptation to engage in rape and cuckoldry.

My own thoughts on polygyny, if they matter, is that it seems selfish on the part of the man until you realize the tremendous effort required of him just to keep it from falling apart. To think that no lone woman can meet his every need may have some truth, but it must be as true for her as for him; and she deserves fulfillment the same as he. On the other hand, women who seek the comfort and security of close relationships with other women should not be thwarted from finding and attaining that by busybody governments acting on behalf of offended religious prejudice when no other real harm can be shown AND none of the actual participants has issued a warrant of complaint. A person’s religion is sacred to him and her, and the government must stay on its own side of the constitutional wall, even despite offended judges.

Still, I find it impossible, considering the women in my life, to picture any of them as willing to allow ‘her man’ introduce a new wife into their relationship, no matter how much legalized it became. Not without coercion from religious belief, not without coercion on his part. In all the information I could gather, religion planted the idea, and the acceptance of it, at an early age. I could find no secular examples. For me, the idea of coercion does not jibe with the ideas that support freedom of choice, nor does governmental interference jibe with freedom of choice nor religion. The happiest and healthiest people will be those with the freedom to choose, who do their homework, and choose well.

Polyamory takes many forms, the most widely known apparently being incorporated, or corporate, marriage. Polyamorous relationships can be long-lasting, but most seem to get set up as temporary (as in, “We’ll hook up until graduation, and then decide whether to marry or split.”)

None of these forms of marriage have been tested in a scientifically controlled experiment such as my own fictional The Utopia Experiment describes regarding a failed attempt to develop a completely natural society using modern knowledge.

More about polygamy:

Escape [Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer] 0767927567 True first person account of Carolyn’s life growing up in a polygamous fundamentalist environment and her escape with eight children.

Becoming Sister Wives Four wives, one husband, as they told their story on TV.

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