This article is missing information about polygamy in history.December 2015)(
This article is missing information about polygamy in the Eastern (Orthodox, Coptic, Assyrian) Churches.July 2020)(
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Polygamy (from Late Greek πολυγαμία, polygamía, "state of marriage to many spouses") is the practice of marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call this polygyny. When a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called a group marriage.
In contrast, monogamy is marriage consisting of only two parties. Like "monogamy", the term "polygamy" is often used in a de facto sense, applied regardless of whether the state recognizes the relationship.In sociobiology and zoology, researchers use polygamy in a broad sense to mean any form of multiple mating.
Worldwide, different societies variously encourage, accept or outlaw polygamy. Of societies which allow or tolerate polygamy, in the vast majority of cases the form accepted is polygyny. According to the Ethnographic Atlas (1998), of 1,231 societies noted, 588 had frequent polygyny, 453 had occasional polygyny, 186 were monogamous and 4 had polyandry;although more recent research suggests polyandry may be more common than previously thought. In cultures which practice polygamy, its prevalence among that population is often connected to class and socioeconomic status.
From a legal point of view, in many countries, although marriage is legally monogamous (a person can only have one spouse, and bigamy is illegal), adultery is not illegal, leading to a situation of de facto polygamy being allowed, although without legal recognition for non-official "spouses".
According to scientific studies, the human mating system is considered to be primarily monogamous, with cultural practice of polygamy to be in the minority, based on both surveys of world populations,and on characteristics of human reproductive physiology.
Polygamy exists in three specific forms:
Polygyny, the practice wherein a man has more than one wife at the same time, is by far the most common form of polygamy. Many[ quantify ] Muslim-majority countries and some countries with sizable Muslim minorities accept polygyny to varying extents both legally and culturally; some secular countries like India also accept it to varying degrees. Islamic law or sharia law is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition which allows polygyny. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's (Arabic: الله Allāh) immutable divine law and is contrasted with fiqh , which refers to its human scholarly interpretations.
Polygyny is more widespread in Africa than on any other continent,especially in West Africa, and some scholars see the slave trade's impact on the male-to-female sex ratio as a key factor in the emergence and fortification of polygynous practices in regions of Africa.
Anthropologist Jack Goody's comparative study of marriage around the world utilizing the Ethnographic Atlas demonstrated an historical correlation between the practice of extensive shifting horticulture and polygamy in the majority of sub-Saharan African societies.Drawing on the work of Ester Boserup, Goody notes that the sexual division of labour varies between the male-dominated intensive plough-agriculture common in Eurasia and the extensive shifting horticulture found in sub-Saharan Africa. In some of the sparsely-populated regions where shifting cultivation takes place in Africa, women do much of the work. This favours polygamous marriages in which men seek to monopolize the production of women "who are valued both as workers and as child bearers". Goody however, observes that the correlation is imperfect and varied, and also discusses more traditionally male-dominated though relatively extensive farming systems such as those that exist in much of West Africa, especially in the West African savanna, where more agricultural work is done by men, and where polygyny is desired by men more for the generation of male offspring whose labor is valued.
Anthropologists Douglas R. White and Michael L. Burton discuss and support Jack Goody's observation regarding African male farming systems in "Causes of Polygyny: Ecology, Economy, Kinship, and Warfare" 884 where these authors note::
Goody (1973) argues against the female contributions hypothesis. He notes Dorjahn's (1959) comparison of East and West Africa, showing higher female agricultural contributions in East Africa and higher polygyny rates in West Africa, especially the West African savanna, where one finds especially high male agricultural contributions. Goody says, "The reasons behind polygyny are sexual and reproductive rather than economic and productive" (1973:189), arguing that men marry polygynously to maximize their fertility and to obtain large households containing many young dependent males. 873:
An analysis by James Fenske (2012) found that child mortality and ecologically-related economic shocks had a significant association with rates of polygamy in subsaharan Africa, rather than female agricultural contributions (which are typically relatively small in the West African savanna and sahel, where polygyny rates are higher), finding that polygyny rates decrease significantly with child mortality rates.
Polygynous marriages fall into two types: sororal polygyny, in which the co-wives are sisters, and non-sororal, where the co-wives are not related. Polygyny offers husbands the benefit of allowing them to have more children, may provide them with a larger number of productive workers (where workers are family), and allows them to establish politically useful ties with a greater number of kin groups.Senior wives can benefit as well when the addition of junior wives to the family lightens their workload. Wives', especially senior wives', status in a community can increase through the addition of other wives, who add to the family's prosperity or symbolize conspicuous consumption (much as a large house, domestic help, or expensive vacations operate in a western country). For such reasons, senior wives sometimes work hard or contribute from their own resources to enable their husbands to accumulate the bride price for an extra wife.
Polygyny may also result from the practice of levirate marriage. In such cases, the deceased man's heir may inherit his assets and wife; or, more usually, his brothers may marry the widow. This provides support for the widow and her children (usually also members of the brothers' kin group) and maintains the tie between the husbands' and wives' kin groups. The sororate resembles the levirate, in that a widower must marry the sister of his dead wife. The family of the late wife, in other words, must provide a replacement for her, thus maintaining the marriage alliance. Both levirate and sororate may result in a man having multiple wives.
In monogamous societies, wealthy and powerful men established enduring relationships with, and established separate household for, multiple female partners, aside from their legitimate wives; a practice accepted in Imperial China up until the Qing Dynasty of 1636–1912. This constitutes a form of de facto polygyny referred to as concubinage .
Marriage is the moment at which a new household is formed, but different arrangements may occur depending upon the type of marriage and some polygamous marriages do not result in the formation of a single household. In many polygynous marriages the husband's wives may live in separate households.They can thus be described as a "series of linked nuclear families with a 'father' in common".
Polyandry, the practice of a woman having more than one husband at the one time, is much less prevalent than polygyny and is now illegal in virtually every country in the world. It takes place only in remote communities.
Polyandry is believed to be more common in societies with scarce environmental resources, as it is believed to limit human population growth and enhance child survival.It is a rare form of marriage that exists not only among poor families, but also the elite. For example, in the Himalayan Mountains polyandry is related to the scarcity of land; the marriage of all brothers in a family to the same wife allows family land to remain intact and undivided. If every brother married separately and had children, family land would be split into unsustainable small plots. In Europe, this outcome was avoided through the social practice of impartible inheritance, under which most siblings would be disinherited.
Fraternal polyandry was traditionally practiced among nomadic Tibetans in Nepal, parts of China and part of northern India, in which two or more brothers would marry the same woman. It is most common in societies marked by high male mortality. It is associated with partible paternity, the cultural belief that a child can have more than one father.
Non-fraternal polyandry occurs when the wives' husbands are unrelated, as among the Nayar tribe of India, where girls undergo a ritual marriage before puberty,and the first husband is acknowledged as the father of all her children. However, the woman may never cohabit with that man, taking multiple lovers instead; these men must acknowledge the paternity of their children (and hence demonstrate that no caste prohibitions have been breached) by paying the midwife. The women remain in their maternal home, living with their brothers, and property is passed matrilineally. A similar form of matrilineal, de facto polyandry can be found in the institution of walking marriage among the Mosuo tribe of China.
Serial monogamy refers to remarriage after divorce or death of a spouse from a monogamous marriage, i.e. multiple marriages but only one legal spouse at a time (a series of monogamous relationships).
According to Danish scholar Miriam K. Zeitzen, anthropologists treat serial monogamy, in which divorce and remarriage occur, as a form of polygamy as it also can establish a series of households that may continue to be tied by shared paternity and shared income.As such, they are similar to the household formations created through divorce and serial monogamy.
Serial monogamy creates a new kind of relative, the "ex-".The "ex-wife", for example, can remain an active part of her "ex-husband's" life, as they may be tied together by legally or informally mandated economic support, which can last for years, including by alimony, child support, and joint custody. Bob Simpson, the British social Anthropologist, notes that it creates an "extended family" by tying together a number of households, including mobile children. He says that Britons may have ex‑wives or ex‑brothers‑in‑law, but not an ex‑child. According to him, these "unclear families" do not fit the mold of the monogamous nuclear family.
Group marriage is a non-monogamous marriage-like arrangement where three or more adults live together, all considering themselves partners, sharing finances, children, and household responsibilities. Polyamory is on a continuum of family-bonds that includes group marriage.The term does not refer to bigamy as no claim to being married in formal legal terms is made.
Buddhism does not regard marriage as a sacrament - it is purely a secular affair, and normally Buddhist monks do not participate in it (though in some sects priests and monks do marry). Hence marriage receives no religious sanction.Forms of marriage, in consequence, vary from country to country. The Parabhava Sutta states that "a man who is not satisfied with one woman and seeks out other women is on the path to decline". Other fragments in the Buddhist scripture seem to treat polygamy unfavorably, leading some authors to conclude that Buddhism generally does not approve of it or alternatively regards it as a tolerated, but subordinate, marital model.
Thailand legally recognized polygamy until 1955. Myanmar outlawed polygyny from 2015. In Sri Lanka, polyandry was legal in the kingdom of Kandy, but outlawed by British after conquering the kingdom in 1815. [ clarification needed ] as was polygyny, and having several wives or husbands was never regarded[ by whom? ] as having sex with inappropriate partners. Most typically, fraternal polyandry is practiced, but sometimes father and son have a common wife, which is a unique family structure in the world. Other forms of marriage are also present, like group marriage and monogamous marriage. Polyandry (especially fraternal polyandry) is also common among Buddhists in Bhutan, Ladakh, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent.When the Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese, the concubines of others were added to the list of inappropriate partners. Polyandry in Tibet was common traditionally,
Some pre-Christian Celtic pagans were known to practice polygamy, although the Celtic peoples wavered between it, monogamy and polyandry depending on the time period and area.In some areas this continued even after Christianization began, for instance the Brehon Laws of Gaelic Ireland explicitly allowed for polygamy, especially amongst the noble class. Some modern Celtic pagan religions accept the practice of polygamy to varying degrees, though how widespread the practice is within these religions is unknown.
Polygamy is not forbidden in the Old Testament. Although the New Testament is largely silent on polygamy, some point to Jesus's repetition of the earlier scriptures, noting that a man and a wife "shall become one flesh". '" Supporters of polygamy claim this indicates that the term refers to a physical, rather than spiritual,[ clarification needed ] union.However, some look to Paul's writings to the Corinthians: "Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh.
Some Christian theologians argue that in Matthew 19:3-9 and referring to Genesis 2:24 Jesus explicitly states a man should have only one wife:
Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
The Bible states in the New Testament that polygamy (including adulterous relationships, as evident from verses condemning sexual immorality) should not be practiced by certain church leaders. 1 Timothy states that certain Church leaders should have but one wife: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (chapter 3, verse 2; see also verse 12 regarding deacons having only one wife). Similar counsel is repeated in the first chapter of the Epistle to Titus.
Periodically, Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone ( sola scriptura ) have at least temporarily accepted polygyny as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ),Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication", a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret, however, to avoid public scandal. 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.")
In Sub-Saharan Africa, there has often been a tension between the Christian insistence on monogamy and traditional polygamy. For instance, Mswati III, the Christian king of Swaziland, has 15 wives. In some instances in recent times there have been moves for accommodation; in other instances, churches have resisted such moves strongly. African Independent Churches have sometimes referred to those parts of the Old Testament that describe polygamy in defending the practice.
The Roman Catholic Church 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 husband and wife in mutual and unreserved affection. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive."
Saint Augustine saw a conflict with Old Testament polygamy. He refrained from judging the patriarchs, but did not deduce from their practice the ongoing acceptability of polygyny. On the contrary, he argued that the polygamy of the Fathers, which was tolerated by the Creator because of fertility, was a diversion from His original plan for human marriage. Augustine wrote: "That the good purpose of marriage, however, is better promoted by one husband with one wife, than by a husband with several wives, is shown plainly enough by the very first union of a married pair, which was made by the Divine Being Himself."
Augustine taught that the reason patriarchs had many wives was not because of fornication, but because they wanted more children. He supported his premise by showing that their marriages, in which husband was the head, were arranged according to the rules of good management: those who are in command (quae principantur) in their society were always singular, while subordinates (subiecta) were multiple. He gave two examples of such relationships: dominus-servus - master-servant (in older translation: slave) and God-soul. The Bible often equates worshiping multiple gods, i.e. idolatry to fornication.Augustine relates to that: "On this account there is no True God of souls, save One: but one soul by means of many false gods may commit fornication, but not be made fruitful."
As tribal populations grew, fertility was no longer a valid justification of polygamy: it "was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce (utrum et nunc fas sit, non temere dixerim). 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."
Augustine saw marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, which may not be broken. It was the Creator who established monogamy: "Therefore, the first natural bond of human society is man and wife."Such marriage was confirmed by the Saviour in the Gospel of Matthew (Mat 19:9) and by His presence at the wedding in Cana (John 2:2). In the Church—the City of God—marriage is a sacrament and may not and cannot be dissolved as long as the spouses live: "But a marriage once for all entered upon in the City of our God, where, even from the first union of the two, the man and the woman, marriage bears a certain sacramental character, can in no way be dissolved but by the death of one of them." In chapter 7, Augustine pointed out that the Roman Empire forbad polygamy, even if the reason of fertility would support it: "For it is in a man's power to put away a wife that is barren, and marry one of whom to have children. And yet it is not allowed; and now indeed in our times, and after the usage of Rome (nostris quidem iam temporibus ac more Romano), neither to marry in addition, so as to have more than one wife living." Further on he notices that the Church's attitude goes much further than the secular law regarding monogamy: It forbids remarrying, considering such to be a form of fornication: "And yet, save in the City of our God, in His Holy Mount, the case is not such with the wife. But, that the laws of the Gentiles are otherwise, who is there that knows not."
The Council of Trent condemns polygamy: "If any one saith, that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and that this is not prohibited by any divine law; let him be anathema.."
In modern times a minority of Roman Catholic theologians have argued that polygamy, though not ideal, can be a legitimate form of Christian marriage in certain regions, in particular Africa.The Roman Catholic Church teaches in its Catechism 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 that 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.
The illegality of polygamy in certain areas creates, according to certain Bible passages, additional arguments against it. Paul the Apostle 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 nor seek "common law marriage status" for additional spouses, no enforced laws are being broken any more than when monogamous couples similarly co-habitate without a marriage license.
The Lutheran World Federation hosted a regional conference in Africa, in which the acceptance of polygamists into full membership by the Lutheran Church in Liberia was defended as being permissible.The Lutheran Church in Liberia, however, does not permit polygamists who have become Christians to marry more wives after they have received the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Evangelical Lutheran missionaries in Maasai also tolerate the practice of polygamy and in Southern Sudan, some polygamists are becoming Lutheran Christians.
The 1988 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion ruled that polygamy was permissible in certain circumstances:
The Conference upholds monogamy as God's plan, as the idea of relationship of love between husband and wife; nevertheless recommends that a polygymaist who responds to the Gospel and wishes to join the Anglican Church may be baptized and confirmed with his believing wives and children on the following conditions:
- that the polygamist shall promise not to marry again as long as any of his wives at the time of his conversion are alive;
- that the receiving of such a polygamist has the consent of the local Anglican community;
- that such a polygamist shall not be compelled to put away any of his wives on account of the social deprivation they would suffer.
|Mormonism and polygamy|
Portrait of Ira Eldredge with his three wives: Nancy Black Eldredge, Hannah Mariah Savage Eldredge, and Helvig Marie Andersen Eldredge.
In accordance with what Joseph Smith indicated was a revelation, the practice of plural marriage, the marriage of one man to two or more women, was instituted among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1840s.Despite Smith's revelation, the 1835 edition of the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, written after 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. Polygamy was made illegal in the state of Illinois during the 1839–44 Nauvoo era when several top Mormon leaders, including Smith, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball took multiple wives. Mormon elders who publicly taught that all men were commanded to enter plural marriage were subject to harsh discipline. On 7 June 1844 the Nauvoo Expositor criticized Smith for plural marriage.
After Joseph Smith was killed by a mob on 27 June 1844, the main body of Latter Day Saints left Nauvoo and followed Brigham Young to Utah where the practice of plural marriage continued. 128 Controversy followed when polygamy became a social cause, 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". In 1862, Congress issued the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act which clarified that the practice of polygamy was illegal in all US territories. The LDS Church believed that their religiously based practice of plural marriage was protected by the United States Constitution, 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."In 1852, Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church, publicly acknowledged the practice of plural marriage through a sermon he gave. Additional sermons by top Mormon leaders on the virtues of polygamy followed. :
Increasingly harsh anti-polygamy legislation in the US led some Mormons to emigrate to Canada and Mexico. In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff issued a public declaration (the Manifesto) announcing that the LDS Church had discontinued new plural marriages. Anti-Mormon sentiment waned, as did opposition to statehood for Utah. The Smoot Hearings in 1904, which documented that the LDS Church was still practicing polygamy spurred the LDS Church to issue a Second Manifesto again claiming that it had ceased performing new plural marriages. By 1910 the LDS Church excommunicated those who entered into, or performed, new plural marriages. Even so, many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.
Enforcement of the 1890 Manifesto caused various splinter groups to leave the LDS Church in order to continue the practice of plural marriage.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 LDS Church. Such fundamentalists often use a purported 1886 revelation to John Taylor as the basis for their authority to continue the practice of plural marriage. 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.
On 13 December 2013, US Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in Brown v. Buhman that the portions of Utah's anti-polygamy laws which prohibit multiple cohabitation were unconstitutional, but also allowed Utah to maintain its ban on multiple marriage licenses. [ unreliable source? ] Unlawful cohabitation, where prosecutors did not need to prove that a marriage ceremony had taken place (only that a couple had lived together), had been the primary tool used to prosecute polygamy in Utah since the 1882 Edmunds Act.
The Council of Friends (also known as the Woolley Group and the Priesthood Council)was one of the original expressions of Mormon fundamentalism, having its origins in the teachings of Lorin C. Woolley, a dairy farmer excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1924. Several Mormon fundamentalist groups claim lineage through the Council of Friends, including but not limited to, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church), the Apostolic United Brethren, the Centennial Park group, the Latter Day Church of Christ, and the Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Community of Christ, known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) prior to 2001, has never sanctioned polygamy since its foundation in 1860. Joseph Smith III, the first Prophet-President of the RLDS Church following the reorganization of the Church, was an ardent opponent of the practice of plural marriage throughout his life. For most of his career, Smith denied that his father had been involved in the practice and insisted that it had originated with Brigham Young. Smith served many missions to the western United States, where he met with and interviewed associates and women claiming to be widows of his father, who attempted to present him with evidence to the contrary. Smith typically responded to such accusations by saying that he was "not positive nor sure that [his father] was innocent", and that if, indeed, the elder Smith had been involved, it was still a false practice. However, many members of the Community of Christ and some of the groups that were formerly associated with it are not convinced that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage and feel that the evidence that he did is flawed.
The Rig Veda mentions that during the Vedic period, a man could have more than one wife.The practice is attested in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Dharmashastras permit a man to marry women of lower castes provided that the first wife was of equal caste. Despite its existence, it was most usually practiced by men of higher castes and higher status. Common people were only allowed a second marriage if the first wife could not bear a son.
According to Vishnu Smriti, the number of wives is linked to the caste system:
Now a Brāhmaṇa may take four wives in the direct order of the (four) castes;
A Kshatriya, three;
A Vaishya, two;
A Shudra, one only
This linkage of the number of permitted wives to the caste system is also supported by Baudhayana Dharmasutra and Paraskara Grihyasutra.
The Apastamba Dharmasutra and Manusmriti allow a second wife if the first one is unable to discharge her religious duties or is unable to bear a son.
For a Brahmana, only one wife could rank as the chief consort who performed the religious rites (dharma-patni) along with the husband. The chief consort had to be of an equal caste. If a man married several women from the same caste, then eldest wife is the chief consort.Hindu kings commonly had more than one wife and are regularly attributed four wives by the scriptures. They were: Mahisi who was the chief consort, Parivrkti who had no son, Vaivata who is considered the favorite wife and the Palagali who was the daughter of the last of the court officials.
Traditional Hindu law allowed polygamy if the first wife could not bear a son.
The Hindu Marriage Act was enacted in 1955 by the Indian Parliament and made polygamy illegal for everyone in India except for Muslims. Prior to 1955, polygamy was permitted for Hindus. Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the parties in question.
In Islamic marital jurisprudence, under reasonable and warranted conditions, a Muslim man may have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four. Muslim women are not permitted to have more than one husband at the same time under any circumstances.
Based on verse 30:21 of Quran the ideal relationship is the comfort that a couple find in each other's embrace:
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.— Qur'an, Sura 30 (Ar-Rum), Ayah 21
The polygyny that is allowed in the Quran is for special situations. There are strict requirements to marrying more than one woman, as the man must treat them equally financially and in terms of support given to each wife, according to Islamic law. However, Islam advises monogamy for a man if he fears he can't deal justly with his wives. This is based on verse 4:3 of Quran which says:
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or one that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), Ayah 3
Muslim women are not allowed to marry more than one husband at once. However, in the case of a divorce or their husbands' death they can remarry after the completion of Iddah, as divorce is legal in Islamic law. A non-Muslim woman who flees from her non-Muslim husband and accepts Islam has the option to remarry without divorce from her previous husband, as her marriage with non-Muslim husband is Islamically dissolved on her fleeing.A non-Muslim woman captured during war by Muslims, can also remarry, as her marriage with her non-Muslim husband is Islamically dissolved at capture by Muslim soldiers. This permission is given to such women in verse 4:24 of Quran. The verse also emphasizes on transparency, mutual agreement and financial compensation as prerequisites for matrimonial relationship as opposed to prostitution; it says:
Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), Ayah 24
Muhammad was monogamously married to Khadija, his first wife, for 25 years, until she died. After her death, he married multiple women, mostly widows,for social and political reasons. He had a total of nine wives, but not all at the same time, depending on the sources in his lifetime. The Qur'an does not give preference in marrying more than one wife. One reason cited for polygyny is that it allows a man to give financial protection to multiple women, who might otherwise not have any support (e.g. widows). However, the wife can set a condition, in then marriage contract, that the husband cannot marry another woman during their marriage. In such a case, the husband cannot marry another woman as long as he is married to his wife. According to traditional Islamic law, each of those wives keeps their property and assets separate; and are paid mahar and maintenance separately by their husband. 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.
In most Muslim-majority countries, polygyny is legal with Kuwait being the only one where no restrictions are imposed on it. The practice is illegal in Muslim-majority Turkey, Tunisia, Albania, Kosovo and Central Asian countries.
Countries that allow polygyny typically also require a man to obtain permission from his previous wives before marrying another, and require the man to prove that he can financially support multiple wives. In Malaysia and Morocco, a man must justify taking an additional wife at a court hearing before he is allowed to do so.In Sudan, the government encouraged polygyny in 2001 to increase the population.
The Torah contains a few specific regulations that apply to polygamy,such as Exodus 21:10: "If he take another wife for himself; her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish". Deut 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; and Deut 17:17 states that the king shall not have too many wives.
The Torah may distinguish concubines and "sub-standard" wives with the prefix "to" (e.g., lit. "took to wives").Despite these nuances to the biblical perspective on polygamy, many important figures had more than one wife, such as in the instances of Esau (Gen 26:34; 28:6-9), Jacob (Gen 29:15-28), Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1-8), David (1 Samuel 25:39-44; 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13-16), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3).
Multiple marriage was considered a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertilitylike in 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. Despite its prevalence in the Hebrew Bible, scholars do not believe that polygyny was commonly practiced in the biblical era because it required a significant amount of wealth. Michael Coogan, in contrast, states that "Polygyny continued to be practiced well into the biblical period, and it is attested among Jews as late as the second century CE".
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 the Great were permitted under Jewish custom.
The rabbinical era that began with the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE saw a continuation of some degree of legal acceptance for polygamy. In the Babylonian Talmud (BT), Kiddushin 7a, its states, "Raba said: [If a man declares,] 'Be thou betrothed to half of me,' she is betrothed: 'half of thee be betrothed to me,' she is not betrothed." The BT during a discussion of Levirate marriage in Yevamot 65a appears to repeat the precedent found in Exodus 21:10: "Raba said: a man may marry wives in addition to the first wife; provided only that he possesses the means to maintain them". The Jewish Codices began a process of restricting polygamy in Judaism.
Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah maintained that polygamous unions were permissible from a legal point of view, which was contrary to his personal opinion. The Mishneh Torah, while maintaining the right to multiple spouses, and the requirement to provide fully for each as indicated in previously cited sources, went further: "He may not, however, compel his wives to live in the same courtyard. Instead, each one is entitled to her own household".
The Shulchan Aruch builds on all of the previous works by adding further nuances: "...but in any event, our sages have advised well not to marry more than four wives, in order that he can meet their conjugal needs at least once a month. And in a place where it is customary to marry only one wife, he is not permitted to take another wife on top of his present wife."As can be seen, while the tradition of the rabbinic period began with providing legal definition for the practice of polygamy (although this does not indicate the frequency with which polygamy in fact occurred) that corresponded to precedents in the Tanakh, by the time of the Codices the rabbis had greatly reduced or eliminated sanction of the practice.
Most notable in the rabbinic period on the issue of polygamy, though more specifically for Ashkenazi Jews, was the synod of Rabbeinu Gershom. About 1000 CE he called a synod which decided the following particulars: (1) prohibition of polygamy; (2) necessity of obtaining the consent of both parties to a divorce; (3) modification of the rules concerning those who became apostates under compulsion; (4) prohibition against opening correspondence addressed to another.[ citation needed ] Some sephardic Jews such as Abraham David Taroç, where known to have several wives.
In the modern day, polygamy is almost nonexistent in Rabbinic Judaism.Ashkenazi Jews have continued to follow Rabbenu Gershom's ban since the 11th century. Some Mizrahi Jewish communities (particularly Yemenite Jews and Persian Jews) discontinued polygyny more recently, after they immigrated to countries where it was forbidden or illegal. Israel prohibits polygamy by law. In practice, however, the law is loosely enforced, primarily to avoid interference with Bedouin culture, where polygyny is practiced. Pre-existing polygynous unions among Jews from Arab countries (or other countries where the practice was not prohibited by their tradition and was not illegal) are not subject to this Israeli law. But Mizrahi Jews are not permitted to enter into new polygamous marriages in Israel. However polygamy may still occur in non-European Jewish communities that exist in countries where it is not forbidden, such as Jewish communities in Iran and Morocco.
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 most countries outlaw it, polygamy is considered highly impractical, and there are only a few known cases of it among Karaite Jews today.
Israel has made polygamy illegal.Provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal. Furthermore, former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef has come out in favor of legalizing polygamy and the practice of pilegesh (concubine) by the Israeli government.
Tzvi Zohar, a professor from the Bar-Ilan University, recently suggested that based on the opinions of leading halachic authorities, the concept of concubines may serve as a practical Halachic justification for premarital or non-marital cohabitation.
In 2000, the United Nations Human Rights Committee reported that polygamy violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), citing concerns that the lack of "equality of treatment with regard to the right to marry" meant that polygamy, restricted to polygyny in practice, violates the dignity of women and should be outlawed.Specifically, reports to UN Committees have noted violations of ICCPR due to these inequalities and reports to the UN General Assembly have recommended it be outlawed.
ICCPR does not apply to countries that have not signed it, which includes many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Malaysia, Brunei, Oman, and South Sudan.
Canada has taken a strong stand against polygamy, and the Canadian Department of Justice has argued that polygyny is a violation of International Human Rights Law, as a form of gender discrimination.In Canada, the federal Criminal Code applies throughout the country. It extends the definition of polygamy to having any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time. Also anyone who assists, celebrates, or is a part to a rite, ceremony, or contract that sanctions a polygamist relationship is guilty of polygamy. Polygamy is an offence punishable by up to five years in prison. In 2017, two Canadian religious leaders were found guilty of practicing polygamy by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Both of them are former bishops of the Mormon denomination of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS).
Polygamous marriages are not recognized in Russia. The Family Code of Russia states that a marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman, neither of whom is married to someone else.Furthermore, Russia does not recognize polygamous marriages that had been contracted in other countries. However, de facto polygamy or multiple cohabitation in and of itself is not a crime. Due to the shortage of men in Russia's population, it is not uncommon for men to father children with multiple women, and sometimes that results in households that are openly de facto polygamous.
Bigamy is illegal in the United Kingdom.De facto polygamy (having multiple partners at the same time) is not a criminal offence, provided the person does not register more than one marriage at the same time. In the UK, adultery is not a criminal offense (it is only a ground for divorce ). In a written answer to the House of Commons, "In Great Britain, polygamy is only recognized as valid in law in circumstances where the marriage ceremony has been performed in a country whose laws permit polygamy and the parties to the marriage were domiciled there at the time. In addition, immigration rules have generally prevented the formation of polygamous households in this country since 1988."
The 2010 Government in the UK decided that Universal Credit (UC), which replaces means-tested benefits and tax credits for working-age people and will not be completely introduced until 2021, will not recognize polygamous marriages. A House of Commons Briefing Paper states "Treating second and subsequent partners in polygamous relationships as separate claimants could in some situations mean that polygamous households receive more under Universal Credit than they do under the current rules for means-tested benefits and tax credits. This is because, as explained above, the amounts which may be paid in respect of additional spouses are lower than those which generally apply to single claimants." There is currently no official statistics data on cohabiting polygamous couples who have arranged marriage in religious ceremonies.
In October 2017 there was media attention in the UK concerning website over a dating website offering Muslim men an opportunity to seek second or third wives. The website had 100 000 users of which 25 000 were in the UK. Website founder Azad Chaiwala created the website when he was seeking a second wife for himself.
Polygamy is illegal in 49 United States. Utah is the only state where it is a civil infraction rather than a crime as of 2020. Federal legislation to outlaw the practice was endorsed as constitutional in 1878 by the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States, despite the religious objections of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
On 13 December 2013, a federal judge, spurred by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups,struck down the parts of Utah's bigamy law that criminalized cohabitation, while also acknowledging that the state may still enforce bans on having multiple marriage licenses.
Individualist feminism and advocates such as Wendy McElroy and journalist Jillian Keenan support the freedom for adults to voluntarily enter polygamous marriages.
Authors such as Alyssa Rower and Samantha Slark argue that there is a case for legalizing polygamy on the basis of regulation and monitoring of the practice, legally protecting the polygamous partners and allowing them to join mainstream society instead of forcing them to hide from it when any public situation arises.
In an October 2004 op-ed for USA Today , George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argued that, as a simple matter of equal treatment under law, polygamy ought to be legal. Acknowledging that underage girls are sometimes coerced into polygamous marriages, Turley replied that "banning polygamy is no more a solution to child abuse than banning marriage would be a solution to spousal abuse".
Stanley Kurtz, a conservative fellow at the Hudson Institute, rejects the decriminalization and legalization of polygamy. He stated:
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.
In January 2015, Pastor Neil Patrick Carrick of Detroit, Michigan, brought a case ( Carrick v. Snyder ) against the State of Michigan that the state's ban of polygamy violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Polygyny is the most common and accepted form of polygamy, entailing the marriage of a man with several women. Polyandry is another form of polygamy in which women practice having two or more husbands. Most countries that permit polygyny today are Muslim-majority countries.
Polyandry is a form of polygamy in which a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time. Polyandry is contrasted with polygyny, involving one male and two or more females. If a marriage involves a plural number of "husbands and wives" participants of each gender, then it can be called polygamy, group or conjoint marriage. In its broadest use, polyandry refers to sexual relations with multiple males within or without marriage.
Polygamy was practiced by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890 by between 20 and 30 percent of Latter-day Saint families. Today, there are adherents of various denominations of fundamentalist Mormonism continue to practice polygamy.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of the largest of the fundamentalist Mormon denominations and one of the largest organizations in the United States having members who practice polygamy. The fundamentalist Mormon movement emerged in the early 20th century when its founding members were excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, largely because of their refusal to abandon the practice of plural marriage after it was renounced in the "Second Manifesto" (1904).
Mormon fundamentalism is a belief in the validity of selected fundamental aspects of Mormonism as taught and practiced in the nineteenth century, particularly during the administrations of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor, the first three presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon fundamentalists seek to uphold tenets and practices no longer held by mainstream Mormons. The principle most often associated with Mormon fundamentalism is plural marriage, a form of polygyny first taught in the Latter Day Saint movement by the movement's founder, Smith. A second and closely associated principle is that of the United Order, a form of egalitarian communalism. Mormon fundamentalists believe that these and other principles were wrongly abandoned or changed by the LDS Church in its efforts to become reconciled with mainstream American society. Today, the LDS Church excommunicates any of its members who practice plural marriage or who otherwise closely associate themselves with Mormon fundamentalist practices.
The 1890 Manifesto is a statement which officially advised against any future plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Issued by church president Wilford Woodruff in September 1890, the Manifesto was a response to mounting anti-polygamy pressure from the United States Congress, which by 1890 had disincorporated the church, escheated its assets to the U.S. federal government, and imprisoned many prominent polygamist Mormons. Upon its issuance, the LDS Church in conference accepted Woodruff's Manifesto as "authoritative and binding."
Thomas Arthur "Tom" Green is a Mormon fundamentalist in Utah who is a practitioner of plural marriage. After a high-profile trial, Green was convicted by the state of Utah on May 18, 2001, of four counts of bigamy and one count of failure to pay child support. This decision was upheld by the Utah State Supreme Court in 2004. He was also convicted of child rape, on the basis that one of his wives had his child at the age of 14, meaning that they had sex when she was only 13 years old. In total he served six years in prison and was released in 2007.
The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture, and can change over time. In general there are two types: civil marriage and religious marriage, and typically marriages employ a combination of both. Marriages between people of differing religions are called interfaith marriages, while marital conversion, a more controversial concept than interfaith marriage, refers to the religious conversion of one partner to the other's religion for sake of satisfying a religious requirement.
Rulon Clark Allred was a homeopath and chiropractor in Salt Lake City and the leader of what is now the Apostolic United Brethren, a breakaway sect of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, United States. This fundamentalist offshoot often called "The Allred Group" has recently come into the Hollywood spotlight with the release of the hit Reality TV series Sister Wives aired in 2010 because his granddaughter Christine is one of the stars. Rulon was murdered on the orders of Ervil LeBaron, the head of a rival polygamous sect.
Polygamy is the practice of having more than one spouse. Polygyny is the specific practice of one man taking more than one wife: it is a common marriage pattern in some parts of the world. In North America polygamy has not been a culturally normative or legally recognized institution since the continent's colonization by Europeans.
Possibly as early as the 1830s, followers of the Latter Day Saint movement, were practicing the doctrine of polygamy or "plural marriage". After the death of church founder Joseph Smith, the doctrine was officially announced in Utah Territory in 1852 by Mormon leader Brigham Young. The practice was attributed posthumously to Smith and it began among Mormons at large, principally in Utah where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had relocated after the Illinois Mormon War.
Polygamy is "the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time." Polygamy has been practiced by many cultures throughout history.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, privately taught and practiced polygamy. After Smith's death in 1844, the church he established splintered into several competing groups. Disagreement over Smith's doctrine of "plural marriage" has been among the primary reasons for multiple church schisms.
Dorothy Allred Solomon is an American author and educator committed to informing people about the pros and cons of polygamous lifestyles.
Polygamy in India is outlawed. While polygamy was not prohibited in Ancient India and it was common among aristocrats and emperors, it is believed that it was not a major cultural practice. The lack of prohibition was in part due to the separation between land laws and religion, and partially since all of the major religions of India portrayed polygamy in a neutral light.
The practice of what is usually called polygamy, enjoys de facto and de jure legality in Kenya. It is to be understood as polygyny, however. It states in the Kenyan constitution that a man can marry more than one wife.
The legal status of polygamy varies widely around the world. Polygyny is legal in 58 out of nearly 200 sovereign states, the vast majority of them being Muslim-majority countries in Africa and Asia. Polyandry is illegal in virtually every country. A number of countries permit polygyny among Muslims in their communities. Some countries that permit polygyny have restrictions, such as requiring the first wife to give her consent.
Polygamy has three specific forms:
Couples have married in the United States for centuries. For most of US history, marriages were solemnized in an ecclesiastical setting. Government-issued marriage licenses are a modern innovation. Even before the advent of licensing, many states enacted laws to prohibit plural marriage style relationships. Early Mormons were persecuted for their practice of polygamy. No state permits its citizens to enter into more than one concurrent, legally-licensed marriage. People who attempt to, or are able to, secure a second marriage license are generally prosecuted for bigamy. The terms "bigamy" and "polygamy" are sometimes confused or used interchangeably. Some states' statutes refer to polygamy while others use the bigamy term. Criminal sentences differ widely. Prosecutions for either violation are extremely rare. Polygamy is a practice difficult to define since it virtually never occurs in the context of legal licensing. Given that Mormon polygamists migrated to the Rocky Mountains in 1847, partly to escape prosecution for polygamy in the eastern states, efforts to curb the practice focused intensely on Utah and the surrounding territories in the 1800s. Utah and four other western territories were constrained to incorporate a prohibition against plural marriages in their state constitutions. Given that almost no polygamists bother to seek a second marriage license, the practice of forming a family with more than one spousal-styled relationship is very difficult to criminalize. In the majority of cases, the additional partner is considered a wife in the context of religious beliefs. Legally speaking, the practice is more akin to adultery. Criminal prosecutions of adultery are unheard of in the U.S. Utah made the practice of polygamy a felony in 1935, after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints publicly repudiated it in 1890, 1904 and 1910. Many convictions followed. Since the 1960s, polygamy prosecutions have been rare. Prosecutions included Robert D. Foster, Steve Bronson, Mark Easterday, Thomas Green, and Rodney Holm. The latter two prompted state supreme court challenges. Both failed. Nevertheless, Utah has remained reluctant to pursue prosecutions, citing a lack of resources, difficulties obtaining convincing evidence, and an understanding that any prosecution would trigger an inevitable appeal to the higher courts. The Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling found that all adult, consensual, non-commercial sexual activity is protected, thus weakening any attempts to prosecute families for private residential or sexual arrangements that did not seek the imprimatur of the state.
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.
When challenged this way he typically responded . . . ‘I am not positive nor sure that he was innocent’.
The Community of Christ . . . claims that polygamy was introduced by Brigham Young and his associates and that the revelation on polygamy, which was made public in 1852 by Young in Utah . . . was not in harmony with the original tenets of the church or with the teachings and practices of Smith.
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