Polygamy Would Be Bigamy

That is the old joke, you know the one. Polygamy would be bigamy. I don’t know if it is really all that funny, but we still tell it anyway. Newsweek is running an article about how polygamists are fighting for their rights.

“Not anymore. Hammon, who’s involved in a polygamous relationship, is a founding member of the Centennial Park Action Committee, a group that lobbies for decriminalization of the practice. She’s among a new wave of polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement—just as a federal lawsuit challenging anti-polygamy laws makes its way through the courts and a new show about polygamy debuts on HBO. “Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle,” says Mark Henkel, who, as founder of the Christian evangelical polygamy organization TruthBearer.org, is at the forefront of the movement. His argument: if Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy. Henkel and Hammon have been joined by other activist groups like Principle Voices, a Utah-based group run by wives from polygamous marriages. Activists point to Canada, where, in January, a report commissioned by the Justice Department recommended decriminalizing polygamy.”

I have thought about this from time to time, polygamy that is. Back in my early twenties the boys and I used to kid around about how it would be great to be a polygamist. You’d have seven wives, one for each day of the week. They’d all live in a house with the kids and as men we’d have our own private palace where we would entertain them.

It was a story that was good for a few laughs, but it was never taken more seriously than that. We all had a very clear ideas about the challenges and difficulties of trying to keep that many wives happy and I suspect that more importantly most of us were worried about how to be truly intimate with that many people. I don’t know for certain as it wasn’t something that we discussed. When you are trying to be cool you don’t express that softer side.

But that is not the purpose of this post. The real purpose is to say that I am not really sure if I have a problem with it. If people want to engage in polygamy what harm is there. I haven’t any issues whatsoever with gay marriage.

I suppose if I had to write an essay about the pros/cons of polygamy I could do so, but off the top of my head I am having a hard time coming up with serious arguments against it. Provided that all members are willing and involved in a loving relationship, what harm does it cause.

The biggest issue that comes to mind is the problem with favoritism. There could be issues created by that, but beyond that I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll write Shola and ask what he thinks.

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  1. Jack's Shack March 21, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Hi Pearl,

    Very true.

  2. Pearl March 20, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    I personally couldn’t imagine having the energy for it but then people with one kid say they can’t imagine having 5 and yet they manage. It’s a different sort of juggling.

  3. Jack's Shack March 20, 2006 at 5:47 am


    It should be a separate issue.


    I agree. It sounds like an awful lot of work to me.

  4. wanda March 19, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    If you want to see a good arguement for/against polygamy, try watching “Big Love” on HBO. I don’t know how a man could handle that much stress.
    Have you ever wondered why it is there’s always mulitple wives? Why not mulitiple husbands?

  5. Anonymous March 19, 2006 at 9:03 am

    a few thoughts come to mind
    1. I hope we can keep this issue separate from gay marriage as i know some gay couples who’ve been commited to eachother for DECADES…they deserve a clear shot at making it legal for goodness sake.
    2. Just when I was wondering how it became illegal in the first place i read
    “If people want to engage in polygamy what harm is there.”
    Want being th operative word….and it brings to mind the few i know who call themselves “polyamorous” untill they escape the manipulations of the narcisist they fell for.
    3. how many Polygamists marry successive wives who they didn’t court while they were below the age of consent?
    4. Hey wait a minute, i thought we were just getting to the point where women do not need to be married and are choosing not be more and more….?
    5. i really don’t care what other adults do as long as they are consenting and cause no harm to self or others.
    by way of the round up

  6. Jack's Shack March 18, 2006 at 8:40 pm


    Time flies when you are not looking. If you are looking for intimacy it would make it more difficult. IMO, Chazal was wise in their decision to ban it.

    The joke I referred to relates to play on words when someone asks about why you would engage in polygamy, because polygamy would be bigamy (big of me). Not all that funny, but old.


    The examples you give do illustrate many of the current problems with it.

  7. Margaret March 18, 2006 at 6:52 am

    I have an issue with the practice of it, and not necessarily the theory. (the 14 year old “wives”, the total control, the abuse, the marrying to nieces, stepdaughters and other fairly close relatives)

  8. Soylent March 17, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    “Therefore a man should leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife (singular), and they should be as one flesh”.

    ‘As one flesh?’ That sounds a little, yucky.

  9. Elie March 17, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    PS: What is the joke you refer to in the intro?

  10. Elie March 17, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Even though the Torah allows polygamy, it seems clear from the very beginning that the ideal is monogamy. From Genesis: “Therefore a man should leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife (singular), and they should be as one flesh”. Once polygamy was no longer accepted in civilized secular society, the Rabbis forbade it as well, and this has been the case for over 1000 years now.

  11. Jack's Shack March 17, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    From that perspective it seems to me that it would make more sense not to be married, that one would have the freedom to be with whomever, whenever.

  12. soylentgreen March 17, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Well, doesn’t humanity evolve through genetic proliferation? From an evolutionary perspective having seven wives is more natural than having only one.

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