Legalize polygamy

What I am about to say may or may not be completely absurd: I think polygamy, or group marriages, should be legalized. I know, I know, the first thing that comes to mind are all those crazy religious cults that practice polygamy and have a bad reputation for child abuse and brainwashing. However, there are a few reasons as to why polygamy should be legalized in the United States.

First, let’s get the basic argument out of the way. I am supposed to have freedom in this country. I do not see any reason as to why the government should be allowed to limit a person in how many spouses he or she has at a given time. There are more than 50 countries in the world that recognize polygamy, so why not the United States, too? If I want to have eight husbands, why does my government have the right to stop me? Is it not possible to love more than one person at a time?

I believe that polygamy is illegal solely for religious reasons. If this is in fact the case, then doesn’t that whole separation of church and state concept come into play here?

Next, I argue that polygamy actually promotes healthy relationships. In many polygamist marriages, there is a discussion about taking on a new husband or wife. This discussion is frequently open and honest. Open and honest discussions are becoming hard to come by in many monogamous marriages today.

Divorce is also far less frequent in polygamist families. We all have heard about the awful baggage that comes along with divorce; from legal fees, child custody battles, separating property, and not to mention the emotional trauma. Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in if there was less divorce? Just think of the toll it has on children. If children can grow up in a loving, divorce-free environment, is that not better for their future?

I know what you’re thinking right now, “But polygamists abuse their children and force them into marriages with gross old men.” I understand your thought. However, one out of eight children are abused in polygamist households, whereas one out of six children are abused in monogamous households. There is a national problem with abuse. It isn’t just a polygamist thing.

I also argue that religious “brainwashing” polygamist groups are a minority among polygamist groups. These few bad eggs give the practice a bad name, and I think that is unfair.

Lastly, I argue that polygamy tends to benefit women the most and disadvantage men. According to David Friedman, anarcho-capitalist and author of “The Machinery of Freedom,” the idea is that many women would prefer half or one-third of someone especially appealing to being the single spouse of someone who 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 percent of women are married to 10 percent of men, so that leaves 90 percent of men to compete over the remaining 80 percent of women. Friedman uses this viewpoint to argue in favor of legalizing polygamy.

I guess I am just gung-ho for freedom. If I am not hurting anyone, why should the government stop me? Polygamist relationships can be just as healthy as monogamous relationships, for the spouses and children alike. This practice has a pretty bad reputation from media frenzies surrounding a few isolated cases.

I challenge everyone to think about why polygamy should be illegal. If you find yourself resting on some moral basis taught to you by any religious organization, then it violates the separation of church and state concept. In the divorce-happy, depressing world we live in, why can’t we just celebrate love in all forms? I say, the more love the better!

  • Morpheus

    You bring up a good point, Ashley. I would additionally point out that the far-wrung illegalization of polygamy ends up benefitting the troublemakers, or cultic groups you mentioned the most. Why? Because not only in these few cases is the relationship truly exploitative (married to underage individuals) But it is also a criminal offense for those potentially exploited to get help, to settle through divorce, child custody, etc., because you woke up to the light of what was going on in those few “bad apple” situations. With polygamy legalized, all the same issues of child support, divorce, and custody rights could be fought over because one’s relationship with the plural wives is not underground, but fully legitimate in the eyes of the law.

    Otherwise, I appreciate your points. If we truly live in a secular society, why worry about some religious practices, polygamy included? I would like to see someone bother proving that somehow polygamy’s legalization would make tons of people seemingly “monogamous” somehow embrace it? I doubt it. Polygamy is when there are legal contracts involved between the spouse(s), many people, especially when the full legal responsibilities of legal monogamous marriage are put into play, will not be likely to easily embrace polygamy in the legal sense.

  • Scarecrow

    Very interesting and accurate article.

    As a Christian I find it interesting that people came to this country for religious freedom, yet we find our government oppressing what is actually a Biblical practice. Even from a Christian perspective it is very easy to defend polygyny (not the generic polygamy) and dismiss monogamy arguments. There is not one instance of: a man repenting for having more than one wife, a prophet confronting a man for having more than one wife, or God Himself addressing the practice as sinful in any way. In fact most of those in the Bible practicing polygyny were praised by God!

    What we have are corrupt right-wing religious segment in our society that do not even understand their own scriptures. They use the government attempting to legislate their version of morality yet completely ignore verses such as this:

    1 Corinthians 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    Due to their focus on legislating morality they have neglected their own congregations. A pole released in February of 2010 and cited by RC Sproul indicates that teen sexual activity, promiscuity of married individuals, and divorce are now actually higher within the “Christian” community than in the heathen (non-believing) community. They are so busy pointing their moral compass at those outside the church they fail to tend their own sheep and the wolves are having a hay day!

  • Theresa Lupo

    Most all polygamist groups do stem from cults.I don’t know where you got your figures but they are totally wrong.I myself am not against any person (and it is always a women) who wants to be in a polygamist group not men who are married to one woman)I am not against anyone who decides on their own to do that .But most of these women are forced into these marriages because they are taught that it is the only way to heavenThe.Mormon teachings of Joseph Smith started that lie.It is a form of slaveryTheir socalled phrophet in each group tells these young girls who they will marry & THEY HAVE NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER! Women are owned just like SLAVES!Yes it is slavery & THAT is what i am against.Here is another thing to think about if polygamy is legal…….Let’s say a man has 4 wives & 22 children (i know of such a man but he is Muslum not Christian)anyway lets say he is a US citizen & he becomes disabled & loses everything now he is filing for welfare & foodstamps to support all these children & wives.And because all the women in his Morman cult had to drop out of school at grade 6 (true story) because thier religin made them do that…..they can’t work or support thier children so welfare is the only support they will get.Bad idea to legalize polygamy in the USA.In MOST cases polygamy is taught to be the only way & it is slavery of women.

  • Katherine Byers

    Very well written. I am a polygamy advocate as well. Those who focus only on what the media has been willing to serve us regarding polygamy (the abusive, child slavery, disgusting side) are drawing their biased opinion only hearing one half of the truth. If a person truly wants to know the dynamics of polygamy, all they have to do is research the matter (as I did), and become all the wiser for doing so. I was once very against the practice, myself, until “something” moved in my heart and I was lead to research the matter. We are a biblical family and I was taught that it was a “wrong” practice, however, when I started digging deep into it, I realized that there is nothing wrong with it at all, not scripturally. The only thing wrong with it is the governments intention to remove the right to practice it. In MOST of the cases that I have come into contact with, it is a very stable, adult-consented environment, where all mates have chosen the lifestyle for themselves for their own reasons and they all have a very strong mutual respect for one another (LOVE). As a Biblical believer I don’t agree with polyamory, polyandry, or homosexual marriage for my household, HOWEVER, as an American citizen, I don’t believe that my personal convictions in the matter, or ANYBODYs personal conviction in the matter, should dictate to the rest of this “free” nation whom they love and commit to (as long as they are all consenting adults). Let the Judge be the judge for us all in the matter and get the United States Government OUT of it. It should NOT be their business. I am not a member of a cult, nor was I told polygamy was the only way to get to heaven, I simply am lead to be open to the possibility of practicing polygyny. That’s all I have to say about that.

  • Daniel

    Theresa Lupo
    You are the one who should check your facts and figures.
    Polygamy was practiced from the begining of the bible the
    whole way to the end, and at those times there was no such
    thing as a Morman or Joseph Smith.
    As far as the dissabled polygamist and wealfare, I think if
    you research it you will find WAY more monogamous familys
    on wealfare than polygamous familys due to the fact that
    when a monogamous bread winner becomes dissabled there
    is no one else winning the bread,
    When a polygomous bread winner becomes dissabled there
    are more times than not at least two (2) more bread winners
    in the family thus no need for wealfare.

  • Rayna Corso

    It’s amazing to me how some people are so sure that something is right or wrong without truly knowing the facts. I am involved in a “polygamous” relationship. We are not a cult, we are not isolated, we are not Mormans & we are not religious. No one was forced into this situation. Those polygamy cults disgust me too, but a few people shouldn’t ruin in for the rest of the country. I didn’t grow up in the polygamist lifestyle & I never knew anyone who was a plural marriage. This was a decision the 3 of us made together. In the begining I was nervous, but now I know it is the right decision. I wish that I could marry my “husband” legally, but sady, I cannot. I just don’t understand why people feel the need to control other people’s lives.

  • Dragonfly

    I am 100% in agreement with you, Ashley. I think that it’s ridiculous & scary that I could be charged with a FELONY if I chose to be a polygamist. There are many, many good sides to a polygamist marriage that has been entered into by consenting adults. Yes, there is a whole other scary side that we see in the news, but the media always finds the dramatic and sensationalizes it further. Of course they don’t show us the happy, successful families. Not to mention, those people don’t want to be known about. The government could storm in and tear apart their family and send them to prison. My guess is that there are a LOT of people that hide it well & live in fear. One last thing, our society is already full of broken families with tons of step & half siblings. If a man can go around impregnating multiple women and a woman can have kids with multiple daddies, then why can’t people choose to do that while in a relationship & under the same roof? I believe that polygamy can actually build strong families with a great support system. We are okay with single moms. Wouldn’t lots of moms be okay too?

  • jonnyy


  • E.

    I hope that people who choose polygamy can do so without fear of criminal charges. I think for some strong souls it is the best method of living. I hope someday it is accepted.

  • james

    I think polygamy is a bad idea because of what i believe will evolve in these households. In addition, i believe that women are marginalized. I certainly dont think that this country will ever embrace this practice and the series big love will do nothing to make the populace change their minds. First, having to share a spouse must be a difficult thing and only the women have this challenge. Second, i fear that over time young girls will be pressured to marry older men and the practices of warren jeffs will become more common. Of course most of you supporters will contend that this is the extreme, but the possibility exists. I also believe that women will be stuck in these situations and never be self sufficient. In conclusion, the government is the people, and if i get a chance to vote, my vote is no to legalizing this practice.

  • Charlotte

    I too believe polygamy should be legalized. The biggest reason is it would give us the ability to stop underground “marriages” of underage girls. It would also block the fraudulent usage of welfare in supporting underground polygamist marriages because these marriages would be recorded. Of course I believe we should get out of the business of marriage and instead offer partnerships. Marriage is a religious concept.. this would allow gays to marry too.

    I also think the government needs to get out of the business of religion and morality. I’m tired of people forcing their religious and moral views on me through the passing of laws.

    Laws against abortion, marijuana, drugs, pain meds (as a disabled veteran I’m required not only to sign a contarct in order to get my pain meds I’m subjected to piss tests and pill counts like some common junkie), prostitution, selling of my organs…the list is endless.

    We, not the government should have domain over our bodies.

    And the government is growing ever more aggressive n “protecting” us from ourselves. I don’t need protection from anyone except insurance companies and big businesses (IE credit companies) and yet these are allowed to bleed us dry.

    The government has overstepped its role in our lives and we’re forced to pay for it. We only have the illusion of a democracy and we need to take our government back

  • Diogenes

    Very well written argument. I have done a little research into this myself. For the record I am not a polygamist and am in fact happily married, in a monogamous marriage. The fact of the matter is that Polygamy is a purely social taboo and not a religuous one. The Bible itself, in Exodus I believe, lays out the requirments for a polygamous marriage. Basically stating you are not allowed to neglect one spouse in favor of another. Not sure how the perception has come about that polygamy is a “sin” but it is unfounded by scripture. From a non religous standpoint, if we as a society are to except that one man can love another man or one woman can love another woman, how is it unacceptable to believe that one man can love more than one woman, or that a woman could love more than one man.
    Seems to be a bit of a double standard to me.

  • David Wells

    I appreciate this article. I also appreciate reading so many well thought-out responses, aside from Theresa Lupo. I’ve found that it is the Christian community with the biggest problem with polygamy, mostly because they associate it with Joseph Smith and Mormonism (that’s morm-o-n, not morm-a-n), and they’ve been taught all their lives that Mormons are evil, therefore all things associated with them are evil.

    However, as a historian I’ve researched constitutional law regarding religious practice and in particular the case Reynolds v. United States, in which polygamist George Reynolds, on behalf of the Mormon Church, fought the anti-Polygamy acts of the day (Morrill act, Edmunds Act, etc.). He lost and was sent to prison, and as a result of this case, polygamy became an indefensible crime. Their reasoning? They took an excerpt of a personal letter written by Thomas Jefferson regarding the definition of “constitutional religious protection”, and declared it as “almost authoritative”. They then declared polygamy as barbaric, and as being associated with the barbarians of the “eastern cultures”, such as Africans, Asians, etc. So they used an private letter and racism to ban a religious practice. They declared polygamy “subversive of good order.” But if today we allow one kind of “all parties legally consenting” marriage, why shouldn’t we allow all kinds?

    I agree that bringing the practice into the light would allow it to be more closely monitored and regulated. I also know several polygamists who are good, well-adjusted people, and are good citizens (aside from breaking the anti-polygamy law). It’s high time we allow these individuals to practice their form of marriage. Is it really that “morally” different from gay marriage? Those arguments are trite and ineffective.

  • James

    I have a lot of arguments for and against polygomy me. I am for it myslef. The only difference is dults would be allowed to become part of a family voluntarily. The law would prevent any under age marriages or abuse. The governent has been dictating for years. If men are marrying men and women are marrying women someone is left in the cold. They will either be an unwed mother or going from one person to the next until they get aides. Plural marriage would also reduce the health risks out there. Financailly all the plural marriages would thrive. Imagine all income going to common purpose the good of the family. We are talking a great situation of open honest relationship and everyone is happy! If you go back to many years ago man had more than one wife. How many woves did Moses have? Hmmm, too many laws are written based on the bible some get in the way of human rights. Would they rather we did not get married and just lived with five girlfriends? The other things is to not get married and continue to increase the number of un-wedd mothers. I say let people marry who they wish.