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Polygamy: What are the Pro's and Con's


Mudcat

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Thinking about Lehi's thread on polygamy being/not being abhorrent, I am wondering if the posters of this forum could help me compile a list of sorts.

If you have the time and proclivity. I am hoping you could submit what you think are the Pro's and Con's of polygamy.

There isn't much in the way of a definitive list on the net that I could find, so maybe we could generate one in this thread.

Respectfully,

Mudcat

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Pros

Men generally like it.

Cons

Women generally dislike it.

Edited to add:

One thing that might be a pro for the man could be a con for the woman. For example, how does dating work when you practice polygamy? For the man, you can get married and still do some window shopping and keeping an eye out for that 2nd or 3rd wife. I always wondered how this worked since I doubt a woman just showed up on the porch and said marry me.

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Pros: Under the right circumstances the Lord is able to use it to bring more children into the world dedicated to His cause than would otherwise be possible. (think the 12 tribes of Israel, the Lord's covenant people. Would that have been possible without polygamy?)

Cons: Anytime it's not condoned of the Lord, it's automatically a con, regardless of whether or not some people are fine doing it.

:P

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Cons:

Imagine the tax breaks for having multiple wives. It would drive the IRS crazy

With multiple wives, the issue of intimacy and the structure of the relationship will be much different in a polygamous relationship than a monogamous one. This would be one reason why I myself would not want to have plural wives, and I am sure it is a con for women, too.

There are pros, too, but I just thought I would list these two cons.

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Polygamy really is the exception and since it is to be practiced only under commandment I don't think there are any pros outside of obedience to God. Although I do believe that given the hardships and isolation of the pioneers it was beneficial in keeping people close to one another and giving them a greater support system.

There were some excellent talks at Fair Conference on this subject.

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Hey, isn't that a pro?

Well, yes, I am sure it would be a "plus." It would be a disadvantage to the tax system in the USA, I believe (I don't like there, so I am not an expert on it), so it would have to be changed if plural marriage were to become legal (I know, not the topic of discussion, but in this hypothetical, it would be, I am guessing).

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Pro: ?

Cons: It's against the law and anyone attempting to practice it is actually committing adultery since their additional "marriages" aren't even valid. (In the US anyway)

If it were legal and not condemned by God, the only perk I would see is having the company of other women, but they would surely irritate me because I would have to wait a turn even to cuddle with my husband on the couch or hold his hand, plus I would have to sleep alone often, and I would always wonder about any possible STD's the other wives are bringing home. So many complicated things to consider.

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Pro's

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thrusday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Con's

More than one wife.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

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Pro's

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thrusday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Con's

More than one wife.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

I think you are forgetting something even worse--more than one mother in law!

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bluebell, on 12 August 2010 - 03:44 PM, said:

Cons: Anytime it's not condoned of the Lord, it's automatically a con, regardless of whether or not some people are fine doing it.

I think you should carry that thought over to Lehi's thread!

Lehi specifically asked for non religious reasons for abhorring polygyny.

I personally am against polygamy because I do not think there are enough men who would be able to handle the attendant responsibilities. I strain mightily to try to fulfill the needs of my current wife, and too often, in retrospect, find myself to have fallen short.

That is one of the major complaints of Moslem women in plural marriages, i.e. that their husband does not fairly allocate resources, time, etc to all of the wives.

Glenn

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I think you are forgetting something even worse--more than one mother in law!

In my case I have an awsome set of in laws. So that would not be bad at all.

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Pros:

1. License to look for more women outside of your existing marriage without concerning yourself with things like "is it cheating on my wife if I have sex with someone else or look upon other women with the desire to ?"

2. Even if God didn't really tell you and your group to marry more than one wife, you get the benefit of having more than one wife. How cool is that! What you don't get in quality you can make up with quantity.

3. When Matilda gets uppity you can just go over to LaFonda's place. Eventually Matilda will feel bad that she challenged your authority as Lord and Priest over her and beg forgiveness.

4. Because it's so counter to the normal (Hell-enistic) worldly wisdom of men, it requires a person of great faith to engage in it. God wouldn't possibly let people of great faith who desire only to be obedient to Him to be led astray, right?

5. Your wives can share those lovely Polyg-dresses and bonnets, saving your money to pay tithing.

6. Intimately-speaking, you'll never wonder about what it would be like with someone different (I've heard conversations like this from 1-partner-only people so the thought does occur).

7. We all know that the more children you have proves how righteous and blessed you are. You're sure to be found 'more blessed' by your polygamous-practicing-constituents than a normal monogamous family because you can run pregnancies in parallel. Duggars? Meh! We don't need no stinking Duggars! Unkie Rulon is WAAAAY aheaad of them.

8. You have a greater chance of living far, far away from Babylonian-megapoli in remote places such as Hilldale and Cardston.

Cons:

1. The population who engage in polygamy exist on the kook fringe of society and attracts other Keepers of Odd Knowledge thus sustaining its higher rate of kookiness than the general gentile population.

2. Polygamy's weirdness tends to keep people marrying close relatives and/or into the same set families leading to dominance of certain genes that would best be left recessive (my CFR == did any of you see the videos of those females from the FLDS raid in Texas?)(!!!!)

3. Sometimes (or is it mostly or always?) polygamy is a primary tenet of false religions who have abandoned the One True Church in favor of a man-made facade with no authority or legitimate promise of salvation.

4. There's really no way other than an appeal to faith to know whether you're practicing a God-sanctioned marriage institution or one co-opted by the Devil -- one's sincerity is irrelevant (unless that's really the true order of God's judgement and in that case then suicide bombers can be cheerful in getting their "pass").

5. Kids are dang expensive and hard to manage -- kinda like herding cats sometimes. Imagine having 30 of them....

6. They'll be awkward in the real world if they ever make it out of the compound.

7. There's a higher incidence of sexual abuse among polygs (see Krakauer's book Under the Banner of Heaven)

8. Depending on a few things, you may discover years later that you are the descendant of someone through what appears to be an adulterous relationship but muddied up because he was the one giving the orders, so you never can be sure whether he was using his position as The Leader for personal satisfaction or whether God really did instruct him to impregnate someone else's wife (not kidding).

Early Church leaders taught of the 'evils of monogamy'. Google it -- I'm sure there are *gems* for the list found there.

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Thinking about Lehi's thread on polygamy being/not being abhorrent, I am wondering if the posters of this forum could help me compile a list of sorts.

If you have the time and proclivity. I am hoping you could submit what you think are the Pro's and Con's of polygamy.

There isn't much in the way of a definitive list on the net that I could find, so maybe we could generate one in this thread.

Respectfully,

Mudcat

Pros: Less prostitution and adultery, avoids Rome-like downfall of civilization. Also helps man to look "fresh, young and sprightly". Men don't "live all their days under the dominion of one wife".

Cons: Tricky logistics, to be sure. Friction with monogamous society. Women may have unusual forces at work in helping them decide whom to marry.

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Pros for whom? The man always has the pros to his advantage. He can follow his natural instinct to spread his seed in as many fertile areas as possible without having to deal with any moral judgment. Polygamy allows the alpha male to rise to the top, controlling not only the women and children but also putting serious societal constraints on any male competition. He can gather attractive young females, and the poor creature has only to put up with the competition between wives as they fight for his attention not only as a woman/wife but for her children as well. Something they are evolutionarily designed to do. Polygamy may be a pro for a woman if she does not, nor will have a mate (or is widowed) and polygamy would enable her to have a family to draw on for support. Of course, if she is homely she will likely have to write off any sexual intimacy because she will have lost in competition to the more attractive, young wives.

Cons? Mostly for the woman. Polygamy by its very nature puts her into a competition ring, as I mentioned above. She must compete for her spouse's emotional, financial, sexual attention, etc and the older she gets the greater the competition becomes for her. A quick read of Wife #19 (regardless of whether or not you agree with Ann Eliza) paints a pretty good picture of the complex dynamics involved with multiple wives and how easily things can go awry.

Whether in modern or ancient times, infidelity can breed anger and hurt, and new research suggests subtle differences in male and female jealousy with roots in the ancient past. In one study, for example, Buss asked males and females to imagine that their mates were having sex with someone else or that their mates were engaged in a deep emotional commitment with another person. Monitoring his subjects
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This is fragmented and not well written, but here is my list:

Polygamy pro: More sex and physical affection for the man.

con: Less sex and physical affection for the women.

con: The same resources must be divided between numerous wives and their children.

pro: Built in baby sitters (I can't list female companionship as a pro for the wives because I manage to have plenty of that without having all my friends married to my husband.)

con: Knowing that the most intimate act between and man and woman is going on with your husband and another woman in the next room. (seriously guys--imagine how you would feel in that situation.)

con: Having to schedule the most ordinary husband/wife conversations instead of just interacting in a typical one man/one woman relationship.

con: The estate settlement. Read up on the unbelievable mess Brigham Young's will left behind. Granted, he had many more wives and children than other polygamists, but it was incredibly hairy.

con: Adam and Eve. I think this is the best argument for monogamy. I believe that God modeled the ideal marriage in Adam and Eve. Polygamy, I believe, is a valid but inferior form of marriage.

pro: In polygamy, a woman has the right to choose an already married man who can offer her more than the available single man if she feels that her chances for happiness are increased in such an arrangement and the other wives all consent. In this situation, I don't see anything wrong with it if it is legal.

con: Societies where women have no choices or job opportunities other than marriage are inexcusable. Unfortunately, they still exist.

con: It is illegal in our country and children can and are marginalized because of it.

My conclusion: Overall, it just doesn't fit into our world, but it isn't completely without merit.

This thread reminds me of my favorite quote from Yul Brynner:

"A girl is like a blossom, with honey for just one man. A man is like a honey bee and gather all he can. To fly from blossom to blossom a honey bee must be free. But blossom must not ever fly from bee to bee to bee."

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He has the upper hand at all times and his whims for how he wants to spend his personal resources creates a charged environment.

Excellent analysis but I have to take issue with this part. I have yet to see a discussion of polygamy that takes the 21st century into account which is kind of bizarre. Wasn't there a recent flap about some movie star saying men weren't necessary? That is today's reality. But I think a modern woman would just rearrange her life if necessary. The man would have no personal resources. He likely wouldn't be scheduling a thing, either. Nor would he be in charge of picking wives when he is outnumbered. Women would not be picking competition (their idea of that is probably different than a man's) If a woman played it right she would pick women with skills and wealth. It would be easier for women to compete in society because of the support. Men would feel that keenly in the market place. I don't see this as very encouraging for men because no woman is going to hand over control let alone several of them. It would be rather emasculating, for lack of a better term.

I've never seen polygamy discussed as anything but a 19th century reconstruction and we just don't live like that anymore... This would be a matriarchy not a patriarchy.

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The only pro i see with polygamy is to raise up more children when the human population is devestated. This actually happened during the war of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) fought by Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentinia over Brazilian intervention in Uruguay. Two-thirds of the men were killed off, leaving 190,000 women aod 29,000 men. Polygamy was actually legalized for a while in order to increas the population as quickly as possible. This is in the People's Alamanc by David Wallechinsky and Irving Waliace, page 439, published in 1975.

Other than than, I CONDEMN the practice completely!:P

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Excellent analysis but I have to take issue with this part. I have yet to see a discussion of polygamy that takes the 21st century into account which is kind of bizarre. Wasn't there a recent flap about some movie star saying men weren't necessary? That is today's reality. But I think a modern woman would just rearrange her life if necessary. The man would have no personal resources. He likely wouldn't be scheduling a thing, either. Nor would he be in charge of picking wives when he is outnumbered. Women would not be picking competition (their idea of that is probably different than a man's) If a woman played it right she would pick women with skills and wealth. It would be easier for women to compete in society because of the support. Men would feel that keenly in the market place. I don't see this as very encouraging for men because no woman is going to hand over control let alone several of them. It would be rather emasculating, for lack of a better term.

I've never seen polygamy discussed as anything but a 19th century reconstruction and we just don't live like that anymore... This would be a matriarchy not a patriarchy.

This is true. On top of women being able to bring income and her own personal financial control into the home we should probably also factor in the fact that today's reality includes birth control which alleviates some of the sting of trying to compete for attention for their children. Any 21st century scenario likely takes all of the fun out of polygamy for the man....except for the endorsed multiple sexual partners scenario which I see few men complaining about.

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Thanks for all the input from posters so far. Likely towards the wind down of the thread I will try to compile all responses in to some sort of pro/con list for posterity's sake.

I don't agree with notion of polygamy but I am trying to be objective as I can on the matter. At least for me, I am trying to separate religious belief from it for the moment.

Some Con's

1A. A diminished gene pool. One male producing offspring from many females could potentially have positive impact if his traits were dominant through his offspring and also if his passed on traits had positive impact. However if he had undesirable traits that were dominant it would be a detriment. Regardless, if the number of reproductive males were reduced and the number of reproductive females were status quo or even increased it would lead to the potentiality of 1B.

1B. Potential for incest over time. In a grouping, where only a small number of males were reproductive and also the same number or more of females were reproductive then it would stand to reason that given that many offspring genes would be attributed to only a small number of males and the propensity of inbreeding would increase. A number of diseases are associated with such actions so this would also be a con worth consideration.

2. All your eggs in one basket is a bad thing. To clarify. In a situation where a number of females maintain relations with a single man, it should be taken into consideration that males live shorter lives. At some point, all females associated with such a male run the risk their children being raised without a biological father.

To give an example, a man with 20 wives and 60 children dies at the age of 35. His oldest child is 15 and his youngest is 6 months. Either 20 women and their children(average 3 per female) must find a mate who will sustain them and their children, or they must go it alone or some other permutation.

Those are a couple that come to mind, but I may add more later. Thanks again for your responses.

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Thanks for all the input from posters so far. Likely towards the wind down of the thread I will try to compile all responses in to some sort of pro/con list for posterity's sake.

I don't agree with notion of polygamy but I am trying to be objective as I can on the matter. At least for me, I am trying to separate religious belief from it for the moment.

Some Con's

1A. A diminished gene pool. One male producing offspring from many females could potentially have positive impact if his traits were dominant through his offspring and also if his passed on traits had positive impact. However if he had undesirable traits that were dominant it would be a detriment. Regardless, if the number of reproductive males were reduced and the number of reproductive females were status quo or even increased it would lead to the potentiality of 1B.

1B. Potential for incest over time. In a grouping, where only a small number of males were reproductive and also the same number or more of females were reproductive then it would stand to reason that given that many offspring genes would be attributed to only a small number of males and the propensity of inbreeding would increase. A number of diseases are associated with such actions so this would also be a con worth consideration.

2. All your eggs in one basket is a bad thing. To clarify. In a situation where a number of females maintain relations with a single man, it should be taken into consideration that males live shorter lives. At some point, all females associated with such a male run the risk their children being raised without a biological father.

To give an example, a man with 20 wives and 60 children dies at the age of 35. His oldest child is 15 and his youngest is 6 months. Either 20 women and their children(average 3 per female) must find a mate who will sustain them and their children, or they must go it alone or some other permutation.

Those are a couple that come to mind, but I may add more later. Thanks again for your responses.

Mudcat, Thoughtful responses. But it seems to me that these responses are predicated upon wide spread practice and one man, many wives. This is not the norm in most polygamous societies from what I have learned in my basic research. Most polygamous situations are circumscribed by practical limits. The financial aspects are more often than not the main limiting factor. But that is in countries less affluent than the U.S. And here in the U.S. many married women work. The male is no longer the only provider in the home. I could see where polygamy would be advantageous in such situations. Say a man has three wives. He and two of the wives work while one wishes to be a home body and take care of the house and children.

In the US the women would not be chosen by the men and forced into a situation they would not want, but would be allowed to choose polyamy or monagamy. Practically speaking most women would choose monagamy as would most men. That is my opinion.

This would be unlike closed societies such as the FLDS where the women seemed to be if not forced at least urged strongly towards men chosen for them and not by them.

But even in that controlled society of the FLDS, the children in the families seemed to be very well cared for in the most part. Probably better than the average monagamous household outside their community.

If polygamy were to be made legal in the United States, I doubt that there would be a rush to embrace it by the mainstream body of Americans. But it might do a lot to open up communities such as the FLDS and prevent many of the problems or at least ameliorate many of the problems caused by those closed and controlled societies.

Glenn

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