This topic raises more questions than answers. I will raise the questions in this subject and then take my position on why polygamy should be legalized in the United States. What is the difference when a man is legally married and yet father’s children outside the marriage? Society tends to pick and choose the cause they fight for, which are mainly issues coined politically correct by the mainstream media. Where is the moral and religious outrage? There are all forms of what would tantamount to polygamy going on in the United States.
Polygamy is defined by dictionary.reference.com as “1: the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, esp. wife, at one time. 2: the habit or system of mating with more than one individual, either simultaneously or successively.” From this definition one can clearly see the practice of polygamy going on in the United States without being in the traditional or Biblical Old Testament form of polygamy. The only time that the American public is drawn to the practice of polygamy is when it involves some kind of Religious sects or the Mormon Church in Utah.
It is a matter of time in the United States before gay marriage becomes legalized in the constitution of the United States. Some gay rights activists are aggressively pushing this agenda in various states through referendum or the court system. Despite its moral and religious demagoguery, if or when gay marriage becomes legalized, would three or more gays living in the same household constitute practicing polygamy? Or is polygamy only recognized when children, women and men are involved? Lawmakers ought to be cognizant of this when they determine what constitutes polygamy.
There are celebrities and rich people that have numerous children outside of there marriage. The cute phrase for it by the society is, “cheating” or that “they fathered” a child out of wedlock. I am curious to know what would be the best description of the famous Playboy magazine Publisher Hugh Hefner who has over 50 women living with him in his Playboy mansion. He is considered a Player but not a polygamist. How convenient is that? Let’s not forget that his latest bunnies are twin sisters. Everyman’s dream yet it’s not considered as polygamy because legally he is not married to them. Golfer Tiger woods had a minimum of 13 women at his disposal at one time while legally married to then wife Elin who ironically is a twin. How ironic and convenient. I wonder if Hugh Hefner was his idol. He probably was practicing his swing, swagger but not illegal polygamy. The only reason his affairs made news was because his is a famous athletes and commands a lot of product endorsements. He lost a lot of his endorsements because of his travails. The jury is still out if all that transpired especially losing his endorsement mainly because of his race. I personally feel that he let his wife down more than anything else. People should focus on there own situation and not be very much into the shortcomings of others.
The constitution grants the freedom of religion, yet within the same constitution, polygamy is illegal. Where do the Mormons and Muslims fit in the constitution? Mormonism, founded by Joseph Smith Jr, began as restorationist movement that believed in literally restoring everything in the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. This belief included authority of prophets, temple rituals, and the ancient Semitic custom of plural marriage. From my finding on polygamy or plurality in marriage “there are an estimated 30,000-60,000 polygamist “fundamentalists” living in Utah and surrounding states. The two leading groups are the United Apostolic Brethren and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are so many statements in church literature in praise of polygamy. Notable statements from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Joseph F. Smith, etc believed that polygamy is necessary for the highest salvation, many present-day Mormons expect to be polygamists in the next life even though they may be personally uncomfortable with the concept.” Congress passed the Edmunds Act in 1882, which disfranchised Mormon polygamists. Utah did not become a state until 1896 after Wilford Woodruff, faced with the loss of political influence and all church facilities produced in 1890 what was called a “Manifesto” in which he stated that Mormons would give up plural marriage. Some of the fundamentalist’s members of the religious group did not agree with the manifesto and went as far as going to Mexico or Canada to solemnize their plurality in marriage. Notable among them were John W. Taylor and Brigham Young Jr.
In Islamic religion, Muslims are allowed to marry up to four wives under certain restrictions. Islam has allowed a man to marry more than one wife. It enjoined equality in treatment of all wives. The purpose of polygamy in Islam and much early traditional African society was to help solve many social and domestic problems, which a family is confronted with from time to time. The general welfare of both man and woman depends upon the husband marrying another wife. It is less prevalent in today’s society because of the cost of supporting an extended family. The Moslem law views it as permission, not a requirement. Some Muslim Countries actually don’t sanction it, example is Tunisia.
The opponents of polygamy, chiefly Christian leaders and political advocates in United States and other Western countries believe that it disturbs the family planning, as plurality of wives naturally increases the number of children; which in turn causes economic problems. The social disadvantages they claim injures the delicate feelings of women; causes deep frustrations and disappointments, giving rise to the feeling of hatred and resentment which upsets the proper upbringing of children. The New Testament teachings in the bible also seem to support the argument that a man should marry only one wife. The same Bible does teach us about the immorality of homosexuality, stealing, sexual orgies, fornication and adultery.
As a proponent of legalizing polygamy, my argument is that plural marriage goes way back to the nations of antiquity. The Christian monarchs of Europe were polygamous. For example, Henry the VIII of England had as many as eight wives. Going back to the Old Testament which also had the Ten Commandments, the great Apostles of God like Abraham, David, Solomon and others had numerous wives and concubines. The United States makes a great show of monogamy yet unofficially practice polygamy in so many ways. We are all aware of the role mistress’s play in our society. There are so many politicians and athletes who have mistresses and cheated against their spouses with other people. In some instances they cheat with people of the same sex. What an aberration and we are bent on viewing polygamy as illegal. According to an article I read at the Islamic website www.qul.org about Marriage & Morals in Islam titled, “Polygamy in Islam?” A Bishop from my country of birth Nigeria, Rt. Rev Bishop S.O. Odotula shed a light on this topic of polygamy in Toronto, Canada during a religious conference. He said: "The West by prohibiting the law of (polygamy) act with hypocrisy, as by frequent divorces they have in fact been practicing this custom." I agree with the statement made by the Bishop. His testimonial implies that African polygamous practice of three or more wives is more honest than the Western idea of marrying one wife, divorcing her, then marrying another and so on. The United States as a matter of confidence tend to ignore the polygamous royal monarchy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Obviously this is because of the importance of the Saudi oil to the welfare of the United States and there strategist position in the Middle East.
I came from a polygamous family myself. My late dad had two wives and my mother is the second surviving wife. In the African culture, it is allowed but it doesn’t mean any man can go out there and accumulate wives without being responsible for the upbringing and provision for his household. It is an obligation, which must be fulfilled in all circumstances. There are men out there paying child support to numerous women and in some instances are dead beat dads. If the practice of polygamy was legalized I believe that it would drastically reduce some divorce situations which main objective is to gain financially from one of the spouse involved. My concluding question is what is the difference when a man is legally married and yet father’s multiple children outside of the marriage?
A history of Mormon polygamy.. (n.d.). Signature Books Library. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/essays/mormonpolygamy.htm
Compton, T. (n.d.). A history of Mormon polygamy.. Signature Books Library. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/essays/mormonpolygamy.htm
Polygamy. (n.d.). dictionary.com. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/polygamy
Polygamy In Islam?. (n.d.). Qul - the library for all your needs. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from http://www.qul.org.au/library/marriage-a-morals-in-islam/1130-polygamy-in-islam