Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All About Polygamy

Before anything else, let me state that I am by no means a proponent of polygamy. I am writing this post merely because I have been wondering about the rationale of this principle. As you may know, we have been watching Big Love a lot lately and though I find the whole show entertaining, I cannot help but wonder how polygamy really works out. Personally, I cannot imagine sharing a husband - my husband - with any other person!

So anyway, why do some sects consider polygamy as the way to go? Though Big Love focuses on a Mormon sect, it is not just them who practiced (or practices, maybe) polygamy. As a matter of fact, history shows a lot of different groups who practiced this. Wikipedia has a detailed account of these groups. From Judaism to Christianity to Islam - they all have polygamy in their histories.

So what's the idea behind this practice? At least for the Mormon fundamentalists, the reason for polygamy is this:
The history of Mormon polygamy begins with claims that Mormonism founder Joseph Smith received a revelation from God on July 17, 1831 that some Mormon men would be commanded to practice "plural marriage". The July 12, 1843 recording of a Smith revelation on plural marriage is now canonized as scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants by the LDS Church.

Some sources say that the reason for this revelation is that Joseph Smith felt a particular affinity towards the Old Testament, which showcased plural marriages.

Knowing this now, is polygamy something that we should accept today?

I may be speaking out of selfishness but I really do not think so. How can a woman share one man and be at peace with each other? I can just imagine the wives squabbling and fighting day in and day out. Remember, Big Love is a TV show - it does not necessarily portray reality. On TV, things get smoothened out rather easily.

On the practical side, how can an average man support several families at the same time when he already has a difficult time doing that with only one family? The economic situation simply does not make the arrangement feasible.

What about you, what are your thoughts on this practice?

9 comments:

  1. While polygamy has it's problems, monogamy doesn't have any natural claim to validity either. It only seems that way because of the Christianizing of the world.

    Polygamy in many societies was an economic statement. As you correctly observed, a man would have a difficult time to take care of so many women so those who could support a large number of women were seen as being particularly gifted (financial, virility, etc). That's one reasons why the wealthiest Sultans, to look at the Muslim examples, also had some of the largest harems.

    Monogamy, on the other hand, ensured that a bloodline would remain traceable. That is why Christian Kings and Queens would only marry one person, for the sake of politics and lineage, but still maintain their concubines and other servants.

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  2. Personally I don't agree with this idea because it's all against my values and principles and my personal value.

    I would never ever think of agreeing to share my husband. It will be an emotional disaster for me that I would never ever want to be in.

    But yeah some religion and sects agree to this probably because of the notion that men are the superior and that man are born polygamous.

    Like the anonymous comment above said the Muslim practice it also I have Muslim relatives and I learned that to get the wife they wish they have to pay up the amount the family was asking. So to that women are possessions.

    It's a very old and cannibalism mentality that is not so acceptable these days. Especially to women like me.

    By the way, I love the way you write very engaging :)

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  3. I know personally that I couldn't do it. I definitely don't share well. But I can see how, if that's the way you've been raised and don't know any other lifestyle, how it maybe wouldn't seem so odd. I gained a better understanding of the whole issue surrounding polygamy from reading Susanna Barlow's memoir What Peace There May Be. She is the middle child of 46, and her story is an interesting one, to say the least.

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  4. Earl, enlightening stuff (as usual).

    Earthling and Maggie, yeah it's largely about upbringing and the values that you adopt, isn't it?

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  5. I personally think its the fastest way to a heart attack for the guy. The stress levels can't be good for him. However it's accepted widely here in Brunei, although the wives don't always get along, quite naturally.

    Some say humans weren't wired to stay monogamous, so I think this is one way a guy can have his cake and eat, legally. Too bad it doesn't work both ways! Mind you, the Quran was written by a man.

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  6. "I personally think its the fastest way to a heart attack for the guy."

    You got that right!

    So it's still being widely practiced in Brunei, huh? Those who practice polygamy, are they from a particular generation or do guys from the younger generation also practice it?

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  7. I'm in a plural marriage. For us, it makes sense. And how anyone can comdemn us for having a loving, commited relationship while accepting serial monogamy, I'll never know.

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  8. BTW: I blog at
    www.distelfinkfarm.blogspot.co,
    If you're curious about polygamy.

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  9. C* - I visited your blog and found myself engrossed in your posts. I am not condemning your practice, I hope that was not the message that you got. It's just that it is so strange to me and watching Big Love has really made me curious. I still have to say that I don't think I can be in such a situation, though. Thanks for dropping by!

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