The polygamy issue appears weird in the Christian communities and the reaction is always violent. Normally, polygamy is treated with horror and unanimous revulsion in Christian communities. Polygamy is the practice whereby a man marries many wives at the same time (Mensch, 2003). In principle, there exist three polygamy forms: polygamy, in which a man is married to several wives, polyandry, where a woman is married to many husbands, and group marriage, in which several husbands are married to several wives, like some polyandry and polygamy combinations. The word “polygamy” therefore means having many spouses not many women.
The Christian condemnation reflects a loathing for polygamy. The legal and open possession of several wives allowed by polygamy has been regarded as a taboo in Christianity and some religions. For the majority of Europeans, such a practice has always seemed the acme of libertinage and has exercised a guilty fascination. Polygamy is worldwide, cross-cultural in its scope, it is found in all world regions and among adherents of all world religions.
Its practitioners range from modern feminists to traditional patriarchs, illustrating great polygamy versatility as a kinship system (Michael, 2004). Contrary, the notion of cohabiting both with wife and other women has often been tolerated and even covertly admired. The paper intends to give an in-depth analysis of the consequences of polygamy among various societies and how Christianity and Islam and people perceive multiple marriages (Monaghan, 2006). Moreover, the merits and demerits aren’t far from the consequences and so discussed in the paper.
Religion and Polygamy
Christianity religion has set its face strictly against polygamy. In fact, suppose polygamy s made a sin, this was the doing of the church. Though polygamy was universally practiced and established prior to the coming of Christianity, the game seems to have changed. Throughout the Old Testament, polygamy seemed something normal and accepted. This is because even the Prophets of the Lord were marrying multiple wives and an example is seen with David (John, 2004). The marrying of more than one wife appears nowhere in the Christian laws and polyandry doesn’t have any place in the modern Christian religion.
Polygamy, though perceived negatively by the Christian community, it reduces the incidence of adultery, fornication, and prostitution. This is evident in the Old Testament communities where a man was allowed to marry more than one wife (Roger, 2007). It reduces the intensity of the emotional bond between a wife and husband and so permits the husband or allows him more time to dedicate his time to other useful issues like serving God. Polygamy weakens the ties of affection between a wife and husband. Wray (2003) asks why people have clang to monogamy when it is only doing then harms. Wray 2003 states that the Bible represents the wisest man that ever lived, David, who practiced polygamy with divine approval and blessing. Prostitution cases were minimal in those days (Yeboah, 2009).
Men’s reasons for being polygamous tend to focus on the Muslim man’s right to take four wives. Women rarely refer to this right as an explanation for polygamy. That right was considered conditional and next to impossible for a mortal man to live up to.
The most common reason stated by a man for marrying a second wife entails deficiency, whether mental, social, physical o,r any other reason, sexual gratification with a willing young wife as opposed to an unwilling older wife, rejuvenation when an older man marries a very young girl, childlessness where a barren first wife was replaced by a fertile young one, and the skewed gender ratio based on the false belief that the men population is outweighed by women’s (Yeboah, 2009). The idea that marrying a second wife opens up her numerous networks to the husband was also another commonly argued reason for polygamists.
Women’s motives for being married as second wives were very different. They were married for material reasons, basically to obtain financial support from the husband or to become wealthy, for status reasons, to be married to a powerful man (for personal reasons, such as love or particular conditions like pregnancy) and for temporal reasons, as some women prefer to have a husband for a few days a week only, giving them more time on their own (Mari, 2006). All in all, polygamy appears to serve some very particular needs for the people practicing it, and the people tend to have a very instrumental view of polygamy.
Polygamy and Muslim Women
Women tend to become reluctant to accept polygamous unions. It is very rare or simply impossible to find a woman who is willing to agree to be part of a polygamous union. Indeed, polygamy condemnation has been almost universal among Malay women as per the study conducted by Frederick (2004). Simultaneously, most women disregard a man’s right in Islam to marry more than one wife, provided that he meets the Qur’anic conditions for engaging in polygamy.
However, the acknowledgment of a Muslim man’s right to be polygamous is carefully weighed against the reality of men who for the most part cannot live up to these conditions. For the majority of women, polygamy is only a conditional, not an absolute, right in Islam, and should not be engaged in unless the man is able to live with the set conditions (Yeboah, 2009). For Muslim ladies, it’s hard to break from the rules as they are meant to be married by fellow Muslims. The scriptures aren’t as flexible as in Christian laws.
Positive effects of polygamy
Contribution to prostitution decrease
The prohibition of polygamous marriages may appear to make no sense from the standpoint of women’s protection. Polygamy increases the effective demand for women, resulting in the lower average age of marriage for women and a higher percentage of women who are married. Of course, all women want to be married and none desire to be single with few exceptions and this is what is stated in the Bible. Forbidding polygamy reverses the stated statement. It reduces competition for women among men. Many ladies who then remain unmarried start moving around in search of their life partners. And in the name of love search, many crimes including prostitution are made.
Through polygamy, all women are sure of marriage, but with monograph, uncertainty appears and survival for the fittest emerges. Presently sex ratio is not one to one and so the claim for one man one woman seems to lose its essence. There are many ladies as compared to men (Pollack, 2008). Many crimes are committed as a consequence. The high number of unmarried ladies or ladies who claim to be single can be held responsible for the high prostitution rate in modern cities. There is no doubt that polygamy when treated and practiced properly as Muslims do, achieves many things that are in peoples’ interests.
Conversely, as the number of females increases at an alarming rate, and for nature balance, it is advisable for a man to be polygamous. Most men are tempted after they marry their first wives to marry the second or the third. Polygamous life has decreased the number of women remaining unmarried and so can be considered as decreased prostitution (Gray & Harrison, 2004). In most communities, if not all, husbands do have authority over the wife, and women tend to be committed and dedicated to their husbands soon after marriage. A practical example can be seen in coastal areas where the number of unmarried women is high.
To minimize prostitution through marriage, Muslims recommend that all their females be married (Frederick, 2004). The claim of not being married or remaining single for whatever reason is discouraged at all costs. Prostitution in Muslim society has remained low as compared to Christian society where women have the right to choose whether to be married or not. Many loopholes have been created by women not being married in the Christian community.
With the one family one child practiced by Americans and with the rate that ladies are remaining single, polygamy can assist. The American population is an aging population due to fewer births. In other words, it can be considered a dying population n as the majority are adults and minority children. The areas where polygamy is encouraged to get have always shown a positive population growth rate. Polygamy therefore can be used as a method for increasing the birth rate (Jack, 2007). Yeboah (2009) argues that African countries have had a large population due to the fact that they have little or no restrictions regarding marriage. The reverse happens in Western areas where the birth is regulated as well as the number of wives one marries is.
Negative effects of polygamy
Polygamy and prostitution increase
Polygamy has also led t a high prostitution rate. Polygamous women tend to have more freedom as their husbands’ minds are divided and they are never keenly monitored as in monogamous marriages. The divided man’s or husband’s attention normally leaves the wife unsatisfied. In most polygamous marriages, where the man is unable to take care of all the wives due to financial reasons or such related reasons, the wives move outside to find financial support.
It does not compel a man to marry even one woman, much less to have more (Hearn & Parkin, 1995). Suppose the intensity of the passion urges him to such lengths that he must have and will have more than one wife, it requires him to take them honestly and honorably, and to support them and be a true husband to them and this is better than moving from one flower to the other as commented by Roger (2007).
Effects on the family
Normally, women do feel that polygamous unions break the bond between a wife and husband. Polygamy is considered an act of betrayal towards the first wife and her children, especially when, as often happens, it involves a covert second marriage that the first wife only discovers in an accidental and humiliating way. Many families have been ruined as a result of polygamy (Colin, 2003).
Typically, a polygamous husband’s allegiance is with his first wife and their children, and the second wives are more likely to lose out eventually to first wives in such unions. Some women fight back however and many indeed achieve the ultimate goal of most polygamous wives, namely to make their husband divorce their co-wife. Polygamous marriages are very difficult to deal with in most cases. Few do manage it and in such circumstances, the wives at times are neglected or never given proper and appropriate support and end up unsatisfied (Fisher, 2007). And result in some cases is separation and divorce. The children become affected in the long run. Some physiological problems have resulted due wars and conflicts in polygamous families.
Polygamy and negative effects on wives relations
In many polygamy systems, co-wives’ rights and obligations are carefully defined and guaranteed a certain amount of equality amid the wives. The senior wife is in some cases is given special powers and privileges, distributing the world load among the co-wives, dividing all monetary rewards from the husband, and being consulted by the husband when he wants to marry another wife (Wray, 2003). In most cases, the non-senior wives feel underrated and without a family say. The seniors should also be respected by the younger wives. The competition between co-wives over husbands’ financial support can be stiff as well (Cisher, 2008).
Frederick 2004 states that bad feelings between wives often stemmed from economic concerns, particularly the sharing of the husband’s income, perhaps reflecting the underlying personal hostility amid co-wives. At times maintaining such diversity (due to power differences and competition) is very hard and in adverse cases, it leads to separation and conflict among the wives (Bradshaw, & Bradshaw, 2004).
Polygamy and disease spreading
The spread of disease is another dark side of polygamy. Through polygamy,y both sexually transmitted and communicable diseases among others have been spread. With many wives, the truthfulness of each is very hard to determine. This has led to numerous prostitution cases. The husband can easily contract the disease from one wife and spread it to other wives. The causes of disease become unknown and so difficult to minimize or prevent the spread. This is the demerit of polygamy as opposed to monogamy.
Malay case study
The study of marriages especially in Malay reveals many details. In this region, polygamous family commences in the vast majority of cases, as a monogamous family madeof up one husband and one wife (Blanchette, 2006). In Malay, men remain reluctant to marry a second wife at the time or shortly after their first marriages. The reasons aren’t clearly stated. Though the reasons might be various time for stability can be one. The subsequent wives can be married commonly closely in time.
When a man marries a second wife, polygamous reproduction commences. What reproductive decisions the spouses make are influenced by various factors. Whether the woman had been married before, whether she is past childbearing age are some of the factors (this normally affeaffects second and subsequent wives). For young women without children (or had not previously gotten any child), marrying a married man, childbearing seems to be natural (Petersen & Waddell, 2008).
Reproduction for such women is not influenced by polygamy. In short, polygamy doesn’t lead to the specific childbearing pattern as the spouses’ individual circumstances upon marriage seems to play a more significant role. The case study reveals who polygamy tends to reduce women rights. Women cease to have a say in the family once the husband marries another woman.
In a nut nutshell issue of polygamy mighty be weird or normal to you but the reality of its consequences is to be discussed. The perception as per different religions might differ but the impact of polygamy on the community remains the same. Though polygamy is held accountable for numerous family break-up and divorces but its advantages should never be overlooked. Polygamy can be used in reducing the prostitution as well as the number of unmarried women. It is mainly through polygamy that a good number of ladies can be married. Monogamy though preferred but has contributed less in this.
The Muslim culture when well taken care of yields the best. It is paramount to give consideration to the husband’s capability of taking care of more than one wife before trying one foot into polygamy. Christian law also beckons on the other side and Christians have to follow their rules. It is hard to decide from this perspective whether polygamy is good or not. Its demerits and merits do not largely differ (Sokolowski, 2007). All depends on the individual and law: Christians differ from Muslims and Hindus and so other religions.
As per my view, though may be considered biased in this content but polygamy should be discouraged. It has been chiefly through polygamy that many family break-ups and divorces have resulted. It is also notable that only a few people can manage multiple families and polygamy only lowers the quality of child care. Though the number of girls/ladies is progressing increasing at alarming rate, but there are other areas with more males.
Blanchette, K. (2006). The Women Offenders: Their assessment and Treatment: New York. John Wiley & Sons Publishers.
Bradshaw, P. & Bradshaw, G. (2004). Health Service Policy for Health Service Professionals. New York. Sage Publishers.
Cisher, P. (2008). Wellbeing and Empowerment: The importance of recognition sociology of Health and Illness. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Colin, W. (2003). Socialists and Gay Liberation: London: Socialist Workers Party, UK.
Fisher, P. (2007). Experiential knowledge challenges ‘normality’ and individualized citizenship: towards ‘another way of being’: Disability and Society: Nairobi, Longman publishers
Frederick, E. (2004). The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State: New York: International Publishers.
Gray, A. & Harrison, S. (eds.) (2004). Governing Medicine: Theory and Practice. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Hearn, J. and Parkin, W. (1995). Sex at Work: The Power and Paradox of Organization Sexuality, (revised edition): New York, St Martin’s Publishers.
Jack, P. (2007). Gay Marriages: Essays on Gay History: Politics and the University, New York: Academic Publishers.
John, D. (2004). Capitalism and Gay Identity, in Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History: New York: Rutledge Publishers.
Mari, K. (2006). Intra house conflict: The issues of spousal rape within the household: New York. Longman publishers:
Mensch, R. (2003). Post introductory Phenomenology: Husserlian Reflections on Presence and Embodiment. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press,
Michael, F. (2004). Bans on Interracial Marriage: Same Sex Marriage: Nairobi, Kenya: Baptist Press.
Monaghan, F. (2006). Weighty words: expanding and embodying the accounts framework. Journal of Social Theory & Health. Vol 4 (2). Pp.128-167.
Roger, K. (2007). Spousal abuses an African perspective with a view of change: Nairobi, Longman publishers.
Petersen, A. and Waddell, C. (2008). Health Matters: Sociology of Illness: Prevention and Care. New York, Open University Press.
Pollack, S. (2008). Women and the concept of culture: Focus on sexual abuse Ontario: New York, Wilfred Laurier University Press.
Sokolowski, R. (2007). Preface to Phenomenology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wray, S. (2003). Women growing older: Agency, ethnicity and culture: The Journal of the British Sociological Association. August, 37 (3):511-528.
Yeboah, A. (2009). Urban Poverty, Livelihood, and Gender: Perceptions and Experiences of Porters in Accra, Ghana: Journal of Africa Today, Vol. 56, No. 3. Pp. 25-28.