The story

When did polygamy start becoming illegal?


Anyone knows when the greek/roman (or anyone else) start prohibiting polygamy and why?


There are many many facts that would account for monogamy :

  1. Gender ratio - The gender ratio at birth is about 1:1. If there is no large scale deaths in males, then polygamy would essentially leave many men wifeless.
  2. Religion - Christianity bans adultery and polygamy. Given the dominance of Christian Europe in the last few centuries, this has probably had a lot of influence.
  3. Human Nature - Nobody wants to share. polygamy can probably lead to uncomfortable living conditions.
  4. Economics - Supporting a wife and children is expensive. Supporting more than one wife and extra children would probably be out of the reach of majority of population in ancient times.

I might also point out that monogamy was already an established custom in the monarchies that have since become democracies, so the correlation (if any), should only be made between monogamy and monarchies. Since most of the known world was monarchial in nature, this essentially means that we don't have enough data for a correlation.


Unlikely. Polygamy was banned in Europe centuries before democracy, and it would have been banned for religious reasons rather than men voting to ban it to increase their chances of marriage.


History of Marriage: 13 Surprising Facts

Moonstruck partners pledging eternal love may be the current definition of marriage, but this starry-eyed picture has relatively modern origins.

Though marriage has ancient roots, until recently love had little to do with it.

"What marriage had in common was that it really was not about the relationship between the man and the woman," said Stephanie Coontz, the author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage," (Penguin Books, 2006). "It was a way of getting in-laws, of making alliances and expanding the family labor force."

But as family plots of land gave way to market economies and Kings ceded power to democracies, the notion of marriage transformed. Now, most Americans see marriage as a bond between equals that's all about love and companionship. [I Don't: 5 Myths About Marriage]

That changing definition has paved the way for same-sex marriage and Wednesday's (June 26) Supreme Court rulings, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed a case concerning Proposition 8.

From polygamy to same-sex marriage, here are 13 milestones in the history of marriage.

1. Arranged alliances

Marriage is a truly ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter. In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds, Coontz said.

2. Family ties

Keeping alliances within the family was also quite common. In the Bible, the forefathers Isaac and Jacob married cousins and Abraham married his half-sister. Cousin marriages remain common throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. In fact, Rutgers anthropologist Robin Fox has estimated that the majority of all marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins.

3. Polygamy preferred

Monogamy may seem central to marriage now, but in fact, polygamy was common throughout history. From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, Biblical men often had anywhere from two to thousands of wives. (Of course, though polygamy may have been an ideal that high-status men aspired to, for purely mathematical reasons most men likely had at most one wife). In a few cultures, one woman married multiple men, and there have even been some rare instances of group marriages. [Life's Extremes: Monogamy vs. Polygamy]

4. Babies optional

In many early cultures, men could dissolve a marriage or take another wife if a woman was infertile. However, the early Christian church was a trailblazer in arguing that marriage was not contingent on producing offspring.

"The early Christian church held the position that if you can procreate you must not refuse to procreate. But they always took the position that they would annul a marriage if a man could not have sex with his wife, but not if they could not conceive," Coontz told LiveScience.

5. Monogamy established

Monogamy became the guiding principle for Western marriages sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries, Coontz said.

"There was a protracted battle between the Catholic Church and the old nobility and kings who wanted to say 'I can take a second wife,'" Coontz said.

The Church eventually prevailed, with monogamy becoming central to the notion of marriage by the ninth century.

6. Monogamy lite

Still, monogamous marriage was very different from the modern conception of mutual fidelity. Though marriage was legally or sacramentally recognized between just one man and one woman, until the 19th century, men had wide latitude to engage in extramarital affairs, Coontz said. Any children resulting from those trysts, however, would be illegitimate, with no claim to the man's inheritance.

"Men's promiscuity was quite protected by the dual laws of legal monogamy but tolerance &mdash basically enabling &mdash of informal promiscuity," Coontz said.

Women caught stepping out, by contrast, faced serious risk and censure.

7. State or church?

Marriages in the West were originally contracts between the families of two partners, with the Catholic Church and the state staying out of it. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post banns, or notices of an impending marriage in a local parish, to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages (the Church eliminated that requirement in the 1980s). Still, until the 1500s, the Church accepted a couple's word that they had exchanged marriage vows, with no witnesses or corroborating evidence needed.

8. Civil marriage

In the last several hundred years, the state has played a greater role in marriage. For instance, Massachusetts began requiring marriage licenses in 1639, and by the 19th-century marriage licenses were common in the United States.

9. Love matches

By about 250 years ago, the notion of love matches gained traction, Coontz said, meaning marriage was based on love and possibly sexual desire. But mutual attraction in marriage wasn't important until about a century ago. In fact, in Victorian England, many held that women didn't have strong sexual urges at all, Coontz said.

10. Market economics

Around the world, family-arranged alliances have gradually given way to love matches, and a transition from an agricultural to a market economy plays a big role in that transition, Coontz said.

Parents historically controlled access to inheritance of agricultural land. But with the spread of a market economy, "it's less important for people to have permission of their parents to wait to give them an inheritance or to work on their parents' land," Coontz said. "So it's more possible for young people to say, 'heck, I'm going to marry who I want.'"

Modern markets also allow women to play a greater economic role, which lead to their greater independence. And the expansion of democracy, with its emphasis on liberty and individual choice, may also have stacked the deck for love matches.

11. Different spheres

Still, marriage wasn't about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage. For instance, in the United States, marital rape was legal in many states until the 1970s, and women often could not open credit cards in their own names, Coontz said. Women were entitled to support from their husbands, but didn't have the right to decide on the distribution of community property. And if a wife was injured or killed, a man could sue the responsible party for depriving him of "services around the home," whereas women didn't have the same option, Coontz said.

12. Partnership of equals

By about 50 years ago, the notion that men and women had identical obligations within marriage began to take root. Instead of being about unique, gender-based roles, most partners conceived of their unions in terms of flexible divisions of labor, companionship, and mutual sexual attraction.

13. Gay marriage gains ground

Changes in straight marriage paved the way for gay marriage. Once marriage was not legally based on complementary, gender-based roles, gay marriage seemed like a logical next step.

"One of the reasons for the stunningly rapid increase in acceptance of same sex marriage is because heterosexuals have completely changed their notion of what marriage is between a man and a woman," Coontz said. "We now believe it is based on love, mutual sexual attraction, equality and a flexible division of labor."


When did polygamy start becoming illegal? - History

The word "polygamy" is a combination of two words "poly" that means "multiple" and "gamy" which means female, women, wives. Polygamy is defined as a man having more than one wife. The term "polygyny" is what we usually are talking about when speaking of polygamy. Polygyny is when a man has multiple simultaneous wives. It was extremely common during the writing of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Today, it is still common among Muslims, Mormons, some Jews and even some Christians in Africa & the Middle East. It is much less common in modern western civilizations. Most Christians assume that polygamy is forbidden in the New Testament. What does the bible really say about polygamy? Is polygamy a sin?

First of all, as a legal disclaimer: I do not promote or condone the legal marriage of more than just 1 man & 1 woman in communities where the law forbids polygamy. Legal marriage between more than 2 people is called "bigamy" which is illegal in many regions of the world, especially in the USA. I do not condone or promote bigamy. In fact, I encourage people to not be legally married. Marriage in the bible was always just a man & woman having sex & living together. People in the bible never had a marriage license, nor did they seek the approval of man's government. Marriage in the bible is a sacred spiritual union of male and female as constituted via sexual relationship. (Click here to read an article that studies what marriage is in the bible.) Man's government has no authority to regulate or license marriage. I teach that we should obey & respect human government which is what the bible teaches. We are not sovereign citizens. But man's government has no real authority over spiritual unions. Therefore I do not promote bigamy where a man is legally married to more than one woman in an oppressive government that forbids such. The point/objective/issue/subject of this article is what the bible says. This article is protected by the US Constitution guarantee of expression of free speech and freedom of religion. I am not promoting the breaking of any law.

Originally: Polygamy in the Old Testament
Will these men not be in the Kingdom of God? Where/When did God condemn them for having more than one wife?

Moses:
2 Wives, Zipporah and the Ethiopian Woman:
Exodus 2:21 "And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter."
Numbers 12:1 "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."

There is nothing to indicate or conclude that Moses divorced his first wife, or that she died. We cannot assume those things. Therefore we are forced to believe that Moses married a second wife.

David:
2 Samuel 12:8 "And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things."
1 Kings 15:3 "And he (Abiu/Abijam) walked in all the sins of his father (Roboam/Rehoboam), which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather."
(Verse 3 says that David's heart was perfect with God! Even though he had more than one wife at the same time.)
1 Kings 15:5 "Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only (except only) in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. "

2 Chronicles 3 lists the descendants of King David, from his 11 children by 7 wives. 1 Samuel also mentions another wife. Also, 1 Samuel 19 identifies Merab who was given to David by her father Saul. David had other wives that were never named in the bible. So he had at least 8-9 wives but chances are that he had many more that were not listed in the bible. He also had concubines.

Was the polygamy of David acceptable & pleasing to God? Yes! God gave David a report card of grade A. The only exception was David's sin of murdering Bathsheba's husband and attaining her in that method.

Solomon:
700 official wives and 300 concubines. 1 Kings 11:1-3. Solomon's problem was not that he had more than 1 wife. But rather that he allowed women to lead him into worship of false gods. Even if he had been married to only one woman, he could have made the same mistake.
Abraham: had more than 1 wife + concubines. Genesis 16:2-4, 25:6 Galatians 4:22
Jacob had more than 1 wife at the same time. Gen.29:23-30 31:17 32:22 Genesis 30:1-24 37:2
Gideon had many wives and a concubine. Judges 8:30-31
Jehoiada the priest had 2 wives. 2 Chron.24:3
Hosea: Hosea 1:3 "So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim which conceived, and bare him a son."
Hosea 3:1 "Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine."

Job:
According to the Greek Septuagint bible, (now the AOB) which is the bible translation that Jesus and the apostles used, Job had concubines, which were sex slaves, which proves that even Job knew that it was acceptable to God to have sex with more than one woman.
Job 19:17 AND I BESOUGHT MY WIFE, AND EARNESTLY ENTREATED THE SONS OF MY CONCUBINES.

The Father in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, The Father is symbolically represented as having two wives:
In Ezekiel 23, "Aholah" which is Samaria & "Aholibah" which is Jerusalem, also represented as Israel & Judah in Jeremiah 3.

Ezekiel 23:4 "And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah."

Jeremiah 3:6-14 "The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion"

Jeremiah 31:31-34 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Question: "Yes many men in the bible had more than one wife, but was it pleasing or acceptable to God?"
Answer: God Himself was married to more than one woman at the same time. Even Jesus is described as being willing to marry 10 women at the same time in Matt.25! Yes, it's pleasing to God, He did it Himself and will do so again.

It was the will of God for Jacob to have more than one wife.
Jacob, who was renamed Israel, married Leah by accident in Genesis 29:21-25. Then he married his true love, Rachel in Gen.29:26-30. Then Rachel told Jacob in Gen.30:1-4 to marry Bilhah. In Gen.30:9, Jacob married Zilpah. Therefore he had 4 wives at one time. None of them had a marriage license. None of them went to a preacher or a courthouse or to any government for permission or to pay fees. They simply had sex, and were instantly considered by God and by each other to be officially married. Each of these 4 women gave birth to the children of Israel, the 12 tribes. All 12 tribes were ordained to be born by these 4 women. Jacob did not sin by having sex with these women. It was not against the will of God. It was supposed to happen and was approved by The Almighty. Is polygamy pleasing and acceptable to God? Yes, it was pleasing & acceptable to God for Jacob to marry all 4 women. If he had not done so, then 12 tribes of Israel would not exist. It was God's Will.

New Testament: Jesus Marrying Many People in The Body of Christ
Matthew 25:1 "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom."

The "bride groom" here is referring to Jesus. We all agree on that. The 10 virgins are all engaged to marry Jesus. 5 of the virgins are wise. The other 5 are foolish & they don't actually get to marry Jesus. But the 5 wise virgin women do eventually marry Jesus. Of course this is symbolic of the church being the bride of Christ. But it is also Jesus talking, here in the New Testament & He is using the analogy of polygamy concerning himself & the new covenant church! Why would Christ do that if polygamy is forbidden in the new covenant? He wouldn't! It's very simple. There is simply not any bible verse in the old or new testaments that forbids polygamy. Instead, the New Testament supports polygamy!

1 Cor.12:12 (NASB) "For even as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also of Christ."
When Jesus returns, He is coming for one collective bride, which is one church. But the church has many members. We are all seen as his bride, but He has many brides which is one body of true followers. Jesus will marry Miss A, Miss B, Miss C, Miss Smith, Miss Carter, and every Saint that is ready to be turned to spirit at the First Resurrection. The many members of the church resurrected and turned to spirit at the first resurrection are called in the bible "The firstfruits". Although Jesus will have many wives/members at the first resurrection marriage/wedding supper, they shall all be seen as the "First wife" (first fruits). Then 1,000 years will pass with Jesus reigning on the Earth. Then there will be a second resurrection which is a physical flesh & blood resurrection of everyone who didn't rise in the 1st resurrection. These people will live on Earth for 100 years without any death. Then at the end of the 100 years, they will judged at The Great White Throne Judgment of Matt.25:31-46 Rev.20:7-15. At the Great White Throne Judgment, the sheep on the right will be turned to spirit and will thus become the second collective bride of Jesus. That second collective bride will also include many wives just like in the first resurrection. And in fact, even more people will be saved in this second harvest of souls. This isn't taught by most traditional denominations because it's contrary to their lies and they do not choose to believe the bible. They would rather believe the fairy tales taught to them as children in the Assyrian Babylonian churches of mankind.
Matt.25:1-10 shows the first collective/group bride of Jesus. Whereas Matt.25:31-46 shows the 2nd collective/group bride/wife of Jesus.

Shall Become One Flesh
Mark 10:8 "And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."
Gen.2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Many people try to claim that Mark 10:8 and Gen.2:24 says that a man can have only one wife. And how can 3-4 wives be one flesh with a man? But Matt.25 and 1 Cor.12:12 explains that a man can have many wives and still be one with them. The many members of the body of Christ, the church, are many, but are still one in unity with the one Groom Jesus, therefore the Old Testament and the New Testament both agree that men can have more than one wife and still be one with them.

Scientific studies reveal that women absorb & retain DNA from every man they have sex with!
This is partly how two flesh become "one flesh", and why women should only have one husband, yet men do not retain DNA from their multiple wives! Therefore we can see very clearly that God created our human bodies in a way that prohibits women from having multiple husbands (sex partners) since they collect, absorb and retain the DNA from every male that they have sex with and therefore become one with their sex partners in physical, emotional and spiritual ways. But men do not absorb & retain DNA from any woman therefore they can have multiple wives (sex partners) and yet still be at one with everyone of them because all of those women have received and accepted his DNA. Sources: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0045592
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16084184/

What Paul Told Timothy
1 Tim.3:2 "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach"

Therefore, both the context and other bible verses confirm that Paul's advice to Timothy was that a minster should be a man who has a history of being able to stay married to his first wife, a man who in control of his temper and ruled his household well. It has nothing to do with forbidding polygamy. In fact, now that we understand that it should be translated as "first wife", then this actually confirms that a man can have more than one wife! He can have a second or third wife according to 1 Tim.3! Otherwise, Paul would not say "first wife".

Specific Changes Revealed By Paul
Paul very boldly spoke out publicly many times against the keeping of old covenant ways of life such as circumcision & sacrifices of animals. Paul was very specific about what was done away by the new covenant. Yet he never spoke against polygamy. Never! Why?
In Paul's lifetime, polygamy was common among Jews & even more common than homosexuality among the Jews. Paul spoke out against homosexuality. Why did Paul completely ignore the issue of polygamy if the new covenant abolished it or if God considered it to be sin or adultery?

Men are Naturally Polygamous
We know that when men are stuck in a traditional western marriage of only one woman, that many times he will cheat behind his wife's back. To be realistic, most men would cheat on their wife if given the opportunity, if he felt very confident that his wife would never find out. God created men with very intense, natural sexual desires that are very difficult to control, especially with all of these women walking around in very short skirts/shorts and showing much of their breasts.
74% of men say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught. (Source: Associated Press, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Date research was conducted: September 7, 2016.) The same study said 57% of men admit to have already had sex with other women while in a relationship. But the truth is, the same study said that 74% of men would cheat if they knew they would never be caught, therefore the other 17% are lying. This is confirmed by a study conducted in India, which says that 75% of all men cheat on their wife. Source.
Of course, just because 75% of men are having sex with multiple women, doesn't prove that it's the will of God. But nevertheless, it does prove the natural instinct of men, of which God created, so yes it does prove God's will after all. Most men desire to be with more than one woman. That's not because of the devil, but rather because God created men to have a very powerful sex drive. But most women want to be with only one man. These natural differences were created by God.

Not to Neglect First Wife
Exo.21:10 "If he take him another wife her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."

Why does God tell men to not neglect the first wife if he marries another wife? Why doesn't He just say "Thou Shalt Not Marry Another Wife."? The bible forbids having sex with animals, and forbids men from having sex with other men, and forbids men and women from dressing like the other gender. Yet it never forbids a man from having more than one wife, and even tells men how to have a successful marriage if he does have multiple wives!

Deut. 21:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:
17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength the right of the firstborn is his.

God Commands Men To Marry Additional Wives!
Deut. 25:5-10 The bible tells men that if their brother dies, that he should marry the widows of his brother, so that he can take care of them. It does not say that he should marry her only if he is single. If being single was a requirement, it would say so. In fact, both men & girls in Old Testament times usually got married around the age of 7-13. So it would be ignorant to think that this command applies to only single boys.
However, today in modern times, most women would not accept such an offer, because women today in the corrupt modern western world want to be totally independent. We cannot force our self upon a woman, therefore God forgives us if we cannot fulfill his will because of the other person's refusal.
Is polygamy pleasing to God? Yes, He commanded it!

Restrictions
In general, it is best to not marry two sisters:
Lev.18:18 "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time."
Men are not allowed to marry his wife's sister while the wife is still living. This is commonsense. If you marry sisters, they will be jealous, even more than typical women. The law of God is very clear that a man can have more than 1 wife in this verse but not a woman's sister at the same time. However, there are exceptions to this rule! Even The Father himself was symbolically married to sisters Judah & Samaria.

Never have sex with a woman and her mom! You sicko!
Lev. 20:14 "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they that there be no wickedness among you."
This is also commonsense. It's just sick to have sex with both a woman and her mom!

Don't have too many wives! Moderation in all things! Calm down boy!
Deut. 17:17 "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."
This verse is wrongly used by some people to try to claim that this means that men cannot have more than one wife. But this can't mean that a man cannot have more than one wife. If it meant that, then the bible would be contradicting itself. What it really means is that a man should have too many wives. Again, it's just commonsense. A man doesn't need 1000 wives! Just only 2-3 wives should be enough. Some men in the bible had many more, but that was a different generation & things are different now. I believe that for the majority of men in today's society, that just 1-3 wives should be sufficient. But if God gives you more, than I cannot judge you as wrong.

Why Women Cannot Have More Than One Husband
Besides the fact that women retain the DNA of every male sex partner, the following scriptures apply.

Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man."
There is no such similar verse forbidding men from marrying another woman! This verse is very specific in forbidding women from having more than 1 husband at a time. If God forbids men from polygamy, this would be the perfect time to say so!

1 Corinthians 7:39 "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will only in the Lord."

John 4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

We do not know the woman's background, her age, what happened with each of these men. There is a lot of missing information in this account. But what is clear, is that Jesus did not consider this woman to be currently married to the man who she was currently with. Therefore she was not married to all 5 men. Actually she would only be married to the first man she had sex with, unless their divorce was justifiable, in which case, she would be married to the next man she had sex with, but not to all 5. Very clearly, one or more of her divorces was not justifiable. Therefore she was living in adultery by living with and having sex with another man.

The word "polygamy" itself means "a man having more than 1 woman/wife". A woman having more than 1 husband doesn't make sense. We do not have any biblical example of a woman of God having more than 1 husband without being condemned for it. A woman having sex with more than one male is definitely sin and is very easy to determine this from the bible. It might seem hypocritical or unfair to a woman who has a modern western mindset, but it never seemed unfair or hypocritical to God, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David or Solomon. People today are very heavily influenced by a modern way of thinking that is much different than the way God thinks. And a lot of that modern thinking, has the woman being totally equal to men in every way, to the degree to where whatever a man can do, a woman should also be able to do. But that's incorrect thinking. God did give us gender roles! God designed men to do certain things that only men should do, and He designed women to do some things that only women should do. Men and women are different. They are not 100% equal in every aspect, regardless of what modern wicked society has told people. Men are to be the leaders and rulers of the household. Women are to be submissive and obedient to men. This is totally biblical and that means that the two genders are not equal. They look different & sound different. They think different. Women have talents & abilities that men do not have. Men cannot have babies. And men have talents & abilities that women do not have. A man is to be the head of the women, even as Christ is the head of the church. Is the church equal to Jesus? No! One leads, the other follows. The only way that men & women are equal is only that they both can serve God & live happy lives and have the right to live and be happy. They share some other equal opportunities & rights but not about everything! Therefore they are not equal. We must get rid of modern western thinking that is full of upside down, delusional lies. The attitude of Eve being the leader or that Eve has just as much right as men to lead, rule, dominate, work outside of the home when married, fight in war (Deborah was the exception, not the general rule), & "do anything a man can do" is a continuation of the same sins that got Adam & Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden! If women & men are equal, then women have no right to be treated different. They should carry their own load, the same load that men carry, pay for their own food on a date, and work on their own cars. The bible says that women are not to have authority over men, that's in both a church setting and at home. I'm not saying that men are better, but they are not equal. Men and women are two different genders with different responsibilities, capabilities and roles. But Satan is successfully removing those differences in the church, in the family and in society. Now people are no longer considered male or female because of this mentality that they are the same. Humans are now called "it". All of this started with the leftist democrat feminist movement which took control of the church, the family and society. Men need to step up to the plate and become the leaders again & stop being afraid of their wives. The man is the head of the household. What he says, goes! Yes he is to discuss things with his wife in a loving manner and get her opinion. But he must make the final decision and she must abide by that decision. That's the way God made it, oh, excuse me, made him and her!

Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

This verse is twisted by people who claim that women can be pastors and leaders and that there is no difference between male and female. But this bible verse is really only saying that salvation is available to everyone. This verse does not erase all other verses that declare a difference between genders! This verse does not erase the biblical teaching of men being the head of the women! Stop using this verse to push your feminist leftist agenda which is destroying our societies!

God is fair, wise & intelligent! God is not unfair, unwise or unintelligent. He knows what He is doing! His ways are against modern western society. His ways are against feminism and against strong dominant women and against weak effeminate men. Mankind needs to return to the way that we were created to be which is men leading women. Not women leading men. And not men & women being equal with no one leading anyone. The woman was created to help the man. This doesn't mean that men should be ruthless or unloving. Men should not treat women like beasts. They should love their wives and treat them well. They should love them as if they were their own body. I'm not promoting physical, verbal, emotional or spiritual abuse.

Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Advantages
-Sister wives (women who share the same husband) can share duties of cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning house, household chores, watering flowers, taking care of a garden, caring for pets, caring for the elderly, watching the kids & taking care of the husband.
-Men are more likely to feel free to delegate responsibilities for chores that need to be done, and get more things done in a more timely fashion. The family can be more profitable. Men are less likely to cheat outside of the home, and therefore they will be more loyal to their wives & family and be better husbands.
-As the husband and wives grow old together, they can help one another and no one has to be cast away into a nursing home. They can even help one another with mother-in-laws and other in-laws and extended family since there are more people to take care of each other. This was the way it used to be in the good old days before nursing homes.
-Larger families means more laborers for the family farm or other family business.
-Less health problems for one woman who would be bearing all of the children by herself, which can lead to dangerous problems with the female organs falling out. Multiple wives gives better health for women.
-The man's natural, strong sexual needs are better met. There's nothing wrong or sinful about that. It's the way God made men. It therefore helps men to not cheat, lie and deceive. He can be honest, and at home instead of in the bar so much, or instead of looking for sex in public bathrooms and websites.

What is the Fruit of Polygamy?
- Less cheating outside of the house. Less lies & deceit. Less chances of bringing home diseases from prostitutes and one night stands.
- Less homosexuality. It's a fact that a huge percentage of straight men have homosexual encounters with other men because their sexual urges are not being completely fulfilled with just the one wife that they have. Again, less HIV & other sexual diseases.
- Yes there would be some divorces, but actually I believe there would be less divorces than what we currently see with the traditional monogamous marriages.
- Yes there would be some jealously and problems. But there are already jealously & other problems in monogamous marriages. All marriages are going to have problems. If the man and the women are truly following Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth, then Jesus will help them work through any problems.
-Therefore, I really do not see any bad fruit from this doctrine, as long as you obey your local laws. Again, we do not condone or promote bigamy, the legal marriage of more than one woman in a location where such is forbidden by the law. Marriage should be a personal relationship, not regulated by human government. Stay out of the legal marriage institutions and you will be safe from law enforcement. It is not against the law for a man to have more than one woman living with him, and not against the law for a man to have sex with more than one woman. In God's eyes, you are married in such a situation and you do not need to break man's laws by coming under their regulations of marriage.

If polygamy, of one husband with at least 2 wives, was embraced by all of society, many things in the world would be much better than it is now. Many divorces are because of men needing more than 1 woman. The divorces result in boys and girls being raised without their dads. Almost every man in prison was raised without his dad. The acceptance of polygamy, just that one way of God being embraced by the entire world, would result in an entirely different world! A world with much less crime, almost empty prisons, much less homosexuality, less poverty, much lower divorce rates and happier families!

Why I Write This Article: Evangelizing the Entire World
I do not have any new woman in mind. I am not trying to convince my wife or my congregation to immediately embrace me having more wives. I am not teaching this to fulfill the lust of the flesh. I have only one wife and I am happy with her. I couldn't ask for a better wife. But if I am going to lead an international, worldwide ministry that is reaching into Africa, the middle east, South America and across the world, then this topic will come up and has come up. I must be prepared to give the correct answer, based upon the Holy Scriptures, what it says, and what it doesn't say. This is about correct doctrine. This is about the truth, regardless of traditional western culture and teachings of religion. This is about being able to reach Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Christians, unbelievers, people in Africa, people all across the world from different cultures & backgrounds. If a man from Africa who already has more than 1 wife contacts me in hopes of following Jesus Christ in the truth, I cannot, in good faith or good confidence, tell him that he must divorce all of his wives except just one. That would be going against the biblical teaching that we should try to avoid divorce. Of course there are also times when the bible does permit divorce. But polygamy is not listed as one of the good reasons. I cannot tell a man to divorce his wives, when the wives are not doing anything wrong. If his wives are truly in love with him, and honoring & respecting him, and following Jesus with him, how can I tell him that he must cast them away? That's not the will of God!
We must understand that God does not have a western mindset. Jesus is God of the entire Earth, including Africa, South America, the middle east, cities and jungles, deserts and mountains and coastal areas with different cultures. If anything, God has a middle eastern mindset, definitely not a western mindset! People living in the USA, Australia, Canada & other nations that are greatly influenced by American culture, need to get rid of their western mindset. God doesn't look at things the same way that modern day Americans look at things. I cannot hinder the salvation of people based upon cultural differences.
In the book of Acts, when the issue of circumcision was being debated in the church, the Jerusalem council determined that they would enforce upon the gentiles the requirements of abstaining from eating foods that had been sacrificed to idols/demons & to abstain from eating/drinking blood. But polygamy wasn't listed as a major issue. Even Jews were involved in polygamy & it wasn't an issue. I cannot make it an issue or cause of disfellowship. I have absolutely no biblical basis for forbidding polygamy.

Divine Confirmations
I don't want to teach something of my own opinion or belief. I want to follow the direction of The Holy Ghost of Jesus Christ. I have prayed about this subject for a long time before finally writing it. I finally received my confirmations last week when I made a special point of asking in prayer about whether I should go ahead & finally write this article. I asked "please show me". Then the very next day, I received an email from a man asking about the subject of polygamy! I knew it couldn't be coincidence. It's not like I get emails about this topic every day, or every month! It's extremely rare to get a question on this topic. Then after finally starting the article, and then eventually telling a true brother in Jesus that I have started this article, he told me that he just very recently, just within the last week, watched a video where a minister is saying that a man can love more than one woman! Yet that's not the main topic of the video, nor the title, but the minister does make that statement. The brother was able to tell me very quickly exactly at what point in the video that this subject is brought up. And I watched it and sure enough, this minister says that a man can love more than one woman! Therefore I accept this to be a confirmation. I asked not only for confirmation but also for correction if I was wrong or if this is not the correct time to write the article. Jesus has corrected me before about timings and actions if I asked, or even if I didn't ask. But I have not received any correction on this subject, but rather only confirmations and the green light to go ahead. For me to receive the email at this particular time and for my spiritual brother, who I love very much, to have just seen this video, cannot be a coincidence for both events to happen during this time of me seeking confirmations & Jesus' approval.

Objection: God created Adam & Eve, not multiple wives in the Garden of Eden.
This is really a very poor objection. God had to start with only one man. And then only one woman. There had to be a beginning. And all mankind had to be descendants of only these 2 people, not 3 people or 4, but only these 2 people. That's the way it was planned and the way that it needed to be for the sake of all the human species. It doesn't prove anything about how many wives a man should have. When you count to 10, you have to start with zero, then 1, then 2.

Objection: "Polygamy is adultery."
Answer: You cannot commit adultery with a woman that you are married to. Adultery is impossible within marriage. Marriage defined by the bible has nothing to do with marriage licenses or what human judges decree. Marriage defined by the bible is when a man has sex with a woman who is not currently married. Every time in the bible, that's the situation. Except of course, Jesus doesn't have physical sex with the church. But the church is conceived of The Holy Ghost which is the act of marriage, and we are awaiting the marriage feast at the marriage supper at the 7th Trumpet.

Objection: Men in the Old Testament had problems caused by the sin of polygamy.
Answer: First of all, you have to define sin. The bible gives the definition: 1 John 3:4 "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore to prove that polygamy is sin, you have to show me in the law where it says that it is forbidden for a man to have more than one woman/wife. You cannot show me that because it's not in the bible. Therefore your statement is already proven false.
Secondly, their problems was not cause by having more than one wife. Their problems was caused by the actions of people, but not the actions of marrying or having sex with more than one wife. This objection is totally useless. The same problems could have occurred with just 1 wife. The problems spoken of were also ordained to happen. Esau was ordained to be at war with Jacob. Etc. Everything was planned by God & was supposed to happen.

Objection: Men who want more than one wife, just want sex, sex and more sex!
Answer: How can you judge someone who haven't met & don't know all of the specifics? You are making a blanket judgment upon thousands of men on this Earth that you have never met, never talked to and don't know anything about. Of course there are going to be some men that are only all about the sex. But that was not the reason Jacob, Moses or Abraham had more than 1 wife. And it's not the reason that Jesus is marrying many people in the body of Christ. There are multitudes of other reasons why a man would have more than 1 wife, including cultures outside of western society where polygamy is considered normal and commonplace. I also believe that it's totally possible for a man to love more than 1 woman and also totally possible for more than 1 woman to love the same man. We have all seen it, but rejected it because of how we were all brainwashed. In today's western society, people are constantly marrying and divorcing and then getting married again, so why would we think that it's impossible for a man to love more than 1 woman? With polygamy, we are simply skipping the divorce between marriages & all of the chaos of learning of a man secretly cheating behind a woman's back.

Objection: The fact that Muslims, Mormons & Jews are involved with polygamy, proves that it is wrong. We shouldn't do anything that they do.
Answer: We cannot always use that logic of not doing what others do. Other people wear clothes, eat, drive a car, eat pizza, etc. Many people in the Catholic Church believe the truth that Jesus is God. Many Muslims know the truth that there is only one God, not 3. Every religion has something right and something wrong. We cannot just simply say that we shouldn't follow anything they do or believe, because the fact is, they do have some truth regardless of how much they have wrong. We must base our approval or disapproval of something entirely on what the bible says. Not what other people do or don't do. There is simply not any bible verse that forbids or speaks against polygamy. None. In fact, the New Testament supports polygamy because Jesus Himself has many wives in the church.

Objection: Polygamy is against the law, and the bible tells us that we are to obey the law of the land that we live in.
Answer: Actually, in most locations on Earth, it is not against the law for one man and several women to live together and have sex. That's what we are talking about here. We are not telling people to get legally married. It is when people get legally married that they break the laws of bigamy. If you live in a location where it is against the law to live with and have sex with more than one woman within your own home, even if you are not legally married, then you need to flee that nation/city and find some where else where you will be free to obey God in liberty.

A Warning to Men
To a western man, this might seem pretty good to be able to have sex with more than one woman and not be guilty of sin. But it does come with its disadvantages and problems. For most of you, I think actually that you would agree that it's best to try to have only one wife, just to save us a lot of headaches of jealousy and arguments & more responsibility to take care of more people spiritually and physically. I think that most western men will think "I can barely handle one woman, much less 2-3 or more". Many women outside of western society are already accustomed to sharing a husband and so they can handle it better. But for western women, it's very difficult for them. So I would very strongly caution men in all regions of the world, to really examine yourself about your motives, needs and the will of God for your specific situation. Just because it's lawful, doesn't mean it's the best idea for you.
1 Cor. 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient (profitable). All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
You might find yourself in legal problem, financial problems & a lot of headaches. Make sure that your prospective wife and your current wife can get along together and work together. They should be able to be friends & coworkers, not enemies. Make sure that you are not being completely led by the lust of the flesh. It's better to be completely single, without any woman but living peacefully in Jesus, than to have 10 women who all bring you problems and heartache. Our sufficiency/contentment/fulfillment/happiness should be in Christ (Psalm 23:1), not in sex, woman, cars, money, alcohol, drugs or sports. Christ should be our everything. But that doesn't remove the will of God. If the will of God is that you should have more than one wife, then go for it. But just be sure that you are following God's will and not just only your own will. Make sure that every wife is a true follower of Jesus Christ who loves you and will support your life of living in the truth in Jesus. You do not want a woman who will lead you away from the truth in Jesus. Eternal salvation is much more important than the lust of the flesh.

2 Cor. 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

Eccles.9:7 "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart for God now accepteth thy works.
:8 Let thy garments be always white and let thy head lack no ointment.
:9 Live joyfully with the wife (written by Solomon who had 700 wives + 300 concubines) whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Not Just for Ancient Times

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Is Polygamy Forbidden in the New Testament? Copyright 2018 I Saw The Light Ministries


A Brief History of Non-Monogamy.

The impulse to couple up is one that runs deep in western culture. While marriage has become more accessible to all only in the past decade, the institution itself is an old (and largely economic one). But no matter how traditional the rite of matrimony may seem now, global human history has favored a different form of intimacy, which is now being seen in a new context: polyamory.

Of course, modern polyamory is very different from historical polygamy. Polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple relationships, with the consent and knowledge of all parties involved. Polygamy, on the other hand, is the practice of having more than one spouse. In many historical and cultural contexts, polygamy (unlike polyamory) has often been characterized by a gender imbalance—a man can have many wives, but a woman cannot have several husbands.

Non-monogamy dates all the way back to B.C.E. times, but it’s been reincarnated in different ways over the centuries. And while stereotypes (or purposeful misnomers) may cast this kind of partnership in a definitely unequal, sexist light, it hasn’t always existed as an inherently unequal power balance—especially not today. Here’s how non-monogamy has evolved over time.

When monogamy became the norm
There are different theories about when and why monogamy in humans arose, but all agree on one point: We didn’t start out this way. Some scientists believe that single partnership became an evolutionary advantage because it decreased the spread of STI s, while some anthropologists believe that monogamy arose around the same time that farming did, both to grow wealth and to protect offspring . Either way, this practice caught on, as did the practice of other traditions like dowries and arranged marriages.

Polygamy in the ancient world
Marriage was already an established practice—mainly, with the goal of procreation—by the time civilization was founded in ancient Mesopotamia . But even Hammurabi’s code , a strict set of laws in the society, allowed for polygamy. This ruling, however, had the same goal of marriage as an institution: If a man’s wife could not procreate, he could take a second wife who could.

Polygamy and concubines
Concubines were typically women recognized as sexual partners to a man, though not as spouses—this practice existed all over the ancient world, particularly in upper classes. In ancient Greece, Rome, China, Mongolia, and Japan, powerful men were likely to have concubines, who were expected to bear them offspring. That’s not to say that concubines couldn’t ever be elevated to equal footing— Wu Zetian was a concubine in China who, after the death of two subsequent husbands, became the only empress of the country, ruling from 690 until her death in 705.

Polygamy in Islam
Polygamy is permitted in Islam, with limits: It’s acceptable for men to have up to four wives, but it is not permitted for a woman to have several spouses. However, polygamy isn’t widely practiced—and it’s not necessarily encouraged, either. On the topic, the Qu’ran says , “But if you feel you may not be able to deal justly between them, then marry only one.”

Though polygamy—the act of being married to more than one person—is illegal in the United States, a loophole exists: For some Muslims (an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 according to NPR ), this means having a legal marriage with one person, and religious marriages (which aren’t recognized by the government) with others. This can get complicated when immigration and spousal rights come into question.

Polygamy in Mormonism
Again, in spite of U.S. laws, polygamy was recognized as a doctrine in the Mormon faith in 1843, and although the church disavowed it in 1890, some fundamentalists still follow the tradition (there’s even a whole TLC reality show to prove it). While leaders within the religion can sometimes have upwards of 20 wives , more commonly, they’ll have two or three—either because they’re devoted to the original teachings of the church, they aim to have a big family, or a combination of those motivating factors.

Polyamory today
Polygamy is illegal in the United States and many other countries today, but polyamory is perfectly acceptable—and it’s even become far more mainstream in recent decades. You wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a person in an open relationship by simply swiping through a dating app today—maybe you or your close friends are even in the four to five-percent of Americans who practice consensual or ethical non-monogamy. While that number may not be exceptionally large, it’s one that could be growing, especially when you consider a 2016 study that found that a little over 20-percent of Americans had tried ethical non-mongamy.

The reasons people may choose non-monogamy are varied, though many say that’s a form of intimacy that supports personal growth and communication . Others say that poly relationships can prove especially beneficial in how they foster gender equality . Like any relationship, what’s most important is the ability to communicate your needs and boundaries—whether you’re interested in opening things up or not.


The Homophile Years

In 1950, Harry Hayਏounded the Mattachine Foundation, one of the nation’s first gay rights group. The Los Angeles organization coined the term “homophile,” which was considered less clinical and focused on sexual activity than “homosexual.”

Though it started off small, the foundation, which sought to improve the lives of gay men through discussion groups and related activities, expanded after founding member Dale Jennings was arrested in 1952 for solicitation and then later set free due to a deadlocked jury.

At the end of the year, Jennings formed another organization called One, Inc., which welcomed women and published ONE, the country’s first pro-gay magazine. Jennings was ousted from One, Inc. in 1953 in part for being a communist—he and Harry Hay were also kicked out of the Mattachine Foundation for their communism𠅋ut the magazine continued.

In 1958, One, Inc. won a lawsuit against the U.S. Post Office, which in 1954 declared the magazine “obscene” and refused to deliver it.


Beginning of polygamy

Founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, the Mormon movement from its beginnings offered a unique perspective on the religious role of men.

One of the most influential events in the life of Joseph Smith was the death of his 25-year-old brother Alvin in 1823. In 1836, Joseph Smith had a vision of Alvin Smith in heaven. Based on this vision, he developed the Mormon teaching that families could be together in heaven if they underwent religious rites – called “sealings” – in Mormon temples. Any faithful Mormon approved by church leaders could perform these sealings.

Due in part to this powerful role it gave to men in helping to save the people they loved and brought to heaven, Mormonism attracted proportionally more male converts than any other American religious movement of the time.

In the early 1830s, Smith extended this view of the role of men to include polygamy as it was practiced by Old Testament prophets like Abraham. Smith taught that a righteous man could help numerous women and children go to heaven by being “sealed” in plural marriage. Large families multiplied a man’s glory in the afterlife. This teaching was established as doctrine in 1843.

Joseph Smith. Stephen, CC BY-NC-ND

Rumors that polygamy was practiced by a small cadre of LDS Church leaders spurred mob violence against early Mormon settlements in Illinois and Missouri. In the face of this opposition, Smith counseled Mormon men to be “crafty” – contemporary scholars have interpreted this to mean alert, wise and “resourceful” – in their practice of polygamy and use of “sealings.”

After the murder of Joseph Smith in 1845, Mormons migrated to Utah territory in 1847, and there, under the leadership of Brigham Young – who succeeded Joseph Smith – brought the practice of polygamy out of the shadows. LDS leaders announced plural marriage as an official Mormon Church practice in 1852.

Following Young, Mormon theologians heralded polygamy as a core doctrine and as evidence of patriarchal manliness. By the 1880s, an estimated 20-30 percent of Mormon families practiced polygamy.


When did polygamy end in China and in Japan?

Well first we have to be clear on the term "polygamy". Polygamy means marriage that includes two or more partners. It was illegal for a man to have more than one wife in ancient China. He can have concubines, but those concubines can't be wives. Under law, he has only one legal wife. The term polygamy is misleading in this case.

With that being said, concubinage was outlawed by the ROC but it wasn't enforced. I believe it was heavily enforced by the PRC (the banning of prostitution, etc.). In HK, it wasn't outlawed until 1971.

Mandate of Heaven

Well first we have to be clear on the term "polygamy". Polygamy means marriage that includes two or more partners. It was illegal for a man to have more than one wife in ancient China. He can have concubines, but those concubines can't be wives. Under law, he has only one legal wife. The term polygamy is misleading in this case.

With that being said, concubinage was outlawed by the ROC but it wasn't enforced. I believe it was heavily enforced by the PRC (the banning of prostitution, etc.). In HK, it wasn't outlawed until 1971.


Polygamy was started by Joseph Smith not Brigham Young

That fact that Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy in the early days of the Church is well known. What a lot of people don't know, though, is that polygamy was first practiced by Joseph Smith and not Brigham Young. Joseph was secretive about his practice of polygamy, even lying about it. By the time the Saints went to Utah, the Church was more open about, with Brigham Young officially announcing it in 1852.

Church-published media almost never mention Joseph's polygamy. There are some references to the other prophet's plural marriages but not for Joseph. By rarely mentioning Joseph's polygamous marriages, many church members, especially converts, often don't realize how involved Joseph was. (See "MormonThink provides a response to those who say members should have known more about Joseph Smith's polygamy."

It seems that it would lend greater credibility to the practice of polygamy if it was plainly taught that Joseph introduced and practiced polygamy since Joseph is the most revered of the Latter-day prophets. but the Church doesn't seem to see it that way.

Additionally, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints (RLDS) (now called Community of Christ) rejected polygamy and believed until recently that Joseph never practiced polygamy—they believed it started with Brigham Young as well. Eventually the RLDS church accepted the work of LDS and RLDS historians and acknowledged that Joseph had indeed practiced polygamy. Finding this out was the catalyst for the split in the RLDS church between those that held on to the original concept of a divinely established church and those that now believe that Joseph was merely inspired and that the Book of Mormon is not historical.

Denial of Joseph's involvement in polygamy was reinforced by Emma Smith (Joseph's first wife). Emma purposely lied to her children and told them that their father did not practice polygamy. She wanted to spare her children the pain of knowing the truth. She said:

No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of…He had no other wife but me nor did he to my knowledge ever have.

Joseph commanded to practice polygamy by an angel

The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.

Prophet Joseph Smith said this to Dennison Lott Harris (nephew of Martin Harris) who later told it to Horace Cummings who published it in "Conspiracy of Nauvoo," Contributor, Vol. V, No. 7 (April, 1884) p. 259.

Brian Hales compiled a list of accounts of polygamy being encouraged by an angel with a sword:

The Accounts of the Angel with a Drawn Sword
Account by (year) Quote Source
Joseph Lee Robinson (circa 1853) The Lord instead of releasing [Joseph Smith] from that burden, he sent an holy angel with a drawn sword unto him, saying unto him, Joseph, unless you go to and immediately teach that principle (namely polygamy or plural marriage) and put the same in practice, that he, Joseph, should be slain for thus saith the Lord, that the time has now come that I will raise up seed unto me as I spoke by my servant Jacob as is recorded in the Book of Mormon, therefore, I command my people. Dr. Oliver Preston Robinson. ed., The Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, Mormon Pioneer , p. 44.
Lorenzo Snow (1869) He [Joseph Smith] said that the Lord had revealed [the doctrine of the plurality of wives] unto him and commanded him to have women sealed to him as wives, that he foresaw the trouble that would follow and sought to turn away from the commandment, that an angel from heaven appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment. Affidavit of President Lorenzo Snow, 28 August 1869, found in Blood atonement and the origin of plural marriage : a discussion by Joseph Fielding Smith, The Deseret News Press: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1905), p. 67. [This may have been mis-identified as Joseph F. Smith's 18 August 1869 affidavit in Hale's Appendix.]
Lorenzo Snow (1892) [Joseph Smith] explained to me the principles of plural marriage distinctly and clearly, and told me that the Lord had revealed the principle and had commanded him to enter into that practice. And that he had received a revelation to that effect. He said that he had demurred to doing so as he foresaw the trouble that would ensue, but that an angel of the Lord had appeared before him with a drawn sword commanding him to do so and he could not go backward. Lorenzo Snow, Testimony, Temple Lot Case (part 3, question 258), p. 124.
Lorenzo Snow (1896) President Lorenzo Snow stated that he was in England with Brother [Parley P.]] Pratt when reports came from Nauvoo to the effect that the doctrine of plural marriage was bring taught. Upon his return to Nauvoo in the spring of 1843, he had a long talk with the Prophet Joseph Smith, who fully explained to him the doctrine of plural marriage and stated that an angel with a drawn sword had visited him and commanded him to go into this principle and President Smith told Brother Snow to enter into plural marriage. Heber J. Grant, Diary, 1 April 1896, (Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Benjamin F. Johnson (1896) [Joseph Smith declared] that an angel appeared unto him with a drawn sword, threatening to slay him if he did not proceed to fulfill the law that had been given to him. Benjamin F. Johnson, Affidavit, 1869, Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, Vol. 2 p. 8, MS 3423 fd 5, (Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Benjamin F. Johnson (1896) Hyrum said to me, 'Now, Brother Benjamin, you know that Brother Joseph would not sanction this if it was not from the Lord. The Lord revealed this to Brother Joseph long ago, and he put it off until the Angel of the Lord came to him with a drawn sword and told him that he would be slain if he did not go forth and fulfill the law.' Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review (Mesa, Arizona: 21st Century Printing, 1992, reprint), pp. 95-96.
Benjamin F. Johnson (1903) Brother Hyrum [Smith] at once took me in hand, apparently in fear. I was not fully converted and this was the manner of his talk to me: 'Now, Benjamin, you must not be afraid of this new doctrine, for it is all right. You know Brother Hyrum do[esn't] get carried away by worldly things, and he fought this principle until the Lord showed him it was true. I know that Joseph was commanded to take more wives and he waited until an Angel with a drawn sword stood before him and declared that if he longer delayed fulfilling that command he would slay him.' Dean R. Zimmerman, ed., I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1976), p. 43.
Eliza R. Snow (1880) She [Eliza R. Snow] spoke of plural marriage. Said it was a perfect law. Said she had her own prejuse [sic] about it. Said she did not know much about it when she was married to Joseph Smith. Said she did not know if ever she would be owned as a wife. Spoke of the Angel standing with a drawn sword in his hand and told Joseph if he did not comply with the requirement of heaven, that his priesthood should be taken from him. Glenwood Ward, Sevier Stake, Relief Society Minutes, 28 September 1880, p. 224, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Eliza R. Snow (1884) Joseph told [my brother] Lorenzo Snow that he had 'hesitated and deferred from time to time, until an angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword and told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural marriage, his Priesthood would be taken from him and he should be destroyed!' Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Company, 1884), pp. 69-70.
Eliza R. Snow (1887) [Joseph Smith] received the revelation in 1837, but he was himself afraid to promulgate it until the angel came and stood beside him with flaming sword and bade him do the command of God. Not until then did Joseph enter into polygamy, or get any of his disciples to take plural wives. "Two Prophets' Widows: A Visit to the Relicts of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young," by "J. J. J.," in St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri), 18 August 1887, p. 6.
Orson Pratt (pre-1881) I had a pleasant conversation . . . of the trials of the Prophet Joseph in first introducing the doctrine of celestial marriage in Nauvoo and quoted the statement of the late apostle and Church historian . . . that the angel of the Lord appeared unto the Prophet Joseph with a drawn sword and declared that if he, Joseph, did not go to and teach and practice the holy commandment, he [the angel]would slay him. Karl Larson and Katherine Miles Larson, eds., Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 vols. (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1980), Vol. 2, pp. 814-15, entry for 5 March, 1896.
Zina Huntington (1881) Zina D. Young told of Brother Joseph's remark in relation to the revelation on celestial marriage. How an angel came to hi with a drawn sword and said if he did not obey this law, he would lose his priesthood and in the keeping of it he, Joseph, did not know but it would cost him his life. "The Prophet's Birthday," in Deseret News, 12 January 1881, p. 2.
Zina Huntington (1894) [Joseph] sent word to me by my brother, saying, 'Tell Zina I put it off and put it off til an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth, I would lose my position and my life.' "Joseph, the Prophet, His Life and Mission as Viewed by Intimate Acquaintances," in Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, 12 January 1895, p. 212.
Helen Mar Kimball (1882) This angel, he [Joseph Smith] states, stood over him with a drawn sword, prepared to inflict the penalty of death if he should be disobedient. Helen Mar Whitney, "Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith," by editor of Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah: "Juvenile Instructor" Office, 1882), p. 13.
Helen Mar Kimball (1884) This fact [plural marriage] the Lord revealed to His prophet, Joseph Smith, as early as the year 1831. And yet, had it not been for the fear of His displeasure, Joseph would have shrunk from the undertaking and would have continued silent, as he did for years, until an angel of the Lord threatened to slay him if he did not reveal and establish this celestial principle. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, "Why We Practice Plural Marriage" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1885), p. 53.
Erastus Snow (1883) Spoke of the Angel of the Lord meeting Joseph with a drawn sword and of his going to slay him for his being neglectful in the discharges of his duties and of Joseph having to plead on his knees before the Angel for his life. Karl Larson and Katherine Miles Larson, Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 vols. (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1980), Vol. 2, p. 611, entry for 17 June 1883.
Erastus Snow (1883) The Prophet Joseph had said to him [Erastus Snow] also, "I have not been obedient enough to this holy law and the Lord was angry with me and an angel met me with a drawn sword but I pled with the Lord to forgive me and he did so and I made the sacrifice required of my hand and by the help of the Lord I will obey his Holy Law." Erastus Snow, St. George Utah Stake Conference, "General Minutes," 17 June 1883, LR 7836 11, reel 1, (Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1902) In 1834 he [Joseph Smith] was commanded to take me for a wife. I was a thousand miles from him. He got afraid. The angel came to him three times, the last time with a drawn sword and threatened his life. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Statement, 8 February 1902, "Vesta Crawford Papers," MS 125, bx 1, fd 11, (Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah), original in the possession of Mrs. Nell Osborne, Salt Lake City, Utah see also, "Juanita Brooks Papers," MSB103, bx 16, fd 13, (Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1904) Joseph told me that he was afraid when the angel appeared to him and told him to take other wives. He hesitated, and the angel appeared to him the third time with a drawn sword in his hand and threatened his life if he did not fulfill the commandment. Mary E. Lightner to A. M. Chase, 20 April 1904, quoted in J. D. Stead, Doctrines and Dogmas of Brighamism Exposed (Lamoni, Iowa: RLDS Church, 1911), pp. 218-19.
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1905) An angel came to [Joseph Smith] and the last time he came with a drawn sword in his hand and told Joseph if he did not go into that principle, he would slay him. Joseph said he talked to him soberly about it and told him it was an abomination and quoted scripture to him. He said in the Book of Mormon it was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord and they were to adhere to these things except the Lord speak?. . . Said he . . . 'The angel came to me three times between the years of 1834 and 1842 and said I was to obey that principle or he would slay me.' Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Remarks, 14 April 1905, Brigham Young University, vault MSS 363, fd. 6, pp. 2-3, L. (Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1905) God commanded him to take [me] as a plural wife [in 1834]. He was very much frightened about [it] until the Angel appeared to him three times. It was in the early part of February 1842. Before [that], he was compelled to reveal it to me personally, by the Angel threatening him. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, Summer 1905, MS 282, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah copy of holograph in "Linda King Newell Collection," MS 447, bx 9, fd 2, (Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah) also in "Juanita Brooks Papers," MSB 103, bx16, fd 13, (Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Benjamin G. Ferris (1867) He [Joseph Smith] told some of his most influential followers that if they knew what a hard and unpalatable revelation [regarding plural marriage] he had had, they would drive him from the city. The heavenly powers, however, were not to be trifled with and a day was appointed when the important mandate was to be submitted to convocation of the authorities of the Church. The time arrived but Joseph, in virtuous desperation, concluded rather to flee the city than be the medium of communicating a matter so repugnant to his mind. He mounted his horse and galloped from the town, but was met by an angel with a drawn sword, and threatened with instant destruction unless he immediately returned and fulfilled his mission. He returned, accordingly, in submissive despair, and made the important communication to the assembled notables. Such is substantially the account of the matter given by simple-minded believers at Salt Lake Benjamin G. Ferris, Utah and the Mormons, The History, Government, Doctrines, Customs and Prospects of the Latter-day Saints (New York, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1854), p. 115 see also, Pomeroy Tucker, The Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, (New York, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1867), p. 184.
Melvin J. Ballard (1934) The statement . . . concerning the angel appearing with the drawn sword is not a matter that is in our own Church history. While it may be all true, the Church has not pronounced it authentic nor has it contradicted it. Mormon apostle Melvin J. Ballard to Eslie Jenson, 14 August 1934 quoted in Joseph W. Musser, "Marriage: Ballard/Jenson Correspondence" (n.p., 1935), p. 15.

"Appendix: The Accounts of the Angel with a Drawn Sword," Brian Hales, "Encouraging Joseph Smith to Practice Plural Marriage: The Accounts of the Angel with a Drawn Sword," Mormon Historical Studies Vol. 11 No. 2, (Fall 2010), pp. 65-71.

Fanny Alger

Fanny Alger was a teen-aged servant in the Smith's home. Joseph and Emma had "adopted" Fanny when she was about 16 years old (1833). She is believed to be either Joseph Smith's first polygamous "wife" or simply a sexual encounter. (The Church's essay, "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," says it was a marriage, whereas Lawrence Foster said, "…contemporary evidence strongly suggests that Smith sustained sexual relations with Fanny Alger, it does not indicate that this was viewed either by Smith himself or by his associates at the time as a 'marriage.'" Review of Todd Compton's In Sacred Loneliness Dialogue Vol. 33 No. 1 pp. 184-86.) Critics believe he had an affair with her, was found out, and then introduced the concept of plural marriage in order to justify and continue his affair with her and then other women.

Some historians record the date of the "marriage" as early as 1833, while others believe it was 1835, putting Fanny's age anywhere from 17-19. Fanny departed the Smith home sometime in 1836, the same year Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated for revealing Joseph Smith's "dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's."

Warren Parrish, the secretary of Joseph for a period of time, told Benjamin Johnson that he and Oliver Cowdery knew the report of an affair between Joseph and the girl to be true, for they "were spied upon and found together." (Letter from Benjamin Johnson to George Gibbs, 1903.)

Critic's Note: Regardless of whether Joseph Smith's relations with Fanny Alger was merely a sexual encounter or a "marriage," it was adulterous. However, Joseph could only be legally married to one person, and even if it is claimed that the "marriage" was a symbolic "celestial only" sealing, the sealing power was not restored until April 1836, after Joseph's "marriage" to Fanny.

Joseph's first polygamous marriage was before the sealing authority was given

Whether Joseph's "marriage" to Fanny Alger occurred in 1833 or 1835, it was illegal both under the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority. Plural marriages are rooted in the notion of "sealing" for time and eternity. It is claimed that the "sealing power" was restored 3 April 1836 when Elijah appeared to Joseph and committed the sealing keys into his hands. (Journal, 1835–1836, ID #6663, The Joseph Smith Papers.) Until that time no one on earth had authority to "seal" Joseph and Fanny. As a result, his marriage to her was a nullity from the beginning both in time and eternity, and any sexual relationship he had with her was adulterous.


Everything a group (meaning more than 2 people) want to do together is already legal, except being able to call themselves “married”. It’s called Polyamory. The only problem is, the people are denied legal protection granted to married citizens.

For example, if three people were legally married and lived together in the same household for 50 years, if one or more died the assets would remain with the survivor(s). Without marriage protection at least one of the three family members would potentially be subjected to tax consequences as well as a number of other harmful side effects.


Are Humans Monogamous or Polygamous?

Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images.

What makes us different from all the other animals? Is it our swollen brains, our idle hands, or perhaps our limber thumbs? In 2011, a research team reviewed the quirks of human DNA and came across another oddly shaped appendage that makes us who we are: I mean, of course, man’s smooth and spineless member. The penises of lots of mammals are endowed with “horny papillae,” hardened bumps or spikes that sometimes look like rows of studs on a fancy condom. These papillae enhance sensation, or so it has been claimed, and shorten a mating male’s delay to climax. Since humans lost their phallic bumps several million years ago, it could be that we evolved to take it slow. And it could also be the case that longer-lasting sex produced more intimate relationships.

So (one might argue that) the shedding of our penis spines gave rise to love and marriage, and (one could also say that) our tendency to mate in pairs pushed aside the need for macho competition, which in turn gave us the chance to live together in large and peaceful groups. Life in groups has surely had its perks, not least of which is that it led to bigger brains and a faculty for language, and perhaps a bunch of traits that served to civilize and tame us. And so we’ve gone from horny papillae to faithful partners—from polygamy to monogamous humanity.

I like this story well enough, but it may or may not be true. In fact, not all penis spines in nature serve to quicken sex—orangutans have fancy ones but waste a quarter of an hour in the act—so we don’t know what to make of our papillae or the lack thereof. That won’t stop anyone from wondering.

Since we like to think that how we mate defines us, the sex lives of ancient hominids have for many years been examined in computer simulations, by measuring the circumferences of ancient bones, and by applying the rules of evolution and economics. But to understand the contentious field of paleo-sexology, one must first address the question of how we mate today, and how we’ve mated in the recent past.

According to anthropologists, only 1 in 6 societies enforces monogamy as a rule. There’s evidence of one-man-one-woman institutions as far back as Hammurabi’s Code it seems the practice was further codified in ancient Greece and Rome. But even then, the human commitment to fidelity had its limits: Formal concubines were frowned upon, but slaves of either sex were fair game for extramarital affairs. The historian Walter Scheidel describes this Greco-Roman practice as polygynous monogamy—a kind of halfsy moral stance on promiscuity. Today’s Judeo-Christian culture has not shed this propensity to cheat. (If there weren’t any hanky-panky, we wouldn’t need the seventh commandment.)

In The Myth of Monogamy, evolutionary psychologists David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton say we’re not the only pair-bonding species that likes to sleep around. Even among the animals that have long been known as faithful types—nesting birds, etc.—not too many stay exclusive. Most dally. “There are a few species that are monogamous,” says Barash. “The fat-tailed dwarf lemur. The Malagasy giant jumping rat. You’ve got to look in the nooks and crannies to find them, though.” Like so many other animals, human beings aren’t really that monogamous. Better to say, we’re monogamish.

That –ish has caused no end of trouble, for lovers and for scientists. Efforts to define our sexual behavior often run afoul of humans’ in-between-ness. Take one common proxy measure of how a primate species copulates: testis size. A male that’s forced to share its partners might do well to make each ejaculation count by firing off as many sperm as possible. Chimpanzees mate rather freely and show a high degree of male-male competition. They also have giant balls, for blowing away their rivals’. Gorillas, on the other hand, have their sexual dynamics more worked out: The alpha male has all the sex the other males are screwed. Since there’s less chance of going head-to-head on ejaculations, tesis size isn’t so important. Gorilla balls are pretty small. And what about a man’s testes? They’re not so big and not so little. They’re just eh.

Male gorillas may not one-up each other with their testes, but they do rely on other traits to get and keep their harems. That’s why male gorillas are so huge and fearsome: so they can fight off other males for social dominance. Within a species, the difference between the male and female body type yields another proxy for mating habits: The bigger the gap in body size, the more competitive the males, and the greater the inclination toward polygynous arrangements. So how does the split between human men and women compare to that of other primates? We’re sort of in the middle.

Seeing as we’re neither one thing nor the other, scientists have been left to speculate on how our ancestors might have done their thing. Were they like gorillas, where most males suffered while one dude enjoyed the chance to spread his seed? Or more like chimpanzees—sleeping around, with males competing for multiple partners? Or is there another possibility, like the one championed by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá in their best-selling and soundly criticized paean to free love, Sex at Dawn? According to that book’s authors, our ancestors did as bonobos do: They had rampant sex without much bickering.

Such discussions tend to dead-end quickly, though, since we just don’t know for sure. Our most recent relatives in common with these other primates lived about 6 million years ago. (I suppose if bonobos could be anthropologists, one of them might write a book on whether bonobo sexuality evolved from something humanlike.) “What this really is,” says Barash, “is a Rorschach test for the people asking the question.”

We do have data on human mating trends, but the record tends to be a little spotty. In 2010, a team in Montreal completed its analysis of breeding ratios for Homo sapiens based on a careful study of DNA. By measuring diversity in the human chromosomes, the researchers tried to figure out what proportion of the breeding pool has been composed of females. They found a ratio of slightly more than one-to-one, meaning that there were at least 11 ladies for every minyan of procreating men. But the math they used turned out to be a little wonky, and after making some corrections, they revised the numbers up a bit toward a ratio of 2. These estimates, they wrote, are still within the range you’d find for societies described as “monogamous or serially monogamous, although they also overlap with those characterizing polygyny.” Once again—we’re monogamish.

At what point in hominid evolution did this in-between behavior appear? Paleontologist Owen Lovejoy published fossil specimens in 2009 from Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago. He used the newly described species as evidence for the hominids’ great transition to (mostly) one-on-one relationships. Ardi walked on two legs, which freed its hands for carrying food, and males that carried food, he says, were thus enabled to take that food to females. They’d evolved a way to pitch woo and bring home the bacon. By this stage in evolution, sexual dimorphism had been diminished, too, and so had other signs of male-on-male competition. Taken together, Lovejoy wrote in Science, these data points suggest “a major shift in life-history strategy [that] transformed the social structure of early hominids.” Males and females had started pairing off, and dads learned how to support their families.

A computation-minded researcher at the University of Tennessee, Sergey Gavrilets, finished up a study in May of how that transition might have followed the laws of natural selection. It’s not an easy puzzle. Gavrilets explains that a polygynous mating scheme can lead to a “vicious circle” where males waste their time and energy in fighting over females. The group might be better off if everyone split off into happy, hetero-pairs and worked on caring for their babies. But once you’ve started wars for sex, there’s an evolutionary push to keep them going. So Gavrilets set up a computer model to see if any movement toward monogamy might conform to what we know of evolution. He found that a shift in female preference for mates that offer food and child care could have made it happen. (Low-ranked males might also favor relationships with partners that didn’t cheat.)

Gavrilets says he needs to check his model against a few more theories of how human-style partnerships evolved—including one that involves the invention of cooked food. But he’s made the case, at least, that biology could lead to modern love, without any help from law or custom. “Culture came much later,” he told a reporter in the spring, “and only augmented things that were already in place.”

That’s one idea, but the study of monogamy takes all kinds. Others have been more interested in the culture and the customs. In January, a scholar named Joe Henrich published with his colleagues an account of how and why the one-partner system might have spread as a social norm. The paper points out that marriage customs are not the same as mating strategies. (They are related, though: We tend to internalize the rules of the society we live in, so “doing right” becomes its own reward.) The authors argue that when a society gets big enough and sufficiently complex, it’s advantageous for its culture to promote monogamy, or at least monogamishness.

Why? Because polygamy causes problems. Henrich, et al., review a large amount of evidence to support the claim that the multiwife approach leaves lots of men unmarried and so inclined to act in risky, angry ways. These bachelors are a menace: They increase the rates of crime and conflict, and lower productivity. In China, for example, a preference for male babies skewed the gender ratio quite dramatically from 1988 to 2004. In that time, the number of unmarried men nearly doubled, and so did crime. In India, murder rates track with male-to-female ratios across the country’s states. Using these and other data, the authors argue that a culture of monogamy would tend to grow and thrive. It would be the fittest in its niche.

Of course it’s also possible that high rates of conflict lead to cases of polygamy. Walter Scheidel points out that the ancient ban on multimarriage was suspended near the end of the Peloponnesian War, with so many soldiers dead that potential husbands were in short supply. Which raises the tricky question of how monogamy relates to war: Some have argued that pair-bonding leads to larger, stronger armies and more battle-ready people. Henrich, et al., suggest the opposite, that men with wives are less inclined to go to war, which weakens despots and promotes democracy.

The answer may be something in the middle, as it often is when it comes to the science of monogamy. Some cultures have made the practice into law and others haven’t. Even our human physiology seems undecided on the issue. At every level of analysis, it’s hard to say exactly what we are or how we live. We’re faithful and we’re not. We’re lovers and we’re cheaters.