In defence of Polygamy

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DazPetty's picture
In defence of Polygamy

I don't see anything morally or ethically wrong with people practicing polygamy or polyamory if they so choose and I don't see why so many atheists have spoken out against it, including the late Christopher Hitchins.

Atheists who hold strong perspectives against polygamy are like the atheists who argue in favor of there being a spirit or free-will behind every person, they are atheists who, whilst not believing in god or religion, still cling to a religiously motivated morality.

I'm interested to hear what people have to say about this, are you against polygamy? if so are you against polyamory? and what about gay marriage? civil unions that can form any mixture of genders or species?

I don't support marriage to animals, because animals can't pay tax or give written consent and they are not recognized by the state, so the state should not recognize human-animal marriages, and children have not yet reached an age at which we deem them capable to understand the ramifications of marriage.

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Travis Hedglin's picture
Well, I can hardly speak for

Well, I can hardly speak for everyone, I can only give my take on it. As far as I know, polyamory isn't illegal, polygamy is. From what I understand it is because of more legal than moral concerns, a marriage is more that simply a piece of paper, you are handing another person a great deal of power over you in certain conditions. If a number of people that can claim power of attorney, for instance, it can lead to severe legal and family troubles.

Ilovequestions's picture
Hmm, so if the legal issues

Hmm, so if the legal issues of polygamy were somehow worked out, would you be for it?

Travis Hedglin's picture
For me, personally? No. I

For me, personally? No. I would, much like gay marriage, support other peoples right to do so. If we managed to eliminate the majority of legal and civil problems that would result for implementing it, I see no valid logical objections to allowing other people to decide it for themselves. It really wouldn't be any of my business. Like the poly-amorous, another persons relationship or sexual practice, is none of my concern if I am not involved in it.

MCDennis's picture
I am definitely for it

I am definitely for it

Capt.Bobfm's picture
I am assuming that you are a

I am assuming that you are a male.
How many other guys are in your group, all married to the same woman ?
How's that working out for you ?

Anarkhos's picture
I'm personally against it

I'm personally against it insofar as I would not personally engage in it, however I am also a Libertarian so I would not impose my personal preferences on the wants and needs of others, nor do I think that is up to the state to decide with tax dollar money. Polygamy / polyamory as I understand it, is between consenting adults which are at an age wherein their brains are developed enough to consent, and so cannot be compared to human-animal marriages or children-adult marriages. So yes, if you like that, then go for it. However, monogamy - or "pair bonding" as it were in the scientific community, has its history in human evolution for precisely sound reasons - one reason being is that it was a defense mechanism designed to stop infanticide from rival males - and it ultimately is also more practical in terms of intimacy. If you only have 24 hours in a day, but allocate all your time and resources to one person, then you ignore the rest of your female partners. If you try to allocate an equal amount of time with your relationships within 24 hours, then you are hardly spending any time with any of them, and so its inefficient if you truly want an intimate relationship with a partner. People who are in polygamous / polyamory relationships also usually have a hierarchy of who there favorite individual of the bunch is. Couple that together with the lack of resources and the measly time you can allocate to all members of the group, its almost stupid to engage in that relationship arrangement, and rather just stick to the one you favorite the most and allocate all your resources and time to them (thus becoming strong and intimate) and have them be your companion to raise your child.

MCDennis's picture
You're against it. Why? Why

You're against it. Why? Why do you care what consenting adults do or do not do?

cmallen's picture
As on who has engaged in many

As on who has engaged in many very short-lived polyamorous relationships (an hour or two), I don't really have a problem with them. When one starts to talk about life partnership the dynamic changes. I wouldn't engage in it myself and I think for those of us in the West it would pose some major legal headaches. But I've known people who have very long term relationships of this sort and seem to be okay with it, so maybe one day it will be workable on the logistics end.

ex-christian_atheist's picture
I don't have a problem with

I don't have a problem with it. I would never want to engage in any relationship that wasn't monogamous, but if other people prefer polyamorous relationships, who am I to tell them they shouldn't?

I think that any relationship between two consenting adults in nobody's business but theirs. As long as there is no domestic abuse going on, and nobody is being forced into something against their will, whether by physical force, deception, or whatever means of coercion that someone might use, I see no reason why anyone should try and stop people from engaging in relationships of any kind.

Spewer's picture
Atheism is nothing more or

Atheism is nothing more or less than lack of belief in any god concepts presented to date. An individual's view of marriage, polygamy, or anything similar is not a product of atheism in and of itself.

My personal view is that consenting adults should be allowed to enter into any legal contract they choose absent any evidence that such a contract would cause harm to others. If that includes polygamy and/or polyandry, then so be it. Lawyers will have to work out all the intricacies involved.

Of course some irresponsible people will enter into such contracts, just as irresponsible people enter into monogamous marriage contracts. The fact that some people are irresponsible is not sufficient reason to prohibit all people from entering into such contracts. Just my opinion.

Glenn Boyce's picture
From a rights/liberty

From a rights/liberty persepctive, I'd be for allowing it to happen. I do agree that if you are talking about actual "marriage" among more than two people, I cannot support that - too many legal complications. I don't have much interest in either polyamory or plogamy - too many complications.

Frankly, I think the institution of marriage is obsolete in a climate where women have the same rights legally as men. The insitution makes some sense if you want to raise kids together, but there is a legal framework to aportion responsibiliity for the kids outside of marriage. If marriage ceases to exist, polyamory is a-ok by me. Actually, a-ok with polyamory (not poligamy) alongside "traditional" two-person marriage, too.

My only hesitations about poltamory are driven by those raides in an environment where it is the "norm" (say in ultra-orthodox Mormon circles). I question the degree to which those polyamorous relationships are truly consentual. But among informed adults making a free choice? No worries, mate. Just not for me.

PReynolds's picture
I don't agree with polygamy

I don't agree with polygamy in general because I believe in equality. If it is alright for the man to have multiple wives then it should also be alright for those selfsame women to have multiple husbands. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Having said that, if several women want to be married to the same man and none have any desire for additional husbands then they should be allowed to go ahead with their relationship.

Monogamy is good for those who just want one spouse but if some people are going to have a poly-something relationship then polyamory is the way to go. Everyone is more equal in that relationship than in a polygamous one.

cmallen's picture
?? Polygamy is not

?? Polygamy is not exclusively one man and many women, it can be one woman and many man or some women and some men some women and no men or many men and no women. And that's just the people who identify as man or woman; gamy don't know no gender barrier.

FormerAgnostic's picture
If you use the definitions of

If you use the definitions of the words, polygamy does mean one male and many females. Polyandry means one woman and several men. Both refer to actual marriage, while polyamory just means more than two and does not imply marriage.

Anarkhos's picture
Pitar's picture
I think the thing you're

I think the thing you're really asking is why don't people, not just atheists, strap on your standards.

Dani Helgeson's picture
As long as everything is

As long as everything is consentual and all parties involved are happy, who cares? Another person's love life is nobody else's concern. If it is not harmful to yourself or others, just do you and screw the naysayers.

Dani Helgeson's picture


mysticrose's picture
Polyamory and polygamy are

Polyamory and polygamy are accepted in some culture but I don't think it will foster good family relationship. We know the true love require faithfulness and that love between 2 people is a sacred thing that they can cherish and can make them really happy.
Gay marriage is ok.

boomer47's picture


"Polyamory and polygamy are accepted in some culture but I don't think it will foster good family relationship. "

Pretty glib generalisation, you can prove that of course?

"True love" is a naive romantic claim, not a argument. . I don't believe in 'true love' because at 72, I've never seen it. I am aware the the divorce rate in my country is around 50% . I have never seen a completely happy family. Religious or secular; statistics show that religiosity is no protection against divorce.

'Sacred' is a religious/ spiritual claim and has no meaning to this atheist .

Would love to be able to change my opinions, and of course will do so the second your prove your claims.

The above is my intellectual position , except the nonsense about 'true love' .I saw the lie in that in my own life at 20, and in the in the lives many of my childhood friends, who married their 'true love'--out of 12, only one couple is still married.

My personal position:

Although I left the church in 1968, at age 21, I remain a cultural catholic. That means my core moral values were absorbed uncritically before the age of reason. That makes them all but impossible to remove without a frontal lobotomy.

My basic moral values remain:

Treat people as you would be treated,. That means treat others with kindness and respect, and do not harm others or indeed any living thing, if it can be avoided. This value as it is today is based on the second commandment and expanded from the buddhist notion of ahimsa . (for me the most difficult moral admonition)

Do not lie, cheat or steal.

Do not commit adultery. That means utter faithfulness when married ,and not having a sexual relationship with a married person. I also think there is such a thing as emotional adultery. I have no idea from whence came that belief . .

With the exception of telling lies (all human beings lie) I have managed to maintain that morality ,mostly.. However, I do not have the arrogance to try to impose my moral values on others.

Pertinent quotes:

"Give Me a Child Until He Is Seven, and I Will Give You the Man" (Aristotle)

“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man" (Hamlet, act one scene two)

---and THAT is why I am an atheist and not a catholic

rtb61's picture
Consider this, why should

Consider this, why should sexual intercourse be the core of a relationship. Why should something that is only effectively applied only once or twice in a life time be the core of a relationship that lasts a life time. One partner or many life time partners to the exclusion of others, what purpose, when then defining moment apparently is successful reproduction, in junction with thousands of failed attempts.
Certainly raising a child should be the core of a relationship but why should conception be the core, why the patriarchal dominance, why that ownership via conception. The whole idea is, when looked at it from an impersonal distance, quite ludicrous.

Travis Paskiewicz's picture
I personally don't see

I personally don't see anything wrong with it. If they are all adults, all consenting, all for it... who cares. It's their lives.

As far as legalities are concerned, I still don't see a difference comparable to the legal woes of a monogamous marriage archetype. Couples cheat like all the damn time, having illigitimate (legal term based on a monogamous norm) children and benefactors. Seperations would be the same I suppose, so get ready to lose half your stuff for every divorce (most monogamous couples statistical have 2-3 of these under the belt). be prepared to have your inheritances split if you die (again most monogamous couples suffer this as a result of multiple marriages/families). Yeah, I don't see a difference really. Polyamory just seems to jam-pack the monogamous life into more condensed package.

Andres Tejeda's picture
Honestly if all persons

Honestly if all persons involved are consenting adults and have equal rights I see no problem with it. The only potential problems I see are in the case of divorce settlements, custody and parental rights, and taxes.

Marilia Coutinho's picture
Look, the only reason we

Look, the only reason we oppose it is its one male-many female format and its religious foundation. In any religion, all marital formats where one man is entitled to espouse many women is absurdly oppressive.
That said, relationship arrangements are not our business. "Whatever rocks your boat". When I was a young adult, we all tried open relationships. I never saw one end up well. Everybody got hurt and good friendships were lost forever. Maybe we're not just there yet. Maybe we'll never be. I settled for the simple monogamous format and it works for me and my boyfriend (I hate this label: the man I chose to live with and share my life with).

Truett's picture
We humans have a nasty habit

We humans have a nasty habit of being prohibitive, especially with respect to sexuality. Our cultural norms are pretty hard to shake, so something historically frowned upon can maintain inertia long after the underlying motivations of the norm are shown to be flawed. My view is that morality and ethics are underpinned by what improves well-being and/or reduces suffering. Offense to our sensibilities is no cause to prohibit something. If 2 or 3 or 19 people are engaged in a relationship or activity that is preferred by those people and is not harming anyone, then other persons should stay out of it. If someone is forced or coerced or otherwise harmed then that person should be protected. But what people choose to do with their bodies "neither breaks my leg or robs my purse" as Thomas Jefferson once said. I'd like for humanity to stay out of people's lives. We each have roughly 80 years of life. Anything that interferes with someone's personal, non-injurious decisions is unethical.
(note: I wrote this a couple of days ago on a separate post and since it applies directly here I've copied and pasted it.)

Kyle Broussard's picture
I'm personally Polyamorous. I

I'm personally Polyamorous. I'm an Atheist and it has nothing to do with morality really. it comes down to consent. Any woman and any man have the freedom to connect with anyone they so choose. I'm personally against marriage gay or straight due to the idea that I don't think the state should have any part of a contract between two partners regarding love.I see multiple people but they all are aware and we are all safe. We care for each other, it's about not attempting to control or state ownership over the other party. You can want the other to thrive and help them and love them. It's a personal belief that you can't rely on any one person to fulfill everything you need or want. to put that burden on someone is not fair. It's fair and loving. It's seen as bad by so many and yet all it is is sharing yourself intimately with multiple people. Most people cheat on their partners and its a form of dishonesty and betrayal. We acknowledge that one partner more than likely will not suffice and we are honest with it. Honesty in a relationship is important and we simply value the moral choice of honesty with an intimate partner rather than attempting to just make everyone else around us happy. and comfortable

Lance Novak's picture
Another situation where live

Another situation where live and let live should apply, it wouldn't work for me, but provided everyone involved is a consenting adult it's none of my business....

GarfeildRepublican's picture
I can't see anything

I can't see anything fundamentally immora l with it. If you want to, that's fine by me. I wouldn't. I could only do a purely monogamous relationship.

Lepton's picture
Polyamory as a relationship

Polyamory as a relationship choice between consenting adults, should be a matter of personal decision.
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that Monogamy is the correct relationship model in humans, in fact there is strong evidence that we are biological predisposed to multi partner couplings.
Many cultures do not have Monogamy as the default relationship type (Mosuo in China, Maasai in Africa, etc) It is a social construct influenced by religious opinion and economic conditions e.g. Inheritance
The legal implications of polygamy (one male many females) and polyandry (one female many males) is complicated and will vary from country to country, however I'm generally in favour of allowing freedom of choice.

SBMontero's picture
@Daz: I have no ethical or

@Daz: I have no ethical or moral point of view against polygamy or polyandry. I believe that contracts of coexistence between human beings are their responsibility, although I understand that these contracts must meet certain requirements because affect pensions of widowhood, custody of children, alimony, Inheritances, etc., which, at the same time, Affect the functioning of society as a whole.

Not as an atheist, as a human being I have never believed that we are anthropologically monogamous, we are primates, but I think you're posing it wrong.

Anthropologically, polygamy and polyandry as an accepted social practice existed out of sheer necessity. For example, genetically there are communities whose predisposition to have male offspring is more common. If we look at these communities we will see that historically they have in their past the polyandry - Asia, northern Europe and Russia are good examples. We have the opposite, polygamy, in southern Europe, the Middle East and much of Africa. Then we have anthropological curiosities, like India, Australia, or the indigenous societies of South America.

But I suspect that isn't what you want to talk about, it gives the impression that you are worried about the alleged morality behind the defense of monogamy as an ethical form of affectionate relationship between human beings.

If so, you are mixing two different things, what I describe to you at first, contracts of coexistence between human beings, and the supposed morality behind the choice of monogamy and polyamory -you understand that gay marriage is the same contract of coexistence that a hetero marriage, Right?

Am I wrong? Have I misinterpreted you?


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