Monogamy used to be defined as a union between one man and one woman, and can now can be redefined as a union between two consenting adult partners. The first part of this definition is a centuries long tradition that is based on biblical principles, and the new definition is one that I believe is still trying to define itself. Polygamy is a “religious and cultural practice of allowing more than one spouse. It is most often practiced where a man has more than one wife, and there is a cultural imperative associated with this practice, as opposed to it being a consensus choice among equals”.
Polygamy has long been a part our history, and it’s still practiced in some parts of the world where tradition and economic considerations allow. If three people wanted to get married – or four, or five and each individual was an adult capable of giving full consent, what exactly is the problem?
The major things that need to be taken into consideration in terms of monogamy and polygamy are things like ethical, political, legal, cultural, and social issues.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia had this to say about polygamy. Women in polygymous societies sustain more physical and sexual abuse. They have more children, are more likely to die in childbirth and live shorter lives than their monogamous counterparts. They are more likely to be subject to sex trafficking and genital mutilation. They receive less equal treatment than men and encounter more discrimination under the law.
Girls are less likely to be educated, restricting a key factor allowing for upward mobility and economic independence. Up to half of the boys in highly polygynous societies are ejected from their communities with incalculable negative effects. The long-lasting emotional effects of gender identity, and inequality have significant impacts on the children of these relationships. A great many of the effects listed are universal, and these effects are not limited to a certain culture, or a geographical location.
Some of the advantages of monogamy are considered to be; emotional security, in a monogamous relationship most people can expect to be cared for emotionally. Financial peace being able to rely on someone else to help pay the bills. Approval from others, although society has become more open about its views on relationships, society as a whole still approves monogamous relationships over other kinds, especially religious groups. Lowered risk of STD’s when you are only intimate with one person and they are only intimate with you this almost guarantees you won’t be exposed to an STD.
Some of the disadvantages of monogamy include: boredom, being with the same person for years on end can lead to boredom, or unhappiness. Change of sexual compatibility, people grow and change over time, and sometimes couples grow apart sexually causing incompatibility. Settling, so many people are so interested in being in a monogamous relationship that they don’t give themselves the time to grow and discover who they really are. These people tend to settle into a relationship too fast, and have resentment towards a partner that doesn’t fulfill who they really are.
The proponents of the new definition of monogamy hold that individuals are entitled to marry whomsoever they wish, via mutual adult consent, in pursuit of their own happiness. If you endorse this new definition you are automatically committed to the position that polygamy is ok.
After weighing the various points of monogamy and polygamy, my personal response to the question “Should individuals be allowed to marry multiple spouses if they choose?” is no. The evidence above supports that polygamous relationships have many short- and long-term consequences to not just only the consenting adults in the relationship, but to the children involved, and the communities surrounding these families. In saying this it is also easy to see that I don’t embrace the redefined definition of monogamy, and more importantly believe that we need to remember that happiness and feeling “better” should be about what is profitable or more beneficial to society, more than just a feeling of an individual person.