Polyamory vs Polygamy

The recent polygamy ruling in BC Supreme Court is leading to interesting discussions about polyamory vs polygamy.

Polyamory are people who engage in open relationships or may be in a relationship with simultaneous partners.

Polygamy is a religious or cultural practice to demonstrate how successful you are to be able to support multiple wives or in the case of Mormon, to have at least three wives in order to enter the highest level of heaven.

Polygamy is harmful to women, children and younger men. Women are arranged or assigned, depending on the cultural context – and if in a secular democratic nation – then this is occuring below the radar, hidden – making it even harder for victims of abuse to seek out help from the police or social agencies – because part of the social contract they are living under is a religious one – where women and children have no voice and are chattel.

This is why the BC Supreme Court ruled polygamy as harmful.

It’s okay to raise your children in whatever beleifs you want – but children have to meet social development targets to be able to function in the larger world, outside of the home.

The danger of closed communities are that the world outside the home is no different from the world inside the home – and children need to learn that home is normal for them, but not neccessarily normal for society.

Children have to learn that there are rights and freedoms that they have just for being members of the society. Bodily integrity, non-interference, no abuse, for example.

To develop as fully functioning social beings, children have to know what’s normal across the society and be able to compare, make informed decisions about how they want to live. Most importantly, children need to know that there is help and protection if they need it – because anyone who’s abused by their parent or with their parent’s consent – need to know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing isn’t okay – that no one is deserving of being molested or beaten or under/over fed or have their psychological development impaired.

Allowing closed communities to openly operate is a breech of the social contract that the Canadian Government has with it’s citizens. The Charter of Rights guarantees the freedom to choice a religion, but the right of equality supercedes religion.

The right that women, children and young men have to equality is not trumped by the religious freedom of those who seek to impose inequality on others.

I am debating an American on a forum, and I want to share some of that:


Polygamy can be beneficial to some women. Women who want a career and children often feel guilt free leaving their children home with a sister wife who loves the children like a real mother rather than a babysitter. Women who want to stay home and not work feel guilt free. There is a special feeling of security and acceptance when part of a close group. Some women prefer sharing tasks and responsibility of motherhood and family.


polygamy can work if it’s entered into by choice – by consenting of age adults who are socially capable and competant

not people raised in closed communities and don’t know any better

not teens assigned to the grandpa guys who molested them and be part of his harem

women who have careers are not the kind of women that men who are into polygamy want to have in their house

polygamy as practiced by the mormons is harmful in many ways, not the least of which is the high birth defects and infant mortality rates from in breeding

polygamy as practised by other cultures – well, here in Canada, we have a court case about a man who honor killed his first wife and three of his teenaged daughters, keeping the second wife and their son (who helped in the murders)

so, there’s yet to be a case made to allow polygamy – because where polygamy is part of the culture – it’s driven by showcasing your wealth by flaunting how many wives you can support

or it’s about religion oppression of youth – girls and boys – since the geezers in charge have to rid themselves of the surplus boys

pretty much the same way that African chiefs sold off the excess young men to European slavers – to stop anyone challenging their power

You stated…

women who have careers are not the kind of women that men who are into polygamy want to have in their house

I disagree. In Utah, there are many families who practice polygamy who are not part of the big polygamous groups. The men do not abuse children. The men do not exile the young men. The families keep to themselves. The husband and wives support the family via work and investments rather than government programs. They do not live in closed communities. They practice polygamy because of their religious beliefs and for no other reason. The men are not practicing polygamy for power or sex. Many of the women DO have careers outside the home. They raise their children to have careers and to be successful. Religious beliefs are the only difference between them and non polygamous couples.

Personally, I would not practice polygamy. But, I did have the occasion to meet several polygamous families who were not part of the large groups. The women felt the pros outweighed the cons.


So you’re saying that mainstream mormons are illegally engaged in polygamy just under the radar – despite having agreed as a condition of becoming a state within the US, to give up the practise?

and that is somehow more moral than the handful of closed communities who exist in dark ages mentality

Clearly, this is why people don’t want a mormon president

polyamory, consenting adults who are making a choice because that’s where their emotional connections brought them to be – and all parties are consenting – leading to multiple party marriages

is different than religious polygamy, and if modern mainstream mormons are doing polygamy to secure their place in heaven, then it’s still down to religious brainwashing and glossing over adulterous behaviour with a religious veneer to sanctify the sin

13 thoughts on “Polyamory vs Polygamy

  1. By the way, it is not “mainstream Mormons” who practice polygamy. The LDS church is still as adamantly opposed to polygamy as they are to same-gender marriage. Those that practice consider themselves “fundamentalist Mormons.”

    I agree unequivocally that forced marriage and child marriage is wrong (and the latter is rape, period.) I agree that being isolated and indoctrinated from an early age is psychological abuse.

    But not all polygamy is abusive. When clear-thinking, rational adults choose that path (and many do who were raised outside of it) it can be much more equable.

    But not completely; the women who choose that life still don’t have the same multiple partner options that the men do.

    • polygamy is the religious construct and I do not accept the claim that the mainstream church has ended the practice effectively or at all

      after all, it’s a basic tenant that there’s a three wife minimum to get into heaven in the first place and since they didn’t let go of the no black people until llike 1978 and they still have not given up that indigenous people of north america are the spawn of satan……..

      adults who are non-monogamous or polyamorous – whether that includes bisexuality or multiple partners –

      group relationships of mixed genders is not the same as the 1 man plus indivudal wives – the wives aren’t married to each other after all.

  2. just came across this wonderful post…well written,Nina.The state needs to stop meddling in personal issues. Let individuals choose what they desire to do and live with the consequences of the actions. A state or Society’s only responsibility should be to ensure that no being hurts another, physically or emotionally.

  3. I am all for not making things people do that dont harm anyone NOT a crime.. marijuana for example.. and sex… for adults… let them go at it..

    • yes, bit are very good for mental, physical and spiritual health

      and religion is all about making people feel bad so they can be more easily controlled

      and I for one, refuse to be controlled by others

      but especially those who do not have my interests or safety in their heart

  4. It’s completely absurd that people expect “religious freedom” to trump all other individuals’ rights. I’m from the US, and this is the political “get out of jail free” card for anyone who wants an excuse to discriminate.

    • What state was it that was putting forth hate crime legislation and they put in a religious exemption – that it’s okay to beat or bully someone as long as you do so in the context of your religion.

    • We had a massive public battle over gay marriage – and Canada went marriage, not the lesser civil union that the UK has done.

      And the religious right in Canada (which is sorta the religious left in the US), tried to oppose gay marriage by using polygamy as a scare tactic.

      Which meant that we couldn’t ignore the community of Bountiful anymore – which is a closed community of breakaway fundie Mormons – who exchange young girls like cattle across the Canada-US border to try to keep their shallow gene pool as wide as they can for as long as they can.

      So, partly, it’s the conviction of American Jeff Warrens for assisting in rape by assigning underaged girls to be married to her cousin – partly it’s Mitt Romney running for president and making Mormon a topic for debate.

      but mostly, it’s that Freedom of Religion is clashing with every other right, and it’s not going to quietly be moved down the list of rights when everyone’s rights are balanced.

      as I explain in the part about children – children have a right to participate in the larger society, to have a sense of the mainstream social contract, to know their rights and freedoms, to know that they are being taken care of and if not, that there’s things like ZENITH-123 – a hotline for abused children.

    • plus, Vancouver is …… well Vancouver is called Lotusland within Canada – partly because it’s a gateway to the Pacific rim

      but mostly because we’re the pot smoking yuppy hippies who, between water skiing in the morning at English Bay and mountain skiing in the afternoon at Whistler, we do a lot of navel gazing

      Vancouver is a multicultural city with many asian populations, so it’s a crossroads where a lot of religious/spiritual thinking gets mashed up

      • what’s really funny is that the inside Canada joke is that British Columbians are spoiled by having the most moderate of weather

        we’re cold and rainy, but still the warmest city in Canada

        but as hippie dippy loopy – with a political scene know more for it’s entertainment than governing values – as Vancouver and BC are – most so called Vancouverites are from Ontario.

        so it’s a bit of an unfair rap to imply that it;s down to birth, rather than being down to the climate and the social atmosphere

        Think of BC as Canada’s California, Alberta as Texas, Saskatchewan/Manitoba as the mid-west, Ontario is New York, Quebec is France, and the maritimes are Iceland.

  5. the problem is that from a gov’t pov, marriage is contract law.

    marriage is specifically a contract between 2 people who agree to be exclusive of others, and may or may not form a family

    the legal establishment of kinship then trigger a variety of laws regarding inheritance, legal responsibilities, including for commerce – employee family benefits

    if you have an employee with 27 wives and 130 children

    how do you provide benefits to employees when one employee can cost as much as all your other employees combined?

    it’s one thing if as polygamy is practised in other cultures, the number of wives you have is limited to the number you can financially support.

    but that’s not what the mormon closed communities are doing – at least not Bountiful.

    Winston Blackmore has 23 wives. The first one he legally married – and the rest are celestial.

    22 of his wives collect welfare as single mothers.

    that’s my tax dollars paying for him to procreate like a rabbit.

    in addition, the community as the problem of surplus young men.

    so Blackmore and the other leaders, hire the boys to work in unsafe conditions for less than minimum wage, because god said so

    and he bids on government maintenance projects – underbidding because he’s not paying fair wages or paying personal or corporate income tax

    so he gets govt contracts that should be going to companies in compliance with civil law

    so the boys are at risk of being killed on the job, have no opportunity to date and procure a wife

    because all the girls his age are married to grandpas

    so the young men have to be gotten rid of and are kicked out of the community, despairing of ever having enough wives to get into heaven and wholly unprepared to exist in the mainstream world

    and they end up on skid row, homeless, addicted and dead

    worse,the three closed communities trade young girls like livestock because their gene pool has shrunk so much that they have a higher than average infant mortality rate and an obscenely high birth defect rate

    polyamory can work within a mainstream society context – but the legal ramifications would need to be examined.

    This is why gay marriage doesn’t change marriage – two people exclusive of others – and polymarriage does change marriage.

    the practice of cultural or religious polygamy is based in inequality and that’s part of the social harm that needs to be stamped out.

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