Relationships in which two people are exclusive to each other seem to be the norm around the world, but with the passage of different time periods and cultures , the practice of polygamy has become more popular worldwide.

What is polygamy?

It is a family regime that allows a person who is already married to live and share with two or more individuals at the same time and maintain a loving and sexual relationship . These people are known by the name of polygamist .


Polygamy is defined as a mating system in which an individual has more than one partner simultaneously who can be male or female. Polygamy is a more general term that encompasses the practice of having multiple partners and should not be confused with the more specific terms of polygyny, having multiple female partners or polyandry , having multiple male partners.

  • Etymology
  • Source
  • Types of polygamy
  • Polygamy today
  • Polygamy in the bible
  • In islam
  • In judaism
  • Mormons and polygamy
  • Examples


The etymology of this word comes from the late Latin language “ polygamĭa ” and in turn, it has Greek roots “ πολυγαμια ” (polygamy).

When polygamy occurs in a man with different women, it is polygyny , from γυνή (giné) which means woman. The opposite case is called polyandry , from ανδρός (andrós): of the male.


The history of polygamy dates back a long time as it was practiced for centuries by different cultures around the world. The Hebrew society has partially accepted polygamy and there are traces that say that it also happened in classical China . It was also found sporadically in Native Americans, on the continent of West Africa , Polynesia , India, and ancient Greece .

It was positively accepted around the world until the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church imposed the rules of having only one wife, but many other lovers were the norm that accompanied the situation. Polygamy was widely accepted for the past two thousand years in sub- Saharan Africa as well.

However, in the Hebrew Bible , polygamy was only allowed for men , if a woman had more than one husband, it was considered adultery . In the United States, polygamy was allowed in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , however this all ended in 1890 when Wilford Woodruff became president. In the year 1899, when the members of this church began to be expelled for being polygamous, different and new sects were created that separated from the Church that even continue to practice polygamy in the United States.

Types of polygamy

There are several types of polygamy, many of them have been practiced throughout history in societies. These types of polygamy are as follows:

  • Polygyny : refers to a plurality of spouses. It occurs in greater quantity when the relationship occurs between a man with multiple women . It was common and still is, to observe it in the tribes that live in India , where the property of the land and the family play a very important role.
  • Polyandry : the term refers to when a woman has more than one husband .
  • Polyamory : it is when you have more than one intimate , loving , sexual relationship that lasts a long time, which occurs at the same time with several people, with the full consent and knowledge of all the parties involved.
  • Group marriage : a form of marriage or relationship where more than one man and more than one woman form a family unit , and all of them share parental responsibility for any of the children that arise from the bond.

Polygamy today

In Western countries, monogamous marriage is normal , this means that we can only be married to one person at a time. In other nations, mainly in the Middle East and Africa , polygamy occurs . Most polygynous countries are governed by Islamic law , which allows a man to have up to four wives at a time. It is more practiced in a hidden way, but it is still punishable by law.

Polygamy in the bible

In the first books of the bible the problem was the lack of direct laws or commandments related to the subject. In the Old Testament the great figures called “men of God,” who were perfect and holy men, followed God’s example. When some people read these passages they think that, if they were polygamous, this is fine, because if God has not proclaimed a law against it , it is surely a good thing. It is for this reason that many people have a difficult time deciding whether or not God views polygamy as sin.

In islam

Islamic polygamy focuses on social problems such as prostitution and relationships outside marriage . The infidelity is one of the main reasons that no divorce in the West, and for this reason, Islam allows men to marry more than one wife. This marriage should be for both wives and the basic principle in Islam is that men take responsibility for their behavior towards women, as well as women towards men.

In judaism

It existed among the Israelite people before Moses , and no boundary was placed between Hebrew marriages. Today the Jerusalem Talmud limited the ability to properly maintain wives. Polygamy was forbidden in Judaism thanks to the rabbis and not because of God, those are their beliefs. However, when the wife is unable to have children or is mentally ill, the rabbis authorize the husband to marry a second wife, yes, without neglecting the first.

Mormons and polygamy

Although common, the church and states have disagreed with this option. The United States Congress prohibited marriage between several people in many states of that country, however, many continue to practice polygamy. In 1890, a manifesto was issued ending the practice of such behavior.


  • Argentina : in this country there is a bill to approve polygamy and its main objective is procreation and increase the growth of the population in Argentina. However, it is still a criminalized crime and even punishable by imprisonment.
  • Mexico : some research shows that it is practiced in the country without the authorities knowing about it. This leads to marital and child support problems . In the country, it is considered a crime with a federal penalty where penalties of up to five years can be imposed.
  • Spain : occurs mainly by groups of emigrants and has legal and social repercussions. Many organizations face a struggle to decriminalize polygamy on the grounds that marriage is a contract of will .

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