Polygamy: the benefits of multiple wives

5 May

This week’s news has focused on the Navy Seals who flew into bin Laden’s secret compound, engaged in a firefight, and shot and killed bin Laden and several others. News accounts have varied, but initial reports claimed that bin Laden had used one of his wives as a human shield. (The woman is injured, but alive, and reportedly the wife of one of bin Laden’s associates.)
This still got me thinking about polygamy. Turns out that the term itself refers to a marriage with multiple partners; the term “polygyny” is the proper definition for a man with multiple wives.

The “lifestyle choice” of polygyny seems so absurdly anachronistic, that its existence still seems completely unbelievable. I got to thinking about why the practice still exists…what are its benefits?

1) When the Evil Empire is stalking you and finally finds you, one of your wives will happily serve as your human shield.

2) When wife #1 gets shriveled and older, wives # 2, #3, etc. can be welcome additions. After all, a man’s sperm is viable until he dies! Just because wife #1 became post-menopausal doesn’t mean that younger editions can’t enter into the family unit and help populate the household(s).

3) Multiple wives not only means more children, it means more women to wash your dishes, iron your shirts, gather food, make dinner, etc.

4) Don’t forget that having more than one wife means that there’s always an alternative to the original marriage bed. It’s a great amelioration for boredom in the bedroom.

5) Having a lot of wives signifies wealth, prosperity, and good fortune.

6) Since “Big Love” debuted several years ago on HBO, viewers came to realize that polygynists are people too.

Sure, polygyny is not for everyone, only the chosen people. It’s hard to face constant criticism, general bewilderment, and secular legislation. But following God’s word takes a very particular, special man.

But, really, just stop and think about this structure for a minute: polygyny, though absurd, is not totally incomprehensible. Indeed, there are several real-life examples that can be easily referenced.

But, how about some polyandry examples? What, what’s that word even mean? Well, it’s the proper term for a woman with multiple partners. The very fact that the term itself is so different, so alternative from the term “polygamy” (which supposedly refers to multiple partners on either side, but still remains remarkably similar to “polygyny”), means, to me at least, that even though a man with multiple wives is so totally other in western cultures, a woman with multiple husbands has no reference or root whatsoever in the cultural history at large.


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