Polygamy is a heterosexual marital relationship that involves more than two partners. An example of such marriage is that of King Solomon, who is believed to have married seven hundred wives.

1,079 Questions
Prefixes Suffixes and Root Words

What is the root word of polygamy?

Poly meaning many, Gamy meaning marriage

Religion & Spirituality

How do Muslim women feel about polygamy?

It's very rare to see this in Muslim communities in the United States or Canada, where polygamy is illegal. But it still occurs in a number of traditional Muslim cultures in Africa, as well as in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Theoretically, it can't happen without the acceptance of the first wife, but in actuality, the countries that still observe this custom often disenfranchise women; since women have little say in what their husband does, and no recourse if they complain, they may feel that it is their duty to accept his wishes.

Law & Legal Issues

When did polygamy become illegal in the US?

Polygamy was made illegal in the United States in 1862.


When did Mormons quit polygamy?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly called the "Mormon" Church) discontinued the practice of polygamy nearly 120 years ago, in 1890.

Anyone who entered into a polygamous relationship after this date was excommunicated. This practice of excommunication of polygamists continues today.

To read the official declaration from Church President Wilford Woodruff which outlawed the practice of polygamy in the Church, please see the "Related Link" below.


While the above answer is accurate, it leaves some interesting information out. When President Wilford Woodruff discontinued polygamy in 1890 a schism occurred within the Church. A small group of men felt they had been ordained by Woodruff's predecessor, John Taylor, to continue the practice of polygamy even if the main body of the Church did not. As a result they broke off from the Church and formed other congregations that are commonly referred to by the media with the common nickname, "Mormon." But in fact they have no connection to the LDS Church headquartered at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Today, the remnants of those groups are found in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church)--popular due to the recent Warren Jeff's trial in Texas--, the Apostolic United Brethren, and other Mormon fundamentalist groups.

However, there were instances that families and individuals who remained with the larger body of the LDS Church continued to practice polygamy. Some members of the Quorum of the Twelve even continued to perform polygamous marriages. For that reason Joseph F. Smith, successor to Woodruff as President of the Church, issued the "Second Manifesto" in 1904. President Heber J. Grant followed up with the "third and fourth Manifestos" that were intended to reiterate the ideals taught in 1890 by President Woodruff. But to answer your question the official date of the end of polygamy within the LDS Church was October 6, 1890.

Note: see Anne Wilde, "Fundamentalist Mormonism: Its History, Diversity and Stereotypes, 1886-Present," in Scattering of the Saints: Schism within Mormonism, edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hammer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2007), 260-63.

The principal division of Mormonism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), has never actually abandoned or repudiated the doctrine of plural marriage. The doctrine itself was not reversed, revoked or otherwise invalidated by the 1890 Manifesto of Wilford Woodruff, then-President and "Prophet" of the LDS church.

In FACT, the doctrine and practice of plural marriage were only "SUSPENDED" by the LDS on the basis of a rationale that obliged members to obey civil law, the particular civil law being the law against polygamy. It thus follows that, should that law be rescinded, Mormons would once more become subject to the "new and everlasting covenant" of plural marriage prescribed by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the Doctrine & Covenants, chapter 132.

Those questioning this are referred to an official publication of the LDS church, "Articles of Faith," by "Apostle" James E. Talmage, one of the most esteemed (at least by Mormons) of Mormon theologians. For many years, his book was a standard reference source carried by Mormon missionaries in their ubiquitous backpacks. The subtitle of the book is "Being a Consideration of the Principal Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" It is published by the LDS's own publishing house, Deseret Book Company.

From page 384 of the 1984 edition:

"An illustration of such suspension of divine law is found in the action of the church regarding the issue of plural marriage."

A "suspension" is not a nullification or a reversal. The doctrine of plural marriage still stands; it has merely been "suspended." It would have been inexpedient to revoke the doctrine, seeing that the "Prophet" Joseph Smith, Jr. had boldly declared it to be a "new and everlasting covenant." Something fully abandoned after only a few decades could scarcely be said to be "everlasting." Faced with the need to get away from plural marriage and into statehood, the LDS circumvented the implications of the "everlasting" descriptor and adopted the expedient of "suspension." Should the courts of this nation ever hold that plural marriage is legally valid, the doctrine presumably would return in full force and effect and the LDS branch of Mormonism could than join their maverick cousins, the "Fundamentalist Mormons" in the practice of the "new and everlasting covenant."


Why did the Mormons quit polygamy?

Because the US law was changed and they would have gotten into trouble otherwise. Also... Let's be honest: Even giving 'one' partner the time and affection they deserve is hard.

Law & Legal Issues
State Laws

What state is bigamy legal?

Bigamy or polygamy is illegal in every state in the continental U.S, with the exception of UTAH, in Utah you can not be charged nor imprisoned if bigamy is proven. However if any of the parties moves outside of the state then in their new state of residency they will be considered bigamist and therefore punishable by Law. It is consider a Class I felony.

Actually, Utah WILL prosecute anyone engaging in LEGAL bigamy (i.e. applying for a marriage license while married). It's a 3rd-degree Felony.

Currently, Utah has a law which makes it a crime to engage in UNOFFICIAL bigamy - that is, more than two adults living together in a relationship, but without having had a marriage license (i.e. no LEGAL bigamy going on). There is a current lawsuit challenging this concept, and, as of Jan 2014, the plaintiffs have won, overturning this law. The case is ongoing, however, and on appeal.


Does the RLDS practice polygamy?

Are you referring to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest of the above, but changed its name to "Community of Christ" in 2001, and therefore is no longer referred to as "RLDS". They do not practice polygamy and often deny that Joseph Smith taught or practiced the doctrine.

The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a smaller group that broke off from the Community of Christ in 1991. They do not practice polygamy either.

The Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is another small group which broke off of the Community of Christ. Their origins are in the year 2000. They do not practice polygamy.

Don't get the above confused with the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, which broke off from the main body, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are known for their open practice of homosexuality, and at least a handful of members are in openly homosexual polygamous relationships.

It is the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), not the RLDS that is known for its practice of polygamy.


When did Mormons abolish polygamy doctrine?

Polygamy was officially outlawed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormon" church) in October, 1890. Since that time, anyone found entering into a polygamous marriage has been excommunicated.


Is polygamy a good thing?

The answer is the same as the one to the question "Is monogamy a good thing?"

Religion & Spirituality

Can a man have two wives?

A man cannot have two wives because it would be considered adultery, and it is against the law. - From a Christian perspective.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." ( Matthew 19 : 4 - 6 )

Alternate Christian Perspective.

Christians can cite both pro and anti text for polygamy. Some text limits monogamy to clergy:

  • 1 Timothy: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach"
And alternately makes monogamy the general rule:
  • 1 Corinthians (chapter 7, verse 2): "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let everyman have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.[
With regard to serial mariages (having more than one wife in a series of wives separated by death or divorce) is generally supported by Christians

From an Islamic Perspective

A man cannot have more than 4 wives at a time, if the other wife/wives allow the man to do what he want with the other women than its halal. Certain conditions do apply however eg. All wives must receive equal treatment - no favoritism & he must be within means to look after all of them.

A Muslim man can have Four wives at a time provided he can do justice to them ach. Islam is based on nature. The permission of having four wives helps avoid adultory which is a great sin.

Jewish answer:

Jews were permitted more than one wife in ancient times, though they rarely did this. It was mostly the practice of kings. No Talmud-sage is reported as having had more than one wife.

One thousand years ago, Rabbi Gershom (960-1040) decreed a prohibition on this practice in the Ashkenazic Communities, which is why we no longer see it as a possibility among European Jews. Polygamy (especially bigamy) was still extant, although uncommon, among Mizrahi Jews into the 20th century. When most Mizrahi Jews moved to either Israel, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, or the United States, they were confronted with anti-polygamy laws in those countries. Since polygamy was only "acceptable", but not seen as a necessary, the legal prohibitions in these five countries effectively ended polygamy in the Mizrahi Jewish community.


Advantages of polygamy?

Polygamy has many advantages. Financially, polygamists often have the upper hand. There are more adults who can work to provide an income for the family, and they can save the cost of childcare by having one adult stay home. Imagine having three working parents and one stay and home mom in the same house! Also, since there are more parents, the kids can have more time with a parent. Also, since there are more people, household chores can be completed faster and with less effort.


How do you swap wife?

First of all you find another couple or couples that are amenable to the idea, this can be done through different contact services on the web or in certain types of magazines. You meet each other, see if you get along and let nature take its coarse from there on. I found one e-book about wife swapping in wanamal.webege.com


Who started polygamy?

Most Judeo-Christian and Muslim cultures believe that polygamy began in Biblical times, as it is recorded in several stories of the Bible and Quran, most noteably those of Abraham and Jacob.

It is recognized by scholars as a common practice in ancient times, but as very few records exist from that long ago, we don't know the first person who practiced polygamy.

Religion & Spirituality

Do you think it's sick if someone had thousands of wives?

If someone 'had' thousands of wives they wouldn't have thousands of "wives" - they would (at best) be 'married' to thousands of people. The human brain can barely manage about 200 relationships or so. So, while 'technically' possible, it wouldn't be feasible. My advice would be to limit yourself to 3 partners. Also try and consider people of the same gender as yourself, for more "balance".

Sister Wives Reality Series

What city is sister wives filmed?

The Brown Family's home used to be in Lehi, Utah. Before moving near the family, Robyn lived in St. George, Utah. Christine delivered her baby in American Fork, Utah (the nearest hospital to Lehi). Kody took Meri to an anniversary dinner at LaCaille in Sandy, Utah. They have also shown a few scenes in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Browns currently live in Las Vegas, Nevada, so their show is filmed at various schools, restaurants, shops, and other sites around Las Vegas.

Divorce and Marriage Law

Is polygamy illegal in Georgia?



What is polygamy?

Definition of Polygamy
  1. The condition or practice of having more than one spouse at one time. Also called plural marriage.
  2. Zoology. A mating pattern in which a single individual mates with more than one individual of the opposite sex.

In the English language, polygamy is the practice of having more than one spouse at the same time.
the practice of having more than one wife
Reality TV Shows
Sister Wives Reality Series

How does Kody Brown support his huge family?

Kody works in the advertising and marketing industry. His first wife Meri was working in the mental health industry until she was fired for starring in 'Sister Wives'. Second wife Janelle also has a professional job, but she has not released what industry she works in. One episode showed her at the Salt Lake City/County building, so it is possible she works in government. Third wife Christine is the stay-at-home mom, and we have not yet learned if fourth wife Robyn has a job. Everyone who has a job contributes to the family income, and with so many kids hand-me-down and shared toys and clothing save them a lot of money!

The Bible

What does the Bible say about monogamy polygamy?

Adultery is strongly condemned in the bible.

Well... Let's throw a bit of cold water on that idea.

Remember, the concept of what a marriage is has changed over the 4000+ years that the texts making up the modern Christian Bible have been written.

The both Testaments are fairly clear on the concept of adultery - it is explicitly forbidden, and considered a sin.

That said, both Testaments are pretty fuzzy about what a "marriage" actually is, though the New Testament is more rigidly defined marriage. What modern day Western society thinks of as a marriage is mostly based on the New Testament, where only two persons are involved.

As marriage in the Old Testament days was not a legal concept, but a social construct, who you were "married" to was rather mutable, and "divorce" wasn't really a concept as we think of it today.

For instance, if your brother died, you (as a surviving brother) were duty-bound to bring the widow into your own house and provide for her and her children. Depending on the scholarly interpretation, "provide" for her may also included sexual relations (assuming she was willing). This is NOT adultery.

Likewise, servants were part of the household, and sexual relations with them were not forbidden. Abraham (the "father" of all three major Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) explicitly had sex with Hagar (a handmaiden to his wife) to have a son, as his wife Sarah was barren.

In addition, the concept of polygamy isn't well addressed by the Old Testament, most likely because it was a rather common practice (or, more correctly, activities of the Israelites which modern day people would call polygamy were not considered as such). Islam expands on the concepts found in the Bible via the Quran, which does explicitly permit polygamy.

If we're going to be generalizing, then we can say that the New Testament recognizes monogamous marriage only, while the Old Testament doesn't have much to say on the topic at all.

In terms of sexual relations, the simple truth is that neither Testament really condemn sex outside of marriage. They condemn fornication in many places, but it's hard to call this strictly true. The reason being is that while fornication is repeatedly called out as a sin, many other places in the Bible explicitly approve of what should plainly be labeled fornication. And, of course, much of this has to do with failure to really be specific about what "marriage" actually is. In that context, while monogamous relations (not just marriages) are plainly "preferred" by the Bible, polygamous relationships are much fuzzier in their approval/prohibition.

Conditions and Diseases
Manners and Etiquette

Is polygamy a disease?

No, Polygamy is not a disease. It is simply when a person has more than one spouse. See 'Related Links' below for more information

Jail Incarceration

How much jail time you get for polygamy?

The anti-polygamy act of 1886 gives 5 years in prison and up to a $300 fine depending on the severity of the offense.

Reality TV Shows
Sister Wives Reality Series

Why isn't Kody Brown being prosecuted for polygamy?

Kody Brown and his family, stars of TLC's reality show are currently being investigated by Utah law enforcement on charges of bigamy by cohabitation, which is a felony in the state of Utah. If they are found guilty and prosecuted, they will each face at least 5 years in prison.

There are thousands of polygamist families in Utah, and because there are so many, the state doesn't have the time, money and other resources to prosecute all the polygamists. Generally a family is only investigated on bigamy charges if there has been a complaint or report of abuse, rape, or underage marriage. A case like this usually comes up in Utah every few years. In the case of the Browns, the state and much of the public in the community have known of their lifestyle for quite some time, but it was not until they decided to flaunt their illegal activities (and the fact that they have not been prosecuted) on national television that the state decided to investigate.

The fact of the matter is, thousands of polygamists in Utah will never be prosecuted or investigated by law enforcement so long as they stay quiet. This is because crimes that actually hurt people, like murder, abuse, rape, drugs, and robberies are considered more important. The state doesn't have the money or manpower to investigate and try all the polygamists, nor do they have the facilities to house the tens of thousands of children which will become wards of the state for years while their parents are jailed.

Another important reason why the Browns are not being prosecuted is the Supreme Court's June 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized all private adult consensual intimacy, not just gay sex. If the law enforcement community pushes adult bigamy prosecutions, it risks setting up a test case which will affirm that the Lawrence decision applies to polygamy, thus fully decriminalizing it nationwide.

Prison Incarceration

How long do you go to prison if you are a sister wife?

This depends on the state/country and the sentence the judge gives you. In some countries, polygamy is legal so you will not go to prison. While polygamy is illegal in the United States, each state has its own laws. The least severe penalties include Hawaii (30 days in jail), Montana ($500 fine and 6 months in jail), and Rhode Island ($1000 fine). The most severe penalties are found in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Maryland, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Most states have bigamy as a minor felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and several thousand dollars in fines.


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Does the Mormon church practice polygamy?

No. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the "Mormon" church) banned the practice of polygamy among it's American members in 1890 and members outside of America in 1903. Anyone found to be practicing polygamy (or even seriously considering it) has been excommunicated for adultery, apostasy, or both. I've actually witnessed this. The Church, however, did not 'disavow' polygamy and does defend it's historic practice. The Church also does allow a man to be 'sealed' to a second woman after the first has died (so he doesn't have two wives simultaneously on earth, but will in heaven.)While the mainstream Mormon church does not allow the practice of polygamy, there are many calling themselves "Fundamentalist Mormons" who do. These "Fundamentalists" are not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon (LDS) Church, some are independents and others belong to organized offshoot groups, such as the FLDS, the Apostolic United Brethren, or the True and Living Church. Their doctrines and teachings vary, but all believe that the LDS Church has gone astray by banning polygamy and seek to continue the practice.


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