When an individual is married to more than one person in a matrimonial union, a phenomenon called polygamy is created. This term comes from the Greek “polis”, which means several and from the word “gamos”, which means marriage.
Monogamy and Polygamy
Polygamy is an unusual type of marriage and this is due to two fundamental reasons:
1) The most used family unit is monogamy , that is, a man married to a woman (bond inspired by the Judeo-Christian tradition).
2) Most laws do not recognize polygamy as a matrimonial formula. Thus, from a religious point of view polygamy is considered a sinful union and contrary to the law of God; from a legal point of view, polygamy is not recognized by law.
Various Ways to Understand Polygamy
A marriage formed by more than two people can be understood in two ways: a man with several women (polygyny) or a woman with several men (polyandry). Polygyny is the most common version of polygamy and is a formula that can still be found in some Muslim countries, in some minority groups in the Mormon religion, or within Hinduism. Polyandry is no longer as common as polygyny and is related to some matriarchal societies that have disappeared.
Although polygamy contrasts with the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, as well as with the legal system of most countries, it should be noted that legally it is not easy to prohibit it absolutely, since freedom of conscience is also recognized by laws . Thus, in recent years, some polygamous marriages (eg Utah Mormons in the United States) have been legally recognized by a federal judge, as it was believed that their prohibition would go against the principles of religious freedom, which defends the American Constitution itself. .
Regardless of the religious issue, at present, polygamy is practiced in some cases as an additional option for coexistence . To avoid a problem of a legal character, many sentimental unions with more than two members take place outside of marriage. These unions are known as the name of polyamory, that is, loving more than one person, but in an organized way and sharing a common life.
There are currently groups that practice this modality of affective union, as they understand that no law or religious dogma can impose how they should organize their lives and their sentimental relationships.