Twitter icon

Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news




Religious Tolerance logo

Marriage types


Plural marriage: marriage with more
than two partners. Christian and Muslim
polygamy, polyamory polygyny,
polyandry, bigamy ....

polygamy symbol

horizonal rule

Disclaimer alert:

The following menu and its linked essays are for general information only. Do not use it to make any personal decisions without first consulting a lawyer knowledgeable about family law in your area.

horizontal rule


The term "polygamy" is a marital practice in which a person has more than one spouse simultaneously. 1 It is rare in North America, where only two forms of marriage are most commonly found:

bulletMonogamy in which two people are married to each other, "till death do us part," and

bullet Serial monogamy in which a person has more than one spouse during their lifetime, although they are married to only one at any given time.

Polygamous marriages have not been legal in North America in the sense that none could be formally registered with the government. However, thousands of polygamous families exist and are largely ignored by their state and provincial governments. Many are members of small Mormon religious faith groups that trace their history back to the original Church of Christ founded by Joseph Smith. The two main Mormon denominations oppose polygamy. They are:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members live mainly in the U.S. states of Utah, Colorado and Texas, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia. They are by far the largest Mormon group in the U.S. and around the world.

  • The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the RLDS Church) which changed its name in 2001 to the Community of Christ. They are a much smaller, much more liberal group.

Sponsored link

Polygamous families in North America generally fall into one of two types:

bullet Some involve coupling a plural marriage structure with a religion -- generally Christianity -- that is structured as an patriarchal dictatorship -- a male dominated family structure. A single husband typically has a married wife in a marriage registered with the government. Additional women are married in religious ceremonies but not registered. The latter "wives" are sometimes expected to apply for government welfare as single mothers. Sexual and physical abuse of children and youths is more common than in conventional families. Male children are often driven from their towns when they reach their teens in order to artificially generate a surplus of women for men to marry. These families are often affiliated with relatively small religious groups that are part of the Mormon movement, although such groups have all been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is the main Mormon denomination.

bullet Others are single polygamous families scattered across the U.S. and Canada whose members freely decide to come together to form egalitarian family structures -- families based on the equality of all adult members. They follow a wide range of Christian denominations, other religions, or no organized religion. Their structure takes many forms: one man and multiple women; one woman and multiple men; multiple women and multiple men. They often prefer the terms polyamorous and polyfidelity to differentiate themselves from patriarchal family structures.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

Topics covered in this section:

bulletIntroduction to polygamy< We strongly recommend reading this essay first
bulletDefinition of terms used in polygamy and similar arrangements.
bulletThe practice of and reasons for Polygamy.
bulletLaws concerning polygamy:
bulletIn the U.S.

bulletIn Canada and other countries.
bulletChristian Polygamy -- an Evangelical Christian movement promoting polygyny.
bullet Polyamory & polyfidelity - an egalitarian form of polygamy, from a ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
bullet Polygyny within the U.S. Mormon movement:

bulletThe Law of Abraham and the Law of Sarah.

bulletDuring the early 19th century.

bulletDuring the later 19th century.

bulletPolygyny in present-day Fundamentalist Mormon sects.

bulletThe Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
bullet Polygyny within the Canadian Mormon movement:

A Fundamentalist Mormon sect in British Columbia, Canada.

bulletWill same-sex marriage lead inevitably to polygamy?
bullet Polygamy is almost legalized in Utah!

horizontal rule

Reference used:

  1. "Polygamy," WordIQ, at:

horizontal rule

Site navigation:

Home page > "Hot" topics > Marriage > here

or Home > Religious info > Basic religious info > Religious practices > Marriage > here

Home > Religious freedom > hate/abuse > here

Home > Important essays > Religious freedom > hate/abuse > here

Home > Religious information > Religious freedom > hate/abuse > here

Home > Human rights > Religious freedom > hate/abuse > here

horizontal rule

Copyright 2004 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-SEP-04
Latest update: 2019-FEB-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the Marriage menu, or to the "Religious freedom to abuse" menu, or choose:

horizontal rule


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.


Sponsored links: