Why Polygamy? - kingscollege.net

October 20, 2010
Grade 9 Open Religion
HRE 10
Making Connections: Why Polygamy?
• As part of the grade nine religion curriculum,
we learn about the seven sacraments of the
Roman Catholic Church.
• Polygamy is associated with the sacrament of
Holy Matrimony.
• Today we will answer the questions:
• What is Polygamy?
• What is Holy Matrimony according to the Catholic
• Why is the Catholic Church opposed to Polygamy?
Polygamy vs. Monogamy
• Polygamy is a form of marriage in
which a person has more than one
spouse at a time.
• Greek: Poly (many) + Gamos
• Monogamy is a form of marriage in
which a person only has one spouse
at a time. All Catholic marriages are
• Greek: Monos (one) + Gamos
Forms of Polygamy
Polygyny is a when a man is married to more
than one wife. This form of polygamy is most
Polyandry is when a woman is married to
more than one husband at a time.
A Group Marriage is when a marriage
includes multiple wives and husbands.
Polygamy and Other Religions
Belief of Polygamy
•Males are permitted to have 4 wives and must love them each
•Permitted to practice in India
•3% of Indian population
•Practiced in ancient times (except for Brahmins)
•Modern Indian law prohibits Hindus from being polygamous
•4% of Indian population
•Permitted at one time but is now forbidden by Rabbinic Judaism
• 1830’s: belief of the LDS Church under leadership of Joseph Smith
• “Second Manifesto”: prohibited Mormons from practicing polygamy
•Fundamentalist groups broke off and still practice (Utah, BC,
Montana, Mexico etc.)
•200,00 to 500,000 Americans are polygamous Mormon
Polygamy and the Legal System
The Crime of Bigamy
Polygamy in the Old Testament
“So Sarai, Abrams’s wife,
took Hagar the Egyptian
servant and gave her to
Abram as a wife”
Genesis 16: 3
(Abraham had three
wives: Sarai, Hagar, and
“Lamech married
two women – Adah
and Zillah”
Genesis 4: 19
About Solomon: “He
had seven hundred
wives and three
hundred concubines.
And sure enough ,
they led his heart
away from the Lord”
1 Kings 11:3
God to King David: “I will give your wives
to another man, and he will go to bed
with them in public view.”
2 Samuel 8:11
Roman Catholic Church: What is Marriage?
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Marriage is…
• A covenant whereby a man and a woman form
with each other an intimate communion of life
and love. (1660)
• Based on consent of contracting parties. (1662)
• The perfect image of God’s unfailing love for man
• Valid only if the following components exist:
• Unity and Indissolubility
• Faithfulness
• Openness to having children
Importance in Catholic Marriage
Why Polygamy Contradicts It
Unity &
• The union of marriage requires
spouses to give themselves fully and
love each other.
•What God unifies cannot be
separated (internal indissolubility).
• Polygamy is “contrary to
conjugal love which is divided
and exclusive.” (CCC 1645)
•Polygamy does not honour
exclusively one indissoluble
•Marriage “requires the inviolable
fidelity of the spouses.” (CCC 1646)
•The union of marriage is only a
“mutual giving of two persons.”
(CCC 1646)
•Polygamists are not being
faithful to one spouse.
•Polygamist unions are not the
mutual giving of two beings.
Sex/ Openness •Sex is intended to be (1)procreative
to Children
and (2)unite two people together.
• Sex should only be shared within a
monogamous marital union – not
outside of it.
•Many are open to children.
•However, having multiple sex
partners denies the exclusivity
intended for marriage.
Roman Catholic Church: What is Marriage?
New Testament Scripture
“He made them male and
female. This explains why a
man leaves his father and
mother and is joined to his
wife, and the two are
united into one. Since they
are no longer two but one,
let no one separate them,
for God has joined them
Mark 10: 6-9
“Each man should have
his own wife, and each
woman should have
her own husband”
1 Corinthians 7: 2
Catholic Opposition to Polygamy
Catholic Catechism
• Polygamy is “not in accord with the moral law” (2387).
• Polygamy is “contrary to the equal personal dignity of
men and women who in matrimony give themselves
with a love that is total and therefore unique and
exclusive” (2387).
• Polygamy directly “negates the plan of God which was
revealed from the beginning” (2387). (I.e. Adam and
• “Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave
offenses against the dignity of marriage” (2400).
Catholic Opposition to Polygamy
Other Sources
• On November 11, 1563 The Council of Trent
condemned anyone who said that Christians were
allowed to have several wives simultaneously. The
Council believed that such a practice was forbidden
by divine law.
• In the Papal Encyclical Casti Connubii of December
1932, Pope Pius XI states that “Christ Our Lord wish
only to condemn any form of polygamy or
polyandry, as they are called, whether successive or
simultaneous, and every other external
dishonorable act…in order that the sacred bonds of
marriage may be guarded absolutely inviolate” (21).
Questions to Consider…
• Important figures such as Abraham, Jacob, and
Solomon practiced polygamy in the Old
Testament. Why does God “allow” it for them and
not for us?
• What if I convert to Christianity but am currently l
in a polygamous marriage or have previously
been in one?
• The Catholic Church believes that marriage is
forever indissoluble. If I divorce and remarry,
then is that polygamy?

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