Polygamy Law and Legal Definition

Polygamy means having more than one wife or husband at the same time, usually implying more than just two (which is "bigamy"). It is a crime in all states. Certain people, such as some Mormons, who believe polygamy to be a "God sanctioned" practice. Dominant cultural norms have made it illegal in many jurisdictions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists it in paragraph 2387 under the heading "Other offenses against the dignity of marriage" and states that it "is not in accord with the moral law." Some claim that the practice leads to human and civil rights abuses.

Polygamy has been practiced by mankind for thousands of years. Many of the ancient Israelites were polygamous, some having hundreds of wives. King Solomon is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. David had ninety-nine and Jacob had four. Advice given by some Jewish wise men state that no man should marry more than four wives. No early society put any restrictions on the number of wives or put any conditions about how they were to be treated. Jesus was not known to have spoken against polygamy. As recently as the seventeenth century, polygamy was practiced and accepted by the Christian Church. The Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has allowed and practiced polygamy in the United States.