Overcoming the World, Part 2 – Polygamy as Abuse

The line between right and wrong is rapidly being blurred. Make no mistake.

The Urban Dictionary already defines polygamy favorably:

“A serious trusting relationship with multiple partners…The reason the government rejects polygamy as a way of living now is because…[t]hey are still forcing religious views and beliefs upon all the citizens, to try and keep everyone stupid, unable to think for themselves and unable to act on their own…”

By the time this is posted, TLC will be hosting two so called “reality” series painting a rosy picture of polygamy: “Sister Wives” and “My Five Wives”. The first of these families has four wives and seventeen children; the second has five wives and twenty-four children.

The commercials for these programs suggest there is nothing out of the ordinary about polygamy, and nothing harmful to children.  No mention is made of the frequent expulsion of teenage boys from polygamous sects [1] or the inherent inequity toward women.

Polygamy (primarily expressed as one man with multiple wives) necessarily creates an imbalance in the number of marriageable males versus females.

To decrease the competition between teenage boys and older men for wives, it is not uncommon for such boys to be abandoned: unsupported, uneducated, unskilled, and emotionally traumatized.  Diversity Foundation and New Frontiers for Families are two of the non-profits dealing with these discarded teens.

When teenage boys labeled by the FLDS hierarchy as “disobedient” are not voluntarily expelled, their families can actually be disbanded with wives and other children taken away.

If not expelled, young men denied wives will frequently have to work for (or bring gifts to) an older, more propertied, married man in the hope of earning the right to marry one of his daughters.

A Canadian study confirms that the number of young unmarried men in a society correlates with higher rates of rape, murder, and substance abuse [2] [3].  Unmarried men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, since they have less to lose. Unmarried status may actually lead to crimes such as theft (to attract women through wealth) and the kidnapping of other men’s wives.

Women and children unquestionably lose in the polygamous setting. “Men with lots of children and wives are spread too thin, and to make things worse, they’re compiling resources to attract their next wives instead of using it on their existing families”[2A].


The Bible speaks at length of the problems associated with polygamy. These have not changed greatly since biblical times. They include limited resources, favoritism, jealousy, sometimes deadly rivalry among wives for the advancement of their children, and rivalry among siblings themselves.

If nothing else, the essential inequality between husbands and wives will shape the lives of children raised in a polygamous setting.

• The patriarch Abraham was married to Sarah, and childless for many years. At Sarah’s insistence, Abraham had a child with her handmaiden, Hagar. This gave rise to jealousy on Sarah’s part. When Sarah did at last give Abraham a son, she urged Abraham to turn Hagar and her child out which he reluctantly did. Abraham’s sons, half-brothers Ishmael and Isaac, were ancestors to the Arabs and Jews whose animosity continues to this day.

• The patriarch Jacob was married to sisters, Leah and Rachel, having been tricked into first marrying the elder Leah when it was Rachel whom he loved. Jacob’s preference for Rachel caused Leah to be downhearted. However, Rachel was for years barren while Leah, again and again, gave birth to sons. This caused friction between the women. When Rachel finally gave birth to Joseph, Jacob favored the boy above his brothers. That caused great animosity among the brothers, who eventually sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt.

If these seem mere fables, it is worth noting the many Persian, Egyptian, and Chinese harem plots throughout history.

Children, of course, are our most precious resource. They deserve our protection. But the world seems to be losing sight of what would benefit rather than harm children.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4: 4).

Good is greater than evil. Love is greater than hate. And Christ is greater than Satan, whatever conditions may temporarily exist in the world.

Even the worst of circumstances, the Lord can use for good:  “[T]o bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to give unto them beauty for ashes…” (Isaiah 61: 1, 3).

This speaks directly to abuse victims. We need no longer be imprisoned by our past, shackled by the horror and pain inflicted on us. Through Christ’s power to heal and sustain us, we too can overcome the world.

Part 3 – Pedophilia Redefined in the series Overcoming the World is scheduled to post 3/30/14. Part 1 – Fame and Systemic Abuse can be found at 3/16/14.

[1] New York Times, 9/9/07, Erik Eckholm, “Boys Cast Out by Polygamists Find Help,” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/09/us/09polygamy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
[2] Slate.com, 1/30/12, “Is Polygamy Really So Awful?” http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/01/the_problem_with_polygamy.html.
[2A] Same.
[3] reason.com, 4/3/06, Jonathan Rauch, “One Man, Many Wives, Big Problems,” http://reason.com/archives/2006/04/03/one-man-many-wives-big-problem.



Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Religion, Sexual Abuse

3 responses to “Overcoming the World, Part 2 – Polygamy as Abuse

  1. This is so true! I love it!

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