Is there any truth to the claim that the male specie is by nature polygamous or is it just a weak excuse for the high infidelity rate of men in general? If such claim is to constitute truth, are we then to think that men are unable to control their instincts in spite of their supposed superior intelligence over animals? If not, should we then settle for another explanation that men are basically opportunistic in nature, meaning that they are not one to pass off a chance to cheat when opportunity knocks. The first explanation seeks to provide a physical reason while the second seeks to present a male character flaw.
What is Polygamy?
Polygamy is a state of having more than one mate. There are many other terms that deal with the specifics of polygamy. Polygyny is when one man has more than one wife while polyandry is when a woman has more than one husband. A relationship where there are multiple husbands and wives is more aptly called a group marriage. Polygamy is deemed the opposite of monogamy which is a marriage practice between one man and one woman only.
There are places and countries that recognize polygamy while some consider it illegal. The practice is more often than not based on a religious belief or at least some interpretation of it. Polygyny is a more common practice than polyandry which has raised some controversial questions about gender equality.
Religions look at polygamy in different ways. There are those which appear to favor it while others disapprove of it. Depending on what religion is practiced by a particular culture, the number of actual practitioners would vary.
Religions that directly or indirectly appear to disapprove of the practice of polygamy include Buddhism, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Rabbinic Judaism. Apparent approval for polygamy is provided by Fundamental Mormonism and Islam. Polygamy is widely practiced in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and some countries in Asia including China, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand. Over time, it has been introduced and outlawed in different countries all over the world. Biblical studies tend to favor monogamy as best exemplified by the first man and woman created by God.
Tolerance and approval are entirely different. Buddhism provides no religious sanction for those practicing polygamy but some of its scriptures tend to support the belief that the religion does not see it favorably. Christianity sees polygamy as a diversion of the original plan which is a monogamous human marriage. Catholicism views polygamy as an offense against the dignity of marriage.
The practice of polygamy among Mormons was largely based on the pronouncements of certain Mormon leaders. It was eventually outlawed in some parts of the US and those who continue to practice it have been reduced to smaller colonies. Islam allows polygamy but limits the number of wives to up to four (4) at a given time. There is however a provision that states that men who choose to take more than one wife must be able to support and treat all of them justly. What Islam followers often misunderstood is that taking more than one wife is not necessary and that they can choose to live with only one if they so desire.
Women cannot have more than one husband under Islam law but are allowed to remarry after divorce. It should be noted that certain countries such as Turkey and Herzegovina do not adopt the marital regulations provided under Islamic law in spite of their predominantly Muslim population. This just goes to show that polygamy can be discarded if desired without rejecting the religion itself.
Scientific Basis fro Male Polygamy
It has been said over and over again that males are polygamous in nature. Scientists have tried to explain this through the so-called mating psychology. Others even go as far as relating longevity with the number of children sired from different women.
Men are biologically structured to procreate. Proponents of this belief state the fact that men can have as many children as they want at the same time by engaging in the sexual acts with different women one after the other if he so chooses. Women on the other hand are limited to having one child for at least 9 months because of the necessary investment of her time and body to produce a fully-developed infant.
Related to the minimal investment of producing the sperm that will fertilize the egg is the observation that the male specie is less choosy in their sexual encounters. The basic requirement would probably be that of physical attraction, or just for the mere pleasure of having sex and nothing else. Women who are considered more emotionally-based will not be as instantly willing, subject to certain exceptions.
In as much as the male gender generally takes great pride in the number of offsprings they produce, many will try to produce as many as circumstances would allow. Circumstances refer to sexual opportunities rather than the ability to provide for a child’s welfare. It is almost comedic to hear a man petitioning the court to give him a break from child support after siring 39 children from 8 different women. Seems more like getting what he deserves. The problem here is that biological capability to procreate often does not match the financial capability to provide support for the resulting children.
Man-Made Situations Favoring Polygamy
The abuse of sound religious or moral teachings by twisting it to comply with personal desires such as those believed to have been done by some early Mormon leaders in relation to the recognition of polygamy as a practice is a classic example of man-made or induced situations to force a certain issue. The practice not only provided extraordinary advantage to a few men in terms of number of wives but it likewise took away marital opportunities from many men. Being a wife of a recognized leader is always seen as a great privilege and it is no wonder that many women will agree to the polygamous marriage arrangement. Mating psychology points to the inclination of women to choose men who can take care of them and recognized leaders often have that built-in representation.
Wars also tend to diminish the male population considerably and have resulted to shortage of marriageable males in some countries. It is said that many of the affected countries have reacted in kind as to expressly allow men to have more than one wife to check the imbalance. These are extreme situations which are at best confined to particular areas and do not represent in any way the existing over-all situation.
Polygamy as an Excuse
The existence of polygamy cannot be denied. However, it should not be used as an excuse by men who merely want to take advantage of the relative sexual freedom it provides. Allowing one man to practice the privilege of having more than one wife has its corresponding responsibility. It is quite unfair for a man to welcome the advantages and shun the attached obligations.
Men who intend to carry on with a polygamous marriage have no business of entering a monogamous relationship and then forcing one’s belief on the spouse. Shifting to polygamy is not done by convenience. Wanting to lead a polygamous lifestyle while refusing to let go of a monogamous relationship is the lamest excuse a philandering husband can come up with.