Free «Polygyny» Essay Sample
Throughout the centuries the question of polygyny can be interpreted in two ways. Today it is actively discussed at all levels of society, as a polygamous family is not only the historical past, but also our present issue. In some corners of our planet, this model of family life is commonly assumed as the only possible way for males and females to live together. Despite numerous researches, the investigating of polygyny lacks objectivity because of historical and socio-economic aspects of this subject. As this question provides an inexhaustible source of studies for scientists, this work will try to cover only the key issues of this complex problem. This paper will describe types of society where polygyny is usually found, and distinguish the possible purposes or benefits of polygyny.
To begin with, the issue of polygyny should be defined. Polygyny is a type of marriage which includes one husband and multiple wives. The emergence of a polygamous family in society has deep socio-economic reasons, such as inequality between spouses, a large number of slaves, captured or purchased on the market. War consequences led to gender imbalance. When thousands of men were killed, the prevalence of female population took place in post war society. For widows and their children to survive, it was quite reasonably to allow men to have multiple wives. Nowadays there are a lot of countries where polygyny is permitted by law, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, and Oman. Countries of the Middle East include Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan; in South Asia - Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brunei, Myanmar. Polygyny in these countries is deeply connected with the warlike character of people and religious prerequisites to conquer another part of the world. Another reason for emergency of polygynous families is religion. For instance Mormons, a religious and cultural group, supports polygyny. However, other religious societies do not approve polygyny that is regarded as a manifestation of “sin”. Therefore, it is important to investigate this issue from religious point of view.
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Since ancient times, polygyny has been extended in many human societies. Bible does not prohibit polygyny. The Old Testament and Rabbinic literature highlights the legality of polygyny. It is said that King Solomon had 300 concubines and 700 wives (1 Kings 11: 3), King David was known for many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13). Also the Old Testament contains instructions how to split man's property among children from different wives (Deuteronomy 22:7). The only polygyny restriction is to marry two sisters (Leviticus 18:18).
The Talmud recommends having no more than four wives. Polygyny was common among European Jews until the XVI century; this type of marriage existed in Eastern Jews communities until they immigrated to Israel, where it is forbidden by the secular laws. However, in some cases the religious law has an advantage over the secular, it allows a man to have several wives. And what does the New Testament say? Father Eugene Hillman mentioned in his book, "Polygamy reconsidered", that during Jesus time polygyny was neither forbidden nor allowed, although it was common among the Jews of his time to have many wives (Hillman, 140). Contrary to the Bible, the Quran limited the maximum number of wives to four with a strict condition of treating the wives equally and justly.
Since times immemorial philosophers have continuously talked about the benefits and disadvantages of polygamy. In the world history different wars repeatedly reduced male population. Many young girls and widows needed a man not only as a companion and a father of her children, but also as a provider. In this case polygyny had a positive impact on population and society because children and women received all necessary support necessary for healthy existence. In today's world polygyny is, basically, a privilege of the rich men. It is not surprising because the husband is obliged to provide all his wives and children equally with food, money and pleasure. Most often the first wife is the main one, and, in fact, the lady of the house. Of course, there are contentions among women, but then they adapt to one another, as they see that their situation is not so bad. For example, domestic work is divided between all of them which means that each wife has to work less and has more free time. Nowadays polygyny is a viable solution to some of the social ills of modern societies (Philip Kilbride, 118). On the other hand polygyny limits women's rights. There is a question to the conscience at this point: what is more acceptable for a woman? Is it better to be a respected second wife or to understand that her husband has a prostitute?
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Modern polygyny supporters say that this type of family relations still exist in the world, either legalized or in hidden forms, so it is better to allow it than close our eyes to the widespread corruption and treason. Now people have turned away from religion and morality, they have forgotten how to be responsible for the consequences of their actions.
In conclusion it should be said that polygyny is not a question of pleasure, but a question of survival of biological groups. Sure, in some societies polygyny is a tradition, but at the same time people, who live in the counties with accepted polygyny, can choose whether to accept this family model or to be in monogamous relations. That means humanity is likely to hear the voice of reason instead of driving to have a lot of wives by instinct.