Reasons to agree
- Adultery, divorce, and re-marriage are practices that are highly tense, bitter, costly, destabilizing, traumatizing, and damaging-for-children. Polygamy avoids much of the experience by bringing everyone into one stable family. While there certainly may be some costs associate with such polygamous families, are these costs any worse than those associated with the very common experiences of adultery, divorce, and remarriage.
Reasons to disagree
- Polygamy is deeply sexist while adultery, divorce, and re-marriage are not. Polygamy almost always assumes a patriarchial polygynous form (one man, many wives). Patriarchy is sexist in the basic sense that males hold a dominant position. Typically, this is re-enforced by religious interpretations that demean women and empower men. These sexist elements are not inherently shared by adultery, divorce, and re-marriage.
- Polygamy is hierarchal and unequal while adultery, divorce, and re-marriage are not. Polygamy typically assumes a hierarchical structure, in which the man is king and in which senior wives assume dominance over junior wives. Sometimes, the priesthood exists even above the man, having the power to strip a man of his wives if he contravenes the priesthood. This is all deeply unequal and undemocratic. Adultery, divorce, and re-marriage do not, conversely, violate basic individual rights.
- Polygamy establishes a rights-violating contract, while adultery, divorce, and re-marriage do not. Polygamy inherently violates the principle of consent. It does so first by offering women a choice to join a community in which their rights are set aside and they are subject to hierarchical oppression and non-consensual new-marriages (among other things). This is an invalid contract, as no individual can agree to forfeit their inherent rights in this way. Adultery, divorce, and re-marriage do not fit into this category in the simple sense that they do not seek to establish invalid contracts that breach individuals rights. Rather, adultery is the act of breaching a contract and divorce is the act of ending a contract, but neither are acts of establishing invalid contracts that breach individual rights.