Why No Polygamy

in Robin Fretwell Wilson, ed., The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 446-466.

18 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2017  

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: December 22, 2017

Abstract

This chapter, distilled from a long book on the topic, analyzes the 1,850 year tradition of Western laws against polygamy and the growing constitutional and cultural pressures to reform these laws today. I show how the traditional Western cases against polygamy and same-sex unions used strikingly different arguments drawn from the Bible, nature, rights, harm, and symbolism. I conclude that, because these arguments are so different, Western nations can responsibly hold the line against polygamy, even if they choose to accept same-sex marriage and its accompanying norms of sexual liberty, domestic autonomy, equality, and nondiscrimination.

Keywords: Monogamy; Polygamy; Same-Sex Marriage; Mormonism; Muslims; Bible; Judaism; Roman Law; Emperor Justinian; Natural Law; Natural Rights; Cajetan; Luther; Thomas Aquinas; Theodore Beza; John Locke; Mary Wollstonecraft; Sexual Liberty; Religious Freedom; Teaching Function Of Law; Multiculturalism

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Why No Polygamy (December 22, 2017). in Robin Fretwell Wilson, ed., The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 446-466.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3092328

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

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