The Wild Hunt features a discussion of efforts to decriminalize polygamy (and polyamory), and how those efforts impact the pagan community.
Polyamory and polygamy have always made me a bit nervous. It might be sexist and stereotypical to say that most men have at some point fantasized about having
a harem more than one sexual partners in the same relationship, but both personal experience and observation has suggested to me that relatively few people are actually emotionally equipped to handle such arrangements, and this number is much smaller than the number of those who actually attempt it. As a Scorpio, jealousy and loyalty are ingrained too deeply into my being to allow a polyamorous relationship any hope of working for me.
Now that I’ve aired my biases, let me state that if it works for other people, all the more power to them. They are rare individuals, and if they can cope with all the complication and drama that invariably accompanies such a lifestyle, good for them.
Polygamy is a bit more complicated. Polygyny is present in societies all around the world, and it works for a few different reasons, including the fact that it is mostly very wealthy men who are afforded the opportunity (men who can provide for additional wives and children), and that there are social conventions for how it is approached. Financial considerations work differently in the United States than many places that allow polygamy, and there are no real social conventions (outside of fringe Mormon groups and examples from other cultures) regulating polygamous relationships. This is one criticism that I have regarding polyamory — the seeming lack of rules and considerations for how additional partners are approached and incorporated (as well as the annoying assumption by so many in the polyamorous crowd that all other pagans are polyamorous, and hence fair game). If such issues can be worked out, then this is a good thing and will make such relationships more functionable, but the lack of any cultural standard means every group will have to develop their own means of resolving these issues.
This does seem to be a difficult proposition that is made much more so by cultural bias. But the real issue is the legal restriction of such relationships, and I can’t see that Christian religious biases serve as enough of a rationale for legal impositions against polygamy. That is a hell of a lot of inertia to overcome.