Some friends and I began a chat on the subject of marriage, which rapidly devolved into gay marriage and forms of polygamy (polygyny a man with multiple wives; polyandry a woman with multiple husbands; polyamory an indeterminate mix of husbands and wives; and even line marriage a form of group marriage in which the family unit continues to add new spouses of both sexes over time so that the marriage does not end). Someone posed the question, "How much of the world practices polygamy?" The answer surprised me, as it may you.
A worldwide ethnographic survey of 849 human societies show 708 whose customs are polygynous (more than 1 wife), 4 polyandrous (more than 1 husband) and 137 monogamous. I am utterly unable to come up with a reference for this ethnographic survey and cannot vouch in any way for its accuracy. Hell, I can't prove it even took place. (708/849)*100 yields 83.39% polygamous societies. (4/849)*100 gives us 0.47% polyandrous, and (137/849)*100 leaves 16.13% monogamous.
Perhaps more reliable is the wikipedia entry on Polygamy citing the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook. Of 1231 societies noted, 186 (14.78%) were monogamous. 453 (36.79%) had occasional polygyny, 588 (48.76%) had more frequent polygyny, and 4 (0.32%) had polyandry.
The numbers are fairly close. It makes you wonder why the USA is so dead-set against a system that works throughout the world? But then we're like that. 85% of the Nato military forces permit GLBT soldiers, we're part of the 15% that doesn't. I wonder what the stats are worldwide if you include Africa, Asia, and South America?
There is an awful lot of talk about the sanctity of marriage.
MONOGAMY AND THE MODERN WORLD "Should-be" monogamy never gained worldwide attention until the last few centuries. The should-be monogamy idea was not popular in previous generations, not until its strong uprising in the last 150 years or so. In fact, polygamy was still openly practiced in the last generation in non-western countries, and is today still practiced in modern societies, even though not so openly because of the outcry of the Western Feminism movement. How quickly the should-be monogamy concept has taken over, such that it makes polygamy appear sinful and wrong ever since the beginning.
Now here's an article you may find interesting. I'm not precisely on all fours with it, but there's a good of information to be gleaned.
I have at least one friend (that I know of) in a polyamorous relationship. I know more than one gay couple who would like to be married. I knew of (but have lost track of) two couples who bought a house together out in the country and who admitted to me that they were a "plural" marriage, whatever that is. I rather like the idea of line marriage...conserves capital, never ends, and makes it nearly impossible for children to be orphaned or without parents to raise them. Isn't that what families are for?
I've often heard how if you allow gay marriage, you have to allow any marriage. I suppose that is the reductio ad absurdum. But just how is gay marriage going to destroy the fabric of society? I know the religious arguments about it being wrong, but what are the societal arguments? What will happen if we open the floodgates and admit other forms of marriage?