The choice between polygamy and monogamy family patterns requires considering the psychological, sociological, and spiritual aspects of marriage. The definition of family as a spiritual union of two partners is a weighty argument for justifying monogamy as the only acceptable practice of marriage in the United States.
The forms of families differ significantly throughout the world and the choice of the appropriate pattern depends upon the religious, philosophical and cultural background of a particular community. Monogamy as the marriage between two partners is recognized as the only legal form of marriage in the United States (Mooney, Knox and Schacht 161). At the same time, there are some situations in which the cultural background of an individual contradicts the current legislation of the country in which he/she lives.
For example, immigrants who come from the countries in which the polygamy is accepted, as a rule, do not give up their accustomed lifestyles but have to hide it from the community. According to the current legislation of the United States, polygamy can become the ground for deportation. The question is whether the state should make an exception for those who have polygamy families because of their ethnic origin and the system of their beliefs.
However, it would mean that people who can justify their persuasions with their system of beliefs would have the right for violating the law because along with the ethnic origin and cultural background the polygamy is rooted in the system of beliefs. The assertions of Augustine, an influential philosopher and theologian, concerning the family as a spiritual union of two people have not lost their actuality nowadays and might be taken into account for solving the moral dilemma of the acceptable family patterns.
Analyzing the marriage of Adam and Eve before the Fall as a purely spiritual relationship, Augustine tried to define the concept of sin with regards to family and procreation (Reynolds 241). Augustine shifted the emphasis from procreation as the primary and natural motivation for marriage towards satisfying the spiritual needs of the spouses.
Considering the customs and the cultural background of the American community, the marriage traditions are rooted in the Christian doctrines which depreciate polygamy as an example of lust. Still, even the interpretation of the Bible Holy Scripture concerning polygamy and monogamy is not unanimous and the examples of patriarchs who lived with several wives and had children with their lovers gave rise to the prolonged debates.
Explaining this controversy between the Bible teachings and the personal example of patriarchs, Augustine pointed at procreation as the only their motivation for marrying several women. “He [Jacob] used the women not for sensual gratification, but for the procreation of children” (Braun 247).
Taking into account the changes in the system of beliefs and the society norms, the need for the procreation became obsolete and cannot be regarded as the primary motivation for creating a polygamy family. “In the present altered state of customs and laws, men can have no pleasure in a plurality of wives, except from an excess of lust” (Braun 248).
The goal of procreation was obsolete even in Augustine’s times, not to mention the American society of the third millennium. The moral desirability of preserving the monogamy as the only acceptable pattern of creating a new family can be justified with the demand for satisfying the spiritual needs of the present day men and women which is possible only on the condition of ensuring the equal rights for both spouses.
Considering the spiritual needs of contemporary citizens and Augustine’s definition of family as a spiritual union of two partners, monogamy should remain the only acceptable marriage pattern.
Braun, Nathan (ed.). The History and Philosophy of Marriage: A Christian Polygamy Sourcebook. San Francisco: Imperial University Press. 2005. Print.
Mooney, Linda , David Knox, and Caroline Schacht. Understanding Social Problems. Belmont: Cengage Learning. 2008. Print.
“He [Jacob] used the women not for sensual gratification, but for the procreation of children” (Braun 247).
“In the present altered state of customs and laws, men can have no pleasure in a plurality of wives, except from an excess of lust” (p. 248).
Reynolds, Philip. Marriage in the Western Church: The Christianization of Marriage during the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods. Danvers: Clearance Center. 2001. Print.