This is commonly called polygamy, and it’s been practiced for thousands of years, without advancing human civilization by as much as a nanometer.
The academic, historical, and societal arguments against polygamy are well developed and time tested. So libertine hedonists have tried to sneak it into society by using cute word games, calling it a “throuple”–a couple composed of three people (which is, of course, absurd).
Further, they’re wrapping the entire mess in the ribbon of same-sex marriage, in that the two women are bisexual, and therefore in a “love” relationship with each other as well as the man.
But it’s really polygamy.
Adam Lyons enjoys his relationship with Brooke Shedd and Jane Shalakhova, with some calling him “the luckiest man alive.” I think luck had nothing to do with it, and I wouldn’t consider his situation to be a long-term positive, but for now, he’s enjoying the ride. The three have been in this relationship for five years.
Lyons is already the father of Shedd’s son, Dante, now 2, but now the London-born dad is expecting a baby boy with Shalakhova.
“Why can’t you recognize polygamy?” Glenn Beck said sarcastically on his radio program Tuesday. “Love is love. Who are you to say what love is? Why do you call it polygamy? That is just an outdated word. It’s a throuple.”
But that doesn’t answer the question “what’s so wrong with that?”
As I wrote above, the problems with polygamy are well known (citing an essay in Public Discourse). It degrades human dignity, erodes the family, destroys fatherhood, promotes a pleasure-centered selfish lifestyle, and ultimately causes civilization to crumble. Is that enough?
Most polygamous relationships are one man, multiple wives (polygyny). Regardless of whether the two women are lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual, this creates a population gender imbalance. Men and women are born in a fixed ratio, called the “human sex ratio,” of about 1.06 males to 1 female. Polygyny skews that ratio way in favor of men, increasing competition for mates.
Since a home with a man and two women costs more than one woman, the wives tend to go to the richer men.
Contemporary liberals profess themselves to be concerned with growing income inequality. If they are tempted to endorse polygamy, they should consider whether it does not foster an even more egregious form of inequality—one in which wealthy men have greater access than poorer men to a basic human good such as marriage and family. They might then ask themselves whether consenting to such a social arrangement does not already begin to undermine our commitment to the equal dignity of human beings as such.
For the men who don’t become fathers (note that doesn’t mean they don’t biologically father children), losing the experience of fatherhood robs them of a sense of human dignity.
Without fatherhood, many men have nothing very important to do; they will simply earn a living and entertain themselves. Of course, men can find opportunities for dignified service without being fathers. Most of the time, however, fatherhood is the way that men gain the self-respect that comes from fulfilling obligations that arise from others’ dependence on them and their virtues. A man thus learns that he is made for something nobler than mere pleasure. This is crucial to his understanding that the same is true of others.
The reason Adam Lyons believes he’s the “luckiest man alive” is because he believes he was made for pleasure, and he gets double the pleasure from two wives. Of course, it’s a lie, because studies have shown married monogamous couples have more fulfilling sex lives than singles on the prowl. It’s about relationships and intimacy, not just the physical act.
Polygamy turns family into a porno augmented by commitment instead of a commitment sealed by carnal knowledge.
By depriving some men of the opportunity to marry, polygamy would also diminish their specific sense of the dignity of women. Predictably and sadly, many men who are unable to marry will turn for sexual satisfaction to prostitution and pornography. Needless to say, such activities are hardly a school for learning respect for women. Quite the opposite: they teach men to view women merely as instruments of male pleasure.
Here’s the kicker. Monogamy requires work. Polygamy is lazy and selfish.
Given the male propensity for promiscuity, polygamy in a way conforms to human nature. This suggests—as Ryan Anderson observes in his review of William Tucker’s Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human—that monogamy requires intense and sustained civilizational effort. Current calls for a normalization of polygamy represent a further slackening of that effort, or an erosion of the social rules that sustain monogamy and the culture of human flourishing that it nourishes.
In other words, polygamy favors rich men, turns women into sex toys, raises future generations of the same, and turns cultures into uncivilized tribes where might is right because it wins the women. Every society in history founded on this social structure has failed (I don’t count Mormons as a society unto itself, as they’re part of the larger fabric of America).
Having just a “little polygamy” is a recipe for having a lot of polygamy. If promiscuity, pursuit of pleasure, elevation of wealthy men, and competition among women is human nature in its basest state, permitting those negative values will result in them being dominant.
“Throuples” are not harmless or “double the fun.” They are the seeds of civilizational failure wrapped in the lie of sexual “freedom.”