Christian Relaunch

The Proprieties of Marriage


Some of the animals we most resemble are polygynous, but human polygyny is generally unwise.

1. The cultural union that I have mentioned as the distinctively human refinement of simian marriage is generally best served by monogyny.

2. The above point becomes sharper if we assume (as affirmed later in this Creed) that man's proper ultimate goal is a union between God's masculinity and our relative femininity. God of course is capable of simultaneous union with any number of people, but I suppose a man might have difficulty on this point with more than one wife.

3. The propriety of a man enjoying "more than his fair share" is obviously doubtful.

Such considerations suggest that polygyny is unlikely to be wise except in exceptional cases.

For instance, a man whose first wife turns up after he has given her up for dead and taken a second should treat both of them as his wives; this extreme case, if accepted, establishes the principle that we have a casuistry not a prohibition. The next question might be, what if she was given up, not as dead, but as lost for some other reason, but these thoughts seem not worth pursuing any further at present.

Christianoid readers should also note that one New Testament writer, in urging (in 1 Tim 3:2) that a polygynist should not become an episkopos, seems to imply that the practice of polygyny in itself need not be wrong. Perhaps he regarded taking more wives after joining the ekklesia as wrong, but the New Testament is never explicit on that, and the reason for polygynists being disqualified from episcopacy is not given; perhaps it was a concession to the sensibilities of Jewish Christians.

When discussing marriage in general, I will assume monogyny, unless describing unusual cases.

Most obviously, by referring to a man's "wife" in the singular. "Wives" would be more precise, as that would allow for both singular and plural cases, but it might give the impression that I advocate routine polygyny, and endlessly rebutting this impression would be cumbersome.


a subject cannot serve two kings, so I see no case in which polyandry would be wise.


To desert a spouse would abort a developing gender union, and I see no plausible grounds for doing so if the marriage was properly formed originally.

In cases of allegedly consensual divorce it is more likely, either (1) that one spouse begins to signal discontent and the other, seeing which way the wind is blowing, persuades themself (or at least others) that "we both wanted it", or (2) that there never was a marriage, just a repeated liaison. However, even in the unlikely case of genuine consensus, divorce is still unlikely to be proper.

Back to Every man is king of his family.