I've long loathed the idea of polygamy especially as I've read Muslim blogs the last couple of years. However I can respect the idea in which polygamy was passed along to the Islamic world in the beginning -- a way of taking care of war widows and the notion that you must treat all wives equally and limit yourself to only four (unless you happened to be Muhammad who conveniently got an exception from Allah on that requirement.) At least the Muslims have a respectable reason for taking more than one wife even though I highly doubt it is the reason most polygamists take more than one wife today. Somehow I get the impression they are looking for younger, newer models when they take plural wives these days. Especially when they hold the "I can get another wife if I want" thing over their current wives as a threat when said wives don't give into their whims or serve them enough. But I digress.
I am currently reading The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. Although the book is fiction it also has a lot of church history intertwined as it relates to Joseph Smith and the beginning of the Latter Day Saints or the Mormons. Ages ago, I'd read a few fiction books that discussed Mormon things, but now I am reading this book and it's quite eye-opening. Mormons today come across as such decent, truly wonderful people -- and likely most of them are! They project a great image to the world. However, their beginning makes me shudder. Like their prophets urging them to accept plural marriages so that they will obtain salvation and help others obtain salvation. And then their prophets lying about their polygamy because they know outsiders won't understand. They figure they'll first convert them and then explain that these celestial marriages are needed and part of church doctrine. The way they went around quizzing people on their thoughts and actions in order to urge confessions from their members. The way Brigham Young said, "Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise, when they have a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or that woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus meant. This is loving our neighbor as our self; if he needs help, help him; if he wants salvation, and it is necessary to spill his blood upon the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it." (pg. 180) Although the 19th wife, Ann Eliza Webb Young, admits that some have interpreted his words differently, STILL! Can you imagine "the Prophet" of your religion saying such things?! And, yes, this 19th wife just mentioned was wife of the famous Mormon prophet Brigham Young. She divorced her husband and crusaded for ending polygamy here!
This book also deals with an offshoot or sect of the LDS which claim the Mormons today have compromised by calling for the end of polygamy. This cult still practices polygamy though the US only recognizes one legal wife per man. Therefore, they learn how to apply for government benefits and get loads of welfare checks. It's not unheard of for men to have 15 or 20 wives with scores of children! Because of all the inbreeding, you can have a cousin, aunt and half-sister who are the same woman! :-O Ugh...it sounds horrendous to me!
This book has over 500 pages and I've not quite read 200 and have been disgusted by much thus far. To be fair Ms. Young said that some women like polygamy. They have accepted it as something from God so they are fine with their husbands taking new wives which help them all obtain salvation. Also these women like the companionship of other women around the house, their help with the chores and children and so forth. However, she said many women hate this practice even though they have been brainwashed to believe it's necessary and the will of God.