an inclusive term for several variant forms of [[marriage]]. It encompasses '''polygyny''', the practice of having multiple wives; '''polyandry''', the practice of having multiple husbands; and '''group marriage''', the practice of having multiple husbands and wives. Any marriage of three or more people is polygamous.
In modern times, opponents of
"[[same-sex marriage]] " worry that if legalized it would be a step down the slippery slope to polygamy. Stanley Kurtz wrote::Among the likeliest effects of gay marriage is to take us down a slippery slope to legalized polygamy and "polyamory" (group marriage). Marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals (however weakly and temporarily) in every conceivable combination of male and female.<ref>[http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/938xpsxy.asp Beyond Gay Marriage], [[Stanley Kurtz]] </ref>
Polygamy, in ancient times, was widespread, but has become less common over time. The most common form of polygamy is polygyny. Polygynous marriages are found in the [[Old Testament]], especially among the early Hebrew kings. The first recorded polygamist was [[Lamech]] ([[Genesis]] 4:19), in the seventh generation from [[Adam]]. The book of [[Deuteronomy]] gives an inheritance rule for polygynous families.<ref>
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 [http://www.bartleby.com/108/05/21.html#15]</ref> The culmination was [[Solomon]] with 700 wives and 300 [[concubine]]s; however, the fact that they were from the pagan nations led him down the path of corruption.<ref> I Kings 11:1-3 [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/1Ki/1Ki011.html#top]</ref> There was also a practice of giving a maid servant to a husband to sire children in the period of the patriarchs; [[Holy Scripture|Scripture]] refers to such a maid servant variously as a wife<ref> Genesis 30:4 [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Gen/Gen030.html#4]</ref> and as a concubine<ref> Genesis 35:22 [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Gen/Gen035.html#22]</ref> . There are examples of polygamy in the [[ New Testament]] and it is stated that a deacon is to be the husband of one wife. That the church leaders saw fit to suspend the practice for such a small group, but allow it for everyone else speaks volumes.<ref>I Timothy 3:2 [ http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/popup.pl?book=1Ti&chapter=3&verse=2&version=kjv#2] </ref><ref>Titus 1:6 [ http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Tts/Tts001.html#6] </ref> (in some Christian denominations today, that has been taken to mean that divorced men and in some cases even widowed men can not be deacons if they remarry.)
[[Ashkenazi]] Jews banned polygyny around A.D. 1000. [[Sephardi]] Jews continued to practice it in [[ Islam] ]ic lands for some time after that. [[Yemen]]i and [[Ethiopia]]n Jews practice it to this day. [[Israel ]] forbids polygyny, with the exception that a man with multiple wives who moves to Israel may remain married to his existing wives but not marry additional ones.<ref>Judaism 101: Marriage [ http://www. jewfaq.org/marriage.htm#Relationship]</ref>
The [[ Qur'an]] permitted polygyny <ref> "... Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four ..." Koran 4:3-4 [http://www. usc. edu/ dept/ MSA/quran/004. qmt.html# 004.003]</ref> . The practice was also known among European tribes in pre-Christian Europe and in both China and Japan<ref> Polygyny in Europe and China[http://www. trivia-library. com/ b/ alternative-forms-of-marriage-polygyny-part-1 .htm]</ref>.
In the modern world polygyny is practiced to some extent in China<ref>Lang and Smart. “Migration and the Second Wife in South China: Toward cross-border polygyny” The International migration review 2002, vol. 36, no2, pp. 546-569 [ http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=13830800] </ref>, among [[ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|certain sects of Mormons]] <ref>News story on Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints[ http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2006-05-25/news/it-practices-what-they-preach/] </ref> (the mainstream [[ Mormon]] Church outlawed the practice in 1890<ref> LDS official position[http://www. mormon.org/ question/faq/category/answer/0,9777,1601-1-114-1,00. html]</ref> ) and in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa <ref>Brown, Judith E. “Polygyny and Family Planning in sub-Saharan Africa” Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 12, No. 8/9 ( Aug. - Sep., 1981) , pp. 322-326. Abstract. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0039-3665(198108%2F09)12%3A8%2F9%3C322%3APAFPIS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U]</ref>.
Polyandry is and has been less common around the world, but it has been practiced. Polyandry is part of traditional Tibetan culture<ref> List of references [http://www. case.edu/ affil/ tibet/ tibetanSociety/ marriage. htm]</ref> and is practiced by some [[Native American]] tribes<ref>Polyandry among the [[Inuit]] [http://www. snowwowl. com/peopleinuit5. html]</ref> . The Bible prohibits polyandry.<ref> "Polygamy," from A True Church [http://www. atruechurch. info/ polygamy. html]</ref>
Group marriage is likely the least common form of polygamy, but it is practiced. In fact a number of Americans purport to practice just this sort of living arrangement, even though it is not legally recognized as marriage by the state.<ref> Kurtz, Stanley, “Rick Santorum Was Right Meet the future of marriage in America. ” New Republic Online 3/ 23/05 [http:// www. nationalreview. com/kurtz/ kurtz200503230746. asp]</ref> .