Unjust Polygamy

To tolerate and allow Polygamy is unjust and unlawful. Polygamy is when a family unit consists of one husband who is married to more then one wife. There are several countries in the world that allows Polygamy, Canada is not one of them. It is stated in the Canadian Criminal Code;


293. (1) Every one who

 (a) practices or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practice or enter into

 (i) any form of polygamy, or

 (ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,

 whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or

(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii), is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Evidence in case of polygamy

 (2) Where an accused is charged with an offense under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.

Even though this is stated in the Criminal Code, many polygamist communities exist in Canada. However, none of them have ever been successfully prosecuted. It has been argued that banning polygamy infringes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In section 2 it states that one should have freedom of religion.


2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

Although at the same time there is many issues of treatment of women and sexual abuse of young girls. These females are brainwashed and will not speak out against their community as they feel it is apart of their faith and religion to endure these unlawful acts. It is unnatural to force 12 year old girls to marry older men, not to mention that it is against the law to have sex with a minor. The rules should not be exempt due to “religious beliefs”.

British Columbia’s chief justice Robert Bauman ruled while the law does infringe on religious freedom, it is justified given the harm polygamy causes to children, women and society.

If you apply both Finnis and Fullers’ tests to legitimizing polygamy, it would further support that it would be unlawful and unjust to allow polygamy.

Finnis believes that you need to apply a law to his 7 basic forms of human flourishing, and if it does not hold all 7 forms of human flourishing then the law is unjust and unmoral. One of his forms of human flourishing is, 1. The valuing and transmission (procreation) of life. Polygamy does not value life if they are impregnating children and sexually active with many partners at one time. As well this treatment to women and children is against number 6 on Finnis’s list; Practical reasonableness.

Fuller believes law is the legal requirement and rules for human conduct. As long as the rules meet Fullers 8 elements of law then the rule is considered to be valid as it has been proven to have internal morality. Fullers first law is

1. Laws must exist and those laws should be obeyed by all, including government officials.

The fact that the law is in place yet none has been prosecuted and the government still allows this to be practiced is unlawful.

The following are websites and links to articles which pertain to information on Polygamy in Canada.







Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. New York: Oxford University Press. 1-39.

Canadian Criminal Code

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


1 Comment

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One response to “Unjust Polygamy

  1. This is an interesting post.

    You draw attention to an important question: When assessing the justness of a law (which for the natural law theorists is essentially synonymous with determining whether it is actually a law), should we look to the statutes and their legitimacy or the application of the law in practice?

    Your central argument is that the prohibition against polygamy is just because polygamy itself is unjust. This is fine, but you substantiate your position with evidence about the characteristics of contemporary polygamous relationships. The abusive effects of such arrangements on children is highlighted.

    To fully explore this issue through the lens of natural law, you would need to step back from the level of social practices and consider the morality of the law itself. Does polygamy necessarily (in all cases) involve the barriers to human flourishing that you have outlined? Or is it only particular practices of certain polygamous communities that constitute injustice? To effectively apply Fuller or Finnis, we would need to consider this.

    An interlocutor could concede that you are correct in your analysis insofar as abusive relationships and particularly relationships that involve the sexual abuse of minors clearly inhibits human flourishing. They might point out that this demonstrates the injustice of such relationships, but that this does not explain why a polygamous relationship between three consenting adults would also be considered unjust.

    How would you respond to this?