According to modern social values polygamy is seen as a step backwards in society. We see ourselves as higher and greater than people who have multiple partners in marriage. It is not a surprise then why polygamy is illegal in almost every modern place in the world. But why is this the case?
From my experience whenever social progress is taking place the arguments that the people use against this progress are essentially always the same in every generation. When blacks wanted to marry whites earlier in US history the arguments against interracial marriages back in those days overlap with the arguments that are used against gay marriage today. And when polygamists want to get married the arguments used against them are similar to the same arguments against homosexuals.
What is more surprising is that the people who are the first to jump and defend homosexuals getting married are often so negative towards polygamists. All the arguments that can be applied to homosexuals can be just as applied to polygamists but for some reason these arguments are all ignored, the voice of reason is killed off and we return to our traditional values. But let us consider the simplest of all the arguments used in favor of gay marriage, "it is not any of our business what happens between consenting adults in their own home". And this is a great argument. But why not apply the very same argument to polygamists? They are in the privacy of their own home and what they choose to do is up to them, none of our business. Who ever said that consent must always involve two people, it can involve more than two people anyway.
The whole issue of polygamy seems to me to revolve around the issue of love. Society does not recognize that polygamist partners love each other, rather that polygamy is an abusive relationship. I once was discussing polygamy with a liberal from the UK, and he told me he is against it because it against women. It appears from such a response that he does not look at polygamy as an example of love but as an example of the husband exercising his power over other women. This is what I think is the general attitude against polygamy. It is not love, but about exercising power and exploitation against women.
And this was true in the past. Men wanted to seek more power for themselves, so they suppressed women and had multiple wives. They would make their wives obedient to him and do exactly what his will was, so his wives were not so much of partners that he loved, but more like partners with whom he had sex with and commanded as slaves. This is exactly why men had multiple wives but a woman could not have multiple husbands. If she did, that would be adultery, and she would be punished, often by death. The Torah itself speaks of this. The Torah says that adultery is defined as a married woman having a relationship with another men. Such a definition immediately implies that she cannot have a second husband. The Torah is clearly sexist here against women.
But we no longer live in the past. Polygamy can have a very different message today. It does not have to be about obedience and servitude to the husband. It does not need to have one husband with many wives. It can be one wives with many husbands. It can even be gay polygamy with multiple husbands or multiple wives. We can even arrange bisexual polygamist (with which I identify with) relationships also. The variations are huge, whatever we choose them to be.
The concept of marriage has underwent many different meanings in history. It initially was about having a family and about the husband exercising power over the wive. Then later in history marriage was about just having a family, and to this date still carries this meaning. This meaning can still be found in more Orthodox Jewish weddings were marriage is really about having a family. Today the most common meaning behind marriage is love. Two people love each other, and regardless of whether or not they want to have a family they marry. Marriage is seen as a response to love in most modern places in the world today. But polygamy is sadly not recognized. And it can be recognized if we change our meaning of marriage and love. By today's standards it is considered to be wrong to love multiple people. But why? Why should it be wrong? It is time to change our attitude that love can only involve two people, it can involve more people, it is after all okay to have multiple friends, so why not several people that you love?