In the case of polygamy, has there really been a change in the definition of marriage?

While I could see someone today wanting to define marriage as one-man-and-multiple-women, I don’t think that’s how people viewed it in the past. That is, they didn’t see their situation as one big marriage where everybody was married to everybody else. Rather, marriage was still simply one man and one woman. It’s just that the man was allowed to have more than one marriage.

Marriage was defined, even in the days of polygamy, as one-man-one-woman. A man didn’t marry all the wives at the same time in a single transaction. Each marriage was its own transaction between husband and wife. When a husband divorced one wife, he didn’t divorce all of his wives. Their marriages remained intact, only the one woman’s marriage was dissolved.

We haven’t changed the definition of marriage, we’ve only limited the number of concurrent marriages a person can have. If polygamy operates under the same definition of marriage as we have today, then what’s wrong with polygamy?

Initial post by Amy Hall, adapted with responses.
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