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Number one wife

In some societies, this status was automatically bestowed upon the first spouse or the spouse which conceives the first heir. And in others, it's determined by who yields the most influence or holds the most sway over the shared spouse.

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By: Julia Layton. Plural marriage is as old as the Bible. Abraham and Jacob each had more than one wife.

King David had six. King Solomon had not to mention concubines.

Solomon lost God's favor when he married women who did not give up idolatry, David when he sent a woman's husband to the front lines so he could marry her. Whether ancient or modern, polygamous or monogamousmarriage has rules. There may be ages and genders to consider.

In early America, there were races to consider. Often, those considerations draw on religious beliefs: The Quran allows a man to take up to four wives. In Fundamentalist Mormonism, there is no set limit to the of wives in one marriage. Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet who first delivered God's directive that Mormons practice plural marriage, ultimately took dozens of wives.

In the United States, Fundamentalist Mormons are the most common groups to practice polygamy although some Neopagans, Liberal Christians and some others also do. For Mormons, polygamy is the Divine Principle, reflecting God's wish that his people are "fruitful and multiply. Those who continued forming plural marriages were eventually excommunicated and became the Fundamentalist Mormons, which include various sects including the FLDS, the AUB, the Priesthood Work and the Independent Fundamentalists not associated with any particular group.

There are actually quite a few different sects that fall under the heading "Fundamentalist Mormon," and distinguishing between them can be helpful in understanding how polygamy is practiced by the group. The lines connecting the sects can be a bit difficult to sort out….

What are the rules of polygamy?

By various estimates and definitions, there are anywhere from five to more than a dozen different sects within the Fundamentalist Mormon community, each with its own Prophet and living space. At one point, they were all one group of Mormons excommunicated for maintaining a polygamous lifestyle, and many of the break-off sects are still connected financially in one way or another, sometimes via land rights or corporations.

Their s are hard to pin down due to the secretive nature of their polygamist lifestyles, but most estimates are between 30, and 50, With about 10, members, it comprises perhaps 25 percent of Fundamentalist Mormons. Its s are in the area of 7, Other, smaller sects have anywhere from a hundred to about 1, members. While it's true that some of the wives in polygamous marriages receive government support only the first wife is legally married -- Number one wife others are single mothersFundamental Mormons also run farms and have construction companies.

They work on construction projects -- legitimate ones -- all over the West and Mexico, and, with a few exceptions, interact with those outside their sects. In most cases, the people they work with outside their communities simply look the other way on the polygamy issue. It's illegal, but in many areas, particularly in Utah, outsiders practice a certain degree of lenience toward the religiously sanctioned plural marriages.

Polygamy, while invariably illegal throughout North America, is still a form of marriage. As such, there are guidelines regarding the way Fundamentalist Mormons form their commitments and carry them out.

Perhaps the most basic one is this: Only a specific form of polygamy is sanctioned. To those on the outside, Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy may look like a free-for-all, all those women and children, and children holding younger children. In fact, there are rules guiding polygamy just like there are with any other type of marriage. There's no "Polygamy Rule Book" to refer to -- these are outlaw societies, after all -- but some of the guidelines are clear.

Fundamentalist Mormons are not simply polygamous. Polygamy means "plural marriage" and includes polyandrybetween one woman and multiple men; group marriagebetween more than one woman and more than one man; and polygany with an "n"between one man and multiple women.

The latter is the most common type of plural marriage in the world, and it's the one Fundamentalist Mormons practice. There are no polyandrous or group marriages in these communities.

Each Fundamentalist group has a Prophet, and that Prophet, as God's messenger, grants the right to marry. In most sects, members will ask his permission to form a marriage, and he will allow it or not. In the FLDS, which is the Warren Jeffs Community, it is believed that Jeffs actively arranged marriages, placing women or, as is charged, young girls with husbands according to God's determination.

In order to be worthy of marriage and family, a man and his wives must be in good standing with God. Prophets have the power to "reas" a man's wives and children if that man is deemed unrighteous.

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This is believed to be a rare occurrence in most sects. The Divine Principle begins with fruitfulness. Having many children is at the core of the practice, and men and women are expected to multiply. The more wives a man has, the more children he will father. While there certainly are differences between the various sects in the details, it is within these basic guidelines that Fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy. It's ordered by God, guided by the prophet, and for the overarching purpose of producing children.

Although, most of those practicing the principle will tell you that it is also, as much as any other marriage, about love. What are the rules of polygamy? The five wives of Richard S. Jessop and several of their children rest in Short Creek, Ariz. The Fundamentalists " ".

Sunday is usually the only day of the week when polygamous husband Joe, his three wives and their 21 children are able to all share a meal together. The Practice " ". City vs Suburbs: Which is a better place to raise a family? Sources Llewellyn, John R. May 30, Cite This! More Awesome Stuff.