offers a taste of everything these days--even personal ads for polygamists.
Here's a sample from polygamy.com: "A Ph.D. engineer, now an investment manager
and wife, a teacher, building new home in (Texas) in a private reserve seeks another
wife, age 25-40.
We seek a kind, gentle, intelligent, attractive and committed lady to
share our home. Prospective wife should be career minded, a committed submissive
to the husband. She should have a high libido and be very open minded and willing
to explore in her relationship to her husband."
Although polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, it's practiced by an estimated
100,000 Americans, and is commonly associated with the Mormon Church, though church
members are loath to admit it. Says William Stoddard, local Mormon Church spokesman:
"(Polygamy) is absolutely prohibited and has been for over 100 years.
But the Internet has helped the practice expand: Men and women in search
of multiple marriage partners need look no further than such sites as TruthBearer.org,
3coins.com and bfree.org, just to name a few.
The kicker: The ad-placers aren't Mormons, and the sites don't operate from
Utah. This ain't your mother's polygamy.
HAVE JUST ONE?
Mark Henkel, founder of TruthBearer.org, a pro-Christian-polygamy Web site
operated out of Maine, is a conservative Christian who, after extensive Bible
study, realized that the marriage lessons he's learned are wrong. Since Isaiah,
Abraham, Moses, and other figures had more than one wife, Henkel decided to follow
in the "mighty heroes" footsteps. Once he hit the Internet, he found he wasn't
"We know that we have to bring this to others," says Henkel. "... It's not
the mainstream at this point. That we put the words Christianity and polygamy
together--which used to be an oxymoron--is testament to the growth that we've
Henkel adds that Christian polygamy differs from Mormon polygamy. With Mormons,
he says, the main purpose for polygamy is procreation; they believe it's their
duty to give life to a multitude of children's unborn souls. With Christians,
it's about following Scripture.
"There are places where God will call a family to one more wife," Henkel
says. "This is not about flesh. It's not about a harem or women as possessions.
This is marriage--it's pro marriage."
He points out that "love not force" is a large part of Christian polygamy:
Women aren't forced into a relationship. He insists there's no abuse of women,
and men don't take the "chest-pounder" view, forcing women to do anything against
Of course, not everyone agrees.
Carmen Thompson has been in two polygamous relationships: one Mormon, in
which she was the sixth of eight wives; and one Christian--to a couple she met
over the Internet.
"The Mormon fundamentalists are more inclusive, and prefer to increase their
numbers in breeding, while Christians increase their numbers in adults via the
'Net," says Thompson, who lives in Pennsylvania.
Thompson disagrees with Henkel when it comes to abuse. "It's about power,
control and sex and has very little to do with God," Thompson says. "I believe
(men) are using God and Jesus as their seduction pull. The men are usually very
charismatic, very good with scripture, and they use God's word to basically get
you to do what they want." She endured abuse in both polygamous marriages.
is now in a monogamous relationship and helps refugees, or former polygamous wives
and sisterwives. She runs www.polgyamyinfo.com, where she exposes abuses and offers
help for those looking to leave a polygamous relationship.
Michael Shone Sr., of Bellingham, Wash., operates the largest polygamy personal
ads site on the Internet (www.3coins.com), with almost 400 ads--all for women.
He says religion has nothing to do with the fact that he has two wives.
to college and decided to all get married, and thought that hadn't happened to
anyone else, so we were in the closet," he says. Then we got on the Internet and
It was 1996, and they'd come across the Web's first polygamy sites. They
realized they weren't alone, and watched as the Internet became a meeting place
for other polygamists.
"There's gay bars and regular bars out there, there's no polygamy bars or
groups or organizations or associations," he says. "The advent of the Internet
has exploded the availability (of polygamy)."
Though he was thrilled to find so many Web sites, he found that they all
had one thing in common: They promoted patriarchal Christian polygamy. He knew
that wasn't for him.
"The first thing we thought was that the women were being abused. There was
sort of a patriarchal deal ... that sounded like just an excuse to 'own' women.
... I didn't agree with that. Neither did (my wives)," says Shone. We decided
we'll put together a personal site for women, because it's really about women.
If the women get along there's the possibility for a relationship."
Though his site's been responsible for more than 90 polygamous unions since
'96, Shone insists he's not pushing the practice.
"I don't feel like I promote polygamy. These people are going to do it anyhow,
so why not do it through our site, where there's at least some rhyme or reason
and someone's watching what's going on? I can only go through my own experience
and say it's a really neat relationship."