X-Message-Number: 1090
Date: 01 Aug 92 21:40:38 EDT
From: "Steven B. Harris" <>
Subject: Monogamy in the Next Life

Charles Platt says:

>>Therefore, if my spouse dies and is frozen, I will still be in 
a dilemma when it comes to getting reattached to someone 
else--especially if that person also decides to sign up. 
(And I do not accept Steve's suggestion that she would forgo 
her chance at immortality just because my previously wife is 

   Remember, please, that this was a suggestion I tossed out only
in order to shoot down, pointing out that among real-life
Mormons, the certainty of finding oneself in a polygamous
relationship in the next life does NOT deter women from marrying
within the religion to a man who is already "married for eter-
nity" to one wife, or from making certain Mormon marriage vows
which supposedly guarantee immortality in the best section of
Heaven.  The parallel to cryonics here is really very close. 
Mormons believe that the possibility of polygamy in the next life
is just part of the rules, and that if you're female and want to
live forever and be with your spouse, and your spouse already has
a dead wife, then you're stuck taking the emotional risk of
winding up wife #2.  Incidentally, since Mormons do not believe
that women may have more than one husband in the life to come,
they believe that a woman who has been married twice on Earth to
good men and later converts to Mormonism, will have her choice of
husbands in the hereafter.  Mormon widows may even elect to marry
another man in a different kind of ceremony, with the explicit
understanding that the second marriage is for the duration of
Earth-life only, and will NOT be in force in the hereafter
(instead, the first marriage will be in force).  This kind of
remarriage is not uncommon for Mormon widows who remarry, and
emotionally they seem to have little problem with it.

   As for the second point, Charles argues that resurrected
frozen people are going to have great difficulty with monogamy,
so much so that cryonics is going to be outlawed.  I hope he's
wrong, but we'll have to see.  For my part, I simply observe that
people have difficulty with monogamy today, and although most
sexual relationships tend to be monogamous, the average duration
of these relationships in general is shorter today than ever
before.  I know very few people in their forties and fifties who
are still working at a first marriage, and among people who have
enough money to not be required to stay in a marginal marriage
for economic reasons, the duration of marriage is even shorter. 
Perhaps, then, we are headed for serial monogamy rather than
polygamy, but I note that if the duration of relationships is
short enough, there isn't much difference.  Even among 19th
century Mormon polygamists, living was not communal, as a rule,
but instead involved rotating visits of the man to different
households (my own great grandfathar, for example, had a wife in
Utah and one in Canada).  This can be viewed as a sort of serial

   As a slightly tangential issue, BTW, there is considerable
difference psychologically between men and women regarding
monogamy, with women tending to be much more monogamous than men. 
There are possibly evolutionary reasons for this, involving
optimal strategies for reproduction that differ between the
sexes.  Monogamy is not written into the human genome quite as
permanently as Charles seems to suggest, I think.  The size
difference between men and women alone suggests a history of
physical competition between men for women (this is still the
most common motive for murder!) which in turn suggests that the
winners of such competitions historically got more than their
"share" (as with elk, walruses, etc).  As a species, we know from
anthropological data that we are mildly polygynous.  Among
animals that really do instinctively pair-bond permanently and
monogamously for life (foxes, geese, gibbons, etc.), the average
size difference between males and females is nil.

   If cryonics leads to problems, we can predict that it will
more likely be for the case of men having to share a woman, than
for the case of women having to share a man.  Before I am
assaulted in print by the women on the forum, let me hasten to
add that I personally do not approve of gender-based double
standards.  But in some sense, I do believe that historically
such things some *partly* out of way humans are built psycho-
logically, and are not entirely the arbitrary social construc-
tions of manipulative males.

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