I received a question this week in my inbox. Actually, they asked a few questions over multiple emails. I answered the ones I could and deferred this one for a post, because I felt it was fairly involved and I hadn’t yet tackled it on the blog in any great depth. Here’s an excerpt of their emails (with their permission):
Why is it that the men of the old testament including the heroes of the Christian faith -Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon etc etc all could have multiple wives, concubines, sex slaves of the beautiful captives (Deuteronomy) and with some of these guys they with their wives permission could have sex with others. (Abraham and Jacob.) God even tells David he would have given him more wives if he asked … It is so confusing to us this big change in the bible. Is not Jesus the same yesterday today and forever?
Where is the change? We can’t find one direct command from Jesus or Paul that the men should stop having all these wives. They say don’t commit adultery or fornication. It just seems so confusing because none of those guys were ever rebuked or condemned by God for having all those women. You just could not have sex with virgins or other men’s wives. Other than that all was okay.
Why did they have, why could they have, why were they never rebuked for having many women- wives and concubines, why did God offer David even more if he would have asked, why could the men take sex slaves of the captives, why did Paul and Jesus never address the Jewish men of their time and tell them to stop having concubines etc, why did Jacobs wive give him permission to have sex with his concubine and God never condemn him or her for it? How does that all relate to today …. I just want the truth.
I decided to answer this one in a post also because I think Christianity tends to gloss over details like this. They try to easily explain it away with “oh, that was the Old Testament”, as if the Old Testament doesn’t matter. They say things like “Jesus changed everything”, and yes, while Jesus died to save us, and that’s monumental, really, Jesus didn’t change anything while here. He clarified, He modeled, He explained, but He Himself even said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. – Matthew 5:17-18
Last I checked, the Earth has not disappeared, and so, the Old Testament is still valid, we just have a better explanation from Jesus on how they apply. We now know that works will not save us, that the law is there to teach us that we need Christ. The law is still valid, in that it still shows us, daily, that we need Christ, and daily we need to bear our cross and die to self so that Christ can live in us.
So, if all this is still valid, what do we do with the Old Testament and the issue of polygamy, of having multiple wives? I know my Mormon brothers and sisters will probably disagree with this entire post as they have a different understanding of polygamy, but for the rest of Christianity, I offer this as my perspective on how to understand God’s intent in all of this.
From the beginning
For me, I find the easiest way to get a clear understanding of God’s original intent is from the first 2 chapters of Genesis. The world is new, it’s perfect, it’s untainted. We haven’t fallen yet, we don’t have sinful natures, and so nothing from God is a concession, or a mitigation. It’s simply His perfect will.
In Genesis 2 get a more detailed view of the events that happened in Genesis 1. We see God noticing that creation is not yet complete.
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” – Genesis 2:18
Now, I could point out that God says “I will make him a helper…”, a helper, not helpers. Singular. Like I said, I could point that out, but it’s a weak argument. We can also take verse 24:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24
Here God clearly states that a man should be joined to his wife (singular) to become one flesh. So, the model seems to be 1 man + 1 wife = 1 marriage. I think this makes the argument a little stronger, but if we jump back to Genesis 1, after the man and his wife are created, we see this:
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. – Genesis 1:31
God saw everything, including the man and the woman, together, as one. And it was very good. A man and a woman together is very good. Apparently God didn’t see a need for a second or third wife. This pattern of one man for one woman continues for a few generations.
The first record of polygamy in the Bible
The first time polygamy (or bigamy anyways) occurs is in Genesis 4:
Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. – Genesis 4:19
This Lamech (there are two, the other is the father of Noah) was the son of Methusael, who was the son of Mehujael, who was the son of Irad, the son of Enoch who was the son of Cain. In other words, this was a disgraced offshoot of God’s people, no longer in a relationship with God. From Lamech’s words later on it seems that the habit of killing had continued in this family, and, as we see in the rest of the Bible, when a group splits off from God’s people, they tend to go wayward in many aspects of their life. So, this account of polygamy certainly can’t be used as justification.
But, in God’s people, monogamy continues for nearly 20 generations in God’s people, until we reach Abram.
The Patriarchs and Polygamy
Abram (later called Abraham) was a man destined to father a nation. God gave him this promise in Genesis 13:
And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” Genesis 13:14-17
But after years of waiting, Abram gets impatient for God’s promises to come to fruition.
But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” – Genesis 15:2-5
God reiterates His promise, saying that Abram will not have to adopt an heir.
Ten years pass and now Sarai, Abram’s wife, becomes impatient with God. After all, Abraham is 85 years old now. So she comes up with a scheme to hurry God’s plans. After all, God had said that Abram’s descendants would come from Abram’s seed…but didn’t mention Sarai. So, she hatches a plan:
So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. – Genesis 16:2-3
This is the first act of Polygamy in God’s people, and it’s done out of a lack of faith in God, an impatience to have His promises fulfilled. And this act of defiance has ramifications even today. Hagar bears a son, Ishmael who goes on to start a nation: the Ishmaelites who made war with God’s people for generations, and continue to do so this day, but now they are called Muslims (Islam teaches that Ishmael was the ancestor of Mohammed, the last prophet). To this very day, this case of polygamy is causing strife in the world, people continue to die daily because of it.
There’s a lot more to this story, and I suggest you read about it for yourself. After reading it, I don’t think anyone can hold this up as an example for God allowing to happen. It’s a clear defiance and contrary to God’s will. But, nevertheless, God does protect Hagar and Ishmael. After all, He had made a covenant, and unconditional promise, with Abram, to protect His descendants. I understand some may misunderstand this as being permissive or allowing it to happen, but the way I read it, it’s God continuing to stay faithful to His people, despite their straying.
Jacob, Rachel and Leah
The story of Jacob can be found in Genesis 29. Jacob has just run away from home having tricked his brother into giving away his birthright, and tricked his father into bestowing it on him. Another example of this family’s difficulty in waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Jacob goes to live with his uncle, Laban, and there meets Rachel, whom he absolutely falls in love with. After a month of working for free, he strikes a bargain with Laban: 7 years of work in exchange for Rachel as a wife. They agree, and Jacob happily works the next 7 years. He was so excited to have Rachel as his wife that the Bible says it seemed as only a few days.
But, Laban swaps Rachel for Leah, his eldest daughter, on the wedding day and Jacob doesn’t notice until morning. In a rage, Jacob confronts Laban who cites some custom about the eldest daughter needing to be wed before the younger and offers Rachel as a second wife, after a week long honeymoon with Leah, if Jacob will work another 7 years afterwards.
Jacob accepts, but I’d argue it was not a rational decision. He had just been duped into marrying the wrong girl. He was angry and hurt. I don’t think you can use this as a point for polygamy. Particularly when you see what happens to the family.
Rachel and Leah spend the next few years fighting over Jacob. Rachel has his love, but Leah bears his children. So, Rachel offers him another wife: her maid. Leah counters by offering him another wife: her maid. And here’s Jacob, caught in a war between his two wives with two others as collateral damage.
Nothing in this story leads me to believe that polygamy is a good thing or that God wanted it this way. Does God continue to bless Jacob? Yes, but He had made that promise earlier as well. Jacob would be renamed as Israel, the father of the Israelites. God used this unfortunate family circumstance to further His Kingdom. As Paul says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
It doesn’t mean God makes everything bad happen, but that God can turn even the worst situation into a positive one, eventually. From this lamentable story in the history of God’s people, God grew a nation, a people, without whom, Christians wouldn’t exist. But, I have no doubt He wishes it would have happened without all this nonsense. That’s the problem with creating beings in God’s image: they have free-will.
Gideon and his wives
You read the story of Gideon starting at Judges 6. Gideon was the son of a weak family of a weak clan of a weak tribe in Israel. His story is one of God showing His power. God used the weakest of the weak, with a ridiculously small army to conquer an enemy that was harassing them constantly. But, unfortunately, Gideon falls into some bad habits once the enemies are defeated. He sets up an idol in Judges 8 and Israel begins to worship it.
Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house. – Judges 8:27
This was all done when Gideon was quite young. After things have settled, Israel lives in peace for 40 years (during which they unfortunately start to depart from God again), and Gideon starts collecting wives.
Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. – Judges 8:30-31
We don’t know how many wives, just that he had “many”, and a concubine. And then the story pretty much ends for Gideon. He dies. If you stop reading there, you might think “Oh, he did his part, and God gave him a lot of wives, and he was happy.” But, this house doesn’t have a happy ending. Abimelech grows up and decides he wants to rule. But he has 70 brothers to contend with. So, he goes to his mother’s family to raise enough money to hire people to kill all 70 of his brothers, and he becomes king.
He rules 3 years before his former supporters turn on him. He’s killed by a millstone being dropped on his head in a battle, and as soon as he dies, everyone drops what they were doing and just goes home. So ends the polygamy of Gideon.
While Gideon served God early in his life, later on, he had started to depart. He started worshiping this idol he had put up, and fell away. He rejected God’s counsel of having one wife and got many, and it ended in disaster.
David’s relationship with God
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” – 1 Samuel 13:14
This verse causes a lot of problems. People read it, and think “If David did something, it must be what God wanted”. But David’s life was full of sin. He’s an adulterer and a murderer among other things. What made him a “man after God’s own heart” was that he was always repentful, always tried to return, to repair his relationship with God. He felt true sorrow at what he had down. That doesn’t dismiss or condone his actions, merely his repentance.
Now our questioner above says:
God even tells David he would have given him more wives if he asked
This is not quite true, but I see where it’s coming from. The actual verse is this:
I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 2 Samuel 12:8
The context of this verse is when David is accused by Nathan, the prophet, of murdering Uriah and taking his wife. God, through Nathan, rebukes him. But this verse doesn’t say God would give him more wives. It’s in the context of all his possessions, prestige and power. This verse doesn’t even say that David got Saul (the former King’s) wives as wives, merely that he was to keep them (provide for them). That alone would be a status symbol. The idea that God gave David multiple wives and would have given more is, I believe, flawed.
Unfortunately, David’s family seems to suffer the same sort of fate that the others do. When the head of the household sins, when he goes away from God’s plan, when he’s not modeling a good walk with God, the effects on the children are disastrous. His son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, and two years later, Absolom, Tamar’s brother, plots to kill all of David’s sons as revenge, though only ends up killing Amnon for his crime. Years later, Absolom manages to turn the kingdom away from David, becoming king himself.
Again, not a shining example of a polygamous family.
Solomon is another difficult one, because he was given wisdom, directly from God, yet had hundreds of wives and concubines. But, I want to point out a couple of things. Have you ever read Song of Solomon? It seems to be from earlier in his life. When he had one wife, his first. He was happy, carefree, full of love.
As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women. – Song of Solomon 2:2
Later on, when reflecting on all the things he has done, the empire he has built, his accomplishments, his life, he says this:
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun—all the days of futility. For that is your portion in this life and in your work at which you toil under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 9:9
Solomon, the man blessed with wisdom from God, the man with hundreds and wives and concubines, has this parting advice: Live joyfully with the wife whom you love. Not wives, not concubines. The wife. I think he longed for the days of simplicity.
In the Bible, I see a continuity, a single, continuous, clear statement about marriage from God:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. – Genesis 2:18
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24
And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. – Deuteronomy 17:17
But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:14-15
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. – Mark 10:7-8
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” – 1 Corinthians 6:16
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. – 1 Corinthians 7:2
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, – 1 Timothy 3:2
The constant message in the Bible is one man, one woman. All the advice for dealing with marriages is within that context. Yes, there are a few verses to deal with edge cases, as there are with divorce, but that was never the intent of God to allow it.
So, when did it change? I propose that it didn’t. I submit that God created marriage as a monogamous relationship, and He has always supported that approach. And polygamy was never intended, and any commandments relating to it are there to mitigate the disasters that ensue after the fact, just as we have for divorce.
So take care of your one spouse, and revel in the fact that they are yours and yours alone. Yes, it may cause some struggles, but struggles are good, conflict is an opportunity for growth. Because I think having another spouse would just multiply your problems, as we see in the Bible. One relationship is hard enough. With two wives, you would have three relationships to manage…sounds like a nightmare to me. No wonder they all went homicidal.
116 thoughts on “When did God stop allowing multiple wives”
The technical term is “polygyny”; the others imply also multiple husbands.
As far as 2 Samuel, I’ll have to disagree:
2 Samuel 12:8 (ESV)
And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
Most translations actually say bosom, but they pretty much all imply given as true “wives”, and that means “relations” just by Jewish Law alone.
And, of course, you know the old polygamist joke about 1 Tim 3:2.
I have also seen some interpret that “three-fold cord” in Ecc 4:12 as an “extra” wife, so keep adding to make the cord as strong as you want . . .
But the first place Monogamy is mentioned as the perfect standard is Gen 1:27. States quite plainly 1:1 ration of man to woman for the perfect mix. Or else why stop with just Eve?
Personally, I make enough mistakes with just one wife.
God did make just two,but then they commited a sin,so he set them out of the garden.And then he said be fruitful and multiply.it was a while before there was any other wemon on this earth.man made them by being fruitful.yes God only made 1 man and 1 woman,but they disobeyed God.but he did allow more than 1 wife then,doesnt matter if it was to populate quicker or not,the bible says GOD never changes,so its hard to understand how he supposedly did change his mind!im struggling with this,i dont know what to think!
I don’t think He ever changed His mind on this.
Jd u being naive god doesn’t do anything by guess if it happened are u saying that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to let happen. Or he had no control over what happened you post a long blog about when God decided man should not have multiple wives but u never really answered the question. U theologist, believe u understand God’s word, but are jus as confused.
God doesn’t change His mind, and while He has the power and authority to have full control, He doesn’t exercise it. Instead, He allows us free-will. Does that help answer the question?
I think your explanation was well done and quite thorough. Thank you!
I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
The first polygomy was in Gen.4 when Lamech took two wives. He was also from the line of Cain, no longer walking with God. He was cut off for killing his brother. God’s people continued to Obey him for 20 generations until Abram. When he became impatient with God and had Ishmael by his wife’s handmaid Hagar.
First of all a lot of older languages never had differences in words for plural or singular. Everything could honestly be a translation error. And guess who decided how it was written. The leaders of the church who wanted to be followed. My reply to everything would be this. Let him ask of God and it shall be given. Be wary of Satan spirit for it will tell you that good is evil and evil is good.
It’s true, some languages don’t (like Japanese for example), but Hebrew definitely did. The morphology of Hebrew words is quite complex as they had different word forms for many things including gender, plurality and tenses.
The righteousness of the Creator does NOT change. HIS mind changes from the evil HE will bring on an individual or nation once they repent.
Well I’m not certain that another ‘man’ interpreting God’s words, especially if the scripture being referenced is not a verbatim translation has any more value than the next person interpreting Gods words.
I see many errors that christians believe to be true, such as the virgin birth where in fact the true ancient text contains a word that means ‘young girl’. It was not until the greeks got into the translation process that this was changed to ‘virgin’. So taking any document as Gods words when it is not of ancient origin and is not available to be read in it’s original text is a reach by any man made religion in my opinion.
Lots of wives to populate the earth, sure, sounds good. In today’s social setting, I agree, one is enough.
But there are no definitive statements where God says ‘stop it’ as he did when he called an end to sex ones son or daughter or brother or sister and told mankind to keep it outside the 2nd cousin (I believe it’s the second cousin, could be third).
So there are times when God says things ‘specifically’ and there are times when man states what he wants to be heard and abates Gods words. This being the breaking of Gods words when he warned us not to speak for him but to simply teach what he had given us without altering his words.
Same as the ‘savior’ issue.
God says in Hosea, … besides me there is no other savior ….., so why do christians claim the Jesus is their savior and turn their backs on God? I can’t do that.
Nowhere did God give up his moniker of God nor does he share it anywhere in the OT nor did the Jesus ever say that he is god or that god is he. This is a translation by intent by the christian church via the first ecumenical counsel back in 325 AD. When the christian bible was created.
I’m a child of god as we all are. I am a male. I am a son of God thinking like that.
Interpretation for self interest is not a good thing.
I disagree with your supposed “errors”.
For example, just because the word they used for virgin technically means “young girl” doesn’t mean they weren’t talking about a virgin. It was implied using that term. Otherwise others wouldn’t be very surprised at it and the narrative falls apart. A young woman having a baby is not a sign that is recognizable. A virgin having a baby, that is.
Needing a direct commandment from God to say “stop it” for everything you know is wrong, well, that’s legalism. My children try to do that too, “Well, you never said I couldn’t poke them with a needle!” The answer “I shouldn’t have to, it’s obvious by my previous statements.”
Though, I do agree that Christians tend to turn their backs on God, and I’m annoyed at that too. However, Jesus does say He’s God in John 10:30. He also implicitly states it in Matthew 16:13-20 and Mark 8:29.
But even without that the Bible claims it.
Dueteronomy 10:17 says God is the “Lord of Lords” and Revelation 17:14 says Jesus is the “Lord of Lords”
And then of course there is John 1 which clearly states that Jesus is the Word and the Word is God.
As for sharing the title of God, God’s first name in the Hebrew bible is Elohim, which is a plural. “One of many powers” if you want to get technical. You could argue that expresses the Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then the Bible falls into cohesion. Seems a simpler explanation than your conspiracy theory.
Jesus needed to be born of a virgin. All of his born of a female is born of iniquity. But Jesus was without sin. God sent him to Earth to represent himself but relate to is in human flesh. In other words while we were created in God’s image Jesus is God created in man’s image. For Jesus to be a walking living powerful message of God sent to Redeem us, everything about him had to be extraordinary. Therefore Jesus had to be born of a virgin, just as his conception was of God. That’s why Joseph was told by God in a dream, “DO not be afraid to take Mary ad thy wife…..” if his mother was to be just a young girl Jesus purpose would have always been questioned, even today.
This is a bunch of evil justification to follow roman monogamy….God does not condemn polygny…. Never says anything against it… People are reading into to much and adding to Gods word…. It to bad the article follows the world.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2 is clear that each man should have one wife and each women one husband.
On top of that, there’s the clear laws in Deuteronomy saying kings can’t have more than one wife. In the New Testament, elders and deacons cannot have had more than one wife, making it clear that that’s not lawful. As well, they are supposed to be our example, so by simple extension we shouldn’t either.
As well, there’s Genesis 2 where God spells out that 2 become one. Not three or more.
And then there’s the evidence in the story of the Bible. Every time someone takes multiple wives in the Bible, it causes unnecessary strife.
Sorry, I don’t see how you can say the Bible doesn’t say anything against it. It does both explicitly and implicitly. You have to be trying hard to ignore it.
Well Jay Dee you too are trying hard to ignore other portions of the Bible such as: 2 Samuel, chapter 12, verse 8, when God said to David, I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. And you ignore 2 Samuel, Chapter 12, verse 11, when God says to David, Thus says the Lord, I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it , and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. (with those words of God the Bible explicitly says God gave David more than one wife; and to later punish David, God would incite the neighbor to commit adultery and polygamy with those many women). You also overlook Jacob, Rachel, Leah and their two maids, and Jacob made 12 kids with those 4 women, who went on to become the 12 tribes of Israel. So if God could make Jesus with the Virgin Mary, why did he allow the polygamous situation with Jacob and 4 women? The Bible often does say one thing on one page, and if you turn enough pages you can find opposing sentiments. And you do not have to try very hard to continually find such counterpoints (like Ecclesiastes – a time of love a time of hate, a time of war a time of peace. It SEEMs like God’s creation is an ongoing synthesis of polar opposites). But like a song lyric says, “…still a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” It seems to me that you are engaging in that very same confirmation bias. You lean heavily one way and refuse to see the polar opposite in God’s word. I am so far from knowing the truth that I cannot see the horizon. But I am just as far from convinced that you possess the truth. Someone once said, if anyone tells you they have the truth, run far away, very fast.
I’m not trying to ignore it at all.
David’s case was pretty unique. There was a king in Israel who didn’t follow God’s commands – Saul. God put David in his place, and offered David all of Saul’s possessions. Saul already had a lot of wives, so they came as well. That’s not exactly God condoning polygamy, but rather caring for the women who would have suffered greatly if they were put out on the street. And yes, the kings were often warned that if they did not follow God’s law, then they would lose everything. That doesn’t mean God is condoning his neighbour sleeping with his wives, but rather that there would be chaos and unlawfulness.
Add to that that David was a king under God’s law, and according to Deut 17:17, he was not allowed to gain any more wives. He inherited the responsibility of feeding, clothing and keeping a roof over all those wives’ heads. That’s not the same.
Rachel and Leah are another weird example that was not supposed to happen. Jacob was tricked. At no point did God tell him to marry Rachel though. He did it of his own accord. And just because he spawned the 12 tribes doesn’t mean it was a good thing. God can take our terrible decisions and still sometimes make good happen from them. If we are saying that the fact that Jacob married 2 women and that led to Israel, and thus it’s proof that polygamy is okay, then we also have to accept that prostitution, adultery, murder and idolatry are as well, because Jesus’s ancestors did all those things too.
So, let’s not equate “allow” with “condone”. God puts up with a lot of garbage from us. Don’t mean He’s in favor of it.
I think if you read the Bible as a whole, and keep the verses with their context, the message is pretty clear – one woman for one man.
Jay Dee, You make the most sense and you make it he Bible make sense. I think some people here just want more than one wife! LOL!
Well done Jay Dee. Very well founded scripturally, but just to throw a fly in the ointment so to speak I wonder what your explanation of the prophetic passages of scripture in terms of the 10 virgins would be? Don’t get me wrong I do tend to go along with your argument of one man to one wife, as even Paul in 1 Timothy 3:2 lays the groundwork to back that up, but the question remains that symbolically Jesus is the Bridegroom(singular) and in the analogy given He fully intends to marry all 10 virgins, but in the end while He doesn’t get all five He does marry the five who had extra oil with them. Given this instance in scripture I find it a little hard to put the final nail in the coffin that its a sin to have more than one wife, but as you showed with a breakdown of scripture it certainly seems to be the smart thing to have but one wife. Interested to hear your thoughts as always.
But I’m confused…where does it say the virgins are to be his bride? I thought they were his friends that were to accompany him into the banquet (a custom at the time, as I understand). Sort of like bridesmaids…but not.
Do you have a scripture that shows them to be brides?
Far as I know, every time a bride of Christ is mentioned, it is always singular: the church as a whole (at least, those who are faithful).
“””Matthew 25 King James Version (KJV)
25 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”””
I admittedly don’t know per se all the Jewish customs of the day and their relevance, but when I read this I can’t help but think that the heavy use of the word ‘bridegroom’ and ‘virgin’ conotates the action taking place between the main protagonists in the story. Why would a bridegroom be inviting female virgins to his marriage with a separate virgin (singular) who isn’t mentioned? If the bridegroom is just a man inviting friends to his wedding then why the heavy emphasis on the women being virgins and not just friends? Now in Jewish culture I do know that it was significant in that the proposal/certification of marriage could be made up to a year before, the purpose of which being that the bridegroom had to build a home for his bride and that home had to then be voted acceptable by the Bridegroom’s father and the thing of it was that the Bridegroom did not know precisely when he could claim his bride, because it was up to the father to okay the house thus freeing the Bridegroom to go claim his bride which he was already considered to be married to. The whole process could take up to a year hence the need to be ever presently ready for when the bridegroom came, which as we all know five of the women weren’t. Now it’s also according to Jewish custom that the marriage was consummated physically, which I think took place over a period of 7(don’t quote me on this) days and then after that was the wedding reception. So I guess my response back to you Jay Dee is that according to what Jewish custom I do know is that the Bridegroom came looking specifically for these 10 women, which with what I know of custom and the matter of fact way of how the scripture reads they were his intended betrothed. Five were ready for him and five weren’t. Some of the church is ready for Jesus’s return and some of it isn’t, but as a whole the church is supposed to be ready for the wedding, only Scripture tells us that some will be left out or have the door shut in there face. So if the latter instance is an example of many within the church being wed to Jesus at His return why wouldn’t the allegory that He gave of the 10 virgins mean exactly the same thing, when it’s supposed to serve as an example of the fractured up Church that we see today?
I’ve never read that parable as then ten virgins being brides, but then, that may be a conditioning of my upbringing.
So, we have two possible interpretations. Does it not make more sense to take the one that is inline with the rest of scripture? Rather than the one that turns the rest of scripture on it’s head?
But, even without that, this is allegorical to show the diversity within God’s church, that some will be prepared and some will not (a warning that continues throughout the New Testament). It can’t be used to create a theology about marriage, because marriage is not really the point of the story. The point is being ready, because it could come at any time.
Just as we won’t take the parable of the thief in the night and say that it’s okay for us all to become thieves, because Jesus is our model, and he’s a thief in the parable. That’s not the point of the parable.
That’s my thoughts on it anyways.
Good question though, thanks Guy.
The early church had no such prohibitions on multiple wives. The institutionalized Catholic church’s doctrines changed the way we think about marriage for the layman and the leaders of the church. They decided priest none everyone else one. You are a product of the doctrines of the catholic church and are too blind to see it for what it is. God did not change His perspective, or He would have had Paul say that all the men of the church should be the husband of one wife. Not just leadership. It’s hard to see past what you have been indoctrinated in to. It causes people to not see the truth even when it’s written before your eyes.
I disagree. The church did teach that a married man should have a single wife. In Roman society, polygamy was already illegal among it’s citizens, however, there were some other cultures who were polygamous – so, then what do you do when you have a polygamous family join the church? Do you force divorces? Do you make the man kick the other woman (women?) out? Do you de-legitimize potential children perhaps endangering their lives? Do you tell the wives, sorry, you don’t get to have a husband or sex anymore.
The answer seems to have been to accept them as they are – but forbid them from being in positions of power. This both let people join the church wherever they were at, while also ensuring that these practices were not passed on to further generations.
Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:3-9, 1 Corinthians 7 all point to a “one man, one woman” model as being perpetuated by God, Jesus and the apostles.
Keep in mind the actual wedding took place with the writing of the wedding contracts, not at any actual ceremony. The 10 virgins were there either as processional torch bearers or bridesmaids, and not as brides. Because, otherwise, the oil should have been provided by the bridegroom himself. Or what would that say about a man who would not give oil to one of his wives (a direct violation of Jewish Law)? Since the virgins were not, in fact wedded, to the bridegroom, they were responsible for their own oil.
Sorry buddy but your drawn out explanation is wrong….in the New Testament it states that A Bishop and a Decon must be a man of one wife ( Leaders of the body) and since you brought up the marriages of the past, why didn’t you mentioned what was said to hosea or Isiah 4 where it mentions in latter days 7 woman will prusue 1 man in marriage DURING the excellent time here on earth?… it is not recomended to have a lot of wives because your heart will have to focus on worldly things and Paul himself said, even if you are married you you be as if you’re not because the time is near…meaning, focus more on God than your wife even if your married to substain your oil during these final hours
The parable is there for an analogy of being prepared. The parable helped to illustrate a point in a way the people of the time would understand. It’s best left as a parable.
Remember, The Bible has euphemisms and comparisons from them at time just like we do today. For example, if I say a girl is “hot” we would understand that I’m saying she’s good looking and not referring to her temperature.
So do your best to study from the stance of what lines up Biblically and not what would introduce a new line of Thought. Context is key. Excellent question and hope that helps.
As you are no doubt away of, I think the OT makes a strong case that polygamy is not inherently immoral so I’m going to disagree with a number of things.
In your accounting of the events with Abram/Sarai/Hagar you make the assumption that what Sarai suggested something she and Abram considered forbidden of God, yet there is no command against it for them to think that way. The whole episode makes a lot more sense to me if you assume that Abram and Sarai saw nothing morally wrong with what she suggested. There is nothing in the scriptures to indicate that Abram doing this constituted any kind of ‘straying’ from God’s will. To me that seems like projecting current day views back into the past.
The law of Moses did not forbid it, in fact it regulated it laying out rules on how husbands with plural wives should conduct themselves. 1Tim 3:2 lays out a requirement for somebody becoming a Bishop that they be the husband of ‘one wife’, which can be seen as implying there were faithful early Christians with plural wives, as was allowed among the Jews back then.
I’m not fully comfortable with blaming Sarai with a lack of faith either. She said she was ‘restrained’ from having children, which can imply she saw it as a temporary thing at that time. You can just as easily attribute other motives like she wanted her husband to experience fatherhood without having to wait for the time she could experience motherhood, and she saw this was an allowable way to do that. It doesn’t negate or abandon God’s promises to them, and it doesn’t state that she resorted to this as an ‘instead of’ option rather than ‘in addition to’.
As for Jacob, again it really doesn’t make sense to me to suggest that taking a second wife was something he considered to be wrong. If he felt that was morally wrong and felt hurt and angry over being duped, why keep Leah? A deception like that is clear grounds to annul a marriage and he could demand he be given what he was promised so why not do that if it was wrong to have plural wives? Once again there is no condemnation of Jacob for his choice.
As for David, even if I accept your take that ‘more’ mean ‘more of anything other than more wives’, 2Sam 12:8 VERY clearly spells out in no uncertain terms that God gave David several wives previously. David had multiple wives before he even made it onto the throne even, and after he got there God gave him more wives, why then would God have an issue with giving David more wives still after that if David wanted it? If having plural wives was morally wrong, God would not have given him more wives already. God is not going to enable or help or cause a person to sin.
It was only when David slept with another man’s wife and arranged for his death to cover it up that God acted against David and told him that specifically for those acts the sword would not depart from his house. Much evil happened after that but as a result of the adultery and murder, not the polygamy. The parable Samuel used to convict David of the one ewe lamb gave no condemnation to the rich man for all the sheep (ie: wives) he legitimately obtained, and like wise there was no condemnation to David for having more than one wife. In fact, the Bible says:
“..David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (1Kings 15:5)
So there you have more than just the tacit approval as with Abram and Jacob. That verse spells out that David’s having plural wives was not wrong in the eyes of the Lord, and he did not turn aside from God’s commands in having them.
With what Solomon said and the other verses that speak of marriage in a singular manner, I think you have to take into account that while polygamy was allowed, it was rare as the men were obligated by the law of Moses to provide for all their wives and children. Only the wealthy were able to do that and monogamy was the norm so I don’t think it significant that many verses in the Bible speak of marriage in monogamous terms. The wording of Deut 17:17 about wives is just like the wording of the verse before speaking of horses, yet who suggests that it means a king can only have one horse and never more than that? Those verses are a warning against gross excess only. It is also questionable to me to claim that polygamy is a violation of marriage being one man and one woman. A man with two wives has two marriages, each of them being between him and one of his wives. The wives are not married to each other.
As for the relationship conflicts within various plural marriages or the misbehavior of some children from polygamous families, that doesn’t prove anything. Those things happened due to the fallen nature of the people involved, they were not forced to be bad due to their polygamy, and it sure isn’t hard to horror stories coming out of monogamous marriages either. You also have counter examples like the prophet Samuel who’s father had two wives. It is all a non-sequitur.
Trust me when I say I understand the high discomfort level with this topic, and often strong emotions about this can make it hard to be objective about the text of the scriptures, but faith needs to be built on a foundation of truth, not wishful thinking. Trying to cast polygamy as inherently immoral by attributing motives and adding into the scriptures things not there to reach a desired conclusion is very unwise. I think the evidence shows that God does not see polygamy as inherently immoral. That doesn’t mean anybody must or even should do it, but it does mean that Abram, Jacob, David etc. should not be condemned over it. We however are under command to respect the law of the land so that if nothing else requires monogamy.
Yeah, I was expecting something from you, and that’s okay. I welcome the discussion.
I concede that Sarai may not have thought it immoral (but I doubt it), but that doesn’t change the fact that her choice was driven by a desire to hurry God’s plans. Clearly not a commandment by God, and I’d argue never God’s intent.
2 Samuel 12:8 does say God gave David many wives, but that could just be as well be interpreted as “into your keeping” instead of “into your bed”. The word bosom is ambiguous. For example the phrase “into Abraham’s bosom” means to be in the grave….not into his bed.
Thanks for bringing up Samuel’s father. I had not noticed that one before. Unfortunately, I think it substantiates my story yet again. Look at the strife caused in 1 Samuel 1 by having more than one. It seems that in every single instance that polygamy occurs, it causes strife in the household, if not all out murder.
So, we have a lot of cases were, if read in the right life, could lead one to believe that it’s okay. And then a lot of verses that clearly state a man is to have one wife…these are clearly stated for those in power…those supposedly modeling a better life for us.
What I find even more interesting, in responding to you in particular, is that the Book of Mormon (The LDS Third Testament for those that don’t know) seems to denounce polygamy as well:
Jacob 1:15 – And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.
Jacob 2:24 – Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
Jacob 2:27 – Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.
Ether 10:5 – Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines.
But, I’m going to guess you’re going to argue that this is about excess as they all say many…I’m not sure how you get around this one though:
Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. – Jacob 2:27-28
So, according to the Book of Mormon (which I don’t hold to, but I’m curious how you defend), God says that having more than one wife is akin to whoredom and an abomination. That’s not about excess, that’s just more than one.
As well, the LDS church has plainly stated that it is church law that you may not have more than one wife (regardless of the law of the land), and to do so is punishable by excommunication. It seems your church leadership have come to the conclusion that it is immoral as well.
But, I’ll admit, I am not as well versed in Mormon beliefs as my own, so perhaps I’m misinterpreting these verses and their statements. I welcome any clarification.
But we then keep conflicting that marriage *must include sex*. God did not say wards, but wives. That implicitly means sex, and is what made David’s sin more apt to Nathan’s rebuke about the 1 little lamb, when David had so many others. We can interpret dubiously 1 single line, or look at the whole context, of which that line is the end result of being told that David had many wives already, so why steal another’s. But I know you know this, so you must be trying to make another point I’m still missing.
“”into Abraham’s bosom” means to be in the grave.” Argumentative. Only means that because that’s where Abraham is. And David wasn’t at the time. We also have
Genesis 16:5 (ASV)
“And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into they bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Jehovah judge between me and thee.”
Guess we can extrapolate what happened here. . .
My general concern is that it seems that the way you are coming at this is to decide beforehand what is right and then force the scriptures to fit your conclusion by attributing motives to people where such motives are not stated, attributing God’s condemnation or disapproval to things where the scriptures record no such thing, and resorting to arguments that are logically invalid.
The only thing it says about why Sarai did what she did was that it was to have children. It doesn’t say she had given up on the Lord’s promise and was doing this ‘instead of’ rather than ‘in addition to’ so you can’t rule either out. Her motive has little to do however with the question if if polygamy was acceptable to God or not. There is no condemnation from God, in fact God stays very active in in their lives sending divine messengers etc. who never condemn his polygamy.
Saul’s wives became David’s wives by God’s doing. Nothing in the scriptures indicates that intimacy was forbidden between them. Does God intend for some marriages to be sexless? If God did not wish sexual relations to take place between them, why would God give them to David as wives rather then just command him to financially support/protect them as non-wives, or at least tell David to not get intimate with them? The fact that they were his wives made sexual relations allowable, expected, even commanded. Even before he defeated Saul he had several wives, and God had no problems with that, and he had children by several of them, yet only in the case of Bathsheba did God find something to condemn him for.
As for Samuel’s family, using the the minor (but hurtful) teasing his mother endured as an argument against polygamy is very bad logic. If I had two kids, and one teases the other a lot, was it then contrary to God’s will for me to have two kids rather than just one? What if they really fought each other and didn’t get along at all, would that be grounds to say having more than one child is wrong? No, likewise with that situation. Do you really think that a barren woman in a monogamous marriage didn’t get the same kind of treatment from the some of the wives of other men, or from a sister? If his mother was in sin being in a polygamous marriage, why did God grant her the blessing she sought, and give her even more children after Samuel? His family doesn’t come off at all as dysfunctional. They were faithful by accounts.
What Jacob said in the Book of Mormon if you read it in context is that there are times when God allows or commands his people to practice polygamy, and there are times where God forbids it. In Jacob’s time it was forbidden, but there were some back then who pointed to David and Solomon to justify their doing it anyway.
Solomon certainly did go contrary to the will of God in his practice of polygamy. He in effect trapped many women in a marriage where they had no hope of having any children, and no hope of any kind of relationship with their husband. They were denied everything marriage was supposed to give them because there were so many other wives as well. That excess was wrong.
In the Doctrine and Covenant it says “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. (D&C 132:38). Bathsheba would fall into that category of being a wife David recieved not of God, so the condemnation of David and Solomon that Jacob made is valid, but limited to specific instances where they violated the rules they were supposed to follow, not a condemnation of all polygamy at any time.
Jacob also said at the end “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” (Jacob 2:30) Indicating that there are times it can be allowed if done His way, and times it is not allowed at all. Jacob was speaking specifically to the people of his day who were forbidden to practice it, so for them to disobey God in this matter and practice polygamy would be abominable, but that doesn’t rule out other times where God does command it.
As for my church, as we see it, God commanded polygamy to be practiced in the early days, and then later according to his wisdom He commanded that it no longer be practiced and that is the current state of things today. Church policy reflects the fact that at this time God has commanded it not be practiced. It was not wrong of them to practice it at the time it was commanded, and it was not wrong of them to stop it when God told them to do that.
While we may have to just agree to disagree about how to view what the OT says on it, at least we can agree that for us today God requires monogamy, and I’m perfectly OK with that.
Glad we can agree on that at least 🙂
Thank you for the discussion.
LDM Perhaps look at it more along the lines of “everything is permissable but not everything is beneficial”. Having more than one spouse comes at a cost. Even if it’s not “sinful”, it is damaging. Even without polygamy, even serial monogamy comes at a cost. Human beings were designed to be one man, one woman for life. While remarriage is not sinful in some cases, I know first hand that even where remarriage is morally acceptable, there is always baggage that goes with having had another spouse. I can only imagine just how much more trouble it would be to be married to two people at the same time!
Paul writes about how it is better to stay single than marry, but getting married is better than to burn with lust. One wife is plenty to satisfy a man’s sexual urges. There is little need for a second wife. and certainly no need for more than two. Paul makes it clear that a spouse takes away from the time you can spend dedicated to ministry. If you have multiple spouses, how can you possibly find time to dedicate to God’s ministry?
Even for those who don’t believe polygamy is sinful, it is selfish and is similar to someone who spends all their time playing computer games or at the gym or on other hobbies. Just because someone isn’t directly sinful, it can be sinful in that it is about chasing pleasure instead of chasing God.
Monogamy comes at a cost too, but I do agree that making a polygamous arrangement work is a lot harder than a monogamous marriage. A couple need to be Christlike toward each other to make a marriage work, and for a polygamous marriage that is even more true. My wife has ancestors from the early days of our church who were polygamous and she knows their stories. There are benefits and costs to it, and the biggest hardship for her ancestors was economic. Polygamy wasn’t about getting lots of sex, it was about having lots of kids, but it is not easy to provide for a very large family. Just because it is harder doesn’t mean it is wrong. Marriage is a crucible that helps burn away flaws in our character, polygamy is the same with a much higher temperature setting. I see it as a tool that God made limited use of at certain times for his own reasons but it was never intended to be the norm in any society. I don’t think however it is right to point fingers at Abram and other righteous men and say they did something immoral when they did not.
I think you are placing way too many facts that are not in evidence. For all one knows, that threesome is running a mobile soup kitchen in Africa. If one wife is not selfish, then neither will 2 or 3 or 4 if motivations are based on love. Assuming that one marries just for sex or that they will only be seeking pleasure during every moment of their life is not only false but the height of stereotyping. Some of us do not even get that much sex (or any at all), so for us, a second source of comfort (because it is not only sex that we receive from our spouses) would be a definite Godsend. We do not know per-se that polygyny is sinful. There are only Paul’s letters indicating leaders of the congregations should have one wife. Does that mean only one wife or perhaps at least one wife? We know Jesus attended a wedding, but for all we know it was for someone’s second wife. Polygyny was commonplace during Jesus’ time, yet he made no mention of it. Martin Luther left it up to the individual, not being able to find an explicit directive against polygyny. We infer an ideal 1:1 ratio based on Genesis. I believe it is correct, but I will not go and say that any form of married life (1, 2, or more) is akin to playing computer games or hobbies.
HopefullyHelpful if you’ve read my comments on other posts, you’ll know that I am living in what is defined as a sexless marriage. When I refer to pleasure, I don’t just mean sex. I mean all the pleasurable things about marriage including just emotional comfort. But if you read Paul’s words, as I pointed out already, being single is the ideal – marriage is simple a concession for those who cannot control their lust. Life isn’t about getting comfort. One spouse is already a big distraction from being able to dedicate one’s life to God’s mission fully, but God gave us that concession of having a spouse so that we are not distracted by lust and so we don’t fall prey to adultery. If we have a spouse already, we have someone to fulfil our sexual desires already and don’t need another person to have to dedicate our time to as well, leaving even less time to dedicate to ministry.
Anyway, with a little more thought on the topic, the explicit directive is actually there – in all the verses that say if someone marries another while their first spouse is alive, they are committing adultery. Last time I checked adultery is a sin….
I cannot find a single passage that forbids a married man from marrying a virgin. If you can, please post. I would greatly appreciate the correction.
Nor would I contradict God when he said “it is not good for the man to be alone” Paul was speaking about the vast minority (note he mentioned that pretty much all but he and Barnabas were not married) that Jesus mentioned as having “a special gift” His statement must be taken in context of spreading the Good News when they believed “the end” was imminent and there was a lot more spreading to do. Had he seen that more than 2000 years would have to pass, he might have said something else.
What Paul said about being single can be taken a number of different ways. Given Paul’s status in life it is extremely likely that he did get married, and during his apostleship was was a widow. As I see it his counsel was for widows to remain single if they can just as he had as a widow. The idea that marriage is some necessary evil flies in the face of the honor God puts on marriage. It is God that gave men and women desires for each other, he commanded Adam and Eve to be one flesh and made them husband and wife BEFORE the Fall. Marriage is ordained of God, not some concession to our fallen nature.
I sort of hold a view that he was married (he had to be to if he a member of the Sanhedrin) but likely the wife did not take kindly to him becoming Christian and divorced him. I find hints to this in his statements about if the “unbelieving spouses” forces a divorce, a Christian is then free to marry in the Lord. This also explains why he holds the view that he has the right to marry (and this next is critical to my weaving of this theory) a “believing” wife (1 Cor 9:5).
Actually, I also mixed up my rights in my previous reply. Only Paul was single. It was that he and Barnabas were entitled to receive financial support from the congregation he was alluding to (1 Cor 9:6).
That’s the clearest I’ve seen Butterfly Wings. Thank you.
Isaac had one wife–happiness and peace
Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Lamech had multiples–all have strife.
Noah and his sons had 1 each–Only survivors
Now we know God did not forbid the Sarah/Abraham/Hagar situation. But why would you assume he approved of it? If we look at the context of the times, Sarah’s giving Hagar as a wife had nothing to do with anything other than saving personal humiliation at not having children in her tent (look at the examples of Rachel and Leah and see those were nothing more than vindictive sibling rivalries). Or why did not Ishmael become the first “seed”? Why did Jehovah wait another 14 years to finalize the covenant with Abraham and finally give Sarah a child? We talk about God’s time, but need to remember that God has all the time in the world, and quite possibly was doing nothing more than giving those two enough time to humble themselves and realize their only hope was trust in Jehovah. While in the meantime, giving them plenty of time and incidents to regret accepting another woman into their marriage.
At the most, I would say God “tolerated” the patriarchs because they were honorable in their dealings with said extras and were trying to make many grains of sand. But since God only created 1 Eve, we can probably be pretty sure his preferred arrangement is a simple 1:1 ratio as stated in Gen 1:27 (male and female, not male and *double* female). Or did He make a mistake?
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It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to assume that the Bible gives a full account of every polygamous family, or a full account of any one particular marriage. That just isn’t the Bible’s purpose and there is little reason to even mention somebody polygamy if everything in their family life was going fine (although there are a couple cases where it mentioned only in passing about some men)
Every marriage has times where there are conflicts, that is normal and the fact that somebody acts in an unkind way only shows a lack of character in them. All those conflicts result from our fallen nature which leads us to be selfish or unkind. If you are going to invalidate polygamy because of such conflicts, then you have to invalidate monogamy too for the same reasons.
In some cases God gives tacit approval (lack of disapproval) to polygamy, and in David’s case we have not just approval, but participation and outright stating that (except in that one case) what he did was ‘right in the eyes of the Lord’.
Yes, marriage is between one man and one woman. Having more than one marriage doesn’t change that as each marriage David had was between him and one woman.
To be fair, the verse that says David was perfect is comparing him to his son Absolom…he was perfect by comparison. We cannot believe he lived a blameless life.
David writes so much about forgiveness in the Psalms that it’s unlikely he felt he lived a blameless life (save for his one indiscretion) either.
That was one heck of indiscretion. Murder and adultery. He paid a price for it all the rest of his life.
Well, that, and the numbering of the people in 2 Samuel 24, which David admits is a sin (2 Samuel 24:10), and God punishes him for it (2 Samuel 24:12-13).
So, if David sinned in this way (in addition to Bathsheba and Uriah), how many others are unaccounted for? Apparently, David was not sinless (excepting the one transgression). Thus, he must have been a normal, sinful man, as we all are.
Didn’t say or assume the Bible did comment on every polygynist family (or even actively disapproved–just not really approved either). Just mentioned the oddity that all the ones it does mention seem to suffer many more “tribulations of the flesh.” But I would say this much, at least Jacob didn’t have to worry about refusal 😉 But I stand by my statement that Genesis makes it obvious that the “preferred optimum” is 1:1.
I would say the logic of “each marriage was between David and 1 Woman” does not stand up for a couple of reasons:
1. After the first marriage, David was “one-flesh” with that wife. He cannot give his flesh again since it is no longer his to give–it belongs to the first wife.
2. You’re looking at this from a polygamy view, and the Bible *never, ever* allowed polygamy. It allowed “polygyny” i.e., one husband-multiple wives. Otherwise the wife would also have rights to give her flesh to other husbands as well (polygamy) and that would totally discredit any genealogy tracing, for in those days they did not have DNA or blood testing. Mothers are a constant. You *always* know who they are. Fathers, though…Well, you hope.
Genuine question for you JayDee…. the bible does says not to marry a non-christian, but if you have a spouse when you become a christian to not divorce them. How would this apply to polygamists who become christians after they became a polygamist?
Old one, but goody. Imagine the mess Nehemiah must have been in. Each sect has their own different views, and the Scriptures are silent in the NT unless you look at Paul, who says “if married, stop seeking release”. I believe the Anglican Church as undergone the most open evolution on the matter.
That is a very difficult situation.
I know pastors in my denomination have required the husband to divorce all but the first wife, but still continue to provide for the others in terms of shelter and food. But, I’m honestly not sure that’s the best policy. I really don’t know what is the best policy. It seems this wasn’t an issue at the time of Paul’s writings, but it is certainly an issue in our age, particularly in denominations that have churches in Africa.
I don’t think there is a “perfect” solution. Sin often has long standing consequences, even after conviction, confession and repentance. I think in this case, there is no way to avoid that once it’s done.
But, I wonder if allowing the marriages to continue wouldn’t be less damaging than forcing a divorce… the problem is that people see this as condoning the action, instead of dealing with it after the fact. A little like telling someone not to remove a knife after stabbing someone, because it might cause them to bleed out. It doesn’t condone the damage, and it’s not ideal, but it might be the best we can do with what’s available. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s the best I could come up with.
In short, the Bible doesn’t offer a solution that I’m aware of, and I’m really not sure what I’d counsel to someone put in that position.
Great input Jay!
Just some fine tuning:
Absalom killed Amnon only not all of King David sons.
2 Samuel 13:32 (KJV) 32 And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose [that] they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.
And concubines were 300. I would say that seems unfair o he 1000 women! Not fair to 2 health women either or to any healthy man.
1 Kings 11:3 (KJV) 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart
Thanks for pointing those out! I’ve adjusted the post.
I really appreciate this! I also just read your part about the new blog for theology. I hope you don’t completely depart the two and just “stick to sexuality” as some silly reader said, for that is one reason I read about sexuality on this blog as opposed to secular ones. I don’t agree with everything you say theologically, but I don’t have to. It isn’t my blog, and I appreciate learning from diverse view points, which can either help my change my opinion, or grow its understanding, or challenge my beliefs in a way that helps me to question why I hold them and perhaps reaffirm and deepen them. Either way, we grow and learn from exposure and diversity, and I have really appreciated your blog. I like my sexuality and marriage talk with a little theology, otherwise, what is there to separate it from the godless mainstream? Thanks for your work!
I don’t I think I could write about sex without including theology. Don’t worry, that’s not going anywhere. The new blog is just to explore those areas of theology that don’t directly interact with marriage or sexuality.
This is really silly. First of all, the reason there were not multiple wives at the time of Adam and Eve was not because God didn’t like the idea, but rather because, in the Genesis story, there were no other women for Adam to marry. If the Genesis story is “true,” and not just a creation myth like all the other creation myths in the world, we have to accept the fact that everybody came from these two people. So there’s no logic to an argument that the Adam and Eve pair is a model for future “marriages.” Furthermore, there’s nothing about “marriage” in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. God made Adam. He decided it was not good for Adam to be alone, so he made Eve. He put them together and said, “Don’t separate these two” (not sure who He was talking to, since there were only two people in the world). He probably wanted to be sure they had some children, since His goal was, in the story, to start populating the Earth.
Next, pointing out all the creepy multiple marriages doesn’t mean that multiple marriage itself was “the problem.” What was going on in the rest of the society while these few people were having issues with all their wives and concubines? Who married? How many wives and husbands did most of the “common” people have? Anthropologists and other historians agree that “marriage” wasn’t even available for the common people in ancient times. It was only for men of property, so that they could control their women and keep track of their children, to know who could inherit their estates. When did marriage become something that ordinary people could engage in? Our current concept of marriage as a “romantic” arrangement founded on love and respect is VERY recent and has very little in common with marriage in the Bible.
I’m not arguing in favor of multiple marriage. I’m not arguing against it. I’m just saying that this document doesn’t even try to answer the question posed at the beginning, and the line of “reasoning” is far too narrow and not logical.
Well, your first argument, I’d counter that if God’s intent was purely the population of the world, it would have been far more expedient to have created one male and multiple females, as one male can sire children from multiple women. Since He didn’t do that, we must conclude that wasn’t his primary intent. I would put forth that it was to create a relationship that cannot be duplicated in poly-amorous relationships.
To your second argument, I think we are differing on our definition of marriage. You are taking it as a purely legal construct. I’m defining it by the underlying principle, of being monogamous so long as you both live.
You’re welcome to think it’s narrow and not logical, but I haven’t seen a better argument in your response, so I’m going to stand by mine.
Have u ever heard about lilith?
From mythology? Yes. But I’m not sure what relevance that has in this discussion.
I would add one facet to your argument: the social status of women during Biblical days and leading up to today. I think the Bible talks about multiple wives because women during that time were property and had no rights to their own identities let alone ownership of a man. Furthermore, if one looks at relationships throughout history, there were still extracurricular sexual relationships by ‘married’ men that were not socially allowed by women. This double standard of the sexes has propelled men to argue the righteousness of polygamy from a purely multiple wives perspective.
But today, women are not property and many Christians believe that wives own their husbands, just as much as husbands own their wives. It is interesting that the change in social acceptance of women in society also corresponds with the strict religious interpretation that sexual partners should stick with each other for marriage.
I think a good question for those who believe that multiple wives is still a valid religious marital structure is to ask, what about the religious right of a wife to have multiple husbands? Given today’s equality of the sexes, it would seem that we would hear more about that side of polygamy. Instead, the conversation always turns to multiple wives. It seems we are clinging to arguments that were created in a day when women had no rights.
Jay, great job. Keep up the good work!
This discussion is all fine and dandy, but what is a wife to do when she finds herself in a position of “Share or divorce?” Obviously, Yehovah hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and Exodus 21:10 is used as a justification for allowance. I personally felt a spiritual ripping away from my husband when this happened and am trying to fight against feeling spiritually dead. I can tell you from a woman’s perspective, it is highly provoking to sin (anger, bitterness, envy, rage) and I have been destroyed in ways I have never thought possible. Tell me, how is this a “blessing?”
Wow, now that’s a question that doesn’t get asked often in western countries.
The only thing I can think of is this:
I guess, though it’s an unsatisfying answer, that you stay, if possible. If you cannot live with it, then you may divorce (under the adultery clause).
While I don’t think God ever wanted people to have multiple wives, there are instances in the Bible where it happened, and people made the best of it. Where God even blessed them through it.
But, find ways to connect with God, regardless of what is happening in your environment (even in your marriage). I know, it’s harder, but it is possible. And God can help you through it.
Well written, but the end idea is Greek/Roman in thought process and not Hebrew.
Much of the paganism of Rome involved non-married priests. We still see that today.
In the original Hebrew, that would disqualify them to lead. A man must have at least one one to lead.
When Rome was rewriting the “New Testament” into Greek (yes Greek is a translation too.) They were appointing pagan priests over their new found religious creation.
But the Hebrew teaching that a man must have had at least one wife to lead (she could have passed away like Paul’s wife and child did), disqualified the pagan priests.
So they translated the Greek to say a leader must be a man of but one wife.
Here is the problem (outside the obvious), Paul was never given permission to add or take away for the Torah. Neither was Paul (who knew better) even trying to do so. He was misquoted as he was quoting Torah. But most western church goers do not know Torah well, so this goes without notice.
See Multiple Wives, is God’s choice.
HE says HE has more than one wife in many different ways.
If this was not the ideal marriage, then God wouldn’t be in it.
Don’t misunderstand here.
Monogamy is just fine.
It is no better or worse than Multiple Wives.
There is no different spiritual outcome for either choice.
But one man and one woman is not stated is the “ideal”. If God HIMSELF choose more than one wife…then how is that not the “Ideal”?
The most obvious example is Gen.
The second God made Eve, God had 2 wives.
As soon as Adam and Eve multipled, God had more wives.
The problem is, this is a foreign concept to western marriage (as a generic whole).
Western marriage is based on feelings and this socially define idea of “love” one can fall in and out of.
Where as Biblical and Hebraic marriage is rooted in strategy, function and contract keeping.
Feelings were never considered as anything but a fruit that is produced because the first three things were in strong condition.
For the purpose of strategy and function, multiple wives clearly makes more sense.
More money. More help. More wombs/children (which is who was designed to take care of you in your old age. Not 401ks and worldly social programs).
Women get rest this way.
The week of their cycle, they can rest and not work. It is a blessing and grace given to them during that time.
Pregnant women get a break.
New mothers don’t have sleepless nights because people are there to help 3rd shift so she can recover.
More help means easier gardening and farming which means less money spent on food bills.
Women have other women to talk with and hold them accoutable. Where men do not always say much and when they do, it tends to be the wrong thing.
Multiple Wives are very successful if done correctly.
But marriage is hard!
Regardless if it’s one wife or 4 wives.
But we must remember that marriage is not there to make you happy. It’s there to make you holy.
It’s suppose to sharpen you, test you and force you to grow by exposing your weak area.
(As spouses we don’t need to go out of our ways to do that. People liVing with people does that on its own naturally.
So monogamy doesn’t offer some form of peace to it that is absence from multiple wife marriages.
Moses had at least 2 wives, and God backed Moses the second it was brought into question (Numbers)
Hosea was commanded to take a second wife to be a symbol of God’s 2 wives.
The concept is offensive to those who define marriage based of feelings and “falling in love”.
But those are not Biblical principles.
Also think about this…
In multiple wife communities, most women wanted to be number 2 or 3.
The reason for it was pretty smart. They got to see the man in action first and see if he was a good husband. If he mistreated his wife, no way anyone was going to be second in line.
This prevented the “deadbeat” man from finding a wife easily and bringing children into creation that would be raised to act like him.
Women could be choosy.
They didn’t have to settle just because there was no one left available.
Actually if the high quality husbands of America would take on second wives of single mothers who were abandoned by dead beat dads, you would decrease your use of social programs and raise the next generation with Godly fathers.
It does say that the King may not hoard all the horses or all the woman as wives.
But no one ever says 2 horses are not God’s ideal farm. The point was that the “King” should not use his authority to hoard all the women and horses.
Also it’s important to point out that God said…
“Do not commit NAAPH.”
In English that is adultery. But in our language, NAAPH is Hebrew for “to have sexual relations with another mans wife”.
That is why David had many wives and never commited adultery until he took Uriah’s wife.
Then he commited Naaph.
The Matthew passage in the Hebrew is very straight forward that any man that looks at a married woman in lust, has commited Naaph in his heart. It’s not just any woman. It is unnatural for a man not to want sexual relations with his soon to be wife. Yet in the english, this somehow condemns this.
Much of the One man/ One woman is the ideal marriage or even the only acceptable marriage (which the author of the article did not suggest), is traranslational error.
To the point they are missing out.
All the single mothers who are forced to rely on your government help are missing out on already established and successful Godly homes allowing them to enter in and enjoy.
Many wives living as ONE with one Groom, is the very Biblical story of the Messiah and HIS many brides who were commanded to live as one.
This started when Eve was created. Even before HE gave them earthly marriage to be the symbol of our marriages to the Messiah.
Rome needed to sneak it’s unmarried (thus unqualified) leaders into their newly built religion.
So they took the verses that restated a man must be married, and made it an anti multiple wife campaign. I guess that’s fine if your Roman.
But for those who are grafted into Yisrael, that stuff don’t fly.
It actually can hurt a society.
Thanks for reading
Phew, alright, let’s go through this, because I think there’s a lot of misinformation here.
No argument there. Catholicism adopted a lot of Pagan Roman practices, which were actually Babylonian practices before that. Right down to the hats and colours of the priests robes.
And yes, I agree there. The same statement is in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:2).
Not quite true. The gospels would have been originally written in Hebrew for certain, and Jesus would have spoken in Hebrew. However, Paul was a Roman citizen, and when he wrote to the gentile Christian churches in Greece, I seriously doubt he would have written in Hebrew. Plus, you don’t see the same idiomatic characteristics inherent to Hebrew in Paul’s writing that you do in the gospels. So, no, I’ve never seen evidence that the bulk of the New Testament wasn’t written in Greek. I reject that premise.
That doesn’t make sense, because the pagan priests didn’t have wives…so why would they translate it into something that still disqualified them?
Not so, Paul said that leaders should have only one wife. The Torah says that leaders should not have multiple wives (Deut 17:16-17). That’s not a misquote…
Again, I disagree. God has one wife: His people (as a whole). This thought is continued in the New Testament, where it says Jesus has one bride: the church.
Ezekiel 23 is not talking about two separate brides, but rather how individuals within His bride act. It shows two arch-types, not showing an example of polygamy. So, no, I don’t buy that one either.
The rest of your comment, I find, is merely rationalization based on the mistaken concepts previously raised, so I won’t tackle them line by line. In short: polygamy doesn’t work. God created concessions to regulate something that was occurring, not to sanction it.
Genesis is quite clear: One man and one wife. Two become one. Not three become one, or three become two, or whatever the crazy math would end up being. One and one. It is a archetype of the church’s relationship with God, or God’s people with God. And yes, I do think that is the only acceptable marriage.
I wanted to talk about Judaism to help Jay Dee with his argument against multiple wives. I was doing some research into the Torah and one wife versus multiple wives. The prevalent Jewish opinion is that marriage is one wife and one husband. Jews have the concept of “beshert,” which is literally the Jewish notion of soulmate. There can be only one soulmate because the soulmate is your other half; this is the definition in Judaism as well as the mainstream definition. You cannot have two other halves because that would be more than one whole.
There has been a resurgence of thought in favor of polyamory. (But, has it really ever gone away… not really, just underground.) There are those people who will always have the (selfish) desire to think they need to experience more than one body. I know from experience that it is not good to experience more than one body. I can count the number of people I was with prior to marriage on one hand and my husband had quadruple my experience. But, after we got married, we both looked at each other and wished we could have met in high school and gotten married in college. Both of us feel that we gained nothing and actually lost a lot by having prior sexual experience. It doesn’t bother me that he had prior experience but it bothers me that I had prior experience. I think that when people have prior experience before marriage it opens the door to cheating and also to using justifications for polyamory. People have tasted the fruit of having many different bodies to experiment with and it isn’t so easy to give up after marriage. I believe this is why infidelity is an epidemic. Because of so much promiscuity prior to marriage, I believe it is ingrained in a lot of men to look at a woman and immediately start wondering what she is like in bed. If a man had been single, he would have tried to make fantasy a reality. But, now that he is married, the thoughts don’t go away and it’s easier to cross a line into reality. Now, you could argue that even male virgins have with these thoughts and I am pretty sure they do. But, someone who has not had the experience of multiple bodies has an advantage because they have so many psychological mechanisms that prevent them from going forward with such a plan.
I believe that strong and a God-centered family is the very heart of a civil society. I believe that to have a strong family, we must get rid of promiscuity. I believe people need to look at sex as a sacred act done solely between two married people. I also believe sex is a duty for both husband and wife. The husband’s body belongs to his wife and the wife’s body belongs to her husband. Most feminists would scream at the top of their lungs if they saw it, but the message is coming from a woman. If we want strong families, promiscuity has to go. If we want strong families, husband and wife must sexually bond often. (That is at least once per week but ideally daily.) I do believe that a good sexual relationship HELPS a marriage and that no sexual relationship DESTROYS a marriage. I do believe that both husband and wife have to tend to their sexual relationship and not get lazy. I believe this makes a strong marriage and strong family.
Polygamy has absolutely no role in keeping a society civil.
Our son said to our youngest son, “You are like my brother from another mother,” and he laughed. I looked at him and said, “do you know what that means?” He said, “No, I thought people said it because it rhymes.” I told him that it meant a scenario where no one was married but that three different women had sons from the same father (who was not in the picture.) He turned as white as a sheet and was embarrassed. Then he admitted that was his worst nightmare and that he couldn’t cope if he didn’t have the family that we have– that is a dad and mom who are married and who love each other and whose kids are our own. No kids from prior marriages or experiences. Just ours and just together. We are an educated family and both of us will have terminal degrees after I finish a PhD in Clinical Psychology. (I have two Master’s degrees as well.) My husband is a MD.
I have very strong opinions on polyamory. I have a female cousin who lives a ‘polyamorous’ life and who likes both boys and girls. She is getting her PhD in the hard sciences and has the most unstable life I have ever seen. Piercings to the hilt. Half of her head shaved. Tattoos. Lives in a house where new people come in and out weekly. Has probably had close to 100 partners (including men and women). Involved in recreational drugs and has even sold stuff she was not supposed to sell for extra money. She is an atheist. Been in and out of psych wards for bipolar disorder and probably has an undiagnosed case of anti-social personality disorder. I don’t know why she turned out the way she did.
To say I am the complete opposite is an understatement. I have nothing to do with her because of the way she lives and neither do my parents or other aunts and uncles. One time she lived with my aunt and my aunt’s house was broken into. The only things that were stolen were expensive, but hidden pieces of jewelry. My aunt pitched a fit and a week later the jewelry ‘miraculously’ reappeared. Yeah. That’s just one story about my cousin. There are so many more and my psych experience has told me that the only thing to do with such people is to go NO CONTACT.
So, that is my rant about polyamory. I think polyamory is a terrible idea if people want a stable society. I do not believe Judaism or the Torah thinks polyamory is viable either. I have taken up long-distance study with a woman in Israel on Judaism and how it relates to marriage. She does not believe the Torah recommends or condones polyamory either. The Judaism that she teaches in one of the most strictly moral systems of belief on the planet. After all, religious Jews have just short of 700 laws to obey. Christians don’t have that and Christianity gives a lot of “grace” as compared to Judaism. I would recommend that all Christians take up study in Judaism since Jesus was (at the time) a type of Rabbi. In Jesus’s view he wasn’t starting a movement called “Christianity” but was here to fulfill the law. He was here to cut through the corruption of the temple and to show the people how to live spiritually, how to heal the sick, and how to ultimately overcome death. That was one of many things Jesus was sent to do and I recommend Christians study Judaism. Even though I study it now, the study of it does not make me reject Jesus as savior. It helps me deepen my understanding in Christianity in a way I never thought possible. Thanks again for your blog and for standing for morality in a time where we are being swallowed whole by moral relativism.
Hu barukh Yeshua bamashiach!
You are a very brave man– you tackle the question of polygamy head on and you use the Bible to do it effectively.
As a woman, I have come to believe that Christian men who believe in polygamy are really just sinners who do not want to control their appetites. These men do not want to be loyal to their wives and need some kind of “God ordained” excuse to have sex with more than one woman. In their heart of hearts they know it is wrong and yet they will go to great intellectual lengths to find ways which they believe are God ordained to sin.
I come from an interesting family because my mom’s side is ethnically Jewish. I found this out as an adult since we practice Christianity. It was a DNA test and a connecting to relatives that let us know ‘grandma’s’ ethnicity since grandma cut all contact with everyone and never told her heritage or background. Anyhow, now I study Christianity and Judaism. Jews have a very interesting view on marriage and it’s something I encourage every Christian to explore. After all, in Judaism, a woman can divorce her husband for withholding food, clothing, OR sex. In my experience, women are not as prudish as we might seem. This is the case for me and my (female) best friend, at least.
Obviously, I don’t believe in having multiple wives or husbands. The model of marriage God intended is one man and one woman and each partner should tend to the sexual needs of the other. I do not believe sexless marriages are healthy.
Above all else, I wish men would stop trying to use the Bible as a way to assuage their own guilt over wanting non-monogamy. Think about it– the devil tempts in ways that are delicious. Non-monogamy is really just another way the devil can tempt without people recognizing its true origin or intent. If a husband and wife are supposed to symbolically and spiritually model the Church through marriage, then non-monogamy destroys the church. Think about it.
My life has been such an awful failure, with endless pain, that I wish that I had never been created, conceived, and born. My life was never worth the pain: not before, not now, and never will be. It is utterly pointless. It all goes back to a mother that did not love me. Whether my father did.. remains unknowable. The thing that I remember most about my childhood.. are the beatings.
After eleven years of contemplation, I discovered the unexpected gift.. of a conviction that God is NOT at all malevolent.
As I told my ‘shrink’, after finally reaching a conclusion, “I can deal with the pains, I can deal with the rejections, I can deal with the failures, I can deal with the physical illnesses & struggles, I can deal with the deaths of my first three children. What’s “killing me”.. is the loneliness.
The marriage died long ago.. but we’re still together….. even though it’s “a legality” and has descended into a ‘marriage of convenience’… with some legitimate concern for our adult children. We haven’t been intimate in ten years. She’s gone from incompetent to dysfunctional. I deserve better. But I can’t handle her likely ’emotional breakdown’ if we divorced. Thus, it’s a form of “death on the installment plant”: a mockery of what it should be.
There are no answers.
What happens if you marry the wrong person? Is it.. the earthly equivalent of the unforgiveable sin? It surely seems so. It’s no wonder that I’ve lost the desire to live.
Right or wrong person only exists up until the point of marriage. After that, there is no wrong person. There is only your spouse. So, what happens? You love them as best as you can and show Christ to them as best as you can. Your desire to live should come from your relationship with God, not your relationship with your spouse, and the impetus should be “what I can do for Him”, not “what can I get out of life”.
I would like to sat interesting article and add my 0.02$ I’m one of previous comments the question was raised if one is in a polygamous relationship and is then converted what to do then , according my Bible this is called adultery , search as you may you can’t find in the bible that God approves of it , my personal belief ; God recognizes the first marriage between man and woman , as long as either live , anything else is adultery , God does not recognize polygamy as an thing else , so going with the stabbed person theory , ( don’t pull out the knife , you’ll bleed to death ) we now have so called Christians saying , yes I know it’s sin but it would cause to many problems to follow God’s commands , my personal opinion again , what awaits the unrepentant sinner is incomparably worse than any discomfort we might have in this life. Also to those wanting to justify a divorce and remarriage situation , read Mark 19 : 9 , now read it again and notice the punctuation , it says , whosoever shall put away his wife COMMA except it be for fornication COMMA and shall marry another COMMA committeth adultery , so you divorce your spouse if it’d not because of fornication God calls it sin OR divorce and remarriage also sin , that being said , I don’t believe God recognizes polygamy as anything except adultery and therefore a person converted and divorced from such a situation could really not have been said to have been married unless he or she was 1 of the 2 original patries to the relationship
I feel that people try to put themselves above God. They think that they are smart enough to interpret his unspoken intentions. I see nowhere in the Bible that God didn’t communicate his intentions. God is not that incompetent. Some of us do everything in our power to feel more important than we are. We ourselves are the children of God, thus we have no power over our brothers and sisters. We try to be the parent when we aren’t even good children. I think that there isn’t enough evidence to say that God doesn’t like a man having multiple wives. We like to use our feeble minds(in comparison to the father and the son) to make sense of what we don’t understand. We make arguments when there is no cause. We make statements that we are not qualified to make. Let the father be responsible for his children. Let us children keep our father’s house peaceful and full of love. I’m not saying don’t call out good or evil. I’m just saying that we can’t know unspoken intentions of God nor his children. We need to be examples of wholesome children who love God. Please stop telling the other children that they are doing wrong when father didn’t say it. God doesn’t need you speak on his behalf. It does please him for us to lead by example. We don’t know everything that God has going on so we can’t judge his children. If we take responsibility for our own actions this world would be improving one person at a time. I’m not accusing anyone of sinning in their own way, while trying to tell someone else that they’re sinning in another. For all I know some of us are without sin and don’t intend to do so. We should do everything that we can to please God without bringing any harm to his children. I take care of two other single mother with children families besides my own wife and children. I’m not wealthy. I give my heart and body to them because I love them. I don’t have sex with the single mothers. I don’t spend much time with them either. I don’t marry them because people find a way to turn blessings into curses. I treat them like beloved wives without them having to commit to me. I would like to make the my wives, I just don’t want to deal with judgemental people falsely accusing me of going against my beloved father. I know that God never said anything against my desire for more than one wife, I just don’t want the misconception to be there. God knows my heart better than his children. God bless all of his children. Please start with yourself and others will see.
I think God made Himself pretty clear and you have to be pretty stubbornly looking the other way to not see it.
So, yeah, I think God said plenty about your desire for more than one wife. You just don’t want to hear it.
The Bible does not forbid elders nor kings to have more than one wife. The Hebrew translation of that verse you speak of is understood by the majority to make sense only by meaning the elders should married and not single. The original text uses the same word as first. There is a Hebrew word for the number one and it is a fact that word is not in that particular verse even though it is used in the original text in other verses. The Bible said kings are forbidden to multiply wives. I’m sure you know the difference between adding and multiplying. It makes no sense for God to say don’t multiply your wives instead of kings can only have one wife. He would have given David another wife. Are you saying God is not competent enough to say man can only have one wife. He sure said do not bear false witness. Maybe you serve a God who can’t communicate, but my God can. Even when Jesus was asked about having more than one wife he didn’t say man can only have one wife. He forbade divorcing your wife from the beginning. I ask you where in the Bible is having more than one wife forbidden. Stop trying to put words in God’s mouth and show me the verse that condemns it. Stop misusing story’s to portray your feelings. The Bible says God created Adam and Eve. It says the two shall become one flesh(most educated theologians know that means to have sex). The Bible say don’t add or take away from the word of God, so please just tell me where the Bible says that a man is sinning if he has more than one wife. I’m being open and honest with you so please do the same for me. I need fact not opinion.
I think I answered all of these above. But, beyond that, its legalistic to need chapter and verse to tell you what you know is wrong. I think if you approach the Bible with a relationship based approach you’ll figure it out.
Oh, by the way, those verses are in the New Testament writing of Paul, and so are in Greek, not Hebrew. The work is “mia” which is translated some 62 times in the KJV as “one”. The male equivalent is “heis”, which is translated as “one” 229 times in the KJV.
Plus, look at every instance of the Bible where a man has multiple wives. It always causes strife. I think God made provisions for it because people were doing it. Just as He did for divorce. But I don’t believe it was ever His intent.
Well that’s exactly my point. You don’t want to say outright, but the God does not condemn a man having more than one wife no matter how you approach the Bible. I agree that no one should need a verse to tell them what is right or wrong. I sure don’t. You gave your opinion of the loosely translated stories in the Bible, but you can’t prove what you are saying without adding or taking away from the word. However, you can prove what is said according to the bible. There are plenty of things in there that God does forbid, so why make up sins unnecessarily. I hope that I don’t sound facetious. I really love God and my fellow brothers and sisters. I want us to all study to show ourselves approved, rightfully divide the word, and stop causing our brothers and sisters to stumble by placing specs in their eyes. I’m no better than anyone else, I have opinions too. It would be wrong of me to pass them off as doctrine. Thank you indeed for this conversation, I’ve enjoyed it. I have much respect for what you’re doing here.
I also agree that all of the polygamous marriages did have a lot of grief. So did the monogamous ones. I will continue to study and thanks for the guidance on this matter
so if we are allowed concubines what’s the point in abstaining basically rich jews are allowed as many girls as we want but the rest of us are not? I think not. if david and all those can do it and still go to heaven we all can. at least we won’t kill our own loyal soldiers like david
Shalom Jay Dee,
I am a Messianic Israelite. I observe the entire bible(especially the Tanahk & Torah) and must express to you my appreciation of both your studies and your thorough yet concise presentation thereof. Needless to say, I subscribed.
The article that you wrote on polygyny/polygamy was masterful” Dense with scripturally based propositions and minimal bias. Your points about how polygamous marriage: occurred first in Cain’s bloodline, how it yielded the Ishmaelites in Yah’s bloodline, and the strife it led to in David’s offspring were stunning.
I regret to inform you that I have no questions at this time for you, it was just in the forefront of my mind to provide you some feedback on this
priceless work that you do. Truly is invaluable.
So if God never changes then
polygamy is ok today too?
No, it was never okay.
I think you are definitely right about how polygamy never worked out very well, and obviously it wasn’t God’s original plan.
There is one more thing to point out, though, which I think makes better sense of the examples of David and Solomon.
Jesus was the son of David, and will occupy the throne of David. As such, David was a prefigure or foreshadow of Christ. He not only ruled Israel, but has brought gentiles under subjection. Jesus Christ has a many-membered Bride, the true church, so David’s many wives serve as a symbol.
Solomon, whose given name was Jedediah, was the “son of David” and the “price of Peace” (the name Solomon evokes “peace”.) During his reign, he had rest from all his enemies. He was also commissioned to judge the many trespasses against his Family (all judgement is given unto the son.) So Solomon was also a prefigure of Christ, who, again, has a many-membered Bride. Son of David, prince of Peace.
Am I crazy or is everyone ignoring the misinformation here about what line Lamech, Noah’s father was from?
As far as I last checked, Seth was clearly named.
Here, you can check – I’ll give you a few minutes.
As for your argument, I’m clueless about the why’s when’s and where’s but it doesn’t matter. We are supposed to obey the laws of our rulers, and in my state/country it’s off limits
No, not crazy, you just missed the part where I said it was the other Lamech, not the one from the line of Seth. This isn’t Noah’s father.
The passage I’m referencing is in Genesis 4:17-19.
Noah’s father Lamech doesn’t enter the scene until Genesis 5:28-29.
Hope that clears things up.
This is a very good study ,very sound ,very good points, but with that being said ,Paul said it is better to be single then to be married, for if you get married you have to attend to the needs of your wife and cant give your all to the Lord ,but it you are single you can give your all to the Lord. martin Luther was ask about this about one having another wife , his first response was very negative in no way could this be ! but then time past and he was ask again he said martin Luther ( I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.} (De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329-330.)
There are so many things that are questionable like for example birth control ,God said be fruitful and multiply but what has happened christian woman are taking birth control and not fulfilling there roles as a wife to bare children, they tell there husband i only want 1 or 2 I have a job and gym and family activities etc … so the wife tell her husband 1 or 2 but he wants 5 or 7 or even 10 and she is to submit to him so where is the obedience to Gods word ?
Also being married to one wife doesn’t guarantee success , the divorce rate in the church is just as high as it is in the world , children born in a monogamous home with one mom and one dad are just as wicked if not even more wick then those in a polygamous home, children living in a normal home have killed each other for family inheritance or are drug addicts gang members and our prison system is packed with young people coming only from a home where theirs one mom and dad.
everyone has a gift and a calling not everyone is called to have children,or a business, or money or be a pastor or deacon or teacher or evangelist or a wife or husband etc….. because if you take the verses in Genisis that god made male and female, also that God saw that it was not good for man to be alone , then that means every man and woman has to be married and not single correct come on now lets not try to change things to work for us.
conclusion, what it comes down to is ever one has there own calling and what ever we do in word or deed do all to the glory of GOD, whether we eat or drink what ever we do do all to the glory of God, so if you are single glorify, if you get married to one wife glorify God, if you have 1,2,3,4, wives and 20 children glorify God , you work for some one glorify God you own a business Glorify God , you live in a apartment or big mansion Glorify God. now one who is married to one wife or husband may judge him or her who are married to 4 wives but they are happy and fulfilled you just worry about if your Glorifying God in your life, because every one is always going to have an opinion. but i will say this make sure if you do wish to have more then one wife you find the right women who understand and except the arrangement or else it will be Hell on earth. just remember these verses ROMANS 14: 22-23 .
Well, I disagree with Martin Luther. I say the Bible is quite clear that a man should have a single wife, and a woman should have a single husband.
I would like to point out that in regards to this verse, even in a plural marriage, it is a man and his wife. The man may be married to more than one woman, but those marriages are separate events. I’d say the same about polyandry, the woman may have multiple husband’s, but each marriage is between her and that man. This isn’t polyamory we are talking about, where each member is in a relationship with the other members. Polyandry just wouldn’t have existed in that time, so of course it isn’t mentioned, women were the property, not owners. Also, strict monogamy is a Greek/Roman policy, and they are terrible examples of sexual morality as a whole.
It may have been a Greek/Roman policy, but they certainly didn’t start it. Monogamy was around long before then.
The bulk of the Bible is written on the assumption that a man will have a single wife. Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Exodus 20:18, Mathew 19:3-6
1 Timothy 3:2 even expressly forbids it for elders, but then also writes the verse mentioned above, so Paul seems clear in this idea that all marriages should be singular to that couple.
Jay….that was absolutely wonderful. Best explanation I’ve ever heard. Deep and thought provoking. I was thinking of this exact question today in my studies! Thank you so much for all you do.
Glad it made sense!
Christians can have multiple wives. here a token for you my brother. Read only the first paragraph and you will see were the hypocrisy started. monogamy is a doctrine of the devil God is not behind it.
You should read the post again. A lot of those verses pre-date the Roman era.
I’d be very slow to explicitly and specifically condemn something as paramount and regular in the Scriptures as polygyny when God, in all of the Scripture, and with plenty of opportunity, hasn’t.
God obviously takes issue with moral and sexual sin. The clear precedent is that He speaks out specifically, and explicitly, against several. However, polygyny isn’t one of those.
Our “interpretations” of what God really meant when He didn’t condemn polygyny (when He clearly condemns a multitude of other specific moral and sexual acts) should be rather simple: He didn’t condemn or prohibit it.
Regardless of “why” we think God was silent on such a paramount act, the fact is that in all of the Scripture, and with plenty of opportunity to address such a common marital occurrence, and with a clear precedent to condemn and prohibit a multitude of other sexual and moral acts, God never once condemned, judged, prohibited or even advised against polygyny.
When God is silent we’d all do well to simply humble ourselves and accept it. Polygyny may be taboo in Western Evangelical culture, but last time I checked they didn’t write the rules on marriage or morality; hardly so.
It’s worth pointing out that in Gen 5:5, the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intention of his heart was evil and only Noah found favor in the sight of God. Enoch was the only other righteous man and he was taken up by God (my speculation was to not have to suffer the wrath of the flood). The only deduction one can make from this is that Lamech was probably a bad guy as well and didn’t follow the idea of marriage given down from Adam and Eve. Abraham arrived 500 years later (about 2000 BC) and about 600 years before the Mosaic law was written. Therefore, Abraham lived before the old law and was subject to the law of the land, which at that time, was the nation of Elba. Archeological discoveries have found that Elbaite laws pertaining to using your maidservant to bear your children when your wife was barren were common, thus the reason why Sarai gave him Hagar (Gen 16). God never defines why polygamy was acceptable. In fact in Deut 21, it even defines how you divide your birthrights when you have multiple children from multiple wives. But, you have to understand why the old law was written. In Exodus 15, God tells Moses to write the laws so that the Israelites would not suffer the diseases that the Egyptians had suffered and His sole purpose was to keep the Israelites healthy until the point He can fulfill His promise to Abraham of all nations being blessed (Gen 22). The fundamental principal of the old law was two things – 1, you have to be Jewish and 2, you had to sacrifice. Granted, sojourners were allowed to convert, but the purpose was so that Jesus could prove He was a direct descendant of Abraham, thus fulfilling God’s promise. All records of Jewish lineage was burned in 70 AD so today, no one can validate whether or not they are a descendant of Abraham. All sacrificing pretty much stopped as well the same time when the temple was destroyed. When was the last time you saw your Jewish neighbor sacrificing a lamb in his front yard? I am a Gentile, therefore I do not follow the old law, but I do believe in Christ and as a Gentile Christian, I understand I am saved (Acts 10). I also follow the concept of marriage delivered to Adam and Eve before the Mosaic Law was written. I can only speculate as to why God allowed polygamy, but I believe in falls along the same lines as Jesus states about divorce in Matt 19:8 – only because of the hardness of their hearts was it allowed, but from the beginning it was not so.
God never gave into having multiple wives. And there were plenty of women in the beginning. Did you miss the part where Cain left and found himself a wife an another whole nation right after he killed his brother. So God did make more people so there was to be no incest as well. But what was more important for God to emphasize was the creation of the very first human beings of Adam and Eve. Just like God also said that the earth isn’t even big enough to contain every little thing he has done. God instructed us to have one person for marriage, you shouldn’t be confused. People just end up living life by their own lust and standards and try to justify it. Just like God did instruct the kings not to have multiple wives. He instructed the bishops of churches to have only one wife. So no God did not accept it but like all of our sins, we have to live out the consequences of our decisions. And they did!
My conclusion is that if Moses; the only man who ever saw God face to face had two wives then who am I ☺
He did it because he didn’t trust God … not really the event I’d pick as an example.
“He did it because he didn’t trust God”
You’re getting Moses and Abraham confused with each other.
You are correct, I did. Nevertheless, I don’t believe the argument of “God didn’t punish this particular person for it” is a good one when the bulk of scripture is clear that God intended people to have at most a single spouse.
No, but it’s quite illustrative. Moses was after all the figure responsible for codifying Judaism by writing and/or compiling the Jewish law.
How do you explain 2 Samuel 12:8, where God (through Nathan) tells King David that if he wanted more wives then God would have given him more? This happens in the context of the Bathsheba incident, so it’s very hard to argue that it means anything else but that. If polygamy was inherently sinful then why woukd God give David more wives if he wanted them?
We know from historical evidence that Jews were still widely practicing polygamy in the 1st century AD, and we have evidence that Spanish Jews were practicing it as late as the 14th century.
I don’t think that polygamy is a very good idea under present conditions, since we have an even ratio of men to women. It only works if there are many more women than men, thanks to war or whatever else.
But it’s an illustration of how customs around marriage and sex can change according to culture and current conditions.
He doesn’t say that in 2 Samuel 12:8:
I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more. (MSG for simplicities sake).
He’s not saying He would have given him more wives. He’s saying He would have given him more power. Throughout the Bible, God uses the image of someone taking another men’s wife as a show of conquering them. It wasn’t about the wife, it was about taking his stuff.
Furthermore, the “to have and to hold” in other translations comes out as “to care for”. These were Saul’s widows. It seems more in line with the rest of scripture to have this verse mean that David was to care for them as they had no more husband. Nowhere in the Bible does it say David married any of Saul’s wives nor slept with them. Either way, it’s not a clear indication that God was in favour of David having multiple wives.
And what the Jews did is not always a good indication of what God wants, as evidenced by much of the Bible.
But the problem here is that you’re taking inference as rule rather than explicit statements of expected behaviour, which I showed above.
Never. We are a part of nature. Some mammals have more than one female to multiply with. Marrage needs two. That can be repeated. Jacob, Reaboahm, and Solomon did that. They had concubines’. The church never talks about that. God’s image is nude. The church hates that, sending fear givers, being like the witch on the wizard of OZ, sending flying monkey’s had the nude form be seen. laws need to change. God does not want us to be like the vexing Sodomites, vexing gays, zoosexuals, and people accused of being a pedophilia person. 2 Peter 2:7- 8, KJV.
Humans are not merely mammals.
Jacob’s marriages were a disaster filled with struggle. Solomon got pulled away from God by his wives. Rehoboam’s people rebelled against him and he had the majority of his kingdom taken away from him.
Not stunning examples.
As for God’s image being nude – I don’t know where you get that from. We’re not supposed to worship images of God because God preexists matter – He is the creator, not created.
The context of 2 Samuel 12:8 is right after Nathan tells David the story about the man with one lamb and the man with many. (The problem with practicing polygamy today is that it leaves many men without even one “lamb”). God, through Nathan, is saying to David: “If you wanted more women to sleep with you could have freely had more. You didn’t have to steal someone else’s wife and then kill him over it”. Sure, there’s a mention of power and prestige but given the context wives are primarily what is being talked about. The Message is a paraphrase and I don’t think that the author did a very good job of paraphrasing that particular verse. Your attempt to hand wave that verse’s clear approval of polygamy is simply unconvincing.
Since you don’t like the MSG version:
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! – 2 Sam 12:8 KJV
So, there are numerous things mentioned:
1) Anointed him king
2) Gave him Saul’s house
3) Gave him Saul’s widows to care for
4) Gave him Israel and Judah
You’re picking out only #3 and making the entire story about that in order to suit your narrative. You keep saying you’re not in the incel movement, yet you keep pushing their talking points…
Does the incel movement spend their time exegeting the 2 Samuel? I wouldn’t know, but you seem to think so.
What is the context of that passage? What did David do to prompt God (through Nathan) to tell him that? He stole another man’s wife and killed him over it. Again, to paraphrase: “I gave you power, prestige, and women. If you had wanted more of any of those things, I would have given them to you, including women. You did not have to steal another man’s woman”.
The passage’s context, being a direct response to the Bathsheba incident, is inescapable. Your assertion that the remark about David being given Saul’s wives merely to care for is special pleading. It’s a real stretch m, and you’re making it because you don’t want to accept the obvious reading.
No, the incel movement is so upset at not being able to find a woman who wants to be with them, that they push narratives that would force multiple women to be with them, which seems to be what you’re going for with the catalogue of comments you’ve written.
As for 2 Samuel – you’re being forced to add words to the passage to make it fit your narrative. It’s not in keeping with the rest of Scripture. I believe the Bible interprets itself.
Again, I wouldn’t know about whether the Incel Movement wants to “force multiple women to be with them”. You seem to be the expert on whatever they believe. All I’m interested in is easing the rule whic restricts all sexual activity to marriage, in light of how much more difficult it is to get married.
I don’t think polygamy is a good idea to practice today. But I’m showing you that cultural views on marriage and sex have changed, and the Christian church has changed on the front as well.
The sexual mores of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern culture have some major differences from those of modern Christianity. For instance:
-polygamy is allowed
– Male virginity is not required before marriage; the very concept of virginity was not even applied to males
– Sex between a married man and an unmarried woman does not constitute adultery
-If a married man dies and has no children then then his brother should marry the widow and produce an heir on his behalf
-Men could force women captured in war to marry them
-Marriage is primarily based on economics, the sharing of resources, and the production of offspring. Marriages were also frequently arranged and dowries or bride prices were involved. Romantic love and Personal Fulfillment were not primary reasons to enter into a marriage, even in marriages that weren’t arranged by parents. If romantic love developed then that was a bonus, but not the primary basis. Biblical marriage and modern marriage are so different that you almost can’t speak of them in the same terms.
-Masters slept with their slaves. There is evidence that this was even common among Jews.
I could list more. The point is that even the orthodox Christian doctrines have changed over time and deviated from a strict reading of the Bible. We have not always been at war with Eastasia. We have changed before and we can change again in response to the crisis of the Sexual Revolution.
“We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies”
The reading of 2 Samuel 12:8 that I have advanced is the one that makes the most sense in the context of the Bathsheba incident, which that verse is a direct response to.
I believe I’ve already debunked all these points in your other comments. Unless you have something new to add, I’m not terribly interested in going through the entire circular argument again.
Well written. Thank you for your opinions.
A few thoughts:
– Gensis – The only rule God explicitly communicated was to not eat fruit of the tree of knowledge. Any other reading of actions is open to interpretation, as it is inferred by the reader and not directly stated. You infer that because God made one man and one woman that means God was supporting monogomy. I could infer from “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”, that text means God was endorsing slavery as an acceptable punishment for her action. For both our positions, the argument being made in support of each inference isn’t solidly supported by text. This doesn’t nullify the validity of the inferences, but it also is not actually supporting them either. More of a case of reading into the text from ones position.
This same logical weakness is actually present in most of the examples you give.
– Lamech – I don’t follow your reasoning behind the statement “no longer in a relationship with God.” Isn’t everything at all times in some sort of relationship with God, being as God not only created but also decides what to allow to continue to exist? Further, “I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.” It seems clear here that God protected Cain through a relationship, even after Cain’s action of murder. It’s also clear that God allowed the murder to happen in the first place. Afterwards, God was involved in the continuance of Cain’s offspring all the way to Lamech, and, even more so, Lamech had children of his own, regardless of his marriage type. At any point God could have stopped the continuance, or allowed ones from Cain’s blood line to be murdered as God allowed Abel to be murdered, yet God did not allow Cain’s line to be eliminated. The position of correlating the negativity with polygamy could just as easily be correlated to any other action Cain and Lamech took – murder, being married, bearing offspring, etc. There’s nothing here to definitively causate polygamy to “go wayward in many aspects of their life”. This being said, I do agree with you regarding the fact that it also isn’t an explicit statement of support for polygamy.
– Abraham – This example, inferentially, actually has more backing to argue that actually God does show acceptablility towards polygamy. For one, just because a man and a woman have sex does not automatically mean they will concieve. As evidenced by Sarai’s lack of ability to become pregnant. Abraham wanted children, Abraham took direct actions to have children, and yet no matter what the state of his free will was, actually concieving children fell beyond his ability. The question then becomes… what caused the inability to concieve? Is that a completely random event for which God had no power over? If that were the answer, it would negate the omnipotence of God. Which leaves the conclusion that Sarai didn’t become pregnant because both Abraham and her free will was limited, and that God was involved in the conception completing. Which is further evidenced by how God gave life to Adam and Eve in the first place through creationism as compared to traducianism. Therefor, being as the actual completion of conception requires a direct act from God, and God directly acted to complete conception with Abrahams second wife, we actually can hold it up as an example for God allowing it to happen; more so, God was directly involved in making it happen.
Secondly, we have seen God directly punish multiple actions which God does not allow – going against the commandment for eating the fruit, murder, etc. God does have a moral framework of acceptability, and has shown a history of giving punishments to those who fail to follow the framework, even in cases where God did not directly state beforehand that something wasn’t acceptable (murder). Yet God did not punish Lamech nor Abraham for polygamy.
Your own reasoning at this point is rather contradictory. You say “And this act of defiance has ramifications even today. Hagar bears a son, Ishmael who goes on to start a nation: the Ishmaelites who made war with God’s people for generations, and continue to do so this day, but now they are called Muslims (Islam teaches that Ishmael was the ancestor of Mohammed, the last prophet). To this very day, this case of polygamy is causing strife in the world, people continue to die daily because of it.” In your next paragraph, you then say “After all, He had made a covenant, and unconditional promise, with Abram, to protect His descendants. I understand some may misunderstand this as being permissive or allowing it to happen, but the way I read it, it’s God continuing to stay faithful to His people, despite their straying.” …So… the consequence of the action is that Abraham bore several bloodlines, which to this day fight and kill each other, and yet God is fulfilling the covenant to protect Abrahams descendants? I don’t follow how Abrahams descendants killing each other equates to the action of God protecting them, and staying faithful to the covenant. I suppose the retort would be that God gives them the free will to murder each other… yet God was directly involved in both the conception as well as the continuation of both the bloodlines in the first place. In addition, God marked Cain so that others would be afraid to kill him, and you said Lamech wasn’t in a relationship with God – from Cain – so here someone not in a relationship with God was protected yet someone who was in a relationship with God was not protected?
– Jacob, Rachel, and Leah – You say “In a rage, Jacob confronts Laban who cites some custom about the eldest daughter needing to be wed before the younger and offers Rachel as a second wife, after a week long honeymoon with Leah, if Jacob will work another 7 years afterwards.” This means not only was polygamy being practised, but it was being done on a communal scale, to such a common degree that customs had been developed normalizing the practice of polygamy. When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, by God, they were destroyed because of their sexual customs that God showed directly violated acceptability – by destroying them. For cases like murder, God made it explicitly clear that it wasn’t acceptable and would be punished via commamdments at a later time. Yet no where in the texts does it outright condone polygamy, unlike many other actions. While you may not see this as actual support, it most definitley isn’t a lack of support.
If this was a situation involving someone with limited knowledge or power, then we could say that they either didn’t know or couldn’t do anything about it. However, this is a situation involving God, who is both omniscient and omnipotent. Meaning God is fully aware of the act of polygamy and yet not punishing it. As a matter of fact, God created the conditions that allowed for polygamy to happen in the first place. God could have created the human body with a special connecting organ which, once connected, never allowed the body to connect to another one. Yet God created organs which can physically connect with multiple other bodies easily. It is much more difficult for the human body to fly than it is for the human body to perform polygamy.
I don’t have time to continue currently, but I did read all of your opinions. Thank you for your views, and I am interested in your response.
I’ll see if I can answer coherently. That’s a large comment.
I’ll try to label them to make it easier
Genesis – This would be true if we only had one verse to go off of, but we have multiple cases in the Bible where the model of “one woman, one man” is shown. After multiple cases as well as explicit rules about men in leadership having only one wife, and the principle of if you are in a position of leadership, you should be an example, and I don’t think there’s much room left for interpretation.
Lamech The problem with this argument is that if you hold the belief that anything God allows is okay, then you’ve basically wiped out the concept of sin, since God allows it to continue. Rather, I think what God allows to continue is freewill. The point of this creation is to showcase how choosing sin ends in destruction.
Abraham Similar to the point above, just because God doesn’t do something, doesn’t mean He doesn’t have the power to. There is a third case you’ve missed in that God could have done something, but chose not to, which I think explains the vast majority of human history. Otherwise you have the conflict you spoke of – either God is not omnipotent, or everything that happens is really God’s will and thus not a sin. That negates the concept of sin, the need for a saviour and basically negates the entire biblical story. So, it must be the third option – God allows it to happen to give us freewill, so that we can judge by our actions whether following God or follow Satan is the loving path.
So, the way the theology of the Bible is upheld, as I see it, is that God did not interfere until He gave Sarah a child when she was old, which I think He did, as he often does, to showcase that He is God and can break the rules. And you see this pattern over and over again with God – He will wait until the last possible moment, or do something so insanely out of the bounds of nature that you cannot possibly think it was something else going on. God even tells Gideon He does this so that people will know it was by His act, not theirs. So, the normal occurrences are not God’s direct action – it’s the abnormal ones, the ones that break the rules of nature – those are God’s actions.
Sarah not having a child – that happens. Nothing miraculous there. Sarah having one at the age of 90 – that’s God. Abraham having a child with his maidservant – normal life. Not God.
Secondly God doesn’t always punish sin directly or immediately. Sometimes He lets the consequences bear out so that you can see the effect sin will have. If you take a view of “the point of all this is to see which is better – God or Satan”, then you have to do that sometimes. I’d say most of the time. It’s like when you’re raising children. Eventually, you have to let them make their own mistakes.
Jacob, Rachel, and Leah We can never take cultural practices as being something sanctioned by God. In their case, this is pre-Israel, there is no community of believers, only a scattered view. It may not have been Sodom and Gomorrah, but it wasn’t the Hebrew nation either. There was no Mosaic law, they didn’t believe or care about God. Even if it was, we constantly see Israel practicing sinful behaviours and not being punished for them specifically, but rather holistically after generations to try and reset and bring them back on track as a nation.
I think I already tackled the last point more or less – the omniscience and omnipotent one. As for the way God created us – I mean, He could have created us without hands as well so that it would be harder to hold a rock or a gun. I’m sure we would have found other ways to kill each other. I doubt there is a design He could have come up with that enabled free will but disabled our ability to sin.
Also, thanks for commenting and starting a discussion!
Thanks for sharing your beliefs (NOT OPINIONS as some dimwit mentioned!). And I’m impressed with your patience and understanding when responding to some of the comments you get.
Thank you for helping the rest of us to see that there is a difference between beliefs and opinions. Apparently it is important enough to you, that you would insult people you don’t know, in order to point it out.
What is the difference, in your view? And why did it trigger you enough to become disrespectful?
Multiple wives are not just allowed still in the law, they are commanded in some instances, notably when a brother HAS to take his widowed sister-in-law as a wife if they had no children IRRESPECTIVE of marital state of the living brother.
The law never changed, it was Satan that changed things, to give women the power, as with Eve. Nothing new under the sun.
If having more than 1 wife was wrong, then why were these people not sent to hell for it? Why was it only the man could live this lifestyle and not the women? Why was only the woman dragged into the crowd to be stoned for adultery and not the man she was caught with? I’m a Christian, but there seems to be a lot of unfairness in the old and new testaments towards women. If we were all created equal then why have women always been treated as second class and lower/beneath men?
1) Noone is “sent to hell” for anything. Hell isn’t a place, it’s an event, which hasn’t happened yet. More info here: What happens when you die?
2) Why was only the woman dragged? My guess is she was having sex with a pharisee and they set the entire thing up. So, they weren’t going to convict their own. Leviticus 20:10 says they both should have been stoned.
3) Who said we were created equal? In what way do you mean? Men’s brains develop differently than women’s. We’re physically stronger, faster, etc.. Than women. As such, I think men bear the bulk of the responsibility for protection. You don’t see any verses in the Bible telling women to go to war, to protect men, etc.. It’s the men who are responsible for protecting the women. So, are we of equal value to God? Absolutely. Are we equal as in the same with the same responsibilities, strengths, dangers, etc.? No. That doesn’t mean women are a second class. I go through this a lot more in these two posts:
Household Hierarchy: What does our physiology say about who should lead?
Household Leadership: According to the Bible, which gender should lead?
With some more information here:
What does household leadership mean for the husband?
Where is the line between biblical submission and being a doormat?
I hope that helps. If not, I’m here for more questions.