A man I know has brought up this subject and has been adamantly proclaiming that polygamy is scriptural and that a man can have more than one wife, that the two being one flesh is for the man with each wife. He can have a one flesh relation with each wife. It sickens me and concerns me to see this in a professing Christian. To the women who spoke against this, this man and another man were saying that a wife would have to submit and love the other woman the husband brought into the relationship, that women who disagreed with this view were feminists and that a man “needs s-x.” I have been sick about this ever since reading the last couple days and today more added to the comments. I would appreciate those who have been enlightened by the Spirit of Life to share on this matter. Thank you.
@Rebekah First off, these men should be rebuked for idolatry. They are promoting physical desire above obedience to God. John is clear that we are not to love the world, for the things of this world will pass away, but to fix our hearts on things that are above.
1 John 2:15-17 - Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Second, the apostle Paul recognized that there can be a physical need for intimacy and the solution he recommends is marriage between 1 man and 1 woman. Nowhere - not even once - does Paul even hint at the idea that polygamy is okay. Everything he says assumes one man and one woman.
1 Cor 7:8-9 - Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Third, there are many Biblical indicators that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman:
- the establishment of marriage in Genesis
- the fact that God compares Himself to the groom and Israel to the bride - the Churches covenant with Christ is also compared to a monogamous marriage, showing that monogamy is God’s intention
- throughout the narrative of Scripture, polygamy led to discord, idolatry, jealousy, and other social ills - it is not portrayed in a positive light
How does one respond to this situation? The answer begins by seeing that God always points His creation back to the primacy and perfection of the original design. Next, you have to read every book to the end – especially if it is the biblical context. And if you read the stories about the characters referenced above, you’ll quickly find that polygamy was an unmitigated sociological disaster that created heartbreak and sowed familial discord. By the time of the writing of Malachi, God’s command to a thoroughly chastised nation was clear: covenantal monogamy was to be the norm.
Further, through the ministry of Jesus, we see God “reset the clock” so to speak to the original goodness of monogamous marital union – pointing forward to a new society and a new way. He also enacted new provisions to protect women and raise their standing in society. Jesus showed a world that had distorted the meaning of marriage back to the beauty of “the man being joined to his wife, and two will become one flesh.”
I have not seen anywhere in the Bible where polygamy was ordained or promoted by God. Are there prophets, kings, and other followers of God that did partake in this sin? Yes. But this does not mean that is what God wants for us. The Bible is full of sinful humans. Scripture tells us that all have sinned and fall short. You may also hear people say that incest is ok because of Lot and the physical relations he had with his daughters (the Bible suggests that he was unaware) but the important part is that it was still a sin and was not ordained by God. It is very important that God fill the Bible with sinners and it helps us to see that ALL men needed mercy and grace even those that walked closest with God
I find your question incredibly important. We live in a day and age that’s being defined by many as “post-Christian”. This means that society is moving away from the traditional ethics and values that where fostered by a judeo-christian worldview.
Many Christians, with or without realizing, are buying into this new “liberal or progressive” worldviews. This includes giving room for inmoral or ungodly sexual behavior. There are many reasons for this, but I don’t want to stray away from the central topic of your question.
Just wanted to mention this, because I can relate to your feeling of disappointment in hearing people that claim to be followers of Christ going ahead and defending ungodly behavior. And, in turn, going ahead and try to use the same Bible to silence people from the opposite sex that disagree with them.
This reminds me of the warning that Paul gives us in 2 Timothy 4 about the character of men (humans in general) in the “times to come” (verse 2).
Here is what Paul says people are going to be like in these days:
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The reason I quote this passage is twofold:
First, because the Bible is clear in describing the spiritual and emotional state of people that claim to be followers of Jesus, but at the same time deny his teachings. Verse 5 says that they will look for teachings that “suit their own passions”.
Secondly, it tells us how to deal with this.
First we are told to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”. Then, we are told to “always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”.
I find that in confronting this people, you are following this teaching. However, keep in mind that we ought to have a disposition of patience and a desire to teach, even when rebuking and reproving something (or someone’s actions).
I pray that the Lord will fill you with this disposition and with wisdom to deal with this people.
Now, about marriage. The previous answers that you’ve received are rich in material to illustrate the correct Biblical teaching about this matter. I would just point out that the person who is trying to defend polygamy is showing a complete lack of knowledge of Biblical and judeo-christian history.
Just as a final thought. Every time the Bible, and more particularly the New Testament, speaks about a marriage relationship it refers to it in singular “one husband to one wife”. The Greek language is very specific in this sense. Also, don’t forget that marriage is used as an example of God’s relationship to the church. The way husband and wife relate to each other is the way that God himself relates to the church, and lets be clear, God does’t have “many churches”, but one, comprised by those who have believed in Jesus’ name.
Saying that God allows polygamy is saying by extension that when God refers to His relationship to the church, God is also having a multiplicity of churches, one distinct from each other. And that would be almost a heresy.
Anyway, I hope that helps and makes a little bit of sense.
Thank you so much. At times - I don’t even know why- I can get a sense of being overwhelmed with a physical weight when men in positions of authority or assumed authority spread a black blanket of "Biblical truth " and use the Bible to then command obedience and adherence to their teaching. I lived under that for years, being told to “obey them that have the rule over you…” and began to cry out to God under that oppression. I guess that is why I felt it more keenly when I met this man and then witnessed his teachings this past week. In a conservative state, a conservative man, a man whom I formerly respected. It really troubles me because the home is essential to society. It troubles me to see “good” men spreading this net and catching others in it. Then when it is women who speak out against it, they are branded and blamed for the evils of society. The man went on to say that women such as those who disagree with him and his "Biblical view that God accepts polygamy " are to blame for abortion and other societal sins. He said that. Not one man joined in the discussion to defend marriage as between one man and one woman. Not one man told this guy he is wrong. I turned to this group and shared it with a few people I trusted. Thanks for sharing.
@Rebekah So sorry you had to experience that - be encouraged that there are plenty of Christian brothers and sisters out there who actively stand up against that kind of ignorance, bigotry, and false teaching. Making other people feel guilty / shaming them for disagreeing is a classic tactic of manipulation and should never be tolerated in society—much less in God’s Church. One day our Lord Jesus will reign in a new heavens and new earth and there will be no more of that!
Christ give you peace, joy, and wisdom
The only group I know of that claims to be Christian but has members who still endorse polygamy is the Mormon cult. Do you know whether this fellow identifies with the Mormons? ( I certainly hope there’s not a second such group out there now!)
He directly stated, “I am not Mormon.”
He does engage in politics in my state and is a weekly guest in a radio program which is yet another reason I am sorely dismayed. I know Utah just decriminalized polygamy a few weeks ago.
Ah - Utah! I wondered about that. So while he may not be a Mormon himself, it would seem that elements in that culture may well have contributed to his thinking. It would also explain why there may have been reluctance on the part of others overhearing him to counter his statements.
Well, I think you are getting some very good advice from many others on this issue. May God guide you as you deal with this.
But I’m sure you’re also aware that some people aren’t really seeking the truth - they’re running from it. And for them, if what the Bible really teaches threatens their pet view, they’ll defend their pet at any cost.
And, man, is there ever a cost!
@Rebekah Aside from this being a false teaching, their attitude does not honor Christ. There are many who love themselves more than the truth. Keep your eyes on Christ and not on any man or woman. Deuteronomy 17:17 says of the king Israel would ask for and God would set over them, “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” I believe there’s also another verse that gives the understanding that the priests were to have only one wife as well. In a sense we who are on this side of the cross are called a royal priesthood; we are kings and priests to our God. I think though for anyone reading the words of Christ in the gospels, it is clear God made one woman for one man as others mentioned. After all having more than one wife distorts the picture of Christ and His church, and I’m sure God is not pleased with that!