POLYGAMY
Is it adultery?

By Pastor Steve Van Nattan

 

The Bible says nothing about some things, and we are tempted to be disturbed that God did not deliver us more laws to make it easier for us to discover the holy way.  We better not go beyond God in such things.  At other times, things are said ABOUT a subject, but God does not give a direct curse or blessing on the subject.  This is how it is with the topic, polygamy.  You may not like my conclusions, but don't bother to write unless you have CLEAR proof texts to the contrary.


A STUDY OF POLYGAMY IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE

We know Polygamy was part of Old Testament life.  Solomon was the classic with about 700 wives and a number of concubines.  We can fault him for his wives who were pagans, and God did so by implication in the Word, but we cannot blame polygamy per se for his fall--  his fall came from fellowshipping with pagans.

There is a comment by God implying that polygamy could be a problem, but it seems to be because of the political chaos it could cause.  It was common for kings of the Middle East and Egypt to marry the daughters of neighboring kings in order to secure peace with those countries.  God did not want His rulers depending on such stealth instead of His power to deliver them.  The word in the text, "multiply," does not have the sense of forbidding a second wife.  Rather; it speaks against the very thing Solomon did many years later with hundreds of wives.  No one in their right mind would imagine that Solomon sexually serviced every woman and concubine in his harem even once a year.  Some men, in lust, dream such thoughts, but I could almost wish they had to try it--  They would be at the cardiologist every other week.  Thus....

Deut. 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

David, "a man after God's own heart," had multiple wives, and God never rebuked him for it.  His last wife was recruited only in a desperate move to warm his body up and try to save his life.  God never complained.  Jacob and Isaac had multiple wives, and God, in His sovereignty, ordained the heads of the tribes of Israel from those polygamous marriages.

Without going to a lot of proof texts, I feel comfortable in saying that God did NOT consider polygamy as a sin in any particular context.  The question is, was polygamy the divine ideal for men and women?

Answer:  NO

During the 1700s and 1800s, as thousands of missionaries went around the world from the Western world, polygamy was a perpetual curse in nearly every culture.  The missionaries, with only about 5 exceptions world wide, insisted that polygamous families be broken up and the man go back to his first wife.  Any other solution was considered to be adultery.  Were these missionaries correct in doing this?

Answer:  Yes and NO.

There is NO Bible text which says that a polygamous family cannot continue to exist after the head of the family, the husband, gets saved.  There just is NOT one text in the whole Bible to lead to this conclusion.  However; polygamy is NOT God's divine ideal.  Here are the Bible texts which show the divine ideal.

Bible Texts Which Commend Monogamy

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Mark 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

It is very hard for one man and a ladies aid society to become "one flesh," and the point is not sincerity or good intentions-- it is simply not possible!

Eccl. 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Proverbs 5:18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

History is loaded with tales of men who tried to be ravished by many women's breasts in a polygamous family.  It turns to chaos and angry women, and the old man finds his libido more than challenged.  

Mohammed had this problem so bad that he had to set up a rotation so that none of his wives would feel cheated.  He even groaned over this in the Koran and the Hadith.  Allah finally gave him a special revelation as to how to handle his wives.  It was not Mohammed's libido which was the problem-- he couldn't keep all eleven wives serviced at the rate that THEY craved his attention.  

One tin plated prophet of Salt Lake also had severe problems keeping his wives from annihilating each other.  The evidence is NOT on the side of polygamy.


Other Reasonable Considerations

God never had a polygamous priest or prophet, at least I could not find one.  To be sure, one prophet married a whore-- Hosea.  Some prophets did bizarre things like running naked and rolling about in the dirt and playing war games with bits of clay pots.  John the Baptist would not be highly thought of today with his diet and rough attitude toward religious leaders.  But, God never had a spiritual leader who had multiple wives.  

Joseph, husband of Mary, had only one wife.  All the New Testament Apostles and leaders were monogamous, unless they were not married.  Indeed, polygamy is NOT found in the culture of Israel when Jesus Christ came to earth.  It seems that even the Pharisees and leaders of Israel had come to a monogamous agreement with God.

One situation existed in the Old Testament in which God required action which could well result in polygamy.  When a man died, and his wife had no "issue" of a child to inherit and continue the family name and ownership, the widow could appeal to a brother of her former husband to take her to wife and continue the family for the deceased husband.  Let's not be coy here.  The kinsman redeemer was to take her as a fully committed wife, and he was to "go in unto her" and sexually make her pregnant.  God did not say he could not enjoy sexual relations with her either.  This was not some Platonic relationship.  The thing was of God, and it was done to His glory, as in the case with Ruth and Boaz.  The brother did NOT have to be a single man either.  In this case, God set aside the divine ideal of monogamy, and He required a multiple marriage be instituted.  It is highly critical to see WHY God did this.  It was a rare and exceptional situation.

Deut. 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.

Finally, polygamy is a violation of the model of Christ and His church.  He rejected His ESPOUSED bride, Israel for adultery.  He now has taken one Bride in His Church which He bought on Calvary.  Later, the righteous saints of Israel will be BROUGHT INTO the Bride relationship with Christ (grafted back in).  There will be only ONE Bride in heaven--  The Redeemed of all ages.  Get used to it.  The only other woman involved theologically is the Whore Church, which Messiah rejects and send to hell.


Conclusion:

Polygamy is NOT outright identified in the Bible as sin, BUT....

Polygamy is NOT God's divine ideal.

Did that make it easy for you?  No?  So....

Moral:  Be very careful about going beyond what God has said.  You are NOT the judge in such matters.



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