Friday, November 9, 2007

Was Polygamy A Sin In The New Testament?
Now let's consider the main objections against polygamy taken from the New Testament.

Objection #1:
Jesus himself said that polygamy is a sin.

Actually, Jesus never specifically said that polygamy per se is a sin, though many claim he did. Certainly if Jesus had said such a thing unambiguously, Christian giants like Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther would have noticed it. Those claiming Jesus denounced polygamy rely on either Matthew 19:9 or the parallel passages of Mark 10:11 or Luke 16:18 as support:

And I [Jesus] say to you, "Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (NKJV).

This verse says nothing about polygamy. It's talking about divorce. Jesus is denouncing the practice of men divorcing their wives for lame reasons so they could trade her in for a newer model. If Jesus were referring to polygamy, that would mean that every man who is divorced and remarried is a polygamist. Absurd! It's mind-boggling the lengths to which polygamy's opponents will go to support their biased position. Taken in context, Jesus was responding to a question posed in Matthew 10:3:

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (NKJV).

Jesus was not saying, "Whoever marries a second wife commits adultery," as some claim. He said, "Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." The issue was divorce and remarriage, not polygamy. Jesus was not overturning the Law of Moses, which allowed for polygamy.

Objection #2:
Men in the New Testament are commanded to be the husband of only one wife.

According to 1 Timothy 3:1-2:

If a man desires the position of a bishop [or an elder], he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, ... (NKJV).

First, notice that this qualification pertains only to bishops and elders. This qualification may or may not pertain to all Christians, though many claim that it does restrict all Christians to only one wife.

This particular qualification is a difficult and highly disputed qualification, which has been interpreted many different ways. Some claim it means that a bishop or elder must be married. That interpretation is highly unlikely, since it is clear that Paul wasn’t married, at least at this point in his life. Plus, as far as we know, Jesus was also a bachelor. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that this text stipulates that an elder must be married.

Others say this verse prohibits a bishop or elder from remarrying if his wife dies. This interpretation is also highly unlikely. According to Romans 7, Paul makes it plain that there is nothing wrong with remarrying after one's spouse dies.

Still others say this verse teaches that a Christian is not eligible for the office of bishop or elder if he has been divorced and remarried. Certainly, God hates divorce, but Jesus and Paul allowed for divorce under certain circumstances. Some have tried to impose a prohibition against anyone becoming a bishop or elder who has ever had a divorce. Since the Bible allows for divorce under certain circumstances, divorce doesn't seem to be the qualification this is referring to.

And now we get to the consideration we're concerned with: polygamy. Some claim that a candidate for bishop or elder cannot be a polygamist, while others object to this interpretation because they believe polygamy did not exist in the early Christian church. Still others go so far as to assert that a polygamist would not have been allowed membership in an early Christian church. Their argument goes something like this: If a polygamist would not have been allowed church membership, it's obvious that he would not have been allowed a high position of rulership. Therefore, why even bother to make this stipulation in the first place?

Certainly there was some polygamy in the first century. Exactly how much is a matter of debate. We know that Herod the Great had ten wives. True, he didn’t have them all at one time. Herod put two of them to death. Nevertheless, he did have several wives at the same time.

In places like Lystra, polygamy was not all that uncommon. Even today, in some African tribes, polygamy is commonplace.

Calvin Said Polygamy Was "Exceedingly Prevalent" Among New Testament Believers
Calvin believed polygamy was sinful. Nevertheless, he acknowledged it's existence, not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. In
Calvin's commentary on 1Timothy 3:1-2, Calvin said polygamy was "exceedingly prevalent" among early New Testament believers. Evidently, this did not prevent them from becoming members of the church.

Justin Martyr Said Many Christians Had Four Or Five Wives
Like Calvin, Justin Martyr (c.160) was certainly no fan of polygamy. Nevertheless, he acknowledged it's existence in the early New Testament church, perhaps mainly among New Testament Jewish Christians. He rebukes the Jews for allowing polygamy:

Your imprudent and blind masters [i.e., Jewish teachers] even until this time permit each man to have four or five wives. And if anyone sees a beautiful woman and desires to have her, they quote the doings of Jacob
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 134).

Nevertheless, as critical as Justin Martyr was of polygamy, he entitled this chapter: "The marriages of Jacob are a figure of the Church."

Some claim that a polygamist can become a Christian but they are not allowed positions of rulership. One of the reasons, it is claimed, is that the relationship between Christ and his "bride," the Church, cannot be portrayed by polygamy. "Christ does not have many brides or many churches," they claim. "Monogamous marriage is a type of the relationship between Christ and his people, the church; polygamy is not. So there is something to be modeled about Christ and the church by one husband married exclusively to one wife."

Ironically, Justin Martyr, as we've just seen, believed the marriages of Jacob were a figure of the Church, even though he opposed polygamy. So some oppose polygamy because it cannot possibly be a figure of the Church, while others, like Justin Martyr, oppose polygamy because it is a figure of the Church.

There is certainly much merit in the position that a polygamous marriage can portray the relationship of Christ and the church just as well as, if not better than, a monogamous one. For example, although it is true that Christ does not have many brides, it is also true that His one bride is composed of many people. Likewise, Christianity is not a polytheistic religion. Christians believe in one God who is three persons. The word "trinity" means "three in one" or "three united." I know this puzzles many people. It was a source of major contention in the early church and still is to some extent today. Christianity is monotheistic, not polytheistic. Why? Because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three people who have a lot of things in common, such as:

1. All three are eternal.

2. All three are omiscient (all-knowing).

3. All three are omnipotent (all-powerful).

4. And last, but not least, all three agree with each other on everything, at least everything that is important.

So perhaps, if a man had several wives who were in a perfect harmonious relationship, perhaps it would not really be a polygamous relationship. Perhaps it would be a monogamous relationship.

In my judgment, the explanation that seems to fit the context of 1 Timothy 3:1-2 best is that Paul is excluding candidates who have a history of sinful sexual behaviour, especially if that sinful behaviour has not been repented of. But another explanation that I find logical is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 7:32-33:

He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife (NKJV).

A man only has so much time and energy. A polygamist with the responsibility of providing for the well-being of many wives probably would not have enough time and energy left over to provide for the well-being of the parishioners of a congregation. Being a bishop, deacon or elder requires a huge investment of time and energy, as does being a polygamist. Therefore, it would probably be counter-productive for a polygamist to have a high position of leadership in the church.

Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that a polygamist would be restricted from an office of leadership simply based upon the misguided notion that polygamy is somehow unethical.


Anonymous said...

Question: If we are the bride of Christ, who is God, and are made up of many people, well wouldn't we be committing polyandry also if are married to God, who is three in one?

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Read your bible from the beginning to the end. Enough arguing for a point of view. Singular singular singular. A man and (his) woman. Singular singular. Learn Greek too. It might help you keep some egg off your face.

Joep de Kraker said...

Romans 7:2,3 is a clear case against polyamory.

It says: For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called, an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so hat she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

It doesn't seem (as of 10 Oct 2009 as I happen to change opinions quite a lot) to be against polygamy. It only talkes about the married woman. It doesn't state that it is adultery for a married man to have sex with another unmarried woman or to be married to more than one woman. However I don't see how polyamory can be good in the light of this verse.

Apekapok said...

Joep de Kraker is absolutely right.

And not a single verse against polygamy in the NT has been found. Christians leaders being more righteous than God, twist the demand for monogamous church leaders onto ordinary believers.

Yes. Bible is very clear. Follow the law of the land - see Rm 13. The bible is valid in a monogamous land, and also valid in a polygamous land. Bible is clear. Men's minds are clouded by their own self righteousness.

For anyone who claims ( yea, all those theologians with PHds and masters degrees in theology included ) that God never permitted polygamy in the OT, explain this:

"Sa 12:7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; Sa 12:8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. "

You mean God did not know that David had already married Michal by then, and Ahinoam and Abigail, too? Or will they twist the words "into thy bosom" to mean something innocent like a teddy bear hug?

Also try explaining the polygamous arrangement that is often necessary with the application of the Levirate Marriage law for the Israelites.

In all "holier than thou" exposition and preaching of the "one man one wife" doctrine, you will never find one explaining the above 2 situations, neither will they ever explain why David was never stoned to death for adultery since everybody knew and knows that he married many wives and had sex with them. Nobody want to explain why and when did the sin of adultery between David and Bathsheba ended, which produced Solomon who was to succeed David.

You will see these church teachers and leaders squirming and twisting themselves into knots trying to avoid explaining them.

These white skin theologians are so lost in their "one man one wife culture" that they have become mentally blinded to what is in the bible. And these are English speaking white man reading English bibles, mind you.

How thick the veil over their minds. Wonder who put that veil there that they cannot see God's words clearly?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Matthew 19 and Luke 16 are, contrary to your statements, prime examples of proof-texts which easily denounce polygamy, though obviously any denouncing of polygamy via these passages is not the main intention.

It is important to note that the passages say "and marries another." Jesus is saying that those who divorce and remarry, unless on the grounds of sexual immorality, still possess a covenant between their former spouse which is valid before God. As a result, any remarriage is, according to Jesus, an act of adultery. Jesus isn't attacking specifically polygamy with this verse because, contextually speaking, polygamy wasn't an issue for 1st century Palestinians. In the Diaspora and essentially everywhere that Greco-Roman culture had touched, polygamy was an abominable practice.

Your interpretation of these passages lacks consideration of the fact that Jesus inserts the "and remarries" portion. Granted, your interpretation would make sense if it didn't. As it stands, however, Jesus makes it pretty clear that, because the marriage covenant has not been invalidated for proper reasons (i.e. sexual immorality), remarriage constitutes an act of adultery.

Anonymous said...

As for the "the husband of one (Strong's G3391) wife", check out the Greek. The word for that "one" can and often does mean first like in a list. An example is the "first day of the week" or the "first scroll" of four in Rev. So it can mean "husband of the first wife". In other words is the man taking care of the wife of his youth.
Now the interesting thing is the Greek word for "one" in 1Ti 5:9 "Let not a widow ... having been the wife of one (G1520) man" is a different word. That one means only one or a certain one. Why different word for "one" in the same book? 1 Cor 7:2 Does the same for "own", which we lose in the translation. 1Co 7:2 "But, because of the fornications, let each have his own (G1438) wife, and let each have her own (G2398) husband." Why different words in the same sentence? Hint- it is the same type of meaning as the "one" above.

TIUCHE said...

Yeah I agree with you Polygamy is not a sin against God! Monogamy is okay but SHOULD BE MONOGAMY doctrine FOR ALL MEN IS A BIG BIG LIE OF THE DEVIL which the whole world had embrace like it was from God! Visit my site too...

TIUCHE said...

Yeah I agree with you Polygamy is not a sin against God! Monogamy is okay but SHOULD BE MONOGAMY doctrine FOR ALL MEN IS A BIG BIG LIE OF THE DEVIL which the whole world had embrace like it was from God! Visit my site too...

TIUCHE said...

Here is one comment i made about polygamy on the Verse by Verse Bible Commentaries on Song of Solomon 2:9:

AND MAY I ADD that despite Solomon being already married…he was not afraid to pursue another woman of his dream…he even stands outside of her home looking at the woman he loves; may i asked: WHO AMONG THE MARRIED MEN CAN DO THIS NOW? I tried it myself one time and boy…was i looked with disgust by the mother of the girl i liked despite the fact that i have helped their families quite a bit-they thought i was a sex maniac! Imagine a married man pursuing a virgin…the whole deceived world looks at it as a sin!

We therefore see that the outlook of the whole world donot square at all at the pure & simple outlook that was among the chosen people of God-it is alien to the people of the world. No wonder that jesus warns that there will come a time when people will imprison you and do all evil things against you supposedly for God, but He tells us that they donot know Him nor His Father!Can you say amen to my opinion? If you can’t your light is a little dim!

Anonymous said...

"Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."...Jesus's point is that the improper divorce does not nullify the marriage. IF polygamy is not wrong why would it be adultery to marry another woman!! HeLLO! 1Timothy ch. 3 "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of ONE wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;"

Anonymous said...

As for Jesus having multiple churches for brides... perhaps, if early Christians had been more acceptant of polygamy, they would have been more acceptant of differently thinking Christian communities, too? And instead of calling them heretics, they would have respected them as sister-wives? :P

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you're so lost... Please look up 1) mind altering vaccine leaked from Pentagon, 2) FEMA camps 3) pay attention to our liberties that have been taken away... They are getting ready to destroy Christians!!! It's beyond what's in ur pants!!!!

polymom said...

Tom Gruber these people on here r like some high school kids arguing,

Luke said...

Thanks for the article mate. Well written and well thought out. I couldn't really care less about monogamy vs polygmy, but find it intersting how people can be so easily swayed by societys opinion that they will warp the bible to mean what they want.

Most of the poeple who have left comments on here seem to be wack jobs though. Shouting out baseless opinions. If you're guna say something biblical, back it up with verses from the bible.

Anonymous said...

Polygamy is a culture practiced people people in Bible, while monogamy is a verdict issued by pagans in the early Christian era.

Anonymous said...

Polygamy is not unethical based on the teaching from the Bible. It is unethical based on the concept of marriage being an equal partnership. If one man is splitting his time, his attention, his love, his passion, his money, between two or more women, then each woman is receiving LESS than a full husband. Each wife is expected to cope with PART of a husband, while the man whores him self among multiple women, truly loving himself and his own pleasures first, while being fully devoted to NEITHER wife.

While some women have such low self esteem that they are willing to settle for this unequal arrangement, and certainly there are more than enough men full of ego and thinking with the wrong head, the reality is that it is an unbalanced relationship, lacking in true love or devotion. Even in 2014, some men are just seeking a harem to worship the little pagan idol in their pants.

Unknown said...

The problem exists in the thesis of the trinity, hence your question.

The question is valid %100.

Polyandry for god is correct, if the trinity actually exist's, but it doesn't.

Basic learned answer: yhwh is one, hence the "coin thesis". Meaning yhwh is like a coin (some what), how many sides to a coin? It's not two.
The answer is three.

Stand the coin up right. On what side is it relying on to stand? Hence three.

God is not a triune god, that's satanic,
He is one! And don't ever forget that!

One coin, one value, One!

So the marriage is in my opinion is polygamist. But that's another rabbit hole to go down in.