If you missed Part 1 of Sister Wives, go here, and then hurry back.
Well, I’ve been thinking and reading about this whole polygamy thing, and let me just tell ya, I’m still dumbfounded. I figure the best place to start is by addressing what the Bible says about polygamy. Here are a few questions that I came up with in an effort to tackle this sticky subject as simply as possible.
1. Is polgamy in the Bible?
Yes, many heroes of the faith had more than one wife, such as Abraham, Jacob, David, and most notably, Solomon. References of this are abundant, so I don’t feel the need to quote them here. Just start reading the Old Testament and you’ll find it!
However, just because something is recorded in the Bible does NOT mean that God ordained it, endorses it, or commands it. The Bible is God’s written Word, but it is also a historically accurate account of ancient history.
2. Does the Bible forbid polygamy?
While we don’t see any specific instances in which God expressly condemns polygamy (i.e. thou shalt not have more than one wife), we do see instances in which God commands monogamy.
In Deuteronomy 17:17, we read:
He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
The book of Deuteronomy is a “covenant”. It is a detailed offering of the covenant God made with the Israelites right before they were to enter the Promised Land. It is relevant to us as New Testament believers who believe in the letter of the law, as well as the spirit of the law (as Jesus describes in the entire chapter of Matthew 5).
We also see references in the New Testament by which God requires those in leadership to have only one wife. In I Timothy 3:2, we read:
2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
And further, in Titus 1:5-6,
5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
3. Where do we see that God designed marriage to be a monogamous relationship?
From the beginning of Creation, we see that God designed marriage to be between ONE man and ONE woman, as shown with Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:24, God Himself says that marriage is meant to be monogamous:
24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
The phrase “one flesh” is key here. If a man is joined to his wife as one flesh, how can he also be joined to another as “one flesh”? Would that not require a tearing apart of his flesh?
4. What else does God say about marriage?
There are numerous references in the Bible that talk about God’s design for marriage as a representation of the covenant that God has made with His people. The analogies to marriage are constant, in both the Old and New Testament. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Hosea, which begins with the prophet detailing the personal difficulties he had with his own wife who was an “adulteress”. He then speaks of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God.
In the New Testament, one of the most quoted passages regarding the analogy of marriage is found in Ephesians 5:25-32,
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30because we are members of His body. 31FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Here is another quote about the analogy of marriage from Gary Thomas’ classic book entitled Sacred Marriage1
In fact, both the Old and New Testaments use marriage as a central analogy-the union between God and Israel (Old Testament) and the union between Christ and His church (the New Testament). Understanding the depth of these analogies is crucial, as they will help us determine the very foundation on which a truly Christian marriage is based. If I believe the primary purpose of marriage is to model God’s love for His church, I will enter this relationship and maintain it with an entirely new motivation, one hinted at by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “So we make it our goal to please Him” (II Corinthians 5:9).
There is so much more I could say about this topic, but I hope this post can serve as a foundation upon which we can continue this discussion in Part 3 of the Sister Wives posts. Honestly, I thought Part 2 was going to be the end of it, but I guess there is A LOT to say. In Part 3 I’ll talk more about the purpose of marriage and address some of the specific things the women in Sister Wives mentioned as the benefits of polygamy.
I also want to add a disclaimor here. As I’ve mentioned before, I, in no way consider myself an expert in theological matters. However, I am a seeker of the truth. As with all of my posts, I approached this one with prayer, and asked that God would give me the words to write here, so as not to confuse anyone reading this. I believe that each person should seek to find the truth on their own, and boldy ask God to make it known to them. We receive a great promise in Deuteronomy 4:29 about this:
But if from there you seek the Lord your God , you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
As intimately as a husband knows his wife, so God wants YOU to know Him. He is always waiting for you with open arms.