POLYGAMY IN THE BIBLE
1. Polygamy - lit., "many marriages."
2. Did God approve of and encourage polygamy in the Old Testament? Was it consistent with God's law on marriage? What if a polygamist is converted today - what would repentance demand of him? (If his culture accepts polygamy as legal, would he have to give up his plural wives in order to please God?)
I. MONOGAMY: GOD'S DESIGN FROM CREATION - Gen. 2:18-24.
A. Woman Was Created As A Help-Meet For Man (Helper Answering To / Suitable To) - v. 20-22.
1. v. 22 - God only made one woman for Adam.
2. Mark 10:6 - Male and female (not "females").
3. God ordained monogamy, not polygamy.
B. "One Flesh" Concept Speaks Against Polygamy - 2:24 (Eph. 5:31).
1. Only one man & one woman can unite together in one flesh. (Cleave to his "wife," not wives!)
2. Malachi 2:14 - Covenant of marriage is with one woman.
3. Under this figure, polygamy would imply that there are multiple bodies (fleshes) in marriage! (2 1; Not 3 1!!).
C. Joy Is Said To Attend Monogamy - Proverbs 5:18.
D. Marriage Is A Figure Of Christ's Relationship With His Church - Eph. 5:23,
1. Eph. 5:23 - If a husband can have many wives, then Christ can have many churches (bodies) - Eph. 4:4.
2. Eph. 5:28 - If a man can love many wives, Christ can love many churches -- But, Eph. 5:25 says He loved "the church."
3. Eph. 5:31-32 - If polygamy is true, Paul's (God's) entire teaching about Christ and His church is destroyed!
II. POLYGAMY IN THE BIBLE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES UPON MAN.
-(Polygamy was never widespread; God warned against it & discouraged its practice.)
A. Polygamy Began In Worldliness, Not Holiness - Gen. 4:19.
1. God, the Creator of mankind, ordained monogamy (one man and woman in marriage) - Gen. 2:21-24.
2. Lamech, a descendant of Cain (4:17-18), originated polygamy.
3. Polygamy began in the will and lust of man, not the will of God!
B. It Is Implied Among The Sexual Sins of Genesis 6:1-2.
-cf. Noah and his sons only had one wife each (Gen. 7:7; 1 Pet. 3:20).
C. The Customary Practice Of Handmaids Became The Norm, And Was Attended By Grief,
Pain And Strife.
1. Sarah & Hagar - Gen. 16:1-6.
a. Sarah's solution to her barrenness in view of God's promise -- but it was not God's solution!
b. This polygamous relationship produced conflict, grief & pain for all involved!
2. Isaac, the some of promise - only one wife (Rebekah) - Gen. 24:67.
3. Esau deliberately entered polygamy, which marriages brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah - Gen. 26:34-35.
4. Jacob stumbled into polygamy through the deceit of Laban - Gen. 29:18, 27-28.
a. Envy of Rachel & Leah led to his taking Bilhah & Zilpah as wives - Gen. 30:1-13.
b. Jealousy, competition, conflict, hatred and deception resulted from these polygamous marriages!
5. Other notable polygamists in the Old Testament:
a. Gideon (Judges 8:30-31) - Contributed to a period of apostasy and civil war, with his ungodly son Abimelech leading the way.
b. Elkanah (1 Sam. 1:1, 2, 6) - Hannah and Peninnah were rivals, and domestic discontent reigned in his house.
c. David (1 Chron. 3:1-9) - Family life filled with turmoil (Amnon & Tamar; Absalom murdered Amnon and tried to usurp the throne, took his father's wives in public).
d. Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-4) - 700 wives and 300 concubines (secondary wives) - They turned his heart away from God unto idols.
D. The Law Of Moses
Discouraged and Limited Polygamy ("contingency legislation" -- By no means an endorsement of the practice).
1. Limited to the wealthy - Exo. 21:10; Deut. 21:15-16. The cost of polygamous marriages would necessarily limit and lessen the practice.
2. Kings of Israel were told to not practice polygamy - - Deut. 17:17.
-(cf. Solomon: 1 Kgs. 11:1-4, 9-11; Neh. 13:26 - Sinned against God in taking many wives.)
E. Monogamy Is The Rule For Marriage Which God Intended "From The
Beginning" - Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:2 (Eph. 5:22-32).
1. One man and one woman for life, with one exception.
2. Polygamy is adultery according to the words of Christ!
F. Attempts To Justify Or Allow For Polygamy:
1. God gave David the wives of Saul - 2 Sam. 12:8.
a. God had assured David's right to the throne against all others.
b. Saul only had one wife (1 Sam. 14:50) and one concubine (2 Sam. 3:7 - whoem Abner appropriated to himself).
2. Husband of one wife" - 1 Tim. 3:2. Thus, we are told that elders could not be polygamists, but other Christians could be.
a. Literally, "one woman man" does not demand it be taken as a prohibition against polygamy (rather than simply meaning "an elder must be married").
b. cf. 1 Tim. 5:9 - Same phrase in reverse ("One man owman").
c. No inference demands that we see this phrase as a reference to polygamy.
G. Summary: It Seems That For A Time, God Tolerated Polygamy.
-Why? We are not told - cf. Acts 17:30.
1. Polygamy was not God's uniform will on marriage.
2. Polygamy was the invention of men and not God.
3. God discouraged polygamy and hedged against its widespread practice under the law of Moses.
4. We cannot conclude from the Biblical accounts of polygamy that God allows and/or commands such today (Matt. 19:4-6; Acts 17:30-31).
III. POLYGAMY IS ADULTERY, AND ITS PARTICIPANTS MUST REPENT OR FACE THE
WRATH OF GOD.
A. Polygamy Is Adultery - Romans 7:1-4; Hebrews 13:4.
B. The Polygamist Must End His Adulterous Marriages In Order To Properly Repent Of His Sins - Acts 26:20 (Rev. 9:20-21).
1. God has always desired monogamy in marriage: He ordained it as such, Jesus emphasized it as such, and we must conform our marriages to His will on it (Matt. 19:4-6).
2. We oppose every attempt to justify this sinful and adulterous practice!