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What The Bible Says About Polygamy

If You Are Already Married To More Than One Person

What Does The Bible Actually Say About Polygamy?

Even though the Bible holds up marriage as being between two people only, it does not say that polygamists are excluded from Gods people. In fact, there is a hint that there were polygamists in the church of the New Testament. In Pauls first letter to Timothy, he lays out his criteria for choosing church leaders:

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 1 Timothy 3:2-5 .

This means that no-one who is married to more than one person can be involved in church leadership. This is because the leaders must set the example for the rest of the church and reflect Gods intention for what the Christian family of the church should look like in their own family life at home.

But the verse also implies that there were people in the church who could be church leaders were it not for the fact that they were married to or sexually involved with more than one person. These people were allowed to be a part of the church fellowship, but were restricted from becoming church leaders.

What The Bible Teaches About Polygamy

God created Adam and one woman for Him. And they joined themselves becoming one flesh thus man and his wife.

Gen 2:21-22: And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Gen 2:23-25: And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

There are several things we see from the above verses.

1. One Adam rib formed one woman

God took one rib from Adam to create one woman for Him. A woman is taken out of Adam and from every one Adam, a woman is made.

Every male human being is missing one rib which God uses to create a woman for him. See the meaning of man and woman.

God does not take many ribs but only one from each male human being to create one woman for every man and He does not create many women for one man but one woman for one Adam.

2. Two become one flesh

Marriage in the eyes of God is constituted when two become one flesh. Not three, four, five or multiples but when only two people become one flesh. See how two become one flesh.

See what constitutes a marriage and what the Bible teaches about adultery

God says,

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What Then Should You Do

What does the bible say about Polygamy?

Any time that we step outside of Gods ideal, we sin. Like any sin, we must confess it to God and repent from it. However, unlike other sins , a response of repentance in this situation will need to take a different approach.

It may seem like a way out of this situation is to divorce the extra spouses until there is only one left. This is not the right way to deal with it! Divorce is also against Gods plan for marriage a sinful divorce cannot correct a sinful second marriage. Rather, we should take Pauls advice in 1 Corinthians 7:

“Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:20

If you are already married to more than one person then you should stay married to all spouses and seek to live as best you can to honour God and fulfil your duties to your family. This, for example, means not showing favouritism to one spouse over another . It also means that you cannot recommend this way of life to another believer who is unmarried, or is only married to one person. The pattern of polygamy must stop and not be passed on to children, who might see such advice to be a contradiction. They will need to have the reasoning explained to them carefully. By doing this, you can demonstrate true repentance and be used by God to help others to make good decisions in their lives.

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What Does The Bible Actually Say About Polygamy

The Bible devotes much of its narrative to passages about marriage and the love between husbands and wives. As Easy English Bible notes, a whole book in the Old Testament Song of Songs, which has been traditionally attributed to King Solomon is effectively one long poem about love and sexual longing between a man and a woman. And some of it is downright saucy, describing the woman’s body parts in exacting, if metaphorical, detail. Similarly, over in the New Testament, the writer of Galatians tells husbands to love their wives, even to the point of death, comparing a husband’s love for his wife to Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life for mankind.

But oftentimes when the Bible mentions marriage, it’s mentioned within the context of polygamy. For example, many of the men mentioned in the Old Testament had multiple wives: Jacob had four, David had eight, and King Solomon had hundreds. Meanwhile, over in the New Testament, the marriage relationships mentioned seem to refer to one man and one woman , although polygamy certainly went on in that culture at that time, according to Chabad.

These days, most Christians and Jews, with very few exceptions, eschew polygamy in spite of what the Bible says about it.

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When The Old Testament Was Written Polygamy Was Sometimes Practical

Another thing to consider about the Bible’s teachings about polygamy was that times were different. According to The Christian Post, women were largely dependent on men, whether it be their relatives or their husbands. If there was no man to support them, they had little recourse other than to become slaves or prostitutes. So while not ideal, joining or forming a polygamous family was sometimes done as a matter of protection.

Polygamy was also a matter of practicality for some men. It ensured their lineage was kept intact if his first wife could not bear him children. Marriage was also a way to form alliances between nations, which was reportedly the situation for Solomon and King David.

Yet even though the Bible permitted polygamy, it was still generally avoided if possible. As The Christian Post reported, the Bible claims plural marriage always leads to problems. It also defined marriage as the union between one woman one man not several people. But the Bible says God is willing to let polygamy slide because he understands the human condition and the demands of its societies.

Is Polygamy A Sin A Consideration Of Polygamy And The Bible

Why did God allow polygamy in the Bible?

Conservative Christians in the Anglican Communionespecially those in Africahave fought a long, hard battle against the acceptance and blessing of homosexual activity. Now, some Western Anglicans are charging the Africans with hypocrisy for arguing against one sexual deviancy whilst accepting anotherpolygamy.

Recent developments in the Anglican communion with regard to human sexuality have drawn extraordinary statements from some quarters. In particular, conservative Christianswho believe that the teaching of the Bible is against any endorsement of homosexual relationshipshave been accused of being inconsistent, given their attitudes towards polygamy. In particular, it is often claimed that the acceptance of polygamy by African clergy not only indicates nonalignment with traditional Christian teaching, but is also an example of how out of touch the African churches are from the Western world.1

However, the reality is that Anglican churches in Africa do not endorse polygamy as a legitimate lifestyle for the Christian. On the contrary, they teach that Christian men should not marry more than one wife, and they do not bless polygamous marriages. As for being out of step with the Western world, our African brothers and sisters are much more concerned to be in step with the teaching of Scripture than to follow the faddishness of liberal theology so prevalent in the Western Protestant tradition.

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Are There Concubines Today

In modern Chinas far more open society, concubines can be seen in the shopping malls and cafes of the cities, especially in the south, where there are thousands of what are known as er nai or second breast. Young women become concubines today for reasons of money and lifestyle, but also as a way out of poverty.

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African Anglicans And Polygamy

While it is true that Western civilization has largely legislated against any form of polygamy, in many parts of the world the culture of polygamy still predominates.9 The continent of Africa, not only among Muslim communities but also tribal communities, is a case in point. Western Christians have not always understood the kinds of difficulties that African churches encounter in the evangelization of polygamous communities. Such a lack of understanding is interestingly expressed in a resolution of the 1888 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, which was the prevailing view among most Christians in the nineteenth century:10

That it is the opinion of this Conference that persons living in polygamy be not admitted to baptism, but they may be accepted as candidates and kept under Christian instruction until such time as they shall be in a position to accept the law of Christ. That the wives of polygamists may, in the opinion of this Conference, be admitted in some cases to baptism, but that it must be left to the local authorities of the Church to decide under what circumstances they may be baptized.

Resolution 5/1888

However, by the 1968 Lambeth Conference, the mood was more open to a different point of view.

It took a further twenty years of discussion before the Bishops of the Anglican Communion were able to espouse a more biblical approach to the contentious issue of the admission of polygamists into the church.

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Does the Bible permit polygamy?

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Why Is There Polygamy In The Bible Is Polygamy Acceptable To God What Does God Say About Polygamy Versus Marrying Only One Wife

An unfortunate practice that arose after God established the institution of marriage is polygamy. Polygamy is having more than one spouse at the same time, a custom that has been primarily practiced by men having multiple wives.

Though many people in the Western world may think of polygamy as archaic, the fact is that it is legal in 58 countries and is widely practiced throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Some point to the examples of polygamy in the Bible and think that God sanctioned men having multiple wives. But the truth is that God never ordained polygamy and does not approve of it.

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Why Is It Illegal To Be A Polygamist

Because state laws exist, polygamy is not actively prosecuted at the federal level, but the practice is considered against public policy and, accordingly, the U.S. government does not recognize bigamous marriages for immigration purposes (that is, would not allow one of the spouses to petition for immigration

Its Clear Though That The Bible Doesnt Mandate Monogamy For Everyone

What’s With Polygamy in the Bible?

Scripture doesnt just describe these relationships, it seems to condone them. Exodus 21:10 sets out some guidelines for how to treat your wives if you have more than one. Deuteronomy 21:1517 governs inheritance amongst children in polygamous marriages. If authors of these passages thought polygamy was wrong, their advice would have been dont do it! not heres how you should do it.

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Why Most Jews And Christians Eschew Polygamy

If the Bible treats polygamy neutrally, with the exception of one very specific case, then why do the overwhelming majority of the world’s Christians and Jews eschew the practice?

Writing in Chabad, Naftali Silberberg notes that while the Old Testament does not outlaw polygamy, nearly all of the polygamous marriages in the text were entered into for a specific reason. “As far as Jewish thought is concerned … polygamy is not, and never was, an ideal state. The replete with references to husband and wife being two halves of one whole,” he writes. Indeed, in A.D. 1000, Rabbi Gershom banned polygamy for all Ashkenazic Jews, with other Jewish communities outlawing polygamy later.

Christendom has, by and large, taken on the same view. In the 1500s, the Council of Trent outlawed polygamy for all Catholics, according to Papal Encyclicals Online. And when the Protestant Reformation came along, church leaders wrestled with the issue but ultimately moved toward fully banning plural marriage, as Susan Mobley writes for Concordia University, Nebraska. She points to the same general principle that Gershom did: Though the Scriptures don’t forbid polygamy directly, the broader ideal is that a marriage is a relationship between two people, and two people only.

Biblical Perspectives On Polygamy And Polyamory

Why can’t I have a biblically based family with multiple partners? Most of the great men of the Bible Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon had many wives. Given your ministry’s strong commitment to the Scriptures, I can’t see why you’re against things like polygamy and polyamory. I consider myself a polyamorous Christian. I love several different women, and there’s no reason we can’t build a strong family together on a foundation of consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy. When did the “change” occur that established marriage as a covenant relationship between one woman and one man?

There never was any change. God intended that marriage should work this way from the very beginning: Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh . As these verses show very clearly, monogamy was inherent to Gods plan for humanity from the moment of creation.

In short, we think it might be a good idea for you to sit down and have a serious discussion with someone about the personal motives behind your polyamorous designs. With that in mind, we invite you to .

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