Thursday, October 17, 2013

Does the Bible Condone Polygamy--Part 3: Examples of Polygamous Marriages and Their Outcomes

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We've looked at the first God made marriage and the first man made marriage so far.  In this portion, we will look at the marriages with multiple wives, and see what God has to say about them.

The Answers in Genesis website shares a wonderful bit about polygamy in the Scriptures:

Consider the consequences revealed in Scripture in each of the following cases: Abraham—led to bitterness between Sarah and her maid, Hagar, and the eventual dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael; Jacob—led to Rachel’s jealousy of Leah and to Joseph being betrayed and sold by his half-brothers; David—led to the rape of one of his daughters (Tamar) by one of his sons (Tamar’s half-brother Amnon) and Amnon’s subsequent murder by Tamar’s brother Absalom; Solomon—his many wives “turned away his heart” from the Lord and to the worship of false gods (1 Kings 11:1–8). Just because the Bible records polygamous relationships does not mean that God approves of such things.

The only direct command against polygamy is given to the kings that were to rule Israel, as they are told not to “multiply wives” to themselves (Deuteronomy 17:17). It is also interesting to note that polygamous relationships seem to be regulated in the commands Moses gave to the nation of Israel. Leviticus 18:18 instructs that a man should not marry sisters, and Deuteronomy 21:15 talks of assigning an heir to a man with two wives. Many commentators suggest that the passages do not endorse polygamy but rather prohibit it. Deuteronomy 21:15 may also be translated as “has had two wives” in succession rather than at the same time. The sisters in Leviticus 18:18 are understood by some to be any Israelite women. Regardless of the interpretation of these passages, the taking of multiple wives is not in accord with God’s design from the beginning.


Were any of these men condemned for taking on multiple wives??  They sure weren't blessed by it!!

God never condoned polygamy.  He allowed it, like He allowed divorces, and people didn't get an immediate consequence.  But as with divorce, there *are* consequences to living outside God's will, whether it be by divorcing, having more than one spouse, have a same gender "spouse", or living together without marriage...there *are* consequences for sin!

Deut. 17:14-17: “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, 'You shall not return that way again.' “Neither shall he multiply wives for himselflest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” This is the command of God, and he has never changed it.  (from Let Us Reason's ministry site)

1 Kings 11:3 says Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines violating the principle of monogamy that he was given through the law of Moses. Consider that Solomon at one time was the wisest man in the world. In I Kings 11:4: “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” Notice Solomon became a polytheist because he was influenced in polygamy. In his case many wives, became many gods. Scripture has always commanded monogamy (Ps.128:3; Prov. 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Eccl. 9:9).
Does this sound like something God wanted--for the king that He put on the throne to turn away from Him and worship pagan gods?  Would Solomon have paganism in his life if he'd not had all those wives and concubines?

We have seen a brief look at some polygamous marriages in the Old Testament.  You are welcome to look them up and read the full Scripture about them.  You'll find that none of them were happy and joyous, blessed by the Lord, and condoned.  Instead, you'll see misery, pain, heartache, sorrow--the opposite of what God has in store for marriage!

In the next installment we look at the New Testament and what Paul says about marriage and expectations!

View Part 2:  The First Polygamous Marriage
View Part 1:  The First Marriage
View Introduction:  Does The Bible Condone Polygamous Marriage?

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