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Polygamy - If It Is In The Bible Then Why Is It Wrong?
The practice of a man having more than one wife has been around for quite a long time. However, many people never really let it cross their minds because they do not live that lifestyle and they do not know anyone who lived that lifestyle.
TLC has introduced a series called 'Sister Wives' which is a reality show about a man named Kody Brown and his four wives. He is a polygamist and, as he claims, a Godly one. Since the introduction of this show I think it is fair to say that many people who never thought about it, now do and wonder if it is right or wrong.
The Ones Who Think It Is Right
Many people see nothing wrong with Polygamy. Some Mormons still practice it -Kody Brown and his family being an example- and it also occurs in the Muslim religion.
A man is allowed to have as many wives as he wants as long as he is able to provide for them financially and care for them emotionally. The more wives a man has, in some cases, the more Godly he is.
You might be wondering what exactly is the argument used to support polygamy. Well it comes from the Bible and the many wives that certain men of God had.
The idea that God is alright with a man having multiple wives comes from the fact that the men recorded in the Bible - and in the Qur'an for those of the Islamic faith- had them and to some it would almost appear as though God were pleased that they did.
The Ones Who Think It Is Wrong
Just as there are many who see nothing wrong with Polygamy, there are those who see everything wrong with it.
Some people honestly do not know how to express the reason they think polygamy is wrong. Their arguments is basically -'Well it just is.'
Others use the Bible as a counter-argumentative tool citing Scripture verses in both the Old and the New Testament to support their claim.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24 K.J.V.
Is used as an illustration to present the fact that a man is to be joined to his wife singular not wives plural. This verse is also said again in Ephesians Chapter 5 verse 30.
1st Timothy Chapter 3 verse 2 is another piece of Scripture that is used to prove that Polygamy is wrong. It says:
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach...."
This 'husband of one wife' stipulation is repeated again in the same Chapter and the point is made that any man who is a Godly man would live a life that is as clean and righteous as a bishop or deacon would whether or not they be a bishop or a deacon.
What I think About Polygamy
Hearing both sides of the argument, I too searched in the Bible for the answer. I looked at the men in the Bible who had more than one wife, their relationships with said wives and what is recorded about what God thinks about a man having multiple wives.
Polygamous Relationships In The Bible
The first insight to a polygamous relationship in the Bible is in the Book of Genesis. Lamech, a descendant of Cain, is recorded as taking two wives. It is recorded that he was also a murderer as his ancestor Cain was. Not much is said about him except that he told his two wives that:
"If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold." Genesis 4:24 K.J.V.
Abraham And His Wives
Further on in The Book of Genesis we meet Abraham. Now Abraham had a wife named Sarah and she was barren. Although the Lord told Abraham that He would give him a son through Sarah, Abraham did not listen to God. He instead listened to Sarah and took her maid Hagar as his concubine. The result was Ishmael but he was not the son the Lord had promised Abraham and God told him so quite frankly. (See Genesis 17:19 -22)
So to be clear - God never told Abraham to go and take another wife besides Sarah. It was his and Sarah's decision and he took Hagar as his concubine, not wife.To be fair having a concubine is like having a wife but in the end Abraham did it, as far as we know, by himself.
Later on, after Sarah died, the Bible says that Abraham took another wife named Keturah and that he had concubines that bore him children as well. It never says whether that pleased God or not. But it is recorded that while Sarah was alive, she was his sole wife and when she was gone, Keturah was his sole wife.
Jacob And His Wives
Isaac, the son of Abraham, is recorded as having only one wife, Rebekah. It is written that he loved her greatly. A generation passes and then the twins are presented - Jacob and Esau.
Esau took for himself many wives. But like Cain, Esau cannot be used as an example because it is well established in the Bible that the Lord's favor did not fall upon him. Indeed, the Bible states that the Lord loved Jacob but hated Esau.
Now Jacob had more than one wife. He had two - Rachel and Leah, and two concubines, the women's maids Bilhah and Zilpah.
In the first place Jacob only ever wanted one wife. How do we know? Because he worked seven years for Laban in order to marry Rachel as he loved her very much. His father-in-law tricked him into marrying his first daughter Leah instead of Rachel. So Jacob ended up with two wives. One was loved and the other was loved as well but not the same way.
The Bible says that Leah was miserable in her marriage and that she was comforted by the Lord and given the blessing of children. Rachel the loved one, on the other hand, was barren.
After awhile, the Lord heard Rachel's prayer and gave her a son but Leah was still the less favored one and nothing that she did caused Jacob to love her more.
David And His Wives
David had many wives and still he chased after Bathsheba. She belonged to another but he pursued her. As in the case of Jacob and Abraham, the Bible does not state whether God was pleased that David took so many wives. He had eight wives not inclusive of concubines.Their names were :Abigail, Michal, Ahinoam, Maacah, Eglah, Abital, Haggith, and Bathsheba. It is fair to conclude that no wife stirred David more than Bathsheba. Their son Solomon continued on with his father's practice of having more than one wife.
Solomon And His Wives
Perhaps the most famous for his wisdom, Solomon is also known for his very many wives. Seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines had Solomon. That comes to a grand total of one thousand women belonging to King Solomon. Can one honestly come to the conclusion that he loved all equally? It is more likely that he sometimes forgot their names. Well the Bible did say something about the wives of Solomon.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
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.1 Kings 11: 3-4 K.J.V.
So what did I learn concerning the Bible's records of polygamous marriages and other Scriptures concerning marriage?
1. There will always be a favorite wife. One wife will be happy while the other (or others) will be decidedly not. Kody Brown says in the intro that love should be mulitiplied and not divided. Clearly, in Jacob's case, it could not. He loved Rachel, cared for Leah, and the Bible never even mentions what he thought of Bilhah and Zilpah.
In both David and Solomon's lives there appeared to be a favorite as well. In David's case Bathsheba. His last days was spent in her presence and her son gained the throne of Israel.
In Solomon's case his favorite was written about in the Song of Solomon.
Esther was Ahasherus's favorite wife, so was Hannah Elkanah's favorite. Tamar, the mother of Pharez and Zarah certainly was not Judah's favorite. He acknowledged that she was owed the duty of having a child but he never touched her again according to the Scriptures. Rehoboam loved Maachah most out of all his wives and concubines, says the Bible, and he had over seventy of them. (See 2 Chronicles 11:21)
2. Having many wives can cause your children to sin. Whoa! Where did that come from? Well from Jacob and David that's where.
Both Jacob and David's sons slept with their father's concubines.
Jacob's eldest son Reuben, lay with Bilhah, one of his father's concubines. She was the maid servant of Rachel and was the mother of Dan and Naphtali. As a result of Reuben's actions, this was prophesied of him by his father:
"Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch"Genesis 49: 3-4 K.J.V.
David's third son, Absalom, lay with his father's concubines in order to dishonor him. He did it in the sight of Israel as well.
"So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel." 2 Samuel 16:22 K.J.V.
I can only conclude that those women who are not as special to the husband become as worthless to the children and it is easy to dishonor and disrespect them.
3. God does not approve of polygamous marriage. From the get go, God made one man and one woman. It was enough. If it wasn't then He would have made a few more wives for Adam but the Bible only records Eve.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the law talks about the conditions that determine whether a man can divorce or not. Later on in the New Testament, Jesus addresses that law and says that it was made because of the hardness of men's hearts and their stubbornness. I believe that the men of God who did have many wives were hard of heart in that area and sowed to their lusts rather than the will of God.
So why was polygamy mentioned in the Bible in the first place if it is so wrong?
Well flip through the Bible and you will see all sin there written in black and white for you to see and understand. The Bible is filled with the record of man and his sinful nature. Men of God, though they had wisdom and were credited with righteousness, were not perfect. Their imperfections and flaws, which were their sins, were highlighted so that when The Perfect One came upon the earth we would see His cleanliness all the more better. No one's righteousness can compare, yes, all our righteousness are as filthy rags. His goodness is glorified as it should be and it is painfully obvious that from the minute sin entered the world, we needed a Savior and it could only be Him.