Polygamy and the Bible

Great post by Nathan Bierma on ThinkChristian on the Bible and Polygamy. I was thinking of writing a post about my sermon this week but this provided me a chance to do a comment and a post at the same time. Here is my comment on his post.

Great topic Nathan. This week I preach on Luke 20:27-40 which has Jesus’ response to the Sadducees regarding their test case/fable of a woman passed among 7 dead brother. I’ll try to be more brief than my sermon will be.

1. For being such a self-professed tolerant, pluralistic culture we seem to have little capacity to own our own expectations which fuel our abhorrence for this kind of thing we find in the Bible. We have difficulties respecting ancient people’s social customs enough to do some anthropological evaluation of their practices. We quickly jump to condemnation.

2. The relationship between the Bible and its cultural contexts (there are more than 2) is a nuanced and complicated one yet one that has to be discerned if we want to hear God within our own contexts. Robert Alter makes the terrific observation that within Genesis there is a subtle polemic against primogeniture and polygamy. This polemic seems to escape many readers. The subtle manner of this polemic is itself and important point. God so often gently whispers peace to us while the consequences of our choices in this world are whipping our proverbial asses. Polygamy bore some bitter fruit.

I’m not sure your NT perspective is accurate. Polygamy doesn’t get much of a mention but my understanding is that it was still both permitted and practiced.

3. I don’t believe Jesus’ point in Luke 20 was to give us insider information about the details of the life in the age to come but to rather focus on the radical departure from our assumptions of duty, obligation, and the ways we seek to overcome the age of decay.

Marriage and sex for most of human history were about survival in ways that our culture is no longer in touch with. Stephanie Coontz’ book on the history of marriage should be required reading for evaluating marital practices of past generations.

Our individualistic culture also makes their communal, familial “cheating death through procreation strategy” seem nonsense. Many cultures today that practice veneration or prayer of sorts to dead ancestors might be able to make better sense of it. The notion is that we live through our descendents. Our inability to access this idea reveals also our presuppositional definitions of what “life” is.

4. What Jesus offers here is an alternative to the cult of family, something that is difficult to hear in our “family values” soaked evangelicalism. Family is NOT our ultimate value. Being remembered by our creator is more foundational to our rescue from the age of decay than having our children remember us or even simply carry with them our genetic code.

Polygamy is simply another mechanism by which we attempt to live forever. Nature bears witness that multiplication is a key survival strategy and the biological fact that one man can multiply himself through many women helps polygamy make sense. (Shout out to Genghis Khan here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan#Descent) It also helps us realize why sons were so important to mothers. Its an amazing realization for an age that had no scientific knowledge of genetics. Our bigotry against the ancients is regularly proved unfounded.

Anyway, great post Nathan, and a great discussion too. pvk

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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2 Responses to Polygamy and the Bible

  1. karina says:

    Jesus said in Mark 10:11 “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. ”
    Jesus very clearly says that every man who puts away his wife commits adultery when he marries another woman (any woman, not only a married woman).
    If according to Jesus a man commits adultery if he is divorced or separated from his first wife and he marries another woman, how much more!!! he commits adultery when he takes another woman to be his wife while he is still married!!!

    In Tit 1:6 and 1 tim 3:2 apostle Paul says that a bishop should be a husband of one wife.
    “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; ”
    This statement is very important since bishops were the teachers who were to shape the mentality and way of thinking of the church, of Jesus’ sheep.
    This commmandment was given to the bishops because they were to model and shape the believers into who they are. We all multiply who we are and they were clearly told to be the husbands of one wfe in order to multiply this approach in other marriages, in the mentality of the whole church.

    A very important information is that we, believers from gentiles were never given the Old testament Law. The OT Law was given only to the Jews.
    We are not under the Law. So even in the polygamy was prevalent in the times of the OT it cannot be any basis for the church to stand on and look to.
    When Jesus came He changed the Law. He taught the Jews in Mat 5:21 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:”
    and in the verse 22 Jesus clearly says: “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. ”
    Jesus introduced a new law (the law of love), a new covenant.

    In the Old Testament people, both Adam and Eve were under the curse. Eve’s curse was that she was to be ruled by her husband.
    But in Gal 3:13 we read: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:”
    The woman’s curse was broken. It is over. The husband no longer rules over the wife. They are both equal, there is no male no female because we both are one in Christ.
    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ” Gal 3:28
    We ALL are Christ’s members. We all are His sons as written in Gal 3:26 “For ye are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. ”

    Polgamy is contrary to the law of law under we are under now.
    In Eph 5:2 we read: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. ”
    The husband doesn not walk in love when he takes another wife because he doesnt think at that moment about the first wife who is not blessed and not happy and glad to see her husband be with aother woman. And the husband’s role is to give his life for the wife Eph 5:26-28.
    If the husband is getting out of love towards his wife and makes decisions that are hurting to her he can read the Lord’s opinion about it in 1 Pe 3:7: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered”
    The woman is not being given any honor when she sees her husband “fall in love” with another woman.
    Look what Jesus said in Mat 5:21
    Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
    and in the next verse He says:
    “But I say unto you”
    But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
    Didnt Jesus change the Law Himself? why did He do it? Because He paid the price for our sins and we were no longer to be subject to the old rules and regulations because Jesus fulfiled the law for us! In Jesus we are free from the law:
    Rom 7:6
    But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter.
    Lok what Heb 8:6 says
    But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
    and the next verse says:
    For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
    so the first covenant had been not been faultless because we are now in the second covenant.
    look at heb 7:18
    For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
    NOW LOOK AT HEB 7:12
    For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
    Jesus said that He and the Father are one so when Jesus said “But I say unto you” changing the law He was then in unty with the Father.
    Jesus started a total new era for His people, He distroyed sin which stood against people and now we all (born again) are His sons, His friends which as not possible under the OT Law because then only chosen people were prophets, kings and priests and now all of born again believers are His children. Everything has changed.
    2 cor 5:17 says
    Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    the OT law was given to the Jews, descendants of abraham after the flesh, but believers are his descendants according to the promise.
    look at rom 9:7
    Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    and now the next verse is so important
    That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
    we are Christians and we have to follow our Christ, who is our Lord and Savior, let Him rule and guide yur life as He wants, not as you want.
    The law was changed whether you want it or not. we are in the new and better covenant – the new covenant. Jesus fulfilled the law. And He introduced a new way for us. The teaching of Jesus is in the NEW TESTAMENT. Not the Old one.

    Look, is slavery good? Is slavery fair and just? No. Was it God’s choice? Did God want slavery for people? Did He like it? No.
    Was it prevalent in the times of the OT? Yes. Did God tolerate it? YES.
    He even gave regulations concerning slavery. Both in the OT and in the NT. Masters of the slaves were not put to death for killing a slave. When the slave’s owners hurt a slave’s eye their own eye was not plucked out or damaged for it but they were to let the slaves go free. In the NT slaves were to obey their masters as the Lord Jesus.
    Slavery was not God’s will and yet God tolerated it for hundreds and hundreds of years.
    The same was with polygamy.
    Polygamy was not fair, it was not just just toward women but God tolerated it for a few reasons. Women were dependent on men’s provision and protection and when men were killed by the thousands women were forced to enter polygamous marriages in order to survive. The reason for bad treatment of women was men’s heardedned heart. It was the reason why they divorced their wives (Mark 10:5) and what stood behind it was their sinful nature. But the sinful nature was changed in Jesus. We were given a new nature, we became new and were not any more subject to the lusts but we are to follow the Spirit.
    That is why God allowed polygamy for a period of time but it ended when Jesus came. Jesus changed everything.
    Another reason for polygamy was the curse. The Bible says that Eve was deceived. Adam was not deceived by the snake. (1Ti 2:14 says “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”). When Eve took the fruit from the tree being deceived by the snake, she gave it to her husband and he ate it.
    Adam was not deceived. He knew what he was doing but he chose to follow Eve and be condemned and pusnished with her because he loved her. He chose Eve over God, He disobeyed God for Eve. That is why Eve became cursed and was to be ruled by her husband.
    But the curse was broken in Jesus.
    In Jesus Adam and Eve, husbands and wives, men and women, slaves and free people are one, are all sons of God, they all are to submit one to another, thay all are to choose and prefer one above another, they all are to treat others the way they would like to be treated. So if the husband would not want his wife to get herself another husband he shouldn’t do this to his wife either. So don’t think that she would be honored and respected when she sees another woman by your side.

    Don’t yield to all spirits. They often come as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.). Satan wants to deceive people so that they would fulfil his will, he wants to influence their life because he wants to kill, steal and destroy people’s life.
    The spirit who came and gave you the revelation on polygamy was the same spirit who came to Jospeh Smith in the form of an angel and gave him the golden glasses to read the Book of Mormon in order to start a new false religion, it was the same spirit who convinced Mohhamed to start islam. It is the same spirit who leads people into collective suicides, to follow their demon possessed leaders like Hitler or Stalin, the same spirit that tells them to kill an old lady for money, or rob a bank etc. It is a spirit of deception.

    Another proof that polygamy is wrong and against the will of God:
    in the OT a man committed adultery only when he had sex with a married woman. If he had sex with a prostitute he was not punished for it.
    But in the NT we read in 1 Cor 6:13-18 that you cannot join to a prostitute.
    Were prostitutes married women? No. They would have been stoned to death by committing adultery with another man being a married woman. So prostitutes were not married. And yet Paul says that you cannot join yourself to a prostitute and he condemned it and called it… adultery!!
    In gospel of John we read about an adulterous woman (chapter 8) and she was brought to Jesus and according to the OT law Jesus was supposed to stone her to death. If He wouldn’t have stoned her to death He would have to be stoned to death by His disobedience to the law. But what happened? Jesus showed that woman mercy. He changed the law, He changed the approach to people, because He came to take her sins and to pay for her. Because everything changed and the OT law was changed and replaced by the NT law of love.

  2. Pingback: Notes on Polygamy | Note & Query

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