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    Polygamy is not Sinful!
    by Mike Sullivan

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1) THE O.T. AND THE LAW ON POLYGAMY
    2) CHRIST FULFILLS THE LAW OF POLYGAMY
    3) DEALING WITH OBJECTIONS TO POLYGAMY

      A) "POLYGAMY IS ADULTERY"
      B) "POLYGAMY VIOLATES 'THE TWO SHALL BE ONE FLESH'"
      C) "THE CHURCH IS THE 'BRIDE' OF CHRIST NOT BRIDE(S)"
      D) "POLYGAMY WAS FOR THE OT AND NOT THE NT"
    4) POLYGAMY, DIVORCE, AND REMARRIAGE IN THE N.T.
    5) POLYGAMY, DIVORCE, AND THE MISSION FIELD


    No, I'm not a Mormon. Now that we've eliminated that distraction, let me ask you a question or two. Why did you click on this link? Could it be because after reading the Bible all these years you've just never been able to figure out why God never condemned polygamy? You know that most everyone says that it's sinful except God. So when you saw the title of this link you thought, "there's actually someone who thinks polygamy is not sinful? I wonder how they might defend this position from the Bible?" Exegetically it's not hard to prove from the O.T. and N.T. that polygamy was and still is a valid form of marriage and is not sinful. It's really a matter of whether we want to follow tradition or God's Word on this issue.

    1. THE O.T. AND THE LAW ON POLYGAMY

    The Scriptures are clear that polygamy was and still is, today a valid form of marriage. God, nowhere condemns such godly men as Abraham (Gen. 16:3), Jacob (Gen. 29-30), Moses (Ex.2:16-21, Num.12:1), Caleb (1 Chron.2:46,48), Gideon (Judges 8:30), or David (1 Sam.18:27, 2 Sam.3:2-3) for having more than one wife. In fact, in the case of David, God would have given him more wives had he asked for them, "And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things" (2 Sam.12:7-8). God gave David these wives as a BLESSING, just as anointing him as king over Israel, protecting him from Saul, and giving him the house of Israel and Judah were also blessings from Him.

    When we study the O.T. law concerning polygamy, we find that when the singular "wife" is used, those laws could apply to monogamy or polygamy (Deut.22:13,22), and when the plural "wives" is used, those laws only apply to polygamy. (Deut.21:15-17).

    The Law stated that a man could take another wife as long as he still provided for his first wife: "If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish" (Ex.21:10). John Gill explains the phrase "her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish" as meaning more than just an habitation when he writes, "...but the generality of interpreters, Jewish and Christian, understand it as we do, of the conjugal duty, the use of the marriage bed, or what the apostle calls due benevolence, 1 Cor. 7:3. The word is thought to have the signification of a fixed time for it; and the Misnic doctors are very particular in assigning the set times of it for different persons; and in those countries where there were, and where there still are, plurality of wives, each had, and have their turns, see Gen.30:15,16."

    The law protected the rights of the first born son concerning his inheritance in the case where the father preferred another wife over his mother (Deut.21:15-17).

    The law commanded that any man who had sex with a virgin was to marry her (Deut.22:28-29). There is nothing in this text that supports the idea that only single men are to marry in this instance. This law protected and ensured the woman that her food, clothing, and marital rights and duties would not be diminished. This, as well protected the woman from the reproach of not being able to find another man to be her husband because she was no longer a virgin and, furthermore the reproach of possibly never being able to have children. The man, single or married, needed to be responsible for his fornication and the woman needed to be protected.

    The law commanded a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother's wife if he had no children with her (Deut.25:7-10). Again, there is nothing in this text that supports that this law was limited to only single brothers.

    The law did have some restrictions on polygamy, such as a man not marrying the sister [1] or mother of his wife (Lev.18:17, Lev.20:14). Another restriction admonished the king against the acquisition of too many wives (Deut.17:17), and, in particular, foreign wives, because they would tend to tempt him towards their gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). It would appear that Solomon broke this law in that he multiplied three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines to himself (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon abused the right to take more than one wife and no doubt had difficulty in meeting the sexual needs of so many women. David, on the other hand, did not break this law, as was discussed earlier (2 Sam. 12:7-8).

    2. CHRIST FULFILLS THE LAW OF POLYGAMY

    This subject of polygamy applies to Christ and the gospel, in that Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt.5:17). Christ is a polygamist in the sense that the church is likened to five, wise betrothed virgins whom Christ came and received in 70 A.D. (Matt.25:1-13; 24:34). Christ is one with the "members" (plural) of His body, the church, and one Spirit with them (1 Cor.6:15-17).

    Christ, in fulfilling the law, is the perfect husband to each individual member providing them with "clothing" such as His robes of righteousness" (Matt.22:11-14, Rev.7:9,13-14; 22:14), "food" as He is the "bread of life" (Jn.6:32-35), and "hidden manna" (Rev.2:17) which God's people are presently feasting on at the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev.19:9). Could any Christian doubt the loveliness of Christ as his lover? Christ has taken His people to His banqueting house, and His banner over us is love (So.2:4). He has provided a place or a dwelling for us (Jn.14:2). There's no question that God's people are well taken care of.

    3. DEALING WITH OBJECTIONS TO POLYGAMY

    1) "Polygamy is adultery"

    At one time I thought that polygamy was the same thing as adultery until I actually took the time to study the matter. Since adultery was punishable by death under the law (Lev.20:10; Deut.22:22-23), and the law allowed, regulated, and as was seen earlier, would command polygamy in certain instances; adultery cannot be seen as synonymous with polygamy. Men and their wives were not put to death for having polygamous marriages!

    It is very important that we look to the Scriptures to define what "adultery" is instead of holding to a slanted Western definition of adultery. In the U.S., adultery is seen as a married individual having sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex, besides their spouse, married or SINGLE. U.S. law on this matter reflects the ideas of Roman culture and the apostate Roman Catholic Church and is not aligned with God's law.

    Although not a polygamist in theology, my Online Bible records John Gill in his exposition of Ex.20:14 as conceding that adultery, "strictly speaking, is only that sin which is committed with another man's wife,..." My Logos Enhanced Strong's Lexicon defines this Hebrew word for adultery (naaph) as "women that break wedlock", and "to commit adultery usually of man always with wife of another." The Scriptural view of the wife is that she is the property of her husband. Therefore, any man who had relations with her was guilty of breaking the 8th commandment as well, "You shall not steal" and was to be put to death along with the adulterous wife. As already discussed, if a single or married man had sex with a virgin or unmarried woman, he was commanded to marry her.

    2) "Polygamy violates 'the TWO shall be ONE FLESH.'"

      A) God and Moses on "the two shall be one flesh."

    Neither God nor Moses saw any violation or contradiction of Gen.2:24 to the law which not only allowed polygamy, but, as was seen earlier, in some cases commanded it. It would be strained exegesis to say that God, in Gen.2:24, is establishing some kind of monogamous law that excludes or somehow condemns polygamy.

      B) Christ on "the two shall be one flesh."

    Exegetically and contextually, Jesus' point in Matt.19:4-6 when he cites Gen.2:24 is the indissolubility of marriage, for He says, "THEREFORE what God has joined together, let not man separate." The expression "one flesh," insofar as it relates to the structure of marriage, refers to the indissolubility of a man and his wife within a marriage, whether it be monogamous or polygamous. This was our Lordís point in quoting the Genesis passage, and in no way condemns polygamy.

      C) Paul on "the two shall be one flesh."

    "Now what about Saint Paul's expression 'one flesh'? Far from being a certain revelation concerning monogamy, the Pauline usage would illustrate, rather the broadness and flexibility of this Old Testament expression. For Paul, this unity in the 'flesh' is not confined to the conjugal union of one husband and one wife, nor is it limited to the bonds of kinship. Even a man who joins himself to a prostitute becomes 'one flesh' with her..(1 Cor.6:16-17). This kind of unity is obviously not exclusive in the way that a monogamous union is supposed to be, for a man can become 'one flesh' with any number of prostitutes. According to this use of the expression, it would follow also that a man becomes 'one flesh' with more than one wife in a society which accepts this form of marriage." (Polygamy Reconsidered, African plural marriage and the Christian Churches, Eugene Hillman, Orbis Books Maryknoll, NY, p.167). If a sinful prostitute can become "one flesh" with many men, then why would it be inconceivable that a godly man like David could have been "one flesh" with the wives God gave him?

    Individually, each Christian that is "joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor.6:17). Just as another Chrisitan's union with Christ does not, in any way destroy the oneness of my union with Christ, so it is that a man may be one flesh with more than one wife. Christ knows, receives, and becomes one Spirit with His virgin(s) (Matt.25:1-13).

      D) A kinship and offspring understanding of "one flesh"

    "The historically conditioned values and ideals that shaped the Old Testament understanding of marriage are not the traditional values and ideals that Western man has used in making his judgments about what marriage is or should be; and they are very far, indeed, from the modern values and ideals that are having such profound influence today on the Western Christian conception of marriage. So it is important to recall that the real background to marriage in ancient Israel, the background against which the biblical passages on marriage are to be seen, was the larger community of the family and the clan. Marriage was not understood primarily in terms of the husband-wife relationship, and certainly not in terms of an exclusive relationship between only two persons.

    "The conception was much broader and more complex. Marriage was regarded as a social instrument required for the preservation and continuation of families and clans. Through daughters being married into different families, there was a mutual strengthening of kinship bonds-each family giving its own flesh and blood to other families. The definitive ratification of marriage was achieved neither in sexual intercourse, nor through mutually fulfilling interpersonal relationships, but by the birth of a child. Marriage was mainly a social function with the emphasis on family, and barrenness was the worst of calamities. Without children, especially a son, the family name was "blotted out of Israel" (cf. Deut.25:6). Marriage in the Old Testament is never understood without this instrumental significance, and its meaning is always presented within the framework of patriarchal values and social structures" (Polygamy Reconsidered, African plural marriage and the Christian Churches, Eugene Hillman, Orbis Books, p.145).

    "Flesh" has a wider social or kinship meaning found frequently in the Old Testament (cf. Gen.29:14; 37:27; Lev.18:6; Judg.9:2; 2 Sam.5:1; 19:12-13; Neh.5:5; Isa.58:7). Hillman points out that "In this broader social sense, a wife may be regarded as becoming "one flesh" with her husband. Through marriage she becomes a member of his kinship group. Hence, it is possible for several wives to be at the same time "one flesh" with the kinship group of the same husband." (Polygamy Reconsidered, African plural marriage and the Christian Churches, Eugene Hillman, Orbis Books, p.153). He also points out, "each husband-wife relationship, whether in a monogamous or a polygamous marriage, is for the Jews of the Old Testament a foundation for new kinship bonds which bind and extend families and clans into a unified people" (ibid. p.155).

    "The carnal and kinship unity thus signified by the expression, 'one flesh', is not confined exclusively to only two persons. According to this usage we may say, therefore, that the several children of one mother are 'one flesh' with her, by reason of their unity in generation and in maternal love. The relationship between the mother and each child, respectively, may even be regarded as a union of 'two' in 'one flesh', without thereby excluding the other children from this same relationship with their mother. So, by reason of a socially valid polygamous marriage, a man may be conjugally united with each of his wives, respectively, as 'two' in 'one flesh'-both in a carnal sense and in terms of kinship." (ibid. pp.167-168).

    3) "The Church is pictured as the BRIDE of Christ, not brides!"

    Yes, the Church in most Pauline contexts is described as the bride of Christ (2 Cor.11:2; Eph.5:22-33), but then again Paul will describe the Church as a plurality of persons: a husband must love his wife, "as Christ does the church, because WE ARE MEMBERS of his body" (cf. Eph.5:28-33; 1 Cor.5:15; 12:27). In theological jargon, this is called "corporate personality", the bride (singular) symbolically representing the we/members (plural).

    It is not entirely true that the Father and Christ are only portrayed as monogamists in Scripture. God is married to two women - Judah and Israel (cf. Jer.3:6-10; 31:31-32; Ezk.23:2-4), and, as already pointed out, the Church is pictured as being in a polygamous relationship with Christ, five faithful virgins. (Matt.25:1-13)

    "The Old Testament, which recognized the authenticity of both monogamy and polygamy (often without making any distinction between the two), provided the groundwork for the New Testament notion and image of sacramental marriage. The sacramental symbolism is originally based on the covenant union of Yahweh's love for his chosen people, who were many different persons, clans, and tribes-yet one bride, one family, one flesh, one body. The covenant union, as described by Jeremiah in terms of a polygamous marriage, may have little meaning for Christians in the Western world; but perhaps these words signify much to the majority of the peoples in Africa south of the Sahara: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I WAS THEIR HUSBAND, says the Lord (Jer.31:31-32)" (Ibid. pp.168-169).

    4) The dispensational view: "polygamy was only for Israel in the O.T. who were under the law; monogamy is the Scriptural norm for believers, today in the N.T. who are under grace!"

    Addressing this objection could be very lengthy and could go into many different directions. Therefore, I will try and keep it as brief and to the point as possible.

    My view is that Israel and her law, the "heavens and earth" in Matt.5:17-18 already passed away at Christ's second coming in 70 A.D. and that a new spiritual Israel (the church) and a new spiritual heavens and earth have been established under the new covenant [2]. However, I reject the premise that morality and application of God's moral standards contained in the old law for Israel have vanished along with its theocratic status. Certain aspects of God's law for Israel stem from His eternal holiness and justice and know no geographical and ethical barriers.

      A) Israel and her law's non-application for us today.

    1) Israel's ceremonial laws, which were, "shadows of things to come," were but pictures and types of the true substance which is salvation "in Christ" (cf. Col.2:17 & the book of Hebrews). God's people, today do not reside "in the land", but rather "in Christ" to use one of Paul's favorite expressions. Our Sabbath rest is in the work of Christ, not in resting on Saturdays or Sundays [3]. (Heb.3 & 4)

    2) The law was never given for the purpose of giving justification to anyone (cf. Rom.3-4; Gal.3). Christ, through His work on the cross (Col.2:14-15) and His second appearing apart from sin (Hebs.9:28) has been victorious over the curse and strength of the law [4] for the believer today. Therefore, in this sense, it is true that we are "not under the law" but under grace [5].

    B) Israel and her law's moral and socio-political standards of justice are applicable for us today because they stem from God's holy character. Men can form laws for societies proceeding out of their own hearts and imaginations or they can go to God's word and submit to what His standards of divine justice are for human societies.

    Much of God's civil law that was given to Israel is purely reflective of His holiness and His standards for justice (what is right and what is wrong). Since God's holy character never changes, His standards of what is right and what is wrong, and how evil workers are to be punished should never change either.

    God has one moral standard for all societies. Because of this, "...the indictment, 'Woe to him that builds a town with blood and establishes a city by iniquity,' was voiced against Israel (Mic.3:10) as well as against the Babylonians (Hab.2:12). It is obvious from these observations that God expected Gentile magistrates and citizens to honor his standards of righteousness and justice just as much as he expected it of Israelite magistrates and citizens. As the proverb taught, 'Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (14:34)" (Bahnsen, Greg, By This Standard The Authority of God's Law Today, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler TX., p.243). "The political aspects of God's law, therefore, were certainly not intended for the exclusive use of the Jews in their 'theocratic' situation. The political justice God required in Israel was required of all nations as well. It was not racially or geographically relative." (ibid., p. 244).

    Now let's briefly move to the N.T. I believe that Dr.Bahnsen was quite on target in his exegesis of Rom.13:1-7 regarding governing authorities. "Respect for the rulers of state ought never to reach such proportions that the believer gives the state that unquestioning obedience which should be reserved for God alone. Paramount in Paul's mind is the fact that, even if Christians are under orders from the state, the state itself is under orders from God above. Since God has ordained the magistrates who rule in the state, those magistrates have been put not only in authority over others, but also under the authority of God. Magistrates are under moral obligation to the prescriptions of the Lord." (ibid., pp. 251-252).

    "The proper aim of all ethical conduct is the glory of God, and civil magistrates, being ordained by God to rule, are not exempt from the moral obligation to rule for the glory of God. Those appointed by God will be answerable to God for the kind of rule they render in society. This is nothing else but the doctrine of the Old Testament, whether we consider the rulers of Israel or the rulers of Gentile nations around Israel. Paul's teaching is grounded in the Old Testament. Both the Old and New Testaments, then, begin their 'philosophy of state' within the supremacy of God, to whom all rulers owe reverence and obedience." (ibid., p. 253)

    "Those who do not favor taking God's law as the ultimate standard for civil morality and public justice will be forced to substitute some other criterion of good and evil for it. The civil magistrate cannot function without some ethical guidance, without some standard of good and evil. If that standard is not to be the revealed law of God (which, we must note, was addressed specifically to perennial problems in political morality), then what will it be? In some form or expression it will have to be the law of man (or men) - the standard of self-law or autonomy." And, "Men will either choose to be governed by God or to be ruled by tyrants. Because of the merciful, restraining work of the Holy Spirit in societies, we do not see at every stage in history these stark polarities coming to expression; most societies will to some measure strive for conformity to God's law, even when it is officially denounced. However, in principle the choices are clearly between God's law and man's law, between life and death for a society." (ibid., pp. 264-265).

    Concerning marriage, any religious group or nation that ignores the moral standards set forth in God's law surrounding marriage, polygamous or monagomous, will be held accountable by God for their actions.

    5) Polygamy is condemned by Paul when he addressed the qualifications for deacons and Elders. "Elders and deacons are to be the husbands of ONE wife"!

    These texts (1 Tim.3:2,12; Titus 1:6) are very debatable as to what the Greek is actually saying. "Husband" can be translated "man" and "one" can be translated "a" or "first", thus the emphasis would be that an elder needs to be a married man, having children, and that he must not have divorced his first wife.

    "It is implied here also, that he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a bachelor; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties mentioned here, is likely to be more attractive to those who have similar ties, for he teaches them not only by precept, but also by example (vs. 4, 5). The Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest he be unmerciful [BENGEL]. So in the synagogue, 'no one shall offer up prayer in public, unless he be married' [In Colbo, ch. 65; VITRINGA, Synagogue]" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids Michigan, p.1359).

    I, at one time attended a fellowship where a man was labeled a "pastor" and was single. He could not resist the temptation to get emotionally and physically involved with the single women and was, therefore constantly being accused of leading those women on. He, likewise had physical and emotional relationships with at least three of the married women in the church. Regarding the lack of empathetic counsel he gave on the issues of marriage and family, he was most certainly extremely 'unmerciful' to the married couples and families in the church. From experience, I know that there is much wisdom in Paul's words here.

    Some might object to this interpretation that an elder needs to be a married man with children because Paul was an elder but was a single man. J.Carl Laney uses this objection, "However, Paul saw nothing wrong with the single state and even encouraged it (1 Cor. 7:7, 8, 17). In fact, Paul himself was an elder (compare 1 Tim.4:14 with 2 Tim.1:6) and yet was unmarried (1 Cor.7:8)!" (J. Carl Laney, The Divorce Myth, Bethany House Publishers, p.96).

    Paul was not a single person who had never been married, but was a widower as some have argued from the Greek and context of 1 Cor.7:8. "A glance at Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon will reveal that 'unmarried' is used to denote both 'bachelors' and 'widowers'. The parallelism thus suggests that in 1 Corinthians 7:8 'unmarried' refers only to widowers', and not to any bachelor or single person. Furthermore, Paul, in this context, specifically points to himself as an example of one of these 'unmarried' who has decided to remain single. In the context of verses 8-9 this may well confirm what many believe: Paul himself was a widower. Unmarried rabbis were few and marriage appears to have been obligatory for all Jewish men (m. Yebam. 6:6)." (JESUS AND DIVORCE, The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pp.144-145).

    Paul's purpose in 1 Cor.7 is not to give requirements and advice for the eldership, anyway! Due to the "present distress" (vs.26) Paul advised "that it is good for a man to remain as he is:" This "present distress" was a situation unique to the earlier church due to the persecution that was prophecied by Daniel and Jesus.

    As far as polygamy is concerned, the most one could possibly argue concerning these passages is that polygamy is not allowed for the leadership of the church. IF that is the case, then perhaps the purpose of this limitation is to prevent the undue financial burden on the church that an elder with a larger family including two or more wives might bring [6].

    4. POLYGAMY, DIVORCE, AND REMARRIAGE IN THE N.T.

    A) "Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress." (Romans 7:2-3)

    B) "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." (1 Cor.7:39)

    In our study of Polygamy and the O.T., we have observed that a man could marry more than one woman without being charged with "adultery", but according to the Scriptures, a woman could not marry more than one man (a practice called 'polyandry' exercised by some cult groups), and that if a woman was involved with another man, she would be charged with adultery. The reason the man is not mentioned by Paul is because, according to the law, a man could marry another woman while his first wife was still alive and not be guilty of adultery.

    In matters of divorce and remarriage, it is Paul's pattern of writing in 1 Cor.7 to apply something to both the wife and the husband if it indeed applies to both. Both a wife and a husband are admonished not to divorce (1 Cor.7:10-11). Both the husband and the wife are commanded not to divorce in the case that they are married to an unbeliever (vs.12-16). But only the wife is told that she cannot be joined to another as long as her husband lives. (vs.39)

    Therefore, the Biblical position on remarriage is the following: If a woman is divorced unjustly by her husband, she may not remarry another because she is bound to the first as long as he lives. If a man is divorced by his wife, he may remarry another, but he must pray for his first wifeís return and accept her back, as his wife if she does return. (1 Cor.7:11) If a man divorces his wife unjustly, he may not remarry another as it would then be considered "adultery". (Mk.10:11)

    5. POLYGAMY, DIVORCE, & THE MISSION FIELD

    A) "Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was any one at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was any one at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Every one should remain in the state in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Never mind. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God." (1 Cor.7:17-24)

    To condemn polygamy on theological grounds without exegetical support is a foolish thing to do indeed, but some 'missionaries' have applied this shameful, unfounded doctrine to the mission field by trying to force men to divorce all except their first wife. As can be seen in the text above, this was not Paul's principal of teaching at all. Hillman writes, "This rule applied to 'every one' in 'whatever state each was called' (cf. 1 Cor.7:20,24); so the rule concerned not only freedom and slavery as states in life, but also the marriage status of new Christians, whether single or married according to gentile or Jewish law. Those who were married or unmarried, circumcised or uncircumcised (under the Mosaic law or not), did not have to change their status in order to live as Christians. And, if slaves were even to 'remain' as they were, then presumably slave owners could also continue as they were before being called to the new life in Christ. Indeed, the owners were not required to free their slaves; they were urged merely to treat them with kindness. (cf. Eph.6:5,9)

    "It is certainly possible that there may also have been called to the faith at that time some Jewish families that were polygamous before being called: new Christians 'already circumcised' and living by the law of Moses. Would Paul's rule have applied to them and to their marital status? Would a Jewish polygamist have been required, before answering the call to Christian faith, to divorce all but one of the mothers of his own children? The answer to this question would have to be no, if Schillebeeck was right when he observed that 'the Jews who became Christians continued to follow the Jewish laws of marriage, while the Gentiles who were converted to Christianity kept the Greco-Roman laws of marriage." (Hillman, pp.165-166)

    CONCLUSION

    While certain aspects of the old covenant passed in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple [2] (Matt.24:1-2,34; Heb.8:13), it would be exegetically impossible to condemn the practice of polygamy under the old covenant or transition period (30-70 A.D.) [2]. Likewise, there is simply no exegetical support to condemn polygamy today in cultures where it is lawful and is thus practiced.

    Understanding polygamy and accepting it as a valid and Biblical form of marriage, today is very crucial because it brings healing and knowledge to those who have found themselves divorced by a spouse, as well as giving understanding and wisdom to missionaries who preach the gospel to polygamous families in other countries. It is my sincere prayer that you have experienced some healing and/or gained wisdom and understanding from what God's Word has to say on this subject of polygamy.

    HEM Comments

    [1] See Did Jacob Sin in Marrying Two Sisters?
    [2] This is the doctrine called Preterism and is not the view of HEM - see, Preterism's Error: The Mystery of the Lost Generation
    [3] This is not the view of HEM which believes that our rest is both inner and outer - see our Sabbath website
    [4] The author has a conventional Protestant view of this topic. That which has been abolished, and which was a curse to mankind until the coming of Christ, is the penalty of the Law - see our New Covenant Torah website
    [5] For a study of the works of the law and what the New Testament means by being (or not being) 'under' the Law, see Just What are the 'Works of the law'?
    [6] This conclusion assumes that it is the responsibility of the church to salary its ministers, a position HEM does not take. Throughout its history, ministers of the Chavurat Bekorot who are ministers have also pursued careers and provided for their families themselves though this does not prevent local congregations from making voluntary love offerings to support a struggling pastor

    Author: MS

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    First created on 28 February 2001
    Updated on 21 June 2016

    Copyright © 1998 Mike Sullivan - Reproduced with thanks
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    Not all the views expressed in this article are necessarily those of HEM.