Guest Authors 16
by Steven B.Foster
Hello, I am an apostolic from Tacoma, WA. I used to be a Mormon, so I know a little bit about polygamy. The thing is, God never mandated polygamy. If you look at the Bible, men took it upon themselves. God made one man and one woman to share paradise. Though God blessed the patriarchs, it was in spite of their polygamy, not because of it. These men always ran into trouble when they had more than one wife. Either the wives were fighting over them, or the kids were fighting, or as in the case of Hannah and Penninah, one thought they were better cause they had kids and the other didn't. Jesus, in talking about divorce, referenced that in the beginning God made one man and one woman. There was no divorce in the beginning and no polygamy.
The Holy Ghost will lead you in all truth.
My dearest Mrs. Parizo,
I found your posting to be quite interesting, and I thank you for expressing your opinion.
I'd like to pleasantly discuss with you some of the things you mentioned about polygamy the way God views it as evidenced in scripture. Now, I am not pretending to speak for God, as I am only his most lowly servant, but I will only make points based on what He says in His scriptures, using the 1611 King James Version (Textus Receptus), and I will provide links to the original Hebrew or Greek texts so you can further study for yourself what I will present to you.
First, I would like to say that I will not enter into debate with anyone who reads this about whether or not the King James Bible is God's Word verbatim. It is my own personal opinion that even though God's inspired word as given in it's original languages is indeed the most accurate in acquiring a literal translation of meanings, that the 1611 English version of King James has proved to be extremely reliable and has been venerated several times over both archaeologically and palentogically over the past centuries as being a dependable English source of the scripture. Regardless of that, the links provided will allow you to explore the original languages used.
One of the first points I would like to make, and the first thing that needs to be established is the fact that God's Word is written and designed to be "holographic" in design. To explain, let me describe the concept of holography:
NOTE: (You may skip to the next paragraph if you wish to get the point without technical explanation)
Holography is a method of reproducing a three-dimensional image of an object by means of light wave patterns recorded on a photographic plate or film. Holography is sometimes called lensless photography because no lenses are used to form the image. The plate or film with the recorded wave patterns is called a hologram. The light used to make a hologram must be coherent, i.e. of a single wavelength or frequency and with all the waves in phase. (A coherent beam of light can be produced by a laser.) Before reaching the object, the beam is split into two parts; one (the reference beam) is recorded directly on the photographic plate and the other is reflected from the object to be photographed and is then recorded. Since the two parts of the beam arriving at the photographic plate have traveled by different paths and are no longer necessarily coherent, they create an interference pattern, exposing the plate at points where they arrive in phase and leaving the plate unexposed where they arrive out of phase (nullifying each other). The pattern on the plate is a record of the waves as they are reflected from the object, recorded with the aid of the reference beam. When this hologram is later illuminated with COHERENT LIGHT OF THE SAME FREQUENCY AS THAT USED TO FORM IT, a three-dimensional image of the object is produced. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition).
Because the scripture declares that "God is light..." (1 John 1:5), we can logically make the case that when the scripture is viewed with the same light that created it, (ie. just as the coherent light forms a hologram when viewed with the same laser that first created it) we can then see how the scripture must always be viewed only through the light of Him who created them. Meaning APART from any cultural or moralistic determinants that a particular society uses to interpret what was written except for the original culture that the context of the scripture was written in.
Now, let us take your first absolutist statement, and examine the scriptures to see what they indeed say about it:
You said: "The thing is, God never mandated polygamy."
My question then is: What did God mean by the following scriptures?
2 Samuel 11:1-12:25
Question: When King David committed adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba and ultimately murdered Uriah to cover it up, did God also condemn King David for the wives (plural) that he possessed?
Answer: (See 2 Samuel 12:8) Even though God condemned the King for adultery and the murder of Uriah, He did not condemn him for the possesion of the wives of the former King Saul nor any of his others (1 Samuel 18:27-28; 25:42,43), but rather told David that it was HE who gave David the wives he possessed as his own and in addition said to him that "...if that had been too little, I would have MOREOVER have given to thee such and such things."
Followup: It is evident here that God seems not only to approve of King David's Polygamist lifestyle, He seems to have been the one that created it. (2 Samuel 12:8) To me it appears that God, in this case mandated polygamy, at least for David.
Now, let us take your second absolutist statement, and examine the scriptures to see what they indeed say about it:
You said: "God made one man and one woman to share paradise. [and therefore] Though God blessed the patriarchs, it was in spite of their polygamy, not because of it."
My question then is: Since we've already proven by the former argument that God not only allowed, but in fact promoted polygamy, how can you say that He didn't intend for this to be a viable choice for all?
What do the scriptures say?
(See 1 Kings 15:5)
It says here that David "...turned not aside from any [thing] that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."
In this case, it would appear that the absolutist statement made by God is that the crimes of adultery and murder are the ONLY matters wherein David was at fault. Why was he not judged by God then for the polygamist wives he had? (hint: perhaps because God sees absolutely nothing wrong with it. And no, God never "tolerated" disobedience among the Jews, and especially didn't with the Jewish kings like David.)
As far as what you believe to be God's "original intent" let's take into account that before the fall in Genesis chapter 3, that at that time there were 3 unique things that existed:
- One, Eve was created for the specific purpose of being a helpmeet (Genesis 2:20);
- Two, it was decreed that "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife: and the two shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; Ephesians 5:31); and
- Thirdly the fact that "..they were both naked...and were not ashamed." (Genesis 2:25)
The concept that most apparently fits your belief about monogamy is that God decreed that a man shall cleave unto his wife, and consequently, the two become one.
While on the surface, this seems to be fairly supportive of your position, let's look further into the scriptures and see.
I suppose the first thing we should remember is that God gave King David his former master's wives (plural) even after he had married 3 women (1 Samuel 18:27-28; 25:42-43) prior to his incident with Bathsheba. The question is then: Do the scriptures above mean that He could only have "become one" with Michal his first wife? (1 Samuel 18:27-28) And if so, why isn't Michal then the wife of the promise? Shouldn't SHE have borne Solomon instead of Bathsheba? (2 Samuel 12:24) According to the scriptures, Bathsheba would have had to have become at least David's 6th consecutive wife. Quite far removed from the first, of whom David would have rightfully, (by your interpretation), become one with. Wouldn't you say? It is an extreme stretch of the imagination to believe then that if God intended only for a man to cleave unto his first wife and that it is therefore only possible for those "two" to become "one", that he could have possibly defiled the very lineage of Jesus himself (through Solomon) by allowing Bathsheba to be the "wife of the promise"?!?.(Matthew 1:6) I would like to maintain that, if as you believe, God had really intended for his original design of "one man and one woman" to be absolute, that he would never have allowed this to happen.
Another scripture that seems to debate what you believe about this is 1 Corinthians 6:16, in which Paul cautions the Christian men of Corinth not to "become one flesh" with the harlots (prostitutes) of the area. (I have no reference to offer on this, but it has been said that there were in excess of 1,000 prostitute priestesses in attendance at the pagan temples at ony one time above the city of Corinth (Acrocorinth).) It is a surety that Paul speaks to those Christian men in the Church that are already married as well as to those who are single. Thereby confirming that even though it is an immoral union, that it IS possible to conceptually become one with more than one woman. You may ask, does that mean that the 3 become one? The general understanding is that when TWO come together they become ONE...not when THREE come together...Meaning that I suspect you'd have to be some kind of unusual specimen to perform physical vaginal intercourse with two women simutaneously. Enough said.
Concerning your third point, even I am not foolish enough to debate the fact that multiple partners in a marriage is going to cause multiple complications. However, I do think that the point you make about this hardly has anything to do with whether God approves of polygamy or not.
You said: "These men always ran into trouble when they had more than one wife. Either the wives were fighting over them, or the kids were fighting, or as in the case of Hannah and Penninah, one thought they were better cause they had kids and the other didnt." Not to pick a fight, but have you noticed that even in the examples you describe that it was the women or children who were doing all the fighting? Why is that? Seems only to me to be their own selfishness causing all the strife, not whether they were polygamous or not. Look what problems Eve's disobedience caused for Adam! In any case, it has nothing to do with God's perspective. In fact, two of those quarrelsome wives, Rachel and Leah, wives of Jacob, both confess that it was because they gave their maidservants to their husband that God blessed them with children! (Genesis 30:3-6,18)
Now, let's discuss point number four.
You said, "Jesus (Yah'shua), in talking about divorce, referenced that in the beginning God made one man and one woman. There was no divorce in the beginning and no polygamy."
In addressing the issue of what Jesus said about these things while he was with us here on Earth, I would like to point out that, Jesus, being God, was also the one that gave King David his wives and punished him for taking someone else's when all He had to do was ask for more! Moreover, let's see what the scriptures say about what Jesus said about polygamy:
(See Matthew Chapter 25 verses 1-13)
One of the things that we have to remember, as I stated at the beginning of this debate, is that God does not adhere to our cultural practices, and that He has never changed that position. (Malachi 3:6) But rather, He does things according to His will only. In comparison, His will is always right, no matter how it conflicts with what we've been taught by our culture. In retrospect however, God chose and guided the culture of the Hebrews to reflect that which was His way. Obviously the Jews were often disobedient to God and God ALWAYS corrected them for their disobedience. One interesting point this makes is this: if it was indeed against his will, why didn't God EVER correct someone for marrying more than one wife? Hmm, could it be that it wasn't against his will?
In examining the parable of the ten virgins, we have to remember that the culture of the people that Jesus was speaking to was at that time very accepting of polygamy and that it was a very common social practice. Notwithstanding today's common christian belief that it is a sin, this story would have been easily accepted by the people as a tale of an extremely distinguished and wealthy groom, a man of obviously high status preparing for his wedding to 10 "virgins" (called "marriageble maidens" by Strong's Concordance)(Strong's Exhaustive Concordance ref #3933). Some translations seek to modernize the term "virgin" by calling them "Bridesmaids". Here are the difficulties of that position:
First, If the Groom is indeed so distinguished, how could he have been disgraced in the story by the absence of even a description of the bride, whom would be so conspiculously absent from the story?
Second, Again I must make the point that polygamy was LEGAL and very well accepted by the culture at that time. It was felt that it was a terrific honor to be chosen by such a distinguished and wealthy individual, regardless of how many prior wives he already had.
Thirdly, the scriptures make a very subtle, yet direct point when they use the term "...they that were ready 'went in with him' to the marriage." When something with Hebrew language origin says that She "went in with him" or He "went in unto her" it means only one thing, intercourse. Or rather the consummation of marriage.
It's very interesting to me that you would state that when Jesus spoke on marital subjects, that He only spoke in terms of "one man and one woman". Here he not only speaks of one man and ten brides, but even alludes to himself as the bridegroom in this allegory of his coming Kingdom. Maybe after we're there, he'll explain it to all of us.
Steven B. Foster
First created on 30 September 2001
Updated on 2 July 2016
Copyright © 2001 Steven B. Foster
Reproduced with permission and with thanks
Not all the views expressed in this article are necessarily those of HEM.