Thoughts on Polygamy

Random, I know.

Nevertheless, over at MPT blog the topic of the bible and polygamy came up in the comment section and it prompted me to read more about why God permitted polygamy.

I found some articles about the topic to mull over, and I’ve listed them below (along with some excerpts) in case you wanted to mull over them as well. Enjoy.

From John Piper:

Jesus, I think, clarified for us that marriage is one man and one woman, as it was in the beginning in Genesis 2:24. So that the divorce features of Deuteronomy were “given for the hardness of your heart, but it was not always so. And so now I don’t want you to do what they were doing.”

I think polygamy fits into that same paradigm. God tolerated polygamy among the patriarchs. He never in the Old Testament communicated, “Stop doing that,” except by implication from Genesis 2.

But when Jesus comes along and they present him with some of these marital adjustments from Deuteronomy, Jesus says, “Well I understand that Moses gave you that provision, but I’m taking it away!”

So Jesus’ standards are higher. So there’s progression by regression. “Let’s go back to Genesis 2, see the way God set it up, realize that he tolerated this cultural adaptation, and now don’t that anymore.

Source: When a polygamist is converted what should he do about his marriages?

From Got Questions:

So, it seems that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. In addition to the protection/provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth” (Genesis 9:7).

Source: Why Did God Allow Polygamy?

From John MacArthur:

Believe me, God wanted monogamy.  Look at his illustration in Hosea: he’s a faithful husband; Israel’s an unfaithful wife. That’s been God’s pattern all the way.  One husband, one wife.  No polygamy was ever good.

Source: Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament?

Have an article to add? Link it below in the comments.

21 Coffee Talks on “Thoughts on Polygamy”

  1. I never knew God allowed it… Food for thought.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Jessica says:

    When I first saw this I was like,"Sarah I know you've been going through a grace revival, but I don't think that mean you need to let your husband have more wives!" I'm just kidding around, those were very interesting articles, especially the middle one.:-)
    Jessica´s last [type] ..Merry Christmas from the Saltsgavers!
    Jessica´s last [type] ..Merry Christmas from the Saltsgavers!

  3. Traci says:

    I've thought about this a lot! Thanks for the insight. <3 to you and Happy New Year!


    Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations
    Traci´s last [type] ..Happy 6th Anniversary Babe!
    Traci´s last [type] ..Happy 6th Anniversary Babe!

  4. Katie says:

    I always thought along the same lines as your last source- that it was never what God wanted, but something that came about in the cultures of His people. I look at it as a huge example of God's grace since David (among many others) practiced it, and is still called a man after God's own heart. I've thought about it in some ways like "cohabitating" in our culture today- not sure if that's a correct comparison, just something I've thought about.

  5. Michelle says:

    It's funny but this is a topic that my husband and I have discussed at length many times! We have always come to the same conclusions that the mentioned authors have.

    In the Epistles, marriage is always referred to as being between one man and one woman. I personally would have trouble "sharing" my husband with another woman! However,I understand that in faiths that do practice polygamy, many women do not and actually enjoy the companionship of the other wives. They become like sisters to them!

    Hope you have a Happy New Year, Sarah!
    Michelle´s last [type] ..I Am Resolved No Longer
    Michelle´s last [type] ..I Am Resolved No Longer

  6. Jessica Bish says:

    I don't think God ever 'endorsed' polygamy. Just because it's in the Bible doesn't mean God approves of it – sin examples (and their consequences) run constantly throughout the Bible. He established marriage between one woman and one man – Adam and Eve. That was his design from the beginning. No marriage in the Bible that was polygamous was honoring to God – or did anything good come from them……

  7. Sandra says:

    Just studying about Leah and Rachel showed me that polygamy is not a way God wants us to live. Also, Sarah and Hagar shows us that polygamy is not what God wants for us. There didn't seem to be peace.

  8. Kasey says:

    There were never any biblical provisions that permitted polygomy, and it certainly doesn't seem that God ever thought it was OK. It was just something that happened and probably saddened God greatly. Every single biblical example of polygomy had serious consequences. I don't see how any one could interpret scriptures as God being OK with it. Maybe that's just me.
    Kasey´s last [type] ..My Secret Weight Loss Weapon- S2H Replay
    Kasey´s last [type] ..My Secret Weight Loss Weapon- S2H Replay

  9. Stacey says:

    I was having this exact conversation with my cousin last night. We were wondering if there was anything in the Bible where it said God condoned it. I will have to share this with her.

  10. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stephanie Coulter, Sarah Mae. Sarah Mae said: Thoughts on Polygamy via @sarahmaewrites [...]

  11. Wow I never knew that God allowed this. Ill be reading some more on this and glad that Jesus came to assure we are one woman and one man in a marriage. I couldnt see trying to withstand all that comes with a marriage sharing it with other women!!!! lol Happy New Year Sarah Mae!!!
    Sonya Schroeder´s last [type] ..Women in the Word Wednesday Jeremiah 29-11
    Sonya Schroeder´s last [type] ..Women in the Word Wednesday Jeremiah 29-11

  12. AnneMarie says:

    Sarah Mae,

    May I suggest that if you are ever seriously contemplating studying whether or not God allows polygamy that you don't start with articles by men who you know do not believe it is a valid form of marriage. I lovingly suggest you start with the bible itself. Perhaps these men such as Mr. MacArthur might slant scripture to fit their own agenda(even unknowingly?) Remember sin was introduced to this world by the first monogamous marriage. And the twelve tribes of Israel came from a polygamous union. God's chosen people – from a marriage where there multiple wives. And if Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden are to be the ideal, shouldn't we all remain unclothed and eating only plants. Perhaps some food for thought…….2Samuel 12:7-10 David was given his masters wives by GOD himself. His sin was pinpointed in verses 9&10, killing Uriah & taking his wife to be his. So apparently GOD did not consider it something HE allowed. GOD actually gave King David his masters wives and as it says in the verses, If that had been too little, GOD would moreover have given unto David such and such things. We are to not add to nor take away from what GOD says. Including what is to be called sin and what is not. Jesus Christ was brought to us through the lineage of king David via a plural wife. Or should we just rip those words out of the bible? Should we disregard them because they don't fit our(societies) view of what is right & what is wrong? My goodness folks, read the bible and stop relying on others to form our view of right vs wrong.

  13. Kela says:

    It's no coincidence that I came across this post today. My daughter and I were talking about this VERY thing last night.

    I'd heard about the part that it was a sort of protection for women in the OT days.

    Our main question/thought was how did God so mightily use the patriarchs when they saw nothing wrong with their unions.
    Kela´s last [type] ..Ive Merged
    Kela´s last [type] ..Ive Merged

  14. Joy says:

    This my friend is why I read your blog. I love the randomness of this, and yet the very thoughtful post that it is too. You crack my up and you make me think all at the same time!

    I love your blog!!


    Joy :)
    Joy´s last [type] ..2011- The Year of
    Joy´s last [type] ..2011- The Year of

  15. Jules says:

    Thank you for these resources! I've wanted to write about polygamy but have had trouble tracking down trustworthy information.

  16. Rébecca says:

    I know you have gone through Barbara Mousers' 5 aspects of womanhood course, but I thought I would just share what she says about God permitting polygamy in the OT. I found it very interesting and very helpful. In the gender laws of the OT, the emphasis for men is to be responsable for what they do. If they sleep with a virgin they have to marry her and pay the dowry or if the father does not want them to marry they have to pay a fine, either way, having sex with a virgin is going to cost them an average yearly salary (enough to make them think twice). If they are polygamous they have to care for each of their wives and cannot be partial to the children of a favored wife. The overal thrust of the Law is to hold men accountable and respoçnsabile for their sexual actions. Why ? Beause God's emphasis in the OT is monotheism. He is the Lord your God, have no other gods before Him. Thust Him as the only one tru and faithful God. The emphasis of the sexual laws for the Jews undergirded and pictured monotheism. Men, created to be the Golry of God, were commanded to be faithfull fathers, husbands, priests and kings. God wanted them to be dependable in order to picture the trustworthiness of the One True Lord.

    The big message of the NT is Christ died for you. Be saved and grow in Him. The sexual laws of the NT differ from that of the OT in order to illustrate the new emphasis of salvation in several ways. There is a higher standard of expectations. Polygamy and divorce were managed in the OT, in the NT they are forbidden. In Eph 5, the emphasis for men goes beyond the OT emphasis of responsability, all the way to sacrifical love (see Eph 5/25, Col 3/19). Even if you have a right to be bitter, don't be. Humble yourselves and keep loving as Jesus loves. God has done something dramatically new by coming down and dying sacrificially. So now God is expecting something dramatically new from men. (taken from the Glory of Man redeemed aspect, where B. Mouser expands more on the subject)

  17. Interesting topic and interesting responses. Polygamy was practiced in the OT, and there are many examples showing this practice. However, in many cases the circumstances were not favorable.

    In a previous comment, Sarah and Hagar are mentioned. In there situation, God never said that Abraham was to father a child by Hagar. In fact Gen 16:1 refers to her as a maid servant not a wife. Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham and did not like the out come. God did not give Hagar to Abraham, and in chapter 16 is referred to as Sarahs maid servent not Abrahams wife.

    I use the above situation to say this, look at the situations and see which ones are God and which ones man put together. In the case of Sarah and Hagar, there was trouble between the women just like there are troubles and issues to this day between the nations.

    I could be incorrect, but I do not remember seeing in the NT where having more than one wife is excepted. However, in 1 Tim. 3:1-2, 12 it does show were those who are in leadership in a church should be the husband of one wife.

    My personal view is that polgamy is not an exceptable practice in the NT which includes us.

    Tracy Stoffell´s last [type] ..Staying Spiritually Healthy
    Tracy Stoffell´s last [type] ..Staying Spiritually Healthy

  18. Jessica Bish says:

    Rebecca/Tracy –

    I spent all last evening 'typing' another comment in my head and both of you took the words right out of my mouth! Yes Abraham did have multiple wives… but only because he remarried after Sarai has passed away. Hagar is not considered a wife…. that situation was a mess!

    I was also going to quote I Tim – if our leadership in our churches are to be held at that standard then so are we.

    Wonderful comments ladies!
    Jessica Bish´s last [type] ..Where Ive Been
    Jessica Bish´s last [type] ..Where Ive Been

  19. Debbie says:

    I've always been intrigued by this topic. It's obvious God's plan did not "endorse" polygamy – but what God establishes and what God allows are two different things. While reading the stories in the Bible – we can see what happens when humans take on cultural lifestyles. Whether Abraham with his situation, or David and Solomon with their many wives. We can see the denegration of the family unit. And just like many other things – what is "allowed" (wine, dancing, etc.) is not always what is profitable, right?

  20. Very interesting article. I've heard other teachers mention something similar. I think it's obvious in scripture that God established "one man, one woman" and beginning with Lamech, God's perfect design was distorted by man's disobedience, as is always the case with sin.
    Kristine McGuire´s last [type] ..Feeling Uninspired
    Kristine McGuire´s last [type] ..Feeling Uninspired

  21. Daniel says:

    This is an interesting topic. I have my own thoughts on polygamy. I do not want to create polemic but I perceive polygamy as something of personal choice. There is nothing to punish you if your broke something that I believe is a society RULE. God gave us many attributes and this is not yet denied. It is still a personal choice of living. Personally, I prefer monogamy: it makes me more happy.
    Daniel´s last [type] ..Four reasons why hosiery matters on sports
    Daniel´s last [type] ..Four reasons why hosiery matters on sports

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