Bible Polygyny

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.. Gen.2:24.

 

This verse is often the sole pillar supporting the anti polygyny position. This Scripture is enough for many since it is used by the Lord and the words "two" and "one flesh" fix in their minds the limit of one husband and one wife.

The one who insists that all cows are brown because the brown cow was the first cow he saw is equally intransigent in his thinking.

However our Lord uses Gen.2:24 against divorce and prostitution, never against polygyny. If Gen.2:24 meant one man and one woman, then the Lord had ample opportunity to use this verse against polygynists but He did not. Why do God's children use Gen.2:24 contrary to God's use of it?

Perhaps we should limit our use of this verse to that use our Lord found profitable as found in this passage;
Mat 19:4 And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female",
 Mat 19:5 and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh?
 
Mat 19:6 Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

The Lord uses Gen.2:24 against divorce. One would need a very large microscope to find any latent command prohibiting polygyny in this passage. Gen.2:24 is used to show the deep and divine bond of marriage, not the structure of marriage. Jacob was one flesh with each of his wives. To argue against polygyny with a verse used against divorce would seem to oppose Biblical understanding and intent.

Paul uses Gen.2:24 when warning the Corinthians about prostitution which was a part of pagan temple worship. In a context where he describes their relationship with the Lord he says this;
1Co 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? Let it not be!
1Co 6:16 Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, The two shall be one flesh.
1Co 6:17 But he being joined to the Lord is one spirit.
1Co 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits fornication sins against his own body.

If in marriage a husband and a wife are one flesh, how can Paul uses Gen.2:24 and say the husband who is with a harlot is one flesh with her as well as his wife? How can the husband be one flesh with his wife AND the harlot if Gen.2:24 means one man and one woman? Perhaps Paul is only writing to the single men who can be one flesh with the prostitute since they are not one flesh with any wife.

All this is irrelevant when we see that Gen.2:24 means a husband and a wife in marriage are one flesh. It does not mean ONLY one wife since the husband can be one flesh with each wife.

As we will show, our God gave commands for levirate polygyny, and gave strict instructions for those who chose to have more than one wife, and in a figure had more than one wife Himself, how then can Christians continue to insist that Gen 2:24 demands monogamy in the light of these comparative passages?

Moses, who was inspired to pen Gen.2:24, saw no written or implied limit of one husband with one wife for Moses could have had up to three wives as an examination of these verses will suggest, 1st wife Zipporah, Ex.2:16-21, 3:1 , Num.10:29 (Jethro = Reuel). Then the second wife, the Ethiopian, Num.12:1. And the third wife, the niece of his first wife? Judges 4:11.

If Gen.2:24 meant one husband with one wife ONLY then most of the Old Testament saints did not understand that verse as we have been taught since most were polygynists. Again, the Lord did not use this verse against all His faithful saints who were polygynous so He does not understand it as modern churches do either.

The "example" of the first man and woman was in the unity of marriage, not the structure of marriage. If Adam and Eve were the perfect original "example" in the garden of Eden, then perhaps we should not have any children today and attend church naked.

Gen.2:24 is never levelled against a husband with more than one wife, it is a passage against divorce, not marriage. Elkanah was "one flesh" with both of his wives. See also the two shall be one flesh.

Return to Scriptures Page

Return to
Directory Page