Bible Polygyny


Mr. Tom Shipley's
article on Matt.19

 And Caleb the son of Hezron fathered sons of
Azubah his wife, and of Jerioth.
1Ch 2:18 

 

The Pharisees came to Christ tempting Him with a question about divorce.

Matt.19 is about divorce not about polygamy. Polygyny is marriage the opposite to divorce. Whether we like this form of marriage is beside the point, polygyny is marriage and Matt.19 is about divorce.

It would be past obvious to point out that anyone using this passage to condemn polygyny is actually twisting the Word of God to their own end.

Whether a man had one or more wives is not the issue here, but a trick question about divorce:
Mat 19:3  And the Pharisees came to Him, tempting Him and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

In Matt.19 the Lord uses Genesis 1:27 & 2:24 to condemn divorce since a husband and each wife were joined together by God. The Lord says nothing about polygamy but rather exposes the hardness of men's hearts in adultery which resulted in putting away of wives. Genesis is used against divorce, not against polygamy; Genesis is about marriage not monogamy.
Mat 19:9  And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is put away commits adultery.

The Lord said people could divorce in the case of fornication (porneia) (Mk.10:12) warning that divorce for any other reason caused adultery, because it was not divorce at all.

There are as many divorcees in the churches and the exploding silence by churchianity against many of these divorcees is hypocritical. Not all of these divorces are solely because of fornication, in fact no fault divorce is the norm. Are the pulpits condemning those within their flocks who have divorced by "no fault" as being adulterers?

I thought we were to obey the Laws of the Land but when God's Laws opposed them we were to stand on God Laws. If this is so, why are Christians seeking divorce in most modern courts where "no fault" rules? If its OK to abuse Matt.19 against polygyny, then surely we must consistently use it to condemn any Christians who are divorced under no fault rulings.

Let us return to Matthew's gospel.

The Lord had already spoken about adultery in Matt.5 and the implications for those who meditated upon it. Oh, please remember single people looking with desire on other single people are not committing adultery. Adultery is between married people but you will hardly hear this truth from the pulpits. To Jewish married men the Lord speaks;
Mat 5:27 You have heard that it was said to the ancients, "You shall not commit adultery."
Mat 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Mat 5:29 And if your right eye offends you, pluck it out and throw it from you. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be thrown into hell.

It remains a wonderful testimony that not one member of the Christian community has ever plucked out their eyes or cut off their hands. By this lack of action we are forced to acknowledge that every married Christian man has not once looked upon a woman.

This convenient pick and chose approach can also be seen in the abuse of 1Tim.3: which is twisted to condemn polygyny but ignored at the appointment of female deacons and ministers. Like Matt.19 which is discarded in the matter of Christian divorce but abused to deny polygyny. Expediency; convenience is the mother of loose Bible interpretation and practice.

But I digress. Back to Matthew 5

The following passage is the initial statement by the Lord re divorce and is as follows;
Mat 5:31 It was also said, Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce.
Mat 5:32 But I say to you that whoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever shall marry her who is put away commits adultery.

Let us compare the later statement in Matt.19
Mat 19:9  And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is put away commits adultery.

As we have shown on this website, taking more than one wife is never called adultery by God, He gave King David many wives and had more than one wife Himself in His relationship with Israel. Thus by comparing the two statements we deduce that the man who divorces his wife, save for porneia, is in fact guilty of adultery himself insofar as he condemns the divorced wife and the man marrying her to that sin. Mark is helpful;
Mar 10:11 And He said to them, Whoever shall put away his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.

Taking more than one wife was not a sin and could not to be used as a reason for divorce. Taking another wife was provided for under the Law. Marrying another wife was not adultery, but the Lord heaps condemnation on those who divorced a wife for "every cause" and then married another.

Matt.19 does not condemn or give any argument against polygamy. The question was by the Lord's enemies who sought divorce for any reason, perhaps like a no fault clause.

Remember, the Pharisees were those who would not support their parents claiming the money of support was now dedicated to God and so made the Word of God to no effect and bypassed their obligations under it (Mk.7:11).
The Law was quite clear about taking another wife. If a man did so he was not to diminish "her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage" Ex.21:10. It would be reasonable to conclude the Pharisees simply wanted to send their wives back to their father's home to save "expenses".

The hardness of men's hearts (Matt.19:8) is in the matter of divorce not in the matter of polygamy. Men were not hard in heart marrying more than one wife but they were hard in heart if they divorced a wife to avoid their obligations to her.

Making the Word of God of no effect is an old and proven method of the religious and it is facilitated by half truths and abuse of Scripture.

David was a man after God's own heart and both David, Abraham and the Lord had more than one wife so we dare not accuse them of having hard hearts.

The hardness of heart is not having more than one wife but divorcing a wife. Perhaps in the case of these Pharisaic enemies of the Lord, the hardness was in the discarding of the demands of the Lord for equitable treatment of all wives. In other words, by divorcing a wife "for every cause" they made the Word of God of no effect and avoided providing her (the divorced wife) with the obligatory provisions of marriage.

In any event, Matt.19 can not be used against Polygyny. Polygamy is not divorce or condemned as being the result of hardness of the heart.

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