IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS STUDY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MORMON
POLYGAMY BUT RATHER BIBLICAL POLYGAMY
Before you study polygamy you
must first understand what marriage is – study here / HERE is a short
video on what marriage is.
When most people
(especially women) in the west hear about the practice of polygamy the mood
changes to a vicious anger. Imagine if David (a man after God’s own heart)
were to present himself to today’s people with his wives, could you imagine
the scorn he would receive from people “filled” with the Holy Ghost? TTGM
believes that he (David) would not be allowed in 99% of churches today.
TTGM will choose not to get
hyped but paint the picture by looking at history and then we share
doctrinal commentary on polygamy. Here we have several presentations given by Rev. William
F. Luck. Also listen to Pastor Dowell giving a straight talk on the subject
- CLICK HERE.
History shows that the practice of polygamy
existed in the Old and New Testament times. Also, well after the New
Testament and into the early church age, we find even Catholic Priests
having more than one wife and concubines. Important note, they may not have
kept their wives according to the commandments of the Torah.
The following extract taken
from en.wikipedia.org and confirmed from other
Early Church History:
Jewish polygamy clashed with Roman monogamy at the
time of the early church:
"When the Christian
Church came into being, polygamy was still practiced by the Jews. It is
true that we find no references to it in the New Testament; and from this
some have inferred that it must have fallen into disuse, and that at the
time of our Lord the Jewish people had become monogamous. But the
conclusion appears to be unwarranted. Josephus
in two places speaks of polygamy as a recognized institution: and Justin Martyr makes it a matter of
reproach to Trypho that the Jewish teachers
permitted a man to have several wives. Indeed when in 212 A.D. the lex Antoniana de civitate gave the rights of Roman Citizenship to great
numbers of Jews, it was found necessary to tolerate polygamy among them,
even though it was against Roman law
for a citizen to have more than one wife. In 285 A.D. a constitution of
Diocletian and Maximian interdicted (banned)
polygamy to all subjects of the empire without exception. But with the
Jews, at least, the enactment failed of its effect; and in 393 A.D. a
special law was issued by Theodosius to compel the Jews to relinquish this
national custom (God’s allowed precept). Even so they were not induced to
The Roman Catholic Church priest also practiced
having wives and concubines. They were told to mass divorce their wives. Here
is an indebt study (highlights only).
Extract taken from wordpress.com – visit for full study.
It took a more determined
celibate, namely Pope Gregory VII, to make the divorce stick. Gregory
renewed the bans on married priests in 1074, and this time there was no
backing down. When high-ranking churchmen such as Bishop Otto of Constance
refused to enforce the order, Gregory excommunicated them without
hesitation. When parish priests ignored the order, Gregory ordered dukes
and princes to use armed force or suffer excommunication from God
themselves.[xxxii] The married priests found that
unless they renounced the sin of loving a woman, they were cut off by both
their employers and their customers. With seeming papal approval, gangs of
lay people publicly taunted priests’ wives as whores. These women found
that their men’s employers presumed to banish them from their homes, as if
they had no right to exist. Local officials were authorized to beat
offending church wives till they fled for their lives. By such tactics,
Gregory won an official victory. Some
of the cast-out women killed themselves. While many thousands of church
women were driven out to the roads, a conclave of Italian bishops in 1076
tried to excommunicate Pope Gregory for the crime of destroying families.
Many priests grew violent
to defend their families. In the Paris Synod of 1074, Abbot Galter of Saint Martin demanded the flock follow its
shepherd in celibacy. A mob of outraged priests beat him, spit on him, and
threw him in the street. In the same year Archbishop John of Rouen
threatened to excommunicate protesting priests, and had to flee for his
life under a hail of stones. In furious debate, the celibate party
denounced its opponents as fornicators trying to prostitute the church.
Married priests hurled back accusations that their foes were sodomites, whose obvious preference for homosexuality made them
hate married families.
As many clerical couples
still clung to each other, the hierarchy applied stronger measures. In 1089,
Pope Urban II ruled that if a priest did not dispose of his wife, the local
prince could enslave the woman.
Some decades after the
great divorce, the hierarchy gave a theological justification for it. The
Second Lateran Council in 1139 re-defined ordination as automatically
invalidating any previous marriage. It
cursed all relations between priests and women as “fornication,” and ruled
that all children of priests were “sacrilegious bastards.
CATHOLIC PRIESTS WERE MONOGAMOUS AND POLYGAMOUS BUT MADE
Due to the widespread
illiteracy of the scriptures, especially that of the Gentile believers who
were totally ignorant of the Torah, whatever the Catholic priests said were
considered as God’s Law and divine truths. One area of total distortion was
that of marital relationship. Surprising to almost all of us, it was common
for Catholic priests to have multiple wives and mistresses. In 726 AD, it
was acceptable for a man with a sick wife to take a second wife so long as
he looked after the first one. With concerns for protecting Church property from inheritance however, offspring
could not inherit church property and it was later declared that all sons
of priests were illegitimate. In 1022, Pope Benedict VIII banned marriages
for priests (monogamous or polygamous). Finally in 1139, Pope Innocent II
voided all marriages of priests and all new priests had to divorce their
wives. All these were done to possess and protect money and church
property. Making polygamy a sin and marriage unacceptable for a priest was
a slow and purposeful process.
LAW TO STOP
GOD’S PRECEPT OF POLYGAMY
At the Council of Trent the issue of having
concubines was dealt with. This is clearly a man’s doctrine and not of God.
The church of Rome also ratified the law requiring a Priest and two
witnesses to become married. Read Here
Law of Rome against
polygamy ratified in 1563 - HERE
in the original language (Greek)
The “one” wife rule
Many critics of polygamy
also point to the Pauline epistles that state that church officials should
be respectable, above reproach, and the husband of a single wife.
Hermeneutically, the Greek phrase mias gunaikos andra is an unusual Greek construction, capable of being translated in multiple
ways, including (but not limited to): 1) "one wife man,"
(prohibiting plural marriage) or 2) "a wife man" (requiring
elders to be married) or 3) "first wife man" (prohibiting
divorcés from ordination)
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour,
given to hospitality, apt to teach;
G3391 μία mia (miy'-a) n.
one or first.
[irregular feminine of G1520]
KJV: a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other
In this example we have
Paul using another Greek word representing translated as one (and only).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Paul did not use this Greek word when speaking about one
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
G1520 εἷς heis (heis'
ἕν hen (hen')
[including the neuter (etc.)]
KJV: a(-n, -ny, certain), + abundantly, man, one (another), only, other, some
The question you should ask
is, why did Paul not use the “one and only one” Greek word to describe a
“one wife man”?
Because Paul was not
against a man (church leader) having more than one wife.
The following article has been reprinted by kind permission
from B.L. Cocherell
The vast majority of professing Christians today believe
that the Bible teaches that monogamy is the only acceptable form of marriage and that polygamy violates God's law
concerning marriage. But is this what the Bible
teaches, or is this just a popular cultural opinion?
Within both secular and biblical history, and up to this
present day and age, we find people entering into both monogamous and
polygamous marriages for reasons of economics, cultural and social
requirements, political alliances, procreation, sexual lust, and true love.
It is not the intent of this study to compare the merits of a monogamous or a polygamous martial
relationship. This study is meant to clarify the legality of polygamy from
the biblical perspective and answer some conceptual questions about the
polygamous marital relationship.
Is Polygamy a Sin?
In order to determine if polygamy is a sin from the biblical
perspective, one must first know what sin is and is not. Notice how sin is
defined in the Bible:
"Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for
sin is the transgression of the law" (1.Jn.3:4 KJV).
"All unrighteousness is sin" (1.Jn.5:17 Para.). "Do
you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Blessed is the one not
condemning himself in what he approves. But the
one doubting, if he eats, he has been condemned, because it is not of
faith—and all that is not of faith is sin" (Rom.14:22-23 Para.).
"Therefore, to anyone knowing to do good,
and not doing it, it is sin to him" (Jms.4:17 Para.).
What Is Sin?
Sin is the violation of the physical and spiritual law of
God—sin is lawlessness. Sin is any deviation from God's righteous laws,
precepts, and principles that define how people should live and worship
The law reveals the standard of behavior with which all must
comply, and its perfect system of justice demands the execution of all
law–breakers (Rom.3:20; 6:23). The law only
determines guilt or innocence; it does not have the ability to restore
harmony between God and humanity.
The law of God is perfect. Its precepts, principles, and
value judgments are empirical and do not depend upon human validation.
No Law, No Sin
In his letter to the saints at Rome, the apostle Paul
explained, "sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Rom.5:12‑13 KJV).
Is there a law in the Bible that prohibits polygamy? No.
There is no such law found in the Bible. And where polygamous relationships
are noted, there is nothing negative said about this form of marriage.
However, there are many laws noted in scripture that regulate the
polygamous marriage and there are also many scriptures that clearly show
that polygamy does not violate God's law.
Polygamy Is Not Adultery
God's law dictates that sexual relationships between men and women is only sanctioned within a marital
relationship. Sexual relationships between men
and women outside of marriage fall within one of three
broad categories: adultery, promiscuity, or rape.
Lawful polygamy is not adultery; it is a material
relationship which is sanctioned and governed by God's law. Adultery is the
result of a husband or a wife breaking the
marriage contract. Adultery is an illegal
relationship with someone other than the person to whom one is married.
According to the letter of the law, polygamy is not adultery because there
is a marriage agreement in place between the husband and each wife.
"Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled:
but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Heb.13:4 KJV).
POLYGAMY, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
In order to show the validity of polygamous marriages for
the elect of God under the gospel age agreement, it is necessary to review
what the Bible says about its practice before the advent of Christ, during
the early church era, and after Christ returns.
Polygamy in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament there are dozens of examples of men
marrying and being married to more than one wife at a time. The patriarchs
Abraham and Jacob are examples of righteous men who had several wives in
order to father male heirs.
Abraham had two wives and one concubine Keturah
who later became his wife after Sarah died (Gen.25:1;
1.Chron.1:32). Sarah his first wife gave her
servant Hagar to him as a wife to bear his children (Gen.16:1‑4).
It is important at this point to understand that, in ancient
times, when a man had more than one wife or
wives and concubines, these wives and concubines were segregated by
position and authority within the husband's family. The first wife held the
highest position and it was to her first-born son that the husband's
inheritance was given. The husband's concubines were true wives, but
subordinate to the first wife.
Although it is difficult for some people to accept the
premise that one person can own another person as property, this is
nevertheless a fact of history and a perfectly legal biblical concept which
has its own set of rules that must be followed concerning the treatment of
such individuals. Sarah had the legal right to give her servant Hagar to
her husband as a wife to bear his children, because her servant was her
property to manage as she saw fit. See Gen.16:1-16.
Although the child born to Sarah's servant was not her
genetic offspring, the child was in fact legally hers. Moreover, the child
would have received an inheritance as the first-born son if Sarah had not
given birth to Isaac.
Jacob whom God named Israel had four wives. His first two
wives were Leah and Rachel who were sisters.
Leah gave Jacob her servant Zilpah to be his wife
and bear his children. His second wife Rachel gave Jacob her servant Bilhah
to bear his children. From these four wives,
the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes of national Israel were born.
See Gen.30:1-10; 35:23-27.
Here we see a situation similar to that of Abraham and
Sarah; in that, Leah and Rachael owned female servants whom they gave to
their husband Jacob as wives for the purpose of
Gideon who judged Israel for many years and obeyed
God's instruction to lead Israel out from under the oppression of the
Midianites had many wives and at least one concubine:
"And Gideon had seventy sons which he fathered: for he
had many wives. And his concubine that lived in Shechem
also bare him a son, whom he called
A Warning about Kings and Wives
God knew that, after entering
the promised land, the Israelites would want to imitate the nations around
them and be governed by a king. So before the Israelites entered into the
promised land, they were given specific instructions about the placing of a
king over them (Deut.17:14-19). One of these
instructions prohibited such a king from having many wives. Some believe
that this instruction prohibited polygamy; however, this instruction was a
preventative measure to keep the king from being adversely influenced by
his many wives —"Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that
his heart turn not away" (Deut.17:17).
King Solomon is an example of a man who allowed his wives to influence him into turning from God. See 1.Kgs.11:1-8.
Israel Wanted a King
Just as God expected, Israel rebelled against him and the
system of priests and judges that he had established to govern them and
wanted to be governed by a king, so
God chose Saul to rule over them.
King Saul had many wives and at least one concubine named Rizpah (2.Sam.3:7; 21:11).
When Saul died and David assumed rule over Israel he took the former wives
of Saul and added them to the wives he already had (2.Sam.12:8).
But apparently the number of wives David had was not excessive. God said of
king David who was a polygamist that David
had a perfect heart (attitude) before him, which means that David was
in harmony with God's law. See also 1.Sam.13:14;
"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together
with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
Of the nations concerning which the Lord said to the children of Israel,
You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you: for surely
they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clung to these in
love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred
concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when
Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and
his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David
Notice that Solomon was not criticized or condemned for
having hundreds of wives and concubines, he was
criticized and condemned because of the kinds of wives he chose, his
departure from God, and his idolatry and worship of false gods.
Polygamy and the Early Church
There is very little mention of polygamy in the New
Testament, but there are a number of teachings and clarifications that can
be of assistance to a polygamist.
Some people view Paul's instruction to the Corinthians
concerning the avoidance of fornication as proof that only monogamous
marital relationships are sanctioned for the elect:
"Now concerning the things that you
wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless,
to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman
have her own husband" (1.Cor.7:1‑2 KJV).
When Paul's letters to the Corinthians are studied, it is
clear that there were major problems concerning marital
relationships, adultery, promiscuity, and incest within the congregation.
Here Paul is addressing the problem of
sexual urges and promiscuity. He is merely saying that, in order to avoid
these sexual pressures, men and women should enter into a marital
FORBIDDEN SEXUAL RELATIONS
There are a number of laws set forth in both the Torah and
the New Testament that deal with the issue of incest and monogamous and
polygamous marriages. Although, these laws
may seem archaic to some people, they are principles that must be practiced
in order to receive the blessings promised through them.
In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20, there is a long list of
prohibited sexual relationships, all of which apply to monogamous and/or
polygamous marital relationships.
Leviticus chapter 18 begins with the Creator God reminding
the Israelites of his Sovereignty over them and he instructs them not to
practice the ways of the Egyptians or the people of Canaan. Because the
Creator promises life (salvation) to those
who practice his law, it is clear that the laws prohibiting adultery,
incest, and promiscuity still apply today.
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, I am the Lord your
God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not
do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, you
shall not do: neither shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall do my judgments, and keep my ordinances, to
walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Therefore, you shall keep my
statutes, and my judgments: which if a person practices, he shall live in
them: I am the Lord" (Lev.18:1-5 KJV Para.).
The original language of the following verse leaves no
doubt that the Creator is giving very specific instructions prohibiting
adulterous, incestuous, and/or promiscuous behavior with close relatives:
"None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin
to him, to uncover their nudity: I am the
The English word uncover in verse 6 is
translated from the Hebrew word galah,
which means to denude (especially in a disgraceful sense).
From the context of verse 6, it is clear that the Hebrew word galah is being used to describe prohibited
sexual relations between close relatives.
Within the following verses, there are references to a
person's biological relatives, relatives one
step removed (e.g., a half-sister), and relatives through marriage
(e.g., stepsister, aunt, uncle, mother-in-law).
Father, Mother, and Wife
"You shall not uncover
the nudity of your father, or the nudity of your
mother, she is your mother; You shall not uncover her nudity . You
shall not uncover the nudity of your
father's wife: it is your father's nudity" (Lev.18:7-8 Para.).
There are three individuals noted in verses 7 and 8 with
whom you are not to have sexual relations: Your father, your mother, and
your father's wife.
The English word mother in verse 7 is
translated from the Hebrew word em, which in this context means a mother,
whereas the English word wife in verse 8 is translated
from the Hebrew word ishshah, which
means a woman.
The Hebrew words em and ishshah make a clear distinction between
the mother and the wife, thereby indicating that the one spoken of as the
wife is not the mother, but is another woman
(i.e., wife). This wife could be the father's only wife who is not a
person's mother or one of the father's wives who is not a person's mother.
The willful violation of this law by both individuals
required that the death penalty be administered to both of them:
"Cursed be he that lies with his father's wife ('ishshah'); because he uncovers his father's skirt. And
all the people shall say, Amen" (Deut.27:20 KJV).
"The man that lies with his father's wife ('ishshah') has uncovered his father's nakedness: both of
them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev.20:11 KJV).
It Is Your Father's Nudity
Verse 8 tells us that if a
person has sexual relations with their Father's wife (not the person's
mother) it is the same as having a sexual relation with their own
Father. This is because the father and his wife are as one flesh (Gen.2:2; Matt.19:5);
therefore, a sexual relation with the wife is the same as a sexual relation
with the husband.
The Sister and the Daughter
"The nudity of your sister, the
daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether she be
born at home, or born abroad, even their nudity you shall not uncover" (Lev.18:9 Para.).
Verse 9 clearly prohibits a sexual relationship with a person's
biological sister or half-sister.
It is important to remember that, when a man and a woman
marry they become as one flesh (Gen.2:2; Matt.19:5); The person prohibited from sexual relations
in verse 9 is the child of the father and the mother; therefore, this
person is genetically linked to the daughters of both parents whether they
are a biological sister, or a half-sister.
Deuteronomy chapter 27, verse 22 states, Cursed be
he that lies with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter
of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
"The nudity of your
father's wife's daughter, begotten of your father, she is your sister,
you shall not uncover her nudity" (Lev.18:11 KJV Para.).
Because the English word wife in verse 11 is
translated from the Hebrew word ishshah (woman),
this seems to be a prohibition of a sexual relationship with a person's
"And if a man shall take his sister, his father's
daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her
nudity, and she see his nudity; it is a wicked thing; and they
shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he has uncovered his
sister's nudity; he shall bear his iniquity" (Lev.20:17 KJV Para).
This law prohibits a man from having sexual relations with a
biological sister or a half-sister from either his father or his mother.
This law also applies to marital relationships, whether monogamous or
polygamous. The English phrase cut off
is translated from the Hebrew word karath, which is a primitive root
meaning to cut off, down or asunder and
by implication it means to destroy or consume.
Moreover, it seems that, in the context of
verse 17, the death penalty is to be applied to individuals participating
in these forbidden sexual relationships.
A man cannot be married concurrently to women who are
"Neither shall you take a wife to her sister, to vex
her, to uncover her nudity , beside the
other in her life time" (Lev.18:18 KJV Para.).
Prior to the laws given to national Israel, marriage between a man and sisters was not
prohibited. Jacob married Leah and Rachel who were sisters. However, after
the nation of Israel was formed, this type of marital relationship was
prohibited. We are not told the reason for this prohibition, but perhaps it
was to mitigate strife and competition between siblings within a family
"You shall not uncover the nudity of your brother's
wife: it is your brother's nudity" (Lev.18:16 KJV Para.).
Leviticus chapter 20, tells us that the punishment for the
willful violation of this law is that the couple remain childless. Of
course if the brother is dead the women is free to marry again, because the
death of either spouse nullifies the marital agreement.
"If a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an
unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be
How the required punishment for the violation of this law
was administered is lost in antiquity; however, in the Talmud Mas. Yevamoth 55a there is a
lengthily discussion that basically says that, if the offending parties had
children prior to the violation, the violators would see these children die
during their lifetime and if they did not have children prior to their
violation, their union would not produce children.
"The nudity of your
son's daughter, or of your daughter's daughter, even their
nudity you shall not uncover: for theirs is your own
Verse 10 prohibits a person from having sexual relations
with a granddaughter.
A Biological Aunt
"You shall not uncover
the nudity of your father's sister: she is your father's near kinswoman.
You shall not uncover the nudity of your
mother's sister: for she is your mother's near kinswoman" (Lev.18:12-13 KJV Para.).
Verses 12 and 13 prohibit sexual relationships with a
person's biological aunt. Leviticus, chapter 20 tells us that the willful
violation of this law requires punishment:
"You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, nor of your father's sister: for
he uncovers his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity (i.e., their consequence or their punishment)" (Lev.20:19 KJV Para.).
An Uncle's Wife
"You shall not uncover
the nudity of your father's brother, you shall not
approach to his wife: she is your aunt" (Lev.18:14 KJV Para.).
The law prohibits a sexual relationship with a person's
biological aunt by marriage and equates such a sexual relationship the same
as a sexual relation with the uncle. Leviticus, chapter 20 tells us that
the punishment for willful violation of this law is that the couple will
"If a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he
has uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall
die childless" (Lev.20:20 KJV). See
Talmud Mas. Yevamoth 55a
for an explanation of the administration of punishment for violating this
"You shall not uncover
the nudity of your daughter-in-law: she is your son's wife; you shall not
uncover her nudity" (Lev.18:15 KJV Para.).
The willful violation of this law by both individuals
required that the death penalty be administered to both of them as noted in
Leviticus chapter 20:
"If a man lie with his
daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have
wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev.20:12 KJV).
"You shall not uncover the
nudity of a woman and her daughter, neither shall you take her
son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nudity; for they
are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness" (Lev.18:17 KJV Para.).
The English word take in verse 17 is
translated from the Hebrew word laqach, a root word that can mean to take (in
the widest variety of applications). For example, to
receive, to acquire, to buy, to bring, to
marry, and to take a wife.
Of all of the prohibitions listed thus far, this
prohibition most closely points to a restriction dealing with a
polygamous marriage, because it seems to prohibit concurrent sexual
relations with three generations of women of the same family line, (i.e.,
mother, daughter, granddaughter).
Two Wives and the First-born Son
"If a man have two wives, one
beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the
beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son is hers that was
The English word two in verse 15 is translated from
the Hebrew word shenayim, which
means two or twofold. The English word wives in verse 15 is translated from the Hebrew
word ishshah, which in this context
means a woman (opposite of a man) or a wife (woman
married to a man).
The two Hebrew words shenayim and ishshah document that the practice of polygamy was a legal form of marriage at the very
beginning of Israel as a nation. Verses 16 and 17 address the
inheritance issue concerning the husband's first-born son of the wife
that he hates:
"Then it shall be, when he makes his sons to inherit
that which he has, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn
before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he
shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a
double portion of all that he has: for he is the beginning of his strength;
the right of the firstborn is his" (Deut.21:16-17 KJV).
There is no condemnation of a polygamous marriage in this
law. The law just clarifies the issue concerning the inheritance to be
given to a first-born son.
A Wife and Her Mother
"And if a man take a wife and
her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and
they; that there be no wickedness among you" (Lev.20:14 KJV).
This law prohibits a man taking a woman and her mother as
wives. Violation of this law required that the man and both women be
executed by fire.
Deuteronomy chapter 27, verse 23 says, "Cursed
be he that lies with his mother-in-law. And all the people shall say,
While polygamy is not forbidden or condemned in the
teachings of the New Testament, there are instructions which prohibit the
spiritual leadership of congregations from having more than one wife.
The following are the apostle Paul's instructions to Timothy
and Titus concerning the number of wives men who are ordained into the
ministry of the church are permitted to have.
To Timothy Paul writes, "This is a true saying,
If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires
a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one
wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to
teach" (1.Tim 3:1‑2 KJV).
To Titus Paul writes, "For this
cause left I you in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that
are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you: If
any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful
children not accused of riot or unruly" (Titus 1:5‑6
Paul's instruction to Timothy and Titus reveals that
polygamous marriages were common within the congregations of the elect at
that time; otherwise, these instructions would have been unnecessary if
only monogamous marital relations were permitted within the church.
The reasons for this prohibition should be obvious
considering the time and effort required to carry out the responsibilities
of one who is called to lead and care for the elect in the capacity of a
POLYGAMY AND PROPHECY
The prophet Isaiah recorded many things that would occur
before and after Christ returns to establish
the Kingdom of God on earth. One of the things that he recorded shows that
polygamous marriages will be practiced after Christ's return:
"And in that day seven women shall take hold of one
man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let
us be called by your name, to take away our reproach" (Isa 4:1 KJV).
Prophecies show that, before Christ returns, the earth's
population will be greatly reduced. Isaiah's
prophecy shows that there will be a tremendous imbalance between the
numbers of men and women able and willing to marry. The number of women who desire marriage will far exceed the number of
eligible men. These women will want children, companionship, and a sexual
relationship, so they will be willing to be a part of a plural marriage to
fulfil these natural human desires.
Forbidding to Marry
"Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter
times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their
conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to
abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving
of them which believe and know the truth" (1.Tim.4:1‑3 KJV)
Paul's prophetic warning has truly come true today. There
are many who have departed from the faith and teach things that are
contrary to the word of God. It is interesting to note that forbidding to marry is one of the things that these evil people
will teach. Although "forbidding to marry" clearly includes
the teaching of celibacy as a requirement to live a pious life or to serve
as a spiritual leader, it could also include teaching that polygamous
marriages are forbidden.
Polygamy was practiced without criticism before the advent
of Christ and was regulated by many laws concerning fair and equitable
treatment of wives and children, succession of heirs, and distribution of inheritances.
Additionally, polygamy will be practiced after Christ returns according to
the prophecy of Isaiah.
OBJECTIONS TO POLYGAMY
Many people who profess to follow biblical teachings object
to the practice of polygamy and attempt to alter the intent and meaning of
scripture in favor of their own tradition, cultural education, or personal
belief or bias. The following will examine some of the scriptures that
people use in an attempt to prove that polygamy is not a marital option for
the elect today.
The One Man One Wife Rule
Many cite the example of Adam and Eve as the basis for their
belief that it was God‘s original intent that marriage be a
monogamous relationship between one man and one woman:
"And Adam said, This is now
bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because
she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen.2:23‑24 KJV).
Although it is clear that the Creator only made Adam one
wife, this fact does not establish a one man one wife rule. Genesis 2:23-24
is only a statement of fact; it does not establish monogamy as the
only valid marital state.
Because Genesis 2:24 says: "Therefore shall a man
leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they
shall be one flesh" (KJV), some people assume that this is
proof that polygamous marital relationships are sinful. However, the
assumption that being one flesh is confined to the marital
relationship between one man and one woman is inconsistent with the
teachings of the apostle Paul:
"Don't you know your bodies are the members of Christ?
Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a
whore? God forbid. What? Don't you know that he which is joined to an whore is one body? For he says that two
shall become one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is
Clearly two becoming one flesh
is not limited to one man and one woman, nor does it place limits on
the number of women that can be wives of one man. The one fleshconcept
and its reality in the physical world applies to
any sexual relationship between a man and a woman. If this were not so then
Paul's analogy would not make sense because even a married man can
have sexual relations with a whore. Although Paul is using this analogy to
explain a spiritual concept, his use of this example seems to indicate that
a man can become one flesh with more than one woman.
The Pharisees' Question:
"The Pharisees also came to him to test him. They asked
him, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his his wife for every cause? Jesus replied, Haven't you read, that at the beginning he made
them male and female, And he said, For this reason shall a man leave father
and mother, and shall cling to his wife: and the two of them shall be one
flesh? Therefore, they are no more two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God
has joined together no man should separate" (Matt.19:3-6 Para.).
The question put to Jesus was
not about monogamy or polygamy; the question concerned divorce and
remarriage. It was a question of law (i.e. God's
law concerning marriage) and specifically the portion of this law
that dealt with the cancellation of the marriage contract.
"They then asked him, Why then did Moses command to
give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He said to them,
Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to put away
your wives: but this was not allowed at the beginning. And I say to you,
Whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries
another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is divorced
commits adultery" (Matt.19:7-9
Para.). See also Mk.10:1‑12.
Jesus explains that the reason the Creator God allowed Moses
to sanction divorce was because of the hardness of Israelite men's
hearts. He also says that the law did not allow for divorce when marriage
was established at creation.
It is important to understand that God makes the rules
concerning human behavior and that he has the authority to alter these
rules as he sees fit in order to fulfill his plan for humanity and to
accommodate the human condition.
Jesus who was the
Creator God and law-giver before he became human, clarifies and modifies
the law of divorce when he said that the only valid reason for the
cancellation of a marriage contract is fornication (which includes
adultery). Jesus also explains that those who remarry after an unlawful divorce commit adultery (a violation
of God's law). See Matt:5:31-32;
10:11-19; 19:3-9; Lk.16:18.
Polygamy and Problems
Many people feel that, even though polygamous marriages are
not condemned in scripture, there are many scriptures showing
that adultery, incest, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, unhappiness, and
immorality are associated with polygamy. Therefore, they believe that
polygamy must not be the most desirable relationship to enter into. The
problem with this argument is that the scriptures also show the same kind
of problems within monogamous relationships.
There is no doubt that king David who was a man greatly
beloved by God (1.Sam.13:14; Acts 13:22) had many
wives and concubines (2.Sam.5:13).
Many people point to his adulterous relationship with
Bathsheba as a condemnation of polygamy. However, an honest review of this
account does not show any condemnation of polygamy, but it clearly shows
that David had committed adultery with Bathsheba before he murdered
"I gave you your master's house, and your master's
wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and
if that had not been enough, I would have given you even more. Therefore,
why have you despised the Lord's commandment and done evil in his sight?
You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife
to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of
Nowhere in the account of this event or in any of the
accounts of David's life is he ever condemned for having too many wives or
The simple truth is that polygamy creates no more of an
environment or opportunity for adultery, incest, jealousy, hatred,
bitterness, unhappiness, and immorality than monogamous marriages. The
problem is not with monogamous or polygamous marriages; it is with the
ability of men and women to live within God's laws that regulate
The Ideal Marital Relationship
Because Genesis 2:24 says: "Therefore shall a man
leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they
shall be one flesh" some people feel that, in the beginning,
monogamy was the ideal marital relationship between a man and a woman.
However, nowhere in scripture do we find the polygamous marital
relationship shown to be inferior to a monogamous relationship.
The scriptures are very clear concerning what the ideal
marriage relationship should be. The scriptures also tell us how to
accomplish this ideal. However, an ideal marriage has more to do with
one's attitude and behavior than whether the marriage is monogamous or
When speaking of the ideal in a marital relationship, we
should consider that each individual has different needs, desires, and
circumstances. Jesus said that remaining unmarried is the ideal
for some who have been called to salvation during the gospel age (See Matt.19:12). And the apostle Paul said that the ideal
for him was to remain celibate, but for some it is better to marry than to
burn with passion. Paul does not say whether the marriage should be
monogamous or polygamous:
"I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his
own gift from God; one has this gift and another has that. Now to the
unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I
am. But if they cannot control themselves,
they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with
Clearly, what is ideal depends on one's needs, attitude, and
Many well intentioned individuals believe that, although
polygamy is not a sin, it should not be practiced in this age because many
people have strong feelings in opposition to it. The problem with this
belief is that it is conceptually incorrect. The reality is that people in
general hate the things of God, oppose almost everything that is of God,
and hate those who practice God's truth and way of truth. See Jn.15:18-19; 17:14-17.
If one truly believes that they should not practice some of
God's law in order to be an acceptable example to the unconverted; then,
which of God's laws should a true follower of Christ cease to practice
to avoid offending the unconverted? Should one cease to practice the
Sabbath, start eating unclean foods, or begin to practice adultery in order
to appease the unconverted? Obviously, one should teach and practice all of
God's law as an example to the world. Therefore, one should not be
ashamed to stand solidly behind the biblical practice of lawful polygamous
marital relationships as noted in both the Old and New Testaments.
Clearly, if one is intending to enter into or already is in
a polygamous marriage, one should be concerned about the effect that this
type of marriage will have on one's walk with God the Father and Jesus
Christ, as well as the example being set to others in the Father's family
as well as the unconverted. However, these considerations must be viewed
sensibly and realistically in the light of all scripture concerning God's
CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW
Some people use the argument that Romans 13:1-6 instructs
the elect to obey all of the civil and criminal laws where they live.
Therefore, one should not practice polygamy because many civil laws
Although being subject to constituted authority and paying
various monetary levies imposed by civil governments is the subject
of Romans 13:1-6, one must view what is said in the light of other
scriptures that clearly show that God's law takes precedent over laws
devised by people. An example of a civil law that violates God's law is the
law in many western countries that require people to swear an oath to tell
the truth in a court of law. Obviously, if one follows God's law concerning
swearing and oaths (Matt.5:33-37; Jms.5:12) one cannot obey this civil law.
When one practices the law of God, whether it involves the
Sabbath, childbearing, marriage, the swearing or taking of an oath,
or any other of God's laws, if these laws are in opposition to the civil
laws where one lives, one must deal with this situation as instructed
through the word of God:
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of
wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But
beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will
scourge you in their synagogues; And you shall be brought before governors
and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles" (Matt.10:16‑18 KJV).
Although a polygamous marriage does not violate God's law,
it may be a violation of the civil and criminal law where one lives.
Therefore, if one desires to engage in a polygamous marriage, one must
be careful not to become entangled in the civil laws governing the area
where they intend to live. If the practice of polygamy violates the civil
and criminal law where one lives, there are basically three options: 1) Do
not practice polygamy; 2) Relocate to a geographical location where there
are no civil laws prohibiting polygamy; or 3) Be prepared to defend one's
right to practice polygamy.
THE MARITAL CONTRACT
Today, most people who profess to follow Christ have a very
limited understanding of the marital contract and the instructions concerning
marriage contained in the Bible. This fact is substantiated by the
extremely large numbers of dysfunctional families and divorces within the
professing Christian community. The following is an overview of some of the
basic elements of monogamous and polygamous
marital contracts as set forth in the Bible.
Property and Choice
In many male dominated cultures (historically and today), a
man's children and wives were and are considered his property. In many
cultures, children have no say in choosing their husbands or wives.
The Bible clearly shows that both men and women were often
given into marriage without their consent. This was the case with
Abraham's son Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Abraham sent his trusted servant
to his brother Nahor to acquire a wife for Isaac,
and Nahor sent his daughter Rebekah (who he had
with his concubine Bethuel) with Abraham's
servant to become Isaac's wife. See Gen.22:1-67.
The reason for mentioning this is to show that God allows
for cultural and traditional standards and
philosophies to be imposed in forming marital contracts if these
contacts do not violate his law or if the individuals which are to be
married do not resist the specific martial agreement.
An essential part of any marriage is the marriage contract.
And as with any contract, the marriage agreement has terms and
conditions. One of the first things to understand about a marital
relationship is that, whether it is monogamous or polygamous marriage, it is governed by God's law of marriage and
these laws govern every critical aspect of the marriage relationship from
beginning to end. Once one enters into a monogamous or a polygamous marital
relationship, divorce is not an option; marriage is intended to be for life
unless the relationship is broken under the terms and conditions set forth
in God's law concerning marriage.
Jesus Christ who was the Creator God and law-giver allowed
Moses to sanction divorce among the Israelites because of the hardness of Israelite men's hearts. However, Christ who is
the mediator of the new covenant has clarified and modified the law of
divorce that he allowed Moses to sanction.
Now the only valid reason for the cancellation of a marriage
contact is fornication (which includes adultery). See Matt:5:31-32; 10:11-19; 19:3-9; Lk.16:18.
The Monogamous Contract
When two people enter into a marital relationship with the
understanding that it is to be a monogamous relationship and bind
themselves to this agreement, this relationship comes under the terms and
conditions set forth in the Bible for such a relationship. Neither party
can alter the agreement without dire consequences. The agreement can only
be terminated by the death of either party,
fornication, or adultery as set forth in God's law. See Matt:5:31-32; 10:11-19; 19:3-9; Lk.16:18.
The Polygamous Contract
When people enter into a marital relationship with the
understanding that it is to be a polygamous relationship and bind themselves to this agreement, this relationship comes under
the terms and conditions set forth in the Bible for such a relationship.
Neither party can alter the agreement without dire consequences. The
agreement can only be terminated by the
death of either party, fornication, or adultery as set forth in God's law.
10:11-19; 19:3-9; Lk.16:18.
The following are some of the major problems with the way in
which polygamous relationships are practiced today:
marriage that begins as a monogamous relationship and becomes
polygamous because of the insistence of one of the partners over
the objections the other partner. Without the consent of the both
spouses, this situation results in an adulterous relation between the
husband and the other wives.
husband takes two living sisters as wives or a wife and her daughter
as wives. Neither of these relationships is
allowed under the law given to national Israel governing polygamy. See
While it is true that some men and women who are practicing
polygamy are living in an adulterous or an incestuous relationship in
violation of God's laws that govern marriage and sexual relationships, this
does not mean that all polygamists are living in sin.
One Woman, Two Husbands?
Some might think that, because God's law allows for a man to
have more than one wife under certain circumstances,
women can also have more than one husband. Paul says the following
in his letter to the congregation at Rome about God's law and its
relationship to the Father's elect children:
"Brethren don't you know, (I'm speaking to those who
know the law,) that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
For the woman which has a husband is bound to her husband by the law as
long as he lives; but if her husband is dead, she is not bound to him.
Therefore, while her husband is alive if she marries another man,
she is an adulteress: but if her husband is dead, she is free
from that law; so that she is not an adulteress, although she is married to
another man" (Rom.7:1-4
The principles of the marital relationship set forth in both
the Old and New Testaments clearly forbid a woman to have more than one
husband at a time.
Should Everyone Practice Polygamy?
Obviously the practice of polygamy is not for everyone,
because not all men or women are comfortable with this concept or
practice. Not all of the patriarchs or great men and women of the
Bible practiced polygamy, and there is no instruction urging men and women
to do so. Clearly, for individuals who adhere to biblical law, a monogamous
or polygamous marriage is a personal choice.
Could entering into a polygamous marriage be a mistake?
Absolutely. It could be a mistake just as being in a monogamous marriage
could be a mistake. Although God's law allows polygamous marriages, it may
be more prudent and practical to remain celibate or enter into a monogamous
relationship in some circumstances. However, once one is married, one must
obey God's laws that govern marriage in order to live righteously before
Concerns and Problems
May people feel that, because of the
number of family members involved, a polygamist will have more family and
marital concerns and problems than a monogamist. Although this could be
true, it is not necessarily the rule, because family problems and concerns
are dependent on many factors other than numbers.
More than one wife in a family could very well have many
benefits over a monogamous marriage. In a polygamous marriage wives could
share the domestic duties, childcare, provide a greater financial base, and
provide more stability and help during times of
illness and death than provided by a traditional monogamous family
structure. These and many more benefits could be realized if everyone
within this marital relationship diligently follows the law of God in
attitude and behavior.
A Good Wife Or Good Wives?
There are many scriptures that speak about the benefits that
a good wife can provide and the admiration and honor that such a woman
should receive. The following are a few of the things that are said about a
"Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains
favor of the Lord" (Prov.18:22
"House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a
prudent wife is from the Lord" (Prov.19:14 KJV)
"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she
that makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones" (Prov.12:4 KJV).
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for
her price is far above rubies" (Prov.31:10 KJV).
People who oppose polygamy and use these scriptures in
support of monogamy, forget that the man who
was inspired to write these words of wisdom concerning the virtuous
wife was Solomon who had hundreds of wives and concubines.
It is difficult to believe that a polygamous family will be
less happy or financially worse off than a
monogamous family. The argument that polygamy causes strife and poverty may sound good in theory, but falls short in
practice for those who are obedient to God's laws concerning altitudes,
behaviors, and work ethics.
Today, both monogamous and polygamous martial
relationships suffer from people's perverted view of what marriage should
be. There is no doubt that many polygamous marriages are beset with
adultery, incest, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, unhappiness, and
immorality. It is little wonder that, when polygamy is viewed and evaluated
as it is practiced by most people of the world today, it comes up short of
the ideal for the marriage relationship. However, so do most monogamous
God instituted marriage as a part of his master plan for
humanity and his laws concerning marriage only
recognize it as a single institution. Although God's law does not divide
marriage into monogamous and polygamous classifications, his law does
speak to each of these marital conditions and the interpersonal
relationships within each.
Beliefs and Feeling
Most people base their morality and beliefs about marriage
on their cultural tradition and past and current theological philosophy
rather than the clear fact of scripture. However, it is an undeniable
biblical fact that both monogamous and
polygamous marriage relationships were engaged in by righteous men
If we truly believe what the Bible teaches concerning the
marital state, then we cannot ignore what it says about polygamy and must
admit that God sanctions both monogamous and polygamous marriages as being
Some people feel that polygamy may have been acceptable
anciently, but it is no longer valid today because we live in a
different age under different circumstances. This argument may sound good
in theory, but it is without merit, because it is in opposition to Paul's
instruction to Timothy concerning the validity of all of the word of God
for his elect children:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished
unto all good works" (2.Tim.3:16‑17 KJV).
Clearly "all scripture" would
include the laws that sanction and govern monogamous and polygamous marriages.
The fact is that polygamy is noted throughout the Bible as
an approved marital state. If God had intended for there to be only
monogamous marriages, he would have reflected this in his law for human
behavior. However, in God's marital law we see terms, conditions, and rules
set forth for both polygamous and monogamous marriages.
Polygamous marriages are not sinful, wrong, or less than the
ideal; they are what they are. They are relationships sanctioned by God
which can lead to much happiness and prosperity if the participants
truly follow God's laws for such relationships with righteous attitudes and
Those Seeking Truth
One who is truly seeking truth cannot ignore the many
references to lawful polygamy throughout the Bible and the important
lessons that are taught through this marital relationship. Moreover,
one is obligated to embrace those of the
elect who have determined that this type of marital relationship is the one
that they have determined is best for them.
By B.L. Cocherell
can be read HERE
Researched by www.truthgospel.org
TTGM: With regards to One who is truly seeking