Thursday, April 26, 2012

Christian Polygamy



Polygamy, specifically polygyny, has been a part of most of this world’s cultures since before recorded history.  Polygyny is the practice of one man having more than one wife simultaneously.  There have been many variations of the practice found throughout geographic locations and historic times.  I do not wish to enter into a study about all the ways polygyny has been or is being practiced in various cultures.  Such a study is beyond the scope of my interest and desire.  However, I do desire to present a Biblical concept of Christian polygyny/polygamy.

Christian polygamy is the term that I will use in this discussion, but please keep in mind that I am referring to polygyny, which is the only form of poly marital relationships that can possibly be considered Christian, regardless of the excuses that some would try to foist upon us.

Christian polygamy is multiple marriages by the same man.  It is not one marriage with several women.  The Bible is quite clear that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.  What the Bible also teaches, but we have ignored in our Roman Catholic influenced Christian culture, is that a man may have (not must have) simultaneous marriages.  This is demonstrated by the example of Christ and His headship, spousal relationship with His churches.  This is evidenced by Ephesians 5:25, where we read “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”.  This was written to the church at Ephesus and is applicable to each New Testament church, each of which is His body and He is their head or husband.  Further evidence is found in Old Testament scriptures where we see that many men, blessed of God, had multiple marriages without a single word of condemnation from God.  There are detractors that will admit this is true, but claim that they all had problems in their marriages.  I will admit that is quite probable, but monogamous marriages have problems as well.  As a matter of fact the very first marriage, of sinless people, living in Eden, introduced sin and death into the world and their first son murdered the second son.  Evidently families have problems, regardless how many wives and children are involved.  King David was a man after God’s own heart and he was a polygamist.  Solomon, son of the same polygamist, David, was the wisest man that ever lived and was Israel’s greatest king.

Christian polygamy is not some form of deviant marriage.  Everything that pertains to a Biblical monogamous husband pertains to a polygynous husband.  Culturally, we have problems with polygyny because we fail to understand what is acceptable to God in marriage as revealed in His Word.  The corrupt, Roman Catholic Church has influenced our thinking about marriage.  In turn the Roman Catholic Church was and still is influenced by pagan practices as well as ungodly doctrines from its early history.  In great periods of its history, the RCC taught that marriage was altogether sinful.  They have bantered this back and forth for centuries.  Still today, their priests and nuns are not allowed to marry and we see the results of such a fraudulent doctrine.  One of the biggest residual issues from the RCC is our concept of “Romance”.  This carries the image of marital love where the man is the center of the woman’s world and the woman is the center of the man’s world.  Our culture has taken this concept to heart and built a huge group of industries around it.  Still, men and women find that it is impossible to live up to the images that are built around it.   They usually conclude that, “they lived happily ever after”, requires more work than it does magic.  No man or woman is able to bring satisfaction to the soul of the other.  That task is reserved for God, for only He is capable of meeting our deep-set needs.  Spouses are surely to be loved and treasured, but we are not to expect them to be our source of happiness, that we find primarily in our Lord.  This relates to monogamous marriages as well as polygamous marriages.  Christian polygamy is one man having several marriages, plain and simple, nothing else is unique to it.


Christian polygamy is not a place for women to be involved in same-sex relations under the umbrella of the husband’s identity.  Let me say again, Christian polygamy is not about any form of deviancy.  It is normal marriage, multiplied.  The developing relationship between wives of a polygynous husband may or may not be the same in each family.  The relationship that most often develops is that of close sisters or best friends.  The ladies are better able to develop their own interests and follow dreams that are compatible to married life because more women share domestic efforts and they do not have to devote themselves to their husband as intensely as a lone wife finds necessary.  Contrary to popular opinion, women benefit more from polygyny than do the men.

Christian polygamy is based on a Biblical structure that promotes security for the family.  In our modern world, marriage and family is based upon a philosophy that has proven to be destructive to families and society as a whole.  That structure is identified as being matriarchal and is the result of the militant feminist movement.  As a result of this pattern, the traditional family is rapidly facing extinction (a goal of feminism).  The number of people marrying is in rapid decline, divorce is consistently high and growing, with the majority of children being born to and raised in single parent homes, most of which are the Moms.  This places a greater burden on women and is contrary to the fallacious dreams touted by the militant feminists, “You can have it all”. 

The structure designed and implemented by God is a patriarchal family, based upon God’s relationship with His creation.  I will not go far into the concept of patriarchy here, but I must say that compromising this principle leads to most of the marital problems found in families today.  In the God designed family, patriarchy is demonstrated this way:

1.      The husband leads, protects and is responsible for providing for his family in the same way that God does for His own.  If a man is not behaving toward his family in a godly manner, he is not being a patriarch.
2.      The wife follows, supports and assists her husband, yielding to his leadership in the same way that believers are duty bound to serve God.  She is to set an example of godly submission to her husband’s authority before her children and other women.  This task is one of the greatest means of teaching children to love God.  She is to love and be loyal to her husband above all others, thus demonstrating our relationship to God.
3.      Neither husbands nor wives are perfect.  We must allow for applications of God’s grace to keep the wheels of marriage working smoothly.  While we’re not perfect, we do have the ministry of demonstrating God’s love and grace to others.
4.      According to I Corinthians 11 headship is important.  This chapter indicated that God the Father is head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man and the husband is the head of the wife.  Gods order works, we mess up when we deviate from it.  This is the sequence of relationship for sound operation of families and society.  However, we must not forget that both men and women have their own personal relationship with God.  That relationship to our Savior is one of submission to His Lordship, loving Him for who He is.  We are called of Him to be obedient to His will; for husbands that involves taking the leadership and the accompanying responsibility for the family, for the wife that means taking the role of a helper, willfully following her husbands leadership as her service to God.

Some benefits of Christian polygamy are:

For men, the opportunity to find fulfillment of the basic nature that God has placed within you at creation and your birth.  Men were designed by God to replicate some of God’s own characteristics.  They are, to be creative and productive; a man is not truly fulfilled if he does not have a purpose for living.  That purposeful creativity and productivity is best displayed in making a difference in the lives of women.  This is why young boys (old boys also) go to such lengths to impress girls; it is built in to men.  Men were made to provide for and protect women; this is demonstrated in a man’s nature by his effort to take charge, it is what he does!  God has designed men to exercise headship, it is in their genes.  Christian polygamy enables a man to reach his full potential.  Many people think it must be about the sex for men, yet what I am hearing from polygynous men, it is about fulfilling God’s calling.

For women, the benefits would also include fulfilling God’s calling.  However, it would appear so from a different direction.  In our culture, so deformed by militant feminism, the opportunity for godly women to find a good, godly man is extremely difficult.  One of the tragedies of militant feminism is that boys are raised in a matriarchal society and do not often have the opportunity to learn what a man is to be, most boys are raised by Moms and Grandmothers.  The consequence of this is that there are few real men in the marriage market.  Must a godly woman settle for feminized man?  No, one of the benefits for women in Christian polygamy is the opportunity to be the wife of a good, godly man, even if he already has a wife.  Actually, a man that is already married at least once is able to show that he has the capacity to be a good husband.  Another benefit for women in Christian polygamy is the comfort of a larger family and security for her children, should something incapacitate her.  The time to devote to some of her personal special interests is another benefit to women in plural marriage.  Shared labor in the home is another benefit reported by ladies in Christian polygamy.  The greatest benefit to both men and women involved in Christian polygamy is the love of God manifested in each and to each other.  This is not just the addition of love but rather compounded love, multiplied.

Problems in Christian polygamy do exist.  Most of the problems are found in two areas, fear and carnality.  Fear encompasses the problems that most people consider.  Fear of what family and friends will say or think; fear of legal consequences and most of all fear of the unknown “How do I do this, can I?”  Generally, honesty and boldness will carry the day with family and friends.  Legal issues are rapidly changing in this country, but even now families that do not try to defraud the welfare system and are willing to be careful about what they claim to be (correct terminology with honesty is important) can live securely.  However, what will cause the most problems is being a carnal Christian.  It is not possible to love our families like Christ, if we are not sold out to Him and serving Him with our whole, honest heart.  Without question or exception, every Christian polygamous family with problems, that I have consulted with has had problems because the husband did not submit himself to the Lord and love and lead as Christ.  A close second to that is a wife who has allowed her relationship with Christ to deteriorate and that deterioration is then reflected in her relationship to her husband.  In either case, restoring Christ as Lord of our life is the answer to these problems.
                                                                                                        ... John L. Whitten - Pastor

4 comments:

Jeph said...

I agree. Personally, I stay completely away from the term "wife" altogether because it is a post-biblical term which carries with it Roman Catholic assumptions. However, I can easily concur with Pastor Whittens usage understanding the overall context in which he uses it. Amen Pastor Whitten. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with pretty much all of your reasoning -- that strictly according to the Bible polygamy is not specifically forbidden in the context in which is was practiced. However, the problem is that your reasoning is incomplete. There are many verses used to argue the legality of polgamy in the NT, and they are all pretty much equally inconclusive, even when you look at the Greek. Regardless there still is a simple answer in Scripture regarding the legality of polygamy. By and large, polygamy is forbidden when you consider the whole counsel of God. Specifically, at a minimum, Scripture makes it clear that one may not practice it where it is specifically outlawed by civil law. This is according to Romans 13:1-7, you are commanded to obey civil authority. Therefore, if you practice polygamy in a place where it is declared illegal by the civil authority, you are in fact committing sin in that you are rebelling against civil authority. Therefore, the only possible reasoning that might condone polygamy is if you lived in a place where it was allowed under civil law. And even then you have to answer to the church authority there as well as to God specifically as Romans 14:23 says -- "But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

Therefore, practicing polygamy for a true, believing Christian is not to be done lightly. You may very well be subjecting yourself to God's judgment despite your well-reasoned and well-researched justification. It's not so simple after all. Polygamy was allowed in the OT because it was legal in the nation of ancient Israel or within the specific cultural milieus where those who did it were answerable to God. We don't live in ancient Israel (and it is in fact illegal in modern-day Israel). So the only remaining possibly is that you are answerable to God for your decision.

I imagine that any man would like the idea of polygamy. There are benefits as you mentioned, not the least of which is that the man gets the pleasure of making love to multiple women -- all with a clear conscience. Let's be honest -- that's most likely one of the first things that comes to the forefront of the man's mind, if it's not the primary motivation outright.

Yet the prospect of risking your eternal destiny on human reasoning and/or for the enjoyment of a fleeting pleasure is a frightening proposition to say the least. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 "This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none ... For the present form of this world is passing away." Why gamble eternity with what is passing away?

I am a Christian. I've read the Bible multiple times over a period of 20 years. I am well acquainted with all of the specific verses and the arguments for and against polygamy down to the very Greek words in dispute. Even knowing all that I know, and even personally wishing that polygamy was in fact lawful by Scripture -- I would be very afraid of actually going through with this. I prayed and asked the Lord about it once after doing the same research and He spoke to me and said very clearly "not for you." And the verses of Romans 13 came later. Again I say, if you consider the whole counsel of God, there is plenty there that should make you feel uncertain at best to go forward with a polygamous lifestyle. Again, God has established both the authority and the laws that currently forbid polygamy wherever it is illegal (Romans 13). And should you discount that and go ahead by your own reasoning, are ready for the fact that you will personally give an account to God for your decision? Because you will -- Romans 14:12: "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God."

I'll end with Philippians 2:12 -- "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Laura Umana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I’m researching plural marriage for a project I am working on. I want to get in touch with people who are looking for a 2nd or 3rd wife, and want to hear their story! I’m new to this world, so I have a lot of questions and am just looking to understand better. If that interests you, please email me at Jennifer.c8787@gmail.com .