and Christian Polygamy

Our purpose here is to look at the core of the case made at the site "", which is Scripture references they claim support the practice of polygamy. As a reminder we noted here that in the ancient world polygamy was a moral imperative for survival; no such conditions exist today in America, so that the reasons for polygamy back then do not apply here and now (but might in some developing countries today, which is another issue). We also recommend Glenn Miller's article here.

Here at any rate are the cites these folks use:

  • Malachi 3:6a-b and Hebrews 13:8 --- God does not change (nor would He, therefore, "tolerate" sin, as some mistakenly assert).

    This is ironic because Skeptics have used these very same verses against the idea of God as repenting and the like. Like the Skeptics, these folks seem to assume that God is static in terms of relations with human beings. That's hardly the case.

    Just two examples of changing relationships related to human moral hierarchies include the commendation of Rahab for lying, and the emphasis in the law on ritual purity which none in America pay attention to today. This is not a matter of "tolerating sin" but of a moral hierarchy in which polygamy was a compromise in line with a social situation -- another example would be permission granted to divorce in Moses' time.

  • Titus 1:6 and 1_Timothy 3:2,12 --- "One wife" --- mia is the Greek word (for the word, one, in those passages) may also be translated as first, as it is, for example so translated in the phrases, "first day of the week" in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, and Acts 20:7.

    Glenn Miller has refuted this argument here -- in fact Miller addresses these very claims from this site, and it's nice to see Miller say, "The 'short' answer is that this YYY teacher cannot know Greek at all!" The poly-folks seem aware of the reply and have added a vague non-answer that "no one can INSIST that these three 'one wife' verses can NOT be instead translated as 'first wife', which makes more sense to translate those verses as 'first wife' anyway.)

    Theys next cite Ex. 21:10, which is clearly within the "moral hierarchy" bounds of the tough-living standards of the ANE. Then we have:

  • Malachi 2:14-15 --- "wife of thy youth" is a man's first wife, the wife with whom he grew and learned how to so love, bless, and edify any wife.

    That's a rather questionable exegesis. So they take it to mean that this means one must also have a "wife of thy non-youth" as well. Unfortunately, the phrase "of thy youth" doesn't have a connotation allowing such a differential:

    Ezek. 23:21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.

    So does this mean one must now have a second kind of lewdness, and a new set of paps for old age? Clearly the phrase simply refers to that which one has had in the past with no indication of a "second party" involved.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:27-28d is ONLY about married men (whether or not a previous wife has departed). If a man marries another wife, he and the new wife have not sinned.

    The passage says nothing about holding wives at the same time. "Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned." They are assuming that v. 28 modifies the whole of v. 27 rather than just the back end of it. In other words, they assume polygamy to get polygamy.

    Put it this way: "Do you have a chocolate bar? Then eat it. Do you not have a chocolate bar? Then go buy one. And if you buy a chocolate bar, you have not sinned." Is this saying we can have two bars?

  • 1_Corinthians 7:10-11 is a Commandment of God that, when a previously-departed wife returns, her husband and his new wife (from verse 27c-28d) MUST let the previous wife be reconciled to her husband.

    This is based on an erroneous exegesis of the verses above, and so builds on sand.

    They then cite the example of Abraham, Solomon, and David's multiple wives, and a provision in Deuteronomy. Both of these again lie within the moral hierarchy of the ANE. Following this there is a brief defense using 1 Cor. 5:1 and Matthew 19, neither of which mention polygamy.

    The article closes by referring to:

  • 1_Timothy 4:1-3a: the "Spirit speaketh expressly" and prophesied of the time of "forbidding to marry". Today's churches, (some unwittingly) "speaking lies in hypocrisy", would forbid the marriages of Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Moses, Gideon, and David ---not to mention forbidding how God described Himself in Polygamist terms in Jeremiah 3 and Ezekiel 23, and how Christ the perfect Saviour did likewise when He referred to Himself as the Polygamist Bridegoom in the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13).

    These are again attempts to assume polygamy in order to prove it. Contextually the "forbiddance" came from ascetic groups that forbade monogamy (like Marcion) and has nothing to do with polygamy. We note -- again -- that the NT world was not in the same social condition as the OT world.

    Finally, they ironically commit the same error we recently found in the Skeptics' Annotated Bible, apparently being unaware that in the ancient world virgins were specifically chosen to be bridesmaids -- these were not the bridegroom's prospective wives.