God approving polygamy

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by ABondSlaveofChristJesus, Jun 9, 2005.

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  1. ABondSlaveofChristJesus

    ABondSlaveofChristJesus Puritan Board Freshman

    God being immanent and always working with his sheep through means such as answering prayer if they have repented of all their sins....

    There is no direct explicit approval or disapproval from God concerning polygamy in the Old Testament that I know of. However in Psalms (i don\'t know where, help me find it.) The psalmist (maybe even David! which may be ironic as you may soon see) claimed that God does not hear the prayers of an unrepentant heart or something like that.

    Salvation comes through faith and by faith alone. In faith we repent and believe the Gospel.

    So Hebrews talks about the faith of Abraham and David. Both of which partook in polygamy and were involved with concubines. Now if God disapproved of their lifestyle wouldn\'t he have refuse interaction with them until they repented of it and wouldn\'t the author have showed God\'s anger at the polygamy rather than mere indifference toward it (The subject was never touched)? And if they had saving faith which requires repentance, would they have not repented of their life style?

    Was it sinful for Jacob to marry Rachel? Since he was already married to Sarah?

    I can maybe see how one can have many wives and be in good standing of God in the sense that to become the man of \"one wife\" for a polygamous person would mean to divorce... but I can\'t find anywhere of God being angry at David and Abraham for their deeds nor of them repenting of it.
  2. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    Leah, not Sarah.

    I agree, that you can't find anything explicitly against polygamy. However, if you look at the issues within these men's marriages, you will find consistant problems arising in direct relationship to their polygamy...issues they would not have had if they had been "husband of aonly one wife". I believe this still appears today in ppl whom are divorced and remarried.
  3. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    One thing to keep in mind, is that the scriptures are tracing two lineages throughout history:

    1) The seed of the woman - Christ would come from this seed, and is the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David.

    2) The seed of the serpent (or Satan) - Antichrist is the result of this seed, and is the seed of Cain, Ishmael, and Esau.

    God tends to really emphasise the sins of those in the line of Satan, but looks graciously upon the line of the woman. Read Hebrews 12, and those who comprise the "Hall of Faith." Many of these people commited horrendous sins, and even achieved their good deeds by sinning, yet because they are covered by the righteousness of Christ, the author of Hebrews mentions not one of them.

    It is an interesting question, but that's my :2cents:.
  4. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Also remember when Jesus preached on marriage, he held the ideal as Adam and Eve (quoting Gen 2), not David, Jacob, or Abraham.
  5. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    Wouldn't polygamy demonstrate one of the cardinal virtues of God's people? Namely patience :p (ducking tomatoes from the lady-folk)
  6. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    yes, you men love watching women fight don't ya? The only thing is, this isn't like mud wrestling...naw, we'd drag the man into the middle of it!!!
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The truth is, even the best of us are still sinful, sinful creatures. If God were not patient with us (because of Christ), like a parent with his children, we would never see his grace or hear a single answer to prayer.

    A flagrant sinner should not expect God to heed his prayers or answer them positively, because a man who flouts God's law knowingly is in danger of apostatizing utterly. Yes, that means that he was never elect in the first place, but we don't ourselves have any other assurance that we are elect other than in our perseverance.

    Polygamists in the Bible were much like sinners today in this: that they often assumed cultural habits as normative, instead of subjecting them to scrutinizing analysis from what truth of God was available to them. Or they justified themselves in expediency, rather than exercising the faith that they should have. Abraham is perhaps the best example of this in his taking Hagar to wife (or concubinage).

    Jesus is quite clear: the truth of one man-one wife was abundantly clear and applicible to every individual as an obvious limitation from the beginning. Therefore blindness to the sin of polygamy was and remains blameworthy. No polygamist may serve as a church officer in the New Testament church. Come to think of it, I don't know that I ever read of a O.T. priest with more than one wife either.

    It also should be borne in mind that once the sin of polygamy was acknowledged and repented of, the second wife or subsequents were not to be abandoned. They had been duly married, albeit without God's sanction, yet with the civil and social sanction. And though contrary to God's will, the resultant state became then inviolable, apart from further divine intervention (death) or additional sins (abandonment/ covenant-breaking).
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Seven wives sounds great, but who could handle seven mother-in-laws!:lol:
  9. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :bigsmile: :lol: :bigsmile:
  10. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    are you knocking Western Modern in Laws :bigsmile:
  11. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    I like Bruce's thinking but the issue is complicated the the Mosaic Law's accomodation of the polygamy. That would seem to take it out of the realm of per se wrong, at least at that time. I don't think an analogy to divorce (and Jesus' statement that it was to accommodate the hardness of people's hearts) would work either.
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Seven wives, thats frightening. God is wise; one is more than enough!:banana:

    [Edited on 6-13-2005 by Scott Bushey]
  13. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Remember you have to love each one as Christ loved the Church! Oy vey!
  14. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    just to throw a little monkey wrench into the discussion . . .

    In the Old Testament, some people were actually *commanded* to take multiple wives!

    Imagine two brothers, each with a wife. One brother dies, leaving behind no children. Well, according to Scripture, the living brother was commanded to take his first brother's wife as his own . . . thus, polygamy was commanded in certain cases. :um:

    :book2: "If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her." (Deuteronomy 25:5) --- And it was considered shameful not to marry the second wife.

    In fact, in Genesis 38:10, God struck Onan dead because he didn't follow through with this like he was supposed to . . . he refused to have children with his dead brother's wife. :eek:

    Is anybody here happy that we don't live in ancient Israel? Let me see a show of hands . . .
  15. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    As I see it (for the time being, until convinced otherwise) the Mosaic law made provisions for the existence of polygamy. It did not sanction it (and I would argue on the morality issue, how could it?). The difference is found in the acceptance of the fact that the state of marriage has come to be, and cannot be undone, without additional damage done to the institution. It is thus a matter of "damage limitation" that the Mosaic administration is dealing with, and not the legitimacy of entering into the multiple-spouse arrangement. To make the argument that Mosaic law authorizes the practice as normative, I would need to see something in the law that could be understood only as a directive for taking multiple wives.

    This brings us closer to the matter that Joseph raises, namely the matter of Levirate marriage. First, it should be noted that this appears to be "special case" legislation. That is, a specific situation that raises unique problems that ordinary regulation is incapable of handling, and therefore God graciously provides or authorizes a solution. An old legal adage says, "hard cases make bad law." Another goes, "the exception proves [or puts to the test] the rule." Whatever the Levirate law decides, then, it cannot function as a universal qualifier on the ordinary law of marriage.

    Second, what then was the matters to be addressed by the Levirate law (and this, before discussing the Law itself)? As I see it, two main matters stand out: 1) social welfare, and 2) the special inheritance laws of Israel. In the first part, the issue is--who will care for this widow in her dotage? She did not have children, whose job it is to care for her. When she left home, she took with her her dowry, which symbolized the transfer of care from one covenant head to another. Perhaps her father could not resume such a duty! Perhaps he was dead! Who would take care of her? The Levirate law was a specific provision, one that obligated a kinsman to provide limited support for a brother's wife--including at least one conjugal visit, the purpose of which was to give her a child--one that would take care of her in her dotage. This provision was effective as far back as the days of the patriarchs. Onan's sin (and his brother's) was his refusal to meet his obligation to which was added the aggravation of his further rebellion in the act of actively circumventing the nature of his duty in the supposed performance of it--as if he said, "Fine, I'll sleep with that b****, but you can't make me give her a child, especially one that won't be mine. This is what I think of your rules, of you, of her, of God, ..." etc. The Levirate marriage, then, was plainly not an arrangement on the same "level" as an ordinary marriage.

    In the second part, the matter of inheritance is brought in as well. Israel was tied to the land in a unique way. It was a permanent endowment, that reverted back to the shareholders in every generation (the Jubilee). Thus, provision was made for families with no sons, only daughters! And what should be done for an Israelite who died childless? The Levirate law made such provision, so as not to alienate any shares of the land, or raise confusion as to whose family had right to it. As "Ruth" also shows, the kinsman also incurred any debts the relative had, and the obligation to pay them, without any real promise of return (thus the "nearer" kinsman than Boaz reneges on his duty, because he did not wish to jeaprodize his own inheritance).

    Thus, the Levirate Law had a specialized, narrow function under the patriarchal economy, one that was adapted just slightly in the case of the Mosaic economy, to deal with a particular need. It is a far cry to thus find any kind of blanket authorization of multiple wives by means of this regulation, and indeed, where it was used, showed the inveterate wickedness of men's hearts that would attempt to use the Law as a cover for sins.

    (and I realize no one here is advocating that license, to be clear).

    So, a Levirate marriage could be a "first," or it could be an "only" marriage (as seems the case of Boaz--or who, being "older" might have been widowed; we just don't know). Or it could have been a second, or subsequent, or "additional" marriage. In any case it was a special case, that called for a spelling out of its unique parameters. So, I would deny that it could strictly be called polygamy. In fact, it would be non-polygamy, because it was Levirate.

    What say ye all?
  16. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Sounds good to me Bruce. I wonder if Edersheim ever talked about that. I just always thought Onan wasn't married when he took his brothers wife. But I suppose he probably should have been married to someone else before hand. I don't remember seeing any children of Onan in the Judah geneologies though. Hmmm...
  17. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    And he may not have been. That's not my point. His major duty under this unique arrangement was not to marry Tamar and establish a household with her, although he would have been responsible for her welfare at least until her offspring could assume those duties. He might have taken a non-Levirate wife (as I read the situation) and established his own line in that way. Or he might have settled on Tamar as a wife of God's choosing for himself, and after bearing one in his brother's name (who would have inherited the double portion from Judah in his father's place) she could have borne him other sons and daughters. Onan was a rebel.
  18. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Bruce: I guess my concern is that the Law was presented as something ideal, without flaw. To say that polygamy was wrong and yet the law accomodated it (making provision for it functioning, when instead it could have just outlawed it) seems to make the Law less than ideal. Then you have the further example of major godly characters engaging in polygamy.

    I think the major argument against it (and it is definitely wrong today) are the Genesis account (as you mentioned) and God's monogomous marriage with Israel and later the church. I think there is a theological argument that marriage should image the relation of God and church, which is necessarily monogomous and hetersexual.
  19. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think that holding your position, you still have to face the matter of divorce. Jesus plainly states that divorce legislation was given because of the hardness of Israel's hearts. This is the very language of accomodationalism--a divine accomodation to man's inveterate stubbornness.

    Rather than leaving men in a quandry, having sinned in some way, God nevertheless provides ways of dealing with the situation as it is found. Sometimes with sin a simple course reversal solves the problem. Or restitution. But sometimes sin so alters the situation that no backward course can be taken without ripping and tearing the very fabric of society all over again. Kind of like some poisons swallowed should not be vomited back up again (do not induce vomiting for treatment). Why? because it burned and destroyed going down, and it will do so again coming up. Another remedy must be followed.

    So too with the Law. I do not think my view of the Law in the case of polygamy is any less high than other views due to this kind of recognition. As with divorce, so too with marriage(s).

    (back over the net...)
  20. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Bruce: I don't doubt that your view of the law is very high.

    On the divorce point, it seems different to me. There are different ways to interpret what the sin is that gives way to divorce (which is an accomodation of sorts). I tend to agree with J. Murray that the sin is post-marital sin that justifies divorce. In other words, the view is that God allows divorce because men are wicked and will sometimes do things that justify divorce. But it was not so in the beginning - prior to the men did not do things that would justify divorce. This differs from the view some hold that the hardness of men's hearts that God accomodated was the desire for divorce itself.

    Polygamy is different, or at least seems so to me. God's law accomodates the formation of polygamous marriages and there is no hardness of men's hearts that would allow this.
  21. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    BTW, polygamy is a current issue. There are a number of groups trying to redfine marriage to basically be any arrangement people want, including polygamy. Lawyers are already using the Supreme Court's case that struck down Texas's sodomy statute as precedent for polygamy. Advocacy groups are calling for it.

    I am not totally familiar with the history but I understand that polygamy came up during the Reformation. Evidently various anabaptist sects advocated it. Even the venerable Luther supposedly was not opposed to it. He was evidently attended the bigamous marriage of Phillip Landgrave.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Psa 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

    Joh 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

    Pro 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

    Pro 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

    Pro 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

    1Pe 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

    Jam 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

    When Jesus answers the marriage and divorce questions in the gospel he addresses it as being between a man and a woman. The Old testament warns against having many wives. And what is up with this concubine thing? You don't see much of that these days unless you want to count all the unmarried couples who have children.
  23. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    The polygamist and mass murderer Marcus Wesson was found guilty today.
  24. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

  25. Richard King

    Richard King Puritan Board Senior

    Just about the wisest thing I have ever read on here!
  26. Mike

    Mike Puritan Board Freshman

    In the case of David, he was forbode to "multiply wives for himself." And other notable polygamists in Scripture, like his son Solomon, who certainly had enough that I think he is dealing with exponentiation, not multiplication. The Bible is not completely silent on this issue.

    Deut 17:14-17 (NASB, emphasis mine)
    When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, "I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me," you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, "You shall never again return that way." He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
  27. gwine

    gwine Puritan Board Sophomore

    Although you will note that this speaks only of the king.
  28. Mike

    Mike Puritan Board Freshman

    Which David, one of the examples on the table, was.
  29. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Here is the ideal. Here is the command. It would be difficult to become one flesh with multiple wives. Even though polygamy was practiced, it was not God's ideal. Jesus said that Moses allowed a certificate of divorce to be written because the people had a hard heart. It was never God's ideal. Same with polygamy.

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