C H U R C H R E F O R M S E R I E S
By Biblicism Institute
Are you ready for a biblical answer? Are you really ready?
Well, the biblical answer to the question Can a Man Have Many Wives? is, “Yes.”
” ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
Marriage is the only institution that God created.
“The only institution which God loves.” Malachi 2:11
It is God and mankind working together to fill the earth with godly people.
“Did He not make them one… and why one? That He might seek a godly offspring.” Malachi 2:15
It is the foundation upon which children are to be raised. God would not even allow His own Son to be brought up outside its protective walls.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’ ” Matthew 1:20
In the modern western world marriage has been so romanticized that it has lost its primary purpose. In fact, it has become a maudlin project where one seeks to fall in love with a so-called soul mate. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “the one”.
Marriage was always meant to be the union of man and woman for the purpose of procreation (i.e., marriage is about making babies). But for procreation to materialize many things must first align, including the right spouse and the appropriate financial conditions. See The Biblical Marriage Blueprint. Once these things are in place, marriage can happen with babies immediately following.
However, many married couples today wait years and years before they have children. It seems that as a society we have completely sidestepped the fact that woman was created to be a nurturer, and if that void is not filled she could fall into either depression or unhappiness, which could then lead to marital problems and subsequently to divorce.
It is estimated that over 50% of couples who get married end up divorcing, a sad indictment against the romantics.
If romantic love were a true marital anchor, then divorce would not occur. The premarital “love” that is often experienced is either an emotional attachment or an intense sexual attraction, and in many cases a deluded obsession. Such a “feeling” is not a prerequisite to get married. See The Biblical Marriage Blueprint. When the purpose of marriage is properly understood, those who decide to marry realize that their goal is to start a family that soon will involve children. As for the emotional attachment that is mistaken for love, it’ll surely grow over time. Love is neither a feeling nor a shallow emotional connection or attraction. To love is to do what is right even when it doesn’t feel good. See The Heart Adjustment.
Without a good financial foundation the true purpose of marriage will fall into disarray. Even a cursory study would show that most marriages today cannot afford many children as once was the norm.
As a matter of fact, a great number of them cannot even afford two or three children. Others refuse to even consider the possibility of any child whatsoever.
Many women wait until their biological clocks almost run out before having children. A costly mistake that takes a toll on their bodies and often on the newborns themselves.
It is estimated that when Mary, the mother of Jesus, was impregnated by the Holy Spirit she was about fifteen years old. And the man she ended up marrying, Joseph, was anywhere between forty and fifty. The reasoning in those days was that a woman in her teens was a fertile ground for children, while a man of Joseph’s age was mature and financially stable.
Are we somewhat subliminally suggesting that such an arrangement should be the norm? Our universal answer to any marriage question: Read The Biblical Marriage Blueprint.
However, the next time a sixteen-year old boy comes to date your fifteen-year old daughter, just ask yourself (or them) these questions:
– What does he really want from my daughter?
– What does my daughter really want from him?
The answers to these questions will make you realize that neither can give the other what each truly wants. She desires marriage and children while he most likely wants to satisfy his urges, something he could forcibly or easily steal from her, which in turn would leave her miserable and wounded. At least, that’s what happens in the majority of these cases. After all, a sixteen-year old boy is not ready for marriage. He would say so himself. However, ask any fifteen-year old girl if she’s ready for marriage and her honest answer would unequivocally be, “Yes”.
Marriage entails personal and financial sacrifices that many today – whether young or old – are neither willing nor are prepared to make. Why they get married in the first place is beyond any comprehension.
THE VIEW ON MANY WIVES
Today, having more than one wife is as close to an abomination as it gets. At least, that’s the public stance. Privately, guys dream of it while most women automatically and instinctively abhor and reject it.
That’s because both sides are thinking of either sex or romance. But every society that has allowed man to have more than one wife has come to understand it as a way to build large families.
“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth…” Genesis 1:28
“A large population is a king’s glory.” Proverbs 14:28
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” Psalm 127:4,5
Of course, like everything else man touches its true essence has been somewhat corrupted, and in turn has led many people to view it as a misogynist’s formula for debauchery. Christians are mostly the ones who frown upon it. They love to use their favorite pejorative terms like bigamy, polygamy, and polygyny.
However, in certain Christian villages in Africa today the men are allowed to have more than one wife. They understand it to be quite biblical. In fact, it has been reported by some missionaries known to us that if you visit said Christian tribes, and even if you are already married, you may be invited to pick a bride for yourself with the view of helping populate Africa with godly offspring.🙂
Further, throughout history there have always been more women than men. Has God purposefully caused said statistics in order to favor polygyny? In this instance no one really knows God’s true intent. However, it is a trend that has indubitably favored it, to say the least.
But let’s stick to biblical conclusions.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
“And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.” Genesis 4:19
Lamech may have taken two wives, but Adam and Isaac seemed to have been completely satisfied with just one. Abraham and Jacob probably might have been too, but somehow they got more than they bargained for.
Abraham’s wife, Sarah, could not bear children. So she found herself a surrogate mother in the person of Hagar for Abraham to sleep with. We all know how that turned out.
Jacob, on the other hand, got tricked into marrying two sisters, and both helped him get two more women – not necessarily wives, more like surrogate mothers. In those early biblical days, when a “surrogate mother” slept with the husband of her mistress, she wasn’t able to marry another man because she was considered to be the property of that man’s wife, hence the husband’s also.
What the wives of these men really wanted was children, a lot of children. The twelve sons of Jacob, born of 4 different women, became the 12 tribes of ancient Israel.
Now, if such a deed were evil, why would God have chosen Jacob as the Patriarch of His upcoming new nation? Wasn’t such a foundation faulty? Didn’t that set a bad example?
If, from the very beginning, God wanted to establish a solid foundation for morally sound doctrines, why did He choose a man like Jacob who had more than one wife? How does that reflect on God and His choice of such a Patriarch? After all, God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And two of them had more than one woman who bore them children.
However, compared to David and Solomon, Jacob was a tyro. Those guys really take the cake. They were “bad” boys to the core, with insatiable appetites.
Let’s just zoom in on David. After all, Jesus was called Son of David.
After David committed fornication with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, he shamelessly killed her husband Uriah the Hittite (the poor guy wasn’t even Hebrew) to cover his misdeed. God then sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David. We’ll concentrate on just this part of the rebuke:
“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.’ ” 2 Samuel 12:7,8
Wow! That was God talking.
First, after David’s master died, God gave David all his master’s wives (that’s plural, mind you), not counting the ones David already had. And second, for the icing on the cake, this is what God said, “if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.”
So God does not really have a problem with a man who has many wives. What God has a problem with is a man who shows favoritism. Again, this is God talking:
“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.” Deuteronomy 21: 15-17
Further, the following verses have been used out of context to forcefully argue against a man having more than one wife:
“And he [the King] shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away...” Deuteronomy 17:17
“Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” 1 Kings 11: 2-4
The directive against a multiplication of wives was clearly directed at the Kings of ancient Israel who excelled in excess, especially as they took for themselves wives who worshiped pagan gods. That command in Deuteronomy 17 also zoomed in on horses, gold, and silver. God knew that all of these things could turn the King’s heart away from Him.
Besides, how could Solomon really take care of 1000 women? Seriously! Viagra wasn’t even invented.🙂 In the end, his pagan wives turned him away from his God and after their gods. However, David’s wives could not turn him.
The Kings of ancient Israel had to remain true to God. They – along with the Prophets and the High Priests – were His representatives to the people. When those men fell into idolatry it was more than an insult to the Almighty, it was an unpardonable sin. That was really the crux of the command, because every time a King so sinned God had to punish him. Many times that reproof would include the entire country.
“…because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.” 1 Kings 15:30
Jesus was the one who perfected such representation. He was King, Prophet, and a blameless and sinless Savior who became our High Priest, all wrapped into one.
“Where is the one who has been born King of the Judahites? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
“The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:11
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5: 9,10
THE NEW TESTAMENT
“…each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7: 2
Supposedly, according to some, because the Apostle Paul used wife in the singular, thence only one wife is allowed. But then why would the Apostle Paul give the following “strange” commands?
“An overseer then must be… the husband of one wife…” 1 Timothy 3:2
“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife…” 1 Timothy 3: 12
Therefore, in those days there were believers who had two wives, three wives, etc. These men were neither qualified to be deacons nor overseers. Only those with only one wife had that honor. The other ones were obviously far too busy for such tasks, and would not have been able to devote the attention and care needed.
Some say that what Paul really meant was that the overseers and the deacons are to be married. Then why didn’t Paul say, “an overseer (or deacon) must be married.” No, he said, “he must be the husband of one wife“. That’s a big difference.
Others assume that what he wanted to say was if a man was once divorced and was now married to another woman, that would have constituted having more than one wife. Sadly, that explanation is so not biblical that the Apostle Paul would have never considered it. Please see Of Fornication, Divorce and Adultery.
When Jesus was asked a question on divorce (the context), this was His answer:
“ ‘Haven’t you read,’ Jesus replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ ” Matthew 19: 4-6
The majority of Christians would then quickly switch gear and argue – just like Jesus pointed out in the verse above – that in the beginning God created them male and female – Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, Maria, and Michelle.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
But what does that verse really mean?
It means that there is a duality inherent in God, Father and Son. Therefore, God created that same duality in mankind, male and female. That duality is itself God’s image in mankind.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’ ” Genesis 1:26
So God made them male and female, a duality that mimics God’s own duality of Father and Son.
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
See The Trinity Doctrine is not in the Bible for an in-depth exposé.
The resulting process of creating mankind male and female had more to do with reproducing the image of the duality inherent in God rather than with marriage. However, like Jesus pointed out, marriage does bring the two together as one. That’s why God hates divorce.
” ‘For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD.” Malachi 2:16
Divorce is a violent act that tears apart the union of male and female who are made in the dual image of the one God. Divorcing one’s spouse is tantamount to severing God the Father from God the Son.
” ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord God, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 2:16
A man who has many wives becomes one flesh with each woman he marries, and if he were to divorce any one of them (except it be for fornication on her part), it would be a violent and hateful act equivalent to ripping that one flesh apart.
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:9
In God’s eyes divorce in general causes one to forfeit the privilege of marrying again (Please see Of Fornication, Divorce and Adultery for a detailed explanation of the laws, and for when one can remarry). After all, whether one has one wife or many, divorce belittles the seriousness that God imbued the marital contract with.
If this were not the case for men with many wives, there would have been at least one section in the bible with a command or a directive to negate such hypothesis. There are a lot of instances in the bible where a man married more than one woman. As such there existed plenty of opportunities for God or a Prophet to have intervened with a proper rebuke. As it stands nothing of the sort ever took place.
Like the Apostle Paul, in Matthew 19: 4-6, Jesus also used wife in the singular, which somehow would reinforce in some minds the fact that a man can only have one wife. But then why would Jesus later on make use of this “strange” parable?
“…the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Matthew 25:1
Whoa! That’s 10 wives for 1 man.
The immediate rebuttal would be that it was just a fictitious story, and that Jesus was really talking about His Kingdom.
Glad to hear that.
But isn’t the purpose and the use of a parable to bring into play a familiar occurrence that people can relate to in order for them to understand another comparable circumstance, albeit one of greater moral truth?
According to William-Webster Dictionary, a parable is “a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”
So, if having many wives is evil, why did Jesus use such a “wickedly forbidden deed” in a story that parallels His own kingdom? What kind of a moral principle is that? Isn’t that called hypocrisy?
It just doesn’t make sense.
If Jesus thought that having many wives was foul or even forbidden, He would have never made such an allegorical parallel, especially one that reflects on Him.
“…for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Besides, all the other parables Jesus told had – without exception – down to earth characters and story lines that His audience could culturally relate to (e.g., The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, etc.). Why should the parable of The Ten Virgins be any different? Unless those who see it as different see it thus out of a prejudicial disposition – that’s the only thing that really makes sense.
Should a man have only one wife or more than one? In truth, a case can be made for either.
With only one wife a home may be more stable since the absence of many wives would ensure no conflict amongst them. Besides, most men on earth can only afford one anyway, while others – similar to Adam and Isaac – prefer just one; so from their point of view such an argument is moot.
However, on the down side, the wife would have to run the household all by herself, unless she’s wealthy enough to afford maids and nannies or she’s surrounded by extended family members. Otherwise, as is mostly the case in the western world, unreliable nannies, coupled with ungodly TV programs, become the primary caretakers of the children. And we wonder why these children become so messed up. First, the women want children, but then they ship them off to be cared for by strangers. Whatever happened to nurturing mothers?
A man with many wives may end up with a home where the women become like sisters. They can create a family together and help one another with the many tasks required. And if one of the wives is incapable of breeding, then she can help in the nurturing of the other wife’s children and that way fulfill her own yearning to nurture.
Further, let’s say that a man marries a certain woman and later on finds out she cannot procreate. What are the man’s options? Surrogacy western-style costs easily around $150,000, and adoption through an agency runs up to $40,000. And that’s not counting the emotional toll and the many possible future complications that either option will generate.
Now wouldn’t it make sense that such a man should be able to take another wife without divorcing the first in order to procreate if that is his wish. Because just like woman was created with the desire to nurture, man was also created with his own particular yearning, that of having his seed materialized into his own children.
“Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless…” Genesis 15:2
Abram/Abraham’s reaction was quite profound. He basically told God that no matter the riches He bestowed on him, it wouldn’t matter since he had no children.
“…children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalm 127:3
When a man is incapable of producing his own offspring, at the very least a son who can carry his name and his seed upon the earth, he feels impotent and unfulfilled.
The desire to have children from one’s own loins is kindled by God Himself. One can even go as far as saying that such a desire is even more important for the man than for the woman.
“Children’s children [are] the crown of old men; and the glory of children [are] their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6
In general, biblical women like Rachel and Leah had no trouble nurturing the children of their husbands born of surrogate mothers. They considered them their own. Their need to nurture was fulfilled anyway.
However, a woman today would rather adopt a total stranger than help her husband fulfill his own yearning to have his seed become fruitful. Basically, if she’s not the one to make it happen, it won’t happen.
Another example is a man who wants a large family. If he’s married to a woman who only wants one kid, shouldn’t he have the option – if he can afford it – to marry at least one other wife who can bear him more children? Wouldn’t that make it easier on his current wife who only wants one? Doesn’t everybody win in such instance? Again, the woman can satisfy her yearning to have just one child, but it’s tough luck for the husband’s wish.
With more than one wife a man can satisfy his longing for a big family, while women who only wish for one child can also fulfill theirs. Why should a single woman, who’s having a hard time finding a husband and who desires a child, go to a sperm bank when a biblical marital ménage can be arranged? At least the child would have someone he can call “daddy”. Besides, isn’t having many wives already the norm in the “Christian” West?
Men marry, divorce, and remarry, then divorce again and re-remarry, and so on and so forth (and that’s not even counting those men with mistresses and children born out of wedlock). This vicious and ungodly cycle spreads like wild fire through our society and leaves a devastating trail of broken souls. The end result is men with multiple wives. How so? Well, even though these women are “divorced”, they are still these men’s wives in God’s eyes.
“Therefore what God has joined together, no man can separate.” Matthew 19: 6
Yet, if one tries to solve said existing “serial polygamy” or “consecutive polygamy” within a biblical context in order to avoid divorce which God hates, one would hear all kinds of cries of blasphemy.
Women would scream the loudest. In general, they prefer to divorce their husbands and remarry, thereby becoming adulteresses themselves rather than biblically accommodate their husbands. See Of Fornication, Divorce, and Adultery.
Except for the Kings of ancient Israel who were prone to multiplying their women and worshiping their wives’ false gods, nowhere in the bible is there a command against having more than one wife.
Yet, men should not think it an easy feat. It is hard work. Just like marriage has been romanticized to an unhealthy level to the point of forgetting its true purpose, the idea of having many wives has also generated many unrealistic sexual fantasies that ignore the true purpose of such an arrangement.
Throughout the Bible most men opted for only one wife. Even today in places where the laws and the religion openly allow for such a possibility, most men still prefer to marry just one woman.
However, if a man desires more than one, he must be willing to accede to God’s command of taking care of the wives equally, without neglecting the children. And that means providing to all without prejudice or favoritism.
“But if someone doesn’t provide for their own family…They are worse than those who have no faith.” 1 Tim 5:8
Furthermore, that man should only find women who are willing to partake of such an arrangement. He cannot just marry a woman and then years later spring on her the surprise that he wants more than one wife, when culturally she is not accustomed to it.
Such a ménage has to be discussed with not only the prospective wives, but with the parents of these women. See The Biblical Marriage Blueprint.
Ultimately, the decision to have one wife or many is between the individual and God, the woman or women he wants to marry, and all the respective families.
“Marriage should be honored by all…” Hebrews 13:4
Read also: Jesus was not a Jew
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