Wednesday, February 6, 2008

the Bible, polygamy, and a consistent Christian worldview of government

cross-posting a comment I made on Veritas Rex...

The ideal is marriage between one man and one woman. This is enumerated from the beginning-- as Jesus notes in Matthew 19:4-6 by quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24.

That said, polygamy was actually *commanded* in some contexts under what is called "levirate marriage". (This is described most diectyy in Deuteronomy 25:5-6-- and is not at all synonymous with the reference to the sinful polygamous practices of David and Solomon.) There is a famous failure to obey this command in Genesis 38:8-10 which is punished directly by God through death. And there is an interesting implied failure and a grand success in this regard in Ruth 4-- the latter of which, quite interestingly, ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).

I don't see how one would make a Biblical case for universally forbidding polygamy. Beyond that, I cannot imagine a Biblical case for Christians pursuing such a prohibition through government activism.

Unfortunately, the inability to place such things within a consistent Biblical worldview doesn't stop a lot of people from holding those beliefs. My prayer is that their efforts only give Truth a small black eye and only cause modest damage to the Kingdom.


At February 7, 2008 at 12:43 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

As best as I understand it, the Bible does not say that Solomon's polygamy was wrong; instead, the Bible says his marrying foreign wives from certain countries was wrong. (If you're aware of any other passages that speak to his polygamy, I would be grateful for the clarification. This is the only passage that appears when is searched for the keywords "Solomon wives." Nothing else relevant to polygamy appears when "Solomon wife" is searched.)

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. [1 Kings 1-6, NIV.]

At February 7, 2008 at 1:04 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

There may be other passages, but I think they would indicate the same thing. In a word, it's not the polygamy per se, but the motives for it and the results from it.


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