Is Polygamy for Today? The Case Against Polygamy





In recent days a number of issues have hit various sectors of the Messianic community. Each one of these issues has had a variety of distinctly negative effects as people have denied Yeshua’s Divinity, questioned His Messiahship, and have questioned whether certain books of the Apostolic Scriptures are trustworthy. Our ministry has stood firmly against the false teachings that have entered into our midst, standing up for Yeshua’s Divinity and Messiahship, and engaging with the text of various Biblical books under fire to provide reasonable answers. We have done our best to stop the tide of error sweeping through parts of the Messianic world, knowing full well “if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned…his blood I will require” (Ezekiel 33:6). People who see extreme problems, possessing the skills and abilities to address them—and who do nothing—will be held accountable by the Almighty.

There are an entire host of issues seen in the Torah that today’s Messianic movement is either unwilling or unable to address. Some of it has come about because various teachers or leaders “just don’t want to go there” or “open that can of worms.” Others do not know what to do. But avoiding the controversial issues seen in the Torah is not an appropriate course of action. The Lord Himself has said, “this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach” (Deuteronomy 30:11). With a little research into the Scriptures, and with some basic engagement of Ancient Near Eastern history, many of the tough questions we have about the Pentateuch and its instructions can be adequately answered.

Messianics too quickly jump over issues like murder, genocide, and slavery as seen in the Torah. You cannot totally blame people for wanting to not discuss these sorts of things, as they are surely not pleasant subjects for one living in the Twenty-First Century to contemplate. But they are a part of the Biblical narrative, and if we are mature Believers we will consider them (cf. Hebrews 6:1-2). Yet many of those issues can be relegated to the more philosophical disciplines. We do not practice slavery or indentured servitude in modern society today, and very few of us will ever have to serve on a jury where the prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

However, a controversy has just arisen (2008) regarding a subject that is seen in the Scriptures, was practiced by some people within Ancient Israel, and could adversely affect not only the growth of the Messianic movement—but also severely shake up families and our youth. It has the capacity to grind our faith community and the work God has called us to do to a grinding halt if not stopped immediately. Even if people just hear echoes about it, it will still stir up tension and a great deal of discomfort.

No one who reads the Bible denies that polygamy—the practice of a man having more than one wife—is seen within the text. The Patriarch Jacob, who was the progenitor of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, had two wives and two concubines (Genesis 31:17; 37:2). King David, who was testified by the Lord to be “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), had multiple wives (1 Samuel 18:17-30; 25:38-43; 2 Samuel 3:2-5). King Solomon, whom many consider to be the wisest man who ever lived, had hundreds of wives and concubines (1 Kings 3:1; 11:3) that made up an entire harem (Song of Songs 6:8).

“So what is the problem?” it is said. “Some of the most important figures in the Tanach Scriptures had multiple wives, and so Messianic men today should be able to have multiple wives as well. YHWH is restoring Biblical patriarchy! Women need to learn their place.”

There are, in fact, many problems to be explored when considering whether or not polygamy is an acceptable practice for today’s Body of Messiah. Was it the ideal at Creation for the man to have more than one wife? When a man has more than one wife, is he truly fulfilled emotionally and spiritually with his multiple spouses? Is the household where one man has multiple wives and children from those multiple wives truly a place of love and affection, or one of discord and suspicion? Does the Bible portray men who had polygamous relationships as being genuinely fulfilled, and children who were true examples of godliness? Does a man having multiple wives express the sentiment that he places great value on women, or that they are simply property to be acquired? And, how many in the Biblical period actually had the financial means to afford more than one wife? Does the Bible really lend support to the practice of polygamy today?

In this critical article, we will directly answer these questions and many more. Make no mistake about it, while polygamy is recorded to have been practiced in Scripture—it by no means is endorsed by Scripture! Not a single commandment in the Torah condones the practice of polygamy. (More specifically, the practice of polygyny or a man having multiple wives, compared to polyandry or a woman having multiple husbands.) God never intended a man to have more than one wife, families where the husband is polygamous have suffered immensely from it, and male polygamists today are motivated by uncontrollable sexual urges that demean women and the equality that Messiah Yeshua has restored to the genders (Galatians 3:28). And not only will we consider these factors, but we will also take a look at many of the Tanach examples where polygamous relationships are portrayed, later weighing in the teachings and thoughts of Yeshua and the Apostles. How do we stand against this new wave of aberration? Will Messianic men arise who recognize women as having great value and recognize them as their equals?

Click here for the complete version of “Is Polygamy for Today? The Case Against Polygamy”