Polygamy In The Bible & How We Should Respond

By lan Warner

Polygamy is the act of having more than one husband or wife. Too many males like the sounds of this lifestlye, and people often look to see what the Bible says about this. There are stories of polygamy in the Bible, and people often run to these examples as proof that polygamy is ok without asking the question if God finds these things to be good.

We also must understand how naturally, because we live in a fallen world rampant with sin, people tend to want to be their own gods. People want to do their own thing because, deep down, we can believe that our way is better than God’s.

Where Does The Bible Mention Polygamy?

2 Chronicles 13:21
But Abijah became powerful; and took fourteen wives to himself, and became the father of twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.

Genesis 30:3-5
She said, “Here is my maid Bilhah, go into her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. So Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob, a son.

Judges 8:30
Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives.

1 Kings 11:1-8
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.

What You Should Not About Polygamy In The Bible

The above examples are just a small sample of the many times that the bible mentions polygamy. The old testament really depicts the depths humans are willing to go to because of our sinful hearts. Not everything mentioned in the Bible glorifies God by any means, and it’s clear that Polygamy fits in this category.

Why All The Old Testament?

All of the verses above are from the Old Testament for a reason. That reason is that when sexuality is mentioned in the new testament, it speaks against having multiple partners in every way.

The old testament has a consistent pattern of people turning away from God, punishing them, and then redeeming them only to fail again. The reality is that the people needed a savior because they would never meet the standards of the law.

One thing to keep in mind is if polygamy would be a thing if not for the fall of humans? Would Adam and Eve be in the garden thinking about needing multiple partners if they had stuck to God’s perfect plan? The answer is no! Sin entered the world, and man started to think we needed more than what God provided for us.

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

God is not making mistakes here!

If his original design for humanity were that families would be built on Polygamy, he would have done it in Genesis 2 before the fall when humans were still in right standing with God. He would have said that it’s not good for a man to be alone. So I will give him 10 wives, and they will all become one flesh. God has the power to do that, but that was not his original design.


What Did Jesus Come to Do?

Matthew 5:17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus did not come to make the entire Old Testament irrelevant. He came to meet that standard so that we would be presented as blameless to the Law through him. We can now look to the life of Jesus and the text of the New Testament because through Jesus, and we get to meet the Mark.

If polygamy is a thing of God, we should see that as true in the life of Jesus or the text from the New Testament.

Where Should We Look for Answers On Polygamy in the Bible?

When you look to the New Testament, there is nowhere that makes it clear that we can have multiple partners. Therefore, if we have done this, we should repent and turn away from our ways based on the teachings of the New Testament.

Flee Sexual Immorality

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but the Lord and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The first argument we need to kill is that it’s ok to have sex before marriage. Scripture is clearly against this. God made sex good and for us to enjoy it and procreate, but its purpose is to join two as one. Sex creates a dangerous bond, and it should be saved for marriage! The idea of running around having multiple partners is not biblical outside of marriage.

God Clearly Made Man and Woman for Each Other

1 Corinthians 7: 2-3 “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

1 Timothy 3: 2 “Therefore an overseer must be above approach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”

Ephesians 5: 33 “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

All three of the verses above and Genesis chapter 2 create a clear picture that God has made marriage to be for one man and one woman. However, there are multiple opportunities where God could have made his word clear that each can have many wives or husbands to call their own.

What Should The Christian Response Be?

When it comes to polygamy in the Bible, people will always try and read into different scripture to try and prove their own ideas. However, polygamy is not what God has called us to, and we need to stand firm in that truth.

2 Timothy 4: 2-5 “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

We are called to love our neighbors, and we understand what true sacrificial love is through Jesus. Part of loving people is telling them the truth about the Word of God. No matter how many itching ears people have to suit their own passions, we still have to present the truth. We can’t bend it to be like or to fit in.

lan Warner

Ian Warner is a believer, husband, and father of three. He grew up running track in Toronto before earning a scholarship to Iowa State University. At Iowa State, he became an All-American and made the 2012 Olympic team. He currently helps people to build better habits and follow Jesus Christ.

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