Christians are fond of defending the sanctity of Biblical Marriage. One man, one woman, bonded for life, sexually exclusive, and celibate before marriage. The thing is, that’s not in the Bible. In order to find that model of marriage, we have to move much farther forward in history. If anyone was to take the Bible literally, a “Defense of Marriage Act” would look more like this:
Taking the Bible as a whole, there are far more references to polygamy — and far more approval from God himself for the institution — than for monogamous marriage.
- If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: Deuteronomy 21:15-16
- Earlier in the same chapter, rules are spelled out fortaking captive slaves and adding them to your harem of wives.
- And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David. 2 samuel 5:13
- David, the direct ancestor of Jesus, the savior of the entire world, had 6 wives and many, many concubines. Concubines, by virtue of NOT being wives, are pretty solid evidence that non-married sex wasn’t an especially bad thing in the Old Testament.
- Speaking of non-married sex, King Solomon, the wisest man in the history of the universe, had 300 concubines. Think about how many times you had sex last year. Solomon probably had you beat before he even got to the first of his 700 wives. 1 Kings 11:3
- Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, didn’t do quite so well. He only had 18 wives and 60 concubines. 2 Chronicles 11:21
- Esau had three wives. At first, he married two Caananite women, but his parents were mad at him — not for having two wives, but because they were foreigners. So he found himself a good Jewish girl and took her for his own. (LINK)
Jesus’ take on Polygamy
Christians love this passage: 5. 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‘ ? 6. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19: 5-6. It proves Jesus advocated one man, one woman, with no divorce, right?
Well… not exactly. For some reason, they forget the rest of the passage. 8. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Jesus goes on to prohibit divorce, but NOT multiple wives.
More importantly, there is not a single passage to be found in the New Testament where Jesus condemns, outlaws, or otherwise prohibits polygamy. Really! There isn’t a single one. Read it for yourself and see. One would think that if it was important for his followers to abandon the marital traditions of hundreds of years, and more importantly, of his own forbears — those men who were individually chosen by God — he might have taken a moment to mention it.