Tuesday, August 25, 2015

But it's Biblical. . .

Well, if Biblical means it is mentioned in the Bible or the Lord tolerated the aberration for whatever His beneficent purpose was, or the Lord condemned it. . . yes, many things that are abhorrent, evil, a compromise of His good and gracious will, and wrong are mentioned in the Bible. . . 

In the press for same-sex marriage (claimed by some that faithful, same sex relationships are not mentioned in Scripture and therefore okay), we find ourselves bombarded by the next wave of polyamorous relationships that seek legal status as well.  Among them is polygamy.  Utah already had their statute struck down by the court to pave the way for legalization.  And then there are those who claim, Polygamy is Biblical...  Well, if you mean it can be found in the Bible, then yes, it is.  But that does not say much.

Homosexual acts (unequivocally condemned in Old and New Testament Scripture) are not at all uncertain within the Biblical record. Polygamy, well, that is a different story.  Certainly this was not part of God's creative design or intent for marriage, but it does appear that He tolerated the practice. Some of the greatest biblical patriarchs had numerous wives. God does not appear to punish them for this alone but seems to work within the circumstance for the larger benefit of His people Israel.

The Scriptures do teach against polygamy but less in the clear language of law that prohibits than the comparative view that displays positively what marriage is as God has given it in creation and how man's attempts to improve or alter man's design have produced consequences less than salutary for man or woman.  Polygamy does not have a great track record and has lead to serious trouble God's leaders and His people. Departing from God’s plan and purpose always leads to trouble and this is even more true when we consider the subject of marriage.

God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper comparable to him (Gen 2:18). Though it hardly needs to be pointed out, “helper” is singular, not plural, and the clearest statement of God's intention is one man and one woman. After sending forth Adam to name the animals and thus teaching the man that animals are not suitable companions and he is, indeed, alone, God puts Adam into a deep sleep and fashions Eve from his rib (cf Gen 2:21).    Scripture tells us that a man shall “cling”  or cleave (Hebrew = דָּבַק  = dabaq) to his wife (singular, not plural), and the two (not two because there were only two but because the design of marriage was for two -- not three, four, or more) of them shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24). God then bestowed on them the character of His own love and gave to their life together the potential to create (in the same way God's love is creative) and then commended them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28).

 Polygamy was a common thing in the Old Testament, at least among the kings and patriarchs.  There is no record that this was the widespread or even occasional practice among ordinary folks in the Old Testament. Another blogger has conveniently listed the occurances:
  1. Lamech (a descendant of Cain) practiced polygamy (Genesis 4:19).
  2. Abraham had more than one wife (Genesis 16:3-4; 25:6, some are called concubines).
  3. Nahor, Abraham’s brother, had both a wife and a concubine (Genesis 11:29; 22:20-24).
  4. Jacob was tricked into polygamy (Genesis 29:20-30) and later he received two additional wives, making a grand total of four wives (Genesis 30:4, 9).
  5. Esau took on a third wife to please his father Isaac (Genesis 28:6-9).
  6. Ashur had two wives (1 Chronicles 4:5).
  7. Obadiah, Joel, Ishiah, and those with them “had many wives” (1 Chronicles 7:3-4).
  8. Shaharaim had at least four wives, two of which he “sent away” (1 Chronicles 8:8-11).
  9. Caleb had two wives (1 Chronicles 2:18) and two concubines (1 Chronicles 2:46, 48).
  10. Gideon had many wives (Judges 8:30).
  11. Elkanah is recorded as having two wives, one of which was the godly woman Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 8-2:10).
  12. David, had at least 8 wives and 10 concubines (1 Chronicles 1:1-9; 2 Samuel 6:23; 20:3).
  13. Solomon, who breached both Deuteronomy 7:1-4 and 17:14-17, had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6).
  14. Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), and sought many wives for his sons (1 Chronicles 11:23).
  15. Abijah had fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 13:21).
  16. Ahab had more than one wife (1 Kings 20:7).
  17. Jehoram had multiple wives (2 Chronicles 21:17).
  18. Jehoiada, the priest, gave king Joash two wives (2 Chronicles 24:1-3).
  19. Jehoiachin had more than one wife (2 Kings 24:15).
God's silence against the practice of polygamy can hardly be equated with His approval.  Consider the example of Jacob.  Jacob loved his four wives unequally: Leah (with whom he felt “stuck” and whom he considered unattractive), Rachel (his first love), Bilnah (Rachel’s maid), and Zilpah (Leah’s maid). Leah bore him six sons and a daughter (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulan, and Dinah). Rachel finally bore him Joseph and Benjamin. Bilnah bore him Naphtali and Dan, and Zilpah bore him Gad and Asher. Gideon had many wives (Jud 8:30) who bore him many sons whose competition, bitterness, strife, conflict, and violence resulted in death. One need look no further than Abraham, Sarah, Issac, Hagar, and Ishmael to see the rivalry that undercut the family of God's intention (Gen 21).  Trouble erupted in the most famous “blended” family -- that of David -- when Absalom (the third son of David through his mother Maacah) decided to topple the line of succession and make himself king. The shameful story of Absalom and his half-brother Amnon ended up with Amnon raping Absalom’s sister Tamar, and Absalom later had Amnon murdered for it (cf 2 Sam 13).  Solomon, man of a thousand wives saw them get the best of him.   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 (1 Kings 11:1-6).

So, is polygamy Biblical?  Yes.  It is mentioned.  It was tolerated.  It was a dysfunctional sidetrack of God's orderly plan.  It spawned violence, resentment, hate, apostasy, and even murder.  Was it God's plan?  No. For Jesus recounts the hardness of the heart that gave birth to another aberration not part of God's creative intention, divorce, and gives us both God's design and God's allowance of that which resulted from the hardness of man's heart.  Have you not read, 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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matt 19:4-6).


Carl Vehse said...

If polygamy, like abortion, spawns violence, resentment, hate, apostasy, and murder, rather than simply being the moral equivalent of wearing the wrong color of socks, then where are the imprecatory prayers of Lutheran pastors in worship services, asking God to crush and destroy the efforts of polygamy advocates and enablers, including the fifth-column leftist media proponents, and to bring them to justice in our government?

Joseph said...

Some might point out that marriage also generates hate and murder. And if polygamy was tolerated due to hardness of heart, why not homosexuality? Not only was polygamy tolerated but those who engaged were blessed and used by God as leaders with nary a word from God condemning it.

May Palmer, The Queen of Ivory Soul said...

Hey Carl Vehse and the like (you know who you are!):
Maybe those same Lutheran Pastors are too busy on Sunday Mornings being about more important "stuff" such as preaching and teaching God's Holy Word and administering the Sacrament. You know, that "stuff" that actually brings people to saving faith, strengthens faith, gives forgiveness of sins, etc., That Eternity "stuff" that really matters. Even Christian folk, who are no better than unregenerate sinners, are looking for justification/excuses to support their notions of what they believe God Sanctions.
What God Sanctions in Marriage is as follows: Jesus+ One Man + One Woman=Godly Marriage. Got it?? Good. Now go and live out this beautiful God-Given Day in the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Carl Vehse said...

Hey May Palmer, The Queen of Ivory Soul, or whatever:

Whether or not you are a Lutheran, you seem to be unfamiliar with the confessional Lutheran position, as stated in Luther's Large Catechism in its explanation of the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

As Rev. Walter Snyder noted in his 2006 blog:

"No one can pray the Lord’s Prayer correctly without cursing. For when he prays: ‘Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,’ he must put all the opposition to this on one pile and say: ‘Curses, maledictions, and disgrace upon every other name and every other kingdom! May they be ruined and torn apart, and may all their schemes and wisdom and plans run aground.’ (Luther’s Works 21:101)"

You may also want to consider Prof. Raymond Surburg's "The Interpretation of Imprecatory Psalms" (The Springfielder, Vol. 39, No. 3, July, 1975, 88-102):

"When all is quiet and peaceful in the Church, many may not feel very keenly the need for the use of the Imprecatory Psalms. Some may study them merely in an academic way. However, when persecution bursts upon the Church, as has been the case in communistic and atheistic Russia, in Communist China, in Cuba where Christian pastors and their flocks have been subjected to torture, inhuman indignities and death, when the faith of God's people is severely tried by the enemies of the Lord, Christians instinctively have turned to these psalms."

Also helpful is C.F.W. Walther's The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.

Carl Vehse said...


Marriage was instituted by God i nthe Garden of Eden before the Fall. It is the distortion and perversion of marriage by sinful people which generates hate and murder.

God, in His omniscience, doesn't always bring His wrath down immediately on every abomination that occurs (for which we repentent sinners should be thankful).