“This is the creepiest show I’ve ever watched,” uttered my husband as we were sitting on the couch watching TLC’s, “Sister Wives,” a new show about a polygamist family in Utah. I had never seen anything like it, which was probably what fascinated me so much and kept me watching the whole hour. Polygamy has been such a “hush-hush” lifestyle no one ever gets to see into and I couldn’t believe I was getting to watch the real thing from the comfort of my couch.
I sat there watching 4 normal looking women sitting on a couch, huddled up with their goofy, happy, smiley husband. They were normal, they were fun, they were nice and they just wanted to be able to choose to love whoever they wanted. What’s so wrong with that, right?
About 20 years ago, it was shocking to see a homosexual on TV, but fast-forward and now it’s normal to see gay marriages on sitcoms such as Modern Family and homosexual men and women on shows, such as Project Runway and Ellen. Homosexuality is now mainstream; it’s not as shocking, and even accepted by the majority of the population today. Now that polygamy is in the popular culture, it won’t be too long before it’s not as shocking and, unfortunately, accepted by the majority of the population. Utah has even recently made cohabitation for polygamous families legal, a case brought on by the “Sister Wives” family. We can see this coming and we must know what we believe so we can stand firm and not let it become acceptable in our lives.
Why is polygamy against God’s will for marriages?
A. Polygamy is against God’s original design for marriage
Just as the Genesis account is the foundation for all gender role distinctions, so it’s the base for all marriages. When God created Adam and Eve for the first marital relationship, he didn’t create Adam, Eve, and Jane. The garden of Eden was God’s original design for mankind. It was perfect and pure and so was Adam and Eve’s marriage. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper and together, just the two of them, they were to rule the earth. But, as John MacArthur states, “So the fact that in those early years when the world was filled with bigamy and polygamy and it starts right off in the book of Genesis, you see it right after God lays down His law and then the Fall and then the mess. And what do you have? You have prostitution,incest, homosexuality, polygamy, all right in Genesis. And God is simply expressing what happens in
the Fall. He never advocated it. There were times when He restrained His judgment.”
God lays out his first standard for marriage in Genesis:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Gen. 2:24
Man was designed to leave his home and be joined with his wife, not wives. One man, one woman. End of story.
B. Polygamy is not blessed by God.
It is obvious that God did not bring harsh punishment upon polygamous marriages in the Old Testament, but it was never His will. It is the same with our sin: God allows it but He does not will for our sin, nor does he tolerate it for long. God has patience with us, that is why we’re not dead right now and that’s why He gave the option of eternal life through His Son. God was patient and merciful with the Israelites’ choosing to have multiple wives but He NEVER blessed it, just as he allowed divorce but never blessed it. Polygamy was just another sinful result of the Fall.
Every polygamous marriage was filled with stress and difficulty because of their many wives, including Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon’s. Just take a look at their stories and you see them trying to make all their wives happy, their hearts were usually turned away from the Lord by their wives, and some of them even lost sight of God.
He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. Deut. 17:17
He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.1 Kgs. 11:3
When you have that many wives, when do you have time for God? I have one spouse and with everything else going on in my life, it can get really hectic trying to balance it all. I cannot imagine trying to juggle multiple spouses but keeping Christ as my center. It’s impossible. I would have several semi-ok marital relationships and no relationship with God.
C. Polygamy promotes sinful behavior.
You may be thinking, “Well, duh!” But as you look deeper into polygamist relationships, you ALWAYS see jealousy, favoritism, manipulation, and rivalry. Sarah and Hagar had major issues (Gen. 16). Leah was jealous of Rachel and felt unloved and neglected (Gen. 29). Leah’s sons were jealous of Rachel’s son, Joseph (Gen. 37). Children can be treated unfairly because of favortism for one wife over the other (Deut. 21:15-18). Penninah was jealous of Hannah (1 Sam.1). Husband aside, it looks like the wives had drama enough to deal with. There was constant distress with each other, and, interestingly enough, a form of the word for “distress” (צָרָה) in Hebrew is used for second wives (צָרָתָהּ) in the Old Testament. Coincidence? I think not.
Even Kody Brown, the husband in “Sister Wives,” knows all too well the struggles of juggling multiples wives:” I finally had to start keeping a record, where I’m at; making sure everyone gets the same amount of time because pretty soon someone’s going to complain, “I’m not getting enough time or the fair shake.”
When a husband has one wife, he does not have to worry about showing one wife more love over the other and wives aren’t having to trying to vie for their husband’s affections or time. There are troubles enough with one spouse, why add more to the pot? God wants marriages that make us holier, not marriages that minimize the bond between a husband and wife.
A. Polygamy is adultery.
Adultery is defined as: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. When a man marries or pursues another woman, outside of his first, lawful marriage, he is committing adultery which is absolutely against God’s will (Ex.20:14; Prov.6:32; Matt.5:27-28; Lk. 16:18). Any man who decides to take another wife, must go and date another woman, must pursue an intimate relationship with someone other than his first wife, and, therefore, commits adultery. God does not allow any exceptions for adultery throughout the Bible but, instead, consistently labels it as sin. Polygamy=Adultery. If polygamy wasn’t sinful, then adultery wouldn’t be sinful and God would be a liar.
But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 1 Cor. 7:2
When Paul speaks about marriage, he addresses husbands and wives in the singular (1 Cor. 7), except when speaking about marriage in general (Eph.5; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet.3).
B. Polygamy is not allowed for Christian leaders in the Church.
Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife…deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 1 Pet. 3:2; 12
An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife… Titus.1:6
Just because these verses are addressed to leaders in the Church, does not mean the average Joe is exempt from these standards. Leaders in the church are leaders because of their exceptional character, because they are above reproach, which is what ALL Christians should strive towards (1 Tim. 6:14). God does not want those put in leadership to have more than one wife, so why would He be okay with the rest of the Church having multiple wives? He wouldn’t.
C. It distorts the picture of Christ and the Church.
Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Eph. 5:23-32). Christ does not marry two churches, nor does the Church marry two Christs. The Church is set apart for Christ and no one else. When the Church begins to have an intimate relationship with anyone else, we are committing adultery against our first love. God constantly condemns Israel for seeking other gods/lovers, other than Himself and He condemns those who seek other lovers, other than their first wife. Christ has only one Bride, the Church (Rev.19:7) and, as the image of Him and His Church, we are to stay true to our first and only husband or wife.
As you begin to see more and more polygamists enter the mainstream world, be on guard. When the world pressures you to accept ways contrary to Scripture, remember His words, remember His commands, and guard your hearts against the “knowledge” and ways of this world (1 Tim. 6:20).
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. 2 Thess. 2:15
These men and women are in need of a Savior. They do not need to be condemned or shunned by you. They may be some of the nicest people you’ve ever met BUT they are lost and they need Christ. Let’s not condemn them, but let’s also not become desensitized to their lifestyle. We need to love them, pray for them, and show them the True Christ!