Polygamy Monogamy Concubines from Divine Sex

 CHAPTER THREE

POLYGAMY, MONOGAMY AND CONCUBINAGE

 The prevailing opinion throughout the Christian world is that

the Bible restricts all sexual partnerships to “one man with one

woman for all time.” The only exception to this hard and fast rule is

on the occasion of either divorce or death of one mate. No

 

possibility is allowed for one person to have more than one mate.

The single argument made for this position is that, though the Old

Testament allowed polygamy, concubinage and sex relations with

one’s slaves, the New Testament changed that, to totally disallow

multiple partnerships. Let us see what the Bible actually says. We

begin by listing all the texts that refer to polygamous relationships,

with brief notations.

 

Polygamy In Scripture

 

Lamech takes two wives and God neither corrects nor

condemns Lamech, (Gen.4:19). On this first mention of polygamy in

the Bible, it is strange that God did not move immediately to stamp

out this “moral vulgarism,” if indeed that is how He saw it. Many

scholars refer to the “principle of first mention” as one tool by

which to assess God’s attitudes on different issues. For example,

 

this principle is said to establish the sinfulness of homosexuality,

via the fact that the first time human sexuality is referred to, it is

cast in a heterosexual light. This “first mention” then is the basis for

such anti-homosexual arguments as “God made Adam and Eve,

not Adam and Steve.” But don’t you think it is strange, reader, that

 

the same scholars refuse to accept the implications of this “first

mention” of polygamy? Since God utters not a single negative

word about it, we can legitimately argue that “God’s prima facie

acceptance of polygamy from its first mention, is evidence that God

was not disturbed by multiple relationships.”

 

Arguments are also made to the effect that God simply tolerated

polygamy, though He never accepted it. For now, we simply reply

that if God was as distressed about polygamy as modern Western

 

Scholars say He was, how did God let Lamech’s breach of “Divine

marital law” pass without nipping this “sin” in the bud? Doesn’t

make sense does it?

 

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Esau marries two wives and again there is no word of

correction, (Gen. 26:34, 35). Later Esau marries a third wife, still

with no correction and no indication that God is getting edgy about

this multiple marriage, (Gen. 28:8,9).

 

Jacob marries both Leah and Rachel, (Gen. 29:31ff). Jacob

became the father of Israel. He obtained God’s blessing after

wrestling all night with an angel. He is one of the great heroes of

faith, to be admired by all God’s people, for all time. But there is no

hint of God’s disapproval of his polygamous marriage. One might

 

argue in both Lamech’s and Esau’s cases, that neither of them were

particularly noteworthy in terms of relationship with God. But

Jacob is a different case. He is in the lineage of Messiah. He is God’s

man, with God’s blessing. If God merely tolerated polygamy among

 

the spiritually weak of humanity, how is it that He missed another

golden opportunity to set the record straight right here, with this

man of faith?

 

Laban – not God – asks Jacob to take no other wives, (Gen.

31:49, 50). Laban was not opposed to polygamy because it was his

deception that led to Jacob marrying both his daughters. Laban’s

concern is only for the security, provision, etc. for his two

daughters. Anyway, Jacob now has 4 sex partners because he has

 

children by the “handmaids” of his two wives. In none of this do

we find even a hint of God’s disapproval. What gives modern

Christians the spiritual hives did not concern God at all. Indeed, it

appears that God simply looked upon polygamy as a normal result

of man’s social development.

Joseph had one wife, (Gen. 41:45).

 

God decrees that if a man marries a woman and her mother

both are to be burned with fire, (Lev. 20:14). Whatever may be the

reason for this harsh sentence, it does not mitigate against

polygamy. In fact, it does the opposite. God says nothing at all

about polygamy, except to reference its existence among His

 

people. Yet He is violently opposed to a man marrying mother and

daughter at the same time. His bold condemnation of the one

multiple relationship, contrasted with His silent acceptance of

“normal” polygamy is strong evidence that He approved of it. His

legislation against this form of polygamy indicates that He would

 

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have legislated against other forms of polygamy if He was indeed

opposed to them.

God warns a king to not multiply wives unto himself, “lest his

heart turn away…” (Deut. 17:17). This prohibition is not against

polygamy as such, or the sexual connection, but against the danger of

apostasy in Israel’s leaders. Note the same prohibition against

amassing silver and gold. We will see later that Israel’s greatest

 

kings married many wives and amassed great hordes of silver and

gold. Both the wives and the riches were said to be God’s blessings.

Thus this text is a warning of the dangers inherent in having many

wives and much riches. It is not a prohibition of either, but a

warning to realize the dangers in each case.

 

When Israel warred against hostile neighbors, they received

God’s specific permission to keep as plunder, all women and

children, just as they kept the animals, etc., (Deut. 20:14). These

captive women became wives, concubines and slaves.

 

The law of “Levirate marriage” requires that if one’s brother

dies with no son, his widow is to marry the living brother, to give

an heir to his brother, (Deut. 25:5-6). This is true even if the living

brother is already married. This is God’s law! If he refuses to marry

her, he is cursed publicly by her, (vs. 7-10). Thus we have God’s

mandate for polygamy in this situation. It is useless to argue

 

“special circumstances” here. If polygamy is truly a moral offense, no

special circumstance can make it morally right. If God is offended

by a person having sex with more than one other person how can

we make any sense out of this law? Sin is sin! Immoral acts cannot

be permissible simply because of circumstances. On the one hand,

God decrees the death penalty for “adultery.” On the other hand,

God decrees multiple marriage in this text. So – aren’t we missing

something?

 

Gideon had “many wives” who bore him 70 sons, (Jdg. 8:30;

12:9, 14). He was a valiant warrior and faithful servant, and he died

without God ever rebuking him or correcting his polygamy. He is

honored as a hero of faith, (Heb. 11:32,33). Strange that such a man

is held up as an example for Christians, if having “many wives”

was truly a spiritual disqualifier as most Christians believe. If God

 

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disapproved of his many wives, it surely would have been helpful

to us for God to have said something in Heb. 11, like “…yet it was

not good that he married many wives…” The absence of God’s

correction implies His acceptance.

 

When Boaz marries Ruth, the elders of Israel blessed him with

these words: “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your

home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of

Israel…Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar

 

bore to Judah…” (Ruth 4:11, 12). This labels Jacob’s polygamy as a

blessing. It recognizes that Israel was “built” by both wives equally.

Certainly these spiritual leaders were not embarrassed by Jacob’s

polygamy, nor had they any hint that God was displeased. If

polygamy was indeed a sin then Boaz would actually have been

cursed by these words.

 

Boaz is also blessed as Judah was blessed by Tamar, who bore

Perez, Boaz’s forefather. This is stranger still, given our modern

mind-set, because Tamar was Judah’s daughter in law, with whom

he had sex thinking she was a prostitute! So now prostitution and

sexing a daughter in law are both used as a basis of blessing! Really,

 

now, do we believe that sinful relationships can be legitimately

used as grounds for blessing? Perhaps our concept of things needs

to be adjusted. Oh yes, and Perez, the offspring of that act

 

produced Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David. In all this not a word from

God of displeasure or correction. Not even a mild one! Strange

behavior indeed from a God whom we think must have been

inwardly seething at these “sins!”

 

Elkanah has 2 wives, Hannah and Peninnah, (1 Sam. 1:1-2). He

is faithful to worship God, (vs. 3), thus his worship is accepted and

commended. Still God does not even hint that his polygamy is

unacceptable. This man has a strong spiritual relationship with God

that is in no way hindered by his polygamy. This could not be true

if polygamy was a spiritual malady that offended God.

 

David marries wife #1, Michal, (1 Sam. 18:20ff.) then later takes

Abigail, & Ahinoam as wives, (1 Sam.25:39, 43), and lives with

them apart from Michal, (27:3). David then takes Maacah, Haggith,

Abital and Eglah for total of 7 wives, (2 Sam. 3:3-5). By this time

Michal is married to Peltiel and David demands her return, (2Sam.

 

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3:13-15). David takes still more wives plus concubines, (2 Sam.

5:13). Next David watches Bathsheba bathe on her housetop and

desires her sexually. He sends for her, has sex with her and she

conceives. To cover his tracks David ensures that her husband

Uriah is killed in battle, then he takes Bathsheba for his wife, (2

Sam. 11:2-27).

 

In all David’s marriages & concubinages, not once is it said that,

“David has done evil in the sight of the Lord,” as it does in reference to

his dalliance with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:27). What was evil here is

not in marrying yet another wife. Rather, Nathan’s rebuke proves

that God’s displeasure arises from David’s adultery and murder, (2

Sam.12:9, 10). Adultery is not having more than one wife, but it is

stealing another man’s wife. Since God does not hesitate to

 

announce that David had done evil in this matter, what accounts

for the fact that God never breathed a word of displeasure about

the supposed “evil” of David’s multitude of wives and concubines?

After amassing countless wives and concubines, adding one more

is unworthy of mention, regardless of who she is. But the thing God

will not allow is taking another man’s mate. This is the “evil”

 

involved here. If Bathsheba had been single nothing more would

have been said about David taking her, than was said about all his

other women.

 

Now for a real “kicker!” God says He gave David’s many wives

to him, and if those were not enough, He would have given him

“many more!” (2 Sam. 12:7,8). This statement is certain to give

spiritual apoplexy to most of those who read it because it gives

 

overt proof that God not only blessed David’s polygamy and

concubinage; God Himself was the author of David’s plural

marriages and multiple sex partners! Look! David had so many

wives and concubines because God gave them to him! Far from

being something God merely tolerated, polygamy was a blessing

from God. And God said He would have blessed David with even

 

more women if what he had was not enough. In other words God

said “David, why did you have to steal another man’s wife? If you

wanted more wives why didn’t you just ask Me? I would have

given you more.” Well, this is sure to “put a hitch in some people’s

 

get-along.” Still believe in the inspiration of Scripture? Still believe

the word of God’s prophets (in this case Nathan) is true? Then

accept these words of God’s blessing on David’s multiple sexual

relationships. And be brave enough to draw the next and inevitable

 

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conclusion: If God originated and blessed it for David, He will not

send us to Hell for doing it.

 

As part of God’s punishment upon David for his adultery and

murder, God will give David’s wives to his companion who will

sex them in broad daylight, (2 Sam.12:11). This companion turns

out to be his son. Who can believe that God, in order to punish

David, will select an innocent man and force him to commit a

 

horrible sin by having sex with David’s wives? If God will “take

your wives from before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and

he shall lie with them in broad daylight” then it is useless to argue that

God is utterly opposed to a man having sex with more than one

woman; or that it is sin for a man to have sex with another man’s

 

wife under any circumstance (“Adultery” is a separate issue which

we will prove later.). If such is sin, then woe be to the hapless

victim upon whom God lays this sin. If this be the case, Absalom

commits sin by God’s design! Who can believe it?

 

David keeps Bathsheba as wife and she bears Solomon, (2

Sam.12:24). God testifies that David did what was right in God’s

sight in everything God commanded except in the matter of Uriah

(& Bathsheba), (1 Kg. 15:5). So the many wives that God said He

 

gave to him, and would have given more if that had not been enough,

plus all his concubines, were “right in God’s sight!?!?” It is beyond

argument here, that in all David’s marrying and concubinage, he

never breached God’s commandment. If David was right in God’s

sight in everything God commanded, then obviously marrying

many women and having sex with many concubines does not violate

God’s commandment against adultery or fornication! Think about it!

David walks in “integrity…truth…hates wickedness,” (Ps. 26:1-12).

 

This is one of many passages where David makes these claims for

himself, and other Scriptures affirm this is true of him. What do we

make of this in light of his polygamy and concubinage? It is

obvious that nothing about polygamy or concubinage is

 

inconsistent with “integrity…truth…hating wickedness.” It is man

who demonizes polygamy, not God. David had countless sex

partners. Yet he was a righteous man, greatly anointed and highly

favored by God.

 

A man can “Cleanse his way by heeding God’s word,” (Ps. 119:9). If

polygamy & concubinage were in any sense “unclean” then how

do we make sense of the following verses? David hid God’s word

in his heart that he might not sin against God, (Ps. 119:11). Did

 

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God’s word not enlighten him of the sin of polygamy &

concubinage? Obviously these things were not “sin” and God’s

word gave David no hint that God was in any way displeased with

his having many women.

 

“I restrain my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word,”

(Ps. 119:101). Was David “keeping God’s word,” when he had sex

with his many wives & concubines? Was there no “evil way” in this

practice?

 

“Through Your precept I get understanding, there fore I hate every

false way,” (Ps. 119:104). God’s “precepts” did not give David any

“understanding” that polygamy & concubinage were, in any sense,

a “false way.”

 

“I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything. I hate every

false way.” (Ps. 119:128) David did not hate polygamy &

concubinage, therefore God’s precepts did not provide him any

idea that polygamy & concubinage were wrong. David followed

what was right in “everything.” How come he did not have a clue

that God did not like polygamy?

 

David had sons by seven wives, “besides the sons of the

concubines,” (1 Chron. 3:1-9). David took “more wives,” (1 Chron.

14:3). Wives were not the same as concubines. Some women David

married. Others he just brought into his house basically for sexual

purposes. God had no problem with either.

 

Solomon marries Pharaoh’s daughter, (1 Kg. 9:24). He loved

many foreign women, (11:1). He had 700 wives, 300 concubines,

(11:3; enough women to sex 3 different women every night for one

year!). God had promised to bless Solomon if he walks in all God’s

laws, (9:4ff,) threatening to curse him and his sons if they turn from

God’s laws. But not a syllable of censure about this extreme

 

polygamy and extreme concubinage. The only censure is his marrying

pagan women against God’s commands, (11:2, 4, 5) and that they

turned his heart away from the Lord, (11:4, 9, 10, 11, 33; 9:4, 6). But

many of his wives were Israelites. Since there is no word of such

being a breach of law, it must not have been a breach of law! And

 

what sense does it make to think that God was incensed about

Solomon’s marriages to pagan wives and thus rebukes him for it,

yet never rebukes him for marrying many Israelite wives, though

He was equally incensed about that? Obviously, God was not

concerned about how many wives Solomon had. His wrath was

 

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aroused by Solomon’s apostasy. Ultimately Solomon acquires a

“harem,” (Ecc. 1:8, supposing that Solomon authored this book.).

Ahab has many wives besides Jezebel, (1 Kg. 20:3, 7). Yet amid

the many censures for his great evil, polygamy was not once

condemned.

 

Jehoiachin had “wives,” (2 Kg. 24:14).

Caleb (son of Perez) had 2 wives, Azubah & Jerioth, and a third

Ephrath, whom he married when Azubah died, (1 Chron. 2:18, 19).

Hezron had 2 wives, (1 Chron. 2:21).

Jerahmeel had “another wife,” (1 Chron. 2:26).

Asher, father of Tekoa, had 2 wives, (1 Chron. 4:5).

Izrahiah had five sons, who, with their father’s houses, had

36,000 troops, “for they had many wives and sons,” (1 Chron. 7:3, 4).

Machir has an unnamed wife, plus Maachah, (1 Chron. 7:15).

Shaharim had children after he sent away 2 wives, Hushim and

Baara. He had sons by Hadish, his 3rd wife, (1 Chron. 8:8, 9).

Rehoboam weds Mahalath, Maachah, whom he loved “more

than all his other wives and concubines, for he took 18 wives and 60

concubines,” (2 Chron. 11:18-21).

Abijah had 14 wives, (2 Chron. 13:21).

 

Israel sinned by marrying pagan wives and Nehemiah curses

them for it, (Ezra 10:2, 10; Neh. 13:23-25). “Solomon sinned by these

things…pagan women caused him to sin,” (vs. 26). His sin was not in

having 700 wives. It was in having any pagan wives. Even one

pagan wife would have been sin. Israel transgressed against God

by marrying pagan women, (vs. 27). Because of this rebuke, they

 

covenanted with God to put these wives away, (vs. 3, 11, 14, 17, 44).

This has nothing to do with polygamy. They put away only the

pagan wives which God’s law forbade them to wed. If polygamy

itself was a sin why did God never legislate against it and why do

we not have a single example in all Scripture, of a godly man or

 

group of men, such as here, learning that God was displeased with

multiple wives, then repenting and “putting away all their wives

except the first one?” And if polygamy is wrong, why require that

these Israelites put away only the pagan wives? Why not require

 

them to divorce all their extra wives? This Ezra passage proves they

would have done so if God had desired it. But none ever did such a

thing, even though polygamy was openly practiced, even to extreme

 

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degrees, God never intimated in any way, that He was displeased

with such a practice.

 

These same people “confessed their sins,” Neh. 9:2. We have

several examples of this national repentance in Scriptures, but not

once do we find them repenting of the “sin” of polygamy or

turning away from it.

 

Beautiful young virgins ar

e sought for King Ahasuerus to

choose one to replace Vashti, (Esther 2:2, 4). So Ahasuerus will have

at least 2 wives. Esther is “lovely and beautiful,” (2:7), i.e. sexually

attractive. Each virgin is to take a turn with the king; a different one

each night having sex with the king so he can choose the one he

likes best, (2:12ff). So he “promiscuously?” “fornicates?” with these

 

beautiful virgins until he decides upon Esther. Esther takes her turn

having sex with the king, (2:15-17). He likes her more than the

others. Is this a game of “which one turns me on the most?” If this

disgusts God, why not a syllable about it? Esther was a godly

woman, and her cousin Mordecai was godly and God-fearing. If

this “try them all, and choose the most beautiful and best sex

partner,” process would defile her, why didn’t she or Mordecai or

someone know? If no one knew, why not send a prophet to her so

she would not sin through “fornication?” Could she have

 

responded by saying something like, “My God has a law, and by

that law, I cannot sex you or be your wife…?” Fornication and

adultery had been against God’s law for generations by this time.

No one in Israel was ignorant of this law. Whatever else we may

say about the “pagan virgins” involved in this “sex-capade” we

must deal with both Esther and Mordecai, Israelites living under

God’s moral law.

 

Mordecai suggests that Esther was “come unto the kingdom for

such a time as this…” (3:14), thereby encouraging her to willingly

participate in the sexual experimentation of Ahasuerus. So how do

we fit God’s holiness into a scheme that involves what we moderns

would define as multiple sins of fornication, adultery and polygamy?

Does God resort to making Esther an adulteress, or promiscuous,

or a fornicator, in order to accomplish His holy Kingdom purposes?

Can any sane person believe it?

 

Evidently the king enjoyed this “selection process” so much that

even after he chose Esther as his queen, a second round of virgins is

selected for him to enjoy, (3:19). In all this, it is incredible that, if it is

 

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sinful, God never says so, and even blessed Esther and Mordecai for

their parts in it, (10:1-3)! Our modern definition of fornication and

adultery fits this scenario of sexual experimentation exactly! But

how does a Holy and Just God legislate the death penalty for

adultery, then use that very sin to save His people, and then honor

not only the adulteress, but the cousin who advised her in it? What

are we missing in our definitions? Either our definitions are wrong,

or God used sin to accomplish His holy will?! Which is more likely

to be the case?

 

If we decide that what Esther did was neither adultery nor

fornication, then what does that do with our fundamental

definitions of those sins? If we truly believe that God is Omnipotent,

Omniscient and Sovereign over all, then we must conclude that he

could and would have found a way to bring Esther into power in the

Persian kingdom without allowing her to participate in this “sordid

sex carnival.” The fact that our Holy God used just such a scheme

to accomplish His purposes proves beyond doubt that we must reevaluate

our concepts of sexual morality. God is not the author of

 

sin, and God does not instigate sin to further His purposes. What

king Ahasuerus did here, what Esther and all the other virgins did,

and what Mordecai consented to, was not immoral, not fornication,

and not adultery. Allow this fact to shake you up! Then get to work

with some really hard study and some serious meditation on the

actual words of Scripture. We have taken too much for granted for

too long. It is time for us to come into the light.

 

God judges that Jerusalem has become a “harlot” and is

condemned. But Jerusalem is wed to God, so her harlotry is the sin

of blatant adultery. She is behaving as if she is unmarried and free

to be “married” to whomever she will, (Isa. 1:21). This is the

meaning of (Isa. 3:16), “Zion’s women are flirting with their eyes.”

In the day of destruction, 7 women will beg to be wed to one

man, (Isa. 4:1). No condemnation is suggested here. Why does God

hold Israel accountable for obvious sin in the former verses, with

condemnation, but does not do so here if indeed God deplores

polygamy as much as he does adultery?

 

Belshazzar has wives and concubines, besides the “queen,”

(Dan. 5:1, 3, 10).

 

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Let us state some obvious conclusions based on this material.

 

• God allowed polygamy to enter human experience without a

word of correction.

• The Bible refers directly to at least 23 men who had more than

one wife.

• This list of polygamous husbands contains the names of the

most illustrious examples of faith and holiness in all the Bible.

• God makes polygamy mandatory in the case of the “Levirate

marriage law.”

• Israel’s elders use examples of polygamy, to bless the

marriage of Boaz and Ruth.

• God gives Israelite men permission to keep women and

children for themselves after a successful battle. Even married

men had this privilege.

• God commends the worship of a polygamous man.

• God’s prophet says David’s multiple marriages are blessings

from God, and assures David that God would have given him

more if he desired them.

• God uses the polygamous inclinations of a pagan king to

 

bring Esther to power, and thus to save Israel from a holocaust.

Not one time, with even one word, in all the OT record, did God

even so much as hint to His people, that he preferred that they not

practice polygamy. Not once did God refer to Adam and Eve as His

ideal for marriage. If God was displeased with polygamy, no one in

the entire scope of OT history knew it! God never told even His

most trusted servants. God simply gave us no record of His

 

disapproval of polygamy! It is not possible to believe that God

granted polygamy as a blessing to His people until Jesus came, but

now sees it as a sin worthy of eternal Hell. It is not possible that

God blessed David with many wives and would have given him

more, but that He will send us to Hell forever for the same thing.

God did not, and still does not disapprove of polygamy. We will look

at the sparse NT texts below. Be patient!

 

MONOGAMY

 

Now we must consider the NT texts that relate to this issue.

There are not many, and none of them address the issue of

 

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polygamy directly. The consensus of church scholars is that the NT

reverses the OT view of polygamy, and makes monogamy the only

acceptable sexual relationship possible to us. It goes even beyond

that to effectively demonize polygamy and make it a sin worthy of

eternal Hell. In view of the emphatic stance of modern church

 

leaders, we will expect to find very clear expression in the NT of

this change in God’s attitude. Let us see what we actually find. First

let’s look again at the opinion of modern scholarship.

Comments from other authors:

 

“Although Polygamy is recognized and not condemned, the OT

assumes that monogamy is the basic form of marriage, or at least

that a man should be faithful above all to “the wife of his youth,”

(Prov. 5:18-19; Mal. 2:14-15). It may be that the two wives of

Lamech are emphasized (Gen. 4:19) to associate the origin of

 

polygamy with the evil line of Cain. Concubines and secondary

wives are associated mostly with, though by no means restricted to,

the patriarchal period and royalty.

 

The tendency toward monogamy or the preference of a primary

wife was reinforced most of all by love which was acknowledged

as a significant, though certainly not the only force in the initiation

and nature of marriage relationships (e.g. Gen. 24:67; 1 Sam. 18:20).

 

Recognizing the dangers into which sexual attraction could lead

(Prov. 7:6-27) did not draw the people into a harsh puritanism, but

rather into a celebration of the pleasure of faithful marriage (Eccl.

9:9; Song of Sol. 8:12).

 

A father could sell his daughter as a concubine, but the law did

seek to protect the status of such women (Ex. 21:7-11). If a man

raped or seduced an unmarried woman, he was required to pay the

marriage gift to her father and take her as his wife(Ex. 22:16-17; Dt.

22:28-29). Yet because the husband was regarded as master over his

 

wife, adultery was a crime only against the man whose wife or

fiance had been unfaithful; there was no sense in which it could be

a crime against the woman (Lev. 20:10; Gt. 22:22-24). But that

marriage was not as simple as an owner-property relationship is

shown by the contrast in penalties for intercourse with a betrothed

 

female slave (Lev. 19:20-22) and for adultery.

Monogamy continued as the norm in NT times; it was only the

few who could afford to be polygamous

 

 

Perhaps porneia, a general word for any unlawful sexual

intercourse, may here (Mt. 5:32; 19:9) refer only to cases where

marriage itself was discovered to be illegal because of

consanguinity.

 

Through divorce and remarriage a man can commit adultery

against his wife (Mk. 10:11). Similarly Jesus’ extension of what

constitutes adultery (Mt. 5:27-28) shifts the focus away from a

man’s rights over his wife, to the mental attitude of one who even

entertains the thought of adultery.”

 

Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, p.693, 694.

“The marital ideal (as) laid down in Gen. 2:24, established

monogamy as a working principle for mankind. Once the fall

occurred, the wife was placed in a subordinate position and

 

immediately was vulnerable to exploitation, one form of which was

polygamy. This type of marital relationship occurred under a

variety of circumstances. Women captured in battle (Dt. 21:10-14)

became part of the victor’s spoils. While some women were taken

as wives, others were reduced to brutal concubinage, ministering to

 

the captor’s lusts while their legal wives bore the legitimate family

offspring. Women who found themselves serving as slaves for

other reasons frequently became the object of sexual exploitation in

households by men who regarded them as inferior wives.

 

By the Mosaic period polygamy was being legislated for as

though it was a current social institution (Dt. 21:15-18). King David

was unashamedly polygamous as was Solomon. One form of

polygamy was (actually) provided for in the Law. This was the

marriage knows as the “Levirate”, and was apparently sanctioned

 

in the interests of endogamous marriage and the continuation of

the family line. Levirate marriage (Dt. 25:5-10) provided that a

deceased man’s brother should take the widow as his wife and

raise a family to perpetuate his brother’s name and keep inherited

land in the family. Levirate marriage seems to contravene the

 

legislation in prohibiting marriage with one’s brother’s wife (Lev.

18:16; 20-21), but in other respects was a humane way of dealing

with what was frequently the desperate plight of widows by

keeping them within the family and tribe.

 

There are thus numerous reasons for the rise of polygamy

which, apart from sensuous considerations, included the need to

maintain endogamous marriages, desire to increase the Israelite

 

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population, necessity for providing for destitute widows in order to

avoid slavery, prostitution and the like, and maintaining the

nation’s work force. These factors notwithstanding, the ideal

Hebrew marriage continued to be monogamous, despite the

examples set to the contrary by royalty.

 

The NT teachings on marriage presupposed monogamy. While

polygamy was tolerated among the rich and powerful, it was

recognized as a violation of that covenantal fidelity that God

demanded of Israel His bride, and that Christ also demanded of the

church (2 Cor. 11:2)

 

– ISBE, vol. 3, p. 901 –

“From Gen. 2:24 we may evolve the following principles:

….(3)Monogamy as the original law of marriage. In the patriarchal

age polygamy prevailed but to a great extent divested of the

degradation which in modern times attaches to that practice. The

Mosaic law discouraged polygamy.

 

Our Lord and His apostles re-established the integrity and

sanctity of the marriage bond by the following measures: (1) by the

confirmation of the original charter of marriage as the basis upon

which all regulations were to be framed, Mt. 19:4,5; (2) by the

 

restriction of divorce to the case of fornication, and the prohibition

of remarriage in all persons divorced on improper grounds, Mt.

5:32; 19:9; Rom. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:10,11; (3) by the enforcement of moral

purity generally, Heb. 13:4, and especially by the formal

condemnation of fornication, Acts 15:20.”

– Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p.382 –

 

Our observations:

In spite of these emphatic statements that monogamy was the

original law of marriage, there is no possibility of demonstrating

that premise from Scripture. All we can say for certain about Gen.

2:24 is that God originated human life on this earth by creating only

one of each sex. The Bible does not say that He did so “because it

was His will that one man and one woman be married for life,

 

excluding all others.” If that was God’s intention, He did not say so.

And when men began to practice polygamy there was never a

single word from God to correct the practice. His most faithful

servants, and those whom He chose to be the fountainhead of blessing for

 

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humanity for the rest of human history, practiced polygamy and

concubinage. Yet, as zealous as Jehovah is for righteousness, holiness

and truth, He never corrected these who were to serve forever as

the prime examples of faith and obedience. They all heard His

voice; they all love His Law; they all were obedient to His

 

commands. If God was displeased with their many wives and

concubines, why did He not say so and correct it at the outset of

human history so that it would not flourish and become common

practice? And if we declare that God was displeased with

polygamy, on what basis do we do so? God doesn’t indicate such

 

displeasure in any way. And He most certainly makes no statement

to the effect that monogamy is His will for all men forever. Such

ideas are not derived from Scripture. They are placed upon Scripture

in spite of actual contrary evidence.

 

After Lamech’s polygamy and after the flood, as soon as Noah

and family exited the ark, God commanded them to avoid eating

blood, Gen. 9:4, and established the death penalty for murder,

(Gen. 9:6). Since the whole motive for the flood was to cleanse the

earth of sin and give mankind a brand new start, then why did God

not also command Noah and family to avoid polygamy, especially

since it was a part of the human experience before the flood,

 

(Gen.4:19). If monogamy was God’s preference, why did He not

make this as strong a law as he did against eating blood? The fact

that polygamy was in human experience already, yet was not even

hinted at in this post-flood setting, should cause us all to reflect

 

soberly on God’s real attitude toward polygamy.

 

The fact that God’s very best servants, the “elite” among all

saints, practiced polygamy, concubinage and accepted prostitution,

with not so much as a hint of God’s displeasure, weighs heavily in

favor of the fact that God did not forbid it, that He even accepted it

as normal among humans, just as He created it to be a normal instinct

 

in the animal kingdom. The evidence that God felt otherwise about

this practice simply does not exist.

 

Consider this list of God’s greatest examples of faith in Hebrews

chapter 11.

 

Abraham - polygamist and concubinist - no censure anywhere.

Isaac – polygamist and concubinist - no censure anywhere.

Jabob – polygamist and concubinist, went in to a prostitute - no

censure anywhere.

 

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Gideon – polygamist and concubinist - no censure anywhere.

Samson – polygamist and concubinist - no censure anywhere.

David – polygamist and concubinist - no censure anywhere.

 

In all God’s dealings with these men He never even attempted to

tell them it was sin or even inadvisable for them to marry more

than one wife or to have concubines. Nor did it perturb Him that

the one whose name was changed to Israel, the father of the Jewish

nation, bore a child by his daughter in law thinking she was a

prostitute, and that this child, Perez, was an ancestor of Israel’s

greatest king, David, and of Jesus Christ, (Lk. 3:31-33).

 

Contrary to church teaching and bold statements that the NT

corrects polygamy, and makes monogamy the only possibility for

humanity, there is not one statement in all the NT that says this. The

best that can be found are some verses that might imply this to be so.

Even these are by no means determinative. Let's consider them:

 

“He who created them from the beginning made them male and female

and…the two shall become one flesh,” (Matt. 19:4,5). From this it is

argued that, “God intended one man and woman to become one

flesh. He never intended that more than a couplet engage in

marriage.” The answer to this quibble seems obvious and easy.

 

What is problematic about one man and two women becoming one

flesh? Is it possible for two to become one, but impossible for three

to become one? Jesus’ point is not that two and two only can become

one. His point is that marriage creates oneness between the mates,

 

however many there be. If we do not think so, then do we think

Jacob, Leah and Rachel were not “one flesh?” If only one of his

wives could qualify, then surely Jacob was “one flesh” only with

Leah for she was his first wife. Thus Rachel, though a wife, was not

“one flesh” with her husband! Isn’t this really too absurd to argue

further?

 

“Because of immorality let each man have his own wife and let each

woman have her own husband,” (1 Cor. 7:2). Again this is thought to

eliminate the possibility of each man having his many wives, and

each wife having her many husbands. But it no more eliminates

 

multiple marriage than does the preceding text. This simply states

God’s recommendation that people marry in order to avoid

“immoralities.” If we are disposed to be utterly literalistic with this

 

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text, perhaps we should take literally the admonition that “it is good

for a man not to touch a woman,” (vs. 1). Add to this that, “to him who

knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin,” (Jas. 4:17). Thus

we have “Biblical authority” for condemning as “sinners” all men

who touch a woman. We can see too clearly for such to be taken

 

seriously. Paul is not trying to reinforce monogamy as God’s

preference for humanity. Monogamy is not in the subject matter at

all. His one concern is to protect God’s people from the troubles

coming upon them because of the “present distress” (vs. 26). Any

attempt to press the words of vs.2 beyond their singular meaning,

and apart from their context, is inexcusable.

 

In light of the fact that Corinth was a pagan city, laden with

Greek culture, including large-scale practice of polygamy, this

would have been the perfect place to make an inspired statement

about “monogamy alone for all who want to go to heaven.” If

 

monogamy is in fact mandated for humanity, then how can we

possibly explain total absence of references to it in the NT, and

especially in this epistle whose whole emphasis is on correcting

spiritual (1 Cor. 1 - 3), moral (1 Cor. 5 - 6), relational (1 Cor. 7-10),

 

liturgical (1 Cor. 10 -14) and doctrinal (1 Cor. 15) problems in the

church at Corinth? We should find here, if nowhere else, God’s

transparent declaration for monogamy, plus His requirement that

all Corinthian polygamist men must divorce all wives except the

 

first one. The absence of such admonition in such a context speaks

volumes. The “thunder of God’s silence” in this case is compelling.

“An elder…must be the husband of one wife…” (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus

1:6).

 

“Deacons… must be husband of one wife, (1 Tim. 3:12).

The requirement that elders and deacons be husbands of one

wife, cannot be made to infer anything more than that church

leaders must have only one wife. This is akin to the requirement

that Israel’s kings not “multiply wives unto yourselves…” The

 

possibility of being led away from truth because of the great

influence of many wives and concubines is illustrated by Solomon’s

history. It would be the same for Christian leaders. Because they

are responsible for the souls of many they must be extra careful

 

about any influence that will lead them away from truth. Yet even

for elders in the church there is a possibility that some might be

acceptable even though they have more than one wife on the same

 

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premise that one might be acceptable as an elder even though he

fell short in one of the other qualifications. If we look at the

qualification as a list to which one must measure up perfectly then

no one would ever qualify as an elder. If a man had 3 wives, and

yet measured up to all the rest of the qualifications in admirable

manner, would it not be ridiculous to forbid him leadership in the

church when his spiritual qualifications might outstrip those of all

other applicants? If his spiritual leadership is of high enough

 

quality then he would be able to handle multiple wives without

being led astray from God. This probably explains why David

could be such a great king and a man “after God’s own heart,”

though he had many wives and concubines. And in spite of the fact

that God told the kings to not multiply wives for themselves, we

 

remind you that it was God himself who gave to David his many wives

and concubines, and said He would have given him many more if he

wanted them, (2 Sam. 12:7, 8). So God’s specific order was not meant

to be an absolute prohibition against a king having many wives. It

was a warning of the dangers such could bring. But because He

 

knew David’s heart, and because apparently God considered

having many wives and concubines to be a blessing, He gave many

of them to David. In the same manner we probably ought to see

Paul’s instruction for elders to have only one wife. It cannot be

viewed as more rigidly prohibitive for elders in the church than it

 

was for kings in Israel. The safest course to pursue for spiritual

leaders is monogamy; not for moral reasons, but because of their

responsibility to avoid influences that would lead them to apostasy

and thus endanger the souls of those whom they lead. It is

 

doubtless much less of an absolute requirement for elders than we

want to think. As it was with Israel’s kings, so it is with leaders in

the church.

 

An important question here is, “what circumstances existed in

Ephesus and Crete that would make such a requirement as this

appropriate for the epistles to Timothy and Titus?” If polygamy did

not exist in the churches of that time this restriction makes no sense

at all. If there was no probability of church leaders having more

than one wife how could Paul, by inspiration, make an issue of it?

 

The fact that this restriction appears in these epistles is secondary

proof that polygamy was in the church at that time just as church

history affirms. The surprising thing is that, even though polygamy

was in the church Paul made a restriction only regarding elders and

 

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deacons. If polygamy was a detestable thing how could Paul refuse

to tell Timothy and Titus to eradicate it from the church? God

required a similar thing of Israel, under Nehemiah’s leadership,

requiring them to leave their pagan wives.

 

God was very pointed about telling Christians what things

would keep them out of the kingdom of God. He gives detailed

lists of such sins in 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5: 19-21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5-9,

 

etc. Since polygamy existed in the church how is it possible that

God considers it a great sin and yet fails to mention it even once as a

“sin” requiring repentance? This fact appears strongly to

 

demonstrate that God’s mind has not changed from what we see in

the OT record. What He accepted before the cross He still accepts.

Society’s attitude is not the standard of right and wrong on this

issue. The church’s attitude is not the standard. Nor is hatred for

 

the Mormon church. God’s word is the standard. The combined

facts of polygamy’s existence in the NT church, with God’s silence

about it, demonstrates God abiding acceptance of it. God did not

correct it in the NT simply because He did not see it as needing

correction.

 

The statements in Smith’s Bible Dictionary can be disposed of

easily. He says

“Our Lord and His apostles re-established the integrity and

sanctity of the marriage bond by the following measures:

(1) by the confirmation of the original charter of marriage as the

basis on which all regulations were to be framed, Mt. 19:4,5;”

Reply: This “original charter” states nothing of monogamy.

 

Nowhere is there a law, principle or anything else that shows God’s

original intention was monogamy. Jesus deals only with the matter

of divorce, not of multiple wives. It is adultery for a man to divorce

his wife and marry another. But nothing is said of the well

established practice of being faithful to the first wife, and marrying

another.

 

“(2) by the restriction of divorce to the case of fornication, and

the prohibition of remarriage in all persons divorced on improper

grounds, Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Rom. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:10,11;”

Reply: Again Jesus deals with divorce, not polygamy. Jesus

intended men to understand that they are bound to faithfully care

for their wives and not divorce them simply in order to marry

 

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another wife. If they desired another wife they could marry one,

but they could not divorce the first one to do so. This was a

protective measure for the wife that was God’s original intention

from the beginning.


“(3) by the enforcement of moral purity generally, Heb. 13:4,

and especially by the formal condemnation of fornication, Acts

15:20.”

 

Reply: “Moral purity” is not defiled by polygamy. It was

never so in the OT, and nothing in the NT makes it so. The “moral

purity” of Abraham, Jacob, Gideon David and all the rest was not

defiled by their polygamy. If it was, then God’s offer to give David

even more wives and concubines was an offer to defile his morality

 

even more! If a man was faithful to love and care for as many wives

as he had, he was “morally pure.” And “fornication” was never

associated with polygamy or concubinism. God’s “formal

condemnation of fornication” has less than nothing to do with

polygamy and concubinage. The meaning of the word and its

application do not allow for such a statement as the above.

Quotes from early church fathers:

 

It is always interesting to examine the writings of the earliest

church leaders, historians and writers, for what they can show us

about the attitudes of the earliest saints in spiritual matters.

 

Consider these:

“Your impudent and blind masters even until this time permit

each man to have four or five wives. And if anyone sees a beautiful

woman and desires to have her, they quote the doings of Jacob.”

(Justin Martyr, c. 160a.d.)

 

“If it were allowable to take any wife or as many wives as one

chooses – and how he chooses – David would have permitted this.

Nevertheless the men of your nation practice this all over the earth,

wherever they sojourn.” (Justin Martyr)

 

“Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have

introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives, and

are indifferent about eating meat sacrificed to idols, maintaining

that God is not greatly concerned about such matters.” (Irenaeus, c.

180).

 

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“The contracting of marriage with several wives has been done

away with from the times of the prophets. For we read, “Do not go

after your lusts, but refrain yourself from your appetites” (Sir.

18:30). And in another place, “Let your fountain be blessed and

rejoice with the wife of your youth.” This plainly forbids a plurality

of wives.” (Methodius, c. 290)

 

On qualifications for those chosen to be elders, we have statements

like these.

 

“We have already said that a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon,

when they are constituted, must be married but once, whether their

wives are alive or whether they are dead.” (Apostolic Commission,

compiled c. 390)

 

“You say “it is true that the apostle has permitted remarriage

after the death of a spouse. You also say that it is only those who

are of the clerical order that he has stringently bound to the yoke of

one marriage. For that which he prescribes to one certain person, he

does not prescribe to all.” (Tertullian, c. 217).

 

Historian and Editor, David Bercot, says this about these quotes

and many like them:

 

“(They) understood the verses above (1 Tim. 3:2, 12) to apply to

any second marriage, including a remarriage after one’s spouse had

died. If a person had been remarried for any reason, that person

was disqualified from being ordained into the clergy…The

 

Montanists went even further, prohibiting even laypersons from

remarrying after the death of their spouses.”

(all above quotes from Bercot, A Dictionary of Early Church Beliefs, p.

657)

 

These quotes prove that the church recognized and accepted

polygamy and contained much of it within their individual

fellowships. It also shows the beginnings of that same legalistic,

human law making tendency that forever plagues those trying to

find and follow simply the truth, without having to wade through

the dogmatic, hair-splitting, Scripture twisting tactics of those who

 

think they know better how the church should function, and how

humans should live, than the God who created the church and

humans.

 

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No one today, except radical legalists, holds the position that no

one is allowed to remarry even if their spouse dies. Most do not

believe that a man is disqualified from being an elder if he is

remarried after the death of his previous wife. Those today who

believe such nonsense are as wrong as these quoted above, and for

the same reasons. They are not content to allow God to say what

 

He wants to say and allow all saints to abide by God’s simple

words. They are compelled to begin splitting hairs until they have

devised a code book that goes far beyond anything God said or

intended. Like the Jews in Jesus’ day they “make many laws that are

grievous to bear,” against whom Jesus pronounced this curse: “In

vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the commandments of

men.”

 

Jesus had no patience with Phariseeism in His day, and neither

should we. It is interesting to see that the perverse nature of man’s

heart is such that within 150 years of the apostle’s deaths, the

church was beginning to adopt human rules that went beyond

God’s actual words.

 

The premise still stands it seems to us: Polygamy existed

throughout the entire era of Biblical revelation, from Moses

(Genesis), through John (Revelation). By the testimony of some of

the early church fathers it existed in the church during the first two

 

centuries. Yet when everything else was changing and there was

the one perfect opportunity – we should even say the only possible

opportunity – to set the course of the church in a different direction,

when the NT was being written, no apostle wrote a syllable about

God’s preference for monogamy. If the apostolic writings are

 

indeed our sole basis for faith and practice must we not be satisfied

with their silence on this subject? And is that silence not

profoundly significant in view of the prevalence of polygamy in

that century, even in the church? Are we justified in making our

human and fallible interpretations the rule for faith and practice in the

church? If we truly believe that God condemns polygamy now,

then:

 

Why condemn it now, but never before?

If it was acceptable in OT times, what happened that changed it

into a sin?

 

If polygamy was a blessing for David, what transformed it into a

curse for us? Certainly not God’s law, for there is no such law.

 

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The nature of polygamy has not changed. If God with His

infinite wisdom, looked with approval at polygamy in OT

times, how can we believe He looks at the same thing now, with

disapproval?

 

If it is as important as we think it is, why not a word about it in

the only book God gave us that enables us to follow His will?

Why are we left to arrive at the conclusion that polygamy is sin

by using human reasoning, rather than having a direct

revelation? Human reasoning is good for many things, but is

utterly worthless for establishing Divine law.

 

If we follow the same reasoning used to condemn polygamy,

then we must also condemn instrumental music in worship,

clapping, raising hands and dancing in worship. Anyone who

accepts any of these worship expressions, does so in the face of

the silence of the NT.

 

This study is not meant to publicly embrace or recommend

polygamy in practice or teaching. The value of this study to any

child of God is that we strive to learn truth and that we honor His

word regardless of how it may conflict with opinions and

traditions. It is a dishonor to God to dispute His word for any

reason. Once learning truth we dishonor God if, for any reason, we

 

choose man’s laws, traditions, rules, etc. over God’s truth.

Doubtless most readers would not choose polygamy even if it was

acceptable in our society. And if we must avoid the practice of

polygamy because of prevailing social mores and civil laws, we are

 

not therefore obligated to consent that man’s way is best. At all

times God’s people must affirm God’s truth above all, even when

that might incur the wrath of others.

 

We do not advocate that anyone begin a crusade to attempt to

convert the church and modern society to the position taken in this

writing. All that is necessary is that, if one believes this to be truth,

then one embrace it in relationship first with God, by admitting

 

that we have been wrong and then affirming His truth. Then we

must allow this truth to control our attitude toward those who

attempt to practice it. We cannot at the same time believe that

polygamy is basically acceptable with God, and then join those

 

who castigate Mormons, e.g. because they attempt to practice it.

And then we must, if we say anything about it at all, say what we

believe is true. If we lack the courage to say that we believe

 

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polygamy to be acceptable to God today just as it always was, then

we need to simply be silent.

 

Our conclusion:

 

Nothing in the NT changes what throughout the OT was a

widespread practice accepted by God and even granted to David as

a blessing. Polygamy was never a sin in OT, nor is there any

indication in all Scripture that God even disapproved of it. God’s

attitude did not change after Christ died. From a moral vantagepoint

a man may now, as then, have as many wives as he is able to

fully provide for and protect. From a practical vantage-point

polygamy is not tolerated in the hostile environment of our society

and should therefore be avoided.

 

CONCUBINAGE

 

First, to be sure that we know what we are considering, we will

look at the definition of this word and some comments from

modern scholars.

 

Concubine: Heb. “a paramour.” (Strong’s #6370, 3904)

“A female slave responsible for bearing children to insure

continuation of the family name. Access to the royal concubines

was viewed as a legal claim to the throne, hence they were

accorded special protection. Concubines were viewed with

 

affection by their husbands and any assault on their well being

might be cause for vengeance. Although frequently their function

was to provide sexual gratification (“man’s delight” Eccl. 2:8) they

might also be given considerable responsibility. ”

–Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 230 f.

 

“The difference between wife and concubine was less marked

among the Hebrews than among us, owing to the lack of moral

stigma. With regard to the children of wife and concubine, there

 

was no such difference as our “illegitimacy” implies. The state of

concubinage is assumed and provided for by the law of Moses. A

concubine could generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought of her

father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought;

 

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or (4) a canaanite woman, bond or free. Free Hebrew women might

also become concubines. To seize on royal concubines for his use

was often a usurper’s first act. Such was probably the intent of

Abner’s act, 2 Sam. 3:7, similarly the request on behalf of Adonijah

was construed, 1 Kg. 2:21-24. ”

– Smith’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 122 f.

 

Scriptures:

 

Let us see what the Bible actually says about concubinage. We

begin by listing all the texts that refer to polygamous relationships,

with brief notations.

Sarah asks Abraham to have sex with Hagar. There is no hint of

God’s displeasure with either Sarah or Abraham, and no

condemnation of Abraham’s “adultery(?)!” (Gen. 16:2f).

Abraham had sons by several concubines, (Gen. 25:6). Inasmuch

 

as Abraham is held forth to us as the premier example of faith and

close relationship with God (e.g. Galatians and Heb. 11) it is

passing strange that God would not say something about his

concubinage, in order at least to warn us, if God did not want us to

follow his example in that. Did God disapprove of this practice,

and yet never even hint at such displeasure to this great man of

faith, whom He called his “friend?”

 

Keturah is named as Abraham’s concubine, (1 Chron. 1:23).

Rachel gives her maid to Jacob for sex, more than once, (Gen.

30:3, 7). God does not correct. Leah also gives her maid to Jacob for

sex, (Gen. 30: 9, 12). Thus Jacob has two wives and two concubines

with whom he has sexual relations. God does not correct it,

indicating that God is not displeased with it.

 

Timna was concubine to Esau’s son Eliphaz, (Gen. 36:12).

One who buys a female slave must be fair to her. If he takes

“another woman” he may not neglect the first one. This “ordinance” is

God’s law, (Ex. 21:1, 8-10). This is God’s allowance for a man having

more than one sexual mate.

 

Gideon had a concubine who bore Abimelech, (Jdg. 8:31). He

was a valiant warrior, a faithful servant and he died without God

ever rebuking him or correcting his concubinage.

 

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A Levite takes a concubine for himself. She leaves to play the

harlot against him. He is called her “husband,” (Jdg. 19:1-3).

Saul is married to Ahinoam, (1 Kg. 14:50), and has a concubine

named Rizpah, (2 Sam. 3:7).

 

David has 10 concubines whom he leaves in charge of his house

while fleeing Absalom, (2 Sam.15:16). Absalom has sex with the 10

concubines on the roof of the palace, in the sight of all Israel, (2

Sam. 16:21,22). David isolates the 10 concubines and has no more

sex with them, (2 Sam. 20:3).

 

David grows old and cold, so his servants find a “beautiful young

virgin,” Abishag, to lie with him to keep him warm, (lKg. 1:1-4).

Why a “beautiful-young-virgin?” Obviously it is the sexual

excitement that would increase the “heat” so David would be

warm. She was to “service” David, or “to be familiar with” him in a

sexual way, (Strong’s #5532). The Septuagint (Greek Translation of

OT) renders it “to excite him.” The natural body of even an

 

extremely beautiful woman would provide no more physical

“warmth” than any of the many wives and concubines David

already had. It is the added sexual “heat” that they count on to

warm David. And since David has so many women already, what

 

difference does one more make? Abishag becomes his concubine.

Now, what might this example have to say about the nature and

definition of “lust of the flesh” and “lust of the eyes?” Why do we not

have here even a simple sentence like, “Now the Lord was not

pleased with this plan…” or something to indicate that it was

wrong, if it was?

 

David had sons by several wives, “besides the sons of the

concubines,” (1 Chron. 3:1-9).

 

As per custom, Solomon “inherited” all of David’s wives and

concubines, including Abishag, then proceeded to add hundreds

more! Adonijah asks to have Abishag for wife. Solomon is enraged

 

and has Adonijah killed, (1 Kg. 2:17-25). Solomon acquires a

“harem” of concubines and wives, (Ecc. 1:8).

 

Caleb, Jerahmeel’s brother, had a wife and 2 concubines, Ephah

and Maachah, (1 Chron. 2:42- 48).

 

Manasseh’s “Syrian concubine” bears Machir, (1 Chron. 7:14).

Rehoboam “took 18 wives and 60 concubines,” (2 Chron. 11:18).

 

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The Song of Solomon praises the beauty of the “Shulamite”

maiden and chooses her above 60 queens, 80 concubines and

virgins without number, (Song of Sol. 6:4-9). This is amazing in

light of the fact that virtually the whole church sees this story as an

allegory of Christ’s love for His church. If God detests or even

disfavors polygamy and concubinage, how can we think he would

put Christ in even a figurative position of choosing the church as the

 

best among His many wives and concubines? If polygamy and

concubinage are detestable, and if God planned to end these

practices at the cross, He would never use it as a symbol for any

part of the relationship between Christ and the church.

 

The practice of concubinage, with God’s approval, proves that

God does not fundamentally care about the number of sex partners a

person may have. The fact is clear, that God does not care

fundamentally about the sex act as such. He cares that the people

involved not do what is harmful to each other.

 

Rom. 13:10 says,

 

“Love does no wrong to his neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the

law.” In sex as in all else, God requires that we not harm others.

Otherwise, He is not demonstrably concerned with who has sex

with whom or how often. As with polygamy, concubinage

demonstrates the Biblical reality that sexual activity is not inherently

dirty, and that God’s demand is not that one man has sex with only

 

one woman for life. Concubinage, just as polygamy, provided a

God approved outlet for the greater sexual desire of the male. If

providing for the actual fulfillment of the sexual desire is not

wrong, then obviously the desire itself is not wrong. Even God

acknowledges this, by accepting, and even legislating in favor of

concubinage.

 

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