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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The husband of one wife

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lightwalker
Member



Joined: 2007/4/27
Posts: 52
Missouri

 The husband of one wife

To be considered for the ministry, a man had to be the husband of one wife. I have seen a lot of mean spirited debate about this[ not here] and I truly wish to discuss this with others who might have seen this in another way than I have seen it enforced.

Now when this was written men were allowed to have more than one wife. In fact I have never seen it forbidden. What I am throwing out is this: Did he mean the number and not remarried? It seems to me that if a man through no fault of his own loses his wife to whoredom or because she was an unbeliever that as the scripture says he is not bound any longer. Any comments?


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Melody

 2007/5/16 6:15Profile









 Re: The husband of one wife

Quote:
Now when this was written men were allowed to have more than one wife.



Actually, in the Jewish culture, that is not true. Polygamy was present in the first century only in a particular subset of Palestinian Judaism (not in Roman society, Greek society, Diaspora Jewish communities, the Hillel-school, or Dead Sea Sect), and generally confined to the aristocracy. While we read about David and Solomon and others in the OT who practiced polygamy, God never gave His blessing on that practice. In fact, multiple women were really a hamstring to both David and Solomon.

I dont believe that polygamy was ever God's plan because marriage is a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His Church. Scripture is repleat with references to "cleaving" and such.

So when Paul wrote what he wrote, it was to people who understood marriage the same way we do now, and it was to [b]gentiles[/b] who were saved out of pagan societies where polygamy was practiced... and Paul was showing them a "better way", God's way. One man, one woman.

Quote:
In fact I have never seen it forbidden.



The recording of historical acts, including instances of polygamy, is not necessarily an endorsement of it by God. The Bible records both good and bad actions of people, even people considered to be righteous. The fact that David and Solomon had several wives and that it's in the Bible doesn't automatically imply that God was pleased by it, any more than the records of David's adultery and the arguments in the early church implies God's approval of either.

It's like if I make the statement "In North Carolina slavery was legal at one time." That does not mean that I think it was acceptable, I'm just stating a fact.

Monogamy is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 - it was God's intention from the beginning. While God did allow polygamy for a time, it was probably for the same reason as his allowance of divorce: "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" (Mt 19:8).

Rampant polygamy (and possibly all polygamy) was prohibited for kings, because it would cause them to turn from God (Dt 17:17). The Israelites should have reasoned that if this were true for kings, it would be true for others, hence polygamy was something they ought to avoid.

[b]Mat 19:8-9[/b] [i]He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away [b]his wife[/b], except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.[/i]

"Wife" is implied singular. The key thing to note here is that this argument fails if polygamy is acceptable! Jesus' point is that improper divorce does not nullify a marriage, and if the first marriage still stands, then a "second" marriage is adultery... and NOT simply 'polygamy'! This is very clear.

The NT is rather clear... for both forms of polygamy: polygyny and polyandry... that monogamy is important to God's will, and that entering into polygamy is committing adultery.

The early church fathers understood this clearly and plainly:

[b]Justin Martyr:[/b] [i]"Your imprudent and blind masters [i.e., Jewish teachers] 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." [ANF, vol. 1, p. 266] [/i]

[b]Irenaeus[/b] (writing about the Gnostics): [i]"Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives..." [ANF, vol. 1, p.353] [/i]

[b]Tertullian:[/b] [i]"Chapter II.-Marriage Lawful, But Not Polygamy. We do not indeed forbid the union of man and woman, blest by God as the seminary of the human race, and devised for the replenishment of the earth and the furnishing of the world, and therefore permitted, yet Singly. For Adam was the one husband of Eve, and Eve his one wife, one woman, one rib. (ANF: Tertullian, To His Wife) [/i]

[b]Methodius:[/b] [i]"The contracting of marriage with several wives had 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'...And in another place, 'Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.' This plainly forbids a plurality of wives." [ANF, vol. 6, p.312] [/i]

What this means for us is that one must look at the more "principle-like" statements about a topic, for guidance as to what the will and heart of God is about a subject, rather than the exceptions in history. The statements of principle about polygamy... like the statements of principle about divorce... indicate the behavioral norm that we are to follow. The exceptions in history to those overarching statements of principle and life are just that... exceptions, called forth by either extreme situations or called forth by our own moral weakness... hardness of heart.

Quote:
What I am throwing out is this: Did he mean the number and not remarried?



Paul was speaking to divorce & remarriage. Clearly if a man remarries after his wife passes away, he has done nothing that would call his personal character into question. That is the heart of what Paul is talking about. A pastor much be above reproach. Not perfect, but his character must be such that he does not bring reproach upon the name of God.

Quote:
It seems to me that if a man through no fault of his own loses his wife to whoredom



Well... I've been around long enough, and seen enough, to know that if a husband losing his wife to whoredom he is not blameless. Something in that marriage was not right, and it takes two people to completely ruin a marriage, especially if it's the wife who strays. If a husband is being a godly husband and sacrificing his life for her as Christ did the Church... then 99% of the time she will not stray.

Quote:
or because she was an unbeliever that as the scripture says he is not bound any longer.



This is a good question, but I think the purity of the office of pastor is the priority. I think in this situation it needs to be looked at with prayer and discernment. Say they have kids together. This pastor would then be dealing with all kinds of family issues and things of that nature, and what Paul is getting at here is not only character, but also leading by example.

I think to maintain the purity that Paul was getting at, my answer would be "no". That doesnt mean that this man can not serve in other capacities, he certainly can. But not as a shepherd.

I've seen divorced people be used mightly of God. I have no problem with that at all. What raises a red flag for me is when someone is divorced and remarried and becomes contentious about wanting to be a shepherd, even tho they are shown the clear teaching of Paul on this matter. It's at that point that it becomes clear that this person is not interested in submission, or even obedience.

On a side note... since we have a Presidential candidate who is running that is a Mormon, we'll be hearing a lot about polygamy over the next year. Personally, I like his stand on the issues, and I'll be voting for either him or McCain (tho I'm not real excited about McCain's stand on abortion, I need to look into that further)... but anyway, the Mormon church outlawed polygamy in the mid-1800's. Why? They say devine revelation. Just so happens that that devine revelation coincided with Utah wanting to become a state... and the Federal government telling them they could not become a state until they outlawed polygamy.

Krispy

 2007/5/16 7:48
lightwalker
Member



Joined: 2007/4/27
Posts: 52
Missouri

 Re:

Thanks for your comments Krispy, some very good insights. I know that God meant one husband and one wife, but I also see nowhere that it is forbidden. Neither do I see anywhere it is approved of. It just seems to me I mean that it is not ever spoken against even for kings except that a warning is given to not marry unbelivers as they will turn away your heart from God. As in Solomons case.
I agree that the character of a shepherd is the most important thing. But I really do think this was referring to more than one wife at a time.
Also in Lev 18:18 God forbids a man to take his wifes sister to wife at the same time, as it would vex his wife. It seems that acceptance of pologamy is implied here.
Anyway I seem to be getting off the subject, I just think that maybe we have this mixed up and I have seen a lot of meaness on this subject. It seemed to me that Paul might have been referring to the number and not divorce.
I think that it is hard to understand a lot of things in the bible as we do not live under the same customs and because the customs of the times were the norm and no one talked about them, we might get the wrong Idea. Like headcoverings, or long hair on a man, what about baptizing for the dead? so many things we see different from the early church...


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Melody

 2007/5/16 8:48Profile
lastblast
Member



Joined: 2004/10/16
Posts: 528
Michigan

 Re: The husband of one wife

Quote:
It seems to me that if a man through no fault of his own loses his wife to whoredom or because she was an unbeliever that as the scripture says he is not bound any longer. Any comments?



Hello lightwalker,

I agree with Krispy---- I do not believe that passage refers to polygamy as it was not a common practice in those days. Divorce also, though possibly common in the Jewish community, was not common in Roman society. One of the early church fathers even stated in their writings that divorce is something not seen in their society in over 500 years (so even in the Gentile world it was not common). I had always thought that "husband of one wife" meant that no remarried man (who had a living wife) could serve in the church in an elder/deacon position. In such cases, it would be no different than polygamy. In both situations, there are multiple wives living, so neither are permitted to serve.

Also, I must say that since I believe scriptures to teach that ANY remarried person is living in adultery if they have a living spouse (whether that spouse committed adultery in the marriage OR is an unbeliever---Rom. 7:2-3, I Cor. 7:39), it stands to reason to me that no such person living in a state of sin should serve in any church ministry.

Another passage leads me to believe that Paul may indeed have been speaking of those men who have been married ONLY one time----including widowers who have not taken a second wife after the passing of their covenant wife. This passage caused/causes me to question whether a widower who has remarried should be serving as elder/deacon: I Tim. 5:3-16.

I ask myself this: why does Paul limit the taking into the number widows who have had ONLY ONE HUSBAND? To me, understanding this takes further investigation. I think it has much to do with how God values first marriages (orginal covenant marriages). I think many of the Early Church writers understood this "bond", yet some writers went off on tangents that are, to me, clearly unbiblical. Scripture teaches that widows/widowers ARE free to marry again (though Paul thought it better to remain single), so reading the writings of such men as Tertullian, in which he states that remarriage for widows/widowers is akin to a form of adultery, was shocking. Yet, in some way, I understand how he may have come to that idea. One marriage---for life---IS the better way----IS the TRUE representation of Jesus and the Church. We also have to consider that when one marries again after losing a spouse, all the "mingling" of families can cause a stir/problems which one does not see with intact(original) Godly families. I'm sure my ponderings will elicit response, but I welcome the dialogue as some of these things are not set in stone in my mind-----just thoughtful ponderings.........Blessings.........


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Cindy

 2007/5/16 8:50Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4582


 Re: The husband of one wife

Hi lightwalker...

Leonard Ravenhill once joked that a man can no longer have two wives -- because "NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS."

:-P

Sorry, but I couldn't help to include this in the discussion!


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Christopher

 2007/5/16 9:14Profile









 Re:

Quote:
I just think that maybe we have this mixed up and I have seen a lot of meaness on this subject.



I can admit that some people can go over the edge and cast condemnation on others. However, I think that we've become so feminized that now we view anyone who takes a strong stand on anything as being mean spirited and hateful. Thats not true.

I take a strong stand on this subject, but those who know me personally know it's not a matter of hatred at all for me. It's a matter of obedience. Recently this topic came up here, and out of nowhere someone accused me of just wanting all Christian women to bow down in submission to me. What a foolish thing for someone who doesnt know a thing about me to say.

See... it's perceived as mean-ness now-a-days when anyone takes a stand. I'll say "homosexuality is a sin", and in this country people call you hateful. It's not hateful. It's the truth.

If there is a flood down the road, and I stop you and warn you so you dont drown... is that hate? Is that mean? No. It's a very loving thing to do. Why do people consider it hateful and mean when they are warned about sin?

I know you werent saying that about me. Dont worry, I'm not chewing you out. Just trying to offer a different view. It's not mean to take a stand and say "the Bible says 'husband of one wife'... and thats what it means."

Does that make sense?

Krispy

 2007/5/16 9:54
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I know that God meant one husband and one wife, but I also see nowhere that it is forbidden. Neither do I see anywhere it is approved of.


Please don't misunderstand my point here. I am not advocating polygamy. We are in a different dispensation.

However, polygamy was not only permitted, under certain conditions, it was commanded!!!“If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.”
(Deuteronomy 25:5-10 KJVS)This is known as [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yibbum]Levirate Marriage.[/url]


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Ron Bailey

 2007/5/16 10:26Profile









 Re:

.... guess we better start checkin' to make sure everyone's shoes are tied! lol

I guess I always assumed these brothers were not married. This is an interesting thought. I still stand by what I posted earlier tho.

Krispy

 2007/5/16 10:41
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I guess I always assumed these brothers were not married. This is an interesting thought. I still stand by what I posted earlier tho.


Just to stir things up a little in friendly provocation...

1Tim. 3:2 (KJVS) A bishop then must be blameless, [b]the husband of one wife[/b], vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Titus 1:6 (KJVS) If any be blameless, [b]the husband of one wife[/b], having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

1Tim. 5:9 (KJVS) Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been [b]the wife of one man[/b], The construction of 'husband of one wife' is exactly the same construction as 'wife of one man'. (the word 'aner' being translated as both husband and man.) This is referring to a woman who is a widow so we are clearly not talking about 'one at a time husbands' and whereas polygamy was not unknown in the 1st century polyandry was unknown, as far as I can tell.

Some 'high church' people in the Anglican church would interprete the 'husband of one wife' as being an absolute stipulation and would not agree even to a widower remarrying.

Others categorically deny eldership to any who have had more than one wife, historically. This usually means they would not consider a divorcee eligable for the role of eldership.


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Ron Bailey

 2007/5/16 11:11Profile
JaySaved
Member



Joined: 2005/7/11
Posts: 1131
Kentucky

 Re:

Let us not forget 1 Timothy 5:14,

"I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." (KJV)

If it is wrong for a woman to have at least two husbands in her lifetime (one at a time of course), then why does Paul encourage the younger widows to marry?

Note: younger women in the context means the younger widows.

 2007/5/16 11:31Profile





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