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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Did God Allow Polygamy?

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TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5832
NC, USA

 Re:

Double post


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Todd

 2015/7/25 11:10Profile
ginnyrose
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Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7512
Mississippi

 Re:

Is it sin or is it not? One could ask another question: why is this so important - are there any here that would like to take another wife? God forbid! To hanker after another woman - is it not lust when you already have one?

Back to the OT.

Let us take a look at the OT law, Deut. 25: 5-10: (NASB)

5 When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

6“It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

7“But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’

8“Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’

9then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’

10“In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’

I will be the first to declare I am glad we are not living under the OT law. This was their culture - it even predated the law as given by Moses - remember Judah and Tamar?

Why? to keep the family line going. I do not think we moderns understand its importance. Many moderns - including cousins of ours - have no grandchildren and never will. They had a couple children who never married, never had children. When they die that family line will end. Today this happens because people are limiting the size of their families; back then most of the time it was war, not a choice made by the couple.

Doing it this way was also a way to maintain the well-being of a widow. The larger family looked after her...not bad, actually.

God ordered it to be this way and when done this way it was for the welfare of the widow and to maintain the family line. But for too many it went far beyond that. Scripture proves that having multiple wives was never a wise practice. (I do wonder how it was that after Sarah died her widower took Keturah and other concubines - Gen.25:6. When Abraham took Hagar, fireworks flew).

How do you understand the Scriptures?

Sandra


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Sandra Miller

 2015/7/25 22:24Profile
TMK
Member



Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5832
NC, USA

 Re:

Perhaps an easier question can help us with this one:

Is it a sin to steal if your family is starving to death? Or does God "permit" it?


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Todd

 2015/7/26 8:14Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4582


 Re:

I agree with what sister romanchog has written. When asked about marriage, Jesus explained it quite clearly:

"And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer TWO, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6 (NASB)

Notice the emphasis of this passage. Jesus is citing how it was in the beginning -- God creating male and female, Adam and Eve. God did not make Adam and Eve and Susie. God made a male and a female together -- one female from the male. The Word of God says that the TWO become ONE flesh. This is marriage.

While polygamy was acceptable under the Old Covenant, it certainly wasn't within the context of nature (as God designed it) or even the Law. It may have been one of those issues that was legal because there was no law prohibiting it.


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Christopher

 2015/7/27 20:19Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5832
NC, USA

 Re:

Chris-

Do you believe polygamists were sinning?

Or simpler- does/did God view it as sin?


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Todd

 2015/7/28 9:19Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
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 Re:

Hi TMK,

In regard to the Old Testament, no. It was not "unlawful" to marry more than one wife. This doesn't mean that it was ideal. This doesn't mean that it was good. This doesn't mean that it was something that God smiled upon. It simply means that there was no Old Covenant prohibition to marrying more than one wife.

Interestingly, the subsequent verses in the same passage that I quoted earlier (echoing what romanchog cited) also mentions something that might be relevant in this regard:

"They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

- Matthew 19:7-9

In this, I see several things. Moses permitted divorce. This is in reference to Deuteronomy 24 where Moses explained the "law" regarding divorces. Notice that Jesus didn't say that GOD permitted divorce. Jesus said that Moses permitted divorce because of YOUR "hardness of heart." Interestingly, it seems that Jesus was pointing out that the allowance for divorce by Moses was because of the hardness of heart -- implicating contemporary Pharisees (in Jesus' time) with the Hebrews living contemporary alongside Moses.

In other words, Jesus is pointing out that what was permissible under the law was not what God had intended. However, it was allowed by Moses (who spoke on behalf of God) because of the hardness of human hearts. I wonder if we could apply the same sense of logic when it came to polygamy under the old covenant. I wonder if it was permitted under the Old Covenant because of issues of the heart? Later in the New Testament, Paul stated that it was "better to marry than to burn" with passion (I Corinthians 7:8-9). Why? Paul emphasized that this was true if "they do not have self-control."

This is speculation on my part, but I wonder whether polygamy was permitted under the Old Covenant because of a heart condition in which men lacked self-control. Lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes are two difficult things for men to overcome and "marriage" requires a two-becomes-one covenant that cannot be violated. Remember when Amnon raped his half-sister? Even by that time, I suspect that brother-sister incest was frowned upon. Yet, this poor girl pleaded with her brother to marry her saying that David "would not withhold her" from Amnon. This, Tamar argued, would prevent "disgrace" and "reproach" and prevent Amnon from being seen as "one of the fools in Israel" (II Samuel 13:1-14).

As such, I wonder if the allowance of polygamy may have been permitted for the same reason that divorce was permitted -- because of the condition of the heart. It was not something that God intended and is contrary to his plan for men and women. Jesus defined marriage as one man and one woman -- where the TWO become ONE (Matthew 19).

As for the New Testament: We are given the Spirit of God who leads us into all truth. We have the privilege of the Word of God to see on a regular basis -- something that wasn't readily available during the Old Covenant. We also understand the principles explained by Jesus in passages like Matthew 19. We know how God designed the marriage covenant. We also know that, while divorce/remarriage was permitted under the Old Covenant, it is not permitted in the New except for sexual immorality. Other passages indicate that this notion of what marriage was meant to consist of is clear in subsequent verses (e.g., overseers being married to but one wife, etc...).

The "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" -- which set us free from the "law of sin and death" -- still has principles that are eternal. These principles are simpler and cut to the root of issues. I believe that marriage is one of those clear issues from the Gospels and Epistles...hearkening back to God's original intention in Genesis for the marriage covenant.

Of course, this is just my two cents.


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Christopher

 2015/7/28 15:55Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5832
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 Re:

Hi Chris-

Thanks for your detailed response. I understand it from a logical standpoint. What I am having trouble getting my pea brain around is how God could consider something sin today that wasn't sin "yesterday". If this is true is suggests at least to me some mutability in Gods character.

I am fond of the saying "you can't judge yesterday's behavior by today's standards." I think that generally works from a human standpoint because standards change over time. When I was a kid during summer we left the house in the morning, played all over creation and came home in time for supper- maybe lunch. Today that is practically unheard of and parents would be castigated if they allowed this.

I asked earlier if it is a "sin" for a man to steal food if his family is starving. A clear problem of situational ethics. I think most Christians are against situational ethics.

But if God "allowed" polygamy then but not now, it seems He is engaging in situational ethics. And I just don't think He does.

Just to be clear- I am NOT trying to make a case for polygamy. No way Jose.


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Todd

 2015/7/28 18:41Profile
yuehan
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Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re:

Quote:
I asked earlier if it is a "sin" for a man to steal food if his family is starving. A clear problem of situational ethics. I think most Christians are against situational ethics.


There's Proverbs 6:30-31 - "Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house."

 2015/7/28 19:53Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4582


 Re:

I wouldn't call it "situational ethics." I think that Jesus made it clear what the Lord's position on marriage was from the very beginning through his words in Matthew 19.

Rather, I think that the thing to consider is the manner in which God allowed men to have a free will and establish their own laws. I recently read some news about how Spain is raising the marrying age from 14 to 16 (which is more in line with most other nations in Europe).

So, what would God's opinion be about such matters?

Obviously, God is opposed to child abuse, rape, sexual immorality, etc... However, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) doesn't really take a position on the matter. Rather, it seems that this is mankind setting up their own laws based upon whatever norms or moral directives seem to be important at any given time. The same could be said about a whole plethora of laws.

In other words, I think that this is just an example of how God allowed men to rule or govern themselves. As believers, we do this with the fear of the Lord. We are not ruled by the flesh but by the Spirit. In certain issues, I think that the rule of I Corinthians 6 is a good thing to consider -- all things being lawful but not all things being expedient.

For us, of course, we have the explanation of Jesus in Matthew 19 and other words in the epistles. God designed marriage to be for one man and one woman. This was the example that we were supposed to follow. Mankind did not always follow this example and, instead, designed their own rules out of the lack of specific law pertaining to it. Men -- and governments of men -- came up with their laws. It isn't that God embraced those laws, but He permitted men to make their own. Like I said, this may have been because of the condition of hearts.


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Christopher

 2015/7/28 20:03Profile
Sree
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Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1908


 Re:


Quote:

What I am having trouble getting my pea brain around is how God could consider something sin today that wasn't sin "yesterday". If this is true is suggests at least to me some mutability in Gods character.

....But if God "allowed" polygamy then but not now, it seems He is engaging in situational ethics. And I just don't think He does.




TMK, I answered this in detail in this thread already. Please let me know if it really makes sense. The answer is very simple, men did not have control over their lusts in Old Covenant. But in New Covenant we have his Spirit to empower us.
I have quoted my own example to explain how the idea of God not counting Polygamy as a sin under Old Covenant does not validate the fact that God (Jesus) is same yesterday, today and tomorrow.


Quote:

Sin is in short anything that displeases God. Laws are nothing but boundaries that God has given to live a life that pleases him.

Let me explain this with a simple example. Suppose you have a 6 months old baby. You certainly do not like this baby to urinate in your bed. But when the baby does that you do not discipline the baby for urinating on the bed. You know that the baby cannot control urine nor does it have knowledge about how this hurts you. So you tolerate this act of the baby. But you also put a diaper so that even if the baby urinates on your bed, it does not affect much. This is exactly what God did with people of Old Testament. God did not like Polygamy but did not count it as Sin because men were powerless in Old Covenant to control their sexual desires. But it certainly did not please God. The very first book of Bible is Job (based on when it was written). God choose to write about a man who lived with a single wife.

Now when you have a 10 year old, you certain do not like this kid to urinate in your bed. So when the kid does it you disciple this kid. You tell the kid how much you hate this action of his. Are you a changed parent between this 6 month old and 10 year old? No you are the same, you hate the action of urinating the same, but you behave differently to each of them based on their capacity to obey.


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Sreeram

 2015/7/29 1:12Profile





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