Polygamy Error – Can Christians Marry more than one wife?
No. Please consider the Biblical reasons below:
(i) God’s Will
God’s Will has always been one man-one wife since creation itself —> as He created only one wife for Adam, namely, Eve.
Here’s a one man-one wife, example verse (please note the singular term mentioned):
“But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2, NASB)
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NASB)
Please note that it’s not Written in the above verse revealing God’s Perfect Will that ‘three or more shall become one flesh’ but only exactly, ‘two shall become one flesh’ (the numerical quantifiers present in this verse make it even more obvious).
(ii) Spiritual Leaders (e. g. Bishops or Deacons) both must have “one wife only” as a requirement for leadership itself
“Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.” (1 Timothy 3:12, NASB)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” (1 Timothy 3:2, KJV)
(iii) What if I already married several wives before becoming a Christian?
Only in such cases, they’re to “remain in that state” but can never assume spiritual leadership positions as point (ii) above implies as verse below mentions:
“Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.” (1 Corinthians 7:20, NASB)
The context is correct here since 1 Corinthians 7 is a chapter discussing marriage & its Laws primarily.
Also, the verse above refers to only non-Christians remaining in the state in which they are called to believe and cannot be manipulated by Christians to try justify polygamy (God cannot be tricked and He Will Judge it accordingly).
(iv) How about Old Testament patriarchs who had more than one wife?
Such patriarchs often succumbed to human weaknesses and had more than one wife. If you notice carefully, God never commanded any of them to seek more than one wife.
They seeked more than one wife on account of their own desires. Not all though. There are patriarchs who only had one wife —-> example, the Jewish model for marriage is often patriarch Isaac who only had one wife!
God didn’t punish them seriously nor put it in the Torah explicitly but rather allowed such practice in the Old Covenant (just like He allowed divorce due to the ‘hardness of men’s hearts’ even though it’s never His Will, Matthew 19:8, Mark 10:5) —-> so just because it’s in the Old Testament Law, it didn’t make it God’s Will in the past but only as something legal (allowed due to men’s hardened hearts who desire such things, e. g. Divorce and in analogy, polygamy).
“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved,
then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn before the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn.
“But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.” (Deuteronomy 21:15 – 17, NASB)
God’s Perfect Will has always been Monogamy for Marriage.
The Old Covenant’s practice of polygamy (in “times past”) is not endorsed and nor is it to be carried forward into the New Covenant (as no verse exists in the New Testament approving polygamy).
Thus God has Commanded men ‘everywhere’ to ‘repent’ and ‘obey the Gospel’ (including His New Testament Laws, ‘no’ Lawlessness) where ‘one-husband-wife rule’ exists for example in the New Testament verses quoted prior too. This ‘command of repentance’ by Him overlooking the errors of the patriarchs too of the past times (implied) is clear from verse below:
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,” (Acts 17:30, NASB)
This primarily Jewish based error of promoting polygamy among Christians based on the “error” (and not obedience) of their patriarchs should not be carelessly carried over into Christianity causing “lawlessness” in this aspect.
Let us be wise.
“Lawlessness” is very serious as verses below describe and May God have Mercy on whom He Wills:
“And then I will declare unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart you from Me, those working lawlessness.'” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:23, BLB)