More on Christian Polygamy

Yesterday I wrote briefly regarding the heinous claim of Christian polygamy. While I could rant from passage to passage in the Bible, I want to give a big picture of what marriage is. Yes, David had more than one wife and is heralded as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13.14). What are Christians supposed to do with this?

He was indeed a man after God’s heart, but he also committed adultery. The fact is that he is not commended for his polygamy but for his pursuit of God. In other words David’s relationship with other women is not commended and should not be emulated. Why? Because the Scriptures make clear what was obscure before. God looked over the sins of the past (Rom 3.25).

[[NOTE: Any time you hear me speak of interpreting the Bible you must keep in mind that I want to look at the passages across a timeline. That is, God progressively revealed himself to his people. By virtue of our finitude we need to receive instruction in chunks. To try to swallow too much will choke us to death.]]

With the revelation of Jesus, mysteries from the past are manifested. He is our infallible interpreter.

When the Sadducees sought to trip Jesus up by asking him about marriage he confounded them (Mt 22.23-33). He taught that marriage would not be in effect in heaven. It is a temporary institution for us to reflect the glory and love of God. Why is it temporary? It is meant to be a testimony to Christ’s love for the Church. It is a reflection of a greater reality. Once the marriage takes place between Christ and his Bride, there will be no more marriage (contrary to Mormon teaching).

Related to this, it will be helpful to look at Revelation 19 and 21. This is a glorious picture of the consummation of the age. Verse 19.7 speaks of what it is going to look like:
        
                 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
                for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
                and his Bride (
γυνὴ) has made herself ready;

Notice that the Lamb does not have many wives – he has one. What a glorious picture! When Christ came to redeem his people, he came with the specific purpose of marrying his one Bride. He had his eyes set on one woman.

Again, in 21.9 one of the seven angels says to John, “Come, I will show you the Bride (νύμφην), the wife of the Lamb.” In this instance as well, Christ came to redeem his wife.

Marriage here on earth is given to point to a greater reality. This is hard for our culture to understand as marriage is nothing more than two folks living in the same house. The website I mentioned yesterday says that it is not trying to re-define marriage. Anything that promotes marriage to more than one wife most certainly is trying to re-define marriage! This was the purpose from the Garden of Eden. Jesus taught that the purpose is found in the Garden (Mt 19.4-6). God did not pull ribs from Adam’s side. He pulled one rib and made one woman to be Adam’s companion. This is what was intended from the beginning…but man is hard of heart and is not willing to accept the teaching without the Spirit of God. And so that’s why there is polygamy in the Scriptures. And that is why a Christian cannot affirm it. It is a picture of the beautiful marriage between the One Redeemer and his One Redeemed.

6 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christian Living, Family | Parenting, Interpretation, Theology

6 responses to “More on Christian Polygamy

  1. Matt, solid post! As I progress through the engagement period toward marriage, I find that I experience Jesus in ever-increasing depths. To think that I am the apple of His eye, and that He loves me infinitely more than I could ever dream of loving Jenny is simply amazing. I would love to discuss Italy and the Kingdom anytime.

  2. Hey Matt! Here’s a couple things I was thinking about while reading this.

    I understand your context for the use of temporary and I think it is useful when ministering in a monolithicaly LDS environment, however I think creating this new application of it is too easily misunderstood in the overall societal environment and low considerations of marriage. I would certainly agree though that the existence of marriage throughout 80 years (man) or many years (creation) is temporary compared to it’s non-existence in the infinite.

    I may be misunderstanding this but in your note you say that you see God revealing himself in passages accross a timeline. The Old Testament law is quite detailed and it seems odd that God would give a myriad of requirements and often in great detail (tassels, fabric mixing, lamb in it’s mother’s milk, etc.) but somehow he forgot the monogamy section. Certainly all those regulations are “too much to swallow”. It seems that it would be much easier to accept and follow monogamy than many of the laws that one could very easily break.

    This kind of discussion also needs to deal with 2 Samuel 12:8, where God can give wives as a gift and has done so. DOH!

    I found this interesting tidbit in the old Geneva Bible notes on Deuteronomy 21:15, “This declares that the plurality of wives came from a corrupt affection.”

    This would be a lot easier if we had a wise saying from Solomon like, “You know all those wives I have? Even thought I’m the smartest guy ever, that was really stupid.” Upon coronation, Solomon was supposed have a ceremony with the priests and he was to write in book that God didn’t want him to accumulate horses, wives, and gold and read this every day of his life. (Deut. 17:16)

    Interesting posts!

  3. Good point. I should have been clearer. Thank you. I believe that monogamy is very clear from the beginning of Creation – this is why I mention Jesus’ polemic against the Sadducees. When I say that God reveals himself over time I am referring to what the monogamous marriage in the Garden was intended to convey.

    In other words, there might have been some justification for Israel to take many wives, but it is IMPOSSIBLE for Christians to affirm polygamy due to the fact that the shadow of marriage points to the substance of Christ’s redeeming love for his One Bride, the Church.

    Make sense?

  4. Yeah that makes more sense. So in this case, the revealing is Christ and his bride and not further regulations for marriage right?

    So Christian marriages need to accurately display this metaphor but ancient hebrew and pagan ones don’t or may not have? (modern ones also)

    I don’t like where this is going. God’s purpose in history is to point us to Christ. Especially in the law and his relationship with the ancient Israelites. To diminish that seems to go in the wrong direction.

  5. You don’t like where what is going, my hermeneutic? Or the whole marriage issue in our culture? If the former then I need to clarify my thoughts more. Just let me know what you don’t like about it…

    If the latter, I would agree and will be posting on more marriage issues in today’s culture…If you’d like, give me questions you would like for me to deal with…I’ll try my best.

  6. “He was indeed a man after God’s heart, but he also committed adultery. ”

    David did indeed commit adultery.

    Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
    Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?

    He slept with the wife of another man, Uriah the Hittite. Before that though he was married to Michal, Abigail, Ahinoam, but that was not Adultery.

    After his sin, God says to him through Nathan the prophet:

    1 Kings 15:5
    For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

    Adultery was not right in the eyes of the LORD, and was a failure to keep the LORD’s commands. So David married Michal, Abigail, and Ahinoam while he was “what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life”

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