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.