Why did God allow Polygamy?

marriage talk

In today’s marriage talk, Pastor Priji enlightens us about the idea of multiple partners in the form of extra-marital affairs or polygamy. We will discuss why God had brought polygamy into the world.


Welcome to today’s Marriage Talk!

We all grow in our journey of marriage, and we need to understand the purpose and never give up on our marriage. We must understand the Biblical perspective of marriage and not tend to follow other perspectives. We go to every other source other than God is a mistake we all tend to make. When we look around and let our culture play a role in our decisions which are bound to be deceived and it’s not God’s best for us. God’s best is only available is in God’s heart.

The concept of extramarital affairs has been plaguing our generation. The idea of multiple partners is brought out by extramarital affairs or polygamy. A justification for multiple affairs was said that, in the scriptures, during the olden days, patriarchs had multiple affairs and relationships. It is complete manipulation. In the Bible, during the polygamy culture, everyone knew what was happening and there was nothing to hide. In our phase of lives, polygamy is illegal and not socially accepted. It becomes completely miscommunicated.

The Biblical original perspective of marriage is that a man must leave his mother and father and become one in flesh with his wife. Even though Adam had several needs and wants, God never made several other people help him but only Eve to complete and provide for all his needs.

As hard as it looked, God still expected Adam and Eve to experience wholeness between just each other. Today we look at each other and say he or she doesn’t have everything I need and doesn’t have what it takes to fill these certain holes in some areas. If we want to experience the wholeness of marriage, we need to look at our spouse as everything that we will ever need in our life. We have to look at our wife and say that she is everything that we need, even if she’s educated or not, even if she’s the way that we expected her to look or not. If there is any lack in our spouse, we need to be there to help and bring them up.

The Bible talks about the relationship of Jesus with the church, it says Jesus gave up his life for the church so that he can equip her and make her glorious, beautiful, without any blame and then get married to her. This is how Jesus has his relationship with the church. I believe this is how you and I need to function even in our marriages. If there is any lack, you are not going to go look for a different spouse.

This is the heart with which we need to look at marriage. This is what will help us avoid all types of extra-marital affairs. Having understood that, it is necessary that we still have answers as to why and where did polygamy begin in scripture. I think it can be traced back to Genesis 4, this is the first recorded instance of polygamy, where it says Lamech had 2 wives and show that this guy was a murderer, he was in fact a great great grandson of Cane. Let’s talk about Cane, to understand what he gave birth to. You can see, Cane is the one who gave birth to Lamech and Lamech is the one who started this polygamous marriage which got adopted into the culture much much later.

Who was Cane? He was somebody who was excommunicated from a family that God has blessed and ordained to fill the earth. This was not the kind of character that God wanted in the family that He created. God cursed Cane, kicked him out from being part of the family God had blessed. So Cane goes to a place where he builds his own civilization there and that is where Lamech is born and that is where polygamy starts. Later on, it becomes so common and natural that several people including Abraham, Elkanah, David, Solomon and so on, had multiple wives.

We need to understand the root of polygamy was coming from a place where Cane was living outside of a covering. Everything that happened under Adam and Eve, there was a covering and protection. Adam and Eve lived for about 900 years and they had walked with God. So they would have definitely taught their children what to do and not to do in marriage, about all the ordained principles. Now, here is this man who walks out of that covering who has to be living all by himself and then he forms his own laws and lawlessness, without boundaries or principles, hence nothing is there to protect them from making mistakes. So a setup like that is where polygamy was conceived.

When we remember that, we should understand that the root of this institution is not in God.

Adam had his eyes only on Eve, the only person Adam wanted or desired for was Eve. Eve only desired Adam. That is how God had ordained marriage to be, how it was supposed to function. Now if you look at Cane and his civilization, it is all outside that ordinance, that is why there is no blessing there.

Then Adam and Eve multiply to produce much later, Noah. Noah found favour with God when God had decided to wipe away the cruel, twisted, wicked world where everyone did whatever horrendous act they wanted. The new family we see is Noah and his family, which is a monogamous family, which is how God intends marriage to be, where 1+1=1 (in marriage).

But why did God not condemn polygamy?

Because, there are several sins in the bible where God explicitly expresses his displeasure against, yet when it comes to polygamy, God did not really express his displeasure against it. In fact, if you look at Deuteronomy, it gives provision for one to take a second wife and still take care of the first wife. That has to make us think why God allowed polygamy even though it wasn’t His original intent.

For that, we need to understand what Jesus spoke with the disciples about divorce. The disciples ask him about divorce being normal since Moses had instituted divorce being legal, but this is the response Jesus gives them ‘This is not how my father intended it to be, but due to the hardness of your hearts is why Moses instituted this’.

We need to understand that as anointed as the men who walked with God were, their hearts were still not renewed. In the heart of hearts is where all of our life is. The heart is the seat of everything in our life, bible says we need to guard our hearts. Jesus says ‘it is not what goes into your body that defiles it but what comes out of your heart because out of your heart comes all kinds of evil’. Jesus came to die not just for our body but also to renew our hearts. When the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about this, prophet Ezekiel talked about how there will take place a transformation of our hearts from stone to flesh. What God had in mind from the beginning was to transform our hearts, from the inside out.

Many people write about different reasons why polygamy was essential and needed in those Old Testament days, for instance, those who die in battle and the widows would not have anyone to do life with, hence there was a need for a second marriage. Same way, we look for means to justify what’s going on in the world, with polygamy, homosexuality, transgenderism. Is that God’s original design for marriage though? Absolutely not.

In the New Testament, we don’t have to tolerate a relationship outside of marriage, we can go back to a Garden-of-Eden sort of marriage because we have transformed hearts. We can have fruitful, Godly, glorious marriages.

May this bring perspectives to your marriage and doubts. Marriage was always supposed to be between 2 people and not a 3rd person, that is why God intends for the man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. As special as a relationship is between the son and his parents, God has intended for separation between them so clear out interference in Godly marriage.

Paul has said that when one has sexual relations with a prostitute, he becomes on with her. We need to protect our oneness. We cannot go become one with everybody.

The Bible says that we have a renewed heart, so you do not have to get out of your marriage if you have had a polygamous relationship or maybe an addiction to online pornography etc because God has given you a heart that can be moulded, transformed and renewed from the inside out. When we do allow God to work on us that deeply, our marriage will turn out to be beautiful and glorify God. God does not want you to give up because of a struggle you have had, a sin or a problem, He wants us to be renewed and work on ourselves and our relationship. There is tremendous hope for any marriage where Jesus is involved in it.

The question is not whether polygamy is right or wrong, but it is how much importance does Jesus have in our life decisions.

Before you talk about your marriage, you need to ask yourself is Jesus the centre of your life first. If Jesus is at the centre, then your marriage and every other aspect of your life will thrive.

I am not saying anyone should endure physical abuse and be okay with it, I have seen God still breakthrough for them and transform the couple, healing them with a God-glorifying union.

Don’t make the marriages that are failing as your role model, but look at those that are fashioned after the one in the garden of Eden. When you do that, you will see the fruit and favour of God in it.

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