“Why God allowed polygamy”
Most people today view polygamy as immoral while the Bible nowhere explicitly condemns it. The first instance GOD allowed polygamy in the Bible was that of Lamech in Genesis 4:19: “Lamech married two women.” Several prominent men in the Old Testament were polygamists. Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others all had multiple wives. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, according to 1 Kings 11:3.
How do we explain these instances that God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament. This brings up three questions that need to be answered:
1) Why God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament? 2) How does God view polygamy today? 3) Why did it change?“
1) The Bible does not specifically say why God allowed polygamy. As we speculate about God’s silence, there are a few key factors to consider. First, while there are slightly more male babies than female babies, due to women having longer lifespans, there have always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5 percent of the world population are women. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. The significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation.
So, it appears that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While this is not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. Besides the protection factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to multiply and replenish the earth. (Genesis 9:7). Men are capable of impregnating multiple women during the same time period, causing humanity to grow much faster.
2) How does God view polygamy today? Even while allowing polygamy, the Bible presents monogamy as the plan which conforms most closely to God’s ideal for marriage. The Bible says,“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave unto to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). In our time the Mormon Church practiced polygamy until the Church abandoned polygamy in the 1890’s. Even the Book of Mormon says that a man must only have one wife unless the Lord commands otherwise. “Jacob 2:24-30”
In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 it says “the husband of one wife” in a list of qualifications for spiritual leadership. There is some debate as to what specifically this qualification means. It would appear that while these qualifications are specifically for positions of spiritual leadership, they should also apply equally to all Christians. Should not all Christians be “above reproach and be required to keep the same standards as the leaders.
Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives. When referring to a husband, it always also refers to a wife (singular). “For the husband is the head of the wife [singular].He who loves his wife [singular] loves himself. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:22-33 is specifically describing the marital relationship.
3) Why did it change? It is not so much God’s disallowing something He previously allowed as it is God’s restoring marriage to His original plan. Even going back to Adam and Eve, it doesn’t appear that polygamy was God’s original intent. God seems to have allowed polygamy to solve a problem, but it is not the ideal. In most modern societies, there is little need for polygamy. In most cultures today, women are able to provide for and protect themselves. Further more, most modern nations outlaw polygamy. According to Romans 13:1-7, we are to obey the laws the government establishes. The only instance in which disobeying the law is permitted by Scripture is if the law contradicts God’s commands (Acts 5:29). Since God only allows for polygamy, and does not command it, a law prohibiting polygamy should be upheld. It is this writers opinion that polygamy would only be needed in the event of a nuclear or world war, where many of the men were killed. This would leave an excess of women with many of the women unable to find husbands.
Recommended Resource: Bible Answers for Almost all Your Questions by Elmer Towns