Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 1

PolygamyPic1

Popular opinion is not always right

According to a Gallup poll taken in May of 2013, 83% of Americans believed polygamy was immoral while only 14% believed it was morally acceptable.

In this same survey, gay or lesbian relations shot from being 40% acceptable in 2001 to being accepted as a moral lifestyle by 59% of Americans in 2013.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/162689/record-high-say-gay-lesbian-relations-morally.aspx

This post is not about gay relations, but I list it for a reason.  The reason is that the majority opinion is not always right, man’s opinions sway back and forth, but God’s opinions do not.

Defining the Terms

Let’s first get the terms correct.  I had to reference Polygamy for this article because that is what most people will look for on this subject.   Technically we are talking about the practice of Polygyny.  Polygamy refers to practice of someone having multiple spouses.  Polygyny refers to the practice of a man having multiple wives. Polyandry refers to the practice of a woman having multiple husbands (this practice has been rare in the history of the world, but it has occurred and still occurs in some places). Polyandry is expressly forbidden by the Biblical concept that woman was made for man, and not man for woman.  If a woman were to try and marry a second husband she would in essence be committing adultery against her first husband and she would have been put to death for this.

Monogamy strictly speaking refers to a person having only one spouse.  For the purpose of this article I am referring to the heterosexual type of monogamy.

One other term we need to define is concubine. A concubine in Biblical times was a “slave wife”, as opposed to a “free wife”. A good example of this would be Sarah and Hagar in relation to Abraham. Hagar was a slave woman who worked for Sarah(a free woman), and she gave him to her husband Abraham to give him an heir. God did not have a problem with Abraham taking Hagar as second wife, but the problem was in his wife seeing this child of the slave woman as Hagar to Abraham to produce an heir in direct contradiction to God’s promise that Sarah would bear Abraham’s heir.

In most cases a slave wife’s children would have little or no inheritance compared to the children of the free wives of the husband. However there are some cases, such as Jacob’s two concubines (the servants of his two wives) where their sons were granted full rights.

Often time’s concubines were also referred to as wives such as Keturah (Abraham’s concubine). But if a woman was a slave she was a concubine, whether she was called a wife or not.

From this point forward when I use polygamy and polygyny interchangeably – I am referring to the polygynous type of polygamy.

One last item I want to clarify – I am not arguing that monogamy is wrong.  I am arguing that monogamy and polygamy have been and continue to be perfectly acceptable before God. So in essence I am arguing against the “Monogamy Only” position. I believe marriage is Biblically between a man and a woman, but it is not restricted Biblically to being between one man and one woman.  From this point forward I will refer to the “Monogamy Only” position as MO (as in MO advocates).

Biblical Patriarchs who were Polygamists

Polygamy2_Abraham

Abraham had one wife, Sarah, and also several concubines. Only two of his concubines are given by name. The first and most famous is Hagar, the servant of his wife. God had him send her away with her son Ishmael. After Sarah’s death Abraham took another concubine, Keturah as well as other unnamed concubines. Genesis tells us that before he died Abraham gave his concubines gifts and sent them away:

“But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.”

Genesis 25:6(KJV)

This was common practice in the time of Abraham to make sure none of the sons of his concubines would try to rise up and kill Isaac to try and claim his inheritance.

Here are several other famous Biblical characters who were Polygamists:

Jacob had two wives and two concubines. Together these women four women gave birth to the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Caleb had 5 wives.

David had 8 wives and many concubines (at least ten).

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Gideon had 70 sons from his “many wives”.

Ezra had two wives.

Hosea had two wives.

This is not exhaustive list of polygamists as there are many other lesser characters listed in the OT that were polygamists.

Four of these polygamists were chosen by God to write down his inerrant Word. God never condemned their polygamy. Some would argue that just because we see polygamy by these men does not mean God approved the practice. They argue men like David, a man after God’s own heart, also committed adultery and had a man murdered. But God condemned the many sins of David including murder and adultery, but he never condemned his polygamy.

Solomon is condemned because he took heathen wives and allowed them to lead his heart astray. However, I think even pro polygamy advocates would say Solomon abused the practice of polygamy as there is no way a man could have a close relationship with a 1000 women.

Conclusion of Part 1

In this first part of my series on polygamy we have defined the terms related to it and established the two sides of the debate, the Monogamy Only advocates who believe monogamy is the only acceptable type of marriage God allows, and then the other side that believes both polygyny and monogamy are allowed (which is the position that I hold to and will defend in the next parts of this series).

We have also established that many of God’s servants, and four writers of the Old Testament, including one who was called a man after God’s own heart, were polygamists.

All articles in this series:

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 1

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 2

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 3

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 4

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 5

 

19 thoughts on “Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 1

  1. Pingback: Why Polygamy is NOT unbiblical or immoral | The Musings Of A Christian American Conservative

  2. Oh man! I think that I have the spirit of God. So much has been revealed to God’s people since the ways of the Old Testament, and even in the Old Testament, God is revealing His heart, yes His heart for monogamy. In the story of Sarah and Abraham, when God was bringing forth Isaac, Abraham and Sarah were confused because there was no heir through them, and thus, how would this prophecy come to pass? So, Abraham, acc. to the practices of the day, thought it would be OK to go ahead and have a child with Hagar. He did – and look at the results. He created a whole group of people who have become the proverbial thorn in the Jews’ side – the enemies unending!!!! How mistakes like that have created problems that have not been erased!!!

    Yet it is redeemable. But we see in this an illustration of something very important – the importance of Sarah being the mother, the importance of the nuclear family – one wife, one husband. We see how much it meant to God that Sarah, not just any woman be the mother of Isaac. And so we see God’s heart. We see that in God’s eyes, it matters very much that a man share his life with ONE woman. And so much teaches us this – the stress and strife that would exist trying to live life with more than one wife, the need to have a one on one relationship, man to woman, so many things teach us the importance of this type of relationship- and we have learned it after the cross. Revelation has increased through Messiah. How can you say that the bible then teaches us that this type of relationship(s) is OK? You are crazy!

  3. Yes, Polyandry was practiced in the pagan world – women dominated in many cases and had several men. I have done a little bit of study of pagan culture prior to writing a novel about a pagan priestess who finds Christ. But no, it was not more right for men to do this in God’s eyes, so that you could say God somehow sees it as men who sleep around are somehow less sinful that women who sleep around today. In God’s eyes – men and women are equally sinful who have more than one partner – in any and all cases. When Jesus talked about the two becoming one flesh, it should have been absolutely clear. Jesus was talking about a man and a woman coming together – just the two of them, no one else! Anything else that we do is wrong, wrong wrong!!!!!! You are definitely preaching a false false false gospel!

  4. Marie,

    I can see you feel passionately about this issue, and it is great that you have a passion for following God and his Word. You say that “even in the Old Testament, God is revealing His heart, yes His heart for monogamy”. You then go to the illustration of Sarah and Abraham as an illustration of the fact that God wanted monogamy between Abraham and Sarah. That is never once stated in any of these passages. God wanted Abraham’s heir to come through Sarah, but God never forbid Abraham from taking other wives. The failure of Sarah and Abraham was there lack of faith that God would give them an heir through her at such an old age. Later Abraham would in fact take other slave wives(concubines) like he had taken Hagar. The Bible only names one his concubines by name “Keturah”, she is mentioned in Genesis 25:1 & 4, and I Chronicles 1:32.

    According to Genesis 25:5, Abraham sent away Keturah and his other “concubines”(the Hebrew here is clear for multiple concubines).

    “Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.”

    Abraham was sending his concubines and there children away just before his death, so that there would be no squabbles over his belonging when he died. He gave them what he wanted to give them, sent them on their way, and left the rest to his son Isaac.

    So apparently Abraham missed the entire point of why God was displeased about him trying to have an heir with Hagar? Your contention about it being about monogamy is not supported at all from the Scriptural account. In fact God never acted like Ishmael’s descendants would be a curse, he even promised to bless Ishmael when Abraham sent him away, to make of him a great people as well. Yes the decedents of Ishmael did eventually turn against the one true God to idols and false Gods, but in the beginning their ancestor worshiped the God of Abraham.

    So nowhere in the account of Abraham in the Scriptures, is the issue of monogamy raised. Abraham would have many sons with concubines that came after Hagar, but God wanted his heir, to come through Sarah – that was the point.

    I won’t call you crazy as you as you have me, I will simple say I believe you have misinterpreted the Scriptures in this area.

  5. Polyandry was practiced in the ancient world, but it was far rarer than polygyny. Polygyny was the norm, polyandry was the exception. You continue to state your opinion, but have not cited one Scripture that states God condemned polygamy. Not one. I on the other hand, have shown multiple scripture passages through this series showing that God regulated polygamy in the Old Testament(without one hint of disapproval, or that he was just tolerating it), that the twelve tribes of Israel came from a polygynous relationship, and that God even pictures himself as polygamist in Old Testament prophecy(where he is married to two women, one represents Judah, and other wife represents the other 11 tribes). I have explained the one flesh analogy.

    Finally what does monogamy vs polygamy have to do with the Gospel? The Gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came in the flesh, lived a perfect and sinless life, and then died on cross for the sins of all mankind. It is if we believe that he was who said he was, and that he died for our sins, and we place our faith in his shed blood believing he died and rose again, we can be saved. That is the Gospel, the Gospel is a completely separate doctrine from the doctrines of marriage in the Bible.

  6. Let’s see – Adah and Zillah, Penina and Hannah, Sarah and Hagar, and Leah and Rachel – antagonism in each circumstance, and that doesn’t include the antagonism between the children of these different wives. Where in the Bible do you ever see women in polygamous marriages getting along with each other?

  7. Brenda,

    Just as siblings fight, so too wives have often fought.

    “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

    If we took your logic here, that men should not marry more than one wife because they might fight or get jealous of each other, then that means we should not have more than one child, because they might get jealous of or fight with their siblings.

  8. BecomingPennyWise,

    Whenever we want to see what God says about something, we need to examine everything he says about subject, not just one verse.

    You point to Deuteronomy 17:17 so let’s look at this in context:

    “15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

    16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

    17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

    18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:”

    Deuteronomy 17:15-18(KJV)

    The passage you site is God telling the Israelites about commands for how their future Kings are to behave. The “multiply” in this context has with it the idea of “hoarding”. Would you honestly say that God meant for a king to have only one horse and one piece of silver and one piece of gold? God was saying the Israelite Kings were not to hoard wives. But hoarding wives does not mean having more than one wife. Solomon hoarded wives – he had over 1000 and they did indeed lead his heart astray as he took heathen wives as well.

    King David on the other hand, had 18 wives and God said this to him when committed adultery with Bathsheba:

    “I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!” II Samuel 12:18(NASB)

    In the same law that God gave to Moses he also told Moses this:

    “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
    And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
    Exodus 21:10-11(KJV)

    Also in the same book of Deuteronomy where God said that Kings should not “multiply wives”(hoard wives) God gave these commands to Moses regarding men and their wives:

    “15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

    16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:”

    Deuteronomy 21:15-16(KJV)

    So here we have regulations for if a man has two wives, and one is “beloved” and one is “hated” – he cannot take away the first born son’s rights. The situation this describes is one in which a man has romantic love for one of his wives, and not the other. But this man did have to show his wife the required love of Exodus 21:10-11 where he gave this “hated” wife food, clothing and also continued to have sex with her. It would have been very common that a man marries a woman who becomes what we would call today a “battle ax” where she brings him nothing but pain and heart ache, and God was saying just because he had no romantic feelings for her did not mean he could deny her son the rights of the first born.

    So in conclusion BecomingPennyWise – the passage you site does not prohibit polygyny(a man having more than one wife) – but rather it prohibits the hoarding of wives(as Solomon did). If God was prohibiting having more than one wife, then it would make zero sense that God allows a man to take another wife in Exodus 21(but he must continue to provide for his first wife) and God also handles the issue of inheritance when a man has more than one wife.

    Also if God was against polygamy then why did he tell King David that he gave him the wives of King Saul and would have given him “more” when he condemned David for committing adultery with Bathsheba.

  9. The penalty later expressed in the law of Moses was to publicly humiliate the man, not to kill him.
    For some reason, oral sex is, or was, called one of “the abominable and detestable crimes against nature, not to be named among Christians.” Guess it’s OK when heatherns do such things?
    The Bible, in all the English versions I have available, says that God put Onan to death for what he DID, not for what he DIDN’T.
    Oral sex is called worse than anal, since one might accidentally go into the wrong orifice.
    Oral sex was so horribly shocking to Christianity for close to 2,000 years, and to the Israelites (“Jews”) before, that such acts were described only by general euphemisms. Even the Greeks had only euphemisms: akatharsia and aselgeia, usually translated as “unclean,” “impure,” “filthy,” “lascivious” and “wanton,” “licentious,” “lewd,” “sensual,” “carnal,” “debauchery,” “utterly shameless,” “conduct shocking to public decency.” Despite the reputation of the Greeks for indulgence in such vices, they could speak of them only by euphemisms or by descriptive phrases. The chief difference in their application is that “akatharsia” generally infers vice practiced in private while “aselgeia” may be committed brazenly, even publicly.
    Writing to his fellow Christians, warned that:
    “Many will follow their immoral lifestyle (aselgeiais), and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.” — 2 Peter 2:2
    Licentious behavior goes beyond sin to include a disregard for what is right.” — Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary
    Physical connection between male and female is necessary for the continuation of humankind. Marriage offers considerable protection to the female and the children from poverty and aggression by other males, and assurance to the male that the female and children for whom he sacrifices so much of himself are his and his alone. Violation of the marriage bond – adultery, abandonment and divorce (which is one kind of abandonment) – is a cause of much strife in society. Sexual infidelity is a major conduit of serious, debilitating and deadly diseases. Commission of the abominable and detestable crimes against nature even within marriage exposes both spouses to infections and disorders that natural sexual intercourse does not. Of course, in today’s warped sense of sexuality, pregnancy is the most detested “disease,” being referred to by feminist and other theorists as an “infection” and an “invasion by a parasite.” Still, we know that pregnancy and childbirth are the result of normal functioning of organs, not a disorder.

  10. What trouble did Adah and Zillah have between them? They suffered the boasting of their victorious-over-attempted-murder husband as individuals, not between them.
    Many polygamous families are mentioned in the Bible. Most do not mention any strife between wives, so there is no justification for inferring any. Assuming that just because a man had two or more wives concurrently is no reason to state as fact that they had constant trouble. From profane history it is known that in ancient times first wives went out and bought slave women both for household industry (see Proverb 31:15) and for sex partners for their husbands. This practice continues today in polygamous cultures. Marrying sisters was common enough for the law of Moses to forbid taking sisters to set them against one another as rivals for their husband’s affections (Leviticus 18:18) or in ménages à trois. Due to the difficulty of a man avoiding showing favoritism, marrying two sisters might best be not done. In the case of Jacob, Leah and Rachel, his favoritism is glaringly displayed. Somehow he managed to put a bag over Leah’s head, or blindfold himself sufficiently, for him to grimly stiff-upper-lip soldier on so as to make seven babies with Leah. He also managed to make four sons with the two slave women. The number of daughters, if any, other than Dinah, is not mentioned.

  11. The law of the levirate preceded the law of Moses, in which it was included. A man was obligated to take his brother’s widow and to have sex with her whether he already had a wife or not.
    This is a circumstance in which polygamy was commanded, not just allowed or tolerated. Has this law been rescinded? The original law of marriage, married until death does part, was not part of the law of Moses, which was “nailed to the cross,” i.e., abolished.

  12. Gerry,

    With all due respect I am going to have to disagree with you on this issue of oral sex.

    Here are several areas of disagreement I have with what you said:

    You said:
    “The Bible, in all the English versions I have available, says that God put Onan to death for what he DID, not for what he DIDN’T.”

    My Response:
    I agree it was what he did and what he did was far more than “pull out”:

    “8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

    9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

    10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.” – 38:8-10 (KJV)

    The Bible tells us “the thing which he did displeased the Lord”. Are you denying that it displeased the Lord that Onan reasoned in his mind “that the seed would not be his”? I doubt that you would deny that this displeased the Lord. Yet you latch on to him “pulling out” as the reason God killed him.

    You reason that because God made the penalty for a man refusing to perform his duty of Leverite marriage was public shaming that the reason God must of killed Onan was for him pulling out.

    But here is the problem with your interpretation. Onan did much more than refuse to marry his brother’s dead wife and give her an heir. He actually went in and took her sexually and then pulled out. The wickedness he committed was in the fraud he committed against his brother’s wife by taking her sexually but not giving her an heir, this was a whole different sin that just refusing to take her as wife which God later prescribed public shaming for.

    I am thankful that as a believer in Christ, that the words of men(whether they be in the Talmud – traditions of the elders of Israel) and the traditions of Church leaders which came after the Apostles hold no authority over us as believers. I am thankful that the Word of God alone is our authority.

    I am thankful for the Words of Christ when he quoted Isaiah against the Jewish elders – he warned us never to elevate man’s tradition to authority of the Word of God:
    “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9(KJV)

    So let’s get this straight. The Bible describes all kinds of lewd sexual acts – bestiality,men laying with men, women laying with women, rape, incest but for some reason oral sex is so heinous to God that it cannot even be mentioned? I am sorry but I find that very hard to believe.

    Sorry but none of these words include oral sex:

    “unclean,” “impure,” “filthy,” “lascivious” and “wanton,” “licentious,” “lewd,” “sensual,” “carnal,” “debauchery,” “utterly shameless,”

    You are simply putting it there because you want it to be there. All of those words are simply words to group sexually immoral acts together which the Bible talks about separately in other instances. So for instance when we read any of those words we could rightly subsitute what the Bible has already told us in other passages “bestiality, prostitution, casual heterosexual sex,men laying with men, women laying with women, origies…ect”

    While I agree that husbands and wives ought to have normal intercourse(and this should be the majority of what they do) the Bible does not forbid other types of sexual pleasure between a husband and his wife. In fact the Song of Solomon actually alludes to oral sex between a husband and a wife:

    “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” – Song of Solomon 2:3 (KJV)
    This is a reference to a wife desiring to perform fellatio on her husband(a woman performing oral sex on her husband)

    “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.” – Song of Solomon 4:6(KJV)
    This is a reference to a man desiring to perform cunninglus(oral sex) on his wife.

    “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” – Song of Solomon 4:16(KJV)
    Another reference to cunninglus – but this time the wife desiring it from her husband.

    So in conclusion – not only is oral sex not forbidden by Scripture, but it is explicitly allowed by the examples given in the Song of Solomon.

  13. If God intended for polygamy to be included in his original plan, why did He only give Adam ONE wife? He could have definitely made two or more if He wanted to. And why does Paul write in 1 Timothy 3 that a leader in the church should be the husband of one wife if polygamy was alright in the eyes of God? In fact, why would he even need to specify that requirement in a world where polygamy was a common and accepted practice in the world, if it was not of importance to God?

  14. Tatiana,

    I answer all these questions from posts if you read them. You are on only part one. I specifically address the one “Adam and Eve” argument and the “Husband of one wife” argument in these posts:

    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/08/14/was-polygamy-a-sin-in-the-old-testament-that-god-overlooked/
    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2014/06/05/why-polygamy-is-not-unbiblical-part-3/

    If you have a response to those Scriptures and the questions I pose then feel free to let me know.

  15. I can as well ask why God makes more women than men? And why men die off faster than women from their conception throughout life? Biologists offer some explanations but we believe that God created biology.
    Even with a 2-3% difference, in a strictly monogamous large population, that amounts to millions of women of marriageable age who cannot get husbands.
    In my experience with churches there is an even larger men-to-women disparity than in the general population.
    Women with a strictly monogamous cultural background see polygamy from the monogamist perspective: if her husband shows interest in a new woman, the first wife assumes and concludes that her husband is looking to dump her and replace her. A woman in a polygamous society sees her husband’s interest in another wife as someone who will share the housework, expand the home business, and relieve her of so much child care – rarely will both or all wives be pregnant to the same degree at the same time.
    In polygamous societies it is common for the wife or wives to find another woman to be an additional wife or concubine (a woman sold as a slave) for their husbands.

  16. Gerry,

    All great points. You are correct that in general women did not worry about their husbands taking additional wives because they saw those wives as fellow helpers and sometimes even potential friends(women need women to talk to).

    While there was jealousy between wives, that was generally caused by two issues. One was if one wife was barren and the others not, she may be jealous of the others having children and not her. The other was if a husband completely neglected one of his wives she might be jealous and in that case he was wrong for neglecting her.

    It is interesting you bring up a wife finding another wife for her husband – we have an example of that in the Bible and God actually blessed her for doing it!

    “Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar” – Genesis 30:18(NIV)

    God literally opened Leah’s womb again after she gave her husband another wife(her servant). She was so desperate for Jacob’s love and constantly looking at Rachel, but she finally overcame her jealousies and insecurities with Jacob and gave him her servant when she saw God closed up her womb.

    How many women today would get their husbands another wife? Today women can’t even stand for their husband to even look at another woman. But this just backs up what you have said.

  17. Wow, this is amazing to read and a concept I never considered. I may be on the verge of accepting your arguments. But can you tell me what your explanation of 1 Cor 7:2-4 is? The sense I get from that passage is that Paul is referring to one husband for one wife…

  18. @Carlos,

    “Wow, this is amazing to read and a concept I never considered. I may be on the verge of accepting your arguments. But can you tell me what your explanation of 1 Cor 7:2-4 is? The sense I get from that passage is that Paul is referring to one husband for one wife…”

    Let’s look at this passage:

    “2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
    3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
    4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” – I Corinthians 7:2-4 (KJV)

    Some have tried to seize on verse 2 phrase “and let every woman have her own husband” to say God was meaning for polygamy to be over and women were to have their “own” husband – meaning he was exclusively theirs and not someone they had to share with other women as in the case of polygamy. Also they believe verse 4’s phrase of the wife having “power” over husband’s body means it an exclusive right and therefore would make polygamy an impossibility.

    God could have chosen to end the practice of polygamy which he clearly allowed in the Old Testament. I fully accept that God can and does change his laws between dispensations(periods) in Scripture. But to make such a huge change in marriage I believe God would have been very clear on this point and this passage does not talk at all about polygamy. We also have to realize that a wife’s sexual access to her husband’s body – or the power to use his body for sex does not mean she literally owns her husband in the way that husband owns his wife. He is her head – she is not his. She is called to submit to her husband in “everything”(Ephesians 5:24) and she is to regard her husband as her master(I Peter 3:5-6).

    So with all the being said here is how I would equate a husbands sexual access to his wives and their access to him. Imagine that you had 5 drinking fountains. One is the husbands and the other 4 each belong to each of his wives. He he has a separate and distinct marriage(relationship) with each of his wives. They each agree to let him use their drinking fountain and he agrees to let them use his. They may not use each others – there is marriage between them. Marriage is always between one man and one woman.

    But while his access to each of their drinking fountains is exclusive meaning only he may drink from them – their access to him is a shared access. We see this dynamic in the Old Testament with women agreeing amongest themselves who would have their husband that evening(Genesis 30:14-16).

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