Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 5

Polygamy 10

Do I practice polygamy?

No I do not.  The reason is not because I believe it is wrong, nor is it because State governments have declared it illegal. The reason is because right now the conditions for me are not right. But do I condemn those Christians who do practice polygamy within the guidelines of Scripture? No I do not.

But if I were living in a culture that allowed polygamy would I practice it? Absolutely! And no the reason is not all about sex as polygamists are often accused of.  It goes far beyond that. See below many of the positive benefits of polygynous marriages.

These are some of the positive benefits of polygynous marriages:

  1. Polygyny emphasizes the Biblical teaching that woman was made for man and not that man and woman are equal in marriage.  It is practically impossible to mistake who was made for whom in a polygynous marriage.  The wives don’t sit around and wonder if they are equal to their husband, all the wives know they are there for their husband.  This is why many women, Christian and non-Christian alike, hate polygyny, because it demonstrates to the world that woman was created for man, and that marriage is NOT an equal partnership as is taught in many Christian circles today.
  2. Polygyny has practical benefits like that when one woman is sick, the other women can care for her and her children when the man is out working.
  3. While I do believe that a man should be able to support his family, this arrangement would come in handy for if the wives had part time jobs that the other wives could watch their children.  In Biblical times it would not be uncommon for some wives to be working in the fields while other wives cared for their children.
  4. The wives would act like sisters to one another and be able to provide emotional support to one another (an area many men lack in simply because it is not how they are wired).
  5. In Biblical times, with a high infant mortality rate, having multiple wives would give you a much better chance of having children, especially sons to carry on your estate.
  6. Polygyny makes being a selfish wife much more difficult.  You don’t get to make yourself the center of your husband’s universe, you have to share. In a monogamous marriage this can happen all too easily (wife as center of universe mentality). It also requires the man to also share of himself with each of his wives.  Contrary to modern belief, it is possible for a man to love more than one woman.  Men are very good at compartmentalizing, this is a trait women often lack.
  7. Often in Biblical times polygynous men were well off and women would gladly become a new wife to one of these men for the economic security it would offer her and her future children.  The old saying “a good man is hard to find” goes all the way back to almost the beginning of creation.
  8. I mentioned earlier the idea that polygyny would offer a better chance of having more children.  But even in a marriage that may have started off monogamous for many years, if the wife went past her child bearing years without giving the man a son to carry on his name and his estate, he could then marry a younger second wife to try and conceive a son.
  9. In the area of sex, there are often times because of periods, medical conditions, problem pregnancies, or after delivery issues that a woman might not be able to have sex with her husband for an extended length of time.  Polygyny solves this problem.
  10. What about if a man marries a woman and not long after the marriage he finds her to be most disagreeable? Some might call this today a “battle ax”.  Even if she was not disagreeable in general, what if she were frigid in the bedroom? Biblically as long she did not refuse to have sex with him he could not and should not divorce her because of these things and he is bound to take care of her and provide her marriage rights for life.  Polygyny solves this issue.  Now I realize that some might argue that he is doing something wrong to make his wife disagreeable, and in truth he should try to make each marriage to each of his wives as good as it can be.  But let’s face it some women are just disagreeable, it’s who they are.

Women talking over coffee

The emotional support of fellow wives

I covered this briefly in the list of benefits of polygyny above but I wanted to park on this for a minute. One of the biggest killers of marriages today is the emotional connection aspect. The move to monogamy only was a big blow to women’s emotional support systems. Unless they had other women close by, women had little emotional support once polygamy became unfavorable form of marriage.

But women of the past did not divorce their husbands for lack of emotional connectedness, this is a new phenomenon occurring only in the last century. Women understood that men were different, and that men lead, provide and protect. Men were not expected to be like women or to try and change their mindsets to be more emotional and relational.

The reality is that a man can only meet so many needs of his wife, and a wife can only meet so many needs of her husband. If we look to our spouse to meet all our needs in every aspect of our life they will always come up short. There are some needs that will only be met outside the husband/wife relationship with same sex friendships.

We all know this to be true. As men we know there are some things only another man will understand, and for women there are some things only another women will understand.

This is truth is sorely missed in our modern society. Instead we are trying to make men more like women and women more like men in an attempt to try and make marriage meet all the needs of both sexes when that is something God never intended.

Can polygyny be abused?

Absolutely! Whether in the past or today polygyny can be abused, just like monogamy can be abused.  Something that can be good and wholesome, can be turned into something perverse. A man can abuse or neglect his wife in a monogamous relationship as easily as a man can abuse or neglect his wives in a polygynous relationship.

I believe that fact that Solomon was married to 700 wives and 300 concubines (slave wives) was an abuse of polygyny. How could a man possibly fulfill his marital duty to 1000 women?

It is one thing for a man to have 4 wives like Jacob did.  It would be very possible to cultivate a relationship with four women, but with 1000? I think not.  I think it would be fair to say that being a wife of Solomon meant you got see him a few times a year at best.  In fact if he slept with a different wife each night, it would take him three years to get back to his first wife!

So I am not arguing that every polygynous relationship is right – and for that matter neither does the Bible.  The Bible actually condemns certain polygynous relationships, while allowing others.

Polygyny is also abused today by those who have some of their wives put their children on state aid.  If you are going to practice polygyny, then you must practice it Biblically.  That means you must be able to support your new wives, and if you can’t you should not do it.

Sad woman

It’s not fair!

The last complaint against Polygyny that I will tackle is “it’s not fair!” Why does a man get to have more than one wife but a woman can have only one husband. The simple answer is this – LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

God did not make an equal creation, in all of creation there is inequality.

Can a fish say to a bird “Why can’t I fly? That’s unfair”

Can a deer say to a bear “Why can’t I be as big and strong as you? That’s unfair”

If cars could talk, could a minivan say to Dodge Ram with a huge Hemi engine – “Why can’t I tow what you can, why can’t I go as fast as you, why am I not as durable as you? That’s unfair”

You get my point.

Some might say my analogies are flawed because they compare apples and oranges.  Men and women are both human beings.

This is true that we as men and women are equal in our humanity, and we are equal in our worth to God.  However, we are not equal in how we are created and we are not equal in the roles that we were designed for – this is not only a Biblical fact, it’s a biological FACT.

We are all designed by our creator for a purpose.  Can a monogamous marriage also show God’s purpose for man and woman in marriage? Of course it can.  But God’s purpose in marriage is not as obliviously seen in a monogamous marriage as it is in a polygynous marriage.

Conclusion of Part 5

Polygamy can be abused like any other acceptable thing and it has been abused some at different points in history and even today, but that does not make polygamy itself wrong, only the abuse of it. While I myself do not practice polygamy, I support the right of every man to engage in this practice as a Biblically acceptable model of marriage.

As I have demonstrated in the 10 benefits above, polygyny is not all about men being able to have sex with lots of women. There are many mutual benefits for both men and women from the Biblical practice of polygyny.

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

5 thoughts on “Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 5

  1. @Gerry

    One other possibility is that they had daughters that went unmentioned, a statistical liklihood. The only reason that Diana got mentioned is because of the Simeon and Levi incident.

  2. If polygamy is allowed, does this mean men allowed to have sex with multiple wives at the same time (e.g. as in a threesome with two wives and one husband) or is the marriage bed for strictly one man and one wife at a time?

    Or is this forbidden as in the case of homosexuality?

  3. Jeff,

    Your Question:

    “If polygamy is allowed, does this mean men allowed to have sex with multiple wives at the same time (e.g. as in a threesome with two wives and one husband) or is the marriage bed for strictly one man and one wife at a time?”

    While I do not myself practice polygamy(for a variety of reasons) I do from to time correspond with Christian men who exercise this Biblical right. A few weeks ago I was corresponding with a Christian polygamist in Africa. He said he sleeps with both his wives(he has two) in the same bed and he has the rule that they all sleep naked. He may turn to have sex with one or the other or both sometimes.

    Other polygamists I have corresponded with have a strict “one woman at at time” policy. In fact some Christian polygamists actually have separate houses for their wives and the children from those wives. So the question then is what does the Scriptures say about this?

    The answer is no where in the Scriptures do we find that a man is forbidden from having sex with two of his wives at the same time. We do find prohibitions on a man marrying a mother and her daughter or even the granddaughters of a woman(Leviticus 18:17). We also find prohibitions on a man marrying his wife’s sister centuries after Jacob married Leah and Rachel who were sisters(Leviticus 18:18).

    But aside from these restrictions on polygamy there is no restriction stating a man cannot have sex with two of his wives at the same time. Many women today would protest this – but this is because our culture has encouraged women to possessively jealous over their husbands which is something the Bible does not allow or encourage.

    See this article for more jealousy in women:

  4. In the case of a threesome, isn’t it risky as the women could engage in homosexual behaviour? In fact the man could encourage it if that arouses him. (I read that men in general are aroused by lesbian porn)

    Or is Romans 1:26 talking about bestiality by women? (and not lesbianism)

  5. Subin,
    Why did God create woman?

    The Bible says “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” – I Corinthians 11:9.

    If we look back to the Garden of Eden this is confirmed in that we see God created Eve specifically for Adam, he was not created for her. So when it comes to sexuality, marriage and gender roles in general this must a driving consideration of any discussion of these topics. Now with that said let’s look at Romans chapter 1:

    “26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”
    Romans 1:26-27 (KJV)

    An important phrase in both vs 26 and vs 27 is “natural use”. Men left the natural use of the woman and women changed “the natural use” speaking of their own bodies against nature. Feminists and even many Christians will not like the following statement but it is utterly Biblically based on the entire witness of the Scriptures and specifically this passage from Romans 1 dealing with sexuality:

    God designed women to be sexually used by men within the confines of marriage.

    That is the truth. Does that smack feminist and egalitarian ideals right in the face? You bet it does. Now I am I saying that God ONLY designed women for men’s sexual pleasure in marriage? Of course not. The Bible gives us many other reasons for which he made woman for man as a companion, as mother for his children and manager of the domestic affairs of his home. But just because this was not the sole purpose for which God designed woman does not mean it was not one of the purposes for which God designed woman.

    So when a woman seeks sex with another woman for her own pleasure or when she engages in sexual relations with a beast both of these sexual activities are changing the natural use for which she was made.

    She was made to bring sexual pleasure to a man (within the confines of marriage). Some will argue “But God says men are to give their wives sex too so it is not just for men”. I don’t disagree that in passages like Exodus 21:10-11 and I Corinthians 7:2-5 that men are commanded to give themselves sexually to their wives. However we must answer the following questions. Why do women derive pleasure from sex in the first place? Why do women desire sex? The answer is for man. Every part of a woman’s nature was designed for man’s benefit. Women were designed to enjoy sex and desire sex because this makes sex more enjoyable for man.

    So in conclusion – if two wives are having sex with their husband and their focus is on his pleasure then there is no sin in whatever they do with him. If however they burn with affection toward one another and seek sexual relations with one another apart from him they have changed their natural use to that which is against nature. This is the essence of why lesbianism is wrong because it makes a woman’s desire for sexual pleasure completely devoid of its intended purpose which was to be for the enjoyment of man.

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