How a Christian wife should handle a controlling husband

ControllingHusband

It is no secret if you have read many posts on my blog that I believe the vast majority of problems we face today as a society lie squarely at the feet of feminism. But even coming from a Biblical gender roles view as I do, I still believe in and have seen the controlling husband.

I believe there is a Biblical view of what a husband should be, if a husband acts outside those bounds he may be a controlling husband. But the world, including many people who profess faith in Christ and his Word, have rejected the Biblical view of a husband, and that makes them have a very expanded view of what a controlling husband is.

Let me first state a concept that is extremely clear in the Bible – God instituted patriarchy in the home, the church and society at large.  Ladies, if you want to follow the Bible, you need to leave feminism at the door.

We will first look at what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview, and then what actions are NOT those of a controlling husband(even though the world claims they are).

This is what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview:

  1. He is infuriated that his wife actually has different opinions from him.
  2. He not only wants her to act a certain way, he wants her to feel a certain way.
  3. He may or may not yell a lot, but he dominates every conversation in such a way that she cannot get a word in.
  4. He refuses to let his wife be involved with other women, whether they be friends, or family and insists her whole life be focused on his needs, wants and desires.
  5. He may or may not be physically abusive.
  6. He may or may not be verbally abusive.
  7. He makes his wife like less of a human being.

These are the Biblical passages that support the definition of a controlling husband I have given above:

A Biblical Husband doesn’t hold grudges against her

“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”

Colossians 3:19(KJV)

A Biblical Husband Honors his Wife – Respects her as an adult human being, with her own opinions, thoughts, likes and dislikes

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom

Proverbs 31:26(KJV)

A Biblical Husband sacrifices himself for his Wife

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

Ephesians 5:25(KJV)

A husband who is controlling is acting contrary to these Scriptures I have just mentioned. Such behavior is despised by God, and according to I Peter 3:7 God will not hear the prayers of a man who treats his wife with such contempt.

Now that we have discussed what a controlling husband is from Biblical view point, we will turn our attention to what is NOT a controlling husband from Biblical view point.

These behaviors are NOT wrong or controlling for a husband from a Biblical worldview:

  1. He completely controls the finances, even money his wife may earn, and gives her a weekly allowance for groceries, clothing and things that she or the children may need.
  2. He sets the discipline polices and rules for the children.
  3. He determines where the family goes to church.
  4. While he allows his wife to express her opinions on all manner of subjects privately with him, he determines the public family opinions on religion and politics.  He determines what the children will be taught from a religious, social and political viewpoint. He also teaches his wife from the Word of God. He does not always expect that his wife will agree with his interpretations, but he expects her to have a teachable spirit and respect for his right as her husband to teach her the Word of God.
  5. He expects his wife to fulfill her duties as a wife, including having sex with him and caring for their home and their children.
  6. He expects his wife not to disagree with him in public, but that she will keep her disagreements for private discussions with him. Even when she disagrees in private, he expects her to do so in respectful manner.
  7. He expects his wife to be respectful of other men as well, especially in mixed gender gatherings. He expects that his wife will not correct other men, or be too opinionated in the presence of other men.
  8. While his wife may be courteous with other men, he expects that his wife will never ever flirt with another man. While his wife may communicate with other men in his presence, he expects that his wife will never have a private friendship with any man other than her male relatives (father, brothers).
  9. While his wife may find other men attractive, he expects her not to gawk or act in an unladylike manner toward other men.
  10. While a husband should allow his wife to have lady friends with whom she can share her feelings and have a bond in a way only women can, he also has the right to restrict her from certain women whom he feels are a negative influence on his wife.

What to do if you have a controlling husband

If you have looked at the first 7 points I gave about a controlling husband, and he matches most of them then you indeed have a problem. But hopefully you have also ran your thoughts by the 10 items I have mentioned above, and you are not considering you husband to be controlling because of any of these actions.

So if you still believe you have a controlling husband these are the steps a Christian wife should take:

  1. Examine yourself first. While 80% of the problems in the relationship may be from his selfish and ungodly actions, you need to make sure you have cleaned up your own house first. Are you routinely disrespectful toward him? Whether it is public disrespect or private disrespect, this can cause your husband to act in unloving ways toward you. I am not justifying his actions, only giving one possible source of the problem.
  2. Pray for him. Do not under-estimate the power of prayer.
  3. Try to communicate with your husband how you feel in a very respectful way. Communicating things in an angry or disrespectful way will not accomplish anything, and two wrongs never make a right. Make sure you communicate these things to him in private, not in front of other people.
  4. Physical abuse does not have to be tolerated. Contrary to what some Christians have taught, if he is physically abusing you – you do not have to stay and take that. The Bible commanded (Exodus 21:27) that slaves had to be freed by their masters if they caused any serious physical damage to their slaves. This would be no less for a wife who is physically abused by her husband, as a wife had more rights than a slave. A wife has the right to be released from a husband who physically abuses her.
  5. Verbal abuse is different situation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you taking a walk if your husband is using verbally abusive language, but there are no Biblical grounds for divorce in this situation. You also do not have the right to stop performing your duties and responsibilities as a wife and mother due to his unkind words. I Peter 2:18 tells slaves to be respectful and obedient even to masters who are cruel or unkind. This concept applies to the behavior of wives towards their husbands as well (I Peter 3:1-6).

Conclusion

Make sure your husband is truly a controlling husband. If you are bucking your husband for any of the 10 things I stated above that are NOT the marks of a controlling husband, then you need to repent to God and your husband for rebelling against his God given authority over you and your family.

If however, your husband is truly acting in controlling or unloving ways towards you, first examine if you have been a disrespectful or unloving wife toward him. Make sure you have made your own heart right with God first.

Once you have examined yourself, and have addressed any failings you have had toward your husband, try to address the situation with him in a private, and in a very respectful manner. If you are being physically abused –get out and try to get help for him. If he will not change, I do not believe you are bound to him in this case. If he is not physically abusive, but refuses to change, you need to pray for God’s grace and give your husband to God.

You are not the first wife to deal with an unkind or cruel husband, and you will not be the last. Our unchristian world says “leave the bum” if he treats you in unkind way. The Bible says to love him even more, and maybe, just maybe you may win his heart to Christ.

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

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 4

Christian arguments FOR the practice of Polygamy

polygamy 9 Moses law

The Bible regulates polygyny

One of the greatest arguments against MO advocates comes from the fact that the Bible regulates polygyny. Before I even show the passages that regulate polygyny MO advocates will argue that the Bible also regulates slavery and we all know that is wrong and immoral right? Well that’s for another post, but here is the short and concise answer about slavery.

“Man stealing” as the Bible calls it, is wrong. This is when you take someone that is not yours to take and sell them as a slave.  However it was not wrong or immoral in Biblical times for a man to sell his son or daughter as a slave.  Often time’s families that were in poverty did this, and it was a mercy for the child so they could be fed and taken care of instead of dying of hunger.

Another example of slavery that would not be wrong would be when the Israelites conquered nations they took some of the people as slaves – this was a right granted by God and it was a punishment of God upon the ungodly heathen nations around them.

But just like polygyny, God regulated how slaves could be taken and how they were to be treated.  This may offend our 21st century western ideals, but I choose to accept God’s ways over our modern ways when the two conflict instead of trying to warp the Bible into fitting our modern mold.

But getting back to polygyny, here are several Bible passages that regulate the practice of polygyny:

God commands that wives are to be taken care of equally even when their husband takes another wife, and each wife has a right to sexual activity with her husband.

The rights of wives to be treated well even after their husbands married other women

7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. 8 If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10 If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

Exodus 21:7-11

A man could not marry his wife’s sister while she lived

God commanded that a man could not marry a close relative including the sister of his wife while his wife lives.

“You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.”

Leviticus 18:18(NASB)

 

This verse very clearly is talking about polygyny.  Moses says a man cannot take a woman’s sister as a rival wife while the woman lives, which implies after his wife has died then he can marry his sister-in-law – no honest reading of this passage would imply that he is forbidding polygyny, only polygyny amongst close relatives. The “in addition” phrase implies that a man could take another wife, just not one that is a close relative (like an aunt, sister, half-sister or sister of his current wife).

God commanded a man (regardless of marital status) to marry the wife of his dead brother and raise up and heir for his brother’s estate. If he did not fulfill this duty he would be shamed before the people. There was definite possibility of polygamy occurring here.

“5 “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.”

Deuteronomy 25:5-6(NASB)

God said he gave David the wives of Saul

“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 12:8(NASB)

In addition to these regulations we have the examples of many Godly men in the Old Testament who had many wives.  Abraham had concubines (slave wives) in addition to his second wife after Sarah died. Jacob had 4 wives, Gideon had “many wives” and David had 8 wives and 10 concubines. As I said earlier I think Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines is an abuse of polygyny and is a violation of God’s warning against Kings multiplying wives.

That being said, I think the weight of Scripture, both in example and in actual regulations is against MO advocates.

History shows us that the Jews even 300 years after Christ still heavily practiced polygamy, because the Romans would not have had to keep passing laws against something that was not a problem.

God symbolizes himself as a polygamist with his two wives – Judah and Israel

“The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and there their virgin bosom was handled. Their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah… 36 Moreover, the Lord said to me, “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands.”

Ezekiel 23:1-4 & 36-37(NASB)

Most Christians know that God pictured himself as a husband to Israel. What many Christians do not know is that God actually pictures himself as polygamist in the Book of Ezekiel, married to two women (Judah and the rest of Israel). Opponents may argue that God was speaking of Israel as one nation, but then why would he clearly say there were two daughters who bore him children and he said “they” committed adultery against him? If Polygamy was an evil thing, God would never picture himself as a polygamist.

Conclusion of Part 4

Not only did God not have Moses condemn the practice of polygamy, he had him do the opposite – he had him regulate it! God said through his prophet that he had given David the many wives of Saul. God commanded that men had to marry their dead brother’s wife to raise up heirs for him and no exemption is made for them if they are already married. Why would God picture himself as polygamist married to two women (Judah and the rest of Israel) if polygamy was a perversion or wrong?

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

 

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 3

Common Christian arguments against polygamy

Wedding Couple, Bride and Groom Kissing

Does one flesh mean one wife?

MOAs often believe this is their most powerful argument against polygamy. Because after all, how can 3 or 4 or 18(David had 18 wives) mesh with “the two shall become one flesh”?

4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

Matthew 19:4-6(NASB)

Jesus repeats what is said in Genesis after God created Eve and brought her to Adam. The context of Jesus’s statement is his answer to the question of divorce. He is alluding to “the beginning” in the Garden of Eden, before sin. Before sin divorce was not necessary, so in the beginning divorce would never have been needed. But is he also alluding to the fact that marriage was designed by God to be monogamous? He says nothing about that here.

When Jesus said of marriage “So they are no longer two, but one flesh” he was referring to both the physical and spiritual bond that God intends for a husband and wife to share.

In it’s most literal sense “one flesh” refers to a man and woman having sexual relations.  Sexual relations between a husband and wife mark both the consummation of the marriage and are a constant reminder of the covenant shared between the man and his wife.

It is in this sexual sense of being “one flesh” that God warns us we are not to abuse being one flesh with others outside of marriage:

15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

1 Corinthians 6:15-16 (KJV)

But then we have the spiritual side of being one flesh and this is the part of being one flesh that opponents of polygamy will use to attack the practice of polygamy.  But when they use this to attack polygamy they do so from an egalitarian perspective of marriage.   They believe that a husband and wife become one spiritually by blending together and becoming like one another.  The man moves toward his wife on some views and she moves toward him on others thus they make one new person together. While that might sound romantic this is not the Biblical view of how spiritual oneness should take place between a husband and wife.

Ephesians 5:22-33 tells us that God designed marriage between a man and woman to be a picture of the relationship between God and his people and in the Church age between Christ and his Church.

So we have to ask ourselves – does Christ mold himself to his Church or is his Church called to mold herself to Christ? Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ gave himself up for his Church to wash her of her spots, wrinkles and blemishes That he might present it to himself a glorious church…(Ephesians 5:27).

Christ molds and shapes his Church to his liking, to his thinking and so too in marriage wives are to mold themselves to their husbands.  With this understanding of what one flesh means from a spiritual perspective we then can understand that it is very possible for a man to be “one flesh” with many wives in many distinct marriages just as we as Christians each unite ourselves with Christ and become one with him in our spirit and our thinking.

So yes it is absolutely correct to say that marriage always involves two people, a man and a woman, becoming one flesh both sexually and spiritually.  But while a woman is forbidden from multiple marriages (Romans 7:2-3) God has blessed(Genesis 30:18) and allowed(Genesis 30:18,Exodus 21:10-11,Deuteronomy 21:15-17,Deuteronomy 25:5-7) multiple marriages for men.

In fact,  God has even given multiple wives to some men (II Samuel 12:8, II Chronicles 24:2-3)  and even pictures himself as a polygamist husband of two wives in both the Old Testament in Ezekiel 23:1-5 speaking of Judah and Israel as well as in the New Testament  in Romans 10:19 when speaking of taking on his new bride, the Church, in order to make his divorced wife Israel jealous so that she might return to him as well.

 

Sopolygamy 6 preacher

The Bishop must be the husband of one wife

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” – I Timothy 3:2(NASB)

Some point to the fact that the Bishop had to be the husband of one wife. If a Pastor must be the husband of one wife, then this must be God’s correct design for marriage and anything else is perversion of his design including polygyny or so they say.

Is the “husband of one wife” requirement (I Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6) for a Pastor speaking of monogamy or divorce? I would argue based the qualifications of widows who could be supported by (and became servants of) the church that Paul was speaking of a Pastor or Deacon not having been divorced from his first wife:

A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man,” – I Timothy 5:9 (NASB)

Even if the apostle Paul is stating that the Bishop must literally be monogamous, this is ONLY applied to Bishops and deacons and never to Christians at large.  This would be very similar to how the Old Testament has stricter marriage practices for Priests as opposed to the general population.

In any event, no passage in the Bible, either Old or New Testament, condemns the practice of polygyny.

Another argument I have read online is –“like God tolerated divorce and it was not part of his original plan, so too he tolerated polygamy but it was not part of his plan either”.  There is one small problem with that statement – the Bible never compares polygamy to divorce and it never states that polygamy was a sin.

polygamy 7 Adam and Eve

The Adam and Eve argument

This argument typically goes like this – “God did not make Eve, Mary, Sarah, and Leah for Adam – he only made Eve. Therefore, we know that God’s design for marriage is that a man should have only one wife.”

I love the Genesis account.  It is utterly filled with truths about God’s design of the world and how things came to be.  However, the Genesis account is not the complete revelation of God about his will and design for his creation.  No, my friend – we will see that God progressively reveals and more and more truths about his purposes back in Genesis all throughout the Old Testament and also in the New Testament.

In fact, many of God’s mysteries and truths are shrouded in symbolism in the Old Testament only to be completely revealed in the New Testament. So, we cannot assume we know God’s full design for marriage simply by looking at the Genesis account while ignoring the rest of the Bible.  We must take the entire Bible into account to fully understand his design for marriage.

So, going back to the Genesis account of Adam and Eve – yes God could have chosen to create multiple women for Adam but he did not.  He also could have created Adam and Eve and immediately clothed them but he did not.  Later in Revelation 7:9 we read that AFTER sin is removed people are “clothed with white robes” so we know that Adam and Eve’s nakedness was only temporary and that God clothing them was not just because of sin.  They simply jumped ahead of God’s plan by eating from the tree which revealed to them that they were naked.

God could have created multiple couples so Adam and Eve’s children (brothers and sisters) would not have to marry but he did not.  In Leviticus 18:9 God would officially end the practice of brothers and sisters marrying even though this was an original part of his design with only having one couple, Adam and Eve, to start the human race.

God initially created Adam and Eve naked only to show us that later in the eternal state everyone is clothed. He also only created one man and one woman to start the human race thus necessitating the practice of sibling marriage only to later end the practice in the law of Moses.  These two facts show us that we cannot derive God’s complete plan for marriage from the Genesis account alone.  We must take the entire witness of the Scriptures into account to understand God’s complete plan for marriage in this world. Therefore, God’s creation of only one wife for Adam does not condemn the practice of polygamy because it does not take into account the entire revelation of God throughout the Scriptures.

 

polygamy 8 state laws

What about Laws against Polygamy?

If opponents of polygamy cannot win their argument against the practice of polygamy in Biblical times they will try this argument against polygamy for modern times:

“God said “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man” (1 Peter 2:13-14), therefore if the government says we cannot practice polygamy then we cannot practice polygamy.”

It is absolutely true that since the Roman empire outlawed polygamy monogamous marriage became the norm throughout western civilization. But as I referenced in part 2 of these series on polygamy,  the Romans had the hardest time enforcing their laws against polygamy with the Jewish people. Well after the time of Christ and his Apostles polygamy was widely practiced by those of Jewish descent. It took centuries for the Romans to finally root it out this ancient practice of the Jewish culture.

However just because the government makes a law does not mean we must follow it despite what I Peter 2:13-14 and other passages tell us about obeying the civil laws of our government.

The first principle that allows us not to obey certain laws of our governments is when they ask us to sin against God as seen in here in the words of the Apostle Peter:

“27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:27-29 (KJV)

So at this point some Christians would say “Sure we should not obey any laws that tell us not to do something God told us to do or tell us to do something God told us not to do.  But God does not command us to engage in polygamy, he may or may not allow it, but he never commanded it. Therefore, we should obey our nation’s law prohibiting polygamy.”

But what these same Christians miss is that there is more than one side of this government issue.  Contrary to the assertions of Kings of the past or even some in the modern governments today – God did not give unlimited power to the sphere of civil government. While the Bible does not prescribe a certain form of government for all nations (like Monarchy, Dictatorship or Democracy) it does prescribe certain principles that all governments must adhere to.  For instance, governments may not oppress their people and they must respect the private property rights of their people. Governments may not unjustly enslave anyone and deny people their private property rights. Christ even acknowledged the concept of limited Government here:

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:21 (KJV)

Jesus did not say “Whatever power is not reserved for God and God alone belongs to Caesar”, no he said for us to Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.”  So, what limited powers did God give to the Government?

The clue to the government’s role is found right here in the very passage used to attack polygamy:

“13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;  14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

1 Peter 2:13-14 (KJV)

The primary purpose of God’s ordination of the sphere of civil government is the protection of the people.  The government is to protect people from those who would prey on others. The prosecution and punishment of murders, kidnappers, rapists, thieves and extortionists – this is a primary function of government.  The government is also to protect its people from outside threats such as foreign powers.  They are to be “the minister of God to thee for good” (Romans 13:4). They are to encourage good behavior while punishing bad behavior.

We need to realize that Civil Government is just one of five types of Government God established and recognizes.

  1. Self – God wants every person to govern their own actions according to God’s law and his will for their lives as individuals. He wants us to practice self-control and self-discipline in our thoughts, speech and actions no matter what other human authority spheres we may or may not fall under.
  2. Family – This is the first sphere of authority where God established one human over other humans. Husbands and fathers are given authority over their wives and children and they are to lead, provide for and protect their family all in the spirit of God’s love for his people. They are tasked with teaching spiritual and doctrinal truths to their wives and children and are tasked with correction and discipline of their wives and children all while providing for the physical needs of their family.
  3. Business – regulates the relations between employers and workers or master and slaves. Workers and slaves are admonished to work hard for and obey their masters while Masters are admonished to treat their works with dignity and to pay them promptly based on what they agreed to if there was such an agreement.
  4. Church – given authority by God over the affairs of local assemblies of believers. Church leaders have the right and responsibility to teach correct doctrine and defend the unity of the Church from heresies that may arise from within. Church leaders are also given the right and responsibility to expel members who are living in open sin or are promoting heresies in the Church. Churches are also called to spread the Gospel and plant new Churches.
  5. Civil – given authority by God to prosecute and punish sins like murder, theft, rape, kidnapping and extortion and to settle property disputes between individuals or businesses as well as to organize resources and people for the defense of their nation.

Out of these five spheres of authority –  the family sphere with the husband and father at its head is the most power sphere of human authority God established. While the sphere of Civil government is the most limited sphere of Government God established.

So, bringing this all full circle back to polygamy – God did not give authority over marriage to the sphere of the Civil government or the Church government. He gave it to the Family government headed by the father:

“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”

Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)

Later we see again that fathers may override any vows their young daughters make (which would include an agreement of marriage):

“3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; 4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. 5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.”

Numbers 30:3-5 (KJV)

Fathers were established by God as the guardians of their daughters and marriage was strictly a family affair and neither the Priests, Pastors or Tribal or Civil Governments had any authority in marriage.

So, the truth is – Biblically speaking both the Civil and Church government authorities usurped authority in the area of marriage that God never gave them and yes that means we as Christians do not have to get marriage licenses or have clergy preside over our wedding ceremonies. We don’t even have to have a wedding ceremony but a man and woman can make their covenant before God in private if they wish to.

What all this means is that the Jews who ignored the edicts of Rome against their practice of polygamy were justified by God in doing so in the same way that men today are justified in ignoring the edicts of the United States Government against polygamy as well as local Church governments condemnation of polygamy.

Conclusion of Part 3

None of these arguments against polygamy stand when examined closely.

A man can be one flesh, which each of his wives.

Pastors and Deacons were not forbidden from polygamy, but instead became disqualified if they were divorced.   Even if were true that the New Testament was prohibiting polygamy for pastors this is not prescribed for all Christians, just as the Levite priests had different standards for marriage that were not applicable to the greater population of Israel.

If monogamous marriage is God’s standard because he only created one wife for Adam then sibling marriage is also his standard because his creation of only one couple in the Garden necessitated the practice of sibling marriage.  But we when we look at the entire witness of the Scriptures we see that sibling marriage was a temporary allowance by God which he ended in the Law of Moses and that polygamy was blessed, allowed and given by God to men and he never removed his allowance for it or condemned it even in the New Testament.

Finally, God never gave the Church or the Civil government authority over marriage.  Marriage was given to the family and the Church and Civil governments may not usurp authority in this area.  All regulations of Churches or Civil governments in the area of what constitutes marriage or who may marry and not marry may be disregarded by Christians. Our authority on what constitutes marriage and what the conditions and responsibilities are in marriage is the Word of God and Word of God alone.

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

Why Polygamy Is Not Unbiblical Part 2

 Polygamy3_Romans

Origins of the Monogamy Only position

It is ironic that monogamy became the norm from one of the most decadent empires in all of history.

While on its surface the Roman Empire was very monogamous, the reality is they were not. Roman men could officially have only one wife and she, as well as her children, would have all the rights and privileges that went along with that as citizens of the empire.  The way men got around this though was through female slaves.

Many men had un-official harems through the use of female slaves and even had children by them. In some instances Roman wives did carry on affairs with their male slaves, but if they were to be impregnated by their male slaves they would try to cover it up lest they be disgraced.

There are a lot theories as to how the MO position came to be in the Roman culture. One of the more popular ones is that MO made inheritance issues almost completely go away. Where other parts of the world especially in the Middle East and elsewhere still wrestled with these issues.  This was also a way the Romans could make themselves feel superior to other nations as most other areas of the world at the time still heavily practiced polygamy.

While polygamy did continue to exist in Europe it was usually hidden and very frowned upon.

By the way even the term – Romantic – means “like the Romans” referring to monogamous only societies.  Romanticism occurs in the context of a monogamous relationship.

How did the Romans handle the Jews and Polygamy?

A good summary of the Jewish history with the Romans on this subject is found in “Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study”:

“When the Christian Church came into being, polygamy was still practiced by the Jews. It is true that we find no references to it in the New Testament; and from this some have inferred that it must have fallen into disuse, and that at the time of our Lord the Jewish people had become monogamous. But the conclusion appears to be unwarranted. Josephus in two places speaks of polygamy as a recognized institution: and Justin Martyr makes it a matter of reproach to Trypho that the Jewish teachers permitted a man to have several wives. Indeed when in 212 A.D. the lex Antoniana de civitate gave the rights of Roman Citizenship to great numbers of Jews, it was found necessary to tolerate polygamy among them, even when though it was against Roman law for a citizen to have more than one wife. In 285 A.D. a constitution of Diocletian and Maximian interdicted polygamy to all subjects of the empire without exception. But with the Jews, at least, the enactment failed of its effect; and in 393 A.D. a special law was issued by Theodosius to compel the Jews to relinquish this national custom. Even so they were not induced to conform.”

Source: Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study – Joyce, George (1933). Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study. Sheed and Ward. p. 560.

Polygamy_4_Martin_Luther

Polygamy during the Protestant Reformation

During the 16th century some of the Reformers reexamined the issue of Polygamy.  Martin Luther stated:

“I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.”

Source: Luter, Martin. De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329–330.

Later Luther would qualify his previous statement by saying it only referred to men whose wives were sick or lepers. But I personally believe he had it right the first time.

Some Anabaptists actually promoted and practiced polygamy as the restoration of Biblical plural marriage.

Conclusion of Part 2

In this part of my series on Polygamy we have shown that the Roman Empire had the greatest influence in history as far as pushing the MO position and making polygamy an unacceptable form of marriage. We have also shown that Polygamy was still a common practice during Christ’s time and yet he never speaks against it. We can also see that some of the Reformers embraced polygamy and saw it as Biblical practice.
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

 

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.

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

 

Men’s Rights Activist Murders 7 Women

As someone who believes in Biblical Patriarchy, I guess that makes me a “Men’s Rights activist”. However I would in no way condone this man’s actions. Life is not fair, some men get the girls and other men don’t. You don’t have the right to take out your frustrations about not “getting any” by murdering women.

Contrary to popular belief in some feminist circles, you can believe in Patriarchy, or male dominance of society and still believe that women should still be treated with dignity and respect. Now there may some disagreement about what dignity and respect means, Biblically it does not mean equal freedom. It simply means not treating a human being like an animal, and not abusing them.

As far as the whining goes, there is enough of that to go around on both sides with men and women. If we are strictly talking about dating, men whine when they don’t get the nice looking girls, and women whine when men leave them for nicer looking women.

However Tangled then goes off the deep end by saying white men do most mass shootings because they think they are entitled.
So when a black man goes in a shoots up a party store, or does a drive by shooting he doesn’t feel entitled to do so?

She also makes the connection that to hate feminism (as MRAs do) means that all MRAs hate women. The reality there are extremist feminists and extremists MRAs that yes do spill utter hatred of the opposite sex, but that does mean all feminists are man haters or that all MRAs are woman haters.

Personally I hate feminism, but I do not hate women. I pity feminists (both male and female advocates of the ideology) and pity their young children who are often left without a mother to care for them.