Why would God make men with polygynous natures when they cannot act on them?

“I’ve been thinking about this, and I have to wonder if God ever really intended for polygyny to be widespread or many men to have strongly polygynous designs. If He did, then one has to ask why he didn’t design us so that women conceive girls at least twice as often as boys. It seems unfair to make most men desire multiple wives and then not create enough women who could marry them.” – This was a question asked by Alex who is a Christian wife and one of my regular commenters on this blog.

This really is a great question and it is one that often stumps those who embrace the fact the God does allow polygamy in the Bible and that men naturally have polygynous natures.

Before I answer Alex’s question let’s first review the terms we are discussing.

Understanding the Terms

Polygamy refers to one man having several wives or one woman having several husbands. Polygamy is distinguished from polyamory in that polygamy is always a one to many relationship where polyamory is a group marriage with the possibility of multiple men and women all having sex with one another.

Polygyny refers to the type of polygamy where a man has several wives and polyandry refers to polygamy where a wife has several husbands.

The Bible only allows one type of polygamy and that is Polygyny. Polyandry and polyamory break the biblical model of marriage that women was made for man and that a woman can only have one husband at a time. If she were to attempt to marry a second husband she would be committing adultery against the first unless her first husband was dead or she was justly divorced from him(I Corinthians 7:39).

From this point forward I will use polygamy and polygyny interchangeably as there is only one type of polygamy that is allowed by God.

7 Biblical Facts about Polygamy

FACT #1 – God rewarded Leah with another child for giving her husband another wife (Genesis 30:18).  Some try to say she just thought God rewarded her but the Scripture does not EVER record God condemning her for this so we take the Scriptures at face value that God did indeed reward her for giving her maid to her husband as another wife.

FACT #2 – God expressly allows polygyny and set rules for its practice. (Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 21:15-17,Deuteronomy 25:5-7)

FACT #3 – God while allowing polygyny warns against Kings “multiplying wives” meaning they were not to horde wives as Solomon would later do. – (Deuteronomy 17:17)

FACT #4 – God tells tells David through his Prophet Nathan when he sinned and took another man’s wife(Bathsheba) that he had given David the wives of his master and would have given him more wives (II Samuel 12:8)

FACT #5 – Jehoiada the high priest gets TWO wives for the young king Joash (II Chronicles 24:2-3)

FACT #6 – God pictures himself as polygamist husband to Judah and Israel in (Ezekiel 23:1-5)

FACT #7 – God divorces his first wife which was Israel as nation(Jeremiah 3:8) and in his seeking of his second wife(the church) seeks to make his first wife Israel jealous(Romans 10:19) and one day his first wife Israel as a nation will also be restored in the New Kingdom of God.

Many great men of God including Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, David and Joash were polygamists and NOT once did God offer a word of condemnation to these men for their polygamy.

Israel was still one of the most polygamist nations in the world during the time of the Roman Empire. At first Rome passed some laws exempting Israel from its monogamy policies but later it removed Israel’s exemption and it eventually forced monogamy only marriage on Israel.

While women and men are roughly equal worldwide the distribution of genders by countries is not equal

While worldwide they estimate there are slightly more men than women the population of men to women is not distributed equally by countries.  There are far more women in eastern European countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia then there are men.  This is why women are trying to leave these countries in droves to seek men from other countries to be their husbands.

The reason I stated this fact is just so people understand that while worldwide the male to female population may be roughly equal that does not mean in various local populations of countries, provinces or states that it is equal.

3 Reasons God gave most men polygynous desires even if they may never be able to fully realize them

So now we come to Alex’s question.  Why would God give most men polygynous desires to a greater or lesser degree when most men in the world will never be able to act on these desires?

  1. To help populate the world. In the beginning of creation it is very likely that we had more women than men as this would help the world population to grow faster as one man could impregnate several women at the same time.
  2. Because some men were too lazy, too stupid, too poor or slaves and could not have wives this would leave many women without husbands. Only men who had the brains or means to take care of a family could marry (and that is the way it should be now but unfortunately western society has chosen to subsidize monogamy).
  3. War and early death of men would leave many virgins and widows in its wake. Man’s polygynous nature would allow him to easily come in and make up for the imbalanced sex ratio and quickly rebuild the population.

The last point about war killing off most of the eligible men is an interesting one. In fact one of the contributing factors to the rise of feminism after World War I was that fact that millions of women in Europe and America could not find men because of the millions of men who will killed in the war.  This same problem happened again after World War II. There were millions of young women that were never able to marry after both wars and many widows left to continue on their own with no male support.

God prescribed a way for women to be protected and provided for by men especially during times of war, famine and disease when men are being killed off. His answer was polygamy.  That my friend is one of the big reasons God gave men polygynous desires.  In fact if we practiced Levirate marriage as found in the Old Testament(Deuteronomy 25:5-10)  if a man’s brother was killed in war or some other way he would marry his brother’s wife to care for her and raise up an heir for his brother’s estate.  And no there was no prohibition of if he was married he could not do this – if did not do it – it would be a shame to him.

So yes during times of relative peace as the world has seen for several decades where we are not losing men by the millions we seem to question God’s wisdom.  But I can tell you if another world war broke out and millions of men were being killed over several years the truth of what I am telling you would be very real.

But let’s leave war and disease taking out all the men and talk about why polygamy is needed even in times of peace like we have today.

Even if there was an exact ratio of 1/1 males and females there is a great possibility that many men will not want to marry.  In fact a lot of women talk about this today- “Where are all the guys that want to marry?” That is a different topic for another post.  But I can tell you for a fact when I was going through my divorce they told us that divorced men had a far easier chance of getting married and often got married faster than the  divorced or widowed women.  It is just harder for divorced or widowed women to get married again especially if they have children for a variety of reasons.

Now if polygamy were legal it would solve this problem by allowing wealthier men to come along and have multiple wives and be able to care for them and their children.

So is it unfair that few men today can fully act on their polygynous natures in a Biblical way?

I think in some ways it is unfair(unjust) and in other ways it is not. If a man is lazy and lacks ambition and lives in his mom’s basement at the age of 30 – no it is NOT unfair that he can’t act on his polygynous desires. In fact he should not able to act on his sexual desires even with one wife because he cannot provide for a wife and family.

I think our ban on polygamy is unfair to a single mom whose husband was killed or abandoned her and she has to scrape by just to put food on the table and care for her children.  I am sure that if you gave many single moms who are in hard economic straights the choice to be a second, third or fourth wife to a wealthy man they would take that opportunity in second! But we don’t give them that choice.

I think it is unfair to men who are very successful in their business endeavors who in centuries past would have been able to not only to fully realize their dreams in business but their reward for being successful would have been to be able to have multiple wives and more children.

It is an utter waste to me that wonderful successful men are limited to only one wife when so many women out there struggle to make it alone on their own. Also it is a fact that most successful men whether they be in business or politics have very HIGH testosterone levels and very high sex drives.

So basically you have a man who has the means to take care of multiple wives and their children and has the high sex drive to want multiple wives. Many women would love to be one of his wives but our society stops this and then we wonder why these very successful men often have affairs when in Biblical times they could have just had many wives.

I am not defending men that go whoremongering – but our culture as well as our churches have set up men for failure with our attitudes toward male sexuality and specifically man’s polygynous nature.

What about men who can’t afford multiple wives or even one wife?

Well that is why God gave men such vivid imaginations when it comes to sex.  Men should be able to exercise their polygynous natures even if only through their fantasies. This is why I maintain the position that not all porn is wrong. Men should be able to look at normal heterosexual porn (that does not involve things like homosexuality, orgies, bestiality, child sex and rape).  Even if a man feels he cannot rightly look at porn because of all the fornication that serves as the inspiration for these images he can construct his own porn in his mind as men have been doing long before we had cameras.

In this way men can ward off the temptation to go whoremongering by exercising their polygynous desires that they may never be able to fully realize.  It is much the same reason that it is good for some men to play violent video games (contrary to what some say) because it allows men to exercise their aggressive and competitive natures in a healthy and controlled way.

Update 10-18-2016

But wasn’t polygamy only allowed because of sin in the world

I have been asked this very question in regard to this article and I thought it was a good one.  A reader pointed out that most of my reasons why God may have designed polygamy have to do with sin in the world.  We only have wars, famine, disease and other things that wipe out men and leave women with no support because of sin in the world and I agree with that.

However as I pointed out to the reader – the first reason I gave for man’s polygamous design was to populate the world. You would have a much slower world population growth if you had an even number of males to females born.  Also the fact that males were so prized in early civilization seems to be in indicator that in the early days of humanity males were more rare than females.

God’s first command to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply – he wanted lots of babies being born.  Now some have asked why did he not give Adam many wives if that was his design and that is a good question.  But original creation in the Garden of Eden also had these things:

Sibling marriage was made necessary by the creation of only one man and one woman. Adam and Eve’s children had to marry each other(sibling marriage). Later God would outlaw this practice.  So we all would agree that sibling marriage was only a temporary part of God’s design in the beginning.

God created Adam and Eve naked yet later in the Bible he commanded that clothing was to be worn. And the Bible never says clothing was only made necessary because of sin as we see in Revelation that the Saints and Angels are clothing in white robes.  If humans only needed to where clothing because of sin then we would all be naked in heaven and in the new world.

Instead we understand that God always intended to cloth Adam and Eve as clothing separates mankind from the rest of God’s creations.  Clothing is a sign of dignity and it sets humans apart.

So the first reason apart from sin in the world that God made man polygynous in his nature was to help populate the world.

But there is another reason apart from populating the world that I believe man was made with a polygynous nature.  Despite all the claims that “God only has only one bride” the fact is God has two brides. His divorced wife Israel and his new bride the Church.  The Bible tells us he took on his new bride the church to make his ex-wife Israel jealous(Romans 10:19). The fact is no matter how you cut it – we serve a polygamous God. It is a one to many relationship.  God has relationships multiple people, multiple nations and multiple churches.  Yet God expects all these groups to have only one God as wives are expected to have only one husband.

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Was polygamy a sin in the Old Testament that God overlooked?

Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament but he finally got rid of in the New Testament?  A broader question might be “Does God regulate and authorize behavior he thinks is sinful?”

If you have read many posts on this blog – you will know that I believe based on the Word of God(the whole Bible, not just the New Testament) that God never regulates or authorizes something he believes to be sinful, and therefore polygamy was not(and I would still argue today it is still not sinful when practiced Biblically).

Ever since I was a young man I have always been fascinated by three subjects – theology, history and human nature.  Specifically I wanted to understand what parts of our human nature(and even more specifically our male and female natures) are by the design of God, and which ones come from our sin nature corrupting of the God’s original design.

So question that needs answering is – “Is man’s natural instinct to be drawn to multiple women a corruption of his nature or part of his original design by God? ”

Most Pastors and theologians since the time Augustine(who brought Christian asceticism into the Church) have promoted a belief that this is part of man’s sinful nature, and not the nature he was originally designed with in the garden of Eden.  They argue that man was originally made by God with a monogamous nature, and only because of sin did polygamy enter the picture.

I have held this position on Biblical polygamy for 20 years(and no I am not a practicing polygamist) .  It always bothered me when I was a young man growing up in Baptist Churches(which I still love and attend ) when the Pastor would come to a passage about polygamy and say something like “This was a sin God overlooked in ancient times, but he finally got rid of it in the New Testament”.  This just bugged me! Since when does the God of the Bible regulate and authorize a behavior he believes to be sinful?  I have always believed that the God of the Bible can never authorize or regulate sinful behavior and I always will.

Recently I had a little debate about this issue in another forum with a Christian woman when we were discussing the subject of men looking at women.  Her name was Lucy.  This is part of the conversation where switch to the topic of polygamy:

Lucy started by quoting a statement I am made:

“men are naturally polygynous as God designed them.” Can you please provide verse and chapter for us? It seems to me that if that were true, anything but polygamy would be cruel for men and that decans, pastors, etc, should not have to be the husband of only one wife.”

This was my response:

Lucy – I would be happy to respond with Bible passages that support the concept that men are naturally polygynous as designed by God.

God allows and regulates polygamy in Moses law

If a man takes a second wife, he cannot deny the first wife food, clothing or sex. He must continue being a husband to her as well, even if he has more romantic attachment to his second wife.

“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

A man could not take his wife’s sister as a rival wife while his wife lived:
“Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.” – Leviticus 18:18

If a man had two wives, and he did was not romantically attracted to or did not get along with one as good as the other, he still had to acknowledge the rights of her son if he was firstborn:

“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:

17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” – Deuteronomy 21:15-17

Leah was blessed by God for giving her husband one of her hand maids as a wife:

“9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife…17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
Genesis 30:9 & 17-18

Lucy – many Christians because this does not meet with their preconceived notion that God always intended for men to be in monogamous marriages will say that that God only “allowed polygamy, but it was still sinful”.

The God of the Bible does NOT all sin – EVER. What he allows, he approves of – to say anything less is to question the holiness of God.

Now does God sometimes change his laws?

Yes. For instance God allowed the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve to marry(what we would call incest) and this practice was not condemned until later in the Mosaic law.

There was no sin Jacob marrying two sisters(Leah and Rachel) even though he was tricked. God had not yet forbid a man from marrying sisters.

God never condemned polygamy, but rather he regulated it which means he approved of it.

Some will try to point to Deuteronomy 17:15-17 where God says that a King shall not “multiply wives to himself” to say God was condemning polygamy. The problem with that interpretation is that the same man – Moses that wrote that wrote regulations on polygamy! So he certainly was not contradicting himself. Instead what he was saying is that king is not to “horde wives” – much in the way King Solomon did with having 1000 wives! King Solomon abused the concept of polygamy and his heart was indeed lead astray.

As to your point that it would be cruel then to make men have only one wife – you are right that it does make things difficult for polygynous men living a world that has now confined men to monogamous marriage.

However even in Biblical times not all men were able to marry more than one wife, and many did not have any wife at all.  This is because male slaves and servants could only have a wife if their master allowed them to. Also poor men often did not marry because fathers would not give their daughters to a man that could not pay a bride price and could not care for their daughters. This left many women that needed husbands and this is why wealthier men had many wives.

So while most men are polygynous in their nature, that does not mean all men should were able to act on that polygynous nature by taking multiple wives.

Lucy replied:

“I’m so disappointed to hear you’re back in the Old T. You have mistaken an allowance in ancient times for “men are designed that way,” but the Bible presents monogamy as God’s ideal for marriage.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh [not fleshes]” (Genesis 2:24). While Genesis 2:24 is describing what marriage is, rather than how many people are involved, the consistent use of the singularis used.

In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 give “the husband of one wife” in a list of qualifications for spiritual leadership.

While these qualifications are specifically for positions of spiritual leadership, they should apply equally to all Christians. Should not all Christians be “above reproach…temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-4)? If we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and if these standards are holy for elders and deacons, then they are holy for all.

Also, note how Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives. “Husband” is always singular. “Wife” is always singular.

In the above verse, If polygamy were allowable,the entire illustration of Christ’s relationship with His body (the church) and the husband-wife relationship falls apart.

Even going back to Adam and Eve, polygamy was not God’s original intent. God seems to have allowed polygamy to solve a problem in brutal times, but it is not the ideal. I can certainly find no proof God designed men that way.

This was my response to Lucy:

Lucy, as Christians we can sometimes be disappointed or surprised by what our fellow brethren believe. I am always disappointed when I find my Christian brethren believing God tossed the Old Testament in the garbage can when he gave us the New Testament and that is not the case at all.

You are absolutely right that Biblically speaking we are no longer under the Law, but under grace- Praise God!

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” – Romans 6:14 (KJV)

But what “law” is Paul speaking of? He is speaking of the cleanliness law, civil law, the sacrificial law, the priestly law that Moses gave to Israel as a theocracy.  The Scriptures tell us in Hebrews 8:13 that the old covenant has been replaced with the New – praise God!

In Galatians 3:24-25 the Apostle Paul tells us that the law (the sacrificial part of the law, the civil and the priestly law) was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ – but now that Christ is come we are no longer under that school master – again praise God!

That means we don’t have to stone people who commit adultery, or stone rebellious kids.  We don’t have to make sacrifices to cover our sins.  We don’t have to follow the cleanliness laws anymore.  We don’t have to stay away from certain meats, or practice the festivals.

But this does not mean that God’s moral law – contained with the Law of Moses is also obsolete. For instance while Moses law may prescribe death for someone committing murder – we are not required anymore to do that – as that is part of the civil laws of Israel that have been made obsolete.  But is murder still sin? Is it still a violation of God’s moral law? Yes.

Paul said this about the moral law contained in Moses Law:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31(KJV)

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet…Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” – Romans 7:7 & 12

Over 350 times Jesus or his Apostles quote from the Old Testament – we don’t have New Testament without the Old Testament. We can learn many things about the character of God, as well as us as his creations through the Old Testament.  I hope and pray you and other believers will find a greater appreciation for the Old Testament as it is just as much the Word of God as the New Testament is.

Now on to the issue of polygamy – or to be more specific polygyny (a man having more than one wife).  Lucy you are absolutely right that God says they will become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).  He does not say “one fleshes” as you correctly point out. You know why? Because a man has an individual marriage with each one of his wives.  If a man and all his wives were one together that would be something called “Polyamory” where multiple live together and sleep with one another.  Wives could sleep with wives, or sleep with their husband.  In fact you could have several men, and several women in a polymorous relationship.  But that is NOT what polygyny is.

Polygyny is where a man has more than one marriage. He has several marriages.  But he has a separate and distinct relationship with each of his wives, and God points out in Exodus 21:10-11 he has a separate and distinct duty to provide food, clothing and to become ONE FLESH (have sex) with each of his wives.

Apparently God who inspired Moses to write about marriage being one flesh, and speaking of a husband and wife in the singular – saw no contradiction between that and a man having more than one wife.

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:

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.” – I Timothy 5:9 (KJV)

But let’s say you were right (which I don’t think you are), that Paul was forbidding polygamy by Pastors and Deacons.  If he was, then by forbidding it to Pastors and Deacons, he was acknowledging that Christians were actively practicing polygamy.  Why when he wrote so much about marriage and divorce, and he even forbid believers from marrying non-believers, why did he not just go ahead and tell believers “you cannot marry more one wife anymore(as God had previously allowed you too)”?”

As to Ephesians 5, I love that God designed marriage to a model of his relationship with his people.  In the Old Testament he pictures himself as a husband to his wife Israel, and in the New Testament he pictures marriage as the relationship between Christ and his Church. Beautiful!

However I respectfully disagree with you that polygyny destroys this beautiful model of Christ and his Church. In the New Testament the Church is often referred to in the singular, but other times it is referred to in the plural (churches).    Just as God referred to Israel as his wife (singular), he also referred to Israel as his wives (plural) when speaking of Israel and Judah in the book of Ezekiel:

“Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother…And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and THEY were mine, and THEY bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.”  – Ezekial 23:2 & 4

In the same way while Christ often refers to his Church in the singular in the New Testament, he also refers to his Church in the plural much the same way God referred to Israel and Judah when he speaks of the 7 Churches in the book of Revelation.  He speaks to all but one of their unfaithfulness in different areas.  It appears that Christ has a separate and distinct relationship with each of his churches – does this somehow hurt the concept of Christ and his Church being a model for marriage – I think not.

When Christ speaks to his Church in the singular, it is in much the same way that a man with many wives would speak to his family (including all his wives) which is also what the Church is compared to in this passage:

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”  – I Timothy 3:15

I say all this to say, from the OT to NT the concept of a man being married to more than one wife, and having a distinct relationship with each of his wives does not break the model of what God intended marriage to be. A man can be one flesh with each of his wives, as God is one with each of his churches.

As far as your assertion that God creating only one man and one woman (Adam and Eve) in the garden means that was his model for marriage, are you then saying that brothers and sisters marrying was his model for marriage? Because Adam and Eve’s children had to marry one another.  The fact is that God could have created two sets of couples so that incest would not have to occur just as he could have created more wives for Adam. He chose not to. But again I draw your attention to the fact that the same God who created Adam and Eve also gave Moses commands allowing men to take more than one wife – if that were a violation of his model he would not have allowed it.

I hope this helps clarify my position.

 

What is the Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16?

couple female in pink and male in red

What does the Bible mean by “the lust of the eyes”? Is it wrong for us to look at anything and desire it? Or does this mean something else? Recently I was sent this article – http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/lust.html – to review from one of my blog readers, it is an essay by Pastor Steven Anderson, the Pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Temple AZ.

The phrase “the lust of the eyes” occurs one time in the Bible, and it comes to us in the first epistle of John.

“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

I John 2:15-17(KJV)

I don’t mean to say that just because the phrase occurs only one time that it is not important. There are many great truths in Scriptures that occur in only one or two passages. But the key is to understand what this phrase means.

Let’s be clear from the start, the Bible never defines what “the lust of the eyes” is.

So this brings us to Pastor Anderson and his sermon – “The Lust of the Eyes”. I also want to say that in no way am I questioning Pastor Anderson’s salvation, or his genuine desire to please God. But just as Paul withstood Peter to his face, sometimes we must confront the false teachings of other believers.

Let’s start off with where I agree with Pastor Anderson, before I have to stand against the false teachings that he has mixed with the truth of God’s Word.

Pastor Anderson states his definition of “Lust” as it occurs in the Bible:

“The word “lust” means a very strong, intense desire. It is usually talking about a desire that is out of control, a desire that you can’t control is what lust is or just a very intense, extreme desire.  Covetousness is a word that has to do with lust.  If you study Romans chapter seven Paul teaches that in the Bible.”

Pastor Anderson’s definition of lust, is actually pretty accurate, especially when he recognizes how Paul ties it to covetousness (Romans 7:7).

So if we take his definition and understand what Lust is, we can also understand what is not lust.

Desiring something, whether it is our favorite food, or perhaps a car we want to buy, or a home we want to buy is not lust.

Pastor Anderson then moves from his definition of general lust, to a more specific definition of “the lust of the eyes”:

“But I think most people understand what the lust of the flesh is. That could be an appetite for food that is out of control. That could be an appetite for fornication. That could be an appetite for committing physical sins of pleasure with your body. But I think many people fail to understand that there is a difference between the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. And just what is the lust of the eyes?

Well, look down at your Bible in Proverbs chapter six as we are reading this in verse 24. It says, “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.” And then look at the next statement. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”

Now think about this for a moment. Here God is saying not to lust after the beauty of a strange woman, of a wicked woman, of an evil woman.

Now, beauty is a visual aspect. Ok, we are not talking about the flesh here. We are talking about the eyes. We are talking about a man lusting after the beauty of a woman. That is what it says. Look down at your Bible. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids…

Now, what is this talking about? Lust can be defined, again, as coveting something, desiring something that doesn’t belong to you or, in the case of the lust of the eyes, it is coveting and desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.

This is where my disagreements with Pastor Anderson begin. He basically says that Proverbs 6:24 says that God says you cannot even look at the beauty of a woman “strange women” (i.e. a whore or prostitute). The verse says we should not “lust after her beauty” in our hearts.

Let me point out a very important truth here:

LustingLooking

Pastor Anderson has just made the jump from “Lust” being in his own words “a very intense, extreme desire. Covetousness“ to desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.”

Lust in the Scriptures is always a strong and insatiable desire to possess something, or someone that you could not possess, or should not possess.

Proverbs 6:24 is NOT saying men have to walk with their eyes pointed at the ground every time they see a beautiful woman. It is not saying every time that a man sees a beautiful woman on television that he must avert his eyes.

Proverbs 6:24 IS saying we are not to desire to possess the beauty of a wicked and loose woman (whether she be a wayward wife or a prostitute). Can someone possess beauty? Absolutely! Do you realize some men marry women only for their outward beauty, knowing they may never have a close relationship, knowing the woman is a viper on the inside?

But I also think it is highly likely that “beauty” here in Proverbs 6:24, is simply a symbol of the woman herself, to possess her physically, and bodily.

Again the word “look” is nowhere in this passage – remember that fact, the word is “lust” (an insatiable desire to take possession of something or someone we cannot).

Another thing to point out is, “the lust of the eyes” is not simply talking about sexual lust. Other examples of “the lust of the eyes” is when we lust after things that other people have. Whether it is the home they have, or perhaps their car, their furniture or artwork they have in their home. For ladies “the lust of the eyes” might be looking at other women’s clothing with an intense desire to possess the clothing they have.

Are there some things we should not even look at?

Even though I disagree with Pastor Anderson’s interpretation of Proverbs 6:24, I don’t disagree with the Biblical concept that there are some evil things we should not set before our eyes. I just don’t see Proverbs 6:24 as teaching that we can’t even look at a beautiful woman, and even appreciate the beauty of a woman, unless she is our wife.

The right verse (which he also mentions in his post) speaking to looking at evil things is from Psalms:

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

Psalm 101:3

So I have just argued that it is not a sin, and it is not lust simply to look at the beauty of a woman, even the beauty of a wicked woman. I would even argue that it is not a sin to look at the beauty of a good woman who is single or another man’s wife.

Sin happens comes when we go from looking to lusting, when we have an insatiable to desire to physically possess the beauty of a woman that we have no right to.

But there are some things we should not even look at. An example would be pornography. We should not be looking at images that depict sexually immoral acts. Another example might be Satanic books and books about sorcery and witchcraft (we see in Acts 19:19 that believers brought these kinds of books and burned them).

What about Job 31:1?

Pastor Anderson talks about nakedness but I am going to leave that for a separate upcoming post. I want to close this post by looking at his reference to Job 31:1:

“Job said it this way. He said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes.” He said, “I made a deal with my eyes.” “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes and said, ‘You are going to look at what I tell you to look at. And you are not going to look at women that are dressed indecent. You are not going to look at another man’s wife. You are not going to look at these images that Hollywood and TV will portray for you.”

Job says nothing about the way a woman is dressed, he says nothing here about looking at another man’s wife. He says nothing about looking at images of women (in his day it would have been paintings or sculptures). He does not state any of these things Pastor Anderson mentions.

In Job 31:1 the word “think”, could also be “to perceive and look at”. So then some might say “ha – he is saying we can’t even look at a young women!” Can anyone say with a straight face they think Job was saying he never looked at any young women, that every time a young woman came by that he averted his eyes? Such an idea would be ridiculous and we find no such example in the Scriptures.

The fact is that nowhere in all of Scripture do we see the Bible condemning a man for simply looking at a woman. We also never see sexual arousal being condemned in Scripture. What is condemned is lust, which is covetousness. It is what we do after we look, even after we may be aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman. Do we begin to contemplate in our heads how we can get that woman to have sex with us outside of marriage?

What Job was NOT saying

Based on the totality of the Scriptures Here is what we know job was not saying.

1. We know Job was NOT saying it was a sin for him to look at a young virgin.

2. We know that Job was NOT saying it was sin for him to be aroused by the beauty of a young woman. In fact it would not even be wrong if he wanted to marry a young woman.

What Job WAS saying in Job 31:1

That leaves us with only one possibility of what Job was actually saying about his thoughts regarding young virgins:

He would not think about how to seduce a young virgin into having sex with him outside of marriage (as so many men around him probably did).

Speaking of virginity, people often wonder why God was so serious about a woman’s virginity in the Bible, and they often look at it as God being harsh toward women. No! God was protecting women from men who would take advantage of them. One of the many reasons God wants men and women to wait for sex in marriage, is so that a woman is protected, and any children that might come from her having sex would be protected and provided for. Our society is paying a heavy financial toll for ignoring God’s commands regarding virginity and premarital sex.

Conclusion

Lusting is not the same as looking – please remember that truth. Men are visual creatures, much more so than women typically are. As men, God has given us our sexuality, and even our visual sexuality, as a gift. No Christian man should be ashamed of the fact that he receives pleasure every time he sees a beautiful woman.

Please here me out Christian man. Examine the Scriptures for yourself. God did not give you your eyes and a male brain that is capable of appreciating and receiving pleasure from the sight of female beauty, only to tell you that you must look away in shame every time you feel pleasure at the site of a beautiful woman.

He did not give your eyes to appreciate only one woman, that being your future wife. Not one passage of Scripture ever states this concept, no matter how many times Pastors repeat it over and over, and many Christian authors repeat this mantra in their marriage books.

As I have said multiple times on this site, God designed men as polygynous beings and that is why we are naturally attracted to a variety of women. I know that conflicts with our modern monogamous-only marriage society, but regardless, it is the truth. Look at the articles on this site, detailing the polygyny of the Biblical patriarchs.

In upcoming articles, I will address some of the other issues he raises such as the topic of nudity, mixed gender swimming, what we watch on TV and male gynecologists.

Lawlessness, God’s Law and Tradition – Which one do you and your Church serve?

historic white church on the hill, bodega, california

In many Christian Churches today, we see one of two extremes. We see churches preaching against traditionalism (or legalism as it often referred to today) but not preaching against lawlessness. We also see churches preaching against lawlessness, but many of these same churches fail to preach against traditionalism (legalism). It is becoming less and less common in our culture to see Churches that neither go to the left nor the right of God’s law.

Do not turn to the right or to the left

This subject of not going to the right or left of God’s law seems to be a very important theme in the Scriptures.

“Be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left.”

Deuteronomy 5:32 HCSB

This phrase of not turning to “the right or the left” of God’s commands is repeated 7 more times in the Scriptures(Deuteronomy 17:20, Deuteronomy 28:14, Joshua 1:7, Joshua 23:6, 2 Kings 22:2,2 Chronicles 34:2,Proverbs 4:27).

God also uses another phrase to express this same sentiment:

“You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you.”

Deuteronomy 4:2 HCSB

This same phrase of “not adding or taking anything” away from God’s law is repeated in Deuteronomy 12:32.

So in total, 10 times, count them – 10 times God says he does not want us to go the left of his law, or to the right of his law, he does not want us to add to his law, or take away from his law.

When we go to the left of God’s law, and we take away from God’s law, we get lawlessness. When we go to the right of God’s law, we add to God’s law and we get tradition.

LawlessnessGodsLawManslaw

Jesus Christ himself reserved some of his most vehement scolding for Jewish teachers of the Law who added to God’s laws and taught their traditions as being equal to God’s law when he quoted from Isaiah:

“In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,

but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,

teaching as doctrines the commands of men.””

Matthew 15:6b -9 HCSB

The Apostle Paul, when fighting against a new false teaching that added rules to God’s Word spoke these words:

“8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ… 16 Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. 19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God.

20 If you died with the Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: 21 “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? 22 All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are commands and doctrines of men. 23 Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.”

Colossians 2:8 & 16-23 HCSB

The Three types of spiritual slavery in the New Testament

In the passage we just quoted from Colossians 2, Paul talks about human tradition taking us captive. He has used this concept of captivity with lawlessness as well when he states:

“19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

2 Peter 2:19 HCSB

Paul talks about another type of slavery, a positive type of slavery:

“16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. “

Romans 6:16-18 HCSB

So we have three masters we can serve, Lawlessness, God or Tradition. Being a captive of Lawlessness or Tradition are both equally sinful activities.

Examples of the difference between Lawlessness, God’s law and Tradition

LawlessnessGodsLawManslaw2

What if I or my Church practice some of these traditions, am I sinning?

Please don’t misunderstand me. We all have some rules for ourselves, or as parents for our children that may fall into some of the categories I have mentioned above. Even some Churches may have some rules that are not found in the Bible.

It is one thing to have a rule or standard for one’s life, one’s family, or even for Church activities, and another to teach these things as doctrines of Scripture that all men must follow, else they are sinning.

For instance, if I personally have a rule for my family that we won’t drink alcohol in our home, there is no sin in that. But if I teach that the drinking of any alcohol is wrong for all people, and sinful for all people – then I am being a slave to tradition and I am sinning by adding to God’s Word. God’s Word condemns drunkenness, not drinking.

Perhaps you believe that God wants you and your family to tithe, to give 10 percent of your gross income to your local church. There is no sin in this belief, as long as you understand that it is not sinful for others give less than 10% to their local churches, because tithing was never instituted as a method of giving for the New Testament Church. Anyone who teaches this as a doctrine for the New Testament Church is being a slave to the traditions of men, and is adding to the New Testament which clearly says with New Covenant, we are no longer under the old law.

I could go on, but you get the point. There is nothing wrong with having traditions that you follow, as long as those traditions do not cause you to violate the commands of God, and as long you never equate those traditions with the commands and doctrines of God’s Word.

So the question is what master will you serve? Lawlessness? God or Tradition?

This has been the first in series of posts I wanted to write relating to traditionalism. In this first post I wanted to compare and contrast following lawlessness, God’s law and the traditions of men. This is not just some theoretical exercise, I grew up in Churches that believed in many of the traditions I listed, and they held strong convictions that anyone who did not embrace these traditions as the commands of God, were in fact sinners under the judgment of God.

Many times on this blog I have been accused of being a traditionalist myself, because of my strong convictions regarding Biblical Gender Roles. But the major difference between mine and millions of Christians who believe in Biblical Gender Roles and these traditions I listed above is – there are ample Scriptural commands that teach Biblical Gender Roles, there are no Scriptural commands that teach any of the traditions I have shown above. They are built on conjecture, and opinion, not on clear Scriptural commands.

In upcoming posts I will be reviewing actual doctrinal statements from a church website that one my blog readers referred to me where this Church teaches many of these traditions as the commands of God, rather than the traditions of men.

 

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women Part 2

Polygyny

My first post on this subject, “The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women” sparked a lot of interest, and most of it was negative as I would expect. Most people have a hard time stepping outside their cultural norms and value systems and looking at things from a wider historical perspective – so the negative responses I received did not offend me or shock me.

What I wanted to do here is answer some of the objections and questions that people raised, as well as clarify some things I was trying to communicate in the first post.

In the first article in this series, I proved that men marrying younger women, and even multiple younger women (polygyny) in past civilizations was not wrong and it was not immoral even though our modern culture frowns on these practices today.

It is not wrong (present tense) in some cultures outside the United States that still practice it today (older men marrying younger women) as they are brought up in a culture expecting to be married at a young age.

Believe it or not there are still many states where the age of marriage with the consent of the parents is as young as 14. According to one study almost 9 percent of marriages in the United States are by those under the age of 18[1].  Out of those 9 percent of “child marriages” as they are classified – 1 out of 9 is age 14 while the remainder are between 15 and 17 years of age.

But what I was trying to say in the last article, and it somewhat got lost, is that even though we are living in a monogamous society, and an equal opportunity for both genders society, this does not change man’s biology.

All men, are biologically capable of impregnating 20 or 30 women in one month. A woman on the other hand, is biologically wired for monogamy, even if she has sex with 20 men in one month, she can only be impregnated by one man at a time. Yes I know there are rare exceptions where a woman has dropped two eggs and had pregnancies from two different men but this is not her design, this is not the norm of how a woman’s body operates.

Man’s biological capacity for polygyny, is not only located in his reproductive organs, but also in his brain. Even though Western men are living within the constraints of a monogamous society, they are still drawn to a variety of women. But in our society men are taught to hide and subdue this natural polygamous mental wiring, because they are taught that they should only desire one woman. There are of course expectations, where some men have a very low sex drive, and some men have no sex drive at all so they will not desire multiple women – but again these are exceptions and not the norm.

The key word is “capacity”

A word I continuously used in my first post, and I continue to use in this post is “capacity”. For instance all men and women (unless they are born with some rare medical condition) have the biological capacity for having sex. But just because they have the capacity for sex, does not mean they will actually ever have sex in their lifetime.

In the same way while all men throughout history have had the biological capacity for polygyny, it does not mean they were able to act on it, or even if given the choice, many did not act on it.

Someone might say, “Well we all have the capacity for sin too, but just because we have the capacity for something does not make it right”. I would agree wholeheartedly with this statement.

If we did not have examples of some of the greatest heroes of the Bible like Abraham, Gideon, David and many others who were practicing polygynists I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If we did not have the Old Testament regulations specifically allowing men to take other wives through various means I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God himself did not say to King David that he had given King Saul’s “wives” into David’s “bosom” (II Samuel 12:8) I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God did not picture himself as a polygynous husband with two wives (Ezekiel 23) I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

If God did not have the names of the sons of Jacob, a product of a polygynous relationship with 4 different wives inscribed on his Holy City for all eternity (Revelation 21:12), I might agree that man’s capacity for polygyny could be a sinful capacity.

What about the 50/50 ratio between men and women – wouldn’t polygyny take away wives from other men?

The first problem with this train of thought it is that it assumes there has always been a ratio of 1 to 1 for men and women throughout history. We do not know that in the beginning God did not have more women than men born so as to populate the world faster.

Secondly, for arguments sake, let’s say that for all of human history since the dawn of creation there has always been a 1 to 1 ratio between men and women. Let’s go back to my key word “capacity”. Just because man has the capacity for sex, does not mean that all men are going to get married. Just because man has the capacity for polygyny does mean all men throughout history have been able to act on their capacity for polygyny.

Many men could not marry, either because they were slaves or servants (who could only marry if their master allowed them to), or they were in poverty and poor men generally were not able to marry. You usually had to show a father you had the ability to care for his daughter, before you could marry her. Some men would later fall into poverty after marriage, in which case they would have to sell their children as slaves so they would be cared for.

So my point is, there were a lot more eligible women for marriage, then eligible men, which made it possible for many men to have polygynous marriages.

But that brings us to modern times. In our modern America a man does not have to have the means to care for a woman to marry her. In fact it is very common for poor men and women to marry each other and not long afterwards go on public assistance, especially after they have children.

But even in our day, there are still many more eligible women for marriage than eligible men. The reasons are very different than they once were. Now many men don’t won’t want to marry, and our free sex society allows men to follow their polygynous urges without any sort of marital commitment so that is what men do now(they whore around instead of getting married). This is of course just many of the reasons men run from marriage today.

“In 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to 72 percent in 1960.”

Huffington Post – “Marriage Rate Declines To Historic Low, Study Finds”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/22/marriage-rate_n_3625222.html

This leaves a lot of women looking for men who are willing to enter a committed relationship and get married. There are many intelligent and economically well off men that would gladly take on multiple wives as our Biblical forefathers did if our society allowed.

There is no “one-flesh” mutuality in a marriage when a man marries a much younger woman or has more than one wife.

There is a sense in which marriage is a mutual thing.

“In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman”

I Corinthians 11:11(HCSB)

Man needs woman, and woman needs man, we mutually need one another.

However that is where the mutuality of man and woman ends, and the differences between man and woman begins.

A man and woman do not need to be the same age, or the same maturity to be married. As long as the man is in a position to lead and protect his wife, she can be much younger, and much less mature.

Contrary to what modern America teaches, marriage is not a partnership of equals, but a patriarchy.

In the same passage above where Paul talks about men and women needing each other, he also talks about why woman was made:

“A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory.  For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.

I Corinthians 11:7-9(HSCB)

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:24(HSCB)

What does “one flesh” mean in the Bible?

““Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6(HSCB)

“Don’t you know that anyone joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For Scripture says, The two will become one flesh.”

I Corinthians 6:16(HSCB)

So what the Scriptures tell us is, a man can become “one flesh” with his wife, and a man can become “one flesh” with a prostitute. What is the only two things those two relationships have in common? Sex.

This tells us that the primary meaning of “one flesh” when it comes to the relationship of a man and woman refers to their sexual relationship.

The sex act is the binding symbol of the union between a man and woman. In Biblical times, a marriage was not sealed until a man had sex with a woman, which then bound them together by law. I am not saying that there is not an emotional connection that often occurs between a man and a woman as a result of sex, we know this can and often does occur.  I am also not arguing that in marriage there is not more to the one flesh concept than just the sexual reference.

Is there a secondary meaning to “one flesh” in regard to marriage?  Yes. Christ shows us this in the Gospel of Mark:

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

Mark 10:6-8 (KJV)

So the Bible refers to “one flesh” in regard to a man and woman in two ways.  We are told that a man can become one flesh with a prostitute and we are also told that in marriage that a man and woman are no longer two, but one referring to the spiritual, intellectual and emotional union of a man and his wife.

But here is the issue – in our current culture Christian teachers primarily emphasize the second way one flesh is used(one in spirit and mind) and they place little to no emphasis on the most literal meaning of a couple becoming one flesh which is the sexual aspect of it.

But how can a man become “one flesh” with more than one wife?

But how can a man be “one” with more than one wife? Would that not make them many? If this was an intimate relationship of many people with one another, then that would be a polyamorous relationship which is different than polygynous relationship.

In a polyamorous relationship there can be multiple men and women all married to one another.  So you could have three men and two women or one man and three women.  They all consider each other’s spouses in every sense of the word.  Of course we know that such a relationship is a wicked perversion of God’s design for marriage.  A woman must always be married to one spouse and that spouse must be a man who is called her husband according to Romans 7:2-3.

In a polygynous relationship, a husband has a separate and distinct relationship with each of his wives(the wives are not married to each other – they are married to him). He is a husband to each of them, just as God pictured himself as a husband to two wives in Ezekiel 23.

I understand that may be a difficult concept to understand but this is all based in the Word of God. You may struggle with this concept in this life but if you are a Christian when you get to heaven you can ask Jacob – whose sons from his polygynous relationships with 4 different woman are inscribed on the city of God for all eternity (the twelve tribes of Israel).

I encourage the reader to look at my series on “Why Polygamy is not unBiblical” to understand this better.

References:

[1]Yann Le Strat, Caroline Dubertret, Bernard Le Foll (2011), Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/3/524

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women

PolygynyAndYouth

Previously I wrote about why polygyny is not only NOT unbiblical, but it was regulated, allowed and practiced by many of the Old Testament patriarchs. But what about the biological case for polygyny? Did God design men’s bodies for polygynous relationships? What about the marriage of young women to older to men?

Imagine that you were able to take a time machine back to a time in human history around 3000 years ago, deep in the Middle East. You meet a traveler who says he is coming back from a trade journey for his master. You ask him about how he became a slave and he tells you that his parents were in poverty, and that they traded him to his master for some cattle. He says this helped his parents to come out of poverty and to build a life for his other siblings.

He asks you to come meet his master. He tells you that his master was a great hero to his nation, and he is a kind and generous man, a man that worships the one true God. In the distance you can see what looks like a small village. You see what seems to be a celebration of some kind so you ask your companion “what are they celebrating?”

He responds that his master is getting married. As you come closer he points out his master and his bride to be sitting on the ground beside him. The man appears to be his mid-40’s while the girl sitting next to him looks no more than 14. This must be a mistake.

You ask him again – “that girl is his daughter right?” He responds – “No she is his bride to be. My master is very excited, she is his 15th wife and he is hoping she will give him his 70th son!” After wiping the shocked look off your face, you ask you’re travelling companion one more question – “What is your master’s name?” He responds – “My master’s name is Gideon”.

The story I have just given you, while fictional, is based on a true Biblical character and based upon what we know of the culture and times most likely happened (minus the time traveler with one of Gideon’s slaves- LOL).

“Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. And Gideon the son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”

Judges 8:30-32(NASB)

When does a girl become a woman?

While culturally we consider a girl to become a woman at the age of 18, biologically speaking, adulthood is reached when sexual maturity is reached. Before the modern era, a girl became a woman when she experienced her first period (usually around 12 or 13), she was then eligible for marriage and usually her father had her married off not long after this.

Lucien Deiss in his book “Joseph, Mary, Jesus” writes:

“How old could Mary have been? Young girls usually were betrothed as soon as they became a woman.  It was believed they reached puberty at about twelve or twelve and a half. Boys it was believed reached the age if puberty a year later. Marriage could take place one year after puberty a year later. In general, it was held that men could wait until the age of eighteen or twenty before marrying so that they could have time to build a house and plant a vineyard.”[1]

In “Jesus of History, Christ of Faith” we read:

“The women normally married as soon as they were physically able to bear children, which the Law defined as twelve and a half years of age.” [2]

Rev. Dr. Eugene Weitzel stated this about the Jewish view of early marriage:

“As we noted above, the Jews clearly understood that the first command that God gave to Adam and Eve was “increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28). In fact one rabbi firmly believed that “A bachelor is not truly a man at all.” Furthermore, celibacy was looked upon as an anomaly, almost a disgrace.  Now keep in mind that Jesus Christ, a devout, practicing Jew who dearly loved his Jewish faith, grew up with this view of celibacy.  He also knew that his people believed in early marriage.  Many rabbis, even during Jesus’s time, taught that eighteen was the ideal age for marriage for a man but certainly not later than twenty-four. He knew too that girls were ready for marriage as soon as they were physically ready to conceive and bear children, which according to the law was twelve and one-half years. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably no more than fourteen years old when she gave birth to the Son of God.” [3]

Zvi Yehuda in his book on Jews that came to Iraq from all over the world for over 400 years writes:

“Where traditional family structure was unchanged, Jewish girls were betrothed by their parents at age 9-11 and married at age 12-13. A Jewish girl who reached the age of fifteen and was still unmarried was considered an old maid with no chance of a husband.  A girl bride was not asked for opinion in choose her mate and parents occasionally married off their daughters to men dozens of years older than the bride.” [4]

The evidence is clear. Both in Jewish tradition and over historical accounts we know that Jews married their daughters off young.  Why? Because of God’s first command to mankind to be fruitful and multiply.  Men needed more time to prepare a home for their wife – but women as soon they became women(had their first period) and passed the age of 12 were usually betrothed or married and most likely had their first child by the age of 13 or 14.

Teenage mothers were the norm before the modern era

As we have previously pointed out, most scholars believe that Mary was 12 to 14 years old when she was espoused to Joseph to be married. They believe she would have been between 13 and 14 when she gave birth to Jesus. While the Bible does not state her exact age, if she were older it would have stated this as it did with Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist).  Since the Bible makes no mention of her age, then it is assumed she would have been in the normal first child bearing age of women in that era, which would have been around 13 or 14. Joseph is thought to be a bit older than her (perhaps in his mid-20s or older) because he died well before Jesus’s ministry and Mary was a widow.

Just a note – if you look online there are a few Christians (but a small minority) that have tried to argue with the notion that Mary was a teenage mother and instead argue that she was at least 20 years old as this was God’s age of accountability and God would not have asked her to carry his Son at such a young age.

There are few problems with this theory of Mary being much older. The first problem is that first time mothers in their 20’s were considered to be older mothers, and the Bible would have said something about her older age, like it did with her cousin Elizabeth if she were in her 20’s.  Another problem with the magic “20” number is that in most instances of the Old Testament this applied to men being fully accountable, not to women, and even in the one instance in the book of numbers where men are not specified, it does not specify women either, so the assumption always goes to it talking about men aged 20 or older.

Women were accountable to their father as long as they were in his house. He could override any decision she made, financial or otherwise while she lived in his house. His authority over her then transferred to her husband when she got married.

Some Christians want so desperately to believe, against the evidence of historical and cultural data we have of the period and location, that there is no way Mary could have been a 14 year old mother. But this starts with their pre-conceived notion, based upon our modern western culture we have all been brought up in, that marriage of girls at such young ages is an immoral act.

Bearing and Rearing Children is a young woman’s game

Biologically speaking, a woman’s best time to conceive and bear children is from the time of her first period (for most girls between age 12 and 13) and age 24. After age 24 chances of birth defects and problem pregnancies begin to rise. At age 30, a woman has used or lost 90% of the eggs she will ever have and this is why women in their 30’s typically have a much more difficult time getting pregnant.

The reason that God designed a woman to have children at a younger age, as opposed to an older age(like 30s and 40s) is because of the extreme stress that is placed on the body during pregnancy, as well as the energy and physical stamina that is required to care for and wean a child in their younger years.

What about Sarah and Elizabeth in the Bible?

Yes there are few instances of God miraculously causing older women to conceive, but this was by no means the norm of his design. We cannot take these two special cases and try to make a doctrine that God intends for women to wait until their older years to have children.

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

I Timothy 5:14(KJV)

A teenage girl might physically able to bear a child, but she is not psychologically ready

This argument does stray a bit from what is strictly a biological topic, but I think it needs to be addressed. I completely agree that most teenage girls in our culture and time period are not psychologically prepared for having children. But that is because our culture babies children in ways cultures of the past did not.

In Jewish tradition, a boy began his journey to manhood at the age of 13, and a girl began her journey in womanhood at the age of 12. While boys were not fully responsible (for taxation purposes, and conscription purposes and some other legal purposes) until they reached age 20, they were in many ways treated as men from age 13 on. Since women did not have the rights men did, a woman was a full woman at the age of 12 and her status and rights did not change from that point forward.

A young 12 year old girl would have witnessed births by many women by the time she reached 12 and would be fully aware of periods, child bearing and birth long before these things happened to her. She would already have been learning about child care well before she reached puberty. Her whole life would have been leading up to the time when she could finally marry and have children of her own.

So in many ways, a 12 year old girl in pre modern times would have had the maturity level of what many 18 or even 20 year old girls have today.

Also we must keep in mind that before the modern era, families took care of other and were much closer. So when a 13 or 14 year woman had her first baby, her female relatives, whether they were cousins, or aunts, or even her mother were all there to help her learn the ropes of motherhood. Today the tribal family structure has all but been eliminated.

Men can father children at any age beyond puberty

Unlike women who ovulate once a month, and are only fertile for about 5 days, the typical man (unless he has a medical condition) is in essence “fertile” every day. A man completely replenishes his sperm every 24 hours. Before recent research, doctors used to tell men to wait every other day to have sex with their wives during her fertile period. Then they discovered that is was in fact better for them to have sex every day, as all the sperm is at its best every 24 hours or so.

A man since he was not responsible for caring for the child, but for the teaching and disciplining of the child, did not need to have the physical strength and endurance that a woman needed in her duties of child rearing, and this is why a man has no expiration date on his ability to produce children.

The fact of God’s creation in human biology is, men are built for fathering multiple children with multiple women at the same time. They are also built for fathering children with multiple generations of women, as their first wives age and cannot have children, they can continue fathering children with younger women.

This is why men have such a stronger sex drive and can compartmentalize relationships with multiple women, much better than the average woman could with multiple men. Not to mention that a man has a never ending supply of child producing sperm. On the other hand, women are designed with a shelf life when it comes to having children. How else do you explain the extreme disparity between the male and female reproductive systems?

What about my own daughter?

As I write this article in August of 2014, my daughter is 12 years old.  I could not imagine her being married at such a young age. But why could I not imagine such a thing? Is it because it would immoral or wrong? The answer is no.

The reason I cannot imagine it is because of the culture I have been raised in and the culture I have raised my daughter in. Because she has not been raised to prepare for marriage at age 12 she is not ready to be a wife and mother yet. Could she be ready in a few years? Perhaps.

Let’s say my daughter was 16 and a wonderful Christian 25 year old man who was a mechanical engineer approached me about courting my daughter.  I was able to check out the church he attended and verify with many people his Christian character.  He makes over 100K a year, owns his own home and can provide for my daughter well. Would I consider letting him court my daughter and possibly marry her as a 16 year old young lady? The answer is yes. 

Just a quick note on the difference between courting and dating.  Dating is when a couple choose one another apart from any parental involvement and they go out alone together doing various activities together.  They may or may not be going out together with marriage in mind.

Dating is a relatively new phenomenon originating in the last century. Before that marriages were arranged either between parents or between the father of the daughter and a potential husband. Courting came on the scene later.  But courting, unlike dating, is always with the prospect of marriage in mind.   Also a big difference between courting and dating is the couple is never alone together.  They always have a family member from one side or even both sides along with them wherever they go.

How does all this apply to us today?

After reading all this, you might say – “so what if before modern times women got married and had babies way younger, and men had many wives – that’s not how are society is structured today, so how does any of this apply?”

There really are two issues here that apply to our modern times, and in this post I will only address one of them, as I believe the other issue merits its own post.

The first issue is the fertility crisis that the world will soon be facing in the coming century. In most modern countries, because women are waiting so long (average age of first time mothers is now around 26 in highly westernized countries) the birthrates in these countries among the indigenous populations has plummeted. Many European countries are far below replacement levels (just having enough babies to keep their population stable) and even the US population only keeps a modest growth because of immigration (legal and illegal). If we did not have the immigration we have now, we would be experiencing population decline.

I will reference this book in another article on this subject, but I highly encourage the reader to check out the book “What to Expect when no one is expecting” by Jonathan Last.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Expect-When-Ones-Expecting/dp/1594036411

The fertility statistics in this book are a real “inconvenient truth” to modern day feminists. We face a much greater threat from dropping fertility rates than any climate change, real or imagined. But I will have more to say about this subject in separate post dedicated to conflict between women’s rights and the survival of the human race.

But the second issue, and the one that this post is primarily dedicated to is the biological capacity of men for polygyny.

Even if practically speaking, we as men in western culture are for the most part living monogamous lives it helps us and our wives to understand ourselves better when we all come to the realization that men are biologically built with the capacity for polygyny.

There are some men who have lower sex drives, and have less polygynous natures than other men, so that they would never desire to act on their capacity for polygyny. But the vast majority of men have a high sex drive, some higher than others, and definitely if our society allowed it would act on their natural polygynous desires and biological capacity of for polygyny.

This is why happily married men still routinely check out other women.

This is why it is not perverted for a 50 year old man to check out an 18 year old woman.

This is why men typically want to have sex multiple times a week, whereas many women would be happy with sex a few times a month.

Man’s capacity for polygyny is not only Biblical, it is also biological.

References:

[1] Deiss, Lucien (1996), Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Liturgical Press, p. 25, ISBN 978-0814622551

[2] Zanzig, T. (1999). Jesus of History, Christ of Faith. Terrace Heights, Winona: Saint Mary’s Press, Christian Brothers Publication. p. 89

[3] Weitzel, Eugene. J. (2010). I Want to Be a Husband and Father for Life and a Catholic Priest Forever. U.S.: Xilbris Corporation. p. 113

[4] Zvi Yehuda, “The New Babylonian Diaspora: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Community in Iraq, 16th-20th C.E.”, p.97

Related posts:

The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women Part 2

Women’s ovaries don’t agree with Feminism

How did God make man?

How did God make woman?

Why polygamy is not unBiblical

Removing the cultural lenses

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