Masculine Women and Feminine Men Part 1

MasculineWomenFeminineMen

To deny that there are masculine women and feminine men would be like denying there are ever cool days in the summer and warm days in the winter. We do not generally associate coolness with summer, or warmness with winter, but these things happen regardless.

But It would also be a mistake to say there are no such things a masculine and feminine qualities, this is something many feminists and egalitarians are trying to do today. That would be the same as saying that most winter days are not cold and most summers are days are not hot.  Genders do have normal behaviors.

It is a biological lie to deny the existence of masculine and feminine traits.

Masculinity and Femininity Defined

There are some traits that have been identified with masculinity and femininity since the dawn of civilization.

Masculine physical traits – taller and larger body builds, more muscular, deeper voices, thicker and more body hair, tougher skin, thicker eyebrows and facial hair.

Masculine behavioral traits – Aggressive, assertive, ambitious, courageous, competitive, logical and analytical. More prone to acting, then talking.

Female physical traits – shorter and smaller body builds, little muscle, higher voices, thinner and less body hair, softer skin, thinner eyebrows and no facial hair.

Female behavioral traits – Passive, submissive, cautious, cooperative, emotional and more empathetic. More prone to talking, then acting.

Masculine and Feminine Clothing– While clothing styles have changed over the last few thousand years, the concept of men and women wearing clothing that would distinguish their gender is as old as creation.

Whether it was in ancient Egypt, or the Assyrian Empire, or even among the Greeks and the Romans there was always “masculine” clothing and “feminine” clothing. Sometimes the differences were very pronounced and other times they were more subtle, but the differences were always there.

There was a time after Western civilization moved from tunics and robes to pants and dresses that men wore only pants (except for clergy and governing officials’ still wearing robes) and women wore only dresses. In the last century it has become socially acceptable for women to wear pants, but women’s pants are still cut and made different than men’s.

Women actually have a much broader range of acceptable clothing than men in Western culture where they can wear a dress one day, and the next day they can wear pants. It is not generally accepted in Western culture for men to wear dresses or skirts, or women’s pants and shirts. One notable exception to the “no skirts” rule for men would be the Scottish Kilt. But the Scotsmen still get teased about that to this very day.

As far as colors go, women also have a broader range of acceptable colors. While a woman can wear darker colors and softer pastels, men who wear lighter and softer pastel colors are generally perceived as wearing more feminine clothing(especially by other men). The feminist movement over the last 50 years has tried to make it more acceptable for men to wear soft pastel colors in a broader attempt to feminize society.

So with masculinity and femininity defined lets delve into how this impacts masculine women and feminine men.

Degrees of Masculinity and Femininity

Once we acknowledge the fact that there are masculine women and feminine men we must then recognize that there are varying degrees of masculinity and varying degrees of femininity. For instance a man may be very manly in 90% of his physical and behavioral traits, but there may be a small amount of feminine behavior or physical traits in one area of his life.

The same could be said of a woman, where for the most part she is extremely feminine, but there may be some small part of her that is more masculine (whether it is in behavior or physical attributes). Let me give some examples to illustrate what I am saying:

There are some beautiful and extremely feminine women who are extremely competitive. Maybe they like to play sports, it would be mistake to call that type of woman a masculine woman just because she gets a little competitive on the softball field.

There are some men that look very manly, big muscular and hairy, but the minute they open their mouth you hear a high, soft sounding voice. Just because a man’s voice sounds more feminine, does not make him a feminine man.

What does a Masculine woman look like?

A masculine woman is a woman that has several masculine traits, not just some minor masculine issues. For instance maybe a woman is built more like a man. Perhaps she has boxy hips (as opposed to round) and she has big broad shoulders like a man and she is more naturally muscular. At least from a physical perspective, this type of woman would be considered more masculine.

Then there are women who are more masculine in their behavior. Masculine women are generally more aggressive, assertive, competitive and less emotional and empathetic than the average woman.

Masculine women may or may not care about their appearance as a woman. I have worked with many woman in business and I can honestly say I have seen both. I have seen some masculine women, that dress beautifully and in a very feminine way, but the moment they open their mouth and when they get with a group of men they might as well be a man.

Then you have the masculine women who are not only masculine in their behavior, but they even try to dress like men and they don’t care about their looks or try to distinguish themselves cosmetically as a woman.

You will notice I put a picture of female combat soldier on the picture introducing this post. Might this woman be feminine in many ways? Certainly. But I have yet to meet or see a female solider on TV that you would say is a very feminine woman. At best female soldiers are only moderately feminine in their behavior.

What does a feminine man look like?

I know I put a man dancing on the picture introducing this post, but it was not meant to say all men who can dance are feminine men. I have watched enough dancing shows with my wife to know there are some manly men who dance.  However many male dancers are in fact feminine men, this is just a reality.

Just like with women, there are men that may be more feminine in physical traits like being shorter, smaller, softer and less muscular.

But there are also men that may look very manly from a physical perspective, but behaviorally they are very feminine in that they are cooperative as opposed to competitive, they are more emotional and empathetic and they are generally more passive.

Sources of Feminine behavior in men and Masculine behavior in women

Obviously if a man has physically feminine features or a woman has masculine physical features this is purely genetic (unless they had sex change surgery of course).

Even feminine behavior in men and masculine behavior in women may completely come from genetics.

But we must also acknowledge that parents, and environment can definitely play a part in shaping feminine behavior in men and masculine behavior in women. Some girls may have been raised as tom boys by their Dads because he never had a son. Other girls may have been the only girl surrounded by brothers and that helped them to become more masculine in their behavior.

Still some men may have been emasculated by their mothers, or had their masculinity ridiculed.

The point is – feminine behavior in men and masculine behavior in women can come from genetics or environment or a combination of both.

Conclusion of Masculine women and Feminine Men Part 1

In this first part of this series, I just wanted to lay the ground work for a discussion about this issue. I wanted first and foremost to acknowledge that there are in fact feminine men and masculine women. There are many varying degrees of masculinity and femininity as well.

We also discussed that the sources of feminine behavior in men or masculine behavior in women may be purely genetic or they may be as a result of environmental conditioning.

I know you are asking the question – so what? Our modern world says if a man wants to act (or even dress like a woman) that is perfectly fine. It also tells women if they want to act and dress as men that is fine too. But how does God feel about this? Has he addressed this in his Word?

In the next post in this series I will answer these questions from a Biblical Christian perspective.

Masculine Women and Feminine Men Part 2

Call it Complementarianism all you want, but this is what it looks like.

Anarch[Egalitarian]ism: a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
I Corinthians 11:9(KJV)

“…teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Titus 2:4-6(KJV)

“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)

“ Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
I Corinthians 14:24-25(KJV)

What has Egalitarianism given us? In a word anarchy. Since Egalitarianism abandon’s God’s order and design in creation they embrace what Israel saw when “there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”(Judges 17:6).

What is the result? A complete confusion in our society when it comes to gender roles. Men lead, guide and protect as God designed them to do, and women don’t submit to their husbands or care for their children and their homes as God designed them to.

While divorce peaked around 50% in the 1980’s and has decreased slightly since, marriage rates have dropped and cohabitation rates have skyrocketed. While less and less children are born each year, more and more of these children our born out of wedlock.

Government dependency has skyrocketed and poverty increased due to the decline of the nuclear family. All of this lies at the feet of Egalitarianism and its evil sibling, Feminism.

an irenicon

Order

despot[Complementarian]ism: a form of government in which a single entity, individual or group rules with absolute power.

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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