columnBy Paul Y. Harry
Does the Bible condemn polygamy? No, it does not. It supports polygamy. It allows polygamy. It encourages polygamy. The only people the New Testament prohibits from having more than one wife are bishops and deacons or those interested in becoming one. The Bible passage - I Timothy 3:2 & 12 - is the proof.
The teaching that male Christians should not have more than one wife is an invented, unscriptural doctrine, just as the teaching preventing bishops from getting married is a man-made, unbiblical doctrine.
We are beginning Part 8 of the polygamy discussion today. I provided four arguments in favor of polygamy in Part I, restating those arguments in Part 2. First, I stated that polygamy is not an immoral practice. There is no evil in it. It is not like murder, envy, or idolatry. It is a normal practice like having many children. Second, I indicated that polygamy is condemned nowhere in the Bible. God does not condemn it. Jesus does not condemn it. The angels do not condemn it. The prophets do not condemn it. The apostles do not condemn it.
If polygamy is that wrong as modern preachers and pastors want us to believe, why isn't it so stated or suggested in the Bible? Third, I pointed out that polygamy is a normal part of man's nature and existence. Fourth, I emphasized the point that the New Testament, which is the Testament upon which Christian doctrines are based or supposed to be based, does not condemn or forbid polygamy.
As stated above, considering I Timothy 3:2 & 12, the only people instructed to have only one wife are bishops and deacons. Paul was not a stupid man. He would not have set monogamy as a precondition for those aspiring for positions in the church, if it was a known fact that every man was practicing the one-man-one-wife doctrine or that every man should practice monogamy, as modern Christians are forcing us to.
Then in Parts 3-7, I embarked upon the task of refuting some of the so-called strong arguments against polygamy. I intend to do the same in this current part.
Let me reveal something to you, the readers. I did not intend to dwell on this topic this long; however, I have found myself doing just that because I continue to receive emails, text messages, and calls in which those believing that polygamy is unscriptural or wrong present what they consider their cogent arguments against polygamy. When that happens, I am forced to come back with a new article to refute those anti-polygamy arguments. And I encourage them to continue to send them to me.
For those of you who have not read Parts 1-7, I encourage you to do so.
At this juncture, dear readers, permit me to deal with another so-called strong argument against polygamy.
9. The Bible suggests in Deuteronomy 17:17 that it is wrong for a man to have more than one wife. If this is what the Bible is saying, who are you to say that it is not wrong for a man to have more than one wife?
Actually, to say that Deuteronomy 17:17 suggests that it is wrong for a man to have more than one wife is not only another lie about the wonderful practice called polygamy; it is a pure distortion of the Bible.
And, frankly, this is the kind of misinterpretation and blatant distortion that can sometimes cause me to want to establish an organization to be known as HUPP (Humanity United for the Promotion of Polygamy).
Let's get it straight. Deuteronomy 17:17 does not teach or suggest that a man cannot or should not have more than one wife. The verse does not even condemn polygamy.
Now, let's read the verse in context. In fact, let's read verses 16 & 17 together, as recorded in the New International Version (NIV), to make it much clearer. It says: "The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, 'You are not to go back that way again.' He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold."
First of all, this passage is about kings, not all men. So, it is not only hilarious, but also ignorant to argue that this passage indicates or suggests that it is wrong for a man - in our case, for a Christian man - to have more than one wife. It says the following:
1. The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself.
2. The king must not take many wives.
3. The king must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
Second, the passage does not even say that a king cannot or should not have more than one wife, just as it does not say that a king cannot or should not have more than one horse, and just as it does not say a king cannot or should not have some amounts of silver and gold.
Let's analyze the logic and the grammar of the two verses. The terms to pay attention to are "great numbers of horses," "many wives," and "large amounts of silver and gold."
These expressions indicate that the king may have some horses, but not great numbers of horses. He may have some amounts of silver and gold, but not large amounts of silver and gold. He may have some wives, but not many wives. In short, the passage does not forbid the king to have wives, horses, silver and gold. It only restricts him from having them in large quintiles or amounts. Is this clear?
Let's bring it home. If, for instance, a parent told his child, fond of reading, and deciding to travel somewhere, "You cannot travel with many books," would that mean that the child must travel with only one book? No!
If the administrator of a hospital told one of his doctors, "Don't see many patients today," would that mean that the doctor must see only one patient? No!
If a teacher said, "I don't want to correct many test papers today," would that mean that the teacher wants to correct only one paper? No!
The point I am trying to drive home is this. By Deuteronomy 17:17 saying that the king must not have MANY WIVES, it clearly indicates that he may have A FEW WIVES. It could be two, three or four. One of the definitions of the word "few" is this: "not many but more than one."
The verse says that the king must not have many wives, meaning, he may have some or a few. If this is the case, which I believe it is, then it means that the Bible supports, not condemns, polygamy. Hence, it confuses me that someone would read this passage and conclude that it is wrong for a king - or any man, for that matter - to have more than one wife. Why do they want to equate "not many wives" to "only one wife"? Don't they see that the two are not one and the same?
Besides, isn't there a problem associated with determining the point at which the quantity is considered many and not many? In short, if the king must not have many wives, what's the quantity of wives that will be considered "many wives," and the quantity that will be regarded as "not many wives"?
Another interesting point to consider in this passage is that the restriction about not having many wives is on kings, not all men. It is similar to what the Apostle Paul writes in I Timothy 3:2 & 12, saying that bishops and deacons must have only one wife. By logical extension, if I am not a bishop or a deacon or not interested in becoming one, I can have more than one wife. The same is true about Deuteronomy 17:17. If I am not a king, or I am not interested in becoming one, I can have many wives. I feel sorry for bishops and deacons and kings.
The restriction is not for ordinary men, including me. I may have one, if I wish. I may have a few, if that is my desire. I may also have many, if that is my choice.
In conclusion, dear readers, polygamy is a normal, scriptural or Biblical practice. All the so-called anti-polygamy arguments I have heard thus far are mere opinions, Biblical misinterpretations, Biblical distortions, illogical ideas or sheer lies.
To be continued ...
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.