Polygamy and the Church

Polyamory/polygamy has recently become a hot topic for the church. It is beginning to show up in the mainstream culture, making an appearance on the HGTV show House Hunters in recent times. It has also reached the church, with an article showing up in Christianity Today making a case for treating polyamory without being judgmental. This seems to be the next cultural war since the alphabet mafia has already imposed their will on the culture. It is, therefore, important, for the church to understand how to respond.

Something that really surprised me when I was researching for this article was how many Christians accept polyamory and or polygamy.  I was shocked by the number of people who essentially argued that just because the Bible does not explicitly say polygamy/polyamory is wrong, that it is thus acceptable. That’s the equivalent of saying that, just because pornography is not mentioned in the Bible, it is acceptable. That, of course, is nonsense.

The advocates of polygamy/polyamory are correct about one thing. There is no direct Biblical statement condemning polygamy and or polyamory. In fact, Solomon is declared the wisest man to ever live and David is declared a man after God’s own heart and both had multiple wives. Thus these individuals make an inference that polygamy must be ok because these heroes of the faith were polygamous. Polyamory is harder to support though given both had concubines as well as wives, perhaps a case could be made.

On the surface, this argument is compelling. These men were much closer to God than many of us ever will be yet they engaged in polygamy. It must be ok. This is undercut by Deuteronomy 17:15-17, which says the future kings of Israel were not to “multiply wives to themselves”. However, this does not necessarily apply to everyone.  Never the less,  I believe we can make a strong Biblical case that, while these great men did engage in polygamy and polyamory, it was a fault in their lives, not a virtue.

In order to make such a case, we need to go over some background. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 is important to grasp. Here it is, in its entirety.

 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

The key takeaway from this passage is twofold: those who are saved are part of Christ’s church, no matter their role. Whether a pastor or a congregant, no one is greater than another. Each has a role to fill. This leads to the second point. We are, according to verse 27, the body of Christ, His church.  The church, though it is divided along denominational lines, is one body, at least those who are saved. This is important to understand. Those who are saved make up one body in Christ.

If we then examine the context of Scripture and look at Ephesians 5:22-32.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

At first blush, this seems not to relate to the 1 Corinthians passage. This passage talks about how husbands and wives should relate. However, there is a much deeper meaning here that is often missed. This passage is talking about the relationship between Christ and the church. The marriage relationship is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. Wives are to be subject to their husbands because that is how Christ is to relate to the church. Husbands are to love their wives because that is how Christ loves the church.  Note how the passage also points back to us being the body of Christ.

The implications are massive. The body of Christ is one. Christ only has one church, His bride. The church only has one Savior, Christ!. If you attempt to add polygamy/polyamory into Christianity, you destroy the picture of Christ and the church. This is the reason why Christians cannot accept either of these perversions of God’s design for marriage. It destroys the picture marriage is supposed to show the world of how God relates to His church. This is also true of polyamory as it involves sexual activity outside the marriage relationship, which is adultery.

Polygamy, polyamory and other “poly” forms of relationships are likely to continue to grow in popularity in the culture. Expect a legal push to make polygamy a protected civil right, just like the alphabet soup currently is. After all, if God doesn’t define marriage, what is to stop us from defining it however we want? Ultimately, however, there is no Biblical basis for the practice of polygamy/polyamory.

 

Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.

 

 

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