Is Polygamy Right In The Eyes Of God?

Jacob had two wives and two concubines. Others with multiple wives included Esau, Moses, David and Solomon. However, when we read the New Testament we see monogamy was chiefly practiced by Christian believers. So, has God changed the rules or are most ignoring a Biblical prerogative?
Is Polygamy Right In The Eyes Of God?
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2016 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete)

While monogamy is adhered to by many, some religious groups encourage polygamy. Among the religious groups that do, along with some people that are not religious, there are those in the United States that reportedly practice polygamy to avoid paying taxes. If there are any remaining laws against polygamy they seem to get around those in some way.

Proponents of polygamy often point to the fact that numerous men mentioned in the Holy Bible had more than one wife. Jacob, Moses, and a number of others are recorded as having more than one wife. However, while this is true, there are

a few things that must be considered.

Carefully Reading the Holy Bible

A point one must consider when reading the Holy Bible is that the reader needs to discern the difference between what the Word of God records and what it actually sanctions or commands. The Holy Bible contains history, but that does not mean every event and action was God honoring or approved by God.

When we carefully consider all of those in the Holy Bible with multiple wives, we find that nowhere does God approve polygamy. In fact, most that did have more than one wife were subjected to domestic or spiritual problems as a result of their multiple wives. Jacob came home one night to find one wife had sold her bedroom time with him to another wife. Hannah was mocked by her husband’s other wife for not having a child. There are quite a few more such “headaches” recorded in the Old Testament (OT).

Reading consecutively through the OT you will see polygamy is recorded less as one progresses closer to the advent of Christ. Mention of it in the New Testament is rare, and there is no indication that any of the Apostles or outstanding disciples had multiple wives. Note carefully this passage from the last book of the OT, Malachi. Here you will see that God says “wife of your youth” and not “wives of your youth.” The following is from Malachi 2:13-16 (ESV*):

"And this second thing you do. You cover YHVH's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, "Why does he not?" Because YHVH was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says YHVH, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says YHVH of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Polygamy Came After The Fall Of Man

Context is another factor to consider. Polygamy seems to be an invention of man. The first Biblical record is in Genesis 4:19 (AV): "And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah." Later we read of Esau and Jacob. However, instead of us looking at what certain men did we really need to look at what God did.

Even those vaguely familiar with the Holy Bible will know that God created the first man and woman. It is important to note that when God did create a helpmeet for man, He only made one. He also made that helpmeet as the opposite gender or sex. I am not too sure why some in the world “split hairs” over those terms but, taking it as simple as God meant it to be, when God made humans He made us male and female.

Nonetheless, He only made one man and one woman. Additionally, a careful reading of the balance of the lives of our first parents will show that neither Adam or Eve had additional spouses, even after sin entered into the world. But the fact is that sin was introduced to us, and infected us, because of the disobedience of Adam (Romans 5:19). It is only after that point we hear of anger, murder, and a host of other sins.

It strongly appears that polygamy was an invention of man in part to satisfy sensual and economic lusts. Prior to the account of the flood, we read in Genesis 6:5 (AV), "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of

the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Man, of course, continued to be sinful after the flood with sexual gratification outside of, or against, marriage being one of the main evils, which is also the case for today.

The Teaching Of Christ

Christ Himself, in dealing with questions regarding divorce (see Matthew 19:3-12), focused upon the Genesis 2 account where, as previously stated, we see God created only one man and only one woman to be together for life. Though He was addressing divorce, the very fact that He used the Genesis 2 account points out that monogamy, and not polygamy, was the plan sanctioned by God. Christ could have easily mentioned Jacob as a pattern to follow, but He did not, leaving one to conclude God's choice is monogamy.

Also in the Gospels Christ spoke of the establishment of His Church (Assembly). By the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul gave clear instructions regarding as to who should hold certain positions within a local church:

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

1 Timothy 3:12 “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”

As you see, a polygamist could not hold such offices. As we read the rest of the instructions to Timothy, it is clear that an overseer, pastor, bishop, must not be involved with the things of the world. Except for disobeying God in any matter or weakening the spiritual life of his spouse, it is good and a godly thing for a man to please his wife. However, imagine having more than one spouse while administering the work of a church.

Polygamy Was Never The Ideal

God desires the best for us. From Genesis where God creates only one man and one woman to the New Testament passages that uplift monogamy we see that polygamy was never ordered or even condoned by God. We see that many who practiced polygamy had unnecessary problems. This is God’s way of saying polygamy is really not right for us.

Instead, the whole counsel of God when carefully and prayerfully read points to monogamy, and that in marriage there should be just one man and one woman until one departs by physical death. Such a Spirit led thorough study about the matter will point one to the fact that divorce and remarriage with the earlier spouse still physically living is adultery. In Luke 16:18 Jesus clearly says, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

I realize that is “a shocker” to some because many churches for various reasons do not teach the truth about marriage. If you would like more solid Biblical information, or even some solid Biblical help for a troubled marriage, please see my “Marriage Pages” at .


Listen to “Mercy For Marriage" by selecting the proper link at .

Find more apologetics information at , and please visit this ministry’s apologetics index at .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

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Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit

Posted on 17-09-2016 154 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    I have thought of this before. Nevertheless, you explain makes sense. Many person though still desire polygamy not so much from a biblical perspective but a cultural one.
    reply 0
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