Monogamy in the Bible...where?


I have a friend who is politely claiming that the Bible does not teach us to be monogamous.
He claims that Matthew 19 and and 1 Corinthians 7 talks about divorce, sex, and the sanctity of marriage, but does not talk about monogamy.
He also talks about how “so many in Genesis and the Old Testament were polygamous or polyamorous.”
What response would you give?


The Bible is full of sinners. We are all sinners. The beauty is that God offers mercy to even MY sins!


His argument is that if someone has to turn away from the sin of polygamy, they would have to choose a favorite and divorce the others which is also sinful…


From the Catechism

1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord’s words it still carries traces of man’s “hardness of heart” which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.

2387 The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law." [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive." The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.

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Right but asking about the Bible, not the ccc


I believe Mark Twain had a humorous answer for this along the lines of “No man can serve two masters.” The only serious thing I can think of would be that a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife becoming one flesh which to me says one spouse.


He’d argue that you could be one flesh with multiple wives…I’d disagree but that’s what he’d argue


Adam and Eve.

Not Adam, Eve, and 6 more wives.


Does that indeed argue for monogamy?
I’d agree with you, but is that as airtight of an argument we can find?


Just curious:

Is your friend married? If so, how does his wife feel about this?


He’s not really wanting to have many wives, just curious about where in the Bible it is found.


People can argue whatever they want, it doesn’t make their arguments rational.

That’s not a rational argument, but you’re not going to be able to convince him of that because he’s not interested in being rational, he’s interested in making an ill-conceived point.


In the Old Testament, especially the prophetic books, the relationship between Israel & God is compared to marriage. When Israel strays from God and worships false idols, it is compared to adultery and prostitution (and Israel is specifically compared to the wife here). See Ezekiel 16 for an especially colorful image of this.

In the New Testament, the Church is the New Israel, the Bride of Christ. We are told in Ephesians that husbands should love their wives, as Christ loved his Church. One Christ, one Church. Any confusion of the plural usage of husbands and wives is solved by ‘a man should leave his father and mother and he shall cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’


The bible does not specifically say “Holy Trinity”, nor “Purgatory”, but the spiritual sense of the scriptures are full of examples…Monogamy is implied in the teachings of Christ about the relationship of man and wife, and in the old testament in the characterization of Israel as an unfaithful spouse, which the Church is to Christ the bridegroom.


And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast 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 not man separate.”

Seems pretty straight forward to me🧐. If a man and a woman become one flesh, how could they individually join with someone else?


1 Tim 3:20, when talking about “qualifications” for being an overseer (or a Bishop), says they should be “the husband of one wife”. I’ve heard some say that this verse sets a pattern or ideal for all to follow.

But of course his assertion really points to the reality of how easy it is to drift into very strange opinions and views when you are not anchored to one particular interpretation by the magisterium of the church. The magisterium, guided unfailingly by the Holy Spirit, keeps us safe from such drifting.


‘‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.’ - Mark 10:7-8


I’m with @humbleseeker. How in the world can you read Jesus saying, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ 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’?So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate”… and still make the claim “polygamy and polyandry is ok with God”?


This is a good example of why we have to refer to the catechism of the Catholic Church and the interpretation that is offered to us by the magisterium. You can read the Bible and come up with just about anything.


There is a comment in 1 Timothy 3:2 about how a bishop needs to have only been married once, clearly indicating that monogamy is better. Jesus’ comments in Matthew 19 also are spoken of in the singular, indicating monogamy as God’s intention.

Anything more would require piecing together all the Bible says about marriage. At that point, it becomes clearer why we reject polygamy, but it may not please those who refuse to accept anything not explicitly stated. (I know some would call that sola scriptura, but that’s at most a very extreme take on the doctrine.)

That’s a very similar, albeit weaker, objection to the one the Pharisees made in Matthew 19 when Jesus opposed divorce. Jesus was, of course, unmoved by such an objection.

I’m not sure why he believes that.

If the marriages followed sequentially, so that there was a clear “first marriage”, it would see very clear that only that first marriage is valid. All others were made in sin of adultery.

If it isn’t so clear, then it still isn’t sinful to “pick a favorite”. The person wouldn’t even need to “pick a favorite”, as all the “marriages” could be reasonably seen as invalid. If they do, though, the pain isn’t sinful but a consequence of past sin. That’s one potential problem when sin is committed - you get hurt when you and/or someone you’re doing it with chooses to stop committing it.

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