Question about polygamy


St. Thomas Aquinas said that the patriarchs of the Old Testament were granted a dispensation directly by God on the matter of having multiple wives because of conditions at that time and “in order to ensure the multiplication of the offspring to be brought up in the worship of God” (Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q65, A2).

So, even at the time of the patriarchs in the Old Testament, polygamy wasn’t “holy” but we might say it was tolerated for certain reasons and not yet explicitly rejected. Nor could this be used as a basis for legitimizing polygamy now, since the “dispensation” described above came directly from God and not from any human authority.

On the contrary, St. Thomas says that marriage consisting of only one man and one woman comes from natural law:

That which was instilled into man at the formation of human nature would seem especially to belong to the natural law. Now it was instilled into him at the very formation of human nature that one man should have one wife, according to Genesis 2:24, “They shall be two in one flesh.” Therefore it is of natural law. (Q65, A1)

And, of course, Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 19:3-9.


Yes, polygamists were righteous because God called them righteous. The Catholic Church failed to factor in how the Jews defined adultery, an everlasting ‘moral’ law, which was only to restrict women from having multiple partners. Had the Church factored this in, they would’ve known that the culture that wrote the Bible was a polyGYNOUS one. That’s why no polygamist was ever charged with adultery.


I disagree with Aquinas’s logic. I see no evidence or logic of why God “allowed” polygamy. It’s all unproven speculation. Secondly, polygamy continued beyond the startup of Israel and God still judged polygamists to be good. Notice that INCEST would’ve also helped promote population growth and God tolerated it to a point, but up to Moses that was considered immoral while polygamy still stayed in place as righteous!!! And third, adultery restricted only women from taking multiple partners. If monogamy was expected, the rule on adultery would’ve applied to both partners equally.


Justin Martyr was someone who was very likely aware of Jewish culture yet still condemned polygyny. Irenaeus was well aware of Jewish culture too and also condemned polygyny. These two weren’t the only early Church Fathers to criticise polygyny/polygamy but these two were the earliest that I’m aware of.
If we are to believe the Holy Spirit had given them the gift of teaching and guided the Early Church Fathers then their condemnation of polygamy stands. This may be difficult to accept if you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.



Then clearly these men were not always guided by the Holy Spirit but by their own conscience. I don’t see where you are “testing” spirits. It seems that you’re blindly following people just because of their position, and I find that to be dangerous.

Please read the logic that I presented in response to vincentleo.


Odd that you would think you can tell if ‘these men’ are guided by the Holy Spirit or not.
It’s somewhat fair for you to accuse me of blindly following people more qualified than I am.
I will add that equally as dangerous as blindly following someone 100% (I’m not) is someone who thinks he is more qualified and being blinded by arrogance and veering off course.


There is a way you can tell, you can see if their views are in line with logic and evidence. Do you expect me to believe that someone is telling the truth when their view conflicts with logic and evidence? It would also help if you could address my arguments in favor of polygamy.


If a society lacks males. Polygamy may be deemed an allowable good. Another circumstance was already mentioned, that of a generator of a people who will worship as their God chosen father of faith did.


This issue has been dealt with by people more qualified for centuries and it has always ended up with a rejection of polygamy. You’re determined Christianity must accept polygyny. Nothing anyone will say will convince you. I’m not amazing enough to fix hardness of heart.


This still doesn’t take away from my point that claims must correspond with logic and evidence in order to be true. In conflict, that is evidence against or illogical reasoning can NOT be true.

Also, there are Christians who have agreed with or have been agnostic about the moral status of polygamy. There are Christians today, mostly among the Protestant crowd that accept polygamy as being moral. So clearly, this is not a “Christian” consensus.


Only because you and others who are determined Christianity should accept polygamy don’t want to view the opposite as logical and backed by evidence.


I noticed that you have not responded to my arguments. Instead you’ve resorted to arguments from authority and speculation about my intentions. Do you have a logical rebuttal to my arguments?

Explain to me why polygamy was “allowed” to only multiply the population when incest was used to do the same thing. But yet incest is banned after the startup/establishment of Israel but yet polygamy stayed in practice and those practicing it declared righteous.

So first prove how you know “why” polygamy was allowed. Then explain it by factoring in my objection that involves incest.


Why polygamy was allowed will be endless speculation. I’m not interested in that. For that, look for someone else who is interested in that and those who are well-read in that matter. I’m more interested in the spirit of renewal and restoration in Christianity. This simple lay person is not going to talk about incest vs. polygamy because I’m not well researched in that.

Just because those who were declared righteous doesn’t mean all of their actions were declared to be righteous. As far as I’m aware, the verses where any of them were declared as righteous were because of faith in God and actions related to that.


Free will.

Humans have been “allowed” to sin, and blessed in spite of it, from day 1 (or day 8, I guess).


It’s true that everyone sins but not everyone is unrepentant. God doesn’t work with the unrepentant, that includes polygamists.


Possibly but God worked with Samson even after eating the ceremonially unclean honey from the lion’s carcass. Samson did not seem remotely concerned. He even gave it to his parents and didn’t tell them the source of it.


It is a difficult question, but I am going to try to explain Aquinas’ position as I understand it. I apologize for the long post.

St. Thomas describes it this way (Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q65). The first principle of marriage is the generation (birth) and education of children. It is the first principle because it is the most generic: reproduction via sexuality is something that we share in common with animals. Now, there are secondary principles also, and these are certain goods that are more particular to man, for example, the care of the spouses for each other. Even more specifically, there is an aspect of marriage for Christian believers: that marriage is an image of the marriage of Christ and the Church.

Remember that the first principle of a thing must also be born in mind, even when secondary principles are being treated.

Polygamy, St. Thomas says, is contrary to human nature…but it does not, in fact, hinder the first principle of marriage, which as we said is the birth and education of children. However, polygamy does hinder the secondary aspects: for example, the good of the spouses is harmed when two women are living with one man ("…there cannot easily be peace in a family where several wives are joined to one husband…"). And, in the case of the Christian dimension (marriage as the reflection of Christ and the Church), polygamy completey destroys this good (there is one only Christ and one Church).

The final important piece of information is that there was, in the Old Testament, a real and critical need that pertained directly (and only) to the first principle of marriage: before Christ and the fullness of the grace of God being manifested in the world, “the worship of God was spread and safeguarded by a carnal propagation” (a2). In other words, the continuation of salvation history, in the Old Testament, dependend literally on the people of God having children and so continuing to exist.

The conclusion is this. First, there was no explicit condemnation of polygamy in divine law from the Old Testament (the commandments given to the Jews). Second, there was a real and critical need that pertained directly and only to the first principle of marriage - namely, that the people of God needed to be increased in order to spread the worship of God. Third, because polygamy doesn’t violate the first principle of marriage - the principle which the critical problem of the propagation of the Jewish people directly applied to - God deemed it acceptable to grant an “exception” to the Old Testament patriarchs who practiced polygamy so that it was lawful for them to do so. The key point is: this “exception” was granted because it was necessary for the propagation of the Jewish people in order for the worship of God to continue in history.

That such “exceptions” no longer exist is evident on all counts: first, because of the words of Jesus, there is now divine law prohibiting polygamy; second, because Jesus has come, the grace of God has fully entered into the world, so the propagation of the faith is no longer dependent on carnal generation.


Thanks for explaining. You reiterated your original claim that God allowed polygamy to increase the population of believers. BUT, you did not factor in my objection since you did not address ‘incest’ being allowed for multiplying the population but being banned by MOses’s time period.

Secondly, I question the very premise of why God allowed polygamy because I also see that as speculation. If you wanted to multiply then let that happen through monogamy the same way he presumably started out with only two people (Adam and Eve) and told them to multiply.

Third, polygamy existed not just during the start up of Israel, which involved a big population increase, but also after it was already established even into the NT.


That’s just one act whereas polygamy is a ‘lifestyle’. Not much to repent from when it comes to ONE act. If God wanted Billy to “divorce” (repent of gay marriage) Johnny, do you think God would get that point across by calling them righteous, blessing them, helping them have kids, etc? God did all this and more for polygamists (Genesis 29:30-33).


But Samson didn’t repent. Seemed proud in many ways.
God in those verses seemed more concerned with Rachel and Leah than Jacob. Perhaps making one of them leave would have been detrimental to the one leaving.

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