The moral case for Polygamy

On another thread, PRmerger asked me to provide evidence that God accepted polygamy as a moral practice. This thread will be devoted just to that topic. I’ll present two lines of evidence, the first involves God facilitating polygamous relationships and the second explaining that God never punished polygamists for adultery.

Evidence #1:
Genesis 29:30-33 shows God being concerned about ONE man not loving TWO wives. God acts on this concern by helping the two wives become impregnated by the ONE and same man.

Now remember, all that God does is morally good so His concerns and actions not only show what he wants or accepts, but also counts towards what’s morally good. The logical implications of Genesis 29:30-33 is that it’s moral for ONE man to love and impregnate TWO women.

Evidence #2:
The 10 commandments clearly list ‘adultery’ is being a sin, something which man is not to do. The rules on adultery were enforced before (in Genesis) and after the law was given to Moses (Exodus and beyond). So there was never a concession for adultery.

If polygamy was wrong it would be the sin of adultery. Yet not one man who married multiple unmarried woman was judged to be an adulterer. Therefore, polygamy was not a sin.

Conclusion:
Both lines of evidence not only show that polygamy was not a sin, but also that God directly intervened in such relationships to facilitate them rather than breaking them up or punishing them.

I think you are confusing man’s law with what God has endorsed.

For your position to be upheld, you would need to provide evidence of God commanding polygamy.

And I am playing the atheist here: I won’t believe that God commanded/endorsed/approved of polygamy until you provide evidence for this.

Not to mention, we have evidence that God is AGAINST polygamy in Matthew 19:9.

Your standard is unreasonable if you’re claiming that God commanding for someone to do something is the only way for us to determine what is morally good. I could also say that the only way to show that polygamy is wrong is to show where He calls polygamy wrong, and if he doesn’t then it’s not wrong. God never said that it was wrong, but either way I disagree with that being the only standard for this matter. Another way to determine what is moral is based on the actions of an all-good God. It’s indisputable that God took actions that go along with polygamous functions, like helping one man impregnate two women which occurred in Genesis 29:30-33.

Also, you completely ignored my point about adultery which was a rule that was given by God. We can gather what it meant by seeing how God enforced it and how the culture understood it, and it’s clear that it did not prohibit polygamy. Since the only rule (laws on adultery) that would classify polygamy as wrong does not do so, then by default polygamy is moral. It makes no logical sense to say that polygamy is not adultery but it’s still wrong!!!

Skipping around to another topic does not address the evidence that I brought up. I have a view on Matthew 19:9 but I won’t get into that yet until you can answer explain my evidence.

Matthew 19:9 discusses divorce, not polygamy. However, Matthew 19:8 does seem to bear out that the rules can change from Old Testament to New Testament. This demonstrates that it isn’t inconsistent to forbid polygamy, even though it’s implicitly shown as morally permissible in the Old Testament.

2 Samuel 12:7-8 Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel: I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee from the hand of Saul, And gave thee thy master’s house and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and Juda: and if these things be little, I shall add far greater things unto thee.

David already had seven wives, and God would have offered him more wives had he wanted them.

rossum

Hang on a second! Nathan is telling David that God blessed him with the kingship and throne that had belonged to Saul. Therefore, David inherited what Saul had – including his wives.

This isn’t saying that God approved of all that Saul had… just that David received it. :wink:

So… what’s morally good is to love (and not ignore) a wife. That’s what’s directly established here.

I think, at best, we see that God isn’t interfering with polygamy in the OT. Yet (and it’ll be interesting to see where you take Mt 19), we see Jesus clearly IDing that marriage is one man and one woman.

BTW… if you want an indirect disapproval of polygamy, you have to look no further than Genesis 4. Lamech “takes for himself” two wives. Lamech is described as a sinful man, who boasts of his sin and takes on himself parts of Cain’s punishment. That’s just as conclusive as your proof here. :wink:

Evidence #2:
The 10 commandments clearly list ‘adultery’ is being a sin, something which man is not to do. The rules on adultery were enforced before (in Genesis) and after the law was given to Moses (Exodus and beyond). So there was never a concession for adultery.

If polygamy was wrong it would be the sin of adultery. Yet not one man who married multiple unmarried woman was judged to be an adulterer. Therefore, polygamy was not a sin.

No, I’m not buying that if polygamy is wrong, then it’s adultery, on two counts. First, you’re conflating ‘legality’ with ‘moral goodness’. Polygamy was ‘legal’ in that day. We’re arguing against its morality. Second, adultery is literally having intercourse with another man’s spouse. That’s not what polygamy is.

Conclusion:
Both lines of evidence not only show that polygamy was not a sin, but also that God directly intervened in such relationships to facilitate them rather than breaking them up or punishing them.

I disagree. You’ve shown that God didn’t punish polygamy. Yet, He deferred punishing all sorts of sins. That doesn’t imply that He approved of them.

The general opinion of Christianity is that man was created in an ideal state, but then the moral standards of man fell apart. In calling man back, God didn’t insist on man returning back to the ideal state from the start, but slowly raised the bar. This meant allowing certain concessions to man’s worldliness as God was slowly helped mankind mature morally. Polygamy was a concession to man’s worldliness. The development of men from God first calling Abraham to the coming of Jesus represented a movement from childhood to adulthood.

There’s a reason Adam was given one wife. There’s a reason that the son God promised Abraham was born of Sarah and not Hagar.

:smiley:

I am smiling here from ear to ear, enjoying the irony.

Here I am, simply playing the atheist and saying the equivalent of “I won’t believe in God until you show me some scientific evidence of His existence!”

That is, “I won’t believe God endorsed polygamy until you show me some Scriptural evidence that He endorsed polygamy!”

And here you are saying, “It doesn’t have to say it explicitly in the Bible!”

Are you willing to acknowledge the validity of the multitude proofs for God’s existence?

If so, then I might be willing to loosen my criterion for proof of God’s endorsement of polygamy.

Otherwise, I will be waiting for a Bible verse (or 2) that says, “And thus God commanded men to marry multiple women, and declared this to be good!”

What would it be if the man was married to two women, Rhubarb?

The man is married to wife #1, divorces her, marries wife #2 and Jesus says, No!

Why? Because that would be…

polygamy.

Yes, this is correct.

Assumption. We have no reason to assume that there is any punishing in the afterlife. The Catholic view is that we cannot know or even assume that there is anyone specific in hell. So this assumption of deferred punishing is just empty speculation.

It implies one of two possibilities. God either approves, or does not care, but does not DISapprove.

I suggest to stop this “playing”, because you are not qualified. Lee Strobel wrote a few books “The case for …” and he attempts to “argue as an atheist”. All he achieved was to put his foot into his mouth.

Seeing atheists/agnostics post Bible verses almost always causes me to have a bemused smile.

They seem to have become bed-fellows with Christian fundamentalists when it comes to their interpretations of these verses.

And that irony gives me great amusement sometimes!

One has to wonder what would happen if these atheists read the Bible through the lens of the Catholic faith.

#scratchanatheist
#findafundamentalist

Look a few verses prior to v9:

“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.” (Mt 19:4-6).

It references a man and his wife. God says that the two become one, not “the three” or “the four”, or any other number. Right there, as a direct quotation of Jesus, Matthew is positing that God’s standard for marriage, from the very beginning, is one man and one woman.

The only thing left to debate is, as AgnosticBoy has pointed out, that there’s no evidence in the Bible that God punished polygamy.

(Personally, I think that’s because He realized that having more than one spouse was punishment enough for a person… :rotfl:)

It should not. Just because someone does not believe in astrology, it does not mean that she cannot provide a valid criticism about the subject.

There are atheists, who are ex-Catholics. And there are many different ways that different Catholics interpret the Bible. Since even the Catholics cannot agree upon the different interpretations of the Bible, you are not in the position to admonish others for offering a different opinion. Once the church will present an official “Catholic Annotated Bible” with the imprimatur of the magisterium, where each and every verse is declared to be literally correct or simply allegorical, and there is an official explanation about the “correct” interpretation of the allegories, THEN and ONLY THEN will you be in the position of “getting on your high horse”.

The Bible does have many examples of bad things happening when men have multiple wives.

However, this presupposes that we only know something is condemned by God when he has “punished” the sinner.

What Bible verse states that?

I don’t think anyone has touched onthis yet.

but, God actually allowed certain sinful things to take place in the OT because of Israel’s “hardness of heart”. basically they were being treated like immature children. God was being quite lenient with them, I know, it’s ironic because the OT seems quite violent

it’s not that it was ok, but he just wasn’t holding them to as high of a standard, Jesus comes and sets this straight.

just think, we don’t hold toddlers to the same standards as adults, do we?

there are certain behaviours that toddlers display which is excusable because they are toddlers, however if a grown person were to act the same way, three is no reason that it would be appropriate

Regardless of anything in the bible, wouldn’t natural law and reason be against polygamy? There is about as many men and women in the world. If men would have multiple wives, some would be left without any at all (which is what is actually happening in countries where polygamy is practised, only men who have high status gets to have wives, which leads to the women to be treated as some kinds of trophies).

While man was not yet justified by Faith, but through the law, he was, through a hardened heart, drawn to sin. God allowed him to wallow in his selfish acts so that he can bring them eventually and hopefully to a greater good.

The Catholic Church has given an authoritative moral teaching on divorce or polygamy. You don’t need a verse-by-versr annotated Bible to know how verses on those topics must not be interpreted.

And this really just demonstrates a rather Protestant notion of scripture, if I may say so. You want to interpret scripture, you look at the Church’s authoritative moral teachings, you read the Church Fathers, you read the abundant Catholic literature on the topic. You listen and consult with your priest and bishop and look at the college of bishops in communion with Rome.There’s no need to dry up scripture with a once-for-all definitive analysis of every line. That’s just not the Catholic approach to scripture. So keep attacking a straw man.

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