When did polygamy become sinful?

Christianity today forbids polygamy (having many wives). However, it was allowed in the times of the Old Testament and is still allowed in Islam (which is also an Abrahamic Religion).

At what point did polygamy become sinful?

The question is did God instruct Polygamy to his greatest creation?


Polygamy is intrinsically disordered. God never commanded polygamy. Polygamy was allowed by Moses. It was never a command from the Lord. There’s a huge difference…

With all respect to Muslims, there are a number of immoral Islamic practices that certainly conflict with Christianity.

My point is that religious leaders in the Old Testament times had more than one wife. King Solomon had a handful himself, as did David.

I’m just asking, at what point was polygamy explicitly condemned by God?

Surely the question is - When did he start to allow it. He gave Adam one wife.

It was always condemned by God.

Matthew 19 is a pretty good scripture about this. It explains that Polygamy and other things ie… divorce were always condemned by God since the beginning but because of the hardness of the peoples hearts, regulations were put on.

It is very clear in the old testament that God did allow polygamy but I don’t think he ever approved of it. Polygamy was never a commandment, it was like divorce, regulated. But thankfully its been mostly abolished. If only we could put the same annotation on divorce. Since divorce is basically another form of polygamy, instead of multiple wives at the same time, you decide to space them out ever other year…:frowning:

Matthew 19:

5 "… “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? 6 So they are no longer two but one.”

In Matthew Jesus abolishes the old dispensation for divorce and establishes that for one man there will be one wife.


You make a false assumption, just because you read an account of it in the Bible it does not mean that God allowed it. The Bible is the good, the bad and the ugly of history from the time of creation. King David had a man killed so he could marry his wife. This is sinful. The child born to David died. David repented.

Then there is the story of Lot’s daughters in Genesis 19.

You could go on and on. God called upon Adam and Eve to be perfect, they failed, we all fail.

More like a trainload :bigyikes:

My take on this is that polygyny was allowed in the Old Testament times because with all the wars, etc., a lot of men didn’t survive, which would have left a lot of unattached women (widows and women who could not get married because there weren’t enough eligible men, if monogamy had been the rule). Polygyny allowed men to marry more than one wife, which gave those women a home and a means of support that they otherwise would not have had. What would cause a man to think that he could manage more than one wife – that’s another issue entirely.

Within Judaism, this site:
indicates that polygyny never was universally banned. There was a ban, but it was not accepted among the Sephardic and Yemenite Jews. However, given that polygamy is banned in almost all contemporary cultures, it has pretty much ceased to be practiced, even in those communities.

Within Christianity monogamy was so much the rule that some Church Fathers even railed against remarriage of widows and widowers. But that’s another story.

This. ^^^

No where in the Bible does God command or approve of polygamy. In fact, the polygamous families we know about from the Bible had all kinds of problems that had their root in polygamy.

"But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,* 8 and the two will become one flesh**.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mark 10:6)

Polygamy goes against the very essence of marriage; the two shall become one. It certainly did not come from God.

God “allows” a lot of things. He allows a two year old to walk in front of a moving car. He allows innocent people to die in wars. He even “allows” us to sin. To say that God “allowed” polygamy is not to say that God approves it or that it is not sinful. It is adultery magnified.*

Do you have any historical evidence for this belief? I heard this same basic argument all the time to justify polygyny as practiced by the Mormons (I was born and raised Mormon). I constantly heard about all the persecution and the migration west caused so many men to die that they had to marry the remaining women to take care of them.

However, the facts tell us otherwise. U.S. Census records show that there were more men in Utah during the 1800’s than women (due to the fact that it was frontier). So there was actually a shortage of women. There are stories of older, powerful Mormon men ordering the castration of young men so that the older men can marry the young women. Most women taken on as plural wives were young and childless and were not widows with children.

Multi-generational households provide widows and their children with a home and means of support. Multi-generational households were the rule anciently and are still the rule in much of the rest of the world because they work. Polygyny is not necessary to care for widows and their children. Grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles are.

Polygyny is a result of a culture where women are considered property and not persons in their own right. Powerful and wealthy men often want access to sex with young women. If women are property, than polygyny makes it really easy for certain men to have that access.

I was talking about the Middle east 3,000 years ago, not 19th-century Utah. They didn’t exactly have census breakdowns by gender back then, but it’s not a far reach to understand that there may have been times when there were fewer men than women. I agree with you that a culture that considers women property CAN result in polygyny, but that’s not necessarily so; women were pretty much considered property throughout Europe until the last century, but monogamy was practiced de jure (concubinage and having mistresses are other subjects). I also agree with the view that the culture in the Middle East 3,000 years ago saw women as property, but it does not necessarily follow that polygyny was a result of that.

Edit: Back to the OP’s point, if you’re looking for a moment in history when God split the heavens and came down to declare, “All right, you men, I’ve been allowing you to have multiple wives, but from now on you can marry only one woman,” you’re not going to find it, because it never happened.

I’m unaware of anywhere in the OT where God approved or even grudgingly endorsed the practice of polygamy. You see it done, for sure, but that’s hardly a divine endorsement, is it? Slavery exists in the bible and God never endorsed that either.

Revelation is a progressive thing. Principles revealed lead to principles discovered by logical implication. What you see about polygamy in the OT is that everywhere it is practiced it causes misery and destruction. God is wise, eh? If He had simply banned it outright, people might have resented it and misunderstood. I suspect He foresaw that response and let His people learn the hard way. We’re experiencing something similar right now in our culture. People don’t want to believe in God’s wisdom in regards to the indissolubility of marriage, the inviolable link between intimacy and making babies, the conjugal nature of marriage itself. As a society, we’re going to learn these lessons the hard way… again.

I never asked for census records from the Middle East 3,000+ years ago. What is your basis for your belief that polygyny was allowed in OT times? Do you have historical evidence to support your claim that polygyny was allowed to take care of widows because of war, sickness, etc? Or are you assuming that because of war, more men than women died and this reasoning makes sense to you?

My point in bringing up polygyny as practiced by Mormons is that reasoning that makes sense to us in 21st century U.S. doesn’t necessarily reflect historical realilties. Mormons use the exact same reason (helping widows and orphans) to justify polygyny to make sense of it in their own minds rather than looking at the historical reality and its implications. Any justification of polygyny is, by default, demeaning to the inherent dignity of women. I agree that many cultures treated women as property but didn’t practice or justify polygyny. However, all cultures that practice polygyny deny the inherent dignity of women.

Excusing or justifying polygyny by saying that God allowed it because of all the widows and orphans is putting lipstick on a very ugly pig (apologies to all pigs). We don’t like the fact that some of our patriarchs practiced it, most notably Jacob. Because they are our Fathers in Faith, we attempt to justify their practice of polygyny rather than stating the truth - that it was wrong. Not everything done by the patriarchs was right. The Bible tells us the good, the bad and the ugly. Jacob really wasn’t that good of a guy until his wrestle with God. And, boy, did he suffer the consequences of the sin of polygyny. The drama of Jacob’s family life is the stuff of an HBO series. :eek:

As manualman stated, revelation is progressive, culminating in the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself. Because of the Fall, the inherent dignity of women and children was forgotten. Christianity was quite revolutionary in that the inherent dignity of women and children was recognized. Sadly, our culture is forgetting the inherent dignity of all again very quickly.

If polygamy was always forbidden, than why didn’t God tell Solomon and David to only have one wife?

Please, at least answer this one question.

Perhaps for the same reason that he didn’t inform them that starting wars for purposes of conquest and plunder is wrong. God revealed himself to humanity gradually throughout history. Explicit revelation about the immorality of polygamy simply took time because there were more foundational principles that had to be understood first.

He did, beginning in Genesis (2:24).

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”

Again in Deuteronomy (17:17), specifically concerning Solomon:

“And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away…”

And because Solomon did not obey he had to suffer the consequences:

"Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant…
(1 Kings 11:11)

David suffered consequences as well, but this should suffice for now.

Deut 17:17 The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.

I am not sure, if at any time God endorsed it. In fact, God warned the kings not to take many wives.

I agree 100% with what’s been already stated.

Plus, guys… let’s be honest. Isn’t one wife a handful already? :smiley:

No offense to all the nice ladies out there. I meant that in the most positive sense :hug3:

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