Today, the Issues Desk wishes to continue the discussion about whether it is wrong for Christians to practice polygamy or not. As we indicated in Part I, most pastors, preachers, Biblical scholars, theologians, as well as almost all Christians, contend that polygamy – or rather, polygyny (the practice of one man having more than one wife) – is un-Christian, sinful and unscriptural. They argue that a Christian is not allowed to have more than one wife for, to do so, they argue, is to go against one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
As was also indicated, except for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – and perhaps one or two other “iconoclastic” churches that practice polygamy – all churches, generally speaking, teach that polygamy is wrong and unscriptural, and no church or Christian should support its practice or engage in it.
In view of the foregoing, it is worth asking whether it is actually wrong or un-Christian for Christians – or anyone for that matter – to practice polygamy. In short, it is important to consider whether the Bible condemns the practice called polygamy. Does the Bible proscribe or condemn polygamy? Does the Bible forbid believers to practice polygamy?
As clearly expressed in Part I, my position is that polygamy is not wrong, not un-Christian and not unscriptural. In short, there is nothing wrong – absolutely nothing wrong – with a believer practicing polygamy, except that believer is a bishop or a deacon. I Timothy 3 is my witness.
As many of you who read Part I will recall, I began proving my position by presenting four supporting points. Permit me to summarize them before going to any new arguments or points. First of all, polygamy in itself is not an immoral practice. There is nothing evil about it. It is not like murder, stealing, lying, envy, idolatry, or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is a normal practice, a normal aspect of the existence of human beings. It is like having many children. If polygamy were evil or immoral or a serious sin, I believe that God would not have winked at its practice, the prophets would not have overlooked it and the scripture would not have been silent on it.
Second, polygamy is condemned nowhere in the Bible. God does not condemn it. Jesus does not condemn it. The angels do not condemn it. The prophets do not condemn it. Of course, in the study of logic, this argument would be an example of a logical fallacy because by an act not being explicitly condemned does not in any way suggest that the act is good or moral. I know this. However, if polygamy is that evil or immoral, why would men like Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and others considered it a normal practice? Why didn’t they regret their involvement? Why were they so relaxed with polygamy? Didn’t they know it is evil or immoral, as many modern men and women want us to believe it is? Or did they know that it is wrong, but they knowingly still chose to engage in the evil and immoral practice? Why weren’t any of them scolded, condemned or reprimanded for practicing the act?
Third, polygamy is a normal part of man’s nature and existence. A man is hardly ever content with one partner. This could be one reason why many men, including Christians who denounce polygamy and herald monogamy, have girlfriends here and there. If Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon (he had 700 wives) and so forth enjoyed it, why should we be any different?
Fourth, the New Testament, which contains the words of Jesus and the Apostles, the Testament upon which the basic Christian doctrines are based, does not say that male Christians should not or cannot be polygamists, or that polygamy is wrong and unacceptable. In a sense, Jesus and the apostles recognized that polygamy is a normal practice by men. That is why, I believe, polygamy was not an issue in the early church. The only group of people instructed to practice monogamy is bishops and deacons. Differently stated, all Christians were not – are not – required to practice monogamy. Let us take time to read what the Apostle Paul says about those who want to be leaders in the church, as recorded in I Timothy 3. In relation to bishops, Paul says this in I Timothy 3:1-2 – “This is a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” Similarly, for deacons, Paul says this in 3:12 – “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife…”
Now, pay attention, dear readers. If monogamy, not polygamy, was the normal practice, why did the Apostle Paul single out MONOGAMY as one of the required qualifications for men who want to be bishops and deacons? If monogamy – having one wife – was the norm, then it means that all were practicing it and all would have to practice it, anyway. The fact that Paul would say those wanting to be leaders should have only one wife suggests that many or some of those who were not interested in becoming bishops and deacons had many wives or could have many wives. I am waiting for anyone who can logically and scripturally counter this.
Paul was not a stupid man.
He would not have set monogamy as a precondition for those aspiring for positions in the church, if it was a known fact that every man was practicing the one-man-one-wife doctrine or that every man should practice monogamy that modern Christians are forcing on all. Hear this, my dear readers. Paul says if a man wants to be a bishop or a deacon, he should be the husband of one wife. So, the million-dollar question is this: What if a person does not have any interest in becoming a bishop or a deacon?
Logically, it means that that person could have more than one wife. Simple! What is so difficult to understand in this?
If a newspaper entity, say the New Dawn newspaper, prescribes a set of qualification requirements for those wanting to be editors, does it make any sense for anyone to force ordinary reporters of the New Dawn newspaper to meet up with the same requirements? No!
While it is true that some of the requirements for editors may be points required of good reporters, the editors’ requirements are meant only for editors, not reporters. Paul says bishops and deacons are required to have only one wife. He does not say all male Christians are required to have only one wife.
Similarly, if a school writes down the qualifications of a principal, neither the school nor others can force all ordinary teachers to meet up with the same qualifications. There might me qualities that may be good for a teacher, but ordinary teachers should not be forced to fulfill the qualifications of the principal. They are not meant for him.
So, coming back to the original argument, the Apostle Paul clearly sets the qualifications for bishops and deacons in I Timothy 3, and they include the person having only one wife. If a Christian, or anybody for that matter, comes and says what is written in I Timothy 3 applies to all Christians, that person is talking illogically, unscripturally and confusedly.
To be a bit repetitious, Paul says if a person DESIRES the office of a bishop, he DESIRES a good job, but he must be the HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE. The same is true about the office of a deacon. By logically connection, if I don’t desire the office of a bishop or a deacon, I can have more than one wife if I want. Paul was a sound and sane man. He thought and wrote carefully. He understood and knew exactly what he wrote and why he wrote it.
The one-man-one-wife restriction is only for bishops and deacons; it is not for all believers, and to argue otherwise is to misunderstand and misinterpret the Bible.
Countering Some of the Anti-polygamy Arguments
In this section, I desire to present some of the so-called points and Biblical arguments people are fond of proffering against this wonderful and natural practice called polygamy and then disprove those arguments and points in light of both the Bible and logic.
To be continued…
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.