Why would Christians want to study polygamy?

You can read plenty of systematic theology textbooks without ever encountering a mention of polygamy, and the chances are that most of the people at church are only ever going to have one marriage partner at any one time, so why would a Christian even think about polygamy, especially when there are so many more issues to worry about?

Many Christians seem to have an answer to the above question, whether or not they view polygamy as acceptable.

 

There are a number of reasons why Christians would think about polygamy as a subject today:-

  1. In order to be fair in our view of Bible patriarchs, such as Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon. Were all these major Bible characters committing sin by having multiple wives, and was God just ignoring it, or have they been unfairly treated by later generations?

  2. In order to understand the Bible. If the Bible allows polygamy, what difference does this make to our appreciation of other Bible doctrines, such as divorce?

  3. In order to help with missions today. There are many actively polygamous communities who need to hear the gospel. Do we tell them to divorce their wives and to change their customs – or do we simply present the gospel and accept their lifestyle?

  4. In order to consider why we believe what we believe. Do we really base our opinions on the Bible, or has the Reformation not entirely finished, leaving us reliant on church tradition?

  5. In order to have the right attitude to fellow Christians. There are growing numbers of Christian polygamists – should we accept them or deny them our fellowship.

  6. In order to understand our freedom. Do we need special permission from God to be polygamous, or are we confident that if it was wrong, he would have told us?

  7. In order to consider its effects on society and the church. If more Christians were polygamous would so many of them divorce, or would so many find non-Christian partners?

This subject can come as a shock to many Christians. Often polygamy is not discussed by Christians, or if it is discussed this is often limited to comments about other people several thousand years away, or several thousand miles away, or preferably both! Suddenly considering that the subject might have relevance today can be a bit of a surprise. It involves thinking about a social system that many of us have never seen in operation, re-examining the Bible to see what it says, and wondering why it seems so hard to reconcile with what we have been told.

It also involves confronting our stereotypes. Many Christians are now careful about avoiding prejudice against certain racial groups, but on questions of culture we can find it difficult to do the same. Most of our images of modern day polygamists may involve middle-aged fundamentalist Mormons who have married girls who seem to be too young to know any better. But we may also suspect that it would be unwise to tar all polygamists with that brush, especially as these few strange extroverts are much more newsworthy to journalists than are other people who have two wives, but who may in other respects be a lot closer to the average.

This site is maintained by a committed evangelical Christian, as are many of the other sites that discuss polygamy on the internet. It does not support illegal or immoral relationships and is primarily interested at providing information about modern polygamy, where all parties enter the marriages of their own free will as adults.

This site has been available on the internet since 1996. Before this, the ideas represented here developed over many years of bible study, thought, discussion and prayer – but you can now access this material within seconds. This means that readers do not have the same time to adjust to their new surroundings as we who have developed this material have had. You get a shock factor that we never had, because you experience in seconds what it took years for us to develop our thinking on. Our humour, based on years of debunking the same old invalid arguments, may seem inappropriate if these are the only arguments you are familiar with. And historical or biblical facts, that we assume knowledge of, may mean nothing to you simply because you have never had to look at them before.

So, get ready for a bumpy ride, and be prepared to take time to consider and reconsider what you believe. We found this very helpful – indeed unavoidable – and you may find the same. Ultimately it all comes down to one question – “Is polygamy allowed by God?”. If the answer is “yes” then perhaps most of the shocks will disappear as we follow the logical conclusions of this, and as we drop our stereotypes in exchange for real knowledge.

And finally, this site is about considering the moral acceptability of polygamy – it does not advocate polygamy as something that you must do. It is examining an option – part of the freedom God gives you – and whether you actually do it or not is entirely up to you – but whether people are free to do it, and what they should believe about it, are entirely up to God.

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