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It Happened, but It Wasn’t Holy or Helpful – Biblical Teaching Against Polygamy

July 13, 2015

Given cultural trends and recent court decisions to redefine marriage, the move to accept and legalize polygamy and polyandry has intensified. For example, an essay at Politico declares, “It’s time to legalize polygamy.” Another article at Slate Magazine is entitled “Legalize polygamy.”

Some are already coining the term “trouple” or “throuple” to describe “marriages” of three people (of any combination of sexes).

Such moves are not unexpected and are sure to beginning coming through the courts and legislatures soon. Clearly, the Catholic Church does and will oppose such moves based on Natural Law and biblical arguments.

But the biblical stance on polygamy is less clear than it is on homosexual acts (which are unequivocally condemned at every historical stage of biblical record). Polygamy, on the other hand, while not envisaged by God in His plan for marriage (see below), was tolerated in biblical history. Some of the greatest biblical patriarchs had numerous wives. And God does not punish them for this. Indeed, He works with them and blesses them to lead Israel.

Yet as we shall see, the Scriptures do teach against polygamy, but more phenomenologically than legally or theologically. In other words, the fact that the patriarchs engaged in polygamy is presented to us as a fact, as a phenomenon, and little direct explanation, defense, or condemnation is given. However, the phenomenon of polygamy almost always led to trouble. And this reality is presented, too, as we shall see.

Thus the Bible does teach against polygamy, but more in the form of a morality tale than a direct condemnation. The fact is, polygamy leads to serious trouble. Departing from God’s plan always leads to trouble. This is all the more so for marriage. So while admitting that the biblical approach is different in the case of polygamy, let’s survey what the Scripture reports of the trouble that polygamy causes.

God’s clear plan for true marriage – When God sets forth marriage as described in the Book of Genesis, there is poetically but clearly set forth a definitive form for marriage: one man and one woman in a stable, lasting, fruitful relationship of mutual support. For God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helpmate for him (Gen 2:18). Already we see that “helpmate” is singular, not plural. After teaching the man that animals are not suitable companions, God puts Adam into a deep sleep and fashions Eve from his rib (cf Gen 2:21). Note again that in presenting a suitable helpmate for Adam, God created Eve, not Steve. And so we see that marriage does not include any notion of homosexual union. But neither did God create Eve and Ellen and Sue and Jane as collective helpmates for Adam. And so implicitly and poetically, but clearly, we see excluded the notion of polygamy.

God’s plan for marriage is one man and one woman. Scripture goes on to insist that marriage be a lasting union, for it says that a man shall “cling” (Hebrew = דָּבַק  = dabaq) to his wife (singular, not plural), and the two (not three, four, or more) of them shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24). God then went on to tell them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28).

So far, it’s clear enough: one man and one woman in a stable, fruitful relationship of mutual help and support.

But then, what to make of the polygamy of the patriarchs (Jacob, Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon, and many others)? Does God approve of this? There is no evidence that He thunders from on high at their seemingly adulterous and clearly polygamous behavior. The fact that they have several wives goes unrebuked, and is mentioned more in passing in the Scriptures, narrated with little shock. For example, Nathan the Prophet has many things for which to rebuke David, but having multiple wives is not among them.

What of this polygamy?

We ought to begin by restating that the Scriptures teach in various ways. There is the methodology of straight rebuke, wherein sin is both denounced and punished. But there is also a more subtle and deductive way, in which Scripture teaches more through story than prescription. And in this way, the Scriptures do teach against polygamy. For we learn by story and example how polygamy causes nothing but trouble. In fact it leads to factions, jealousy, envy, and at times, murder. But as we shall see, the problem is less the wives themselves than the sons they have borne.

But, to be clear, polygamy was a common thing among the Old Testament patriarchs. The list is not short:

  1. Lamech (a descendant of Cain) practiced polygamy (Genesis 4:19).
  2. Abraham had more than one wife (Genesis 16:3-4; 25:6, some are called concubines).
  3. Nahor, Abraham’s brother, had both a wife and a concubine (Genesis 11:29; 22:20-24).
  4. Jacob was tricked into polygamy (Genesis 29:20-30) and later he received two additional wives, making a grand total of four wives (Genesis 30:4, 9).
  5. Esau took on a third wife to please his father Isaac (Genesis 28:6-9).
  6. Ashur had two wives (1 Chronicles 4:5).
  7. Obadiah, Joel, Ishiah, and those with them “had many wives” (1 Chronicles 7:3-4).
  8. Shaharaim had at least four wives, two of which he “sent away” (1 Chronicles 8:8-11).
  9. Caleb had two wives (1 Chronicles 2:18) and two concubines (1 Chronicles 2:46, 48).
  10. Gideon had many wives (Judges 8:30).
  11. Elkanah is recorded as having two wives, one of which was the godly woman Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 8-2:10).
  12. David, had at least 8 wives and 10 concubines (1 Chronicles 1:1-9; 2 Samuel 6:23; 20:3).
  13. Solomon, who breached both Deuteronomy 7:1-4 and 17:14-17, had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6).
  14. Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), and sought many wives for his sons (1 Chronicles 11:23).
  15. Abijah had fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 13:21).
  16. Ahab had more than one wife (1 Kings 20:7).
  17. Jehoram had multiple wives (2 Chronicles 21:17).
  18. Jehoiada, the priest, gave king Joash two wives (2 Chronicles 24:1-3).
  19. Jehoiachin had more than one wife (2 Kings 24:15).

Well, you get the point. So we have to be honest: polygamy, at least among wealthy and powerful men, was practiced and its practice brought little obvious condemnation from God or His prophets.

But the silence of God does not connote approval, and not everything related in the Bible is told by way of approval. For example, it would seem that God permitted divorce because of the hard hearts of the people (cf Matt 19:8). But to reluctantly permit, as God does, is not to command or to be pleased. Jesus would later withdraw divorce and remarriage from the range of tolerated behaviors. And polygamy seems to have largely abated by the time of Jesus.

And, as we have noted, God teaches in more than one way in the Scriptures. For the fact is, polygamy, whenever prominently dealt with (i.e., mentioned more than merely in passing), always spelled “trouble” with a capital “T”.

Consider some of the following internecine conflicts and tragedies.

  1. Jacob had four wives, whom he clearly loved unequally: Leah (with whom he felt “stuck” and whom he considered unattractive), Rachel (his first love), Bilnah (Rachel’s maid), and Zilpah (Leah’s maid). Leah bore him six sons and a daughter (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulan, and Dinah). Rachel was stubbornly infertile but finally bore him Joseph and Benjamin. Bilnah bore him Naphtali and Dan, and Zilpah bore him Gad and Asher.

Now all these sons by different mothers created tension. But the greatest tension surrounded Joseph, of whom his brothers grew jealous. His father Jacob favored him because he was Rachel’s son. This led to a plot by the other brothers to kill him, but Joseph ended up being sold into slavery to the Ishmaelites. At the heart of this bitter conflict was a polygamous mess. The unspoken but clear teaching is, “Don’t do polygamy.”

  1. Gideon had many wives (Jud 8:30) and by them many sons. Scripture tells a story of terrible violence and death that results from these many sons by different mothers, all competing for kingship and heritage.

Now Gideon had seventy sons, his direct descendants, for he had many wives. His concubine who lived in Shechem also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech. At a good old age Gideon, son of Joash, died and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. Abimelech, son of Jerubbaal (i.e., Gideon), went to his mother’s kinsmen in Shechem, and said to them and to the whole clan to which his mother’s family belonged, “Put this question to all the citizens of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you: that seventy men, or all Jerubbaal’s sons, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ You must remember that I am your own flesh and bone.” When his mother’s kin repeated these words to them on his behalf, all the citizens of Shechem sympathized with Abimelech, thinking, “He is our kinsman.” They also gave him seventy silver shekels from the temple of Baal of Berith, with which Abimelech hired shiftless men and ruffians as his followers. He then went to his ancestral house in Ophrah, and slew his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon), on one stone. Only the youngest son of Jerubbaal, Jotham, escaped, for he was hidden (Judges 9:1-5).

At the heart of this murderous and internecine conflict was polygamy. These were brothers who competed for kingship, power, and inheritance; brothers who had little love for one another since they were of different mothers. Abimelech’s loyalty was not to his brothers, but to his mother and her clan. Thus he slaughtered his brothers to win power.

Among other lessons in this terrible tale is the lesson of chaos and hatred caused by polygamy. It’s as if to say, “Don’t do polygamy.”

  1. King David had at least eight wives (Michal, Abigail, Ahinoam, Eglah, Maacah, Abital, Haggith, and Bathsheba) and ten concubines. Trouble erupts in this “blended” (to say the least) family when Absalom (the third son of David), whose mother was Maacah, sought to overcome the line of succession and gain it for himself. When his older brother Chileab died, only his half-brother Amnon stood in the way. The tensions between these royal sons of different mothers grew very hostile. Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, and Absalom later had Amnon murdered for it (cf 2 Sam 13).

Absalom fled and nourished hostility for his father David. Eventually he sought to overthrow his father’s power by waging a rebellious war against him. Absalom is killed in the ensuing war and David can barely forgive himself for his own role in the matter (2 Sam 18:33).

But the family intrigue isn’t over. Solomon would eventually become king, but only through the intrigues of his mother, Bathsheba, David’s last wife. As David lay dying, his oldest son Adonijah (son of David’s wife Haggith), the expected heir (1 Kings 2:15), was acclaimed king in a formal ceremony. But Bathsheba conspired with Nathan the Prophet and deceived David into thinking that Adonijah was mounting a rebellion. She also reminded David of a secret promise he had once made to her that Solomon, her son, would be king. David then intervened and sent word that Solomon would be king. Adonijah fled, returning only after assurances of his safety by Solomon. Yet despite those assurances Adonijah was later killed by Solomon.

Here, too, are the complications of a messed up family situation. Sons of different mothers hating each other, wives playing for favorite, securing secret promises, and conspiring behind the scenes. At the heart of many of the problems was polygamy. Once again the implicit teaching is, “Don’t do polygamy.”

  1. Solomon, it is said, had 1000 wives (700 wives and 300 concubines). Again, nothing but trouble came from this. Scripture says,

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. … He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 11:1-6).

The tolerance of pagan religious practices encouraged by these wives, along with other policies, led to great hostility and division in the kingdom. Finally, after Solomon’s death, the northern kingdom of Israel seceded from Judah.  There was never a reunion and both kingdoms were eventually destroyed by surrounding nations.

Lurking in the mix of this mess is polygamy. Once again, the lesson is, “Don’t do polygamy.”

  1. Abraham’s dalliance with his wife’s maid Hagar, while not strictly polygamy (more adultery, really), also leads to serious trouble. Hagar bore Ishmael at the behest of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. But Sarah grew cold and jealous of Hagar and Hagar fled (Gen 16). She eventually returned and gave birth to Ishmael. Later, when Sarah finally bore Isaac, Sarah concluded that Ishmael was a threat and had to go. She had Abraham drive Hagar away (Gen 21).

Ishmael went on to become the patriarch of what we largely call the Arab nations. Isaac’s line would be the Jewish people. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Polygamy, once again, lurking behind a whole host of problems. Don’t do polygamy.

So the Bible does teach on polygamy and, through stories, teaches us of its problematic nature. We ought not to be overly simplistic when interpreting these stories, as if to say that polygamy was the only problem, or that these things never happen outside polygamous settings. But polygamy clearly played a strong role in these terrible stories.

It would seem that in the Old Testament God tolerated polygamy, as he tolerated divorce, but nowhere did He approve of it.

In Matthew 19, Jesus signals a return to God’s original plan and hence prohibits divorce. For he says, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, unless the marriage is unlawful, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt 19:8-9). He also says, Have you not read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matt 19:4-6).

Back to Plan A – So, whatever one may argue with regard to the Old Testament’s approach to marriage, Jesus makes it clear that we are going back to Plan A: one man and one woman in a stable, fruitful relationship of mutual support.

And thus the Scriptures do teach against polygamy. Even if it was tolerated, God taught them through bitter experience, “Don’t do polygamy.” It is trouble with a capital ‘T.’

While the first video accurately but lightly depicts the polygamy of Jacob, the next two videos recall the problems it engendered.

Comments (30)

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  1. Debbie S says:

    How sad what was given in the garden would be torn at, Adam And Eve, growing farther apart, separating, barely able to hold on, ‘lets break
    this union so despicable in our eyes’ would be the rallying cry for the destruction of the world as God had planned it. Break the relationship, add to the relationship, anything but the original relationship of the two being as one and blessing each other in their love and passing on that blessing. ‘We cannot stand such a sight of love and blessing, erase the Most High, let him die and be out of our sight!’ Let the women believe children at all cost even if it means adding to the relationship. Let the men believe they’re unique and require many eves. Let passions play where they want and forget there’s such a relationship called Adam and Eve. Of course, not everybody in the bible forgets about Adam and Eve and preserves the relationship with its blessings and rewards. Every age has seen Adam and Eve, every age has
    seen its rivals, holy love and virtue are celebrated throughout scripture. Any deviation from the relationship is experience firsthand
    and as a witness to the truth, its disfunction cannot hide. Some people are persuaded best by seeing the failure of the efforts of others. Scripture has witness to the truth, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords will be the Supreme Witness and Truth. We see through the eyes of Love, the world has the highest love in its midst with other Christs in union with his Church.

    • Debbie S says:

      With the establishment of Israel, God is constantly showing himself as Adam. But Israel would have multiple lovers to the dismay of the beloved. Polygamy of Gods would first manifest
      itself in the Garden and only One would remain, faced with expulsion some Gods come to a saving conclusion of the reality of Godhood and would return to a monogamous relationship. God will
      have no other Gods beside him, the biggest issue of all ages, to love him above all or replace him with many alternatives. Experience has shown throughout history the blessedness and the
      disfunction of getting or not getting this relationship right. Israel bounces back and forth, going from a blessed people to a enslaved people, the Messiah opens the gates to the Tree of Life and together with his Bride forms the New Covenant of Blessedness and Love.

  2. Nick says:

    When love is mistaken for lust and infatuation, polygamy becomes popular.

  3. Cynthia W. says:

    It’s interesting to see the promotion of polygamy by self-described “conservative” men. They condemn “feminism,” but they seem to have no sense of charity toward other men. Each seems to envision himself as the successful man with four (or ten) wives, while others will be the three (or nine) with none.

    Given the global market for women, this – like the surrogate-mother market – seems to be building up to be another way in which the rich-and-white exploit the poor-and-brown.

  4. C Beltz says:

    It seems to me, the lesson in each of the multi-wife stories is that it leads to strife, jealousy, pride. Funny, a story that tells how the sin of lust leads man (and his bystanders/family) into so many other sins. Many of these extra wives arrived via the man’s desire for self, not God. 1000 wives? When did Solomon have time to worship? How poorly each of these women must have been treated, how poorly their children? Sin begets sin.

    The stories are the epitome of what happens when love is not present in the marriage. They teach by example, not word. Today, a threeple or fourple would experience largely the same issue. There is no gift of self, only a gift to self. It is a dead end road, and not marriage as defined by God or anyone else with a brain or a heart.

    “Love one another as I have loved you”. He loves each of us as if we were the only one. He is God. He is infinite. We are human. We are finite. Since we are incapable of giving our whole ONE self to multiple individuals (math fact people), it logically flows then that we are only designed to give ourselves completely once. One = one.

    Marriage is not 50/50, or 33/33/33, or any other ridiculous fraction (fracture). Marriage is 100/100. Anything less will not do.

    • Darren says:

      Marriage is actually 100/0. You have to be the one committed even if your spouse is not fully committed.

      Ideally both parties give 100 but as an individual, you cannot expect the other to give 100 because as soon as they don’t give 100, you start counting score.

      Why do I say this? 15 years of experience married to a wonderful and beautiful women with our 4th (2nd son) on the way just before Thanksgiving.

  5. Brendan McGrath says:

    I thought it might be helpful to provide a link to what St. Thomas Aquinas says about this in Question 65 from the Supplement to the Summa, in which he basically explains how it is that polygamy can be against the natural law and yet God could allow it:

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5065.htm

    Here’s the Respondeo of Article 2:

    I answer that, As stated above (1, ad 7,8), plurality of wives is said to be against the natural law, not as regards its first precepts, but as regards the secondary precepts, which like conclusions are drawn from its first precepts. Since, however, human acts must needs vary according to the various conditions of persons, times, and other circumstances, the aforesaid conclusions do not proceed from the first precepts of the natural law, so as to be binding in all cases, but only in the majority. for such is the entire matter of Ethics according to the Philosopher (Ethic. i, 3,7). Hence, when they cease to be binding, it is lawful to disregard them. But because it is not easy to determine the above variations, it belongs exclusively to him from whose authority he derives its binding force to permit the non-observance of the law in those cases to which the force of the law ought not to extend, and this permission is called a dispensation. Now the law prescribing the one wife was framed not by man but by God, nor was it ever given by word or in writing, but was imprinted on the heart, like other things belonging in any way to the natural law. Consequently a dispensation in this matter could be granted by God alone through an inward inspiration, vouchsafed originally to the holy patriarchs, and by their example continued to others, at a time when it behooved the aforesaid precept not to be observed, in order to ensure the multiplication of the offspring to be brought up in the worship of God. For the principal end is ever to be borne in mind before the secondary end. Wherefore, since the good of the offspring is the principal end of marriage, it behooved to disregard for a time the impediment that might arise to the secondary ends, when it was necessary for the offspring to be multiplied; because it was for the removal of this impediment that the precept forbidding a plurality of wives was framed, as stated above (Article 1).

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Yeah, I like Thomas almost 98% of the time but there is an older tendency to try and “explain” and justify the sins and errors of the Patriarchs that I find dissatisfying. Sociological explanations (which to some extent Thomas uses here) are also dissatisfying to me. I don’t say they are wrong, but I would rather we just take the record more at face value and say, “Look, God did not set for marriage up as polygamy…thus the Patriarchs screwed up. But God was merciful and taught by example that Polygamy is trouble with a capital T” Why excuse it or try and explain it away. I am aware that some of the Fathers do the same as Thomas. But not every Father is right, or even if their “explanation” isn’t wrong, it is not the only one and debate on the matter is not closed. Count me more in the “Patriarchs screwed up” camp. What they did was wrong and they distorted God’s plan and paid a price for it.

  6. Rob B. says:

    Thank you for your discussion of this issue. It’s amazing how many people believe that God would be fine with same-sex “marriage” because Jesus doesn’t condemn it. It’s good to be able to point to these examples as evidence of how Scripture condemns in a more subtle manner.

  7. Xavier Abraham says:

    That Bible clearly distinguishes wives from concubines, tells that, historically, unlike same-sex “marriages”, polygamy was considered as a marriage, though it’s a deformed state of marriage. For most societies in Africa and Asia, where polygamy is still practiced, dealing with polygamy is dealing with the history and culture of the land. It’s a real pastoral problem for Christian Churches in East, whereas for West, the problem was nailed down by the apostles and early fathers, in the founding years of the Church. In the current scenario, the move for polygamy is part of the movement defiling the institution of marriage. So there is a big difference between historical polygamy and the current trend to legalize polygamy.

  8. Buckeye Pastor says:

    For positive examples of a relationship between one man and one woman, see the books of Ruth and Tobit. I also think that we could cite the Song of Songs in this regard.

    In some church a Sunday school student reported that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 porcupines. I think that youngster unwittingly made clear just how difficult the relationship was.

  9. Richard Connell says:

    In this beautiful passage St. Thomas Aquinas explains why polygamy is in a way against the natural law and in a way not against the natural law:

    “Now marriage has for its principal end the begetting and rearing of children, and this end is competent to man according to his generic nature, wherefore it is common to other animals (Ethic. viii, 12), and thus it is that the “offspring” is assigned as a marriage good. But for its secondary end, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. viii, 12), it has, among men alone, the community of works that are a necessity of life, as stated above (Question 41, Article 1). And in reference to this they owe one another “fidelity” which is one of the goods of marriage. Furthermore it has another end, as regards marriage between believers, namely the signification of Christ and the Church: and thus the “sacrament” is said to be a marriage good. Wherefore the first end corresponds to the marriage of man inasmuch as he is an animal: the second, inasmuch as he is a man; the third, inasmuch as he is a believer. Accordingly plurality of wives neither wholly destroys nor in any way hinders the first end of marriage, since one man is sufficient to get children of several wives, and to rear the children born of them. But though it does not wholly destroy the second end, it hinders it considerably for there cannot easily be peace in a family where several wives are joined to one husband, since one husband cannot suffice to satisfy the requisitions of several wives, and again because the sharing of several in one occupation is a cause of strife: thus “potters quarrel with one another” [Aristotle, Rhet. ii, 4, and in like manner the several wives of one husband. The third end, it removes altogether, because as Christ is one, so also is the Church one. It is therefore evident from what has been said that plurality of wives is in a way against the law of nature, and in a way not against it.”

    Summa Theologica > Supplement > Question 65 > Article 1

    The first article is two paragraphs long, and I have posted the second paragraph. The first paragraph may be the one that is most worthwhile scratching one’s head about.

    At the end of his life Jacob says to the king (pharao–Knox spelling): Gen. 47:9 “I have lived a wanderer’s life, said he, these hundred and thirty years; no long life, and no happy one, compared with the years my fathers spent, roaming the world before me.” He may have been primarily referring to the difficulties of maintaining peace in a household of one husband and four wives.

    I had forgotten or hadn’t noticed that Moses took a second wife.

    Thus, as Aquinas has shown the difficulty of maintaining peace within a polygamous household, Monsignor Pope has shown the strife that tends to break out among the children of such polygamous households.

  10. John says:

    I think the issue with polygamy comes about due to the “What’s Next” syndrome. Now that homosexuals can marry and it is observed to be legitimate by the U.S. Government, perhaps a natural progression is to legalize plural marriages. I am not a lawyer, but the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment that the Supreme Court uses for such decisions, then why not plural marriages? I don’t think it will come up anytime soon, but it probably will sometime down the line.

    • John says:

      To further add, the U.S. Supreme Court will not take a plural marriage case in the immediate future due to the “I Told You So” syndrome. I believe one of the dissenting judges said something to the affect of “why not polygamy?” Hence, the 5 concurring justices in the majority decision will to want to hear those words. The future is a whole other ballgame.

      • John says:

        Correction: “…will not want to hear those words.”

        • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

          Perhaps but lower courts will erode marriage further and permit polygamy for a number of years anyway. Nothing will get to SCOTUS that quickly just due to the legal system’s many speed bumps. Appeal is a lengthy process

  11. Diane Isabelle says:

    Thank you, Monsignor, for this post. I have a few questions: (1) What is the difference between a second wife and a concubine? (2) Is sex with an concubine adultery? (3) Why do you not consider Hagar a concubine?

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      1. I don’t really know. I suspect it was a mere legal distinction having to due with inheritance.
      2. Yes.
      3. She was a maid-servant of Sarah, not a member of a harem. She was exploited and then cast away. Horrifying.

      • Anthony says:

        Interesting article – cleared up some questions. In reguards to (2), is it in Jewish Law(Lev?) that says that having sex with a concubine is adultery? Because in my “ignorance” I thought that it was not the case. Perhaps you can write an article just on the subject to clarify how/when/role of concubines.

  12. Debbie S says:

    In regards to Sin for the ancients the degree of punishment grows as the revelations and commands are heard more directly and thus the
    refusal more serious. We see in the Gospel, the rich man in hell, imploring Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers and Abraham
    responding they have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.*** Moses, the prophets, the law, the Lord, the Church, refusal grows more serious when God is speaking through chosen vessels to guide the people. The ancients that died in the Lord’s friendship had a long wait to be recieved in the Kingdom, they had alot of time to ponder and they would have been in tune with the Lord’s thinking on all matters before entering Paradise on that blessed day. ***Adam and Eve stepping out of Paradise could have been greeted with An Angel giving them a Paper saying ‘Ten Commandments’, then walking a little further greeting another Angel with a paper saying ‘Priesthood and Sacrifice’ going further still greeting an Angel saying ‘Here just take the whole book’ but God would give it some time.

    • Debbie S says:

      One last thought in regards to the silence on Polgamy, Concubines, etc in the old testament, not agreeing but letting the conscience fight for the heart. Some hearts will beat as One, and some hearts will crowded.

  13. Joe Wirth says:

    To Msgr. Pope,
    I have a question brought forth from a discussion in which my friend argues that God does bless polygamy in the case of David. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan Condems David for taking another mans wife, but the prophet seems to suggest that more wives would have been given to David if he had to few. The part about the sword never parting from his household only seems to come into play given the fact that he sentences Uriah to death to take from him his wife.

    Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9‘Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11“Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” 13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14“However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” 15So Nathan went to his house.

    If you find time please help elaborate on this point in particular, because it is causing me trouble to harmonize my understanding of polygamy and the Catholic Churches teaching on it. I think I do not understand correctly either the Church teaching or the implications of this verse. Thank you in advance for your time, I thank God for your vocation, and please pray for me that I may defend and proclaim the truth with love.
    Sincerely,
    Joe

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      At best the argument is a stretch. Uriah was not an enemy of David. David sinned in having him killed. I think my own arguments against polygamy stand much stronger. God sets forth marriage as one man and one woman in Genesis. Straying from this plan causes all kinds of trouble. I detail the troubles in David’s own house. Make your friend do the work. Use the Socratic method wherein you just ask him questions. For example, Here is an article from a priest, what do you think of the points he raises? As he starts to rebuff them, ask him, “Why do you say that?” Make him substantiate his claims that polygamy is blessed by God based on the wider biblical evidence that polygamy runs against God’s plan for marriage and obviously causes trouble. Why is this? If God blessed polygamy for David, why do you suppose that Tamar was raped by her half brother, and why did Absalom react with such anger as to rebel against his Father and seek to establish a new kingship? Does none of this have to do with polygamy? If not why not. What do you think of all the other examples of trouble emerging from polygamy in the article? Please explain how your one quote, with all it ambiguity should be chosen in favor of the weight of other biblical evidence. Ask, ask, ask, and don’t help him with answers. Make him do the work and try to prove his conclusion. One of the best questions to repeat often is, “Why do you say that? Can you elaborate?”

      • Debbie S says:

        Plus, in regards to blessings, scripture will have multiple examples and exhortations…God does not hide his gifts with shrouded language and limited exposure for his honor and glory.

  14. c matt says:

    Some of the greatest biblical patriarchs had numerous wives. And God does not punish them for this.

    Perhaps because God knows polygamy is its own punishment.

    As for legal status, based upon the SCOTUS’s own reasoning (to the extent you can call it that) polygamy is legally inevitable. Of course, the SCOTUS has never let a silly thing like logic or consistency prevent it from ruling arbitrarily, so polygamy may still be a ways off.