Evaluating Scriptural Arguments of Polygamy
"Polygamy is authorized by God" (qtd. in Polygamy.net, 1), "Entering into polygamy is committing adultery." Which idea is right? Will there ever be an answer? What does God say about it? Although all three of these questions may seem easy to answer for topics like murder and lying, they are very difficult when it comes to deciphering the polygamy code. Christian organizations have been debating the topic for many years and sometimes it seems as if it is too little avail. Using scripture verses and their interpretations, these groups contend that their side is the absolute truth. On one side, the pro-polygamists believe that the traditions of the men of the New Testament were right in having more than one wife because they were usually blessed with riches and children or for the very least, not condemned. On the other hand, those who oppose to the practice of polygamy believe the Jesus' sanctification allowed for some of the racy traditions of the New Testament to be obliterated. Either way, their interpretations of the Bible provide all the evidential support used to convey their side of the case. At the heart of the argument is the use of interpretations from scriptures. The pro-polygamy side uses a couple verses to emphasize their point that polygamy was never condemned in the bible. For example, Abraham is considered a man blessed by God and was one of the few that were ever granted a covenant with the LORD himself. For this reason, the authors of the website use his marital history to prove a point. First, the ancestral history of Abraham is given. It is said that Abram was born of Terah, who had at least two concubines (qtd. in Polygamy.net, 1, Gen. 25:6)). In other words, the authors are saying that Abraham was born into a sinful family if polygamy is prohibited. If this statement is true, then the authors of the website challenge the reader to think about why God would chose Abraham to be the "Father of all nations." The second point the website investigates is that Abraham married at least three wives including Sarah, his primary wife by legal distinctions (qtd. in Polygamy.net, 1). Not only did Abraham correspond with his three wives, he actually had his first son by Sarah's handmaid, Hagar (Gen. 16). Finally, the website offers the detail that Abraham was the father of another son, Isaac, who was considered a blessing because he was born of Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17:18-21). For this reason, it can be concluded that Abraham is apart of a "divinely" accepted marriage that God approved of (qtd. in Polygamy.net, 2). In fact, the Bible may provide permission to practice polygamy based on the blessing of Isaac because Abraham was never specifically condemned for his marital choices. The authors of the website provide a very convincing position concerning polygamy, but after the interpretation of scripture was further investigated I believed that the verses were vague and the conclusions were "fixed" by their beliefs. For example, in the book A Commentary, written by Claus Westermann, the topic of polygamy is only addressed as a "practice that wasn't forbidden." The use of the word practice may indicate that Abraham's polygamist relations may have been a historical or social custom. Because polygamy is widely accepted in the time of Abraham, it could be said that he is just following the traditional roles put forth by his ancestors (Gen. 11:26-27). If this is the case then the argument used by the website may be inconsistent with the interpretation from the commentary because it could be a reason why the bible never mentions it. A common habit would not be of great importance to those who read and use it for worship during the time of the Ancient Near Eastern cultures. This fact, however, does not explain why God never condemned it. The second truth that could be used to show flaw against the arguments provided by the website, is the fact that...
Cited: Brueggemann, Walter. "Interpretaion: Genesis." Ed. Atlanta, GA: John Knowx Press, 1982
"Chapter I, The Relevance of the Study of Polygamy for the Western Church." The Biblical Data on Polygamy. Chp. 1. 7 November 2003
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