Is Christian Polygyny an Oxymoron?

At first blush, and yes I do blush, the idea was repulsive to me. The thought of sharing a man just went against my grain and everything I ever believed. I was especially of the opinion that it was not biblical, not scriptural much less legal. My only knowledge of it was that it was something the Mormons practiced. So when I became good friends with a married man, I was not comfortable when he asked me if I would be interested in becoming one of his wives. Since we were friends, he was rather interesting to talk to for we held a lot of the same beliefs, and since he told me that polygyny (also known as polygamy) was biblical and made some persuasive arguments for polygyny, I decided to take a hard look at polygyny to see for myself if it was sanctioned in the word. Some other respected theologian friends of mine also advocate polygyny, and in light of my developing feelings for this man, I thought I should investigate the subject to see if it was a lifestyle that I could accept.

In researching the subject on the internet, I found several things about polygyny. I wonít go into great detail since anyone can find these articles themselves. But what I found was that there are some cultures that practice it polygyny as a norm, mostly Africans. The biggest problem with polygyny in their society is the jealousy between wives and that can certainly be a problem. Jealousy is a negative emotion and negative emotions are unhealthy mentally, physically and spiritually. In these cultures the first wife was the head wife and all the other wives were subordinate to her. This is something that I certainly would be uncomfortable with. It would be difficult for me to be subordinate to a man much less a woman. I could be subordinate to a man if I held a great deal of respect for him. I certainly wouldnít marry a man that I didnít know well or didnít highly respect. I could also subordinate myself to a woman if she were my employer where I had the freedom to resign from the job should she mistreat me or make the job undesirable. But in a marriage, there is not that flexibility without great cost and emotional pain and suffering. Marriage is supposed to be for life.

When I raised this point to my suitor, he told me that all of his wives would be equal. This is easy to say but most likely very difficult to practice. Ideally the husband decides on any and all matters where the wives are in disagreement but it would take a man who is objective and impartial as opposed to arbitrary and biased toward one wife over the other. Similar to a parent who is supposed to exercise impartiality with their children, it is nevertheless common for parents to favor one child over another and great emotional consequences result when a parent unfairly favors one child over another. A greater potential exists with multiple wives since the wives will no doubt be competing on a much larger scale for the affection and attention of the man. As a child I had no jealousy when my parents showed love for my siblings. However, I would suffer whenever I felt that mom unfairly favored one of them over me when it came to privileges and responsibilities. The chances for favoritism is even higher in multiple spouse situations since the love and affection between spouses is on a deeper, more mature level than that of children. Parents don't "become one" with their children (or at least are not supposed to) and children were not created to be "helpmeets" for their parents. Rather, a man shall leave his mother and cling to his wife.

So it stands to reason that since favortism exists between parents and children where the emotional ties are not nearly as acute as those that exist between husbands and wives, the likelihood of favortism in multiple wife scenarios is even greater than the likelihood in multiple children scenarios. Hence, such favoritism would result in jealousy, resentment and all sorts of negative emotions. I read an article about the practice of open marriages between multiple partners, where all the men were married to all the women. In these marriages, couples would frequently pair off and become exclusive to the disappointment of the other spouses. So the idea of favoritism is a very real possibility. In fact, I found that the polygynist pursuing me showed favoritism toward his wife over me even when I believe she was in the wrong but more on that later.

Most of the articles on the internet that are supportive of polygyny use nonbiblical reasons. They will argue, my friend included, that its ok to go out and impregnate a lot of women as long as you donít marry them. But if you want to marry them and take responsibility for the children, that would be illegal. I have to admit, that argument sounds good on its face. But upon closer examination, what kind of man goes around impregnating numerous women without ever making a commitment to one? I would answer, only a man who is incapable of deeply loving or giving of his self to one woman. The basis of this type of commitment phobia is fear. They are too afraid of giving their whole heart to someone because the pain associated with losing that love is unbearable. Emotionally damaged people often dissociate their ability to love as the result of suffering damage to their emotions, such as a child who has been sexually abused or a woman even who has been abused by a man. Once they recover from the painful experience, their subconscious mind puts up a guard to protect their emotions from being hurt in the future. Therefore, they are only capable of experiencing a shallow and superficial level of love for a person. A person who is cut off from their emotions and is incapable of deep love, in my opinion, is the only type of person who could accept a husband who has multiple sives. Moreover, a man who has multiple wives and "loves" all of them equally is only giving part of his heart to the women and not giving all of his heart to any of them. A woman who is willing to accept a half-hearted relationship is either desperate for a husband or doesnít care about the man and only wants a meal ticket. Since I donít fall in either of those categories, a polygynist relationship does not appeal to me.

I believe that if there were a severe shortage of men as the result of war for example, and our race was threatened, there might be a need for polygyny in order to replenish the earth and to prevent a number of women from being husbandless. Today, however, the ratio of men to women is fairly equal. To allow men to have multiple wives would create a shortage of available women for unmarried men.

So what about the biblical support for polygyny? There are many examples of polygyny in the Old Testament. The most famous examples of OT polygynsts are Jacob, David and Solomon. Interestingly, Jacob didnít take another wife after the obtained the one he loved, that of Rachel. David did not take any more wives after he obtained one that he deeply loved, that of Bathsheba. Solomon on the other hand, didnít love one woman that we know of and it was his strange wives that led Israel astray that ultimately led to the divorce of Israel by Yah. (1 Ki 11:1-4) This is not a good precedence for polygyny. Finally, I donít believe Jacob would have had children by Rachelís handmaid had she not encouraged him to raise up a child for her by Bilhah (Gen 3:30). The same can be said for Zilpah (Gen. 30:2). Likewise, I donít believe Abraham would have had a child by Hagar had Sarah not encouraged him to do so (Gen. 16:3). Abraham only had one wife at a time for he did not marry Keturah until after Sarah had died (Gen. 23:2; 25:1). In virtually all of the biblical examples of polygyny, there were enormous problems. Although Haggar was never called Abraham's wife, she was the mother of his child but both were sent away because of the problems between her and Sarah due to Sarah's jealousy. King David's children fought profusely. Leah was "hated" and had "afliction" as the less favored wife of Jacob. Therefore, the biblical examples do not demonstrate polygyny as a an emotionally healthy lifestyle.

While I donít see the Torah specifically prohibiting polygyny, we do not find any examples of polygyny in the New Testament (NT). In fact, the NT says that elders* and bishops** are to only have one wife, at least one wife at a time (1Ti 3:2).

*An elder is one who preside over the assemblies (or churches). The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably.

**A bishop is one that is 1) an overseer; a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent; b) the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church.

In that elers and bishops are those who preside over assemblies or is one that has the duty of overseeing, a man in a polygamist marriage would by definition be overseeing an assembly for whenever two or more are gathered in the name of Yíshua, He is in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20). This would make a polygynst family that believes in Yíshua an assembly with the man as the overseer of that family. In that an overseer is only to have one wife, he would be in violation of 1 Ti 3:2. Therefore, I do not see the NT sanctioning polygyny. Similarly, Eph 5:33 instructs the man to love his wife, singular, not his wives.

Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.

Personally, I could accept polygyny if the man no longer loved his first wife(s) and rather than send her and the children away, he continued to provide for them. This would be more honorable than to divorce, where the wife and children who may be unable to care for themselves or would have to adjust to a lower standard of living as the result of divorce. As long as the man no longer loved the first wife or wives but was willing to commit to me, I could accept polygyny over marrying a divorced man. However, I was soon to find out that the man who wanted to marry me still claimed to love his present wife. I found this to be a problem. First, if he still loved his wife, his wife must obviously still love him and how would she feel about his pursuing another wife in front of her? To do so would be inconsiderate of her feelings and is bound to foster jealously and resentment, which are unhealthy, negative and destructive emotions. These destructive emotions would only work to the detriment of a polygynst family, would cause a lot of problems and ultimately tax if not ruin any meaningful relationship. Therefore, I decided that polygyny with a man who still allegedly loved his wife was not for me. If a man loved his wife, would he be so insensitive to pursue other wives in front of her? This man even asked me if my husband told me to go find him another wife would I do it? Basically, this would be a man who is asking the woman not to love him but to find some other woman to love him. If the woman stay married to him, her love would be eroded or very superficial and shallow in order to cope with the marriage. She would have to dissociate her feelings from him to accept his displays of affection for other women. Those who dissociate and shut off their feelings are known as having a condition called dissociative identity disorder (DID) formerly known as multiple personalities syndrome. Therefore, I conclude that those with multiple personalities would be the only type of people that would be able to successfully condone a multiple wife family. How is dissociation accomplished? It is achieved through severe emotional and/or physical abuse, such as child molestation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc. These are things that are contrary to YHVH and contrary to faith in Yíshua. In fact, one of the ways that Satanists demonize people is through a practice known as tantric sex, which includes adultery, fornication and polygyny.

Unfortunately, after I told the man that I was not interested in being his wife because I didnít want to be in a half-hearted relationship, the manís wife attacked me and accused me of being a troublemaker and of trying to break up a home. I found this very ludicrous. Even more daunting, the man took her defense and began attacking me as well. Prior to this incident, there had been one other incident where the wife attacked me even though I didnít do anything to her. When I attempted to show him what she did and how she was behaving, he took her defense and attacked me too for pointing out his wifeís bad behavior. This showed me that his man was incapable of being objective and using good judgment in dealing with controversies that might arise in a multifamily situation. Realizing then that this man still had love for his wife, I realized that I could not settle for a half-hearted relationship. When I informed him that I didnít want to be a second wife, I didnít understand why his wife would be upset with me when she was against him having a second wife but somehow she blamed me for the problems in their marriage. After he once again took her defense and even falsely accused me along with her, I saw a side to the man that I hadnít seen earlier but I was relieved and convinced that I had made the right decision. I had tried to remain friends with him rather than being romantically involved but due to the attacks waged against me, I had no choice but to invoke Matt. 18 concerning their trespasses against me. After trying to resolve the matter between he and I to no avail, and after having one of the brethren contact him who was also unable to resolve the matter, I took the matter to Identity Court. Please feel free to comment on the matter.