Polygamy?

D L Henderson
6 min readFeb 25, 2021

The outcome of thinking can be either subjective or objective. Oddly enough, when we come to an objective conclusion about something, it may actually be a subjective one. So, without further adieu, everything I see or say, think or hear, write or read will be categorized and filed in the folder titled “OPINION.” The only way anything in the file can be moved into the file titled “REALITY” would be after it is applied — not just to facts — but in actual living — “pragmatism” I think it’s called…

Often, the amount of essays and opinions expressed online is overwhelming just to read. Most are either interesting and thought stimulating or are simply benign generalizations. A few, however, do illicit in me a kind of disappointment, because in my opinion, they go beyond an error in perception, but are harmful in a personal or societal and existentially detrimental way — or some could say an eternal or transcendental metaphysical way. In other words (again, my opinion), they are harmful both to individuals and to the society in which they live.

There are subjects that should not be discussed. That is, there are subjects some people should not step into, because they have no idea what they are talking about. Often, we think we know, but in reality, not so much. That’s been true for me anyways. As for my personage me, myself, and I, lessons learned tell me to step out of discussions when I am too ignorant of the subject matter to venture any meaningful contribution. Similarly, I have learned not to be afraid to drop out of a discussion where neither party knows what they are talking about… Clowns at a Science Conference Exploring the Genetics of Deep Ocean Corals, for example.

The other day on one of the many online platforms a man grabbed the dais to advance his notions about polygamy and Christianity in the context of the Bible. I blocked it from my account but no matter how hard I tried, I could not block it from my mind. So, here I am at 3 am, struggling to type a responsible response — struggling not for things to say but struggling against my keyboard… my fingers don’t always cooperate…

So, in my opinion, perception is often the basis for conclusions. Right? As I wrote earlier those perceptions, as outcomes of our thinking, are either subjective or objective. Therefore, our conclusions can be skewed, our rationale can be twisted, and applications can be detrimental. So, it’s important to offer a counterpoint:

The article in question proffered the theory that the Bible has nothing but approval for polygamy, harems if you prefer. Citing examples far and wide, so much as to conclude that Jesus Himself recommended it. Bold. However, he fails to understand the Bible is an inclusive history, “warts and all,” sweltering in inescapable reality. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” It is continually exposing the moral deterioration of God’s chosen people, certainly not endorsing their failures, but demonstrating both the consequences of disobedience, and the joy of redemption in Providential forgiveness.

Nevertheless, God created a beautiful Universe, and after seeing it was all good, He created Mankind on the Earth. Then, He made a special Garden, and He gave it to two very special people to take care of it and to enjoy it. Still all good. One rule. “See that one tree? Don’t eat its fruit. Everything else is yours to enjoy.”

Oops… For the whole of Creation, it was downhill after that.

There are also a whole lot of stories cited which reflect mostly the predominant culture of those times, not declarative laws God gave to live by. Having examined the whole Bible for about half a century, I can see there are things that God chose to overlook, as I’m sure my parents did, yours too. Yet, there are other sins He cannot avert His eyes from, because they are so consequential. He knew Adam and Eve would eventually give in to temptation, but His plans are more far reaching than we can imagine. He knew Israel would want to replace Him with a king of their own — like other nations had, and He knew it even before they entered the Promised Land! (And He knew the path people would choose even before that… He’s way ahead of us that way. We may not believe it, but He knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t.)

God certainly did not approve their choosing a king instead of sticking with Him. Rather, He chose to overlook it. He had more important plans and could use such choices as “teachable moments.”

Back to the theme of the essay — polygamy… Beyond citing the examples of the patriarchs, which are cultural, he cites kings David and Solomon who ended up with extensive harems. David, starting with murdering one of his most loyal soldiers to be able to take the soldier’s wife, Bathsheba, to be his wife, whom he already had “taken” and who was pregnant with David’s child. It seems incredibly clear to me, God did not endorse the king’s actions. In fact, reading the whole story, God severely punished that iniquity. Likewise, Solomon’s harem was composed of many foregn women who brought their foreign idols and the worship of them into the kingdom, polluting and corrupting the whole nation, bringing God’s wrath down upon their heads. “No other gods’’ means no other gods, apparently. Civil wars broke out. Enemies defeated them, took them captive, destroyed their capital city, and so on. Briefly then, taking actions out of the context does not a Biblical precept make. No precedent is to be found in an individual’s less than admirable conduct.

I cannot see the endorsing of polygamy in any of these illustrations. People seem to have a cursory concept of the revelations in the Bible which, in my opinion, comes from latent memories of stories told to children, adapted to their educational level, which are historical events morphed into becoming fables. As adults, we ought to revisit the Bible with a little higher level of educated consideration. Oh, and you might want to ask your wife if she is all in on the polygamy thing. Open marriages are a thing, right? “Good for the goose; good for the gander…”

At any rate, the whole Bible comes to its climax and denouement in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazreth, the Acts of the Apostles with ensuing letters ministering to the believers — what is called the New Testament. In this conclusion, during Jesus’ life, He is putting to an end the continuing Fall of Man. He corrects the whole deteriorating mess with His teachings. All the confusion, all the false teachings from self-righteous clergy, all the misconceptions and presumptive blather — He deals with it all.

Finally, the one correction my opinion is trying to correct is about polygamy and is contained in this quote:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “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 flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “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, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:4–9, NIV)

Try to remember the context of the events in the Bible, the society in which those events occurred. Most people were ordinary folks, working at some job, married to one person, supporting their children, the wives and husbands working together to support their families as best they could. It was, after all, not ordinary people but mostly the leaders that were screwing things up, leading the people astray from a healthy relationship with God. Of course, those who chose to follow what they knew to be wrong did not somehow shift the blame or escape the consequences for disobedience and disregard and disdain for righteousness. So, again, my opinion, just because events are recorded in the Bible, does not mean God is recommending or endorsing them. God doesn’t want a family of lemmings.

Jesus came to set the record straight, to set us straight, and to send us straight, straight back to being the glory that God intended for us to be. Read the Bible for yourselves. That’s what it’s for…

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D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between