But didn’t the Old Testament regularly include polygamists, like David (2nd Samuel 5:13) and Solomon (1st Kings 11:3)?

     First, let’s get our definitions straight. Polygamy is one person having several spouses. Polygyny is one husband having several wives. Polyandry is one woman having several husbands. Isn’t is funny how polygyny is far more common than polyandry?

     Second, the Bible mentions marriage only in regard to one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-24). Jesus had a chance to include other arrangements in the definition of marriage but didn’t (Matthew 19:3-5). He referred back to the original definition of marriage in Genesis. Paul reiterates this in many places (1st Corinthians 6:15-17 & 7:2, 1st Timothy 3:2,12 & Titus 1:6; notice these scriptures refer to a husband’s wife, not wives).




Third,  polygamy was NEVER commanded by God. It was only tolerated, like divorce, because of the hardness of our hearts (Matthew 19:8). Because it is “described” in the Bible does NOT mean it is “prescribed”. For example, the Bible records David’s adultery but does not approve of it.

Fourth, the criticism of polygamy is expressed in Deuteronomy 17:17 when it says polygamy will lead your heart astray from God. This happened to Solomon in 1st Kings 11:4. His legacy of faithfulness was compromised because of his polygamous behavior.




Fifth, God’s disdain for polygamy is seen in its consequences. Every polygamist in the Bible paid dearly for his sin.

Sixth, So, no  polygamy is not prescribed or approved of in the Bible. Marriage is only between one man and one woman. Any other arrangement is SIN.

     A biblical definition of marriage would be as follows;
Marriage is an exclusive heterosexual covenant between one man and one woman, ordained and sealed by God, preceded by a public leaving of parents, consummated in sexual union, issuing in a permanent mutually supportive partnership, and normally crowned by the gift of children.


Book References:
“Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary”, page 1,014
“Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics” by Norm Geisler, page 602
“Issues Facing Christians Today” by John Stott, page 359
“Christian Ethics: Options and Issues” by Norm Geisler, page 277
“The Complete Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaff, page 44

For His Kingdom,
Dave Maynard