WHAT ABOUT POLYGAMY? A Response to “One Man and One Woman: Not the Only Biblical View” (American Atheist, 3rd Quarter, 2013)

WHAT ABOUT POLYGAMY? A Response to “One Man and One Woman: Not the Only Biblical View” (American Atheist, 3rd Quarter, 2013)

© 2020, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

In “One Man and One Woman: Not the Only Biblical View,” published in American Atheist (3rd Quarter, 2013)[1], Drs. Hector Avalos, Robert Cargill, and Kenneth Atkinson, who identify themselves as “academic biblical scholars,” claim that

the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type deemed acceptable by biblical authors.

However, although their arguments may seem plausible to the incautious, a careful analysis shows that they are without merit.

First, we need to consider the definition of “acceptable.”  According to The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, “acceptable” means

Worth accepting [where “accept” is defined as “Take or receive with consenting mind; receive with favour; receive as adequate or valid”]; likely to be accepted; pleasing, welcome; tolerable.[2]

In light of this definition, to say that a “marriage relationship” other than that between one man and woman is “deemed acceptable by biblical authors” is to say that the Biblical authors are conveying the fact that, in the common parlance, God is “okay” with it.  This, we will see, is not so.[3]

Let us move on to examine the arguments of these scholars.  The first one they offer is just silly.  They quote from the entry on marriage “in the authoritative Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible,” which says that

Marriage is one expression of kinship family patters in which typically a man and at least one woman cohabitate publicly and permanently …

They crow that the phrase “at least one woman” indicates that polygamy was allowed.  The problem here, though, is that Eerdmans is describing marriage as it existed in the ancient world – and polygamy certainly existed – but that does not mean that it was acceptable to the Biblical authors, which is what our scholars are required to prove.

What about Polygamy?

Our scholars claim that

polygamy was not only allowed, but some polygamous biblical figures (e.g., Abraham, Jacob) were highly blessed.  In 2 Samuel 12:8, the author says that it was God who gave David multiple wives…

Now, it is true that we certainly see examples of polygamy in the Old Testament, sometimes of high-profile people, and that does require examination.  However, simply recording that it happened is not tantamount to endorsing it.  The Bible contains extensive historical narratives as well as explicit commands and instructional material.  The historical material accurately records what actually happened; it does not attempt to whitewash the deeds of high-profile people.  Abraham, for example, lied to Pharaoh and received no recorded censure from God (Genesis 12), yet no one would suggest that this shows that the Bible endorses lying (cf. Leviticus 19:11; Psalm 63:11; Proverbs 6:16-19, 12:22, 19:5,9; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9)  Any human action, therefore, must be judged by the relevant explicit didactic statements; they cannot be assumed to be acceptable simply because they were done.

Second, our scholars correctly say that “some polygamous biblical figures (e.g., Abraham, Jacob) were highly blessed,” but they overlook the fact that they were never blessed for their polygamy, nor was their polygamy blessed.  Had our scholars bothered to look into the matter carefully, they would have found that every example of polygamy in the Bible is shown in a negative light and as the bringer of trouble and misery.

Let us consider the examples adduced by our scholars:

  • Abraham was actually not a polygamist (you’d think at least one of our scholars would have noticed this)[4] but he did impregnate Sarah’s handmaid Hagar at Sarah’s urging in order to produce an heir (Genesis 16)[5], and this resulted in family strife and enmity between Isaac’s descendents and those of Ishmael (Hagar’s son) that endure to this day.
  • Jacob intended to marry Rachael but was tricked into wedding her older sister Leah (Genesis 29), so he ended up marrying both, and the result again was constant strife as Leah sought to win his affection, Rachael was exceedingly jealous of her sister’s fecundity, and the ensuing “baby race” resulted in a nearly dysfunctional family.
  • David was certainly a polygamist (1 Chronicles 3:1-9), but we do not need to wonder whether God approved of this or not, for God explicitly forbade kings to have multiple wives: “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses … Neither shall he multiply wives for himself …” (Deuteronomy 17:15a,17a).  It is hard to see how our scholars missed this.

Furthermore, it is not correct to claim, as our scholars, do, that “God gave Dave multiple wives” on the basis of 2 Samuel 12:8.  The Hebrew term חֵיק (cheyk = “bosom”) refers primarily to a “fold of garment, at breast.[6]  Clothing in those days had no pockets, and items would be carried within this fold i.e. “in the bosom” e.g. “Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand, nor he who binds sheaves, his bosom.” (Psalm 129:6-7).  The phrase “into your bosom” can have many different meanings, most of them having to do with possession or custody.

While it could be used in reference to receiving as wives[7], in the majority of cases it does not do so, and in this case it clearly does not do so.  Saul had only one wife, Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz (1 Samuel 14:50), and one concubine, Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:7).  The list of David’s wives in 1 Chronicles 3:1-9 shows no Rizpah.  There is an Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, but David was married to her while still fleeing in the wilderness from Saul (1 Samuel 25:43, 27:3, 30:5), who was still king, and still married to Ahinoam bat Ahimaaz, so this is undeniably a different Ahinoam.

The upshot of this is that 2 Samuel 12:8 is a reference to the fact that Saul’s women were given into David’s custody, to preclude rivals staking a claim to the throne through marriage with Saul’s wife[8].  No wonder that the New King James Version, which has the most accurate English translation of the OT, renders 2 Samuel 12:8a as “I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping,” and the very accurate New American Standard Bible as “I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care.”

Contrary to the claims of our scholars, then, it is incorrect to say that 2 Samuel 12:8 indicates that

it was God who gave David multiple wives.

Nevertheless, David was a polygamist, with eight wives.  Seven of them had children who were rivals with each other, and favouritism and strife blossomed into open rebellion and an attempted coup against David by his son Absalom.  This was hardly a blessed situation.  And David’s son and successor, King Solomon, outdid his father in the area of polygamy by orders of magnitude, having seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3).  These wives ended up turning Solomon’s heart away from God, so that he bowed down to false gods, and lost his salvation.

What we have seen, then, is that, contra the claims of our scholars, the Bible does not present polygamy as acceptable, let alone something that leads to blessings.  It is always and only portrayed in a negative light.  There is not even one example that is shown as a blessing.

But what about the other “unions and family configurations” that our scholars claim “were permissible in the cultures that produced the Bible”?  We have already seen that being “permissible in the cultures that produced the Bible” is different from being Biblically “acceptable;” nevertheless, let us examine these other “unions and family configurations.”  Our scholars offer “monogamy (Titus 1:6),” “those where rape victims were forced to marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29),” “Levirate marriage commands obligating a man to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Genesis 38, Ruth 2-4),” and “celibacy … (1 Corinthians 7:8,28).”  (We will leave monogamy to the end.)

Does the Bible Force Rape Victims to Marry Their Rapist?

Our scholars claim on the basis of Deuteronomy 22:28-29 that the Bible forces victims of rape to marry their rapists; this is blatantly false and betrays an appallingly careless analysis of the Biblical text, including that cardinal mistake of not taking the context into account.  Here is the passage in context:

22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.

23 “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

25 “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. 27 For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.

28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

We see that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is part of a discourse on various cases of sexual intercourse outside of marriage.  V. 22 designates adultery a capital offence, and the punishment is applied to both offending parties.  If our scholars do not like the idea of capital punishment for adultery, that is too bad.  It should be noted, however, that although capital punishment was on the books for a variety of offences to underscore their seriousness, it seems clear that a fine could be substituted in place of the death penalty for every such offence except murder (Numbers 35:31).

In the next section (vv. 23-27), the initial teaching is expanded upon and extended to betrothed women, and it is here that the matter of consent is discussed.  In the first case (vv. 23-25), the liaison was consensual on the part of the woman, symbolized by the fact that “she did not cry out in the city” i.e. she did not resist the advances of the man, even though help was readily available.

In the second case (vv. 26-27), on the other hand, the woman is taken by force.  She does not consent but resists, symbolized by the fact that “she cried out,” but there was no help at hand.  This is a case of rape, and in this case, the death penalty is applied to the rapist; the woman is innocent.  In fact, the text takes pains to make this point: “you shall do nothing to the young woman,” and “there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death.”  She is stated to be as innocent as a murder victim is.  The idea that the Bible is soft on rape, then, is a calumny.

In the third case (vv. 28-29), the issue is premarital sex between unmarried, unbetrothed people (so it is not a matter of adultery).  The use here of the word “seizes” seems to imply the use of force, although the base meaning of the Hebrew word תְפָשָׂ translated “seize” here is “seize” or “‘take hold of,’ sometimes preparatory to further action”[9] and does not necessarily indicate the use of force.  Either way, however, we have already seen that the determinative for rape was whether the woman was taken without her consent, and the phrase “and they are found out” implies that the man and woman are both concealing this action, which indicates that she gave consent (whether before or after the act), and so it is not rape.  In such a case, when two unmarried people are having sexual relations, they are required to marry.  Again, our scholars may not like this rule, but that is neither here nor there.  The accusation that rape victims are required to marry their rapists is false.

What about Levirate Marriage?

According to our scholars, there are “Levirate marriage commands obligating a man to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Genesis 38, Ruth 2-4).”  Once again, however, they demonstrate extreme carelessness in their analysis – as can be shown, for example, by their adduction of Genesis 38 as a “proof text” for their claims about Levirate marriage.  The events of Genesis 38 happened long before God gave the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai in 1446 BC, and so has nothing to do with Levirate marriage.  When “Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother’” (Genesis 38:8), it was his own idea or a cultural practice of the day; it was not commanded by God, nor was it a Levirate marriage.  Nor, by the way, is there any indication that Onan was already married.

In the same way, when we look at Ruth 2-4, we see no indication whatsoever that Boaz already had a wife when he married Ruth.  So where do these scholars get the idea that a man was to marry the widow of his brother who died without an heir “regardless of the living brother’s marital status”?  At best, they are making an incautious assumption that is not backed up by the evidence.

On the contrary, we see in Deuteronomy 25 that a man had the right to opt out of this duty (as, indeed, Ruth’s closest relative did in Ruth 4), so that no married man was required to marry his brother’s widow.

What about Celibacy?

According to our scholars, one of the permissible “unions and family configurations” was “celibacy … (1 Corinthians 7:8,28).”  Someone needs to tell our scholars that “not married” is not a form of “marriage”; it is not a “union” (obviously), nor a “family configuration.”  So why they bring it up in the context of this discussion is difficult to see.

Furthermore, if our scholars had stopped to think, it might have occurred to them to wonder why 1 Corinthians 7:8 and 28 would counsel celibacy when (a) God explicitly said that “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18b), and (b) which counsel, if followed, would lead to the extinction of the human race in one generation.  Our scholars might then have looked at the context to find out why, and they would have noticed that Paul explains that this advice “is good because of the present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26b, bolding and italics added).  At that time, the Corinthian church was embroiled in all sorts of scandalous immorality and sexual sins, and Paul’s advice was only meant to be a temporary measure until the problems had been dealt with.  Celibacy, then, is never recommended as a normal, across-the-board option.

Now, it is true that, as our scholars point out,

during a discussion of marriage in Matthew 19:12, Jesus even encourages those who can castrate themselves “for the kingdom” and live a life of celibacy.

What they neglect to mention, however, is that Jesus said here,

All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He who is able to accept it, let him accept it. (Matthew 19:11-12)

For some tasks in advancing the kingdom of God, it is an advantage not to be married.  Paul, who was celibate (1 Corinthians 7:7), was an itinerant evangelist, always on the move, unable to lay down roots anywhere, frequently attacked and imprisoned (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).  For a man living such a lifestyle, it was definitely an advantage not to be married or to have children.  He is a stellar example of a man who “castrated himself …”   The other obvious example is Jesus Himself.

Finally, our scholars claim that

Ezra 10:2-11 forbids interracial marriage, and orders those people of God who already had foreign wives to divorce them immediately.[10]

Sadly, our scholars are wrong yet again.  It was not interracial marriage that was forbidden, and it was not Ezra who forbade it.  According to the Mosaic law, the Israelites were not to marry pagan women who worshipped other gods; in other words, it was not race that was the issue, but faith – and that is something that still applies[11].  Those who worship the One True God in Christ must also marry only those who do likewise (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  If our scholars disapprove of this, that again is neither here nor there.  And, also apropos to this matter, had our scholars looked more carefully, they might have noticed that at least two, and possibly three, of the women named in the genealogy of Jesus, in Matthew 1:5-6 (Rahab, Ruth, and, possibly, “her of Uriah”), were foreign women, not Israelites.

Ezra, then, was not forbidding interracial marriage; he was upbraiding the people for having neglected the law forbidding interfaith marriage, and was urging them to follow it.  It is not clear, however, that he was ordering them to “divorce them immediately.”  In every other passage in the Old Testament in which divorce is mentioned, the word is שָׁלַח shalach.[12]  But here Ezra is telling them to יָצָא yatsa their wives.  Inasmuch as one meaning of yatsa in the hiphil (as it is here) is a “divine act of deliverance … esp. leading the people out of Egypt[13], there is at least a chance that Ezra is urging the people to convert their wives, not to divorce them.

We have reached the end of our scholars’ case for their claim that “the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type deemed acceptable by biblical authors,” and we have seen that they have utterly failed to prove their case.  Not one of the supposed “variety of unions and family configurations” proffered by our scholars was “acceptable.”  Let us now proceed to see what the Bible does present as the only “acceptable” model, the only one approved of by God.

The Only Acceptable Biblical Model

There are two key passages in the Bible that clarify this matter.  First, let us look at Matthew 19:3-9:

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Here, our scholars truly go off the rails.  They assert that

Although some may view Jesus’ interpretation of Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:3-10 as an endorsement of monogamy, Jesus and other Jewish interpreters conceded that there were also non-monogamous understandings of this passage in ancient Judaism, including those allowing divorce and remarriage.

They are wrong on every single point here.

First, the “understanding” that divorce and remarriage were allowed was not based on “non-monogamous understandings of this passage in ancient Judaism,” but, as the Pharisees here expressly said, on the provision of the Mosaic law that allowed for it[14].  How did our scholars miss this?

Second, how can they suggest that “Jesus … conceded that there were also non-monogamous understandings of this passage” when He explicitly said that divorce was allowed in the Law because of the “hardness of your hearts” and used this very passage to show that divorce and remarriage were not acceptable?  How did our scholars miss this one?

Third, to aver that “some may view Jesus’ interpretation of Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:3-10 as an endorsement of monogamy” is far too much of an understatement.  It is absolutely clear that Jesus is insisting on the one man and one woman for life model based on God’s original creation; there can be no debate about what Jesus was calling for here.

Now, let us look at what the passage actually does say.  We first note a crucial point that must not be overlooked.  Jesus says that divorce and remarriage were not what God wanted – and, indeed, is unacceptable to Him – and was allowed in the Mosaic Law only “because of the hardness of your hearts,” and in so saying He is making it crystal clear that the Mosaic Law did not reflect God’s perfect will for mankind.

The Law was given to serve as a “pedagogue” to bring us to Christ, and to restrain human evil until then (Galatians 3:19-25).  We learn from Christ’s words in this passage that, in keeping with these purposes, the Law contained “sub-optimal” provisions – things that God did not want – in order to control human evil.  In the case of divorce, it was not what God wanted, but “because of the hardness of [their] hearts,” the Israelites would divorce their wives regardless of what God said, and so God chose to put in guidelines to limit the damage and offer some legal protection to the victims of divorce, rather than to put in a ban that would be ignored and leave the victims without any protection at all.

Here in this discussion in Matthew 19:3-9, Jesus is revealing God’s intent for marriage, and it is beyond any doubt that it is one man with one woman, for life.  He refers back to God’s original creation of mankind, before sin had tainted everything, and in that original creation God chose to make humans not as one androgynous type but as male and female.  It is not good for Man to be alone, said God (ruling out celibacy as His intent) but to be with what God made for the man: a woman.  His design was male with female, as Jesus emphasizes (Matthew 19:4-5).  And what God made for the man was what he needed: one woman, and only one woman (ruling out polygamy).  This is further driven home by the fact that “the two … become one flesh” in God’s design for marriage; the two, not the three or the four or any other number.

We also note in the creation account to which Jesus referred that God’s very first command to the male and female He created was to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28b), which means that reproduction is an essential part of God’s design for marriage.  If this is not clear to our scholars, let us look at another key passage, Malachi 2:3-16:

And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?”  Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with חָמָס” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

Here we see very clearly that God not only does not approve of divorce, He hates it.  The one woman is the man’s wife by covenant, and breaking that covenant is treachery and to “cover one’s garment with חָמָס (amas),” where חָמָס means “violence, oppression, wickedness, wrong, cruelty.[15]  And once again we see that marriage is fundamentally linked with reproduction: “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit?  And why one?  He seeks godly offspring.”  Marriage must be between one male and one female.

The second key passage is 1 Corinthians 7:2:

“Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”

διὰ δὲ τὰς πορνείας ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα ἐχέτω καὶ ἑκάστη τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα ἐχέτω

In light of the sexual immorality occurring in the Corinthian church, Paul commands the people to follow the one model that is not immoral: each man has his own wife, and each woman her own husband.  It is beyond dispute that if a man has more than one wife, each of them cannot have “her own husband”; a man shared with other woman is not “her own.”  Furthermore, if polygamy is acceptable, why are polygamists banned from being leaders in the church?[16]

This is what the Bible teaches and what the Lord Jesus Christ revealed.  Our scholars can accept or reject it, but they cannot pretend that He said anything other.

In sum, then, we have seen is that the claim of our scholars that “the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type deemed acceptable by biblical authors” is wildly wrong.  They have failed to understand that the fact that the Bible records that “a variety of unions and family configurationsexisted is not equivalent to accepting them.  On the contrary, we have seen from Jesus’ exposition and supporting texts that marriage between one man and one woman – for life – is indeed the only type accepted by God.  The attempts to show that the God of the Bible accepts polygamy, celibacy, and “shotgun” weddings to rapists are risible at best and odious at worst.

Finally, we must address the claim of our scholars that

we must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions such as slavery would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians.

First, it would be obvious to a thinking person that even if something were “universally condemned today,[17] that would not in and of itself make it wrong; after all, there was a time when slavery was universally accepted, but that didn’t make it right.  Second, slavery is another example of a practice, like divorce, that was regulated in the Old Testament “because of the hardness of [their] hearts.”  It was never the will of God to have slavery and it is clearly incompatible with New Testament teachings[18] – which is why it was Christians, and only Christians, who brought about the end of slavery in the Western world and then elsewhere.  On the other hand, it would be mighty interesting to see how atheists, with their Darwinian world view that we are naught but accidents of nature, could possibly prove that slavery is wrong.  Majority opinion, as we have shown, proves nothing, nor is there any guarantee that majority opinion would always remain opposed to slavery.

Third, it happens that in the case of marriage the empirical evidence – on which “rational” atheists are supposed to base their thinking – agrees with the Bible.  The social anthropologist Dr. J.D. Unwin famously did a meticulously detailed study of the marriage and sexual patterns of six great world civilizations from the past, as well as eighty primitive societies, through five thousand years.  He published the results in Sex and Culture (1934).  Unwin found, to his own surprise, an inviolate correlation between sexual restraint and cultural achievement.  He found that in every case a high level of civilization was achieved only in societies that were monogamous and restricted and discouraged premarital sex and adultery.  He found not even one example of a society that was lax regarding marriage and sex that achieved a high level of civilization.[19]

Unwin also noted a disturbing pattern that after the monogamous and self-disciplined generations build the civilization, their heirs inevitably become liberal regarding sex and marriage, after which the society stagnates and begins to decline – which, clearly, is where we are now.  For example, nationwide surveys of teachers in the 1950s showed that the top three disciplinary problems in schools in those days were children talking in class, running in the halls, and chewing gum in class.  Now the top three are violence, including guns and murders; sexual problems, including STDs and abortions; and illicit drug use.[20]  It seems that Western society’s the abandonment of the “ancient texts” of the Bible in regard to “ethics and morals” has not worked out for the better.  We would do well to remember the two rules of life:

  1. God is always right.
  2. If God is wrong, go back to Rule 1.

Endnotes

[1] Avalos, Hector, Ph.D., Cargill, Robert R., Ph.D., Atkinson, Kenneth, Ph.D. “One Man and One Woman: Not the Only Biblical View.” American Atheist (3rd Quarter, 2013), p.9

[2] Brown, Lesley, ed. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Volume 1 A-M. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p.12.

[3] The fact that God does not immediately punish those in such relationships does not prove that He accepts them, any more than the fact that He does not immediately punish murderers proves He accepts murder.

[4] He was married only to Sarah as long as she lived, and it was after her death that he married Keturah (Genesis 25:1).  He did have more than one concubine, as per ancient customs, but this is certainly not endorsed in the Bible.

[5] Sarah did not invent this idea; it was a documented practice in the Ancient Near East.

[6] Brown, Francis. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon. (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), p.300.

[7] ibid.

[8] As Adonijah tried to do to usurp the throne from Solomon (1 Kings 2:13-25), and as Abner was apparently doing to take the throne from Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 3:6-11)

[9] Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 2. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p.978

[10] By the way, the “foreign” women were from other nations, but they were not of other races, at least as we understand races today.

[11] Even the wise Solomon was led away from the true God by his marriages with unbelieving women (1 Kings 11).

[12] Mounce, William D. General Editor. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006, p.189

[13] Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann J. Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated and edited under the supervision of Mervyn E. J. Richardson. Vol.1. Leiden: Brill, 2001, p. 426

[14] “The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ testing Him.  And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’” (Mark 10:2-4)

[15] Garment is frequently used in the Bible as a symbol of one’s standing before God (Zechariah 3:1-5; Isaiah 64:6a; Matthew 22:8-14)

[16] 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6.  While these passages do not disallow only polygamists from holding church leadership positions, it certainly does disallow them.

[17] And slavery is not “universally condemned today”; there are countries in which it is still widely practised.

[18] 1 Timothy 1:9b-11 reads, “the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers (ἀνδραποδισταῖς), for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.  ἀνδραποδιστής actually means “one who acquires person for use by others, slave-dealer, kidnapper” (BDAG, p. 76)

[19] Unwin, J.D. Sex and Culture. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934.

[20] Borrazzo, Marie E. The Impact of Teacher Conflict Styles on Student Discipline Outcomes. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2005, p. 29

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