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Intimacy with God

John Aziza


The Mosaic Law never condemned the practice of polygamy. In fact, it clearly allowed the Israelites to marry multiple wives as long as they did not neglect their first wives and all were treated equal (Deut 21:15, Ex 21:10; 1 Sam 1:2; 2 Chr 24:3). The New Testament, however, informs us that this practice was NOT God's ideal, and that He merely tolerated it because of Israel’s rebellious tendencies and "hard-heartedness" (Matthew 19:4-8).



The Old Covenant reflects God's permissive will and stands in stark contrast to His perfect will revealed through Christ in the New Covenant. While the former dispensation sanctioned violence and bloodshed (1 Sam. 15:3), divorce and remarriage (Deut. 24:1-4), and oath-making (Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2), Jesus ushered in a new era that explicitly condemned all of these practices (Mat. 5:39; 10:16; 26:52; Lk. 6:27-38; Mat. 5:31-32; 33-37). His mission was to break the former pattern and establish a new one. This vital shift from the permissive to the perfect, as laid out in the New Testament, compels honest Christians to live by its principles. Consequently, the issue of polygamy cannot be separated from this fundamental change.


Yet even in the Old Testament God’s perfect will is often highlighted and brought into sharp focus. For instance, consider the prohibition against polygamy in Deuteronomy 17, where God decrees that kings are not permitted to multiply wives or riches: "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold" (Deut. 17:17).


The reason why God enacted this law is clearly explained in the same verse: “that his [the king's] heart turn not away [from God]”. Perhaps that's precisely why David and Solomon got into so much trouble when indulging their lust for more women and why Israel eventually turned to idols. God was keenly aware of the danger posed by polygamy, but tolerated it only because the "time of reformation" had not yet come (Act. 17:30; Heb. 9:10). Israel's moral failures would be allowed to continue as long as the Old Testament's imperfect law reigned. But Jesus came to put an end to this problem by restoring God's people back to His original design: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts PERMITTED you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” From the very beginning, both divorce and polygamy were intentionally excluded from God's creative plan.


Another important point to consider is the relationship between Deuteronomy 17 and the New Testament's prohibition on polygamy located in both 1 Timothy and Titus. While Israel's leaders were prohibited from multiplying wives for themselves, the New Testament places the same prohibition upon the leaders and servants of the Church, who are forbidden from having more than one wife. Through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, Paul limits both the bishops (pastors) and deacons (servants) to only “one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6). The clear correlation between Deuteronomy 17's prohibition and the one expressed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 is unmistakable and should not be overlooked. 


In both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, the Apostle Paul uses a specific Greek phrase when outlining his qualifications for pastors and deacons. This phrase is mia gune aner, which translates into English as "one woman man" or "one wife husband". The fact that mia gune aner has such a specific interpretation is proof that Paul had only one wife in mind for both pastors and deacons. So does this mean that polygamy is permitted for all but the pastor and deacon? Absolutely not! Every man in the Body of Christ is called to be either an older servant (pastor/elder) or younger servant (deacon). In fact, by reading through the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 it is easy to see that they apply to all male members of the Church. Bottom line, Paul's guidelines for service in the Church prohibit men from engaging in polygamy.

Note: To learn more about Church leadership and the roles of pastor and deacon click here. 


In Ephesians 5, we find the following command: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). Clearly, the type of love prescribed here is entirely sacrificial and places the other's feelings and preferences above our own. Now after reading this instruction, it's important to ask the following question. If husbands were to love their wives in the manner commanded, would they still be on the lookout for other women or choose faithfulness and fidelity instead? In other words, it's hard to imagine a man permitting his eyes to rove over other women while still maintaining a sacrificial love toward his wife.


In Genesis 2:22, God forms Eve from one of Adam’s rib and then presents her to him. However, it's important to notice that God intentionally provides Adam with only one wife, not several. The reason why God chose only one wife for Adam is provided in Malachi 2:14-15, where we discover the following explanation:


Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. [NOTICE THAT ONLY A MAN'S FIRST WIFE IS RECOGNIZED AS HIS COVENANT WIFE] And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.


According to the above passages, God created one mate for Adam because He was seeking after godly offspring. Now if we stop to consider this, it makes very good sense. Men with many wives have no time to carefully raise all of their children in a godly manner. They are simply too busy having to provide for their extra large families--never mind the time invested into pleasing all of their many wives without making any of them jealous! Sound like a familiar problem? If so, it’s because we are well acquainted with the biblical accounts of the patriarchs, and how their polygamous unions resulted in much rivalry and strife, not to mention the disastrous consequences for subsequent generations (Gen. 16; 29).


Now it’s interesting that according to the Scriptures Adam never married more than one wife. Neither did his descendants up until Lamech, who descended from Cain’s sinful bloodline. Abraham also remained faithful to Sarah, at least until she encouraged him to take “seed” from Hagar, her maidservant, which was just as bad an idea as when Eve presented Adam with the forbidden fruit. But the Lord condemned the illegitimate union between Abraham and Hagar and broke it off. Isaac on the other hand, never trespassed in the same sin. He kept to his one wife Rebecca until death, and so did Moses, Job, Lot, and countless others.


When God wiped out almost the entire human race with a flood, He spared only eight people, among whom was Noah and his family. But it's important to note that Noah and his family were spared in perfect pairs: Noah and his wife, and their three sons with their individual wives. In total, four men and four women were spared, no more and no less (Genesis 7:13). So God created the world with perfect pairs, and when He destroyed the earth, He started all over again with perfect pairs. Was this a coincidence? I believe not.


A careful read of Matthew 19:4-9 and Mark 10:2-3 places a polygamous marriage within the category of adultery. And this is no small sin!!


1. Polygamy Encourages Hyper-Sexuality and Sex Addiction

Biologically, males will produce more testosterone with frequent sexual activity, which then leads to even greater sexual lust or desire. This fact is based on the law of supply and demand. The more sex a man has, the more of it he craves--think King Solomon and his enormous sexual appetite! Sex addiction is formed by constantly feeding or gratifying sexual lust.


2. Polygamy Violates the Biblical Principles of Moderation and Self-Control

According to the New Testament, Christians should be known for their moderation (Phil. 4:5) and self control (Gal. 5:22-23). Polygamy is antithetical to these principles since it inherently lacks both.


3. Polygamy Encourages Marital Discontentment

The principle of contentment is expressed throughout the New Testament and the Christian is encouraged to pursue it (Phip. 4:11 and 1 Tim. 6:6; Heb. 13:5). If contment is the Christian ideal then how does polygamy comport with it? The straightforward answer is that it doesn't. Polygamy is the result of marital discontentment and enables men to look elsewhere for more sex once their God-ordained wife isn't satisfying enough. Yet even in the Old Testament, men are instructed to always be satisfied with the “wife of their youth” or first wife. Notice: "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love" (Pro. 5:18-19). 


4. Polygamy Encourages Selfishness and Neglect

Polygamy is inherently selfish and fails to consider the feelings and needs of women and children. Jacob's story in Genesis 37 is a pertinent example of this. It serves to remind us of the inevitable consequences of polygamy, while highlighting the bitter rivalry and preferential treatment that can emerge within such a dynamic. Yet the Bible commands husbands to selflessly love their wives and raise their children "in the fear and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 5:25; 6:4).


For children, several important questions arise: Would they prefer having one mother or five? (In other words, is it truly beneficial for them to navigate the complexities of multiple maternal figures?) Will they receive enough attention from their father, or will they be perpetually neglected? Will they face economic hardship due to the increased financial burden? Will their emotional and physical needs be adequately met in such a family structure? Accordingly, these questions are just as relevant to the women involved in such relationships. Therefore, it can be sufficiently concluded that the demands of a polygamous family inevitably lead to a dissolution of resources and attention, creating an environment of emotional and physical deprivation.

5. Polygamy Results in a Global Shortage of Eligible Women

According to online sources, more men exist in the world today than women. Since the global gender ratio is already imbalanced, the practice of polygamy would only exacerbate the problem, leading to a global shortage of eligible women for marriage aged men.


6. Polygamy Encourages Crime and Homosexual Behavior

Children who do not receive fatherly affection or nurture may turn to crime and vice as a result. Boys, especially, tend to fulfill this void with homosexual behaviour. Poor child-rearing within polygamous families greatly contributes to these issues. The Bible states that God’s intent for marriage is to produce godly offspring (Malachi 2:14-16). Polygamous unions undermine this ideal because they do not result in a healthy spiritual environment for children, but rather a harmful one.


7. Polygamy steals time from God

Men with multiple wives lack the necessary time for spiritual pursuits. For this reason, the New Testament's pastors and deacons are restricted to only one wife (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) in the same manner as the kings of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 17:17).


8. Polygamy Devalues Women, Sexually Objectifies them, and Relegates Them to the Status of Concubine or Sex Slave

Men who marry multiple wives do so for sexual gratification, NOT because they are needy for companionship. Sadly, this attitude reduces women to objects of sexual pleasure and completely ignores their feelings and preferences. Women naturally desire to be their husband’s "one and only", not just a source of sexual pleasure. Accepting their role in a polygamous union requires indoctrination into believing it's God’s will. 



I have personally witnessed the devastating effects of polygamy when encountering it in both Minnesota and Alaska. Unfortunately, some of our dear friends were drawn into this lifestyle despite our earnest warnings. As a result, we were able to observe first hand the ugly fruit of polygamy from between 2005-2017. Occasionally, we still encounter "Christians" with a Torah based theology who try to promote this practice. It is my fervent prayer that this short teaching will be used to discourage men from believing the lie that God still allows polygamy.

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