Bib­li­cal polyg­y­ny is a hot top­ic — and by that I mean, peo­ple tend to get pas­sion­ate about it on either side of the debate. If you’d like to share what you think about it, come join our fresh­ly launched (May 2020) polyg­y­ny forum!

po·lyg·y·ny (pə-lĭj’ə-nē) n.

  1. The con­di­tion or prac­tice of hav­ing more than one wife at one time.
  2. Zool­o­gy. A mat­ing pat­tern in which a male mates with more than one female in a sin­gle breed­ing season.

I believe that the major­i­ty of Chris­tians today mis­un­der­stand the Scrip­tures’ teach­ings regard­ing mar­riage. Oh, cer­tain­ly, they right­ful­ly pro­claim that homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is a repug­nant sin. They’ll also pro­claim loud­ly that mar­riage ought to last a life­time, their own track record notwith­stand­ing.

And many will plain­ly state that polygamy in all its many forms is a sin. There was a time when I did. I argued furi­ous­ly for what sure­ly added up to scores of hours in offense on polygyny.

After a cer­tain point, I real­ized I was repeat­ing myself. The so-called bib­li­cal argu­ments against polyg­y­ny which I was devis­ing and/or find­ing else­where were sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dis­man­tled by the defend­ers of the practice.

For months, I abstained from the debate, with the sim­ple con­ces­sion that I believed that polyg­y­ny was wrong… but I had no idea why it was. It was only a mat­ter of time before my own pride would be bro­ken regard­ing the matter.

I now stand in defense of polyg­y­ny just as I have always stood in defense of monogamy. I defend my broth­ers in the faith who have cho­sen to wed mul­ti­ple women, and I defend the hon­or of those men whose polyg­y­nous prac­tices were record­ed for us forever­more in the Scriptures.

How­ev­er, I am not a polyg­y­nous man; in fact, I’m hap­pi­ly mar­ried to one wife. My defense of the prac­tice has absolute­ly no per­son­al bear­ing on my own life. (Of course, that does­n’t stop those who would oppose polyg­y­ny from call­ing into ques­tion every aspect of my marriage.)

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  • Def­i­n­i­tion cred­it: “polyg­y­ny.” The Amer­i­can Her­itage® Dic­tio­nary of the Eng­lish Lan­guage, Fourth Edi­tion. Houghton Mif­flin Com­pa­ny, 2004. Answers.com 10 Aug. 2010. http://www.answers.com/topic/polygyny
  • Fea­tured image cred­it: Ros­set­ti, Dante Gabriel. Dan­te’s Vision of Rachel and Leah. 1855. Water­colour on paper. Tate Gallery, London.






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Rick Beckman