Would you like to hear more about what God says about marriage? Grab your Bible and take a walk through the Scriptures with Dr. Caldwell as he exposits the Word of God from Genesis 2 on marriage, as well as several other texts from the New Testament:
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Does The Bible Condone Polygamy?
This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, host Dr. Josh Philpot approaches Dr. Richard Caldwell with several questions about polygamy in the Bible. Dr. Philpot identifies some key people in the history of the Old Testament who actively participated in the accruing of multiple spouses. That history even includes some of the patriarchs of Israel. This is somewhat confusing. Isn’t polygamy morally wrong and offensive to God? Why would God allow this? Why doesn’t the Bible condemn polygamy outright in both the Old and New Testaments?
Dr. Caldwell says what we ought to see in this is amazing patience on God's part. We should see God putting up with and tolerating things that do not please Him. God allows men in their times and cultures to exist before Him, in some cases, to live before Him and worship Him in situations that are less than ideal. However, this does not mean that God condones this sin and that He will not judge it. All mankind, since the fall, go about living their lives in ways that God did not prescribe. Romans 3:23 is clear, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and later in Romans, we are told that the wages of sin are death. Therefore, we must distinguish between what the Scriptures prescribe and what they describe.
What is prescribed in the Scriptures is clear. Genesis 2:24 reveals that a man is to leave his family. He is to be joined to his wife and cling to her for all of life. One man and one woman, husband and wife married for life, is what God has designed. What then is put before us in the Scriptures, what is prescribed, is God’s will. God’s will from the beginning is one man with one woman for life. Jesus reiterates this in the gospels, in a discussion he has with the Pharisees about divorce. Elsewhere in the New Testament, there are qualifications set forth for elders and instructions regarding widows that pertain to marriage. Elders are to be the husband of one wife, a one-woman man. Widows are not to be added to a church list for support if they had not been the wife of one man. So, this is God’s will, it’s what is prescribed, and it's clear.
But also, what we have in the Scriptures is sin. As sin makes its entry into the world in the garden of Eden, we immediately begin to see the distortion of what God intended for marriage. As early as Genesis 4, we find the first example of polygamy revealed in the line of sinful Cain. As things develop from Genesis 4 on, we find whole societies where polygamy has taken root as the culture began to accept and adopt this sin. What we read in these chapters of Genesis and in other parts of the Old Testament is descriptive of what is taking place. Often, the Scriptures describe what men are doing, and what they do is not always what God has prescribed. Yet, while God has not prescribed these things, He deals patiently with people. He never condones the sin, but, in His patience, He doesn’t immediately eliminate these people as a result.
Dr. Caldwell says another thing we find as the Bible describes the practice of polygamy in the Old Testament is disaster time and time again. There are enormous problems associated with polygamy, and the consequences of such sin are disastrous. We read in the Bible of a whole range of effects associated with it, such as bitterness, jealousy, betrayal, rape, murder, and more.
Turning to the New Testament, Dr. Caldwell shares Acts 17:30. Here, the Apostle Paul shares that God, having overlooked the times of ignorance, is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent. Dr. Caldwell explains there was a time God overlooked the ignorance of men, but now there is a new set of expectations. God has given more light, more revelation, more clarity, and there is a new standard.
And what we have consistently throughout the New Testament regarding God’s standard for marriage is one man with one woman for life. This is what we find prescribed all the way back in Genesis 2. The Bible makes clear God intends marriage to be between one man and one woman as it was from the beginning. Therefore, just because the Bible describes polygamy taking place and God allowed it is not the same as saying that God approves of it or is pleased with it. We must read carefully and distinguish between the prescriptive and descriptive texts of Scripture. We need to know what God has prescribed regarding marriage. God's design for marriage is one man and one woman for life; this is His will and His standard.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
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