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Monogamy and the Bible

We have heard people claim that the Bible demands monogamy. This is far from the truth, as the biblical passages below prove:

Genesis 16:1-4 tells us that Abraham, the founding father of Judaism, had a child by Hagar, and then a child by Sarah (Genesis 21:2).

Genesis 26:34 tells us that Esau, grandson of Abraham, married two wives, Judith and Basemath. Genesis 28:9 tells us he also married a third wife, Mahalath.

Genesis 29:21-28 tells us that Jacob, Esau's brother, who was also Abraham's grandson, and a patriarch of Judaism, married two wives, Leah and Rachel. Genesis 30:4 tells us Jacob also took Bilhah as a third wife. Genesis 37:2 mentions another wife, Zilpah.

Moses, who brought Jews the ten commandments, was already married to Zipporah (Exodus 18:2), then Numbers 12:1 tells us he married a "Cushite" wife. ("Ethiopian" in the KJV.) Did Jehovah approve of Moses' new marriage? When Miriam, Moses' sister, objects to his new wife, Jehovah afflicts Miriam with leprosy (Numbers 12:9). Clearly from this Jehovah supports polygamy. When Moses gave the commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," it didn't mean, "Thou shalt be monogamous," as Moses himself was not. It only meant you should not have sex with anyone who is married to someone else.

1 Samuel 18:28 tells us King David, slayer of Goliath, and progenitor of Jesus, married Michal. 1 Samuel 25:22 tells us David also married Abigail. 1 Samuel 25:23 tells us he also married Ahinoam. 2 Samuel 3:2 tells us he was also married to Maacah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah. 2 Samuel 5:13, "After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him." 2 Samuel 11:26 tells us David also married Bathsheba. It was only this last marriage that Jehovah objected to, because David had caused her husband to die. Clearly after all those wives it was not polygamy Jehovah objected to.

1 Kings 11:3 tells us King Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible, had 700 wives. What more proof do we need that polygamy was a biblical ideal?

Polygamy is only prohibited in the New Testatment for bishops and deacons (1 Timothy 3:2-12). Apparently then monogamy was considered as extreme as celibacy is today. So much so that Paul didn't even require monogamy of priests.

Mark 12:20 "Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?" This woman who finds herself having seven husbands raises the clearest question of polyandry in the Bible, and it is repeated in Luke 20:28-32, and again in Matthew 22:24-28.

The answer Jesus gives is always the same, "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage." (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35) However you interpret that, it's clearly not advocating monogamy. Perhaps we won't know the complete meaning until the "resurrection," but until then it appears all of the brothers are her husbands. And why not? Women should be allowed multiple husbands, if only as an affirmative action after all the centuries men have been allowed multiple wives.

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