What does the Bible say about polygamy and open relationships?
Gay marriage vs. polygamy
Polygamy in the Bible was a Biblical family value first mentioned in Genesis 4:19. Some but not all ancient Biblical heroes lived in polygamous marriages and yet still enjoyed the blessing grace and mercy of a loving God.
At least two of the human authors of the Bible, David and Solomon, were living in polygamous marriages when they wrote part of the Bible, Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
Some Christians believe that Moses, the human author of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and the book of Deuteronomy, also lived in a polygamous marriage with two women. Scripture tells us Moses had two wives, Zipporah, mentioned in Ex 2:15-16-21 and 18:1-6, and an Ethiopian wife mentioned in Num 12:1-15.
Moses' first wife may have died before Moses married his second wife yet the Bible does not make that clear one way or the other. We do know that God led Moses to make legal provision for polygamy in Jewish law by mandating inheritance rights when a man was married to more than one wife, Deut 21:15-17.
These facts do not mean that Polygamy should be practiced by Christians today. What was culturally acceptable and legal for God followers 3000 years ago is often very different today because our culture and our laws are different.
Some anti-gay Christians invoke the "gay marriage is a slippery slope argument" when they assert that equal marriage rights for gays inevitably leads to polygamy. Does gay marriage really lead to polygamy? We have at least six thousand years of human history which says, absolutely not. In countries where polygamy is legal, being gay and gay marriage itself are illegal. In countries where same-sex marriage is legal, polygamy is illegal.
Polygamists in the Bible
- Lamech - Genesis 4:19
- Esau - Genesis 26:34 & 28:9
- Abraham - Genesis 16:3, 25:1-6
- Jacob - Genesis 29:23-29 & 30:4-9
- Gideon - Judges 8:30
- Abijah - 1 Chronicles 13:21
- David - 2 Sam 5:13 & 1 Chron 3:1-9
- Solomon - 1 Kings 11:1-3
- The Bible says nothing positive about open relationships, where both partners are free to have sex outside the marriage relationship.
The Bible always takes a negative view of open relationships, regarding all sex outside of a committed faithful partnership as sin. Notice how scripture describes sexual relationships in 1 Cor 7:1-9.
We are told that, "to avoid fornication,"
people should be married, i.e., in committed partnership. In that committed partnership, both individuals are to recognize that for purposes of sex, their body belongs to their partner and neither partner should defraud the other sexually. In plainer words, one reason for committed marriage is to meet our sexual needs in a recognized safe and sanctioned relationship.
This scriptural view is also found in 1 Thess 4:2-6 and 1 Cor 10:8-13 (based on Exodus 32:6-28). Marriage in the Bible
is often different than our modern western Christian concept. Our Mission at GC101
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