Skip to comments.Does God Endorse Polygamy? Why does 2 Samuel 12:8 say that God gave David wives?
Posted on 05/13/2021 8:33:00 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Is God pro-polygamy? Let’s talk about that.
If God is opposed to polygamy, then why does 2 Samuel 12:8 say that God gave David wives?
Now, I do believe God is opposed to polygamy. In fact, in Genesis 2:24, God’s creation account indicates that God intended for one man to marry one woman, and become one flesh for one lifetime. In fact, Jesus even quotes that definition in Matthew 19 and upholds it as valid. And in fact, then He adds his own commentary by claiming that monogamous marriage is a God-ordained institution.
But now, if you read the Old Testament, you’ll see polygamy practiced by patriarchs, and of course, many Israelite kings. Remember though, that many parts of Scripture are descriptive, not prescriptive. And the Bible often records what happened, not necessarily what should happen.
Still, it appears God allowed polygamy to occur.
Now, I think this is true, but I believe that God tolerated polygamy, but never condoned it. And the same could be said of divorce. God never intended married couples to divorce, but He tolerated it. In fact, Jesus even says in Matthew 19:8 that divorce was permitted because of the hardness of the hearts of men. And yet He also clearly reminds the pharisees that divorce was never intended by God from the beginning.
So, what are we to make then when the Bible says God gave David his master’s wives?
Well first of all, Deuteronomy 17:17 forbids kings from marrying more than one wife, so it doesn’t make sense that God would give that clear prohibition and then give David multiple wives. Furthermore, in Leviticus 18:17, it forbids marrying a woman and her daughter, so that would also be odd for God to give David Saul’s wife, who was his mother-in-law.
Now second of all, as Paul Copan points out in his book, “Is God a Moral Monster?”, the same word “gave” where God gave David these wives, is used in 2 Samuel 12:11 when God took David’s wives and gave them over to his wicked son Absolom. Now we wouldn’t say that God approves of polygamy because of this punishment.
Third, notice that the text doesn’t say God gave David these wives to marry, but that God gave David your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care. In other words, it’s possible that he didn’t marry them, but was simply responsible for caring for Saul’s estate and household after his death.
This, by the way, would often occur during the Old Testament era. A king would inherit the previous ruler’s house and especially the widows and the orphans if the ruler had died. And David would have been expected to extend his protection to Saul’s family, including his harem. In fact, we even see eight chapters later where David takes his concubines and puts them in a house under guard, and the text even says he provided for them but had no sexual relations with them.
So, God is opposed to polygamy, and it doesn’t seem that the 2 Samuel passage does anything to undermine that view.
I’ve balanced multiple women...it gets complicated fast
I can’t fathom multiple wives
This is what mistresses are for...duh
Even good women can be extremely difficult
“... a fool cannot learn from even a wise man (or a gracious God).”
It’s not lawful according to biblical law...
My father, who was always quite traditional in such matters, threw his television out after 13 months of “news” coverage about Clinton, his cigar, Monica, her dress, and the Oral Office. What was interesting was his comment, “as long as the damned political hacks are busy screwing their aides, they’re distracted from screwing our country !”
“it appears God allowed polygamy to occur.”
Reads like a statement from a freshman in high school.
News flash. The New Testament is the new and superior to the old one.
It’s good to be King
Case 1. They're unrelated. You now have two mothers-in-law. You lose.
Case 2. They're sisters. First they compete for your affections, then get tired of it and gang up on you. You lose.
Doing a Mom and Daughter is explicitly forbidden. (For Joe Biden, I assume that applies to grandmother/granddaughter too.)
Maybe it’s a test. You know, like he did with Job.
After Samson visited a prostitute, I’ve given some thought
to the gender distribution in the foxes he tied together
and set afire afterwards.
He must have had a proven result in mind for effectiveness.
Yawn. This topic is boring. Can’t this be discussed in the Bible Thumpers section?
RE: I for one do not believe you.
You’re free to believe what you want, I have no control over that. I didn’t start this thread to justify what my motives are for anyone.
RE: Can’t this be discussed in the Bible Thumpers section?
And where is that section? This is the religion thread.
Why did you open this thread if it is so boring?
Two wives? At the same time?
And Paul further clarified that when he said divorce must end in reconciliation (getting back together) or singleness.
That lets you keep your vow.
Without polygamy, very high mortality among young men produces large numbers of young widows and young women with no prospects for marriage. These women might be bartered as trade goods outside the tribe. Or they might become prostitutes. At best, they might look forward to a life as a servant woman, and possibly concubinage. This is not a satisfactory solution, either for the young women themselves or their families.
In addition, in small tribal groups, high fertility is essential in times of incessant warfare to replace losses and maintain the fighting strength of the tribe. Shelving large numbers of young women would be tribal suicide.
Tribal elders, parents, brothers and all concerned would want these young women to have licit and honorable places in the society. They would want them to have lawful children. Polygamy is the usual answer. The acceptance of polygamy has a downside in that it opens the door to wealthy and powerful men who collect women for sport and build harems, but focusing on the abuses in the elite classes is looking at the wrong end of the problem. The large harems were always few and far between. The real question is what to do with the 17 year old widow whose husband was killed on the last raid; she's still young enough to be sexually attractive and a good catch, but half the young men in her appropriate age range have already been killed and the rest are already married. Or the older woman of maybe 25 with two or three young children whose husband is killed: she and her children face destitution, and becoming a second or third wife to a man who can provide a home is a good option.
Polygamy falls out of favor when polities grow larger, when the hostile tribes are beyond a border that is a couple of hundred miles away, and when a society develops a political and warrior class sufficient in normal circumstances to secure physical safety. Mortality from violence declines sharply. The gender ratio among young adults normalizes. Polygamy, formerly a solution to a real problem, then becomes a major problem itself. If practiced on a large scale, a narrow class of wealthier men obtains control of a disproportionate number of the young women, leaving large numbers of young men with no hope of a normal marriage. In Muslim societies, these are the young men who become holy warriors. Jihad has always been very largely about bringing home young women for sex slavery, and if that doesn't work out, the martyr gets his 72 virgins in Allahland. For a 19 year old man who has seen the last eligible young women in his village swept into polygamous marriages with rich older men, jihad starts to look attractive.
Very good points.
I would add that it was the Romans who really hated polygamy, and it was their conquest of Europe that made monogamy the European norm in contrast to the rest of the world.
Go back to Genesis. God’s intent is spelled out clearly there. One man, one woman.
The post only addressed King David, that’s what I spoke to.
These cults, however, are still left with large numbers of young men who are shut out in the bridal sweepstakes. After being passed over enough times, it becomes clear that they are unlikely ever to be assigned a wife, or at least a wife they would want. They become outcasts. Some are unceremoniously forced out as "lost boys," roaming the streets until they figure something out. I suppose that most are able to find a support network to ease their transition out of the cult into normal society -- people living in the vicinity of polygamous compounds are aware of the problem -- but they are still expelled.
The lost boys issue doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should. The culture is hardwired nowadays to view polygamy in terms of the exploitation of women, which is fair enough, but at least wives in polygamous cults have a licit and honorable place. The lost boys are simply disappeared. There was a tv movie a few years ago, Escape from Polygamy, that touched on this. It was produced in the wake of the Warren Jeffs scandal and was rather topical, being focused on a predatory cult leader and the attempt of a young couple in love to escape before the girl is condemned to a forced marriage. It's an ok movie -- a bit melodramatic in a Lifetime Movie kind of way -- with some good acting. The lost boys do surface as a major subplot.
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