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Articles > Marriage and Family: > The Bible on Polygamy and Same-Sex Marriage

The Bible on Polygamy and Same-Sex Marriage

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach."1

1. Polygamy

A Daily Encounter subscriber from Africa asks, please let us know what the Bible teaches about polygamy as here in Africa it is taken for granted even by some Christians.

It is true that in Old Testament days it was not uncommon for men to have more than one wife; this was true of both King David and King Solomon. In some instances if a woman's husband died, the brother of the husband who died was to take his late-brother's wife to be his wife even if he was already married (See Deuteronomy 25:5). This was to preserve his brother's family line. It is my understanding, too, that in other instances men had more than one wife so that some women wouldn't be forced into prostitution, slavery or starvation in order to survive.

In the New Testament, however, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 give "'the husband of one wife' in a list of qualifications for spiritual leadership…. While these qualifications are specifically for positions of spiritual leadership, they should apply equally to all Christians. Should not all Christians be 'above reproach … temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money' (1 Timothy 3:2-4). If we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and if these standards are holy for elders and deacons, then they are holy for all."2

Furthermore, in Ephesians 5:22-33 wherever the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to husbands and wives his directives are always in the singular; that is, they are never plural in either multiple wives or husbands.

2. Same-Sex Marriage

Another prominent question that many are asking today is what does the Bible have to say about same sex marriage?

"While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals 'marrying' is not God's will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

"Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family."3

The Bible makes it clear that marriage, which is ordained by God, is to be between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is thus a perversion of God's plan for marriage. (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6).

And as Ronald Reagan so wisely said some years ago, "As goes the family so goes the nation."

In My Genes. Many gay and homosexual people claim that their attraction to and desire for the same sex is in their genes so there is nothing they can do about it but give in to it. This may or may not be true but the fact is that sin is in my genes (actually in everybody's genes), as the Bible says, "For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me" Psalm 51:5 (NLT). But does this give me the right and an excuse to do what I hunger or "passion" to do? Of course not. Such would be absurd and end up destroying just about everyone.

Keep in mind, though, while God loves all sinners—including you and me—he hates all sin because sin is totally destructive to those whom he loves: you and me. Christians are to do the same; that is we are to love all sinners but not accept any actions that God's Word labels as sin. We are also called to be the "salt of the earth" and as such we need to take a stand against all sin and evil and live as well as speak the truth.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your Word, the Bible, which gives all mankind clear instructions for every area of living—all of which is for the protection and good of all mankind. Please give me the desire to learn what your Word teaches and the desire, will and help to live accordingly. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Timothy 3:2 (NKJV).
2. From Got Questions.org http://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html.
3. From Got Questions.org http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-marriage.html.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.