Does God approve of polygamy?
If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife
he does not love, when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife
he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love.
2 Samuel 5:13
(also 1 Ki 11:3)
After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.
1 Timothy 3:12
(also 1 Tim 3:2,
A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
Some points to keep in mind:
- The recording of historical acts, including instances of polygamy, is not necessarily an endorsement of it by God.
The Bible records both good and bad actions of people, even people considered to be righteous. The fact that David and Solomon
had several wives and that it's in the Bible doesn't automatically imply that God was pleased by it, any more than
the records of David's adultery and the arguments in the early church implies God's approval of either.
- Monogamy is first mentioned in
Genesis 2:24 - it was God's
intention from the beginning. While God did allow polygamy for a time, it was probably for the same reason as
his allowance of divorce: "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning"
- Rampant polygamy (and possibly all polygamy) was prohibited for kings, because it would cause them to turn from God
(Dt 17:17). The Israelites should
have reasoned that if this were true for kings, it would be true for others, hence polygamy was something they ought to
Other responses (offsite)
- Glenn Miller explains how we know polygamy
is wrong, despite its not being explicitly forbidden
- J. P. Holding explains why God would have permitted
polygamy in the OT