standard Is Polygamy Biblical?

Is Polygamy Biblical?


Polygamy seems to be the subject of much debate these days. Much of that has to do with the hit TLC show “Sister Wives“, that chronicles the lives of the Browns, a family that consists of one husband, his four wives, and his 17 children.

The Browns from TLC's 'Sister Wives'

The Browns from TLC's 'Sister Wives'

Admittedly, I was appalled when I first saw ads for this show. I thought it was disgusting that TLC would glorify a practice that was both illegal and what I felt was immoral.

I found myself watching “Sister Wives” one day when I couldn’t find anything else on TV. Then I watched the rest of the episodes through “On Demand.” Even though the Browns are Mormon, and I’m a Christian, I found myself starting to question my initials beliefs about the practice of polygamy.

It motivated me to search the Bible to gain a deeper understanding of a way of life that goes back thousands of years. Polygamy was very common in the Old Testament.


There is a great deal of debate over whether polygamy is acceptable for Bible-believing Christians today. Based upon what I’ve found in the Bible, I believe it is.


This Polygamy Stuff is Confusing!

Before we move on, let me clarify a few things.  First, OBVIOUSLY I’m not referring to the twisted type of polygamy where men force women into the lifestyle, take child brides, or marry their children. Nor am I talking about men that marry large numbers of women and abuse both their spouses and children.

Those people need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I’m talking about men who take on willing adult wives, treat them well, and devote themselves to making certain they are all equally loved and cared for.

Second, I am NOT referring to any kind of relationship where the women are also physically involved with each other. I’m referring to situations where the man has a separate relationship with each of the wives. No threesomes, no bed sharing, no kinky crap, so get your filthy minds out of the gutter.

Three entwined wedding bandsFinally, there are several forms of polygamy. In this article, I am referring only to polygyny, which is when a man takes multiple wives.  Polyandry is when a woman takes multiples husbands, and group marriage is exactly what it says. I am referring to polygyny here. Other forms of polygamy are not Biblical.  I’m going to continue referring to it as polygamy though so as not to confuse anyone.

Many of the patriarchs had multiple wives, most notably King Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines. If God permitted this in Old Testament times, why would He not allow it today? Let’s examine both sides of the argument.



 Arguments Against Polygamy


1.  The Bible clearly states that adultery (fornication) is a sin.


Proverbs 6:32 states, “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking in understanding; he that does it destroys his own soul.”

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee fornication! Every sin that a man doeth is without the Holy Biblebody; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

There are other verses, but these two are enough to get the point across.People were stoned for committing adultery in Bible times.

Ok, we’ve established that adultery is a sin. But what exactly is adultery?

Adultery is the act of having sexual intercourse with anyone other than your spouse. This applies whether you’re married to someone and being unfaithful, or whether you are not married and are sexually involved with someone.

Now that we have the technicalities out of the way and have defined what adultery is and established that the Bible says it’s a sin, we can move on.

Polygamy is not adultery, because the man is making a life-long commitment (or at least that is the intent) to more than one woman. Provided he marries the second (or third, etc) wife prior to having sex with her, it does not constitute adultery.


2.  The Bible says that a man and woman are to become one flesh.

Again, this is true.  Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

However, any time a man and woman have sexual intercourse, they physically become “one flesh.” If a person has 60 sexual partners in their lifetime, they have become one flesh with each and everyone of them. Therefore, if a man has more than one wife, he is “one flesh” with each of them. One does not detract from the other.


3.  The book of 1 Timothy 3:2 says that a bishop/deacon must be the husband of one wife. 

Yes, it does, but read it closely and you have your answer. This applies to religious leaders within the church. More than likely, this is because a man would have a difficulty devoting enough time to God and his duties within the church if he has several wives occupying his time. There is NOTHING in the Bible that says that an ordinary man cannot take more than one wife.


The Case for Polygamy

Now, let’s examine what the Bible does say about polygyny.  All verses are from the New King James version.

King David had 6 wives as well as concubines:

 2 Samuel 5:13 – “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David.”  (David had 6 wives and several concubines).

King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines:

 Bible with wedding band1 Kings 11:3  – “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.”

A side note here is that many people claim that Solomon’s struggles are proof that polygamy is against God’s will. You must keep in mind that Solomon took many pagan wives, which would explain why “his wives turned away his heart.”


Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) had 18 wives and 60 concubines:

2 Chronicles 11:21 – “Now Rehoboam loved Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom more than all his wives and his concubines; for he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and begot twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.”


Below is a list of Old Testament men where the numbers of wives they had is specifically indicated in the Bible.  There are many others where the Bible does not specifically mention the number of wives, but based upon the number of children it says they had, we can draw a clear conclusion that they were polygamous.



What Are Your Thoughts on Christian Polygamy?

Even though polygamy may not be the lifestyle of choice for you, it’s pretty clear that God never forbade it in the Bible. If He found it displeasing, I suspect He would have made an example out of Solomon.

The choice to live a polygamous life undoubtedly comes with its fair share of trials, jealousy being a major one. It is also illegal in the U.S.  This puts people at risk of prosecution. At the very least, any wives other than the first lose access to any legal benefits of marriage.

Polygamist wedding cakeHowever, it also has its advantages. The wives enjoy a certain degree of freedom that they wouldn’t have in a monogamous marriage. There are also other wives to help with the children.

I feel that polygamy would be preferable to a husband who has affairs with various women throughout your marriage. Let’s keep it real, most men cheat…not all, but most. At least this way, you know who he’s with, that they have a life-long commitment to each other, and can even enjoy a close bond with your sister wife.

If you’re considering making the leap, dig into your Bible, pray about it, and do your research first. This decision takes a complete and lifelong commitment on the parts of everyone involved, but the Browns have demonstrated that polygamy can be a beneficial and even enjoyable experience.

What do you think about husbands taking on multiple wives? I’ve expressed my opinion, now I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to comment below and tell me your take on the subject of Christian polygamy.

Written By Melissa S. | Friend Melissa on Facebook | Join The Forum


Is Polygamy Biblical?

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  • It seems to me that if you’re a literalist where the Bible is concerned, then you have no choice but to accept polygamy as a legitimate form of marriage. I’m not a literalist, but I do see polygamy as simply another form of family. Here’s my take on the subject:

    • Melissa S

      It isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m not sure it’s a lifestyle I’d choose either, but it does bother me when people insist that it’s outside God’s will.  Polygamy was rampant in the Bible among men who were greatly blessed by God, and there is nothing in it that expressly prohibits polygamy.  Thanks for your comments!