Biblical Gender Identity



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Section: IntroCross DressingProstitutionLiving Together Not MarriedAdulteryDivorcePolygamyHomosexualityIncestAnimalsSelfAbortionConclusions

DISCLAIMER: This is a mature topic only intended for people who've at least begun puberty. If you are less than 13 years old then I pray you don't have any reason to concern yourself with this yet, and you should ask a trustworthy adult before reading this.




Polygamy




The original design was one man and one woman. No other option is offered to us, we made up all the rest. Any time there is instruction about marriage it's clearly patterned after the Genesis 1:27-28 & Genesis 2:24-25 model (one male and one female) despite however many examples there are of people who deviate. However, it's true there is no explicit command on the number of wives a man may have. We can make many inferences from these indirect verses, but since they're all indirect, there's room for debate.
  • Exodus 21:10  hub
    • The presence of the unqualified word "if" implies it is at least acceptable.
  • Deuteronomy 17:17  hub
    • There's a big difference between "must not take many" and "must not have more than one." And it's not a stretch to think a higher standard could be set for the leaders than for the rest.
  • Deuteronomy 21:15-17  hub
    • Here polygamy is mentioned nonchalantly. And it doesn't say "at most two," it just says "if he has two."
  • Deuteronomy 25:5-10  hub
    • Notice it does not say "after he dies then the next brother in line should marry her, unless he's already married, in which case the second next brother should marry her."
  • 2 Samuel 12:7-8  hub
    • Nathan is relaying that God would have given David even more wives if David had just asked (rather than going about it the way he did with Bathsheba). He already had a bunch at the time.
  • 1 Kings 11:3-4  hub
    • While this blames Solomon's straying from God on his wives, notice it doesn't explicitly say it's because he had more than one. As if they all were great honorable Jews and he just couldn't handle the volume. His wives turned to other gods and their straying leaked into his heart too. Like a sexually transmitted disease, which can be contracted when we are with one or many partners.
  • Matthew 19:8-9  hub
    • Notice that Jesus doesn't specifically say to have only one wife. He just says if you divorce for any reason (but the one valid reason) then you may not marry anyone else. There's no mention of a numerical limit here. For example, if we take this literally then if a man has three wives and divorces one then he's expected to be content for the rest of his life with (at most) the other two he already has. This isn't necessarily to say in the positive that polygamy is good or even acceptable, it's saying divorce is negative, serious, and even has a penalty.
The following passages are from the writing of Paul. God's word must be taken seriously, but we must be very careful not to read into the scriptures what we want to find. Even though Paul uses a singular term here, he's not explicitly saying a man should only have one wife, nor does he specifically say a man should not have more than one. He's saying sex is reserved for a husband and a wife. Even a polygamous man can be said to have "a wife." If there didn't happen to be any polygamists in the churches he was writing to then it would make sense that it would not have come up.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:2-16  hub
  • Ephesians 5:23  hub
  • Ephesians 5:28  hub
  • 1 Timothy 3:2-4  hub
  • 1 Timothy 3:12  hub
To be clear, all I'm saying is God, in His word, doesn't seem to have a really strong opinion on this. He's not one to dance around topics, and if He really cared I don't think He'd have waited until Paul came around to say so. (Based on genealogical records, Jesus and Paul probably both walked the Earth about 4,000 years after creation week.) God isn't in the business of dictating our every decision (Luke 12:14). He does care how we treat each other though (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34) and don't forget the way He designed it was one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24), anything else we made up on our own.

This perspective doesn't mean it's "right" for a man to have more than one wife. It just means the Bible doesn't forbid it (like it does other things). Still, American, European, Asian, and many other societies have long since decided it's not appropriate, and they aren't obligated to get that opinion from the Bible. There were a couple stories in the Bible where this worked fine for the guy and crummy for the girl, namely Jacob, Rachel, & Leah (Genesis 29:30-30:3) and Elkanah, Hannah, & Peninnah (1 Samuel 1:2-8). The first guy to do this was Lamech (Genesis 4:19), Abraham took a second wife only at his original wife's insistence (Genesis 16:1-5), and then of course there was Solomon (1 Kings 11:3).

That being said, here's the best conclusion I've found to reconcile the difference we find in the Old and New Testaments. Notice how Pharaoh and Abimalech (leaders of nations back in Genesis 12, 20, & 26) had many wives, but the kings of Babylon (Ester 1) and Judea (Luke 1:5, Mark 6:17) only had one. Though Xerxes did have more than his share of compulsory one night stands (Ester 2:2-4). Babylon was far bigger than either of the aforementioned nations and surely the King of Babylon would have been able to support as many wives as he wanted, so what's the change? Even the jerks who came up with Xerxes "nomination" process assumed the end result should be only one queen. Clearly the culture (even pagan culture) had changed for reasons other than Jewish/​Israelite law. Besides the obvious simple male greed and disrespect of females, perhaps polygamy was another early form of Social Security safety net (similar to how a rapist was required to marry his victim since he had just ruined the girl's chances of ever getting married to anyone else, Exodus 22:16-17, Leviticus 21:13). The idea here is that the balance of men & women in the world is typically about even, but in ancient days war didn't involve ammunition & missiles but only men. Killing off all the men of your enemy and sparing the women was normal, allowing the female population to stay noticeably higher than the male. That was a very patriarchal society and most women weren't allowed to provide for themselves, so they needed someone, at least anyone, to take care of them. The alternatives were prostitution, slavery, or starvation. So while not ideal, polygamy could be seen as a "lesser of two evils," hence the lack of divine criticism (and even endorsement). But by the time of the Jewish exile, the situation had basically changed enough (and how much more so now, after the Scientific Revolution) it's easy to rationalize that polygamy is a deprecated practice.







Last Modified: Thursday, October 26, 2017