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 Vol. 4, No. 4 

April, 2002

~ Page 4 ~

[The following article formerly appeared in the Salt Lake City Messenger, Issue No. 97, October 2001, p. 8, and is reprinted here with permission. This article is outstanding and written by those who have special knowledge and have conducted extensive research regarding Mormon issues.  The appearance of this article in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online, however, does not constitute theological agreement in other matters with its authors. ~ Editor]

Is Polygamy Part of
God's Plan for Marriage?

When God created humans He instituted His plan for marriage: one man should have one wife. Genesis 2:24 states:"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh."

The first mention of polygamy in the Bible is Genesis 4:19: "And Lamech [a descendant of Cain] took unto him two wives ..." But this was not attributed to instructions from God.

If there was ever a justification for polygamy it would seem to have been needed when Adam and Eve were to populate the earth. Yet we see the pattern of just one woman and one man.

The same pattern is carried out by Noah at the time of the Ark (Genesis 7:7). Noah took his one wife into the ark. Again, if polygamy were ordained of God, why didn't He tell Noah to take additional wives to repopulate the earth faster?

God instructed Moses that the kings of Israel were to have only one wife: "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away." (Deut. 17:17)

This is exactly what happened with Solomon. We read in I Kings 11:4: "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father."

David's heart was right with God because he did not turn to other gods, not because he practiced polygamy.

LDS will sometimes point to 2 Samuel 12:8 to prove that David's wives were approved by God. But that verse indicates that he inherited Saul's wives, not that David actually married them by God's appointment. It was the custom of the time for the succeeding ruler to receive all of the prior ruler's property and women. This is not a proof that God intends people to practice polygamy. It is contrary to the pattern of marriage established with Adam and Eve and His instructions in Deuteronomy.

Just as divorce was permitted, so too was polygamy. But it does not represent God's will. In Matt. 19:3-9 the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce and Jesus answered: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain [two] shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain [two], but one flesh."

The Pharisees then asked him why Moses allowed for divorce. Jesus answered: "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so" (Matt.19:7).

In the New Testament the practice of polygamy would have kept a man from leadership in the church. Paul instructed Timothy: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife ..." (I Tim.3:2)

Paul also wrote to Titus: "...ordain elders in every city ... if any be blameless, the husband of one wife ..." (Titus 1:6)

Thus we see that there is no teaching in the Bible that plural marriage was ever part of God's religious instruction to His people.

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