Question:

I'm replying to a question I asked earlier, to which you posted your answer as "If a country permits polygamy, is there a biblical reason not to have multiple wives?"

You said this:

"Mankind often practices things of which God disapproves. God regulates the practices, but it would be a mistake to say that God approves of them. For example, Malachi states, "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence" (Malachi 2:16). Still, God permitted it despite His hatred of it. "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:8)."

We know that God "hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16) and yet you still allow it, presumably "because of the hardness of your hearts." Why shouldn't polygamy be the same? If the same hardness of heart because of which Moses permitted divorce still exists today, and still causes you to allow divorce, wouldn't that same hardness of heart because of which Moses allowed polygamy still exist today and still cause you to allow polygamy? Even more so, I would say! Despite Malachi 2:16 and despite Jesus statement, "Therefore what God has joined, let no man put asunder," you still allow divorce: then shouldn't you allow polygamy, since we have no similar Scriptures to apply to polygamy?

Let me make my argument more clear:

1. God hates divorce.
2. Jesus said, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
3. You allow divorce "because of the hardness of your hearts."

So why not this?

1. God doesn't tell us that He hates polygamy.
2. Jesus doesn't say, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man join again."
3. You allow polygamy "because of the hardness of your hearts."

It seems markedly inconsistent to allow divorce, despite the biblical evidence against it, and yet you disallow polygamy, with no significant biblical evidence against it.

You said:

"By your argument, if a society allows violence then a Christian can be violent so long as he doesn't plan to be an elder or deacon"

By your argument in support of divorce, a Christian can be divorced so long as he doesn't plan to be an elder or deacon. Substitute "divorce" for "violence" and "divorced" for "violent" and you've got the very same argument you claim that I used.

You said:

"In order to prove your point that Christians are allowed to practice polygamy, you must show a command, example, or necessary inference that polygamy was approved of by God in the New Testament."

I would argue that it is a necessary inference from the way you handle divorce to allow polygamy as well. If you allow divorce because of hardness of heart, then you should allow polygamy because of hardness of heart (the laws of the state notwithstanding). The biblical evidence is *far* stronger against divorce than polygamy.

(Incidentally, though I submit to your criteria in my response to your answer, I must ask this: by what command, example, or necessary inference do you consider the Gospel of Matthew to be a part of the Bible?)


Answer:

Allow me a moment to answer your last question. I find it amusing that you call into question whether Matthew's account of the Jesus's life is inspired. It implies that you see the strength of what Matthew taught in regards to marriage, you made arguments to get around it, but the truth is that you would prefer that Matthew didn't exist at all. The evidence that Matthew's account belongs in the Scriptures is large and abundant. The account matches the other accounts and the four accounts do not contradict each other. Early Christians accepted Matthew's account and quoted from it. For example, Clement of Alexandria makes reference to the star that appears at Jesus' birth, a fact only recorded by Matthew. Speaking of Ignatius, C. R. Gregory states: "The author clearly knows our New Testament in general. The Gospels of Matthew and John appear to have been either his favorites or the ones better known to him." The same argument can be made for other early Christian writers, such as Polycarp. These writers don't prove the inspiration of Matthew, but they give evidence that Matthew has a very long history of being accepted as being a part of the Bible. The strongest evidence is the apostle Paul himself. He refers to Matthew 19:9 in I Corinthians 7:10-11 as something the Lord said. However, let me refer you to "The Canon of the New Testament" for further proof.

Now, let me address your counter-argument. It basically runs that polygamy should be treated the same as divorce because while God disliked it, it was allowed to remain. You make a grave flaw in your argument in that you multiply state that I allow divorce. That is not the case. Divorce is allowed in certain instances because Jesus stated, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). The authority for allowing divorce in the case of sexual immorality rests upon Jesus. I do not carry such authority.

Thus we are back to my earlier point. Divorce is permitted in certain instances because the Bible records an allowance. Where is the allowance for polygamy? The Bible contains everything necessary for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). By following its teaching, a man is made complete (II Timothy 3:16-17). So where do you find authority for polygamy? We find ample evidence that God accepts the marriage of a man and a woman. We find no evidence that God accepts under the law of Christ the marriage of a man to multiple women or a woman to multiple men. You cannot even argue that a polygamous marriage should remain because you must first prove that God has joined the polygamous in multiple marriages. It is only what God has joined that man cannot pull apart.