Question:

I have been reviewing your responses to questions about marriage. I know what you've stated about polygamous marriages. If I may explain my situation, I want to know if this applies to me. I have children with a man who converted to Islam. He and I decided to marry, but he asked me if I would be OK with him taking another wife. I declined, and we did not marry at that time. A few years later, he asked me again and I consider it because I am still in love with him and want him to be the father and husband I knew he'd be prior to his first Islamic marriage. Since he is Islamically married to the other woman, and I am not Muslim, would it be seen as simply being married to an unbeliever, as in I Corinthians 7:16, that he could be saved because of having a Christian wife? Hebrews 13:4 says marriage is honorable in all. As the Christian in the situation, would I be considered an adulteress? Could I marry him, for the sake of my children and because I love him and pray continually for his salvation? 

I found this explanation: "As for the 'husband of one wife' I Timothy 3:2 and Titus 3:6. I check the Greek word for one, it can and often does mean first, like in a list. Therefore, the husband of the first wife. In other words is the man taking care of the wife of his youth. Same goes for 'own', it could be lost in translation. I Corinthians 7:2 says, 'But because of the fornications, let each have his own wife and let each have her own husband.'" The conversation on your web site goes on to say that under the law of Christ, there is an allowance or exception made concerning divorce. There are no definitive statements made about allowing a man to marry more than one woman. There is a parable about a groom and ten virgins; Jesus did not condemn this situation. He calls out the women who were promiscuous or with several men and not married. This is a very complicated situation I'd be getting into, I understand that much, but my perspective is as a Christian I'd be married to him and only him. Just so happens that his faith allows marriage to more than one woman under certain circumstances. What would your recommendation be? 


Answer:

My recommendation is that you stop pretending to be a Christian and actually live as one.

Christ's laws apply to every one, believer and non-believer alike. There is only one faith (one system of belief) (Ephesians 4:5). The unbeliever is lost in his sins because he is violating Christ's laws. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (I John 3:4).

You have been committing fornication with this man for years. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). He is now married to someone else. His desire to marry you as well means he is an adulterer. It doesn't matter what his religious beliefs allow. All that matters is the laws by which we all will be judged and that doesn't include Islam. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). All sexual relations with this married man would be adultery on your part and his. "So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man" (Romans 7:3). Christ's law only allows marriage to one person at a time and that marriage is intended to be for life.

Yes, marriage is honorable (Hebrews 13:4), but that doesn't mean that anything you wish to call a marriage is now suddenly honorable. Marriage has always been the union of one man with one woman. "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate"" (Matthew 19:4-6). Notice that it is two, not three, four or five.

I Corinthians 7:12-16 discusses the fact that all marriages are recognized, not just marriages to Christians. A Christian married to an unbeliever does not have to leave her husband or his wife because the marriage is legitimate. Paul encourages a Christian to remain with his unbelieving spouse in hopes that the unbeliever might be saved. "For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (I Corinthians 7:16). Being married to a Christian doesn't make the unbeliever saved. It only gives the Christian opportunities to teach. "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (I Peter 3:1-2). But your main point was being one of multiple wives and this passage does not even consider a polygamous marriage.

While the Greek word mia can be used to mean "first," the phrase in which it was used can only be translated as "husband of one wife" in English. Under Christ's law, a man could potentially be married to more than one woman, but to only one woman at a time. If a man's wife dies, he can marry again. He still would remain the husband of one wife. There is nothing in this passage that allows for multiple wives at the same time; rather, this is forbidding the practice.

In "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (I Corinthians 7:2), "his own" is the Greek word heautou, which is in the third person singular case. It means what belongs to a man. "Her own" translates ton idion. Idion means what belongs to someone privately and separately from all others. Ton is the Greek word for "the" and it emphasizes that there is just one husband that belongs to the wife. This verse definitely does not allow for multiple wives or multiple husbands. Quite the opposite; it is evidence that a marriage is composed of only one husband and one wife.

In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), where is there any statement that any of these women were marrying the bridegroom? The fact that they were waiting along the road for the groom to come by tells us that they were invited to the wedding feast as guests -- not as the bride. In Jewish customs, the bride is at her home waiting for the groom to come and get her. Party guests could not come before the groom, so they would wait for the groom to pass and then join the procession. There is no evidence that this was a polygamous marriage.

The claim that Jesus did not personally condemn polygamous marriages is a false restriction. We already showed that Jesus taught that marriage is between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6). The apostles, who taught Jesus' teachings all taught that marriage was between one man and one woman. The Bible contains all that is godly (II Peter 1:2-4). The fact that there is no support for polygamous marriages and clear statements that marriage is monogamous means that polygamous marriages are sinful.

Thank you very very much. This is very detailed and scripturally based. I thank you for the depth of your research and prompt response.