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Polygamy, Part 1

Posted by Matt Postiff August 16, 2007 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Interpretation 

For the inaugural entry in my blog, I thought what better than to tackle a tough theological issue like polygamy? There are many "sub issues" to this one, such as whether men with multiples wives can be members of a local church (say, in Africa), whether they can take communion or be in leadership roles, how they should handle their wives after becoming saved, whether they should divorce all but one (and which one?) or support them without having relations, and whether the law of their home country has any bearing on the question at all.

Before we can get to those questions (perhaps in future blog entries), it is important to note that Romans 7:1-3 has some bearing on this issue. It speaks of a wife becoming an adulteress if she marries another man while her first husband is still alive. By implication, a man who marries another woman while his first wife is alive also becomes an adulterer. This seems quite obvious to most Christians. The application to the case of polygamy is just that the man who marries a second wife is an adulterer with respect to his first wife. It does not seem to make a difference to me if you call it a marriage or not, as it is no different than if the man has an ongoing affair with another woman. This comes to bear on the question of whether the second marriage is valid, and would have significant impact on the answers to the questions posed in the previous paragraph.

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