We can see it coming in our culture. Soon enough, polygamy will be accepted and celebrated in our culture. We must have good biblical arguments to defeat the wide acceptance of this practice. God did seem to allow it in the Old Testament, but did He ever command or mandate it? No. He also allowed slavery, but He never commanded nor mandated it.
I will give my belief on this topic upfront. Polygamy is NOT God’s will. God made ONE wife for Adam, not two or more. A man shall cleave to his WIFE, not wives. Leaders in the churches are to be the husband of ONE wife. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife [one wife], and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
“‘Well, how did polygamy get started?’ It got started in the reprobate line of Cain the murderer. Look at Genesis 4 if you’re there, in verse 23. One of the sons of Cain, the Cainite family, dwelled in the land of Nod in the east of Eden. Cain produced some family, and one of them was Lamech. Lamech was unbelievable. He was the first artist. Verse 23, ‘Lamech said unto his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah…that’s from A to Z. That’s his two wives, Adah and Zillah. He said unto his two wives, Adah and Zillah,’ and so forth. This is the first occasion of polygamy in the Bible, and it is in, notice that is in the line of Cain, the sinful line. Monogamous marriage was always God’s will.” (John MacArthur)
Michael Pearl, one of my other favorite theologians, made a video called “Does God Support Polygamy?” He answered, “No” too.
What about the Levirate marriage issue in the OT where a brother-in-law is supposed to marry his brother’s wife if the brother dies? In 1 Timothy 5 where the Apostle Paul speaks about widows, nowhere does he command brothers-in-law to marry their widowed sisters-in-law. If a young woman’s husband dies, she is to marry, bear children, and guide the home. Paul would have commanded the brothers-in-law to take on this responsibility if the Levirate marriage was still for the Church age. Older widows are to be cared for by family, relatives, and the churches. The Levirate marriage’s purpose was so “that his name [the dead brother’s name] be not put out of Israel” (Deuteronomy 25:6). We are not a part of Israel, and we are not under the Law.
One man gave this illustration that he believes proves that God supports polygamy in the New Testament: “Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins. He didn’t say there were two virgins, one wise and one foolish. He said ten, and that five of them (who were wise) went into the marriage with the bridegroom.” What a way to twist Scripture! The virgins represent ONE Church and the Church will be wed to the Bridegroom who is Christ.
The men in the OT who had multiple wives always suffered grief because of it. God even commanded King Solomon: “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17). His wives ended up turning his heart away from the Lord.
My husband wrote the following on this topic: “The fact that the Church has never accepted polygamy and condemned it, that an elder is to be the husband of one wife, that the two are to become one flesh, and that there is zero need for multiple wives, all should lead us to conclude that it is not for the Church age.
“Imagine the harm that will come when polygamy is once again in vogue. I believe it is the next pillar to fall in the destruction of the nuclear family. Once the floodgates are opened, the better looking men and the wealthy men will pull even more women out of the marriage marketplace leaving more men hopeless to find a good wife. Selfishness will rule and marriages and families destroyed by something God granted as an exception, but condemned the kings of Israel for doing.
“This article answers this pretty well. I see no biblical or church precedence for opening up polygamy, yet great dangers as it is coming to further divide the church, society, and the nuclear family. Imagine a successful, great looking and wonderful Christian man in his late forties who is already married, now takes on two more younger wives in their twenties and thirties and robs a couple of young men their lifetime help meets. The thought to me is awful.”
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.