Sunday, October 7, 2007

Is Polygamy A Sin?


One of the greatest challenges facing Christianity today is the question of polygamy. Is polygamy a sin? If so, why? If not, why not?

The polygamy issue is both complex and controversial. Since there are plenty of good arguments on each side, Christianity has reached a stalemate regarding whether or not polygamy is a sin. Even giants of the faith have been divided on this issue. Luther and Calvin, for example, took opposite views. Sincere Christians today are still divided.

Why Is Christianity Divided On Polygamy?
There are several reasons why Christianity has been divided on this controversial topic.

First, nowhere in the Bible does God clearly and explicitely state whether or not He prohibits polygamy. Even theologians on the anti-polygamy side admit this. Therefore, when making their case, those on each side of this issue use implications from Scripture that seem to support their side. Here are two prime examples:

PRO: God never criticised the patriarches for having multiple wives. Therefore, God approves of polygamy.

CON: God created Adam and Eve. He did not create Adam, Eve, and Betty. Therefore, God disapproves of polygamy.

Second, this is a complex issue and nobody is infallible; not even the giants of the faith.

Third, everyone has biases. Few people approach Scripture without some built-in pre-suppositions.

But there's also a fourth reason why anti-polygamists cling to their position with tooth and nails. Beyond the interpretation of complex biblical passages, there are also complex ethical ramifications which could have a major impact on both Christianity and society as a whole. This is why many are reluctant to surrender to the position that polygamy just might be an ethical option.

America is a melting pot of various cultures. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that various groups are pushing to make polygamy both ethical and legal within the United States. Truly, polygamy is a hot potato!

Why Is Polygamy Such A Hot Potato?
So why is the polygamy issue such a hot potato? The reason is both simple and complex. If we affirm that polygamy is not a sin, it opens wide a torrential floodgate to other complex and thorny ethical concerns. For example:

1. If polygamy is an ethical option, then is polyandry (the practice or condition of a woman having more than one husband at one time) also an ethical option?

2. If polygamy is an ethical option, are alternative lifestyles, such as swinging and polyamory, also ethical options?

The pro-polygamy camp argues that one reason why God allowed polygamy is to fulfill his mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:22). Having many wives allowed the patriarchs to have more children. But another purpose for sex is found in Genesis 2:24. Sexual intercourse causes a man and woman to become one flesh. Some argue that this means becoming unified in mind, body, and spirit. Isn't becoming one flesh just as important as making babies?

A further question arises. Does God only intend for one man to become one flesh with one woman? Or does God intend for all of humanity to become one flesh?

And let's not forget about the pleasure principle. In biblical times, it was difficult to separate sex for reproduction from sex simply for pleasure. Coitus interuptus was the only means available. Today, we have the pill, condoms, and many other techniques that are relatively safe and easy to use.

In other words, if God made sex for pleasure, and if God allows men to have multiple sex partners for the purpose of procreation, wouldn't God also allow men (and perhaps even women) to have multiple sex partners for the purpose of simply enjoying pleasure?

Most modern books on sexual ethics written from a Christian perspective do not even address the polygamy quagmire. It's no wonder, since they begin with the premise that all sexual activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful. Those books that do address the polygamy issue usually point out that the Bible does not specifically prohibit the practice, but that polygamists like Jacob and Solomon had problems that could have been avoided had they chosen monogamy.

Is The Polygamy Issue Relevant Today?
One might question whether or not the matter of polygamy is even relevant in today's society. After all, polygamy is now illegal in the United States and many other parts of the world. Why should we even care?

How Does The Polygamy Issue Affect Missions?
One practical application of the polygamy issue relates to the preaching of the gospel in foreign missions where polygamy is practiced. To find out why, CLICK HERE.

What Are The Top Six Positions Held On Polygamy?
Although there are many opinions regarding polygamy, I believe everyone falls under one of the following six categories:

1. Polygamy has always been sinful.

2. Polygamy was permitted in the Old Testament but is now sinful under the new covenant.

3. Polygamy is not sinful, but is unwise as it is not God's ideal of one man and one woman for life.

4. Polygamy has always been allowed by God, just like celibacy and monogamy.

5. Polygamy is the Bible's preferred form of marriage.

6. The position of no position.
People who fall under this category either don't know and don't care about the polygamy issue; or, they realize the complexity of the issue and are big enough to admit they haven't reached a conclusion.

What Do Surveys Say About Polygamy?
A survey was conducted to determine which of these six categories people fell under. To see the results of that survey, CLICK HERE.

What Positions Have Various Theologians Held On Polygamy?
Various theologians, both past and present, have held various positions. Here are a few examples:


Q:
What Did Augustine Say About Polygamy?

A: Augustine (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430), a.k.a. Aurelius Augustinus, Augustine of Hippo, or Saint Augustine, was a philosopher and theologian, and was bishop of the North African city of Hippo Regius for the last third of his life. Augustine is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity, and is considered to be one of the church fathers.

Augustine believed that the Bible allowed for polygamy, but only for the purpose of procreation and only if the law of the land allowed it. Augustine did not believe the Old Testament patriarchs were sinning by having multiple wives. To discover more about what Augustine said,
CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did Thomas Aquinas Say About Polygamy?

A: Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 – March 7, 1274) was a renowned Roman Catholic priest, a theologian and philosopher. Aquinas commented in his Sentences that, under certain circumstances, polygamy was reasonable and was not inconsistent with the primary purpose of marriage. To discover more about what Aquinas said,
CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did Luther Say About Polygamy?

A:
Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546), the German theologian and church reformer, is considered to be the founder of Protestantism. Luther said polygamy is sometimes permissible. To discover more about what Luther had to say, CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did John Calvin Say About Polygamy?

A:
John Calvin (July 10, 1509– May 27, 1564) was a famous French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology. Unlike Luther, Calvin believed the Jews were violating God's original design by engaging in polygamy. To discover more about what Calvin said, CLICK HERE.

In summary, Luther, Augustine, and Aquinas, three giants of the faith, believed that the Bible allows for polygamy if the customs of the time allows for polygamy. Therefore, all three men would say that polygamy is not forbidden in Scripture, but it may not be the ideal and should not be practiced in cultures where the law forbids it. Calvin, on the other hand, believed that polygamy was intrinsically evil.


Now let's consider what a few modern theologians think of polygamy.

Q: What Did Billy Graham Say About Polygamy?

A:
Prominent evangelist Billy Graham said, "Christianity cannot compromise on the question of polygamy." To discover more about what Dr. Graham said, CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did John MacArthur Say About Polygamy?

A:
John MacArthur is pastor of Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, and is heard daily on the Grace To You radio broadcast. MacArthur believes that polygamy always was a sin. According to MacArthur, even David and Abraham sinned by having many wives. To discover more of what John MacArthur thinks about polygamy, CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did R.C. Sproul Say About Polygamy?

A:
R.C. Sproul, founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, believes polygamy is a disregard of God's design for marriage. To discover more of what Sproul thinks about this subject, CLICK HERE.


Q:
What Did John G. Reisinger Say About Polygamy?

A:
In An Open Letter to R.C. Sproul, Christian author John G. Reisinger responds to Sproul's position by stating, "Under the Law of God given to Moses, polygamy was not considered adultery." To discover more of what Reisinger thinks about polygamy, CLICK HERE.


So there you have it; giants of the faith, like Augustine, Luther, Aquinas, and Calvin were divided. And so are many modern Bible teachers. However, truth should not be determined by counting noses. If it were, I guess we should throw in the towel and concede that polygamy is a sin. But many sincere Christians are divided, including many who have devoted their entire lives to the study of Scripture. That should at least tell us that this issue is far from being black and white.

Although there are certainly Scriptures that imply that polygamy might be less than the total ideal, there is nothing in The Old Testament or The New Testament that conclusively settles the matter once and for all. If there were, there would certainly not be such a widespread diversity of opinions among so many sincere and intelligent Christians. Therefore, I will attempt to present the best arguments on all sides of this issue. It's up to my readers to come to their own conclusions. Regardless of what your present position is, it's good to understand and consider the arguments on the other side.

The "Polygamy Has Always Been Sinful" Argument
The opinion that "polygamy has always been sinful" seems to be the most widespread position held among Christians today. This is evident from the results of the aforementioned survey, where 37 percent of those surveyed took this stance. However, 37 percent is only a little over a third, which should be a red flag signaling that this matter is not totally clear in Scripture and thereby warrants further investigation. The"Polygamy Has Always Been Sinful" argument goes something like this: (CLICK HERE)

The "Polygamy Is Not Sinful" Argument
To read rebuttals to common objections to polygamy and to discover why many believe polygamy is not sinful, CLICK HERE.


Q:
Was Polygamy A Sin In The Old Testament?

A:
There are numerous pros and cons to this question. Suffice it to say, there are no scriptures that say explicitely, "Polygamy was a sin in the Old Testament." However, there are passages used to imply that God disapproved of polygamy in the Old Testament. For more details,
CLICK HERE.



Q:
Was Polygamy A Sin In The New Testament?

A:
There are numerous pros and cons to this question. Suffice it to say, there are no scriptures that say explicitely, "Polygamy is a sin in the New Testament." However, there are passages used to imply that God disapproves of polygamy in the New Testament. For more details, CLICK HERE .


Q:
Was Moses A Polygamist?

A:
Some might be surprised to learn that Moses may have been a polygamist. CLICK HERE for the details.


Q:
Did God Disapprove of David's Polygamy?


A:
CLICK HERE for the details.


Q:
Why Did God Allow Polygamy?

A:
CLICK HERE for the details.


Q:
Is Polygamy Unwise?


A:
CLICK HERE for more details.


Q:
Is Polygamy The Preferred Form Of Marriage?

A:
CLICK HERE
for more details.


Q:
Is Polyandry A Sin?

A:
Polyandry is the practice of one woman having more than one husband. Although this practice was rare in antiquity, it has sprung up from time to time in cultures where men outnumber women. Although the Bible includes numerous examples of men having multiple wives, nowhere in the Bible do we find an example of polyandry. Because of this, many, even those who allow for polygamy, have concluded that polyandry is a sin today. Is it permissable for a woman to have more than one husband? What did Aquinas say about polyandry? To discover more, CLICK HERE.


Q:
Is Polygamy A Mormon/ Islamic Heresy?


A:
CLICK HERE.


Q:
Would God Portray Himself As A Polygamist If Polygamy Is A Sin?

A:
It may suprise some people that God portrays Himself as a polygamist in the Bible. For the details, CLICK HERE.


Q: Was Levirate Marriage Only For Single Men?

Levirate marriage was a biblical custom described in Deuteronomy 25:5–10. If a married man in Old Testament Israel died, leaving behind a childless widow, the brother of the deceased was required by biblical law to marry his dead brother's widow. The purpose was to hopefully produce offspring that would become heirs to the wealth of the deceased.

The question I wish to focus on, as it relates to the issue of polygamy, is whether or not levirate marriage was limited to single men. In other words, if the brother of the deceased was already married, was he still required to take his brother's widow as a second wife? Was it even allowed?

A:
CLICK HERE.


YOUR COMMENTS

ARE WELCOMED!


All comments are welcomed and appreciated, as long as those comments are thoughtful, constructive, and reflect a Christian perspective. Please, no profanity. And be respectful of others. The comment button is located near the bottom of this page. Keeping all of this in mind, let the Christian sex talk begin!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE:

Introduction - SEX: What's Right? What's Wrong? and Why?

Is Polygamy A Sin? (this page)

Was Levirate Marriage Only For Single Men?

What Was The Sin Of Adam And Eve?

Does The Bible Condone Nudism?


COMING SOON:

How should a Christian make an ethical decision?

Is sex outside of marriage always a sin?

Was marriage instituted before or after the fall?

What are the ethical implications of reproductive sex?

What does it mean to be married?

What kind of love should married couples have for each other?

Is there sex in Heaven?

What is fornication and why is it wrong?

What is adultery and why is it wrong?

How far is too far?

What does it mean to look at a woman with lust in your heart?

Are we naturally monogamous?

Are women really from Venus? Are men really from Mars? If so, what are the ethical implications?

Is "Safe(r) Sex" safe enough?

Ethical implications of condoms and the pill.

Are alternative lifestyles, such as swinging and polyamory, always a sin?


15 comments:

Robert B Balsinger said...

Quote "First, let's establish that Abraham really was a model of obedience. According to Genesis 26:5, God said, "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." This doesn't sound like an unrepentant, disobedient polygamist to me." Unquote

My friend the blogger asserts that for Abraham to be considered obedient means that he had not been told by God's voice, in a charge, commandment, statute or law that polygamy was a sin and therefore polygamy is not immoral. He quotes Genesis 26:5 as evidence that Abraham was obedient and by implication, did not disobey regarding polygamy.

If he was asserting that it was not immoral in Abraham's time to be polygamous and leaving it at that, I would then think about that. However, for him to bring his own desires into bed with Abraham is another matter.

Interpreting Scriptures using worldly logic and rhetorical rules is fine for arguing from a position of unbelief while engaged with unbelievers. Also, it is of course necessary for rational discussion to be part of any consideration of written texts and it is proper to lean on commonly accepted logical operators to determine textual matters. But determining moral and spiritual matters by these same rational means is in fact irrational. Spiritual matters can only be correctly discerned when seen as the omnipresent Spirit speaking through the texts to our Spiritually guided hearts.

God is perfect in every sense we can contemplate. His perfection is only fractionally conceived of even then. The Holy Spirit, being of one substance with the Father, evidences this same perfection in his work.

Actually, in Gen 26:5 the Lord was speaking to Isaac as the descendent of Abraham. Moses tells this story of Isaac to give a lesson not only in history but in covenant theology as well.


The story begins with Isaac in famine, in a hostile land and in conventional wisdom, considering going to Egypt for the duration. By the end of the story in Gen 26:33 Isaac is God blessed and at peace. The turning point in the story was in Gen 26:6 with the obedience of Isaac by not going to Egypt for relief, but instead, abiding in God . Moses was using this historical information to show the Israelites how Egypt was not the place where God's people belonged. Despite the protests of the grumblers among the Israelites, Moses wanted his people to understand that God would bless them in their obedience. By not returning to Egypt but staying the course with their eyes on the promised land, God's will would result in blessing, even to a "hundredfold".

It was in this context that the "obedience of Abraham" was being proclaimed by God in Gen 26:5. Polygamy was not the issue then and it is not the issue in my friend's life either. The immorality of polygamy self evidentially stems from coveting.

The aborted sanctification of my friend's life on a conceptual, behavioral and endowment basis leads him to bring his desires (of whatever nature) to the Scriptures in a search for justification.

Conceptually, polygamists consider the good things created by God in a manner that puts themselves in the position of king rather than Jesus Christ.

Behaviorally, this plays out in an insatiable cycle of indulgent sin, saturation and then an even greater amount of sin. Five women seems about right at this moment, but after the tingly sensation of that sin wears thin, seven will look like a much better number.

Endowments given by God in the mind and in circumstance can lead any sinner (it has me) into an appearance of intelligent reasoning that in reality is mindless rationalization. Bringing these same abuses to the text and then coming away with a argument claiming morality for immorality is nothing short of grand theft.

On Judgment Day it may become apparent to all sheep that my friend indeed has a saving faith. In the meantime the same is true for him that is true for anyone professing Christ. Daily search the Scriptures for Jesus Christ and by his sacrifice have righteousness imputed to you. Searching the Scriptures hoping to find justification for sin will not lead to righteousness.

Tom Gruber said...
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Tom Gruber said...
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Tom Gruber said...

I'd like to thank my friend Robert Balsinger for his thoughtful comments. I appreciate comments like his, even though Robert doesn't agree with my position on polygamy.

I'm fully aware that when God said in Genesis 26:5, "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws," God was not talking specifically about polygamy. I also realize that the Ten Commandments had not yet been given. Nevertheless, "Thou shall not commit adultery" was one of God's commandments. God said Abraham obeyed His commandments.

My point is simply this: First, Christianity, even Reformed Christianity, is divided over this issue. (See my link What Do Surveys Say About Polygamy?) Second, many who claim that polygamy is a sin also say it is a form of adultery, which is forbidden by one of the Ten Commandments. Third, it seems logical to me that if polygamy really was a sin in the time of Abraham, God would have told him. I acknowledge that the Bible does not tell us whether He did or not. It also seems that if God had told Abraham to repent of polygamy, Abraham would have repented. Yet Abraham went to his death bed as a polygamist without a negative peep from God.

Would God have said in Genesis 26:5, "Abraham obeyed My commandments" if he were an unrepentant polygamist?

Quoting Robert, "If he [me] was asserting that it was not immoral in Abraham's time to be polygamous and leaving it at that, I would then think about that." First, let me say that many in the Reformed Christian circles say, "All moral laws are Universal Absolutes." In other words, if something ever was morally wrong, it is wrong today and always will be wrong. I don't agree with this position, but many, probably most, Reformed Christians do.

This, however, seems easily refuted. Incest is just one example. Incest was wrong under the law of Moses, but Abraham married his half-sister, Isaac married a close cousin, and evidently, the children of Adam and Eve married their own brothers and sisters. Therefore, according to the logic of most Reformed Christians, if polygamy was a sin in the time of Abraham, it always was and always will be a sin.

But more to the point; I have devoted an entire page to the question: Was Polygamy A Sin In The Old Testament? I've also devoted an entire page to the question: Was Polygamy A Sin In The New Testament? Simply click the links provided.

There is much more to the question: Is polygamy a sin? than this one example I gave of Abraham. Polygamy is an extremely complex issue. This is only one of many arguments that I include on my site.

Do I believe polygamy per se is a sin? No. And although I am in a minority, Augustine, Luther, and Thomas Aquinas were also in the same minority. Were these men simply, to quote you, "[S]earching the Scriptures hoping to find justification for sin..."? Were these men bringing abuses to the text and then coming away with an argument claiming morality for immorality? If I'm guilty of "grand theft" and "mindless rationalization," as you accuse, then so were these giants of the faith. Also, for your information, Pastor Bill also believes that polygamy was not a sin, at least not in the Old Testament. Is Pastor Bill guilty of "grand theft" and "mindless rationalization"?

To clarify my position, however, I also believe that polygamy can and often is subject to misuse and abuse. I simply believe that it is possible to practice polygamy without sinning. And in some situations, it may be preferrable to monogamy.

I will confess, however, that if I really believed that polygamy was a sin, I probably would have little motivation to work on this site. But my motives have nothing to do with the question at hand.

Again, thank you for your comments, Robert. I hope you continue to make comments.

Tom Gruber

Robert B Balsinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert B Balsinger said...

Let us pray?

Lord God, you are our Creator. It is your Son that is our Salvation and your Holy Spirit that is our comfort and true counsel. We thank you Father for the grace of faith. Father, we pray that your Holy Spirit guide us in meditation of your desires for our good. We thank you Father for your perfect revelation and image that is clearly your Word. We pray Father for that Word to be light for our minds and that you are glorified by our thoughts and action, here, now, and then forever. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tom,
Good day to you.

>>“I will confess, however, that if I really believed that polygamy was a sin, I probably would have little motivation to work on this site. But my motives have nothing to do with the question at hand.”<<

If this blog is a purely a philosophical discussion of the sinfulness or no of polygamy or perhaps an academic exercise in rhetoric then I will have little motivation for dialog. My concern is for my friend and fellow believer. I confess pride and arrogance at the outset. I have much sin in my own life but pray not to be one guilty of watching a fellow damaged child of God stumble about without at least trying to be of some help. You mention Pastor Bill (Rev. Wm. G Kessler, OPC) and so I will say that being welcomed into fellowship this year with open arms was an example to me to establish a truly Christian relationship with each member of the body as God leads.

It is not my goal to convince you or anyone else that my position is superior in provenance. My goal will be to try to let the light of God’s Word and the example of Christ Jesus to be reflected in my actions and words and that the Holy Spirit will have at you as you contemplate your responses. I pray the same for myself.

>>“My point is simply this: First, Christianity, even Reformed Christianity, is divided over this issue.”<<

Controversy is one means by which opinion is distilled, is it not? Our engagement on this issue will not decide its sinfulness but perhaps lead us and any who follow to an understanding of God’s will for each of our lives. What anyone sees as truth at one point of the day or another, or one epoch or another for that matter, changes by our following our nature or if not, then our obedience to God’s will. In this we will fall short of the glory of God so let us look into the image God has given us of himself and by obedience to that Word allow the Spirit to inform us of the Father’s will.

>>“I'm fully aware that when God said in Genesis 26:5, "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws," God was not talking specifically about polygamy.”<<

He was however, speaking of sin.

Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

Was Abraham sinless then? No. He was counted as righteous by his faith in the promise. Are we sinless? No. We are counted as righteous because of our faith in the promise, now fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, our position forensically is one of imputed righteousness by grace. We no longer have sin to be held against us. The Law has been fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We need not look to the Law to see our sin. Look instead to the cross.

Is polygamy a sin? What is there in the mind of men that is not sin?

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

You and I are still the same.

What you are asking is this. “Is polygamy a trespass?” To come to a conclusion we search not the Scripture because by them we can only see the Christ. So instead we search “not Scripture” or “Scripture not.” Through the use of rationalization and legalistic wrangling man’s desires may seem justified in the courts of man as his own particular immoral minutiae is not listed in plain type amongst the Law. “Aha!” we say to God, “I have got you there!”

God then has no choice but to say John 15:5-6 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (6) If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

So what are we to do? All is sin. There is no good in me.

God’s law was not abolished, but fulfilled. C.S. Lewis’ Wormwood, in writing to Screwtape, laments the fact that the human assigned to be tempted to sin has begun going to church. “All is not lost. Perhaps,” says Screwtape. “this is our best chance yet”. Satan knows the power of Christ. If evil can tempt us to look at anything other than Christ for justification, even the Mosaic Law, then we are his, and then we are lost.
There are days when my repentance seems sweet and it brings such bliss. Inevitably comes the moment when I must repent even of my repentance. Counting sin does not calculate Godliness. Only by counting Christ as salvation can we equal righteousness.

Just yesterday, providentially I suspect, I learned a new word.

Synecdochical (adjtv)
Using the name of a part for that of the whole or the whole for the part; or the special for the general or the general for the special; or the material for the thing made of it (ie: “All hands on deck!”).

By using that idea as a hermeneutic principle, to the question “Is polygamy a sin?” it can be said definitively, “yes”. Will this knowledge lead to repentance? Ah, therein lies the rub.

Work Holy Spirit. Come Jesus. Amen

Hoping to see you this Lord’s day, or in glory before,

Rob
Memphis, TN

Tom Gruber said...

Robert,
Good day to you, too.

In response to your comment, "If this blog is purely a philosophical discussion of the sinfulness of polygamy, or perhaps an academic exercise in rhetoric, then I will have little motivation for dialog. My concern is for [Tom] my friend and fellow believer."

I'm glad that you are concerned about me. However, this is neither the time or the place to examine whether my laundry is dirty or clean. The purpose of this blog is to present a topic and discuss the pros and the cons of that topic. One of the topics I am presenting is "Is Polygamy A Sin?" My position is: "no, polygamy is not a sin." I have presented numerous arguments to make the best case I possibly can. Polygamy is the topic. It is a discussion of whether or not polygamy is a sin. I would prefer to call this a theological discussion. However, you may call it a "philosophical discussion" or an "academic exercise in rhetoric" if you like. If this topic does not "motivate you for dialog," as you put it, then I suggest you check out some of my other topics, like "What Was The Sin Of Adam And Eve?" or "Does The Bible Condone Nudism?" I also have many more topics that I am working on. (See COMING SOON at the bottom of the page.)

Don't get me wrong. I welcome and encourage your feedback. I simply ask that you please stay on topic.

Your comments remind me of the attorney who asked the accused, "Why did you kill your wife?" The accused gives a million logical arguments why he did not kill his wife. However, the attorney, persuaded that the accused is guilty, ignores the arguments of the accused and repeats the question, "Why did you kill your wife?"

You seem persuaded that polygamy is a sin, but instead of talking about that, which is the topic of this blog, you keep asking me why I killed my wife. I've defended my position on this comment board and numerous times on this blog. If my arguments are faulty, then please, tell me why they are faulty. For example, you might want to check out my links on this page that explain why men like Luther, Augustine, and Aquinas shared my overall position. If you don't agree with these giants of the faith, then explain why they were wrong.

If you'd prefer to talk about personal things or something that does not relate to the topic of one of my blogs, then we can talk at church or at the Waffle House or you can e-mail me at thomasjgruber@hotmail.com I thoroughly enjoyed our last chat and welcome further discussions.

To quote you, "It is not my goal to convince you or anyone else that my position is superior in provenance." However, it is the goal of this particular blog to provide the best arguments possible, both pro and con, to whether or not polygamy is a sin. I believe this topic is both important and relevant, both to me personally and to Christianity at large. I see it more than just a philosophical dialog.

The goal of every Christian should be "to let the light of God’s Word and the example of Christ Jesus be reflected in their actions and words via the Holy Spirit." I agree. Before I start typing, I always ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I contemplate my responses.

When I said, "Christianity, even Reformed Christianity, is divided over this issue,” I was not simply trying to stir up controversy, as you seem to suggest. I was simply demonstrating that sincere Christians are divided and perhaps we shouldn't jump to hasty conclusions.

You seem to suggest that what I am doing is an exercise in futility when you say, "Our engagement on this issue will not decide its sinfulness but perhaps lead us and any who follow to an understanding of God’s will for each of our lives. What anyone sees as truth at one point of the day or another, or one epoch or another for that matter, changes by our following our nature or if not, then our obedience to God’s will. In this we will fall short of the glory of God so let us look into the image God has given us of himself and by obedience to that Word allow the Spirit to inform us of the Father’s will." Let me remind you, key doctines of the faith were determined by vigorous debate. The Mormons and Pentacostal are the ones who rely simply on a burning in their bosum, i.e. their gut feelings. The Spirit is never in opposition to the Word of God, i.e. the Bible. The Bible defines what sin is. I say that the Bible nowhere forbids polygamy. Luther said the same thing.

You ask,"Was Abraham sinless then? No." To quote my blog, I said, "Of course, Abraham was not perfect or without sin. But God Himself said Abraham was obedient." You seem to suggest that I did not say this.

You said, "He [Abraham] was counted as righteous by his faith in the promise. Are we sinless? No. We are counted as righteous because of our faith in the promise, now fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, our position forensically is one of imputed righteousness by grace. We no longer have sin to be held against us. The Law has been fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ."

I agree with everything you just said.

You said, "We need not look to the Law to see our sin. Look instead to the cross."

Although I agree that we should look to the cross, does that mean we should turn a blind eye to the Law and live any way we please? Of course not. The law tells us what is right and what is wrong. Yet on the one hand, you seem to suggest that you know for certain that polygamy is wrong. Yet on the other hand, you seem to suggest that studying the Scripture or the Law will provide no help in determining this matter.

"Is polygamy a sin? What is there in the mind of men that is not sin?

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

You and I are still the same."

I'm not sure what your point here is. Of course we're all sinners. But the topic of this blog is whether or not polygamy is a sin.

"What you are asking is this. 'Is polygamy a trespass?'" I checked several dictionaries. They all said that trespass and sin both mean basically the same thing. When we ask God to forgive us our trespasses, aren't we asking God to forgive us our sins? If there is a difference, I'd like to know what that difference is.

"To come to a conclusion we search not the Scripture because by them we can only see the Christ." Again, this seems to imply that if we search the Bible for an answer to the question, "Is Polygamy A Sin?" we are searching in vain.

"So instead we search 'not Scripture” or “Scripture not.' Through the use of rationalization and legalistic wrangling man’s desires may seem justified in the courts of man as his own particular immoral minutiae is not listed in plain type amongst the Law. 'Aha!' we say to God, 'I have got you there!'

'God’s law was not abolished, but fulfilled.'"

Although I agree that "God’s law was not abolished, but fulfilled," this statement has been interpreted many different ways by many sincere theologians much greater than myself. My point was, many say the civil law and the ceremonial law was abolished through Christ, but the moral law was not abolished; therefore, all moral laws are universal absolutes, binding on all people at all times forever.

"To the question 'Is polygamy a sin?' it can be said definitively, 'yes.'"

Yet you offer no proof or persuasive arguments to support your dogma.

"Will this knowledge lead to repentance? Ah, therein lies the rub."

Repent of what? Using my head for something other than a hat rack? Searching the Scripture for truth? Asking me to recant my posistion that polygamy is not necessarily a sin is like asking me to recant my position that 2+2=4. Again, I believe I've made a solid case for my position. I've dilligently researched the key arguments on both sides. If my conclusions are faulty, please present a clear, persuasive argument demonstrating the merits of your position.

I think one of the problems with Christians today is they've forgotten how to think. Christians should not do that.

Again, Rob, I encourage you to make comments, but please stay on topic.

Your friend,

Tom

Robert B Balsinger said...

Tom,

I will heed your advice to keep my concerns in a private forum in the future. I will pray about that. I will not however, separate the theological issues from the eternal personal implications of those issues out of fear of my God. The topic evokes a response from me that I will try to reiterate.

Christian liberty in my limited and uneducated experience is exploited when immorality is posited as moral. When good is presented as bad and bad is claimed to be good under the umbrella of a clear and concise intellectual discussion, then a crafty subtleness is underfoot. We are not God. You and I cannot and will not decide what is sinful in God’s eyes. Everyone doing what they determine to be best is not God’s will for us. God has told us what is sinful. You and I are sinful. What we do is sinful. What we think and what we say is sinful. What we figure out, invent, plan and even what we wonder about God is sinful (by the way, the Hebrew that is translated as trespass is reported to me by those reputedly in the know as carrying an implication of an intentional violation of the Law whereas sin is what we do when we do unintentionally with our first breath). If a thing is good, it is from God, not from you or me. If polygamy practiced to the glory of God (I do not claim to know what that could be) were directed by the Word then we would most assuredly practice Godly polygamy in a sinful manner. My repentance is sinful in as much as it is insincere and incomplete. My worship is sinful in that is unworthy of a perfect God.

My point has been that the sins that we commit are forgiven and we therefore are held as righteous. If that sin is polygamy then it is forgiven, if it is something else then that is forgiven too. Trying to determine if polygamy is legally a sin in some manner of intellectual purity divorced from the depravity that results in that sin is akin to counting how many wives you could fit on the head of a pin.

Searching the Scriptures for an explicit stricture, the absence of which I claim as license to exercise my sin, (sin, as a result of it being an exercise of my will and not God’s will ) figuring in the process to maintain some imaginary sinless state is sinful in itself. If you see the alternative as “turning a blind eye to the law and living any way we please” then I suggest that well reasoned key arguments are in the eye of the beholder.

Nowhere in Scripture is it revealed that we are not to spit in the eye of blue-haired strangers who have only three fingers on their left hand. A search of the scriptures which yields no stricture, being taken as license is indeed vanity. Searching the Scriptures for God’s will is something else, that being the reason the Scriptures were given.

Arguments from many that cite Scripture (which in my meditation is clear on God’s will being bride and not brides) has not persuaded you. Reading and meditating on the Scriptures is the means by which the Spirit influences our hearts. The Bible is not a record of legislation to be parsed in the manner of the Talmud. That administration of the Covenant has passed.

As I stated at the beginning I am not trying to convince you that your conclusions about polygamy are faulty. Intellectually structuring a case for a legalistic position in an attempt to somehow put God in a position where he is held to task by human argument is futile.

My position on polygamy does not meet your test for clarity and strength because we are using two different rulers. We do not have to agree. We each love our own sins.

You declare the topic to be the polygamy; I tell you it is the sin that is the topic. Run from it friend. Its desire is for you.

See you at Waffle House sometime.

Rob

Tom Gruber said...

Rob,

Thank you again for your comments. And please, try to stay on topic when leaving comments in the future.

Quoting Rob: "I will not however, separate the theological issues from the eternal personal implications of those issues out of fear of my God. The topic evokes a response from me that I will try to reiterate."

My response: Fine. However, I did not realize that I was trying to "separate the theological issues from the eternal personal implications of those issues." I thought I was doing just the opposite.

Quoting Rob: "Christian liberty in my limited and uneducated experience is exploited when immorality is posited as moral. When good is presented as bad and bad is claimed to be good under the umbrella of a clear and concise intellectual discussion, then a crafty subtleness is underfoot."

My response: Again, I did not realize I was exploiting Christian liberty by positing immorality as moral. I did not realize I was presenting good as bad and claiming that bad is good under the umbrella of a clear and concise intellectual discussion, with a crafty subtleness underfoot.
You seem to be implying that I know I am wrong, but I am somehow trying to use clever arguments to justify my misguided notions, dragging everyone down into a viper pit along the way. The purpose of my site, to quote from my blog, is: "Christian Sex Talk is a Christian site dedicated to seeking the truth regarding sexual ethics, while creating a passionate vision of how things ought to be" (from http://christian-sex talk.blogspot.com/)

Two other quotes from my site:

Martin Luther said: "Peace if possible, truth at all costs."

Robert F. Kennedy said: "Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask 'Why not?'"

Quoting Rob: "We are not God. You and I cannot and will not decide what is sinful in God’s eyes. Everyone doing what they determine to be best is not God’s will for us. God has told us what is sinful."

My response: Yes, God has told us, in His Word the Bible, what is sinful. Where in the Bible has God told us that polygamy is sinful, either explicitely or implicitely? According to Martin Luther, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, nowhere. Are the testimony of these giants of the faith of no value to you?

Quoting Rob: "You and I are sinful. What we do is sinful. What we think and what we say is sinful. What we figure out, invent, plan and even what we wonder about God is sinful."

My response: I realize that in our fallen state, we are all sinful and that sin influences our thoughts, words, and deeds. However, this does not mean we should not think about anything or do anything. The Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures.

Quoting Rob: "The Hebrew that is translated as trespass is reported to me by those reputedly in the know as carrying an implication of an intentional violation of the Law whereas sin is what we do when we do unintentionally with our first breath."

My response: Perhaps you are right. I'll need to check into this further.

Quoting Rob: "If a thing is good, it is from God, not from you or me. If polygamy practiced to the glory of God (I do not claim to know what that could be) were directed by the Word then we would most assuredly practice Godly polygamy in a sinful manner. My repentance is sinful in as much as it is insincere and incomplete. My worship is sinful in that is unworthy of a perfect God."

My response: Which is better?: Is it better for a woman to be the second wife of a godly man? (I realize that no man, other than Christ, is perfectly godly. Nevertheless, the Bible records that some men were, to a limited extent, godly.) Or is it better to be the first wife of an ungodly yet monogamous man, like Hitler?

Quoting Rob: "My point has been that the sins that we commit are forgiven and we therefore are held as righteous. If that sin is polygamy then it is forgiven, if it is something else then that is forgiven too."

My response: No argument there.

Quoting Rob: "Trying to determine if polygamy is legally a sin in some manner of intellectual purity divorced from the depravity that results in that sin is akin to counting how many wives you could fit on the head of a pin."

My response: We're all depraved, to one extent or another. But you seem to be suggesting that it is impossible to determine whether or not polygamy is a sin. You also seem to be suggesting that there is something wrong with us using our intellect.

Quoting Rob: "Searching the Scriptures for an explicit stricture, the absence of which I claim as license to exercise my sin, (sin, as a result of it being an exercise of my will and not God’s will ) figuring in the process to maintain some imaginary sinless state is sinful in itself. If you see the alternative as “turning a blind eye to the law and living any way we please” then I suggest that well reasoned key arguments are in the eye of the beholder."

My response: I think you are taking what I said out of context. You said that we should not look to the Law, but to the cross. I said that we indeed should look to the cross, but that the Law has its place, otherwise we could simply turn a blind eye to the law and live any way we please.

Quoting Rob: "Nowhere in Scripture is it revealed that we are not to spit in the eye of blue-haired strangers who have only three fingers on their left hand. A search of the scriptures which yields no stricture, being taken as license is indeed vanity. Searching the Scriptures for God’s will is something else, that being the reason the Scriptures were given."

My response: Yes, it is true that "nowhere in Scripture is it [specifically] revealed that we are not to spit in the eye of blue-haired strangers who have only three fingers on their left hand." But there are certainly many Scriptures that do say that such an action is wrong in principle.

Even most people like you who think polygamy is a sin will usually admit that there is no Scripture that specifically states polygamy is a sin. I agree. There is no such verse. Luther said the same thing.

But my argument is, there are not Scriptures that say polygamy is wrong in principle either. Many arguments are used and I find them all flimsy and groundless. I've probably heard most of those arguments, if not all of them. And I deal with them, one by one, on my site.

Quoting Rob: "Arguments from many that cite Scripture (which in my meditation is clear on God’s will being bride and not brides) has not persuaded you. Reading and meditating on the Scriptures is the means by which the Spirit influences our hearts. The Bible is not a record of legislation to be parsed in the manner of the Talmud. That administration of the Covenant has passed."

My response: Although the church is the "bride of Christ," singular, that bride is composed of many members. Therefore, I would argue that Jesus is more of a polygamist than a monogamist.

Quoting Rob: "As I stated at the beginning I am not trying to convince you that your conclusions about polygamy are faulty. Intellectually structuring a case for a legalistic position in an attempt to somehow put God in a position where he is held to task by human argument is futile.

My position on polygamy does not meet your test for clarity and strength because we are using two different rulers. We do not have to agree. We each love our own sins.

You declare the topic to be the polygamy; I tell you it is the sin that is the topic. Run from it friend. Its desire is for you."

My response: Actually, I did not declare the topic to be polygamy. I declared the topic to be, specifically:"Is Polygamy A Sin?" There are perhaps billions of different kinds of sins that could be discussed. But at this blog site location, the topic is, again: "Is Polygamy A Sin?" Hopefully, everyone leaving comments will try to stay focused on that topic. Please!

Rob said: "See you at Waffle House sometime."

My response: Looking forward to it.

Tom

Anonymous said...

Hello. This is the first time I ever answered a blog in comment. It is a little tricky, but I'll give it a go. Is Polygamy a Sin, no, it is not. If you sin will you think of being a Polygamist, yes. Since we are wrought in a sinful nature since birth, then the end result is one who thinks on Polygamy. If we did not have sin working in us, then we would not think towards becoming a Polygamist. Our thinking would be different, so to assume some sort of justification through speculating the desires of God in regards to our polygamistic desires is aside the point. God looks at us as children because He made us, He created us, and He loves all of us, even the ones who do not deserve it. There is a way to live, and it will be good, and there is a way to live that will bring problems and lead you to sin. It is possible to play with fire and only burn a little, but there is a way to play with fire and be consumed to death. I don't think anyone will die if they are a polygamist, but the real question is.. will this separate you from God? right? God hurts when we do things that separate us from Him. If we do things with Him then everything becomes good, and we are justified through Him. Israel wanted a King, God thought that He was there King. Israel said that they wanted a man king like the other nations. I'm sure this hurt God's feelings. He knew this would happen, and ushered in his presence through kings of Israel. He allowed them to have a King, eventhough having a King was not sin, it led to a lot of conflict that otherwise could have been avoided only because the people wanted the pleasure of having a king. Polygamy, works the same way. One desires the comfort of many partners, to satisfy whatever desire there may be, eventhough God's feelings are not taken into account, He cares for us.

apdu@yahoo.com

Tom Gruber said...

apdu,
Thanks for your comments.
You seem to be saying that polygamy is not a sin; nevertheless, God does not approve of it. Of course, I can think of many reasons why God may not approve of polygamy. But I can also think of many reasons why God may approve of polygamy, which I have listed on my site.
Tom

matthew said...

Toics like polygamy are a good example of why scripture can't be open to private individual interpretation....there is too much room for error.
and today with roughly 25.000 different denominations we see these fruits or a lack there of......

On the subject of polygamy, Scripture indicates that for a time God did tolerate this practice during the Old Testament. However, it was portrayed even then as a negative thing. When Scripture describes the domestic life of polygamists, it brings out consistently the negative effects of polygamy—jealousy, taunting, conflict, favoritism—as different wives and children struggle for position within the family. (Take for example the strife between the wives of Abraham, Jacob, or Elkana; see Gen. 21, 29–30, 1 Sam. 1).

The problems were so clearly recognized that, even if there was not then a flat-out prohibition on the practice, there had to be special legislation concerning polygamy. Thus a husband playing favorites among his wives was not allowed to deprive the children of his first wife their inheritance rights in favor of the children of a more recent wife (Deut. 21:15–16). Kings in particular were forbidden to multiply wives to themselves (Deut. 17:17). Unfortunately, this prohibition was often not followed.

As time progressed, the problems with polygamy became more and more obvious, and it stopped being practiced.

The clincher came in the time of Christ, when Jesus indicated that marriage was to be restored to the state God had intended in Genesis 2. Thus Jesus prohibits divorce (Mark 10:2–9) on the grounds that it was not provided for in God’s original plan. God made one man and one woman to be together. Polygamy is ruled out by the same logic. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to be together, not for Adam to be married first to Eve and then later to Barbara, and certainly not for Adam to be married to Eve and Barbara at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

OnenessSaint said...

Polygamy is most definitely NOT sinful! see http://PolygamyAdvocate.blogspot.com for the REAL scriptural view of polygamy!

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