Polygamy in Christianity: Can Christians Have 2 Wives?

This is an interesting debate especially when we look back in history. Our grandparents and forefathers had many wives. They could Mary more than one wife or as many as they wished as long as they could sustain them.

Back in the days, having several wives was even considered to be a sign of a strong wealthy man.

Having several children was a sign of blessing and the more you could get, the more your name and history were more likely to live among the coming generation. This made it a sign of respect and people really valued this.

In Africa, having one wife was even a sign of a weak man or simply a fact that you were poor and could not manage to keep several women. Having several wives was a sign of wealth and prosperity thus it was practiced. 

If you were to take a group of 100 Africans, almost 95 will confess that their grandparents had more than one wife.

As the author of this article, my Father had 2 wives yet I come from a strong Christian background. My grandfather from dad’s side had 2 wives while my grandfather from mums’ side had 7 wives yet all of them were all taken care of.

With time, we even have a WhatsApp group of cousins and it is very interesting to know that all people in that group are replayed and United as one big happy family. With that, I was also very confused about this issue about Christians having 2 wives.

This alone made me write this and get an opportunity to share with anyone who is confused about having 2 wives as a Christian. What makes us Christians is the fact that we believe in God and above all we have to respect the word of God, that is the bible.

Now for one to be a Christian, you definitely have to look at what the bible wants you to do and what is not recommended. So here is the main question,

What does the bible say about having 2 wives as a Christian?

Now if we look at 1 timothy chapter 3 verse 2, we notice that there is an indication that church leaders should be husbands to one wife. This alone has always been translated to be against Christians practicing polygamy. Some Christians have also said it is all about church leader and not the members.

When we look at the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 7. The bible addresses man and wife and not man and wives. Man and wife are taught how to live together in the realm of marriage and they are guided on how to respect and treat each other.

Polygamy, in this case, is seen to be going against the words that clearly indicate in verse 4 that once two people are together as man and wife, they no longer have power over their body.

The man, therefore, has power over the wife’s body and so does the wife over her husbands’ body. Polygamy will jeopardize this unity as stated by many preachers and pastors.

It is clear that polygamy has always been in the bible from the word go. If we look at Who had 2 wives in the bible and who practiced polygamy in the old testament, they include Esau, Moses, Elkanah, David, King Solomon.

There is no clear guidelines or rules about polygamy that restrict Christians from having two wives in the bible.

When we look at Genesis chapter 2, when God created the first couple. He said that it is not good that a man be alone. I will therefore make him a helper. Christians argue that in this case for example, God did not create helpers but created one helper.

Therefore, many Christians interpreted this that God does not see the need of a man to have several helpers other than one.

In this case, one helper was okay and the singular state of this statement has always been translated to mean that Christians should have one wife.

If you move down to verse 24 in the same book, the bible says that therefore a man shall move from his parents’ house to go and be with his wife.

Again this case, the nature of the word wife is single. Up to this point, there is no section in the Bible that clearly prohibits a Christian from practicing polygamy.

When Paul talks of marriage in Ephesians chapter 5, he uses marriage as a strong bond between two people to compare the relationship with Jesus and the church.

In this case, we only have Jesus and the church. Basically indicating that marriage should only be an agreement and unity between two people in Christianity.

Jacob, Solomon, Abraham, Esau and David all had multiple wives in the old testament. Based on this, we have to look if God supports polygamy and try to figure out why most modern Christians feel that it is not right to have several wives.

Asking if God really permitted polygamy is always an interesting question. If we look at the book of Deuteronomy chapter 21 verse 17, God declares that if a man with two wives gets children with both, he must learn to acknowledge the rights of the first born son even if he belongs to the wife that he does not love.

Why Did Christians Have Two Wives in The Old Days?

There are situations when a Christian can have two wives without anyone having issues with them. Sometimes in life, there are situations that can make you have two wives just to solve them.

1. When the first wife is barren

During the ancient days, people were allowed to Mary a second wife if the first one could not give birth. This was to help in protecting and keeping the family’s lineage going.

There was no way people could allow their generation to end just like that in the old days. Having children was important and was considered a good way to keep the families chain going.  

2. Protection

In the old days, we all know men used to go to war to protect their cities or to expand their community territories. As a result, not all men used to make it back home.

In such a case, the women who lost their husbands were always encouraged to accept being absorbed into other families so that they could find protection under their roof.

In most cases, they would get married to men who already had wives. This was also to help keep them away from prostitution and being abused by wicked men. The children were also encouraged to have a father figure for discipline and guidance. That is how they looked at it.

3. Brothers’ Death

If one had a brother and he died before he could have children, it was always advised that the remaining brother should to take up the wife and bear children with her to represent his dead brother.

The book of Deuteronomy Chapter 25 verse 5 clearly states that, if a brother dies before having a son, his widow should not be married outside the family.

His brother will take her and marry her. If they bear a son, he will be named after the late brother so that his name will not be lost. This is a bible verse about polygamy that directly allows one to have two wives.

4. Good will & Unity

In the past, a wife was looked at as a precious gift. Kings could trade wives to keep peace among them and to show a sign of goodwill.

If a daughter of a certain community was married to a king from the other community, then definitely this could make them related. Peace was guaranteed in this case.

A king could receive several wives and keep them as a sign of unity and peace with others. This is a gift they could never turn down since they used to choose the best girls in the community to be offered to the king.

What does The bible say about Polygamy?

In most cases, we see a pattern about polygamy in the bible that is very interesting. Every time a man practiced polygamy, it never ended well. Let me give examples. Abraham had two wives but it was never a bed of roses.

Jacob practiced polygamy in the bible and also had concubines but all was not well with him. If you look at the story of Peninnah and Hannah in the Bible, you will agree that it is a situation you definitely don’t want in your life.

Look at David and his wives, did it bring him any good? Well, let’s also look at King Solomon. He practiced polygamy as a Christian and had 700 wives. As a result, he turned away from God because of his wives and his life became a mess.

Polygamy in Modern Christianity

We all know that God made the marriage set up right from the word go in the garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis Chapter 2 verse 24, God clearly states that two shall be united to become one. The Bible describes a union between two people in this case and not more.

In reference to what Paul says and how he refers to the church as discussed above, it is therefore clear that it is God’s will that a man should have one wife, the two should be joined together and live together as one.

As a Christian, you should read the bible and analyses the situations. If you do so, you will notice that there are several things that God allowed but it was obvious that it was not His Will. You can clearly know what Gods’ desire is and make a difference between what is right and what is wrong.

To conclude this, we can all agree that God is merciful and will always bless us despite our sins. The fact that God blessed polygamous people in the bible does not mean he approved of it.

Just like you and me, we have different sins but God will still bless us if we turn to him and seek his hand in our situations.

Polygamy will always end with problems in most cases unless there are clear guidelines that made you get into that situation. Someone asked a very interesting question below.

What if I have two wives already and I want to be a Christian

Well, God has never and will never reject anyone that comes to him according to Christianity. He is still merciful even to those that do not worship him.

If you turn to God and wants to be a Cristian with two wives that you got before, I don’t think God will reject you in this case.

If you are at peace with your wives and you don’t have any family major issues, nobody should judge you based on your polygamous state. Just turn to God and let Him alone judge you.

Having more than one wife should not be a reason for anyone to make you feel that you can join Christianity.

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