The following is an entry to my Guest Book by 'Barnyardrose' (website now defunct - 2016) who, when asked to give his view of polygamy, wrote: "Genesis 1:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall become one flesh", implying that this scripture limits marriage to monogamy. In his concluding comments, he writes: "2 Peter 2:14 Having eyes full of ADULTERY and that never cease from sin; enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have", implying that those who teach and preach polygamy are full of the spirit of adultery, never cease sinning, and are enticing unstable souls, with hearts trained in greed, whose children are accursed, and have forsaken the true path of the Gospel.
This is quite a serious accusation to make, especially in the light of the scriptural injunctive to "judge righteous judgment" (Jn.7:24). The writer must be prepared to be accountable for his words for if he is wrong, he is guilty of the very serious sin of slander.
Since it is obvious the reader hasn't bothered to check up the references I gave on my main page, it looks as though I shall have to repeat some basic facts for him here.
To begin with, let us get a proper background to 2 Peter 2 which discourses on the problem of false prophets amongst Elohim's (God's) people. The writer is concerned about false and divisive doctrines that lead to the moral and spiritual destruction of those who accept them, leading them to eventually "deny the sovereign Master who bought them" (v.1, NIV).
The other day a Christian opponent of polygamy had to admit, having read some of the articles at our main webpage at www.nccg.org/fecpp, that our way of life could not be refuted scripturally. She admitted that we were saved, totally centred in Christ, and that our way of life was spiritually upbuilding in spite of her personal revulsion against polygamy. A great many other Christians who have personal problems with polygamy all admit that our Christian lifestyle is an inspiration. Increasing numbers of pastors are realising that they have been deceived by the monogamy-only tradition they have inherited, and are repenting.
There is far too much 'gut-reaction' and far too little thorough scriptural exegesis (see our satire, "Polygamy is a Sin!" (Gospel of St.Hormone). As it is impossible to argue against hands-full of 'guts' (except to throw more 'guts' back), this is something I will not do. Throwing scriptures around like 2 Peter 2:14 frankly isn't too helpful - mature Christians/Messianics should reserve blanket condemnations (assuming that they should do this in the first place) until they have done their scriptural homework thoroughly.
There is an extraordinary ignorance of the Hebrew language on the part of most Christians/Messianics, not helped by the fact that Western translators have inserted their own biases into the English text when there as been a choice of different renditions even if the context and the general usage of a particular rendition mitigates against such a bias. Worse than that is when words are deliberately twisted by translators to 'harmonise' the biases of their other translations.
Let us take the word 'adultery' which in our modern dictionaries is defined as the "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man or woman and partner other than the legal spouse". The problem is, what is "legal" - the statute books of the United States, Great Britain, Germany or some other Western nation, or the Law of Yahweh as found in the Bible?
Most Christians/Messianics aren't even aware that the Bible makes a distinction between "adultery" and "fornication" which is actually obscured by all modern English versions of the Bible except the KJV and NKJV, with only four concessions to the word fornication in the NASB. And yet there is a unique word for fornication (and its derivatives) in the Greek (porneia) which appears 39 times in the New Testament, and a similar one in the Hebrew (tznuth). Quite different words are used for adultery (Heb.naaph, Gk. moichalis). So what are the differences between the two words?
To begin with, fornication is a sexual relationship between two unmarried people, who do not thereafter enter into a matrimonial covenant as required by Yahweh's Law.
But adultery is a little different because the primary word for adultery in Hebrew, na'aph, always means "a woman who breaks wedlock". Always. Never a man.
This needs some explaining. If a married man has a sexual relationship with an unmarried woman he is not committing adultery. The Law of Elohim (God) requires this man to marry the woman. If he does not, he becomes a fornicator. If a married woman has a sexual relationship with an unmarried man she, by contrast, becomes an adulterer.
Irrespective of whether you 'like' this or not, this is the Bible teaching. If you reject it, you are rejecting the Bible. And if reject the Word of Elohim (God), then you are rejecting Elohim (God). You are in rebellion. It is that simple.
This brings us to what Christ said about adultery in Matthew 19:3. Seen in the light of what adultery actually is, we see quite simply that the only grounds for divorce are the grounds given in Deuteronomy 24:1, viz. a woman's fornication/uncleanness. But our modern English translations have twisted this passage in a major way.
I repeat, adultery is a woman breaking wedlock. This applies to that same Matthew 19:9 verse. Namely, note that (in that verse) it is because the first husband CAUSED his first wife to commit adultery (by violating Exodus 21:10, see above, in putting her away so as to 'replace her') that he is therefore guilty of CAUSING her adultery. That is HOW he is guilty. He had CAUSED his first wife to 'break her wedlock contract'. And of course, that first wife for 'breaking her wedlock contract' with her first husband, and the 'second husband' for particiapting in that act, are both guilty too. But notice, the SECOND WIFE is not guilty of anything. And if the first husband had not put away his first wife, but instead kept her as well as marrying the second wife, he would not have CAUSED his first wife to 'break her wedlock contract'. Hence, he would not have been guilty of any Adultery in any way. Indeed, Adultery simply and only means "WOMAN that breaketh wedlock".
The evidence that this is so is found elsewhere in the New Testament but again is obscured by translations. In 1 Corinthians 5:1 we read that a son had fornicated with his "father's wife". This does NOT refer to the man's mother. Indeed, the term, "father's wife", is a very specific term. Leviticus 18:8 refers to "father's wife" as specifically separate from "mother" in the previous verse of Leviticus 18:7. Note that the "nakedness" of a "mother" is referred to as her own "nakedness" while the "nakedness" of a "father's wife" is referred to as the FATHER's "nakedness". This same differentiation is observed again in Deuteronomy 27:20,16. In fact, what the fornicator had done as per 1 Corinthians 5:1 was the same sin as that of Jacob/Israel's firstborn son. Reuben had committed the identical sin with Jacob/Israel's wife, Bilhah, in Genesis 35:22. (Yes, Bilhah was Jacob's wife; see Genesis 37:2.) And for Reuben's act of "uncovering his father's nakedness" by fornicating with his "father's wife", Bilhah, Reuben lost his birthright as firstborn. 1 Chronicles 5:1 reveals that this was because Reuben had "defiled his father's bed". Indeed, the reference to "father's wife" in 1 Corinthians 5:1 does reveal an actual polygamist identified in the New Testament, i.e., the father of the mentioned fornicator. Matthew 19:8-9, Yah'shua (Jesus) simply repeats the Deuteronomy 24:1 "as it had been in the beginning" when it was written.
So here we have a clear-cut case of a New Testament polygamist and confirmation that the Old Testament laws of marriage were still valid in the New Covenant. It cannot be refuted. There were Christian/Messianic polygamists in good standing in the New Testament Assembly/Church. And we see that the statutes given to Moses by Elohim (God) were in full force per pro Deuteronomy 21:15-17 which is a specific instruction in the Law Itself to any man with "two wives". Please note, this was not 'done away with' by Christ or the apostles but continued to be in force in the New Testament Assembly/Church. And history shows that polygamy did not become a 'sin' in the Messianic Community/Christian Church until a Roman Catholic emperor Justinian decided it was so. And the Talmudic Jews themselves (who value their Talmud above the Old Testament) did not make polygamy illegal until 1020 A.D.
But this is not all the New Testament has to say about the subject of polygamy. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 is a Commandment of Elohim (God) that, when a previously-departed wife returns, her husband and his new wife (from verse 27c-28d) MUST let the previous wife be reconciled to her husband. Now how could that be possible if polygamy was not a Law of the Messianic Community/Church? By modern definitions, that would constitute adultery! So I state it again: if a woman civilly divorces her husband (which in Yahweh's Law she has no right to do) and he remarries, and if she then subsequently regrets leaving him and desires to return, the husband is obliged to readmit her to his existing family - in other words, to make it a polygamous one.
1 Corinthians 7:27-28d is ONLY about married men (whether or not a previous wife has departed). If a man marries another wife, he and the new wife have not sinned, again giving conclusive proof that polygamy is in no way a sin.
The sin of which polygamists are accused of is, in the light of scripture, transferred back to the monogamy-only Christian/Messianic and he becomes guilty of breaking wedlock when he forces polygamous families to break-up and of changing Elohim's (God's) Word to suit his own false tradition. When a man alters the definition of "adultery" or "fornication" and inserts his definition into his translation of the Bible, then it ceases to be Elohim's (God's) Word but man's addition to it, meriting the condemnation reserved for such people (Rev.22:18).
Worse, in many respects, the one who redefines marriage and then prevents believers from marrying in the way Yahweh has permitted, then becomes guilty of 1 Timothy 4:1-3a since by his own authority he decides who can and cannot marry. And according to Paul, such a doctrine is demonic.
The tables are reversed. Far from the polygamist being a sinner, he is vindicated. It is the monogamy-only believer who is in the transgression for changing the Word of Elohim (God) (if he continues to admit the veracity of his false tradition once the truth is clearly revealed to him) and for causing the division asunder of what Elohim (God) has joined together if he becomes instrumental in breaking up a polygamous family that converts to Christ. Indeed, he becomes guilty of a multiplicity of sins as shown in the article, 13 Vital Reasons to Declare the Truth about Polygamy.
Finally, some footnotes about some other scriptural escape routes that monogamy-only people try to force.
It is claimed that Elders and Deacons are only allowed one wife - Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2,12 --- "One wife" --- mia is the Greek word (for the word, one, in those passages) which is actually used for first as in "first day of the week" in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, and Acts 20:7. Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 5:9, a widow's "one man" is not mia but the Greek word heis, meaning the numeral-one (1), and not meaning 'first'. But even if we accept the incorrect rendition we are still left with the fact that those who are not Elders or Deacons may live polygamously. Such, though, creates more problems than it solves, for it means that there is a clear clergy-laity devide, which is repudiated by passages about the Royal Priesthood and others.
Mr.Barnyardrose brings up the "one flesh" issue by implying that a man may only be one flesh with a woman at a time. This is refuted by the fact that a man who lies with a prostitute - whether he is married or not - is one flesh with the prostitute at the same time as being one flesh with his wife (1 Cor.6:16). This proves that a man may be one flesh with two women lawfully and one flesh with two woman unlawfully if one of the women (or both, for that matter) isn't his wife.
Then there is the dangerous argument that Adam and Eve are the prototype model human marriage, making all other relationships sinful. The foolishness of such a proposition is soon revealed when one realised that our first parents were nudists, for if Adam and Eve are ideals, then obviously we should be going around with no clothes as well. Furthermore, both the polygamist and the celibate would be transgressors. For a detailed treatment of this subject, see www.nccg.org/fecpp/CPM026-AdamEve.html.
Then there are those who point to 1 Corinthians 7:2 which in our modern translations reads: "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband" (NIV). As it stands, it looks pretty monogamy-only, doesn't it? But it reflects translator's bias!
A careful examination of this passage in Greek reveals that the word for "wife", gune, can be translated either "wife" or "wives". The verse, even in its context, could just as easily be translated: "Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wives, and let every woman have her own husband" .
This is a much better translation because it agrees with everything else said about marriage throughout both the Old and New Testament. For a fuller discussion of this passage, see www.nccg.org/fecpp/CPM047-MIA.html.
On this I rest my very outline case. For those who really want to make a proper study, I suggest some investment of time at www.nccg.org/fecpp/CPH-HP-Index.html which will leave you in no doubt as to what the Bible actually teaches on this important subject.
Those who live polygamy are not adulterers and those who teach it are not false teachers or prophets. Rather, those who forbid polygamy are guilty of changing the Word of Elohim (God) to justify an old Greco-Roman heresy and are, in this area of the Gospel, under the influence of demons, and are in need of speedy repentance.