Post Author: Bill Pratt
Some critics argue that the Bible approves polygamy because the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) had multiple wives and the biblical text does not seem to condemn their actions. This, however, is a gross misunderstanding of the Bible. Just because the Bible reports certain behaviors does not mean it approves of it.
Polygamy is clearly prohibited by God in many ways. First, we know that monogamy is the correct pattern of marriage because it was established in Genesis 1 and 2. Second, we know that this pattern was followed until the sin of Lamech in Genesis 4:23 is reported. The first polygamous husband in the Bible is a murderer! Third, the Law of Moses clearly commands, “You shall not multiply wives” (Deut. 17:17).
Finally, it is obvious from the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that polygamy is the cause of much family conflict. This is especially evident with Jacob, who has 4 wives. Because of the favoritism of Jacob toward one of his wives, Rachel, his sons end up selling one of their half-brothers into slavery! Clearly polygamy is not portrayed in a positive light in these narratives.