I have read the argument by Mr. Reno Omokri stating that God is not against Polygamy; that of a fact God endorses and there is nowhere in scripture that speaks against polygamy.
I will respond to Omokri, stating rightly that he has a wrong understanding of the difference between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT), which is brought about by Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. We must begin this conversation by understanding that Jesus came to give us a new life and a new way of living; in some cases different from the OT order; while in some others giving a new perspective to OT requirements and worldview. Jesus came to reorder the disordering of God’s Order from the beginning of the creation of man. So, the OT does not really give us a perfect picture of God’s mind. That is why Bible says the OT is a shadow of the NT.
So, let us begin from the beginning by explaining God’s order or intention regarding marriage. This is what God said and intended for marriage in the beginning, as expressly stated in Genesis 2: 24.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. Note the scripture said WIFE and not WIVES. In creation, God created ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN. And that scripture says the MAN and WOMAN, when they are joined together would become ONE FLESH, not TWO FLESH; not THREE FLESH. So, further, interrogate this statement. When a man marries TWO WIVES, the One Man and Two Women cannot become One Flesh. They become TWO Fleshes
We see that the man, Adam, and the woman, Eve stayed true to this injunction. There is no record that Adam married another wife.
We also see that once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the man began to walk against the ways of God. In fact, the bible records that wickedness began to increase on the earth, on account of Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God’s instruction. So pervasion of the God order and way of life started seeping into human soul and existence. Genesis 6 verse 1-3 says: “Now it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took WIVES for themselves of all whom they chose.” So, we see a flagrant disrespect of the God order. Wicked and lustful men began to take wives “of all whom they chose”.
Omokri made the argument that several bible characters did not heed this demand or instruction and God did not punish them; He even approved of them. We see Abraham, who married two wives; David, who committed adultery with Beersheba and married her; Solomon, who married several wives, several Israel Kings, who married several wives in the list of those who married more than one wife and God did not punish them. In fact, God told David when he went for Uriah’s wife that if he had asked for more wives He would have given more to him. The point needs to be made here that by the time David came to the scene Moses had given the law on marriage which allowed the Patriarchs to marry more than one wife. God had decided to allow polygamy, by regulating its practice in the Law of Moses.
But we would get to understand later that because God permitted it did not mean it was God’s perfect will or original plan. A disruption of His order had begun to take place on earth. We have seen from scriptures that it is not everything that God approved of or permitted that is in His perfect will. He allowed certain things over a period of time, while He works towards drawing man’s attention to His eventual perfect plan. We see this in Israel asking for a king like every other nation. That wasn’t God’s perfect plan for Israel. He allowed it and gave them King Saul. We know that God’s perfect plan is for God to be king over them, a plan that He would still bring to pass in the future, through Jesus Christ. In fact, God called Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman. Ishmael was born according to the flesh, while Isaac was born according to a divine approval Galatians 4; 21-26.
In fact, God did not reckon Ishmael as the son of Abraham, even though He blessed him. This is what God said to Abraham in Genesis 22; 2 “Please take your son, your ONLY ONE (italics mine), whom you love, Isaac”. God needed to make the clarification so Abraham would not be confused. God saw Isaac, as Abraham’s ONLY son, even though Abraham first had Ishmael, in disobedience to God.
You could also see the disputes that arose from that polygamous infraction in the life of Abraham and Sarah. We also see what the birth of Ishmael from an ungodly alliance has brought to Israel and the world. The fate of Ishmael was prophesied by an Angel of the God in Genesis 16: 12. It says “You shall call his name Ishmael because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s had against him…”
The same happened to David. In fact, God was annoyed with David for his adultery and the child of that adultery died, because God wanted it so, even though David married other wives, according to Moses’ Law.
Solomon who married many wives went out of God’s will and committed all sorts of evil deeds because of his many wives. This is what God said of Solomon because of his many wives. 1 Kings 11 “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been”. In fact, God was angry with Solomon 1 Kings 11:9. Solomon did not obey his father David 1 Kings 22: 3.
That God allowed some Old Testament people to marry many wives did not mean that God wanted it so. God allowing you to do something does not mean He desires it so, or that is His perfect plan for you.
When you read the many cases of Polygamy in the Old Testament you would find out that the practice created unmitigated sociological disaster, as it still does today; creating heartbreaks and sowing family discords.
Again, we should note though that some Old Testament Fathers disobeyed God in the area of marriage, and God allowed it, which is not an excuse that God endorses polygamy in the New Testament dispensation. The NT brought in God’s mind marriage and the way all believers in Christ should conduct themselves regarding marriage and relate to the marriage institution. Jesus said that because of their hardened heart, Moses, through God’s permission in the Old Testament Law, allowed His people, the Israelites to marry more than one wife and give them permission to divorce, with its imperfections and the troubles it brought those who engaged in it.
We see that God, often always tried to point us back to His original order. We see that In Malachi; where God clearly showed that He desired covenanted Monogamy. It is instructive that God reminded us again of His perfect plan for marriage at the end of the Old Testament scriptures, that is Malachi when He was about to introduce the Perfect Son who would show His perfect way; that is Jesus beginning from the book of Matthew. This is what Malachi 2: 13- 16: “Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
“Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek, Godly offspring? So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” What could be clearer, Mr. Omokri? The book of Malachi is the last book that ended the OT scriptures and introduced us to the gospels, even though Jesus lived in the OT era. Now, God through Malachi drew the attention of the Israelites, and thus ours, to His perfect plan concerning marriage. Marriage, in the plan of God, as first stated in Genesis 2: 24, is a covenant. The man and the woman are to stay faithful to it. More especially the man, who is required not to deal treacherously in the marriage pact but to stay faithful to the wife (not WIVEs) of his youth. How does one stay unfaithful to the wife of his youth? It is by not going behind her to marry another wife, joining him with another woman, and not committing adultery.
Then we see Jesus taking on the same theme of the sanctity of the marriage institution as God envisaged and required it. He began to introduce us to the NEW Life, the NEW WAY OF LIVING in God, by giving us the divine ability, through His Grace, to live according to God’s ways; the way God designed man to live before the fall of Adam and Eve when lust had not come into humanity.
This is what Jesus said in Mark 10: 5 or Matthew 19: 3- 10: “Because of the hardness of your hearts he (Moses) wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and Female. For this reason, a man shall leave his wife (not wives), and the two (not three) shall become one flesh” Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. He said to them “whoever divorces his wife and marries commits adultery against her and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. See the reaction of the Pharisees in verse 10; “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry”. It was hard saying and difficult deal to fallen and lustful man.
Now, I read Reno saying that Jesus’ remark in Mark 10: 5-9 relates to divorce only. Let’s analyse it contextually and deductively.”
In the above statement by Jesus, He was referring to Gen 2: 24, which we have referenced.
Now this is what that scripture says: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”
Yes, Jesus was responding to the question of divorce, that was asked him when He made reference to that scripture. Reno should have known that the original text in Gen 2: 24 was not discussing divorce but the union between man and woman in marriage. Jesus used the occasion of that question of divorce to bring out the sanctity of marriage and how it should be contracted and upheld as planned by God in the beginning. But now the hardness of men’s hearts made God wink at that disorder and subsequently allowed Moses to rule on it in the OT. It is perfect and logical reasoning that we assign to that text its original context and application before the secondary application, that of not violating the marriage union or covenant or pact between One Man and One Woman with adultery and divorce. Because when a man and a woman are joined together, they become one flesh. When a divorce takes place the Union has been disrupted. It is the same way with violating the sanctity of the union with adultery.
1 Timothy 3: 2 spoke about the sanctity of marrying one wife. The scripture says a Bishop or Deacon must be blameless, a husband of one. That scripture should not be understood to mean that it relates to bishops alone and that those who would not be bishops could marry more than one wife. That would be absurd. It would go contrary to Jesus’ Marriage template. Note that the first criteria are that a bishop should be BLAMESS, so in the scrutinizing of a church member that would be a bishop the person must be seen as someone who had not played around, who may have divorced, and married another woman. He must be one who has the history one who has and is married to one wife alone. Not one who had married a wife and divorced and married another wife, at this point. He must be blameless in the marriage institution.
The idea of one man and one wife was also exemplified for us in the description of Jesus as the husband of ONE Wife, not TWO. The Church here is referred to as a wife in Ephesians 5, and Paul also quoting Jesus and Genesis 2: 24 ended that text by saying “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his OWN WIFE (not wives) as himself, and let the wife sees that she respects her husband”. So, we who are of Him should exemplify him by marrying just one wife, and not two.
To avoid fornication and deal with those who could not control their lust and burning passion, Paul advised in 1 Corinthians 7 for Christians to marry (One wife, not two).
We have seen that when men began to lust after the daughters of men they began to take of all whom they chose. Marrying more than one wife is a product of lust; of the fallen state of man. When Adam and Eve sinned humanity began to disobey God’s order; man became lustful. Ojukokore (lusting) entered the world. There are behaviours in the Old Testament that God winked at, according to scripture. According to Jesus, there is a way God intended the relationship between man and woman to be, but the hearts of fallen men made God wink at some of the behaviours of men in the OT days, but in Christ, He now commands all men to return to the state of obedience to God’s order and ways. Now, this has nothing to do with traditions of men, which mostly are derived from the fallen state of man’s heart; the state of disobedience to God’s order. We are discussing God’s perfect order; God’s perfect life, which Jesus came to reenact and preach about, which the apostles were devoted to and expanded and gave more light. A heart or soul that is free from lust, which is a sin against God, will not seek a second wife; he would loath polygamy. He would see marriage as God intended it and not the way traditions of men or how the early Patriarchs in their imperfect way viewed marriage.
Ukodie is a journalist