Does God Endorse Polygamy?

If God is opposed to polygamy, why does 2 Samuel 12:8 say that God gave David wives?


00:00 Is God pro-polygamy? Let's talk about that.

00:09 If God is opposed to polygamy, then why does 2 Samuel 12:8 say that God gave David wives?

00:14 Now, I do believe God is opposed to polygamy.

00:17 In fact, in Genesis 2:24, God's creation account indicates that God intended for one man to marry

00:23 one woman, and become one flesh for one lifetime.

00:26 In fact, Jesus even quotes that definition in Matthew 19 and upholds it as valid.

00:31 And in fact, then He adds his own commentary by claiming

00:34 that monogamous marriage is a God-ordained institution.

00:37 But now, if you read the Old Testament, you'll see polygamy practiced by patriarchs, and

00:41 of course, many Israelite kings.

00:43 Remember though, that many parts of Scripture are descriptive, not prescriptive.

00:49 And the Bible often records what happened, not necessarily what should happen.

00:53 Still, it appears God allowed polygamy to occur.

00:56 Now, I think this is true, but I believe that God tolerated polygamy, but never condoned it.

01:02 And the same could be said of divorce.

01:04 God never intended married couples to divorce, but He tolerated it.

01:07 In fact, Jesus even says in Matthew 19:8 that divorce was permitted because of the hardness

01:12 of the hearts of men.

01:14 And yet He also clearly reminds the pharisees that divorce was never intended by God from

01:19 the beginning.

01:20 So, what are we to make then when the Bible says God gave David his master's wives?

01:25 Well first of all, Deuteronomy 17:17 forbids kings from marrying more than one wife, so

01:30 it doesn't make sense that God would give that clear prohibition and then give David

01:35 multiple wives.

01:37 Furthermore, in Leviticus 18:17, it forbids marrying a woman and her daughter, so that

01:43 would also be odd for God to give David Saul's wife, who was his mother-in-law.

01:48 Now second of all, as Paul Copan points out in his book, "Is God a Moral Monster?", the

01:53 same word "gave" where God gave David these wives, is used in 2 Samuel 12:11 when God

02:00 took David's wives and gave them over to his wicked son Absolom.

02:04 Now we wouldn't say that God approves of polygamy because of this punishment.

02:08 Third, notice that the text doesn't say God gave David these wives to marry, but that

02:13 God gave David your master's house and your master's wives into your care.

02:17 In other words, it's possible that he didn't marry them, but was simply responsible for

02:22 caring for Saul's estate and household after his death.

02:26 This, by the way, would often occur during the Old Testament era.

02:29 A king would inherit the previous ruler's house and especially the widows and the orphans

02:35 if the ruler had died.

02:37 And David would have been expected to extend his protection to Saul's family, including

02:42 his harem.

02:43 In fact, we even see eight chapters later where David takes his concubines and puts

02:48 them in a house under guard, and the text even says he provided for them but had no

02:53 sexual relations with them.

02:56 So, God is opposed to polygamy, and it doesn't seem that the 2 Samuel passage does anything

03:01 to undermine that view.

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Alan Shlemon