Cheating love? - of having multiple wives, women and Christianity
In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, "We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!" - Isaiah 4:1 NIV version
f one follows biblical examples, then it would not be far fetched to say that if the husband is financially able to support more than one wife, plus other women, then it is okay to indulge in that practice. In some countries, men are allowed to have multiple wives, but as believers, is it lawful to engage in multiple relationships with other women?
Will God's wrath descend on those who do? After all, Solomon, King David and countless others in the Bible enjoyed God's blessings with their numerous wives and concubines.
The debate rages on surrounding polygamy - a marriage which includes more than two partners - and being true to the one love of your life.
Family and Religion reached out to Pastor Jermaine Johnson of the Spring Garden District of SDA Churches, North Jamaica, who made it plain that on closer examination, the sitz-im-leben (setting in life) of the Old Testament, the nations about Israel were polytheistic and polygamous.
Their practices mainly opposed the desires of God and, as such, God had always warned the Israelites not to adopt their ways (Leviticus 18:3 and Deuteronomy 18:9).
"Concerning polygamy, God told the kings of Israel not to take multiple wives unto themselves (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). Thus, Solomon and David, et al, were all violating the will of God," explained Johnson.
Johnson points out that some things in the Bible are 'descriptive', while others are 'prescriptive'.
"The descriptive narratives give us insight into the cultural norms which prevailed among the people of God and how God's people related to them. But the prescriptive portions showcase the commandments of God with regard to how we should really live our lives. Description, therefore, tells you what was happening, without regard for whether it was approved of God; but prescription tells you what God's standard was," he said.
Bible not about polygamy
For those using the Bible as a blueprint to enjoy polygamous relationships, Johnson said the Bible is definitely not about that.
"Men who use this description of a rebellion against God's will as a justification for cheating and infidelity are in staunch opposition to the will of God; and those who practise such things, as shown in 1 Corinthians 6:9, will not inherit the kingdom of God. So having multiple partners doesn't show great masculinity. Rather, it denotes a weakness of character in controlling one's self, and incurs the wrath of God," said Johnson.
For Johnson, cheating and polygamous relationships have been challenges from olden days. It was also found among the prominent people of God - who had evidence showing that God was with them.
According to him, there was the common belief that once God uses you any at all, you would have been perfect in your ways. That assertion, he points out, is wrong.
"John 16:12 demonstrates that even after being empowered by Jesus to spread the gospel, the disciples still had a far way to go, yet Jesus used them. Thus, while not being fully perfect, which is God's objective, God used many people of old. Hence, we cannot always juxtapose God's leading in our lives as a full divine approbation of all the things we currently do. For in His prerogative, God leads us from where we are to where He desires us to be," he said.
With Solomon being the favourite biblical example to use regarding having many women, Johnson said the essence of the passage is normally ignored.
The passage points to the fact that his many women led him astray by turning his heart from God.
"Thus, Solomon's soul was at risk because of his arbitrary action of polygamy. Furthermore, an examination of Ecclesiastes shows that he decried all these things as vanity in the end. So Solomon's number of wives was just a description, not a prescription."
In closing, Johnson stressed that polygamy was definitely not God's prescription, back then, but that it was permitted for a time for His own divine purposes.
"But note that in the New Testament dispensation, there was no precedence given to the practice and that Jesus spoke out against the ill-gotten practices concerning husbands and wives. He is, therefore, calling us back to the high and noble customs of godliness, which He intended from the start. And for all those who are still convinced that polygamy is alright, "let God be true, but every man a liar". (Romans 3:4).