Posted by: The Simple Guy | May 27, 2012

Does the Bible teach polygamy is wrong?

My daughter asked me this question the other day.  I thought it was an interesting one to deal with.

“Dad, does the Bible actually say anywhere that polygamy is wrong?”

She went on to say that she knew that 2Tim and Titus require an elder and a deacon to only have one wife, but what about  anyone else?


So how would you deal with this question, considering that polygamy is common in the Old Testament.  Abraham, Jacob,  David, and Solomon practiced polygamy, just to name a few.

Well, I began by asking her if she knew what Jesus had to say about it.

“Jesus mentioned polygamy?” you ask – (that is what she said,too)

I asked her to read along with me as we looked at this passage:

Mat 19:3-9 ESV
(3) And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
(4) He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
(5) and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
(6) So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
(7) They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
(8) He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
(9) And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

“Now wait a minute,” you say, “I didn’t see polygamy mentioned once there.”

Didn’t you?  Let’s look carefully at verse 5 again.

(5) and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (emphasis added)

Notice both parties in this arrangement being described are in the singular, not plural.  Second, notice how many become one.  Two.  Two become one.

Now unless Jesus couldn’t do math, he is excluding polygamy from God’s design for marriage.

There are other details we can grab from this discussion.  Jesus has defined marriage for us here.  God created them male and female.  A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.

One man, one woman, joined by God, inseparable.

So there you have your answer.

The Bible forbids polygamy.  Jesus said so.


I then emphasized for her the importance of starting the answer to any question of this sort by attempting to discover what Jesus has to say about it.   Our life in Him must start with “where is Jesus on this one?”


What do you think,

Any other ideas on how to answer a question of this sort from a biblical perspective?






  1. Congratulations to the father for the satisfactory answer he gave his daughter.

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