A commandment to practice polygamy found in the New Testament


The following has been lifted from this page and was not written by me.  I thought it was interesting enough to put on this blog and allow people to comment on it.  I will insert the scriptures in block quotes for easy reading.

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 Polygamy Commanded of God in NT?

There absolutely is an example in the Bible, where God actually does command a situation of polygamy —in the New Testament, even.

1_Corinthians 7:10-11 & 27-28.

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

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27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul differentiates when he is making his own “recommendation” (in verses 6, 12, and 25)

6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

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12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

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25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

and when he is expressing the “commandment of the Lord” (verses 10-11).

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Indeed, in verses 10-11, Paul clarifies that the instruction in those two verses is the “commandment of the Lord”. (It should therefore also be noted that the other areas in which he clarifies as being only his “recommendation” can NOT be used to otherwise and incorrectly assert that God Himself is creating some sin or doctrine. After all, Paul’s ultimate “recommendation” therein is celibacy!)

With that realized, it is clear for readers of the Bible that Paul makes it emphatically clear that verses 10-11 are different. Namely, verses 10-11, in the exact way in which they are actually written, are the “commandment of God”.

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”  1 Corinthians 7:10-11.

Paul further specifies that that above “commandment of the Lord” was only addressed to believers-married-to-believers. In the next verses (i.e, 12-16), he clarifies that he is subsequently addressing believers-married-to-unbelievers, and that that subsequent instruction is not the Lord’s words, but his own again.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Verses 10-11 show that, if a believer WIFE leaves her believer HUSBAND, the

  • believer WIFE is commanded of God to either:

remain unmarried, or
be reconciled back to her husband

  • believer HUSBAND is commanded of God to:

not put away any wife, and to
let any departed wife return back to him

The key point is that the HUSBAND is NOT given the same commandments of instruction. Only the WIFE is commanded to remain unmarried, but the HUSBAND is not given that commandment. He is commanded of God to let her be married to him, either way!

Accordingly, the HUSBAND is of course, still free to marry another wife. That fact is further proved by the later verses of 27-28.

“Art thou bound unto a wife?
seek not to be loosed.
Art thou loosed from a wife?
seek not a wife.
But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned;
and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.”
1 Corinthians 7:27-28.

The Greek text of verse 27 is clearly only addressing married men –whether or not the wife has departed.

As such, the married man whose wife is still with him does not sin when he marries another wife (who is not another’s wife). And likewise, the married man, whose wife has departed from him, he also does not sin when he marries another wife (who is not another’s wife).

And herein comes the “commandment of the Lord”, of polygamy, as in the following situation.

A believer WIFE departs from her believer HUSBAND. She is commanded of God to remain unmarried, per verses 10-11. Her HUSBAND, however, then subsequently marries another wife (who is not another man’s wife). The HUSBAND and the new wife have not sinned, per verses 27-28. The departed WIFE then seeks to be reconciled back to her HUSBAND.

In that situation, verses 10-11 show the following instruction as the “commandment of the Lord”. The HUSBAND is commanded of God to let the departed wife be reconciled back to him. AND…. he is commanded of God to not put away a wife, including the new wife.

As such, verses 10-11 show that it is an outright “commandment of the Lord” of polygamy for the family in that situation.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 is indeed a Commandment of God — in the New Testament — that, when a previously-departed believer wife returns, her believer husband and his new (believer) wife (from verse 27-28) MUST let the previous wife be reconciled to her husband.

There truly IS a “commandment of the Lord” for a situation of polygamy to be found in the Bible —and it’s in the New Testament Scriptures, as well!

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Here are the same verses as found in the Joseph Smith Translation, in case anyone wants to do a comparison:

Joseph Smith Translation

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6 And now what I speak is by permission, and not by commandment.

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10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband;

11 But if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; but let not the husband put away his wife.

—–

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord; If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

—–

25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

—–

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

28 But if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh. For I spare you not.

Okay, now for my own comments.  It seems to me that the crux of this argument lies in this statement of his:

The Greek text of verse 27 is clearly only addressing married men –whether or not the wife has departed.

I cannot speak about the Greek text (since I do not know Greek), but it seems to me that the context of the chapter, as translated into English, supports this view.  Namely, that the words “bondage,” “bound,”  and “loosed” do not refer to marriage and divorcement, but to marital togetherness and marital separation.  For example, (and I will use the JST for these scriptures), verse 5 says,

5 Depart ye not one from the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

This “departure” is not referring to marital divorce, but marital separation.  It cannot refer to divorce because two divorced people “coming together again” without getting married would be considered a sin, and Paul would never recommend that people engage in sin.

Next we get verses 10 and 11:

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband;

11 But if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; but let not the husband put away his wife.

Again, “depart” must mean marital separation, not marital divorce.  Also, “put away” only means marital separation, not marital divorce, for I happen to have done an in-depth study on this very expression years ago, and discovered this very thing.  For example, Moses commanded that after a wife was put away by her husband (which is marital separation) that he give her a writ of divorcement (which is the marital divorce.)

To continue, verses 12-13 state:

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord; If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

These verses can only be speaking of marital separation or marital union, in which the two are together.  They do not speak of divorce.

Next, there’s verse 15:

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace.

“Departure” is used in this chapter to indicate marital separation, not marital divorce, and this verses equates “departure” with “not being under bondage,” or in other words, with being “loosed.”  Thus, departure=separation=loosed and reconciliation=togetherness=bound.  The chapter is consistent in its contextual meanings of these terms, so far.

Finally, verses 27 and 28 state:

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

28 But if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh. For I spare you not.

Since the context of the chapter reveals that bound means together and loosed means separated (not divorced), we could write verse 27 like this:

27 Art thou together with a wife? seek not to be separated. Art thou separated from a wife? seek not a wife.

With this meaning in mind, then verse 28 does, in fact, allow a man whose wife has separated from him to marry another woman without sinning.  Also, it allows a woman to marry an already married man whose first wife has separated from him, without committing sin.  And, per verses 10-11, if the first wife return to him in reconciliation, the man is commanded to receive her and not put her away.  Or, in other words, this does indeed make a New Testament commandment of the Lord to engage in polygamy.

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