LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Polygamy, Fornication and Other Such Mysteries

Here's a random conundrum for a Sunday afternoon... Do you ever get confused by the Bible? I am. Consider this...

  • Abraham was a polygamist (more than one wife) and had several concubines (women who lived in his house for sexual purposes). No where in Scripture is he condemned for this behavior.
  • Isaac was also a polygamist and had concubines. Also not condemned in Scripture.
  • Then there is Jacob. In addition to having more than one wife, and having other women in his house for sexual favors, he also went in to a prostitute and was not condemned for doing so.
  • Gideon and Samson were also both polygamists and had concubines. No where in the Bible (that I can find) were either of them condemned for this activity.
  • David had several wives and also concubines. We know him as "a man after God's own heart." Of course, he messed up by taking another man's wife and then killing her husband. That was condemned. But God is silent about his multiple wives and concubines.

And yet, the writer of Hebrews talks about each of these men who had more than one wife, and had several women living in their home for the purpose of sex. Does the writer say they are evil? No, quite the contrary. In chapter 11, he designates them as  history's great examples of faithfulness to God. They are the mighty men of faith we are to imitate. Isn't that a mystery?

Even more interesting--in the same passage after praising these men of faith, he says "do not be fornicators" (12:16). And later he says "fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (13:4). Remember, this is right after he praised these men for their faith. He makes no connection between his condemnation on fornication or adultery and these men. It's almost as though the writer of Hebrews does not consider multiple wives, or having women in your house for the purpose of sexual favors, as fornication or adultery. Huh?

That's what I'm thinking about on this sunny Sunday afternoon.