I was wondering, how is it that polygamy was allowed in the Old Testament and yet is frowned upon in the New Testament? -- Marcie Lindow (Tampa)

I do not think the Old Testament ever actually commends polygamy. Rather, it portrays the conflicted dysfunction that occurs in any family where the man has taken more than one wife. This sad truth is vividly depicted from Genesis (Lamech, Genesis 4:19) to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others) all the way to David and beyond (the time of Nehemiah, for example).

The original plan, however, which is found on page one or two of most Bibles, is "one wife for life." In most countries today, polygamy is illegal. Though in N.T. times it was not unknown, scholars usually emphasize that polygamy was not a common practice in the time of the Roman Empire. How many bigamists do you remember reading about in the Gospels or Acts? It was becoming rare among the Jews by the 1st century, and Jesus speaks against it (Matt 19). In short, polygamy never reflected the heart and will of God.

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