I am troubled by the concubinage element of polygamy. I have a difficult time understanding how David, a man whose only recorded sexual sin condemned by God was being with Bathsheba, could just as easily have relations with tens or (perhaps) hundreds of women without facing a rebuke of any kind. After reading through your website I understand how God might permit polygamy, but I have a harder time grasping the concept that a righteous man could have women solely for his sexual pleasure without there being any kind of divine justice taking place. How is that different than prostitution, or even orgies? Or, even more broadly, how is concubinage different from sexual immorality in general? -- Zack
As I understand concubinage -- and I may need to be corrected -- the woman is a secondary wife. Not a second wife, but a second-order wife. I am answering the question in terms of the Old Testament itself, where society was characterized by polygamy (at least among the wealthier -- those who could afford more than one wife). The concubine was not the man's to use for an hour, or a night; she was practically speaking a wife. Any offspring would be legitimate children (and heirs), not bastards.
When a man keeps a mistress, that is different. Keeping a woman for pleasure would be little different than prostitution, or sigeh in the Islamic world.
A man was committed to his concubine. Perhaps for reasons of inheritance, he did not marry her -- make her a full wife. I do not know. Anyone out there have some insight into this? (Thanks in advance.)
In the O.T. God's people were held to a lower standard of righteousness than in the N.T. Yes, they were called to holiness -- but not in the same way as in Matt 5:48, if I'm following Jesus' teaching. So we don't go to the O.T. for morals and ethics. Not because there isn't valuable material in the O.T, but because Jesus raised the bar, and only by comparing practices to his life and teaching can we know whether or not it applies directly to us (as opposed to containing a principle we ought to learn from).