My new book, Staying Married in a Degenerate Age: A Guide for Traditional Men and Women, is now available in the Kindle edition. The paperback version will become available soon.
Our culture has declared open war upon marriage and the family. Although this war has been going on for a long time, the most virulent attacks began hitting in the 1960s with the introduction of the Pill and the advent of second-wave feminism.
The culture is winning. It is fair to say that marriage is on the ropes. Over 50% of marriages, including Christian marriages, end in divorce. And for many millennials, marriage is not considered a serious option anymore. They prefer to just cohabitate.
Some might be fooled into thinking that the war is over. They think that enough damage has been done that our elites will just leave traditional men and women alone. They won’t. They will continue to attack until every shred of the divine order has been stamped out.
Winning elections without cultural change is futile
There are some who hope that by electing a True Conservative®, we can begin to turn the tide. But that approach is backwards. We must first change our culture. Only then can we begin to reclaim the ground that has been lost.
Staying Married in a Degenerate Age is intended to be a handbook for one crucial piece of restoring the culture: rebuilding traditional marriage. In the book I discuss the forces that are attacking marriage in detail.
But the book is more than just an academic discussion of the upcoming cultural battles we will face. It also provides practical advice that every married couple needs to be aware of, including:
- How to cheat proof your marriage.
- Preventing divorce.
- Avoiding common money traps.
- Inoculating your marriage from the negative influence of the culture.
- Masculine spiritual headship according to Ephesians 5.
- Making your faith operative in your marriage.
And because your choice of a spouse is probably the most important decision you will ever make, I included two chapters dedicated to single men and women. The first provides what you should look for in a potential spouse. The second gives some things that you can do to maximize your chances of attracting the right person.
If you leave a review for Staying Married in a Degenerate Age on Amazon from now until April 7, 2016 you will be entered for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card
HOW TO ENTER: Read the book and leave a friendly review at amazon.com. Next, send an email to email@example.com with a link to your review.
- Review must be left at amazon.com before April 7.
- Winner will be drawn at random on April 7, 2016.
It may take up to 48 hours for Amazon to post the review. Keep this in mind to ensure that your review posts before the deadline.
Thank you for reading!
Does your book contain practical knowledge only to married man or do they apply to singles?
Michael Sebastian says
Most of the material is aimed at married couples, but the last two chapters are for single people.
The first chapter for singles is entitled “What to Look For in a Spouse.” I discuss how a person “knows” when they’ve met the right person, how much weight to put on physical attraction, and the other qualities your future wife must have.
I’ve personally witnessed some of my friends’ marriages shipwrecked because they neglected to look at all these factors before they “put the ring on it.”
The second chapter is entitled “Attract the Man or Woman of Your Dreams.” I discuss what men and women can do to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. The approach that I outline is what I followed to attract my wife.
I didn’t include any “game” techniques in the book because if you follow the recommendations in this chapter, you will not need any “lines” or conversational tricks.
The rest of the book will serve as excellent marriage preparation material. It is more honest and realistic than the other books I’ve seen.
Also, please have a look at the following series of three posts on How to Find a Wife. This information supplements what is in the book. http://honoranddaring.com/how-to-find-a-wife/
Michael, thanks for taking your time to reply. I wasn’t looking for a book with “game” material, I know the Internet is full to the brim with this kind of advice.
I just bought you book, I find it refreshing to finally get something with a practical masculine and Christian point of view combined.
Michael Sebastian says
Thank you for buying the book. You hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what I was trying to achieve. Some of the Christian books out there are not very practical while the secular books have nothing to offer traditional men and women.
Just picked it up! Cannot wait to start into it.
Michael Sebastian says
I just bought your book last night (had to get in on the 99 cent special). I’m looking forward to reading it (I also picked up P.D. Mangan’s “Muscle Up” at the same time, and started reading it first). I’ll probably finish that within a couple days, and then start on your book.
I realize that I already know much of the material in your book (since I’m a conservative Evangelical Christian). As a devote Roman Catholic, you and I are on pretty similar pages in terms of understanding marriage from a Christian/Biblical perspective.
Still, I know I will learn a lot from your book, and I want to encourage like minded people to get good material out there. Thank you for all your hard work in writing this excellent book.
Michael Sebastian says
Thank you for reading. I agree. The differences between Evangelicals and Catholics are largely on points of doctrine but when it comes to actually living out the faith there is a big amount of overlap.
By the way, I thought I’d also throw out a comment about your patriarchy post on ROK today. I agree with most of it. One point where you were off is in mandating monogamy, while trying to defend patriarchy.
In the Bible, the Law of God always demands that the woman be completely monogamous (because of patriarchy – or the authoritative covenantal nature of marriage).
There is nothing wrong with monogamous marriage. Its just that God never demands monogamy of the man (because of patriarchy).
The Bible (whole thing, Old and New Testaments) never prohibits a man from having more than one wife at the same time. The Bible never call it immoral, unclean, evil, defiling, impure, ungodly, corrupting, depraved, abomination, or anything of the sort. The Bible simply calls it marriage.
The Bible lists no punishment for polygamy, though the Law of Moses prescribed the death penalty for adultery (having sex with another man’s wife), and homosexuality.
It all goes back to Genesis chapter 2 and the creation account. Patriarchy is the creation mandate. God made the man first. Then God made the woman to be the man’s helper. God made the woman out of the man. The text says that God made the woman “for the man” (the Apostle Paul says the same thing when discussing male headship (patriarchy) in 1st Corinthians 11). Adam names the woman. Actually Adam names her twice “woman” and also “Eve”. Adam’s naming shows his authority over her, just like he named all the animals.
Also, although Eve was deceived by the serpent, and sinned first by eating the forbidden fruit, she did not become a fallen creature until Adam ate the fruit. Adam was her head and authority. Note that neither Adam nor Eve felt any guilt or shame until after Adam ate the fruit. All the Bible, and all of Church history (in all branches of Christendom) agree that “we all fell in Adam” (even Eve fell in Adam).
Yes, God gave Adam one wife, but God also mandated patriarchy as THE universal social order.
God also gave David more than one wife (see 2nd Samuel 12), therefore monogamy is not universally mandated.
Homosexuality violates patriarchy and God prohibits it. A woman having more than one man (polyandry or adultery) violates patriarchy, and God prohibits it.
The Bible is full of polygamous men of God. Abraham, Jacob, Moses (probably), Gideon, David, Caleb, Josiah, and many more were polygamists, and yet were approved by God.
We call some of these guys “The Patriarchs of the Faith”.
God never punished or rebuked any of these men for having more than one wife. At the same time, God did rebuke and punish them for actual sins (like real adultery) when they committed them.
Look at King David. He had like 15 wives, and God was with him, blessing him, and saying that David followed God with all his heart.
Here is God’s assessment of David from 1st Kings 15:5 (many years after David’s death)
“David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
That line makes absolutely no sense if polygamy violates the fundamental essence of the marital union.
When David violated Patriarchy by violating another man’s wife, God rebuked David harshly and punished him (read 2nd Samuel 12). God said that David despised His Law, and utterly despised God Himself by what he did. God also brought all sorts of pain and sorrow to David’s family.
Some false teaching Christian leaders blame David’s family problems on his polygamy. That is totally contrary to the text. The text makes it explicitly clear that all those evil things came upon the House of David because David committed adultery with another man’s wife. David’s violation of Uriah’s authority was a violation of the Patriarchal authority of God Himself.
Jesus said that “no one can serve two masters”. That is the point. The wife is not the man’s “master”, but the man is the woman’s “master”. Remember that the apostle Peter commends Sarah for her faith in calling her husband Abraham “her lord” in 1st Peter 3:6.
The existence of polygamy (even if very few men actually practice it) actually upholds and defends patriarchy. Otherwise women have veto power. The wife can say “we do things my way, or I am cutting you off from having sex with me”. Patriarchy (and the polygamy that accords with it) allows the husband to overrule her by saying “then I will take an additional wife if I have to”.
Mandating monogamy destroys and undermines the authority of the husband.
I strongly recommend you read “Man and Woman in Biblical Law” by Tom Shipley, and also “Thelyphthora: Or A Treatise On Female Ruin” by the 18th century British pastor Martin Madan. Shipley’s book in particular explicitly links patriarchy and polygamy.
Patriarchy is the principle. Look at this passage.
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1st Corinthians 11:3
If a woman tries to serve two men it is adultery. If a man tries to serve Jesus Christ, and someone else, that is idolatry.
Yet it is perfectly reasonable for Christ to be Lord of more than one man, and it is acceptable for a man to be husband of more than woman.
The Bible is absolutely clear and consistent about this. It’s just that the Churches (pretty much all of them) have lied to us about this for a long long time.
Michael Sebastian says
Bart, there’s a lot here. I’ll read through it carefully and provide a response soon.
By the way, I’m about a quarter of the way through your book, and am finding it helpful. You cover such wide range of issues, and provide some excellent information.
Regarding patriarchy and polygamy, I know the things I said are shocking, and are contrary to much of what we have been taught.
Still, some theological heavyweights (including Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Martin Luther) said similar things in the past. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church tied the issue specifically to patriarchy-hierarchy-covenant.
“For by a secret law of nature, things that stand chief love to be
singular; but things that are subject are set under, not only one under one,
but, if the system of nature or society allow, even several under one, not
without becoming beauty. For neither hath one slave so several masters, in
the way that several slaves have one master. Thus we read not that any of
the holy women served two or more living husbands; but we read that
many females served one husband, when the social state of the nation
allowed it, and the purpose of the time persuaded it: for neither is it
contrary to the nature of marriage. For several females can conceive from
one man: but one female cannot from several men (such is the power of
things principal) as many souls are rightly made subject to one God.”
Wow! Augustine said that polygamy (polygyny really) is not contrary to the nature of marriage. Apparently Augustine understood that Patriarchy is the Creation mandate revealed in Genesis 2.
We are just scratching the surface.
Let’s take a look at a few Scriptural passages explaining the definition of the word adultery.
Most modern people, and religious institutions, define adultery something like this:
“Any sexual relations outside of marriage by either partner”.
The Bible clearly defines it very differently. The Biblical definition of adultery is something more like this:
“When a married or betrothed woman has sexual relations with a man other than her husband – or inversely stated – When a man has sexual relations with another man’s wife”.
The Hebrew word for adultery in the Ten Commandments and elsewhere is “na’aph”. The literal meaning of this word is “woman who breaks wedlock” (Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon word 5003). This word is used thirty-one times, in twenty-six verses, in eleven Old Testament books. It is never used in reference to the marital status of the man. It is always used in reference to the marital status of the woman. No man with multiple wives is ever said to have committed adultery in regard to his practice of polygamy. Furthermore, the Bible never says that a man commits adultery against his wife by taking another in addition to her. The commentators of the ESV study Bible clearly state this definition of adultery in their text note for Deuteronomy 5:18. There, they state that: “This specific prohibition is against a man having sexual relations with a woman who is married to someone else,…”.
Below are a few passages that illustrate this point. Keep Patriarchy in mind. Uncleanness/immorality is an issue, but so is violation of the husband’s authority (especially since it is noted three times in the Numbers 5 passage).
“And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her.” (Lev. 18:20)
“…you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” (Exodus 20:17)
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:10)
“So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 6:29)
“For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey;” (Proverbs 7:19) (Words of the adulterous woman)
“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God;” (Proverbs 2:16-17)
“because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives,…” (Jeremiah 29:23)
“Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband!” (Ezekiel 16:32)
“‘And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” (Deut. 5:21)
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”(Deuteronomy 22:22-24)
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’” (2nd Sam. 12:10) This is what God said to David after he had violated Bathsheba, a married woman. God never said anything negative to David about the dozen or so other wives he had.
“But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” (Genesis 20:3)
“How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) Joseph to Potiphar’s wife
There is also a law for the jealous husband who suspects his wife to have been unfaithful.
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the Lord. And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord and unbind the hair of the woman’s head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband’s authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh fall away and your body swell. May this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your womb swell and your thigh fall away.’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen, Amen.’
“Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the water of bitterness. And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain. And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand and shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children.
“This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, though under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.” (Numbers 5:11-31)
The passage repeatedly makes it absolutely clear that adultery is “when a woman has relations with a man other than her husband (or a man has relations with another man’s wife)”. There is no reciprocal law for the woman who suspects that her husband has another wife. There are no passages that state the inverse principle. Again, there is no passage where God calls polygamy a breaking faith, a going astray, a violation, or an unclean act.
The New Testament retains this same basic definition of adultery. In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul defines adultery exactly the same way as Moses and the Prophets.
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:2-3)
Paul says basically the same thing once again in 1st Corinthians.
“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (1st Corinthians 7:39)
Paul is intentionally one-directional in his statements. He clearly does not say that a man will be called an adulterer if he takes a second woman while his wife is alive.
Paul again tells us something very similar in 1st Thessalonians.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (1st Thess. 4:3-7)
Note that when Paul addresses the issue of sexual sin, that he frames it in the context of “wrong his brother”, and also tells us that the “the Lord is an avenger”. That is the exact same sense in which the Old Testament Law and historical narratives frame the issue. The husband has an absolute and inviolable right to the sexual exclusivity of his wife. If any other man has relations with his wife, then the man has been greatly wronged. God sees all things, knows all things, and will repay every evil deed.
Neither Christ, nor the Apostles ever define polygamy as adultery. Nor, does the Lord Jesus Christ cast aside the basic moral instructions of the Law of Moses.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”. (Matthew 5:17-19)
I must also add that both the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Prophet Malachi also treat unjust divorce as morally equivalent to adultery.
“…Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2:14-16)
Some alternate translations render a portion of verse sixteen to say that “God hates divorce”.
The prophet Malachi uses the same language of “breaking faith” when describing unjust divorce that Numbers 5 uses when describing an adulterous wife.
“But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32)
“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 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’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 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. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:3-9)
“And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-9)
Likewise, the Apostle Paul commands Christians not to divorce.
“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.” (1st Corinthians 7:10-15)
Michael Sebastian says
This is the strongest case for polygyny that I have ever read.
I agree that it is not contrary to natural law and that it was not forbidden in the OT.
If polygyny was part of the deposit of faith received from Christ, why do you think the early church abandoned the practice? A response to Roman monogamy perhaps?
The OT clearly permits polygyny, and the NT is silent on the issue (though I would argue that Paul infers its continuing legitimacy).
God, the Holy Spirit, through His servants Moses, and the Prophets, clearly permitted polygyny. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles did not prohibit it in the NT.
Apparently, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles must have felt that the Jews, and the 1st century Christians properly understood this aspect of the marital covenant, and that it needed no further clarification.
People try to infer that polygyny is now prohibited by resorting to Christ’s teaching on divorce. That violates the context of His teaching. He said nothing about polygamy. Rather, He taught that God always intended marriage to be permanent.
Therefore, I can only conclude that polygyny remains a lawful practice for Christians today.
You are a lawyer Michael. You understand the legal principle that “a crime by definition violates the law”. Where there is no law, then there can be no crime.
There is no law in the Bible prohibiting polygyny.
Now, the question about church history.
I think several things were involved.
(1) Influence of the Roman (and Greek cultures). The Greco/Roman culture was much like our own in that it held up monogamy as the standard, but was in fact filled with sexual immorality, prostitution, adultery, and every other form of polymorphous perversity.
The “monogamous” Roman empire tolerated the polygyny of the Jews, but Christians probably wanted to distance themselves from the Jews, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Also, remember that St. Augustine said that the reason it was wrong for Christians in his day to practice polygamy was that it violated their Roman laws and customs. He knew that it didn’t violate natural law. He also apparently knew that it didn’t violate “the spirit of Christian marriage”, “God’s original intention for marriage”, “the dignity of women” or “loving your wife as Christ loved the Church” or anything like that (commonly heard arguments).
(2) Gnostic influence (perhaps influences of Marcionism and Manichaeism as well)
The Church gradually began to absorb the idea that the physical or material life is “bad” and that the spiritual life is “good”. This led to a devaluation of the normal physical and material side of life.
I think the Church Fathers tend to have a somewhat negative (and unbiblical) view of marriage and sexuality in general. Origen reportedly took this to the extreme of castrating himself.
I also think monasticism was a generally harmful influence as well (remember I’m a Reformed leaning Protestant). 🙂
I think that the prohibition of polygyny is somehow connected to the celibacy of the clergy, and certain other issues.
Obviously, you can’t get rid of marriage in general for everyone (like the Shaker’s did in the U.S.) and survive very long. People who make no babies don’t generally do a good job of passing on their faith to the next generation. Also, very few people want to join a religion that totally prohibits marriage and sex.
Marriage had to be permitted, but it was treated as “less spiritual than celibacy” (I understand that this was in part based on Paul’s teaching in 1st Cor. 7)
I wonder if the Gnostics were the people Paul mentioned in 1st Tim. 4, who among other things, “prohibited marriage”. Anyone who would “prohibit marriage” is certainly a false teacher.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, WHO FORBID MARRIAGE and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1st Timothy 4:1-5)
On the other hand, true Christians (and the Church in general) might have been somewhat negatively influenced by the Gnostics, and the Greco Roman culture in such a way that they would start taking a somewhat negative view of marriage, and prohibit certain forms of marriage, such as: (1)polygyny, (2) sometimes remarriage after the death of the first spouse, and (3) consanguinity to a degree beyond that required by Leviticus 18.
In volume three of “Thelyphthora or A Treatise on Female Ruin”, Martin Madan discusses many of these issues in great detail. That is the best resource (volume 3)I’ve seen discussing the history of marriage in the Church. (Overall, I find volumes 1 &2 much more helpful however as they deal more with Biblical exposition).
Remember that Male headship in marriage (or patriarchy) is the real issue, and that headship logically implies at least the theoretical possibility of polygamy.
On a personal note, I’d like to mention that we have really barely scratched the surface of this issue. There is far more to say. I’ve written a paper outlining my understanding of the Bible’s teaching regarding this issue. I’ve given it to the leaders of my church for their consideration. They are currently studying the issue.
I imagine they will probably eventually ask me to leave. It is very hard to imagine a Southern Baptist church admitting that the Bible still permits polygyny.
Anyway, I’d be happy to email you a copy of my paper for your consideration if you’d like.
Michael Sebastian says
WordPress isn’t allowing me to reply directly to your last comment so I hope you see this one.
Your argument is very strong, but how do you deal with the following points?
1. In Ephesians, Paul bases his whole argument on marriage on Christ’s relation to his Church. But Christ cannot have more than one bride. If Christian men are allowed to have more than one wife it destroys the analogy that Paul is trying to draw.
2. In his letter to Timothy (1 Tim 3:2) Paul says that a bishop must be the “husband of but one wife.” This implies there is something less than ideal about polygyny. But a Christian should aim for the ideal.
3. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus points us back to the beginning saying that the original plan was one man, one woman. ‘At the beginning the Creator “made them male and female.” “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.’
4. This may be the ultimate point: Is the Church authoritative or can it err? The Church has held from the beginning (as far as I know, I am open to being persuaded) that marriage is between one man and one woman.
If we are looking solely at biblical texts (sola scriptura) I would agree that the OT explicitly permitted polygyny. The NT does not explicitly forbid it but seems to imply that it is not the ideal. This leaves us with a slightly ambiguous result. We can argue both ways.
On the other hand, if we consider the Church authoritative then the matter is closed.
I’d love to see your document. Please use the Contact form (http://honoranddaring.com/contact/) to send me a message and I will email you back.
It will take me some time to write up a response. Those are some of the most important questions related to this topic. Please be patient with me. I have thought about these issues, and believe there are solid answers to these questions.
Question 4 is probably most important for you (coming from a Roman Catholic position).
I do believe that all humans (save the Lord Jesus Christ – fully God fully Man) do make mistakes, and the Church is comprised entirely of fallible people.
Remember that I’m kind of a hard-core Evangelical Protestant. I am operating from a presupposition of sola scriptura. I believe the Bible alone to be the absolute and final source of authority for the Christian life. I believe that tradition, and Church teaching are very important, and helpful, but they aren’t the final absolute inerrant authority.
Therefore, regarding polygyny, the only question I am really addressing is this: What does the Bible teach about it?
It is kind of beyond the scope of our discussion to wrestle over whether Roman Catholics, or Protestants are correct in terms of sola scriptura.