We need to take a little stroll through history to identify the roots of the monogamy-only fallacy and, more importantly, why the enemy loves that fallacy!
Biblical Israel was not, nor has it ever been, a monogamy-only people or nation. Further, Biblical Israel was not, nor has it ever been, a democracy or democratic republic. The truth that is easily forgotten is that Biblical Israel, both past and future, is a patriarchal theocracy. And, patriarchy, by definition, places the central role of power and authority on individual men, heads of families and clans. Biblical Israel is a tribal people, both past and future. (e.g., Ezekiel 47, 48; Revelation 7:4-8; 21:13, etc.)
So, where did ‘monogamy-only’ come from and why? Understanding this will help us understand why patriarchy and family are so central to the heart of God and why He is restoring His plan in the world today!
Absorb the following quotes and their implications from The Western Case for Monogamy Over Polygamy by John Witte, Jr.
Already half a millennium before the time of Jesus, ancient Greece and ancient Rome had chosen monogamy as the only valid form of marriage that could produce legitimate and heritable widows and children. Sixth- and fifth-century BCE laws of various Greek city-states made clear that valid marriages had to be monogamous, and this norm also became commonplace in the first Roman law collections that have survived from the mid-fifth century BCE. Monogamy was a “quintessentially Greek” institution of the ancient world, Stanford ancient historian Walter Scheidel has shown, and the Thracian Greeks and the Romans after them regarded polygamy as “a barbarian custom or a mark of tyranny.”p. 104
Even though monogamy was the marital ideal of this classical Western world, both Greek and Roman laws did allow a married man to have sex with his slaves and prostitutes with impunity. These laws also allowed a married man to retain a longstanding concubine so long as she did not live in the marital home and did not inherit anything from the man.p. 107
Until the third century CE. roman law did not criminalize polygamy. If a man claimed to have two or more wives, the law simply recognized as valid only the first properly married wife. It was considered “legally impossible” to have more than one wife or marriage at the same time.p. 108
The prohibition on a married man living with or marrying his concubine in addition to his wife, “appears to be very old law,” Gellius went on; “it is said to be King Numa’s” -that is, Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome (ca. 716-673 BCE).p. 109
Plato’s student Aristotle (384-321 BCE) viewed monogamous marriage as the foundation of the polis. (Italics mine)p. 105
William of Auvergne (ca. 1180-1249), Bishop of Paris, offered a second argument against Muslim polygamy that would also become a staple of the broader Western case against polygamy…….Moreover, Williams continued, polygamous households can become independent powers that rival and distort the rule of legitimate political powers. Aristotle had properly seen that the “household is the foundation of the polis.”p. 161
All citations from The Western Case for Monogamy Over Polygamy, 2015. Witte, John Jr., Cambridge University Press.
While Witte, Jr.’s argument is for Christian monogamy-only, it is interesting that he has to make his case, not from Scripture, but from Greco-Romanism. Further, it is clear that he understands and articulates that the reason monogamy was implemented and eventually enforced by Greco-Romanism was to insure loyalty to the State and to destroy familial wealth and patriarchal power building. Please, let that sink in. The reason the State prefers monogamy is because it prevents tribalism. It prevents clannish power bases. It prevents the people of God from functioning in the very structure GOD designed and ordained!! In essence, the monogamy-only ‘ideal’ prevents the restoration of the house of Israel!!
As noted above, monogamy-only did not ‘value women’ and it did not decrease sexual promiscuity. In fact, the debauchery of the Greco-Roman empire is well documented including temple prostitution in conjunction with worship of the vindictive and jealous goddesses of monogamy and marriage: Juno and Hera with ‘a heavy side dose’ of Diana. Monogamy-only did not improve the lot of women, it did the opposite. Further, it led to the acceptance of serial divorce, mirrored in the church today!!
Conversely, God’s Word allowed for a man to marry more than one woman as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, and David did. His righteousness values and insures the protection and provision of every woman in the house of a godly man. Christendom denigrates Jacob for having four wives, but we see in our passage of Scripture that even though his life had been quite challenged by twelve rambunctious sons, he has laid the foundation of a nation, been fruitful and multiplied and established a wealth and power base that will rival Egypt!
Lest we assume that polygyny was an ‘old testament’ practice, here are a few more quotes from Witte’s excellent, though ill concluded, work.
While the Qumran community may have prohibited polygamy, most other Jewish communities permitted the practice, before and after the destruction of the Temple and the diaspora of the Jews in 70 CE. Jewish historian Josephus (37-ca 100 CE), for example, said that “it is our ancestral custom that a man have several wives at the same time.” Early Church Father, Justin Martyr (d.165 CE), included in his diatribe against Judaism a complaint the the “blind and stupid sages” of his day permitted Jewish men “to marry four or five wives at a time.” Justin Martyr went on derisively:
If any of you [Jews] see a beautiful woman, and desire to have her, they [the rabbis] cite the example of Jacob, who was Israel, and other Patriarchs to prove that there is no evil in such practices…. (p.50)p. 50
While Sephardic and Karite Jews continued to regulate polygamy by contractual provisions and communal policies, the Ashkenazi and Western Christandom officially prohibited polygamy and banned from the community any Jew who continued the practice….The ban effectively mandated faithful monogamy as the new ideal of Jewish law -… The ban (or herem in Hebrew) is attributed to Rabbi Gershom ben Judah of Mayence (960-ca. 1040), and is commonly referred to as “the ban of our tacher, Gershom.” Most scholars think the ban was issued around 1030…the ban was a major shift, because it explicitly prohibited practices that the Torah and the Talmud had long permitted…p. 59-60
Here is the significant point: Polygyny was practiced at the time of Messiah and He said nothing about it, but early Church Fathers aligned themselves against the Torah, and with Greco-Roman law, in support of the State. Then, nearly 1000 years later, Ashkenazi Judaism came into alignment with Western Christianity against the Torah by embracing monogamy-only as a legislated ideal, presumably to deter persecution. Just like Christianity, they chose Greco-Roman doctrine over the clear and simple Word of God.
God’s Word says, ‘He who finds a wife, finds a good thing.’ God describes Himself in Ezekiel 23 and Jeremiah 3 as having two brides, the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Further, God says that ‘[He] was a husband to them’ in the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:32)
Here is our point: It was God who led Jacob to have four wives and it was God who caused him to be fruitful and multiply, and He did so to establish a family and a nation. He has no problem or concern with whether a man has one wife or more than one. His only concern is that the man leads them in paths of righteousness and provides for and protects them until death! This, Jacob did! He safely brought his whole family to the place God planned to multiply and grow them, Egypt.
In the restoration of kol Israel, it is very reasonable to assume that God will not only restore His Torah, but will also restore a proper and true understanding of patriarchy, marriage, and family structure for the purpose of returning power and authority to male headship and tribalism. He designed it that way and the monogamy-only fallacy is clearly used by the adversary to undermine God’s plan.
The entire previous post is a direct quote from Authority, Headship, and Family Structure (According to Moses), by Peter G. Rambo, Sr. ppgs. 94-97.