Presentation on theme: "Pro-Poly Arguments. How is the Proposition that Polygyny is Moral to be Justified? There are three levels of proof: 1)Beyond a reasonable doubt: the highest."— Presentation transcript:
How is the Proposition that Polygyny is Moral to be Justified? There are three levels of proof: 1)Beyond a reasonable doubt: the highest level of proof, used mainly in criminal trials. 2)Clear and convincing evidence: an intermediate level of proof, used mainly in civil trials in the U.S. 3)Preponderance of evidence: the lowest level of proof, used mainly in civil trials; typically means more likely than not. The pro-poly position is that polygyny is a permitted activity. As long as the pro- polygynist position does not make an affirmation, then the practice has a presumption of innocence….as in “innocent till proven guilty.” If one does wish to argue that polygyny is looked upon favorably by God, it would seem that no more than the “preponderance of evidence” standard would be required. Nonetheless, we will attempt to show in what follows a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence.
Examples of Ways that Clear and Convincing Evidence Could be Shown 1)Narrative sections could discuss a polygynous situation and not yet contain any condemnation of the practice by the narrator. 2)A narrative section of Scripture could contain analogies in which one of the factors involved polygyny and yet it was not condemned. 3)A narrative section could contain evidence of blessing or implied promise, in which God’s activity might positively discuss polygyny or create a polygynous situation. 4)Case law that contains polygynous situations in the protasis without prior prohibition nor an inference of prohibition from the apodosis. 5)Case law that contains a condition in the apodosis which could require polygyny as a primary or secondary effect. 6)Case law that prohibit one kind of polygyny in the apodosis, yet not proscribe other kinds. Dr. John Walton, OT prof at Wheaton College
How would things work out if we asserted that polygyny was divinely approved (as contrasted with “Commanded”) though not directly divinely required? We would not have to provide no more than clear and convincing evidence (level two) and perhaps no more than the preponderance of evidence (level one). What would that sort of proof look like?
“The list could go on and on. But, of course, they don't do any of these as you well know.” Dr. John Walton* *Dr. Walton does not advocate, promote or defend polygyny. He believes that it is an obsolete practice related to the attempt to attain progeny and clarify inheritance in ancient time.
Eleven Arguments Against the Proscription of Polygyny 1)The burden of proof rests upon the Anti-Polys, because they lay the charge of immorality, but it has not been borne by them. (See previous presentation.) 2)Men, including the righteous, practiced it, but were never rebuked or corrected for practicing it. 3)The abuse regulations prohibit diminishing a wife’s provisions in the case of a subsequent, concurrent marriage, do not prohibit that marriage. This implies acceptance of plural marriage (Ex. 21:10-11). 4)The adultery laws (Lev. 18:20; 20:10; Deut. 22:13-27) are defined by the woman’s marital status, never the man’s. 5)The fornication laws (Ex. 22:16-17; Deut. 22:28-29) required the man to marry the woman without regard for his marital status (unless the father vetoed the marriage). 6)The Incest Laws prohibit sexual relations with a step-mother (Lev. 18:8). The text does not distinguish consecutive from concurrent step-mother relationships. 7)The Inheritance Laws regulated inheritance in re the children of different wives (Deut. 21:15-17), instead of prohibiting polygyny. No distinction is made between consecutive and current wives. 8)Two types of polygyny were forbidden by law (sisters as rivals—Lev. 18:18 and excessive and pagan wives for kings—Deut. 17:17), but not the practice per se. 9)The creation of a polygynous marriage was not an excuse for not fulfilling the obligations of the Levir (Deut. 25: 5-10). 10)God Himself gives plural wives. Indirectly by His righteous priest to King Joash (2 Chron. 24:2-3) and directly to David according to His prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:8). God states that He would have given David more wives if he had needed them (to avoid committing adultery with Bathsheba) (2 Sam. 12:8). To argue that God’s offer did not include women as potential wives is contrary to common sense. 11)God speaks of Himself in terms of polygyny (Ez. 23:1-4 et passim).
1) The anti-Polys Have the Burden of Proof and Have not Shouldered it The burden of proof arises from the Latin maxim semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit: "the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges.“ When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. The burden of proof rests on the party who advances a proposition affirmatively ("actori incumbit probatio"). “…usually one who makes an assertion must assume the responsibility of defending it. If this responsibility or burden of proof is shifted to a critic, the fallacy of appealing to ignorance is committed.” Michalos, Alex. 1969. Principles of Logic. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. p 370 - The upshot of this is that those laying the charge that polygyny is immoral or not divinely accepted have the burden of proof. Though the proposition “polygyny is immoral” is negative, it is advanced affirmatively. Those who practice polygyny do not advance a proposition (e.g., polygyny is moral behavior), they simply practice it. Were the pro-polygyny side to advance that proposition, they would have the burden of proof to justify their assertion, but that is not the case here. Therefore the Anti-Poly position has the burden of proof. In our previous presentation we have seen that the Anti-Poly position fails to prove their point.
2) Only one man was ever rebuked or condemned for practicing it. While unrighteous men may be expected to act sinfully and may not received a specific rebuke from God, the same would seem odd in regard to righteous men. In fact, NO man, with the exception of Solomon (who clearly broke Lev. 18:18), was ever condemned for the practice. And they are to be considered “innocent till proven guilty.” Lamech (Gen 4). While it is popular to condemn him for it. Lamech is at no point condemned by the narrator for it. Abraham (Gen. 12-25) Abraham, is the first example of a righteous man who had more than one wife. God rebuked Abraham indirectly through the rebukes of Pharaoh (Gen. 12) and of Abimelech (Gen. 20) for his failing to protect the purity of Sarah. But God never rebuked Abraham for taking Hagar or Keturah to wife. Hagar was sent away twice. The first time God told Hagar to go back to Sara when she fled Sara’s abuse. God did permit Abraham to put her away later, but did not rebuke him for taking her in the first place. God blessed Hagar (Gen. 21:13). It is also possible that Abraham had (other) concubines (cf. Gen 25:26). Jacob Jacob retained Leah as his wife and accepted the maidservants of Leah and Rachel when they were given him as concubines. He is never rebuked for doing so, and God blessed the lot of them by giving them babies for which they thanked God (Gen. 30). Anti-poly attempts to show that Jacob rejected polygyny after spiritual renewal at the Jabbock River are a combination of argument from silence plus post hoc ergo propter hoc argument. They are ludicrous. Moses Two wives are listed for Moses, and no rebuke except by his sister and brother, and Merriam was stricken with leprosy for it. Attempts by anti-polys to equate the women are strained at best.
David David is one of the men of the Bible who is repeatedly referred to as God’s servant. God rebuked David for his murderous adultery with Bathsheba, but never for his polygyny (1 Kings. 15:5). 1 Kings 15:5 He did this because David had done what he approved and had not disregarded any of his commandments his entire lifetime, except for the incident involving Uriah the Hittite. It is also true that David arrogantly numbered the Jewish military age men and was punished for it, however that was not a disregard for a commandment. The anti-polys argue that David was rebuked indirectly by God, insofar as he had difficulties after his polygynous marriages. But that is merely wishful thinking and not supported by a fair reading of the text. Solomon Solomon is judged to be wrong for his polygyny, but only for the type of women (1 Kings. 11:4) and excessive number (cf Deut. 17:17). But the contrast with David is clear. 1 kings 11:4 When Solomon became old, his wives shifted his allegiance to other gods; he was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been. 11:5 Solomon worshiped the Sidonian goddess Astarte and the detestable Ammonite god Milcom. 11:6 Solomon did evil in the Lord’s sight; he did not remain loyal to the Lord, like his father David had. No One But Solomon Was Ever Condemned for Practicing It. (Cont’d)
What is the conclusion to be drawn from this narrative history of polygynists? While it is true that righteous men sinned, it is inexplicable that none of these men who were largely devoted to God were ever rebuked by God for their polygynous ways. Why wouldn’t God directly (though prophets) and indirectly (through express statement of the narrator) rebuke them for what the anti-polys consider to be a sin as bad as adultery while at the same time doing so for such sins as adultery? Indeed no man, righteous (David) nor unrighteous (e.g., Lamech—Gen. 4) is ever expressly rebuked for practicing polygyny. That consistent omission shouts that God accepts the practice. Anti-poly attempts to show Divine displeasure through wild-eyed associations and arguments from silence coupled with post-hoc reasoning are laughable, but alas raised. For example Richard Davidson (Flame of Yahweh) contends that Jacob’s spiritual experience wrestling with God at the Jabbock was followed by his “return to monogamy,” evidenced by the narrators failure to call any but Rachel his “wife” after that event (see Gen. 46). Of course the narrator had just spoken of Leah and Rachel as wives before that wrestling match (Gen. 32:22), so apparently Moses corrected his (and the Holy Spirit’s) identification of Jacob’s women as well. Davidson also attempts to rehabilitate David by arguing that after Absalom defiled David’s ten wives, David only considered Bathsheba to be his wife. However, the ten “wives” were actually David’s concubines, not his full wives, because if full wives make up the 10 then Absalom had sex with his mother as well as Bathsheba, since only 10 wives of David are enumerated. Davidson even tries to rehabilitate Solomon, by saying he learned his lesson in his old age, citing the Prov. 5 “Ode to Monogamy.” However, Proverbs was written during Solomon’s mid-life, when he was still accruing wives and concubines.
3)The abuse regulations prohibit diminishing a wife’s provisions in the case of a subsequent, concurrent marriage, do not prohibit that marriage. This implies acceptance of plural marriage (Ex. 21:10-11). Ex. 21:10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money. This law deals with polygyny by requiring the husband to treat the first wife fairly, rather than prohibit the second woman from being taken as a plural wife. If God hated the practice it would have said, “If a man wishes to take another wife, he shall not do it, because it would diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights.” The fact that the passage does not prohibit polygyny stands as an evidence that God approves of the practice. Response by the Anti-Polys: Case law does not necessarily approve of anything in the protasis. For example Jesus clearly disapproves of the divorce in the protasis of Deut. 24:1, yet it resides in the law. Ex. 22:1 is another example of an action which is not condemned in the protasis but isn’t right.
It is almost always possible to determine the morality of the protasis by consideration of the apodosis. Let’s look at Deut. 24:1, which has a 2-part protasis: Deut. 24:1 If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something offensive in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. 24:2 When she has left him she may go and become someone else’s wife. 24:3 If the second husband rejects her and then divorces her, gives her the papers, and evicts her from his house, or if the second husband who married her dies, 24:4 her first husband who divorced her is not permitted to remarry her after she has become ritually impure, for that is offensive to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. In the apodosis the divorcee in question is not permitted to return to her husband after she has become defiled by a second marriage. Why not? Is it because of the remarriage per se…she has become “tainted property”? No. Why not? Because nothing prohibits her from marrying someone else (a third party). She is only off limits to the first husband. So the issue is something that relates to the first husband. What did he do? He divorced her for “erwat dabar” (“something offensive”– the “nakedness of a thing”). This cannot be adultery, because if it were that, she would have been executed (Lev. 20:10). Later in the history of Israel, when they ceased to execute for that cause, divorce was substituted. In that case if she had been guilty of adultery, and repented, she could remarry her husband (cf. Hosea 2-3). So it isn’t exactly sex with the second man that places her off limits to her first husband. So the offensive thing (v. 4) involves both the divorce (v. 1) and the remarriage (v. 2) but only in relation to the first husband. He divorced her on something less than the grounds of adultery and didn’t change his mind and take her back to the point that she was taken officially…legally…by another man. The first husband diminished her provisions--completely. Exodus 21:10-11 had previously taught that diminishing her provisions within marriage was an offense worthy of her having the right to get out of the marriage. Divorce is a complete diminishing of her provisions by ending the marriage. That shows that the action of the divorce was a serious wrong to her. Just as he had no right to diminish because he found someone he liked better (Ex. 21:10), so too he had no right to divorce her on the grounds of “erwat dabar.” Divorcing her for “the nakedness of a thing” was not a justifiable grounds for divorce (though reversible). But, his action was “over the limit” if he also allowed her to be legally taken by another man. She was not to be passed back and forth like a piece of property that could be given up,, claimed by another man, given up and then reclaimed by the first man. (The context supports this as well, cf. Deut. 23:17, where children are not allowed to be put in a situation where they would be passed back and forth from one sex partner to another). Thus, clearly…and I use that word advisedly…clearly the action of the man in divorcing his wife for “erwat dabar” is an immoral act, which, if not reversed before her second marriage, places her “off limits to the first husband. Malachi represents God’s judgment against such a man (Mal. 2); Jesus does as well (Matt. 19). This proves that the protasis is a sin, and that that can be determined from the implication of the action in the apodosis.
Let us consider the situation in Ex. 22:1. Davidson claims that the protasis of Ex. 22:1 does not identify the action as sinful, per se, and therefore just because a protasis “regulates” an action does not prove that it is divinely accepted. This is true but a red herring. Ex. 22:1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox, and four sheep for the one sheep. 1)Those who cite this law as having a protasis which is wrong, but not identified as such by the protasis alone know that the action of the protasis is not right from the prior Statute, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15). 2)But it could also have known it by the apodosis of the case law itself, which reverses the action of the protasis, namely the agent of the action of the protasis must give back what he took in multiple kind. This shows that the approbation or offense of the protasis is determinable from the case law itself, i.e., from the apodosis. To argue that the protasis alone does not teach the morality of the action in the protasis is a “straw man” argument.
Since we do not have either prior legislation or evidence from the apodosis that an action in the protasis is an offense, we have no grounds to consider it as such. Innocence is presumed. The propriety of polygyny is presumed. Conclusion Regarding the Protasis of Exodus 21:10 Ex. 21:10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights.
The Anti-polys Attempt to argue that Ex. 21:10-11 is Not Talking About a Plural Marriage. They argue that the text stricken through should be translated as “who did not designate her.” In other words, he never took her as a wife, though he made the covenant for that and paid the “bride” price. Thus, there is no “other” wife to be had in verse ten…only another servant girl. This is wrong on a number of counts. 1 ) The fact that he did not fulfill the bargain would not disqualify the girl from being considered a wife as long as she had not been redeemed yet (cf. Lev. 19) Lev. 19:20 “‘When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation. They must not be put to death, because she was not free. In this passage she is considered a slave-wife, and punishable (compensation), but not like a full wife. Thus if she were the first woman, the second would be considered a second wife. 2)It is also possible that verses 10-11 presumes a third situation in which the master did take the girl (verse 6) as a wife or had another wife not mentioned till now. 3)The “he” in verses 10 and 11 might be the son (verse 9). That relationship apparently did result in a marriage (concubinage), and would be polygynous if a second woman was added to her. 4)It might also be argued that if a man had this responsibility if he only took a 2 nd servant girl, he would even more have a responsibility to do the same if a wife were in question. Thus there is insufficient basis for denying that a second wife is actually in view in these text. The presumption of the wording is that it is a second wife. It’s talking about wives not servants. Ex. 21:7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female servant, she will not go out as the male servants do. 21:8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself did not designate her, then he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has dealt deceitfully with her. 21:9 If he designated her for his son, then he will deal with her according to the customary rights of daughters. 21:10 If he takes another wife woman, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money.
5) The adultery laws (Lev. 18:20) specify the woman’s marital status, but never the man’s. Compare these regulations: Ex. 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins. Lev. 18:20 You must not have sexual intercourse with the wife of your fellow citizen to become unclean with her. Lev. 20:10 If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. Deut. 22:22 If a man is caught having sexual relations with a married woman both the man who had relations with the woman and the woman herself must die; in this way you will purge evil from Israel. Deut. 22:23 If a virgin is engaged to a man and another man meets her in the city and has sexual relations with her, 22:24 you must bring the two of them to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry out though in the city and the man because he violated his neighbor’s fiancée; in this way you will purge evil from among you.
Why is the definition of adultery always related to the woman’s marital status, never the mans? It is another of those very odd omissions that the definitions never mention the man’s marital status as being important, while each makes a point of specifying the woman’s marital status. It would have been easy to have written something like the following: Lev. 20:10 If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. And if a woman commits adultery with her neighbor’s husband, both the adulteress and the adulterer must be put to death. Anyone not coming to these texts with his mind made up should see that the omission of such a condemnation is intentional and implies the permissibility of polygyny.
6) The Incest Laws prohibit sexual relations with a step-mother (Lev. 18:8), while not prohibiting polygyny. A step-mother could be either 1) the wife the father married as a widower, 2) a woman married after he divorced his first wife, or 3) his polygynous wife. It is presumptuous to demand that the prohibition of sex with the step-mother is limited to instances of 1 & 2. Leviticus 21 specifies that divorced, widowed or a former prostitute, must not be taken by a priest and/or high priest. This text could have specified that it wasn’t talking about a plural wife, because she was not permitted in the first place. It is yet one more opportunity ignored where polygyny could have been prohibited. Again, the continued presentation of regulations and narratives where condemnation might have been entered onto the record, BUT IT WASN’T,lends support to the presumption of innocence regarding the practice.
7) The Laws regulated inheritance in re the children of different wives (Deut. 21:15- 17), instead of prohibiting polygyny and thereby precluding the issue. Deut. 21:15 Suppose a man has two wives, one whom he loves more than the other, and they both bear him sons, with the firstborn being the child of the less loved wife. 21:16 In the day he divides his inheritance he must not appoint as firstborn the son of the favorite wife in place of the other wife’s son who is actually the firstborn. 21:17 Rather, he must acknowledge the son of the less loved wife as firstborn and give him the double portion of all he has, for that son is the beginning of his father’s procreative power – to him should go the right of the firstborn. Yet one more opportunity missed to prohibit polygyny. If polygyny had been proscribed at an earlier point, there would have been no need for such a law, OR it could have been easy to have written this regulation to prohibit polygyny. Anti-polys argue that the “tense” of the Hebrew is such that translators cannot rule out that the wives were not concurrent. But, the Pro-poly position does not argue that the plural wives must be concurrent. Instead we argue that one cannot rule out concurrence. The person who makes the assertion that one form is ruled out has the burden of proof. The lack of such a limitation by Moses implies that polygyny is permissible as regulated. If that had not been the intention, then the text would have stated that the children of a second, concurrent wife were illegitimate or at least not protected by the inheritance laws.
8) Two types of polygyny were forbidden by law, but not the practice per se. The first law is in Lev. 18:18. Lev. 18:18 You must not take a woman in marriage and then marry her sister as a rival wife while she is still alive, to have sexual intercourse with her. If this law had intended to prohibit polygyny, it would have said, “You must not take a woman in marriage if you already have a wife.” The law prohibits creating a rivalry which is related to close kin. Anti-polys argue that the phrase “woman to her sister” is figurative for a woman and another woman, based on the fact that it is always elsewhere used figuratively. However, in those instances it is obviously figurative, whereas here it sis in the context of actual sisters (i.e., the incest laws). They try to undercut that by arguing that the structure of the chapter associates verse 18 with the verses which follow it, rather than those incest texts which precede it. But that doesn’t hold up. Propolys don’t argue that 18 is in incest law, but associated with them because of “close kin,” and the offense prohibited is creating a rivalry, rather than simply marrying blood sisters. The second law is found in Deut. 17:17. Deut. 17:16 Moreover, he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so, for the Lord has said you must never again return that way. 17:17 Furthermore, he must not marry many wives lest his affections turn aside, and he must not accumulate much silver and gold. This law prohibited kings from taking many wives. Even the anti-polys admit that this verse may allow kings to have more than one wife. Since kings were to be examples, then to allow them to practice polygyny would be to allow it to the common man. Also, the king was to have a copy of the law nearby to enforce it. Why do we not have a single instance of a king prohibiting polygyny, especially by those who were purportedly monogamous? Those like Davidson who admit that this law does not clearly exclude all royal polygyny, conveniently forget their hesitancy thereafter and speak of this law as prohibiting polygyny.
9) Polygyny was not an excuse for not fulfilling the obligations of the Levir (Deut. 25: 5-10). Deut. 25:5 If brothers live together and one of them dies without having a son, the dead man’s wife must not remarry someone outside the family. Instead, her late husband’s brother must go to her, marry her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law. 25:6 Then the first son she bears will continue the name of the dead brother, thus preventing his name from being blotted out of Israel. 25:7 But if the man does not want to marry his brother’s widow, then she must go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel; he is unwilling to perform the duty of a brother-in- law to me!” 25:8 Then the elders of his city must summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I don’t want to marry her,” 25:9 then his sister-in-law must approach him in view of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. She will then respond, “Thus may it be done to any man who does not maintain his brother’s family line!” 25:10 His family name will be referred to in Israel as “the family of the one whose sandal was removed.” This law would require a polygynous family situation as an unspecified secondary effect if the redeeming brother was already married. The Anti-Polys argue that the brother must have been younger and unmarried to be living in the same house with the deceased brother. But the text does not say that, the language simply means to exclude from the obligation brothers who lived many miles distant from the surviving woman. “Live together” does not necessarily mean “in the same house.” And the curse being on the “family name” may imply that the potentially redeeming brother is already married and has a family. Even the anti-polys admit that in later times, “brother” was expanded to mean a near relative (e.g., Boaz—Ruth 2). Again, such a redeeming relative might already have a wife. If so, that is not presented as a reason for the “brother” not to have married the widow. This is what you might call a “secondary effect.” The law did not preclude such a possibility, and we would have expected that if polygyny was tantamount to adultery as some anti-poly’s insist, that option would have been covered (closed).
10) God gives plural wives A. Indirectly through His righteous priest to King Joash (2 Chron. 24:2-3). 2 Chron. 24:2 Joash did what the Lord approved throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest. 24:3 Jehoiada chose two wives for him who gave him sons and daughters. It would seem very odd that the Godly priest Jehoiada would lead young king Joash into a sin as significant as the Anti-Polys insist polygyny to be. And thus they are driven to find some way to force the text into making this act an evil. Their creativity is boundless. They argue that this text should be considered against its parallel in 2 kings. 2 Chron. 24:2 Joash did what the Lord approved throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest. 24:3 [Heb: and] Jehoiada chose two wives for him who gave him sons and daughters. 2 Kings 12:2 Throughout his lifetime Jehoash did what the Lord approved, just as Jehoiada the priest taught him. 12:3 But the high places were not eliminated; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense on the high places. They argue that the “and” in 2 Chron. 24:3 should be taken as a direct parallel to the “But” in 2 Kings 12:3, thus making it a negative comment, parallel to the failure to take away the high places. This sort of manipulation is what DA Carson called the fallacy of excessive parallelism. Not only does their parallel involve different moral agents holding responsibility (Jehoiada in Chronicles/Joash in 2 kings), but it also fails to let on that 2 Chronicles does mention the failure to eliminate the evil worship places in verse 18. The “parallel’s are not really that parallel at that point. Chronicles simply includes extra material.
10) God gives plural wives B. Directly to David according to His prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:8). God states that He gave David plural wives previously (2 Sam. 12:8). 2 Sam. 12:8 “I gave you your master’s house, and put your master’s wives into your arms. I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. … 12:9 Why have you shown contempt for the word of the Lord by doing evil in my sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife as your own! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” David already had Saul’s daughter and two other wives before Saul’s “house” was given to David. The Anti-polys find it necessary to reinterpret the phrase in red to make it seem that God wasn’t really providing Saul’s wives to David but only Saul’s citizens. They argue that Saul is only said to have had one wife and one concubine and since the former was Michal’s mother, David could hardly have been given his mother-in-law as a wife…that being proscribed in Leviticus 18:17. They also point out that the term for “arms” can mean “chest.” And “chest” sounds less like sex. I recall Kaiser trying to make this point in my seminary class on OT theology. He admitted that the term for women is used and that the term translated “arms” can mean “lap.” It led me to remark, why would God think that David should not have lusted for another man’s wife but instead should have been thinking about all the female citizens of Saul’s court that God had put in his lap (to only have platonic relations with)! How inappropriate is that? The fact is that we don’t know how many wives that Saul had, but the likelihood is that he had a number more concubines, and those were the ones David received. After all, the taking of the previous king’s concubines was a sign of the transition of kingship (cf. Absalom’s taking of David’s 10 concubines to prove his ascendance—2 Sam. 16 and Adonijah’s attempt to take David’s concubine, Abishag, to prove his right to be king—1 Kings 2). Nice try, but God is saying that David had non-married options when he lusted.
10) God gives plural wives C. God states that He would have given David more wives if he had needed them (to avoid committing adultery with Bathsheba) (2 Sam. 12:8). 2 Sam. 12:8 I gave you your master’s house, and put your master’s wives into your arms. I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well! 12:9 Why have you shown contempt for the word of the Lord by doing evil in my sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife as your own! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. This is the elliptical (…) sentence from the last slide. God is saying that if the women that He had given him wasn’t enough, He would have given him more. Again, it is comical to suggest that God was offering David land and kingdom rights to assuage sexual desire. [“David! Why did you lust for a married woman? Don’t you know that I gave you land to control and would have given you more land?”] One Evangelical leader who admitted to having had a pornography addiction said, “When you are in the grip of lust, you’d run over your own grandmother to satisfy it.” Can the Anti-polys really be serious? Do they need a shot of testosterone to find an empathetic hermeneutic? Since God would hardly give David something sinful, the implications of this section are enough to establish at least the second level of burden of proof (“clear and convincing”) if not the first (“beyond reasonable doubt”) for all but the hermeneutically “halt, maimed and blind.”
11) Would God Consider Monogamy the Only Righteous form of Marriage and Yet Call Himself a Polygynist? Ez. 23:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 23:2 “Son of man, there were two women who were daughters of the same mother. … 23:4 Oholah was the name of the older and Oholibah the name of her younger sister. They became mine, and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem. … 23:36 The Lord said to me: “Son of man, are you willing to pronounce judgment on Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominable deeds! 23:37 For they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and their sons, whom they bore to me, they have passed through the fire as food to their idols. Seem clear to you? Ah … but the Anti-Polys insist that this is just figurative language, because if we take this as an example for human’s to follow, then husbands could marry sisters, which, they say, even the Pro-Polys say is wrong (Lev. 18:18). Wrong. The Pro-Poly position does not say that Lev. 18:18 prohibits marring sisters, but only if to do so was an attempt to split a family by taking a sister for the purpose of stirring up a rivalry. And no matter how you cut it, God is taking to Himself the status of a polygynist husband…something you cannot say He would do if it were a sin. Does God ever call Himself a Murderer, an Adulterer, a Thief, a Liar? No! Therefore polygyny must be an acceptable mode of marriage. Once again, we have established a top tier justification for burden of proof.
But what about the New Testament? I am not among the number that thinks that Jesus implies that He is a polygynist in the parable of the 10 virgins…so interpreted as 10 brides. No Hebrew wedding had more than one bride. And while I do think that the relationship between Christ and individual believers shows that multiple intimate relationships remember that the Holy Spirit is presented as our “engagement ring” (Eph. 1:13-14), the NT picture of Christ’s Bride is the Church as a corporate entity…which is like the husband to a poly family. But nothing in the NT denies what we have established from the Old Testament, and Jesus specifically says that He has not come to annul the Law (Matt. 5:17-20). [Remember that we have covered the alleged denial of polygyny in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles in the Presentation on “How to Respond to Anti-poly Arguments.” Remember as well, that anyone claiming that God has changed the rules of marriage half way through history, has the burden of proof.]
My conclusion then is that the Pro-Poly position is quite strong, certainly shouldering the third level of burden of proof, which is more than is necessary since presumption of innocence rests with polygyny. If polygyny would have been required as a secondary effect in several instances (i.e., fornication laws and the Levirate Law), I believe that to the objective person we have a case of “clear and convincing.” If God did both offer it to David and use it figuratively of Himself, we probably have a case of “beyond reasonable doubt.”
Feel free to use any of the resources found on Biblical Families website, if you feel unable to present the pro-poly position to others yourself. And remember that, Lord willing, we intend to produce a “counter-point” book on the subject in the near future.