Monday, September 28, 2009

Plural Marriage

Joseph Herrin (09-28-09)

Note: This post is part of a series on the marriage covenant. It is not intended to be taken as a standalone teaching, but received in the larger context in which it is presented. It is not intended to advocate the practice of polygamy, but rather to present a Biblically correct view of the subject that questions related to marriage, divorce, remarriage, and a clear definition of what constitutes adultery may be arrived at. To understand this teaching in its context, please begin with the first post in this series, and read them all in order.

http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/marriage-covenant-introduction.html

Before moving forward to speak on betrothal, I believe it is needful to speak somewhat further on the subject just disclosed, which is polygamy. Admittedly, this is a subject that is new to me in that I have never taught on it before. Before this week, I had never looked at the matter in any depth.

As I have looked further into this topic I have found that there are Christians who practice polygamy today, even in America. My daughter told me of a friend of hers who is returning from Alaska. While there she met many woman who wear headcoverings, clothe themselves in modest dress, and are in plural marraiges. Many prefer to speak of the practice of polygamy as “Plural Marriage,” for the word polygamy has become stigmatized by society. You can find a website by one such group at the following URL.

http://biblicalfamilies.org/commonmisc

As I have continued to ponder this topic, I have observed further instances of it in the Scriptures. I have also considered some Scriptures that are difficult to understand, which some view as a denunciation of a man having more than one wife. I believe these Bible passages should be shared before moving forward.

I am hopeful that those reading these teachings will test all that has been set forth. I wish that all would be as the noble Bereans, searching the Scriptures, while inviting the Spirit of Christ to guide them. I do not mind having any teaching challenged. Indeed, I have often encouraged the saints to be diligent in their personal examination of all things that their understanding might rest upon the testimony of God rather than the testimony of man.

I have received much encouragement in these teachings by those who want to know what the Scriptures teach. There are some who prefer the counsel of God to the orthodoxy of men, even when God’s counsel is unpopular. One brother in Christ wrote me the following:

I wanted to send you a quick note of encouragement, because I can only imagine the flak that you are going to receive over the most recent ParablesBlog post regarding polygamy and adultery as defined by the Word of truth. If most have not done so already, you will most surely be called a heretic now! Yet, I know that you speak the truth and I love you for it and will continue to stand with you as long as you continue to seek to correctly divide the word of God, not caring what men may think. I was reminded of the following testimony that the Pharisee spoke of Jesus. I think it rings true of you as well even though the Pharisee's motives in making these statements were not genuine. Still, what they spoke about Christ was true-

Matthew 22:16
They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Mark 12:14
They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Luke 20:21
So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

I appreciate the sincere comments and questions that I have received. Yahweh has encouraged me greatly to press on with this teaching. I will share a few additional insights pertaining to the allowance Yahweh has made for a man to have more than one living wife. First I will mention an instance in which Yahweh portrays Himself as having more than one wife.

Ezekiel 23:1-4
The word of Yahweh came to me again saying, "Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed, and there their virgin bosom was handled. And their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.”

Without question, Yahweh would never set forth an image of Himself as an adulterer. Therefore, it must be concluded that the example He has used here is not to be construed as adultery. The righteousness of Yahweh is not impugned in any way by this analogy.

A further example is found in the Law which Yahweh delivered to Moses. This is related to the subject of the kinsman redeemer. If a man took a wife, and he died before having offspring, his name would be cut-off from the land. This was considered a great tragedy. To prevent this from occurring, the brother of the deceased man was instructed to take his wife, and to raise up seed for the deceased. The firstborn, in this way, would take the name of the dead brother, and be considered his descendant. Any further sons and daughters would belong to the living brother.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6
"When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.”

Note here that there is no mention whatsoever of the living brother being required to be single. It would very often happen to be the case that the only living brother, or brothers, would be married. Despite this fact, these men were to take the brother’s wife to be their own, and to raise up seed for the deceased. We can therefore observe that there were times when Yahweh REQUIRED a man to take another wife.

A similar, albeit far less noble, example is found in the laws pertaining to a man who saw a virgin and lusted after her. Should this man force the virgin to have sexual relations with him, upon being found out, he was required to marry the maiden.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
"If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

Once again, we find nothing stated in the instructions that would alter this command if the man who violated the maiden was already married. It was lawful for a man to have more than one wife. Therefore the man who was married, and who forced a virgin and was discovered, would of necessity have to receive a second wife.

There are likewise, other commands not yet named which are found in the Law that Yahweh delivered to Moses. These laws set guidelines for the man who has more than one wife. Following is the unusual case of a man who takes a slave girl to be his wife.

Exodus 21:7-10
And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. And if he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.

There is a great deal of evidence in the Scriptures to allow those interested to test this matter. The conclusion is certain: Yahweh permitted a man to have more than one wife. Yahweh never condemned a man as an adulterer, or even as a transgressor, if he had more than one wife. As we have seen, Yahweh blessed many men who had a plurality of wives, and has given these men a name, that they are righteous. These men include Abraham, Jacob (Israel), and David. It is very possible that even Moses had more than one living wife.

Exodus 2:16-21
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, "Why have you come back so soon today?" So they said, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds; and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock." And he said to his daughters, "Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat." And Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.

Here we read of Moses marrying Zipporah, who was the daughter of the priest of Midian. Zipporah was a Midianite, and therefore a descendant of Abraham.

Genesis 25:1-2
Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. And she bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian...

Moses’ first wife was acceptable to his family, for she was a descendant of Abraham, and a Shemite (Semite), a descendant of Noah’s son Shem. Later, Moses took a wife who was a Cushite.

Numbers 12:1
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)...

The land of Cush, is synonymous with Ethiopia. The people there are black skinned, and they are descendants of Noah’s son Ham.

Genesis 10:6
And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.

It was due to Moses having married a descendant of Ham, whom Noah cursed, that Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses. God judged Miriam for her disrespect toward Moses, striking her with leprosy.

What I wish to point out is that Moses had two wives, and it is possible, but not absolutely certain, that he had two wives who were both living, for nothing is mentioned of Zipporah having died. It is those who view polygamy as sin who would argue that Zipporah must certainly have died prior to Moses marrying the Cushite. We are not told that Zipporah had died. Moses delivered many laws to the people allowing for men to have more than one wife, so it must be considered that even Moses practiced plural marriage.

I would proceed on to look at a few Scriptures that have been used to condemn the practice of a man having more than one wife. They all come from the life of Christ, and are needful to consider.

Matthew 19:9
“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Mark 10:11-12
And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

Luke 16:18-19
"Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

What is obvious from each of these verses is that divorce is the central matter being discussed. Christ is not addressing the practice of polygamy. If He had been, He would have said, “Every man who takes to himself more than one wife commits adultery.”

Christ came to fulfill the Law, and to make known the spirit of the Law. He did not come to reinterpret it, nor to alter its commands. As we have observed, the Law permitted a man to have more than one wife, so it must NOT be concluded from these words recorded by the gospel writers that Christ is declaring a man with more than one wife to be an adulterer.

Let us consider Christ’s words in light of a very similar statement that He made. It includes much of the same phrasing and context as the three verses cited, while adding additional insight.

Matthew 5:31-32
"And it was said, 'Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Here is the heart of the matter. The man who divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity, or fornication (Greek ‘porneia’), is a transgressor in the eyes of God. The man’s transgression is two-fold. He makes his wife commit adultery, and he allows other men to commit adultery with her.

Mark 10:11-12
And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another (woman) commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

What is intended by the words, “commits adultery against her”? This is not the same as the common definition of a man committing adultery, for as we have seen, this is always defined as a man taking another man’s wife to himself. Does not the man who divorces his wife “commit adultery against her” by placing her in a situation where she must commit adultery to survive? Indeed, he does, and this was clearly what Christ was expressing in Matthew 5:31-32.

We see therefore, that Christ is not presenting a new definition of adultery for the man, nor is He now condemning the man who has more than one wife. What He is speaking of is the transgression of the man who divorces his wife for a reason other than ‘porneia.’ It is in the next chapter that we will look at the definition of porneia.

Matthew chapter 19, and Mark chapter 10, are describing the same encounter between Christ and the Pharisees, who had come to try to entrap Yahshua in His words.

Matthew 19:3
And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?"

Mark 10:2
The Pharisees came and asked Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" testing Him.

In each instance the question Christ is answering is whether a man may divorce his wife for any cause. The question was not whether a man may have more than one wife. Christ answers the Pharisees by saying that a man is only allowed to divorce his wife for the cause of fornication. If a man puts a wife away for any other reason, he commits adultery against her by causing her to enter into union with another man. This results in the woman, and the man who takes her for his wife, committing adultery.

This is all that we can declare from these verses. Comparing Scripture to Scripture we are able to arrive at the correct meaning of the words of Christ. He is not describing some new transgression that occurs when a man has more than one wife, for the Law did not declare polygamy to be transgression. Christ is instead, revealing the Father’s heart concerning a man putting away his wife with a writing of divorce. These are separate matters.

Let me conclude this matter of a Scriptural understanding of lawful polygamy by stating those points we have observed in the Scriptures.

• Polygamy has been practiced among mankind from the opening chapters of the Bible.

• Many righteous men had more than one living wife, among them were Abraham, Jacob and David.

• Yahweh blessed men through the offspring of their latter wives, not just their first wife.

• The Law that Yahweh delivered to Moses regulated polygamy, but did not forbid it.

• Yahweh described Himself as having more than one wife.

• Yahweh said He gave David his wives.

• Yahweh established certain Laws, such as that of the kinsman redeemer, that at times required a man to have more than one wife.

• Adultery for a man is defined as sexual intercourse with another man’s wife.

• Christ said a man would be causing his wife to commit adultery if he divorced her for any reason other than fornication.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 5546
Macon, GA 31208

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok, but can we be careful here to also not encourage polygamy either through these writings? Just because it was lawful according to scripture does not mean it's a good thing. Maybe it was common in the O.T. because of the command to be fruitful and multiply as there was not the number of people on the earth like today. Who knows? God knows marriages struggle enough than to come across a writing like this to justify getting another wife. Sorry to say but I almost feel this teaching on polygamy could have been left out.

Joseph Herrin said...

I can understand your revulsion to the topic, for I also experience the influence of modern social prejudices. But we must not condemn that which God does not.

It was necessary to address this topic in order to answer the many questions and varied arguments that arise concerning the marriage covenant, divorce and remarriage.

This post, and the previous one, includes a wealth of Scriptural examples of godly men and women who experienced plural marriages. It also included guidelines from Yahweh pertaining to plural marriages. It must be concluded that the modern aversion to polygamy is due to societal values, rather than Biblical condemnation.

I introduced this subject with the following statement: "This teaching is focused upon a BIBLICAL concept of the marriage covenant. I am not seeking to declare that which is socially acceptable, nor the orthodox teaching of the hour. My desire is to know the mind of Yahweh, and to accurately disclose it."

Anonymous said...

Joseph:

Will you be covering the following verse(s) in a forthcoming post?

Mat 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Thanks.

Joseph Herrin said...

The verse you pointed out is an excellent one, and worthy of consideration. I do not yet know what direction the Spirit may lead me in before this present study is concluded, so I will speak to this verse here.

Christ is speaking of adultery here, which is having intercourse with a married woman. He is saying that even if a man refrains from violating his neighbor's wife, if he lusts after her he has already committed adultery in his heart.

Adultery is given as the specific context of this admonition of the Lord. Yet we cannot by this narrow focus declare that it is okay to lust after single women. The New Testament also speaks against fornication, which is sex outside of marriage, the term being used for one who engages in sex with a woman who is unmarried.

The King James Bible refers to those who engage in such immoral activity as "whoremongers" as opposed to "adulterers." Yet both activities are spoken against, so a man should not entertain lustful thoughts toward either single or married women.

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

A more modern translation would render whoremongers as "fornicators," or "the sexually immoral."

The standard Yahweh would have us to aspire to is observed in the life of Christ. He was content with whatever the Father chose for Him, and so should we be. If the Father desires for us to remain single, we should strive to be content. If He desires us to marry, we can rejoice in His will, while being content with the woman He chooses for us.

Christ manifested perfect contentment with the will of the Father, and Paul also said he had learned the secret of contentment.

The man who is content with the will of the Father will not give himself to covetousness, or lustful thoughts. He will buffet his body and keep it under subjection. This is the standard the Father has set for all of His sons and daughters.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Anonymous said...

I am reading your current blog on plural marriage with an open heart on the matter. Not that we are interested in doing this! For a little background--my husband and I met and married in the church. He had been previously married and had three children. He did not know she had been unfaithful quite a bit. One day she just came in and wanted a divorce so she could marry someone else. He was devistated and did not want the divorce. Nevertheless she persued it, moved out of the state and he lost any contact with his children until they were in their 50's. During our time in the church we were mostly made to feel as second class christians, even allowed to hold any kind of position in some of them because of the divorce issue. One pastor even made a personal house visit to let us know how things were to be. BUT, they gladly recieved our tithes! I KNEW this attitude was wrong, but the Bible SEEMED to back up the divorce issue they presented. This scripture in Mark 10:11-12 makes it all clear. SHE commits adultry, SHE got the divorce--not him! The truth was there all the time in plain sight.
After almost 50 years of marriage we are free from that condemnation!
Thank God! I will sign this annomymous as I am sure there is a multitude of christians out there that have gone through the same thing.
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Soooo,... if a husband starts DATING another woman-no FORNICATION-he is not violating a law? Obviously, he would have to DATE someone before making her his next wife.... Hmmm.... It is better to marry than to burn-passion..... I am paraphrasing there, since I can't remember the exact wording on that last one.
So,... theoretically, my husband can look, can date or take another wife as long as she was not already some other man's wife. Hmmm.... How would that not make a woman sick to her stomach, no different than a man would feel if his wife wanted to add another man to the home? That is bad to feel that way then? Hmmmm..... OK, if the Lord WANTED the man to take another wife then maybe it wouldn't feel so bad??? Hmmmm.... I wouldn't mind a couple of husbands! He he he
Seriously though......
Hmmmm.... Why didn't ever say WIVES? So being FAITHFUL to your WIFE is then DIVIDED when the next one comes along and then she is to have SOME of the honoring, cherishing, etc. etc. ?????
Well, we are to obey the laws of the land too right?
Hmmmm...... SIIIIIGH...
Just when I think I'm gettin' the hang of things, something like this last article comes along and whamo! What the heck am I supposed to think about this?
Judge no man in food or marriage... Hmmmmmm....
ALLLLLLRRRRIGHTY....
Does anyone else have a knot in their stomache about this too? Confusion?????

Joseph Herrin said...

I do appreciate your attitude in asking these questions. I can tell you are seeking to maintain an open mind, while also expressing some grave reservations.

Much of the difficulty encountered by women such as yourself is due to societal values. There are cultures where polygamy is considered normal, as it was for many in the Bible. When people are raised to consider something normal they do not respond with revulsion, even in cases when their truly should be revulsion. Note for example that it was Sarah who suggested to Abraham that he take Hagar as wife. The same was true of Rachel and Leah offering to Jacob their handmaids for him to bear children with them. In today's society, most women would be appalled at the thought of inviting their husband to have sexual relations with another woman, but these women in the Bible did not.

This specific post is not intended as advocacy for a man to have more than one wife. It is part of a series that is examining the Biblical view of that which Yahweh permitted, and did not permit, as it relates to the marriage covenant. It is needful to address this topic to understand differences between what was considered adultery for men and women.

Some who would read this as an isolated post will undoubtedly misunderstand the views and teachings of this author. I have written elsewhere (See the book Sabbath) that men and women are to be surrendered to the will of God as revealed by the indwelling Spirit of Christ in ALL of their actions and words.

http://www.heart4god.ws/id214.htm

Christ is recorded as saying six times in the gospel of John, "I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do those things the Father commands Me to do." If we are to be perfect and mature, we must set this perfect submission to the will of the Father as our goal as well.

This means, that not only should a man not pursue multiple wives just because the Law of Moses allowed it, but a man and woman should not even pursue a monogamous marriage unless the Spirit has revealed it to be the will of the Father for them.

Again, we read of Christ saying, "For I did not come to do My will, but the will of My Father who sent Me." This is the definition of Sabbath rest, which we are all exhorted to strive to enter into. Hebrews 4 defines Sabbath rest in this way, "The one who has entered God's rest has ceased from his own works as God ceased from his."

So, the goal of all who would be conformed to the image of Christ is to do nothing that arises from the soul, but to always be led of the Spirit in all things (Romans 8:14).

The passage in Hebrews chapter 4 that concludes the writer's words on the topic of Sabbath rest speaks of dividing between soul and spirit. This is because we can only cease from OUR works if we properly discern the source of our motives. We must divide between soul and spirit so we can put off the works of the soul, and only pursue the works of the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Hello fellow humans. Yes, I am a man. And yes Joseph is a man. We both are humans, as is anybody ready these posts. That makes us all fallible, being human that is. Yahweh made us this way so that we might seek Him as our highest priority and to find the answers we need, as individuals. Yes I too am possibly confused on this subject, but when have I ever been totally correct or not confused about anything.(I have never married but apparently have been a fornicator and an adulteror and the future prospects because of the number of divorcees in the world doesn't look good). It isn't the persons fault who I have listened to, but completely my own.
Yahweh sent His Son as an example of walking without confusion by doing as Yahweh told Him, the individual. This is something we have all lost the ability and often the willingness to do. We have not learnt to seek Yahweh accurately for ourselves and the fruit is our confusion and blaming others. I know Yahweh will show me the truth in His perfect time, in His way, and that it may be through Joseph. I think also I would like to hear the rest of this subjects teaching before I arrive at any conclusions for me or decide to lynch anybody.
I agree with Joseph's thought "May we all be blessed with PEACE and UNDERSTANDING in these days."
Simon in Tassie.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Joseph and my other brother in Christ, for your comments.

I sure got my tummy in a twist over this latest article of your Joseph. I have been reading your writings for quite a little while now and know how anointed they are. I have never had a reaction to any of them like this before. It doesn't matter why though, because I will just keep my eye single to Him where things feel simple again and the confusion,(which is NOT of God), clears away to peace.
Thank you again my brothers, for your thoughtful prayer and time.

Grow, grow, grow,... all the way home! He he he

Anonymous said...

Regular (once-married male) commenter/reader here (who plans to stay that way!) Please forgive the anonymous tag. I'm still coming to terms with this so don't want half-formed views living forever on the net.

As I wrestle with this teaching, several things have helped me to at least allow it to "stew" and thus begin to enable its truth sink in... i.e, I'm on the road to accepting it, but with a healthy Berean skepticism.

G-d is extremely clear about the HUGE obligations a man takes on in any marriage (plural or otherwise). E.g., love your wife as Christ loves the church (total sacrifice), until death, exercising great wisdom, restraint, leadership, care, etc.

Today, we think of casual, serial polygamy as relatively easy and common, without taking seriously what even THAT form should entail in terms of lifelong obligation.

Going further, the in-the-heart, lustful fornications many men enter into willy nilly these days via pornography (and all that goes with that) border on rape-initiated "you broke it you own it" marriage when you look at books like Deuteronomy.

So just imagine, my brothers, if you were held to a marriage-level, Christ-sacrificial obligation to every woman you'd ever lusted after on screen... Now pick yourself up off the floor and praise G-d that he forgives even that massive transgression if we accept his Son's work on the cross!

All of which is to say that no man with a proper view of the marriage contract (and in his right mind), would go seeking out another wife just for sexual kicks.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the practice Joseph describes, 1) is not a command but a possibility in some cases, 2) that such cases may have been extremely rare (i.e., only men blessed by G-d could afford it) and 3) it is rightly viewed only in the context of G-d asking a responsible man doing His Will to take on more responsibilities FOR HIM... i.e., taking care of His daughters.

Thus it's also worth setting in the context of an agrarian society in which women did not hold property and thus had three options for keeping themselves alive: live with parents (which had to end at some point), marriage or prostitution.

Don't take this the wrong way ladies, but who would argue with a command to not let a homeless person or stray dog die on your doorstep when you could take them into your house? And to go even further and bless them with wife-status and children? Amazing.

Again, we're upside down today on this today. The children that resulted from sex were seen, in that time, as a blessing and not as they are today in our culture, as a weird kind of curse to be managed and tossed away if they aren't convenient.

Finally, someone commented about "dating". I think it was R.C. Sproul who did a teaching on this, but regardless, the idea was that the practice of "dating" as we know it, grew directly out of prostitution only a few centuries ago. In Biblical times (and even for centuries afterward), marriage represented an abrupt transition from the father's house to the husband's.

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Anonymous,

I appreciate that you have stated that you are still coming to terms with this topic. It is commendable that you are pondering these matters, without rushing to judgment.

I would have used the term you cited here, "serial polygamy," in the previous articles had I thought of it. It is an excellent way to describe both men and women who divorce and remarry while the former spouse remains alive.

I would urge people to test some of the pre-conceived ideas about what life must have been like in the days when polygamy was practiced. I have found the comment made repeatedly that women only had three options. They could marry, remain at home, or enter into prostitution. I think some of these assumptions flow from the influence of evolutionary teachings that depict early man as beginning in caves, slowly emerging into social structures, and remaining rural and agrarian for long ages.

The evidence from Scriptures is quite different. Man was created exceptionally intelligent. It is arguable that man before the flood was more intelligent that he is today. Consider the testimony of the the 4th chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 4:16-22
Then Cain went out from the presence of Yahweh, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. And Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; AND HE BUILT A CITY, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son... AND LAMECH TOO TO HIMSELF TWO WIVES: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. And Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. And his brother's name was Jubal; HE WAS THE FATHER OF ALL THOSE WHO PLAY THE PIPE AND THE LYRE. As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, THE FORGER OF ALL IMPLEMENTS IN BRONZE AND IRON...

Man had passed through only a few generations when he began to build cities, developed music and instruments (the arts) and developed the technology to work both bronze and iron. This necessitates a great intellect, for these men did not merely learn these skills from others, they developed them without having any former knowledge of them.

Later, when we read of the time of David, who also was a polygamist, we find Lemuel writing Proverbs 31 praising the godly woman who is an excellent wife. She did much more than make babies.

Proverbs 31:13-24
he looks for wool and flax,
And works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships;She brings her food from afar... SHE CONSIDERS A FIELD AND SHE BUYS IT; FROM HER EARNINGS SHE PLANTS A VIENYARD... She extends her hand to the poor; And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple... SHE MAKES LINEN GARMENTS AND SELLS THEM,
AND SUPPLIES BELTS TO THE TRADESMAN.

This woman existed in the time that many have described as a time of limited opportunity for women. Lemuel certainly did not provide an exhaustive list of all the ways in which a woman could earn an income. Yet this short list reveals that she had far more options than prostitution.

We must remember that Egypt existed as a great civilization from BEFORE the time of Abraham. Abraham himself left Ur of the Chaldees, and this was also a tremendous civilization with many cities, arts, industries and opportunities for both men and women.

The mindset that mankind started off primitive and backwards is merely a misconception that has been propounded by a school system that has characterized early man as descending from a common ancestor with the apes.

Test all things!

Anonymous said...

As I was reading this particular lesson and the comments about why the restrictions are so much more on women when it came to plural marriages, it occurred to me to share something laid on my own heart recently. It also has to do with the feminism that is rampant in society--even our churches--today.

Genesis 3:16 is God's curse on Eve. The second half states "and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

To be honest, I'm still praying and studying, so please feel free to correct if needed, but I know a lot of people cannot understand this. But if we stop and apply the wonderful logic God gave us, the meaning seems obvious--especially as the world scoffs and thinks it foolish (through feminism and New Age--do your own thing).

If Eve were alive today, she would be a feminist.

Bear with me...

Eve bought into the serpent's lie that she could be equal to God. By eating of the fruit without consulting Adam she placed her own desires above Yahweh's and Adam's. She put her flesh above anyone else. The very sin of Lucifer himself--the desire to be above all.

Interestingly enough, though she was created as a solution to Adam's loneliness (no mate), because of her decision, she became the largest stumbling block in his relationship with God. When she offered him the fruit, she essentially asked him to choose between creation and Creator.

When you view Eve's actions you can see that it doesn't mean she will adore her husband, but rather that she would desire man's authority in this life but that she will not have it. Feminists and New Agers would have you believe this is a lie, that God's curses have no power over us.

As a woman in today's society, I have struggled with this, but God is good and has given me a more personal understanding of this. He never changes, though we -- as people and societies -- do. He doesn't do things on whims and He certainly will never do anything that would not glorify Him.

In setting up this curse, there are benefits that feminists are blind to see. That husbands shall rule over wives is not only a curse, but a protection. I believe this because Adam and Eve were being thrust into a world of death and violence, something they'd not endured before then.

But also protection for women's souls and even for the sake of society.

Women are known as the "heart of the home" and have great influence over their husbands and children. Some of the restrictions could be because of the original sin and subsequent curse, but I also think it was to keep the marriage union intact and the family order from falling apart. How else do you explain that until the middle of the last century, family and marriage were important and trusted institutions of the world. It was only as feminism took root and grew that divorce rates exploded, children became "wild" and society as we know it began to take turns for the worse?

Because women stopped believing God's law and started following the lies of feminism--the lies of self. Yet, because of that disobedience, feminists will never be at peace or be "fulfilled" as they strive to be.

It is an awesome responsibility and a most sacred calling to be a wife and mother. By creating these restrictions, the Lord set up a way for women to remain where He needed her to be most--at home. For centuries, women served in the homes of their parents or their husbands and while not perfect, there was a certainty when it came to marriage and family. In their quest for "authority" and "power" of man, feminists have lost God's true authority through their influence of those in their homes and therefore have lost influence over society.

Ironic? Perhaps. I cannot help believe, though, that it is what we are taught in Scripture, that the world's wisdom is as foolishness in the eyes of God.

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Sister,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter of woman being subject to man. I certainly believe there is an aspect of a woman desiring her husband's authority implied in the passage you cited from Genesis chapter 3. As you stated, man is also placed in this position for the woman's protection.

Many would find fault with this due to sin entering into the world. Many women end up needing protection from the very one's who should be their protectors.

Yet, if we look at this in its purest fulfillment, that of Christ and His bride, we see some wonderful truths. I have written of this in the following writing:

http://www.heart4god.ws/id414.htm

Following is an excerpt:

The next line of this verse from Genesis states that the woman’s desire will be for her husband. The husband that is spiritually signified here is Christ. Even though her desire for her husband will lead her to experience pain, there have been, and continue to be, those who still desire Him. Even the pain of bringing forth children after His image will not turn these ones away.

The last line states, “And he will rule over you.” What glorious things this points to. What is in view here is not some domination by a tyrant, but the advent of the kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” should be the desire and passion of all the saints. Yes, gladly do we choose for Christ to rule over us!
[End excerpt]

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.