In case you’ve been making a list of reasons why you shouldn’t take on a second wife, I’d like to add another.
Lately I’ve been pondering the advantages and disadvantages of polygamy. Not that I’ll be participating in the near future, because a) my husband wouldn’t be much for that and b) throughout the course of history, rarely – if ever – has a woman been allowed multiple husbands, only vice versa. I think it’s evidence of evolution in that women are smart enough to only take on one spouse’s issues. Besides, who would want to increase the count of in laws? (I LOVE YOU Jim and Carol!)
No, the sister-wives thinking has been provoked by a recent (fiction) book
the book club finished, in which the heroine joins a Native American community and becomes wife #3. The statement is made during the last 1/3 of the book that “Silent One took her rightful place as the first wife in our husband’s bed.” I’m still wrapping my head around that.
Yesterday at church the message was centered around sexuality and marriage. Generally I appreciated the message as it was quite holistic, understanding this element’s role within the larger picture of a person’s life. And overall the point was to create stronger marriages from the outset, as is God’s plan.
Then somehow I ended up in 2 Samuel this morning (which is a stumper; I could’ve sworn I left off in Esther, but there was my blue bookmarker. I took it as an omen.) and read a passage that included David’s sons born while he lived in Hebron. Five of them, if I recall. All born to different wives.
I thought, and the Bible is our model for healthy marriages?
So I have some research to do. Summaries forthcoming. I understand that God works with His people starting with where they are, and David and the Kings were in a polygamist society. There are differences between what God permits and what God deems as the best possible scenario. I’m so far chalking it up to that, right along with the animal sacrifices, but I think with a bit of digging we might uncover a few nuggets of gold that would be advantageous to our current society. But all of this is future-talk. Let me return to my polygamist thought of the day.
I do recall a recommendation in a certain book, probably Titus but it could be 1 Timothy, definitely a letter from Paul. Or Peter. (I’m too lazy
to look it up at the moment). But the recommendation for a good leader in the church is a man who “is of one wife”. Generally in our settings we skim right on past this one (and go for “doesn’t drink too much wine”), but upon some deeper thinking, I’m wondering if we stopped to shallow when we ask the question.
In these societies, generally the man with the most wives is the King or Chief or whatever title is given the leader. I believe this is a sign of power (read Esther and really give some thought as to what Xerxes had going on. It’s disturbing.) and of wealth. I mean, the more wives and children, the more mouths to feed. It seems Solomon was doing his shopping at Sams Club with his hundreds. But I think it can be inferred that the multiplicity of marriage was a sign of stature to the culture.
So. What if. What if?! What if Paul’s recommendation wasn’t simply because he was making a statement about marriage – though, perhaps he was. But in looking at such a recommendation in conjunction to the many other mandates of Paul, I think there’s plenty of room to wonder if the character of a man of one wife was more desirable than that of a man with 2, 3 or 20. Why? Because a man with one wife was lower on the social totem pole. He had less money and probably therefore less power. And this is exactly the kind of guy that Jesus tended to take along as a disciple.
It made me wonder: what kind of guys – and gals – are on our church boards today? If it were acceptable by our society, would they be the kind of gents who would have multiple lady friends as a way of showing prestige? Are they the ones with the money, power and influence? Or the ones with a deep servants heart? (I’m not saying that it can’t be both, but a wise man once said, “it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God…”)
While looking for a new church home in our new town we ventured to a church and even went to an “exploration class.” We decided it wasn’t a great fit for us for multiple reasons, but one of them was the braggy-braggy attitude of the elder that led the class. It was quite the public display of how important he felt church leadership was, though he was sure to mention that none of them did it for the prestige. It irked us then, and now upon reflection, it irks me again.
So, add another notch to the list of reasons why adding another woman to the house might not be such a good idea. Right alongside the dough you’re forking out for engagement rings, tuxedos and having to relive the nightmare of a formal wedding with a wedding planner.