THE POINT BEHIND ‘ONE MAN, ONE WIFE’

THE POINT BEHIND ‘ONE MAN, ONE WIFE’

I’ve just come back from a week of serving the nation. In my neck of the woods, that means conscript military duty. Now, we all know what happens when 500 men come together and spend a little too much time in close proximity with one another, don’t we? Yes, the topic of women, relationships and marriage comes up.

The truth is that men, when left alone, and with his better judgement as a guide, are capable of proper conduct. We know right from wrong. We know good from bad. We know to leave evil well enough alone and to seek good whenever we can. But there’s something about men that changes when they get into groups. Because when they do, the peacock in them starts to come to the fore, and they start saying things and professing to want to do things that they, and everyone else around them, know they will never do, like have affairs and become career polygamists.

Being a Christian minister in such situations is never easy, because we attract some really undue attention. So it was little wonder then that a buddy of mine asked me what the ‘Christian’ view on women, relationships and marriage was.

Looking into his eyes, and reading the body language of all those around me, I knew they were expecting the usual answer – polygamy is bad and will land you in hell; ‘one man, one wife’ and nothing else. And they were right to expect that because this was what was recorded of the first ever union between man and woman,

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

And this union is sacred, for Jesus responded this way when asked if divorce was permitted;

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

So let me categorically state that marriage is indeed sanctioned by God, it is sacred and holy, and it should not be entered into unless everyone involved fully grasps the gravity of the commitment that they are making.

But this was not how I responded. Instead, I told this buddy of mine that the idea that monogamy was a Christian edict was a myth. Indeed, the Bible never said, ‘one man, one wife’. Surprised?

Read the section of scripture again.

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

The institution of marriage, once entered into, was not to be broken. That was the edict. Nothing was ever said about ‘one man, one wife’, was there?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating polygamy. Please don’t misquote me. There is a reason, a function for monogamy in keeping the fabric of modern society intact, else we would be no better than animals. Indeed, Paul did say,

“…It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:1-2

And why is this the case? This is so that we can have “…the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:3

“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:5

So you see, ‘one man, one wife’ is a functional arrangement, so that both the husband and the wife will be able to give their fullest attention to one another; in order that they may help each other fight the good fight against sin and temptation.

However, the whole idea of polygamy should not surprise us either; because we remember that during the times of the patriarchs; during the time of Moses, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and even David; it was common for men to take many wives.

There was also this social practice in Israel, instituted during the times when Israel was warring.

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Deuteronomy 25:5

This totally contravenes the whole ‘one man, one wife’ idea, doesn’t it? Yet, it was the way that things were done back then, because it served a purpose, it met a social need at that time, just like monogamy serves the social good right now.

So what’s the point behind all this? Is polygamy good? Is monogamy bad? Is it all circumstantial? Should we take things into our own hands and make our own judgement on the matter? Well beloved, it is none of those things. The point behind polygamy and monogamy isn’t even polygamy nor monogamy. The point is love.

You see, when asked,

“Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” Matthew 22:24-28

“Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”” Matthew 22:29-30

You see, the point isn’t monogamy or polygamy, the point is not even whose wife that lady is. So what is the point then? What is the underlying rule with which we should use to guide all our actions and by which we should live our lives? “…which is the great commandment in the law?” Matthew 22:36

“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:37-40

Now, we all understand this whole idea of loving the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, because we have dealt with it in the message Love Is All God Really Wants. What I want to draw your attention to is the second commandment, because it is just like the first, and it is this;

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

What Jesus is saying is, loving your neighbor as yourself is just like loving God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind. Interesting, isn’t it? You are not asked to love others like you love God. But love others like you love yourself. Why?

Let’s have Paul answer this question, shall we?

“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Ephesians 5:29

It’s true, isn’t it? Do you despise yourself? Do you torture yourself? Do you hate yourself? Do you treat others better than you do yourself? You don’t, do you? You love yourself the most and the best.

I’m not delving into the realm of narcissism here, but the fact is, in our make-up, is programmed the instinct of self-preservation, and this instinct makes us treat ourselves well so that we can survive. So putting aside those who are ill and therefore mutilating themselves, we realize that we love ourselves and most and the best, so that we can survive.

Now, did you ever realize that God does that too? I am sure that when it comes to loving Himself, His thought processes should clearly be more complex than ours because it involves factors that we would never ever have the brain capacity to process. This is simply because,

“…we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” Ephesians 5:30

Complicated, isn’t it? Don’t worry if you can’t get your head around just how you can be a physical part of Christ’s body. You just need to see it to believe it. So let’s just wait for Him to return to fully understand what that means.

But suffice to say that when Christ loves Himself, when He extends care and concern to Himself, He is really looking after you; and He cares for you because He looks after Himself.

So, by literary extension, when you love another AND you love yourself, you are really loving God too, because you and the one you love are part of Christ. The existentialism lost you yet?

The point I am trying to make is this. Yes, because Christ has died for us, because

“…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

Yet, “All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” 1 Corinthians 10:23 [AMP]

“Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 [MSG]

So while polygamy, or indeed any other type of sin, will not land you in hell because of what Jesus has done for you; in this current social context, it doesn’t really do you any good either, does it?

Therefore, when we make our decisions day by day, when we decide whether or not we should engage in a particular activity, whether we choose one alternative over the other; we should be guided by love.

We should ask ourselves if our choices benefit all those affected, if our decisions help to bolster those in our care. Just taking the concept of ‘one man, one wife’ as an example, we need to be sensitive to the feelings of our spouses when we interact with members of the opposite gender. Consider how they would feel and try our best to love and nurture them the way we love and nurture ourselves, the way Christ loves and nurtures us.

Indeed, the point of today’s message is not about monogamy or polygamy, but love. So let us have love guide all our actions so that we may always be constantly aware and reminded of just how much we are loved by Christ.

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