“Will Polygamy be legalized in the United States?” asked Kiley Crossland in a recent WORLD News Service report.
“Acceptance of polygamy is at an all-time high, according to recent Gallup poll.”
“The survey found 17 percent of Americans say the practice of having more than one spouse is “morally acceptable,” up from 14 percent a year ago and more than double the 7 percent who found it acceptable when Gallup started polling in 2003.”
Furthermore, Gallup found that 32 percent of Americans who identified as nonreligious found polygamy “morally acceptable.”
While it may be difficult to believe that polygamy would ever become legal in the US, the same taboo existed against same-sex marriage just a few decades ago. Many observers of societal change believe that group marriage is the next logical horizon for social liberalism.
Mark Goldfeder,a senior lecturer at Emory Law School recently published Legalizing Plural Marriages: The Next Frontier in Family Law explaining “not only why the legalization of plural marriage may be on the horizon in America but also why the idea is not really as radical as you might at first glance think,” He says “the legal arguments against it are surprisingly weak.”
Interestingly, when same sex marriage was made the law of the land by the United States Supreme Court, Justice John Roberts in a dissenting opinion made this salient observation, “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”
Following this landmark decision, Fredrick Deboer, asked this question in Politico Magazine. “Where does the next advance come?”
“The answer,” Deboer writes, “is going to make nearly everyone uncomfortable: Now that we’ve defined that love and devotion and family isn’t driven by gender alone, why should it be limited to just two individuals?”
Two years ago, columnist, Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times, “Polygamy is bobbing forward in social liberalism’s wake. The now-ascendant model of marriage as a gender-neutral and easily dissolved romantic contract offers no compelling grounds for limiting the number of people who might wish to marry.”
For Bible believers, this is not a difficult theological question. In the beginning, God placed one man and one woman in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:18-25). While God allowed multiple marriages in the Old Testament, He never sanctified or approved of it. When asked about marriage and divorce, Jesus is clear. (Matt 19:3-12). God’s original plan included “a man” and “a woman.” In both accounts, the Bible says that they become “one flesh.” Singular. Not plural.
In a list of qualifications for serving as a bishop in the church, a man must be “the husband of one wife.” (I Tim. 3:2). He cannot be a bigamist. Polygamist. Or an adulterer.
In Paul’s treatise regarding the relationship of Christ and the church, he illustrates it with the husband and wife relationship (Eph. 5:22-33). He speaks of a man loving “his wife.” And a woman respecting “her husband.” Singular. In fact, if polygamy was scriptural the metaphor would fall apart.
Aside from any social consequences or legal complexities that polygamy may exacerbate, like same sex marriage, it is scripturally forbidden. It is a violation of God’s marriage law.
I won’t speculate if or when polygamy will be legalized in the US. But I predict if it does, some church leaders and so called Christians will find a way to justify it.
In the meantime, Bible believers need to remain faithful to God’s marriage laws. One man. For one woman. For life. Let us be a beacon of marital fidelity in a morally darkened world.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman