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Let’s start by reading Mark 10:6-9, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  The Lord never intended for a man to have more than one wife.  Mark 10:7-8 is a quote from Genesis 2:24 which says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  At the outset of the very first marriage, the principle was established with marriage partners being in the singular: a man and a woman.

The first instance of a man with more than one wife is found in Genesis 4:19 which says, “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.”  I suppose the worst case of multiple wives was Solomon.  We read of him in 1 Kings 11:3, “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”  Notice the negative impact of these wives on Solomon’s life: they turned away his heart from the Lord.

Some have supposed that the Lord sanctioned multiple marriages in 2 Samuel 12:7-8 which says, “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”  To say that the Lord supplied David with multiple wives is a stretch of the meaning of the portion.  As king, the Lord gave to David all that once belonged to Saul.  It is important to note that the Hebrew word for wife in this verse is translated many times in the Old Testament as ‘women’.  It could very well mean that all the women of Saul, including his wife and daughters were given to David.

There is a big difference between the Lord condoning a practice and the Lord tolerating a practice.  While the Lord never condoned multiple marriages, it does seem that He was tolerant of this practice during the days of the Old Testament time period.  This is just an indication of the Lord’s patience towards us.  In fact, we read in 2 Peter 3:9 that, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  The Lord desires that all men be saved.  He is so patient.  He is also merciful as we read in Lamentations 3:22, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”

Would the Lord tolerate multiple marriages today?  No, He would not.  As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the Spirit of God indwelling us.  This gives us the power to do the Lord’s will.  To have more than one wife would be fornication.  Ephesians 5:3 says, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.”  As believers, we are saints.  We should strive to live up to our calling and live saintly lives to honor the Lord.  (56.2)