Doctrinally Sound Teachers, Old Testament

Ever Wondered About Old Testament Polygamy?

Have you ever wondered why so many of the “good guys” of the faith – like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon – had multiple wives, but today, Christians consider polygamy to be a sin? I was wondering about that recently, so I asked my friend, Pastor Gabe Hughes of When We Understand the Text (WWUTT), and he was kind enough to answer my question on his podcast. WWUTT is a ministry I highly recommend, from Gabe’s daily Bible study podcast (also available on iTunes) to WWUTT videos to Pastor Gabe’s blog. Be sure to check it out!

Listen here, starting at the 10:30 mark.
(Or, do yourself a favor and listen to the whole episode!)

Here’s the transcript of my question and Gabe’s answer:

Michelle:
We know from Gen. 2:18-25 that God’s plan for marriage is one man/one woman. It would seem that this concept is transcendent, or timeless, since God made this pronouncement in the Garden prior to the giving of the Law.

Genesis 2:24 sounds like imperative language. Is it a command, in that, taking multiple wives is a sin? If so, were men like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon sinning by having more than one wife? If they were sinning, why don’t we ever see God calling them to repentance for the act of polygamy? (the act itself, not just its consequences- Deut. 17:17, 1 Kings 11:3-4)

Could 2 Samuel 12:8 be understood as God approving of polygamy?

Do Deut. 17:17 and 1 Tim. 3:2,12/Titus 1:6 allow for the idea that polygamy is not OK for those in leadership positions, but is OK for non-leaders?

If God did not consider polygamy to be a sin in the OT, but does consider it to be a sin in the NT (if that’s a correct way of viewing it), how does that fit with His immutability (Num. 23:19/Heb. 13:8)?

Gabe:
We tend to lump polygamy in with sexual immorality, but the Bible doesn’t. When you go through lists of sins that will keep someone from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, etc.), notice that polygamy is never listed. That’s because sexual immorality is any sexual activity outside of the covenant of marriage, and polygamy is still sex within a marriage. So it is not in the same category as sexual immorality. It’s still sin because it’s against the law of God. It’s just not as grave a sin.

Polygamy is never directly confronted in the Old or New Testament, except to say that marriage is to be between one husband and one wife until death (Matthew 19:5, 1 Corinthians 7:39, 1 Timothy 3:2, etc.). In the requirements for an overseer of the church, the pastor or the elder is to be a husband of one wife. He is a mature Christian, and is to be an example for the saints under his care. Therefore, we know this is what Christ expects of his followers: for those who are married, it is to be one man and one woman for life.

So why is polygamy never directly confronted, in the Old Testament or New? This is conjecture on my part, but I believe the reason is so no one would be led to believe they need to divorce all their wives but their first. In Bible times (both Old and New), a woman who had sex — whether she had been married and divorced, or even raped and forced into sex against her will — was considered no good (hence the laws in Deuteronomy 22). Had a woman who was wife number 3 in a marriage been divorced because her husband had an attack of conscience, she would be forced into a situation that would leave her destitute, resulting in either slavery or prostitution (consider 2 Samuel 13:20).

Now, despite the fact that we often single out characters like Abraham and Jacob, David and Solomon, polygamy was not a common practice (and polyamory was practically non-existent). If it was practiced at all, it was among the rich. And it was either a sign of wealth, or it was considered a benevolent act. For example, David married Abigail when her bonehead of a husband died. Abigail would not have inherited Nabal’s household, as we think of in an American context — she would either have gone to live with family or become destitute. David took her as his wife to show appreciation for her kindness. In the case of Solomon, his wives were his possession, and his interests were divided between the God of his father and the gods of his pagan wives (as in 1 Timothy 6:

In Malachi’s rebuke against Israel, he said, “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Malachi 2:16). For those Israelites who had married pagan wives, they broke the law of God, but they weren’t to divorce their wives. Likewise, those who had taken multiple wives had broken the law of God, but weren’t to divorce their extra wives. Rather, they needed to remain faithful to their covenant vow, and teach their children what God intended marriage to be so not to repeat the sins of their fathers.

In countries today where polygamy is practiced, missionaries tell these husbands not to divorce their wives, lest their wives become destitute and their children fatherless. But they should teach their children that when they grow up and get married, they are to only have one spouse. The Bible explicitly says how God designed a marriage is to be, and that is sufficient.

Doctrinally Sound Teachers

A Few MORE Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

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Sometimes we ladies fall for the mindset that if we’re going to pick up a Bible study book, read a blog, or listen to Bible teaching, it has to be from a female author or teacher. Not so! There are a lot of fantastic, doctrinally sound, male Bible teachers, pastors, and writers out there – far more males than females, actually – and you’ll really be missing out if you limit yourself to women teachers and writers.

In A Few Good Men, I recommended ten of my favorite male pastors, writers, and podcasters. Here are ten more; and these lists are by no means exhaustive!

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don’t take my (or anyone else’s) word for it that any ministry, podcast, book, or blog is biblical in its doctrine. You MUST do the work of comparing with Scripture everything you read and hear. If it doesn’t match up with God’s word (in context), chuck it.

UUZ-PraH1. Josh Buice– Josh is the pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Ga. and has an M.Div. and D.Min. in expository preaching from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His blog, Delivered by Grace, “is designed to be a resource for preachers, teachers, and laypersons in the local church. This site also serves as a place to discuss important theological topics – because doctrine matters!” Josh has written many fine articles, including what I consider to be one of the two definitive pieces on why Matthew 18 doesn’t apply to publicly exposing false doctrine and false teachers, which I often use as a resource. I also enjoy his “Spotlight” feature, a curation of interesting articles and sermons (and don’t forget to check out the “Theology Word of the Week”!). You can give some of Josh’s sermons a listen here.  Facebook  Twitter

2. J.C. Ryle – One of my beloved, “old dead guys,” John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was the first bishop of Liverpool and a 19th century English pastor, “famed for his firm preaching and staunch defense of evangelical principles, both from the study and the platform. He wrote several well-known books, mainly based on his tracts and sermons, and often addressing issues of contemporary relevance for the Church from a Biblical standpoint. Of these, perhaps the most enduring are “Holiness” and “Practical Religion”.” My favorite book of Ryle’s, however, is The Duties of Parents. Though we might be tempted to think of Ryle as a stodgy, stuffy pastor and theolgian, his genuine, humble love for children and families shines through in this brief treatise on childrearing. Many of Ryle’s works are available on line for free. Download nearly 200 of Ryle’s tracts (booklets), read one of his books or sermons on line, or add a volume or two to your library.  Facebook  Twitter

10551508_1455563974709823_2354371735556505718_o3. Entreating Favor – Headed up by my buddies Landon Chapman and Nate Pickowicz, Entreating Favor is just an all around, solid, well-rounded, Christian general interest blog. You’ll enjoy The Daily Discovery, a curation of articles and videos from around the web, as well as their thoughtful, easy to grasp articles on a variety of church and theology-related topics. Especially helpful at EF are the regularly posted good sermons (if you’re looking for a doctrinally sound pastor to listen to, your search ends here), and Nate’s Best Book in the Bible series, an introductory overview to (eventually) every book of the Bible. Be sure to grab Fire Away (now, on iTunes) for your podcast feed. Lots of interesting discussions with lots of interesting guests. Grace alone. Faith alone. Christ alone. EntreatingFavor.com.  Facebook  Twitter 

Update: Entreating Favor is now dormant, but their former content is still available at the links above.

4. Conrad Mbewe – A man who wears many hats, Conrad is, first and foremost, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia. Conrad is also editor of Reformation Zambia magazine, principal of the Lusaka Ministerial College, chancellor of the African Christian University in Zambia (where Voddie Baucham serves as Dean of Theological Education), and writes and preaches extensively. I first became familiar with Conrad when I heard his sessions at John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Conrad’s love and passion for the people of Africa to know Christ and be trained in sound doctrine is palpable and touching. Read Conrad’s blog, A Letter from Kabwata, listen to one of his sermons, or purchase one of his booksFacebook  Twitter

5. Aaron Armstrong – “I hope you’ve noticed something really important: I talk about Jesus a lot here.” That’s what Aaron’s blog, Blogging Theologically, is all about. A recently transplanted (to Nashville) Canadian, Aaron has a love for Christ and His church that drives everything he writes. His articles are fantastic, and he’s got a great daily curation feature, “Links I Like” that I never miss. Aaron is also a contributing writer at another great blog, For the Church, and has written three books as well as some downloadable materials that I highly recommend checking out. Aaron’s unique niche in on-line ministry is theological books and reading. If you’re a reader, or would like to be, you’ll appreciate his daily list of theology and Christian living book deals and where to find them. Aaron also writes helpful book reviews, and his new podcast, Reading Writers is chock full of book discussions, interviews with writers, and helpful reading advice.  Facebook  Twitter

562418_229860250458832_1871086171_n6. Justin Peters  – “Justin Peters Ministries exists to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and to help equip the saved to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). Great care is taken to preach and teach God’s Word in its proper context and simply let the text speak for itself.” The first thing I ever noticed about Justin Peters is his striking example of biblical meekness. Justin is soft-spoken and peaceable, but firm in his gospel convictions and aflame with the desire for the lost to come to salvation. You must read Justin’s testimony of coming to know Christ after years in seminary and ministry as a false convert. What Justin is perhaps best known for is his teaching and discernment ministry exposing the Word of Faith movement. It started with a trip to a faith healer as a teen to have his own cerebral palsy healed and grew into Clouds Without Water, a seminar designed to educate the church on the history, growth, and metastasization of the Word of Faith heresy. Watch an overview of Clouds Without Water, order some of Justin’s materials or listen to his sermons.  Facebook  Twitter

7. Gabriel Hughes– I think the statement, “I don’t know when he finds time to eat and sleep,” might sum up Gabe’s ministry. Strongly committed to sound doctrine, solid preaching, and the Great Commission, Gabe truly has a shepherd’s heart and is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Junction City (Kansas). Gabe is an excellent writer and blogs on discernment issues as well as a variety of other topics in which the church body needs training. A former Christian radio professional, God still uses Gabe’s broadcast skills, and he is probably best known outside his own church for his WWUTT (When We Understand the Text) videos on YouTube. WWUTT videos are 90 seconds long and give simple, biblical explanation to a wide range of difficult verses and subjects in Christianity. And if all that weren’t enough, Gabe is an author and hosts the When We Understand the Text Bible study podcast. You can watch WWUTT videos, download WWUTT podcasts, listen to one of Gabe’s sermons, or purchase one of his books at  the WWUTT web site.  Facebook  Twitter

8. This pastor has been removed due to his personal sin.

10634121_10152622508403172_818004728706724209_o9. Mike Leake – Mike is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Marionville, Missouri. Although he’s involved in other impactful ministries outside the pastorate, his resume could end right there. Mike’s a “reglar Joe” pastor of an “average church”. And I think that’s what makes his ministry special and precious. Mike loves his people and focuses on leading and growing them in Christ. Those other impactful ministries? Mike blogs with excellence at Borrowed Light. Today in Blogworld is a fun, daily curation segment, and you’ll find his pastoral articles on various subjects helpful to your sanctification. From time to time, Mike takes his blog readers through a book (such as Martin Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers) together, and I have especially appreciated his 31 Day Prayer Challenges (there’s even an app for that!). Check out Mike’s books, The Seeds Project and Torn to Heal.  Facebook  Twitter

10. George Whitefield– “George Whitefield (1714-1770) was a minister in the Church of England and one of the leaders of the Methodist movement…He was famous for his preaching in America which was a significant part of the Great Awakening movement of Christian revivals….In 1738 Whitefield preached a series of revivals in Georgia. Here he established the Bethesda Orphanage, which still exists to this day…Like his contemporary and acquaintance, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield preached with a Calvinist theology. He was known for his powerful voice and his ability to appeal to the emotions of a crowd.” Whitefield’s zeal for evangelism led him outside the four walls of the church, and it was not unusual to find him preaching to thousands and even tens of thousands in fields along the English countryside. Many of Whitefield’s works are available on line including his sermons and tracts. I thoroughly enjoyed this brief biography of Whitefield by the aforementioned J.C. Ryle, and am looking forward to Steve Lawson’s book on Whitefield.  Facebook  Twitter


Also check out:
A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few Good Men, Again!: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers