Is God Okay with Polygamy?

When reading through the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of polygamy. Some of these polygamous relationships are even practiced by those whom we would consider important people in Scripture. One example, Jacob (one of the fathers of the nation of Israel) had two wives, Leah and Rachel (Gen 29).

Although the Old Testament has concrete examples of polygamy, these are not looked upon favorably in the Old Testament. In fact, in light of Genesis 2 and its description of the Edenic ideal of marriage, it is likely no accident that one of the details given that reflects Lamech’s departure from a God-pleasing lifestyle is his polygamous lifestyle (Gen 4:19–22).

One important factor to consider is that there are not as many examples of polygamy mentioned in Scripture as often implied by those who make such observations. Additionally, although most of the polygamous relationships described are not challenged, this could be because many of those relationships are held by people who were in absolute power (like a ruler or a king).

Two passages demonstrate that polygamy was never God’s plan for creation. First, the creation narrative in Genesis 2 represents marriage as one man and one woman. Singular nouns and pronouns are utilized throughout, and the man and woman are described as corresponding singularly to each other. It is also interesting that the LXX translation of Genesis 2:24b adds “the two of them” (οἱ δύο) to the phrase “they will become one flesh” (εἰς σάρκα μίαν). This addition of the word “two” occurs also in other ancient translations (the Peshitta and Vulgate). This addition indicates that the translators saw the importance of emphasizing “twoness” in the creation narrative relating to marriage.

Second, Deuteronomy 17:17 indicates that Israel’s kings were not to have multiple wives. Although the reason for this was likely to avoid making forbidden alliances with other nations, the Israelite king was also to be an example for the rest of Israel. Thus, if polygamy was forbidden for the king, it would make no sense to encourage the practice among other Israelites.

Nonetheless, we do have examples of polygamy. Why were they tolerated by God? Here we can draw some similarity with the issue of divorce. Although divorce was tolerated in the Old Testament (cf. Deut 24:1–4), Jesus made clear that this was due to the hardness of Israel’s hearts, and that divorce ought to only be allowed in cases of sexual immorality (Matt 19:8). Thus, we have an example of a practice which was tolerated and yet Jesus had to correct their perception of what was right.

In a similar sense, although polygamy was tolerated in the Old Testament, this does not mean it was in accordance with God’s design. Rather, as noted above, the Old Testament provides evidence for the fact that polygamy should be viewed as a subversion of God’s design for marriage which departs from God’s creation ideal of one man and one woman.

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Transgender Ideology Has Significant Problems

Transgender advocacy, supporting the belief that anyone can choose any gender, is a popular issue in culture today. Mainstream culture promotes the idea that people should be able to identify gender by feeling and not by biological sex. Further, this same culture teaches that society needs to support those individuals who make the decision to switch genders. However, not only is this completely irrational, but it is entirely unbiblical.

Scripture is clear—God created humankind as male and female (Gen 1:27). Thus, it is God who determines the sexes, and therefore determines the gender. Gender cannot be separated from one’s biological sex. To believe otherwise is completely ludicrous.

From a Christian worldview, we know that God is intimately involved in the creation of each individual (Ps 139:13-14). This includes God’s determination of whether we are male or female. Thus, to rebel against God’s design of male and female is to rebel against God himself.

God has also determined that men and women live in accordance with their gender identity. For example, Deuteronomy 22:5 states that women should not wear a man’s garment, nor should men wear a woman’s garment. The reason for this is because men and women must function within their specific gender roles. To cross that boundary is to subvert God’s design for each sex.

The most significant problem with transgender behavior, from a biblical worldview, is that it is rebellion against the Creator. Transgender ideology, simply and straightforwardly, is sinful rebellion against God’s created order. The desire to go against God is at the very core of sin, and “switching genders” comes from the creature’s desire to rebel against God’s design for his or her life.

The Transgender Movement is Dangerous

Not only does the Bible very clearly teach that transgender behavior is rebellion against God, but current research also demonstrates that those who suffer from the delusion of gender confusion (i.e., gender dysphoria) are more prone to suicide.

According to a study done by the Williams Institute in 2014, the reported suicide attempt percentage for the U.S. population is 4.6%. However, for those in the transgender community, the reported suicide attempt percentage is 41%. That is a statistical bombshell. To say there is a significant difference in reported suicide attempts between transgender and non-transgender would be a gross understatement.

Some people will argue that bigoted oppression and bullying of transgendered people is why there is a higher suicide rate. However, according to the same study, transgender people who never revealed themselves as transgender still had a 36% suicide attempt rate. The obvious indication of this statistic is that it is not bullying that caused them to attempt suicide. Nobody can bully you if they don’t know you are transgender.

Another interesting statistic from the study is that the suicide attempt rate was higher among transgender who underwent treatment (hormones, surgery, etc.) compared with those who did not want treatment. For example, those who had hormone treatment reported a 45% suicide attempt rate versus only 31% for those who did not want hormone treatment. The data seems to indicate that having some sort of treatment (or even wanting it) is indicative of someone who is more prone to attempt suicide.

Not only is transgender thinking sinful according to the Bible, but it is incredibly dangerous to individuals who engage in it. It is not helpful, nor loving to allow someone to live in a delusional state which could cause them significant damage. The evidence clearly indicates that people who struggle with gender identity are suffering incredibly. We must offer them true help and hope rather than trying to push them further into their dangerous delusions. Only the Word of God can give them the hope and direction they need.

Why Everyone Should Discriminate

“We never discriminate!”

“Discrimination is evil!”

Such cries are part of the culture today, yet I challenge the sanity of such claims.

First of all, what exactly is discrimination?

Meriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the verb “discriminate” as follows:

As transitive verb:
• to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of
• to distinguish, differentiate
• to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences: to recognize or identify as separate and distinct

As intransitive verb:

• To make a distinction
• To make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit

Can we all agree on one obvious observation? None of these definitions are inherently negative. In fact, the core idea of discrimination comes from the Latin word discriminare, which simply means to divide or separate. In other words, discrimination is simply, in the words of Webster, “making a distinction.”

Imagine the nonsensical idea of someone saying, “We never discriminate in this work environment.” So, are they saying they never make distinctions? Let us throw a couple obvious examples out there of situations where discrimination is muy importante.

• Hospitals SHOULD discriminate so that only doctors with medical degrees work in the operating rooms.
• NASA SHOULD discriminate so that only qualified individuals are designing their rockets.
• Auto repair shops SHOULD discriminate so that only qualified individuals are repairing the cars.
• Parents SHOULD discriminate when hiring a babysitter (pedophiles need not apply).

Can you imagine the absolute insanity of a hospital that said they would not discriminate in the hiring process? Nobody would ever go there! We expect discrimination to be a vital part of our society—otherwise society cannot function.

The above examples clearly demonstrate that discrimination is important for a society to function, but I also want to point out that discrimination is a part of strong Christian character as well.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Heb 5:14).

Our word discernment is etymologically related to discrimination (you can see the similarities just by reading the words). In fact, many dictionaries use discernment as a synonym for discrimination. Both words inherently mean to make a distinction or division.

According to Hebrew 5:14, the mature Christian is the one who has his discriminatory powers trained through practice determining what is good and evil. This maturity comes through the constant digestion and application of God’s Word—which is applicable for every situation and every need (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17). On the other hand, it is the immature believer who can’t rightly differentiate between what is good and what is evil. Likewise, it is the immature Christian who thinks that discrimination is an evil concept and should not be practiced.

I will say one more thing. To discriminate on the basis of sin is wrong. Racism is an example where people discriminate on the basis of their own pride, believing themselves to be superior to others of different races. That is wrong, not because it is inappropriate to make distinctions, but because the underlying reason for that distinction is sinful and evil inherently.

In sum, discrimination is not an evil concept. Rather, it is a very biblical concept that is related to discernment. Don’t buy into the idea that discrimination is a problem. In reality, discrimination is only a problem if it is being done on the basis of sin or evil.

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Cain and His Wife—Incest?

After reading the previous post, a natural question arises concerning Adam and Eve’s children. If there were no other humans besides those who came from Adam and Eve, then by definition wouldn’t Adam and Eve’s children be committing incest? Also, if incest is wrong because of Genesis 2:24’s definition of a “one flesh” relationship, then why was Abraham allowed to practice incest with his half-sister (cf. Gen 20:12)? At the very least, this would seem to be poor planning by the Creator; at the worst, it would be a plan where the Creator causes His creatures to sin.

Although there have been a variety of answers to this issue, one solution holds promise above others. If we consider what incest actually is, then we can say that incest did not occur until late in earth’s history.

Incest can be simply defined as a union between those who are related. Or, to put it another way, a union between two individuals who share certain degree of “sameness.” If two people share a certain degree of sameness, then they cannot create a new “one flesh” relationship (cf. Gen 2:24) since they already share sameness. However, at the beginning of the human race, it is possible that even those of the same family still had a significant degree of difference (e.g., the family of Adam and Eve). Therefore, brother and sister could be married because they were still significantly different from one another and did not share a significant amount of “sameness.”

This line of reasoning seems to be confirmed if we compare the early history of Scripture with what we know about genetics today. When Adam and Eve were created by God, they contained the perfect, undamaged genetic information for the entire human race. However, due to sin genetic mutations entered the human genome and slowly developed into pronounced ways over time.

After the flood, the human genome was completely contained in Noah and his family. As humanity spread out and segregated into various groupings (post Babel), the genetic information became more and more diluted through mutations and isolation. By the time Israel became a nation, enough time and genetic mutations had occurred that there was significant “sameness” that existed between family units. Therefore, in order to preserve the uniqueness of new “one flesh” relationships, as well as to preserve humanity from the deleterious genetic effects of intermarrying into the same genetic mutation patterns, God made clear that marrying close relatives was now forbidden. This would explain why marriage between family members in the pre-Israel time period was not taboo, as described in Leviticus 18.

Incest as a Violation of Genesis 2:24

I have not been very active on the blog lately as I have been completing my dissertation. But, now that I have almost wrapped that up, I have a little more time to spend in writing some blog articles.

One of the things I have been thinking about a lot recently (partially due to its relevance to my dissertation topic) is the connection between sexual regulations and the creation narrative. This seems to show up particularly in Leviticus 18 and the discussion of incest (Lev 18:6–18).

Leviticus 18:6–18 begins with the introductory phrase, “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness” (אִישׁ אִישׁ אֶל־כָּל־שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו לֹא תִקְרְבוּ לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָה). This verse functions as an introductory phrase which relates to the entire section on incest.

The pertinent phrase we need to consider is “blood relative,” which can be literally translated, “flesh of his flesh” (שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו). This phrase invokes repetition of a concept which is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 in the description of the “one flesh” relationship (cf. Gen 2:23–24). In addition to its use here in Leviticus 18, this same phrase (שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו) is also used in Leviticus 25:49 to indicate a close family member. Later in Leviticus 18, the term “blood relative” (שְׁאֵר) functions in place of the whole phrase to indicate familial closeness in a relationship (cf. Lev 18:12, 13).

The terms “flesh” (בָּשָׂר) and “flesh” (שְׁאֵר) are quite similar in meaning (obviously given the way I have translated them!). The overlap between the words is evident by looking at the Exodus account. Exodus 16:1–21 tells the story of how God gave Israel “meat/flesh” (בָּשָׂר) to eat because of their complaining. The word for “flesh/meat” (בָּשָׂר) is found specifically in verses three, eight, and twelve. Interestingly, when Psalm 78 recounts the story of the Exodus the author uses the other term for “flesh/meat” (שְׁאֵר) in 78:20, 27. This illustrates the fact that the two words can at times be used synonymously.

As is evident from the laws concerning incest, the “flesh” is of paramount importance to the legislation. The prohibitions against incest are primarily concerned with the joining together of flesh which is already “one” in the sense that they already share sameness. This concept seems to find its definition from Genesis 2:24, where the relationship between the husband and wife is first identified as “one flesh” (בָשָׂר אֶחָד)—a new sameness which results from two unrelated individuals becoming related intimately through marriage.

Since husband and wife are “one flesh,” they are no longer two, but one. As such, pursuing sexual activity with a close relative of either side of the family is forbidden since a new family unit is not being created in such a relationship.

In sum, the words used to define a “close relative” in Leviticus 18 seem to draw attention back to the first definition of family in Genesis 2:24, “one flesh.” This use of vocabulary seems to be strong evidence that these laws of incest are based in the creation narrative. Thus, incest is wrong because it is a violation of God’s pattern for marriage as described in Genesis 2:24.