Saturday 22 December 2012

One man, one woman! It’s in the Bible!

All you Christians out there, who believe that God’s plan is for marriage to involve one man and one woman, I’ve got a test for you. Look at this group of twenty names – the great names of the Bible – and tell me which two names don’t belong with the other eighteen.


Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Esau

Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam

Ahab, Lamech, Caleb, Belshazzar, Ezra

Manasseh, Nahor, Simeon, Zedekiah, Jesus


The answer? Adam and Jesus. The other eighteen men all practiced polygamy. Adam had sex with Eve, but since they were made from the same flesh, technically that was not marriage, it was incest. Jesus never married at all.

The norm for men in the Bible was not one-man-one-woman marriage. It was polygamy, which was also practiced by Joash, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah, Jehoiada, Ahasuerus, Benhadad, Eliphaz, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Machir and Mered.

If evangelicals seek for examples of one-man-one-woman marriage in the Bible, the quest will be harder than they thought. There was a lot of polygamy in the Old Testament. In the New Testament you do have Peter, who seems to have been married, but apparently if he was married he ignored his wife and the fishing business which was supposed to support his family, and wandered preaching all over the place until finally he was killed. And in fact that seems to describe all of Jesus’ apostles and disciples, abandoning any semblance of family life or gainful employment so they could wander all over the known world, preaching, living in poverty, getting arrested, and getting crucified, or killed in some other unseemly way.

The one story that clearly supports the one-man-one-woman model seems to be Isaac. But his marriage to Rebekah was arranged by others, and for most of their married life, Rebekah was barren. Other than that…somebody crack open their Bibles and find a happy, prosperous one-man-one-woman family.

The marriage model in the Bible is to treat your wife like dirt, either by marrying women in multiple batches, or ignoring your wife entirely while you go tootling off with your friends pursuing your Jesus hobby, which was more likely to lead to execution than to a well-fed family. In other words, polygamy or desertion.

Remember this the next time a Christian waves the Bible in your face, as a justification for insisting on one-man-one-woman marriage as the only acceptable model for your lifestyle.

PS, if I wanted to be really mean, I'd mention that famous couple, Joseph-Where-The-Hell-Did-That-Baby-Come-From, and Mary-That's-My-Story-And-I'm-Sticking-To-It.

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