101 Bible Secrets
Bible Secret Number 62 

Having Many Women without Adultery

Audio read by Tom Parks -  MP3
The Byte Show Interview - MP3

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In the Ten Commandments the seventh command is: "You shall not commit adultery." When God gave Moses this command, what was meant by the word "adultery’?

The word "adultery" meant the same thing then as it does now. It means to be unfaithful in a sexual way with another person who is not one’s spouse in a legal marriage. That is plain and simple, but what is often confusing to people is the fact that Moses had two wives at the time and he was not condemned by God for having such. In fact, Moses even gave laws (Deuteronomy 21:15-17) governing the use of polygamy (the practice of having more than one wife). We even read that David had several wives and the biblical text clearly states that it was God who gave those women to David to take to his bosom (II Samuel 12:8). More than that, the prophet Jehoiada, whom God said did right all his life (II Kings 12:2) took two wives for the young king Joash (II Chronicles 24:3) and didn’t blink an eye in doing it.

The fact is, polygamy was then allowed and even Christ graced its propriety by giving a parable about ten virgins who altogether were going to marry a king (the returning Messiah) in the middle of the night (Matthew 25:1-13). Yet, in spite of this, if a king had ten wives and he stepped out on them, then he was committing adultery, but the fact that he had ten legal wives was perfectly proper in the biblical period.

We are, however, told by the apostle Paul to obey the laws of the land in which we live and in most western countries polygamy is forbidden (and in my view should be) (Romans 13:1-8). I have been in the Middle East many times and lived there for months on end and I have seen the consequences of having more than one wife in a home. I do not recommend it. My observations of such situations have made me feel they are not ideal, though in the Bible and in some societies one can have more than one wife and still not commit an infringement of the seventh commandment, unless of course the man steps out on those legal wives.

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