Explore the fascinating tapestry of polygyny through history.” Join us as we embark on a captivating exploration of polygamy, tracing its roots through different cultures and time periods. From first century Israel to modern societies, this video delves into the historical tale of those who practiced plural marriage.
Discover how polygamy has been woven into the fabric of societies and groups that you would not even consider being polygamous. Gain insights into the historical account of polygyny that you are never told about. We will examine various perspectives on polygamy, from its inclusion in the first century all the way up to today.
Join us as we navigate the complexities of the historical account of polygyny to even include famous historical figures. Do not miss this thought-provoking journey into the past and present of polygamy – a testament to the endurance of scriptural marriage. Join us as we learn the God Honest Truth about the history of polygyny.
Polygyny Series Playlist:
So, this presentation is going to be all about polygyny in history, or polygyny through history, however you want to put it. There is not everything that can be said regarding this subject in tonight’s DROSH. There are already 73 slides to get through, and that’s cutting out a lot of things. So, if you’re watching this, make sure to go to the post that we did for this DROSH, and there you’ll find a whole bunch more that you did not get in this video.
Doesn’t matter if you’re watching on a video platform or listening on one of the audio podcast platforms, down below in the description, there’s going to be a link to this article post, and there you can see the on-demand video. You’ll be able to see the DROSH slides that go along with this presentation. You’ll be able to see the notes that we took, and then that includes a lot of the information that we did not include in tonight’s DROSH, and you’ll also be able to get the transcript if that is so important to you.
It’s all there for you down in the description below, that direct link, or you can also go to godhonesttruth.com and click on the post there from the main page. In addition, if you have not yet watched the first three episodes, there we go, then also down below, there is a link to the playlist of the entire Phylogeny series that we have been doing. So you can go catch up or review something that you might have already viewed.
But just to recap on those previous episodes, the first episode we did was an introduction and terminology video explaining what we meant by certain phrases and terms that we’ll be using during this series. The second video that we done was the video about polygynous in Scripture. People like Solomon, David, Moses, Abraham, etc., etc. The last video that we did in this series, I’m sorry, Polygyny by the Scriptures. It’s wrong on the screen there, but that’s okay.
Last video was Polygyny by the Scriptures. We went through the various texts regarding polygyny, what they said as you saw it directly from Scripture. So if you’d like to know more about what Scripture actually says about polygyny, go check out that video. Now, in future episodes, like we said earlier, the next video in the series is going to be a video on patriarchy. After that, we’re going to get into the advantages and disadvantages of polygyny for both men and women and children as well.
Then we’re going to get into some rebuttals, some videos of the topic of polygyny from various online, mainly ministries. The first rebuttal video is going to be regarding the video that was put out by 119 Ministries. The next rebuttal video is going to be a video regarding a gentleman called David Wilber and also another gentleman called Mike Winger. And then the third rebuttal video is going to be one addressing the videos put out by a ministry called Kingdom in Context, Wretched, Jude 3 Project, and Southern Seminary.
Those four don’t really have that big a video that they put out individually, so it won’t take long to get through each one of those as we go through that rebuttal video. Now, some things to note in this episode. As we go through the various people that we’re going to describe in this video, take note that we’re not promoting or condemning or saying anything about various points of theology, such as each person’s soteriology, their ecclesiology, their pneumatology, their Christology, their eschatology, or any other thing.
We’re simply presenting them in order to show that polygyny did continue throughout the course of history. What is relevant to each of these that we present is that, like I said, plural marriage has persisted throughout Christian history and within Christianity. And we’re also going to be presenting some other non-Christian groups, but they tie in all the same. And we’re also going to show some of the effects of this monogamy-only kind of doctrine that has persisted for almost 2,000 years within the majority or the mainstream of Christianity.
Start out with a little limerick. This comes from the book, After Polygamy Was Made a Sin. And it goes, there was a young fellow of Lyme who married three wives at a time. When asked why the third, he replied, one’s absurd, and bigamy, sir, is a crime. So, this book, After Polygamy Was Made a Sin, is very, very informative on various events and people that, regarding polygamy or polygyny, throughout the years. If you really want to know a lot about Martin Luther and Andrew VIII and et cetera, et cetera, definitely get this book for a more historical context.
And there’s going to be a lot of information and a lot of quotes that come out of this book. So, look for that. And if you would like a link to read this book, that link is provided in the show notes that we have on the post at godhonesttruth.com. First off, we’re going to start with somewhat of a recap, but this starts in the first century. Earlier in a previous video, we did mention how Herod the Great, the Herod that is spoken of in scripture at the time that Yeshua was born, had multiple wives.
And we get this information from the historian Josephus. And Josephus writes, Now Herod the king had at this time nine wives, one of them Antipater’s mother and another the high priest’s daughter. He had also one who was his brother’s daughter and another his sister’s daughter. One of his wives also was of the Samaritan nation. Herod had also two wives, Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Pallas also was one of his wives. And besides these, he had for his wives, Phaedra and Elpis.
Josephus goes on to state also that Herod did not marry for quality, but for beauty. We have taken notice already that Herod had several wives and that he was well enough pleased with polygamy being allowed by the Jewish law. To phrase that more specifically, being allowed by the scriptures. And then Josephus writes, Herod had nine wives and children by seven of them. And this is something that goes on within Judaism for many hundreds of years. It’s not specifically brought up in scripture, but it was still going on.
We find from historical documents and evidence like this. In fact, polygyny or plural marriage within Judaism continued on up until about the 11th or 12th century. But it kind of dwindled off and depending on what area, what region of the world that these groups of Jews were living in. Some kind of phased out quicker than others. But the official declaration came from a rabbi in about 11th or 12th century. We did not include that because that was one of the things that we felt probably be okay to leave out for the sake of brevity tonight.
Anyways, moving on into the 2nd century, we read from Justin Martyr. And he writes, Your imprudent and blind masters, meaning the Jewish teachers, even until this time permit each man to have four or five wives. And if anyone sees a beautiful woman and desires to have her, they quote the doings of Jacob. So here, Justin Martyr is not really a fan of polygyny, but we get from his writings that the Jews were still doing this even in the 2nd century.
Justin writes again, If it were allowable to take any wife or as many wives as one chooses and how he chooses, David would have permitted this. Nevertheless, the men of your nation, i.e. the Jews, practice this over all the earth wherever they sojourn. So again, writing to the fact that Judaism was still practicing plural marriage. Irenaeus writes, Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives and are indifferent about eating meat sacrificed to idols, maintaining that God is not greatly concerned about such matters.
Now, just as a point to note, this Basilides and this Carpocrates were Gnostic teachers. So Irenaeus is writing against two Gnostic teachers, but he’s still referencing the fact that even within Christianity, people were practicing and engaging in plural marriage. Going on to the 3rd century, we get another Gnostic writer, and for the record, we do not agree with Gnosticism and completely reject it. But that’s not part of the point of this video. Anyways, Bardasanes writes, The Christian brethren in Gaul do not take males for wives, nor do those in Persia take to wives things that were lawful in those countries.
Nor do those who are in Judea circumcise themselves, nor do our sisters who are among the Geli consort with strangers. Nor do the brethren in Persia take their daughters for wives, nor do those in Media abandon their dead, bury them alive, or give them as food to the dogs. Those in Edessa do not kill their wives or their sisters if they commit impurity. Rather, they withdraw from them and give them over to the judgment of God.
So you see various things that he’s describing here, and didn’t really track down if he was referencing Christian brothers in general, meaning everyone, or Christian brothers pertaining to his Gnostic sect. But regardless, he’s talking about whatever brethren he’s speaking of that are in Gaul do not take multiple wives. Now this is just presented for evidence to show that certain people did not, even though it was going on in certain countries, it was allowed by law. However, one of the things, if you do even deeper research, is that non-Christian, non-Jewish nations and cultures generally look down upon plural marriage.
Those within paganism had a monogamy-only stance. At this time in the Roman Empire, it wasn’t so much a law as it was a socially imposed ordinance. We’ll get into when it was officially a law later on, but just take note that it was generally the pagans and the pagan philosophers who pushed this idea of monogamy only. Speaking of pagan philosophers, we’ll refer back to people like Justin Martyr. He was a Platonist. He was a Greek who converted to Christianity.
Irenaeus was the same way. He was a Greek who came from the Greek culture and then converted to Christianity. So, like all of us do, rightly or wrongly, whatever form of life we have, when we come into the faith, we tend to bring some of those things that we’re used to, those traditions, in with us. And it seems like, at least in my opinion, they did pretty much the same thing. Then we go on to Methodius, and he writes, So, there’s a reason that he would have been writing something like this.
Specifically, I don’t know the exact reason, but there’s definitely a reason that he’s bringing this subject up. But anyways, he does get several things wrong, even though he’s trying to address plural marriage. He says that plural marriage had been done away with from the times of the prophets. Unfortunately, that’s not so, as we see from history. And he also quotes from apocryphal books, which early on in the early years, there was a dispute about what the canon of books actually was.
Different people had different lists, and even the Origen, who had probably the earliest copy that included all the books that we have now, even his list included other books. So, keep that in mind. They may have been quoting from what we now call the Apocrypha, but back then, they would have probably seen as scripture and good to use. But moving on to the 6th century, this is where we get into an official Roman law against plural marriage.
Before this, it was more socially imposed, ban on multiple wives, but now we have the Codex Justinian specifically stating that plural marriage is forbidden and is a crime. Now, the Code of Justinian is an amalgamation of previous laws, so it could have been directly stated before this. But anyways, for your perusal, here is the banning of plural marriage within Romanism from the Codex Justinian, sorry. And we read, there are two other marriages from which we must abstain from regard to the ties created by marriage.
For example, a man may not marry his wife’s daughter or his son’s wife, for they are both in a place of daughters to him. And this must be understood to mean those who have been our stepdaughters or daughters in law, for if a woman is still your daughter in law, that is, if she is still married to your son, you cannot marry her for another reason, as she cannot be the wife of two persons at once.
And if your stepdaughter, that is, if her mother is still married to you, you cannot marry her because a person cannot have two wives at the same time. And then going on to Section 7, again, a man is forbidden to marry his wife’s mother and his wife’s father, because they hold the place of mothers to him, a prohibition which can only operate when the affinity is dissolved. For if your stepmother is still your stepmother, that is, if she is still married to your father, she would be prohibited from marrying you by the common rule of law, which forbids a woman to have two husbands at the same time.
So if your wife’s mother is still your wife’s mother, that is, if your daughter is still married to you, you cannot marry her because you cannot have two wives at the same time. Now, this Code of Justinian is important on a historical scale because it had a great impact on how other societies would fashion and shape some of their laws. This really was a basis for things to come in the future. But here we see from these two sections the direct prohibition against plural marriage, indicating that more than likely it was still going on and they needed to make a direct statement, clear and direct statement, against such a practice.
We go from the 6th century into the 8th century. We’ll start out with Charlemagne, sometimes called Charlemagne the Great, I guess. But if you don’t know anything about Charlemagne, he was the king of the Franks, king of the Lombards, and the first emperor of the Romans and of what was later called the Holy Roman Empire. It’s a little bit different than what we would traditionally think of as Rome. But Charlemagne opened a missionary field that led to the conversion of the Avars and their former Slavic subjects to Christianity.
In general, Charlemagne’s relations with the papacy, especially with Pope Adrian I, were positive and brought him valuable support for his religious programs and praise for his qualities as a Christian leader. So, to sum it up, Charlemagne was a Christian king who expanded and promoted and spread Christianity. And it sounds like he did it fairly well. Being king with all the power and wealth that comes with that kind of affords you that opportunity. But we also read about Charlemagne, this Christian king, that Charlemagne had 18 children with 7 of his 10 known wives or concubines.
So Charlemagne, the Christian king, had a plural marriage, was living in plural marriage. So, more evidence. Jumping up to the 11th century from the 8th century. Now we get even farther north and we take a look at Harald Hardrada, a Christian Viking king. Anyways, Harald Hardrada was Viking king of Norway and he advanced Christianity in Norway. He brought in bishops and priests and monks in order to help perpetuate Christianity and train up people in the way.
Because back then there was only one church, right? But he built and improved churches over his reign, helping further to spread Christianity. And he also threw out some of the papal legates and he threw them out of his court. And it’s quoted anyway as saying, I do not know of any other archbishop or lord of Norway than the king himself. So apparently he’s not kissing the ring of the pope, the way I took that statement. He was going to be king of Norway and not the pope.
But anyways, he’s also known as Harald Sigurdsson, Harald III of Norway. And according to the sagas, Harald married Tora, I think that last name, around 1048. Some modern historians have disputed this since Harald in that case would be in a bigamist marriage as he was still married to Elisiv. It is nonetheless possible that such a marriage could take place in Norway in the 11th century. And although Harald had two wives, only Elisiv is noted to have held the title of queen.
So I understand there’s some dispute there, but more than likely it looks like the Viking Christian king of Norway, Harald, had two wives. He was living in a plural marriage, this Christian king. But then we go from the 11th century up to the 16th century. Now, if you know anything about church history, there’s a few centuries that are really epic for Christianity. Number one, the 4th century, there was a whole lot that went on in the 4th century.
Another century is the 16th century and also the 18th century as well. But focusing on the 16th century, there was a whole lot that went on there. There was a German priest who sort of rebelled against the papacy and started something called the Protestant Reformation. His name was Martin Luther, and this caused a whole bunch of things to happen. We’re going to be getting into more about Martin Luther. Yes, he’s connected to plural marriage. We’ll get into that in just a little bit.
But there’s going to be a whole lot in this section, so stay tuned. If you need to come back tomorrow and re-watch this or catch up, don’t feel bad. There’s a lot here. Anyways, we start out with Akbar the Great in the 16th century. His name was Abu’l-Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. Commonly referred to as Akbar the Great, also known as Akbar the First. He was the third Mughal emperor in India. He was a Sunni Islam adherent, though he was disillusioned with the whole orthodoxy of Islam.
He abolished the sectarian tax, or otherwise called the jizya, which is the Muslim tax that they impose upon non-Muslims living within their area. He got rid of that, right? Good Akbar on that one. But anyways, he developed a strong and stable economy, which led to commercial expansion. Keep that in mind, how he grew this as to a rich and powerful empire that he was emperor of. And he disseminated something called Din-i-l-Ilahi, which was a mix of Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity.
Like, a mix. But anyways, there were some Christian missionaries that went to evangelize Akbar the Great. And we read here that Akbar the Great Mughal was on the point of embracing Christianity. But when he realized that he would have to content himself with one wife and give up all the voluptuous creatures of his harem, he thought better of his decision. So, here we see Christian missionaries going and evangelizing to Akbar. And he’s right there. He’s almost ready to come over to the good side.
But he doesn’t because of this whole monogamy-only doctrine that Christianity had held onto for so long. And that was the reason he did not convert to Christianity. Now, think about it. He had this large, powerful, wealthy empire with lots and lots of people underneath him. The citizens and the authorities that were underneath him and all this. How many of those would have also converted to Christianity? How much would the church have benefited from that territory and that income, that wealth, the trade possibilities, etc., etc., if Akbar had converted over? Christianity, the church, wanted to hold on to their monogamy-only doctrine.
And as a result, we now do not have Akbar converting over. And by extension, all those who may have converted along with him. How much different would India look nowadays? If Akbar had converted, if the church had gotten right and correct with the scriptural teaching on marriage? It probably would have been a whole lot different. Anyways, moving on. Now, we get to something that I found extremely interesting. Hopefully, you will, too. But when you think about Anabaptists, especially nowadays, you think of pacifists, right? Not to be derogatory, but almost to the point of pushovers.
You think of the Mennonites and the Amish. They are two different groups, by the way. But they’re non-violent. They’re non-confrontational. They’re, like I said, pacifists. You wouldn’t think of them fighting or waging war, stuff like that. But that wasn’t always so. Back in the early days of the Anabaptists, things were a little bit different than what we know of nowadays. Point in case, the Anabaptists at Münster, Germany. I think it’s Münster. I don’t know. I don’t speak German.
But anyways, there was a guy named John Mathis, who was a charismatic Anabaptist leader. And some of his adherents, some of his followers, even regarded him as a prophet. Now, Mathis called Münster the New Jerusalem. And he even prophesied that judgment will come upon the wicked, aka anyone who’s not Anabaptist, soon. And, like, very soon after he made that prophecy. But anyways, at one point, he and a number of his followers entered Münster on January 5th in 1534.
And from that point on, for about the next 18 months or so, the Anabaptists had Münster all to themselves. But, one of the things that happened when Mathis and his Anabaptists went in and took over Münster, they kicked out the bishop, the Catholic bishop that was there, and the non-Anabaptists. So, they all went out. Well, this made the bishop that was kicked out a little irritated, to say the least. So irritated, in fact, that he got an army or a group of people to lay siege to Münster.
And in trying to repel the siege, Mathis was killed in April of 1534, when Münster was besieged by this army that included the bishop that had been previously kicked out. So, now that Mathis was dead, they don’t have a prophet, right? They don’t have a leader of the Anabaptists there. Then, a guy named John of Leyden succeeded Mathis, and he took charge and took the lead of the Anabaptists there at Münster. Now, during the siege, a lot of the men went out to try to break the siege and get free.
A lot of them were killed. As a result, this left a lot of unmarried women. In fact, about three times as many women as there was men. So, you’ve got a disproportionate amount of women to men. And it was during this time that we’re going to read about Leyden in just a minute. But anyways, the Anabaptists there at Münster were finally defeated on June 24th in 1535. So, they had a very short reign, relatively speaking, even though it was about 18 months or so.
But during Leyden’s time, John of Leyden, he imposed something that a lot of people were not kind of used to. And in fact, we read that after Whitsun, John issued 12 articles to the preachers, the Anabaptist preachers, and challenged them to refute his propositions by arguments drawn from the gospel. Should they fail to prove him wrong, he would proclaim the articles to the people. These were startling. The gist of them was that a man should not be tied to one woman, but that he should take as many women to wife as he wanted.
And John rested his case mainly on the examples of the Old Testament patriarch who walked with God and who had practiced polygamy on reproof. So, not only do we find Anabaptists there in the very beginning engaging in at least some sort of violence, we also find Anabaptists practicing plural marriage. Complete 180 from what you would think about Anabaptists nowadays. But going on, these Anabaptists under Leyden, they thought that divorce was, however, far from being a general practice.
It was granted when it could be shown that compulsion had been used, and on two other grounds, impotency on the part of the man and the absence of Anabaptist conviction on the part of one of either husband or wife. So, at least they weren’t having an open door policy for divorce. But it’s still not scripturally connected. Scripture does not allow for divorce because of impotency or because one’s not an Anabaptist. In fact, we’re even told in Scripture that if a believer is married to an unbeliever, do not divorce them.
Stay with them because you might convert them, right? So, at least they weren’t frivolous with their divorces, but they weren’t as correct as they needed to be about divorce either. However, even though they got some things right and they got some things wrong, they continued to get even a few more things wrong. We read that these were girls of 11 to 14 years of age, some 18 and all, who had been railroaded into marriage even before puberty.
They were, we are told crudely, too small. And the consequences of marriage were disastrous. They had to be handed over to a woman doctor for treatment. She managed to cure most of them, as many as 15. And these, like the others married by force, registered at the town hall and were given a divorce. The remainder, presumably three in number, actually died. Now, there’s some argument here as to how bad this actually was in retrospect, marrying these young children.
I’m just going to call them that, children. 11 and 14 is still children. Because back then, it was common practice to get married younger than we do today. In fact, back during that time in England, it was common practice for even a girl to get married at 14, and boys sometimes as young as 12. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea knowing what we know now, but it was common practice back then. Fortunately, medical knowledge has advanced and we know better than that nowadays.
At least 98% of us do. So, take that for what you will, judge how you will, but they did marry girls that were a lot younger than the age of which girls get married today. And we go on and read, however, there was no evidence of any serious opposition to polygamy on the part of the first wives. Indeed, there is an assertion by an Anabaptist preacher that the wives were such good friends with their husbands that they went out and got wives for them, like Sarah or Abraham or Jacob.
So, these wives were actually going out and finding additional wives for their husbands. Now, keep in mind, after this siege and this battle and all these men dying, there were about three times as many women as there were men. So, there is a lot of women who were widowed or had no chance of finding a family, raising children, bearing children under a stance such as monogamy only. So, this was a benefit for some of these women.
In fact, we read, as to the second wives, they had at least a definite gain from polygamy in the form of a husband, even if shared, which they would probably not have had otherwise. And there is no known case of one of their number having been arrested for protesting against the system. So, a lot of these women were happy to go in, even if they weren’t the first wife. As we read earlier, they would even go out and find additional wives for their husbands.
Well, I don’t really say for their husbands because it was for their husbands, but as you can see, sometimes it was also for the women themselves. They could have the companionship of a man, the ability to be in a family and the support that brings, and to be able to have the opportunity and chance to bear and raise children, all these opportunities that they would not have had otherwise. So, these Edith Batches, they’re not the apostles.
They’re not the patriarchs. They got some things wrong, and they did some things in a wrong way. But, plural marriage, just the general concept, wasn’t one of them. It provided a service for these single barren women. Put it that way. But, yeah, that’s an example of Christians, early Protestants, who participated and practiced plural marriage. In fact, regarding the Anabaptists at Munster, Luther, Martin Luther, had this to say. Therefore, the Anabaptists and all others who, contrary to the norm of this institution, taught by God in the beginning of the creation, and afterward, repeated and confirmed by Christ, attempt either to introduce or to defend polygamy in the New Testament, are rightly condemned.
Now, here in this statement, Martin Luther is coming against the Anabaptists and their practice of plural marriage. Let me take a moment to warn you not to jump to conclusions about Luther’s stance on plural marriage. At least not yet. Not until we get to some more information and evidence about Luther. Hold that judgment in reserve. But now, going on, we look at Henry VIII. A lot of people have probably heard about Henry VIII and what went on with him, but they probably don’t know that plural marriage was actually a suggestion to solve the situation that was going on with Henry VIII.
We read here, and yet there might have been a solution acceptable to both sides. However far-fetched this may seem today. This way out was a bigamous marriage and it offered numerous advantages. It enabled Henry to avoid repudiating Catherine and thus antagonizing the emperor. It allowed him to marry Anne and probably obtain a legitimate heir to the throne. It provided a way round the thorny issue of the Pope’s powers to dispense in the case of the marriage of a man with his deceased brother’s widow, which applied to Henry.
And it eliminated the danger that Henry might cut off England’s annual tribute to Rome or move towards Protestantism. Now, Henry was married to Catherine. Catherine just could not produce a son, an heir for Henry. So, Henry was wanting to divorce Catherine and go marry Anne in order to try and produce an heir to the throne. However, the Pope at the time was kind of reluctant to this for various reasons and they’re trying to find ways to solve the situation.
One of those proposed solutions was plural marriage. So, we go on and read, the Pope, which is Clement VII, for his part developed the case for bigamy with considerable warmth. But the proposal was made in the knowledge that Henry himself had entertained the possibility of such a way if all else failed as it had and as it appears that the emperor, for his part, was willing to accept it too. Cardinal Caleton’s willingness to propose a bigamous solution was in part due to his resolute opposition on moral and political grounds to the repudiation of Catherine by Henry.
But his attitude is also in line with his general views on polygamy. He taught that this was neither forbidden by natural or divine law. All the marriages of the patriarchs were legitimate. There was no ban on polygamy in the New Testament and the off-quoted text of Matthew 19, 9 forbade divorce, not polygamy. A man who put away his wife without good reason and married another was committing adultery against his first wife, but the offense could be avoided by retaining her.
Early Christians were allowed several wives along patriarchal lines and the issue was never raised by the legalistic Paul. The law of one wife for one man is not to be found in the canonical scriptures. And I thought it was very interesting that a cardinal within the Catholic church agreed that polygamy is not wrong and there’s nowhere in scripture that condemns or prohibits plural marriage. Needless to say, this was probably not the general consensus of the Catholic church and still is not.
But at least one, you can see here cardinal, knew the scriptural teaching on plural marriage. And for those of you out there who know how all this turned out, Henry did not receive that annulment or divorce from the Pope regarding Catherine. So Henry broke off, created his own form of Protestantism, which we now know as the Anglican Church or the Church of England. And since he was now the head of this new church, granted himself the divorce that normally he’s looking for, went and married Anne and yeah, the rest is history.
But think about how different, again, think about how different the world would be if the church had their understanding of marriage correct on this issue instead of a monogamy only stance. How different would Europe and the rest of the world look if Henry had not broken off from the Catholic church, had stayed with them and had not irritated the Holy Roman Emperor. By getting rid of Catherine. It’s something to think about. It’s not to say that they wouldn’t eventually broken off like Luther and others have done, but it would definitely be different.
Just like when we looked back at Akbar, how different the world might look if the church did not incorrectly have this monogamy only stance. However, Henry was not the only ruler or head of state, I guess you could say, during this time that was also considering this type of marriage. We go on to look at Philip of Hesse and we read here, the first paladin of German Protestantism knows this scholarly Rockwell in the opening page of his book on Philip’s bigamy was with Luther’s and Melanchthon’s permission, a bigamist.
He had two wives. We’ll read his story in just a moment. But yeah, Philip of Hesse with the permission of Martin Luther and Melanchthon married a second wife while already being married to his first wife. In fact, Philip had long and openly proclaimed his belief that it was not an offense in God’s eyes to have two wives and he was encouraged in this view by some of the court preachers. So just a little bit of background.
Philip was a energetic kind of guy, if you get my drift, especially energetic when it came to women. And he was well known for visiting ladies of the night. But he kind of wanted to refrain from that but could not control his passion. So he understood plural marriage as a way to correct this issue. But it was against the law at the time as even against church tradition, as we know. In fact, he was going along the kind of line such as better several wives than several whores.
Agree or don’t disagree, but that’s kind of the way he was thinking there. So he is wanting to marry a second wife. So he wrote to these learned and respected Protestant reformers such as Luther, Melanchthon, and Bucher. And they came up with something called the Wittenberg Deliberation. And in this, they agreed with obvious distaste in the third and conclusive passage that they would not object provided the marriage were kept strictly secret. And so they wrote, you have our written testimony in case of need.
So Martin Luther, along with two others, gave their permission for Philip of Hesse to engage in plural marriage. However, they told him to keep it secret, strictly secret, right? Because they didn’t want it getting out and they didn’t want their involvement in this to be known. So, however, it did eventually get out and there was a big uproar over it. And it was found out that Luther had given his permission. And so they started contacting Luther about this.
And yeah, it was turned into a real mess. But Martin Luther wrote that the dispensation was valid only for the land-grace conscience and ceased to have meaning if it became known. A private yes signified a public no. Hence, if the news of the deliberation leaked out, he would deny its existence. So Luther was more than willing to say yes behind closed doors, right? But he wouldn’t say it publicly. Judge that for yourselves whether you think that was the right decision of Luther or not.
But it kind of comes across as Luther not being able to deny scripture, yet he doesn’t want controversy and division and uproar within the community of believers. And also, he was kind of worried about coming out on this subject and having the Reformation fall flat in certain areas, if not all together. So that’s kind of why he wasn’t public on the matter. But in reality, he did not disagree with someone, with a man having more than one wife.
But anyway, as we go on, we see from Philip of Hesse who reacting to the way Luther reacted after everything was found out. And Philip writes, Oh God, dear Dr. Luther, what are we coming to when excellent people suffer a falling off for fear of other scholars and even only of the world? If you can answer for the marriage before God, why such fear as regards the world? So Philip is telling Luther, Hey, have a backbone.
You don’t care to state this in private and before God, why would you not state it before the world, right? And he goes on to write to one of the other signers of this deliberation, a guy named Melanchthon. And he writes, I’m sorry, if Philip wrote to Melanchthon, we, you, Luther and others suffered death, yet there will be found people who are more godly and trusting than we, who will accept the solution, which is not forbidden by God and it’s free and permissible.
So Philip was already understanding what scripture wrote about plural marriage before he contacted Luther. Luther gave permission and Melanchthon too. But then when word got out, it became public, Luther and Melanchthon denied all of it. They kind of walked back their statements and their position and now Philip’s coming against them. And pretty much call them hypocrites. Pretty much call them hypocrites. Why are you saying things like this? But anyways, Luther lays it down that polygamy is not wrong in itself and definitely preferable to divorce.
He was never to diverge from this position. Luther even wrote that I would allow the king to take another queen in accordance with the examples of the patriarchs of old who had two wives at the same time. So that was pretty much Martin Luther’s stance. He did not disagree with plural marriage. He saw that it was permissible by scripture and it was okay for men, but he did not want it to be a source of controversy for the church or for believers.
And let’s go on and read some more about what Martin Luther had to say on this subject. There are tons, tons of quotes about plural marriage from Martin Luther that I have in the show notes. And there’s even more that I’m working on to get into the show notes. About 83, 82, 83 quotes from Martin Luther regarding plural marriage. I’ve got to get time to get them all in there. Go check out the ones I’ve already got in there as well.
But anyways, the first quote we read from Martin Luther states, the law permitted a bill of divorce, polygamy, and many other things that are a hindrance to the spirit like riches, honors, pleasures. So as we go throughout these quotes, take into account all of the quotes that Luther makes about plural marriage. Also what Luther actually did in his life, the person, what the person did and judging by his actions and the entire context of his quotes about plural marriage.
We go on, he writes, for my part, I so greatly detest the force that I should prefer bigamy to it. Again, that God approved that polygamous marriage for Jacob is clear from the text as first Leah, then Rachel gave thanks to God and went with God. And again, Jacob was polygamous and is not criticized. Esau and Lamech were polygamous and were criticized. Wherefore it is not to be judged by the work but the spirit discerns. And some even more quotes by Martin Luther.
He says, Lamech and Esau sin and are rebuked for they married two wives. Jacob had four and he was pleasing to God. Again, they speak of the beauty of the patriarchs who had many wives of whom all the works were complete in faith to whom must not be preferred writings of chastity. And again, Lamech had two wives. Our learned men say that Lamech was the first to have been a bigamist as the law has it. But with this fact, it is not established that he did this wickedly because in what follows we see that many more holy men, et cetera had more than one wife we say in there.
And even more quotes from Martin Luther. Lamech was the first bigamist or the first adulterer. Our commentators and the holy divine law rightly conclude from this that it is not permitted to have two wives. Now stop right there, consider for a moment where that quote might have been in the context of. Was this more of a public quote or not so public quote writing in his private journal, right? Consider that in the context of all of these quotes and also what he did in his actual life.
But going on, Martin Luther states, Scripture does not say that Lamech sinned by having two wives, nor that bigamy is sinful when both are legitimate wives at the same time. We read later that even holy men had multiple wives. And again, should one have multiple wives that this takes place even in these stories stands written here, that one must leave uncontested for the Holy Spirit rules here. And again, on multiple wives, divine works must be sinless.
Therefore, this is not sinful. Also, Abraham is a true Christian whose example is not bad. Now that last quote, Martin Luther is well aware that Abraham had multiple wives and he’s calling him a true Christian. All right, one more set of quotes. Sorry, two more sets of quotes from Martin Luther. And he says, polygamous Abraham was a true Christian and filled with the spirit. Therefore, his work must be allowed to stand that it might be an example when it should be.
And again, even though I do not wish it to make it polygamy allowed, it must not be said that it is not allowed. It is certainly allowed. Scripture does not prohibit it. And again, Abraham used only one additional wife. Others took a great number of wives and yet they were true marriages. And again, at this point, you have what scripture calls concubines. They were not harlots, but wives. They were not truly matris familias. They did not bear the keys.
So you kind of see the attitude and the thoughts of Martin Luther on plural marriage. And you kind of see what it is he writes when more than likely he’s writing in a public context and when he’s writing in a more private context. But all in all, you get Martin Luther’s actual stance, what he actually believed about plural marriage. That is not wrong. It’s not prohibited by scripture. So for the sake of time, I’m going to skip this next slide.
But if you’re watching after the fact, you can always pause it right here or check out the show notes or the slides in the on-demand section tomorrow on godhonesttruth.com. But up until the 16th century, there was really no clear, direct, and specific ban on plural marriage within the church. Yes, they had this monogamy-only doctrine, but it wasn’t codified, if you will. However, that too changed in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. Now, the Council of Trent was called in response to the Protestant Reformation.
They decided a great many number of things, including plural marriage. And this is where we get an official, codified, specific stance against plural marriage by the Catholic Church. From the Council of Trent, we read in Canon 2, if anyone saith that it is unlawful for Christians to have, I’m sorry, if anyone saith that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and if this is not prohibited by any divine law, let him be anathema.
And again, in Chapter 7. Vagrants are to be married with caution. There are many persons who are vagrants, having no settled homes, and being of a profligate character. They, after abandoning their first wife, marry another, and very often several in different places during the lifetime of the first. The Holy Synod, being desirous to obviate this disorder, gives this fatherly admonition to all whom it may concern, not easily to admit this class of vagrants to marriage, and it also exhorts the civil magistrates to punish such persons severely.
But it commands parish priests not to be present at the marriages of such persons unless they have first made a careful inquiry, and having reported the circumstance to the ordinary, they shall have obtained permission from him for so doing. So they’re taking a stance here, both directly against plural marriage, and in sort of a roundabout way regarding vagrants. Making sure that this stance that they’ve had for a long time of monogamy only is secured and stated specifically and directly.
Finally, 15, some, well actually about 1,200 years after the beginning of the church. So anyways, moving up on into the 17th century, we read about the King of Cochin. And it says here, according to the French missionary, Alexander of Rhodes, writing in the middle of the 17th century, the King of Cochin forbade the preaching of the gospel on this score.
You want my subjects to have only one wife, he told them, but I want them to have several so that they can produce sons who will be my faithful subjects. Cease them to preach so pernicious a doctrine. And he promptly expelled the ascending missionaries. So just like we saw with Akbar the Great over in India, we could have had another nation converted to Christianity if it had not been for this monogamy only doctrine that the church had in place.
Hampering evangelistic efforts. Also in the 17th century, we have a man named John Milton. And you may have heard of him. He’s the author of a book called Paradise Lost. I haven’t read it personally, but I know what it is, and I’ve heard of it before. But anyways, he had this to say about plural marriage. I have not said the marriage of one man with one woman, lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham and others who had more than one wife at the same time with habitual sin, and lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious the whole offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made.
For it is said in Deuteronomy, A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah, even into the tenth generation. Either therefore polygamy is a true marriage, or all children born in that state are spurious, which would include the whole race of Jacob, the twelve tribes chosen by God. But as such an assertion would be absurd in the extreme. So John Milton is on board with the idea of plural marriage as it comes from scripture. Take also into account that John Milton was part of the Reformed tradition.
In other words, Calvinists. Very, very rare amongst Calvinists to be on board with plural marriage, but here is one example of a Christian Calvinist that understands plural marriage and how it relates to scripture. Then we go on to Nuremberg in 1650, and this is very interesting. It’s almost getting to the point of a state-sponsored plural marriage initiative. But anyways, we read, If ever the conditions for reviving polygamy laid down by medieval theologians were fulfilled, it was in Germany after the bloody Thirty Years’ War.
The adult male population was reduced to a small, if willing, band, totally inadequate for the needs of the women. And so it was that at Nuremberg on 14 February of 1650, the Regional Council of Catholic Draconia decided to encourage priests to marry. Possibly even more startling was the decree authorizing laymen to take wives, plural, I’m sorry, plural, right? To take two wives for the next 10 years. Catholicism now. Catholic Church telling priests to marry, which was at that point a no-no for priests, and also for laymen to take two wives.
Yeah, shocking as it may seem, they kind of diverted from their monogamy-only stance, at least for a little bit, but they did divert. So, like we say in the South, even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts, but Catholic Church got that right, at least for a short period. So, like I said earlier, there’s a couple of centuries that are pivotal for Christian history. The 4th century, the 16th century, and also the 18th century. And when it comes to plural marriage, 18th century holds up, but not for what you would think of.
We’ll get into that a little bit later. But first, let’s look at a guy named Martin Madden. Martin Madden was an English barrister, clergyman, and writer known for his contribution to Methodist music, the Locke Hospital collection, and later controversial views on marriage expressed in his book, Thelyphthora. In 1780, Madden raised a storm of opposition by the publication of his Thelyphthora, or a treatise on female ruin, in which he advocated polygamy as the remedy for evils he deplored.
His arguments were based mainly on scriptural authority, but his book caused many angry replies. Now this Martin Madden, may have not ever heard of his name before, but if you’ve ever picked up a church hymnal, it’s likely you’ve probably sang one of the hymns that he either wrote or helped to write, such hymns as, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. That’s Martin Madden, who was a proponent of plural marriage. He even went so far as to write a book called Thelyphthora, which you can find even nowadays, you can get online for free.
I’ve got it in my digital catalog, my digital library. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but you can get it yourself and read it yourself for free nowadays. But yeah, the guy who wrote a lot of hymns that we read today was on board with plural marriage. Then we get into the 19th century. I’m sorry, I misspoke earlier. It wasn’t the 18th century that was pivotal. It was the 1800s, the 19th century. Got that corrected. Yeah, 19th century, 1800s.
Moving into the 19th century, we had lots of things happen in the 19th century. You had near the end, you had the start of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You also had the Seventh-day Adventists start up in the 19th century, along with others and a little group called Mormons. And how could you talk about plural marriage in history without bringing up Mormons? Now, I know this is mostly about Christianity, but I felt it necessary to include Mormons just to give you a case of A, their plural marriage, and B, how hypocritical and contradictory they are in their practice of plural marriage.
And C, give you a good example and reasoning behind why Mormonism is false. You’ll see all this coming up in just a minute. But anyways, we read in the Book of Mormon that plural marriage is actually prohibited and condemned as an abomination. You will allow me to read from the Book of Mormon, from the Book of Jacob, chapter 2, verses 22 through 28. This is God speaking here. He says, And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride.
And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning of a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you. But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord, this people begin to wax in iniquity. They understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms because of the things which were written concerning David and Solomon, his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was an abominable, I’m sorry, an abomination before me, saith the Lord.
Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem by the power of mine arm that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore, I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord, for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines he shall have none.
For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women and whoredoms are an abomination before me, thus saith the Lord of hosts. This is from the foundational document of Mormonism, the Book of Mormon, referring to plural marriage as an abomination. Keep that in mind as you think about the rest of history, at least what you know, and also keep that in mind as we go on and examine more things about Mormonism. That the Book of Mormon, the foundational document, condemns plural marriage.
So after Joseph Smith came up with the Book of Mormon, he then goes on after that to write additional books that are also foundational. One of these additional later books is called the Doctrines and Covenants. And in there in the Doctrines and Covenants 132, I guess it’s verses one through two. It says, Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand, wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David, and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having the covenant of marriage many wives and concubines.
Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter. So here, apparently, Lord God has a completely different tune about plural marriage. It says that he justified his servants, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, in their practice of plural marriage. Whereas in the Book of Mormon, plural marriage was an abomination. Okay, so keep that in mind as we go on. And this is just one example. Again, from Doctrines and Covenants 132, 34 through 35.
God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, two wives. And why did she do it? Because this was the law. And from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay, for I, the Lord, commanded it. And the Book of Mormon calls plural marriage an abomination. Now, Doctrines and Covenants says that God commanded this abomination. You see how things change when certain people get in power.
And it gets worse than this. But again, from Doctrines and Covenants 132, 55. But if she, Joseph’s wife, Emma, will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said, and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal wives in the eternal worlds. Further contradiction to the Book of Mormon.
And one more time. And again, As pertaining to the law of the priesthood, if any man espouse a virgin and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified. He cannot commit adultery, for they are given unto him, for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him.
Therefore, is he justified. A couple things point out here real quick. Remember, Book of Mormon condemns plural marriage as an abomination. Later on, Doctrine and Covenants, it’s talking about this great thing that God commanded them to do and justified his servants in doing. One of the stipulations from the Doctrines and Covenants, right here, take special notice of this, is that the women that the men marry, many as it may be, as long as they have, are not vowed to another man, then it’s justified.
Let me repeat that one more time. Doctrine and Covenants states that if a man marries a woman, or many women even, that as long as that woman is not vowed to any other man, then that man is justified for marrying that woman or those women. Why is this important to remember that the very foundational documents of Mormonism say these things? That came from the prophet, the prophet, right? Keep all this in mind as we examine this next portion.
Joseph Smith, the prophet, committed not only a contradiction to the Book of Mormon by having multiple wives, but he also contradicted the scripture by writing that in the first place, and then going on and contradicting himself in the Book of Mormon, and then he goes on later to contradict himself in Doctrines and Covenants by stealing and taking other men’s wives. He stole and took women who were already married to another man. In fact, Joseph takes Zena Jacobs, who was married to Henry Jacobs, and he took her in March 7th, 1841.
Then Joseph takes Zena’s sister Presidia, who was married to Norman Buell. He then takes Mary Rollins, who was married to Adam Leitner. Then he takes Sylvia Leon, who was married to Windsor Leon. He then takes Sylvia’s mother, Patti Sessions. The prophet committed adultery by taking another man’s wife. The prophet broke the commandments and what was stated in the Book of Mormon. The prophet broke what was stated in Doctrines and Covenants that the woman had to not be vowed to another man.
The prophet broke even scripture, plural marriage scripture, as stated in the Bible, which states that you shall not marry a woman and her mother at the same time. Now, this is just a short list of the women that he stole and committed adultery with from other men. This is, oh my gosh, I can’t understand how it is that Mormons do not have their eyes opened when they see things like this. And believe it or not, this is just a small, small part of the evidence against both Joseph Smith and Mormonism.
But, for a long time, Mormonism covered this information up because they knew how wrong it was. However, there was some people who actually defended such actions because they were all about the prophet, this cult of personality that Joseph Smith had around him. Like certain people do today. People such, I’ll just say it, Joel Osteen, Greg Logg, that Anderson guy, David Anderson, I don’t know, anyways. Yeah, there were certain Mormons who were defending Joseph Smith and what went on with Joseph.
We read, following his marriage to Louisa Beeman, and before he married other single women, Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married. The youngest was Helen Marr Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends, Herbert C. and Violet Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph at 14 years of age. In the 19th century, he married a 14-year-old. It goes on to say that participants in these early plural marriages pledged to keep their involvement confidential so they anticipated a time when the practice would be publicly acknowledged.
Yeah, and eventually, the Mormon church did come out and admit this. But before they admitted it, there was people, at least even maybe in private, who was defending the things that were going on, such as taking other men’s wives. The attitude of faithful devout Mormons in the 19th century was that of unqualified compliance with Joseph Smith. That attitude is exemplified in a sermon given by Jedidiah Grant in 1854 in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle. Listen to what Jedidiah Grant says about the situation.
He says, What would a man of God say who felt right when Joseph asked him for his money? He would say, Yes, and I wish I had more to help to build up the kingdom of God. Or if he, Joseph, came and said, I want your wife. Oh, yes, he would say, Here she is. There are plenty more. If such a man of God should come to me and say, I want your gold and silver or your wives, I should say, Here they are.
I wish I had more to give you. Take all I have got. A man who has got the Spirit of God and the light of eternity in him has no trouble about such matters. Pause the video and let that sink in. How much Kool-Aid does one person have to drink to give up your wife to another man? I don’t care if he is called the prophet. I can read my Bible and say, That’s my wife. She is not to go with anyone else.
Even if the prophet asked for her. It utterly amazes me that Joseph Smith lived for as long as he did after such actions. Just saying. Maybe there’s a reason Joseph didn’t go to Texas. I don’t know. But anyways, in summary, we can see from what was presented in this video that plural marriage has continued through the centuries. We can see that it continued with Christians or Messianics, however you want to say that. It continued with Jews all the way up until the 11th or 12th century.
And it also continued with others in Islam, obviously, in Mormonism and in other places, too, that we did not get into. We see that sometimes there was even done incorrectly. And I made sure to include some of those bad points in tonight’s presentation, just so that you would understand I’m not trying to build this up into something that it’s not. Presenting history out there for you, both the good and the bad. That monogamy only, this whole doctrine of monogamy only, has placed a barrier oftentimes to missionary efforts.
We saw that with Akbar the Great over in India. We saw that with the king of Cochin. And we still see it today. Ask yourself, if you were to go to a foreign country, to people who had never heard the gospel or the Bible, and you’re trying to evangelize to them, and assuming you’re on this monogamy only doctrine, and they said, yes, me and my wives want to convert. OK. At that point, how do you tell him to proceed? Do you tell him to keep all wives, but that wouldn’t go along with your monogamy only doctrine? Do you tell him to only keep the first wife, since she was actually the first, and divorce the rest, which contradicts scripture about divorce? Do you tell him to keep the last wife, since she was the last one, and divorce the rest, again contradicting scripture on divorce? How do you proceed with that? Because you’ve got a contradiction there.
Well, apparently, or hopefully, you’ve started to come to see that the solution here is for that man not to divorce any of his wives, and just come on in. Because scripture does not prohibit plural marriage. We’ve also seen that some of the greatest men of the faith knew plural marriage wasn’t wrong. People like Martin Madden, John Milton, Melanchthon, Bucher, Martin Luther. People like that. Where they may not have come out in their lifetimes publicly, and preached it in a pulpit, but we have from their writings, and from the history evidence, they understood and knew that plural marriage was not wrong.
And we also know that certain historical controversies could have been averted with a correct view of marriage. Things like Henry VIII, Philip of Hesse, et cetera, et cetera. And how different would the world look nowadays if the church from very early on had gotten their view of marriage correct? How different would it be today? Just think about that for a moment. So, thank you for joining us for this video. We really hope that you got something out of this.
That you learned something about plural marriage through history with Christianity and others, and how it has kind of shaped history, or in other aspects, not shaped history. And how this whole monogamy-only doctrine literally did kind of shape history in various negative ways.