Monogamy Over Polygamy

“…and he [Jacob] loved Rachel more than Leah…” – Genesis 29:30

In yesterday’s devotional, we looked at the case for and against marriage in Heaven. Today, we will look at the importance of marrying and sleeping with only one person. Why is this so important? First, we know that God created human beings as male and female, Adam and Eve, and who were they married to? Each other. There was no third person involved in their marriage relationship. This is God’s design for marriage. 

As we study the Bible, we know that there are over two dozen believers in the Bible that practice polygamy. Unfortunately, some people will argue that “since God’s people practiced polygamy, we should practice polygamy too.” Let me just say this: Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean you should do it. These people that practiced polygamy are examples of how poor decisions cause disastrous consequences for not just themselves but future generations.

Thankfully, the Bible contains an in-depth case study on what would happen if generations practice polygamy. This case study takes place throughout the book of Genesis, but we will focus primarily on Genesis 29-30 and the story of Jacob and his family. Let’s begin the story with Jacob’s grandparents, Abraham and Sarah. They practiced polygamy. Sarah was unable to have a child, so she brought in another woman, Hagar, who got pregnant and gave birth to Ishmael. The Arabs come from that side of the family and the Jews come from Sarah’s side of the family. Abraham and Sarah then have their own son, Isaac, many years later and he did not practice polygamy. His wife, Rebekah, was barren for 20 years, but they trusted God, waited, and then He provided two sons, Jacob and Esau. Due to family conflict with his brother, Jacob flees to a man named Laban, Rebekah’s brother. There, he meets his dream girl, Rachel, and works for seven years for his crazy, crooked uncle to pay the bride price to marry her. On the wedding day, he says, “I do” to Rachel then wakes up in the morning from the honeymoon next to Leah. They swapped out the bride! So, Jacob works another seven years to marry Rachel. Now, he has two wives and will have 13 children with four different women, counting wives and maidservants.

This story sets up the rest of Genesis. You have four women having kids which ultimately leads to 12 sons and a daughter. There’s one wife, Rachel, with her maid servant and the other wife, Leah, with her maid servant. Do you see any potential division or conflict with the children? Do you see the hypothetical possibility of playing favorites? Jacob certainly played favorites with the wives. The Bible says he loved Rachel and hated Leah. He later plays favorites with his kids by giving Joseph a fancy colorful coat that causes his brothers to be jealous and ultimately sell him into slavery. 

After reading this family story where polygamy is practiced, the conclusion cannot be anything other than that polygamy is misery. Is it working? No. And what we’re doing in our culture is saying “Let’s try it!” Let’s not. Let’s say that every time it was tried, it failed. The most well-known polygamist in the Bible is Solomon. He had a thousand wives. Can you even imagine that? Solomon marries a thousand women, and then he picks up concubines and has a ton of kids. You know what they grow up and do? Abduct one another, rape one another, and murder one another fighting for the inheritance. It never ends well. So, what happens when there is polygamy? Disaster. It comes in various forms: adultery, swinging, open marriage, friends with benefits, serial dating, open cohabitation. You’re going to inevitably have a favorite, which will cause divisions and factions within a family. If a whole culture went polygamous, it would eventually be a genetic disaster.

Polygamy and sleeping with whoever you want is not the answer to your relationship difficulties. Jesus is the answer, and His way is the only way that works. Tomorrow’s devotional will look at two of the four laws for marriage. 

Take some time and read Genesis 29-30. What stands out to you most about the family dynamics between Jacob and his wives.

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