Why should a Man have only 1 Wife?
Admittedly, this article has an intriguing title. In our culture’s current headstrong quest to exercise its sexual ‘freedom’ and perceived ‘rights’ the Biblical standard for marriage has been attacked from all quarters. Accusatory questions include the following: Why get married? Isn’t marriage antiquated? Why can I marry only one wife? Why can’t a man just marry another man? Or two? And so on. There is seemingly no limit on the desire to redefine the most basic of terms. It is as if confusion is the intended result. And perhaps it is.
Nevertheless Scripture provides clear answers for these sort of questions. Actually I suspect it is the fact that Scripture provides clear answers which motivates so many to now question the fundamentals. The vital picture of marriage is clearly weaved throughout Scripture. This is the primary reason why Satan wants to attack anything that resembles a Biblical marriage. He hates what marriage represents and the fact that God Himself created it.
Is marriage an ‘old’ concept? Well, yes, and that’s a good thing in fact. In the beginning we see that God instituted marriage (Genesis 1:27-28; Genesis 2:21-25). Sure, there was no record of a signed marriage certificate or the cutting of a cake and there were no human witnesses. But it was a marriage nonetheless––one man and one woman committed to each other for life. They were to raise children while simultaneously keeping and tending to the work the Lord God had assigned to them in the Garden of Eden. This marriage was to be a glorious means for expanding God’s visible dominion.
Note that the Biblical picture of marriage hinges on the notion of a ‘counterpart’. A quick search online provides a decent definition. A counterpart is a “person or thing holding a position or performing a function that corresponds to that of another person or thing in another place.” Physiologically speaking one can clearly see that the physical counterpart of a man is a woman. All the ‘pieces’ fit together, if you know what I mean, and the seed from the man is what produces life in the woman. There is no other natural arrangement that comes close to matching this reality. Any other attempt is self-contrived and artificial. A byproduct of the the intimate physical union between a man and a woman is children. Malachi 2:15 states, “He [God] seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” Scripture, too numerous to mention really, only advocates for a sexual relationship between one man and one woman for life. In any instance where even a believer deviated from this pattern trouble quickly ensued. Think of Abraham with Hagar, David with Bathsheba, the church at Corinth, etc. Nowhere in Scripture does the Lord ever instruct a man to simultaneously have two wives.
But the physical picture of marriage reflects an even deeper picture of the relationship between the Lord and His ‘called out ones’, the church. Many times in the Old Testament we see a picture of the Lord as the husband of Israel. For example, Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” After the giving of the Holy Spirit and the church life was born we see a mystery more fully revealed. Husbands should love their wives and wives are to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5). Why? Because a marriage is to reflect the relationship that Jesus has with the church! Just as Christ leads and loves His followers so should a man lead and love his wife. Just as the church is to submit to its Saviour so should a wife to her husband. “This is a great mystery,” Paul writes, “But I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) At the return of Jesus, as foretold in Revelation 19:7, we see that the Lamb (Jesus) will come and His wife (the church) will have “made herself ready.” Now for a simple question: Is Jesus returning to earth to marry two churches? Of course not. There is only one church and it consists of those individuals who have placed their trust solely in Jesus Christ.
So, one wife it is.