One Wife, Only?
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Q: Could you show me where the Bible says man is supposed to only have one wife?
A: Good question, a question that brings up another question along the way. What are the qualifications for someone wanting, or thinking they are called to be "something" in the Church, a leader of some sort?
Both questions will be answered at the same time as the answer is found in the same verses of instructions from our Lord’s Apostles. These are not my words, so when you read them, it is not me speaking -- I hope you understand this and think about it, read and reread the verses and surrounding verses.
If a person wants to travel the path of a Church leader, then he would be asking you to travel it with him, and in that you would both be required, not by me, but by the instructions from His Apostle Paul to live up to a certain standard. Here are the bits and a few pieces but you could go further and read the whole chapter -- the instructions are clear, however, and must be met by anyone wanting to be a servant leader to the Body of the Christ.
1Ti 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1Ti 3:3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1Ti 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
(1Ti 3:11) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.
(1Ti 3:12) Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
You can see that from an Overseer to a Deacon, you must be of only one wife. If a man is to be anything in the Church he must be the husband of only one wife, as well as many other requirements -- most of which I have not measured up to
For example; Myself calling was never to be a church Elder, or Deacon, or any kind of Overseer. It took me some time to see this – I do not measure up, never did, but this has not lessened my faith and my resolve to be of some service.
Many think we are all equal in the Church while others think we are to be totally subservient to Church leaders and this is wrong on all fronts and has led to some groups tagged with that infamous title, "Cult". Many a cult leader or personality has never measured up the standards delivered by our Lord’s Apostles, and if they did started out the right way, with the right credentials, many of them have fallen and without the members of the Body bringing them into question they usually run wild with self-aggrandizement and seeking out sex and money. These imposters have turned our Lord’s name into a curse.
Our leaders or anyone aspiring to be something in the Church must be held to higher standards than the general population of followers and it is the responsibility of the lay-members to do just that, to know enough to question those serving or pretending to serve. Too many have been led off the path thinking their leader is something more than he (or she, these days) is.
My calling was never to be a church leader but to encourage those called and lost in their calling, confused, even by the Christians around them. Many have see the evils and the misdirection and the greed driven and when asking about this are told to remain silent, not to judge, and to follow the authority of the Church. Well, my Authority is YaHshua Himself and for this reason I was asked to leave a certain group because I would not go along with the leader, a chosen man of God. Being a follower of my Lord YaHshua I had to leave.
Anyway, the final answer is; while some men of that age, when our Savior walked in the flesh, did have more than one wife they were not then eligible to be an Overseer of the Body of believers and this would include "divorced" men, in the strictest sense, having been the husband of more than one wife.
You have read with your own eyes the requirements that must be met to be a leader in the Body of the Christ. Does your pastor measure up? Now that is going to start a fight. But this is not the end of it. What about the authority outside of the Church? Does our freedom in the Christ YaHshua, free us from all civil authority of men? We are obligated to do what is right, what we know to be right in the sight of all men. These are the instructions and more –
(Rom 12:17-18) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. (As much as is possible for you – not all situations can be handled this way)
(Rom 13:1) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
(Rom 13:2-4) Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt you then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Paul is not telling you to give in to evil but that civil authority, among civilized societies, is God ordained, and this is not talking about religious authority but about our civil authority, the laws of the land we live in. Law enforcement was not and is not meant to torment us, the law keepers but those who think the law is not for them, or they are above it. Some believers, I have met, have actually tried to convince me we are free from all Law – they say this because of some things I have written in the past, but this is not true. We are all obliged to do "what is right" in the eyes of our God and of men.
(2Co 8:21) For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (NIV says it best)
I can tell you this with all confidence; we as His followers are bound to be obedient to the civil authority we live under. We are to be seen as law abiding people, at peace, as much as possible, blameless before men, adhering to the laws of the land we live in. Certainly we are called strangers on this earth but we are still bound by God appointed civil authority, like obeying the speed limit, or like laws of the USA against polygamy. That law alone, among the States answers the question as to whether we, as believers are allowed to have more than one wife – the Law of the land says, NO! Is this against the Law of God? Absolutely not. Nowhere in Scripture is that a command for men to have more than one wife. Sadly, we have several examples of men suffering greater difficulty because they had more than one wife or more than one woman sharing their bed – it has never worked out well. It is not a command from our Lord and by the inspiration given to His Apostles we have a clear instruction concerning this, not only in the leadership but in our civil conduct as well.
We have heard from Paul and it is always good to have a second witness, so let’s hear from Peter.
(1Pe 2:13-14) Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
(1Pe 2:15-16) For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
There you have the short of it. I lean on these last verses from Peter as a guide for me and my life. I long ago saw I could not qualify as an Overseer nor a Deacon, but a humble teacher, perhaps. The stress in living our lives free from ridicule, as much as is possible, is our obligation and requires we be law-abiding citizens.
We have a freedom as Children of God but this Freedom in Him does not give us the right to trample on the laws governing people, laws and authorities approved by our God for there to an order to things. Our freedom in YaHshua is true Freedom and it is our choice to honor those upholding the laws of the land for our sakes, to keep the evil and the unlawful in check.
If we suffer let it be for HIS Name only, not because we got caught speeding or some other more serious kind of civil disorder. If we stand before the judge let it be only because we refuse all other gods and confess only YaHshua as our One and Only Savior not because some have it in their minds they are free from the laws of the land. Yes, we are free from law, only because we do what is right, after all who needs a law if you are law abiding by choice already?
(1Ti 1:8) We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
(1Ti 1:9-11) We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers-- and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
(Rom 6:1) What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Now that is a question, isn’t it? Seeing we are children of the kingdom and have been granted a pardon and are truly free are we then to sin all the more so the grace of God may abound the more? Of course not, but this is how some, to their own harm think. This was going on in Paul’s day and he is correcting this notion of "freedom" without boundaries.
A simple account between our Savior and Peter took place concerning paying taxes. Peter approached our Lord and told Him the city fathers were demanding some kind of city tax and what should he do? This became a great teaching opportunity for our Savior and He ask Peter if the laws applied to the children of the Kingdom, and Peter said they do not. Our Savior told Peter he had answered correctly but to pay the taxes anyway, so as not to offend this city and its laws and its law enforcers. Get the picture? Even in the most straight forward and honest way, we as Children of the Kingdom are not bound by laws but are obligated to honor the law as not to offend those of the world. This alone answers the question. Yes, we pay our taxes and obey the speed limit and render to the government what is required so that we do not offend them and in turn bring undue hardship on ourselves and the Body of the Christ. Again, if we suffer, let it be for His Name, because that is one principle we cannot change and must confess even if it were to mean death. Many a brother and sister have died keeping this confession and refusing to bow to any other.