If a person who has practiced polygamy got converted, what should he do with his wives?

Hello C,

Thank you for contacting BibleAsk.

The Bible presents MONOGAMY (not polygamy) as God’s ideal plan for marriage (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:22-33). In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God also says that it was His will that even the kings were not supposed to multiply wives (or horses or gold). When, Solomon disobeyed God’s plan and practiced polygamy, he sinned and backslid (1 Kings 11:4). Polygamy played a role in the fall of king Solomon. Thankfully, he repented of his sins later in his life.

God never condoned polygamy. Like divorce, it was tolerated but never with God’s approval. Jesus told the Jews, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way (Matthew 19:3-8). Scripture has always commanded monogamy (Ps. 128:3; Prov. 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Eccl. 9:9).

So, if the person who practiced polygamy got converted and he is residing in a country that doesn’t consider polygamy illegal like the Muslim countries, he may keep his wives if they are not in opposition to his new faith and wish to live in peace with him. However, if they don’t wish to remain with him and ask to leave, he may divorce them but he is obligated to provide for them and their children.

And if the converted person who practiced polygamy is residing in a country that considers polygamy illegal like the western countries, he should do all that he can to abide by the civil laws (Romans 13:1-7), while still providing for his wives and children. The Lord will not sanction any abandonment or neglecting of the marriage responsibilities of the husband toward his wives and children.

While God presents monogamy as the ideal situation for a couple, there is no Bible command that states, “thou shalt not have more than one wife.” So, the newly converted person that has multiple wives can certainly be accepted in the church family, yet he can’t hold church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6),

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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