Are we (and God) intended to be monogamous?


I know this sounds like a strange question/ topic, but I thought it was an interesting line of thought.
Not exactly sure if this fits best here or under philosophical; I’ll let the powers that be decide. I just got to wondering about something, and wanted to throw it out there for discussion.
I have seen discussion in the past on whether God intends us to be monogamous and/ or participate in sex outside of marriage or not, and I just got to wondering about this question from the perspective of the pattern of God’s relationship to us. Now, there is some question among certain factions in christianity (I’m thinking of the ultra-dispensationalists here) whether there is a decided difference between the body and bride of Christ. Most that I know would say that the body and bride are essentially interchangeable terms, and this may or may not be a side issue; I’ll leave it out there as a component of the discussion nonetheless.

In either case, I wonder (in a speculative sort of way) if it is really God’s intent for us to be monogamous. Consider the example of many of the figures of the OT. They weren’t on the whole particularly monogamous, and some less so than others, yet God never seems to frown on this. Consider also the fact that research clearly demonstrates that more sex is better than less, healthwise; what are we meant to do before marriage then, for example? Another thing to think about is the relationship between God and the bride/ body. If we as believers are indeed the bride of Christ, we are a corporate bride; made up of many individuals, not one. If trinitarianism is to be believed, then God Himself is a multipersonal entity. So it would seem that God himself is not “monogamous” (with respect to relationship to the bride/ body) either. It’s entirely possible that this is a category error of some kind, but I thought it was interesting at any rate, and wanted to put it out there for discussion.
Every once in a while, I just like to toss a spanner into the machine and see what happens… :mrgreen:


Wow . . . is this a serious post? You do realize that if a woman was caught in the act adultery that she was to be taken out and stoned on the spot … .right? If God’s blessing is on multiple partners . . .then why is there so much destruction of people’s lives that goes along with it? Why is there such pain in the eyes of the children who’s parents have gone separate ways and married another? Why was the blessing given to Sarah and not Sarah’s handmaid? Why did Isaac carry the blessing and Ishmael was thrown out of the house?

I’m not sure you’ve taken this in the seriousness it requires.

No condemnation . . .just nasty consequences awaiting those that go through it.


Why was Jesus descended from David through his offspring with Uriah’s wife?

Why did Moses divorce?

Because God can triumph despite our failings.

I think we are INTENDED for monogamy,(not monotony). The challenges are no argument against it - they simply demand that if we are to experience sensational monogamous sex, we need to become increasingly infatuated, committed and intimate with our partner. We must go deeper (as opposed to the easier path, going “wider” into the recurring novelty of multiple partners). God calls us to intensity and commitment. That is the challenge of monogamy. But if we master it, I think the greatest, deepest, most spiritual sexual experience is the result.

See Rob Bell’s “Sex God”


Marriage is more than about sex. duh :ugeek:
But the union is a picture of ours with christ, when the two shall become one
the family relationship gives a picture of the different aspects of our relationship with God


For a rich man to enjoy ten wives, nine poor men must endure the misery of none. Polygamy is a proud, hateful act against your brother.


I think that is a healthy thing to do now and again.

I’d love to know what reseach established this curious ‘fact’? I can’t imagine any benefits outweigh the numerous health risks STDs etc.


Good point AllanS although it makes me wonder if, by the same reason, there is a case for polygamy when the ratio of women far outweighs the ratio of men (eg after wars?). There may be a biblical case for ‘taking in’ women who are alone (eg widows).


i notice strangely that God seems to work with the cultures He encounters. the ancient Middle Eastern races treated women as property (actually the whole world did, more or less, but this is the bit the Bible is concerned with). so to have one to many wives/concubines ensured an heir…this was a key thing. i’m sure the sex was fun too (for the husband in most cases). i believe the wives/concubines competed in some cases, because if they had their husband’s favour, then they were socially higher than their …colleagues.

God neither affirms not condemns this, He just works with it.

adultery is a different thing. adultery involves deception and betrayal. people are hurt by it, subsequently families can be destroyed. God hates adultery because He hates relationships being destroyed and people hurt and made bitter. He also uses this broken relationship model to demonstrate some of His feeling for Israel when they go off with other gods, gods He knows are fabrications. He is hurt and made angry by this, as He is their God, and He is real, and He loves them. He even calls Himself their husband (which really does make you wonder about monogamy, at least til you recognise that Israel is being referred to as a single figurative entity).

now, to throw a huge spanner into the works myself, i know people who are polyamourous. this is not simply swinging, or casual sex with anyone…it’s proper relationships with various people, multiple partners. everyone is aware, and honesty is prized and individuals are respected. it’s not for everyone, but i appreciate the concept of not owning each other, that trust is extended and love is treated as a limitless resource (which it is). sex is not always part of the deal, but obviously quite often it is. in a sense, they have “made their own culture” and as such, would God take what they are and work with them, like He did with the OT patriarchs?

also, how often does monogamy work out? it’s difficult for me to judge poly relationships when so often monogamy fails as well.


1 tim 3:12
Deacons must be husbands of one wife and good managers of their children and their own households.

a sign of spiritual maturity



Don’t know if Melchizadek was reading the other thread where this topic came up? But I think polygamy came about with the changes that happened upon forbidden fruit eating (I don’t call it “the Fall” because the Bible doesn’t).

And from my recovering porn addict husband’s lips to your ears, the way Song of Solomon is typically taught, with Solomon held up as a “good role model” for Christian husbandry has been a huge stumbling block to him for many years- reinforcing and excusing a polygamous/(porn) mindset.


I think you’ve hit on part of where I’m going with this. I’ve watched the responses on here so far with some interest; but a huge part of the question I’m really asking is: is our view on this truly biblical (I think there is some evidence that it is, at least to some extent), or is it mostly cultural? The response from Nathan was predictably American (and I say this as an American, at least by birth), but you are from UK if I remember correctly, (as is NoH8). Not sure where Allan is from, but not the U.S.
I seriously question whether it is mostly about cultural norms and the hearts of the individuals involved, than it is about hard and fast black and white rules. So far, you’re the only one that hasn’t simply reacted in shock and horror, or thrown out some; Well, duh! comment.
In “heaven”, we are neither married nor given in marriage, for we will be as the angels are, which presumably means no sex either. Personally, I believe that in the final state we will have spiritual relationships with each other that will blow sex away, but while we’re here, under the right sorts of conditions it’s the highest form of interaction we have, which explains why it is such a powerful draw. Like anything else, it has the potential to be abused.
Does God in his “polyamorous” relationship with us make some of us His bride, and some “only” his body? Obviously, this is going to look different, because sex is not in view in this case, but this is the type of thing I’m trying to get some critically thought out responses to.


The inheritance never went to the offspring of the concubines, only to those born of the married wife.


well, probably most of the time, but there were 1 to many married wives in some situations. also, what about Ishmael?! he would’ve ended up being the heir if Isaac had not been born. Hagar wasn’t a concubine, and we know that God had a better plan, but i don’t recall God condemning any party, though He brought comfort to Hagar in the wilderness (that’s how wonderful God is!!!)

but i digress. there was nothing inherently sinful that anyone was condemned for in this passage…even the obvious lack of faith in God’s promise (if it had been given yet? memory fails me) wasn’t really condemned…in fact, Abraham was later praised for his faith!

but regardless, yes Melchizedek, i’m in the UK. i’m originally from Canada, though…where Christian morals are as Puritan, by and large, as our neighbours to the south. i’ve had to leave that environment and see other cultures and ways of life and get out of the Christian bubble to accept that not everything is black and white.

i can’t pretend that i know best, but i do feel alot of Scripture quoted as defining God’s 100% blueprint for marriage is maybe not as nailed down as i once did. i don’t know if i’m right or wrong, it’s just that i’ve seen so many hurt people from monogamous relationships, and i’m aware of apparently fulfilling relationships outside the norm…

also we do need to realise that now we have pretty good ways of preventing pregnancy and curbing the passing of disease.
the main issue though is that without honesty and communication…if we treat each other as things, then we are definitely sinning against them.
but is it possible to have a sex life that isn’t restricted to one partner, or perhaps doesn’t even require commitment, or multiple partners, without doing that damage? i don’t honestly know… all i can say is that some make it work.

my little brain has enough to cope with with one girlfriend, though…i could never organise the schedule my polyamourous friends have!

i do hope that heaven has some sort of sex though LOL…or at least the new earth!


I’m with you on all this. I agree, I think it largely comes down to how we treat each other.


In the same way I wouldn’t want my (future) wife to have nine more husbands, I’m sure my wife wouldn’t want me to have nine more wives.

Love your wife as yourself.


my girlfriend has had children with men before me…this doesn’t bother me at all. it’s her past, and because i love her, i accept it…though i don’t like the connotation of the word “accept”, as if i had a choice lol…the fact is that i value it: it’s part of her - her life and experiences.

i don’t own her, and she doesn’t own me, we love each other. that’s the difference.

i would argue that it’s similar with non-monogamous relationship types of the honest and open variety. love and love expressed through honesty and respect makes it work for those people for whom it works.


But this is a modern cultural norm, which was not the case in the old testament times. Does this make it morally wrong in either case? :mrgreen:


I believe that the creation account pictures the Divine Ideal and the farther we move or are moved from that ideal, the more problems we’ll encounter. And/Or maybe it is that the more problems we have the further we move from that ideal. That being said, I believe that God works with people wherever He finds them. If they are in a polygamous culture and relationship, then God will work with that and help people do the best they can in that situation. As the culture is Christianized though, it seems to me that monogamy would become increasingly prevelant, as people strive for more heaven on earth - Eden!


An interesting discussion. I think I’m with Sherman on this one. :slight_smile: All I know for sure is that I’m a one-woman man. :slight_smile: May God give me the grace to stay that way. :slight_smile:


In fact, the Hebrew kings were forbidden to “multiply wives unto themselves.” Obviously, the greatest of the Hebrew kings ignored this, to their manifest sorrow. God said nothing to them about this, and I assume that He had other things He wanted to work with them on, and also that the women were well-treated (mostly), for what that’s worth.

In Abraham’s and Sarah’s situation, it was considered the duty of a barren wife to provide her husband with a child through a servant of her choice. It was up to her to choose the servant. Clearly this was a human expedient, and both Abraham and Sarah were to be blamed for this, as Abraham for sure (and he had most likely told Sarah) knew that God had promised an heir. Nevertheless, I’m sure God wasn’t surprised by what happened.

I think when we ask whether God might be polygamous or polyamorous in having all of us as His wives, so to speak, we so completely miss the point that we’re not even on the same planet. The picture of marriage as explaining the relationship of Christ to the ekklesia is about intimacy, yes, but not about physical sexual relationships. It is an intimacy far greater that the union of two physical bodies. What’s more, it is an intimacy between Christ and His very body, the community of believers who are one. So no, it’s not polygamy. We are not a harem. We are ONE as Jesus and the Father and the Spirit are One. He did pray, “Father make them one, as We are One.”

I’ve been caught taking parables too far, trying to tease out the most peripheral of points from a story meant to convey a large meaning that had nothing to do with my rabbit trails. Likewise, we can’t take these metaphors too far. Marriage is a metaphor for Christ and the church. That doesn’t mean Jesus is into polygamy. The ekklesia is one body, one bride – not billions of brides.