Conservative Christians believe marriage is between one man and one woman. So how do they explain biblical stories in which one man is married to multiple women (including concubines)?
Self-described “Prophecy Expert” Paul McGuire tried explaining that discrepancy on this show this week. He attempted to explain how King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines — and how God was okay with this.
The result was the most amazing kind of mental gymnastics in which McGuire talked about the sex life of Adam and Eve and how God was just doing those wives and concubines a favor.
… But even [Solomon] in his latter days was corrupted by that wealth and that wisdom, because I don’t know how many wives that the guy had. I mean, how many wives do you need? I mean, I could think of what certain guys are thinking out there… and the ladies can figure out what they’re thinking, too. So the point is, though, really, how many wives do you need? Really, how many do you need?
Adam was very satisfied with one wife, Eve. And I don’t want to get into the details of their marriage and stuff, but he was one happy man, and he had one wife.
So Solomon had… I don’t know… I really don’t remember… something like 500 wives or something. I’m just guessing from memory. It’s a bit like, you know, 500 concubines, which are like — they’re not quite wives, but they’re they’re available to function as a wife, and meet all the physical desires that a man could have. And it was sanctioned by God. Now don’t — don’t ask me the question of why it was sanctioned by God. I really don’t know. I can speculate. And I could be totally wrong.
My speculation would be that God was not breaking his mandate and the commandment about that a godly man should be the husband of one wife, or he was not breaking the original template for marriage he created in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve where it was one woman, one man for marriage.
He wasn’t breaking that.
I suspect that because of the continual warfare that the children of Israel were involved in, and that would mean, like in all wars, there was an extraordinarily high percentage of men who died in warfare. Okay? Which means, just like in every war, up until our times, wars produce a vast reduction in the number of men available to marry women and have families and have children.So this is just speculation on my part. I suspect that God made an exemption for these kings, like David and Solomon and all the others, not because they were so powerful and rich, but in a way, that was part of the reason. But it wasn’t so that they could, like, indulge themselves.
I suspect there was always a shortage of… eligible males available for women to marry. Okay? Which means, especially back then, that these women would not have been taken care of, and they would have not had food, and nobody to take care of them, and they would have been left all alone.
And the male-dominated societies of that time, I mean a woman would have had an extremely, if not impossible, time trying to get her financial needs met, or in a house and a roof over her head. So I suspect that, by becoming a concubine of these kings, or one of the hundreds of wives of these kings, like Solomon and David, that the king or the… well, the king, like Solomon or David, married the wives and under whatever exemption God gave them they were allowed to… enter into a physically intimate relationship with their wives as long as they married them. And the same was true with the concubines. Okay?
It was a time of war and women just couldn’t meet a decent guy. Therefore God allowed King Solomon to marry literally hundreds of women… some of whom he only used for sex.
That’s the definition of marriage given to us by the same God who demands one man and one woman for life.
It’s amazing how he contorts his interpretation of the Bible like that. But that’s how the Bible works. When a story is meant to be fictional, you can add in whatever analysis you’d like! Even if you’re trying to bridge a divide that has no business coming together.
McGuire should just be honest: God was a hypocrite. Or at least there exist hypocrites who insist marriage can only ever be between a biological man and biological woman because that’s what God intended.
There’s another option, too: McGuire could explain how societies changed over time, and while polygamy wasn’t unusual in the past, that’s no longer the case, and both Christians and government officials adjusted their understanding of marriage to accommodate those shifts. It’s the same reason same-sex couples should have every right to be married now, and why Christians shouldn’t get in the way of that.