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Feedback archive Feedback 2010

Christian converts and polygamy; and CMI’s view of the ‘Hobbit’

Published: 6 March 2010(GMT+10)

Photo stockxchng

A husband and wife replica atop a wedding cake

In this week’s feedback, Malaysian correspondent A.A.1 asks about guidance for his country’s new converts to Christ who come from areas where polygamy is common, which Jonathan Sarfati answers. And Lita Cosner then addresses Australian correspondent Sandra Miller’s question about the ‘Hobbit’.

Dear CMI

In my country, polygamy can be very common among certain ethnic groups, being legally provided for. Some of them are coming to Christ. Which creates a problem for guiding them.

Adultery:

(1) David undoubtedly committed adultery at his initial sexual encounter with Bathsheba.

(2) He subsequently married her. The subsequent sexual relationhip is no longer adulterous …. YES / NO?

(2a) If continuing sexual relationship is adulterous, why doesn’t the Bible record so, and why doesn’t he need to repent for it?

(2b) if polygamous marriages are sinful, and continuing sexual relationship is unrepented for, does it mean that all polygamous kings including David has no share of the Kingdom of Heaven?

(2c) If continuing sexual relationship is not considered as adulterous, does it not mean that while polygamous marriage is not unlawful, seeing no King has to be stoned for it, neither repent for it.

(2d) Is it not true that the Bible does not contain a single express commandment whether in the NT or OT against multiple marriages, since you only quote verses that read monogamy into it? (I mean the NT verses are meant as guidelines for selection church leaders)

(3) In the question for Jesus concerning the 7 brothers marrying one woman in turns (which is prescribed for in Moses Law), is it true that even had all the other surviving 6 brothers are married, they would each in turn be forced to marry the widow anyway? YES / NO

3a) If yes, doesn’t it mean the Bible does demand polygamy in this specific instant, if needed be.

(4) “God also forbade the kings of Israel to be polygamous (Deut. 17:17).”
Doesn’t the verse mean that the kings should not marry many wives, rather than marry only 1 wife? YES / NO

4a) If NO, then to be consistent should we not also translate the preceding verse to mean that the kings cannot own more than 1 horse?; and the subsequently part of the verse to mean not more than 1 pc of gold or silver?

Thank you.

A.A., Malaysia

Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s responses are interspersed below:

Dear CMI

In my country, polygamy can be very common among certain ethnic groups, being legally provided for. Some of them are coming to Christ. Which creates a problem for guiding them.

A convert to Christianity should not enter into marriage with more than one wife. If such a convert is already married to more than one, then he should not divorce any of them since the marriage, although short of God’s ideal, is still a marriage.

It need not, if biblical principles are applied: a convert to Christianity should not enter into marriage with more than one wife. If such a convert is already married to more than one, then he should not divorce any of them since the marriage, although short of God’s ideal, is still a marriage. (I’m assuming that you’re talking about the subset of polygamy (married to more than one spouse) called polygyny, specifically having more than one wife. Polyandry, more than one husband, is rare.)

Adultery:

(1) David undoubtedly committed adultery at his initial sexual encounter with Bathsheba.

Indeed, and God condemned this through the prophet Nathan, and the baby conceived by this adulterous union died as part of David’s punishment. David repented of his sin.

(2) He subsequently married her. The subsequent sexual relationhip is no longer adulterous …. YES / NO?

No. God even named their son Solomon, conceived after marriage, as heir.

(2a) If continuing sexual relationship is adulterous, why doesn’t the Bible record so, and why doesn’t he need to repent for it?

It wasn’t. Uriah was dead by then, and God had punished David for his involvement in his death.

(2b) if polygamous marriages are sinful, and continuing sexual relationship is unrepented for, does it mean that all polygamous kings including David has no share of the Kingdom of Heaven?

No, people are saved by grace through faith, not by works. In the case of Old Testament saints, the basis for their salvation was the (for them) future atoning work of Christ.

(2c) If continuing sexual relationship is not considered as adulterous, does it not mean that while polygamous marriage is not unlawful, seeing no King has to be stoned for it, neither repent for it.

No one was in a position to stone David, because he was king. So God punished him directly. Another part of the punishment was David’s sons from his various marriages rebelling and warring with each other.

(2d) Is it not true that the Bible does not contain a single express commandment whether in the NT or OT against multiple marriages, since you only quote verses that read monogamy into it? (I mean the NT verses are meant as guidelines for selection church leaders)

God initiated marriage before the Fall as two people, a man and a woman, becoming one flesh, and Jesus endorsed this (Mt. 19:3–6).

What the Bible commands is not only in its express statements but also can be deduced logically from them (see also Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation). God initiated marriage before the Fall as two people, a man and a woman, becoming one flesh, and Jesus endorsed this (Mt. 19:3–6). And in such collectivist cultures, what was commanded for leaders was also to set an example for the rest.

(3) In the question for Jesus concerning the 7 brothers marrying one woman in turns (which is prescribed for in Moses Law), is it true that even had all the other surviving 6 brothers are married, they would each in turn be forced to marry the widow anyway? YES / NO

Marrying a brother’s widow, for the purposes of begetting offspring on the dead brother’s behalf, is called Levirate marriage. This was a requirement of the Mosaic Law.

3a) If yes, doesn’t it mean the Bible does demand polygamy in this specific instant, if needed be.

This is not polygamy (specifically polyandry), since at no time was the woman married to more than one man at a time.

(4) “God also forbade the kings of Israel to be polygamous (Deut. 17:17).”

Doesn’t the verse mean that the kings should not marry many wives, rather than marry only 1 wife? YES / NO

“Many” is more than one.

4a) If NO, then to be consistent should we not also translate the preceding verse to mean that the kings cannot own more than 1 horse?; and the subsequently part of the verse to mean not more than 1 pc of gold or silver?

No, because with marriage there was a specific context of one man and one woman becoming one flesh. There is no such context about a proper number of horses or proper amount of gold.

Thank you.

A.A., Malaysia

You’re very welcome. I might also recommend my article Does the Bible clearly teach monogamy? which answers some of those questions. It was updated and published in a recent Creation magazine, 31(4):12, September 2009.

Regards

Jonathan Sarfati


Image from Peter Brown/Nature

Florens sapiens

The Hobbit skull compared to a normal modern one.

We received this enquiry from Sandra M. (Australia):

Wondering what your response is to the latest paper in Science journal on the ‘Hobbit’—that it is definitely a new human species because of large flat feet!

CMI’s Lita Cosner responds:

Dear Sandra,

We are aware of the article which claims that the evidence of its large flat feet means that Homo floresiensis is a new species. In previous articles on the topic, we suggested that the evidence then available pointed to the ‘Hobbit’ being a dwarfed descendant of Homo erectus, so fully human. Or even, in line with some evolutionists, a pathological specimen of a much more modern human.

Hominid species are really in the eye of the beholder; few evolutionists would accept all of the proposed hominid species, because they have different ideas of what constitutes a separate species.

We passed this new information on to human brain researcher Dr Peter Line, a friend of the ministry who has spent some time looking into and writing on evolutionary ‘hominid’ candidates. He is interested in the developments regarding the ‘Hobbit,’ and his ideas on it can be summarized as follows: Hominid species are really in the eye of the beholder; few evolutionists would accept all of the proposed hominid species, because they have different ideas of what constitutes a separate species. Given the dominance of those who are inclined to see new species rather than assign discoveries to an existing species, those who want to see Homo floresiensis as a separate species can find justification to do so.

But it is more likely that it is simply a diseased human; Dr Line says:

“I would even consider it as perhaps a pathological “robust” type human. By robust type I mean the type of specimens included in Homo heidelbergensis—a lot of these have brain capacities well within the normal modern human range, as well as Homo erectus (usually the main distinction between these two groups is the smaller cranial capacities in Homo erectus— otherwise their skulls are quite similar). Perhaps immediately after the flood (and in the pre-Flood world) this was the typical human skeletal form. Maybe robusticity had some advantage associated with longevity (maybe having thicker bones was a protective measure against bone loss with aging—just speculating). Hence, for example, if you had a microcephalic robust type, I would suggest it would look like a small brained Homo erectus. Admittedly it is speculative, but nothing compared to the evolutionary just so stories.”

I hope this reply has been helpful for you.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International

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  1. The correspondent provided his name but has asked it not be published to preserve his identity—which we can certainly understand, given the sensitivities (and even dangers) relating to Christian evangelism in that country. Return to text.

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