Well it wasn’t a sin that sent him to hell or anything, but it WAS insane… My term, not God’s.
This is really a good question because we do typically say in our society that polygamy is wrong. Of course the small minority of polygamy-minded Mormons would disagree. (these particular Mormons -not Mormons in general- shall hereafter be referred to as Insane Mormons.)
Insane Mormons: adj Used to describe the small minority of Mormons who practice polygamy. To be loopy and marry more than one woman at a time
I don’t mean to insult women by calling this insane. All I’m saying is… uh….
It’s just too much of a good thing! …save! *whew*
Anyway, if polygamy is wrong now, why wasn’t it wrong then? Here’s the Gasp Answer:
The Bible doesn’t say polygamy is a sin.
God DID say whoever became king of Israel shouldn’t “multiply wives for himself”:
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.
And Solomon did just that (and yep, his heart turned away from God just like God said it would), and ol’ Sol got into multiplying silver and gold for himself, too. He was definitely going against God’s instructions in these verses, however, it’s important to realize what God didn’t say. God did not call polygamy “detestable” in His sight, or “wickedness” or use any of the other terms He would normally use when outlawing something as sinful. For instance in the very same chapter:
Deu 17:12 Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel.
Here God called the behavior “evil” and prescribed a punishment: death. When God talked of polygamy however, He didn’t use such terms, nor did God prescribe a good killing, flogging, or any sort of punishment for it. God simply warned that the king’s heart would turn away -which it did in Solomon’s case.
Even in the New Testament, God did not label polygamy as a sin, even though the writers would occasionally provide a list of sins:
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Admittedly, many people will include polygamy with fornication or lewdness or include it with the words “and the like.” I believe that’s a stretch. Polygamy is not mentioned specifically as a sin, nor does it fit very well in the biblical category of sexual immorality because… insane or not… there is still a marriage involved.
So why is it illegal? Why do we regard polygamy as a sin?
Because it’s insane.
Okay you want a better answer? Well, here’s the second best answer:
First, because the Bible CLEARLY teaches that God’s design for marriage was not polygamy -but the marriage between a man and a woman.
Gen 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
That leaves out homosexuality of course, which by the way, the Bible does term a sin.
Second, the Bible CLEARLY teaches that God has often given people grace and leniency when it comes to our behaviors, but that doesn’t make it right or good or the best way. As Jesus said concerning divorce:
Matthew 19:8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
And third, the Bible CLEARLY teaches that polygamy disqualifies someone from being a leader in the Church. It’s a mark against someone: (and that can’t be good)
1Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,
1Timothy 3:12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Titus 1:5-6 appoint elders in every city as I commanded you —if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
All the “Insane Mormons,” (refer to definition above) currently reading this probably went ballistic. That’s okay.
What do you expect of insane people?
Back to the original question though… was Solomon wrong? Wrong yes, sinning by having a gazillion wives? Not so much. God never condemned him for polygamy, BUT (and this is important) all the things God warned would happen did happen.
Kinda like when your dad tells you not to stick your knife into the wall outlet, but you do anyway because you’re pretty sure it would fit but your sister tells you it won’t so you have to prove her wrong, despite the fact that your dad told you if you did it, you’d get hurt, but what does he know? and…
okay that was just me, but do you see what I’m getting at?
No, it’s not that electricity hurts, it’s that God warned of real consequences and gave real instructions, but stopped short of condemning polygamy as sin. It was just a bad idea. He gave instructions as a parent would give instructions and advice. “Hey guys this will cause problems.” God warned against polygamy, but he didn’t condemn people for it.
Perhaps God was showing grace and patience with Solomon and others? Even today, the New Testament counts polygamy as a mark against someone -disqualifying them from responsibility in the church in fact, but it does not condemn or send someone to hell for it.
In other words, you might still go to Heaven, but God’s not going to give any responsibility to someone who is clearly out of his mind.