5 Essential Facts About Polygamy In Christianity: Is It A Sin Or Not?

5 Essential Facts About Polygamy In Christianity: Is It A Sin Or Not?

Diving into polygamy in Christianity: Is it accepted or seen as a sin? Discover its history and modern views.

Polygamy, the act of marrying multiple spouses, has been a topic of debate and discussion across various religious and cultural communities. Amongst the religions, Christianity’s stance on this matter has been especially contentious. In this article, we will shed light on 5 essential facts about polygamy in Christianity and delve into the question: Is it a sin or not? We hope to provide clarity on this complex issue by understanding it from a historical, theological, and moral perspective.

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While many associate polygamy with ancient times or specific cultures, its relationship with Christianity, one of the world’s major religions, often surprises people. As we navigate through these facts, we invite you to keep an open mind and view the subject through a broader lens of understanding.

A Glimpse into Biblical Times: Was Polygamy Common?

In the early days of biblical history, polygamy was indeed practiced by many prominent figures. Abraham, Jacob, and David, to name a few, had multiple wives. This might lead some to believe that polygamy was widely accepted in early Christian communities. However, it’s essential to understand the cultural context of these times. During this era, societal norms and values were different from what most Christians recognize today.

The practice was often linked to social status, inheritance rights, and the need for offspring, especially male heirs. Although polygamy was practiced, it wasn’t without its challenges and conflicts. Stories from the Bible, such as the rivalry between Sarah and Hagar or Leah and Rachel, highlight the complexities and interpersonal struggles associated with having multiple spouses.

Jesus and the New Testament: A Shift in Perspective?

When we turn our attention to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, there’s a noticeable shift in the perspective on marriage. Jesus emphasized the sanctity of marriage, often referencing the original design of one man and one woman. In Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”

Furthermore, Apostle Paul, in his letters, advocated for monogamous relationships. He even set guidelines for church leaders, suggesting that a bishop or deacon should be the “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Thus, while polygamy might have been more common in the Old Testament, the New Testament’s teachings lean more towards monogamy as the ideal.

Modern Christianity and Polygamy: What’s the Stance Today?

As we venture into the contemporary world, most Christian denominations universally condemn polygamy. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, and many Protestant denominations consider marriage as a sacred bond between one man and one woman. This view has been shaped not only by theological interpretations but also by evolving societal norms.

However, it’s crucial to note that some Christian offshoots and sects, particularly in areas where polygamy is culturally accepted, may still practice or tolerate it. These groups often reference the Old Testament to justify their practices. But mainstream Christianity, by and large, views polygamy as inconsistent with Christ’s teachings.

The Morality Question: Is Polygamy a Sin in Christianity?

From a purely biblical standpoint, the scriptures don’t explicitly label polygamy as a sin. As mentioned earlier, many biblical figures practiced it without direct condemnation from God. However, the complications and conflicts arising from polygamous relationships are evident in biblical narratives.

In modern Christian theology, polygamy is generally considered sinful because it deviates from the New Testament’s teachings about marital unity and the sanctity of the marriage bond between one man and one woman. It’s also worth noting that the potential for jealousy, rivalry, and other negative emotions in polygamous relationships could lead to breaches of other commandments, like coveting or bearing false witness.

The Societal Perspective: Legal and Social Implications of Polygamy

In many countries around the world, polygamy is illegal, even in places where it was once widely practiced. These laws are not necessarily based on Christian beliefs but stem from a desire to ensure women’s rights and prevent potential abuses that can arise in polygamous setups. The societal shift away from polygamy also reflects changing views on equality, individual rights, and the nature of marital relationships.

The Impact on Families: The Complex Dynamics of Polygamous Households

Polygamous households can present a complex web of relationships. Children from different mothers, sharing a father, may experience rivalry, favoritism, or identity issues. The wives, too, can face challenges related to hierarchy, division of responsibilities, and emotional connections with their shared husband. While not unique to polygamous households, these challenges can be amplified in such settings, leading to heightened tensions and conflicts.

1. Polygamy in Christianity: Historical Insights

Old Testament References: Historical accounts in the Old Testament suggest that revered figures, such as Abraham, David, and Solomon, had multiple wives. Yet, it’s crucial to differentiate between practices of that era and divine endorsement.

New Testament Stance: The New Testament doesn’t record any endorsements of polygamy. Instead, it often emphasizes the sanctity of the union between one man and one woman.

2. Divine Mandate vs. Human Choices

Is It Divinely Sanctioned?: While multiple marital relationships are documented, nowhere does the Bible explicitly state that God endorses polygamy. Often, tales involving polygamy illustrate its complications rather than glorifying it.

3. The Evolution of Marital Norms

From the Early Church to Now: Early Christian teachings and church practices lean towards monogamous relationships. Over the centuries, this viewpoint has largely remained unchanged in most Christian denominations.

4. Current Christian Views on Polygamy

Varied Interpretations: Different Christian denominations have distinct perspectives on polygamy. Some strictly oppose it, citing New Testament teachings, while others might tolerate it, especially in cultures where it’s customary.

5. Is Polygamy a Sin? Theological Insights

Biblical Ambiguity: The Bible doesn’t label polygamy as a sin explicitly. However, New Testament teachings emphasize monogamy, suggesting that it aligns more closely with God’s intent for marital unions.

Personal Convictions: For many believers, whether polygamy is a sin or not boils down to personal conviction, guided by scriptural understanding and spiritual discernment.


  • What does Jesus say about polygamy? Jesus never explicitly mentioned polygamy. However, his teachings on marriage, especially in the context of divorce, often emphasize a bond between one man and one woman.
  • Was polygamy common in biblical times? Yes, polygamy was more common during the Old Testament times, especially among rulers and significant figures.
  • How do modern churches view polygamy? Most modern Christian denominations discourage polygamy, leaning towards monogamous relationships based on New Testament teachings.
  • Is polygamy legal? Laws vary by country. In many Western countries, polygamy is illegal. However, it’s permitted in some nations, often in line with cultural or religious norms.
  • Does the Bible explicitly label polygamy as a sin? No, the Bible does not explicitly term polygamy as a sin. However, the New Testament underscores monogamous relationships.
  • How should Christians approach polygamy today? Christians are encouraged to seek guidance from the Bible, their spiritual leaders, and personal convictions when approaching the topic.


Polygamy in Christianity: Is it a Sin or Not? What You Need to Know is a complex question with varied answers based on interpretations, historical contexts, and personal beliefs. The Bible provides insights, but not definitive answers. The onus rests on individuals to seek understanding and discernment on this matter.

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