Genesis means origin or source of a beginning and that is exactly what the first book of the Bible is about. Chapter one verse one of the Bible “In the beginning God…” it is clear, biblically speaking, that everything exists because of God. He is the creator. Chapter two while continuing the origin history takes a deeper look into the creation of man himself and it is most likely written not from God’s perspective like chapter one but from Adam’s perspective. Henry Morris the well-respected Creation scholar believes that starting in Chapter two we have the genesis account as written by Adam himself giving us his descendants the view of things as he understood them (Morris, 83). Reading Genesis two from this perspective brings much needed context to the text. That context is what Adam writes to tell us about is the first Marriage, the marriage of our eldest grandparents.
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV
It all started because God recognized that Adam needed a companion and a peer of his own. The Triune God is relational and having created Adam in his image he knew that companionship would be required.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. Genesis 2:18-20 ESV
God knew having created Man אִישׁ (ish) that the creation would need one more introduction before being complete on that sixth day (Genesis 1:27). Adam saw her and called her Woman אִשָּׁה (isha).
Man and Woman have been created and this relationship between Adam and Eve is established in the order and natural laws as God intended. Our own family histories are full of examples of two becoming one and our family histories are full of examples where this relationship has not worked out as one might have hoped going in.
Marriage is no easy relationship. It is amazing that two people man and woman would choose to come together and promise to continue the relationship until death separates them. There is something special and sacred about marriage and our forefather chose to write about marriage first. His being married to the most perfect woman ever created.
The example that God set for Adam is that marriage is between one man and one woman. As a society we have come to accept that many people want more than this singular ideal. However becoming one flesh with three or four people was not the model God created. Giving half of oneself to one person and then giving another half to someone else was not the model God created. Giving oneself to someone of the same gender was not the model God created. So why do we see so many people seeking after relationships and companionships outside of what God originally intended? Time does not permit an exploration of each of these detours from the original but I would like to address polygamy because it occurred, seemingly, with God’s blessing in the Bible and a time is coming in contemporary America where a push may be made to make that acceptable once again. I think by addressing this model through the context of Biblical history that we can see where God’s perfect plan of one man and one woman remains the ideal and it is an ideal that ultimately points to Christ.
We know that several men of the Bible had multiple wives. We know that that God did not forbid the act and it seems that it held a place in society out of necessity. I say necessity because the context and the time when it was practiced is not the same context we live in today. The rule of law was based on a more feudal system where power rested with those that could care and protect others. Women having a more difficult time securing a wage or daily necessities depended on an intact household for survival. Isaiah’s prophecy about the future doom of the nation of Israel and Judah because of their rebellion against God notes a relevant reality that took place because of the hardship and exposure that women would face.
And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” Isaiah 4:1 ESV
In essence because of how few men would be left due to war and how desperate the social structure would be women would want to attach themselves to household name for protection so they would not be sold into slavery or worse. Another example is in giving ground rules for the king where God warns the king not to take many wives just because he has the power and the means to do so.
17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV
God’s reason for telling the king to avoid this lifestyle is that it would turn his heart away from the true reality of life. God’s perfect plan was one man and one woman and a move to any other life that was born out of anything other than necessity would corrupt the heart of everyone involved.
What was permitted and what was born out of necessity is not needed in contemporary culture. Most, dare I say all, people living today would find that polygamy as permitted in the context of Old Testament is no longer needed. Women no longer need the protection of a household because they can make money on their own and they can call upon the resources of Governments and communities for their protection if needed. Even by the time of Christ this was becoming mostly true. Paul in his letter to Timothy that lays out much of the rules for the contemporary church organization and sets firm qualifications for leaders in the church.
12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 1 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Each household of one man and one woman fulfills God’s original perfect plan from the very beginning. Husband and Wife is the order just as Adam and Eve wrote in their letter to us in Genesis Chapter two. This beginning like many events recorded in the Bible also points to a more perfect relationship. That is the marriage relationship between Jesus and his Church.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV
It is most amazing to me that Adam’s letter written to us points to the future of Jesus being united to the Church making them one. Being part of the body of believers give you access to the Creator as the daughter-in-law of the Father. Being united with Christ the son of God with all the inheritance and protection that one could ever need through marriage. Now is the time of grace and mercy to be accepted and be part of that family of God. Will you reject or yield to that perfect marriage in Christ?