The Dishonor Of Divided Love
He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:17
The English word “polygamy” comes from two Greek words meaning “many marriages.” Someone who practices polygamy has more than one legal spouse at the same time. Polygamy was practiced in ancient times and is still practiced in some cultures today. Then there’s polyamory, or “multiple loves,” that’s also present in many cultures, with the distinction that partners may not be legally bound to one another.
The Bible has many examples of polygamous relationships, such as King Solomon’s infamous 1000 wives and concubines. Scripture says that overall, King Solomon was the wisest man alive, yet God had warned against Solomon’s decision in the matter of his many partners. First, Solomon’s practices didn’t value women as human beings. Most of his partners were pawns in politically strategic alliances.
Second, God knew that a heart pulled in 1,000 directions – whether pulled toward pleasures, riches, or power – could not focus on God, or on anything wholeheartedly. God warned against idol worship, love of money, and multiple partners because “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other,” says Matthew. (Matthew 6:24) Love grows through singular focus and self-sacrifice, not division.
God created women and men in His own image, which means each of us is worthy of undivided love. When we follow God’s example, we love our partner exclusively and undividedly so that we can obey God and honor His image in them.
Resource reading: 1 Kings 11:1-6