God created three covenant entities: the family, the state and the church.
The family is the first of the covenant entities and was created in Genesis 2:14. The man, given authority to create a marriage (for this reason), separates himself from his father’s family and leaves his father’s headship authority in order to create his own family and is in authority over his marriage and subsequent family. The four elements necessary for a Biblical marriage are:
- The permission of the father of the woman. She is under his authority, and cannot marry without his permission (c.f. 1st Corinthians 7:36-38).
- The agreement between man and woman to marry (present words of assent).
- Consummation of the marriage.
The authority of the husband over his wife and children is undisputed throughout the Law. In the judgment of Moses concerning divorce (c.f. Deuteronomy 24:1-4) it was the man who created the marriage that had the authority to end the marriage, but if he did so, he was to issue the woman a certificate of divorce. The mission of the family is to be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue it.
As I have covered elsewhere, nowhere in Scripture is a man forbidden from having more than one wife, inasmuch as the practice is neither forbidden nor condemned. Therefore, it is a moral action. The authority of the husband over the wife is restated in Ephesians 5:22-24, as equal to the authority of Christ over the church.
The second of the covenant entities God created was the state. In Genesis 9:16 God commanded that a murderer must be put to death. The Law discusses the cities of refuge and the avenger of blood who was tasked with executing a murderer. In 1st Samuel 8, we see the nation of Israel has rejected God as their king, so He ordered Samuel to anoint a king over them. Later, through the Davidic Covenant, God established this as a permanent and everlasting kingdom which Christ would eventually rule. We see in Romans 13 the governors of the state are ministers of righteous and they have the power of the sword. This power of the sword no longer rests with the congregation.
The third of the covenant entities is the church, which was given the mission of going out and making disciples of all men, and preaching, teaching, training and rebuking in righteousness that every man might be equipped for every good work. The church is to decide the contentions between believers (1st Corinthians 6), care for the widows and orphans (1st Timothy 5) and preach sound doctrine (2nd Timothy 4).
It must be observed that these three covenant entities exist within the context of God’s moral law. The moral authority of each of these entities to act is derived from their God given authority. Do any of them occasionally overstep their bounds? Of course. Does that make it right? No.
The Christian family exists within the church, just as the church exists within the state. The state has no more right to dictate doctrine and practice within the church than the church has to the right to dictate order and discipline within marriage. This is within the context of obedience to God’s moral law.
Inasmuch as the state has the mission of upholding order and morality, laws prohibiting homosexual unions are perfectly acceptable. Laws requiring the permission of the state in order to marry are not. Murder is prohibited, as is theft. The government is morally within its bounds in making and enforcing laws against these things, which are mala in se (wrong because they are morally wrong). The government is also within its bounds in making regulations to support social harmony. Things like speed limits, building regulations, zoning ordinances and the like are not mala in se, but rather mala prohibita (wrong because they are forbidden).
However, the invasion of another of God’s sphere’s of authority, such as the government dictating doctrine and practice within the church, is outside the grant of authority God gave the state. Likewise, the church’s decisions in the middle ages that regulated the marital bed was a usurpation of the authority of the husband in an area in which the church was not given authority.
The current state of affairs, in which the state has usurped the authority of the husband and father by allowing the police powers of the state to be used by women to overthrow their husband’s authority, destroy their marriage, remove the children from his guidance and authority and extract monetary tribute is morally wrong. The church, in refusing to rebuke this practice within the congregation is immorally abandoning its obligations and abdicating its mission.
Historically, the church made a practice of usurping the authority of both family and state, as well interfering in the affairs of both. The historic invasion of the family that resulted in the ridiculous restrictions on what might or might not be allowed to happen within the marital bed influenced culture and society for over a millennium. These restrictions were codified into laws applied to the general public. Within the last fifty years or so, these laws have been swept away, taking with them the perfectly moral laws prohibiting true indecency such as homosexuality. The church lost the strength to hold the pendulum at the point they’d pushed it and having pushed it too far away from moral equilibrium, the pendulum swung back and is now pushing far beyond the point of equilibrium.
Research such as this demonstrate that in an environment in which there are no longer any legal protections afforded to marriage, polygyny is a reasonable response that is within the moral framework of Biblical marriage. In times past the walls of the edifice we call marriage were high and strong, defended by both church and state. Today those walls have been swept away, breached by feminism. Polygyny, long forbidden by the church and ignored by the state, is perhaps the only remaining form of Biblical marriage that might provide some protection against frivorce. The believing man who created the marriage with his believing wife, forbidden to divorce her for any reason, still has the authority to add another wife, or to choose to marry more than one in the beginning.