Questions From Readers
Jehovah allowed polygamy among his ancient servants, the Israelites, but he does not allow it now. Is his standard changeable?
Jehovah has not changed his view of polygamy. (Psalm 19:7; Malachi 3:6) It was not part of his arrangement for humans from the beginning, and it is not now. When he created Eve as a wife for Adam, Jehovah stated that the divine standard was one wife for one husband. “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”—Genesis 2:24.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, he restated this position in answer to those who asked about divorce and remarriage. He said: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus added: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:4-6, 9) From this it is obvious that taking one or more additional wives is also adultery.
Then why was polygamy allowed in ancient times? Keep in mind that Jehovah did not originate the practice. The first one mentioned in the Bible as having more than one wife was Lamech, a descendant of Cain. (Genesis 4:19-24) When Jehovah brought the Flood of Noah’s day, Noah and his three sons each had only one wife. All polygamists were destroyed in the Flood.
Centuries later when Jehovah chose the Israelites as his people, polygamy already existed among them, although it apparently was far more common to have just one wife. God did not require families to break up where there was more than one wife. Instead, he strictly regulated the practice.—Exodus 21:10, 11; Deuteronomy 21:15-17.
That this toleration of polygamy was only temporary can be seen not only by what Jesus stated regarding Jehovah’s original standard for marriage but also by what the apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of God’s holy spirit. He said: “Let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2) Paul also was inspired to write that any man appointed as an overseer or a ministerial servant in the Christian congregation must be “a husband of one wife.”—1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6.
Thus, Jehovah’s toleration of polygamy came to an end with the formation of the Christian congregation some 2,000 years ago. At that time, the standard for marriage returned to what it was at the beginning of God’s creation of man and woman: one husband, one wife. It is the standard today among God’s people throughout the entire world.—Mark 10:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.