Polygamy in the Bible
My below response to Sherif Muhammad's polemic against women in Christianity [part 9 on polygamy] was written in response to a posting on an Islamic discussion forum, the newsgroup soc.religion.islam, in 1995. However, it was deemed "not relevant" by the moderators, even though this book's "information" is arguably the one article displayed by the highest number of Islamic web sites. Therefore my attempted posting is now displayed here on this website.
In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Camel Driver) writes: | WOMEN IN ISLAM VERSUS WOMEN IN THE JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION: | | THE MYTH & THE REALITY "The Myth Maker's Propaganda" would be more appropriate as a subtitle, I would say. You will see why. So much ignorance starting out even in the very first paragraph. It is sad. But if it would be only ignorance. I am rather convinced there is deliberate dishonesty to be found here. | Friday khutbah by Br. Sherif Muhammad Kingston, February 10, 1995 | __________________________________________________________________________ | | 9. Polygamy | | Let's now tackle the important question of polygamy. Polygamy is a | very ancient practice found in many human societies. The Bible didn't | condemn polygamy. If someone isn't able to read the Bible correctly as it is intended, then no, (s)he will not find. Basically ALL passages in the Bible where the practice of polygamy is mentioned also give a vivid picture of the problems coming with it. There is NOT ONE passage which talks about the blessings of polygamy. But there are dozens of passages where polygamy is reported and it is always resulting in trouble, jealousy and strife. It is always accompanied by unhappiness. If one is at all sensitive to the meaning of stories, and the impact of storytelling and the teaching through stories even without stating things as "clear doctrine", then one will realize that this is more than a subtle hint that polygamy is not recommended at all, and by exposing its reality it is actually warning strongly against this practice. | To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic | writings frequently attest to the legality of polygamy. King Solomon | is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) Reporting the fact of sin is not the same as allowing sin as being acceptable. But it is funny that you would bring up this specific example which is condemned in no uncertain terms in the Bible. Did you ever ask a real Christian [or Jew], to proof-read your book before you let it lose on the world? Everybody who knows his Bible will immediately point out how wrong this statement is. Here it comes: The Torah states in Deuteronomy 17, verse 17: He [the king] must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. And what do the verses say which report about the fact of 700 wives and 300 concubines for King Solomon? 1 Kings 11:1-11 reads as follows 1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, AND HIS WIVES LED HIM ASTRAY. Not only do the last two verses report that this was AGAINST God's law, they also report that exactly the predicted result was coming to pass, namely that they were leading Solomon astray from the worship of the one true God only. Shall I assume the writer of this book did overlook this sentence before and the sentence after the one he got the 700 and 300 from? I think it is much more likely that this is once again deliberate distortion of the facts in the Bible. Sadly a rather common feature of Muslim propaganda pamphlets. Sorry for being so harsh, but I am fed up with this dishonesty. And this very booklet is displayed on at least 15 different Islamic web sites which have no conscience making themselves companions of dishonesty and lies. At least they do not care at all to check if the things they display are true or not. Anyway, that this was the major sin of Solomon is elaborated in detail in these 11 verses. Not easy to overlook if one really wants to check the facts. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech  the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. 7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. 9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command. 11 So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. | Also, king David is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13). And even that didn't keep him from committing adultery with yet another woman. But even if that hadn't happened, we do read much about the strife between the children of the different wives, up to murder. If that doesn't send a clear message... | Other societies | (like most African societies today) would see the most honourable outlet | is to allow polygamous marriage as a culturally accepted and socially | respected institution. The point that is often misunderstood in the west | is that women in other cultures don't necessarily look at polygamy as a | sign of women's degradation. For example, many young African brides | (whether Christians or Muslims or otherwise), would prefer to marry a | married man who has already proved himself to be a responsible husband. | Many African wives urge their husbands to get a second wife so that they | don't feel lonely . Well, if the man is not a Chrstian husband or one who doesn't know what God tells Christian husbands in regard to how they treat their wives then that might in rare cases even be so. But if a man loves his wife as God tells him to, then there is no reason for the wife to be lonely. Second, if such a husband takes another wife, will she get more attention? Rarely. Now she has to share his attention with yet another woman. And in most African societies women are not confined to their hut, as many Muslim women are confined to their home. African women do have much more a social life in the village community. If she needs social interaction, she sure can have that with the neighbor's wife without having to share now her huband on top if it. I feel tempted to ask some of my African friends about this. It sounds really bogus to me. Is this author giving a thoroughly done statistics or is this just a "intuition" of his? Has he actually taken an unbiased survey? Something that would satisfy the rules of a true demographic statistics? I do not have the book, but maybe I should get it. But maybe some of these Muslims who display this article or who post it to the newsgroup want to feel challenged to do that? After all it is the theory YOU want to propagate. So make sure you are not being embarrassed if I finally look it up because you bring it to the public again and again. Okay, enough for today. Should it be posted again of which I have no doubt, since Mr. Camel Driver has posted it already three times within the last month, then more protest will be forthcoming. How long will it take until Muslims are willing to abandon these shameless lies? I have responded to this exact posting already several times over the last two years. This doesn't seem to register at all. But repetition doesn't make it any more true.
For a more detailed treatment of the topic of polygamy, see the article Why Christians do not allow Polygamy.
"Women in Islam": Overview on Information on the Web
Answering Islam Home Page