What does “the husband of one wife” mean?
Good morning to you, and thank you for sharing some of your valuable time with me.
As a course of my normal daily bible reading, I recently encountered a familiar marital situation in scripture. And what I read caused me to think about a familiar doctrine about a qualification for a bishop.
The verse that I read was 2 Chronicles 13.21:
“But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.”
(That’s a lot of wives)
Polygamy is very abundant throughout scripture; it’s not God’s will, but it’s common nonetheless.
So when I read passages like 1 Timothy 3.2: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;“
It seems to me that the problem of polygamy is what’s being dealt with, (rather than barring a man from being a bishop if he’s been divorced & remarried).
However please don’t think that I’m making light of divorce, I’m not at all. Divorce is horrible and hurtful.
And I don’t know if I’m right in my analysis of this topic, (I may be wrong). But at least I’ll give you my reasons why I believe that polygamy is the issue being addressed.
1. If a man has a wayward past prior to his salvation (and who doesn’t), such as divorce for example, and he’s forbidden to be a bishop on that basis. Then his past sins are being held against him that God has forgiven and put away. Making him (in practice) a second-class citizen in the body of Christ based on sins that God has cleansed & removed.
I believe in regeneration by God; I really believe that God makes someone a new creature (2 Corinthians 5.17), when Christ has been formed in them, (Galatians 4.19). Therefore to penalize someone for their sins that they committed while they were in their spiritually dead state, seems (to me) to be a denial that God actually makes someone a new creature when He regenerates them.
2. Conversely, there are plenty of adulterous married pastors out there who’ve never been divorced. Therefore if a man has never been divorced, that doesn’t necessarily equate to him being a quality shepherd.
3. Moreover, a man who’s married to multiple women simultaneously is going to have a very chaotic personal life. his affections are going to be pulled in multiple directions, with excessive drama and strife in his life. Therefore polygamy would be an appropriate prohibition to Christian leadership.
4. And finally, (I believe that) the forbidding of polygamy better-fits the grammar in 1 Timothy 3.2.
Why do I say that?
It’s because a married, (or a divorced & remarried) man is the husband of one wife.
While a polygamist is not the husband of one wife, (and thus the polygamist would be disqualified from being a bishop).
So like I said, I may be totally wrong in my analysis of this topic, and if you disagree with me, that’s fine with me, please help me to see what I’m missing.
Thank you for considering this topic with me.
All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ! And no glory to us whatsoever!