WATCHING A COMEDY—The Big Bang Theory—I think I may have come up with the answer to this Bible Question of the Week.
I got the question from LaVerne Tilson, a lady who has been on the planet long enough to deserve an honest answer to whatever questions she feels compelled to ask. She also gets a free book of mine, if she’d like one.
Here’s her question:
“Why did many of the men told about in the Old Testament have more than one wife and often concubines? Please help me understand.”
I’m thinking the answer might be pretty much the same as it was in the episode I watched of the Big Bang Theory. Penny, who clearly still had feelings for the geeky scientist Leonard, asked him why he had a one-night stand with a woman Penny nicknamed Dr. Slutbunny.
“She let me.”
I suspect that for many guys, if not most throughout human history, it has often taken just one thing for a guy to have sex with a gal:
There’s a saying in even the heavily clothed Middle Eastern culture:
“If a man and woman are alone together for more than 20 minutes they will have sex.”
I’m not sure what’s up with the 20 minutes. Maybe that’s how long it takes the woman to get out of all those clothes.
I’ve read the theological and cultural explanations of why some godly men had so many women in their lives. Men like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and the wedding planner’s dream: Solomon.
The Bible doesn’t take a position on the matter.
It doesn’t say boo-hoo or how do you do.
It merely reports there was a lot of yahooing going on.
It’s as though God leaves it up to us to figure out sex and marriage and baby making.
Some writers speculate that God was probably okay with men having two or more wives along with concubines, who were second-class wives…maybe like having two wives with rings and two other wives who clean the rings off the bathtub every Saturday night.
Popular arguments supporting men with multiple wives in Bible times:
- We needed to populate the planet. Check please.
- Families living out in the boonies needed to be large to survive. The more kids, the more field workers and the bigger the militia when they grew up.
- Extra wife-like women came in especially handy when the Little Lady couldn’t produce children.
Most Bible experts I’ve read, though, say God made his plan obvious enough in his matchmaking: Adam and Eve.
Even when the planet needed populated more than ever, there was still just one guy and one gal.
Besides, many of the harem-style marriages reported in the Bible didn’t make for a happy family.
Jacob’s wives were forever competing for the affections of their husband. It made family life tense.
At least Jacob had several opportunities for relieving his tension.
David’s family splintered after David’s oldest son raped his own half-sister. The gal’s full brother, Absalom, killed that half-brother and then led a coup against his dad, essentially for not punishing the rapist son.
Perhaps the most honest answer to LaVerne’s question is that it was a man’s world back then. A patriarchal world. Men pretty much got to do what they wanted to do.
And everyone knows what they want to do.
Here’s what a wise man said they should do:
“Be happy with the wife you married when you were young” (Proverbs 5:18).
And in the words of Air Force Chaplain Lt. Col. David Pendleton, a family friend who conducted the wedding ceremony of my daughter and my son-in-law a few months ago, “If you have problems in your marriage—and you will—figure it out!”
For the record, I use exclamation points only when someone is speaking with a raised voice.
Have a wonderful week.