Sign up ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was having a discussion recently about the history of polygamy (multiple marriage partners) and the question came up as to why was polygyny (one man, multiple wives) allowed while polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands) not?

My thought was from a utilitarian point of view, biologically speaking, a man could have children by multiple wives, better fulfilling the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. The only practical requirement would be that the man was able to provide for and protect his wives and children.

The counter argument was made that in a polyandry situation multiple husbands and fathers could better protect their wife an children.

Is there somewhere in the Bible specifically that says polygyny was allowed while polyandry was not?

Reference: The Bible seems to allow polygamy. Why doesn't the church? (Bible doesn't every specifically reference polygamy, but references the practice of polygyny, but not by name).

Note: This isn't debating or encouraging the practice of polygamy today.

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by David, Narnian, wax eagle Nov 28 '12 at 14:46

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Historically, polygyny has been more commonly practiced, although polyandry and group marriage have also occurred to lesser degrees (and sometimes still do). I think the most common and likely explanations are that a) in polygamous cultures, there are often a shortage of men, due to wars and inter-tribal conflicts, and b) men are the "bread winners" and expected to care for their spouse(s), and not the other way around. – Flimzy Nov 28 '12 at 10:26
I'm not sure this can be answered definitively and objectively without speculation, making it not a good fit for the site, per the FAQ. Flimzy's guess is as good as any. – David Nov 28 '12 at 13:10
I'm not sure this actually has anything to do with Christianity. It's much more of a question about the cultural clime that the book was written in than modern or historical Christian practice or doctrine. – wax eagle Nov 28 '12 at 14:44
Historical Christianity is on topic too, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're asking. Go-fetch for "Is there a verse that says X" isn't a very good question, and "Why does the Bible say X and not Y" isn't something we can approach without a doctrinal perspective to work inside of. If you rule out those two things being your question, I'm not sure what you have left? A cultural discussion on the pros and cons of polyandry? Please explain in what way you see this question being about Christianity and we'll see what we can do for it... – Caleb Nov 28 '12 at 14:51
Summary of above link: polygyny does not violate the natural law of marriage, whereas polyandry does, because in the latter it is not clear to the fathers nor the offspring to whom they are related. Both are contrary to the moral law, however. – kurosch Nov 28 '12 at 15:34

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.