According to the RCC is it allowed to have more then one wife?

You have several Men living with more the one wife in the bible and you also have the "Let deacons each be the husband of one wife" verse from Timothy. So there are roles that one should consider only having one wife.

Exodus 21:10:

If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.

1 Timothy 3:12:

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

Isaiah 4:1:

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, "We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach."

  • 'One wife' can be equally translated, 'first wife' . There are differences of opinion as to whether the term means he must be married and not single, must not be married to more than one wife, never have been divorced, be single or married but if married only to one woman, only married to one woman at a time, etc. Oct 10, 2016 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


No, it is not allowed:

Canon 1085 §1. A person bound by the bond of a prior marriage, even if it was not consummated, invalidly attempts marriage.

(Code of Canon Law)

In other words, if you are currently married, you may not marry again. To handle one possible objection, a man may not simultaneously marry multiple women; there are several points both in canon law and in the catechism at which marriage is referred to as being between a man and a woman. Canon 1057, for example, states:

§1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent.

§2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.

(emphasis added)

In other words, what makes a marriage a marriage is the consent given between the parties; and this consent can be given only between one man and one woman.

There are indeed several situations such as you describe in the Old Testament; however, it doesn't follow in general that such situations are still acceptable under the New Covenant. Indeed, it isn't clear that even in the Judaism of Jesus' time it was considered acceptable—for example, in his famous discussion about marriage with the Sadducees, both sides appeared to take it as given that the husband would only have one wife at a time.

  • 2
    How does that canon alone prevent marrying several people at once?
    – Geremia
    Oct 7, 2016 at 19:54
  • As a suggestion, there is also the definition of marriage given in Can. 1055 §1: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman (vir et mulier) establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.” Oct 8, 2016 at 7:06
  • 1
    In fact, I would go further: a polygamous sacramental marriage is simply impossible, not merely not allowed. See, e.g., Can. 1148 §1: “When he receives baptism in the Catholic Church, a non-baptized man who has several non-baptized wives at the same time can retain one of them after the others have been dismissed, if it is hard for him to remain with the first one. The same is valid for a non-baptized woman who has several non-baptized husbands at the same time.” Oct 8, 2016 at 7:10
  • I'd also note that the only way a Catholic man could have "more than one wife" would be a widower remarrying. It might be useful to recall that Tertullian, after he broke communion with the Church, came to argue for the opposite position (that widowers should not marry again), and that position was explicitly refuted by Rome.
    – Wtrmute
    Sep 26, 2017 at 16:08
  • @Wtrmute not quite: if the Pope dissolves a non-consummated marriage by the Petrine privilege, the parties are free to marry again. Sep 26, 2017 at 20:20

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