Q. For many years now I have been wondering why it was acceptable for men in the Old Testament to have multiple wives and concubines (and I am assuming they had sexual relations) while in the Church today you are either living in adultery or not saved if you have divorced and remarried. The guilt can be quite overwhelming at times. Thank you for any help you can give.
A. Although plural marriage was never officially condoned, God apparently tolerated it in ancient times, perhaps as a means of increasing the number of His people more rapidly. His first mention of marriage can be found in Genesis 2:24 where He said, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.” This set the standard of one man, one woman, one life.
In the New Testament this standard was emphasized. From Ephesians 5:22-32 we learn that the Lord views marriage as a model of His relationship with the Church. Paul taught that a husband should love his wife just as the Lord loves the Church, giving himself completely up for her to make their relationship his number one priority. In return a wife should submit to her husband just as the Church submits to the Lord.
Since the Lord swore that He would never leave the Church (Matt. 28:20), divorce violates the model marriage is meant to convey.
That said, divorce is no different from any other sin. It’s man who has made it seem unforgivable, not God. If you’re divorced you can ask the Lord to forgive you and He will. His mercies are new every morning, and He doesn’t hold a grudge. He knew every sin of your life before He agreed to save you and He took them to the cross so you could be forgiven for all of them (Colossians 2:13-14).