Comments/Questions from Readers

Question #22: I completely agree that no Christian should ever obey a law that contradicts God's law. My argument is that the institution of polygyny is not necessarily commanded to us by God's law, but that it is simply something that God has allowed mankind to have. In that light, if polygyny were completely outlawed in the United States, that would not at all be stepping on God's law, or overriding it in any way. This is why I don't quite agree with the idea that polygyny is acceptable even if outlawed by the governing authorities.

I'm assuming that you see a law limiting a man to having only one wife as being similar to the law in China limiting a man to having only one child. So the question would be whether a believer in China should violate the local laws of man simply on the principle that God allows it. My position is that we should NOT break the laws of our governing authorities, however unfair they may seem to us, unless they DIRECTLY defy clear Scripture to the contrary.

For example, if the U.S. Government passes a law requiring me to bow towards Mecca once a day, my conscience will not allow it. However, if the U.S. Government passes a law outlawing "state-recognized marriage", I will allow them to burn our marriage license. From my perspective, the state didn't "marry" me, my wife married me in the eyes of God. I know my wife and I will remain as Biblically married as before without any regards to what the state does or does not recognize. If a man is refused state recognition of his Scripturally-valid marriage, so be it. When a man marries a second wife in the eyes of God and does not attempt to gain state recognition of his second marriage by applying for a state marriage license, it does not violate any U.S. laws. You only need a state marriage license if you want state recognition of the marriage.

But here's where things start to get tricky. Suppose the U.S. Government passes a law requiring anyone wishing to become a parent to get a "parenting license", similar to a driver's license. Remember that a license, by definition, implies giving permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal to do. Now the question becomes...does God or the state have the final say regarding who can be a parent? Do I have a God-given right to have children if my government outlaws it without special permission? Naturally, I might try to abide by the laws and go through whatever procedures were required, but suppose I simply am denied a parenting license? Do I have a Scriptural right to procreation?

The state defines marriage as existing only when the parties have obtained a legal state license of recognition. In other words, if there's no state-given license, there's no state-recognized marriage. That should be fine by us, since a state-recognized marriage license is not required for someone to be truly married before God. Since God recognizes all lawful marriage according to the definitions in His Word, the marriage covenant is between those individuals and God alone. Obtaining a state-recognized marriage license is not a requirement given to us by God. If the state refuses to recognize a polygynous marriage, then we are obligated to follow man's law and not attempt to acquire a state marriage license or to obtain state recognition of the marriage.




"...In essentials we maintain unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love..."

Your comments are welcome!