In the beginning, monogamy: God made one female to one male. God originally intended monogamy as the universal standard for all generations. Anatomical proof I have explained in my article, “Fidelity and Marriage.” Church fathers did not justify polygamy. However, Theodoret of Cyrus, Nestorian heretic is an exception; “Indeed for this reason (to be fruitful and multiply) He did not forbid the ancients to have many wives: so that the race of men might be increased,” The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol III, page 245. I do not find the arguments tenable. Some say, polygamy is the natural order and monogamy is a social triumph (of Christianity?). “Monogamy is a social triumph, always more or less precarious and not a natural state,” says George Crespy, “Marriage and Christian Tradition” page 21. This view is in outright opposition to what Jesus said. By pointing to the order in the beginning Jesus in unequivocal terms declared that what God expects from human beings is to disown the evil that has crept in as the result of fall and adopt the principle of monogamy. Christianity ever-since is known to be the champion of monogamy. If we relate the words of Jesus, “No servant can serve two masters,” Luke 16:13, it is practically proven fact that where there was more than one wife, there was turmoil. Human mind is not wired to romantically associate with and harmoniously cherish two individuals at once with equal honesty. Sarah compelled Abraham to go to Hagar. When Hagar conceived she despised Sarah. Sarah on the other hand resorted to hard treatment, so severe that Hagar had to flee to desert. The struggle was passed on to Ishmael and Isaac. Then Sarah compelled Abraham to forsake Hagar and the child and he obliged, may be unwillingly. Jacob loved Rachael more than Leah. This attracted jealousy and sibling rivalry. However, polygamy was practiced and tolerated in olden times. Islam and Mormons practice it even today. The reason I suppose; God’s grace to fully distinguish right and wrong was not manifested until it was fully and finally revealed in Jesus Christ. “The word of God says, Man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife, not wives.” Singular number affirms the practice of monogamy, says Hudaya Canon 8: 1.
The basic purpose of creating Eve was companionship, not procreation; some scholars say. Had procreation not the basic intent by partaking in the creative faculty of God to keep up human generation there was no need for companionship. God felt, “It is not good that man be alone,” Gen 2:14. This is because man alone is unable to be happy or procreate. God did not feel ‘it is not good than woman be alone’ because she was not alone at any point; Adam was already there to offer companionship to Eve. Happiness must precede the act of procreation. Here God is realizing that He infused in human the natural instinct to love and to be loved without which life and procreation become monotonous and meaningless. So both companionship and procreation are equally valid and proper. One does not destroy or takes over the other. If the spouse fails to fill the void of loneliness in the other spouse by offering constant companionship and actively participate in the process of procreation, that spouse is living in opposition to God’s will. In the same vein, looking down on a barren couple, especially women, with contempt even if they live in disharmony is opposed to God’s purpose of creation. Even today most of us attach such a cultural taboo to women without knowing that husband or wife could be the cause of infertility. King Henry VIII divorced Catherine saying that she did not bear him male children from which sprouted the Anglican Church. Science has now come to the aid of hapless women proving that men, not women, (xy, x factor) are responsible in such cases.
Roman Catholics for a long time defined the basic purpose of marriage as, procreation mitigating importance of companionship. It seems they understood the folly; later they named it sacrament as a retort to Luther’s reformation and included companionship. They further expanded it saying, spouses ought to mutually accept, live lifelong without separation and in harmony according to the will of God. Giving first place to sexual relationship in marriage is against the original purpose. Sacrificial love, intimacy, companionship, lifelong commitment and unity of mind and higher purpose should precede sexual relationship to make it meaningful, enjoyable and lasting. Sexual relationship without sacrificial, self-humbling love, feeling of oneness and mutual caring between spouses is carnal and hence immoral. Adam when saw Eve for the first time was first elevated to such an ecstatic state that he said, “At last” (some versions), “Ishah” in Hebrew, which is the pinnacle of exultation and identified himself one with Eve saying, “Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones,” before he had physical contact with Eve. World literature as a whole fails to replace a better expression of the inexorable joy and oneness a spouse experiences from the companionship of the spouse as one’s own flesh and blood. God expects every husband to feel the same way as Adam felt. Whenever he sees her he should look at as if seeing first-time. True love and commitment should first commence before the first contact and steadily grow into maturity as years of life progress together. The wealth of experience, sense of togetherness and oneness progressively climb the ladder to reach celestial heights with increased interdependence. I have heard many older husbands/wives say, “Who will take care of her/him after I had gone.” In physical infirmities, they nurse each other with respect and pleasure. If that does not happen as years go by, in a couple’s life, there is something wrong. On the contrary, one who gives first priority to physical appearance and sex is merely cohabiting for the sake of lust, cannot say married, would surely regret and wean when the brightness of the youth fades away and the body becomes weak. It is not enough saying “honey, darling” when spouse is near and lusting after other men/women when the spouse is away. Such people are sure to wreck the marriage.
“Adam knew Eve,” Gen 4:1. This biblical terminology is very significant and thought provoking. Bible employs three different terms for sexual involvements. (1) To know. “Adam knew Eve.” “Cain knew his wife,” Gen 4:17. It was not merely sexual contact but perfect union of two wills, minds, emotions, spirits, bodies and interests. The word ‘know’ denotes the most intimate form of relationship, which also involves sexual union flowing out of intimacy, not a casual sensory perception. “Know” is self-humbling and self-giving to the other experiencing wholeness of divine love. Conception followed on both occasions. The word “knew” is employed only when the relationship is divinely ordained and legally valid. (2) “Go in to,” “Sarai said to Abram, go in unto my maid,” Gen 16:2. “He went in unto Hagar,” v4. The single purpose here was to plant the seed (impregnate). The same word is employed in the case of levirate law where a brother dies without male child the younger brother of the deceased should go in to the widow of the deceased brother and the child so born shall bear the lineage of the deceased brother. Genesis chapter 38: 1-26 makes us know that not only the brother but also the father of the deceased husband is obliged to perform levirate law because Judah regretted his failure to allow his youngest son Shelah to perform the law with Tamar and justified Tamar. The offspring was blameless. According to Ruth and Boaz episode, kinsmen were also obliged to perform the levirate law, (Ruth Ch 4). Whether or not it seems absurd or unacceptable morality for us now such was the custom in the Middle East among the nomadic and primitive tribes in the ancient days to maintain lineage. The offspring and the act of parents were then legitimate. Abraham was simply performing a local custom when he went in unto Hagar. Thus Jacob’s 12 sons from two wives and two concubines were at par in all matters of rights and privileges. (3) “To lie with” on the other hand denote illicit sexual relationship. “She (wife of Potiphar) caught him (Joseph) by his garment saying, lie with me,” Gen 39:12. “He (David) lay with her (Bathsheba),” 2Sam 11:4. These copulations of bodies were aimed only to satisfy lust of the flesh outside the context of marriage. Therefore they are fornication or adultery which St Paul says God will judge, Heb 13:4.