What is the Truth?
I think I will enjoy this thread. For those of you Christians that are worried about the biblical stance on polyamory I have some good news for some of you and bad news for others. Keep in mind though as I go through this that some of the stuff I mention is just my own translation of the written word. I will quote sections by chapter and verse but the commentary that follows or proceeds it will be my own personal view of the text.
First let me say that the bible both old and new testaments seem to support the idea of multiple wives. Please note that I didn't say multiple "lovers". Let me explain why I think so. In the old testament having multiple wives was a common occurance. In the case of Abraham who lived by God's law he had two wives and both are spoken about, Jacob had multiple wives, but don't take my word for it. Let's look at scripture:
Genesis Ch. 29, Verses 15-35:
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak [a] eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."
19 Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"
26 Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, [b] for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."
33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon. [c]
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi. [d]
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. [e] Then she stopped having children.
So here we have the father of Israel and he has two wives who both bear his children. The father of Israel. In that he had two wives you should also note that God was accepting of children from both of Jacob's wives and that all of them became heads of the tribes of Israel. In my opinion that tells us that God respected the union of the three. Clearly Rachel and Leah are sisters and didn't do anything together sexually or at least it's not hinted at but the union seems accepted, doesn't it? Let's move on to another example then I'll explain how they're all tied together:
1 Chronicles CH3
1 These were the sons of David born to him in Hebron:
The firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
the second, Daniel the son of Abigail of Carmel;
2 the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
3 the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
and the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.
4 These six were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven years and six months.
David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years, 5 and these were the children born to him there:
Shammua, [a] Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. These four were by Bathsheba [b] daughter of Ammiel. 6 There were also Ibhar, Elishua, [c] Eliphelet, 7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 8 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet—nine in all. 9 All these were the sons of David, besides his sons by his concubines. And Tamar was their sister. The Kings of Judah
Here we see that none other than king David himself had multiple wives and if you happen to glance at the new testament in Acts CH13 you'll find this:
"After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'
We have to wonder if polygamy was included in that statement. Regardless from this verse we find that God Himself held David very close to his heart in sentiment. I think this is important as we tie all this together with Jesus Christ himself in the new testament when he says in Matthew CH5:
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
David was not a perfect man, he committed some sins and had faults with God but I don't think David or Jacob for that matter were considered law breakers later in life. There was no law in the old testament that I could find anywhere that declared a number of wives that was permissible. In that I have to conclude that you're not breaking any biblical laws with polyamory as long as you have no intimate relations with anyone that you are not married to under God. When I say that I mean that you have declared a valid relationship and asked that God recognize it and according to American law you can't be legally married to more than one person at a time but then America's law has not been God's law for quite a while.
Personally I think that as long as the marriage has the same sanctity that is evident in most biblical marriages than you don't have a problem. Being promiscuous and having lots of relationships with people you don't know or don't want to share your life other than a five minute romp in the sack, well.. You won't find the bible supporting that anywhere. It is unsafe and often hurtful to relationships that already exist.
I hope this has been helpful and I'm sure it's already stated more eloquently somewhere else on this site but I've done my best here with the time I've had. If anyone has any questions I'd love to take a stab at them.
Thanks for your time.