The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
When a polygamist is converted what should he do about his marriages?
My inclination is to cut a lot of slack in the mission field as people move from the first to the second generation. So many things culturally have to be adjusted to biblical reality.
Jesus, I think, clarified for us that marriage is one man and one woman, as it was in the beginning in Genesis 2:24. So that the divorce features of Deuteronomy were "given for the hardness of your heart, but it was not always so. And so now I don't want you to do what they were doing."
I think polygamy fits into that same paradigm. God tolerated polygamy among the patriarchs. He never in the Old Testament communicated, "Stop doing that," except by implication from Genesis 2.
But when Jesus comes along and they present him with some of these marital adjustments from Deuteronomy, Jesus says, "Well I understand that Moses gave you that provision, but I'm taking it away!"
So Jesus' standards are higher. So there's progression by regression. "Let's go back to Genesis 2, see the way God set it up, realize that he tolerated this cultural adaptation, and now don't that anymore."
So I think you shouldn't be married to two women today, or a woman to two men. And yet there are cultures that do it. And so you want to go evangelize those cultures. And you win them to Christ and now they have two wives.
I might say, "OK, those who have two wives, be faithful to both of them until the next generation, or until one of them dies. But never do this again."
It's hard for me, culturally, to know what the alternatives would be. In a sense I want to step back and say to the missionaries,
I'm so distant from your problem at this point, that I don't feel like I should get on a soap box and tell you how to do this. I want the principle to be clear. Preach to them, "One wife."
Now they may have a way of figuring that out so that they're not having two wives anymore, but I just don't know enough about the situation.