In the comments to the last post Matt challenged the idea that Polygamy as practiced by Biblical characters was differnt from Polygamy as practiced today. I suggested that the realities of the modern world, as well as the cultural context, make polygamy different now. But, that may or may not address Matt’s focus on the practice itself.
By way of analogy, consider homosexuality. I have an unresearched notion that homosexuality as practiced by Hellenistic cultures often involved an adult male having sex with a young boy. Assuming that is correct, it would be fair to say the practice of homosexuality today, which is primarily between two consenting adults, is enough different from the pracice during the time the Bible was authored as to call into question the Bible’s teachings on the subject. Indeed, that would be true even if God Almighty was writing it. If humans name two distinct practices (exploitive sex with a minor AND consensual sex with a partner) the same thing, it’s not God’s fault.
So, what about polygamy? There are polygamists today that are all consenting adults and always were. Bill Paxton is surely portraying the good kind of polygamist. But, I think the norm for polygamy in modern America is the Warren Jeffs style, not the Bill Paxton style.
I think the Biblical polygamy is different because it was not a way to oppress the women involved. I also think the cultural context makes it different. If no one was marrying for love, then it is less evil to have a pragmatic loveless marital arrangment. Finally, I think there were situations in which it was pragmatic. Thoughts?