A photo capturing an open Bible with highlighted scripture verses on love, commitment, and relationships, symbolizing the exploration of biblical teachings on polyamory.

What Does The Bible Say About Polyamory?

Polyamory and non-monogamous relationships are complex topics that some feel have implications in religious contexts. This article will explore different perspectives on what the Bible may or may not say about polyamory.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary: There are differing interpretations on what the Bible says or does not say directly about polyamory. Some point to Biblical passages supporting monogamous marriage between a man and woman.

Others note that the Bible includes some examples of polygamous relationships, and argue texts support consenting non-monogamous arrangements today as well.

Passages on Marriage and Sexuality

Adam and Eve

The Bible establishes the foundation for God’s design for marriage in the creation account of Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24 states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

This passage teaches that God’s intent was for marriage to be between one man and one woman in a lifelong, monogamous relationship. The passage emphasizes the profound unity of husband and wife, who are considered “one flesh.” This rules out polyamory, which involves multiple romantic partners.

Furthermore, Genesis 1:27-28 indicates that God created humans male and female and blessed them to “be fruitful and multiply.” The binary, heterosexual nature of God’s design in creation does not align with polyamorous relationships, which go beyond the male-female marital relationship.

New Testament Guidance

The New Testament affirms the teaching of Genesis on marriage and sexuality. Jesus himself references Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 to underscore God’s intent for marriage as between one man and one woman in Matthew 19:4-6: “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

In 1 Corinthians 7:2, the apostle Paul writes, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” This passage promotes faithfulness to one spouse, not multiple partners.

Paul continues in Ephesians 5:31-32: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The passage echoes Genesis 2:24 to establish marriage between one man and one woman as a profound spiritual metaphor for Christ’s relationship to the church.

Historical Context and Biblical Examples

Old Testament Polygamy

Polygamy, the practice of having multiple spouses, was common and accepted in Old Testament times. Many important figures had multiple wives, such as Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon.

Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, had two wives – Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16). Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, was married to sisters Rachel and Leah at the same time (Genesis 29).

King David had at least seven wives that are named in the Bible (1 Samuel 18:27; 2 Samuel 3:2-5). His son Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3)! Polygamy was an established practice and was not condemned in the Old Testament.

Concubines and Sexual Relationships

In addition to multiple wives, some Bible characters also had concubines, or secondary wives whose status was lower than a regular wife. For example, judges Gideon and Abimelech had concubines (Judges 8:31, 9:1). King David had concubines who bore him children (2 Samuel 5:13).

There are other examples of alternative sexual practices in the Old Testament. Abraham’s wife Sarah gave her female servant Hagar to Abraham in order to bear him a child (Genesis 16:1-4). King David’s son Absalom had sexual relations with some of David’s concubines publicly, which was seen as an act of rebellion (2 Samuel 16:21-22).

Interpretations and Perspectives Today

Traditional / Conservative Views

Many traditional and conservative Christian groups take a strong stance against polyamory, viewing it as adultery and sexual immorality according to biblical principles. Here are some of their main perspectives:

  • God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). Polyamory goes against this design.
  • The Bible condemns sexual immorality including adultery (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28). Since polyamory involves multiple concurrent sexual partners, it falls under adultery.
  • Passages like 1 Corinthians 7:2 say that each man and woman should have their own spouse. Polyamory involves sharing a spouse.
  • Polyamory can promote jealousy, hurt, and division, which goes against Bible verses that promote love, unity, and self-control (1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:19-23).

Liberal / Progressive Views

Some more liberal and progressive Christian groups take a more open and accepting view of polyamory and non-traditional relationships. Their perspectives include:

  • The Bible passages on marriage reflect the culture at the time. The principles behind them are more important than legalistic rules.
  • As long as polyamory is practiced ethically through open communication and consent, it can be a valid expression of love.
  • Jesus taught love, acceptance, and freedom from judgment. This applies to polyamorous people too (Matthew 7:1-2).
  • Passages condemning sexual immorality refer to harmful practices like prostitution, not committed polyamorous relationships.
  • The Bible promotes social justice, so Christians should support marginalized polyamorous people.

These groups emphasize a loving, inclusive approach towards polyamory. They focus on the Bible’s overarching themes of justice and acceptance rather than perceived “rules.” However, traditional groups would argue these views disregard biblical authority and morality standards.


There are good-faith disagreements on what guidance the Bible provides regarding polyamory and non-monogamy. As with many topics, thoughtful analysis requires nuance. This article aimed to survey different perspectives on this complex issue.

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