Permissibility of Polygamy & Adultery

Bible Inquiries & Explanations

Q: Why was adultery and polygamy allowed to happen so freely prior to the 10 commandments?

A: As a start I should begin with what Scripture reveals as God’s plan for human flourishing and how polygamy and adultery don’t conform to said plan.

God created woman from the rib of the first man and presented her to him. Adam proclaimed her to be bone of his bone and the flesh of his flesh and he called her woman because she was taken out of man. The Bible then states:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24 ESV)

Notice the specific use of the singular nouns – one man shall cleave to one wife and the two become one flesh.

Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, reiterated this great truth in the gospels:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 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.” (Matt 19:3-6 ESV)

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True Godliness

Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translation by Robert White

Chapter 1: The knowledge of God


The believing heart does not haphazardly forge for itself some kind of god. Rather it looks to him who is the true and only God. It does not ascribe to him whatever qualities it pleases but is content to take him as he shows himself to be: it is always careful not to depart from God’s will through headstrong pride. Knowing him thus, and understanding that he governs all things by his providence, it confidently accepts him as guardian and protector, and thus entrusts itself to his keeping, since it knows him to be the author of all that is good.

A contrite heart doesn’t work to construct a god acceptable to its own liking. On the contrary it willingly accepts the testimony of Scripture of who God is, of what it tells us is pleasing and acceptable to Him. A believing heart is a trusting heart. God’s providence over all creation and world events gives Christians security and comfort. This faith helps believers overcome sufferings and trials. They are ordained by God for His purposes and our eternal good (Rom 8:28 ESV). Continue reading

Twin Evils of False Religion

Blogging the Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

Translation by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God

Post #5

It is easy indeed to see how, the victim of its own empty illusions, superstition mocks God whenever it tries to please him. It only fastens on the things which God expressly says mean nothing to him. It ignores those which he has commanded and which he has said are acceptable to him; or else it openly rejects them. Therefore all who, wishing to honour God, set up religions of their own devising, are merely worshiping their own fantasies. For they would never have ventured to trifle with God if they had not first fashioned him according to their whims.

Superstitious worship is the first of two great evils Calvin identifies in the realm of professing Christianity. Superstition is an irrational belief usually founded on ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc. People will focus on the dice rolls of fate, accompanied by  serendipitous trinkets, prophetic words and meaningless rituals. They believe these things will increase their chances at good fortune  and a favorable countenance from the god of their fevered imaginations. Such a nebulous, hopeless ploy at finding comfort and approval in falsehood is the height of human folly. God is not pleased by our cleverly devised fables. Continue reading

Paltry Amends & Ceremonies

Blogging Calvin’s Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

Translated by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God


Instead of maintaining a life-long attitude of constant obedience to God, we resist him in almost everything we do, and try to placate him by making a few paltry amends. Instead of pleasing him by holiness and innocence of heart, we invent a mishmash of paltry ceremonies, hoping these will occupy his attention. What is more, the trust which should centre wholly on him is placed instead in ourselves or other creatures.

Two distinctive methods fallen humanity utilizes to appease the nagging voice of conscience, according to Calvin, is first to make meager restitution to both fellow neighbor and to God for the wrongs we’ve committed.  Second, man performs meaningless religious rituals they hope will satisfy God’s demand for duty and obedience. Examples of meager restitution would include insincere apologies to people we’ve offended and vain lip service to God that ‘I’ll never commit that sin again’. In both instances the heart is far from Him, only creating greater distance with each empty gesture(Is 29:13). Continue reading

Adam, Eve & Noah

Bible Inquiries and Explanations

Question 1:

Q: If God knew he was going to destroy the Earth before the flood and start all over with Noah, why did he take the time to create Adam/Eve and all that before Noah? Why didn’t he just start with Noah?

A: Maybe for the same reason God doesn’t just start with the promised new heavens and earth at the end of Revelation. It wasn’t part of His eternal plan. I mean, all injustice, suffering and human cruelty could’ve been bypassed altogether if he had done so but God ordained the course of human history to go exactly as it has gone. Why God chose to permit sin and evil in his universe is one of those questions that brings us to the cliff’s edge of God’s secret knowledge. How a good and sovereign God can allow evil to exist has been debated by scholars, theologians and skeptics for centuries. But that’s not the question you asked, so –  moving right along.

Your question appears to suggest that from the time of Adam up until the Flood was just a supreme waste of time and effort, since most of humanity ends up washed away by the Flood. However, the story of Adam and Eve explains mankind’s original honor and dignity in the garden of Eden. They lived in paradise and had communion with God. They had dominion and authority over the earth. They didn’t toil with the soil, feel pain, sorrow or suffer from sickness and death. Life was good. Then the Fall happened. Unbelief and pride entered their hearts and shattered the sweet fellowship with God they had enjoyed. Continue reading

The Irresistible Allure of Idolatry

Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from The Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translated by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God

Post #3

The Lord has instilled in everyone some understanding of his majesty, so that all, having learned that there is one God and that he is their Creator, should be condemned by their own testimony because they have failed to honour him and to devote their lives to doing his will.

Just as birds, by instinct, build elaborate nests and even the smallest ants, by nature, construct labyrinthine underground cities, man has an innate understanding that there is a creator who is worthy of all honor and praise. However, unlike the animals, who do just as God has created them to do, the human race, made in the very image and likeness of God, does not give God the glory He is due. How this apparent contradiction exists will be discussed in detail later on in Calvin’s works. For now, it is important to understand that all people know God exists and the conscience is a constant reminder we owe him our whole-hearted allegiance. The problem is we suppress the truth by our unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). Calvin explains the most fundamental way man does this: Continue reading

Bible Inquiries and Explanations

I have a good friend who is determined to read through the entire bible, from Genesis to Revelation. She is currently plowing through the first book but has been troubled with nagging questions in just about every chapter. Like any studious reader, she has jotted down questions that need answering. She contacted me for help and I proposed to use my blog as a forum for discussing the issues she comes across in her readings.

I wanted to publicize our correspondence because I imagine the questions she’s wrestling with are likely to be shared by many others who try to seriously tackle the Bible for the first time. It can be a peculiar tome to those who may not have been raised on a steady diet of bible stories and memory verses in Sunday school as a child. I didn’t read the bible until I was 23. It took awhile for the whole work to make cohesive sense. Frankly, to this day I’m still connecting theological dots between biblical concepts. Mastering Scripture is a lifetime pursuit. It is akin to comprehending the mind of God. Since His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isa 55:9) Scripture can be perplexing and confounding to finite minds. Continue reading