Is there a good Biblical basis to ban Polygamy?

I’ve sort of been keeping up with the recent debate over homosexuality started by this post on CoG. Does God abhor homosexuality? And if so, what should a Christian in 2008 do about that (if anything)? I’ve been thinking about this, and the rallying cry of those activists engaged in this debated on a political level is “one man, one woman” or something to that effect. There are sometimes dark whispers that the gays are going to open the door for the polygamists. Most Christians (at least those I know) would oppose polygamy, and I would agree with them on that matter. The social consequences of polygamy tend be that girls are forced to marry young and the young men are driven out of the community so the paedophiliac old geezers can have some more 13 year-olds for themselves.

But is it unbiblical? Consider

  • Genesis 2:24 says that a man will leave his parents to be united with his wife as “one flesh” but it doesn’t explicitly prohibit further unions.
  • David, said to be a man after God’s own heart, was definitely a polygamist, as was his son, Solomon who built the temple. The same was true for other kings of Israel and Judah.
  • Deuteronomy includes rules for handling succession in the case of multiple wives. Clearly this was a common enough occurrence that a ruling needed to be made on the matter.
  • The pastoral epistles in the NT say that elders or deacons should be husbands of “but one wife” which makes monogamy a requirement for church leaders, but, more pointedly seems to implicitly admit that there were polygamists in the early church.
  • Deuteronomy 17:17says not to take too many wives, but doesn’t give us a number.
  • Leviticus 18:18 says not to take two sisters as wives, but thats about it.
  • Mark 10 may look like a ban, but seems to focus on divorce more than marriage.

So why are we against polygamy now? I imagine that for a number social and cultural reasons it fell out of favour and became frowned upon. The meanings of Genesis 2:24 and the pastoral epistles were tweaked and/or amplified. As I say though, this is a good thing. But it is an innovation that the Bible does not record in any obvious fashion such as “No one should ever commit polygamy.”

We seem to have been capable of prohibiting something that the Bible was prepared to, at the very least, tolerate. Is this better or worse than tolerating something the Bible prohibits?