What’s Your Worldview?

Basic to the idea of Weltanschauung[1] is that it is a point of view on the world, a perspective on things, a way of looking at the cosmos from a particular vantage point. It therefore tends to carry the connotation of being personal, dated, and private, limited in validity by its historical conditions. Even when a worldview is collective (that is, shared by everyone belonging to a given nation, class, or period), it nonetheless shares in the historical individuality of that particular nation or class or period.[2]

[Albert] Wolters reveals that ‘worldview’ is a fluid concept because each nation or people group in different eras throughout history perceived the world based on their own knowledge, customs and conditions. For example, in the Ancient Near East, many cultures operated in group-oriented societies. Families often lived under the same roof and men typically were leaders in the household. As Scripture demonstrates, a woman was under the authority of her father until she was married, which was usually arranged by her parents. The marriage itself not only united the man and the woman but the families as well. After marriage, bearing children was important for maintaining a man’s lineage, and they provided labor as a means to survive. Many people today also function within group-oriented societies.

In contrast, most modern Western societies are individualistic. Unmarried children can leave their parents to pursue their own dreams, and marriage is often between the man and woman only, not their families. The man does not usually assume the role as leader of the household, but the man and woman often share similar or equal roles. Divorce has become common in many of these societies, and the family size is usually small compared to group-oriented societies. Individualistic societies often view childbearing as a privilege, not a necessity. Neither of these types of cultures is necessarily better than the other, but they each offer a different view of the world. Because of these differing worldviews, both groups initially have difficulty understanding one another. Understanding the differences between worldviews is not only important for interacting with people from other cultures, but it is key for biblical interpretation. In particular to this book, a person’s worldview concerning marriage will usually affect his or her interpretation of biblical passages involving both monogamous and polygamous marriages, divorce, and remarriage.” ~ Excerpt from Evaluating Western Christianity’s Interpretation of Biblical Polygamy, pp. 13-14

“The popular Western worldview towards polygamy not only affects how people perceive polygamous cultures, but it also affects interpretation of Scripture. Daniel I. Block advocates that ‘modern Western notions of ‘family’ should not be imposed upon ancient evidence.’[3] He further explains that American evangelicals tend to promote the nuclear family consisting of a husband, wife, and children, but the family structures in many other cultures ‘bear a much closer resemblance to the biblical picture than patterns currently operative in Western countries.’[4] Western readers may not be capable of completely casting aside their own biases concerning polygamy, but Block encourages people to ‘be aware of their biases and try to interpret the data in the light of the values that prevailed at the time the documents were produced.’[5]

[Miriam Koktvedgaard] Zeitzen presents an anthropological perspective concerning the Western worldview and its perception of polygamy. She addresses that Christianity, ‘European-based legal codes,’ and ‘the imposition of state laws on aboriginal peoples living within the borders of modern nation-states’ have driven the practice of polygamy further to its end.[6] With this in perspective, Zeitzen exposes that

while polygamy is legally forbidden in the Western Christian world, it has long been argued that it exists there in various pseudo or de facto forms…People typically point to serial marriage or serial polygamy, which is marriage followed by divorce, remarriage followed by divorce and so on any number of times. Other forms include a man married to one woman, or indeed unmarried, while maintaining one or several mistresses.”[7]

~ Excerpt from Evaluating Western Christianity’s Interpretation of Biblical Polygamy, pp. 17-18

Evaluating Western Christianity’s Interpretation of Biblical Polygamy is available at:

http://www.patriarchpublishinghouse.com/9781629045214.htm or


An e-book version is still pending.


[1] Weltanschauung is the German word for “worldview.” “The concept of worldview has several roots. One is in Western philosophy, where the German word Weltanschauung was introduced by Immanuel Kant and used by writers as Kierkegaard, Engels, and Dilthey as they reflected on Western culture. By the 1840s it had become a standard word in Germany.” Paul G. Hiebert, Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 13.

[2] Hiebert, Transforming Worldviews, 13-14. Quote from Albert Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 9.

[3] Daniel I. Block, “Marriage and Family in Ancient Israel,” in Marriage and Family in the Biblical World, ed. Ken Campbell (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 34.

[4] Block, “Marriage and Family in Ancient Israel,” 34.

[5] Block, “Marriage and Family in Ancient Israel,” 34.

[6] Zeitzen, Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, 4.

[7] Zeitzen, Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, 15.