What is NCCG's Official
Position on Plural Marriage?
NCW 75, January-March 2002
Q. We have been studying the revelations on marriage in the Olive Branch and the commentaries and are a little confused by what we read. Some of us get the impression that polygamy will not be practiced until the Millennium, others only when certain spiritual conditions are met, and others that it is only for the maturer elders. Could you resolve this for us, please?
A. OB 68:19-21, which is an expansion of Isaiah 4:1, describes the universal condition of polygamy during the Millennium, or at least the beginning of it. We are informed in both references that women will outnumber men 7:1 after the destruction at Armageddon and the other catastrophes that afflict the earth prior to Yah'shua's (Jesus') return. As a general principle, therefore, polygamy will not be universal amongst believers until the return of Christ.
OB 145, which is addressed to the local congregations in our day, makes it clear that this is not a principle for the Church or Assembly in general. Monogamy is the basic law of the Church/Assembly with polygamy only being permitted as an exception, unless those who come to the Church/Assembly are already married polygamously in which case their marriage shall under no circumstances (unless they have been forced) be broken up.
The revelation stresses the wrong and right reasons for entering this form of marriage, and lust is most definitely a wrong reason (vv.1-2). It may only be lived when the women desire it and the men do not, and not the other way round (vv.11-13). What this means is that polygamy will become so attractive to the women that they will seek after it of their own free will without any persuasion being needed on the part of the men. And at the same time it means that the men will not be "chasing" women but be resting in Yahweh and allowing Him to bring their wives to them naturally. The clamoring we see by some men outside NCCG/BCAY for polygamous wives is a sure sign that the motivation is all wrong and likely flesh-based and therefore spiritually dangerous.
There are only two situations in which polygamy is permitted in NCCG/BCAY in the pre-millennial period and the first is if there is a shortage of husbands (vv.4-5). This problem does exist in some countries like Canada where there is a major gender imballance of between 3:1 and 4:1 women to men. Whilst this in itself is not necessarily grounds for the Canadian members to start entering polygamy (for this imbalance does not exist in all countries, and indeed some have a surplass of men ... the members will just have to search abroad), it could conceivably be so in the future after a major war.
For example, historically, there have been many good precedents for prolygamy after periods of prolonged war that have decimated the male population. Thus there have been times - as, for example, after the Thirty Years War in Germany - when even the strictly monogamy-only Roman Catholic Church has permitted its people to take a second wife so as to not leave these women a prey to prostitution and/or starvation.
Another example (where polygamy was not, to our knowledge, practiced but ought to have been) would have been Paraguay's disasterous War of the Triple Alliance from 1865 to 1870 when somewhere in the order of 95% of the male population (or there abouts) was destroyed. The suffering that the women went through, without bread-earners or protection, was unspeakable.
If decimation of the male population is grounds for entering polygamy, it is most certainly never more than a temporary one on account of the lack of control over the spiritual forces that can manifest amongst the less spiritual in such a relationship. Lived wrongly, it can cause not only much needless suffering but, in certain cases, be abused to the point of ruining souls in eternity (v.7). For this reason, the living of polygamy must come under the careful management of the Priesthood Orders of the General Church/Assembly, meaning that there must be strict accountability and continuing education.
To be lived in God's will and in a spiritual condition, polygamy may only be entered into by a matured and spiritual body of believers. For this reason, the pursuit of polygamy by either men or women is not permitted in the local colonies (congregations/assemblies) of NCCG/BCAY. This means, furthermore, that there is to be no further debate on the practice there either (v.14) because of its tendency to destabilise and wreck havoc amongst those unprepared to live it. The only exception in the local colonies is if polygamous families convert, and if they do, they are to be councelled in the godly way to live the principle and shall not be permitted to increase the size of their families until/unless they have entered Priesthood Orders and have qualified to do so.
This revelation, which is addressed to the local colonies, does not apply to firstborn colonies, where polygamy is permitted but again only by mature members, with the permission of the Apostolate (meaning once they have fulfilled certain spiritual criteria) and (at this particular time) only if the husbands are Elders. As the Church/Assembly matures, so the same privilege will be extended to the Deacons. And by the time the Church as a whole will be ready to live this principle, we believe the Millenium will have in any case arrived.
This could conceivably mean that if NCCG/BCAY should experience a decline in its general spirituality that the privilege of entering this lifestyle might even be withdrawn for a period of time (though not, of course, dissolving any existing marriages).
What this means is that many local colonies of NCCG/BCAY in the future will be led by Elders (and eventually Deacons) who are living the polygamous way of life. The sanctioning of, and entering into, plural marriage for these families will take place under the auspices of the Chavurat Bekorot, or Holy Order, whose purpose is the training up of Priesthood officers, and to which all Elders and Deacons in the local colonies simultaneously belong.
This does not mean that all Elders (and later Deacons) will be called into, or be permitted to live, plural marriage. Simply being an Elder (or Deacon) is not qualification enough. Those who feel called into this way of life - both husband and first wife - may apply for training in the Chavurat Bekorot. Permission to enter this lifestyle is not given by the Apostolate until a set of stringent criteria are met, not least of which is the fact that this is the genuine desire of the first wife and she has given her genuine consent, especially if she has previously entered monogamy-only marriage covenants with her husband. Renegociation of the marriage covenant from monogamy-only to polygamy-inclusive must be with the full consent of both parties without any kind of pressure being exerted and only with the permission of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the sanction of the responsible Church/Assembly authority.
The instructions in the Olive Branch to the local colonies are explicit - this is a Chavurat Bekorot affair. Anyone attempting to force the issue in a local congregation is out of order and comes under strict discipline, to whom the final word of Yahweh shall be implemented in its fullness: "Trouble me no more on this doctrine for I shall speak no more of it unto the local colonies of the Church of God [Assembly of Yahweh], and neither shall ye" (v.14).
The Apostolate has stated:
"The point in question [in this revelation] is that plural marriage, if lived wrongly (i.e. in an unsanctified state), leads to spiritual bondage and great unhappiness. As this would retard the mission of the New Covenant Church of God [B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh], the Lord has here prohibited its practice generally in the local Colonies. The restriction is therefore local and temporary until the fullness of times of refreshing (Ac.3:19) and restitution (Ac.3:21) occur at Christ's Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom is established" (OB, footnote #295, pp.310-311, 1st edition).