Volume 1, Part 1
Aaron was a young energetic minister who at age 30 had accomplished more than many pastors that were his chronological seniors. With responsibility of a church of over 300 members, he was constantly on the go, helping to organize or supervise one event or another. His devoted wife Cheryl, like himself had grown up in Christian Charismatic churches and was also a devoted Christian worker. The two were eagerly looking forward to a proposed missionary journey to the east coast of Africa, but neither had any idea of how drastically their lives would soon be changed.
A meeting was scheduled with the leader of the team, a native Kenyan who had made the initial contacts for them in his home country. Aaron and Cheryl would be joined by two other Christian couples. George and Juanita Meadows were ministers in their church who had been very helpful building up the music ministry over the years. Having beautiful voices and Juanita being highly skilled on the keyboard, they brought forth a unique but highly uplifting praise and worship service as George's deep baritone blended perfectly with Juanita's high soprano. Yet they too would be shocked at the question the group would soon be asked.
Kyle and Terry Harrison rounded out the group of six neophytes to head to a foreign country on a thirty day missionary journey. The Harrisons pastored a much smaller church nearby with less than a hundred members. They had met Aaron and Cheryl at a marriage retreat and being about the same ages they quickly became friends. With the whole group assembled, Charles Okinyi who was easily ten years the senior of any of the couples began to tell them what to expect on their maiden trip to a distant land with an entirely different culture. It was elements of that culture that was to prove to be a shock to them all.
"Since you're not staying beyond thirty days," Charles began, "you won't need a visa but you must have your passports in order. Don't forget to get your malaria pills from your doctors and get shots for yellow fever. We'll fly British Airways to England where we'll switch planes and from there we'll go on to Kenya. The total flight time will be about seventeen hours."
As Charles went on and on about details of the trip, Aaron's mind wandered off thinking about the adventure of ministering in a far distant land. He wondered if he would see elephants or gorillas or lions roaming freely across the jungle. He also wondered how he would be received by the Christians there when all of the sudden he was jolted out of his daydream as he realized Charles was asking him a question.
"Do you want to do marriage counseling while you're there?" Charles asked.
"Ah, yeah, sure. Why not?" Aaron responded enthusiastically.
"OK," Charles answered before pausing and looking deep into the eye of every person before asking the next question which he suspected would unnerve some if not all of them.
"How would you counsel a woman who is one wife in a multiple wife family?"
"Huh?" Aaron responded as his eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Wow! These people really need to get their lives straightened out and get saved," Cheryl offered.
"The people of which I am speaking are already saved."
"How can that be?" Cheryl questioned. "We all know you need to repent of sin in your life before you can be saved" Juanita chimed in.
"What sin?" Charles asked calmly with a slight gleam in his eye. He knew this revelation would be a shock to the Western Christian psyche. He knew he also needed to prepare them before they got to Kenya and offended some of the brethren there unnecessarily.
Terry, whose face had turned red, could no longer hold her fury and stood to her feet and slammed her hand down on the table in front of her as she challenged Charles "You can't claim to be a Christian leader and condone such adultery! What are you saying?" She demanded. She then crossed her arms over her chest defiantly as she tilted her head to the side and eyed Charles out of the corners of her eyes.
Her husband, Kyle, looked sheepishly up at her as he was a little embarrassed by his wife's outburst. He tugged at her arm to indicate she should sit down. While gently coaxing her, "Come on honey, don't get so upset. Have a seat." She pulled away from him as darts shot out of her eyes as she looked at him briefly with a look that said "Don't mess with me right now!"
She then returned to her defiant gaze at Charles, waiting form him to answer. Her face was now flush red almost matching her hair which she tossed back out of her face. Charles smiled knowingly, then slowly asked "what . . . does . . . the . . . word . . . say?" He drew out each of the words for dramatic effect.
"Well . . ." George broke in "Maybe we can do a Bible study on the subject after we get some pizza and cokes delivered," George interjected in an attempt to break the tension that had built up in the room.
"We all know it's wrong, why do we have to have a Bible study?" Juanita responded as she finally entered the fray. "God made Eve for Adam. If He had wanted a man to have more than one wife He would have made Adam, and Sally, and Sue, and Maria!"
"Well in the Old Testament there were men who had more than one wife. Take Abraham for example. He had Sarah and then Hagar," Aaron offered.
"Yeah!. And you see what a mess that caused!" Sherry responded.
"Then Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel." George added.
"No, actually he had four wives because the handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah became wives as well" Charles corrected him.
"No! That can't be right!" Cheryl objected. "He was tricked into marrying Leah and those handmaidens weren't really wives even though he might have had sex with them."
"Is that what the word says?" Charles asked.
"Perhaps" he continued "I'll let you study this a little more before we continue to discuss it." Charles, who had coal black skin, stood up to his full height of 6 feet 2 inches. He held his head high and had regal bearing as he towered above the group which was sitting down and even Terry's diminutive five foot two inch the hundred and ten pound frame, while she remained standing.
Charles smiled broadly, spun on his heels and glided toward that door as the others were left stunned, silently glance back and forth at one another. None had any idea what the coming week would bring.
As Aaron started the drive home, Cheryl sat in stony silence slumped in her seat on the passengers side of the sedan with her arms folded across her chest and a wrinkle in her brow. After several minutes she broke the silence:
"Does he really expect us to go over there and just approve of what these people are doing?" She blurted out.
"I mean . . .I knew third world countries were backward but I had not idea . . ."
"Hey, wait a minute" Aaron interrupted Charles is doing the right thing to try to prepare us for the cultural differences before we get there."
"Cultural difference?!" Sherry repeated with disdain. "You mean, sin! Don't you."
"Well . . . maybe . . ." Aaron responded haltingly. "Let's do our homework and then we can figure out the approach we should take before we get there."
George and Juanita's conversation on the drive home was also an interesting exchange.
"Hey, I might like this idea of men having more than one wife. Let's see . . . who could I add to my personal harem?" he chuckled as he teased his wife.
"Juanita was not amused and let him know it in no uncertain terms.
"You can forget that, buster!" She retorted. "The day you start looking at another woman you'll be out on the streets so fast your head will be swimming. I'll sue you for divorce so fast it'll make lightning look like it moves at the speed of a turtle!"
"Hey, hey, hold on sugar, I was just teasing."
"Well don't tease about that!" She snapped. "I'm all you need and I'm all you'll get. The day you forget that you're going to the poor house cause I'll sue you for everything you've got and half of anything to get in the future!" She twisted halfway around in her car seat and put her right hand on her hop for emphasis.
"Okay, okay! Okay" George responded. "Settle down. I hope you can show a little more Christian love to the women and men over there in Kenya than you're showing to me now."
Juanita eyed him coldly for a moment as she bit down on her bottom lip. She considered a response but then thought better of it and turned to look out of the passenger side window. The final minutes of the drive were spent in icy silence.
It had been agreed upon by the three couples that they would individually study the Scriptures concerning the matter and then meet together again to discuss their findings before meeting with Charles again.
Thursday evening, which was the appointed time of the agreed upon meeting, came almost too quickly. The couples gathered at Aaron's & Sherry Cooper's home. arriving right on time and eager to discuss what they each had found. After the normal pleasantries and each grabbing his or her cup of coffee or cocoa they sat around the kitchen table. The tension that the wives had exhibited three days earlier had subsided.
Aaron offered a short prayer before beginning and almost immediately Terry jumped in.
"The Bible says 'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and these two shall be one flesh.' It says that in Genesis 2 verse 24," she continued, "and it says it in the New Testament in Ephesians 5 verse 31. That should settle the matter of whether it is sin or not to have multiple wives. It is sin! Two become one flesh. Not three or four or whatever," she proceeded. "So it's in the Old and the New Testaments. Now, we can figure out how to best help these poor women in Africa get out of the bondage they've been put in."
"Wait a minute!" Aaron interjected. "The rest of us may have some input before we get to that." Cheryl took this as her opportunity to jump in.
"Yeah. Well, I agree with Terry it's obvious that the correct form of marriage is one man for one woman and the Scripture in First Timothy 3 verse 2 shows that. Let's read it together. 'This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of bishop he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of only one wife." She repeated it with emphasis on the word "only."
What about those that aren't bishops?" George asked sheepishly. "Can they have more than one?"
His wife Juanita eyed him quickly before reacting verbally. "Just because you aren't a bishop don't get any ideas!"
"Wait! I was just asking. Some of the brethren in Africa might ask the same question and . . ."
Terry couldn't wait any more, so she jumped into the fray with both feet, interrupting the others. "The word bishop means overseer, right? So that would certainly mean every leader in the church. Later on in that same passage in Timothy it gives the same requirements for deacons!"
Sherry jumped back in. "The leaders set the example for the sheep. If they aren't supposed to have more than one wife then certainly the lay people can't."
Kyle finally held up his coffee cup to get everyone's attention and then proceeded. "However, we should note that there were people in the Old Testament that had several wives." He interjected.
"Yeah, well that's in the Old Testament!" Terry continued, "We're New Testament Christians which requires a greater degree of righteousness and besides" she continued "Every time there was polygamy practiced in the Old Testament there were problems." She paused, leaned back in her chair as she lifted her coffee mug to her lips and blew on the strong brew as her eye s darted from one to another to see what effects her words were having.
Taking a sip and swallowing, she went on "Think about the problems between Sarah and Hagar. Not to mention Rachel and Leah." She paused again, enjoying her moment in the spotlight as she showed off her Bible knowledge. "And did you know Samuel's mother's husband had another wife which also caused jealousy between the two of them?" She questioned. "We've got to show these people a better way. We must lovingly, gently, but firmly tell these people that if they really want to be saved they must abandon these polygamous practices!" Terry concluded.
Aaron finally spoke up and said "Well, maybe when we meet with Charles on Saturday, we can share what we've learned and ask his opinion on how we can best get this across to the Kenyans."
With that statement the meeting was understood to be at an end, and the men eased into the family room to watch a football game while the ladies piled into one of the sport utility vehicles and headed off to the mall to do some shopping.
During a commercial George spoke up. "You know, I was teasing my wife about having another wife and she about blew a fuse."
"Yeah," Kyle responded. "the girls do get a little emotional about the subject, don't they?"
Aaron, returning from the kitchen with glasses of soda pop and popcorn, joined in. "Well guys I guess if we want peace in our homes, we best not cross them on this one."
"Yeah, but we all know that bigamy is illegal in the United States, so how could she not know I was kidding?" George questioned as he threw his hands in the air, and dropped his mouth open and raised his eyebrows to express his disbelief. Though the men's conversation was revealing, it wasn't half as much as that of their wives.
"Can you believe my husband?" Juanita began, "to even tease me about getting an additional wife. He's got a lot of nerve!"
"Yeah, well girl you've got to learn how to control your man. Kyle would never say something like that to me. I keep him under control." Terry gloated.
"How do you do that?" Juanita questioned. "Haven't you heard of Pavlov's dog," Terry chuckled.
"Well, I don't consider my husband a dog," Juanita responded.
"No No, remember the psychology classes you took in college? He trained his dog to salivate by ringing a bell. He rang the bell and then gave the dog food, over and over again, until the mere ringing of a bell made the dog salivate." She continued as she leaned back in her seat in the S.U.V. As she raised one eyebrow, a devious smile crossed her face.
Juanita who was turned around in the front passenger seat gestured indicating she should go on, while Cheryl who was driving adjusted her rear view mirror so she could see Terry's face. Terry, who loved to be in the superior role of teacher, continued
"Sex and tears!" She announced. "You control your man with sex and tears. No good man wants to see us cry . . . right? So whenever he hints at doing something you don't like you burst into tears. Then you go cold. There's no warm loving until he repents, repents and repents again. This teaches him subtly who is in charge."
"But Terry," Cheryl interjected "The Bible does say that wives should submit to their husbands, so technically they should be in charge."
"Oh come on!" Terry reacted as she slid over to the passengers side of the back seat to see Cheryl's face better.
"You can't really believe we should follow the ravings of one who is obviously a male chauvinist!" Terry placed her hand on her hip and tilted her head with a look of shock and disbelief on her face.
"Things are different today! We live in an enlightened age" Terry continued, "We're no longer the second class citizens that the Apostle Paul wanted to make us."
"Well, I just threatened to put him out and sue him for divorce," Juanita broke in. ""He knows that if he's divorced he'll lose his ministry and probably no church would ever accept him as a pastor or minister of music. So I kept him in line!" Juanita justified herself trying to avoid looking like a naive wimp wife whose husband could walk over her.
"Yes? That works" Terry conceded, "but if you keep him in control with tears and sex you never or rarely have to pull out the big guns."
"Now Cheryl, she turned again to Aaron's wife, "admit it. You know there are times when you use your feminine wiles to manipulate your man."
"Well" Cheryl responded hesitantly "I wouldn't put it like that. I know Aaron loves me a lot and he wants to keep me happy. I don't have to use a lot of tricks or manipulative techniques to get what I want."
"Come on now, you're telling us you've never turned a cold shoulder to Aaron when he's upset you about something?" Terry pressed the issue.
"Well, I did get upset a little with him when he was interested in seeing the football game that he didn't have time to talk with me about something I thought was very important."
"No love making that night, huh?" Terry interjected with a sound of triumph in her voice.
"Well . . . uh . . . no, not that night. But I didn't think I was trying to manipulate him. I honestly didn't feel amorous at that time." Cheryl said defensively.
"But I'll bet it was hot time the night he gave you that pair of diamond ear rings?" Terry questioned further.
"Well . . . I . . . uh . . . did want him to know I appreciated his gesture." Cheryl conceded sheepishly.
"See! I was right! You do manipulate your husband, but don't feel bad. Every woman does."
Cheryl didn't answer as she pulled the vehicle to a stop in the nearest parking space to a door at the mall. The three jumped out of the car and headed for the entrance. Cheryl tossed her long brownish blond hair out of her face and she measured her words.
"Aaron and I are truly and deeply in love and I don't like to think of manipulating him."
"What is 'manipulation?'" countered Terry, "It is the use of rewards and punishments to control another's behavior. And you've just admitted that you do it!"
Juanita jumped in seeking to ease what seemed to be tension building between these two sisters in the Lord. "I think all of us as women do it to one degree or another. It's second nature, isn't it?"
They entered the giant glass doors and began to engage in what has become a favorite American pastime for women. Window shopping. Terry moved quickly to a bright pink dress that was draped on a mannequin in one of the store windows. "Hey, look at that! Maybe I should buy it to wear in Kenya."
"I don't know," Cheryl responded, "I think Charles said something once about the Christian women in Africa dressing more modestly than most American women. The hemline on that dress is about three inches above the knee and might be considered risqué to them."
"What!?" Terry howled as she drew her head back and wrinkled her nose. "You mean to tell me these women will allow a man to have two wives and they're going to judge me because I wear an attractive dress?"
"Don't look at me" Cheryl reacted wide eyed and innocently. "I am just telling you what he said."
Terry turned the corner of her mouth down as her eyebrow furrowed, she then crossed her arms and drooped her head as she pouted a little and marched toward the next store window. The window shopping would have its little disappointments but there would be a much greater one for them when they next met with Charles.
Charles was given the big Easy chair as Aaron sought to honor his senior. The three couples positioned themselves in a semi circle facing Charles on the surrounding couches. Charles leaned forward putting his hands together in prayer fashion just below his chin as he thought for a moment. "So how are we coming? Do we have tickets purchased?"
"Yes, we've got 'em," Aaron responded eagerly.
"How about the necessary shots and passports?"
"Everything is in order and set to go," Cheryl responded gleefully. Just two weeks and we'll be off to go on the biggest missionary journey we've ever taken."
Charles leaned back and smiled a big smile that showed his gleaming white teeth which were very much in contrast to his dark skin tone. Crossing one leg over the other and folding his hands in his lap, he proceeded to ask the next question.
"How did your Bible study go?"
"Quite well," Terry stated confidently. "We can show from Genesis and Ephesians that God's perfect plan is that each man only have one wife. We can also show that the leaders in the church, who are to set an example to others, as it says in 1 Peter chapter 5, are to have only one wife according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus chapter one. So that means that one man for one woman or monogamy as it is called is the only right answer and anything else is sin."
"My, my" Charles said as he smiled wryly. "May I ask some other questions to see how thoroughly you've done your research?"
"Sure, go ahead" Juanita said.
"Please answer the best you can," he began.
"Who was the first man in the Bible mentioned to have two wives?"
The couples sat looking back and forth to one another until finally Aaron said "Wasn't it Abraham?"
"No. It was Lamech before Noah's time. Did God ever condemn Lamech for having two wives?" Charles continued, and after a brief pause he answered his own question: "No."
"How many wives did Moses have?" Charles continued. "Two" he answered his own question. "One was a Midianite and the other was an Ethiopian."
"When Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses for marrying his second wife, the Ethiopian, did God rebuke Aaron and Miriam or did He rebuke Moses?"
"Aaron and Miraim, and Miriam got leprosy for seven days" Kyle said, remembering the story.
At this point Terry, who was sitting beside her husband, gave him a slight elbow in the side and eyed him out of the corner of her eyes, saying without saying "Don't you dare help him."
Charles ignored Terry's antics and charged on. "Gideon was a mighty warrior for God. Did he have more than one wife?" Yes, the Bible records that he had many wives. Did God condemn him for having many wives?"
By this point everyone was silent and listening and knowing the answer would be no. God didn't condemn him. By now, Cheryl and Juanita had grown impatient with this question and answer game.
"What are you saying?" Cheryl asked.
"So far I am not saying anything," Charles replied, I am only asking questions and giving the biblically correct answer when you don't know it."
Terry stood up abruptly wiping tears from her eyes with a handkerchief she'd drawn out of her purse. "Well excuse me while I visit the ladies room" she said tearfully as she rushed out of the room.
"I'll go with her" Juanita suggested as she followed.
Cheryl looked to her husband for a moment, questioning with her eyes what she should do. With a slight nod of the head, he indicated that she too could check on Terry.
With a sigh, Charles leaned back in his chair and asked "Are all American women so emotional?"
George spoke up "I guess you just caught us a little off guard. Uh . . . maybe we could . . . uh . . . continue another time?" he said.
"Yeah . . that's a good idea, why don't we fellows just get together on Monday?" Kyle suggested.
"Good idea," Aaron agreed, "Let's shoot some baskets in the church gym while we kick around various scriptural positions on the issue."
All four men had stood up now and were moving toward the front door. As they came out toward the driveway and their respective vehicles, Aaron reminded Charles that he was the main speaker for his Sunday morning service the next day.
"No problem," Charles responded, "I am fully prepared."
Each of the visitors got into their respective vehicles. George had a shining late model BMW. Kyle climbed into his Lexus while Charles moved toward his ten year old Chevy. Although it wouldn't be fair to call the car an old clunker, it was obvious that he didn't travel in the wealthy circles of the American ministers.
A honk of Kyle's horn brought the ladies out who hopped into the appropriate vehicles. Charles, who stood a full six inches taller than Aaron, shook the shorter man's hand with a firm grip. Although Aaron was shorter, he was a strong man who had played halfback in his college football days.
Aaron felt the calluses on Charles' hand and remembered that he worked as a construction helper at times. This was curious since he knew Charles also had a degree in architecture. Aaron determined to ask him about that sometime. Specifically why he didn't get a higher paying job as an architect.
Cheryl was already climbing into bed when Aaron came in. As he came through the bedroom door and headed toward the bathroom, Cheryl spoke up.
"What's he going to speak on tomorrow?"
"Wh . . . I don't know. Why?"
"Is he going to preach that a man have more than one wife?"
"Well, uh, I . . . don't think so. But I told him a month ago he could speak on whatever he'd like," Aaron said reflecting on a previous conversation with Charles.
"Well, if he does preach polygamy he'll wreck our congregation. Most people will leave and our reputations and ministries will be destroyed! He wouldn't, would he?" Cheryl lamented as her voice trailed off.
Aaron stood nervously at the front door of the church. And yet he smiled and shook each member's hand as they entered. Charles is usually quite punctual, he thought, I hope he is today. Most people had already arrived when finally he saw Charles' car pull up into the parking lot alongside the church.
Aaron left his post and moved in his direction, looking for every spare moment he could use to persuade or reaffirm that Charles was not going to preach on having multiple wives.
Charles climbed out of his car with two Bibles and a notebook under one arm. After locking the door, he looked and saw Aaron hurrying towards him.
"Good morning brother!" he called out heartily as Aaron was two rows of cars away from him.
"Good morning," Aaron returned the greeting as he closed the gap and grabbed this morning's 'special speaker's' hand.
"Hey, I know" he continued "I told you you could speak on anything you wanted . . . but you weren't by any chance going to speak on this polygamy thing, were you?"
"Why?" Charles questioned. "Do you want me to?"
"NO! . . . I mean, no -- don't you see it upsets all the women and teaching like that could wreck the church. Do you want us to be known as some kind of weird cult, teaching false doctrines?"
"Relax," Charles said as he smiled while walking toward the church. Aaron fell in step with him as Charles continued "Before I speak, I always try to get the mind of the Lord. I don't want to wreck anything, but I'm sure you agree that God wants us to preach truth and not just tradition. Don't you?"
"Sure, but . . ." Aaron started to respond, but he was interrupted by Mrs. Walker.
"Pastor . . ." she began as she tugged his arm, pulling him out of his march with Charles toward the front door. Mrs. Walker was a little old lady who was probably close to seventy years old, but one who took a very active role in the church's affairs. She had suggestions and opinions on carpet colors and types of flowers and plants outside the church and almost anything else that came up.
"Pastor," she repeated, "I think it would just be wonderful if we planned something special for the senior citizens who come to this church."
"Yes, Mrs. Walker, I'd be happy to talk with you about that some other time," Aaron responded as he glanced after Charles, who had continued his pace and was now entering the front door.
"But pastor. This will only take a minute or two to get the gist of the general idea I have in mind," she insisted.
Finally, he stopped and turned full toward the elderly lady but something in his mannerisms must have tipped off his impatience.
"Oh, never mind" Mrs. Walker said in exasperation. "You young people are always too busy to pay any mind to those that have been around a half century or more. I'll talk to you some other time." She wheeled around and put her nose in the air and began ambling away as quick as her sixty plus year old frame would carry her.
By the time Aaron reached the front door one of the ushers, who had recognized Charles as the featured guest speaker mentioned in the church bulletin, had already escorted him to the visiting speakers seat on the platform.
"Oh no," Aaron thought, "Now I won't get a chance to speak to him before I introduce him!"
George and Juanita had already begun the praise and worship time just as they had been trained to do, right at 11:00 AM. It was 11:03 and they were finishing their first song. Aaron moved though the aisle which had believers praising God on both sides. The church, like most churches, had an excess of women, in fact about sixty five percent of the church was composed of females.
Aaron took his place in front of the pastor's chair on the platform next to Charles. In between songs Aaron whispered to his guest speaker "Please, don't say anything that would embarrass you, me or the church."
"Pastor, don't worry" Charles said patronizingly as he put his arm around Aaron's shoulders. "I'll speak only the truth from God's word and if anyone can prove from God's word that it is not truth, then I'll come back and apologize!"
That wasn't exactly the answer that Aaron was hoping to hear. A sickening feeling began to well up in his stomach as he wondered how he had gotten himself into this predicament.
As the ushers began passing the baskets to receive the morning's tithes and offerings, Cheryl came up to the platform and whispered in Aaron's right ear (the one furthest from Charles) "Is everything alright? You look pale."
"Yes, yes, it'll be OK." Aaron mumbled as he silently prayed that God would persuade, command or force Charles to speak about something that people could accept. The time had come for him to introduce the speaker. How can I do this and prepare the congregation for something weird to soften the blow just in case . . .
"Brothers and sisters, we praise the Lord today. For this is the day that the Lord has made." he began. "We have with us today a man who is from a different country and a different culture. We've had the opportunity to begin to know each other over the past few months. We may not agree on everything but he has a heart to study God's word. As many of you know, he will be leading our missionary team to Kenya in a week or two, where we will stay for a month, preaching the word of God to the Kenyans. Let's give a warm welcome to our brother Charles Okinyi."
As Charles stood up to go to the pulpit and speak into the microphone, Aaron sat down, hoping he had said enough to mute anything Charles may say that would be out of line or out of convention.
"Love!" he began "Jesus said 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. If you agree with that, say amen!" Charles had forgotten for a moment that this was a charismatic group rather than a Pentecostal one. Charismatic groups were usually polite and quiet while Pentecostal churches usually had a lively response of amen's in between important points.
"Jesus said, 'If you love me keep my commandments.' Jesus said, 'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that you have love one for another. Jesus said, 'He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.' We must each ask ourselves how much we love the Lord, for He said 'I come not to bring peace but a sword . . .'"
Aaron thought, so far he is not that bad, as he breathed a sigh of relief.
". . . because when we love the truth and go on in the truth, it will separate us from those who do not go on. But Jesus said 'If you continue in my word ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.'"
Charles paused and looked carefully around the audience to see if what he was saying was sinking in.
"As we continue in God's word, more and more of His truth will be revealed to us. As we learn the truth of His word the question becomes, will we walk in His truth or will we continue to walk in tradition. Jesus said to the Pharisees 'Ye do make the word of God of none effect by your tradition.'
Only the four knew to what he might be alluding. They each sat still, tight lipped, hoping he wouldn't go too far.
"Let us truly love God and walk in His truth," Charles went on. "In James we read, 'Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.' As we learn God's truth and walk in His love we'll find solutions to every problem we face. The answers are in the word. In the letters of John we read, 'If a man is in need of food or clothing and ye say, Be warmed and filled, and give him not those things that are needful to the body, how sayest thou that the love of God dwelleth in you.' Love in deed and truth."
As Aaron looked around wondering how his congregation was taking all this, he noticed that most were very attentive to every word. There seemed to be a power about the way he spoke. It was not so much what he was saying but the power with which he was saying it.
It wasn't that he was just louder and more animated, although he did have a rather booming voice and moved back and forth much more than Aaron ever did. No. There was something else. Something more.
"Many of you are single women and widowed ladies. You'd like to have a husband, wouldn't you?"
Aaron cringed and looked at his wife who was sitting in the front row. She clutched her Bible and returned his gaze, both fearing what might come next.
"There's an answer in God's word. Look for it. Seek it out. It's there. I'll conclude by saying, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.'"
With that, Charles pivoted on his heels and reached out the microphone to hand it to Aaron. As Aaron took the "mic," there was a moment of silence and as the congregation realized that Charles was finished and being seated, they spontaneously broke out in a thunderous applause.
Cheryl looked up at Aaron with a quizzical look on her face as if to say 'what happened?' They were both pleased that it was over but also knew they'd be besieged by questions about what the Bible answer for singles was. They weren't wrong.
The sound of the basketball being dribbled slowly across the floor echoed through the church gym as Charles walked in. He was wearing a pair of cut off jeans and a dingy T-shirt that had paint splotches on it from a previous house painting job. His tennis shoes were cheap and worn. By contrast Aaron, who was now going up for a fifteen foot jump shot, was wearing a Nike shirt, pressed blue gym shorts and a very expensive pair of Michael Jordan Nike gym shoes.
Swish, the sound hissed through the gym as the basketball went through the hoop hitting nothing but net. Aaron was a well coordinated athlete, who though he emphasized football during his college career, could just as well have played basketball.
"Hey., buddy," Charles called out, "How are we doing today?"
Aaron ran after the ball "Fine, I guess" he responded as he grabbed the ball and executed a two handed chest pass to Charles. Charles dribbled the ball toward the basket, leaped high in the air, and dunked it. "That is, fine," Aaron continued, "if you can count having fifteen or twenty women call my office today wanting to know what the Bible answer for them to get married is."
"Oh, really?" Charles said with mock surprise without hiding that he was somewhat amused.
"You think it's funny, don't you?" Aaron asked as he passed the ball back to Charles, giving him the opportunity to take another shot.
"Yeah, kinda." Charles replied as he went up for a jump shot that missed.
"Well, what am I supposed to tell all these women?" Aaron questioned as he dribbled out to take another shot of his own.
"Tell them the truth" Charles answered as he moved near the basket to get the rebound.
"Truth? What truth?"
"Yeah, what truth?" George asked as he entered the gym.
"The truth that if we lived according to the Bible, not according to tradition, many of those women wouldn't have to be single because some man would take on more than one wife!" Charles stated matter of factly.
"What!?" Aaron yelled as he grabbed the ball and held it. All eyes were now on Charles. They suspected this was where he was headed with all this but now he had said it out loud.
"How can you be a Christian and say something like that?" George asked.
"If you had let me finish the other night rather than letting your wives break up the meeting you would understand."
"Understand what?" Kyle asked as he entered the gym about ten minutes late.
"Understand God's requirement to follow the truth of His word, not just modern traditional convention, Charles answered. "You are all ministers, right?" he questioned.
"Yeah, and so?" George responded.
"But are you disciples? Disciples of Jesus Christ?"
"Sure, how else could we be ministers?" Kyle questioned.
"Have you truly forsaken all to follow the Lord? Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Him? Are you truly continuing in His word to learn His truths and not just to get sermons for Sundays?" Charles questioned.
Aaron turned and shot another basket before responding. "Charles, I almost resent what you're asking. You see the churches where we minister and you know our congregations are blessed by our ministries. Why are you asking this?"
Charles ran and got the ball, tossed up a lay-up, and got his own rebound before tossing the ball in a bounce pass to Kyle. "Who was David's first wife?" he questioned.
"Michal, Saul's daughter; so what?" George asked.
"Who did he marry next?" Charles continued.
"Abigail and Ahinohem," Aaron responded.
"Yes, at the same time," Charles added.
"Was that a sin?" he questioned further.
"Well . . . uh . . ." Kyle started as he looked to Aaron and George to help him out.
"No!" Charles gave them the answer. "David's only sins that are mentioned in Scripture are his adultery with Bathsheba and the time he numbered Israel and shouldn't have."
"Yeah, that's Old Testament stuff" George complained. "We have a New Covenant. We're under the New Testament," he explained.
"George" Charles looked him directly in the eyes "Do you believe that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness?"
"Well . . yeah, that's what the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3," George hesitantly responded.
"All Scripture includes the Old Testament!" Charles stated emphatically. "If having more than one wife is wrong why did God give instructions to Moses for it on the mount? When he came down with the Ten Commandments he also came down with the rules for having more than one wife."
"Where is that?" Kyle questioned unbelievingly.
"Exodus 21:10," Charles stated emphatically before going on to quote the verse. "If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."
"Well can a woman have more than one husband?" George asked with a scowl on his face.
"No." Charles answered.
"So you're saying that men and women aren't equal?" George pressed.
"No, I am saying God has different rules for men than He has for women," Charles replied, "and besides, this equality of the sexes is more an American doctrine than a biblical one."
The young ministers were taken aback. They looked at one another, each reflecting back his own shock at the statements that were being made. Yet they had no idea what a firestorm repeating some of those statements would make. Still, the men continued their discussion for several more hours before winding up and heading toward their respective homes.
"Where have you been!" Terry yelled at Kyle as he entered the door.
"Honey . . . I . . ." he started before being interrupted.
"Do you know what time it is? It's eleven thirty! Eleven thirty! I expected you home hours ago!" She screamed.
"What's wrong, honey?" Kyle questioned.
"What's wrong?! What's wrong?!" Terry mockingly repeated. "You have the nerve to not call me for hours and stay out till nearly midnight and then ask me what's wrong?"
Terry turned her back on Kyle and folded her arms. Kyle moved toward her and tried to embrace her.
"Don't you dare touch me!" Terry snarled as she took a step away from him. "Who were you with?"
"Aaron, George and Charles" Kyle answered.
"Till this time of night?" she questioned incredulously. "What were you talking about so long?" she further questioned him.
"Well . . uh . . . uh" Kyle began haltingly.
"Uh . . . uh . . . what?" Terry snapped.
"He . . . I mean Charles . . . was explaining about how God never did condemn men who had multiple wives and even gave rules for it . . ."
"What?!" she screamed. "He's over there indoctrinating you to believe it's OK for men to have more than one wife, and you stayed all this time listening?"
"Well, we all talked . . but . . . uh. . he proved from Scripture that God gave one man several wives," Kyle explained.
Terry turned to face him, her eyes ablaze, her hands on her hips. "You sniveling little jerk!" she screamed "You couldn't even tell him he's wrong! Could you?"
"Well I . . . I . . ."
"Forget it!" Terry snapped once again, interrupting him as she marched off toward her bedroom.
Kyle followed but Terry slammed the bedroom door in his face and then yelled "You can sleep on the couch, mister!"
Aaron's return home was not quite as tumultuous.
"Honey, where've you been?" Cheryl asked, as she woke up at the sound of Aaron entering the room.
"With the guys, talking" he replied.
"So long?" she questioned.
"Yeah" Aaron responded as he took off his clothes and prepared to put on his pajamas. "We got quite involved in Bible study after we shot a few baskets."
Cheryl was now more awake. "What kind of Bible study?"
"Well, I told him about all the phone calls we got at the office from his message yesterday, and from there he went on to prove that many men had multiple wives in the Scriptures and that God never did condemn it," Aaron said sleepily.
"What!?" Cheryl said as she sat up in bed. "Aaron Baldwin Cooper" she called out his full name for emphasis. "Are you telling me that you let him convince you that having more than one wife is OK?"
"Well, . . . uh . . . maybe in their culture it isn't so bad" he hedged.
"Isn't so bad? Sin is sin in any culture," she lamented.
"The problem is" Aaron said as he slid under the covers "that there is no Scripture that says having more than one wife is a sin. Uh . . . can we get some sleep?"
"Well it's against the law," Cheryl protested.
"It is here but not there in Kenya," Aaron said as he closed his eyes.
Cheryl sat up in bed for a while, her arms across her chest, fuming that even the men were being convinced that Charles was right. It was a long time before her mind would stop racing and allow her to sleep; and when she did, she dreamed. Well of course Cheryl called it a nightmare.
She dreamed that Aaron was reclining on a giant sofa chair with beautiful curvaceous women all around him. One was massaging his shoulders. Another was dropping grapes into his mouth. Another was manicuring his fingernails, and still another was massaging his feet. Aaron lay there enjoying the pampering of these four women whom Cheryl somehow knew were his wives. Yet she seemed invisible in the dream and no matter how she called out to him, he either ignored her or couldn't hear her.
"Aaron, Aaron, please listen" she was talking in her sleep.
"Yeah, babe, what is it" Aaron said not realizing that it was a dream Cheryl was having. Finally, he realized she was having a bad dream and shook her to wake her up.
"What! Oh . . I . . . I was having a nightmare," she said tearfully. "What time is it?"
"It's only six twenty two . . . go back to sleep" Aaron suggested.
"No! I am getting up," Cheryl replied flinging the covers off and sitting up as she swung her feet around to the floor. "I'll make some coffee and breakfast" she said as she threw on a house coat and tied the belt around her waist. "You get cleaned up and come downstairs" she ordered "we've got to talk."
"Babe, I was thinking about sleeping in a bit today. It was a long night last night" Aaron said pleadingly.
"I said, we've got to talk." Cheryl repeated.
Sensing the urgency in her tone of voice, he reluctantly agreed. While Aaron showered and shaved Cheryl went downstairs and began to make his favorite breakfast of waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee.
"Mmmm . . . something smells awfully good down here" Aaron stated as he smelled the aroma of coffee and waffles mingling together. Entering the kitchen, he put his arms around his wife's waist and kissed the back of her neck as she continued to stir the eggs.
"Aaron," she began, "do you love me?"
"Do I love you?" he repeated the question. "Yes, let me count the ways . . ."
"No, I'm serious," Cheryl said as she dropped the spatula and turned around to face him. Aaron bent down to kiss her on the neck again but she stiff armed him away by pressing her hands against his chest and pulling her head back.
"Hey, what's the matter?" Aaron questioned.
"Sit down and eat," she said as she wiped tears away from her eyes. "I'm just not so sure we should go to Africa" she stated as she retrieved a waffle from the waffle iron and placed it on his plate.
"What do you mean? Why?" Aaron asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee from the coffee pot.
"I think . . . I think you're being too influenced by this Charles character."
"Charles character? When did he become that?" Aaron said looking at her with a quizzical look on his face.
"Well, a few nights ago . . ." she began as she dished eggs and bacon on to his plate. "We were all in apparent agreement that polygamy is sin and now after one night you guys all agree with him that it's OK? I just don't believe that!"
"OK," Aaron began after taking a sip of hot coffee "I can understand that changing our position a little could be a little unnerving but to want to cancel the whole trip? We've spent over three thousand dollars on just our tickets alone . . . and what about the others? They're looking to us for leadership. I don't understand why you're so upset."
"Aaron, you do love me don't you?" she asked again.
"Of course I do. Don't I tell you that almost every day?" he responded.
"You don't need another wife do you?" she questioned.
"What?!" Aaron said, almost choking on his last sip of coffee. "Why would you think something like that? Just because Charles convinced us from Scripture that God is not against multiple wives marriages doesn't mean I want more than one!" he stated emphatically. "And further more he's never even suggested that any of us should. And if you want me to I'll make sure he understands that tonight." he concluded as he rose and moved toward her to kiss her on the forehead.
"Tonight?" she said. "Tonight you have the elders board meeting about the church addition at six thirty" she reminded him.
"Yeah, I know," he said, "that's why we're not meeting till eight thirty."
"What?" Cheryl took the cloth napkin she'd had in her lap and threw it on the table, indicating she was finished -- fed up and not in the mood to eat any more. "What kind of hold does he have on you guys?" she questioned as she turned toward him with her brow furrowed. "Are the wives invited?" she asked before he could answer.
"Well no, we're meeting at his place and you know he lives on the other side of town in a neighborhood that is not so nice" Aaron explained.
"Well I'm coming, like it or not!" Cheryl promised. "You'll just have to protect me!"
Searching for Charles' apartment at dusk was a difficult task. Although he had given directions, nearly all of the street signs had been torn down. The houses were older and many needed repair or painting. Some half naked kids wearing only shorts were racing down the middle of the street where Charles' dwelling place was located. Aaron began to have trepidations about parking his S.U.V. in this neighborhood.
They finally found the address and excused themselves as they passed by several middle aged men drinking beer on the front steps. These all eyed Aaron and his wife closely as they passed by and rung the bell to gain entrance through the exterior door.
Charles buzzed them in and they began their march up the creaky wooden stairs and past the industrial green painted graffiti covered walls. Reaching the second floor studio apartment, they knocked and were pleased that Charles was there to let them in almost immediately. Aaron knew that even though Charles didn't have the nearly six figure salary and benefits package that he had as a pastor of a wealthier suburban church, he did make enough to live better than this.
"Brother Aaron, come in" he said heartily "and Sister Cheryl. I didn't expect you." He gave them both big hugs, even though Cheryl stiffened and did not return it.
"Juanita is coming with George as well" she stated dryly.
"Oh really, good." Charles replied "what about Kyle and Terry?" he asked.
Cheryl didn't want to tell him that Terry had decided that Kyle wasn't going to come around Charles until they left for Africa. Aaron spoke up "Kyle called me and said he had to take his wife shopping tonight so they won't make it."
Charles pulled two chairs away from his kitchen table for Aaron and Cheryl as he offered them something to drink. "Pepsi or Kool-Aid or water?" he asked.
"Pepsi will be fine" Aaron said.
The buzzer went off as he was pouring the glasses and he stopped to buzz in George and Juanita. He pulled out two big pillows for them to sit on the floor while he positioned himself on a large bean bag.
"Can we pray before we begin?" he asked and without waiting for an answer he began. "Dear Lord, bring us in to your truth. Show us what your word has to say. Let us not be deceived in any way but lead us by your Spirit to understand your will and your way. Amen."
"I'll tell you what, instead of me asking so many questions, why don't I just teach a little. Then if you have questions you can ask me at the end. OK?"
"Wait a minute," Juanita interjected, "How is it that Aaron has a masters in Biblical studies and George has a bachelor's in Divinity and you seem to know more about the Bible than any of us? Do you have any kind of Bible college or seminary degree?"
"No, I don't" Charles admitted. "I just try to follow 2 Timothy 2:15 'Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.' Let's review." Charles continued speaking. "When I met with the men last, we determined that polygyny (which means a man having more than one wife) was practiced before the flood. It was practiced after the flood and before the Law. It was practiced during the Law and specific rules were given for its practice. We established many of God's most famous men, the Patriarchs in the Bible, had two or more wives.
"Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, David, and many others. We showed that when David was chastised by God through the prophet Nathan for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba God said 'I gave you your master's wives.' So if God never condemned it, and God participated by giving wives (plural) to David, then it could not have been sin."
Charles paused and Juanita used the pause as an opportunity to jump in. "Yes, but that's all Old Testament stuff. Even if God did allow them to do that then, that doesn't mean He allows it now!"
"Ah yes, that brings us to tonight's study. What does it indicate about polygyny? Did God change His mind and say, 'sorry I made a mistake. We're changing all the rules? If the rules were changed on this issue, do you think that God would be shy about saying so? None of the passages where the New Testament guidelines for good behavior and bad behavior say anything against men having more than one wife. Did it say in Acts 15 when they wrote the letters to Gentile believers? No! It said abstain from fornication and things strangled, and from meats offered to idols and from blood."
"Did it say it was a work of the flesh in Galatians five? No?"
"Wait a minute," Cheryl interrupted, "it does say adultery is a work of the flesh and if a man already has a wife and claims to marry someone else and has sex with her that would be adultery!" she said as she tossed her head back in a look of defiance.
"Is that an American definition of adultery or a biblical Hebrew definition of adultery?" Charles asked slowly. "Aaron why don't you grab that Strong's concordance off the shelf and hand George that American Dictionary that is over to its right" Charles ordered.
Aaron looked to his left and saw the several shelves of books. There were several translations of the Bible and several copies of the King James. Numerous other spiritual or religious books on a number of topics and study materials included the Strong's, Greek Interlinear Bibles, Vines Bible Dictionary and others.
"Why don't you each look up the definition of adultery and read what it says," Charles suggested.
"I've got it," George said after a few moments. "It says 'adultery -- the act of a married person having sexual intercourse with one who is not his or her spouse.'"
"Okay, that's what it says in the dictionary and that's what most people, especially Americans, believe that it is. But let's hear what God's definition is. Do you have it, Aaron?"
"Yes. It says in the Strong's Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary 'na'aph, pronounced as naw-af; a woman that breaketh wedlock.'"
Charles continued "Adultery is when a woman breaks wedlock by having sex with someone who is not her husband or when a man has sex with another man's wife as King David did. When a man has sexual relations with any of his own wives it is never called adultery!"
Both Aaron and George had looks of revelation dawning on their faces; however their wives were becoming more desperate. Cheryl and Juanita eyed each other almost reading each other's minds. They wouldn't let this go on. They had to find a way to stop it.
"Well what about a husband of only one wife as it says in Timothy" Cheryl blurted out.
"Yes, what about that?" Charles responded calmly. "Let's turn to it and read it exactly. 'This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.'" Charles leaned back on his bean bag as he read by the light of a pale lamp near his corner of the room and quoted from the book of Timothy.
"'A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife.'" Charles stopped to emphasize "It doesn't say only one wife, it says one wife. There are several Greek words that can be translated one. If Aaron will look in that Strong's Concordance again he'll find that mia, which is the Greek word that is translated one in First Timothy 3 verse 2, is in other places translated as first.
He paused to let that much sink in. Then he continued. "So Paul is giving the guidelines for choosing a bishop, elder, or overseer in these passages in Timothy and Titus. These guidelines do not restrict the man to a single wife, but merely advocate that he be married." He paused again, then he said "Look down at verse 5: 'For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God."
"You see," Charles continued, "the context in verse 5 shows that ruling a household is good experience for ruling in the church. If a man has no wife and therefore no children, he can have no such experience."
Once again Cheryl's attempt to stop what she considered a mad dash toward polygyny was thwarted. Juanita stood up. "Are you saying that men can have as many wives as they want? Well. . ." she went on without waiting for an answer ". . it is illegal here in the United States, mister!"
Charles dropped his head and spoke softly. "It's not in Kenya. It's not in Kenya" he repeated.
"George, take me home!" Juanita demanded as she headed toward the door of the one room apartment. George obediently got up and headed toward the door, but looked back apologetically at Charles and shrugging his shoulders as if to say 'I don't understand.'
As Aaron and Cheryl drove home there was a long silence before Cheryl spoke up. "I don't care what he thinks the Bible says, I still think it's wrong. It is sin and I don't like the influence he's having on you men."
"Whoa, wait a minute! What influence?" Aaron reacted sharply.
"I saw your face. You were going along with it all," Cheryl replied. "You think having a bunch of wives is a good idea! Don't you?"
"Wait. Where did that come from?" Aaron protested.
"Admit it. Admit it," Cheryl demanded.
Aaron clammed up, being a little upset that he had been falsely accused. At that moment he had no idea that the next day would bring beautifully timed bliss and a badly timed bombshell.
Judy Chandler was a middle thirtyish widow with a cute face and thin waist which gave her an almost perfect hourglass figure. Her husband had died tragically in an automobile accident two years pervious to this, and she had since been struggling to keep her financial head above water, working as an executive secretary while caring for two boys. The oldest was now five and the younger was three. She was the first appointment on Aaron's calendar that day even though the time scheduled was 11:00 am.
"Pastor," she began as the boys ran around the office playing a game of tag. "I want your advice on something."
"Yes, what is it?" Aaron asked.
Just then one of the boys bumped into the bookshelf jarring it so that the globe on the top shelf shook and was about to topple over. Aaron stood up but the desk was between him and the shelf where the globe was, but Judy -- quick on her feet from handling two young boys -- was able to catch it and return it to its place.
"Why don't we have the boys wait outside in the reception area and I'll ask my secretary to watch them for you?"
"Alright," Judy agreed.
Settled once again Judy continued "I have a friend at work who has asked me out several times, only he's not saved that I know of. In fact I guess I know he isn't. He has sometimes made fun of preachers and religious things. No offence pastor!" she said, hoping he was not offended.
"No, that's quite alright, go on," Aaron encouraged her.
"Well, do you think it would be alright if I dated him?"
"Mrs. Chandler the word says . . ."
"Oh please, just call me Judy, pastor. Mrs. Chandler sounds so formal and makes me feel older than I am," she said.
"Alright, Judy" Aaron continued "the Bible says 'be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers' so I think it would be a real mistake for you to start something with a nonbeliever."
"But pastor," she protested "maybe I could bring him to the Lord."
"Or maybe he will lead you away from the Lord" Aaron countered.
Judy dropped her head and pouted a little. "I thought you might say something like that. But pastor, what about me. I'm in my mid thirties. I've got two kids to take care of all on my own. There are no single Christian men in the church that have indicated any interest in me." Tears began to well in her eyes as she continued "I am used goods, plus I have the baggage of two kids, who I love dearly, don't get me wrong. But they're a handful to take care of. Pastor, I just want a man to love me, care for me, to help with finances and to be a father to my kids." Tears were now rolling down her face. "Is God going to supply me with a Christian husband?"
Aaron pulled out his box of Kleenex tissue that he kept for just such occasions and moved around to the other side of the desk to console her. When he put his arm around her shoulders to say non-verbally that everything would be okay, she threw her arms around his neck, placed her head against his chest and began to sob uncontrollably.
Bzzz. Bzzz. The intercom was going off. "Yes, Mrs. Halsted" he answered as he pushed the intercom button.
"Your wife is on the phone, pastor" Mrs. Halsted answered.
"Take a message, please" he directed.
"She says it's important, sir" Mrs. Halsted insisted.
"Uh - excuse me Judy, I need to take this." Aaron picked up the receiver.
"Hi, honey" Cheryl cooed into the phone.
"Yes, dear, what is it" Aaron said abruptly.
"Honey could you come home for lunch?" she asked.
"Well, I'm kind of busy right now and I was just planning to get a sandwich at a fast food place."
"Pleeeese" she begged, as she drew out the word "please."
"Yeah, okay. Give me about twenty minutes" Aaron said as he relented to his wife's request although disturbed with the interruption.
"Mrs. Chandler . . . er . . . Judy, I'll keep you in prayer and we'll have to believe God that the right Christian man will come into your life. Please excuse me Mrs. . . I mean, Judy . . . I've got a situation where I need to rush home" he said apologetically. Aaron rushed home considering what the emergency was that would require him to leave in the middle of a counseling session. He pulled into his driveway, hopped out of the Corvette that he had picked up used for a very good price, and ran to the door. Opening the door he called out "honey, I'm home."
"Are you alone dear?" Cheryl called back from behind the double doors that led into the family room.
"Yes," he answered as he opened to doors. Then he froze in his steps. His eyes could hardly believe what he was seeing. There stood his lovely wife Cheryl clad in only a black negligee and matching six inch high heels. As she swayed over to him he caught the scent of the Chanel number five perfume she was wearing. She moved her hips close to his and very gently kissed his lips, just enough for him to taste or smell the peppermint scented lipstick.
She then turned and glided for a few steps away exaggerating the normal sway of her hips before stopping and turning her head and tilting it with eyes half closed revealing that she was wearing eye shadow and mascara. Then she spoke softly and seductively "Do you want to meet me in the bedroom?" As she stood with one hand on her hips and slowly turned toward him, he noticed her full luscious, size "D" cup breasts stand out like twin mountain peaks as her nipples pressed their impression though the fabric. The plunging neck line reaching down to her waist allowed a view of her cleavage that spoke volumes.
She repeated her question again as she batted her eyes in seductive fashion "Do . . . you . . . want . . . to . . . meet . . . me . . . in the bedroom?" she whispered a second time. Did he?
Yes he did!
Almost two hours had gone by since Aaron had come home for "lunch." And although a type of "dessert" was all he got, he felt fully satisfied.
"I've got to go back to the office, I've got some more appointments scheduled this afternoon," he lamented.
"Well, come on dear, let's get you up and dressed." Cheryl encouraged him as she swung out of the bed, threw on her silk house coat, and grabbed the shirt he had thrown on the floor.
"What's this?" she questioned with a shock in her voice.
"What's what?" Aaron asked as he drearily climbed out of the bed.
"Whose lipstick is this? It's not mine -- it's not my shade!" she exclaimed.
"What? . . . Oh, that . . . Judy . . . uh . ."
"JUDY!" Cheryl interrupted, "Who is Judy? And why is her lipstick on your shirt?"
"You know Mrs. Chandler the . . ."
"So now you're cheating on me!?" Cheryl screamed "with Mrs. Judy Chandler?!" she said incredulously. "I knew it!" she cried, tears now streaming down her face. "You dog!" she grabbed a book off the nightstand and threw it at him.
Aaron dodged the book as it whizzed by his head, all the time trying to move closer to her to get her under control. When he was in range she began flailing her fists at his face and chest, wanting to damage whatever part of him she could.
"Calm down, dear, calm down," Aaron pleaded as he held her by the shoulders with his strong hands. "There is no affair. It was a counseling session, and I was just putting my arm on her shoulders to comfort her and she fell against my chest and began crying" he tried to explain.
"You were embracing another woman!" she screamed as she tried to pull away from him.
Ring . . . Ring . . . Ring . . . What a time for somebody to be calling. He looked toward the phone fearing it might be one of his members calling with an emergency.
"Don't you dare answer that!" Cheryl spat out as she read his thoughts. Ring . . . Ring . . . Ring . . . "That crazy Charles has brainwashed you into thinking you can have other women! And . . ."
Before she could go on, Aaron took three quick steps to the nightstand. "Yes, who is it!" he answered abruptly.
"Hey Aaron, it's Kyle . . . uh . . we can't go man . ."
"Can't go? Can't go where?" Aaron asked impatiently.
"To Kenya." he responded. "Cheryl and Juanita apparently talked to Terry this morning. Now she doesn't want me anywhere near Charles.
"But . . ." Aaron muttered as he stared across the room at his furious wife who now stood with her hands perched firmly on her hips and shot fiery eyed glances of hatred his way. "The tickets . . . you spent $3,000 on tickets . . . you can't pull out now!" Aaron said urgently.
"If I don't, she said she's leaving me. I don't know if I can live without her and that would destroy the ministry" Kyle reported.
Aaron couldn't believe his ears. Disaster was everywhere. He looked back at Cheryl who now stood with her weight on one foot while she impatiently tapped the other. Her arms now were folded across her chest and Aaron had never seen such a mean look on her face.
"It is amazing," he thought, "Just two hours before she was more seductive than she had ever been, even on our honeymoon, and now she looks like Satan has enveloped her very being!
"Kyle . . . I . . . I have to talk to you later. I've got my own problems right now" Aaron said as he concluded the call. Aaron thought he had problems but there was an even worse threat on the horizon.
"What did you tell Terry?" Aaron questioned.
"What?!" Her eyes widening and eyebrows going up in surprise. "You have the nerve to ask me about what I was saying to my sisters in the Lord, while you're out messing with other women" she huffed as she scowled at him.
"I told you, I'm not messing with other women. It was a counseling session" Aaron emphasized. "The lipstick is a pure accident."
"Accident! Accident?" Cheryl snarled as she raised one corner of her mouth. "So you're just accidentally embracing another woman." She whirled around, turning her back to him as she used the sleeve of her housecoat to wipe the tears from her face.
"Do you know Kyle and Terry aren't going to Africa now?" Aaron questioned.
"Yeah, I know it" Cheryl spat back at him. "Maybe we're not going either!" she taunted him purposely trying to anger him. She wanted him to hurt and hurt badly.
"How are you great men of God" she said mockingly "great white missionaries to Africa going to minister effectively without the support of your wives?"
"Why are you doing this?" Aaron pleaded.
"Doing what? Trying to shock you into your sense." She retorted. "You hang around this Charles character who seems to come right out of the loony bin. He has no Bible college or seminary training and you three dolts let him persuade you to go frolicking around looking for a harem of women?" She had progressively raised her voice until it ended up in a scream.
"What?" Aaron exclaimed, being taken aback by the viciousness of the attack. "Nobody's looking for a harem," he protested.
"Well you want to be like your good ole buddy Charles, don't you?" she questioned before continuing without waiting for a response. "Well let me tell you a little something about him," she said as she began to take little steps toward him with her hands on her hips again and leaning slightly forward from the waist. "Your precious Charles has two wives in Kenya and is considering a third from Nigeria!" she blabbed enjoying seeing the shock on his face at the revelation.
"What? . . . How . . . how do you know this?"
"Juanita went down to the foreign student assembly hall and asked around about him. She ran into this Nigerian lady who told her everything!"
"Well . . . I don't know what to say . . ."
"Tongue tied now, huh?" Cheryl gloated. "What do you think of your missionary leader now!?" She questioned.
Aaron plunked down on the side of the bed and sat in a bent position holding his head in his hands. "Oh my . ." he muttered ". . .what'll happen if this gets out?"
"What'll happen? What'll happen?" Cheryl repeated as she walked over to him, she lifted his chin up with her right hand while her left remained on her hip. She wanted to see the look in his eyes when she gave the even worse news. Then she dropped the bombshell.
"Terry is thinking of putting out flyers exposing the whole thing to both congregations!"
Aaron threw on some clothes and walked out of the house. Cheryl had watched him, eyeing him, wondering what he was thinking and only spoke again as he was walking down the driveway.
"Where are you going?" she called out.
"I don't know" he muttered. "Just out for a walk. I gotta think . . . I gotta think."
"What would people say," he thought. "I knew Charles believed in plural wives marriages but he never gave any hint that he was involved in such a marriage. Why hadn't he told us," he wondered.
Twenty minutes later, Aaron returned home.
"Cheryl," he called out as he entered the front door.
"Yes, I'm in the family room" Cheryl answered.
"Cheryl, listen; we don't have time to fight. We've got to get some things straightened out and some things cleared up" he stated firmly.
Cheryl looked up at him from her position in the recliner rocker. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. "What do you intend to do?" she asked with a hesitant trepidation in her voice.
"I'm going to see Charles and talk to him and then we're all going to meet tomorrow night. I don't care what time -- eight, nine, whatever, but we have got to meet and clear the air," he stated.
Cheryl slowly got up from her seat as she blew her nose into a handkerchief. "You don't think Terry and Kyle are going to come do you?" she asked.
"Yes, I do!" he said with emphasis "because I expect you to convince her to come. And if she comes, he'll come with her."
Cheryl suddenly ran to her husband, flung her arms around his neck as tears poured out of her eyes as she sobbed. Between sobs she managed to say "Honey, I love you so much, but I'm afraid of what's happening to us. I feel like I'm losing you. I don't want to lose you but I won't share you either." she paused, then continued "that's what frightened me about your being around Charles. I don't want you to want several wives. Aren't I enough for you?"
"Yes babe. You are," he spoke gently as he stroked her hair trying his best to soothe her feelings.
An hour later Aaron was ringing the buzzer at Charles' apartment. He wasn't home. Pulling out his cell phone from his suit coat pocket, he phoned his office and asked his secretary to reschedule all his afternoon appointments. The efficient Mrs. Halsted indicated she already began doing so after she realized that he was late and might not make it back in. Then he called George.
"George, we've got to talk," he said urgently.
"You've got that right, buddy" George responded.
"Listen," Aaron continued, "I'm over in front of Charles' place now. Can you meet me here?"
"Uh . . Yeah, as soon as I finish showing this house, I'll be right over."
George in addition to being the leader of the music ministry at the church was also a very successful real estate salesman. This gave him a degree of freedom and yet a very good income. An hour had gone by, Aaron was still sitting in his Corvette in front of Charles' apartment waiting for Charles to get off work and for George to come by. Numerous people both young and old had walked by and stared at him, wondering why he was in their neighborhood.
Finally, George pulled up in his BMW and parked behind Aaron. Aaron jumped out of his Corvette, glad to see someone else of that same hue and ran around to the passenger side of George's car and hopped in. "Man, am I glad to see you" he began. "We've got a royal mess on our hands. Did you know Charles has two wives over in Kenya?"
"Yeah, my wife just phoned me this morning and told me," George answered. Then he added "You know Aaron, I've been doing a lot of praying and thinking and studying the past few days. I know I'm usually the quiet one but let me tell you what I think."
"Go ahead," Aaron encouraged him. He was glad to have another man's opinion on these matters.
"Our wives place a bunch of blame on Charles, right?" he asked.
"Yeah, they think we're being influenced by him." Aaron added.
"But," George continued, "If what he says is true then it's true! If it's false we should be smart enough, studious enough to prove it's false. Don't you agree?"
"Yeah, that makes sense." Aaron agreed.
"If he really believes it's okay for a man to have more than one wife can we blame him for having more than one?" George questioned.
"No, I guess not" Aaron muttered as he followed George's reasoning.
"I can't prove he is wrong so I can't condemn him" George stated matter of factly.
"I can't prove him wrong either" Aaron found himself saying.
"In fact" George continued "my wife tried to tell me you couldn't have a second wife because you would be lusting after a second woman and that was adultery in your heart based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5."
"Umph" Aaron grunted as he considered the statement.
"Well, I thought about asking Charles about that and then I thought, If there is an answer why can't I find it. So, I looked up the words in that passage in the Greek. You know what I found out?" George ended with a question.
"No, what?" Aaron asked.
"The word 'woman' there means a married woman. Jesus was saying if you look upon a married woman to lust after her, you were committing adultery in your heart."
"Really?" Aaron said quizzically as he thought about George's revelation.
"Yes, really. That means it's not wrong for a man to consider a single woman or a widowed woman as a second wife."
"How did she take that when you told her" Aaron asked.
"Well, I don't think she liked it but she didn't have an answer for it."
A muffled 'bang - bang' interrupted their train of thought. "Huh?" They were both startled as Charles had come up to the car without being noticed and knocked on the side window. George pushed the power window button and the window came down.
"Hop in" George invited.
"No, I've got to go get cleaned up first. Tell you what. Give me ten minutes and I'll be back down. It's such a beautiful day, why don't we go for a walk."
With that Charles bound up the stairs, let himself in the outer door with a key and disappeared.
"I've planned a meeting for tomorrow night. We've got to get things out in the open and clear the air, or the whole African trip is going to fall apart" Aaron shared.
"Good idea," George agreed.
Before long, Charles reappeared in a fresh pair of jeans and a clean shirt, but wearing the same old sneakers. Aaron and George took off their suit jackets and ties, so they wouldn't be quite as conspicuous as they walked around this lower class neighborhood. George, who was wearing a short sleeve dress shirt, had powerful arms that filled out the sleeves. He was not the athlete that Aaron was but he had been a body builder for many years. His strong chest, thick neck and powerful arms were results of pumping iron.
As the three walked along Aaron on one side of Charles and George on the other, they formed an almost symmetrical vision in as much as George and Aaron were very near the same height but inches shorter than Charles.
"What's up guys?" Charles asked.
"The girls found out about your marriages, your wives," Aaron blurted out.
"Okay," Charles responded calmly. "Is that a problem for them?"
"Well, frankly yes," Aaron said.
"You see," George broke in, "they think you're influencing us and if you've got two wives, with a potential for a third is what I heard, then we might think we could have more wives too. And that upsets them."
"What does God want for you?" Charles questioned.
"Huh?" Aaron responded.
"Have you ever considered what God wants?" Charles said as he sought to clarify his question.
"Well . . . uh . . . no . . . I mean, not in that area. One is enough for me." Aaron replied.
"Did God say one is enough for you?"
"No, I don't know. I've never heard anything in this area." Aaron said.
"You know why you haven't heard anything?" Charles asked.
"Why?" Aaron responded.
"Because up until now you never thought it was within God's will for you to have more than one." Charles began his explanation, pausing before continuing. "If God said very clearly 'See that woman over there, I want you to marry her,' you would have rebuked the thought as being from the devil."
Charles paused to let it sink in before asking "Wouldn't you?"
"Well . . . uh . . . yeah. I guess I would have," Aaron replied honestly.
"If the men in your congregation knew the truth some would be told to marry additional wives. There is no reason a good Christian woman should go without love, without being cared for, and without physical, material and spiritual protection when men know the truth. If you continue in his word, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. That's what Jesus said. Preach the truth, the whole truth and it will make a difference in people's lives." Charles ended his sermonette and waited for one of the other men to speak up.
"But Charles," George began, "that's against our traditions and our laws here."
"Tradition? Laws? Jesus said to the Pharisees 'Ye do by your tradition make the word of God of none effect.' You men aren't Pharisees are you?" Charles responded and smiled as he looked from side to side at each man.
Their walk had brought them to an elementary school yard, and they sat on some playground equipment.
"Now let's discuss the law," Charles continued. "Whose law is higher, God's or man's?"
"Well, God's" George responded, "but in Romans, I believe it's chapter thirteen, says we must obey the higher authorities. I did some research on my own and I found out that the Roman Catholic Church outlawed polygyny in 1565 at the council of Trent and then Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act which outlawed polygamy in the United States in 1862. Are you saying we should break the law?" George asked.
"What did Peter say when the apostles had been whipped and told not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore?" Charles asked.
"He said 'whom should we obey, God or man, judge ye'" Aaron said giving the correct answer.
"Right!" Charles quipped. "If God speaks, who will you obey?"
The question was left hanging in the air and no one responded. They all knew the right answer. But whether the women could accept the right answer was another question.
The meeting was set to be in Aaron and Cheryl's dining room. Aaron sat at the head of the large oval shaped maple wood table to establish that he was in charge. Charles was given a seat in the middle of one side. George was at the other end of the table and each man's wife was seated to his right. They waited for Kyle and Terry who were late.
The gathered group tried to make chit chat conversation about the weather or other such benign topics while they nervously waited for the third couple, all secretly hoping they would show up. Finally the doorbell rang, and Cheryl yelled out "Come on in, it's open."
Terry marched in with a determined look on her face and Kyle came in sheepishly behind her. They had barely taken two of the remaining seats before Terry ordered, "Okay, we're here, let's get on with it."
"Shall we pray first?" Aaron suggested.
"Some people need to repent before they pray" Terry mumbled.
"God help us, in Jesus' name. Amen" Aaron prayed briefly.
"Alright, we all know why we're here" Aaron began. "There have been some concerns about Charles' marital status and the trip to Kenya."
Charles sat with his head down, biting his lower lip trying to restrain himself from speaking too soon.
"George and I had a chance to confer with brother Charles yesterday and although it is true he has two wives in Kenya, he points out that that is legal there and we don't see why that should in any way jeopardize the trip." Aaron paused to see if there would be any response.
Terry spoke up "Trip? As far as Kyle and I are concerned there is no trip. We're going to trade our tickets in for tickets to Hawaii and see if we can get the rest of our money back. There is no way we're going to go on a so called missionary journey with a bigamist!" She spat out the word bigamist with disgust. Then turning to look at Cheryl and then Juanita, she continued "As far as you ladies are concerned you'd be real smart not to let your husbands go either!"
Charles could no longer hold his peace.
"Let them go?" he scowled. "Let them go?" He said again. "You make it sound like they're little boys who need mama's permission. They are men! They go if they choose. It's you women that don't have the choice. You're supposed to obey your husbands. Not vice versa!"
Terry blew up. "That's it! That's it. I'm through! We're leaving Kyle!" She screamed as she grabbed her husband by the arm, pulling him to his feet. With anger in her eyes and a snarl on her face she spat out her next words "I refuse to let my husband be contaminated by a filthy rotten polygamist who is bent on destroying everything right and decent."
Cheryl, with tears in her eyes, rushed toward Terry as she moved toward the door. "Wait" Cheryl cried, "Terry what you do or say could ruin everything for all of us," she pleaded.
Terry stopped for just a moment before going out the door after her husband. She turned and looked her friend in the eyes. "For you and only for you" she paused before going on, " I won't publicize who and what he (glancing at Charles) is. For now." With that she slammed the door behind her.
"I guess we won't see them at the airport tomorrow," Charles said quietly. He didn't know someone else would be missing as well.
After everyone was gone, Aaron and Cheryl sat at the dining room table. Aaron held his head with one hand while gently beating his fist on the table with the other. Cheryl slouched down in her chair with her arms over her chest.
"What are you going to do now?" she queried.
"I don't know" Aaron began to reply, "I guess we have to go on without them. I had no idea Kyle was such a henpecked husband. I mean Terry just runs their entire show!" he despaired.
"What do you mean?" Cheryl exclaimed. "Can you blame her? She's trying to protect what's hers! In fact I think she's doing the right thing."
"You do?" Aaron questioned.
"Yes, she doesn't want to lose her husband to another woman and she doesn't want her husband thinking he can have more than one wife. And I don't either."
"Yeah, that's fine. But what does God want?" Aaron responded.
"What does God want?" She repeated incredulously.
"Yes, have you ever considered that God might want something different than what we want?" Aaron said as he grew bolder. "Have you considered that we are His servants, He is not ours? You women seem to think that the only reason a man might have more than one wife is because he'd like a variety of sexual partners, but have you ever considered that God might be concerned about those single Christian women and the widowed Christian women? Maybe God wants their needs taken care of and He chooses certain men to do it by becoming their husbands."
Cheryl's eyes widened as he talked. She began to visibly shake. Aaron knew he was shocking her and yet he went on.
"There was nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, going on between Mrs. Chandler and me, but suppose, just suppose God spoke to me or George to take her in as a second wife. Either one of us could afford to do it. Then I could give her boys the father figure they need and she would have a man to love her and take care of her. Would that mean you or Juanita if God chose George to do it would be loved any less? No!"
By this time Cheryl had burst into tears. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. In a flash she was up from the table ran to their bedroom.
They were to have arrived at the international airport three hours ahead of time. Charles was there, waiting and looking for the others. A half hour went by -- still he was alone. He began to wonder if he'd be making the trip alone. Finally, two hours before departure, he saw George and Juanita hurrying to the checkin stand.
"Hey, glad to see you," Charles greeted them warmly.
"Glad to be here," George returned grabbing Charles' extended hand and giving a firm handshake.
"Where's Aaron and Cheryl?" Charles asked.
"I don't know," came the reply from George, "They should be here. Let's wait another half hour before we check in, maybe they were delayed."
The three pulled all six of their large suitcases to the side and sat down in a row of chairs.
"You know," George began, "Juanita and I had a long talk last night. We prayed together too, and we came to some agreements."
"Yes, go on" Charles encouraged him.
"The Bible says," he continued, "the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man." He paused. "No offence to them but when I look at Kyle and Terry, I see a couple that is just totally out of order. We decided if our house was going to please God it had to be in order. That means I lead and my dear wife follows. So I told her we're going." He paused and smiled at his wife. "I know it was hard for her to swallow and say it but she did. She said, 'Yes, dear.' So regardless of anyone else we want to go on with God."
"Great! That's great, George" Charles said and then turning to Juanita he added "You, my dear sister, are very pleasing in God's sight."
"Well, to tell the truth," Juanita began to admit, "I hope George isn't called to have more than one wife, but if he is I pray I can deal with it." She sighed. "Part of the reason I wanted to come even after last night is to see how your two wives could both love you and get along with each other as well" she said.
"You'll see" Charles chuckled "you'll see. We have a small 40 acre farm. There is the main house where I live when I'm there, and each wife has her own smaller house nearby for her and her children."
"You have children?" Juanita asked, being surprised by the revelation.
"Ah yes, my first wife Rachel has 3 boys and 2 girls and my second wife Elizabeth has 2 girls and 2 boys," he revealed.
"Women must be different there than here."
"Ah yes, this is true" Charles said. "You see, in the country and in the small villages we don't have women's liberation like you do here in America. Wives cannot divorce their husbands and take the children and the possessions" Charles continued. "Our wives give us great respect as the Bible says they should. If they do not we can suspend them.
"Suspend them? What's that mean?" George asked.
"It means we send them back to their parents for better training" Charles explained.
"How long" Juanita questioned.
"Oh, up to five years" Charles answered.
"Wow!" George exclaimed, "that's different!"
George's eyes widened as a revelation came to his mind. "Now I understand why you work so hard and live so meagerly. You've been sending money home to support your wives and children," George said as things began to click in place.
"Yes, that's right my friend" Charles continued.
"But why don't you get a higher paying job?" George questioned further.
"Life here in America is not as kind to us of a darker hue as it is to you lighter brethren," Charles explained.
George and Juanita looked at each other a little sheepishly. They, like many whites, had thought racism and discrimination had ended in the sixties.
"Hey, there's Aaron" Charles exclaimed. They all stood up as they saw Aaron jostling his way toward them, tugging along a large suitcase and carrying another.
"Hey buddy! Praise the Lord! Where's the wife?" George asked.
"She's not coming" he revealed. "And she said she's not sure she'll be there when I get back," he shared slowly with eyes cast down.
"But one thing I know," he said as he looked up again, "I must follow God and where He leads me. I must walk in His truth as His Spirit guides me." He paused. "Let's check in and go to Africa!"
First created on 3 October 2001
Updated on 21 June 2016
Copyright ©2000 Andy Nonymousman
Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2001
Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
endorsement of the author's other publications or views.