Courtship is the process by which we win the affections of a member of the opposite sex with a view
to marriage. It varies according to tradition and time. Indeed, it is such a fluid thing that
defining it precisely is almost impossible. It involves, moreover, a complex of thoughts, feelings
and bodily impulses set within the constraints of conscience and the social paramaters we find
ourselves in. I think it is true to say that courtship patterns vary as much in polygamy as they
do in monogamy. My purpose in this article is not to review all these different forms but to give
my own perspective and the expectations of the ministry. And the best way,
I feel, I can do this, is by sharing the experiences of my own life and to give you a condensed, potted history of my own plural marriage.
I was brought up in a strictly monogamous culture and taught all the virtues of that holy
estate. From the time I was a teenager I entertained my own dream-fantasy of the ideal
monogamous marriage. Like all youth I imagined how the perfect wife would be, how I could be
the perfect husband, and what steps I would take to raise perfect children. I had little idea,
in common with all youth, of the realities of this world's imperfections. I have subsequently
learned that there is no such thing as a perfect family though I have seen some which I would
certainly mark down as being nearly perfect and which I would wish to emulate. I have to
admit that my own personal values were strongly at variance with those of contemporary society
which, by the time I was a young man, had already become highly promiscuous, and which thought
little of breaking the now already disappearing family taboos of the sanctity of marriage. Like
the youth of my time I was fully exposed to the sexual permissiveness of the prevailing political and social idology times and whilst
I had the occasional mental lapse from my high ideals, such were but the fleeting impulses of
the weakness of the flesh and little influenced my overall values. I can truthfully say that,
in spite of temptations, I kept celibate until my first marriage night.
I first became exposed to the ideas of polygamy when I was in my early 20's. Though briefly
exposed to the monogamous ideals of the national church, I was never a believer in the proper
sense of the world, nor was my conscience trained to view with disdain the anti-polygamous
orthodox Christian paradigm which had forcibly posited itself in the European conscience. Thus
when I first read about polygamy my feelings were neither hostile nor positive, simply accepting.
The more I thought about it, the more I concluded (despite my naďve thoughts about human nature) that
as a principle it would be as workable as monogamy.
The Mariavites of Poland
Very few polygamists outside of Poland are aware that Poland has its own tradition of polygamy within
the framework of a militantly anti-polygamous Catholic Church. It began at the end of the 19th
century when Poland was still a part of the Russian Empire and had its heyday during the earlier
part of the Polish Republic. The Mariavite Order was formed by ex-Catholic priest, John Kowalski,
who broke his vows of celibacy and, like Luther, married a nun called Maria. Both were mystics
and the latter claimed divine revelations. After her death in 1921 Kowalski instituted 'mystical
marriages' between priests and nuns who sired children, and then, according to his original
design, ordained women to the priesthood. Moving by increments in the direction of Protestantism,
Kowalski finally admitted a Priesthood of All Believers.
Predictably, these activities caused a scandal in conservatively Catholic Poland, made worse
when Kowalski instituted polygamy. He was tried in 1928 for sexual offences and briefly
imprisoned. The Mariavites survived both the nazi holocaust and communism and have today reconciled
with the Vatican.
I wish to state before I continue that I am not a Mariavite and never have been. The Mariavites
were a polygamous sect of Catholicism. I am a Bible-believing Hebraic-roots Christian/Messianic with no connection or
roots in the Catholic Church -- I was brought up a nominal Protestant. I insert this historical
curio simply to make people aware that polygamy has existed and survived in most parts of
Europe at one time or another. Poland furnishes us with an interesting example. For those English-speakers
interested in the Mariavites, I recommend the book, The Third Adam by Jerzy Peterkiewicz
(Oxford University Press, London, 1975, ISBN 0-19-212198-7).
Modern-day Polish Mariavites
The Anabaptists of Münster
The Mariavites, though polygamists, were far from being what one might be called 'New Testament
Polygamists' and have more in common with the occultism that is at Catholicism's roots than anything else. A more
interesting example would be the Anabaptists of Münster in western Germany who were, in that
age (and they pre-dated the Mariavites by several centuries), the nearest Europe has come to
having a true Christian polygamous tradition. They emerged in the wake of the Reformation and
were persecuted (and eventually massacred) by the combined forces of the Catholics and Lutherans.
I am not an Anabaptist either, I hasten to add. But I shall be returning to them in another
article because they are a good illustration of the tensions and intolerance that exists in
Europe concerning polygamy.
Torture and Murder of the Polygamist Anabaptist Leader, Jan van Leiden, at the Lambertuskirche in Münster, Germany
All personal and place names have been changed in order to maintain privacy
My First Marriage to Suszana Reichshofen
My first marriage, as is true of all first generation polygamists, began in the monogamous
tradition. Though we openly discussed the question of polygamy my wife's reaction was
quite typical of women raised in an exclusively monogamous culture: raw hostility. We agreed
to disagree and let the matter rest. We settled down to mongamous life and raised up a family.
During this time I underwent profound spiritual/religious changes as I re-aligned my beliefs and thinking
with the biblical revelation, changing my church affiliation twice before finally breaking out
of the denominational mould. Whilst my wife Suszana followed in my footsteps for the sake of family
unity, we were in reality moving in different spiritual directions, which tragically ended up
in divorce and much sadness. Though I fought to keep the marriage intact according to the
biblical injunctions of its sacredness, she had by this time adopted a New Age paradigm that
rejected the biblical law and decided to run off with another man.
My first marriage ended after seven years with my being even more determined to fight for, and protect, the
holiness of marriage. The experience for me was devastating and took me many years to recover from.
I have always detested promiscuity of any kind not just because of the
written law of Scripture but because of a deep inner sense of what is right and wrong. I have
always listened closely to the still small voice of Christ within and followed a very keen
moral sense. My passion for the sanctity of marriage, repeatedly confirmed by deeper studies
of Elohim's (God's) Word, has increased over the years, and I have come to understand why our Master used
it as a type of our relationship to Him.
The Beginning of Polygamy in My Life:
My Second Wife, Isabel Towianska
Tragedy has a way of creating new possibilities that are not always immediately perceived or
understood. My second marriage to Isabel (from Dzierżoniów), though beginning monogamously, began on the assumption
that it would evolve into a polygamous one, for by this time my calling to live this principle
was crystal clear. Though I had suppressed it in my first marriage, the call was undeniable.
Ironically Suszana had once said (for reasons best known to herself), towards the end of our marriage,
that had I insisted on taking a second wife, she would have gone along with it,
in spite of the heart-ache it would have caused her. I'm glad I never did for I would never have wished
to impose something on my wife that she did not believe in, knowing that it would have caused her considerable suffering.
Even more ironically, it was Isabel who initiated the idea of polygamous marriage and readily
agreed that if we became wed I should be permitted to take more wives. She had
obtained a clear command from Yahweh in a prophetic word directly to her, without any influence from me (or anyone else), to
be received as a polygamous wife, and this before I had even entertained any ideas of proposing
marriage to her. I took this to be a great blessing for it is not often (from what I have
gleaned from talking to many polygamists) that their wives get such a clear word from Yahweh. It was
always our understanding that if Suszana repented, she would be welcomed back and we would be a threesome.
I entered the principle with few guidlines as to how the principle was to be lived. I had no
idea of the existence of contemporary polygamous evangelical and messianic Christian families and assumed that I was
going to enter polygamy as a pioneer. In fact, it was not until 1996 that I first became
aware that there were Bible-believing Christians sympathetic to the principle and who were at least
talking about it theologically. I had at hand,
therefore, no rôle models apart from some unappealing historical ones like the Mormons, Moslems, Anabaptists,
and others. I had no one to discuss how to live the principle, how to overcome problems, and
how to avoid making the commonly made mistakes that new and untrained polygamists make. That this was the
divine intention I have no doubt because I and my family have an archive of the spiritual notes
of experience to fall back on. We learned from scratch. I was forced to fall back on the Word of Elohim (God) and an intensive
prayer life that resulted in my receiving many revelations on the subject which have since
proven their spiritual and practical worth.
Isabel was quite sincere in desiring to enter the practice but had many cultural problems to
overcome, not least was the myth of some feministic ideas espoused by liberals and communists
alike with which we had both been raised as an almost staple diet. Theory and practice are not the
same, and neither are good intentions and decision-making. The obstacles we had to overcome
were far from what we had imagined for we had not reckoned with human nature. We soon
learned that the mind and the heart do not respond in quite the same way as one another. Worse,
the heart seems, at times, to take many, many times longer to educate than the mind.
Enter My Third Wife: Kryztina Cieskowska
When Kryztina (from Krąpiel) entered our life Isabel and I had been living as husband and wife for a couple
of years. Though I had prepared Isabel mentally, practically and spiritually for polygamy, and though she had been accepting
of the fact that we would live it as part of our marriage vows, though Yahweh had personally called her into it,
the face-to-face reality of polygamy proved profoundly unsettling for her. I had even
gone to the effort of only sleeping in the same room as her three or four nights a week in
anticipation of the new cycle we would have to initiate with the arrival of a second wife,
and whilst this was helpful it did not solve the raw emotional struggles that would
Theological conversion to polygamy in the head is not, however, the same as conversion of the whole soul, and especially not in the heart-realm where the flesh has its greatest hold. It is one thing falling in love with a polygamist but
quite another to love polygamy itself along with those other persons part of the polygamy household. Like all those newly entering polygamous families, Isabel was to engage in an inner battle which she was to eventually lose. All devoted Christian/Messianic polygamists are forced, by the very nature of the lifestyle, to confront the ugliness of fallen human nature -- jealosy being that great evil which repeatedly surfaces in the women particularly. Once it became clear that Kryztina was going to be a part
of our family, fear led Isabel to play the 'postponment' game: 'I need more time,' or 'I'm not ready', urging the delay of a second marriage as long as she could. Having had me to herself for two years she balked at the idea of having to put aside the imaginary 'sole ownership' contract which the flesh loves to invent as a safety mechanism, even though, of course, monogamy was never a part of our covenant/agreement and it had been expressly understood that the family would expand as a condition of that contract. However, monogamy-only ideas had gradually filtered its way in unconsciously which I had naiďvely supposed would never happen.
The Great Revealer of the Soul: Exposing Pride
Polygamy is the great exposer of human nature. It reveals, often in embarrassing clarity,
the depravity of the human soul. People we once supposed were angels, spiritual giants,
holy and pure, born-again and in Christ, revealed in the fire of polygamy the dark side of humanity.
If there is one thing that polygamy has starkly taught me is that we are only a hair's breath away from
being devils the moment we take our eyes of Christ. It has revealed to me in frightening clarity that human nature is something we dare
not trifle with - it is the very mark of the devil in human flesh - and it simply won't 'go away' without being wrestled and defeated. There have been times, anti-Calvinism though I am, that I would even go as far as to cry out in despair that Calvin was right about one thing -- we are basically depraved in spite of our best efforts to conceal and whitewash over that truth.
So I discovered, through polygamy, that the Bible is 100% right in its condemnation of this
flesh nature as being devilish, for it absolutely is. Liberal Christianity has attempted to
'minimise' the reality carnality and ignore sin, to make it seem to be of little consequence, and has fed us the lie,
aided and abetted by occultists and New Agers, that man is 'basically good'. The truth, I
discovered, is that we have two natures that are mutually opposite and antagonistic: a devilish
nature (which Paul calls the 'natural man' and the 'flesh') and a Christ-like deposit, which
the apostle John informs us in the opening chapter of his Gospel is given to every man who is born into the world: the Light of
Polygamy brings into sharp focus the difference between the two. I have seen a woman one minute
a devil and the next minute an angel. I have seen how it is utterly impossible to live polygamy
in your heart unless you have renounced the carnal nature of the flesh and made Christ
the absolute centre of your life. I would even go as far as to say that any polygamy which is
not centred in the pure love of Christ is either a living hell or a sham. Polygamy has taught me
and my wives the truth behind THE great cardinal sin called pride:
it is the root of ALL evil, and from it springs jealosy which is the spirit of murder. And in polygamy, it is a killer of relationships.
The success of polygamy depends on two things:
Any Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) that does not have as its focus these two loci
will never be the fullness of the true Gospel. Polygamy forces you to confront
these two realities and is one of the greatest catalysts I have ever come across for propelling
Christian/Messianic disciples into the depths and riches of the Spirit of Christ.
Sadly, we are all proud. But some, it would seem, are more proud than others. Humility, the antithesis of Pride,
is an obligatory requirement in a polygamous relationship. Without it, there is only spiritual
warfare and suffering. This applies as much to the men (patriarchs, husbands) as to the women.
The Trial Begins
Isabel reluctantly accepted Kryztina into the family and the honeymoon of our relationship more or less
ended. The battle for her soul was on. She had highs and lows -- sometimes high in the joys
of the light that comes from deep surrender, and sometimes deep in the darkness of jealosy and hatred. Many long hours of counselling and
prayer were spent as she confronted the reality of herself -- the desire to be 'No.1 wife' and
have a special status (in our family all are regarded as equal) - having a public marriage, entered into mostly for economic/tax reasons (polygamy is expensive),
only reinforced that mind-frame and I have since (with one exception) refused to be formally married under a state
licence (my reasons are explained elsewhere) unless absolutely forced to. During these years of struggle we discovered
the devilish influence of the doctrine of 'rights' and understood that the Bible teaches no
such ego-centric ethic -- rather, we are all given responsibilies toward one another foremost of which is the responsibility to love. We
discovered that pride lay at the root of jealosy and that jealosy is illusionary. The co- or sister-
wives discovered that one wife was never loved more than another (the husband must be
scrupulously fair and honest and never show favouritism) and that jealosy nearly
always stemmed from doubting the impartial love of her husband. The husband, in his turn,
therefore had to invest considerable time and effort in the conduct of his life to demonstrate
by example that he was impartial, and the wives had to implicity have faith in that.
We were, as I said, pioneers in the sense that we had no-one to guide us but Yahweh. Over
the years my personal theology has evolved out of these invaluable
experiences, the principles which we learned having now been formally instituted in our
program of dicipleship.
Enter My Fourth Wife: Kasia Merezhkovska
When my fourth wife, Kasia (from Piława/Bałtijsk), entered the family, it was Kryztina's turn to start a close inner
examination of her soul. Isabel, like others, never found the victory in Christ that she sought and which is absolutely required to thrive in this way of life, and hung on to many false comforts which served only to exaccerbate her struggle. In the end she finally left, leaving the three of us.
Kryztina and Kasia, though very different personality-wise, got on well from the beginning and though they both had their struggles they discovered what it was to walk a life in Christ. By this time the 'survivors' had matured - we had much experience behind us and had understood that matters of the heart had to be resolved by the Word first and foremost. We have discovered that the only real solution to inner conflicts is total commitment to biblical truth. The truth must be faced by us all one day, but better to face it in this life rather than at the Judgment Seat. In that respect, polygamy offers a huge advantage to those who see it through until they have overcome the Adamic nature.
Isabel did reconcile and the four of us were together again for a short while. It didn't, unfortunately, last. Isabel left a second time, taking our son, and then never returned. Though we did reconcile a third time she never did follow me home though we have maintained a friendly relationship at a distance, meeting up now and then for fellowship.
Enter My Fifth Wife: Świętosława Brzezinska
My fifth marriage - to Świętosława (from Stanisławów) - showed great promise at the beginning and indeed the three of us following Isabel's departure had great hopes. Świętosława was extremely intelligent, a gifted writer and seemed to possess those insights into human nature, along with a sound understanding of the Scriptures, that are a must in polygamy. This was our first experience of courtship using the Internet and became an object lesson of the impossibility of ever really getting to know someone using that medium. You absolutely do need face-to-face fellowship over a period of time to really get to know someone's heart...and especially their issues which are easy to hide online. Had we done that, the disaster that followed might possibly have been avoided.
The marriage lasted less than six months. To say that a whirlwind entered the family would be an understatement though that was not apparent at first during the honeymoon phase. The victim of violent physical abuse both growing up and in her first marriage, both Świętosława and the rest of us were unprepared for the explosive cocktail when the fuse was lit by some trigger. Though she had openly talked about her background, and indeed wrote a little about it in her articles, including drug-taking, tobacco addiction and alcoholism which she had once used to cope with her pain (but which, of course, simply exacerbated her problems of deep hurt and rejection) - and though she had largely overcome drugs, smoking and alcohol by the time we met - we initially lacked the expertise and experience to properly minister to her.
Though a longer engagement period had originally been planned, events beyond the control of either of us, orchestrated by her hostile family who were trying to stop her coming to us at any cost (including attempting to kidnap and institutionalise her), conspired to bring everything together far too quickly. We were not prepared. And though we would have struggled with her, and for her, in her overcoming, for love's sake, and would have learned as we went along to help minister to her as we have in so many other ways over the years in other areas, emotional immaturity and various deep unresolved personal issues made the going rough for everyone.
Because of the intimate nature of marriage, magnified many times over in multiple or plural marriage, it is a complex and fragile thing at the beginning that takes many years to acrete and run smoothly. Problems with her visa eventually forced Świętosława to return to her homeland for a spell while these issues were resolved. A very kind and generous polygamous family - friends of ours - looked after her for a while. During this absence Świętosława must have made some disasterous decisions as she simply unravelled, turned hostile for a while, sowed discord in the home of our friends, spoke ill of us online, and then simply disappeared in spite of all attempts to locate her and resolve whatever problems there were. We learned later, to our shock, that she had unsuccessfully tried to join another polygamous family.
As you read Świętosława's articles you will both be impressed as well as incredulous that everything should end the way it did. I am still amazed that people do what they do because of dark forces in the depths of the soul. And we are all, as I have said, only a hair's-breadth away from being devils if we are not very careful and remember the injunction to continue working out our salvation and never assume 'once saved, always saved', a terrible error of Calvinism. Polygamy is hard and with three wives gone - one completely silent (Suszana), one friendly still though only in sporadic communication (Isabel) and one initially hostile but then silent (Świętosława) - I was already in considerable shock and grief with no assurance that the future would be kinder. As you will see, the future brought both more blessings and more grief.
Prospective Wives That Came and Went
Over the years there have been a small number of prospective wives with whom things never progressed beyond engagement.
They basically pulled out before committing for a number of different reasons. Majka Swiederska (from Gdańsk), who was engaged to me,
was the only one who lived with us for a little less than a year and came close to tying the knot. She had major spiritual issues owing to life-long involvement in the occult and for reasons which she alone can answer, was never fully delivered and never took the engagement further. Though she came to salvation through our ministry she in the end cut ties with the family and made a nominal committment to the state church with its minimal demands on discipleship. The two wives and one prospective wife at the time - Kryztina, Kasia and Majka - had a good working relationship and the four of us could have made a good family and gospel team. But Yahweh had other plans.
Another prospective wife, Aneczka Grecha (from Cieszyn), who came to Christ through our ministry, also held much promise but after a short visit it soon became clear to us that she was not sincere in following through with the nuts and bolts of a plural relationship. Her excitement and engagement had come through
the quest to be accepted and to 'get in' to what was for her an 'exclusive club' unlike anything she had known before. But once her vanity had reaped its reward in 'getting in' and it became clear that some sacrifice and giving might actually be expected of her, she backed off and out of our lives completely, and the last we heard
was involved in some charismatic church for a while. For Aneczka it had been a game though she could have repented and made it work for her and us.
Though one or two others came and went, their relationship with us was more peripheral and resulted in no deep regrets on anyone's part. The loss of Majka and Aneczka was, however, felt keenly as we had worked with them both for a long time and knew them well. Both had been in previous relationships, always a handicap to be worked through because of former soul-ties and issues. Though mutual committments had been made, these prospective wives broke theirs. Should they ever repent they would be welcomed home.
A Worthwhile Struggle
Living plural marriage was hard in the beginning largely because we were inexperienced and had not learned to trust in Christ and in the Word as much as we do now. Polygamy has sharpened our Christian/Messianic life in a way that I think is difficult if not impossible in a monogamous one. In most monogamous relationships a couple adjusts to one another's ways of being and more often than not settle down to a spiritually mediocre life in that they not untypically make flesh-treaties with each other's issues (scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) and so never resolve them. That is not to say that plural marriage is superior to monogamy, only that it is much easier to live the full Christian/Messianic life in polygamy, because one is forced to deal with issues as they arise or you end up with a potentially explosive situation. To this we might add that we have the benefit of being forced to challenge false traditions and work against the prevailing social and religious currents. This has the added affect of bonding the family more tightly together, especially when one is persecuted, as we were (very badly) for one year, and continue to be on and off as a matter of course. With so many different personalities we have not had the monogamists' 'luxury' learning to scratch one another's backs and settling into mutually accepted sin patterns. Constant change is most definitely the 'name of the game' in plural marriage, if you're serious about it, something most would not find attractive. Upward (and sometimes downward) and onward is its dynamic.
Enter My Sixth Wife: Angelka Grzebieniowska
During the time when Angelka Grzebieniowska (from Husiatyń) became my sixth wife, our family experienced a great upheaval and fracturing
that resulted in us abandoning our polygamy ministry and website for over ten years. Though the persecution had begun long before Angelka
came into the family, in intensity it went off the charts when Kasia decided to abandon not only the family and attack it but deny Christ and
abandon her Christianity as well. It is as I have said many times before - there is but a hair's breadth between an angel and a devil - the moment
we take our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves, and keep them there, it is not long before the way we see the world and life does a complete
flip-flop. As we say in Poland:
which roughly translated means:
At least that is true when you are no longer in Christ. Such dramatic changes in people startle and frighten us but they are not uncommon. We remember King Saul who swung from loving David to hating and actively and murderously persecuting him. These things happen and I have witnessed them not only in my own family but amongst good friends. People just 'snap'.
So this was a particularly tough time both for myself, Angelka (who was new to the family) and the rest of the family and it is a miracle we have come out of it even stronger.
I have seen so many polygamous families destroyed when a wife decides to do a complete U-turn and turn with demonic rage on those she once loved and exalted with praise. It was during this time that I had a physical breakdown from all the pressure that took me years to recover from. For Angelka, who had major issues of her own to
deal with too, this was a bit like having multiple 'baptisms of fire' all at once. But Angelka not only has a fiery testimony of Christ but is tough too.
She has had more than her fair share of betrayal in her life from two previously unfaithful husbands, the loss of several children and many traumatic experiences growing up along the road of life. She has brought a fiery loyalty into the family.
Kasia's departure and betrayal left the family stunned and the will to continue ministering in disarray as she had been a leading figure in the family's witness
in the polygamy movement. With so much wreckage to pick up (with no further human casualities, praise Yahweh), this ministry closed down and I devoted the
next decade to reconstructing my family and to witnessing the simple Gospel of salvation as an evangelist. Though Kasia did her utmost to destroy us, Yahweh stayed her hand at every turn.
Enter My Seveth Wife: Zyta Kozlowa
Though Zyta (from Źytomierz) and I were betrothed shortly before Angelka's betrothal to me, she did not become a full wife for ten long years. There are not many women who would faithfully wait so long. However, these years were not misspent. Locked away in an institution in another country by her family, principally for believing in polygamy, Zyta endured psychiatric abuse but overcame through Christ. And the many years were not wasted in the least as the time was used productively to build up a deep and abiding relationship in Christ.
Every wife has her story to tell and all have suffered for Christ and because of polygamy. Today I have three faithful, loyal and deeply committed Christian/Messianic wives who love Yahweh with all their hearts, have sacrificed all, and who together have been with me now for nearly 50 years between them. All have come into this lifestyle through radically different routes. All have had to suffer one way or another for it. When you have laid your life down for something, you develop deep roots that are not easy to pull up, the more so when Yah'shua (Jesus) is in the root- and branch-growing business. They will tell their stories at some time in the future if they want to.
The Many Challenges of Patriarchy
As a man, polygamy has taught me to rise above my own fallen tendencies to have favourites or to trust my own carnal judgments. I have been forced to turn to Christ for guidance repeatedly and to rely on His grace. I have been forced to bring my libido under control, to examine my heart critically, and to become a leader or patriarch in my house. I have been taken into police custody and dragged before the courts of men for my faith and lifestyle. Socialist countries tend not to be very tolerant of anything deviating from the official party line. But Yahweh has been with me and delivered me each time.
Here I must say in all candour that without a proper understanding of biblical patriarchy and leadership polygamy would not have worked for us.
I know several polygamists and have seen the problems they have. They are all pretty similar but some are too liberal and some are too strict, leading to major problems. To be a patriarch you must be firm in the truth and never allow a woman's feelings to move you away from it. At the same time you must give her space to work things out and not crush her spirit out of impatience for everything to work. Patriarchal marriage (polygamy + patriarchy) is a fine balance of strictness and overflowing love. Unless a patriarch is tough on human nature he will bring anarchy to his household; and unless his heart is like a river of flowing love, he will being coldness, atrophy and spiritual death. I have not always been successful in my profession of faith nor faithful in the principles I espouse and teach.
There are many forms of Christian/Messianic polygamy today. We are Echad Christian/Messianic polygamists belonging to the Chavurat Bekorot. Ours is a little different to the others because we do not come out of a particular denominational background and have had to be taught by Yahweh not only how to live polygamy but also how to live the theocratic order which is yet to come. Our polygamy is a thread running parallel to, and intertwining with, the restoration of the Remnant Body that Yahweh is bringing to pass in the end times.
Holy Echad Polygamous Courtship
So how does a woman actually come into a polygamous relationship? Well, I can only comment on how we do it. And each wife came in rather differently.
Let's take Isabel first. She was called by Elohim (God) personally in a revelation. She was also a family friend of Suszana's. There was no romance before this or even the thought that we would be married. I was, in any case, within the monogamous paradigm at that time, enforced by mutual agreement with my first wife. Once we had both agreed this was Yahweh's will, the romantic side developed afterwards, for we did not allow it beforehand. It was very gradual for me personally, a little faster for her. In the Chavurat Bekorot we especially prize the 'growing in love' concept over the 'falling in love' one as they tend to come from different roots -- the first being spiritual, the latter more physical and emotional. But you cannot force the river in these areas and must be prepared for different scenarios.
Kryztina came in to the family on a fairly similar basis. As with Isabel, there was no courtship of any kind. It was decided by prayer. I invited Kryztina into the family once
Isabel had agreed and she was given several months to pray about it. If after that time she should feel it was not right, she would be free to say 'no' and the matter would be closed from our side. If subsequently she wanted to come in she would be free to approach us on her own initiative.
Kryztina was very shocked at the invitation (she was a Christian and a member of our fellowship) because of her cultural upbringing to live polygamously, and whilst she knew about the doctrine, had never really seriously thought about it, though she had received positive input from a relative. "I was helped by being invited to be around the family more often so that I could see how they lived relative to Church life. As I got to know Stanisław better I fell in love with him, and wouldn't have accepted his invitation if that hadn't happened. I consider, in retrospect, that this was not the best way in, but it was the way it happened with me. Since then I have been both in love and it has deepened as time has passed, both in times of difficulty and in good times," Kryztina writes. "My relationship to Yahweh has matured. Polygamy requires great purity of life if you want to be happy."
By the time Kasia came into the family the family had matured considerably. She was much younger than the other wives and had been brought up in our fellowship. From that point-of-view she was better prepared doctrinally. As a young girl she had been taught by her family that polygamy was a valid alternative to monogamy. But with few living the principle she had pretty well decided on a monogamous way of life.
Once she had become an adult Kasia was asked whether she had thought about whether she would follow a monogamous or polygamous way of life.
There was one other, whom I have not mentioned, who was invited into our family at about the same time as Kryztina. She accepted the invitation and we were dedicated (engaged). After staying with us for some months she decided that this was not the lifestyle she wanted and left.
"In the beginning, before we were dedicated (engaged) I had no particular feelings towards Stanisław. In our community we get 'engaged' to better know one another before we make a spiritual committment called Betrothal. This (engagement) can be broken off if it doesn't work out. There's no physical relationship at any time during Dedication. During that period I fell in love and we were then betrothed. I have never regretted getting married polygamously and at this point, several years on,
I am still deeply in love. And am very grateful to Yah'shua (Jesus) who has made our relationship to grow, even in this anti-polygamous world. My relationship to Kryztina is like to a dear sister."
I met Świętosława online when we were involved in the wider Christian polygamy movement. There is no doubt that meeting and getting to know someone in the flesh is infinitely better than making decisions on the internet. Świętosława was due to come and visit her for that purpose but once her family got wind of her involvement in polygamy, they planned to lock her in her room and commit her to an insane assylum. This resulted in a hasty change of plans and in order to stay one step ahead of her family, who were known for their violence, Świętosława was brought here and we were married on the first visit. That was undoubtedly a grave error on my part and I have since then deferred to caution unless there has been a very clear revelation to act quickly.
Kasia and I had met with in Angelka and a local minister who was part of the fellowship, with his wife, in Husiatyń. Though we met on the internet, we spent three weeks getting to know her in Husiatyń before inviting her to our home.
I should add here, since I mentioned Zyta and I were betrothed for ten years before marrying, that every engagement and betrothal period has been different. The shortest was Isabel's which lasted three days! We had known each other for a long time beforehand and I had met her with Suszana in Dzierżoniów several times. Indeed she and Suszana were best friends. So engagement/bethrothal times can vary from several days to several years, depending on the situation. This is something that the Ruach (Spirit) must be given complete control over as it is in the nature of fleshy impatience to want to hurry them along.
So long as we are walking in Christ polygamy can be a joy and a blessing. Once we allow our centre to become anything or anybody else, that joy begins to ebb and it can easily descend into hellishness. True, we have been sanctified for a long time by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) now and none of us would ever dream of abandoning our marriage. Nevertheless, there are still challenges even in the autumn of our lives. I have many children from all my wives though alas several have had their childhoods robbed when wives have abandoned us. We have discovered what really matters in life, and that is Yahweh through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus). All my wives know that Yahweh through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) are No.#1 in my life, and they are No.#2. And I know that my wives expect me to place Yahweh as No.#1, and vice versa.
This is how polygamy began in our family. We have now been living this principle for almost thirty years (1988-2016), 35 years counting the earlier planning, and would never return to monogamy even if we could. In the articles that follow I shall describe more of the practical elements of everyday life and how our household is organised. As members of the Chavurat Bekorot we believe in having our families under one roof where there can be close interaction and sharing. Whilst many polygamists believe in having separate households in order to minimise conflicts and over-zealous scrutiny from the public, this is not our view, for there is little spiritual benefit to be gained from such -- this is, in my view, just a form of 'multiple monogamy'. Moreover, many polygamous families are quite public about their polygamy -- we are not. The reasons for this will be discussed in another article but are based largely on the society in which we live: liberal Protestant America and conservative Catholic Poland are two different worlds.
This, then, is the story of how polygamy started in our family. It is now a well-established practice in our African assemblies especially though little practiced in Europe and America where there is less interest. In the articles that follow we will share more details of how it works in practice.
Continued in Part 2 (2016)
Author: SBSK, 1998/2016