The truth is not an easy thing for most people to accept especially when it conflicts with cherished personal beliefs. Yet to be a Christian/Messianic requires a love for the truth that transcends whatever personal interests or agendas that we may have. The vast majority of those who call themselves 'Christian', however, do not love the truth. They prefer to live in darkness because it is more comfortable for them, as they suppose.
This is a serious matter indeed. When it comes to the truth we do not have the luxury to pick and choose what we like. The Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is not a supermarket of personal choice ('I'll live this commandment but not that one') but comes as a single package which must be taken or left. To be sure, Yahweh our Elohim (God) is merciful in the days of our ignorance, but when the truth is clearly presented to us, we are left without excuse. We must either yield or be left to kick against the pricks or a disturbed conscience.
Not all Christians use the Bible as their standard for truth. Many (like the Catholics) accept church tradition as being of equal, or even more, important worth than Elohim's (God's) Word. Others (like the liberals) think the Gospel 'evolves' and that we should follow cultural norms because 'God is behind the evolution'. One thing is certain, however: the truth is absolute and does not change. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).
This article has been written for those who profess a love of the truth which is to be found in Elohim's (God's) Word, the Bible. Frankly, I am not too interested in what people have to say about the Bible, but only what the Bible has to say about them...and me. It has also been written as a warning to those who, though claiming to be Christians, will not acknowledge Elohim's (God's) Word. And it is with these that I will first begin.
The Bible states very clearly that those who do not love the truth are spiritually dying:
Two important things emerge from this statement:
"They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:10, NIV).
But there is worse to come for such people.
(a) Those who do not love the truth, in part or in whole, are perishing; and
(b) Those who do not love all the truth cannot be fully saved.
Understand this clearly: those who refuse to believe the truth will come to believe that lies are truth. Worse for them, Yahweh punishes them for their rebellion by Himself sending this delusion because that's what they want and Elohim (God) answers our prayers.
"For this reason Elohim (God) sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie" (v.11).
How many times have you been on a journey you have never made before, taken a wrong turning, and believed you have been on the right road? You may have driven for miles and miles to discover, only too late, that you have gone the wrong way and missed an important appointment. It has certainly happened to me.
We all of us have an appointment with the Most High Elohim (God) at the judgment bar where we will be held accountable for all our deeds, and most especially for sins we have wilfully committed. If the sins are to do with salvation, then we face an eternity without Yahweh, alone in the lake of fire. We dare not risk messing around with the truth, especially if we claim to be Christians.
The Gospel of Yah'shua (Jesus) affects everything we do, think, and feel, because it was designed for the whole man. All the parts of the truth are interconnected and affect all the other parts.
Let me take a facile example to illustrate my point because really it reflects the kind of silly things that Christians do when it comes to the Gospel. Most ordinary, sensible people seriously take care of their bodies and wouldn't dream, for example, or mutilating themselves. They wash, clean their teeth, eat sensible food, don't overwork, don't take drugs, don't smoke, take vitamins, etc.. There are people, though, who take wonderful care of their bodies and then go and do silly things. What about the vegetarian who smokes tobacco? Rather silly, when you come to think about it - they eat sensible things and then pollute themselves with tar, nicotine and carcinogens! Or a very hygenic person who washes carefully and then has promiscious sex with someone with AIDS? All of these things are radical contradictions. The truth blesses them but the error kills them. Result: they die anyway.
It is the same with all the gospel principles of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). I see Christians all the time who are walking contradictions. They refuse to face the truth about themselves, preferring to believe the lie and walk the path that leads to death. Worse, when the truth is shown them in the Bible, they still reject it.
Before I get on to my main theme I want to use just one more illustration, and that is diet. The Bible gives us a list of things we must not eat for our health's sake which are pronounced 'unclean', like pork, for example. So long as we obey that rule we are free to eat anything we want to, provided it is in moderation, of course (there is a commandment not to be gluttonous too) - we can be vegetarians or eat clean meats. At the same time, vegetarians are not to condemn those who eat clean meat, and those who eat clean meat are not to condemn vegetarians.
Sadly, there are a lot of immature Christians who think that vegetarians are weaklings, and a lot of vegetarians who think that meat-eaters are cruel and unfeeling. The result of this intolerance is that Christians divide over petty things. Whether we eat only vegetables or meat is entirely a matter of conscience. It may well be that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) leads one person to be a vegatarian and one not to. At one time in my household, half the family were vegetarians and the others ate meat. We accept that this falls within the freedom that the Gospel confers upon individuals.
Which brings me to the subject of this article, namely marriage. If we were to apply the biblical ruling about diet to marriage, then most churches/assemblies would insist that everyone be a vegetarian. Indeed, the vast majority of Christian churches/assemblies have, over the last 1,500 years, insisted that all marriages must be vegetarian and that to eat meat is a cardinal sin. Because hardly anybody has eaten meat in 1,500 years, owing to a law passed by a Roman Catholic emperor in the sixth century AD, everybody assumes that vegetarianism is the only acceptable form of diet, even though in the distant past it is clear that great men and women of Elohim (God) like Abraham, Jacob, David, Sarah, Rachel, Leah, Abigail, and tens of thousands (if not millions) of others were all meat-eaters and richly blessed by Yahweh. They either accuse these greats of being sinners or say that what was culturally acceptable in terms of diet at that time isn't so today. They say that since Adam and Eve were vegetarians that this must be the ideal but forget that Yahweh describes Himself as a meat-eater and that Christ also is the great meat-eater. Instead of trying to reconcile the passages about meat-eating and vegetarianism by acknowleding that both are acceptable, they insist that only vegetarianism is acceptable, and that we have evolved from the more primitive form of meat-eating. Elohim (God), they say, winked in the times of man's ignorance by permitting man to eat meat because of his carnal nature, but today expects everyone to be a vegetarian.
Now as it stands this sounds a bit like a tract for Raja Yoga or some New Age cult where vegetarianism is the only accepted way. But we all know the Bible does not teach such a silly doctrine. We're even told that the resurrected Yah'shua (Jesus) ate fish with His disciples! So if anybody comes and tells you that eating meat is a sin, you may be absolutely sure that they are not obeying the truth of Elohim's (God's) Word. God gives us the freedom to choose according to our need and disposition. In fact, there's no word for 'vegetarian' or 'meat-eater' as though they were two classes of people in the Bible - people just 'eat food'. Some people had really strange diets, like John the Baptist who ate only honey and locusts - yuk! - but nobody calls him a sinner, do they, just because his eating habits weren't quite like ours? He wasn't, after all, eating anything that was forbidden by the Torah (Law), so he was not sinning.
Most Christians who know the Bible know all of these things because it's so plainly stated in Elohim's (God's) Word, but when it comes to marriage, all logic and common sense deserts them entirely. Suddenly people become irrational, illogical, hysterical and angry.
The Bible speaks only of 'marriage' which is regulated by Yahweh in His commandments. A man may have one or several wives, just as we have the right to either be vegetarians or meat-eaters provided we eat clean meats only. The words 'monogamy' and 'polygamy' don't exist in the Scriptures at all. Neither does 'vegetarian' or 'meat-eater'. The only restriction is that a man does not marry an excess of wives, in exactly the same way that we are not to be gluttonous in our eating habits. A man may choose to have one wife (a 'monogamist') or many (a 'polygamist') provided he is free to choose, just as we are free to choose whether we are to become vegetarians or meat-eaters. Similarly, a woman is free to live alone with her husband or share him with several wives. Neither the monogamous nor the polygamous man or woman is a sinner because no such distinction exists in Elohim's (God's) Word anyway - a person is either married, or he isn't. They must obey certain rules just as the meat-eater must obey certain rules about clean and unclean meats.
You can understand, then, why polygamists find the hypocrisy of Christians tiresome when they declare that polygamy is a sin whilst condemning anyone who says that meat-eating or vegetarianism is a sin. Christians who deliberately ignore what the Bible teaches "let go of the commands of Elohim (God) and are holding on to the traditions of men" which reproves them for having "a fine way of setting aside the commandments of Elohim (God) in order to observe your own traditions!" (Mk.7:8-9, NIV).
Now let's be clear about something straight away: Christian polygamists aren't demanding that monogamists become polygamists any more than the true Christian vegetarian is demanding that the meat-eater abstain from meats. I once tried vegetarianism and it simply wasn't for me. I know vegetarians who have tried going back to meat-eating and just couldn't stomach it. Not everybody is called to be a polygamist but that doesn't mean that monogamists have the right to stop those who are.
There is no controversy between vegetarianism and meat-eating in the Bible except one reference to do with meat offered to idols. Similarly there is no reference to any controversy between monogamy and polygamy. The New Testament says nothing about the latter (except for a couple of mistranslated and consequently self-contradictory passages which reflect the translators' monogamy-only bias - see Miā Revisited) because Yahweh's marriage laws were already clearly established. The New Testament doesn't discuss a lot of things because the things that were established from of old didn't need discussing again.
The problem lies with centuries of false Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox tradition. Interestingly, the Bible actually foresaw this state of affairs, and in an interesting way, which makes my illustration all the more potent. For Paul warned:
Predictably, this passage has been twisted to mean:
"The Ruach (Spirit) clearly says that in later times [i.e. after the New Testament era] some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron [hence their rage when contradicted]. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which Elohim (God) created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3, NIV).
Both these propositions are in error.
(a) that people cannot marry monogamously and must be celibate, as in the Roman Catholic priesthood, and
(b) that people must not follow the Hebrew dietary laws.
For one, Yahweh has never abrogated His dietary laws. A person would only be committing a sin by, for example, insisting on vegetarianism which would involve rejecting the eating of clean meats as a sin.
For two, Yahweh never abrogated His marriage laws. Paul is not talking about forbidding people to marry monogamously, but from marrying generally. Thus to deny someone the right to live a monogamous or a polygamous marriage is to "abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons".
Can that be possible? Of course! If someone declares something to be a sin which Yahweh has declared lawful, they are blaspheming the Most High Elohim (God) by setting themselves up above Him as a law-maker! And the only beings who do that are Satan and his demons and those who are led by them.
Do you see how it is possible to 'read in' to scripture what we want to without properly checking what Yahweh teaches throughout the whole of His Word? We do not have the right to impose our religious and cultural traditions upon the unchanging Word of the Almighty.
These facts remain to challenge the rebellious and careless: monogamy and polygamy are both acceptable forms of biblical marriage just as vegetarianism and meat-eating are acceptable forms of diet. Both are proscribed by certain regulations that include not marrying to excess and not eating to excess, as well as observing various marriage laws and regulations like not having sex during menstruation or marrying close relatives, and about not eating unclean foods. Is it any accident that Paul chose to compare eating habits with marriage customs, and especially how they would be abused by apostates in the last days?
One final note. There aren't too many people living Christian/Messianic polygamy today because of the hostile climate in western countries but they are rapidly growing in numbers. Accordingly, most Christian polygamists keep a low profile and remain anoymous and do not wish to have their marriages intruded upon by curiosity-seekers or those hostile. Although Christian polygamy is slowly but surely becoming mainstream, it is still persecuted by so-called 'monogamy-only Christians' and their secular feminist allies. Accordingly, it is not our policy at present to release the names of those practicing this lifestyle. So whilst we will happily discuss both the theology and practice of this biblical lifestyle, we will not enter into discussions about, or name, those living it. For we must remember that those demonic spirits, who have imposed their lie for the last 1,500 years, will not yield to the truth gracefully. It is up to honest Christians to face the truth, repent, and accept that the Kingdom of Elohim (God) is a lot bigger than they supposed. In the end they will find this liberating even if they themselves are not called into polygamy, for the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) will certainly justify them.