When the New Testament Church/Messianic Community was launched out into the world nearly two Millennia ago it was full of eager well-meaning yet immature men and women. It also contained a number of false people - the fakes or the apostates. That a new body of human beings reaching out into a hostile and uncertain world with a new religion should consist of such a mixed bag of souls is both understandable and to be expected. These men and women were pioneers. Over the years those who were true, and yet inexperienced, gradually got their bearings, Yahweh polished off their rough corners, and they grew to became the astonishing saints we find recorded in the Bible and whom today we seek to emulate.
Christians/Messianics sometimes forget that Christian Polygamy is relatively new and that like the first believers, polygamists and their allies are still trying to 'find their bearings'. Like the New Testament believers there is considerable enthusiasm, much faith but also much naïvity. Let us remember that Christian Polygamy is (in 2016) a little over 25 years old! Twenty-five years after our Master ascended to Heaven there still wasn't a single New Testament book or epistle and the art of Christian apologetics was still in its very infancy. Even the First Council of Jeusalem, presided over by Yah'shua's (Jesus') half-brother, was still fumbling around trying to understand the place of the gentiles in the New Covenant nation of Israel.
As early as the mid-1990's when the first American Christian polygamists started to emerge, there was controversy, envy, rivalry and - sadly - bitterness. Most of this has been brushed under the carpet and quietly forgotten, though there are those still nursing very real hurts. From the earliest times of the movement in America (it started over ten years earlier in Europe) there have been what have ratherly loosly called a 'polygamy-by-force' and a 'polygamy-by-love' movements, each ignoring the other after earlier acrimonious exchanges. Whatever one may feel about their respective teachings and practices they still are, in the final analysis, very immature. The increasing public exposure on the media (TV, radio and publishing, not to mention the Web) has given both American camps much attention, with all the attendant human problems that such brings. I have noticed, with some concern, and not a little sadness, how those with increasing numbers of followers leading to ministries and churches often get carried away with themselves and start believing they have become great ones. Hiding behind the language of humility - and often, to be fair, good intentions too - they try to present an aura of respectibility, authority and fair-mindedness. Though noble aims in themselves, and ones which do follow after much time (provided they stay on course), they are not obtained overnight.
When I entered this lifestyle in 1983 (getting it properly underway in 1988) I had little or no idea what the future would hold, the huge mistakes I would make, or the blessings that would ultimately follow. Since other Christian polygamists did not start appearing in the West for over another ten years, and since there was no very great biblical exegesis of this principle, I walked very much alone. My guiding stars were my Bible, my relationship with Christ, prayer and study, and (not to be underestimated) experience.
In 1974 John Cairncross' After Polygamy Was Made a Sin: The Social History of Christian Polygamy came into print but I did not come across it for the first time until about 1985 when I bought a used copy. My extensive knowledge of early Mormonism was also an early set of guiderails, though somewhat distorted and full of spiritual traps, was helpful but had to be abandoned because of Mormonism's doctrinal accretions. I also investigated Islamic polygamic practices. Whilst at Warsaw University I studied for a higher degree in Theology and began a thesis on early Israelite Marriage Practices, never finished as I moved home from Białystok to Lublin. Whilst in Warsaw I also did a course in the Psychology of Sexual Behaviour and researched this aspect also, as you can hardly ignore this aspect of marriage if you are going to become competent as an international minister in polygamy.
In addition to the 'love' and 'force' wings of polygamy, there are also three basic cultural loci: Europe, Asia and America. And they are very different. As one who has travelled and lived abroad much of my life I have come to appreciate the very real dangers of interpreting biblical polygamy out of a single cultural mindset. With all the best intentions in the world, it is not possible to understand or even live biblical polygamy until you have had some sort of exposure to the Middle East.
About fifteen years ago there was much discussion between those of the 'monogamy-only mindframe' (MOM) and the 'polygamy-mindframe' (PMF) as though these were the two greatest cultural paradigms that needed readjusting. Important though making a MOM to PMF is, it is not nearly enough for the successful biblical implementation of a practice that owes itself to a complete way of being. We use the word 'Patriarchal', often rather glibly, to define this whole mindset, though I have yet to see it in practice in the West. The nearest I have come to it is in the Far East which even still is now increasingly under Western influence.
When I was first called to pioneer plural marriage in the early 1980's it was not just to practice polygamy or to establish a biblical basis for it. Polygamy is so intimately a part of the wider theocratic kingdom that is being prepared by the Remnant that to all intents and purposes it cannot be separated from it. It was therefore with some amusement that I read in January 2003 of the largest polygamy ministry in the USA suddenly announcing that it was called to establish 'Messianic Kingdom Government' in addition to polygamy as though this was some new discovery they had made, for this is something we began 17 years earlier in 1986, and which we always knew had to proceed alongside the restoration of polygamy. This was the mission of the early Chevurat Bekorot. And after 11 years of preparing the theological ground, the first of such 'messianic kingdom government' communities (which we call firstborn communities) was established in northern Europe in 1997. For all their boasting about being 'first' in this or that aspect of the kingdom mandate (be it the restoration of polygamy or of 'messianic kingdom government', they have actually revealed themselves to be well on the way to becoming a full fledged cult with a terrible track record of 'patriarchal' abuse. Though the founder has since abandoned and concealed his polyygamy history, he is still boasting of his 'restored government'. And he's not the only one, especially in the messianic movement.
There are a number who feel called to bring polygamy to the existing Christian churches as though these churches are going to suddenly accept the principle. The resounding answer is that they are not. Absolutely not. Individuals within the churches/denominations will hear the call and accept it but the majority will find themselves outside the denominations. The hope of many pro-polygamist ministers is that Christian polygamy will become 'mainstream', accepted as another biblically plausible way of being a Christian.
My own view is that what will happen is that we will end up with - as is already happening - new polygamy-accepting denominations or simply polygamy-accepting house churches. But we will not see a new Baptist-Polygamist Church (like the Seventh-Day Baptists) or a Pentecostal Polygamist Church (there was one in Asia but it has long since collapsed). At the most we may find some of the larger denominations such as the Church of England tolerating polygamy in Africa but with strictures (e.g. bring your wives with you but don't marry any more after you have been baptised). That a movement to bring polygamy to the churches is needed is up for debate though I think the way it is described is a bit of a misnomer - it would be better described as bringing polygamy to individual Christians and Messianics.
My own particular ministry has, from the very earliest days, been tied closely to gathering the end-time believers - an association of house churches and fellowships who have broken away from the larger denominations in order to be able to enjoy the freedom of living the whole gospel unfettered by organisational strictures. We are a part of a wider movement called New Covenant Ministries whose mission is not just the restoration of polygamy in the Body of Christ but the establishment of the end-time apostolic Messianic Community with firstborn ('messianic kingdom government') communities where polygamy may be lived. Because the fully operational Community is such an elaborate network of interrelated ministries, our calling is nothing short of ultimately restoring the New Testament Community with all the ministries in place under one umbrella. These took us nearly 25 years to put in place, the last ' deliverance ministry - being completed in 2002.
Already in the Patriarchal (Polygamous) Movement as a whole there is every shade and colour of Christianity imaginable, from ultra-Messianics to the adherants of the so-called charismatic 'Toronto blessing'. Critics of polygamy are in a way right when they point out that polygamy is a devisive doctrine calculated to splinter the Body of Christ even more. I would sympathise with them were such 'division' destructive to Yahweh's long-range plans and yet I am fully persuaded by Scripture that this division was not only prophesied but a part of the plan of the Final Gathering. Far from being something harmful to the cause of Christ, polygamy is but one of a number of winnowing forks that Yah'shua (Jesus) is using to sort out the true believers from the false ones.
I repeat for emphasis here that because you believe and maybe even practice polygamy doesn't necessary mean you are on the right side of the Kingdom fence. Every work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is always attacked by Satan. He begins characteristically with the cruder weapons of his warfare, trying to bludgeon it out of existance through public outcry and the condemnation of 'heretic' from both false and misinformed Christians. Failing that, he always turns to more subtle methods, by, amongst other things, introducing false doctrines (e.g. polygamy-by-force). And finally, his last weapon - a fine rapier so thin as to be virually invisible - what I call the 'Darts of Corinth'.
All Christians know what a mess the Corinthian Church/Assembly was in the days of Paul. Had it not been for the several Corinthian controversies we would be both better and worse off - better because we learn about some authentic Christian practices not described elsewhere (such as the agapé meal), and worse because we wouldn't have all the controversy over tongues which has split the Body clean down the middle.
This is, however, only one side of the Corinthian story. What most Christians do not know is that in the immediately post-Pauline period Corinth became a model Christian community. Reading the second epistle of Clement you will be overjoyed to see how a period of peace and pure Christian joy and love filled that congregation. I love to read the description of that Christian fellowship to remind me of what we as a people are aspiring to.
But the second part of Clement's letter is not so happy. The youthful, inexperienced element of the congregation stages what can only be described as a coup d'êtat - they literally threw out the Pastor and the Elders and took over the reigns of power. The result for Corinth was disasterous for the congregation was, ultimately, destroyed because of that misguided youthful ambition.
There were parallels in Israelite history too. After Solomon's death, the new King of Israel dismissed his father's more elderly and seasoned counsellors and made a new clique of young hot-heated and stupid men for whom common sense was but a whiff in the breeze. The folly of their advice led to the Kingdom splitting in two resulting in civil war and, ultimately, the destruction of both Kingdoms.
It was therefore with considerable alarm that I began hearing echoes of those Corinthians and Israelites in the patriarchal movement a decade ago, and, to make it worse, in the 'love-not-force' wing. Today one hears men and women, most of whom who have never lived anything more than monogamy, talk as though they were the foremost experts in this lifestyle simply because they know their Bibles and have a loving disposition. Vital though these two ingredients are, they can never substitute for the counsel of more elderly and experienced polygamists who have walked the paths they discuss so ardently and who very often have insights that no amount of theorising, however well intentioned, can give.
I wish to say here that my own ministry does not seek a high profile in the public media, nor does it exist to creat a new 'polygamy church'. Indeed, we completely disappeared from the public arena for nearly 15 years just to get away from the madhouse it had become. One or two 'young 'uns' have, in the past, accused me of seeking the limelight and thus influence in the patriarchal movement as a whole, principally in America. Apart from the fact that it is painful to be misrepresented, it really is pure fantasy. I for one have turned down every invitation for TV and radio interviews because I don't want to make polygamy into a gimmick or something political like homosexuality. My own position has always been that Christian polygamists should live quietly minding their own business about their lifestyle and making themselves as self-sufficient as they can be so that they are not dependent on the Welfare State in any degree. For me, polygamy is but one of many facets of the end-time Gospel.
One of the most dangerous forces in any church or ministry is power-politics. And what makes it even more dangerous is when those jostling for power or influence are blind to their own motives but sincerely believe that they are working in the interests of those they have responsibility for and then set out to 'protect the flock', as they suppose. Back in the first decade of thr 2000's I had many of my letters, articles and counsel censored from various polygamy internent services, usually without a word of explanation, because they were perceived as being somehow 'inappropriate'. Of course, it is the prerogative of any webmaster to regulate his own homepages, bulletin boards, etc. in any way he sees fit. The tragedy that results, though, is that a new 'box' is established - a permanent or semi-permanent paradigm that everyone is expected to fit into. And before you know it, you soon have the makings of a new church with its own creeds and doctrinal statements. And whilst no doubt there is place for such entities, for those who are willing to be boxed in, it is not where I care to be.
Accordingly, at the end of the last century, I distanced myself from the various nascent polygamy movements, especially in the narcissistic American culture, and devoted my labours to building up this ministry in conjunction with the Chavurat Bekorot until I disappeared for a decade-and-a-half around the middle of the 2000's. I don't do as much polygamy counselling as I used to anymore but I am available for those who seriously believe we have something to offer to their marriages and want to join with our wider evangelistic work.
I am not willing to debate theology like I did in the late 1990's and early 2000's - everything that I have to say is now on this website and you can either take it or leave it unless you can think of something that I have forgotten to cover in the hundreds of articles that are here. But I think I have been pretty thorough.
This plural marriage ministry is now fully integral with the main labour of the Chavurat Bekorot, especially where it is needed in the polygamous communities of our assemblies in Africa and elsewhere. This article was originally mostly for friends in other Christian polygamy ministries who may have wondered why I 'disappeared' from the American polygamy scene in the late 1990's and then disappeared altogether in the mid-2000's.
We are now in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century and a very different world confronts us to the one we knew when this work first began in the 1980's. Now we have numerous polygamous families in Africa to disciple in our own ministry and for those from elsewhere coming to this work who believe they have been called into this lifestyle.
The work of restoration continues and Yahweh will, as He has always done, use all kinds of people, both the foolish and the wise, to further His work. I wish them all well and Yahweh's richest blessings - may they not be a few.