There are, not surprisingly, many different views of Christian/Messianic polygamy. On the one hand there are those who claim that polygamy is paradise-on-earth, and on the other those who see nothing but degradation, misery and drudgery. You will find those women (like my own wives) who sing polygamy's praises (on most days) and those (like the ultra monogamy-only feminists) who condemn it as one of the blackest conspiracies against women ever invented by the lustful and deceitful heart of man.
I am not, of course, the first to have observed such polarised opinions. Every principle of the Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) seems to provoke similar reactions. Only the other day I was in discussion with a Canadian communist who, like all atheistic socialists, saw all religion as a drug whose extinction would best serve the interests of mankind. Yet when he learned that I was a 'Christian communist' of sorts (communitarian Christianity, that is) he at once mellowed and once I showed him the massive defects of every communist system began to think twice. He was very friendly by the time we finished talking, asked if we could keep in contact, and went away a much happier young man.
Many people come to our homepage and frankly find it hard to believe that I and my wives are so happy together: "It's too good to be true" is not an uncommon remark that leads some to even wonder if I have been making this whole site up. "It's just a joke, isn't it?" is another comment I often receive, especially from Christians.
The other day I went into a Moslem chat room and began discussing the Quran (Koran) with the many Muslims there. My approach with other religions is always to let that religion speak for itself. I told them I was a Christian but sincerely wanted to understand their faith better and to know why they believed what they did. I told them that I came as a friend, that I would hold their beliefs with respect, and would do no more than to ask those present to explain what their scriptures meant. I injected as little of my opinion or interpretation as possible and merely cited the many passages I have collected and arranged from the Quran over the years which leave me baffled. As I compared passages of the Quran with other passages to show the internal contradictions the panic could be felt amongst the discussants. There was one there who was convinced that I was not a Christian at all but a fundamentalist Moslem scholar who was out to trap non-fundamentalists and perhaps report them to their Mullahs! I concluded by asking them how it was possible that their own scriptures could create such confusion and hysteria if they were true as they maintained? It was the very first time I silenced a Muslim Chat Room - before I have been threatened with death. I refused to get sidetracked by my own belief structure and said that if anyone wanted to discuss Christianity we could go to a Christian room to chat.
The reaction of these good Moslem people is not unlike what I hear from monogamy-only Christians. Indeed, I was in a Christian Chat Room a few days before and someone who read my profile brought up my polygamy. Within minutes I was under the most scathing and vitriolic attack I have ever experienced, worse than many of the Moslem, pagan and Wiccan Rooms I have sometimes visited. When I cited scriptures I was accused of twisting them (just as the Moslems accused me when I cited the Quran), ministers there tried to (unsuccessfuly) bind up the 'demons' in me, I was told that I was not born-again, not a Christian, etc.. Indeed, I was thrown off the Board twice.
As a Christian polygamist I fully believe that I am walking in pure biblical truth, so much so that I am willing to entertain any question put before me and place the doctrine before biblical scrutiny. Better still, I can call my wives and ask them: "Darlings, I wonder if you would be so kind as to share your honest views about this subject?" and walk out of the room without having to 'monitor' them or check them for "deviancy'. I, and my wives, have that complete freedom.
Is it "too good to be true" I often ask myself? No, it isn't - it's even better - much, much better. After years of careful, patient biblical application of this principle my wives and I have discovered polygamy to be one of the most exhilarting experiences possible ... far down the line after knowing Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Saviour, of course.
It would, however, be completely untrue to say that 'polygamy' itself was the cause of this great happiness we share. After all, 'monogamy' does not itself create bless either. Polygamy is not an entity you can gift-wrap and secretly consume like a bar of chocolate. As our website has tried to show, polygamy is built into the very Gospel fabric of life. It's not as though we, as polygmists, have discovered something 'new' either - we have simply allowed ourselves to flow into a spiritual stream and invited Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, to bathe us in its love.
As I recently explained in an article explaining our recent name change, the polygamy we practice isn't something that you can just 'add' to a particular Christian tradition and hope that it will work. It is part of a much larger package. There are many Christians/Messianics 'out there' embarking on a life of Christianity for the first time - the 'first generation' or 'first wave' of Christian/Messianic polygamists and they are discovering not only many blessings but also many unexpected complications. Indeed, many of them are having their cherished Christian/Messianic traditions shaken somewhat as the implications of the Christian/Messianic paradigm impinge on other gospel practices.
Understanding Christian/Messianioc polygamy in isolation from the rest of the Gospel is rather like trying to understand the blood system in a human body without refernce to what blood is actually for. I have repeatedly asked myself two questions when it comes to polygamy:
I am of that mental disposition which insists that whatever a Christian/Messianic does should be with an eternal perspective in mind. There are some, as I have said in previous articles, who look upon polygamy as simply a social remedy for a shortage of godly men, others who see it as no more than a prophetic type, and others still who don't even ask such questions - they see it is permissible and want to try it. None of these attitudes satisfies me remotely.
Let me illustrate. I have always thought as insane the idea that people should sit on machines and work themselves to death simply in order to exercise themselves. When I see someone sitting on a bicycle-like machine pedaling furiously and going nowhere I have to shake my head in disbelief. Call me what you will but I find non-productive exercise a misuse of time and energy. Far better to get a real bicycle and go for a ride in the countryside and enjoy the gift of Yahweh's creation, or attach it to a small trailer and cart some things around that need moving. I suppose you could say that I am one of those who must find purpose in something, even if it is just praising Yahweh. I suppose someone could argue that sitting on one of those exercising machines helps them to praise Yahweh and far be it for me to argue with him - it is his life. But I suppose you might say I am more utilitarian.
For my wives and I polygamy is not just something we 'do' or 'live' for its own sake but because we see in it a cosmic dynamic that will have as much meaning in the next life as in this one. We have, if you like, found in it a key that seems to reflect on virtually every other Gospel principle there is. And because we claim it to be of such universal proportions, we are constsantly discovering new things about life relative to polygamy every day. Whether we are looking at science, society, the human psyche, the Kingdom of Elohim (God), or anything at all, polygamy helps shed light on them, and vice versa.
One of the most exhilarating things about the polygamy dynamic is that it constantly offers new possibilities for growth. Though we were all brought up in the Western romantic tradition which said that love is about 'falling head over heels in love' and then settling down to monogamic bliss, we have discovered not only how illusiory that model is but how spiritually destructive it can be too. For us in polygamy is it like re-falling in love again, and again, and again - not in fantastic, cosmic big-bangs, but with lots of 'little bangs' that daily expand the borders of our love. Sometimes, though, the growth can be dramatic - like 'first love' all over again - only in a completely new way.
As a patriarch and husband, one of my deepest satisfactions is watching how the love beteen my wives grows daily. A year or two ago I fell in love with my third wife all over again - not that I had ever fallen 'out' of love, but rather I discovered a totally new side of her that even she didn't know about. And then it happened again, just a couple of days ago. Yahweh showed me a vision of her shimmering like an angel right after this experience she had. The joy of that experience spread like a contagion to my fourth wife who was swept up in this new love herself. And so it is that this love seems to move between husband and wives as though each were an amplifier or a lens. Yes, there is a special dynamic in polygamy which I will be even so bold as to say can't be found in monogamy, just as you can never compare mono sound to stereo. Kasia wrote an article about this phenomenon recently which she called The Symphony of Polygamy that's well worth a read. Now solo's are beautiful, and duets are beautiful as well, but there's nothing quite as intricate and grand as a full symphony orchestra. There are very many beautiful Christian/Messianic unmarried (solo) lives, many fantastic monogamous (duet) marriages, and there are also some very fine polygamous (symphonic) marriages. At the same time there are also some pretty grotesque solos, duets and symphonic pieces ... it's the players and how they perform that is the key to whether a oiece of music works or not.
Is it too good to be true? If the players play their parts and don't try to exalt themselves and follow the rules of the conductor, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), then, no, it isn't remotely 'too good' - it's much, much better. As Kasia pointed out in her article, though, if the orchestra doesn't abide by the rules of music, then the resultant sound is not going to be too good and then you might be tempted to think that it's the fault of the piece of music or the art of music itself. So don't judge celibacy, monogamy or polygamy apart from those who live it. It's the people who make it work or fail.
Polygamy is one of the matrices of the wider life principle called the Gospel of Yah'shua (Jesus) and if you don't have that straight, things are going to go wrong. At the time of writing various other polygamists are 'experimenting' with different intrepretations of the Bible which is leading them, in my opinion, down some very unsatisfactory avenues that will lead to discord within polygamous families. One of the leaders of a major polygamy movement, who adopted a polygamy-by-force paradigm, has witnessed heart-wrenching earthquakes in his family as nearly all of his wives have either left him or are threatening to do so. Although it may sound a misnomer, I really believe we are also beginning to see the emergance of something approaching what I would call 'feminist/matriarchal polygamy' which is potentially almost as bad as some of the male maccho versions of ultra-patriarchal polygamy, except in reverse. Though it is perhaps too early to clearly delineate this new species of polygamy, as it is still evolving, there are a number of characteristics about it that disturb me. And the reason, I believe, that this kind of feministic polygamy has arisen is because other important Gospel areas are being neglected or have not been properly addressed.
As the founding father of sorts of Christian/Messianic polygamy in the West (since 1983) I have experiemented with many forms of family government - particular in the early days when I had not fully disentangled modern ideas from biblical ones, or properly understood the spiritual evolution from Old Covenant to New. There was, for example, a time when I believed that the wives in a plural marriage should have a 'casting vote' or the 'right of veto' in the admittance of a new wife (a Mormon idea) which I have since come to realise I allowed because in my immaturity I did not feel competent to govern my wives properly, or was afraid to make trouble. This was, in a way, a dereliction of my own God-given authority to my wives. That is not to say my reasons were all negative or wrong, moreoever, for I was also very concerned that women should not be oppressed but feel themselves as co-equals but in the wrong way (see Coheadship in Marriage).
Like so many things, a practice can be right but the reasons for it all wrong. Anti-polygamists love to cite the problems of the polygamous marriages of the first patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob by equating Sarah's negative reason for giving Hagar to Abraham as though this was proof that polygamy was wrong. Similarly, Jacob obtained his wives under the less than happy circumstances of inlaw deception and his own preference for Rachel, and yet this did not negate what Yahweh had blessed. Sometimes in his anxiety not to hurt a wife who is struggling with polygamy, the immature patriarch will compromise certain patriarchal principles, and this will lead to trouble later. This kind of 'pandering' to human nature, though perhaps beneficial in the short-term, tends to skewer proper marriage relationships and makes bigger problems for the future.
A man should not feel guilty of exercising the preorgatives of the sovereignty of his office in marriage as a husband just because the feministic culture around them has programmed them into thinking that any kind of patriarchy is 'abuse' against the fairer sex. People who think in this mindframe are soon, I have noticed, looking upon Elohim (God) in a similar way: wives who are taught, for instance, that they have the right of veto in the selection of a new wife are, before long, looking at their relationship as Christians/Messianics with Yahweh in the same way. Yahweh our Elohim (God) is sovereign in all that He does - He does not negociate with man, nor is His will determined by the democratic resolution-passing of human synods or committees. If we are to live Christian polygamy properly we must apply it to the model Yahweh has given us, namely, that of the relationship of Christ to His Church (Messianic Community). We have to bury once and for all the 'democratic' model which is pagan in origin and which is claimed equally by 'Christians' as well as by militantly atheistic communists. As my Canadian communist friend firmly believed, people should be allowed to do what they want to so long as it doesn't mean forcing your beliefs on anyone else. He was confident that a combination between communism and anarchy was by far the best solution. I explained that such a model was hopeless at worst, and naďve at best, and that it wasn't workable. I pointed out to him the deep-seated need of human beings to have fixed rules by which to measure their daily routines and practices. I cited the desperation of the Jews in Plaszów Concentration Camp in Kraków, Poland in the film Schindler's List who said, horrific though conditions were, that it was better to live by rules so that they knew what was punishable and what wasn't, instead of the rule-less régime of the Kommandant who periodically murdered Jews just for the fun of it.
A Patriarch is not a democratically-elected head of a family, he is an appointed Head. He is an 'Absolute Ruler' though governed by very strict New Covenant Torah rules of conduct himself. He is to be just, kind, merciful, considerate, respectful, and attentive to the needs of his wives, but cannot be overruled unless he overrules the rules of the Ruler, his King and Sovereign Lord, Yah'shua haMashiach (Jesus Christ). For the Husband is an appointed Ruler. Not only that, but he is himself a part of a wider family and, unless the head of that family himself, will also be under the headship of a Patriarch-Pastor to whom he must be submitted as a metaphorical wife, who must in his turn be submitted to the Word of Elohim (God). Moreoever, the Pastor is not democratically elected himself, but is appointed by an Apostolate.
A key to correctly functioning Patriarchal Marriage (Polygamy) is therefore a mature ministry and in the first generation of Christian/Messianic polygamists this will often be deficient. At the present stage of the evolution of Christian/Messianic polygamy, we are in a kind of 'independent city-state' system where everyone has their own independent ministries and churches, just as is the case in Christendom at large. As a result, it is not untypical for authority and power to go to some men's heads when there is no older and wiser apostolic ministry over them to hold them accountable. I have seen this sad state of affairs in both Christianity generally as well as in the Christian/Messianic Polygamy Movement.
The very model of polygamy - which really only has any meaning in a wider patriarchal, theocratic society - demands more than what we are seeing talking place amongst polygamists whose lifestyle cannot be separated from theocracy. Now it is true that such attempts have been made in the past to remedy this deficiency and most of them have in their turn led to abuses of power simply because the time for such structures was not yet right. It is absolutely no accident, I feel, that the restoration of Christian/Messianic Polygamy is occurring simultaneously with the restoration of Torah and an Apostolic Gathering.
But the days are still young. Some polygamists may forget that Yahweh has other projects than just polygamy. There is the matter of purging the Body of Christ and of the separation of the Wheat from the Tares, and Sheep from Goats. At this very moment in time many things are happening in the Body that most are unaware of - something that is leading to a 'grand climax', as it were. For the Body of Christ itself is like a polygamous Bride - not the individual Christians themselves but their groupings or churches/assemblies. As ten brides will be invited to the marriage feast, so five will be accepted and five rejected. This is a big subject - too large to address here - but vitally important nonetheless.
Our own Order - the Chavurat Bekorot - is apostolic, but also more than that, for we recognise that in order for polygamy to come to its full flowering it must exist within the context of the "restoration of the Kingdom of Israel" (Acts 1:6), which comes through overcoming (Revelation 21:7). Polygamy is intensely PRACTICAL - it is not simply a part of the Kingdom of Heaven within (though it is absolutely that too - Luke 17:21, NIV) - but it is about a theocratic order-to-be. In order to flourish and come into its own, it needs a NATION of TRIBES, CLANS and FAMILIES which is what Theocratic Israel is all about. It is about families gathering together and learning to live as the first Christians/Messianics in Jerusalem did, having all things in common (Acts 2:44, etc.). Polygamy cannot come to full expression until that Order is in place.
I believe that is one reason my own family, in spite of major ups and down, has been so successful for that is the kind of mini-theocracy that we are building. Only when families are economically co-equal can the polygamy dynamic be understood on the level of the Church/Messianic Community - only when families are gathering together every day for fellowship and praise (as the first Christians did) can the kind of unity that obtains in polygamy also manifest itself. Polygamy can never find its fullest expression until it has fulfilled the type which Christ taught - of the allegorical marriage of Master to Church (Messianic Community) - before then it will always be incomplete, existing for itself, and therefore looking in on its own navel. For polygamy to come to proper fruition there must be an outward-looking and -building mechanism in process where there is an equalisation between the saints as there is between wives, where all are drinking at the same fountain of opportunity and light.
Only then can polygamy be TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.