Almost every week (back in the early 2000's) starry-eyed Patriarch-hopefulls come to this ministry expecting to be able to drive headfirst into Christian/Messianic polygamy and find a gold-paved road laid out before them. Many of these young (and sometimes not-so-young) men arrive at our doorstep, so-to-speak, and expect to collect ready-made wives from our shelves to add to their families. Recently a couple came to us in virtual desperation, saying how they had searched high and low, far and wide, for a second wife/sister-wife, and had prayed until they were almost at their wits end because no doors would open for them. They were convinced that somehow I held a 'stock' of spare women in reserve and that I, alone, was the solution to their dilemma.
Well, for one thing, I am not in the retail business, and I certainly don't trade in human beings, even if that were lawful (and thank God it is not). For another, it has to be said - and it has to be said loudly and clearly - that if it is Elohim's (God's) will for a couple to enter into polygamy (believing passionately in the principle is not enough - I believe in having lots of children, but I'm stuck with what I've got!), then:
Looking for another wife, sister- or co-wife is not the same, therefore, as a collector seeking a rare item. I know a lady who is an antique dealer and she scours the land from top to bottom in search of quality items. You might say it is her passion. But such is not the privilege of a Christian - or a Christian couple - hoping to expand their family. Indeed, I would say that it is quite wrong, in almost every situation and case, for a Christian to be actively using time, energy and money to go 'wife-hunting' for wife-hunting's sake.
(a) The couple have to do the searching themselves under the guidance of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit);
(b) They almost certainly have to be prepared to 'take what's going' in terms of the spiritual qualifications of those who are available - most women have to be educated in polygamy, and this takes a long time;
(c) They have got to walk in faith and according to Yahweh's own timetable; and finally,
(d) They must allow for whoever is supposed to join them to be guided by the Ruach (Spirit) as well ... and that takes time too.
Now I'm not sure that all patriarchs would necessarily agree with me, but then it seems to me that patriarchs have a variety of motives for entering into this principle in the first place, some right and some wrong. My own view has been to get on with life and to simply wait for Yahweh to lead me, or to lead others to me. To be sure, in some instances you may have to take some initiative yourself in letting the world know that you are 'available', and in that respect we have been aided and abetted by the Internet. My own homepages, the homepages of my wives, and advertising sites in the past allowed those who were interested in the principle to 'nail their polygamous colours to the mast' of their spiritual ship.
I don't do it that way any more. I don't even let people know I'm interested because I only want those who are so close to Elohim (God) to come that they will go to Him for direction and not attempt a flesh-based search on the Internet or by other means. If you do it the latter way you will spend most of your valuable time sorting through riff-raff, pranksters and sometimes the downright malicious when you could be using your time productively being about the work of the Kingdom, spending time with your family or doing some work and earning an honest złoty.
Three of my wives came viā the Internet. One was a complete disaster, one two of us got to know face-to-face before she finally came, and the third I spent ten years getting to know before she finally came. My first wife came to Białystok with a prophecy that she would meet her future husband there and joined our Church. In her own search she narrowed down the possibilities to two men - myself and my best friend - and fell in love with my best friend! But he wasn't interested in her at all. By a process of simple elimination and elementary mathematics, and one or two other factors, I was 'arrived at', you might say.
My second wife was my first wife's best friend, a very common method of 'recruitment', as it turns out, and very desirable in terms of building sister-wifely relations. My third and fourth were converts to the local church I planted in Lublin.
My own personal experience with the Internet has not, I must confess, been always been a happy one (one relationship which started there being a disaster in spite fof the outward signs being excellent), though I know of other patriarchs who have had quite a different experience. I certainly do not believe now, after painful experience, in relying on cyberspace to build up a relationship, because it is so easy for someone to hide there and not be as forthcoming as one is more likely to be face-to-face. If, for example, you have a disagreement with someone in cyberspace, you can simply block their mail and have nothing to do with them, and just pretend they never existed. Needless to say this is not Christian at all. In a local congregation situation you are forced (rightly) to deal with problems, disagreements, etc., face-to-face as a condition of your Christian discipleship.
Years ago I was very interested in a lady but the interest was not reciprocated. We resolved our problem by sitting down with our Pastor and talking it out and agreed to remain friends in Christ but close the doors of courtship. In cyberspace, with no real accountability (especially if you're in different denominations, let alone different local assemblies), people can just 'come and go' as they please. And very often men and women get deeply hurt, and nothing is ever properly resolved as it should be. Indeed, the Scriptures are very specific about healing rifts, and makes such a condition of partaking worthily of the Lord's Supper. "Lay your gift to one side," Yah'shua (Jesus) said, make peace with your brother (or sister), and then take up your gift again (Matthew 5:23-24).
So I must admit I am wary of cyberspace, more so now than ever before, as my brief flirtation with this medium in relationship-making has not usually been a happy one. On more than one occasion now others have interfered, persuading potential wives' to 'break off contact' because the counsellors disagreed with my theology, or because of feelings of rivalry. One of the ugly sides of patriarchy is male rivalry and territorialism, things I despise. And yet it is a factor you must strongly factor in.
I learned a lot about this years ago when I was making a study of Mormon polygamy and got to know some of the leaders of various LDS fundamentalist-patriarchal groups. You would have thought that because of their marginalisation by society and the persecution they sometimes receive from the larger Mormon Church from which they have split (or vice versa, depending on your LDS point-of-view), that they would have learned to cooperate and support one another. But the very opposite was true. Worse, some of the most gruesome religious blood feuds in modern times have occurred between rival Mormon polygamous factions, with assassination, murder, defamation, and the like. The individual factions are closely policed by leaders with absolute, dictatorial power, and dissidents severely punished. Because of the interfactional rivalry, marriage is not usually conducted between different groups, but remains within each faction, each closely guarding its 'women'. This inevitably leads, amongst other things, to genetically harmful inbreeding.
I mention this mostly to alert our readers of latent 'trends' in some Christian polygamous circles - trends that frankly deeply alarm me, for they are in truth but the early warning signs of incipient cultism. I was once having a very happy correspondence with a lady in California that showed every signs of pointing, at some time in the future, to marriage. But then the 'Patriarch' of her worship group 'stepped in' and forbade her to have further contact with me because we did not have identical theologies. The pro-polygamous church she was in had taken the concept of patriarchy to an extreme, requiring unmarried women to unconditionally obey the Patriarch-Pastor as though he were her father and more. Needless to say, this is completely unscriptural, and I lost all contact with this very special lady. I shudder to think what kind of marriage she might have been 'forced' into by this cult-like group for she told me of one polygamous family who were members of the church where the husband treated his wives like chattels. May Elohim (God) help these poor women and rebuke these unrighteous men!
They used to say (and some still do) that converting members from one denomination to another was 'sheep-stealing', as though the people belonged to the church or denomination and not Christ, and there is already a trend developing in many Christian polygamous churches and groups where wooing polygamy-positive women, who are in short supply everywhere in this first generation, which will result in them leaving the group or church, is considered practically a crime. I know one polygamist minister who has metaphorical barbed-wire around his church, and has to all intents and purposes coralled the single women up in it so that 'outsiders' can't come and 'steal' the group's 'marriage stock'. It is regrettable that I should have to describe it in these terms but in truth some polygamous churches behave like ranchers and treat their unmarried women like stock.
This lack of freedom for women to choose without having their arms twisted by tyrannical patriarchs to stay on 'home ground' is reprehensible, not because it denies other patriarchs access to godly women, but because it denies godly women the right to make their own choice of marriage partner. The patriarchal movement has a lot of things to sort out yet - I can already prophetically see this problem on a much larger scale in the second generation especially as patriarchs survey their sheep and calculate the amount of effort they have spent in carefully nurchuring their young folk whilst all around them the world disintegrates further into the mire, and so be very defensive and 'protective' when suitors come from outside their group. I am reminded very much of the Soviet Union and the desperate attempts of Jews to emigrate to Israel in the Gorbachev years. They were told: 'Fine, but you must first repay the state all the free education, medical services, and other benefits you obtained', something quite beyond their means. In short, the Soviet State claimed to own its citizens because of its investment of time, labour and cash. Are the women who are born and raised in patriarchal groups in the future to be subjected to such a tyranny by being presented bills by their parents for their raising? I hope not, but sometimes it looks that way.
For those of you who are woman-hunting, please be aware of this growing problem - you may well find you have to join a patriarchal group in order to to have access to their women as potential marriage partners. I am bound to say that I personally have no time for this kind of 'ultra-patriarchy and believe that men and women should enjoy complete freedom in choosing who they marry. By all means let the churches and communities they are members of educate them in the spiritual principles they believe to be right but therefore let them choose for themselves!
I speak here not of the Millennium which I firmly believe will be a United Theocracy, but of the multi-denominational chaos that exists in what some unbiblically call the 'church dispensation'. A Patriarch or a couple seeking extra wives will therefore face many hurdles in the future until there are sufficient women who wish to embrace this principle. Realistically, in the first generation, you are going to have to find your ladies from amongst the unconverted (in terms of polygamy) and convert them yourselves.
Joining the Marines (of whatever nation) is not easy and requires the candidates to pass through some of the toughest courses on earth. Becoming a polygamist is no different. The casualty rate - those who don't make it (and I'm looking at the men here) is very, very high. I know men and couples who have been searching for years and still haven't found the woman they have dreamed of. If the story of Jacob is anything to go by, I reackon that a seven year investment per woman is probably the average time to expect on any 'polygamy search project'. Are you, as a prospective patriarch, prepared to invest as much time and effort as Jacob did to get Rachel and Leah - 14 years?
I know this has not been particularly encouraging for you 'hopefulls' out there - I intended this article to be a dose of reality. The romance of polygamy has first to give way to cold realities. The spiritual reformation of the aspirant man may take many, many years - Yahweh doesn't call any Tom, Dick or Harry into this principle, but only the elect. True, some who are not called will force their way into the principle by, for example, marrying women who are less than on the Way of Discipleship, but in so doing be imposing a kind of concubinage and not true patriarchal marriage. I know one man who cynically told me that he had a concubine for the purpose of cooking, house cleaning, and sex ... and still claimed to be a Christian! He claimed she was happy with the arrangement ... so are a lot of sex-slaves I heard about too.
For now Christian polygamy is new and glamorous for Christian and Messianic men hedged in by the old monogamy-order, but if it's glamour they want, they had better flee as fast as they can! RUN, AND RUN HARD! As one polygamy ministry rightly says: "Don't try this at home!" For many, polygamy is just an exciting game, but game it is not - it's about real lives ... feeling and deeply sensitive lives. And if you're not cut out of the cloth that Yahweh has prepared for those who are called to practice Christian/Messianic polygamy, then flee for your life! Yahweh help you if you enter this principle presumptuously and drag souls down to hell, for what, then, will be your reward?
Christian/Messianic polygamy, whilst it has an idealistic base (goodness me, there are PLENTY of polygamy sites overflowing with scripture and idealism), is essentially about NAKED REALITY. It is about people far more than it is about principles. Many see polygamy as one big intellectual construct which they try to squeeze pliant women into, but forget that the principles are the clothing, not the pigeon-hole. But the women you want to introduce into polygamy are living beings like yourself who, when they enter, are forced to make major life-changing choices. They have tender hearts and sweet dreams too. Never forget that.
Polygamy will change your intellectual and emotional universe like no other principle if you allow yourself to flow in the current of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). It will challenge you as in no other way. To be a patriarch with loving, submitted wives means death to your ego - nothing less - or your own destruction.
I have walked this road longer than any patriarch in the West and sometimes I have wondered if I would have chosen this path had I had the figures with which to count the cost. And I'll freely admit there have been times when I have wished that polygamy had never existed to complicate my life and other lives. As I look back and see the pain I have caused, and the pain I have had to suffer, because of clumsiness, ignorance, stubbornness, rebelliousness, and shere stupidity of some of my actions and those of my wives, I wonder if maybe I would have been better off as a single. That is not to say, of course, that monogamists are exempt from the same folly, for they are not, but it is to say that the potential for such folly is much, much greater in polygamy.
Only, when you have made it - crucified your ego, learned to submit to Christ, and to walk the path of an obedient disciple, then - but, O, how long it takes! - then you have entered Paradise.
Have you counted the cost? Have seen over and beyond your rose-tinted glasses into the massive withdrawls from your spiritual, mental, emotional and physical bank account? Have you, with a prophetic eye, seen the emotional bankruptcy notes as a rebellious wife roasts you alive over the hot coals of hell? Have you seen your own recklessness and the crucified souls of the more vulnerable whom you thought were thick-skinned enough to deflect the darts of unkindness, the stun-gun of impatience, and the barbed net of possessiveness? Have you seen these things? Are you even aware that they exist?
People often think that I am in Paradise. Well, I freely confess, that I am in Paradise some of the time. There was a brief time I thought I was in Paradide most of the time but it didn't last. It only takes one renegade to shatter Eden. What of those I have lost? "Ah, but that was the past," you might say. "Time heals." No it doesn't. Not if you are a kind soul - a sensitive soul - who walks in the heart of Christ. You never completely forget, the pain simply goes down a gear or two. The cutting edge of pain lessens to be sure, but the wound is still there, just as the prints of the wounds are still in the hands and feet of our Master. "OK, but your future is pain-free with Paradise at home," you might ask. Are you sure? As a polygamist, my heart is only ever temporarily sealed because others come seeking, and the heart must be prepared to open up again and be freshly pierced, as mine is right now as I write this. No, my friend, if you wish to walk the path of polygamy with the Crucified you must learn to be crucified yourself - again and again - to embrace others as Christ embraces His allegorical Bride, and suffers when we mistreat Him by acts of doubt and disobedience. Christian polygamy is a life of mingled suffering and joy in equal measure. Write that down on a piece of paper and memorise it. Unless you are willing to embrace both parts you need not apply.
Now, go home, and reconsider soberly. And may you be wise.