One of the reasons that there is a fundamental lack of hope in 21st century society is, I believe, because there is a crisis of imagination. The Roman Catholic writer, Peter Kreeft, hit the nail on the head when he remarked:
As I look around modern Christian/Messianic polyagmous marriages (let alone monogamous ones), I see colourlessness. And as I try to trace the causes of this dullness I inevitably come upon a relationship between the colour (or lack of colour) in a marriage's life that is directly related to the way people perceive heaven. What is your view of heaven? What do you imagine it is like? Are you of the majority who says that marriage will have ended by the time you come to heaven or of the minority who believe that it will continue in an even more enriched form? And how does this view reflect on your earthly marriage?
"Our pictures of heaven are dull, platitudinous, and syrupy, therefore so is our faith, our hope and love of heaven. It doesn't matter whether it's a dull lie or a dull truth, dullness, no doubt, is the strongest enemy of faith, just as indifference, not hate, is the strongest enemy of love" (Everything You Need to Know About Heaven).
The apostle Paul, quoting Isaiah 40:13, has this to say about what is to come in the heavenlies:
Think of that! No matter how much we exercise our imagination, we cannot begin to guess how fantastic heaven is going to be like. So the question is: how far are you as an individual or a family able to stretch your imaginations in the direction of righteousness?
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what Elohim (God) has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corínthians 2:9, NIV).
Fortunately the scriptures collectively tell us quite a lot about heaven if you look in the right places (1 Corinthians 2:1-16; 15:45-49; Ephesians 5:22-32; Revelation 21:1-4). From them we understand four principle things about our new home:
Heavenly life begins with a wedding just as marriage on earth does - and in case you hadn't noticed, weddings are exciting events, especially for those who are getting married! It marks the beginning of an eternal intimacy, a time of beauty and a time of mutual service.
- 1. ARRIVAL: We are going to leave earth life and arrive, following the Judgment, at a Marriage Feast and find that there is a special seat reserved for us. The table spread will be marvelous - think of all the heavenly food we are going to enjoy as we celebrate our union with Christ;
- 2. INTIMACY: In heaven, all artificiality is gone, all pretense, all play-acting, and in their place there will be deep, deep communition between the saints of all generations and with the Lord Himself;
- 3. BEAUTY: Heaven, we are told, is insurmountably beautiful - there is no dullness or plainness there, no dreariness, no darkness - all is light, glory, wholeness, completion and happiness. The beauty we know here on earth will be accentuated beyond your wildest imagination; and
- 4. SERVICE: We are told that eternity will consist of all the above plus the privilege, honour and joy of serving Yahweh and each other. It will not be a desert island where we are sunning ourselves on a paradisaical beach all day, or a symphony orchestra of harps in the clouds.
1. ARRIVAL: THE WEDDING CEREMONY
For a polygamous marriage to be happy and prosperous I would suggest that all four events need to be present. Firstly, it is important to make the wedding of a new sister-wife as memorable as possible. In many countries in the East marriage ceremonies and celebrations can last for days. In our own Order we invest a lot of time preparing for marriage with instruction, cultivating holiness, and several ceremonies all of which focus on special aspects of marriage. Though Dedication ('Engagement') is often brief, our Betrothal Ceremonies are very elabourate, as are our full Marriage ones, because we want to underline just how important, serious and potentially joyful marriage is. So a lot of time goes into New Covenant weddings. They are not expensive (we keep costs minimal) - since the Marriage Feast of the Lamb marks the joyful beginning of eternity, we feel that a human wedding should be invested in and viewed in a similar way.
For those who would like to get a vision of our wedding procedures, I recommend Chapters 18-37 of the Third Book of Abraham.
How unlike this is to the cheapness of modern unions between men and women where sex is recreational and in many marriages where the glory of marriage is no better reflected than in the coarseness of a motel room. Make the addition of a sister-wife a time of real CELEBRATION with deep, deep spiritual content. Stretch your imagination as far as it will go!
2. INTIMACY: DEEP INTER-PERSONAL COMMUNION
Life on earth can be hum-drum, difficult, taxing and - unless we are very careful to focus on the right things - boring and unfulfilling. Not so if there is intimacy. To have a successful polygamous marriage there must be honesty, transparency, repentance from sin, depth and a willingness to meet each individual in their totality.
True Christian/Messianic polygamy is not compartmentalised but is an image of the heavenly way of life. It isn't, as one ministry suggests, just a series of 'multiple marriages' where the husband has several marriages, but ONE marriage of many, fully integrated. This means total involvement of everyone with everyone.
Heaven can never, in my opinion, come to a polygamous family where it is subdivided into separate units. Though there are certain boundaries which must exist in our imperfect state, they should not be impenetrable walls. My wives and their children all fully interact and are integrated in one life pattern, one set of rules, one way of being. Whilst all are individuals, there is a collective spirit which naturally grows and which describes us as one inseparable family.
Intimacy implies ultimately complete dedication to the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus). It implies an abundance of the graces - of warmth, friendliness, informality, understanding, empathy, sympathy, and love. Intimacy means there are no secrets, no fear - only holiness and purity.
A marriage which is not actively working on these things likely isn't heaven-bound.
3. BEAUTY: ALL THAT DELIGHTS IN HOLINESS
They say that one person's beauty is another's ugliness. Not in heaven, and certainly not in Christ. Beauty is not so subjective in heaven because it is defined by its author, Yah'shua (Jesus). As His allegorical Bride, what is beautiful for him is beautiful for us too.
Heavenly beauty may therefore be said to be a combination of all the qualities of a redeemed person and the fruits of his hands. That which is in Christ will similarly delight the senses and mind of all the redeemed, giving them pleasure and joy.
One of the highest goals of a polygamous marriage must be to beautify the character with the Christian virtues and to beautify our surroundings by creating order, cleanness, and aesthetic appeal. This requires a high code of family standards which the husband is responsible for setting in consulation with his wives.
4. SERVICE: THAT WHICH GIVES ULTIMATE MEANING
A woman who comes into polygamy who does not have a mind to serve her husband, sister-wives, children and Christian/Messianic community can never come to the fullness of Christ or indeed the marriage relationship. The message of service is forgetting self and its endless needs (read 'wants'). And I would suggest that someone who has no concept or of service really has no idea of what heaven is about. Service is not only the greatest blessing but also the highest reward.
CONCLUSION: THE POLYGAMIST'S QUADRAD
This is what I call the 'Polygamist's Quadrad', the four callings and blessings of both this lifestyle as well as the Christian/Messianic lifestyle in general.
Arrival is the point at which we enter polygamy through covenant, intense spiritual education, and covenant.
Intimacy is the lowering of all privacy barriers and a committment to total sharing.
Beauty is the impulse as well as the goal to make sacred everything on both spiritual and physical planes.
Service is the complete giving of self to the family and fellowship that brings perfect joy, fulfillment and peace.
Our modern world is plagued by the disease called AIDS. Let us infect our marriages and religious life with the elexir of life called AIBS: Arrival, Intimacy, Beauty, and Service.
And all in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen.