I take the view (rightly and scripturally, I believe) that if polygamy is of Elohim (God) then it must be the most natural lifestyle in the world to live. My belief is supported by the fact that Yahweh uses this lifestyle to depict allegorically His relationship between Himself and His Church (Messianic Community), Israel, and reinforced by my own personal experience with my wives. In other words, when husband and wives are living in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), polygamy ought to be the most restful, joyous and naturally flowing experience between human beings that can be found for those who have been called into it and who are willing to live it in the fashion delineated in the Word of Elohim (God).
I'll go even one step further by saying that every single human being is capable of living polygamy restfully, joyously and naturally if they are prepared to live their lives as Christ intended. This has to be true because otherwise Christ wouldn't call everyone to salvation which implies that everyone is capable of being happily married to Him in allegorical marriage.
It is, I think, dangerous when many Christian/Messianic men and women use, as an excuse for not embracing polygamy in their hearts, their not being called into it. For the great majority of these people the result of such thinking is that they retain, to one degree or another, the monogamy-only mindframe and as a result stifle the Ruach (Spirit) somewhat. For me that is the same as saying that not everyone is called to be saved, which is manifestly untrue (unless you're a certain kind of Universalist). Every living soul is capable to being saved if only they will exercise their free agency in making the right choice and submitting themselves humbly to discipleship.
I will therefore repeat it again: every single man and women is called to accept polygamy and live it - every one. But not all are foreordained/predestined (depending on your theological viewpoint) to it just as not all are foreordained/predestined to salvation:
Since the relationship between salvation-sanctification-justification-glorification is so intimately tied to the concept of marriage by Yah'shua (Jesus), we are forced - if we are honest - to adopt a theology of marriage which deliberately brings all of these concepts into focus within polygamy itself. Marriage, like salvation, is a decision - to either marry someone or to accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour. Marriage, like salvation, is also a growing process in that relationship that makes us right with our husband and which finally leads to glorification. Marriage, like salvation, is so important, that we ought to treat it with a similar reverence and holiness as we do the most important relationship of all, our union with Christ, and through Christ, with Yahweh-Elohim our Father.
"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified" (Romans 8:29-30, NKJV).
Now the fact that everyone is called to be polygamously married doesn't mean that everyone will make it far enough down the spiritual road to live the principle because of the choices they have made to ignore the pathway laid out by Yahweh. The same is true of salvation. Every single soul is called to salvation but not everyone chooses it. Moreover, Yahweh knows beforehand who will accept His salvation offer and who will reject it. Thus Paul declares that some are predestined to salvation and some aren't. Yahweh knows in advance who will accept the offer and they are therefore specially 'marked', as it were.
Now "What then shall we say to these things? If Elohim (God) is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31-32, NKJV). In other words, not only has the believer nothing to fear in terms of eternal security if he is placing his trust fully in Christ, but no-one who is called into polygamy (and that's everyone) has any need to fear either, since Yahweh is for it 100 per cent. Which brings me to the central point, namely, that no Christian who has been born again should fear polygamy since, like salvation, it is the most natural thing in the heavenlies.
What people have got to understand is that enforced celibacy and the monogamy-only mindframe are completely unnatural and positively harmful. To adopt either view of marriage (or lack of it) is to throw a spanner into the spiritual works. It is to retard one's sanctification and ultimate glory. To adopt either mindframe is to say: 'I'll accept You as Lord and Saviour, Master, but don't try and disciple me! I'll skip the sanctification part!' or 'I want Christ all to myself.'
Everyone called by Christ to the marriage feast of the Lamb has been chosen to be a polygamist (Ephesians 1:3-6). Everyone! Without exception. Everyone who believes he has a heavenly inheritance will also receive a polygamous one - everyone! (Ephesians 1:11). However, the fact that you have been called to salvation and to polygamy doesn't necessarily mean that now is going to be the right moment for you to be saved or be a polygamist, does it? Don't we hear men - and especially women - saying that they aren't 'ready' for it yet? And they're right, of course, aren't they?
The answer is, we are ready, and we aren't. There are steps and processes that we go through in accepting salvation, some progressing farther than others in proportion to their faith and willingness to submit. We all, because of our weaknesses, work at different paces.
"And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11, NKJV)
But the most important thing is to take the first step by accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour and trusting in Him to clean us out progressively and to keep walking down that path to eternal life, even if we can't see very far ahead.
To mentally accept polygamy as Biblical and true is the first and most important step even if one's heart is temporarily out of sync. Converting the heart is a lot harder than mental acquiescence and we must learn to be patient with loved ones who are struggling. The fact that everyone should be accepting polygamy doesn't necessarily mean that they can, nor does it justify the excuse of many to go no further. Elohim (God) helps us "work out out salvation in fear and trembling" (Phiippians .2:12) because we're on the move, having taken a positive choice to struggle - but He is less than sympathetic when we have stopped dead in our tracks and refuse to go any further, for such manifests a lack of faith ... and without faith we cannot be justified (made right, accepted) in His eyes (Galatians 3:11). To say, 'No! Never!' and to dig one's heels in the ground in the face of Scripture is to be no less than in a spirit of rebellion, which is as bad as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).
Of course, we may be dragging our heels over the polygamy issue and still have need of repentance, but the fact that we are moving by small increments is at least a sign that we are willing to repent. So if you're dragging your heels, friend, I counsel you to bless yourself and not wear out your shoes! Go with Yahweh and with His Ruach (Spirit)!
Polygamy is one of the most wonderful mirrors of the path of salvation that there is because of the comparison Yah'shua (Jesus) makes between the two. Those who think that salvation is just a matter of passive belief will, upon facing polygamy, soon discover what an utter lie that counterfeit gospel is. Indeed, marriage has been given to us - and especially polygamous marriage - to help us monitor the path of our salvation. Salvation, like marriage, is Past, Present, and Future. It starts with a covenant - a surrendering, it has a present in which we are 'working it out', and it has a future when it must be completed, for it is like a race that we dare not drop out of (Hebrews 12:1).
For my wives and I polygamy has been the must fantastic and wonderful measuring rod for our spiritual progress in Christ, and vice versa. As the Word is the written manual of this journey, so polygamous marriage is the living manual of the most precious of all things - reconcilliation with Yahweh and the promise of a life of future glory. But it comes with a price - and if you aren't willing to pay it, it won't work for you. Fortunately, Christ has paid the whole bill (1 Corinthians 6:20), and those who try to keep a part of their soul back from Him, as Annanias and Saphira did (Acts 5:3), will in the end forfeit their lives.
Polygamy can no more work in man's own strength than salvation can be earned by man by obedience to the Law. However, that doesn't mean that in marriage you can sit back and let Yahweh live your marriage for you any more than we are not expected to live lives of obedience in Christ. True love is defined in Scripture, is it not, as obedience to the Law?
"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your Elohim, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life ... " (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NKJV; also see Exodus 20:6; John 14:15,21; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 6).
For polygamy to succeed, the husband must be completely obedient to Christ and his wives must be completely obedient to him (1 Peter 3:1). Without this core ingredient you are destined to failure from the starting line. Who in their right mind would claim that once having accepted Christ as their Saviour they would henceforth not accept Him as the Lord (Master/Commander)? Who in their right mind would claim to be justified in saying they accepted their call into the army but refused to obey their military leaders? What woman in her right mind would claim to be called into marriage but refuses to obey her husband? Disobedience leads to chaos and dissolution. Disobedience is lawlessness, and lawlessness is the name of the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
To be a single person, lacking an intimate marriage relationship with a spouse, is like being unsaved and not enjoying the intimate spiritual communion of the blessed with Yahweh. To be monogamously married is like having a personal relationship with Christ; and to be polygamously married is like the fellowship of the Church (Messianic Community), which is one Body and one Bride. That is the natural way. That is the way to completness and perfection, for we cannot be perfected without one another in Christ and by the same token we cannot be perfected monogamously in our marriages.
Having said this, though, there is a time and season for all things. You can no more force someone to move straight into a polygamous marriage unprepared (let alone unwillingly) than you can be forced into sanctification in Christ - these things must progress naturally. If anyone must do the forcing, it must be Yahweh Himself. However, having said that - and it bears repeating several thousand times a day - this is not a licence for PROCRASTINATION which is just another form of unbelief. Procrastination does not justify us (put us in right relationship) with Yahweh our Father.
There is a fine balance that needs to be maintained between force and freedom of action. However, it must be stated from the beginning that it must be Yahweh who does the forcing in matters of religion and marriage and not man! Someone forced into Christianity isn't going to be moving naturally or joyfully in it - indeed, they almost certainly will never have met Christ at all which is what Christianity is all about.
There are therefore two kinds of force and two kinds of attraction and they are important to distinguish between when it comes to both salvation and polygamy.
Firstly, we are told in Scripture that there is nothing especially attractive about the mortal Christ:
By the same token, true polygamous marriage in Christ is not primarily based on mere physical appearance.
"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2, NIV).
Nevertheless Christ attracts! He said:
You see, Yah'shua (Jesus) is both repelling and attractive at the same time, just as polygamous marriage is! So what is it that draws us to Christ if it is not His physical appearance as seen by Isaiah in vision? It is, as we all know, His Spirit that draws us. Similarly, only those who are spiritually in Christ, are walking with Him, and know Him as He really is, will be drawn by, and into, polygamy. It is that simple.
"I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32, NKJV).
That is not to say that all monogamy-only Christians are 'unspiritual' but it is to say that they are fundamentally lacking in something spiritual in their lives otherwise they would not be so violently repelled by the unifying doctrine of the Bible: polygamy, even if they are not called to necessarily practice it. And it is to say that their spirit vision has, in someway, been distorted and damaged by false teaching. It is those Christians/Messianics hostile to polygamy that we should be feeling sorry for because they have been blinded by the evil one not to see the feast of fat things which our Father is offering us (John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 3:14; Romans 11:7; 1 John 2:11).
The fact that we are attracted or repelled by something or someone does not mean that we are being attracted or repelled by the Ruach (Spirit). There are always two natures at work in us - the spiritual and the carnal. For the carnal, polygamy is unnatural and repulsive. For the spiritual, there can be nothing more normal and attractive.
When two people are in Christ they begin to naturally flow together in unity of Ruach (Spirit). Every now and then they will meet something carnal in one another and be repelled. But rather than shun one another they will, if they are moved by love, desire to help the spiritual in their friend win over the carnal, so that they may flow even more freely thereafter. Just because we do not find oneness on Day #1 doesn't mean we must give up. The Body must be perfected through successive purgings of spiritual fire.
I believe the great quest of all polygamists must, ultimately, be to discover the 'spirit of polygamy'. I do not, as our readers know, believe polygamy to be something that is merely permissive, an estate some of us pass through in this life like a brief acquaintance en route to something infinitely better. There are two inter-personal parallel processes at work in mortality - the drive towards Union of the Body of Christ as a single allegorical Collective Wife, and the drive towards Union of individual marriages, for which the former is an illustration. There is no reason for me to believe why these two do not continue in the next life in a more intense and perfect form.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1, NKJV)
But unity only comes through submission (James 4:7):
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one Elohim (God) and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:1-6, NKJV).
As the Wycliffe Bible Commentary on this passage puts it: "It is the graciously humble who may relax".
"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "Elohim (God) resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV).
To submit is to be loving and deferential. Whatever one's spiritual station, respect for one another is such a vital key to unity. Trying to be right for the sake of being right (self-righteousness) helps no one and manifests a lack of humility and respect - it is merely one way of trying to lord it over others. But to proclaim Yahweh's righteousness and heavenly decrees is not to manifest a lack of humility, but rather to show reference and humility towards the Law-Giver. Our lovingness and deferance must also therefore incorporate an unswerving comittment to Elohim's (God's) Word and a determination not to compromise it.
Every soul in a polygamous marriage is more perfect in one particular area than all the others. All have their strengths and weaknesses. For unity to occur, we must defer to those who are more perfect than us in those areas in which we know we lack. There is no shame in being less perfect than someone else - indeed, such gives us the opportunity both to give and receive grace - Yahweh's unmerited loving kindness - and to be blessed by the one who is more perfect.
There are no ivory towers for polygamous men and women to climb and lord it over others in their family. We are all on ground level. Towers are, in any case, rather lonely, cold and windy places to be. Humility is the place where souls meet and merge. And the ground is not the righteousness of the Patriarch who leads his marriage, but the righteousness of Christ from which he derives both his own righteousness and his authority to lead as a Patriarch. It is from this same ground of righteousness that the wives obtain their licence to marry polygamously and the commandment to obey and be submitted to their husband.
When all are submitted to Christ, vertical relationships between humans give way to purely horizontal ones. Rather than being one who gives orders and resolves disputes, the husband then, in this blissfull state, becomes more like a gentle breeze passing between, and envelloping his wives. In a way he becomes an invisible matrix that links them to him and to each other, he himself being invisibly linked to his Creator and Lord.
I have sought far and wide for paintings or pictures that convey this unity and sense of blessed peace as often these can speak much more than words. I still haven't found one but the other day I did find one that comes pretty close. It is of an imaginary polygamous family though it is not Christian (the man is obviously involved in some sort of oriental religion) and doesn't quite reflect the standards of dress that I consider appropriate (even if the scene is private, where such things are less important), but what I particularly like about it is the air of relaxation about it and the Edenic sense of naturalness and innocence. These are people who are obviously comfortable with each other, as ought to obtain in a polygamous marriage.
Of course, finding such innocence requires that one has made major inroads into the carnal nature and has learned to put on the new man or woman in Christ (Colossians 3:10) so I don't recommend that polygamous families rush down to the nearest mountainside lake and expect to recreate semi-Edenic conditions overnight! Besides, we have much more important things to do first. Extended bouts of paradise must await that happier world to come.
In the meantime, there is much we can be doing to ensure that we do not halt along the Way but carry on diligently to the finishing line. There is so much to build in a marriage, and more so in a polygamous one. May Yahweh bless you all in that quest.