I get a lot of questions, especially from women, about such subjects as courtship and dating in the polygamy situation. What is particularly hard for these women interested in polygamy is that there are almost as many different approaches to the 'art of romance' in polygamy as there are different kinds of Christian/Messianic polygamy. A good many of these, it seems to me, are just a cheap imitation of the worldly ways of the secular monogamy-only culture.
By way of illustration, I present two recent examples. One woman, a recent convert to polygamy, told me that she was utterly sick and tired of the 'dating scene'. All she wanted was to skip all the ritual and sexual posturing and be led by the Spirit of Yahweh into a godly polygamous family where she could find peace and happiness. My admiration for this woman instantly rose and I was, I confess, impressed - and I thought to myself: 'Now this is the kind of lady that I can respect and do spiritual business with'.
Another lady, who obviously thinks highly of dating and courtship à la typical pre-1950's Americana, commented favourably on the Mormon practice of married couples dating even after marriage. I could see where she was coming from and certainly thought this an improvement on the kind of dating that takes place today, but found myself in fundamental disagreement with her. And the reason I disagree with her is because I consider the whole dating 'model', along with 'going steady' and other worldly ideas, to be scripturally flawed.
As a Christian/Messianic claiming Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as my Lord and Saviour, in whom I claim to have crucified my flesh (or am still crucifying it) and who desires, above all else, that Christ should live in and through me as a pattern for others to imitate (for His glory and not my own), I must seek a model of courtship and romance in harmony with His revealed Word, the Bible. As I have already discoursed at great length on the biblical patterns given to us, such as Isaac and Rebekah, I propose today to look at this question from another angle, namely courtship.
It should by now be joyfully (painfully if you haven't understood it yet) obvious that when it comes to the way we should seek, find and live with our life partner(s), that we are to be patterned after the allegorical marriage of Christ to His Church (Messianic Community). I was talking with an American lady yesterday who told me how her whole concept of marriage had been brutally mutilated by a violent and abusive husband whom in the end she had been forced to divorce in order just to live. All she had been taught by her church (assembly) and by him was that she should 'submit' in 'silence' to him and do whatever he said. She had never read, let alone been shown, that a woman is to submit to her husband as her husband loves her - as Christ loves the Church (Messianic Community). That one scriptural passage had turned her whole concept of marriage on its head and instead of ugliness and terror she began to see beauty for the first time. I wish to do the same with courship and dating in this short essay today.
If you want to know how you are to 'court' and 'date' then you already have a model given to you in Christ's allegorical marriage to the saints, His polygamous Church (Messianic Community). In other words, if you want to know how to 'date' and 'court' (I am only using these words because they are common currency - actually I don't agree with them at all) then all you have to do - if you are a truly born-again Christian/Messianic who is seeking to build the Kingdom of Yahweh first in your life - is to look at how Christ 'courted' you and how you were led to love and serve your fellow brothers and sisters in the Church (Messianic Community).
It is said that our allegorical marriage to Christ takes place in two stages:
That the first is a separate event is undeniably true though I would question that there is much of a 'separation' or 'gap' between the two once the initial, primary act of salvation through committed trusting has been accomplised. In my experience, all those who come to Christ are automatically actively involved in their local fellowship, learning, growing, and witnessing for Christ. Where I see 'solo Christians/Messianics' who stay away from the Body I am absolutely convinced (there's not a shadow of doubt in my mind, actually) that their relationship with Christ is actually both selfish and ultimately fruitless.
- (1) A personal one-to-one relationship with Him; and
- (2) a communal relationship with the Church (Messianic Community) serving in the world.
Based on this model, what does this tell you about worldly 'dating' and 'courtship'? The model the world gives us (without the promiscuous sex) is that you should find one person, 'go steady', hopefully 'fall in love' and then completely and absolutely be totally absorbed in one another. Now, be honest, is this the model that Christ gives to us?
Those who are filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) are not self-absorbed or exclusively absorbed with a lover. Now I am not saying that you shouldn't be in love or have deep, romantic feelings, but what I am most definitely saying is that if your spiritual life is full, Yahweh will put romance into perspective. If courtship causes you to deprioritise the Kingdom-building Mandate given to all disciples then you can bet your bottom dollar that a spirit of IDOLATRY has crept in. Remember, idolatry isn't just about putting unlawful things ahead of Yahweh but about lawful things as well, including romance. What idolatry actually does - and especially romantic idolatry which is very subtle indeed - is to actually remove the power of godly romance out of a relationship and to transform it into something fundamentally carnal.
Romance - between ecstasy and idolatry
I was recently counselling an American Pastor who had a prominent position in his ministry about a major problem he has. Namely, he has fallen in love with a second woman and desperately wants to marry her. His first wife is resolutely opposed and considers him to be an adulterer. The scripturality of polygamy aside, the issue for this man is not actually the rightness or wrongness of polygamy (which he is using to justify what he wants to do, namely, marry the second woman polygamously) but the fact that he starting from the wrong end.
Please do not think that I am a kill-joy. Please do not think that I am a Calvinist hater of romance and romantic love. I am absolutely not! I passionately believe in both romance and romantic love! But I do not believe in allowing these to ascend and consume any of my spiritual values, nor supplant the presence of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in my life. Once the Ruach (Spirit) has been displaced, obsession and blindness take control.
I know. I have been blindly in love, and I had it really badly. So bad did I have it that I simply could not - and would not - listen to what Yahweh was actually telling me. I remember one event as distinctly as though it happened yesterday, and I blush as I recall it, for I heard Yahweh actually tell me audibly: "Will you accept 'no' as My answer?" to my desire to marry a certain woman. My answer (I am ashamed to say) was "No!" I wanted her so badly that I was willing to push aside Yahweh's will in my life.
When you're in that situation, or even on the borders of it, you are in mortal danger spiritually. The power of the human psyche in passionate 'love' must never be underestimated. 'Falling in love', if it is not accompanied by divine approval and approbation is, even if you are thinking sexually pure thoughts, actually falling in LUST because you are 'lusting' (intensely desiring) something more than you are desiring Yahweh. And this was the danger my pastor friend was in.
I have know not a few men willing to ruin their first marriage, career, and everything else in order to get a second wife because they are so madly in love. They will use polygamy as their excuse to ignore the leading of the Ruach (Spirit) and to trample down their existing family. Polygamy must never be used as an excuse to break any commandment, the first of which is to love Yahweh above all else, and the second is to love your neighbour as yourself. If 'loving' someone else means trampling on your first wife's feelings - if falling in love means abandoning your stewardships as a disciple - if falling in love means wrecking lives, then it would have been better if you had never fallen in love at all! Worse, you may actually find yourself in the devil's snare.
But this is not to answer the questions that have been asked me about how to 'court'. What is 'Christian/Messianic courtship'? Does it exist? Is there any biblical warranty for 'going steady' and 'dating'? Of the latter two, I can find absolutely none. Is there 'Christian/Messianic courtship'? Yes, I believe so - absolutely - the same courtship that Christ uses to win us to His heart. And I called it the DIVINE ALLURE or DIVINE ATTRACTION.
Now, to deal with this topic in a totally above-board sort of way requires complete honesty on your part. When you are courting someone, what do you do? What is it that you are using to 'attract' your partner? Here are the main ingredients in any courtship (no doubt you'll think of others too) - I invite you to arrange them in the order of greatest personal priority:
PHYSICAL LOOKS - PERSONALITY - SPIRITUALITY - EMOTIONS - SEXUAL CHEMISTRY - INTERESTS/HOBBIES - YAHWEH'S WILL
Ask anyone off the street and statistically you will find that good looks, chemistry and the like are the principal ingredients in courtship. Then compare this with the way Christ attracts us to Himself as our Saviour. Is there a correspondence? Is there a reason we are supposed not to make physical images (icons) of Deity? In practice, you will find that the world's way of courtship is the exact reverse of the Saviour's.
To save time, I will tell you what I personally look in a woman when I am considering her as a potential wife.
Firstly, I check to see that her greatest desire is Kingdom-building because if her #1 driving force is winning souls to Christ then I will know that she is striving to be obedient to Yahweh's will (this is much more important that whether she has got her theology right - this can be sorted out later, but preferably before marriage). I will also know that spirituality heads her list of priorities in life. Once I am satisfied that she is Christ-centred (and all that implies in terms of inter-personal relationships with others, Scripture study, prayer, witness, and so on) and teachable (for we none of us 'know it all'), then I move on to her as an individual and a person.
My next interest is in the way she thinks - her life philosophy, how she sees Elohim (God) and the world, how she seeks to understand Yahweh's will, and so on. I want to know what drives her thinking. And above all I want to know if she is willing to be obedient to Yahweh in all things - whether she is flexible or inflexible, teachable or dogmatic.
Then I take a close look at her heart. Does she have a heart for people? Is she warm and affectionate? Does she love children? What are the things which she loves? Does she consider the world to be worthless in terms of the immeasurable love of Christ? Is her heart pure and righteous? Is she kind and considerate? Does she feel compassion for the unfortunates in this world? And does she feel a burden for the unsaved?
Then I will look at her interests and hobbies and see if these are compatible with Christian/Messianic living. They don't have to be the same as mine, in fact, I rather prefer those who have new interests which can be a blessing to the whole family. But it's nice to have one or two shared interests too.
And then, and only then, will I even allow myself to consider what she looks like physically and consider whether we might be sexually compatible or not. And to tell you the truth, I really don't need to do this at all, because I have discovered that so long as you are walking in the WILL of Yahweh, that such things as physical attraction and sexual compatibility will be taken care of by Him without us having to worry about them. In short, I don't need to do what the world does at all. I don't need to 'go steady', I don't need to 'date' and I don't need to 'court' BECAUSE YAHWEH DOES THE COURTING FOR ME. Rather, I invite prospective wives to my home to be around the whole family and I observe how she gets on with all of us, just as I, as a Pastor, watch how a new convert integrates with the fellowship.
Now I know that this requires a word of explanation for those of you not acquainted with my philosophy of romance. I am one of those simple-minded people who believes that if you do what Yahweh tells you that He takes care of everything else. Yah'shua (Jesus) commended the innocent faith of small children and rebuked His disciples for rejecting that when they tried to drive them away. "Of such are the Kingdom of Heaven," the Master said. What this means is that I do not need to go through a massive 'falling in love' process (with all the dangers attached to that) in order to justify my pursuing another woman because I know that falling in love is not necessarily Yahweh's signal that the relationship is right. Now be honest - haven't you had crushes on many people which turned out to be hormone-based? And don't we sometimes 'fall in love' because unconsciously we believe that the person we are in love with will meet some deep inner need? And yet this isn't primarily what marriage is about, is it?
I prefer to 'grow in love' or 'fall in love' once I know I have a solid friendship and brother-/sisterhood in place, and Yahweh's will is clear. Then there can be an explosion of passion as far as I am concerned, but under control of the Ruach (Spirit).
Why has Christ alleogorically married us, His Church (Messianic Community)? What is His motive? He loves us. That's the #1 reason. But is the driving force behind that love His need or ours?? Ah, now we are coming to the heart of the matter, aren't we?
To be able to understand the 'why's and wherefore's' of marriage we need to understand what marriage (and therefore romance) is for. And it is here that different polygamists differ in a major way. It is here that my ministry differs from nearly all of the others. To get to the heart of this question - and your questions about dating - is to get to the heart of the divine mystery of marriage. Because our whole philosophy of marriage will not only determine the quality of marriage that we live but also either release or limit us in our choice of marriage companion(s). This needs explaining.
Without going into details, let us imagine that there are two Christian/Messianic philosophies of marriage, which we'll call A and B. A is the correct one, B a distortion of A. Yahweh wants me to adopt the right philosophy of marriage, A. If I do, he will lead a number of women to me who also have been led by Him by the Ruach (Spirit) to this correct philosophy. These are my ordained wives - those marked as mine from the beginning. They are my 'Eves', my missing 'ribs'.
But let us suppose that I reject philosophy A and subscribe, by an act of free will, to philosophy B. What then happens to those women foreordained to be my wives? Will they hold philosophy A, see that my philosophy B is incompatible with theirs, and reject me? They might. Or the situation may be the complete reverse - I having the correct philosophy and one or more of the others having the wrong ones. In spite of being foreordained to marriage, we will pass each other like ships in the night, not recognising one another. Or the one with the correct philosophy will recognise those with the wrong one, but those espousing the wrong one will be blind and we will pass by one another.
This has happened to me, and how bitter it is!
Philosophy 'B' leads to so many failed relationships
That, friends, is why theology is important. Many think that Yazhweh will lead you to the 'right' spouse so long as you just follow your heart. Dangerously wrong! Yahweh does not lead by the heart but by the Ruach (Spirit) which itself works on the heart and mind. Do not be deceived! Yahweh does not work on our premises but on His, so if you're starting at the wrong end of the stick, you're going to be blind!
I have made this mistake. This is no theorising exercise for me. And having learned from that mistake, I started listening to Him and letting Him lead my wives to me. But before we were able to find one another, we had to get our doctrine straight first. I am pretty sure that if I hadn't been led to the mystery of polygamy by Yahweh that we would not have found one another. That is one of the reasons this website exists - not just for me to find my missing companions but for others who also believe in 'philosophy A'.
In reality, there are several different 'polygamy philosophies' out there: A, B, C, D, etc., with lots of sub-variations - B2, C3B, etc.. I believe there is only one true philosophy of marriage - I am not as liberal as the others in believing that there are 'many' depending on your 'disposition' or 'nature'. I know many believe there are different forms of Christian/Messianic polygamous marriage just as others believe that Yahweh is known by different names like Yahweh, Brahma, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, etc.. I believe in one, singular truth and it is that which I seek will all my passion. I believe in one Elohim (God), one Messiah (Christ), one faith, one baptism. I am not a pluralist in that sense at all! And therefore I think the motto of the United States is a most unfortunate one: "Out of plurality, unity".
That is why I unapologetically present this model of polygamy to the world. Though I don't believe I have had all of it revealed to me, I do most certainly believe that what has been revealed is the truth. That is why I do not work closely with other Christian polygamy ministries who espouse 'philosophy B'.
You cannot ignore spirituality and religious philosophy in courtship. If you do, you may find yourself in difficult waters later. I know of one lady who believes in 'philosophy A' who married someone beliving in 'philosophy B' and whilst she is in love with her husband she admits that she feels repressed and stagnant in her spiritual growth. She didn't think that doctrine mattered so long as you were 'in love'. Fatal, fatal mistake. Doctrine matters, and it matters very much, which is why Yah'shua (Jesus) repeatedly testified that He only taught what His Father told Him to say.
Our marriage is founded upon our philosophy of marriage. Everything we do and are is built upon its premises. And that, we firmly believe, is why we are now so successful. As humans, of course, we still have our faults and make mistakes, but we rest confidently, amply born out by the fruits we have seen, that we are on the correct path. For most entering Christian polygamy (philosophy B) they expect to say farewell to their spouses when they die. How every different it is when, like us, you are looking forward to the very best of marriage in the next life and are using this life in preparation.
But I am sure some of you reading this mostly want to know about the act of courtship itself. How does it happen? What feelings are involved? How does one discern between flesh and spirit? And these are perhaps the most important questions of all.
And that is why the romantic trilogy was written. In 60 chapters, you will, I hope, gain a deep insight into our form of Christian polygamous marriage. The whole trilogy on this site will describe one woman's courtship and how she came to 'know'. Start with these and then, if you want to go further,
start tudying our main website or, if you want to study off-line, order the CD-ROM containing this site and the main site combined that delineate our theology. If you want to be entertained as well as educated, I think you'll find the experience worthwhile.
Let me conclude with this piece of advice to would-be 'courters' - always ask yourself, 'How does Christ allure (attract) me to Himself?' and 'How am I attracted to Him?' Once you have the answers to these questions, you'll know how to approach courtship in Christian/Messianic polygamy à la model #A. It is best I do not spell it out further so that you can enjoy the freshness and excitement of romance in the Spirit of Christ which is always unique for every individual. I'll not spoil that for you by setting up any further expectations.
And may the Lord of Love lead you in romance and marriage as He leads you in salvation and sanctification. That is my deepest prayer for you.