My fourth wife's article, The Symphony of Polygamy has (if the letters we have been receiving are anything to go by) been making quite an impact on those interested in this ministry, and in particular the women. One woman wrote: "I loved your article The Symphony of Polygamy. It really helps put it into perspective". I think when you hit upon an inspired allegory, truths more readily start falling into place.
I do not believe it would be possibly to understand Christian/Messianic Polygamy without the masterful allegory that Christ and the apostles taught of the Wedding of the Lamb to His Bride. As those who frequent this website know, this is the model on which we base our own Christian/Messianic polygamy, far more (though by no means excluding) the teachings about polygamy in the Torah (Law) and in the Tanakh (Old Testament) generally. It is important we do this, I feel, if for no other reason than the Spirits of the Old and New Covenant are not quite the same. Whereas an object has substance and depth, a shadow does not - and we must never forget that the Old Covenant Ceremonial Law was only a shadow of the fullness of Christ. Trying to gain a proper understanding of Christian/Messianic polygamy solely through the Torah will (in spite of its being pure, holy and perfect within its own sphere or context) therefore inevitably leave, at best only a pale reflection, and at worst, a dark shadow, of what true polygamy is all about.
My wife's article was a piece of real inspiration that needs to be taken further because it contains the kernal of what the true relationship is between sister-wives, and between wives and their husband. As a model mirroring the Mystical Marriage of the Saved to the Saviour, it knocks flat the notion of many ministries that polygamy is just multiple marriage. Christian/Messianic Polygamy is not a man with several marriages to different women simultaneously - it is a single marriage to a uniplural bride. I do not have three marriages to my three wives - I have one marriage to all three, as Christ has to His Church (Messianic Community). My wives are my 'Church' (Matrimonial Community). Simple as that. To look upon polygamy as a form of multiple monogamy is to grope in the shadows for an equivalent which does not exist in reality, because the covenant of shadows is fulfilled. It has gone, forever.
Whilst my family isn't quite a symphony yet, it is certainly a Trio. And so I will take my fourth wife's analogy further on this simpler level. As she pointed out, each musician has to become proficient in the playing of her own instrument. This means that she must privately live a life of obedient, sacrificial, and love-centred discipleship in Yah'shua her Messiah (Jesus Christ). The skill to play the music of the Christian life is heaven-derived. When musicians sign up to join an orchestra, it is not the conductor who necessarily trains them, though he may spend time teaching students who have not yet joined the orchestra (family). Most musicians, to gain admission to an orchestra, will already have become accomplished to some degree.
It is for this reason I believe that women coming into polygamy must already have reached a certain stage of spiritual maturity in their Christian/Messianic discipleship. Immature Christians/Messianics, or those with serious spiritual problems, are almost certainly not qualified for life in such a family because they will create major discords and ruin the melody of the whole. We have seen numerous polygamous marriages rocked and destroyed in recent times by such discordant behaviour. And I have been through it myself.
This is not to say that each wife or musician is perfect. None are that. But there are two things about a musician which makes this such a useful allegory for a sister-wife. And it is HARD WORK and OBEDIENCE TO THE CONDUCTOR.
I once knew a young Japanese lady who was a violinist in an orchestra. A relative of hers happened to be an employee of the Engineering Faculty where I worked and so it was that she would often use one of the leisure rooms to practice. Hour after hour, day after day, she would practice the same piece of music, over and over again, nearly driving us all mad (in spite of her giftedness), until she had her part flawless. Her single determination to perfect her art - not for herself but for the orchestra - won my admiration. Practice can be very boring indeed. What made her eminently suitable for the task was that she had a VISION and a DETERMINATION to perfect her part FOR THE SAKE OF THE WHOLE. Had she been playing only for herself, I doubt if she would have had the same motivation.
I am one of those blessed people who has heard a heavenly choir. I was, as it happens, single and very lonely at the time, and pursuing my first wife-to-be with little success. Exasperated and sad, I lay down on the living room floor of the apartment I was staying at (not something I do very often, I hasten to add) and just sighed a deep prayer to Yahweh. Whilst I was staring at the blank white ceiling, I heard music, which came nearer and nearer. It was a choir with thousands upon thousands of voices. The beauty of it vapourised all my frustrations and sorrows in an instant and I bathed in this sea of lushiousness. My heart began to sing with the music. And though I could not understand the words, I knew it was a psalm of praise to El Elyon - the Most High. And before long I also was singing along with the mass of the redeemed and desired with all my heart to be there amongst them.
This was probably my first experience of the spirit of polygamy from the woman's point-of-view. In that brief moment of ecstasy, I lost all consciousness of self and simply wished to blend in with the Bride of Christ. My own voice on its own would have been pitifully inadequate but blended with the millions of the saved it suddenly became part of something infinitely greater than myself and collectively a Bride approaching something of the stature of Elohim (God) Himself.
I have never forgotten that experience. It taught me, in the five to ten minutes in which it lasted, the supreme goal of becoming one with the greater Whole and to forsake selfish ambition. But to become part of that great Whole is not something that just 'happens' - all those who were in that choir had lived lives of sacrificial discipleship on earth. Though angels mingled with them, this was not just an angelic choir - it was in addition that great mass of the Redeemed. Whilst a single pure voice can also melt the heart and is truly a wonder, there is absolutely nothing to compare with that great heavenly choir. The richness, the strength, the overwhelming power of love of the Bride is not to be compared with its individual parts, of worth and special though each and every single part certainly is.
Joining in the Heavenly Choir was an amazing experience...
In our culture of selfishness, unity in holiness is a rare thing to find, even in Christendom. 21st century Christianity is a pale, anaemic version of the real article. Everybody is out to get their 'Jesus-fix' and to experience an emotional 'high'. Great masses of believers assemble to worship and yet for the most part they are unconscious of those around them. The believers on either side are more or less just scenery to create an atmosphere to sustain their personal 'high'. And once the faceless sea of worshippers has dispersed, they are back where they always were - in their world of solo-salvation - a monogamy-only relationship with the Bridegroom ... or with their own fleshy nature masquerading as the same. There is not much intimacy or depth between the saved anymore.
For polygamy to be meaningful, there must be intense bonding between the sister-wives so that there is a natural harmony. It is the same in a quartet or an orchestra. Each player must not only play the right notes but they must also be pure notes. In addition to that, they must play at exactly the right moment, thus requiring they have their eye on the conductor at all times. The conductor in his turn has his eye on the musical score, just as the patriarch in a polygamous family must have his eye on the Word of Elohim (God), to ensure he is making the right music. He may not need to look at the score if he has memorised it any more than a patriarch may need to have his Bible open in every situation because the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has already written it on his heart, but it is still the same score - the same truth. The conductor does not add or subtract notes for then he would not be faithful and true to the composer anymore than we must add or subtract from the Holy Word to be faithful and true to the Creator. But he will, as we all know, add something of his personality into the musical performance.
I had a friend who was a passionate lover of music. He converted a room in his home just for listening to music. He had an enormous collection of records (LPs) and CDs and the most advanced HiFi system that money could buy. I noticed with interest that he had multiple copies of the same pieces of music - like Beethoven's 9th Sympthony, for example - and I wondered why. I learned that not only did each orchestra play the symphony slightly differently but that the conductor added his own personality into the piece too. I noticed especially slight differences in speed, texture, emphases, and so forth, even though exactly the same piece of music was being played. There was, it would see, room for a certain amount of interpretation. The thing, though, was not to deviate from the score.
Even amongst polygamous families who are abiding the same doctrine and teaching, there are slight differences in the way things are done though the melody is the same. Where problems arise is where the melody is added to or subtracted from. False doctrines and wrong practices create imballances and dishormonies which no amount of good will, love or sacrifice can compensate for. Yesterday I was examining the website of a fellow patriarch and in particular looking at one of his wives' homepages and the links to the various things which the family were interested in. I was profoundly shocked. Although I had thought we were on a similar wavelength, it turned out that he belonged to an utterly different and alien spirit. His family's compromises with the world disturbed me deeply and quickly accounted for the difficulties his family have been having in their marriage. Inevitably there was no real spiritual unity between the wives leading in the end to the departure of one of them. Sadly this is an all too common scenario.
To qualify for polygamy not only must the husband be a skillfull conductor, conversant in music and the works of the composers, but the wives must have perfected their discipleship to a certain level. The excuse that there are different 'expressions' of the Gospel where there are several lords, several faiths, and several baptisms meets its timely end when set into the polygamy clasp. It just doesn't work. Like it or not, polygamy only works were there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism (Ephesians 4:5) - one truth, one path of disciplship, one set of Laws, one way of living. Though you may create an artifical set for all the wives, if it isn't according to the Bible score, you will never get the desired harmony. It will become a ghostly shadow of the substance that is really desired.
Conductors aren't made overnight. Most of them start life as instrumental musicians themselves and know how to play. The good ones can play several instruments. A Patriarch, in order to quality to be a polygamist, must also know what it is to have been in female position as a servant both in his home under his father's headship and in his local congregation as a servant there too. The best king Israel ever had (apart from his two catastrophic failings) was undoubtedly David. He was a man of the people who started life from humble beginnings as a shepherd boy. He could relate to ordinary folk who in turn knew they could be understood. Kings brought up with silver spoons in their mouths like Solomon, who knew nothing of simple and down-to-earth service, rarely possessed this gift. A man who has never known what it is to live simply and be under headship and accountability himself will in all likelihood make a bad polyagmist husband.
A true patriarch is a servant-leader
The conductor, like the army officer, should not be willing to ask those who are under him to do things he isn't willing to do himself or who hasn't done himself. Servanthood is the mark of Christian/Messianic leadership. One of the most admirable qualities of German Wehrmacht generals was that they always lead from the front, unlike their allied counterparts who lead from the safety of the rear. German generals suffered higher casuality rates than Allied officers but enjoyed far greater trust and loyalty from those under them.
A woman who cannot play an instrument well will be of no use to an orchestra. This does not mean, however, that she shouldn't join one. It means, quite simply, that she has got to discipline herself more and work harder at her relationship with Christ. Notice that it isn't just her relationship with the conductor that is important but with the rest of the orchestra. Becoming the conductor's favourite will not enable her to blend in with her sister-wives. Just because she isn't playing her instrument well doesn't mean she isn't called into polygamy. A lack of practice is often the main deficiency. Putting her religion into practice is what is therefore expected of her.
I do not believe that only some people are 'called' into polygamy as you know. I believe that everyone is called and that everyone can play and conduct well. The problem is they won't. And because they won't, they don't get the job.
In the heavenly analogy, those who aren't in the heavenly choir - those who aren't the polygamous bride of the Lamb simply - aren't saved. They may believe in Christ but won't do what is required to harmonise with the collective Bride. They want to go solo.
I never heard solo playing in that heavenly choir, and in all the accounts I have heard of others who have heard and sometimes seen heavenly choirs, neither did they. The soloist is the Lamb of Elohim (God), on whom the spotlight is continually. It is the Bridegroom who is the object of our wrapt attention and adoration, not the Bride. But it is, in a way, the Bride that makes the Bridegroom, for the redeemed Bride is what brings Him the fullness of His joy.
The obstacles to membership in the polygamous orchestra are all well known to you - pride, jealosy, laziness, indifference, carelessness, immatutiyy ... to name but a few. If one violinist is jealous of the violinist next to her, she will contantly try to out do her and will either play too loud or perhaps carelessly drop a note or play flat in her self-preoccupation. A violinist in the true spirit is playing only to harmonise with the whole. There is no competition.
I remember a woman in a choir I once sang in. She had a good soprano voice but fancied she was superior to all the others, so that when she sang it was often forced. The result was an ugly vibrato which spoiled her performance. And when she sung with the other women she always sang the loudest so that she could be heard above the rest. It spoiled the choir's performance. Once when she was singing a solo she was being so false and pretentious that her voice gave way and she couldn't sing. Luckily for her it was a rehearsal. In real life Yahweh humiliates those who try to be first by making them last. Those who try to play the leading polygamist wife in a plural family will eventually trip over themselves or crush the family spirit into their own distorted image.
When it comes to a polygamous family, it is the husband who conducts. He may consult with musicians but he is not obliged to. It is his interpretation of the musical score - it is his responsibility, not theirs. I've heard of orchestras where the musicians have quarrelled with the conductor and the story has never been a happy one. If a player suddenly decides to make a modification of the score in the middle of the piece, chaos will result. Either the recalcitrant musician has to be silenced in order to preserve harmony or the rest must clumsily follow suit and ursurp control from the conductor.
Sometimes there are lousy conductors and the company which hires them may fire them. A lousy conductor doesn't make good music even though the musicians may hold the act together as best they can.
Some conductors (though not many) are also soloists. I remember one conductor who played the lead violin and when he wasn't playing conducted with his bow, but such is rare. In such a situation it is his music which leads rather than the motions of the baton. Perhaps polygamous husbands who are also ministers of congregations might fit that analogy.
I suppose the important message that I am trying to get across here is that both conductors and musicians need hard TRAINING in order to make a successful orchestra. And for the Christian/Messianic polygamist that means thorough Bible training (reading music) and plenty of practice (living the Gospel in daily life). An orchestra cannot function with just theoreticians - I have met men who have waxed eloquent in Bible knowledge on polygamy who wouldn't know a real live polygamist if they saw one. And there are plenty of women who sound experts in women's affairs and who happily judge the polygamous lifestyle who haven't much of a clue as to how to get along with other women. Hypocrites there are in abundance along with independent-minded monogamist men who want to be polygamists and feministic women who think they know everything about female society.
Now the heavenly choir is in truth a 'choir or choirs'. The 'New Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra' is made up of many polygamous families, each patriarch conducting his own family, under the Master Conductor, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). On earth each family belongs (or ought to belong) to an assembly, church, fellowship or congregation where families can learn to work together under the conductorship of a Pastor. The way the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) is structured here is to prepare us for the kind of life that exists in heaven. And that life is polygamous from alef/alpha to taw/omega.