Once the scriptual battle to accept the biblical teaching on polygamy has been won, and once you have found yourself a polygamous spouse, it is tempting to believe that the hardest part is over. To be sure, winning the mental war is a great achievement but translating this into a heart-acceptance of the principle and actually successfully living it practically in the real world is no small matter. If mentally accepting the truth of patriarchal marriage is the first step, and finding a spouse the second, realising the fullness of the lifestyle is unquestionably the next 21 steps. Yes, there is a long road ahead ... for most, at least.
I have made it a point in my writings never to minimise the reality of any principle and to state things as they are. I have, at the back of my mind, the horrific story of the first Nordic settlers in Greenland who arrived in that barren, arctic, wind-swept continent in 985 under the leadership of the Norwegian Erik the Red. Lured to this new paradise with fantastic stories of a world rich in luscious vegetation (hence the name 'Greenland') the settlers arrived to discover a world where not a single tree existed, and were to painfully learn just what a misnomer the word 'Greenland' was. There are too many people who are making polygamy look like a Greenland, most of whom have no idea of what they are talking about. And one of the bitterest ironies and deep causes for concern is that there are at least four major polygamy ministries led by one man who is single, one who is divorced and single, one who is a monogamist, and one who had four wives and lost three of them and is now a monogamist! As one commentator pointed out to me, they wouldn't know what a polygamist was if they met one.
The first Norwegians who settled their green-land survived the lie that had been told them for about four centuries before being utterly exterminated by the climate, the eskimos and by pirates who effectively ruled the colony in the last century. It wasn't until the 17th century that the Danes recolonised it and a stable colony resulted.
Polygamy, like Greenland, is not as 'green' as you might think
What this little peripheral incident in history teaches us is that if you do not tell the truth about something as fragile as polygamy the result is going to be an unmitigated disaster. And by the truth I don't simply mean the biblical theory but the reality of just what living this principle is like. We find ourselves in a situation with at least THREE visions of Christian/Messianic Polygamy (more will spring up), all mutually exclusive, and promulgated by the three major polygamy ministries. At the present time (January 2003) only one leader - myself - has more than one wife living with him. They can't all be right no matter how much Greenlandish propaganda is circulated about how 'right' their version of polygamy is. It therefore behooves the Christian/Messianic investigating polygamy to first discover just what kind of Christian/Messianic polygamy Yahweh wants those called into it to live in these last days. The stakes are more than the reputation of any individual ministry but human lives.
To illustrate the nature of the problem facing Christian/Messianic polygamy another piece of Scandinavian history may be of interest. Historians have long debated why the Norwegian settlements failed yet the later Danish ones were successful, and the reason turns out to be very interesting. Norway was unable to meet the continually rising native Greenland demand for grain (which could not be grown there) and the reason was because in Norway and Sweden the single farm system predominated, whereas in Denmark the economy revolved around the cooperative effort of the VILLAGE. The economic system of the Norwegian settlers, where each family relied on itself, just wasn't adequate for the climate. Cooperation, long an established tradition of the Danes, allowed the Danish settlers to survive and prosper.
The application of this principle to polygamy is relevent in two chief areas. Firstly, as I have been teaching for so many years, true New Covenant polygamy is not multiple monogamy. Secondly, in order to survive in a world which will always be hostile to polygamy, polygamous families need to cooperatively move together and to build an integrated mutually-dependent fellowship.
In today's article I want to focus principally on what I call Echad Polygamy (EP) as against Multiple-Monogamy (MM). (Today we call it Holy Echad Marriage or HEM, a term which I coined which some have copied but under a different flag with teachings different from our own.
The Multiple-Monogamy doctrine, which is taught (as fas as I have been able to determine) by all the other Christian/Messianic polygamy ministries, is based on the Old Testament concept of marriage and posits that each new wife that a patriarch takes is a new, separate and independent marriage. Because each of these marriages is separate, there being no covenant or echad (oneness) union between the wives save that which may 'incidentally' be arrived at through close contact, there are of necessity emotional and spiritual barriers between the wives. Whilst a unity between the wives is certainly spoken of, and whilst such a unity can and does develop through normal human intercourse, it is not the same thing as a consciously directed unity such as is promulgated by us.
We know - because we are meeting husbands and wives from these kinds of marriages all the time - that there is a different 'spirit' to the 'multiple-monogamy' system. That the system 'works' is not disputed, but that it leads to the kind of oneness pleaded for by Christ in His High Priestly Prayer and pointed to as the ideal consummation of everything in the Mystical Marriage of Christ, I would strongly dispute, unless the echad system is stumbled upon accidentally and unconsciously whilst still wearing the robes of the multiple-monogamy system (I am sure some will stumble into it).
As soon as you enter plural marriage, and whether you are aware of the actual existence or differences between EP (HEM) and MM, you are in any case faced with some stark spiritual choices. It happens without exception to every woman who enters this principle newly. And the decision she faces is: do I build a hedge of protection around myself in order to protect my feelings from being hurt, or do I make myself emotionally naked and vulnerable as a declaration of my desire to enter total and complete oneness? This is probably one of the most critical decisions that a new plural wife can make and will determine her spiritual progress or retardation, as well as the overall makeup of the family spirit.
Human nature will, by default, choose to build up a hedge and finally a wall. I guarantee it will happen automatically if you do nothing about it. It will just happen. But if you want to build an echad polygamous (EP/HEM) marriage such as we here teach, you are compelled, from day one, to wage an inner, spiritual war against the gravitational pull of the carnal nature by resisting the temptation to build emotional walls and by consciously striving to fulfil Yah'shua's (Jesus') plea for oneness. This is not easy. Indeed, it is very, very difficult. But it is undeniably worth it. It has been this struggle, guided at every hand by myself, which has led to the extraordinary oneness that obtained between myself, and my two wives back in 2002. And it was this struggle, which for every person I would say lasts a good seven years, that has resulted in the elimination of jealosy and created such complete transparency and trust between us. It required the stripping away of every ego mask, every pretense at self-righteousness, and a conscious decision to strive for the oneness of the whole by placing 'I' in a firm second place.
People come to us and ask us incredulously, 'How?' They ask: 'How is it possible?' They want what we have but few wish to pay the price. As you read the stories of my third wife and fourth wife you will discover the enormous struggle they went through to overcome that dead mass called 'self'. This was a daily battle - the very one which every disciple is expected to fight but which he or she invariably tries to escape from. And behind the struggle was the Patriarch - myself - making sure that the goal was always clearly in sight and never yielding to pressure to change direction. This meant in practice that I became target practice. It meant that I became the punchbag. I have my catalogue of bruises as an eternal record of what it means to stay the course of echad polygamy. (Tragically, this did not last when my fourth wife, whilst under great pressure, decided to break out and try the 'world's way'. You just never know what people will choose).
Now most Patriarchs I know have no desire to, and certainly no intention of, making themselves into punch-bags. The moment that serpent called the Lilith nature (or its counterpart, the Hecate nature) arises in a wife, their reflexive tendency is simply to crush it out. The result is that instead of excising the destructive nature, it simply gets burried away in the psyche to resurface stronger and more belligerent than ever at a future time. The macho Patriarch, who congratulates himself as stamping out a seed of rebellion by brutal force, is in actual fact storing up a terrible wrath against his family in the future. And I know Patriarchs who even now are reaping the whirlwind because of this earlier, ill-conceived Machievellian behaviour.
The measure of the success or a failure of a Patriarch in part consists in his ability to handle the Jezebellic spirit. His instinct is to crush it with his heel as though it were an actual scorpion. But the Jezebel spirit is not a biological species - it is a spirit. And 'spirits' can't just be 'crushed' by willpower. To cut them out requires a rather specialised from of spiritual surgery which at first sight seems contrary to common sense and certainly to instinct. Its proceedure is a complex balance between strictness and mercy.
For one thing, the Jezebellian nature is not something you can actually extinguish. It is both a part of the human psyche (the fallen Adamic nature) as well as a separate entity, a demoness, and is always latent so long as we are in the flesh. It is the serpent-nature. Just as a deliverance minister cannot extingish a demon, so a patriarch cannot destroy this fallen nature. He can only bind it up, but even then, he must have the consent of the one afflicted by it. A deliverance minister can cast out demons left, right and centre, but if the one possessed does not want the demons to leave (because she does not wish to relinquish a sinful lifestyle or receive Christ as her Saviour) then the demons will simply pour back in again, and often more powerful than before. The brutal exorcism of the spirit of Jezebel in a rebellious or a spiritually confused and ignorant wife simply compounds the problem. What the Patriarch has to do is to give her a thorough spiritual education and to guide her along the stages, with the conscious decisions that have to be made along the way, to renounce and bind sinful tendencies herself. She has to clearly be shown the consequences both for herself and for her family of negative tendencies and gently pushed to make critical decisions. And the only way that this kind of pressure can be maintained (for it must be if the family is to achieve that oneness) is if she is bound by a covenant to do so. And it is this which is the primary difference between the polygamy taught by this ministry and all the rest.
I have explained in outline the nature of these covenants in the article I wrote called Sister-Wife or Wife: How are Polygamous Wives Related?. A Patriarch can make absolutely no progress in his quest for the perfect union of the Mystical Marriage of Christ if he does not have covenants in place to which he can hold his wives and himself accountable. Once He does, He has the justification of the Holy Spirit as well as the spiritual equipping to manage the task. Without it, each wife is free to choose to withdraw within herself and he has no recourse but to gently coax her - often at great mental, emotional and spiritual expense - to pursue the correct path. But without that covenant, she is under no obligation and she may, if she chooses, maintain a multiple-monogamy mindframe and retreat behind a wall for the rest of her life. And she would be entirely 'justified' (legalistically-speaking) in doing so, wrong and spiritually damaging though such a retreat is.
When a believer comes to Christ, he enters into obligations with the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) in the waters of baptism. He makes himself accountable to the Body and cannot hide away as a solo-Christian. He cannot build a wall around himself in which to privately sin and expect the Spirit to justify him. I am at this very moment in time dealing with a man who has done this very thing. His self-chosen isolation has led him into the most serious of sins imaginable and effectively destroyed his life without a full and complete repentance requiring nothing short of spiritually dressing himself in sackcloth and ashes. And yet this tendency is, I believe, ignorantly encouraged in Christian/Messianic polygamy. Because those covenants aren't in place, and because there is consequently no spiritual help for the patriarch because of them, the result is solo polygamous wives each carving out their own little queendoms or principalities. They are constantly jostling for positions which they conceive of as being advantageous for them or, as is often the case, which they falsely believe is what they must have in order to emotionally survive. The result is always fragmentation which the patriarch and maybe even the wives themselves try to conceal and cover with an illusiory mask of bliss and happiness, particularly if their husband is a man holding an important leadership position in the wider Christian/Messianic community. But bubbles pop and fake masks crack ... they always do, to be followed by a crumbling reputation as the world sees that actually the patriarch has little idea what he is doing, the earlier pompous claims notwithstanding.
Nothing - absolutely nothing - can substitute for living Christian/Messianic polygamy right. I wonder how many more disasters we are going to have to witness before proud, stubborn men will realise that they have built an incorrect model which is actually harming them and their loved ones. There is only one way to live New Covenant polygamy and I make no apology in claiming that the one we have been teaching is in all likelihood that correct one. It means, in order to accept it, though, that a lot of theological idols have to be smashed and pride in having failed confronted. Since repentance ought, in any case, to be our natural state of being, in reality making the change in that direction is not so hard. And people will respect you much more when you discard the infallibility mask and show that you are vulnerable and repentant. Such a spiritual state is what actually makes a man attractive to a good woman. The women who are attracted to those who present an aura of invincibility and artificial perfection are in any case usually those who are themselves na´ve and who are the first to get hurt when the illusion is shattered. Then the patriarch has considerable damage control to do afterwards.
I am not particularly proud to admit that I have made dozens of mistakes along the way, some of them very serious indeed. And yet the fact that I have, and have worked through them, and been transparent about them, has, I believed, given me more credibility with my wives. They are, for one, assured that they can pick up the pieces of the mistakes they have made and start again too. That a lot of mistakes were going to be made in the first generation of latter-day Christian/Messianic Polygamists was inevitable, as it is for any path-finders. Our record - of our successes and failures - is therefore going to be of vital use to the next generation. It is na´ve at best, and utterly stupid at worst, for any man to pretend that as a first generation polygamist he can walk into the principle as a spiritual Rambo and come out completely unscathed. It just doesn't happen. It hasn't happened and it won't happen.
But I digress somewhat. My main theme today is about new polygamous wives and what they should expect in the early days. No matter how prepared you are theoretically and intellectually, the actual experience of polygamy is very, very different to what you may have imagined. And the biggest shock of all, if you are living echad polygamy as you do, is to discover the enormous intermal emotional barriers that suddenly press you in the face as you interact with flesh-and-blood people who may have made more progress than yourself (there is an element of pride here) (or even vice versa sometimes). For this kind of polygamy pulls out into the limelight every suppressed feeling and sinful tendency, sometimes all at once. This can be quite a shocking experience especially if we have been suppressing a little here, and a little there, over a very long period of time. It's amazing what can accumulate. And then to have it all suddenly thrust into the noonday sun can evoke such feelings as deep shame, embarrassment, and horror.
New polygamist wives must struggle with many fleshy issues
But the thing to remember is that such an exposure is purposeful and edifying even if the initial experience may seem the diametric opposite. It is actually something to rejoice over for it portends a resolution and a healing. It portends great happiness. And in spite of the reflexive wish to quickly hide it all away out of shame, this is in fact the worst thing that a new wife could possibly do. She must remember that those wives who have overcome have been through all this before so they will never be shocked or judgmental...unless they themselves are still struggling. For them, as for the husband, such a moment is one of great opportunity, hailing liberation and peace if the wife doesn't metaphorically scurry away into a corner and hide. Her sister-wives, if they have overcome (and if they haven't, hell is just around the corner) will lovingly help minister to her so that she may have what they have, and be one with them, and with their husband.
Now the suggestion that such a struggle may take seven years may sound a bit daunting but please do realise that no two people are the same and that everyone wrestles both with different problems and in different ways because of their complex spiritual make-up. I would be lying if I said that there were short-cuts for there aren't. Some problems may be overcome faster than others. But my experience has consistently been that there is most definitely a seven-year spiritual cycle of cleansing and we can either choose to work within its rhythm of we can ignore it and find ourselves forced to go through another one ... and if we still refuse to yield, yet another one.
This process is known as the 'Seven Overcomings' and is detailed in the Book of Revelation and the other writings of John, and is discussed elsewhere. (See also the sermons of the Chavurat Bekorot). I am not saying that all seven overcomings can be achieved in seven years (one a year). In practice, they are usually spead out over a lifetime, especially in a non-echad polygamous situation. The great blessing of echad polygamy is that is forces the men and women alike to confront the problems head-on, offering a 'crash course' in sanctification ... but not multiple-monogamy, which tends only to entrench the problems. Accordingly, I am no sympathiser of multiple-monogamy and would rather advocate simple monogamy in its place. For if polygamy is not actually catalysing the process of sanctification then it is, in my opinion, not only utterly worthless but actually a retardation of discipleship. (See the article, How Can Polygamy Help Me Be a Better Christian?).
My wives, who are seasoned in this lifestyle, had a good laugh laugh night when they were told that polygamy is much easier for the men than the women. Not in echad 'punch-bag' polygamy though maybe in other forms. My third said said - and my fourth concurred - that they wouldn't want to be a man for anything in the world. Whatever sacrifices they make are more than compensated by those made by the patriarch in terms of covering his wives (fighting unseen principalities), being a punch-pag for those women in their first (or even second or third) seven years (depending on their choices), taking the flak from multiple in-laws and their wider families, being on the receiving end of the wrath of feminists and their ilk, and so forth. If anyone thinks that polygamy is a party for the patriarchs they are in for a rude awakening especially if a wife is resisting. But if you want oppressive polygamy, then maybe it is 'easier' provided you don't mind missing the blessings of the harder way.
It is, of course, easy to judge from the outside where knowledge of polygamy is abysmal, being usually based on false stereotypes and the many bad examples which come to media attention for the reason - and only reason - that they are abusive and therefore 'newsworthy' (who in the liberal feministic monogamaniac world wants to hear all the good news stories about polygamy in the liberal-controlled media?). To be a part of echad polygamy is also therefore to be misunderstood and deliberately misrepresented ... and since it is the 'wicked men' who are allegedly propping up the system, guess who of husband and wives gets all the flak? Usually the women are the 'victims' and the men the 'abusers'. So my wives have good reason to laugh when they hear liberal propaganda about the 'easy life' of the men. We know what it is like to be persecuted and to be under constant pressure while our enemies wait for us to trip up on some irrelevency which is then blown out of all proportion. Recently it has been because we use pseudonyms which has been used by certain parties to whip up a dark cloud of controversy as to whether or not we are bona fide polygamists or whether this site is a complete scam. We are used to having our friends turned against us by those who deliberately misrepresent us. I know of few exasperated and exhausted patriarchs who have not, at some time, wished they were monogamists - not because they prefer monogamy to polygamy but because of the incessant opposition. And whilst wives may receive a certain amount of opposition from their own families (who care about them at least ... as a rule), the patriarch must bear the attack from multiple in-law families (who care little or nothing about him). When it comes to opposition from the spiritual world and from the hostile physical world, it is the men who must bear the brunt. So if you do not have the guts to withstand persecution, don't become a polygamist man!
Polygamy can be as overwhelming as much for men as for women
I am not necessarily here castigating men who are so worn down that all they want to do is throw in the towl. Such men need protection and help for we are all human. It is here that prayer cover and Christian/Messianic community become very important. It is not easy to live polygamy alone especially if you choose to be public about it as some have. (I do not judge them for that - if that is what they feel Yahweh wants them to do, and they have the backing of their wives, then I will support them in that decision). If you do follow the 'Norwegian Greenland model' that I began this essay with, though, be prepared for eventual extinction. I know of many men who are tying to 'go it alone' and they are wondering why so many of their children are returning to the world. Polygamist families need to gather into communities and those communities need to network so that the lifestyle can be preserved and propagated in an increasingly hostile and anti-family world which would put all women into the men's workplace and children into state nurseries and kindergartens. The men often need a breather and they often need it badly.
As one who was walked alone for many years (because there were no other Christian/Messianics polygamists) I know the intense feeling of loneliness. Whilst it has been wonderful to have the company of wonderful wives, men also need male company. And whilst one can find male companions easily enough, finding those who are of the same mind and heart, who share the same family values is not easy, especially when it is is something as 'way out' as polygamy. It's only been in the last two or three years that I, as a patriarch, have actually found any male fellowship, and even then many have gone the way of Brutus. There are many lonely polygamist men out there who are desperate for fellowship, and I empathise with them.
The husband and wives all have their respective burdens and polygamy is not easier for one sex over the other. By propagating such myths people are only harming our peace and promoting fragmentation in what is one of the most complex and intricate integrative relationship processes known to humankind. If you can succeed in polygamy then I venture suggest you have the potential to succeed in almost anything involving human relationships.