in Plural Marriage
This is probably one of the most often quoted passages of scriptures in our Order for it - along with some others - is the rule of thumb in determining whether the Holy Spirit is operating amongst us or not. And it is true both for our local assemblies as well as for our families.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:22-26, NKJV)
The justification of any true principle of Yahweh must be the presence of the Spirit. And the presence of the Spirit is always marked by these qualities that Paul pointed out to the Galatians. The fact that they are absent in a congregation does not, of course, necessarily mean that Christianity is false, but rather it isn't being lived as it ought to be lived.
Happiness ... who in their right mind does not want happiness? If if are all honest with themselves, that is what we, in the deepest recesses of our soul, are not only seeking but craving. I can think of few souls, save those who have been deluded to follow the pathway of the devil, who would not 100% concur with Paul with the first three fruits of the Spirit as being emminently desirable: love, joy and peace. Some or all of these words have been - and are - the clarion calls of so many secular and religious movements. Desiring them is noble and perfectly in Yahweh's will. But attaining them is what people quarrel over. For one thing, they argue over the meaning of such words as "love" which for some means simply 'free sex' (a misnomer for the consequences lead to anything but 'freedom'). And self-control isn't all that popular to the hedonistic mind. What of faithfulness? These days to be "faithful" means to be true to your own feelings rather than to a spouse or to the commandments of our Father in Heaven. And what of long-suffering? These days in certain countries you have only to look at someone in a displeasing way and they will pump you full of lead...or chop off your head. Road rage seems to be on the increase everywhere. People will kill just for a few yards of tarmac.
Marriage, as we all know, isn't easy. And polygamy is a lot harder than monogamy, just as managing a family with many children is a lot more difficult than managing a family with only one. Whenever you multiply human beings, you multiply the potential for trouble and strife. However, the problem is not with numbers but with that singularity called 'I'.
I had thought of sitting down and quoting some famous people on what they thought about happiness. Just go into a greetings card shop and you're bound to find plenty of anecdotes, poetry, and proverbs about love, happiness and peace. And whilst it's true to say that such greetings cards have multiplied exponentially over the last half century, what they speak of hasn't. There is an enormous gap between theory and practice. So I am going to stick with what I know and share with you the ingredients of a happy and successful plural marriage.
Before I launch into my 'recipe' may I say that I am not denigrating self-control and longsuffering. There can be times when our hearts are on the point of thermal meltdown (especially when we are immature .. such ought to diminish drastically as we grow up in Christ) and all we want to do is explode in a torrent of protest. Such behaviour, we know, can not only hurt others but permanently scar them. It is therefore wise to put a muzzle on ourselves for the sake of our not injuring others. And whilst this outer act of self-restraint is better than creating a battleground of misery for others, it must never be assumed that it is the best or only solution.
There is a balance in all things, even in the solution of marital problems, and there are always at least three positions we can occupy. The Roman historian Tacitus wisely said that "the hardest lesson that philosophy teaches (is) a sense of proportion" (The Agricola). For a woman to size up her emotions in polygamy, especially when she is new to it and reacting to the culture shock of a wholly new way of life, this is indeed a vital art that has to be learned whilst the Spirit works on her and transforms her inner being.
There are many 'modes' of being that new women in polygamy adopt in order to cope with the enormous upheaval that this way of life brings to them.
- Firstly, there are those who totally lack self-control for whom tantrums are the way they express their frustration. Without out a doubt, this is the worst possible way to cope with any difficulty because feelings inevitably utterly drown out rationality making discussion impossible. I always refuse to discuss anything with a woman who is out of control in this way and send her away to cool off -- not to walk away from the difficulty, but with the expectation that she returns in a calm state of mind to discuss the difficulty rationally and with a view to Scripture-based resolution.
- Secondly, there are the more timid women who believe that inactivity is the greatest wisdom. They simply pretend the problem doesn't exist, suppress it, and suppose that by thus reacting the problem will go away. Such a reaction is not at all unlike the Buddhist reaction to pain and suffering. By pretending it isn't there, they hope it will go away. And indeed that is what the Buddhists do - they maintain that these things are maya or illusion. The result is to actually kill a part of the human spirit. It is a form of inner self-mutilation that turns people into mere shadows of themselves.
- Thirdly, there are the martyrs. They understand intellectually what is going on inside of themselves and rather than hurt the ones they love - or are trying to love - they bottle the feelings away and, when asked if they are alright, say 'I'm O.K' or 'I'm fine'. But the effect of doing this is to actually errect a barrier to comunication and no matter how hard they may try to conceal it, the experienced patriarch will always detect it and feel the pain of the separation caused by such wall-building. Though the motive is usually good it is, in fact, harmful both to the wife trying to spare the others the fire of her untamed passion because it immediately breaks down the echad or oneness of the relationship. Left unresolved for very long, the result can be to actually drift away into a desert island of suffering. Another motive can also be pride and stubbornness in admitting something about onesself that one is ashamed of.
- Fourthly, there are those who, whilst holding their passion in check by an act of self will, are open and truthful about how they feel and come asking for help. Their attitude is neither one of self-justification nor accusation of others, but broken-hearted and contrite. Transparency coupled with emotionmal restraint really is the only way of humility and this is why I always insist upon it as the only was to resolve problems. This is not the same as venting ones spleen which, though certainly 'transparent', is not constructive but destructive.
Yes, we do need (and must) get problems off our chest but we must always do so in a way that is ultimately edifying for everyone. And herein lies the key. To be successful and happy in plural marriage to is to always be 'we' conscious and never 'I'. Personal wants are infinite, but what the whole family needs are not actually usually that great.
Yah'shua (Jesus) prayed to Yahweh:
The local congregation and the plural marriage must always have, as their SUPREME AND OVERRIDING GOAL, to be echad (one) in the same way that Yah'shua (Jesus) and Yahweh are. This is what we mean when we describe the HEM vision of polygamy as 'Echad (Oneness) Polygamy'. No matter what the problem is - no matter what kind, how big or how small, echad is the overriding principle and everything else must subtend to it. Without this vision, there is no ultimate resolution to problems.
"Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one [echad] as We are" (John 17:11, NKJV).
This is the word of truth we live by, the rail upon which our marriage moves:
All that you have learned about worldly resolutions to conflicts from secular psychiatry have to go by the board. They are, unless they are scripturally based, worse than useless. They will retard a plural marriage. True polygamy is not of this world. If we don't know that, we ought to, because trying to make polygamy work according to the principles of the flesh is a contradiction in terms. Freud, Jung and all the other psychoanalysts are useless. We don't need them. All we need is the vision of divine echad.
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world" (John 17:14, NKJV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Just because something is negative or bad does not mean we should go into denial and either pretend it isn't there or convince ourselves that it does not need dealing with. Just as we are physically in the world, so is our carnal nature a part of that world. Whether we like it or not, WE WERE BORN WITH THE WORLD IN US and we have to CONFRONT IT and CONQUER IT in a way that does not harm us or others.
"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:14-15, NKJV).
What we do not need to do is psychoanalyse it. This was my approach in the early days of plural marriage. Such is a merri-go-round and an utter waste of time. The only solution to the source of all our inner griefs, which come from following after the flesh instead of the spirit is by imitating the apostle who declared:
Now unless you know of a painless way to be crucified, crucifixion suggests to me something very short, painful and distressing. Our personal problems - whether in plural marriage or in any other relationship - stem not from the world without us but from the world of the carnal nature within us. And according to Paul the only way to have a Spirit-filled life where Christ lives within us, is to put the carnal nature to death. The operation is painful - and provided you yield without protesting - short. You, and you alone, determine how long it will be. And the limiting factor is invariably your own PRIDE.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of Elohim (God), who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, NKJV).
I recently described our system of Echad (Oneness) Polygamy as 'punchbag polygamy'. When two or more people are bound by covenants of love and oneness, what one does is experienced by the others. Yah'shua (Jesus), as we saw above, prayed that His disciples would have the same kind of oneness that He has with His Heavenly Father. But I wonder just how many of you have actually thought about what that means? That oneness - of being linked together - means to share the same nature, the same senstivity, the same heart-love. When Yahweh notices a sparrow fall from the sky, so does Yah'shua (Jesus) by virtue of their oneness. When Yahweh numbers the hairs on your head, so does Yah'shua (Jesus) by virtue of their oneness. When Yah'shua (Jesus) was taking the sins of the world upon Himself on the cross at Calvary, so was Yahweh by virtue of their oneness.
When we obtain the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control - it is because we are brought into oneness with Yah'shua (Jesus), and through Yah'shua (Jesus) with the Father. We experience the same things as they do and in the same way.
When a plural marriage has been entered into in the proper way, and covenants of oneness have been made between husband and wives, and between the wives themselves, a ring of oneness is made in which the Holy Spirit flows. This means that the joy of one becomes the joy of all, and the sorrow of one becomes the sorrow of all. It means - translated into simple words - more joy and more pain, for the two are the two sides of the same coin called Echad Polygamy.
A circle of echadness in Christ
Now you may choose to live the way other Christian/Messianic polygamists live, which is a form of multiple monogamy where the principle link or channel is between husband and wives like the spokes of a wheel. It will mean less suffering but also less joy because the marriage is not echad or one but many. To enjoy the fullness of love means not only relationships like the spokes in a wheel between husband and wives, but a (non-sexual) marriage of sister-wives to sister-wives joined together in a ring (see The Parable of the Cartwheel). This form of plural marriage means TOTAL CONNECTIVENESS and is the substance of the High Priestly Prayer of Christ:
The 'in-ness' of echad plural marriage means, of course, a deeper committment not just to the relationship itself (in its eternal scope) but to dealing with problems as and when they arrive in the most constructive, redemptive and charitable way possible. Echad Plural Marriage is a "one body" marriage where there are not only individual person-components but a unitary body too whose sum is actually greater than the several parts. An echad polygamous marriage is a Unitary Adam Marriage, a single 'Person' consisting of many persons.
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:20-23, NKJV).
But what does this mean in practice? It means that the connectivity, though invisible to the physical eyes, is nevertheless real on the spiritual plane. Let me give an example. A couple of nights ago my wives and I watched a film which turned out to be definitely sub-standard. Thinking that a film which was recommended for children of 11 years plus, we never dreamed that it would contain such gratuitous violence. We were shocked. But worse than that, the images and sounds we saw definitely made an imprint on our spirits that was destructive.
I began by working with myself. As I lay in bed that evening watching the images of the film animated by the less-than-wholesome spirit that lay behind them, I found myself actually in spiritual warfare. My spirit had, without a shade of doubt, been marked. Accordingly, I went into intercessory prayer for myself and, having repented for watching the film, invoked the blood of Christ to have these images and this spirit eluted from my soul. This accomplished, I went to sleep.
But during the middle of the night I awoke and saw similar images again but this time they were not coming from within me but from within our family body. As I prayed I discovered that these images were coming from one of my wives, to whom I was connected by my echad covenant, which in turn were impinging me. I therefore went into intercessory prayer again not just for her but for us because we were all affected by the way each had reacted.
This is a reality - a connectiveness - which some people find difficult to understand, but it is nonetheless real. It is the secret of our intimacy, closeness, harmony and happiness. On many, many occasions when a wife has been with unsaved people who have made an unconscious impression on her, that has evoked carnal sympathy and empathy, I have sensed a defilement in myself and in the family as a whole. It had required that I sit down with her and that we work through the spiritual processes involved. The growth that results from an understanding of these forces and how we are all affected is the real blessing, though. We develop a consciousness and sensitivity one for the other, recognising that a sin committed by one is a sin committed against all of us ... not in theory, but in reality. In this way, personal transgressions make the others into punching-bags.
But why should such a concept be so alien to us? If we believe the New Testament, as we should, there should be no surprise, for this kind of intimacy is paralleled not only in the local assembly or church but in the whole Body of Christ (Messianic Community). When one part of the Body suffers, the whole suffers - this was the undeniable message of Paul. But because for the most part people are focussed on the physical realm, they are largely ignorant of the spiritual. And remember also that the final destiny of the saved is an echad polygamous marriage with Christ where, in the allegory, we are treated as one. We are many - millions of us - but also a single Bride.
People talk glibly about being a 'part of the Body' and yet their whole lives bespeak an anti-Body mentality. They want the joy of spiritual intimacy but not the pain. They wish to retain the spiritual boundaries of worldliness and to preserve as much personal independence as possible. But this, brethren and sisters, is anti-Bride and therefore anti-Bridegroom. In a word, antichrist. This Western mania for non-dependence on, and independence from, others is a sickness that aborts the unity of the Body time and time again. And it is the same sickness that makes contemporary Christian/Messianic plural marriage so spiritually anaemic. That is why I have drummed in the necessity not only of women yielding themselves to the polygamy way but of men yielding themselves and their families to Christian/Messianic communitarianism.
True happiness results when all artificiality and pretense is lowered and renounced, and our sin-nature is displayed to the Body (family or congregation) against all the protests of human pride, and is put silently to death. To do that means to renounce 'I' and to think 'we'. It is a habit not too difficult to attain provided we do not stand on our pride and stubbornness. It means allowing the Body - whether local assembly or plural marriage - to hurt together with us, bearing one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2).
It is the calling of everyone who has overcome sinful tendencies to help those who still have not, and to encourage them not to try it alone. The whole purpose of Body salvation is to lighten our loads and to speed up our personal redemption. To accomplish that in the most effective and painless way requires mature leadership - those have attained a true spiritual sense of proportion and who understand the weights and balances of spiritual phenomena. Primarily that responsibility falls upon the husband in a plural marriage (the pastor in an assembly) who must develop these skills if he is to successfully lead his wives to true echad. If he refuses to, or simply lacks the ability, then the clear message to him is that he should not be living polygamously. Pity the congregation that is led by a poorly equipped pastor, and pity the wives whose leader-husband is a whimp or one incapable of giving leadership and proper pastoral care, correction and direction.
The way to happiness in polygamy is the way of echad or oneness. The path is not easy but definitely worth it. The alternative is a compromise and a partial withdrawl ... a half life and a pretense at happiness. Both the Kingdom of Heaven and plural marriage are like a pearl which a man sold everything to obtain (Matthew 13:46). They are 'all or nothing' phenomena. So before you enter plural marriage, be sure that you are willing to give everything of yourself and to stick out the course. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Like the Three Musketeers, husband and wives must be "all for one, and one for all".
"No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of Elohim (God)" (Luke 9:62, NKJV).
First created on 8 January 2002
Updated on 4 March 2016
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