Continued from Part 1
A recent discussion of the concubine issue in our Patriarch's Club and a parallel one in our home as led me to take a fresh look at the whole issue and its relevence to the New Covenant. This article is therefore the sequal to an earlier one, A Closer Look at Christian Concubines, written a year ago, which ought to be studied first.
It is impossible for anyone who has a Western mindset to understand many of the teachings of the Bible - as we know full well in discussing the wider issue of Christian/Messianic Polygyny - without a substantial reorientation in thinking processes. For the most part, new Christians/Messianics come into their faith and unconsciously superimpose their gentile hopes, expectations and fears on the biblical revelation and are often surprised to find 'contradictions'. These contradictions, which may provoke a wide spectrum of feelings from rage to depression, are not, however, the fault of the Bible but of our thinking and feeling processes, themselves the product of years of indoctrination at home, school and in the wider society. This is not, of course, to say that our society - for all its faults (which are many) - is without some inspiration since for the most part the values of our societies are built upon the Judeo-Christian tradition. And whilst these continue to be eroded by the neo-pagan substitute culture in our midst, strong veins of the biblical ethic continue to be present, even though they are rapidly disappearing.
Coming to Christ requires nothing less than a total reorientation in thinking, feeling and behaviour. The Biblical culture of servanthood strikes an often violent contrast with our Western occuption with 'me' and my 'rights', a mind- and heart-attitude that not only makes worshipping Yahweh very difficult (implying, as it does, total obedience and service without expectation of reward or salary in this life) but results in a substitute narcotic religion of accepting any doctrine or pracice which makes the unruly and fickle heart 'feel good' at any particular moment. The pagan culture within Christendom is so entrenched now that Yahweh has been reduced to a mere psychic-emotional vending machine. People will only obey or do certain things if there is a reward at the other end - money, an emotional kick, and/or acceptance of who one is exactly as they are without repentance or expectations of a change in behaviour.
The Old Testament concept of a concubine (pilegesh) was of a woman brought into a family as a half-wife in some sort of position of forced servitude. I don't wish to go into the rights and wrongs of this practice under the Old Covenant as I am more preoccupied with its place - if any - in the New. Such servitude was not, it is worth pointing out, limited to just women, for men - though not pressed into marriage - were likewise forced into servitude. As pointed out in my earlier article, many of these ordinances and institutions were permitted because of the hardness of men's hearts, which subsequently became reformed in the New Covenant which represented the fullness of Yahweh's revelation to mankind. We note also in the scriptures that whilst there was a distinct locus or point at which the Old Covenant came to a complete and absolute end in respect of certain ordinances such as animal sacrifice and the Levitical Priesthood, viz, the cross the the resurrection, other aspects under reformation by Yahweh where phased out over a longer period of time.
This passage is very important to an understanding of how the Old Covenant passes away. Note the present continuous tense - "is passing away" ... not "has passed away". This gradual disappearing of the Old Covenant Torah from the world of spiritual affairs is likened to the glory of light that was in Moses' face when he came down from Mt.Sinai after speaking face-to-face with Yahweh. At first nobody could look at him because the light coming from his face was too great, but as time passed so the brightness turned into a glow and gradually passed away altogether. We are to understand from this that the passing away of certain aspects of the Old Covenant is to be in the same fashion as the gradual dimming of the countance of light in Moses' face.
"But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation (Old Mosaic Covenant) had glory, the ministry of righteousness (New Covenant of Christ) exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech -- unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away" (2 Corinthians 3:7-14, NKJV)
This is not usually how most Christians view the end of the Old Covenant. Most of them look upon the crucifixion and resurrection as a huge hinge in which the whole religion of Yahweh suddenly and instantaneously turned. Well, in some respects, of course, it did. For one thing, salvation through faith on the Name of Christ suddenly became available for the first time. Admittedly there was a delay of 50 days before the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost but that was only to fulfill a prophetic type. We know also that all the shadows and types of the Old Covenant disappeared on the cross including animal sacrifices and much of the ceremonial Torah (Law) and the Levitical Priesthood that administered it (being replaced by the Melchizedek with Yah'shua (Jesus) as our eternal High Priest). Where a huge segment of Christendom is in error (caused by the Catholic Church and never corrected by the Reformation) is that it came to believe that the whole of the Torah (Law) was nailed to the cross, the ethical and the moral as well, misunderstanding that it was, first and foremost, the penalty for Torah-disobedience that was "nailed" or done away with. It was legalastic observance of Torah was was "nailed to the Cross" and the curse of Torah (that is, the punishment for wrong-doing - at the crucifixion Christ became our punishment). (For a fuller treatment of the Torah, see the Ephraimite Page and New Covenant Torah).
Thus we find in Paul's letter to Philemon an apparent acceptance of slavery, though with a new vision of Master-Servant relations. And we discover that what Yahweh is principally interested in is not so much human institutions like slavery but in our spiritual attitudes to such systems and how, as empowered and anointed believers, we can live happy and victorious lives even in adversity. (After all, we live in an increasingly feudalistic slave-society today). The time for the reformation and eventual ban on slavery remained until more modern times and the calling by Yahweh of Wilberforce to finally liberate the slaves. Why such a move had to take so long is not possible for us to know but it undoubtedly related to many factors, including the condition of men's hearts. What is important is that it came and that slavery in its wider sense (and not just the protected form in the Old Covenant - a form infinitely superior to that practiced, for example, by the Arabs, Jews and Europeans in Africa and the Americas) was finally abolished. Though in its traditional form it still exists in some parts of the world (like Mauretania and now the Islamic State) and has mutated into different forms, and had brief reappearances in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire, it is, to all intents and purposes, gone. And I can think of no Christian/Messianic who would wish to bring it back in any form, even if we do live in a different kind of slavery in the New World Order.
There is, however, a difference between what we generally call 'slavery' and the New Testament (and to a certain extent the Old Testament) concept of SERVANTHOOD. The idea that servanthood is a necessary part of the spiritual life of those who are being saved is so deeply embedded in both the Old and New Testaments that you could never remove it without totally castrating the Gospel as a whole. If we are to understand concubinage in its New Covenant setting - and its male equivalent (for there are always parallel principles for both sexes) - then we are going to have to understand the wider biblical picture of servanthood and why it is so important for us.
Firstly, let's acknowledge that the word "concubine" has come to denote a term of abuse. So have the words 'patriarchy' and 'polygamy'. On this website in particular we have gone to great lengths to distinguish between what we consider to be false and abusive patriarchy and polygyny and what we believe to be true and liberating patriarchy and polygyny. Since we know that Yahweh is the author of both, it follows that there must be a perfect form. By the same token we are forced, if we believe in Elohim's (God's) Word, to accept concubinage as well, but must - because of this practice's abuse - reconsider it in the light of Yahweh's goodness and loving-kindness.
A Moslem harem - how most Westerners picture biblical concubinage
If all concepts of concubinage are demeaning and oppressive then we are faced with an impossible question: Why did Yahweh legislate in its favour in the Torah? Do we conclude that Yahweh is Himself demeaning of women and oppressive of the gentler sex, and thus force ourselves into disbelief and liberal Christianity ... or worse, into paganism and atheism? Or do we, as we have done with polygamy, try to understand a greater revelation which perhaps has become completely obscured by all the terrible abuses of concubinage (which has become a licenece for extra-marital affairs and fornication), polygamy (male status and economic bondage), and patriarchy (domination and control power games) in general? What is the wisest thing for us to do - condemn El Elyon, the Most High, without a careful search, or patiently - with our feelings under control in His grace - seek the higher ground of love and divine understanding?
You know, I sometimes meet people who say the same things about the idea of the necessity of a blood atonement (which they say is primitive, barbaric and unspiritual) as others say of concubinage (and polygamy and patriarchy). It is easy for both to go off the emotional deep end because of our prejudices and ignorance as it is to unthinkingly just condemn anything that does not fit into our worldview or which shakes our carefully contrived comfort zones. Some people are very touchy especially those who have experienced horrific abuse at the hands of ungodly and wicked men themselves. For many any discussion of polygamy, patriarchy or concubinage just sets off violent triggers and they are confronted by a sea of hurt and anger that they cannot cope with.
Conjure up in your mind 'slavery' or 'concubinage' and you probably pull out a stereotype that covers all forms of slavery and concubinage. Most people's exposure to these things is through the secular media. But there have always been many forms of slavery and concubinage historically. Some men and women had no rights at all and suffered terribly and others had many rights and were basically happy. The fact that the Torah made provision for slaves to be free after a certain period of time, as well as provision that slaves could, after this time, choose to remain slaves because they LIKED it - and the fact that many slaves under the Torah - MALE AND FEMALE - chose to remain slaves rather than be free, ought to alert us to the fact that just maybe our sterotype of these practices is somewhat skewed. After all, why on earth would someone choose 'slavery' when given a genuine choice of 'freedom'?
If we are to understand this apparent 'dilemma', we are forced, I think, to understand a couple of things:
None of us who have thoroughly researched the reasons for the first question and have embraced polygamy - men and women alike - are in any doubt as to why Yahweh and Yah'shua (Jesus) used this model. We have understood the glory and wonder of this lifestyle. But it would not be true to say that all Christian/Messianic polygamists have discovered this. Some are undoubtedly very miserable indeed. And the reason, I would venture to suggest, is because they have not really come to an understanding of the second question.
- (1) Why did Yahweh use POLYGAMY as a model for His relationship both to Saramia and Jerusalem (or Israel and Judah) and of the relationship between Christ and the Church/Assembly? and
- (2) Why did the apostles use SLAVERY (including concubinage) as a model for the individual believer's relationship to Yahweh?
There is a qualitative difference between Old Covenant polygyny and New Covenant polygyny and I'm going to suggest that there is similarly a difference between the two Covenants when it comes to slavery. You will notice, incidentally, that as you read the Bible, that polygamy figures as much in the first book of the Scriptures (Genesis) as in the last (Revelation) -- and arguably more in the latter because of THE polygamous Marriage of the Lamb. And you will also notice the same thing when slavery is discussed.
For instance, in the end-time both freemen and slaves receive the "Mark of the Beast":
This text reads as though they are as abundant in the last days as they were when John penned his apocalyptic vision. Small and great, rich and poor, are contrasted with free and slave. And as we all know the small and the poor are always in the vast majority ... as presumably must the slaves be. Do we make a liberal interpretation of this scripture and say that John was looking through the lenses of the first century when he talked about slaves and that these aren't actually slaves he is talking about, or do we accept that he saw into the future and also a huge slave class? If we are committed believers of the inerrancy of the Bible we are forced to accept the latter. But perhaps we ought to first look at this word "slave" more closely. How, for instance, did the apostles use it? And even Christ? For the Saviour used slavery in His parables as though it were something quite 'normal'. Neither He nor the apostles openly condemned either patriarchy, polygamy, concubinage or slavery.
"He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:16-17, NKJV)
Revelation says that both freeman and slaves receive the 'mark
of the beast' which means slavery was never actually abolished
But are they all equal? I don't think so. For Paul unmistakably compares the inferiority of the Old Covenant with Hagar's concubinage, and the New Covenant of Christ with Sarah's full marriage. He writes:
In this passage Paul very clearly demonstrates the inferiority of concubinage and marks it as belonging to the Old Covenant and not the New. He says categorically that Christians/Messianics are not the children of concubinage but of full marriage.
"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law ("who want to be in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism" - Heb. t'cheit Namosa, JNT/CJB), do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman (concubine-slave, Hagar), the other by a freewoman (full wife, Sarah). But he (Ishmael) who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he (Isaac) of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai (Mosaic Covenant) which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar -- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children -- but the Jerusalem above (New Covenant) is free, which is the mother of us all ... Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.' So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman (concubine/slave) but of the free" (Galatians 4:21-26,30-32, NKJV)
Why, then, are some Patriarchal Christians/Messianics taking concubines? It can only be because they have still not passed fully out of the Old Covenant, having one foot in the Old and one in the New. There is no other conclusion. That means, in practice, that there are different kinds of Christian/Messianic polygamist, some who strive to be fully under the New Covenant and others who, whilst accepting the New Covenant, have still not let the Old fully pass out of their lives. And what this means in practice is that there are patriarchs and concubine-wives who are still not free - they are in spiritual bondage.
This Old-New spiritual dichotomy shows up in believers in many other ways too. There are many - especially Messianic Jews - who are so occupied with Torah-obervance that they lose site of what the heart of the New Covenant is all about. Now please do not misunderstand me - as a Messianic Evangelical, I am Torah-observant. I am a sabbatarian, follow the dietary code, and I observe the Holy Days ordained by Yahweh. I also observe the moral and ethical laws of the Torah. But there are some who still cling onto many aspects of Old Covenant Torah that have been abolished by the cross, making such observances of no spiritual value whatsoever, such as circumcision of the flesh and concubinage. I do, however, understand, accept and embrace the truth that just as circumcision of the heart continues to be important (Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 2:29), so must there be some truth to be found in the concept of spiritual concubinage and in the wider sense spiritual slavery, otherwise what on earth would these things have been shadows of? For nothing Yahweh ordains is redundant or purposeless.
Which brings us to the New Covenant teaching on spiritual slavery. We shall first of all let the scriptures speak for themselves:
"He who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave" (1 Corinthians 7:22, NKJV).
What an interesting concept! One modern paraphrase puts it very well indeed:
What this means, quite simply, is this: those who are slaves in the world - whether as institutional slaves or slaves to things like drink, gambling, impure sex, and the like - are liberated in Christ from these things. But when He chooses those who are already free or thus freed, they become slaves of Christ. To become a Christian/Messianic is, in fact, to exchange one kind of 'liberty' (the counterfeit) for another (the true form), and at the same time to exchange one kind of slavery (the counterfeit) for another (the one that gives you true freedom).
"When the Lord chooses slaves, they become His free people. And when He chooses free people, they become slaves of Christ" (1 Corinthians 7:22, CEV).
What this means is that Christ cuts across all racial barriers and makes no distinction between such institutional states of being as "freemen" and "slaves". Your outer status means nothing in Christ. If a Jew and a Greek accept the Messiah, they are one in Him. If a master and his slave accept Messiah, they are one in Him. And all are equal in terms of worth, salvation, spiritual freedom and status. Whilst these distinctions may exist in the world, they do not exist in the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) ... in the fellowship of believers. Which is why Paul tells the believing slave owner Philemon to treat his slave Onesimus as a dear brother in Christ.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus)" (Galatians 3:28-29, NKJV)
In the world system we are all 'slaves' and 'concubines'
There will always be social injustice in this world. There will always be racial, economic, political, sexual, and other distinctions. Whilst these things will all disappear in the Millennium, they are not important when it comes to living the Christian/Messianic life in this dispensation. And whilst we would like to be rid of them, and should try to get rid of them when we can, we have to remember that we have other priorities. Christians/Messianics will find themselves in all sorts of disadvantageous situations in life. Some, like Syrian, Iraqi and Sudanese Christians, find themselves slaves and concubines to their Moslem masters, victims of oppression. We know, horrible though these conditions are, that Yahweh has to give men the free agency to choose righteousness of evil for themselves. But that does not mean we should be promoting either slavery or concubinage and joining in these degrading and oppressive forms ourselves. What sort of a signal do we send out to others when we either return to abolished Old Covenant practices or participate in the degrading and wicked practices of the heathen? What, then, does our religion mean? What then becomes the attraction of Christ? Were I an oppressed concubine or slave of some pagan, I might think twice about accepting Christ if I saw the same (even though more liberated) practices alive amongst Christians/Messianics!
I am sure that like Philemon and others from the New Testament times we could make good Christian/Messianic slave- and concubine-owners, and likewise Christians/Messianics could make good slaves and concubines. But that's not the point, for we know not only that these things were 'on the way out' from the moment that Christ died for us at Calvary, but that in the case of concubinage, this was a marriage lifestyle that belonged to a former way of life which has now been abolished, unlike full polygamous or monogamous marriage which in the New Covenant recognises only full wives. A true believer having a concubine ought to elevate her into a full wife, as I believe Abraham did of his.
There are many - for Western minds - pardoxes in Hebrew thinking. For instance, we know that we are slaves of Christ. Yet the apostle Paul also says:
Though, of course, he is talking about a completely different kind of slavery here.
"Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of Elohim (God) through Christ" (Galatians 4:7, NKJV).
Do you rememeber Abraham had a slave whom he made his son and heir before Isaac was born? (Genesis 24) Before the time of the Law of Moses, Yahweh's Patriarchs were treating their servants or slaves as sons. As I mentioned in my earlier article on concubinage, there is a progression in our relationship with Christ from servants to friends based on our obedience and trustworthiness. And this really is the clue to what a New Covenant concubine-wife really is. Not a slave in bondage, but a young and immature wife spiritually who is learning to serve her husband and sister-wives as he and they are already doing. It's not an 'office' or a 'station' in life - there is no such thing as a 'concubine-wife' who starts off as a slave or a semi-slave and then works her way to to being a 'free woman' because in Christ we are all free men and women ('free' in the sense that we are slaves to Christ but not bound as slaves to the world system). I have never called a wife a 'concubine' and never would. But I do have wives who are training for the priesthood, some of whom are Deacoesses and some Eldresses. And a Deaconess is a shamash or servant, just as an Eldress is a servant or shamash, since 'once a deaconess, always a deconess' - Even Pastors, Apostles and Christ Himself are deacons or shamashim.
This is the paradox that I often have difficulty conveying to Western minds - that we are ALL servants/slaves/concubines/ and we are ALL kings/queens/full-wives/priests/priestesses. We are, in fact, a royal priesthood in the making.
I treat my wives alike. I love them alike. I make no distinction between them in the way I treat them. Some are, or have been, Deaconesses and Eldresses because that is where they have been called and that is what they have presently grown into. They're all equal recipients of the same salvation and grace but all are progressing spiritually at different rates and in different areas. Even Eldresses have things to learn from the Deaconesses.
Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Putting this in a plural marriage context, "whichever wife desires to be a queen wife shall become a concubine" in the spirit, for all wives are queens and all wives are concubines! And of the husbands, we may say exactly the same thing: all husbands are kings and all husbands are slaves ... only we aren't quite queens and kings yet ... that honour has not yet been given to us. It's a reward we shall receive in heaven if we remember to be servants down here.
"And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave (servant) of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:44-45, NKJV)
Though the husband is lord, master, and owner of his wives just as Christ is the Lord, Master and Owner of His Bride - the saints - so also is the husband the servant or slave of his wives just as Christ was our servant and slave in that He subjected Himself to death for our sakes. There is no equivocating here - scripture simply does not allow it - no room for modern feministic ideas and no room for male macho oppressive behaviour either. There is a fine balance here, a balance which can only ever be achieved through love.
Sadly, there are some patriarchs who forget that they are to love and serve their wives and try instead to lord it over them as oppressors. And there are some wives who try to lord it over both their husband and their sister-wives, relishing the power and control that being a 'queen' over 'concubines' gives them. But no such order exists in the New Covenant. For such are either have one foot in the world or one in the Old Covenant ... or maybe both. I know that many are very, very confused and wonder why their wives are so unhappy. (There is no such thing, as many messianics teach, as a 'renewed (old) covenant' - it's either 'old' or 'new' and no hybrid exists.)
We need to remind ourselves that true freedom is in fact slavery to the Lord of Love, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and that a true wife will wish to become the slave of her husband who is the slave of this wonderful Saviour of ours. And the true husband will wish to be the slave of his wives and of his brethren.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36, NKJV).
Of course, the slavery of men and women is not quite the same - not meaning that one sex is more or less disadvantaged than the other. Because of their different callings and rôles, their submission will be in different areas. Though perhaps tempting to try and quantify these, such an endeavour is not possible and might be positively harmful if attempted. True freedom and slavery is a state of mind and heart ... or as one wise plural wife from another family said to me recently, an "attitude". And she's right. No matter what our circumstances, Christ expects a certain "attitude" of us. Of the believing woman who find herself unequally yoked to an unbelieving husband, the attitude is to be one of serving and of "sanctification" (1 Corinthians 7:14), and vice versa. A husband's attitude is to be as a stream of continually flowing love - of giving, giving, giving as Christ gave of Himself to the Church (Messianic Community) (Ephesians 5:25,28; Colossians 3:19). The wife's attitude is to be one of submission and yielding (ibid.) - not resentfully, but in joy and peace, as one would sink trustingly into a comfortable bed and allow the soft mattress and blankets to enfold you. Like the Holy Spirit, who is Wisdom or Hochmah/Sophia, a woman should be:
"Pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17, NKJV).
And speaking of both genders, we should never forget that:
In other words, we are not to have two attitudes - one for the good and one for the bad - but one which is always in Christ. For if the Spirit of Christ is fully resident within us, we shall be able to do this, and without resentment or anger. It may take time, for the fullness of the love of Yahweh must distill within us gently as we progressively yield to Him. And that is why within plural marriage that those who are less advanced in these things should voluntarily yield to those who are more at peace, the anxious and disturbed yielding to those who are not, to thus partake of, and be santified, by their peace, until they too have obtained it.
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully" (1 Peter 2:18-19, NKJV).
There are seven revelations in our Order which we find very helpful and which I recommend study of for both the men and the women. The first is called the Mary-Martha Principle (OB 66), the second The Two Birds (OB 351), the third, The Ten Virgins (OB 207), and the Three Olive Leaf Revelations - I (OB 44), II (OB 99) and III (OB 214). A seventh, which is given in a polygamous context, has also been a blessing to many of our sisters, and is called The Letter of Judith to Biyqah.
This ministry and the Chavurat Bekorot do not recognise concubinage as a New Covenant practice. Whether imposed or entered into voluntarily, we consider it to be inferior, restricting and to ultimately deny both husbands and their concubines the true freedom that Christ brings. Those who still practice this form of Old Covenant bondage must therefore expect to be received by us in this light and realise that we shall view them as having an imperfect, inferior and possibly (at times) repressive and spiritually harmful view of 'Christian'/'Messianic' polygamy. And if they try to present the practice of concubinage as a Christ-mandated and accepted form of marriage, they must expect to be opposed. This opposition will not be because we do not love them but simply because we believe they are participating in a way of life that Christ nailed to the cross two millennia ago and which has been passing out of the stream of conscience and acceptance of all those who are aspiring to the fullness of the New Covenant path.
And whilst it is true that Yahweh meets us where we are working (as one brother has reminded me) it is not, in our view, true that we are allowed to work in 'anything'. Thus a Christian/Messianic brother who is practicing polyandry or engaging in adultery must be told to end it immediately and not simply 'grow out of it' over a period of time. Thus if a Christian/Messianic patriarch is practicing and promoting concubinage, I am reluctantly forced to the position to informing him that he is operating, at least in part, out of a Covenant that is dead and which I have no part in - and that if he continues to promote concubinage that he should return to observance of all the Old Covenant Torah and not just those parts which are of the New. In which case, I am dealing with a person who is willfully operating out of a different Spirit to myself and which can only lead to increasing division and friction. And whilst I will continue to appeal to such a brother and his family to abandon that which is dividing us, I cannot - and will not - accept what is to me a destructive tendency both to him and his wives/'concubines', and in direct opposition to what this ministry stands for.
For the record, then: we oppose the doctrine and practice of conubinage as fundamentally contradictory to the New Covenant paradigm. And whilst Yahweh may have once tolerated it, along with formal slavery of the kind described in Philemon in the early phases of the New Dispensation of Christ, it has long sinced passed away. To resurrect it is to bring back old ghosts and spiritual death. And this ministry is only concerned about life. This, of course, is very different from polygamy itself and as treated elsewhere in othere ssays, since polygamy is intimately wrapped up in the whole New Testament concept of uniplurality.
A warning and red light: concubinage in Christian/Messianic polygamy, which has as its backdrop a highly sexualised and perverse modern world, is a sure invitation to bisexual problems. It is worth pointing out that lesbianism has, as a facet of its twisted spiritual structure, a hierarchy of two (or more) females where one is in a dominant ('male') position to the other submissive one(s) ('female'). (In extreme cases the former leads to what is called the 'butch/dyke lesbian' where masculine traits exaggeratively and unnaturally dominate). Though I am not saying this will necessarily happen in a modern setting of 'Christian'/'Messianic' concubinage I am suggesting that, because of the perverse sexual milieu that most converts to Christian/Messianic polygamy are coming from, that the temptation and natural (carnal) tendency would be to move women in such a polygamous setting in the direction of serious sin and spiritual destruction.
One thing a patriarch must, in a polygamous setting, always be alert to is overt signs of 'masculinity' appearing in wives who have dominating tendencies. The feminisation of women coming out of a unisexual culture, where gender differences have been systematically reduced and neutralised, is a Christian patriarch's high priority. As should already be more than apparent from what I have written before, the modern Christian/Messianic patriarch needs a whole battery of pastoral, psychological, leadership and spiritual skills to be successful in this lifestyle, which is why I continue to maintain that until there is a strong corps of Pastors and Elders with experience in these areas and able to systematically teach them to their flocks, opening Christian/Messianic polygyny to the Christian/Messianic 'masses' will be (and already is) a disaster. Since the men candidates for polygamy are in any case only leader-types, opening this lifestyle to all and sundry is a bit like throwing open the highest positions in the United States army to the common ranks.
Consider, then, the problems that can arise if such semi-patriarchs start gathering in wives (and maybe concubines) and are unable to give them the proper leadership and pastoral care required to mesh them into the kind of unitary (echad) Messianic Bride that Christ demands, both for their own happiness and spiritual safety. With wrong ideas and practices already rampant in modern 'Christian'/'Messianic' polygyny we don't need more woe in the form of concubinage and lousy human relations management.
It seems to me that most of the work I am doing these days is advising those in shakey and spiritually distorted polygamous marriages to attain a semblance of normality and stability. The mess that we see is not, sadly, the fault of polygamy per se (though the outside world will of course see it otherwise) but foolish and reckless men plunging into a lifestyle they are unequipped for (and therefore ipso facto not called to) with deformed ideas about sex and inter-personal relations. Adding concubinage to this frightening mix is just adding a catalyst to dissolution or a solidifying agent to make the marriage hard, cold and brittle.
And yet we must work with the mess that is already there and try to patch it up as best we can. Sadly, the survival rate of such ill-conceived unions is not good. The pitiful stories that filter into my office each week are depressing to say the least. And it is for this reason that this ministry has stood up and said, No! to this form of polygamy, and insists on promoting only the visions which Yahweh-Elohim has given it to the exlusion of the others.
Our counsel is, therefore: If any patriarch has a concubine that he should immediately make her a full and equal wife. This means to also dismantle any concubinage covenants and to enter into fresh covenants of full New Covenant marriage.
This is our doctrine and what we teach and preach: there is no more Old Covenant-type concubinage in the fullness of the New Covenant and no room for it in Echad Christian/Messianic Polygamy.