It is true. We, the human race, are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history. As I survey the past, even in recent history no further back than the last couple of centuries, I see the same pattern re-emerging. The same spirit, the same twisted scriptural justification, the same spiritual and emotional trauma, the same suffering. As a species we do not seem to learn from history.
From the very beginning of the patriarchy movement in the 1990's I have had this uneasy feeling - a premonition, if you like - that some charismatic personality would arise who would see polygamy as merely the first step in a more ambitious program of control and manipulation in the building of a personal totalitarian kingdom. We have seen this cultic spirit in recent times in the persons of Jim Jones (Jonestown, Guyana) and David Koresh (Wacco, Texas) - the first, creating a form of New Age Christianity and the second, a mutated extreme form of Seventh-Day Adventism.
A century-and-a-half ago the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, built his own 'Jonestown' or 'Wacco' which he called Nauvoo, had himself anointed as King, issued prophecies that he would be the next President of the United States (even entering the political fray), and ended up in the same way as Jones and Koresh. His successor, Brigham Young, attempted to set up his own kingdom in the Utah basin which he called Deseret, and exercised dictatorial rule over a vast swathe of territory that included not only Utah but large areas of Nevada, Idaho, and other neighbouring states. Unlike his precedessor he survived the assassin's bullet though there are some who believe his death was caused by poisoning at the hand of one of his wives.
Jones and his follwers were monogamists, Koresh was a polygamist but not his followers (he took other men's wives), and both Smith and Young and their followers were polygamists (and like Koresh, both took -- or tried to take -- other men's wives). All were absolute rulers, claimed to be their God's sole mouthpiece on the earth, and created rigid, autocratic systems based in some degree on fear. They were, in their own ways, absolute monarchs. And I have no doubt that some of them were inspired by the absolute monarchies described in the Bible. None of these rulers claimed any accountability save to 'God', and ended up abusing power and destroying lives. All the adherents of Jones are dead - all committed suicide at the order of monogamy-cultist Jim Jones. Most of Koresh's followers are dead - most committed suicide out of blind loyalty to their polygamous king. Many of Smith's and Young's followers died, executed by either organised mobs sworn to secrecy called the Danite Bands or by Priesthood henchmen by throat-slitting in the manner depicted in the early Mormon temple ceremonies (removed about four decades ago) and justified by a doctrine called 'blood atonement' (viz. man could only atone for certain crimes himself by shedding his own blood) during the polygamous era of the institutional Mormon Church. And all, incidentally, blasphemously done in the Name of Christ.
The totalitarian temptation afflicts atheists, communists, fascists, liberals, 'Christians', 'Messianics', Mormons, Moslems, and every type of human system and religion that exists. It is a dark facet of the carnal nature that every man inherits from the fall. It is latent, pushing for realisation in the affairs of men, and accomplished only when those who succumb to it manage to draw a following and either take over a whole country or a religious group and isolate them from the rest of the world.
I am not, in saying these things, declaring that one should not have communities with rules of order. To expect a structureless, headless society is impossible. The totalitarian temptation is ubiquitous and latent in every nation or group of nations, in every organised religion or religious community, in any grouping of people where there is a system of leadership. We see it in the faceless leadership of the Watchtower Tract & Bible Society of Brooklyn, New York, the bosses of the Jehovah's Witness organisation, who control every thought of their people through a careful system of indoctrination through the Watchtower and Awake! magazines which the membership are expected to study and obey to the letter, where every jott and tittle is interpreted for them by the hidden élite, and for whom excommunication and ostracisation (shunning) is the result of daring to have your own contrary opinion.
I have observed and studied cultism most of my adult life because I know just how destructive a spirit it is to spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. History is littered with its victims, secular and religious. There is a recent (2002) furor in Sweden at the present time over the research work of journalist Peter Anstrin who has written a couple of books on psychiatry called Ett Sekel med Psykiatrin: Psykkulturens inflytande på samhället - www.faksimilen.se (A Session with the Psychiatrist: The Influence of the Psychiatry Culture on Society) which shows a frightening aspect of the 'cult' of liberal democracy with its nazi foundations. Hopefully these books will appear in English soon as they vividly show the way people are being massed controlled and conditioned by the secret masters behind our so-called 'democracy' and how they use psychiatric drugs to control those who are 'politically incorrect'. Research work on Swedish psychiatry has demonstrated that the incidence of suicide trebles after secular psychiatric treatment.
I mention this because many mind-control methods are used not only by many professing to be 'Christian' and 'Messianic' (consciously or un consciously) but also some who are in the Christian/Messianic Polygamy Movement and who have much influence in it. I wrote one article warning of this tendency (Cultic Leader-Control Tendencies in the Christian Polygamy Movement) in 2001. Sadly, since then, I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that it will not be long before we see some fully-fledged high-profile 'Christian' or 'Messianic' CULTS appearing in our midst (though I am sure some small ones already exist). For those of you who would like to know who we define 'cult', please see the article, Cry Wolf! The Problem of Sects and Cults.
It's worth pointing out here also that there are some people who are so terrified of cultism that they include within the broader definition any type of organisation and thus justify their isolation and unaccontability to any sort of Christian/Messianic community. Ironically and tragically enough I have watched how some of these men have ended up exercising totalitarian control in their own families out of sight of all. No matter whether you are organised or not, the totalitarian temptation exists. And added to that, there is the art of twisting facts and setting up smokescreens for totalitarianism's self-justification.
All totalitarian systems share common elements of abuse but in the religious sphere they tend to be rather particular. In the religious sphere an unrighteous hegemony of male over female tends to be the case (ironically, the reverse seems to be the case in the Western secular sphere where the prophecy of Isaiah 3:12 is being fulfilled - see Oppressed by Youths and Ruled by Women). Misapplying scriptures which speak of wives being submitted to husbands, most fundamentalist religious systems have sought to keep women out of priesthood, except when pressed by the liberal secular society to reform and then end up singing feminism's own oppressive tune.
The two greatest dangers to spiritual societies - and especially those like our own which advocate communitarianism and therefore a degree of isolation from the contemporary destructive secular world - are a lack of balance in government and the oppression of the female gender.
The true scriptural system of government established by Yahweh was one of a CONFEDERACY OF PATRIARCHAL JUDGES. Monarchy appeared later, contrary to Yahweh's wish, and with His dire warnings of the consequences for freedom and the inevitable totalitarianism that comes in its wake. I am not here, incidentally, advocating Republicanism or Democracy, both of which have proven their susceptibility to corruption.
Yahweh's ideal form of government was based on the patriarchal tribal model of semi-autonomous tribes - 12 of them in the case of Israel. Prior to the establishment of the monarchy under Saul, the nation as a whole was governed by the Judges, one of whom was a woman, Deborah (Judges 4:1-5:31). And even in the post-Judgeship era, Yahweh raised up the prophetess Huldah (2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34), when the men with character, moral and spiritual standing who ought to have served were severely lacking. As we look historically at Yahweh's servants from both sexes we are at once faced by a parade of interesting personalities - the men and women who were true and faithful, and those who had to be severely rebuked for rebelling in one way or another ... the prophet Jonah for resenting Yahweh's justice, and the prophetess Miriam for rebelling against patriarchal authority and polygamy.
Each tribe had its own judges and the nation as a whole had a divinely appointd Judge. Gideon is one of the most outstanding from this early period in Israelite history. The Priesthood was given to one tribe (the Levites) and to one gender only (the males) under the preparatory Covenant, but in the New Covenant, it is extended to both the men and the women. Whilst male headship is affirmed in the New as in the Old, it is within the context of reciprocal (though voluntarily-given) love, the ministry of the Gospel is shared in different spheres. This ideal joint-ministry of men and women is what gives the true New Covenant vision its gentle touch and is the divine antidote to the tyranny of male-only systems. We therefore find amongst the noble and great such women teachers as Priscilla who, with her husband, taught the Gospel to the learned Apollos (Acts 18:2,18,26; Romans 16:3ff; 1 Corinthians 16-19; 2 Timothy 4:19), the apostle Junia (Romans 16:7) (see Women in Leadership) and Nympha, a co-pastoress of a house church (Colossians 4:15 - see A Church with Women: Female Church Leaders and Requirements for Ministry).
There is nothing quite so guaranteed to get the hackles up on the neck of a man with ambitions for totalitarian rule and control as the concept of women ministers. With the exception of Israel C.S.Lim's patriarchy-polygamy ministry in Singapore (now closed), this ministry stands alone in admitting women as full ministers of the Gospel. We acknowledge Deaconesses, Eldresses, Pastoresses, and female Apostles, in their own spheres of responsibility and accountability, and each distinct from the Deacons, Elders, Pastors and male Apostles. They teach and minister in the churches and assemblies as they were originally ordained to and before the men-only cult tried to diminish them in their biased translations (see especially Women in the New Testament Church which exposes the lie that women are supposed to be mute).
Beware of ministries and churches/assemblies - whether monogamic or polygamous - with monarchic, anti-women tendencies, where women are kept bound and gagged. At the same time beware of groups which make no distinction between male-female rôles and male headship/patriarchy, for they are equally as bad. And be especially aware of those who pay lip service to women but who treat them like the first category.
Where this proper balance exists, the possibility of totalitarianism and tyranny are minimised. Whilst women have a vital and necessary place in the home as home-makers, they also have a vital and necessary place in the local church/assembly as ministers. Men and women are supposed to compliment each other not only in marriage and home life but in the Body of Christ as well which is, after all, in an allegorical marriage relationship to the Saviour. The wives in that allegory are both the men and the women ... they are the Church/Assembly and all its constituent parts. They are all that "royal priesthood", all ministers of salvation, building up and edifying one another.
I have frequently noticed a hardness and intransigence in groups which deny full and proper female ministry ... a hardness I have felt in a more pronounced sense in many of the cults. I would counsel women interested in Christian/Messianic polygamy to stay clear of such groups where so much oppression, loneliness and unhappiness finds a fertile breeding ground for the fairer sex. The Church/Assembly is not a Men's-Only Club, but a fellowship of leaders, male and female, with different callings and offices tailor-made by Yahweh for their gender and their giftedness.
Throughout my ministry as a Pastor/Father of a congregation I, and my two counsellors, have worked alongside a Pastress/Mother, and her counsellors, of that same congregation where we have complimented one another in our stewardship as spiritual parents over the congregation. The three men and three women form a unique balance and sensitivity that I never experienced in previous churches (assemblies) I was a member of where such an arrangement didn't exist -- where leadership was all-men or where women ruled in place of men, both of which were, in my view, spiritually harmful.
This ministry's Vision of Echad Polygamy brings to the Patriarchy Movement a vitality, balance and sensitivity which we feel is lacking elsewhere. Here the ladies are full and active participants in both ladies-only clubs and mixed men-and-women clubs (no longer operating since the closure of the ministry) where they are, I hope, appreciated for the valuable ministry they give. I have encouraged all my wives to be involved in the ministry and to express themselves freely. They invariably consult me as their head before they post articles and to date I have never vetoed more than a couple of essays which were written in the heat of passion and were therefore inappropriate. My fourth wife was the one who felt most drawn to cyber ministery and thoroughly enjoyed being able to contribute.
May Yahweh bless both the men and the women to see each other's unique calling and potential as priests and priestesses of the Most High, Yahweh-Elohim, our Father.