The great German theologian, Karl Barth, once commented:
By this he meant that the Church or Community of Believers is something constantly in movement and change, a gathered fellowship which must be made out of varying degrees of strictness or looseness in organisation and constitution. This experience has been shared outside the Church (Messianic Community) environment too, and in particular in the nation at war, in which an extraordinary cohesiveness results around a common idea. It happened in the last world war on both sides. From the shared experience of adversity peoples united. And they united in a way that transcended politics and ideology. When people are thrown together by the rude and often horrific reality of life in a dark world, strange and yet marvelous unions take place. The writer Wilfred Owen calls this the "war family" and likened it in many ways to the Christian experience because in it Christ is not merely "in" you but is manifest and suffering in you too. When people share each other's lives at the deepest levels, Christ manifests.
"The Church is when it takes place, and it takes place in the form of a sequence or nexus of definite human activities" (Church Dogmatics, Vol.IV, Part 1, p.662).
My subject today is an unusual one and I suspect by the time I have finished this essay you will be surprised how little it had to do with the impressions you initially had from the title. Intimacy these days is usually associated with physical sex, and physical sex with intimacy. Because people have become so hyper-sexualised they have lost the mystery of the essence of sex which at its root is entirely spiritual. My purpose today is to look beyond physical intimacy, whilst not losing sight of it either, in order to understand just what the spiritual meaning of sex is in marriage, and in particular Christian/Messianic polygamy. Because the Church, or Messianic Community, is likened to an actual marriage, I think we will be pleasantly surprised by what we will find in lifting sex above the crassness of mere physical pleasure and into a spiritual mystery that will at once both delight and awe.
It must surely be plain to all but those who are lost in mere physicality that the metaphor of the marriage of Christ to His Church/Body is supposed to be understood as not so much an abstraction or an allegory (except in the matter of the sexes) but as a reality that is supposed to lie beyond and above the institution of marriage itself whilst remaining intimately connected to it. In contemplating the spiritual intimacy that is supposed to exist between the redeemed in Christ and their Saviour, we are supposed to reflect back on the kind of intimacy that exists in human marriage itself. That is, after all, the purpose of an allegory. And sex is obviously one of those facets. One problem we face, however, is in our use of words, for 'sex' as such does not exist in the ancient Hebrew mindframe. We, because of our tendency to scientifically dissect, have created a mutant term, for sex was never in either deed or thought, ever supposed to be detatched from marriage itself. Sex, as an entity in itself, should not exist in the Christian/Messianic soul - as though one can have sex and not marriage. And the moment you detatch the two, you have an oxymoron ... a contradiction, a perversion, something that is unnatural. When someone who is in the Holy Spirit talks about marriage he is talking about sex even though he never mentions the word, because sex is the act of marriage, and marriage is where sex takes place. But even that is open to misunderstanding, because man has not only separated sex from marriage, but he has detatched spiritual sex from physical sex, as though they were two entirely different things. And there are many who do not even know about, let alone believe in, spiritual sex.
Sex is the act of marriage and anything else is perversion
Part of our reeducation in the Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) must include not only the restoration of sex within marriage as its only expression but also its reunification with the ruach or spirit of man from which it was artificially detached, and which has led to so many neuroses in the Western mind. In short, we must restore sex to echad or unity, to where it originally was when the Creator made it. This means, as ever, a total retraining of our minds and hearts.
One of the problems often encountered in polygamy, namely, rivalry and jealosy between wives over sexual issues, comes because of this artificial separation of spirit from physicality-cum-psyche. And yet the separation is not entirely separate, hard though we may try to keep the two apart. Even if there is no physical contact talking place, an invisible sexual union is taking place. Were this not so, there would be no such thing as spiritual adultery. When Yah'shua (Jesus) warned that lusting after or eagerly desiring another man's wife was as bad as the physical act of adultery itself, this is what He meant (Matthew 5:28). You can't put sex into one dimension of life and exclude it from the other, but you can and must channel it along the path for which it was intended.
These days when men and women meet, one of the first things they are thinking about or feeling is sex. We have seen this revolting tendency in the polygamy movement. Man meets woman and within 48 hours he is proposing marriage to her. And the reason he is doing this is because he is not interfacing with her as a spiritual being but as a physical sex object, or worse in some ways, no more than an abstract idea. Indeed I know of one prominent leader in the Christian Polygamy movement in the USA who had the gall to say that he knew if another woman was right for him if he was sexually aroused by her presence. (He has since fallen). He is not able to see her as a sister in Christ, which is what he ought to be doing long before his thoughts wander into other possibilities, but as a potential spouse. His whole value system, corrupted as it has been by liberal socialism, is inverted: he sees the physical first and the spiritual last ... or not at all. Darwinism and Freudianism have taught modern man to spiritually stand on his head so that his gaze is fixed on the instruments of reproduction and titillation instead of the windows to the soul. With the eyes of lovers meeting one another the instruments of sexual intmacy can be allowed to play their part as a backup and enhancer of the deeper reality which is of the Spirit. What beauty would there be in a symphony where the tympani and bass instruments were blasting away and drowning out the sounds of semi-muted violins? What would happen to the melody crushed by the dull beat? Such a piece of music would become top-heavy and ugly (rather like rock music), just as a relationship dominated by physical sex becomes a tired game of friction and skin cell sloughing. Our modern 'sex', like our modern 'music', is an out-of-balance, spiritual rodeo.
The Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is the strangest book in the Bible. It seems, to many, to be out of place, especially in its Old Testament context where so much of the writing is concerned with Yahweh and His people and the relationship between them. This frank love-poem has embarrassed many a commentator and many a reader. They have often tried to conceal its meaning under the veil of allegory and spiritual interpretation, but although this is a legitimate extension of its meanings it remains a love poem of the most physical and outspoken (some would even say 'pornographic') proportions. It erupts into the Old Testament with a shock and an originality which parallels our own permissive revolution in its contrast. Uncompromisingly it declares that Yahweh loves man and uses as the analogy of that love, the love between a lover and the beloved. It is a saga of intimacy which surpasses anything achieved in the literature of other religions like the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It has been used as the source of the deepest spiritual teaching by some of the greatest mystics such as Hippolytus, Origen, Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, St.Bernard, Richard Rolle, St.Teresa and St.John of the Cross who used the 'Song' as the inspiration of his own Spiritual Canticle.
To the astonishment of many, Karl Barth puts this work of Solomon in the first place as the greatest writing of the Old Testament, and he justifies his conclusion by the fact that it most clearly describes the intimacy between Yahweh and His people in its frankly erotic terms. He writes:
This is the eros side of the relationship which he frankly recognises but always against the deeper meaning - the echad union between Yahweh and His people. He continues:
"The 'Song of Songs' is one long description of the rapture, the unquenchable yearning and the restless willingness and readiness with which both partners of this covenant hasten towards an encounter" (Ibid., Vol.III, Part 1, p.313).
"Love and marriage between man and woman become ... in some sense irresistably a parable and sign of the link which Yahweh has established between Himself and His people, which in His eternal faithfulness He has determined to keep and which He for His part has continually renewed. In this way they irresistably see even this most dangerous sphere of human existence in its old and new glory" (Ibid., p.315).
Barth rightly insists that Yahweh is always the lover, bridegroom and husband. And His lost people is always His belovèd, His bride and His wife. He sees the Song of Songs as a statement that the Old Testament gives finally a proper meaning and seriousness to the sexual relationship as such, that is an outward sign of the union between Yahweh and man. He finds, as many of us do, a connection between the teaching of the apostle Paul on marriage in Ephesians and the Song of Songs: it is the great mystery of the union between Christ and His Church or Messianic Community. In spite of the disruption of the relationship by man's sin he is sure that eventually the mercy of Yahweh will heal the division, and the love between Elohim (God) and man will be restored to its predestined glory. He claims that the Song of Songs is about eros but it is "the eros for which there is no such thing as shame" (Ibid., p.313).
The danger of bringing Yahweh and eros into this close relationship, according to Barth, must have been recognised by the Old Testament writers, but he says:
This produced no contradiction between the righteous and holy Elohim (God) revealed in other parts of the Old Testament. The holy and righteous Elohim (God) was also the great lover of the Song of Songs, and the purpose of the trials and disciplines of His people was not merely to bring them to repentance but, like the testing of Gomer in the prophecies of Hosea, to bring Yahweh's people to the capacity to respond to His love. Barth sums it up when he writes:
"An inner necessity breaks through every reservation. God the Lord and sexual eros, well known in Israel especially as a dangerous daemon, are brought into close relationship. The "flame of the Lord" and the very different flame of love (SS 8:6) are necessarily mentioned together and openly and distinctly compared and related" (Ibid., p.314).
"What lies at the back of the creation saga is the thought of the beginning of the covenant, and what lies at the back of the Solomonic love song is the thought of its goal" (Ibid., p.314).
If you have never read the New English Bible (NEB) translation of the Song of Songs then I highly recommend it because it brings out its essentual structure. As Herbert Slade insightfully comments, the NEB shows that the Song of Songs is not a straightforward narrative or poem, but nearer to a play or a drama. The bride and the bridegroom are the main characters, but they share the stage with many others of almost equal importance: the chorus, the natural wonders and a variety of creatures.
In describing the chief characters as bride and bridegroom the translators follow Barth in trying to fit the poem into the framework of a marriage song. It may be this, but is is also much more. It is a poem about love in its eros form and the chief characters are much more than bridegroom and bride: they are the lover and the beloved. This is an important distinction, for marriage is not the only form of love and Solomon writes of intimacy in all its loving forms. This is one of the main themes of the song.
In this drama the beloved often takes the initiative. She invites her lover and the lover comes like an eastern bridegroom in all his splendour to claim his beloved. He knocks and she opens up to him. It is she who searches for him in the garden when he disappears and finds him. It is a strange reversal of the patriarchal rôle and one that would still scandalise an eastern audience, not to mention some of today's modern "ultra-patriarchs". And yet as you look closely, what you are seeing is the mystery of the divine impulse and play of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) as She seeks after souls for her beloved, Yahweh who rescues them from sin through Yah'shua (Jesus). And this too is the mystery of the spirit of echad polygamy, for the wife is seeking for sister-wives to join their echad union and their joy, knowing that in the wider echad union there is greater joy for all. She searches with a longing for the missing wives of her husband like the believer searches for souls predestined for salvation for his allegorical Bridegroom, Yah'shua (Jesus).
The setting is that of an eastern bridegroom...
The action in the Song of Songs is simple: the imagery and the emotional content superb. All creation shares in this love, just as all the sister-wives share in the love of a new wife uniting with their husband. It is a cosmic intimacy of contemplative proportions in which the physical relationship is an introduction rather than a climax. The lover and the beloved achieve an intimacy far beyond the orgasm and yet one in which the orgasm shares. It is a complete intimacy of ecstatic indwelling ... of echad.
Barth notes that in the Song there is no reference to the child, which supports the theory that it is not concerned with the family in its relationship to marriage but with intimacy of profound proportions between the woman and the man. This is not the only omission. There is no direct reference to Yahweh either. Yahweh is, of course, implied in the love between lover and beloved, but not as a separate entity: He is included in the love. This inclusive greateness of love was understood by Shakespeare when he made Juliet say:
This is a divinisation through love. The lover becomes identified with Yahweh through his love and this is the message of the Song of Songs, conveyed by the very absence of a specific reference to Yahweh. He is everywhere assumed: intimacy with the beloved and creation is intimacy with Yahweh Himself, a theme repeated and expanded in great depth in our Twelve Books of Abraham.
"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love is as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite"
(Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2)
Though shocking to Western sensibilities, this is the divine allegory
We may go further and say that Yahweh and the lover are identical. This is a mystery expressed in all the great love poems of the world: Krishna is more than a shepherd in love which Radha, he is the incarnate Lord. The lover of the Song is a being of many forms but behind them all is Yahweh Himself.
He is Solomon the king and polygamist. He "wears the crown with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day, on his day of joy" (SS 4:11, NEB). He is also like a gazelle or a young wild goat. He is, in this lovely passage, the universe itself in perfection:
Does this not remind us of the furnishings of the temple? And are we not in turn to be reminded that we, our bodies, are now that temple in Yah'shua (Jesus)? How close to the Johannine description of the risen Christ in the Book of Revelation, "the seven standing lamps of God, and among the lamps one like a son of man" (Rev.1:13, NEB). And the unambiguous declaration, "I am the first and the last, I am the living one" (Rev.1:18, NEB). Rightly, the New Covenant Israel has identified Yah'shua (Jesus) with the lover in the Song of Songs and has used readings from this poems, as did Old Covenant Israel, after Pesach (Passover), to celebrate the New Covenant Passover too.
"My beloved is fair and ruddy,
A paragon among ten thousand.
His head is gold, finest gold;
His locks are like palm fronds...
His cheeks are like beds of spices or chests full of perfumes,
His lips are lilies, and drop liquid myrhh;
His hands are golden rods set in topaz;
His belly a plaque of ivory overlaid with lapis lazuli"
(Song of Songs, 5:10; 11:13-14, NEB)
The splendour of Solomon's temple is a picture of the Divine Lover
The way to Christ is always through love. This is the message of the Song of Songs and of the Johannine writings.
It is a love which leads not only to the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) but to intimacy with the whole of His creation. Simile after simile is used in the Song to describe it:
"Only the man who loves his brother dwells in the light" (1 John 2:10, NEB).
The intimacy is with nature in all her forms. It penetrates into the deep places of the city at night (here respresenting in the New Covenant the New Jerusalem or Yahweh's People, and in marriage, all the sister-wives together). It is at home with the human form and rises to the glories of the court of Solomon. The love of these two beings unites the whole creation and centres it in the Elohim (God). It unites everything, making of it echad.
"Your love is more fragrant than wine" (SS 1:3).
"My beloved is like a gazelle or a wild goat" (SS 2:9).
This relationship between human love and the rest of creation was understood by Shakespeare. In Romeo and Juliet their union is with the darkness of 'civil night' and all nature shares their love. Juliet is able to see this in an eternal form when she sees Romeo for ever inscribed in the face of heaven:
Romeo and Juliet
"...And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world wull be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun"
(Ibid., Act II, Scene 2).
True love is no mere ingrown intimacy between two possessive lovers. It swells out into cosmic proportions and takes to itself all consciousness. The love of the Song of Songs is both eros and ahavah/agapé, it is physical and leads through the physical to a total echad union in which all faculties play their part. The physical comes first in order and there is no concealment of the beauty of erotic love. The poem begins by making it clear that this love shall have its place in the cosmic picture:
Figure is piled on figure to emphasise the delight of this love. But the emotions are also given full play, and they lead to an awakening of total consciousness in which state the act of love is fulfilled and attains its true form and meaning.
The two main characters share the emotions of this poem with the other creatures. The emotions arise from the free play of the senses and are felt rather than verbalised. They are corporately experienced and therefore rightly expressed through the chorus:
Joy is the dominant emotion, a joy which harmonises the other emotions. It is the climax of hope, the transformation of fear and itself the way to love. Rabbi Lionel Blue captures this sense when he writes:
"Let is rejoice and be glad for you;
Let us praise your love more than wine,
And your caresses more than any song" (SS 1:4).
"How loving, how tender is the creator of this vastness, with what love He feels for us. The language is more startling than a Christian would at first realise, for 'love' in Hebrew includes not only 'agapé' but also 'eros'. ('To know' in Hebrew also includes 'to love') (To Heaven with Scribes and Pharisees, Darton, Longman & Todd, 1975, p.59).
Love leads to knowledge, intimacy to contemplation: this seems to be one of the constantly repeated messages of the Song of Songs and indeed of all great love poetry. Love in the Song of Songs is not a static achievement but a voyage of unlimited exploration and discovery:
This love reaches a climax of discovery when the lover attains the essence of beauty in the beloved and she in him:
"My love, that hides in the holes and cliffs
Or in crannies on the high ledges,
Let me see your face, let me hear your voice;
For your voice is pleasant, your face is lovely" (SS 2:14).
Now this conntemplative form of intimacy which we find in the Bible is very different from that of other religious traditions. It is far from the apophatic nirvana of Buddhism or the monastic absorption of vedanta Hinduism. It has none of the negative withdrawal from physical experience which marks so much of evangelical Christianity or the Augustinian hatred of sex which is Catholicism. It is frankly dualistic or polyistic. The contemplation is shared by two or more persons made intensely alive and transparent through heterosexual love. And what is it that they contemplate in each other? Not Yahweh invisible and incomprehensible. It is Yahweh manifesting Himself in beauty, which is also truth and love. The Song of Songs turns away from Talmudic Jewish and Trinitarian beliefs that Yahweh is without form and can only be represented by a cube of emptiness. Here He fills all things and it is with His beauty that they are filled.
"How beautiful you are, my dearest, how beautiful" (SS 4:1).
"My beloved is fair and ruddy,
A paragon among ten thousand" (SS 5:10).
The mystical sterility of Catholic and Hindu all-male trinities
From the Song of Songs we can find much to enlarge our concept of intimacy, which is why I have devoted a book to the subject. Certain aspects of this concept stand out clearly. These are the pre-ememinence of a relationship with Yahweh, with each other and with the whole creation, expressed most completely in contemplative prayer simultaneously united, in a perfect echad, with the act of marital union itself.
The Old Testament predicted a time when Yahweh would be echad (one) with His people and they echad with Him. But it is only in the Song of Songs that this intimacy is realised in a developed way. In the New Testament the total meaning of this intimacy is revealed in terms of a complete indwelling: the Word becomes flesh and dwells in our manhood. He offers Himself as food and drink. He is experienced as the glory of man infused with the Holy Spirit into the centre of his life. By divine intimacy I mean the active, communicating presence of the Elohim (God), which is given to man as a free gift for each of us to appropriate by faith. This divine presence and action give the fullest meaning to marital intimacy and raise it to the greatest of all experiences. It is the object of life and is offered through every human experience. Intimacy with any other object is a shadow only of perfect intimacy. Every other relationship points towards this as its final goal.
A reduced form of this intimacy occurs in every human relationship. It can spiritually exist between man and man, but it reaches its greatest proportions when it occurs between man and woman. In that relationship the deficiencies of each are made good by the contributions of the other. As in the Song of Songs, the lover and the beloved are fulfilled in their mutual intimacy. There is no rivalry. In the act of mutual giving each finds the other completed. In human intimacy all experiences contribute. Eros (sexual love) has a part, so have philia (fraternal love) and ahavah/agapé (sacrificial Christ-like love). The body, the emotions and the will each have contributions to make. There is no term, no carefully graded measurement in this mutual self-giving and as it reaches completion so the intimacy becomes a reciprocal indwelling. And as more who are properly surrendered to Christ and to their husband are polygamously added to this union, so the intimacy increases exponentially. Perfect intimacy involves divine immanence: it involves a human immanence as well.
The mutual self-giving in a polygamous echad union
Human nature has a capacity for divine and human intimacy, but this does not exhaust all its faculties. The human ego can identify in deep intimacy with every part of creation. In identifying with creatures and nature, the power of human nature is not disippated or reduced, any more than it can be as extra wives are added to a polygamous union. Creation on one level, and polygamy on another, intensifies the relationship between the lover and the beloved in the Song, and it is so in all human experience. The whole of creation is an instrument for growth in intimacy and the more deeply the life of creation is shared the greater becomes man's power to identify with it.
Intimacy expresses itself in many forms, and not merely in physical sex. All the degrees of love play their part. There is a place for movement in thought, in emotional interplay, in shared sight, and in sexual intercourse. Above all there is a place for contemplation - even in sexual intercourse - which is that development of consciousness by which the object of full intimacy is fully known. Like the other faculties for intimacy, this faculty for consciousness grows with use. No act of intimacy is complete unless it culminates in an act of knowing between the subject and the object of the relationship. This is the message of the Song of Songs - the depth of the knowledge each partner has of the other. The understanding is the most sensitive and complete of all the faculties in the achievement of intimacy and, when used to the fullest in contemplative prayer, it leads to the heart of the Elohim (God).
I have gone to particular lengths in my own marriage to stress the importance of intimacy on all levels, but always beginning with the spiritual and ending with the physical. With this hierarchy of values in place, not only is a proper balance attained, but it is easier to keep the soul focussed properly without becoming waylaid by carnality. That is not to say, of course, that intimacy can be 'programmed' as this is something that must to a very large extent be spontaneous and unplanned. The way an individual views and practices intimacy does, however, tell me a great deal about his or her spirituality. I consider it one of my callings as the husband in the family to educate my wives properly and to encourage them to seek after true values so that when we share intimate moments, the kind of spiritual depth that I seek and point my wives towards can manifest itself spontaneously. We spend much time studying the 12 Books of Abraham (mentioned earlier) as in these we find much of the root-nature of not only what we are searching for but which to some extent we have already been finding. When all aspects of the soul join together in intimacy a fullness of joy is the result, lifting the soul out of exclusively physical and emotional stimulation and into that wondrous realm of the Spirit which is our natural home. Thus it is that when I am in sexual union with those of my wives who have come to understand and love these things we are able to simultaneosly meditate on spiritual things as well as hold deep conversations, sex becoming an aid to spirituality rather than a mere end in itself. I hope, in due course, to write an Intimacy Manual explaining these things for those married believers - monogamists and polygamists - who may be interested. Very little exists in the way of such guides, the majority (if not the entirety) of Christian/Messianic literature on this subject focussing on the physical act (and its supposedly 66 ways of expression) and romantic dimensions to the exclusion to the spiritual - and this because, I suspect, the Augustinian view of sex, which has so thoroughly permeated Catholicism and Protestantism, regards this act and spirituality to be completely and utterly exclusive of one another. In the process, sex has been marginalised into something 'dirty' to be done in a dark corner behind a thick curtain - tolerated but disdained, instead of being placed in its proper place in the melody of the human experience.
The intimacy that the human soul - body and spirit - was designed to enjoy in harmony rather than in opposition to one another - is no better expressed than in the many Johannine "I am" passages where the physical incarnation of Elohim (God) as Christ in the flesh is emphasised again and again. Our Messiah, whom we are called to imitate in the attainment of perfection and in deeds of righteousness, is not only 100% Elohim (God) in His spirit but 100% man in His flesh too. We, as 100% human, are supposed to bring the divine element within by receiving Christ as our Lord and Saviour so that He dwells within us through the Holy Spirit. Yah'shua (Jesus) says that "I am the bread of life" (Jn.6:35) and not "I am like the bread of life" - a mere symbol. The kind of echad union that He has with physicality makes Him, to all intents and purposes, living bread to be eaten - does He not command us to eat His blood and drink His blood? (John 6:53ff) "I am the vine" into which we are supposed to be grafted (John 14:6) not by mere contemplation and prayer in a detatched spiritual state but involving our spirits in the very substance of physicality. Christianity/Messianism is not Buddhism or Hinduism, as I have said, whereby one seeks detatchment from physicality, but the fullest union and intimacy with it that is possible. The physical Creation is good, not some Gnostic terror to be run away from as so many divines seem to think - from the Catholics who believe in mortifying the flesh to the Puritanical Calvinist Protestants who believe that romance is in some way inherantly sinful and that one should not marry for love at all. One of the largest polygamy ministries in the USA teaches this form of Calvinism, imitating the same scorn for romance that the polygamist Mormons used to - and still - believe in.
We have to realise that true Christianity is Hebrew Christianity (Messianism), and by that I mean a Christianity that is rooted in the idea that the physical creation is "good" just like Yahweh said it was in Genesis. Whenever Christ says "I am" we are supposed to recall not Yahweh in heaven but Yahweh incarnated on earth. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) means not some monastic call of detachment and isolation but the fullest possible involvement of every dimension of what it is to be human: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, romantic, and sexual. It means being all of these things within the carefully defined parameters established by Yahweh so that we are not tripped up by sexual perversion, adultery, or anything that would upset the balance which is so epitomised by the life of Christ Himself. "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12) means, for us, to have these divine values properly in place and functioning as a whole like the various wheels within a mechanical clock so that, finally, we attain that state predestined for the faithful in which we ourselves can become living copies of "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). As theologian Harry Williams commented:
"Jesus (Yah'shua) symbolises the presence of the universal and eternal God (Elohim) in a human race composed of particular individual men and women. Jesus (Yah'shua) can do this because He is presented to us as an individual aware of and hence in the particularities of his life fully articulating his unity/identity with God (Elohim). He is therefore a symbol of mankind's unity/identity with God (Elohim) because He is a partaker of its reality and power" ('Model and Power' in Theology, January 1976, p.17).
The symbol must thus be rightly used. Christianity/Messianism is not an abstract theory but the most practical religion on earth, involving spirit and body. And as ever, the key element is, of course, love:
One of the reasons I suspect that so many modern polygamous marriages have been a failure is because love has been so truncated as to render it ineffective as a means of binding large families together. I don't think it is any accident that one of the earliest Christian polygamy ministries which adopted a radical Calvinistic stance, rejected romantic love, and looked upon polygamy as primarily being a social tool, is now completely extinct. And I believe that unless one of the biggest American polygamy ministries rejects this same Calvinistic spiritual death-trap that it too will be extinct in a matter of years. You can't marginalise or crush an essential element of man - romance - and not expect your own living to be crushed as well, because to live a marriage without this ingredient means disintegration. At the same time we must be very careful not to exalt romance beyond its place, as the secular society has done (or worse by installing sex in an even higher position), else spirituality will suffer its own death leading to a sterile and empty marriage relationship. We must remember who the door to the sheepfold is (John 10:7) and learn just what kind of Person our Heavenly Father Yahweh is as personified in the Song of Songs. Any ministry that neglects any one part of human need is itself going to be defective and end up harming people.
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of Elohim (God)" (Ephesians 3:14-20, NKJV)
Christ, then, reveals Elohim (God) and man as echad (one). Though we cannot ever become Christ (contrary to what Hindus and New Agers claim) we can model our own humanity and relationship to Yah'shua (Jesus) on His unique echad with His Father Yahweh, as commanded in His High Priestly Prayer. It is because of this (though there are other reasons) that I firmly believe Yah'shua (Jesus) was Himself married, and that the reason we have the Catholic abberation in our midst is because this truth has been lost. Instead of looking to the ideal marriage in the form of Yah'shua (Jesus) and His wife/wives, Christians/Messianics have been sidetracked into false and dangerous substitute symbols like Elohim (God) and Mary that ultimately reduces man to sterile sexless androgynity, for always it is Mary's virginity that is stressed. Catholics forget that in birthing Yah'shua (Jesus) as all babies are birthed that she ceased being a virgin at least on the physical plane, and must have thereafter been sexually united with her husband Joseph for Yah'shua (Jesus) to have had half-brothers and -sisters. For the moment you start looking at the Trinity and Mary as the ultimate symbol, the result has to be the unnatural and inhuman desexualisation of the species that is so stressed (though not in so many words) in Catholicism, the pinnacle of which is its celibate priestly life.
Catholic theologian Augustine introduced the gnostic hatred
of sex into Christianity and caused misery for millions
The humanisation of the Elohim (God) in Yah'shua (Jesus), as the mysteries of the Christ in the Gospels show, involved the taking of human flesh in all its forms. It is the flesh of the infant, the child, the adolescent, and the man in all its limitations - but also its potentialities and glories. It is the flesh in sickness and in health, in sin and in virtue. It is the flesh in the earthly body, the psychic body, the spiritual body, and finally (and not to be forgotten by any means), the resurrected body of glory. For if the body is so evil as so many seem to think, why would Yahweh go to all the trouble to preserve it not only in man in all eternity but in Himself as the resurrected Christ? If the spiritual element is so superior and exclusive, then why not follow the path of the other religions for whom resurrection is spirit and spirit alone? And the answer can only be that not only are all the other religions false, but that the physical body does indeed have a place of glory and exaltation in the heavens. Yes, let's say it plainly: ELOHIM (GOD) HAS A GLORIFIED PHYSICAL BODY! What else can one conclude in beholding the resurrected Christ whose glory as such is plainly revealed in the Book of Revelation? Here is where we have to draw the line in the sand when it comes to comparative religion, for it is here that Christianity markedly, and noticeably (even glaringly) stands apart from all the rest. Therefore any doctrine of intimacy that neglects the physical body - and that means, as its ultimate expression, sex in some form or another - must by definition be defective and likely harmful. If the history of monastic orders is not enough to convince us of the the perversion which is celibacy then perhaps it is because somewhere a whole industry of psuedo-Christian blinker manufacture has gone by undetected. And if that is so (as history would seem to attest) then it is high time it was fully exposed and repudiated.
The division which exists in human beings must be healed not by excluding any part of it but by sanctifying every part of it in Christ. This means, inevitably, if we believe in the doctrine of the Incarnation that there must not only be holy spirituality, holy thinking, holy feelings, and holy romance, but also holy sex. Exclude any one part of these and you get a rift in humanity arising from what Herbert Slade rightly calls "a dislocation of love". Such dislocations occur when when people fail to unify the male and female in one creature - in one Adam. Man is not without the woman, nor woman without the man (as Paul taught - 1 Corinthians 11:11). And whilst neither can do without Elohim (God) in the eternal scheme of things, they most certainly cannot do without each other either! Once you start developing theologies and lifestyles that deliberately exclude marriage, except for remedial purposes (like working out sexual hangups such as homosexuality), you are embracing something that is fundamentally abnormal and harmful both to your personal inner harmony but also to your relationship with Elohim (God). Yahweh is in a marriage relationship with the Spirit, our Heavenly Mother, just as Christ is in an allegorical relationship to us. Marriage, it must be clearly understood (and sooner rather than later) permeates the whole Creation on all levels from spirit to physicality. And marriage, as we here know all too well, is one man married to one or more women. It cannot therefore be an accident that the Spirit is 7 rather than 1 (e.g. Revelation 3:1) anymore than it is an accident that the picture we are given in Isaiah 4:1 of the repentant bride returning to her husband is 7 wives to one man also. If we remove the blinkers from our eyes - the encrusted blinkers of two millennia of false Catholic teaching - we will see only too clearly (because it is so obvious and plain) that the fabric of Creation on all planes is not only a marriage one but that it it polygamous through and through, beginning with monogamy (with Adam and Eve - the way all marriages begin) and ending in a festival of polygamy which is represented allegorically as the Church (Messianic Community) in echad union with the Messiah. We live in a polygamous universe.
The harmony of Scripture is so obvious if you will let Scripture speak for itself divested of human tradition. Ours is a sexual universe, upsetting perhaps to prudes, but true nevertheless. The tragedy is that the perverts have seen this and abused it. Add to this such images as Ezekiel 1:26 and Revelation 1:12-13 and it becomes obvious that whilst human nature may, as Calvin rightly observed, be depraved, there is nevertheless a sense in which humanity and physicality in Christ is earmarked for divinisation. Yahweh intends to make us divine through the blood of atonement of Christ. We are to become like Him and as a result "know" Him. Yah'shua (Jesus) is the essence of all human forms, from the prisoner waiting to be visited, to the king upon his throne preparing to reward his faithful servants. Yah'shua (Jesus) is King of kings, but who or what are the kings in that life which is to come? Us, of course.
Yahweh has united our humanity to Himself through Christ. And that union (echad) is inseparable. However, our participation in the divine nature is not automatic. Furthermore, we are not suddenly going to become 'christlets'. There is only one Christ. But we will partake of that 'christness' through Yah'shua (Jesus) in echad union with him. Similarly, women partake of 'maleness' (Y) through echad union with their husbands for they (X) have none of their own. An enigmatic passage in the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of the earliest sayings of Yah'shua (Jesus) that many believe was the source of much of the raw material of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), explains this mystery when it declares that a woman cannot be saved until she becomes male - a maleness which comes through spiritual impregnation through her relationship to Christ and physical impregnation through her sexual relationship to her husband. Now this mystery is as important to understand as much as it may be misunderstood and misapplied, so I urge caution in how it is used, especially when we are plagued by such bad translations as those found of 1 Timothy 2:15 which gives the false impression, because of our Greek translations, that women are saved through childbirth.
We ought, therefore, to pause in considering the very important and often abused concept that women are saved through childbirth. Your typical Greek-derived version of this passage reads: "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control" (1 Timothy 2:15, NKJV) or the equally grotesque midrashic fudge which is the Amplified Version: "Nevertheless (the sentence put upon women [of pain in motherhood] does not hinder their [souls'] salvation), and they will be saved [eternally] if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control; [saved indeed] through the Child-bearing, that is, the birth of the [divine] child" (Ibid., Amp.V). This is why I insist that we return to the Hebrew and Aramaic autographs which resolve the matter:
The issue, then, is not salvation but life, and though the two are related, they are not exactly the same. If we read the passage before this which describes the relationship of Adam to Eve and the consequences of the Fall, we are, with the Hebrew MSS in front of us, at once struck by something interesting: just as the woman receives her spiritual justification in the way she raises her children to be faithful, loving, and sober, so the husband in his turn receives his justification in the way he teaches and exemplifies the principles of faith, love and sobriety to his wives in Christ, and how they reflect that back on him. Man 'impregnates' his wives with virtue, and the wives 'impregnate' their children in the same way.
"But she [Eve] has life by the hand of her children, if they [the children] remain in faith and in love and in sanctification and in sobriety" (Ibid., HRV).
Think of it this way. A woman is passing, on the biological level, those sexual chromosomes which will define the sexuality of her children - whether they are male or female. She possesses one half of the sex chromosome compliment (XX) and he possesses the other (XY), but the presence or absence of the Y chromosome determines which sex the child is to be. On the spiritual level, the Y chromosome represents the Father (Yahweh) through Christ, and the X represents the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit, the Heavenly Mother. The Spirit is the agent of the Father in the salvation and sanctification of souls just as the wife is the agent of the husband in the raising of their children. The former passes down the life principle ("I am the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE") to the husband, who passes it (in marriage) to the wife, who passes it down to the children as his proxy. This is the "Way" or "Path". That is one of the meanings of the Dove falling upon Christ at His baptism. And the Spirit possesses Her own life characteristics and principles, of course, as we know from our own walk in the Spirit.
The principle of reproduction is passed from Elohim (God) to man, and from man to woman. But there is a reverse direction also. As the Father gives us talents to multiply, so we are to return the multiplied talents to Him (Matthew 25:15ff). The husband passes the sperm to the woman whose stewardship is to bring forth children and 'return' them to her husband as sons and daughters who are impregnated with faith, love, and sobriety. And the husband must present them back to the Father. Thus their mutual justification - both the husband and the wife - is the result of an intimate interplay of stewardships as they work together in echad unity.
Now as we know, behind every literal or p'shat meaning of scripture, there are also hidden spiritual ones. The children which a woman births are not only her biological sons and daughters but also the thoughts, feelings, and soul-education that a man gives to a woman so that she can be 'male' and 'saved'. The responsibility and calling of the husband is to impregnate her with himself - his whole personality - in the image of Christ which should be resident within him. And it is the wife who literally 'gives birth' to this personality. If the result is deformed, then the husband is not properly in Christ. If it is something beautiful, then she is able to return it to her husband who in turn can return it to Christ, and thence to the Father. The man is not without the woman, not the woman without the man. But if the woman tries to go her own way and to create something by an independent 'virgin birth' she will end up not creating something new, but merely a sterile image of herself of no use to Elohim (God) or man.
This process has to be understood for a full sanctification to be realised. The marriage dynamic is, as I have said repeatedly (perhaps to the irritation of some), the core of life. It is the basis of everything. And it is rooted in sex and passion. The Incarnation is a form of 'sex' for it is the symbolic penetration of matter by the Spirit, and specifically by Yah'shua (Jesus). The question for us, though, is this: what kind of sex will we incarnate? What kind of penetration? Some grotesque, ugly carnal thing, or a manifestation of the divine principle? What kind of intimacy are you seeking for?
I am quite sure that some people reading this will misunderstand what I am saying so I would urge caution and careful consideration. There are many principles involved here that must be taken together to be seen and understood. So much of the dysfuntion in modern marriage can be quickly ironed out once this echad principle is properly understood.
Take the act of sexual intercourse itself. (If you are uncomfortable about sex being described explicitly, or are not married, please do not read the text in pale blue). How many sexual positions are there? I am told there are 66, not that I really care. For me, at any rate, there are basically four positions as far as spirituality is concerned - two horizontal, and two vertical, with perhaps one inbetween. There is the common 'missionary position' of man on top of women, rightly considered by most to be the most intimate because it involves eye-to-eye contact (the eyes being the windows to the soul) and is certainly one of the most spiritual. This position, moreover, correctly symbolises the woman's submission to man. The reverse of this is with the woman on top of the man, while he lies and she sits straddled. This is sometimes called the 'Lilith position' because according to Jewish tradition this was the position Adam's first wife, Lilith, insisted on, because she wished to dominate and control him. According to the tradition, she eventually became a murderess and a demon, the consort of Satan. The tradition elements aside, there is definitely something wrong with this position if it predominates unless the husband invites his wife to take it up. If this is done, then she becomes symbolically male with his permission, allowing her to 'become male'. It has the advantage of preserving eye-to-eye contact, just making a spiritual doorway. In any sexual union this position should never dominate but be secondary. Finally, in the third of the horizontal positions, a man may enter his wife from behind, usually lying on their side. Here eye-to-eye contact is broken unless the wife turns her head round and he leans over towards her.
The intimate 'missionaary' position
Unless you are prepared to enter into various acrobatic performances (which I suppose might appeal to the more athletic lovers) you are somewhat limited if you are standing up. Vertical (as opposed to horizontal) sex is certainly favoured by some eastern cultures, though for reasons of their own. If the man enters the woman from behind standing (the 'Danish position') then, unless the woman is bending her head back to look at her husband, which can become uncomfortable after a while, there will be no eye contact. With eyes open, one's gaze is fixed to the front. One stands for a monarch as a rule, or to show respect for those in authority, and so I find this position very nice for a contemplative meditation outside oneself. Fixing ones gaze on a beautiful scene of nature, or a flower, or something beautiful that Yahweh has created, whilst engaging in intercourse, is a beautiful and deeply fulfilling meditation. Husband and wife can exchange words to describe what they are doing to enhance the echad. If this disturbs those who may think that sex should be confined to the bed, it is worth remembering that our first parents' bedroom was a garden. And so long as one is not engaging in physical intmacy in public or in the presence of others, it is entirely up to married people where and how they conduct sex, whilst remembering that as Christians/Messianics we should be cultivating beauty and holiness. A variation on this vertical position is sitting down, and if one does this, then positions can be reversed and eye-to-eye contact re-established (a variation on the 'Lilith Position' since the wife is on top).
There may be said to be three types of echad meditations during sexual union, namely:
As a man and woman become more spiritually attuned, they may start seeing common visions. Or, as sometimes happens with me, I will see a vision and my wife interprets. Sometimes we listen to quiet contemplative music together. There are many ways for a man and woman in sexual union to build inner bridges.
- (a) Eye-to-eye contact, which is essentially a form of meditation on one's spouse;
- (b) Looking at some object such as a beautiful nature scene; and
- (c) With closed eyes using one's fantasy to conjure up something which can be mutually shared.
One of the philosophical objections people have to polygamy is that it is 'unnatural' because a husband can only be in sexual union with one wife at a time. And superficially this is correct. However, it ignores the echad principle. Physically, Christ can only be present at one place at any one moment of time, and yet His Spirit can be in many places simultaneously. The physical Christ can only ever look into the eyes of one man or woman at a time and yet He is able to see into all our souls simultaneously. The fact that a polygamous man can only penetrate one wife at a time does not mean that he is not in echad union with the others, and the polygamous arrangement can only ever be regarded as inferior or disadvantageous to women if you view it through strictly physical eyes. There is, indeed, no way you can persuade someone who is rooted in the three dimensional physical world that polygamy is equal and fair in every respect because such a soul is not spiritual, but carnal. From a carnal point-of-view polygamy is indeed unequal. But this is the whole point: Christian/Messianic polygamy, like the Gospel itself, in its essence is spiritual, with the physical - including sex - an aid. We may, in our carnality, object that Christ is not standing before us all the time telling us how to organise our lives, but this is not how the Elohim (God) work: our relationship to the divine is always to be based on attunement to the spiritual, not the physical.
The challenge of echad love and sex, therefore, is to progressively move into the Holy Spirit of the Elohim (God) and into the ruach (spirit) or our spouse(s). The essence of marriage is spiritual with a dimension of expression in the physical. And whilst many sincerely believe that physical sex is the highest expression of marriage it is not - if it were, we whould be having it 24 hours a day, with all the consequences of physical burn-out that that implies. Yet spiritual sex we may have at all times - that spiritual intermingling that makes of two (or three or four) one. And the way for that spiritual intermingling to take place is the same as that which brings us into echad union with the Elohim (God) - namely surrender. A wife's supreme goal should be to be swallowed up in the will of her husband as his is to be swallowed up in the will of Christ, without either losing their individual identities. Echad union is a flowing from A to B, of wife to husband, of husband to Christ, of Christ to Yahweh:
This is the movement of the Song of Songs earlier discussed. But you can't get this kind of movement if there is a weak link in the chain, and it is for this reason that we have two orders of wives in the Holy Order with broadly speaking involve two different sets of marriage covenants. The first, which is taken by new wives, is a lesser covenant (like Old Covenant concubinage) wherein a wife agrees, through an act of will, to yield herself to her husband in all things. Only as this takes place practically by a genuine change of heart and spirit, does she enter the second level of covenants which enables echad union to be realised. (See my article, Practical New Covenant Concubinage, Part 3).
Polygamy is as easy or difficult as your level of committment to Christ because polygamy is marriage in its fullest sense in the same way as committment of Christ is committment to the Church or Messianic Community in its fullest sense. There is a very real sense, therefore, in which the echad union of husband and wives is paralleled by a concommittant union of husband and wives with Christ in allegorical marriage union. Separate the two and you will soon miss the lighthouse beam that is Christ which guides your polygamous marriage to its fullest expression.
Many modern people find the concept of contemplation and meditation in sex hard to comprehend. For them, union is rapid and passionate copulation which is over in a few minutes. Others regard sex as a kind of physical marathon to be as physically intense, acrobatic and prolonged as possible. And this is certainly one way to have sex if it is the physical which dominates your interest. Certainly the culmination of intercourse often requires vigorous movement to attain the 'moment of release' but one need not rush into sex like a bull in a china shop. The most satisfying form of echad sex encompases all the rhythms and movements in a kind of symphony. Beginning gradually and meditatively heightens awareness of all the senses, spiritual, psychic and physical and makes the echad union of the whole person and not just the outer shell. The conclusion of union is a loss of all self-consciousness that takes place in an explosion of ecstasy which many believe is a shadow of the creative act of the Elohim (God) described in the first two chapters of Genesis. And so it may very well be. That the creation is followed by a day of rest is understandable in this light, and we should never neglect what I call the 'sabbath principle' in sex either. In many ways, the stillness after sex is even more glorious than the act of procreation itself as consciousness of physicality slips away and one is bathing in pure ruach (spirit). The spouses can lie in repose, enwrapped in each others arms, and invisibly drift in and out of each other in a parallel spiritual movement. To sleep together in this condition is considered bliss by many. Some of my most precious encounters with the Elohim (God) have been during this after period of tranquility.
What are the mystical principles that lie behind sex with multiple wives present? What rules should be observed? To begin with, I should say that not all women are attracted to a husband sleeping with more than one wife at a time, and this is something that husbands should respect. The reasons may be many, including legitimate fears of lesbianism (which I have discussed in other articles) but also the fact a wife may not be mature enough to move into such intimacy. I have consistently counselled to err on the side of conservatism rather than liberalism. There are simply too many immature, carnal men and women for whom the temptation to descend into depravity is too great. But if a polygamous triad (for example) are determined to go ahead and engage in intimacy in a non-bisexual manner, then some scriptural guidelines coupled with common sense become essential. I shall assume that my readers know what bisexuality and lesbianism are so I will not cover that terrain again.
To know where the boundaries lie, it is a simple matter of looking at the allegorical equivalents. In a local congregation, for example, the Pastor is the allegorical husband and the congregation is the allegorical plural bride. He may interview people one at a time or he may preach to the whole congregation. Let us consider the latter. An attentive congregation in proper relationship to their Pastor during a preaching service will have their eyes on him and not on each other, will they not? Indeed, in a spiritual sense, when a member of the congregation lets his eyes wander away from the Pastor and what he is saying and onto someone else, you have the equivalent (in a purely metaphorical sense) of 'lesbianism'.
A congregation is like a plural wife when its eyes are on the preacher
A better illustration (since marriage is based on it) would be our relationship to Christ. A congretation praising the Lord in song will be worshipping Yahweh. But if someone sings to impress a friend or a girlfriend, then the worship is being transferred from Yahweh to the person, or indeed to self. When the object of a woman's sex is removed from her husband to a sister-wife, then what is actually happening is idolatry. And this is essentially what lesbian sex is. It upturns all the channels, authority structures, and prerogatives that are engraved in the Word in our relationship to Christ as His allegorical Bride. The flow of eros is unnatural and perverse. Therefore I give as a scriptural rule that if a husband is having an intimate relationship with more than one wife at a time, and a wife's attention moves from her husband entirely to her sister-wife, she is in danger of the sin of idolatry, for she is giving - whether in her heart or by intimate contact - the love that exclusively belongs to her husband to her sister-wife. But if she can channel or direct that love to her husband through her sister-wife then the correct focus is maintained.
This does not, of course, mean that she should avoid all physical contact, for such would in any case be impossible in such a situation. The point is whether or not a sister-wife's moving desire is to sexual union with her husband or with a sister-wife - for the only way that two sister-wives can in fact be united in echad is through their shared husband.
Think about it another way. Salvation is through Christ alone, not through human intermediaries. A congregation of people worshipping Yahweh does of course share a spiritual intimacy but its object is always Christ. Thus any sex where more than one wife is present whose object is not orgasmic union with the husband is perverse, since Yahweh recognises no other union. And because those weak in the faith, or mistrustful of their own carnal disposition, have a strong likelihood of slipping over the boundary and into sin, where there is the slightest doubt, the course of action must surely be not to engage in this kind of sex at all. The trouble always comes, however, in the constitution of a person's 'conscience', for our conscience, Paul reminds us, is defiled too (Titus 1:15). Therefore what one person may not consider to be sinful may turn out to be just that simply because his conscience is untrained in righteousness. This alone would persuade me that this kind of sexual activity cannot be but for those who have attained a high level of spiritual maturity. The problem is: who decides?
Because sex can be the instrument of both great good and great evil, restraint is always the best default policy. The responsibility ultimately rests on the husband's shoulders. Since he knows (because the Word tells him clearly so) that practicing homosexuals (which includes lesbians) cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), it is he who will receive the wrath of Yahweh if he either leads or permits his wives into lesbian activity. Both he and his wives engaging in such acts may therefore find themselves outside the Kingdom of Heaven. Would you risk your salvation so casually?
I would imagine that a husband and wives sharing the same bed together should be saturated with a knowledge of Yahweh's Word, love it with all their hearts like King David, and be afraid to displease Yahweh in any way with unseemly sexual conduct. The husband must therefore know himself and his wives, and have taught his wives the truth of such matters without apology or compromise. If his thought is to 'have a little fun' by romping around in bed with more than wife he had better greatly beware, for he may not be far off from a great and terrible spiritual fall.
In conclusion I will say this: a husband had better know what he is doing and be sure that he is operating within the perimeter of Yahweh's Torah or Law, for it is he who will be accountable. His wives are not sexual play things - yes, they are to be enjoyed sexually, and he is to be enjoyed sexually too, but only within one or two tracks of a unitary road called:
One must also consider the letter of the Law and the spirit of the Law (Torah) - the letter permits many things, but not all that is permitted is necessary healthy. Thus a man is perfectly within his rights to have continuous sex for 48 hours if he wants but he would be an idiot to do so considering the loss to his health not to mention the deadening of his spirituality. Likewise a man is permitted to take all his wives into bed with him if he so wishes, but what he does thereafter will be determined by the Spirit in which they are operating. And if he leads, or permits his wives to be led into lesbianism, great will be his condemnation. More than that I will not say.
- (a) Child procreation and/or
- (b) Echad union in Christ.
We have covered quite a bit of ground today in delineating and explaining what echad sex is. Of course, there is always more than can ever be written down. My chief message would be, in concluding, that for sex to have any real meaning at all in marriage, its spiritual root must be sought out, understood, and applied for spiritual edification. There is a time, in old age or in poor health, when the physical aspects naturally diminish in quantity and indeed perhaps even in content, leaving one with only the true essense which is spiritual. If we have missed the spiritual dimension we shall be the more impoverished because of it. It is possible also to have deeply fulfilling spiritual sex without reaching a physical climax (orgasm). Building on this spiritual base, therefore, I heartily recommend. Having said this, though, let us not swing to the opposite (Augustinian) extreme and deny sex altogether, remembering the tantalising message of the Song of Songs. There has to be a right balance.
May Yahweh bless you as you discover, develop, control and apply your sexuality in marriage, remembering that its object is to multiply love and so bring glory to the Elohim (God).
The Antennae galaxies merging - a picture of cosmic polygamy
 Herbert Slade, Contemplative Intimacy (Darton Longman & Todd, Anchor Press, London: 1977)
Comments from Readers of this Article
 "I read your article Contemplative Intimacy in New Covenant Plural Marriage. It was so beautiful. I have always wished that I knew how God meant for sex to be like. I have always hated the way people think it has to be dirty in order to be good. I thank God that he has used you and your family to bring truth into this dark world. I also feel sad that because of the things that have happened in my life I have missed out on the beauty of purity. I will pray that my husband's heart is softened and his ears opened to hear the truth, but for right now he is very disconnected spiritually" (BK, October 2002).