Continued from Part 1
The bisexual Christian woman has both an advantage, and a disadvantage, over the heterosexual woman entering Christian/Messianic polygamy. She is both one step closer as well as one step behind entering the mystery of Echad Plural Marriage. She is ahead because she is attracted to women, and mutual attraction between everyone is essential in polygamy if you want the fullness. But she is behind because the root attraction is primarily sexual. In respect of the latter she is little different from the heterosexual woman who enters polygamy for lust.
Now I know it is all too easy to over-simplify. There are as many sanctified and unsanctified 'states' of bisexuality as there are of heterosexuality. I know some bisexual polygamous women who are spiritual and whom I greatly admire and respect. And I know some heterosexual polygamous women who are carnal and who repell me utterly. I am not one of those people who tars all people of a certain sexual orientation with the same brush because in my view everyone has sexual hangups and sin areas that need dealing with. I am not, therefore, one who groups all female bisexuals together and shakes his head while nodding approvingly at all heterosexual women. It really isn't like that all. There are many bisexual women whom I feel far more attracted to than those who term themselves 'heterosexual' and whom I would choose as potential wives in preference to their heterosexual counterparts.
Today I want to get down to the practical aspect of what I discussed in my previous article. And I don't only want to ask the question, 'how?' but also to show to the bisexual ladies that:
- (a) Moving into echad is far, far better and desirable; and
- (b) It's not a choice between bisexuality and heterosexuality, but a choice for something completely different: echad sexuality. I'd like now to explain why.
One of the greatest difficulties I have faced in the many articles I have written is explaining to the world how echad polygamy isn't really heterosexuality or bisexuality. When you speak of bisexual women, everyone knows that there are men who are of exactly the same orientation who likewise call themselves 'bisexual'. They do pretty much the same things as bisexual women do and have pretty much the same sexual drives. Likewise, when you speak of a 'heterosexual' man, you can also speak of a 'heterosexual' woman. They are the same and they are, in a way opposites.
Everybody with polygamous experience knows, if they are really honest, that if you put one man together with several women in a polygamous relationship that there are major differences in their interrelatedness when compared to an ordinary heterosexual monogamous marriage. When you put heterosexual women together they have a 'natural affinity' that is not the same as that which obtains between heterosexual men. King David describes his relationship with Saul's son, Jonathan, which he exalts in such a way that homosexuals have wrongly interpreted to mean that they were homosexuals. They absolutely were not. They had a bonding that was deep and abiding and which in many ways foreshadowed the kind of spiritual bonding between men who are deeply in Christ. It was an entirely non-sexual relationship. However, when you place women in close proximinty to one another, a different kind of bonding spontaneously takes place too which is both like - and yet also very different - to that which David and Jonathan shared, for example. And if allowed to unfold to its fullness, within a marriage covenant context, it without a doubt moves into the sexual domain without being bisexual.
Now to ask you some challenging and difficult questions which I hope will illustrate what I am trying to explain here. To some extent we have been programmed to think in two-dimensional ruts and must learn to step out of these. So here goes.
Would you describe two men kissing each other on the lips as a homosexual act? I think most of us would answer 'yes'. And yet the first Christians/Messianics, as is well known, used to greet one another with a "holy kiss" (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26) which involved kissing one another on the lips and, it is believed by most scholars, only between those of the same sex (Romans 16:16; 1 Peter 5:14). Was this a homosexual act? I think most of us would answer 'no' - it was not, because it was non-sexual. However, as history attests, this custom did degenerate into a carnal spirit and for this reason was rightly discontinued. What makes two men kissing each other on the mouth homosexual is the spiritual/psychic intent behind it. It was not uncommon in Hebrew society for men to greet one another in this manner in the earliest times, and was a sign of affection between fathers and sons, and between brothers. These were not long, passionate kisses, but brief ones. Their goal was not the same as a homosexual kiss. It was not romantic or sexual. It would therefore be wrong of us to condemn all kissing between men though in view of our evil and promiscious society I would strongly counsel against it amongst believers or anyone else for that matter. And by the same token I would counsel against anyone kissing the mouths of anyone they were not married to, and this is indeed the current ruling in our Order.
This simple illustration illustrates how we must be careful in judging all physical acts innvolving mouth-to-mouth kissing, for example, and throwing them all in the same judgmental basket. As I have illustrated elsewhere, customs do vary from culture to culture and have different meaning. Therefore men holding each others hand, or women doing the same, is considered normal and heterosexual in parts of the Middle East.
There are always problems when discussing sexuality in a biblical context because there was no vocabulary of 'sexuality' anciently. In Old Testament times, at least, what was right and wrong sexually was judged more on the basis of acts than intents. Thus men were forbidden to have sexual relationships with one another on pain of death. In the New Testament Christ restored the level of spiritual consciousness to where it had originally been in the distant past by, amongst other things, forbidding divorce and insisting that what our heart desired was as important as any physical act. Thus adultery in one's heart is almost as serious a matter as adultery in the flesh, if not more so. And as I have pointed out elsewhere, for the first time the sinfulness of lesbian relationships is described in the New Testament.
So let me ask you another question: does the picture on the right offend you? And if so, why? What is the ground for your offence? The fact of the matter is none of us actually knows what the spiritual intent is behind the two kissing women. We don't know whether it's lesbian, bisexual, or something else. We can only guess. We could probably make a better evaluation were we to see these ladies in real life and discern by the Spirit or simply using common sense based on our experience of people. We could also make a judgment based on statistical probability - were these two women in San Francisco we might judge them differently from observing them in a Christian Church/Messianic Assembly which condemns all forms of homosexuality. It is also true to say, I venture to suggest, that when it comes to matters of observing, it is very difficult to separate what we believe to be the Spirit from our own personal feelings which are conditioned by our values and experiences. Thus this picture could either represent something which is, biblically-speaking, perverse or something pure and beautiful.
As polygamists we know that monogamy-only people can be really offended if a man kisses two women tenderly on the mouth in their presence. And if the observers are traditional Christians/Messianics they will probably cry 'adultery' or some other equally obnoxious and untrue expletive. Yet you and I know that a man tenderly kissing all four of his wives (as Jacob must surely have done) was by no means anything other than holy, pure, good, and God-sanctioned.
It is a fact that our conscience - the mental and emotional means by which we delineate good from evil, or peace and guilt - is something that has to be trained. It is for this reason that the apostles taught that not all 'conscience' is right but that it can, in fact, be "defiled" by wrong training (e.g. 1 Corinthians 8:7). Thus some believers are offended if you eat pork and others are not, based on the teachings they have been given. It is for this reason that no two humans will ever agree on morals or ethics unless their consciences have been trained to accept - usually over time - absolute, unquestioning truth. And as believers we are under an obligation to to be trained up by Elohim's (God's) Word, the Bible, as Absolute Truth. Our consciences are supposed to be aligned with it. And if our feelings - our conscience - revolts at something we read there, then quite simply stated somewhere in our psyche we are believing in a lie and we are Elohim's (God's) enemies in regard to some aspect of the Truth.
That is why any Christian/Messianic (or Jew, for that matter) who believes that polygamy is a sin, and reacts emotionally in a hostile manner to it, is believing in a lie and is being served notice by the Creator to adjust his or her thinking. We may believe that our conscience is untrainable after a certain age but this is not true. If we are honest, seeking believers, then we must surely confess that our conscience is constantly being retrained. Thus four years ago I would not have been troubled in the least by eating pork, but since learning Yahweh's teaching about diet, I am now revolted by the idea - not because I think pigs are disgusting animals, but because I do not want to displease my Sovereign Lord or abuse my body, which is the Temple of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). I cite this as an illustration of the problem we face.
My point is we should not dispair if our conscience fails us, or if others wrongly judge us out of a defiled conscience. Nobody likes to be hated or condemned, least of all by fellow Christians/Messianics, so we do need to be very careful here and make sure that what our feelings are telling us are not founded on false tradition but on the truth, and to be willing to disagree and be rejected by others who refuse to adjust to the Word. And that means getting those Bibles out and digging deep.
Because 'sexuality' is not something discussed per se in the Bible we can do one of three things:
Let me illustrate. The Torah says nothong about anal sex, and so one body of people, using rationale (a), can argue that it's ok. A second body of people will use rationale (b) and say that since it's not mentioned that it can't be good. Or we can, I suggest, use an even more superior methodology by looking at what the 'anus' actually represents scripturally (not to mention biological function and common sense) and draw our own conclusions. I mention this rather vile practice because it is the darling of homosexuals (who cannot 'function' without it) and others who are just not satisfied with the functions Yahweh has already given us for healthy and pure sex. And as is well known it is one of the most common methods of spreading disease like AIDS.
- (a) We can condemn anything that is covered by concrete negative Torah statutes;
- (b) We can condemn anything that is not covered by concrete positive Torah statutes; or
- (c) We can look at the allegories and types which, when approached properly, give us deep insights into such matters.
So let us return to kissing. In the East, it is a common salutation or greeting, and was a sign, in particular, of affection between relatives (e.g. Genesis 29:11; 33:4). We also know that it is an expression of romantic love (Song of Solomon 1:2) or of unholy lust (Proverbs 7:13). It is a sign of affection (Matthew 26:48; Luke 7:38; 15:20; Acts 22:37). It is a token of homage (1 Samuel 10:1) and respect (Psalm 2:10). Finally - and I think this is also very significant - it is an act of religious worship (1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:3). So who can tell what these two women in the picture above were doing? I am sure you have your opinion though I have the advantage over you because I know it's context! I know, you probably don't.
When non-bisexual women fall in love with each other in a polygamous situation it is only because they have first fallen in love with their husband and are actually loving their sister-wives through their husband. And here is the litmus test that separates echad female sexuality from bisexual female sexuality: it is impossible for a heterosexual woman to fall in kosher (pure) love with another heterosexual woman until she has first fallen in love with their mutual husband and grown to a point of such complete transparency and trust that all barriers between them fall. Such women never fall in love with each other and are never sexually attracted to each other apart from the context of a shared, loved husband. What this means is that there is no parallel bisexual polyandrous equivalent involving, for example, a heterosexual woman and several bisexual males. And indeed, such an equivalent cannot, and does not, exist. It is impossible. For this kind of love can only be experienced in Christ and never apart from Him and in a polygynous situation. There is no such thing as echad sexuality in any other context than polygyny. It is utterly unique. And it isn't bisexual. It's pure, holy, and in Christ.
So what actually are we observing here? Is it holy or unholy? How can we judge from what Yahweh has revealed in the Bible? Dare we be presumptuous without really digging deeper and understanding the principles that undergird righteous marriage? By the same token, how do we judge men-women relationships? Are the man and women in the picture above married, fornicating, or committing adultery? What, according to the Bible, is holy there, and what is not? And how do we get beyond the plain exoteric sense of Torah and that which is of the spirit?
It should be obvious from all we know about polygynous relationships that men-women and women-women relationships are not the same even if they may have some similarities. And so what we still have to ask ourselves is this: what is acceptable in terms of female-female sexuality in a polygynous relationship and what is not? There are, as we know, boundaries in the male-female aspect in marriage - for instance, intercourse is strictly forbidden during menstruation (the Niddah law). This being so, what is, and what is not, permitted between the women, remembering that they are not the same, even though the lesbian (and therefore bisexual) illusion might lead us to believe that there is no difference?
I am now going to leap into the practical aspects and how I deal with these questions with a new wife entering the family. It may surprise you to learn that my approach to the bisexual woman is identical to the carnal heterosexual woman - indeed, my approach is the same to all women irrespective of their sexual 'orientation' for I make no distinction between them in the spiritual dimension which is where I always start. Just as the bride and bridegroom always physically wash on their marriage day (unless they are ... well ... 'different') so I take all new wives through a spiritual equivalent. In other words, what I am seeking to do is rectify any and all spiritual and psychic forces which may be out of alignment and, sometimes, may bring with them unwelcome demonic visitors. My goal is complete spiritual deliverance. It doesn't matter whether the prospective bride is a heterosexual or a bisexual because in both cases the goal is crucifixion of the carnal nature and rebirth in the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit.
I am not saying that this will necessarily happen in one day. However, in my experience, in a properly conducted diliverance session it is possible to get thoroughly cleansed so that problems like lesbianism can be treated quickly and painlessly. I would therefore treat a bisexual woman interested in me in exactly the same way as I would a heterosexual woman: for all I am looking for is 100% committment to the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) and a willingness on their parts for Him to change them into the women He wants them to be. The crusade is not, then, specifically against the lesbian traits in a bisexual but against anything that would spoil her relationship with Yahweh and with her husband and sister-wives. I let Christ do the work in any case. If she isn't willing - whether she is a heterosexual or a bisexual - then I am ipso facto not interested in her.
Few people these days are without sexual problems, heterosexuals and bisexuals alike. Being a 'heterosexual' doesn't automatically give you 'special favour' status with Elohim (God). What our Heavenly Father is looking at is not so much our so-called 'orientation', whatever its cause may be (most bisexual women have no idea and are therefore guiltless as far as premeditated sin is concerned, other are not) but our desire for purity ... or a lack of it ... by being willing to have Him expose and expunge any and all lies in our lives. And that 'purity' is defined by Him. I do not here speak of ceremonial purity (like washing your hands) but of spiritual, mental, emotional, and spiritual purity. When a homosexual or lesbian 'falls in love' it is unnatural. And when it leads to sexual contact, it leads to defilement both of the persons concerned and the land/ground/soil under them:
Scripture is most specific: those who engage in homosexual and lesbian acts do not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. When any law of Yahweh is broken, no matter what it is - whether it be Eve eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge out of season, or a man habitually lying - it opens a demonic doorway. Elohim (God) and Satan cannot co-exist. A spring cannot bring forth both bitter and sweet water (James 3:11). And you cannot serve two Masters (Matthew 6:24). You have to choose one or the other because you cannot take a demon with you into heaven.
"'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you" (Leviticus 18:22-28, NIV; also read vv.6-21 for other defiling sexual sins).
But let's not oversimplify. We have, within us, the ability to compartmentalise ourselves, rather like the building of separate rooms in a house. It is a gift from Yahweh. It is possible to admit Christ into all of the rooms but one, leaving Satan in the last one wherein we keep some sinful behaviour as a carnal pet to be indulged behind closed doors. Every Christian/Messianic has sin-issues, but he is not supposed to leave them undealt with. We are, John tells us, supposed to overcome. Only then can we enjoy the fullness and finally partake of the Tree of Life. This requires diligent application of the principles of discipleship.
As I said, there are many different kinds of bisexual. There are the saved and the unsaved, and every shade of sanctification of the saved. But the bisexual issue will always be a stumbling block which can affect other areas of discipleship. The bisexual mind is divided - it is not satisfied with husband alone but craves, to differing degrees, an equivalent female-female union which cannot exist in the spiritual domain. And because it can't, it is confined to the psychic (mental and emotional) and physical, i.e. flesh. It simply does not 'gel' in the complete woman - the wholeness is not there. Yahweh said to Eve after she had fallen:
There are no equivalent passages saying that your desire shall be for your sister-wive. The only conceivable attraction a sister-wife could have for another one would be as a part of her husband because she is in a one-flesh union with him. Explaining this will be my task in this and the next essay.
"I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you."
(Genesis 3:16, NKJV)
That is not to by any means say that no holy and good things are taking place between two bisexual sister-wives at the same time. It is, as I have already said, dangerous to oversimplify. It may even be that in some cases some who believe they are bisexual may, in fact, be echad, and they may discover that they have become unconsciously transformed through living polygyny. I know for a fact that many men and women in homosexual and lesbian relationships are not actually 'homosexuals' or 'lesbians', i.e. they are not 'unnaturally' attracted to the same sex but are what is called in secular parlance 'experimenting' and feel no 'longings' after such liasons are terminated. In other words, the problem is not pathological but 'merely' fornication and idolatry.
In the echad system, the relationship between sister-wives is through the husband. Always. And without him there is simply no psychic and physical attraction. It is usually something that gradually evolves within the complex dynamic that is polygyny. As I described in my previous article, we see here that the kind of bonding which characterises Christian love between brothers and sisters is only possible through Christ - without Christ, it is psychic, and belongs to the realm of friendship only (if it is pure) or (if it is not, and if it moves into the physical), perversion. This mystical union with Christ is a spiritual reflection of a union - marriage - which has a physical dimension too. And therefore the relationship between sister-wives must be physical too. In the illustration below I present the allegorical marriage relationshiop between Christ and three believers in a polygnous relationship, and compare it with the physical sexual relationship between those same believers in a literal marriage:
The first marriage relationship is an allegory and therefore the relationship is non-sexual, but spiritual. Joe, Jane and Anne are complete equals in the fullness of this relationship with Christ because they are co-heirs of the same salvation. The bond that is between all three is identical. They are in turn in a submissive relationship to Christ and in a similar but on their level co-equal spiritual relationship with each other.
Now all we have to do is translate the allegory back into the original marriage concept and to look at the sexual dimension which exactly parallels the spiritual one. The relationship between Joe and Jane, and Joe and Anne, we all understand. It is a heterosexual bond: What, then, is the bond between Jane and Anne? Looking back on the spiritual bond that is reflected in the relationship they all had with Christ, it follows that there must be an equivalent sexual one between the wives where there are no artificial barriers. To understand the nature of this bond, all we have to do is look at the numerous allegorical marriage relationships between believers in the Scriptures. It is that simple.
Although marriage is not all sex, the sexual dimension is nevertheless strong, because that is the only lawful place for sexual expression in Yahweh's holy Torah. And sex, as I have described elsewhere, is not just intercourse. It has both its subtle levels as well as more coarse, outward ones. I describe this in a chapter in our trilogy, Bouquet of Roses. These are as important as the overt, visible sexual acts that most people normally associate with sex.
There are dangers we need to be aware of in the marriage relationship, and we have only to look at the 7 churches (assemblies) of Asia Minor to see what these were and then translate them back to literal marriage. And I particularly want to draw your attention to the congregation at Ephesus for this one, you will remember, was exemplary: the saints had perseverence, they worked hard, they detested wickedness, they exposed false apostles, they endured hardship for Christ's Name without growing weary (Rev.2:1-4) BUT they had a major sin-area: they had forsaken their first love, Yah'shua (Jesus)! (v.5) And this was no small matter, for the Lord says: "Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent, and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place" (v.5, NIV).
Now let's pause a moment here. Their first love was Christ - take Him away, or diminish Him in any way, and you are at once living in a state of idolatry, because no man's love can live in a vacuum - it has to be transferred somewhere. Idolatry is the love due to Yahweh which we transfer elsewhere, whether to spouse, children, friends, career, or whatever. The love between humans can be so deep that it is possible to edge God out bit by bit and almost imperceptibly. It happens. There are, sad to say, many Christians who have 'bisexualised' the Two Great Commandments by equalising them, or worse, 'lesbianised' them by making the second greater than the first ... as I said in my last essay (see diagram below).
Now transfer this allegory to the human marriage situation. A wife's first love in her marriage is her husband. Moreover, her love for him will, when juxtaposed against her love for her sister-wives, seem like hate in comparison, won't it? If the love in the marriage relationship is equal - as it is in bisexuality - then it is idolatry. And if there is no love for the husband at all (as in lesbianism), then the type of sin is orders of magnitude greater.
Again, I need to remind our readers that I am not here saying that wives should love their husbands as deity. Of course not. I am talking about priority and order. In the bisexual situation, that order is twisted, and in lesbianism, fully destroyed.
Now we must not neglect what is written in verse 6 of this passage which reads:
Now what were these "practices"? Tradition identifies this heresy with a man called Nicolas who was one of the first seven deacons in the Jerusalem Assembly (Acts 6:5). This sect worked out a compromise with pagan values and practices and taught that their spiritual liberty gave them sufficient leaway to practice idolatry and sexual immorality. This practice is linked with the woman Jezebel who had influence in the Thyatiran congregation. You can put 2 and 2 together easily enough - this was a mixture of anti-Torah, anti-patriarchy, and sexual libertinism which, given our extensive knowledge of pagan society at that time, must have included homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality. All of these Yahweh HATES because they are idolatrous, destroying the image of Elohim (God) which pure marriage is supposed to reflect.
"You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate".
Now Ephesus, as some of you know, was the seat or headquarters of the Apostle John, who became the presiding apostle, whose teachings are preserved in his Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse. Many agree that his writings represent the pinnacle of the New Covenant revelation. We ourselves at at this ministry style ourselves as belonging to that Johannine Communion and follow its lofty teachings. It is our belief that echad polygamy belongs to that Sukkot tradition and not to the other six as represented by the other congregations in Asia Minor and which parallel in many ways many of the denominational allegiances we see in the world in the end-times today.
Echad Polygamy is 'Ephesian' and it is the only one, in our view, which allows Christian/Messianic polygamy to unfold into the fullness that it was intended to be. It is out of place in the other systems and meets insurmountable problems, or otherwise plateaus out and may stagnate. There is only one way to enter this fullness and bisexuality is definitely not that way. However, bisexual women are offered a unique opportunity to scale a certain cliff of perversion, through the blood of Christ and obedience to Torah, and, after this, effortlessly move into this higher way. And heterosexual women have cliffs of their own to scale to make it into this 'Ephesian' paradise.
Echad polygamy is definitely not for all Christian/Messianic polygamists, for reasons I don't propose to expound here. The rest will gravitate to other models that reflect the churches (assemblies) at Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. More about these in a moment.
Now I'll freely admit that we do have a temptation or potential handicap in the 'Ephesian' spirit, and that, as I have already said, is the danger of losing our first love. Because echad polygamy generates so much deep love, it can be intoxicating. And that is why active cultivation of our relationship to Christ must be vigorously pursued at all times. I do not recommend anyone tries this particular form of polygamy unless they are willing to be completely obedient to Torah and fully surrendered to Christ. You must have a desire for purity, or it will not work. Love, obedience and purity are our trinity of core values.
So to the bisexual we can ask this question: is your husband your first sexual love or do you view a sister-wife as having equal sexual priority? Or to put it more bluntly: does the sexual attraction you feel for your husband make the sexual attraction you feel for your sister-wife seem like hatred or total indifference? And - coupled to this question (and this really hits the core problem) - were you to have no sister-wife, would you be completely sexually fulfilled in your husband in a monogamous marriage?
I realise that some people are going to reflexly say this thinking is 'cultic' or 'heretical' - that's a typical reaction of those who are afraid to probe too deep or have a spotlight thrown on their unconscious where sin habits lurk in the dark, and try to dodge exposure. We admit this can be uncomfortable, but also declare that it is worth facing. And that is why we welcome bisexual women who love Christ with all their hearts and who genuinely seek for purity. We have something for them that is infinitely better than the bisexual lifestyle.
The picture I wish to paint of echad sexuality is not, however, yet complete. To do that we need to look at the other six congregations of Asia Minor which are also allegorical marriage relationships. As we do, we need to focus on a number of questions:
The Seven Messianic Assemblies
- (a) What is their relationship to Christ as a congregation?
- (b) What is their relationship to each other as a Body?
- (c) How can we translate these relationships to a literal marriage? and
- (d) How can we examine these relationships on a sexual level?
We've looked at (1) Ephesus. Their problem was that they lost their focus of Christ. On a plural marriage level this means that the sister-wives get so pre-occupied with the good time they had with each other that they start forgetting their husband. The marriage becomes woman-centred. Now this is always a problem when the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit is present in a powerful way, for She is Herself female and femaleness can be intoxicating. Looking at this on the sexual level we can see that the husband has actually ceased to become sexually attractive anymore and the wives are turning to lesbianism. This is described in the allegorical situation as "falling from a great height" because their relationship had become idolatrous. And that's what lesbianism is - idolatry.
The good news is that those who overcome this vice, having discovered the delights of echad, are permitted to eat of the "Tree of Life which is in the paradise of Eloah (God)" (Rev.2:7b). And what a promise! To live this way is to enter into the very stream of everlasting life itself! Could there be a greater promise for overcoming?
We move on to (2) Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11). This congregation had what we call the 'Yah cult' amongst them. These are Messianics who claim to accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Messiah but deny His Deity. They are described here as the "synagogue of Satan". This is a much persecuted congregation - they must go through much physical suffering. Those who are able to endure this for Christ's sake have their own wonderful promise: they will "not be hurt at the second death" (v.11).
What does this represent in the polygynous marriage situation? You've got it - some false wives! Wives who are not really believers but who nevertheless name the Name of Christ! And when persecution comes, they run because they don't have the ability to overcome which the Spirit brings them when they are in right relationship with Christ. They are a destructive force and belong to the Synagogue of Satan!
Many polygamous marriages have been like that. Men have presumptuously married unbelievers whom they thought were true believers. Their unbelief brought dangerous destabilising forces into the marriage relationship, literally rending the marriage apart. Various factors, but likely the carelessness of the unredeemed wives - their indiscretions and demon problems - no doubt brought about persecution. It is a terrible ordeal to go through but those who do succeed are promised they will not be hurt when they pass through the lake of fire, which is the second death, for they will have been fortified by their ordeal, and so will not be hurt.
On the sexual level, we have a woman who neither believes, understands, or practices echad. She is remote, being unconnected to the true Ruach haMashiach or Spirit of Christ and by her presence literally creates two marriages in one - one which is secular and monogamous in nature while the other wives are struggling both to make their own echad to work whilst fighting the destructive effects of the recalcitrant wife. So long as that unbelieving wife from the Synagogue of Satan is there, no echad marriage can result. It is a siege. Thus the kind of echad sexuality I am talking about can never really materialise under these conditions. It is doomed to be a multiple-monogamous marriage of sorts.
Next comes (3) Pergamum (vv.12-17). This congregation is in the very heartland of Satan himself and in spite of the terrible pressure remain true and faithful to Yah'shua (Jesus). They are famous for their martyr, Antipas, the faithful witness. But all is not well. False doctrine has its place amongst those of Pergamum, notably the teaching of Balaam, the Old Testament false prophet who led the Israelites astray by getting believers to compromise with worldliness and sexual immorality. They were also plagued by the Nicolaitan heresy, which I have already mentioned. The solution: they have to fight hard with the word of their mouths, the sword representing divine judgment. Theirs is a prophetic ministry of warning: repent or perish! (Luke 13:3)
This is representative of a Christian/Messianic marriage badly infected with worldliness and possibly even sexual infidelity. Their sexual practices are unclean and defiling of the body. I can think of many modern polygamous marriages which would fit this ticket, and indeed I have been lifting a prophetic voice against them for some years. There can be no compromise with worldliness and impurity. The message is repent or suffer the direst of consequences. What might these unclean sexual practices be? It could be anything from intercourse during menstruation, perversions like anal sex, and lesbian sex. Appropriate, then, that they are described as being in the throneroom of Satan, where every uncleanliness resides. It is evident that many of the Pergamumite believers still retained their pagan ways and were not observing Torah as they should.
The good news is that those who repent of these things and turn to the purity of Torah will be given "some of the hidden manna", the heavenly food available to those believers who overcome carnal urges and practices (v.17, Psalm 78:24), which is contrasted with the unclean (non-kosher) food of the Balaamites. I am sure this "hidden manna" is a portion of the Holy Spirit. But there is more than this celestial manna - each overcoming believer receives a white stone with a new name written on it. Much could be said about this but I will limit myself to noting that such stones were, anciently, used as tokens, and in this context, almost certainly an admission ticket or token to the Messianic Banquet of the Lamb. Can we doubt, in this light, the importance of spiritual, mental, emotional and sexual purity in marriage? And are we willing to make the necessary Antipas-like sacrifices to achieve it? Will we mortify the carnal nature?
We have now looked at three congregations, and three of the seven allegorical wives of Isaiah 4:1 working out their salvation. Next comes (4) Thyatira which I have also briefly mentioned. These believers are hard workers, full of love and faith, persevering, and in every way growing from grace to grace. But what do we find again? You've guessed - sexual immorality and in addition, matriarchy. This is a congregation that is weak on patriarchal headship and "tolerate(s) that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess" (v.20). It's our old female enemy Jezebel who wants to rule and be a voice of revelation, and who in truth hates men (see right). But she is an occultic Nicolaitan - a witch in Christian/Messianic garb, pursues impure acts and leads people into sexual immorality. She is given space for repentance but when that day of grace has passed, great is her woe and all those who tolerate her. Yah'shua (Jesus) says:
Does that sound like the 'meek and mild Jesus' of the 'tolerant' but corrupt churches, and the 'all grace but no justice' doctrine of their watered-down 'christ'? The condemnation of this feministic matriarch is terrible, and her doctrine Christ calls "Satan's so-called deep secrets" (v.24). Her lie, which is taught to occultists and satanists, is an old Gnostic heresy which maintains that in order to defeat Satan you have to experience the depths of evil. And her 'children' are, of course, all the libertine sexual doctrines of any age, and those who follow her.
"I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children [disciples] dead. Then all the churches (assemblies) will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds and I will repay each of you according to your deeds" (vv.21-23).
This heresy is so pernicious and dangerous to the health of the Church (Messianic Community) and marriages that it must be given no pity. The overcomer is not given a feather but an "iron scepter" with which to "dash into pieces" any nation or system that promotes matriarchy in any form (v.27) - and that means our Western liberal governments amongst others, and the insiduous feministic doctrines of perverted authority that have destroyed our homes. Not only does the overcomer receive the scepter with which to smash violently this obnoxious satanic system but also "the morning star" (v.28).
The morning star is, of course, Venus, the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. Here it symbolises glory - the glory of the believer in Christ, for Christ is that star prophesied long ago to "step out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17).
This is a sobering message and quite shocking for some I dare say. The husband, like Christ, must rule with an iron septer, meaning he must be strict and not deviate from the Word of Torah. To do so is fatal. He has that authority just as Christ "received authority from [His] Father" to govern us, His allegorical Bride.
It doesn't matter now loving you are if you overturn divine authority structures. Christ is the head of the Church (Messianic Community) and the husband is the head of His wife and family, and whilst no licence is given to him to be a brute he is absolutely required to be strict and uncompromising as far as patriarchal authority is concerned. To do anything less is to invite a terrible judgment! If once a husband relinquishes his God-ordained authority to his wives, his marriage is doomed to be smashed.
We move on now to (5) Sardis, a sleepy apathetic people. These believers think they are alive when they are in truth spiritually dead. They're living a delusion. They are warned to strengthen the little life that is in them before it is too late and dissolution takes hold of them. Their works are, quite simply, inadequate, and no doubt they comforted themselves with the truth that they were saved by faith and had no need to do anything more. They have all soiled their clothes - their laziness and laxity has let them slip into impurity. But if they wake up, they will receive white clothes - emblematical of purity and cleansing - and never have their names blotted from the book of life.
These are people living an outward religion. Many marriages are like that. They have grown dull and lustless. They likely major on doctrine but produce no evangelistic zeal and show no fruits of social action. They're too introspective. Church/Assembly has become a social club, their pride is in self-accomplishment, and inevitably such souls fill in the spiritual vacuum with sensual gratification.
Oh, I am sure you can think of marriages like that. Hubby is on the periphery in this marriage, and the wives have banded together as a private club. There's little family dyanamic and little spirituality and no echad. Everyone is for herself. The marriage is nominal. Such spiritually dead families are usually woken up by some sort of shock. Sudden change may upset the drowsy atmosphere. The sexual life is probably pretty dead too - in fact, there probably isn't one, except some ritual once-a-week or once-a-month concession. One might say that the Sardisians were as dead as tinned sardines.
So on to (6) Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). This is a new congregation, a new marriage, and you all know how vital these tend to be. These are zealots for truth, love, evangelism, and they don't spare themselves. And they're worn out. I guess many of us are Philadelphians! But they get a lot of opposition too - the "synagogue of Satan" is onto them like the Smyrnans, those who are again supposedly true Torah-worshippers but who belong to the noxious 'Yah cult'. They're fanatics about the Law but have little love in them and in truth don't view the Messiah as they should as Elohim (God). But Yah'shua (Jesus) promises that He will make them come and fall down at the feet of the Philadelphians in shame. Yes, we've had our fair share of the "synagogue of Satan" in the Christian/Messianic polygamy movement and even as I write this now, they are being humiliated by Yahweh.
Patient endurance is required of Yahweh's people, and no less in plural marriage. Long-suffering is what will enable the members of a polygamous family to get over its hurdles and cross the threshhold from the carnal into pure echad spirit. Such must keep going and not give up for they will be justified. These are the pillars of Yahweh's Temple, the heart and life of the Kingdom, whose foreheads are marked with the Name of Yahweh and the New Jerusalem, the Millennial Paradise, and with Christ's new name.
We signify by names whom we belong to. Yahweh put His Name on His people under the Mosaic Covenant by having a priest recite the Aaronic Bendiction (Numbers 6:24-27). Similarly, unbelievers indicate whom they belong to in virtue of the name of the Beast which they bear on their foreheads and right hands (Revelation 13:17).
In marriage, a wife belongs to her husband and indicates this is so by bearing her husband's name. In our Order a ceremony is performed at the time of betrothal in which the husband gives his wife a spiritual name of his own choice and then writes in olive oil his own name on her forehead, followed by a presentation of a bridal headscarf which she wears as a token of her submission and obedience to him.
Appropriately this congregation is the 'City of Brotherly Love' (Gk. philadelphia). Proper headship (an issue raised in a negative context in Thyatira) is essential to a thriving congregation as well as in marriage. It is also true in the sexual relationship. The husband is supposed to lead in this area. In any kind of lesbian or homosexual relationship, one female is usually the de facto 'head' and the other meekly follows, reflecting the unnatural order of the arrangement. In any sexual relationship, male is head, and female submissive, by divine apppointment, which lesbianism naturally upsets. I have heard bisexuals 'get around' this problem tell me that if two sister-wives are engaged in a sexual exchange that they always 'stand aside', as it were, when their husband enters and allow him to 'take over'. Whilst this is undoubtedly an honest attempt to follow the biblical pattern of male primacy to some extent, it still ignores the basic contradiction and idolatry inherent in the lesbian condition which I have explained above. For in bisexual polygamy there are (in a threesome) two sexual relationships instead of one, and thus the whole uniplural echad principle is contradicted. In the mystical marriage of Christ allegory, the marriage is consummated in heaven by the Bride (us) coming to Him - there aren't two consummations - one between the Bridegroom and the Bride, followed by a massive orgy between the members of the plural Bride.
We finally arrive at (7) Laodicia, a congregation we often hear cited as an illustration of a church (assembly) in a mess. It is lukewarm and delusional. They think they have everything. Like many charismatics, they think they're saved, exalted, and in the very throneroom of Yahweh when in truth they are fit only to be spat out like an inedible apple pip. They remind me so much of the pseudo-Christian 'health and wealth movement' (Kingdom-Now and Prosperity Theology) for whom plenty of money and good health is a sign of divine approbation, with poverty and sickness alleged 'proof' that you are off the way. These are the people driving into heaven in a brand new BMW on a wide autobahn ... or so they think. These are the people who love to show-off and boast about all their wonderful 'gifts' and who look down on other Christians/Messianics who supposedly don't possess them.
How many 'Christian/Messianic' marriages do you know that have a grand public image but which in reality are in dire straits? How many 'Christian/Messianic' marriages have you come across where wealth is paraded as a status symbol, or where a wife or husband is 'shown off' as a bargain acquired at an auction? How many 'Christian/Messianic' marriages do you know that are fueled by charisma and hormones instead of the Holy Spirit? And how many 'Christian/Messianic' people, in imitation of the world, do you know who are constantly boasting of their sexual prowess, stamina, or arsenal of techniques? (As a Christian/Messianic, not too many, I hope - you should be praying for these people and denouncing them if they start influencing other believers and leading them into the Laodicean mindframe).
Yah'shua (Jesus) does not mince His words to these believers. They are commanded to repent (a word curiously absent from much Christian/Messianic parlance these days ... again in imitation of occultism, for whom there is no 'repentance' because there is no 'sin').
These people are commanded to go through the fire of spiritual purification - and violently so, like gold having its dross purged. Like the king who was deceived into believing he was wearing fabulous clothes but who was actually naked, these Christians/Messianic think they are splendidly dressed when they are "shamefully naked" (Revelation 3:18) and utterly blind. And biggest irony of all, they think everyone else is blind for not being able to see their imaginary glorious spiritual attire.
You're probably wondering about the "eye salve" mentioned in this scripture which the believers were told to anoint themselves with. In the last two centuries Bohemia was famous for its therapeutic baths. Two thousand years ago Phrygia was famous for its 'powders' that was use to make eyesalve. Yah'shua (Jesus) was not only able to heal the physically blind (John 9:1-7) but also the spiritually blind. But before the spiritually blind can once again see they must first admit that they cannot see (John 9:39-41). As my seventh wife once said, "You can't start seeing your issues in technicolour before you've admitted them in black and white." That means in many cases overturning false theology and spiritual lies that Satan uses as a means to veil their sight.
Men and women enter plural marriages with all kinds of false beliefs and these hamper their relationship and shut down the motor that drives a relationship into echad. False ideas about sexuality are a major contributing factor and, because sex is so intoxicating, few are willing to do anything about it. Yah'shua (Jesus) said to the Phrygians:
These problems are not solved by being passive. Repentance is not a gift that is deposited on our lap. We can't say, 'I'm not ready yet' - and if people do say that, it reveals a passive lie-based theology of repentance. Yah'shua (Jesus) conveys a distinctly Hebrew and non-Protestant idea which is that it takes effort to lift oneself out of apathy and turn from sin.
"Be earnest (exert yourselves), and repent (turn from your sins)" (v.19b).
In many ways, the remedy given to Laodicea is appropriate to the whole drive of this essay and so I want to examine Christ's formula for repentance carefully. First, Yahweh is always ready to receive repentant sinners (Zechariah 1:3; Acts 2:38) - if we return to Him, He will return to us. Simple as that. And that is a principle wives should remember in the marriage relationship too. This is the ground for what Yah'shua (Jesus) says next:
Yah'shua (Jesus) does not barge in or thump on our door (as I have heard of many 'patriarchal Christians/Messianics' doing when their wives are out of order), but courteously stands there knocking. Now if you want a sign of whether a husband has the Ruach Elohim or Spirit of God in him or not, here is a pretty good one! He waits to be invited and doesn't force his way into his wives' spiritual life. He doesn't force his way into people hearts (how many controlling and manipulating people do you know who do that?) - either lapsed believers like the Laodiceans or unbelievers who have not yet received Him - but shows patience. On the other hand, He does not stand silently either in a way that no one would know He was actually there, but makes His presence instantly yet not intrusively felt in many different ways: through the exemplary behaviour of believers, through preaching and exhortation, through the conformity of history to prophecy, through nature, through conscience, and so on ... and He waits until someone hears His still small voice prompting belief and trust, removes any intellectual and emotional barriers, and "opens the door" to faith and the first signs of repentance.
"Here I am, I stand at the door" (v.20).
Then something interesting happens - the repentant sinner receives a Guest:
And notice that unlike most guests it is Yah'shua (Jesus) who provides the food, the spiritual nourishment that is needed to give strength needed for exerting oneself to take the more difficult steps of repentance.
"I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (v.20).
You have in this formula all the necessary ingredients for a deep, happy, and fulfilling echad marriage ... if husband and wives will respectively fulfill their divinely assigned rôles.
"The metaphor of meal-sharing (cp. Luke 15:2; John 14:23; Acts 11:3) is appropriate to Jewish and to most oriental cultures, where table fellowship implies affection, intimacy and mutual confidence. In short, Yeshua (Yah'shua/Jesus) is promising to be intimately and truly present with anyone who genuinely asks Him ..." (David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p.802).
Yah'shua (Jesus) ends His discourse to the Laodiceans and to the Seven Churches (Assemblies) of Asia Minor by presenting Himself as the model for anyone who wants to "overcome" or "win the victory" over evil, temptation and apathy. Wives will naturally model themselves after their husbands if the husbands will model themselves after Christ:
A lot of men think they're sitting on the Throne already but the absence of spiritual victory (overcoming) in their lives is mute evidence that they are not - indeed, they are sitting on that other 'throne'. No wonder their wives will not follow them. They think they have authority (which is what the throne symbolises) when they have none, except a bullying and controlling mentality which they try to pass off as 'godly' and 'spiritual'. And at the other end of the spectrum are the whimps who let their wives run the show, who lack firmness in their domestic government and obedience to Torah.
"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne" (Revelation 3:21, NIV).
But there is more to this which we must not overlook. If we, the allegorical Bride, are invited to sit on the throne of Christ with Him because we have overcome and have learned full submission, then what does this mean for literal wives in a literal marriage? It means that when they have learned full submission and obedience to their husband, and have overcome the tendency to rebel against him, that they will sit on his throne with Him!
Now we must not miss the significance of this because is is on this ground that we are told Christ sits on the Throne of Yahweh! What does a throne signify? Authority. Christ is jurisdictionally equal to the Father because that equality in authority has been assigned to Him! Christ is not on Yahweh's Throne because He has been co-equal with the Father throughout eternity as the creeds would have us believe but because it has been given to Him. In the same way a wife who is obedient, submissive, and has overcome the tendency to work against her husband is assigned authority by him. Therefore a wife - if she chooses right - occupies a position of equality before her husband in the same way that the Son occupies a position of equality before the Father. This is not a right that she has (feminism) but a reward for obedience. It is based on the reality of their echad union which can only come to pass through complete love, obedience and submission.
As a husband, therefore, my goal is to make my wives co-equal with me ... at my side and not beneath me. But I cannot thus elevate them until they have learned full submission as I learn full submission to Christ, and as Christ learned to the Father though His suffering:
I wonder if the reason it is hard to explain these things to modern Christians/Messianics is because they too have become "dull of hearing", brainwashed as they have been by man-made creeds. These truths have great significance for Christial/Messianic plural marriage and overturns the lie that women are somehow eternally in eternal subjection to their husband as 'lesser beings'. Yes, they are positionally different, just as we are to Christ, and as Christ is to Yahweh, but the supreme goal is to embrace everyone into this wonderful echad (oneness). Therefore as the Father has glorified the Son, and as the Son has glorified His Bride, so husbands in their turn are supposed to glorify their wives, not keep them as chattels. The discipline, submission, and obedience do not exist for their own sake, but to bring about a change in spiritual disposition that will allow jurisdictional co-authority.
"So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
As He also says in another place:
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by Elohim (God) as High Priest 'according to the order of Melchizedek,' of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing" (Hebrews 5:5-11, NKJV)
"You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You."
Some misinformed and misguided women usually go for my throat thinking that my maintaining women should be properly subservient to their husbands as their property means that they should be second-class spouses or slaves. This is not correct. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. The goal is to put them on the throne! But to do this does absolutely require obedience to New Covenant Torah and with a right heart. Unwilling, resentful obedience is not good enough. It must be genuine love-based obedience, for no other obedience leads to overcoming.
The Book of Revelation, and the Johannine writings as a whole, are much neglected by Christins/Messianics in spite of the lip-service given to them. There's work to be done. The Gospel cannot be lived the Laodician way. And if wives in plural marriages truly want the fullness that Christ offers, then they must be prepared to "learn obedience by the things they suffer" in their own sphere in exactly the same way as their husbands must in theirs. We're talking about real discipleship here - not half-hearted assent. We're talking about a genuine desire for oneness - for echad - and all that that implies. And that, I suggest, means challenging many wrong notions that both heterosexual and bisexual women have about their spiritual rôles in the marriage relationship. It means - if they want to live polygamy as true polygamists and not as rôle-playing monogamists in a polygamous theatre - that there has to be a lot of change. And that change is a part of the educational and pastoral mandate of this ministry. For if we are right, then most - if not all - the other contemporary Christian/Messianic polygamy models are flawed.
As far as I am concerned there is very little qualitative difference between bisexuals and heterosexual women coming out of a monogamy-only milieu. Both have not rarely understood what Christian/Messianic polygamy is. They both, when entering this lifestyle, 'adjust' within their own mindframes. Both create artificial, unnatural worlds. So I will boldly and unapologetically say that for both bisexual and heterosexual women entering this lifestyle that for the most part that they are acting a part in order to 'fit' with the biblical revelation, much in the same way that someone who might become a modern-day slave in a Christian/Messianic context would 'adjust' but deep down be secretly wishing there was some other arrangement. Many women who 'testify' about the blessedness of polygamy are genuine in certain respects but are play-acting for their audiences in others. Isn't that the truth? And isn't there a parallel truth for the patriarchs who must likewise 'play the media game' because they want to be seen as good examples?
I do not believe that there is such a thing as a bisexual or a heterosexual woman in a true Christian/Messianic polygamous environment, any more than I believe that the social interactions within polygamy can be compared with their equivalents in the secular milieu. And the same is true for the polygamous men. Like it or not, the true polygamous man and the true polygamous woman are a different spiritual and psychic species to both Christian/Messianic monogamists and to all those living other secular lifestyles, both lawful and unlawful. And to claim there is any resemblance is just playing games.
One of the reasons we have so many problems with Western Christian/Messianic polygamy is that it's unnatural - not the polygamy per se but the Western culture which we are trying to frame around it. Polygamy + Western Culture is a non-starter. And the dichotomy between the so-called 'straight' or 'heterosexual' and 'bisexual' plural wife is, in my view, in large part a product of the 'Western anomaly'. It is my postulate, built on considerable experience as a long-time 'Western' polygamist who has come under the influence of 'Eastern' values - that Echad sexuality is a true, sexual 'Golden Mean' that perfectly expresses the spirit of the Bible. That I shall now attempt to explain.
According to Dutch sociologist and researcher Geert Hoftstede, there are five cultural dimensions that show how non-verbal communication (of which sexual contact is a part) reflects culture:
1. Immediacy and Expressiveness
- (1) immediacy and expressiveness;
- (2) individualism;
- (3) masculinity;
- (4) power distance; and
- (5) high and low context.
Immediacy is the degree of perceived physical or psychological closeness between people. Immediacy behaviours communicate warmth, closeness and availability for communication. Examples of these are smiling, touching, eye contact, close personal distance, and vocal animation. Cultures that reflect immediacy behaviours or expressiveness are often called 'contact cultures'. Those of a high contact culture include most Arab countries, Jewish people from both Europe and the Middle East, Eastern Europeans, Russians, Mediterranean cultures (France, Greece, Italy), Indonesians and Hispanics. Those of a low contact culture include most of Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Germany, England), British-Americans, white Anglo-Saxons, and Japanese. Those from the latter are automatically going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to polygamy which, by its very nature, demands high contact, a barrier which many bisexuals have largely overcome, giving them a definite edge over heterosexual women living this principle.
2. Individualism vs. Collectivism
This dimension refers to how people define themselves and their relationships with others. In individualist cultures (such as the USA, Australia, Britain, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Italy, Belgium and Denmark), goals are set with minimal consideration given to groups other than perhaps the monogamous nuclear family. In collectivist cultures (such as Biblical Israel, Venezuela, Columbia, Pakistan, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Chile and China), other groups are taken into account in a major way when goals are set. Individualist cultures are loosely integrated, whereas collectivist cultures are tightly integrated.
In individualist cultures such as the USA, for example, when meeting a new person you want to know what that person does. You tend to define people by what they have done, their accomplishments, what kind of car they drive, or where they live. Individualism cultures are more remote and distant. And even though true Bible-believing Christians may attempt to remedy this by being more collectivist ('Body'-culture), the truth is our unconscious is so programmed to think otherwise because of our interaction with the wider culture that it inevitably affects even our attempts at Christian communitarianism. I consider myself blessed to have been exposed to a collectivist culture for many years of my life which gave me a differnt 'sense' of the possibilities for something alternative.
Cultures characterised by collectivism emphasise relationships among people to a greater degree. The Collectivist cultures stress interdependent activities and suppressing individual aims for the group's welfare. And in a nutshell, that is what the Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) demands of us - in fact, it is the most extremist collectivist culture imaginable, for we are told to crucify the carnal, egotistic nature - to forget self, to lose self in order to truly find it (Matthew 10:39; 16:25). And polygamy is the ultra-collectivist society if you are living it according to the principles laid down by Christ and as exemplified in the Mystical Marriage of Believers to Him. Our relationship with the Saviour may (and must) begin as an individualistic affair - one-to-one (how fond we are of the 'personal relationship' motif!) - but it is not supposed to end there: it is supposed to become ultra-collectivist to such an extent that we should be viewable as a single entity - as One Body and Many Individuals. In short, echad.
It is difficult for people from highly individualistic countries like the USA, Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany to understand collectivist values. The question is: how have they become like this? Well, what do they have in common? A number of things to be sure (they are all Germanic) but one of them must surely be the monogamy-only mindset!
In individualistic societies we are defined by what we have accomplished whereas in collectivist societites we are defined by where we belong, e.g. our family. Thus personal accomplishments in a collectivist society are not considered nearly as important to what you have done for the family. Which is the more Christian/Messianic attitude? The collectivist, of course. Individualism is so stromg in the United States that people often have difficulty appreciating how folks like women polygamists can feel content in so collectivist a society as a polygamous family. Collectivist contentment comes from knowing their place and from knowing that they have a place. And that is how an echad polygamist feels too ... a mindset utterly alien and incomprehensible to the individualist who automatically assumes that the collectivist mentality is 'suppression', 'oppression', or whatever. In truth, it is the individualists who are suppressed because they have not grown out of the baby social class into maturity. We were created by Yahweh-Elohim to be social and collectivist, and that is how it is to be in heaven. It's in the 'other place' that everyone is alone. So which are the more heavenly cultures and which are the more hellish? Common sense answers that one. And are we surprised to find that Christian/Messianic discipleship rarely gets past the baby stage in individualistic cultures and why true revival is taking place in lands like China and not America and Northern Europe?
3. Masculinity vs. Feminity
Hofstede's research revealed that women's social rôles varied less from culture to culture than men's. He labeled as masculine cultures those that strive for maximum distinction between what men and women are expected to do. Cultures that place high values on masculine traits stress assertiveness, competition, and material success. Those labelled as feminine cultures are those which permit more overlapping social rôles for the sexes. Cultures that place high value on feminine traits stress quality of life, interpersonal relationships, and concern for the weak. Thus 'masculine' countries would include Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland, Britain and Germany, whereas 'feminine' ones would include Sweden, Norway, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Chile, Portugal and Thailand. Since 1980, when this work was done, we have witnessed an increasing feminisation of the European countries in the 'masculine' group.
4. Power Distance
This is the extent to which power, prestige and wealth are distributed within a culture. Cultures with high power distance (such as the Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Singapore, Brazil, France and Colombia) have power and influence concentrated in the hands of a few rather than distributed through the population (as in Austria, Israel, Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland). These countries tend to be more authoritarian and may communicate in a way to limit interaction and reinforce the differences between people.
In cultures high in power distance, for example, corporate presidents' offices are more likely to be luxurious with controlled access. Company bosses are 'kings' and employers 'loyal subjects' who don't speak out. In more democratic organisations, leaders are physically more accessible.
Hofstede indentified one dimension as uncertainty avoidance, the extent to which people in a culture are made nervous by situations they perceive as being unstructured, unclear, or unpredictable. In these cultures, these situations are avoided by maintaining strict codes of behaviour and a belief in absolute truths. Cultures which a strong uncertainty avoidance are active, aggressive, emotional, compulsive, security-seeking, and intolerant; cultures with a weak uncertainty avoidance are contemplative, less aggressive, unemotional, relaxed, accepting personal risks, and relatively tolerant.
We observe similar power distances in patriarchal families, not to mention churches (local assemblies). In some families all power is concentrated in the patriarch 'kings' with little delegation of the same to their wives. It is only too obvious in the behaviour of the family members where power distance obtains.
5. High vs. Low Context
Context is the environment in which the communication process takes place and helps define the communication. Cultures in which little of the meaning is determined by the context are labeled 'low context', and vice versa.
An illustration may help. On meeting a stranger, your verbal communication with that person is highly explicit - or low context - simply because you have no shared experiences. You can't assume anything. However, when you communicate with your brother or sister with whom you have shared a lifetime, your verbal communication is restricted because you make use of your shared context: For example, the mention of a certain name can lead to laughter. With the stranger you would have to explain in verbal language the story that that name represented. Also, with your brother or sister a certain facial expression can have a shared meaning, such as 'There goes our mother again,' but the stranger would have no idea what your facial expression communicated. Again, you would have to explain in words that your mother's specific behaviour was characteristic, somewhat irritating, but so uniquely her.
It follows in the polygamous situation 'low context' is how marriage must begin. It is particularly difficult and challenging for a new wife who may find herself in a marriage where 'high context' already obtains and this may at first be seen as threatening and provoke jealosy in the less emotionally mature. For this reason the other wives do need to spend considerable time explaining in words what different things mean, and the new wife must be prepared to listen and absorb. Many new wives won't because they are accustomed to the 'MacDonald's Syndrome' and want instant spiritual food on a plate, something impossible in relationship-building. It is for this reason that a longish engagement (dedication) can sometimes be desirable so that the new wife is not left to feel that she is like a fish thrown up on the beach of inexperience. A polygamous marriage that has been in existence for some years is already a complex system and a new wife cannot expect to penetrate its mystery all at once. Patience and effort explaining things is most definitely required. And although people know me and my wives quite well from my many writings on our family and the subject of polygamy it is a far cry from actually being amongst us where a unique and complex form of communication and understanding has evolved. And very often even those who have been amongst us have not really understood who we are.
Thus for a new wife in a new (for her) low-context marriage, verbal messages need to be elaborate and highly specific which for the other wives can seem overly detailed and redundant. The ability to communicate is therefore initially essential in a polygamous family until non-verbal skills are attained and mastered. For a well-established high-context polygamous marriage, most of the information is either in the physical context or internalised. In our family we have a complex set of concepts, motions, and meanings that are derived from our shared interest in certain movies, from which we have derived a highly context-specific vocabulary. Not only that, but we are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. This is another reason for first developing a friendship with a prospective wife to see if these values, meanings, rituals and symbols are shareable, which are otherwise lost in low-context situations.
If you have ever experienced the Japanese Tea Ceremony you have there an excellent example of a high-context experience. Nothing is spoken - all the meanings are in the context. A typical response from a low-context observer is 'Hurry up and drink the tea!' and Western social experiences from coffee mornings and the like are quite useless to the Westerner in trying to understand the Japanese Tea Ceremony. More than likely - because that is the way we (sadly) are in the West, the social experiences we have in coffee mornings (if such is your liking) will be in the words spoken.
The Bible, on the other hand, is full of ritual little understood and even less liked by your typical Western person. Accordingly the deep meaning of significant Hebrew customs usually pass the Westen reader by unnoticed. This is particularly so in the sexual arena where sex has been reduced to mere physical performance. As such, then, subtle sexual nuances pass by unnoticed and unappreciated. Being as a polygamous family is both intimate and (inevitably) sexual, it is important to understand just what the sexual boundaries and potentials are in that relationship.
This is the first time I have attempted a sociological examination of plural marriage, and then only a tiny aspect of it, for my interest in this essay is in defining sexual rôles and biblical mores. My objective in writing about this has been to help the Westerner in particular understand that to become a successful Christian/Messianic polygamists that he must make a major cultural shift towards the East. If he does not like this, or want to do it, then he will either encounter massive strains in his polygamous marriage leading to its demise or it will reach a certain plateau and proceed no further, settling into what I have long called 'multiple monogamy'. My calling has been to present to the world the biblical vision of echad or uniplurality - which takes Christian/Messianic polygamy beyond the infant-like individualism which has been foisted upon us - and retarded us - in the West, and return it to the collective spirit of the East in which the Bible world was birthed and by which the Christian/Messianic man and his wives are supposed to be shaped in order to enjoy the fullness. What the work of such sociologists as Hofstede helps us understand is that the interactions which take place on a natural and cultural level are equally applicable to the intimacy of a marriage union which, like the national, is polygamous in nature. It requires that the Western man and woman overcome certain taboos that have been foisted on us by the monogamy-only culture and yield themselves in the intimacy of their marital relationships to step beyond the limits of our fears and embrace the maturity of the collective experience. And it is here that bisexual women have something important to teach us once they have resolved the spiritual grounding of their orientation and found their way into echad.
The third and final part of this series will examine the practical side of this re-orientation. We will be breaking new ground here, and much of it may possibly be offensive to the prudery of Western sensibilities. Echad polygamy is not so much something 'new' as the restoration of something very old brought to fullness in the New Covenant of Christ. It is a way of life that was known well before Jews ever came into existence, hearkening back to a time where divorce was unknown and where the kinds of Mosaic statutes that occupy the Pentateuch were not needed because people walked so close to Yahweh and with each other. I refer specifically to the earliest patriarchal times before the nation of Israel came into existence, where in at least one cultural context, such harmony existed that an entire city, along with its founder, Enoch (the 7th from Adam - Jude 14), was removed from the earth to a higher plane (Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 5:24) because the world was too impure for him and his people. And perhaps, when we have finished our study, we will better appreciate a saying well known amongst men in Japan which, though not spiritual, does illustrate something of the gentile cultural handicaps which trip us up in our quest to be the kind of men and women that Yah'shua (Jesus) wants us to be:
Whether you agree with that or not, it will at least give pause for thought.
"To have the best of all worlds is to have an American house, eat Chinese food and have a Japanese wife. To have the worst of all worlds is to have a Japanese house, eat British food, and have an American wife."
Fred E. Jandt, Intercultural Communication, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1995
Continued in Part 3