Those of us who have been married a long time, and have been around other married people and got to know them - and especially ministers like myself who regularly counsel husbands and wives with marriage difficulties - usually discover early on just how complex the 'emotional factor' is in people. Indeed I never tire of being amazed at just how complex and wonderfully made, how sensitive and vulnerable, and how potentially lovable we all are. And one sometimes gets the feeling that, when confronted with a human being, one is looking at a piece of Dresden porcelein on which some vandal as scrawled coarse and vulgar graffiti. Since our tendency in mortal flesh is to see the first thing that greets our eyes and not what lies 'underneath', we are apt to judge the graffiti and not the divine artwork beneath.
'Graffiti' comes in many forms. It may be the accumulated débris of wrong, sinful choices. It may be the débris of a soul that has suffered abuse at the hands of others. Or it may simply be the marsh gas of the Adamic nature which has bubbled to the surface uncontrolled and been left there to turn into an ugly boil. Whatever the source of the unlikely splatters and daubs of the paints of sin upon our spiritual visage, there is a way to remove them using the thinner of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And sometimes they need to be lanced.
Humans are potentially like the beauty of Dresden porcelein
Psychologists recognise two basic 'emotional personality types' which are rather clinically called 'Type I' and 'Type II'. 'Type I' people don't get excited about anything really. They don't get overly excited, good news is received as calmly as bad, and they never seem to get discouraged by anything. They are consistently dull but can usually be counted on. For them every day is much like every other day. One might say that they are 'the same yesterday, today, and forever'!
'Type 2' people are like yoyo's, their emotions hitting the ceiling one minute and ending up in the cellar the next. They seem to bounce between the two with the greatest of ease. When they get happy they are very happy, and when they are miserable they are very miserable. And when they 'crash', they crash in a big way. Indeed, you would think by looking at them that the universe had imploded. And when they're in a low, nothing is ever right and nothing will comfort them. Not surprising, since her friend (and frequently her husband) will suffocate in such a sea of negativity.
A 'Type I' person is like a calm sea with gentle ripples whereas a 'Type II' person is like a stormy sea with giant tidal waves. The trough of a Type II is called depression. Sometimes we can end up in this as a result of known causes - like a tragedy, a disappointment. At other times we simply have no idea why we are like this. Sometimes it is related to our biochemistry. Illness, the menstrual cycle, or a number of other factors can be responsible for that sinking feeling where everything seems dark.
Exhillaration and depression are a part of the human condition. Too much of either can be harmful, and getting stuck in a 'high' or a 'low' can cause us to adopt an unrealistic view of life. Both of these emotional responses are part and parcel of the way we experience and grow. Even prophets of Elohim (God) got depressed. Remember Elijah? Or Jeremiah? The first thought he was alone in the world (when he wasn't) and the second was constantly being persecuted. It was tough on Jeremiah because he was one of those sensitive men who knew Yahweh's heart.
True and Counterfeit Balance
Part of the reason we are 'down here' is to interact emotionally and experience the 'highs' and 'lows' but in proper balance. We can experience these things alone without Christ, or in Christ with the companionship of the Holy Spirit. In the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) who, you will remember, never sinned, you will find moments of elation and moments of deep sadness. There were moments of joy when souls came to truth and life everlasting, and moments of great sadness as, for example, when his dear friend Lazarus died. These were all human responses, normal, and unsinful. There may, however, be said to be 'highs' and 'lows' which are sinful. People can get on 'highs' rejoicing over others' misfortunes or sexual exhillaration in an adulterous relationship, and people can get into emotional 'lows' because of a lack of faith or because they are experiencing the backswing of an emotional 'high' that was ungodly. There are different kinds of exhillaration and depression - some edifying, and some positively destructive.
And this is the dilemma: the feelings for both the good and the bad are the same or otherwise deceptively similar. That is why the scriptures severely warn us not to judge truth out of intense feelings. Now again, here we must be careful too. It is wrongly assumed by many that to be 'still', 'calm', and 'collected' is to be in a state of truth or grace. Not necessarily. Some of Hitler's moments of evil genius were undoubtedly when he was in this condition - inbetween rage (carpet-eating) and exhillaration (the good news of an enemy's defeat). You see, there are two - possibly three - different kinds of peace: one is complete emptiness (which occultists wrongly interpret to be a form of contentless 'enlightment', simply because it is free of pain and struggle - this is the illusion of 'Nirvana'); a second one is a kind of perverse balance between good and evil in our lives (another occultic concept); and a third is the peace (shalom) which "surpasseth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), and is the state of dwelling in the heart of Yahweh-Elohim.
I think everybody knows that men and women are somewhat different when it comes to their emotional make-up, and that this is one reason why women are:
This is not to say, of course, that men cannot be nurturers - indeed a scientific study I read of single parents made in Denmark about a decade ago revealed that single fathers make better nurturers of their children than single mothers, but that in a family context (where mother and father are together) the mother comes out top. Neither is it to say that women cannot sometimes make good leaders - but it most definitely is to say that when the God-ordained rôles are reversed men and women find themselves in an unnatural situation and progressively lose their gender distinctions. Some years ago I made a study of women Prime Ministers and Presidents and was forcibly struck, after several years in office, how defeminised and masculated they became. This shifting into a male-rôle was necessary for them to do the proper job, and I am sure their marriages suffered as a result. I was forcibly impressed by the fact their husbands often seemed to be wimps.
- (a) Called to be emotional nurturers; but
- (b) Not called to be leaders where calmness and objectivity are required.
I am therefore convinced - on the scientific evidence alone - that singleness is not natural beyond a certain age, and that reversed gender-rôles do untold damage both to those who have reversed them and those whom they influence.
The Quintessential Christ
Many mood swings can be the result of occupying unnatural rôles. The intensity of feeling often comes about as a result of tension, and tension as a result of unnatural forces within. By bringing all our thoughts, feelings and behaviourisms to the cross for judgment by Christ - by asking Him to expose all lies in our lives, and then inviting the Spirit to give us the necessary revelation on truth, to be followed by divine healing, the emotional tug-of-war within can be released and the proper, heavenly order established within.
In dealing with emotional phenomena I work on two basic assumptions. Firstly, I assume - and with considerable justification from my experience as a minister and fellow human-being - that those who do not have Christ are not fully human from Yahweh's point-of-view. The only truly human human is one who is whole in Him. My second assumption - also made on the same grounds - that just because a person has made a confession of Christ doesn't mean that they are literally whole yet. I utterly reject the doctrine of instant sanctification. A person who is fully sanctified no longer sins. A person who is sanctified no longer rides the emotional roller-coaster. A person who is sanctified has echad (oneness/wholeness) peace in Christ.
It offends the pride of the instant takeaway mentality of many modern Christians when you tell them that they still have sin issues and (in some cases) demonic issues too. There is a carnal tendency in us all to take the course of least resistance whether it is imaginary or real. We would, if the truth be known, rather skirt around inner problems and 'pretend' that Christ has taken care of it in loco so that we need not concern ourselves about them any more. People hide behind living 'victorious lives in Christ' and do not often realise that they are plastering a layer of religious illusion on top of their inner problems. Often anger and bitterness lurk beneath such illusions and periodically errupt like destructive volcanoes, covering bystanders in emotional and verbal larva and ash. And, challengingly, this invariably means stripping away the religiosity, letting Christ gain access to the core of ones being instead of the periphery, and starting again. Otherwise 'theological correctness' simply becomes a guise behind which one can hide a demonic presence. And we have, alas, seen plenty of that in the polygamy community in recent times. Obviously 'theological correctness' is not enough. Worse, far too many 'patriarchs' have little understanding of the mental and emotional makeup of women, and therefore consistently fail to understand them. I hope in this essay to begin to change that.
The Ten Female Sources of Depression
|1. Absence of romantic love in my marriage
|2. In-law conflict
|3. Low self-esteem
|4. Problems with children
|5. Financial difficulties
|6. Loneliness, isolation, and boredom
|7. Sexual problems in marriage
|8. Menstrual and psychological problems
|9. Fatigue and time pressure
|10. Ageing, health problems
Table courtesy of Dr.James Dobson, Man to Man About Women,
Coverdale, London, 1975, pp.20-21
Depression is a huge battle the majority deal with
The following exercise, devised by Christian psychologist James Dobson, will illustrate the different perceptions that men and women have of women. This is a test that husband and wife/wives should do separately and then compare results. Your job is to fill the two columns on the right by using the following score system in the range 1-10 where:
So if you think 'low self-esteem' is your greatest problem, then mark it as '1' as being the most revelant contributing factor to your depressions. In the Your Rank column write down what you feel is revelent to you, the woman. In the Guessed Rank write down how you think your husband perceives you. The husband should write how he thinks his wife is in the Your Rank column and then write in the Guessed Rank column how he thinks his wife perceives herself. Then compare tables afterwards. You will find this a very therapeutic and revelatory exercise ... and possibly very challenging too.
- 1 = Most relevant item;
- 10 = Least relevant item
When you have completed this exercise, and before you read further, click the RESULTS OF SURVEY link below to see some interesting statistical results and then click the 'Back' button on your browser to return here again to continue.
RESULTS OF SURVEY
I believe that many husbands seeing the results of this survey will be surprised. To be a successful husband in a polygamous marriage you must know women. Do you know your wives? Did your results correspond to what she wrote?
You are sitting alone in a house during the quiet afternoon hours wondering why the phone doesn't ring ... wondering why you have no 'real' friends. You are longing for someone to talk to, soul to soul, but knowing there is no such person worthy of your trust. You feel, 'they wouldn't like me if they knew the real me.' You feel terrified when you speak to a group of your peers, and then feel like a fool when you get home. You wonder why people have so much more talent and ability than you do. You feel incredibly ugly and sexually unattractive. You admit you have become a failure as a wife and mother. You dislike everything about yourself and you wish ... constantly wish ... that you could be someone else. You feel unloved and unlovable and lonely and sad. You lie in bed after the family is asleep, pondering the vast emptiness inside and longing for unconditional love. You feel intense self-pity. You reach up in the darkness to remove a tear from your eye. You are depressed!
Do you have feelings like this? If you do, you are in the majority. At least half of all women feel this way. And many men too. The cause is low self-esteem.
A very old proverb reads:
It happens when men retire from their jobs and they feel useless suddenly. Many men die within 2 years of retirement. And the most rebellious, hostile teenagers are usually those who are bitterly disappointed with who they are and what they are becoming. It's called low self-esteem and it is pervasive in our society.
James Dobson writes:
The result of a lack of self-esteem can either be withdrawl or aggression. Today the latter is favoured and vigorously promoted by feminists. That is why your average Western woman, who has been encouraged to attack rather than withdraw, is so unattractive to your average Christian/Messianic male. They have become men! The solution, of course, is neither to withdraw or attack; and the responsibility to find a solution is that of fathers and husbands. Joyce Landorf writes in her book, His Stubborn Love, the solution:
"Housewives have been teased and riddiculed and disrespected. They have been the butt of jokes and sordid humour until the subject is no longer funny. As I have spoken to family groups across the country, great frustration has been expressed by those women who have been made to feel dumb and foolish for wanting to stay at home. Those who are dedicated to their responsibilities are currently being mocked in women's magazines as 'Supermums'. They have heard the prevailing opinion: 'There must be something wrong with those strange creatures who seem to like domestic duties and responsibilities'" (Ibid., p.25).
"If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide with each one a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth (taken three times a day until the symptoms disappear). I have no doubt that this is their greatest need ... If women felt genuinely respected in their rôle as wives and mothers, they would not need to abandon it for something better. If they felt equal with men in personal worth, they would not need to be equivalent to men in responsibility. If they could only bask in the dignity and status granted them by the Creator, then their femininity would be valued as their greatest asset, rather than scorned as an old garment to be discarded. Without question, the future of a nation depends on how it sees its women, and I hope we will teach our little girls to be glad they were chosen by God for the special pleasures of womanhood."
It is sad, though not unexpected, to say that 45 years on (2016) and the world has not learned its lesson. The 21st century woman has been driven even further out of the home so that now there are few rôle models for those who wish to return to the biblical pattern. And I suspect it will get much worse. One of the missions of plural marriage is to recreate this biblical ideal but it cannot do so until all the false guilt and psychoses that are the fruits of feminism in women have been tackled in the only way which is known to work: by men (principally fathers and husbands) loving their daughters and wives unconditionally, teaching them true principles, praising them and honouring them for all that they do in the home.
Do you know of any women who unintentionally drive people away? They talk too much, constantly complain, and make everyone want to run away from them. The problem is usually a huge inferiority complex. But how do you approach someone like this to help them? How do you tell them their faults? One amusing but very true answer is the way porcupines make love: very, very carefully! The right to criticise must be earned, even if the advice is constructive in nature. Before you can tinker with someone else's self-esteem, you must first demonstrate yout own respect for her as a person. This can only be accomplished through an atmosphere of love and kindness and human warmth. Once a relationship of confidence has been carefully constructed, you will have earned the right to discuss a potentially threatening topic. Your motives will have been clarified.
Many will counter this approach by saying it is better to be honest and call a spade a spade. If a husband says to his wife, 'I hate to say it, dear, but you look as though you could do with a shave', do you think your honesty will pay dividends? Honesty which does not have the best interest of the hearer at heart is a cruel form of selfishness. Simple as that.
Remember, we all have flaws. Consider how you would like yours corrected.
Fatigue and Time Pressure
Men often don't realise just how hard a job being a wife and mother are. Unlike theirs, which is usually 9 to 5 on five days a week, if she's a mother, she works 7 days a week and most of the time while she's awake. Of course, polygamy is a great help here if there is love and cooperation between sister-wives. Training up children well is also important so that they can help around the house. One of my mother-in-laws believes that housewives should do everything for their children. She just turned 50 (in 2003) and is a physical wreck. And her children are the last to offer help around the house, and remain undisciplined and unhelpful in that regard even today, and go into crisis mode when they can't manage alone in their own homes as adults. She thought she was 'loving' her children but did them - and herself - a huge disservice. Trouble is, she learned this from her mother, and goodness knows how many generations before. Sometimes bad traditions have to be dismantled.
As a polygamist husband, I am most anxious that my wives do not burn themselves out, so I try to encourage better organisation and more cooperation between wives and children. Fatigue and time pressure are a hosuewife's #2 problem. And when they get fatigued and stressed, it passes to children and husband. A disciplined and ordered home is a blessed home provided the moving force is the love of Christ and not the army way.
Absence of Romantic Love
There is a school of thought amongst not only Mormon fundamentalists but also a large segment of Christian/Messianic polygamists influenced by radical Calvinism that says love and romance are not important in marriage. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again! Love and romance are vital in marriage and anyone who tells you that they are not are either liars or fools. The third most important cause of depression in women is lack of romantic love. And it isn't something that you can pretend doesn't exist. Look at how unhappy Leah was in the early years of her marriage to Jacob!
NEVER marry out of a sense of duty, obedience to a father, revelation from someone else (definitely not - find out for yourself!), or any other reason unless you are in love and are willing to cultivate romance. You don't have to go overboard and spend a fortune. You don't need to spend money at all so long as you genuinely love someone in your heart. The surest way to crucify a woman and send her tumbling into depression (not to menion undermine her self-worth) is not to romantically love her.
Loneliness, Isolation and Boredom
This is a common complaint in monogamous marriage but a problem that is readily alleviated in polygamy. And the bigger the family, the less chance there is of loneliness. This doesn't mean that a husband can leave the wives to themselves - he has his part to play in the relationship, and the key part no less (after Christ Himself).
This ranks as #5 in the list of causes of depression in women and tends to rank much higher with men who lose self-esteem when they fail to provide as they want to. I know intimately from personal experience how this can be a killer. In part this can be alleviated by reprogramming ourselves not to have high expectations. An axiom of the Christian/Messianic faith is that we should be willing to live simply so that we can simply help others. The voluntary redistribution of wealth is the goal of Christian/Messianic charity and giving which some have called 'spiritual socialism' unlike the compulsive versions of communism and socialism which are just a form of theft.
Of course, if one can't feed or clothe one's family adequately, depression is understandable, and there is a limit as to how far back one can cut. Our family has lived pretty close to the bone all our lives and, despite sincere attempts to save, have had to literally live from pay check to pay check (cheque to cheque). Such is challenging until you learn to surrender fear to Yahweh and trust Him to provide. And we have never been failed by Him yet even though we have come close to bankruptcy more than once.
Sexual, Menstrual and Psychological Problems
These rank #6= in women's lists though are much higher in men's. These kinds of problems can be many and varied which I don't propose to discuss here. Depending on how many wives a man has, how healthy he is, and other factors, this can sometimes cause problems that need to be honestly discussed. Polygamy can solve the menstrual problem for men only when several women live together in the same household they tend to naturally synchretise their menstrual rhythms. For a woman, sex and romance are usually inseparable. This will also be true of a spiritual man, whereas a carnal man is able to divorce the two and look upon sex as simply another physical appetite. When this happens the relationship can be very unsatisfying for the woman. The separation of sex from romance has been accelerated to a pathological condition thanks to the ubiquitousness and destructive effects of pornography which teach men and women to look upon one another as no more than sex objects or toys. If there are pornograpahic issues these should be dealt with early on, however embarrassing. Exposure to the Dom/Sub and BDSM cultures has also done much damage in this area, and will be the subject of a separate article.
Winston Churchill said that "writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public". This has certainly been my experience in the creation of this website!
MJy third wife has invented her own category of depression in women called 'Writer's Depression' to accomodate a unique kind of polygamist called me! Indeed, all my wives know what it is to become 'writers' widows' to some extent. Being married to an author isn't easy and though I have learned how to write with a lot of activity around me in the form of wives and children, sometimes I need protracted periods of isolation and silence. During these times they turn to each other while I complete my 'dragons'. However, when I have finished an essay or a book, I frequently gather the wives around me and read it out aloud to them and invite their comments, criticisms and additions, which they do well. These are moments we enjoy. Being an evangelist and deliverance minister also make demands on them though very often they assist me or are engaged in their own ministry in which I support them when I can.
Boys and girls alike learn how to be feeling from their mothers so a wife getting her emotional life in order by making every feeling captive to Christ must be one of her major priorities. I am convinced that the key to a woman's happiness is, firstly, a deep relationship with Christ, and, secondly, a husband showering her with love and praise for all that she does. Their self-confidence and joy when this is given is reward enough, their radiant countenances enchanting and delicious. For myself personally the real breakthrough came when I learned that the Godhead isn't all-male as the Catholic creeds have taught us for so many generations, but that we have in the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit the epitome of Femaleness. And from a polygamist point-of-view, learning that there are 'seven' of Her has opened up the way to expressing polygamy in the echad way.
As echad Christian/Messianic polygamists we celebrate woman as the revelation in human form of the Holy Spirit and seek the same unity between man and wife as obtains between Yahweh, our Father in Heaven, and the rest of the Elohim (God). Our high esteem and appreciation of the spiritual woman has meant, however, that we look upon the carnal female with the same revulsion and abhorrence as the carnal male. So whilst we exalt and praise the female image of Elohim (God), we likewise villify and repudiate the carnal image of Lilith, Hecate and Jezebel. That means, inevitably, that we are either loved or hated, with no neutrals.
I have learned - and continue to learn - so much from the spiritual woman. She is the glory of man, as man is the glory of woman, and as both united as echad are the glory of the Elohim (God).