The most perfect relationship that is possible is when imperfect man unconditionally submits to the will of the perfect Man-God, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). But to do this requires something greater than our submission - something that will enable us to so completely trust that submitting becomes a shere joy and not a terror of the unknown to be feared. It requires that we first be loved unconditionally by a perfect love - a love which we can taste and know. When we have been touched by so great a love and can joyfully submit in female position as allegorical Wives to our allegorical Husband, we acquire the capacity to love as He did, and does, ourselves. That capacity expands in either small increments or quantum leaps in proportion to our willingness to let go and surrender (yield, submit).
The ambition of every true Christian/Messianic is to be totally submitted to his (or her) Lord and Master, feast on His love, and acquire the capacity to love others in the same way. This in its turn sets off a chain-reaction: once a person (man or woman) starts uncondionally loving another person (accepting them just as they are and simply excuding agapé, ahavah or chesed love) by acting as a channel for the love of Yah'shua (Jesus), the response can be electric: people can start opening up, submitting, and loving in an overflowing manner too. Sounds paradisaical? The trouble is there is a major danger - and it lies at the root of some cultism which uses a system of brainwashing called 'love-bombing'. The Moonie Cult (Sun Myung Moon) is expert at it.
If there are two ways of loving unconditionally (remember, there's always a counterfeit of the real thing) - one true and one false - what is the qualitative difference between them? And the answer is that the counterfeit one is lawless. Both can provoke the same kind of emotional reaction (see my article, Understanding the Emotional Factor), and hence the danger of measuring rightness and wrongness in terms of emotional response - both can feel good. But one is godly and the other idolatrous, because when you completely submit in everything to a human being there is the risk of turning the person you are surrendering to into a god and so start blaspheming the Name of the Most High - El Elyon.
To find the resolution to this dilemma there are a couple of important scriptures that we must understand. The first is the apostolic admonition that Christians/Messianics submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). The other is that we love one another as Christ loved us. What this means is that we are co-equals in the receipt of salvation, and no single person is 'greater' than another because of it. It was, in any case, a free gift and not something that we earned. We have nothing to boast about as far as appropriating it is concerned. Every single one of us acquired it in exactly the same way by reaching out in faith in a spirit of repentance for sin and accepting it as a free gift. This is equally true of the genders - men and women are co-heirs in salvation.
Our mutual submission to each other is not, however, unconditional. If a believer comes up to me and says, 'Give me your watch', or 'Have sex with me', and invokes the mutual submission passage, such a person can immediately be rebuked as a liar and marked down as being lawless. Our mutual submission is restricted by certain conditions which we know simply as 'the Law' or Torah. The Torah is Yahweh's Word to man - His rules - which delineate in terms of ethics and morals the difference between the true and the counterfeit. Both Yah'shua (Jesus) and the Apostles take up the same truth-theme by insisting that the only way to love Christ is obey these rules. And as if to nail the point home, Yah'shua (Jesus) warns us that is not enough to do many good works in His Name if we do not obey what He says. The lawless (Torahless) have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven, and He will declare to them: "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23). True love and true submission is therefore bound to Torah.
It is therefore extremely dangerous when we either give or expect unconditional love or unconditional submission when this is not qualified as being within Torah. When our loving or submitting takes place outside of Divine Law what results is cultism, whether it be the sexual lawlessness of the hippies or the doctrinal perversions of the Moonies, Branch Davidians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or anything else that is not 100% faithful to the Word of Yahweh, the Bible.
The New Testament teaches, as we all by now know (or should know), that a husband is supposed to love His wife unconditionally in ahavah/agapé/chesed love and she, in her turn, is to submit to him by obeying him "in all things". This is the natural order for male and female in the Holy Spirit. It's opposite - the carnal response - is the by now commonplace attempt by men to dominate and control without love (Ahab spirit) and the women (quite 'naturally') to rebell (Jezebel spirit). We have seen one wing of the 'Christian' polygamy movement nearly destroyed by this inverted precept of the women first obeying and then the men loving. Trouble is, it is unnatural for us to obey until we have first tasted of love, so of course the result is always going to be coldness, dissolution, and spiritual death.
In both the Old and New Covenants Yahweh demonstrated His love for us so that we might follow Him. In the Old, He rescued our forefathers from tyranny and slavery and made them into an independent nation by means of miracles the likes of which have never since been repeated on such a scale. And in the New Covenant He demonstrated His love for us by sending His Only Begotten Son to the world to receive our judgment for sin so that we might not have to be punished. And in countless other ways He demonstrates His love by giving us laws to protect us as individuals, as families, and as nations. Those laws we collectively call Torah. And they have not, as the great heresy of the last 500 years has been proclaiming, been abolished.
As I have repeatedly taught, no man can know what true love is until it has been defined. And the means by which it is defined is truth. That is why the Scriptures teach that it is the truth that liberates us - sets us free - from slavery. And although ultimately it is love with saves and exalts us, and although it is love which alone has any meaning at the last day, that love cannot be known until first it has been defined by Truth because there are, quite simply, so many counterfeit loves. They're all around is. It won't take you long to find half-a-dozen examples of 'feeling good' love that is in some way lawless. I have given you two examples.
In recent weeks a wonderful truth has been circulated in the Christian polygamy community. It is simplicity itself. The doctrine that is being promulgated by a man who has become a dear family friend is this: if a man (married or unmarried) and a woman (unmarried) spend time in genuine praise of Yahweh through His Son, Yah'shua (Jesus), they will be filled with the Holy Spirit. If in this state this man tells the woman - quite sincerely - that he will love her unconditionally as Christ loves the Church (Messianic Community), she in her turn will have an overwhelming desire to completely submit to him. In the space of a short time this man has achieved what Christian polygamist hopefuls have failed to accomplish over years - he has found himself over half-a-dozen wives. Sounds too good to be true? Yet it has happened.
I am quite sure that this principle will catch on. Anything that works usually does. If it's true in the business market then it is probably true in the love and romance domain as well. I do, however, see a very real need to add some qualifiers to this doctrine/practice for I can see some very real dangers ahead and have some equally deep reservations.
To begin with, my friend is a man of integrity. Quite independently of one another we have arrived at nearly all the same doctrines of the faith which form the basis of Echad Christian/Messianic polygamy. It is not often that brethren are able to see 'eye-to-eye' in such an astonishing way. Accord is a blessed thing.
What concerns me is principally the ability of man to counterfeit - sometimes with demonic help - almost everything. Praise can be counterfeited. I have met people in the cults who praise Elohim (God) with their whole souls, and yet there is a perverse, lawless spirit in them. It is easy to thankful when we have ill-gotten gains. It is easy to be thankful and have emotional gushes when we have obtained something that is not pleasing to Yahweh. It all depends ultimately what spirit you are being led by.
There is nothing more attractive for a woman than to be offered unconditional love. With so many brutish and selfish men in the world today, it is understandable that she would want to grab it. But before she does - and before she finds herself doing what is spiritually natural to her - surrendering - she should do some serious checking out first. It is simply too risky not to, even if the man who is offering unconditional love is the genuine article.
There's another good reason too. If every man were to love unconditionally, and if every woman were to submit unconditionally to such unconditional love, everybody would want to marry everybody else. Now when you think about this carefully you realise two things:
A man and a woman finding themselves suddenly in this ecstatic relationship are more than likely going to want to marry. But - and it's a very big 'but' - how can they know that they are supposed to marry one another? Are these the only criteria that Yahweh has given us to dermine whether a hoped for union is correct? Does it, indeed, circumscribe any marriage proceedures demanded by Yahweh's Torah?
- 1. This is the kind of relationship that all the saints should have towards one another in an allegorical marriage relationship, i.e. in a spiritual relationship with Christ in mutual submission to one another; BUT
- 2. If we translate that to the literal marriage arena what we are in danger of doing is turning an exclusively ahavah/agapé/chesed principle into an eros/dod (sexual) one, and blurring the distinction between allegorical and literal marriage..
A hungry person will more than likely eat at the first table he is offered food. As a deliverance minister I know only too well how witches lure young people into satanism. They look for the down-and-outs, the homeless, the rejected, and offer them shelter, food, and kindness. It's usually sufficient bait. Only in time does the sheep's mask come down and these young people find themselves lured into covens of debauchery, murder, and spiritual death.
We all know there are 'polywolves' in the wider Christian/Messianic polygamous community who will do anything to get some extra sex, extra power, or extra self-esteem. Some of them are satanists. Some are just unsaved carnal men pretending to be Christians/Messianics. Some are just confused, unredeemed, nominal Christians. And there are devilish women in the same or similar business. I have met them too, some of them witches whose mission is to destroy Christian polygamous families by infiltrating them.
There are different kinds of tables we can eat from where love is served. There's the table of friendship, the table of Christian/Messianic brotherhood, and the table of Christian/Messianic marriage. The love-food from each is a little different, as are the rules which entitle you to sit at that table and eat. The first the Greeks call philadelphia love, the second is a combination of what they call agapé (Heb. chesed) and philadelphia, and the third includes eros (dod), agapé/chesed and philadelphia. Three tables, each with one common dish (friendship), two with two common dishes (friendship and Christian brotherhood), and the third with uniquely three dishes (friendship, Christian/Messianic brotherhood, and sex).
The first table is that which can be shared between everybody - Christians/Messianics, pagans and unbelievers alike. It's depth is limited. The second table is that which can only be shared between those truly born again of the Holy Spirit who are walking in obedience to Torah. It is 'set apart' or 'separated' from the rest of the world and may correctly be described as an exclusive fellowship - not because it wishes to exclude the world, for it is in the business of inviting the world to it provided they will change the clothes of their lives and wear the garments of Christ. And the third table is that which can only be shared by those who are married, under the proper vows. Each marriage has its own table. Around mine my three wives sit, and no one else at present (2003). It is the most exclusive fellowship there is - and blessed. The rules that separate these tables cannot be changed. My bed separates my marriage table from all other marriage tables. And the Lord's Supper separates the table of the true Christian/Messianic from all other tables. These are the rules. They are absolute. Those who break them are severely punished by Yahweh. The rules were designed for our happiness. Invite others to your marriage table who are already married and you commit adultery. Invite unbelievers to partake of the Lord's Supper and you commit spiritual adultery and risk damning their souls, for we are commanded not to partake of the emblems unworthily. It doesn't matter how much 'love' you may feel should that 'love' lead you to compromise Yahweh's Rules. I've heard of Lutherans offering the Communion to anyone on the street and these days people engage in indiscriminate, casual sex as though it didn't matter. It matters. And it matters a lot.
It is a wonderful thing and right to feel unconditional love for everyone. BUT it is extremely dangerous to unconditionally surrender to another human being unless the parameters are clearly defined, particularly in prospective marriage where Yahweh's will must be known before such a decision is taken. Rememeber, that marriage is the most exclusive and intimate human-to-human relationship there is.
Beware also of what I call emotional drunkenness. When our hearts experience emotional overload it is very easy to lose common sense, sound judgment, and the spirit of discernment, even if it is the Spirit that has led you to this point. Many unscrupulous men capitalise on the natural tendency of women to open wide their hearts, whether they be romantically or Spirit-generated. We are at our clearest mentally when the heart is still - not cold, but calm.
I will illustrate with three (five) analogies:
Roaring fires are not the best places in which to discern. I have met Christians/Messianics filled with the Spirit who are ecstatic with joy but who have consistently misinterpreted where I am at. They believe (quite wrongly) that because 'they are on fire' that they are baptised in fire and can discern everything and everyone. I know for a fact that is utterly false.
- 1. You can have a fireplace which is cold;
- 2. You can have a fireplace which is gently glowing with red heat;
- (a) Ruach/Spirit-driven; or
- (b) Flesh-driven.
- 3. You can have a fireplace which is roaring with huge flames.
- (a) Ruach/Spirit-driven; or
- (b) Flesh-driven.
To give an illustration: a man (or woman) can be completely turned on sexually with his wife and fail to discern what she wants or needs because his passion is himself. He simply cannot discern her.
Now there is no doubt that there is a time and season for #3(a) - these are times when we are in ecstatic relationship with Yahweh, full of praise and joy. But this is not the time for discerning subtler things. In order to discern the Spirit you need to be in #2(a) - the gentle red-hot glow of the Spirit where all is calm and the still small voice of Yahweh can be heard.
We can all - in our praises - experience #3(a) as the Body of Christ (Messianic Community), but in order to discern His will we absolutely need to experience #2(a). Most Christians/Messianics make no distinction between the two, and this is the reason so much false prophecy has emerged in what might be called 'ecstatic' or 'charismatic' Christianity. Worse, there is all the false charismata which is of the flesh (#3(b)). Ecstatic praise is a good and necessary thing, but it is not the only way to communion with Yahweh, nor is it the most discerning. As one matures spiritually there is a predominant gravitation towards a type #2(a) relationship where stillness and calmness prevails. This is much more 'male' than #3(b) which is more 'female' in its nature, and perhaps that is why the churches (assemblies) in our day are being swept away by it given the predominant female spirit in society.
It is quite possible that a man and a woman in true praise can suddenly 'know' that they are right for each other where conditions of unconditional love are manifest but you will not find any model of discernment in the Bible which says that this is the method. Under what circumstances, we should ask ourselves, did the disciples discern that Yah'shua (Jesus) was truly the Messiah (Christ)? Was it during ecstatic worship, or at a time of sober and quiet reflection? You will recall Peter's confession of faith at Caesarea Phillipi, and the blessing he received after he had made it. How did the Roman Centurion at the foot of the Cross come to confess that Yah'shua (Jesus) was the Messiah (Christ)? How did the crowds come to believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) was the Messiah (Christ) when Lazarus was healed? Indeed, as you look through the many stories in the New Testament wherein Jews came to be a part of the allegorical Bride, under what conditions did they enter the allegorical romance? What of the Bereans? How did they decide to become believers?
We can, if we are not careful, do a lot of things we can come to later regret when riding the crest of an emotional wave. That is not the exclusive method by which we are to become believers and in all probability is the least important. There is a danger sometimes of oversimplifying our marriage quest because we are either lazy or in a hurry. We have been trained, moreover, by our fast-food culture to get 'quick fixes'. Sitting at the table of friendship can take a relatively short period of time. Finding and sitting at the table of Christ can take much longer. And sitting at the marriage table (which Christ sits at too, incidentally) rightly takes even longer.
So don't go rushing into marriage. I have said this a hundred times and I will keep on saying it. It is our impatience and keenness that so often does us the most damage. Be sure. Study your intended spouse very carefully as the Bereans searched the Word. Observe your intended spouse in day-to-day living without committment as the Jews watched and listened to Yah'shua (Jesus) before making their committment. Observe the strengths of your intended spouse as the disciples stood in awe of Yah'shua's (Jesus') miracles. And then look for the ultimate characteristic - the only one that ultimately has any meaning: will your intended husband love you as Christ loved us into death itself on the Cross? And will your intended wife submit to you as the first believers were willing to follow Christ anywhere having witnessed His extraordinary love?
There is a process here, isn't there? When Yah'shua (Jesus) was walking by the Sea of Galillee and came across the first of those who were to be His disciples, He didn't start a praise service on the beach to whip up their emotions. He simply said: "Come, follow Me" - come and observe Me, get to know Me. Well, many did, and plenty went away as His demands for discipleship became more demanding. Many women will be attracted by a loving man but when they see they need to submit in more than words and feelings, many will leave. The ultimate demand that Yah'shua (Jesus) made was to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He lost the majority of His disciples then. They did not know that following Him meant to partake of His life and His suffering! And far too many women want to lead their own independent lives in marriage instead of making the ultimate committment which is what marriage is: to live the husband's life in his calling in Christ.
We cannot be in ecstatic praise always, and indeed that is not the only way to be in Yahweh. There are other spiritual states. When the ecstasy wears off other realities may manifest - and even intrude - on the way we thought things were to be. Marriage has so many different facets that requires a meeting of all its several parts between spouses. No doubt when problems arise getting on ones knees in prayer, or simply praising Yahweh, will achieve undeniable miracles just as these things break barriers down between believers in assembly. But marriage is more than that. Marriage is also romance and sexual attraction. It is emotional identity, mental agreement, and so much more. Only Yahweh knows the right mix for every one of us - only He knows who the right spouse(s) is/are.
Therefore I would caution anyone making any sort of committment based on an emotional or spiritual 'high' for these things we can, and do, experience as a body of worshippers in mutual submission to one another. I would suggest the women are particularly vulnerable to this kind of approach to marriage - I have witnessed them 'spiritually elope' on the bases of such 'highs'. Don't do that. Consider everything else.
None of this is to say that Yahweh cannot - and does not - do wonderful and miraculous things in bringing prospectibe spouses together. I firmly believe that He does. However, we do not all operate in the same degree of sanctification or faith. Some are more cautious than others. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Far better to be cautious than reckless. I am not saying it is easy, for I have erred on both sides. But what I am saying is make sure you are walking in the hourly glow of the Spirit. Suddenly 'upgrading' ones spiritual life when a suitable spouse comes along and hoping to have adequate discernment is folly. Our discernment is in proportion to the constancy of our daily walk. When we try to suddenly move into a higher state of discernment to meet an 'emergency' we are more likely to walk in our feelings than the Spirit because - if we have been spiritually negligent - the feeling-centred realm will be our more natural state.
All men-women relationships should begin on the level of friendship as brothers and sisters in Christ. Until you have this in place, romantic attraction can lead to problems. Meeting prospective spouses in their church/assembly environments is therefore highly desirable. Having a sense of common spiritual mission should pervade everything in a truly Christian/Messianic context. I can honestly say that one of the great glues in my own marriage is the complete unity we feel in the evangelistic work we are doing. We share a common doctrine and practice. I made it a point to be satisfied that all my wives were in agreement theologically and where there were differences I worked hard on these until they were ironed out. We are all in the same fellowship of Christ and in the same assembly (local church). I consider that to be essential. For me, being unequally yoked is not just to marry an unbeliever but to marry a lawless (Torahless) one too. For unless you are walking in the same rules and commandments laid down by Yahweh in the beginning, no amount of 'faith in Christ' is going to make a lot of difference.
Therefore unconditional surrender to Yahweh, to His Christ, and to all of Torah are, for me, far more important for husband, wives and prospective wives than any unconditional surrender on their part to me. As I have repeatedly said, their obedience to me 'in all things' does not mean I can change Yahweh's rules, and it is clearly understood between us that should I try to make them disobey a commandment that it becomes their duty then not to obey me. We must obey Elohim (God) before man, be he husband or pastor.
We should all unconditionally love one another and we should all be mutually submissive to one another in that love and in Yahweh's Torah. When these things are in place, the possibility for unconditional love on the part of a man towards a prospective bride becomes possible, and her unconditional submission to him desirable when betrothal covenants have been made and not before. And betrothal covenants should not be made until both parties are quite sure that the union is in Yahweh's will and is not simply based on an emotional 'high'. Before betrothal both should be submitting to each other in Christ as part of the wider Body (Messianic Community). Let us not jump the gun.