The doctrine and practice of Christian/Messianic polygamy has really upset a lot of boats in the Christian/Messianic world but more than this the many other attendant doctrinal and practical implications that flow from it seem to have rocked just as many boats within the Christian/Messianic polygamist community. I have recently been in a stormy debate over the biblical teaching as to the fact that a women - once she places herself in a marriage relationship - is owned by her husband.
Now I have to say first of all that this is not a doctrine I 'desire' and didn't even really even consider until confronted by scriptural realities. But then of late I have been confronted by many other scriptural truths which have caused me to pause and think over a number of issues once again.
To begin with let me say that I do not define truth. Yahweh does. He says that His Word cannot return to Him void or empty (Isaiah 55:11). So unless you choose to question the validity of the Scriptures it is essential that you remain emotionally calm until you have found the ground of the truth which is so agitating to the soul. Indeed, I am going to suggest that you circumcise your heart by cutting off the emotional manifestation of the sin-nature.
Let's begin with some difficult questions, remembering that nothing is accidental in Yahweh's Word and that, unless clearly stated, not all scriptures on a particular subject are gender mutual.
As we know, circumcision was instituted by Yahweh as a visible sign in the flesh of His covenant with His people. Now circumcision does, I admit, revolt me. I have to be honest. It always have. And I suspect it revolts all people of a sensitive disposition. It is a very painful operation and it can be a bloody one if not done properly. When adults are circumcised it can incapacitate them for days because of the intense pain - you will remember the story of the Shechemites whom some sons of Jacob subsequently betrayed by murdering them when they were defenceless. Yahweh commanded in the Torah the all male children should be circumcised on the 8th day as a token of their being members of Israel. And as it happens, the 8th day in a newborn child is the precise time when the blood clotting factors are present in their greatest strength, thus removing the risk of bleeding to death. Finally, you will remember, when Moses instituted this practice, he was opposed by his wife Zipporah who made certain 'bloody' accusations against him. I am sure he was called a tyrant and a beast. Later Moses was opposed by another adversary in the form of his sister, Miriam, who accused him of being a power-hungry cultic merchant and came against him because he was a polygamist and was married to a coloured woman from Ethiopia. Please remember these three sources of female opposition because they surface again and again ... from both sisters and wives.
Now I don't know how Moses felt about cirumcising his sons. He was, of course, first and foremost obedient. We know he cannot have been hard and callous because we know that he was a gentle and kind man who was weak in speech. When Yahweh calls His people to do certain things, we know they can be quite unpopular, and that resistance comes from both genders though often on different grounds.
I struggled with the circumcision issue for some years because I was in contact with Messianic Jews who insisted this ordinance was essential for those of Israelite descent. It took me a while to understand that this sign of the covenant had been entirely replaced by another visible sign, namely water baptism. These matters are discussed at length on my site at Ezion-Geber's Homepage. Yet I still wondered what the significance of this ritual was and why it had been chosen by Yahweh in the first place.
Before I discuss this, let me ask you, the reader, some difficult questions. Firstly, why were the men required to undergo this ordinance and not the women? Many cultures practice female circumcision (clitorectomy) even today, a barbaric practice that is rightly opposed. Why does the Torah nowhere require women to enter into the national covenant? Secondly, why a painful operation on the male penis, one of the most sensitive organs of the body? Why not some other part of the anatomy? And thirdly, why on infants who have no choice in the matter (compare this with adult baptism)?
We are told in the New Testament that the cutting away of the male prepuce represents the cutting away of the sin nature. In cutting away the prepuce, the most sensitive area of the entire body is exposed. When Paul talks about the circumcision of the heart he is talking about the cutting away of a sin nature which exposes our most sensitive feelings. Whether it is the penis or the heart that is being circumcised, the result is always vulnerability.
Physical circumcision was male-specific and imposed on babies for one simple reason that had nothing to do with free will: Yahweh has appointed males as heads. A male baby of 8 days old is going to be the head of a household one day whether he likes it or not and he is going to have to guide his own male children in the ways of headship whether the females like it or not - whether they accuse him of being a 'bloody monster', as Zipporah did of Moses, or not. Male headship is not a choice but an obligation from the day of one's birth, and opposing it has dire consequences for the women if and when they do.
That headship comes with a price, however, and it is a heafty price. Just as a man's glans is exposed when the prepuce is violently and bloodily removed from the head of his masculinity, so a man not infrequently becomes a punchbag to those who don't like to be submitted. Headship is not easy and it is frequently painful. And in a polygamous marriage it is multiply painful.
The reason why female infants were not circumcised under the Old Covenant Torah is because they have no need of such a token by virtue of the fact that they belong to their fathers or their husbands. Their circumcision, as it were, is through their head. The Scriptures teach that a woman is to submit to her husband as her husband submits to Torah. However, both were required to make sacrifices for sin! A man under the Old Covenant could not offer sacrifices for his wife - her sin issues could only be dealt with herself by an act of personal proxy animal blood atonement. Thus we read in the Gospels how Mary, the mother of Yah'shua (Jesus), presented a sin offering at the Temple for her own sins.
I have been falsely accused by one or two people in the polygamy community of setting myself up as a kind of 'christ' for my wives, in the sense of being an 'atoner'. This is nonsense. I have always taught that a woman is as responsible for her own sins as a man, and that each must go to Christ separately to have those sins blotted out. No human being can blot out another's sins. And it has been implied that a husband's ownership of his wife or wives implies that he must atone for them. This is also false.
I share part of a conversation I recently had on this topic with a woman (non-Christian but honestly examining Christianity) to clarify this point before moving on. I am going to call the woman 'Ruby'.
Ruby: Well, there is much I could say about being 'in love' plus you believe that men own women, lol.
Stan: When it is freely given, yes, and only when the men are owned by Christ, then the concept of 'ownership' becomes meaningless anyway.
Ruby: I don't believe any person owns another person, I have had that my whole life.
Stan: It's not a 'right' but something freely given or not.
Ruby: But how can a person own something they did not create or buy? and for sure we cannot create another, and certainly people are not for sale.
Stan: Indeed, you are right there. It has to be freely given. Many people over the years have given themselves to demons who have owned them.
Ruby: I get giving rights of ownership to Lucifer or to God, but not to a person. People are all just people, and as humans on level ground.
Stan: Well that is true, but we are all more than capable of giving ourselves into the ownership of others if we choose to. I am capable of doing that as much as you are. As to who owns us in the cosmic sense, that is another matter. I do not de facto own my wives under the New Covenant. They have to choose to be owned.
Ruby: Well belonging 'with' and belonging 'to' are two different things.
Stan: Indeed, and my ownership is in any case conditional. I cannot require my wives to break Elohim's (God's) Laws and they can choose to be unowned at any time. They are not my prisoners. Implied in the kind of ownership I am talking about is the freedom to go when they want to. Love must be willing to let go of the object of its devotion in order to fully belong. If that object of devotion returns, then true belonging takes place.
Ruby: Belonging I understand, the ownership thing is not too cool.
Stan: Well, the words are interchangeable in this dimension of love. My car belongs to me, so I own it, don't I?
Ruby: Yes but wives are not property.
Stan: Point being that the verbs are the same (the cars were just illustrations of the verbs). The difference being I can't sell my wives to anyone else!
Ruby: I understand I think, you believe the whole submissive lordship thing and that's cool.
Stan: I am not sure you have understood. It's not a subject-object thing but a dynamic. It's the way circuits are formed and power flows.
Ruby: Well, I think both husband and wife should feel honored that the other chose to spend their lives with the other. It is about relationship, not a power thing.
Stan: Indeed it is not just about power - I explained this in a long article. There are 7 elements altogether. Power is a subordinate force.
Ruby: Well, I am simple and love is love and I have had enough of being owned. I think love and marriage should be libertating.
Stan: I quite agree.
Ruby: I dont think I was cut out for polygamy, shoot, let alone marriage, lol.
Stan: Well, me neither!
Ruby: lol - sure - you are a guy!
Stan: T'is true.
Stan: You think the guy wins?
Ruby: What guy doesnt dream of having more than one woman?
Stan: What guy who gets them doesn't know what a job he has given himself? lol
Ruby: Well sure, you believe the guy owns his wives, so sure, it is a bit in his favor.
Stan: Not remotely true. The burden of responsibility is scarey.
Ruby: Well, all the guy has to do is make the rules and enforce them, would certainly spare him a lot of effort.
Stan: If he wants to run a concentration camp, sure. Not my style. And if he's serious about doing it right he has to obey some pretty strict rules which would kill any kind of ego-trip.
Ruby: Sigh, why can't people just love each other as equals?
Stan: Look around you ...
Ruby: What do you mean?
Stan: Look at the people around you. We live in a country where they have taken the doctrine of equality as far as it can go and it's a mess. Most people are miserable and repressed and constantly looking over their shoulders. There is no such thing as absolute equality. Women are superior in some things and men in others.
Ruby: But men and women are of equal value ...
Stan: Sure. Absolutely.
Ruby: Well that is all I am saying. There is no need for a boss in marriage and how can a man own his wife when parents don't even own their kids?
Stan: Not the same thing - children grow up and start their own marriages. They are stewardships. The Communists in China abolished rank in the army at one time based on the theory you are espousing. There was absolute chaos. Nature teaches that there has to be hierchies for order and peace. Even down to the humble atom there are hierarchies of electrons. Total equality is just a pipe dream. It exists nowhere. Not even within!
Ruby: But you believe in God and all that, so if God made all, He is the only one who can demand ownership and obedience , but then even He gave that away.
Stan: Yes, He did. His ownership is conditional upon our choice so that His ownership would be on the basis of love and not force. There are always two types of possible ownership.
Ruby: Yes, but man is not God.
Stan: No he isn't, which is why God has delegated authority. Ultimately it is all His. Whatever I own is all within the context of having that ownership right delegated to me and within the conditions set by the Creator. It is not an absolute right. There is no such thing as total 100% ownership by one human being of anything or anyone. Human ownership is contextual. I own my wives only because they choose to be owned and because Yahweh gives me permission to do so provided I am owned by Him and live as He has commanded. In that way it is not the same as owning a house or a car.
Ruby: I thought God was a jealous God and would not share His with another.
Stan: He is indeed, as I am a jealous husband and will protect my wives with my life.
Ruby: Yes, but a man.
Stan: Yes, but the same reflected principle and in need of constant refinement and perfecting.
Ruby: Well that applies to everyone who God created.
Ruby: Ok, so no one owns the other and they all belong to God.
Stan: No one owns another in the absolute sense as God does, no. Any who try always get egg in their face. Look at what happened to ****** (another patriarch).
Ruby: Well, I guess it is working for you and your wives and that is all that matters.
Stan: Not 'all'. If it's true, it's true - if it isn't it will fall apart eventually and in my experience there is always a season of trial, usually about 7 years.
Ruby: Man, all I want is to be madly, deeply in love and respect and cherish each other.
Stan: A noble dream but other elements are needed.
Ruby: Guess I won't find that in religion.
Stan: Guess you won't find that in life without God. And then there's 'religion' and 'religion', just as there's 'ownership' and 'ownership'.
Ruby: Well people who dont even believe in God fall in love and get married.
Stan: Yes they do and then they get divorced lol .
Ruby: So do most polygamsits.
Stan: Indeed. But then there are 'polygamists' and 'polygamists' :)
As you can see, certain words in our vocabulary like 'ownership' are very immotive, conditioned as society has been to react negatively to anything which would contradict the feminist agenda. But if you invest a little time explaining what you mean by words, usually people will understand and accept. Of course, some people don't want to understand or accept because they have a fault-finding agenda that is often coupled to self-justification. But that is another matter.
In the Old Covenant, men did literally own their daughters and wives, because that was the nature of that incomplete covenant. In the New Covenant, they still do legally, but not as a heart-right. Ownership in the marriage relationship is something that must be freely given just as our ownership by Christ must be freely given. We have been given the freedom to be owned or not.
If you honestly examine the doctrine of ownership you will discover that we are more 'owned' than we think. Men, under the influence of the Jezebelic doctrine of feminism, have handed over not only their stewardship to women (thus dessicrating the principle of circumcision) and allowed themselves to be owned by their women in whole or in part. Which brings be back again to heart circumcision and a question: Is it only the men who should be circumcised in their hearts or does it include the women? Did it include both in the Old Covenant? Does it include both in the New?
The first point that has to be made is that 'heart-circumcision' is an allegory just as our marriage to Christ is. We aren't going to be 'literally' married to Christ in a sexual manner any more than heart-circumcision implies bloodily cutting off some heart muscle as one would chop off the prepuce from the male organ. In the same way that we have been making direct comparisons in terms of principles between literal polygamous marriage and the allegorical polygamous marriage of Christ to His people, we must be rigorous in doing the same with heart-circumcision.
If there is no literal circumcision in females, then there can be no heart-circumcision in females either. But remember this does not make women passive in salvation. Just as there were animal sacrifices and laws for her to observe under Old Covenant Torah in her own right, so there is the sacrifice of Christ for her own soul and the required New Covenent Torah observances for her in her own right too. We must not confuse blood sacrifice with circumcision. Circumcision, in all its forms, is a male-only ordinance connected with his stewardship as head.
What heart-circumcision means is simply this: a husband exposes his heart in all its vulnerability by cutting away the sin nature of unredeemed feelings so that his wife may either embrace it or walk all over it. It is he who must reveal the Heart of Yah'shua (Jesus) by his own voluntary suffering just as Yah'shua (Jesus) revealed the heart of Yahweh, His Father, by His voluntary suffering. Similarly, it is her calling to do the same for her children and be willing to have her heart pierced as Mary was when her Son hung upon the Cross. This is the hierarchy of burden-bearing in terms of an absolute obligation, being as it is something we are born to. However, under the New Covenant, the burden-bearing extends in all directions by free choice, for we are to bear one another's burdens. Just as husbands are supposed to love their wives and wives obey their husbands as obligations, this does not mean that wives should not love their husbands or a husband yield to suggestions made by wives which he may not necessarily agree with (if they are not contrary to Torah).
It should not be supposed than any of this is simple. It isn't. It's very hard and things can and do go wrong. We open our hearts up, people walk all over them, and we recoil in terror and may choose coldness to warmth. And in so doing people are often tempted to uncircumcise themselves in their hearts by allowing unholy and ungodly feelings to return to cover their hearts as a shield against pain which they feel they cannot cope with. Whereas physical circumcision is an irreversible process (to indicate the direction we should be pointing in constantly), heart-circumcision rarely is. In real life we open up our hearts by allowing Christ to remove the sin-nature that pollutes our hearts, and then roll it back again when we get hurt. This means to be in a constant state of repentance and to at least recognise that this is something all too easily done. And the reason I bring up this subject here at this ministry is because this is a phenomenon that happens all the time in polygamous marriage. It's so easy to hurt and get hurt! It is so easy to blame without getting to the core issues. Spouses take out their sin issues on each other instead of getting their own hearts circumcised - THEY WOULD RATHER CIRCUMCISE EACH OTHER!
The fact of the matter is that you can't circumcise someone else's heart. You can only give permission to Christ to do your own. This means putting an end to projecting our own sin issues on others to the point of even making it a personal crusade to 'make something' of someone else instead of dealing with our own issues first. When we are fighting sin issues we have a carnal tendency to project unrealistic and impossible expectations on others whom we want to behave or respond according to our own sinfully-perceived (yet diseased) needs. Without realising it, we have a tendency to seek for artificial saviours which do not - and cannot - exist. Hence the error or many people who enter marriage because they think 'it' will solve sin issues. 'Marriage' is not a saviour. It is an environment where the parties themselves - husbands and wives - are "work[ing] out [their] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) but with the husbands as family priest and minister guiding his wives and children in that quest. It is his job to teach Torah in strictness and loving kindness by ensuring first of all that he is circumcised in his heart.
The obligation of the husband is to be in right relationship to Christ otherwise he cannot possibly be an adequate head. That means he needs guidance outside the family, which is where the local assembly (church) plays a vital rôle. And where he is deficient, so there are elder women (eldresses and deaconesses) in the local assembly (church) who can minister to his wives. Again, this is why I repeatedly keep on telling people who are entering this lifestyle to make sure they have the support of, and accountability to, a local fellowship. And since polygamous families are so few, great efforts should be made to gather together, even if it is initially only two or three familes living locally so they can fellowship regularly.
To be circumcised in heart is not a simple matter. It is the ultimate submission of man to Christ. And without it, his wives can never voluntarily be drawn into full and willing submission to him in their hearts. Without it, they cannot actually be owned at all.
To belong - as every woman in her heart of hearts wants - is to be owned. I know where I belong and finally at least two of my wives fully know where they belong. It may take time to work that out, however. And that is why, on the spiritual level, there may be said to be full wives (fully owned wives) and concubines (partially owned wives) in the New Covenant, just as there are two orders of disciple that Yah'shua (Jesus) speaks of: Servants (male 'concubines') and Friends (male 'wives') of Christ.
We have been brainwashed by the secular liberal society into thinking in terms of the communistic equality of gender rôles. And even when Christians/Messianics accept the Biblical teaching of headship in their minds, it does take a while for their hearts to understand. Well, Yahweh is not a communist and He did not set up a communist cosmos. He set different heavenly bodies in space to perform different functions as he has set up husbands and wives and ecclesiastical officers with different rôles. Getting accustomed to this biblical pattern (tavnith) does, for the man or woman coming our of this secular mindframe, take time. And that is why I have devoted so many articles to this subject, treating it from different angles, to help acclimatise people to the biblical modus operandi - the way things are done in the heavenlies and how Yahweh, in His turn, expects us to operate down here too.
There are, regrettably, always casualties in such transitions. There are failures which we must all bear. The first generation of patriarchal polygamist men and women inevitably have to face this tough transition. We hear a lot of complaints from the anti's who fling statistics in our face, reminding us in spiteful glee of the high failure rate in modern Western Christian/Messianic polygamy. However, look at the casualty rate of the nation of Israel in its transition from Egyptian matriarchy to Divine Patriarchy. Of the millions who left Egypt, only TWO men qualified of that first generation to enter the promised land: Joshua and Caleb! A pretty big failure rate! Even the great Moses failed the test when he tried to take credit for something that was Yahweh's. A sobering thought. So, yes, we can fault many of the Ahabic (macho) ultrapatriarchal men and many of the Jezebelic (feministic) women for the failure of polygamy in the first generation but we must not forget that there are equally as many noble and righteously-intended men and women who simply find themselves caught in the vices of history and culture between the old secular ways and the new patriarchal ways. It is easier, as I have said before, to criticise than to live polygamy, and people should remember that before they start leveling blanket criticisms. According to one vociferous critic, there is probably only one righteous patriarch in the whole of this movement! The wiser and more level-headed amongst us know that this cannot be so.