My wives have been studying botany. Long ago I taught them that every living organism on our planet was designed (and then cursed) to teach us something about the right and wrong ways to live. Yesterday they decided they would watch a botany documentary to relax indoors during a very hot Sabbath and were telling me this morning some of the exiting things they had discovered about relationship-building. Then my fourth wife told me how she had had a biology lesson with the younger boys in which she used the caterpillar/butterfly parable to illustrate the difference between devouring and giving relationships. It had quite forcibly struck young Tytus who quickly understood that nectar-sipping was a lot friendlier to people than devouring up leaves. Nature had taught him a valuable lesson.
Sipping nectar is an illustration of a giving relationship
We have some of our most stimulating conversations together just when we have woken up. We share our dreams, visions, and reflections. We like to spend a good hour talking together before we get up and find these such fruitful times. Often our dreams parallel each other's and contain interpretive keys. The other morning I got up early to write an article and my fourth was pleasantly surprised that I had been given the keys of understanding of a dream she had been dreaming while I was writing the article and she was asleep! It's moments like that which reassure us that Yahweh is in control and constantly guiding and leading. This has become so commonplace amongst us now that we rarely give it a second thought. What was at first an exciting novelty and curiosity has become a way of life.
There are so many different signs of echad or oneness around us today that often it is hard to notice them. Usually it takes others who are not so familiar with our way of being to point out something which for them is astounding. But really such gifts are available to all if they will simply let Yahweh give them and be receptive themselves. To do that, though, does require a transition from a caterpillar (monogamy-only, selfish) mentality to a butterfly (polygamy, selfless) mentality. A sign that you are moving in Yahweh's echad Ruach (Spirit) is that self-consideration is progressively ebbing away. One is moving beyond expectations.
A man and several woman may commit themselves to a marriage relationship and live and intereact together but growing into the spirit of echad takes time. It's not something that you can force or rush but at the same time nothing will happen if you have not at least made some formal declarations to yourself (and preferably to each another too) that your intention is to crucify the flesh and its wayward passions and allow Yahweh to take full control your life.
Every Sabbath after lunch is a time eagerly looked forward to by the young children. It's sweet (candy) day! I get out several bowls and start distributing the sweets so that everyone had exactly the same amount. At first they would ensure that there was an equal sharing of different coloured sweets, and also shapes. Three green sweets, four banana-shaped sweets, etc., which could become quite a labourious and time-consuming exercise if they were small and plentiful. I have often wondered if I was wrong to be so scrupulpusly fair but in retrospect I believe I was right. It was only when the children had come to understand that I was trustworthy and fair that they started to learn to let go of their expectations. By observing the adults freely share our own sweets (candy) they learned to do the same. It is sometimes quite touching watching them give away everything they have without expectations especially if there are many guests and not that much to share around. When that happens it is hard to contain ones feelings - they have started to learn ahavah/chesed/agapé love and sharing.
New wives need to observe fairness at the beginning of a polygamous relationship and quite naturally will - depending on their spiritual maturity - have something of a caterpillar attitude. Very often they will measure how much time the husband spends with each wife and feel driven to 'demand' equal-sharing. Yah'shua (Jesus) tried to dismantle such a carnal attitude, however, in His parable of the labourers which I have cited elsewhere in an article. He taught there are at least two different ways to look at fairness: one which is based on expectancy, and one which is not. The first labourers took their contracts with the master and agreed to be paid a fixed sum for a fixed number of hours. The second labourers, who arrived late in the day, entered no such agreement with the master and simply trusted the master to be fair. At the end of the day when the salaries were paid out, the master gave the same payment to the first and last labourers, and the first were indignant. "Not fair!" they cried in dismay. "We're worked all day in the heat of the sun whilst these have done only a fraction of the work. Not fair!" To which the master replied that he had been perfectly fair because the first had got what they demanded - a fixed wage. But the latter exercised greater faith - they simply trusted the master to be fair. So he rewarded the two equally and justified himself by saying that it was none of the first labourer's business what he paid the latter ones. Since he was not bound He was free to be as generous as he wanted to be.
Yah'shua (Jesus) used this parable to teach a higher spiritual principle of living. He taught that it is none of our business how God rewards people. It's His affair. If one group of people lack the faith to accept an open-door policy, as it were, that was their responsibility and not His. The first labourers were self-limiting. They got exactly what they expected, and not a penny more. The second placed no such limitations on themselves. They took a risk, of course. They might have been paid considerably less. I am sure they expected to be paid according to the number of hours they worked and had resigned themselves to the fact that they might even get less. But they were willing to take the chance. They placed themselves in a position of dependency from which they could not bargain or hold their employer to account because nothing had been agreed. They had arrived late in the day, probably concerned about hunger in their belly because no other work was available. They would take their chances.
And they were not disappointed. They attitude of trust resulted in their being treated in exactly the same way as the first workers! They were rewarded for their non-expectancy and trust. Since Christ directly equates Himself with the master in this story we are clearly supposed to derive some lessons from it as far as our spiritual lives are concerned. Those who are lacking and less fortunate are the more blessed because in a way it 'compells' them to be humble. Humility is its own reward. The better off tend to be more carnal and are accustomed to wage-bargaining, but really their spiritual reward is not so good. Even though they got exactly what they expected, they resented the others. They were not content" And that is a truism we dare not miss: whenever you live in 'expectation' you are rarely satisfied. There is always something to complain about.
Generosity and non-expectation lie at the heart of echad polygamy
The application to a polygamous situation should be obvious, and indeed there is a direct connection here with Isaiah 4:1 which many Christian/Messianic polygamists believe is a negative prophecy. I have never thought it was. The seven women who came to the man begging to be his wives at the expense of waiving their rights to provisions which they would provide themselves is not indicative of a 'lesser' form of polygamy at all, even though the carnally-minded will likely perceive it as such. These women have realised that having a name (a home, a marriage possession) is infinitely more important than material goods and 'expectations' in general. They have moved beyond rights and into the freedom of complete trust.
There are, in the world, good and bad employers, as well as good and bad husbands. So there's a terrible risk here. A woman who casts herself on an unscrupulous and evil man could find herself utterly devoured. And someone who has been through such a nightmare would, understandbly, be more inclined to negociate a 'fixed wage' type of polygamous relationship the next time round as a way to protecting herself. Which is all very good and well if she marries an evil husband the second time round, but has disasterousn consequences if she should per chance stumble across a good man. Contractual weddings, such as is the norm in Jewish marriages, are a great and terrible brake to growing in echad.
It may well be that an insecure woman will want to negociate something contractual in the beginning of a marriage and then renounce it and move into the second mode later. A loving and patient husband might well agree to that. She would soon discover in time that she was missing something that the non-contractuial wives had. The danger there is that this could divide the family in two and create unbearable tensions. We remember the same kind of phenomenon in the story of the prodigal son. The elder son, who stayed at home and didn't squander his father's wealth like the reckless younger one, resented his father's generosity and grace when the prodigal came home and was feasted. The father had to gently and patiently remind the elder son that he already had everything except a forgiving heart. Truly, a resentful heart that is constantly weighing and measuring others is a most unhappy and restless heart. There is no greater blessing, in my view, than to be in a trusting state of repose.
It should be obvious from the parable and stories of the Bible that Yahweh does not line up bowls and put in equal measures of sweets (candy) for us. Life is not that simple. Giving an upright piano to a totally non-musical person makes absolutely no sense at all, and giving a brand new tractor to someone who hates farming is equally daft. If I have two sons, the one musical and the other who loves farming, a piano and tractor, respectively, then I am being completely fair even if the tractor costs ten times as much money. This is also true in relationships, and especially plural marriage relationships. Wives have different dispositions and needs and you can't go and weigh out time, sex, romance, and other things on a pair of scales and distribute it equally. To try and do so will stifle the spirit.
I illustrate with a true and (for us) wonderful story. On one of those occasions when my third, fourth and I were together and this led to full intimacy, I was led by the Spirit to be together with my third alone. This was contrary to what I would normally was done and yet the Spirit was so strong that I just didn't argue. And my fourth didn't mind at all even though she 'received nothing' (as those who weigh things would be inclined to judge). But because she had no expectations, she was not offended in the least. She simply trusted me to do what was right and enjoyed our enjoyment.
The result of this special night was that little Franciszek was conceived and three months ago (2003) was born. He is one of the most delightful babies we have ever had, always smiling and just full of love. None of us are in the slightest doubt that that hour was for his conception and that my fourth was not to be a physical part of it. I was led - and my fourth accepted naturally - that this was my third's moment. There was, moreover, this wonderful echad oneness between us all, and it was that we delighted in and prized.
Echad transcends the ego. It lies far above the self because it is a collective self with Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) in its very heart. It is a place where weights and measures have no meaning and are just millstones around the neck. Here one is simply free to let go and be natural and unencumbered by fleshy demands. As guests around a dinner table, one is simply content to receive what the host serves. And though the journey to this paradisaical state may be hard, its realisation is all the reward that one could ever want. It is a spiritual land of great beauty, contentedness, and uninhibition. It is a place of purity where Yahweh reigns. The three of us us have discovered it and desire only to tell people about it who are interested to know.
Several have come to us in recent times wanting to be a part of our family and most have had caterpillar contracts in their hands. They want to bargain and negociate. Using the excuse thet they are 'free spirits' and 'independent' to justify retaining their own turf on which no-other-need-dare-to-tread, they have given a clear signal to us that which the fruit of echad is something they really want, they don't really want to pay the price. Nothing good and worthwhile, however, is ever free.
When you marry, you exchange one set of freedoms for another. And in entering echad Christian/Messianic polygamous marriage, yet another set of freedoms has to be exchanged. It is an 'exchange', I hasten to had - it is not a unilaterial relinquishment of one's freedom for slavery. Echad is the very opposite of slavery - it is the ultimate in liberation.
I know that my third, fourth and I aren't fully there yet but I do know that rapid strides have been made and especially in the last year. In many ways this has been a glorious compensation for all the strife that there has been without - the premeditated campaign to discredit and slur our characters and to discredit polygamy in general. As a family we have been increasingly forced to lay aside the carnal weapons of self-defence and to simply let Yahweh do the justifying. Though they may not realise it, our enemies have actually done us a service. They have made our family stronger and happier.
This last six months have seen a contentment grow in our family the likes of which we have never had before. Both wives will agree that the spirit on non-expectation was a major catalyst in this. For myself, it has freed me to be more natural and (I hope) more generous. I am glad that I have no contractoral arrangement with them other than to love and cherish them in Torah and Christ for eternity. And they, in their turn, have agreed to submit to me freely and non-expectantly in Torah and Christ for eternity. Having found our paradise, we aim to hold on to it, and grow ever deeper and deeper in our union with each other and with Christ. Now we are just waiting, in Yahweh's own time, for the rest of our family to come home and to share what we have with them ...
A few years later our paradise would be shattered and the family would have to once again go through a long, slow and painful rebuilding.