I have been thinking a lot recently about salvation, predestination, soul-mates and marriage and the complexities of earth life. What is it like, I wonder, to be Yahweh, who has always known who of His children would be saved, and who would not, and having to watch them struggle in this sphere of life - struggling and overcoming, and sometimes struggling in vain. Such is the very costly price of granting free agency to the human race.
And then there is our perspective with so many unknowns and perplexities, as we strain to see through a darkened glass beyond and into the world to come. Will we complete the race? Will we even enter it? What pitholes await us? Which will we circumvent and which will we fall into? Will we get out of them? What kindly hands will reach down to help us climb out into the light of day again? And will we in our turn proffer warm hands to those who have likewise fallen?
We have recently been having a discussion in our Club about predestination and marriage. Is marriage truly predestined? And if so, how? How can it be predestined if we end up choosing the wrong partners? And the answer is that marriage in this life is no more predestined save at the very last moment before we expire any more than salvation is. That marriage which is eternal is of the Adamic kind - when we are reunited to those from whom we were separated by mortality, whether we find them in this life or not. What matters more than anything else is that we are united to our allegorical Husband, Yah'shua (Jesus), for only then will we enter that sphere where marriage is resumed in the eternal sense. If we are not, then issues of marriage in the next life are in any case academic and moot, because there is no eternal marriage apart from Christ.
There is a difference between a psychic soul-tie in marriage and an eternal echad oneness. One is flesh-based and the other is of the ruach (spirit). The one is mediated by the elemental spirits of this world and the other by Yah'shua (Jesus). So long as we remain in Yah'shua (Jesus) then all eternal issues are secured, including marriage. The thing then is to be living by faith and walking the commandments.
One of the most powerful drives in people is the hunt for a soul-mate or soul-mates. At times it can even compete with Christ, an idolatrous and therefore highly dangerous situation to be in. I have known so many people who have gone off on marriage wild goose-chases and forgotten the Gospel in the process. Christianity then becomes an appendage to marriage instead of the other way round or gets sloughed off altogether. And yes, I have witnessed Christ shoved aside for a pretty woman or a handsome man. Unconsciously they have chosen a brief span of carnal indulgence - a mere flash in terms of eternity - in place of the security of both an eternity with Elohim (God) as well as with their bosom companions whom they have rejected because Satan blinded them with tantalising bait or an illusiory short-cut to bliss.
I am currently watching a friend running around after every skirt he can find like a headless chicken. He is trapped in a carnal trinity of an overwhelming desire for sex, control and money, of the commonest vices in men, and particularly dangerous when all three are working in concert as triple-bait. I have also recently watched women steered off-course from the 'old path' that leads to heaven into the lap of carefully laid traps by Satan in the form of men who are not as they seem or promise to be. The corridors of mortality are truly fraught with dangers. Others are pawns in situations they seem to have little control over and are just heading for the precipice.
When Yah'shua (Jesus) said that the way was narrow and that there were few who would find it (Matthew 7:13-14), He wasn't kidding. Getting onto it is cause for great celebration for the odds are indeed so heavily stacked against those who lean to a greater or lesser extent on the arm-of-flesh for their guidance through life. But that is by no means the end. Many, when they get to the road, dismount and expect to be carried the rest of the way without any effort of their own. Yes, we are sometimes carried in great emergencies when we are in dire straits but for the greater part of life we are not. The invisible Guide is by our side but He never goes against our wills. If we step off the Way He is obliged to let us do so. But there are many signposts along the way to help us back if we will but heed them.
Learning to do Yahweh's will in marriage - and in particular polygamy - is not as easy as it may at first sound. It is one thing making a mental decision but quite another to engage the whole soul, especially the heart. The quest for a mate arouses powerful feelings which at times may seem overwhelming, and by virtue of their intensity lead us to falsely believe that they must be from Elohim (God). Learning to lay even these desires at the foot of the cross, for whatever man or woman that they may be driving us to embrace, is a part of the lesson of overcoming and submitting to Yahweh. More so for the man who must learn how to do this properly before he can expect his wives to do them same to him. To fully yield the flesh and submit to Yahweh in all things, even to laying aside our deepest romantic and sexual urges, requires every particle of our soul in cooperative endeavour to accomplish. There are very, very few who will prostrate themselves before the Almighty and simply trust Him to see them right.
I will be amongst the first to admit it has been a terrible struggle for me. It has got easier with time as I have seen the fruits of trust in action. Yahweh doesn't necessarily make it easier for us either. Yes, the cross may be light but only when the soul is in right relationship! A cross whose wood is not love might as well be made of lead.
Within every husband and wife there lies the potential for internal polygamy. I have progressively entered different levels of marriage with my wives and each time there has been a honeymoon during which to enjoy a totally new communion. I am currently going through one now. The former 'marriages' and communions are there but now there is another one - a new layer, a new universe to explore. There are seven of these in each soul, as I have mentioned before. So before you start thinking you have 'fulfilled' your monogamous marriage and move on to polygamy, look again. The chances are there are new wells of being to explore and enjoy in your companion!
Many men, when they enter polygamy, are so busy exploring their new wives that they forget that their 'old' ones are yet unexplored continents for the most part. I reckon it takes a good half-century to fully know someone on all seven levels! What a tragedy to 'abandon' an earlier wife on the first levels because you are so eager to explore the first levels of your new ones! The 'North American' part of your wife may we wonderful but what about the 'South American', 'Asian', 'African', 'European', 'Australasian' and 'Antarctic' parts as well (as it were)!
An echad Christian/Messianic polygamist is an intrepid explorer be he/she male or female. The safari is in his blood! Not content to win his spouse's heart, he wants to explore the interior of her whole continent until he knows and wooes her completely. The man or woman we marry is like a seven-faced jewel but with only one face in front of us. Finding and landing on the other faces is part of he excitement of exploration. There is so much to discover about one another. The faces may not always be well polished but walking together in Yah'shua (Jesus) soon chips off the rough spots and makes for a smooth surface which we can then transfix our gaze on. Once done we often discover ourselves too by reflection.
Nearly all marriages without Christ - or at least without Christ-like virtues - come at length to a point when, like the marriage feast of Cana, the wine runs out. The early rapture of 'being in love' gradually levels out and the promise of paradise fades. At this point Yah'shua (Jesus) steps onto the scene and miracles start taking place. The empty vessels are suddenly full of not only new wine but far better wine than there was at the beginning. Yah'shua (Jesus) not only therefore replenishes what has run out or is used up in a marriage but there is a new quality in the relationship - the 'royal wine' begins to flow and amazing things start happening inside.
What is it that is so different about this 'royal wine'? Apart from the fact that it never runs out so long as you keep sharing it with your marriage companion(s), it is so delicious that once tasted you never want anything else. When Christ enters a marriage, a new spirit accompanies it. When Christ enters a marriage, bonds start forming that were never there before - bonds that one senses can never be rent asunder.
Obviously, though, you have to keep drinking the 'royal wine'. The moment you exchange it for something else, the quality of your marriage at once takes a dive into the banality and ordinariness of marriages without Christ. Now the 'royal wine' I am speaking of is, of course, the pure selfless, ahavah/chesed/agapé love of Christ. This is the wine that is patient and kind, is not jealous or boastful, is not arrogant or rude, doesn't insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, never rejoices at wrong, but rejoices in righteousness. It bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things. And it never ends (1 Corinthians 13).
When this 'royal wine' is being drunk by husbands and wives, it immediately fosters unselfishness. Unfortunately, you will find little of this any more in modern society which therefore provides hopeless rôle models. We are no longer a culture of altruism but of greed, selfishness, and absorption with self. The media with its comedy, music, romance, and quest for unlicenced and increasingly perverse sex, reflects this through and through. Instead of giving, modern man consumes the talents and personalities of people as though they were fast food.
By nature man is, as Martin Luther put it, all curled up inside himself. The 'royal wine' has the effect of drawing men and women out of themselves so that he can reach out and genuinely embrace other human beings. When we are finally possessed by this love we come to know other people not just as a means to our own happiness and security but as a child of Yahweh eagerly concerned about his or her happiness and security.
The 'royal wine' makes us, as one of its necessary side effects, face reality and eliminate fantasy. This is a love which has its eyes wide open. The realism fostered by the 'royal wine' forces us to sidestep all the myths of paradisaical romance and blissful union as though these were things that are simply attained by default when we fall in love.
These days Christian/Messianic psychologists tell us to accept that marriage can never be perfect because they have observed (correctly) that the hopes of early perfection never materialise. They are half right. We have to begin by accepting that there are going to be problems, sometimes quite large ones, but what we cannot forget is the admonition of Christ to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). Clearly if we couldn't be perfect He wouldn't command us to be, would He? We may say we can never be perfect as form of false piety, and whilst it is good and necessary to recognise our weaknesses and faults it is never good enough to just leave them like that and expect to do nothing. The 'royal wine' definitely militates against such an attitude. Instead, we are to drink copious draughts of this 'royal wine' until we are so inebriated with it that we find Christ's perfection working in us without us really even being aware of it.
I don't think anyone with a right heart likes conflict in marriage. Many prefer not to have conflict and become 'yes'-men or -women. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to have conflict. True conflict is disagreement based on the understanding that we might be wrong and would like to change if we can be shown - in a loving way - that we have been in error. True conflict is actually quite creative provided the love which is 'patient and kind' is present in large measure. True love can embrace conflict creatively, but it takes two to tango.
True loves provides an atmosphere of openness and honesty to the point that we can express our disappointments freely in a non-hostile and submissive way. The path to perfection is rather interesting because it is by no means an 'act'. Those who 'act perfect' never can be. Those who are aspiring for perfection are not necessarily conscious of the effort: they simply refuse to be defeated and become instead a channel for 'royal love', having a determination to right personal wrongs in the power of submitted love.
If our faith forbids us to be honest or critical then that faith is sterile because it lacks within it the potential for growth. But being honest or critical for their own sakes is not acceptable: we must first be honest and critical about ourselves. A good husband in a marriage ought to feel safe enough within himself, because of his submissiveness to Christ, to declare to his wives a weakness or a trouble without fearing that his wives will step over him and assume his authority as head. Many husbands refrain from doing these things for this very reason: their wives simply seize the opportunity to 'score' against him. Where a husband has wives like this he is in a truly unenviable position for he will often feel the need to suffer in silence. This self-abnegation will, however, in the long run eat away at him like an acid, and the only way he can be freed from his dilemma is if his wives will submit to him and simply accept that he is not perfect without feeling the need to hit out. "Love your neighbour as yourself" means for a man in this position (or indeed a wife in her own dilemmas) that we are to respect our own rights and feelings. We are not supposed to crucify ourselves to death in a vacuum and in so doing deprive our wives that which they need from their head.
Love therefore becomes not a jacket you wear but something which you - the husband and wives - go through together. It includes the recognition that at any one point in time each individual in the marriage may have needs that cannot be met by any of the others without Christ. The husband is not the barrel of new wine - Yah'shua (Jesus) is. Thus solutions to disagreements in marriage must often be met at the foot of the cross.
What this means is that all Christian/Messianic marriage is polygamous, including monogamy, because the minimum number of persons in a Christian marriage is always three: Husband, wife, and Elohim (God).
Have you ever noticed how in most Christian marriage ceremonies the minister asks, "Will you love?" and not "Are you in love?" 'Royal love' is an act of will, not an explosion of feelings.
True love is a pledge and a covenant, not a declaration of what is. True love sets is eyes on a distant goal which is stretched back into the present. And that goal, far from being something symbolic or abstract, is real because it is based in promises made by Yahweh in Yah'shua (Jesus).
Marriage requires, therefore, an accute sense of responsibility of the three or more parties concerned, but chiefly to Yahweh our Father in Heaven. After all, Christian/Messianic marriage is His marriage, not ours, otherwise we wouldn't call it 'Christian/Messianic' - 'belonging to Christ'. Or as Francis de Sales puts it:
In plural marriage, that responsibility is multiplied many times over. In Echad Christian/Messianic marriage the wives 'marry' each other too! They make covenants with each other because they mean to make their relationships work too ... to merge as one with their husband.
"If the glue is good, two pieces if wood glued together will cleave so fast to each other that they can be more easily broken in any other place than where they were glued. RElohim (God) glues the husband to the wife with His own blood".
Finally, married people have an obligation to, and responsibilities in, the local assembly (church). Christian/Messianic marriage does not just exist for itself but is a tool of service - a miniature model of how that local assembly (church) should be in its relationship to Christ.