Thank you for making such a great site! I'm curious about your living arrangements. Do you have fixed times you spend alone with each wife? How does it work?
We originally began that way. Each wife had a night I would spend with her in strict rotation. Though the system was very fair it was not flexible enough for us. Sometimes one wife needs extra time to deal with a particular problem (this is especially true in a new marriage while a new wife is settling in - the new wife needs time to 'feel at home' and the first wives - and particularly the last one - usually wrestles a lot with jealosy and need special attention). After we had settled down as a family and overcome the various jealosies (which comes with better familiarity) we decided we would abandon the 'fixed time' system at it was too 'legalistic' in its approach and implied (on the wives' part) that I was not trustworthy enough to organise it myself.
Is the oldest wife the 'head wife' in the family? Or do you have some other arrangement?
So how did you do it? Was it left up to you? What do you mean by 'legalistic'?
We concluded that the 'fixed time' idea was reminiscent of the Mosaic system of 'law-keeping' and we wanted greater freedom. Though a legal arrangement is probably good for young plural marriages we did not feel it was properly rooted in trust. So my wives (they took the initiative, actually) decided it was better if they left the 'visiting' up to me and to trust me to be fair. It's a great responsibility, in fact.
Does it/did it ever go wrong?
Sometimes. It's inevitable. Especially when a wife is starting her monthly cycle and gets emotionally troubled. They usually don't know what's happening though they know they are 'out of sorts'. Some react more strongly than others. So I need to be sensitive to that and alert the other wives too. Since we live in the same household the women (wives and daughters) tend to have their cycle at about the same time so this isn't too difficult.
Trust breaks down when we depart from the Light of Christ. The system definitely does not work if a wife loses her Christ-focus. Which is why we insist only on wives who are 100% committed to Yahweh. That comittment wavers even in the most ardent disciples, of course, in which case spiritual ministry is required fast. We have a biblical rule in the family (which is followed 95% of the time) - if there's a problem, it must be dealt with before we retire to bed, even if this means staying up late talking and praying it through. Sometimes I may not be well enough to do this in which case the rule breaks down but by and large it works.
I imagine things can go really seriously wrong if your wife doesn't sort out the problem quickly?
You know, everyone has different temprements. You get to know your wives very well and adjust yourself in the way you interact. My present wives tend to deal with issues quickly because I expect that of them for the sake of the whole family. If there is a 'sour puss' in the family it effects everyone and a heavy atmosphere soon descends. It's a question of putting others before self. It's the only way - it's the Christian way. I've had four wives so I know about 'variations' in temprement. One wife can be upset one moment and within half-an-hour be back to her normal (Christ-centred) self. Another may take two or three days. One of my wives would bury things away for months with fatal consequences. In fact, it cost us several years of our marriage in lengthy separations. It was tough for her but the mechanism she used for dealing with problems was ultimately self-destructive. Some people find it hard to confont problems. However, as we have discovered, all these kinds of problems are rooted in one thing ultimately: PRIDE. IF YOU DON'T DEAL WITH PRIDE IN YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE YOU'RE SETTING UP A LIFE OF BIG TROUBLES.
What about you, the husband? If you drift away from the Lord the result must be chaotic?
Absolutely. I have my 'moments' but, praise Yah, my wives invariably support me. We're a 'mutual-help' team - it doesn't all fall on the husband, and indeed shouldn't. It's in such moments that wives can show their matriarchal leadership gifts. Sometimes (and it shouldn't of often) they help sort me out. That's how love is supposed to work. The polygamous family isn't just a pyramid of authority where all relations proceed in a heirarchical direction - it is also a circle of love. See my article on this topic.
What about the wives helping each other when jealosy surfaces? Does it happen, or does it fall on you?
As we mature in our marriage it falls less and less on me. In the beginning it falls 100% on the husband usually because when the evil face of jealosy surfaces it's the other wives who are perceived as 'enemies'. And talking with an 'enemy' (fantasy though it is) is tough.
Plural marriage teaches you a lot about yourself. You soon see 'the good, the bad and the ugly' in yourself and each other. We talk a lot about this - or did in the beginning. The psychological-spiritual principles are so clear now that we don't need to discuss them because everybody 'knows' where they're coming from when spite or jealosy arises. It's not nearly so intense now. My job was to throw up a mirror when jealosy surfaced. I don't do it any more because they do it reflexly.
It must be tough on the husband - like a juggler!
When jealosy surfaces, it's hell! Not any more because we basically have the beast called human nature on a short lead. In the early days it was very depressing for me because I am sensitive by nature. If one wife is unhappy I cannot relax. That was exploited at first until they realised how selfish it was - it took a toll on my health. I could have ignored it. We have a lot of experience behind us and have learned how to apply spiritual principles to every situation. I have also learned when, and when not, to allow emotions to cloud the issue. For women it is harder because they are by nature more emotional than men. At times I have appeared rock hard but they have long since come to understand that this does not mean I do not love them but that I will not be led on a chain to wallow in their own self-pity.
There is no female headship - we believe in strict equality. The first wife is absolutely not the 'head" though I know this principle is practically indispensible in non-Christian polygamous households. I am very blessed because the oldest (and therefore the most experienced) wife shows impartiality. There is what one might call 'spiritual headship' which is non-compulsive, non-legalistic. By that I mean some wives are clearly more skilled in some areas than others. Thus they will naturally 'defer' to one another.
Could you give me some examples? For instance, how do you decide about managing the economy and things like that, or is that your job? What about cooking?
Are your wives keen to recruit other wives or would they rather that things just settled as they are?
An interesting question! The economy is ultimately my responsibility because at the present I'm the sole bread-winner. However, my youngest wife is now getting a business organised and will share that responsibility to some extent in the future, I suspect. We've yet to discuss that. My eldest wife has been looking after much of the economic side for many years and I now wants to shift the responsibility in part or in whole. We'll eventually work something out that is to everyone's liking.
Cooking is shared 50% along the line even though one wife likes it more than the other. Major jobs like cleaning are shared by all the family (children included) though the wives bear the brunt, it is true. Cooking is done on a rotational basis - at first one wife was responsible for all the meals and washing up for a particular day, but now they assume responsibility for a week at a time. All lend a hand occasionally. Cleaning goes on more or less continuously and I expect whoever is around to clean up any visible mess. We have one big cleaning day per week when the whole family is involved, myself included. I have my office to clean!
The sharing of domestic duties becomes a little more complicated as the family grows. For instance, a wife with three or four children obviously has her hands fuller than one with, say, only one. So we have to be flexible. The family is a very dynamic thing. Whilst there are fixed responsibilities (the 'legal" or "Old Covenant' side, as we call it) we expect everyone to spontaneously lend a helping hand (the 'grace' or 'New Covenant' aspect). It is true, of course, that some people are lazier than others and this is a problem. It is terribly disheartening for a wife who is busy and well-organised to have her work 'sabotaged' by one who is lazy and indifferent to order and tidiness.
That must be a big problem! How do you resolve this?
With considerable difficulty! As a Christian/Messianic family, though, we are all expected to acknowledge our weaknesses and work hard, through the grace of Christ, to rectify them. As the head of the family it is my responsibility to gently 'push' individual members to constantly seek self-betterment for the blessing of all. This is a sensitive issue because there is, as usual, an element of pride. Pride does not want to admit that there is anything 'wrong' and resists change. We can't tolerate that. Pride is something we actively work at rooting out of the family because it is the root of all evil. It's an uphill battle, mind you, because it manifests in all of us. Conquering though is one of the greatest blessings any family can have, monogamous or plural.
Both is the most truthful answer I can give. And that's true for me too. Occasionally, when a dark spirit enters (and praise Yah it's almost never now) we would rather there was only a monogamous relationship (in times of stress like persecution or financial difficulties - but seriously, we never mean it for we love each other so much)!!
We have to be clear about motives here, whether they are carnal or spiritual. The carnal spirit wants exclusive possession. The godly spirit wants to increase and multiply love. Yes, I think I can truthfully say that my wives want to increase the family very much though we are very picky -- as I've said a hundred times, the new wife must be 100% committed to Christ. Anything else would be to introduce intolerable instability into the family. There would only be one exception to this rule -- a direct revelation from Yahweh to bring a wife in who has problems who we could minister to. The Christian/Messianic community is a saving one and we cannot always be so exclusive as to never allow for the possibility of bringing in a woman who needs help. Such does, of course, require tremendous comittment and I don't believe can happen until there are mature wives who have a special anointing of the Ruach (Spirit).
What do you do when you get worn out? That must be tough for someone in your position.
Do you think you would ever bring in another woman who needs 'help' like that? I mean, has the Spirit told you you will?
Yes. We know of one who falls into this category. However, the Spirit must move her to come first. Polygamy is not a lifestyle that most want because they have been brainwashed into thinking that it is somehow demeaning to women. Which is why I believe Yahweh is raising patriarchal communities around the world to demonstrate that the public's misperceptions are unjustly founded.
What about inter-racial marriage? Do you support that? All the polygamy sites I have seen so far seem to draw wives from a single culture such as the USA or Singapore (mostly the USA, it seems). Do you think it is important to include wives from many cultures?
I'm all in favour of it. I think polygamy can be fairly monochromatic if all the wives are drawn from one culture. Indeed, I would say it is a major disadvantage because there will be a 'cultural gravity' into which all sink. But we in the Chavurat Bekorot aren't like other patriarchal communities who for the most part have, as their chief agenda, polygamy. Polygamy is only one factor for us for we are committed to building up a ZIONIC CULTURE. This means taking the best from ALL cultures and blending them with the Hebrew culture which we believe will characterise the end-time Church of God/Assembly of Yahweh. My family is a mixture of various races. We are uniquely positioned in Europe to do that and are enjoying it tremendously. It stimulates creativity, gives fresh contrasts, and keeps us dynamically growing. It's a real challenge. I personally would hate to find myself in the USA with a single culture (unless you accept the Hispanics as a sub-culture) where everyone has the same basic Western mentality.
So what races or cultures would you like to see in your plural family?
Well, we're European. We would like a mixture from Europe for a start, West and East. We're certainly keen to have one or two North Americans. I am also very keen on some Asian input and have my eyes there too. We're open to everyone and anyone who is committed to Yahshua (Jesus) and to change. This is no 'ordinary' patriarchal community - we're trans-cultural in the fullest sense of the world. So our agenda is a little different from other patriarchal (polygamous) Christians/Messianics.
It should be interesting to see that work! You certainly know how to set challenges for yourselves.
Simple. My wives rally around and are a wonderful support. They know what I'm capable of and what I'm not.
How does having vaccations work? That must be a problem with such a big family!
Yes, it can be, if you think as the world thinks. Going away on a traditional family holiday is not practical either financially or socially for it means you must keep to yourselves (unless you're with other patriarchal Christians/Messianics). It's been a long time since we all 'went abroad' on a holiday but now we're a much bigger family.
What tends to happen is that each wife takes her children with her to visit family and occasionally friends who are supportative of us. It's far from ideal but it's one of the sacrifices you must make living this life-style. We must remember, though, that the whole idea of a 'vaccation' or a 'holiday' is a pagan one. The word 'holiday' originally meant 'Holy Day', it being a contraction of the latter. In Israel people 'went on holiday' by commemorating Yahweh's feasts in Jerusalem or at home. We are moving in that direction by gradual increments. We regularly have visitors to our community and celebrate together. That gives us much pleasure and recreation time.
Who does the laundry in the family?
So for a patriarchal Christian the idea of the annual family vaccation abroad is out of the question?
Pretty much, at least for now. I don't know how the future will be so I won't be dogmatic. When we have gone away we have usually tried to combine it with evangelism of some sort. I take some of my children abroad with me sometimes to visit relatives and I usually divide my time equally between missionary activity and entertainment. But as more and more people hopefully gather with us into community that will becomes less necessary and desirable. We will see what the future holds.
Each wife takes care of her own laundry and the laundry of her own children. The teenage children do their own laundry. My own laundry is shared between the wives.
How are the domestic finances managed? How, for instance, do you decide what to buy and not to buy? Aren't there conflicts there?
There is always the potential for conflict particularly when it comes to personal tastes. As ever some sort of compromise must be reached. In a well established polygamous family the wives understand each other and there is some give-and-take. My responsibility is to set certain standards and resolve conflicts.
Again gospel principles are the best arbitrator. We are stewards of our resources and should not be wasteful. There is a difference between necessities and luxuries. As Christians/Messianics our surplass goes towards the work of the Kingdom. We do, of course, have treats, but we are not ostentatious.
Can you give me an example in your family where the kind of love you say is to be found in polygamous marriage is superior to monogamous love?
What happens if one of the wives receives a gift from a relative? Is that money hers or the family's?
We live the United Order of All Things in Common as the first believers did in the Book of Acts. This applies not only to the Christian/Messianic community we live in but within the family also. We try to make this as plain as possible to all who make donations to us. However, sometimes we have to be sensitive to the wishes of non-believing relatives. Things tend to balance out in the end. If the parents of one of my wives stipulate that a cash gift is to be used for her and her children only, we honour that, and compensate by balancing up other funds. It's really quite simple. That way there are rarely any conflicts. Where there can be a temptation is that the wife who has received the cash takes this as a licence to go and spend ostentatiously by buying unnecessary luxury goods. I have had problems with this from time to time. Because cash is tight there is a real temptation to 'paint the town red' when some extra money suddenly comes in as a gift. If I'm completely honest I don't think we have fully resolved this problem because there is the tendency on the part of a wife to think a cash gift is "theirs" because that's what the giver of the gift said it was. We see here how the world can cause divisiveness and possessiveness. Though it may surprise you I think, from my own point-of-view, this is the biggest problem we have in our particular family. Such gifts do not come often, thank goodness!
I'm really surprised to hear this. I thought things like sex were the biggest problem in polyagmous families?
That may be true in other polygamous communities but it isn't here, probably because we have so much revelation in this area and feel secure. In polygamy sex is usually the women's main problem - the man's main problem tends to be money in my experience.
Which brings me to an interesting point about polygamy because it is our belief that polygamy and a community of families living all-things-in-common go hand in hand. Sharing is a bigger problem for men than women as a rule because men are more territorial. Though I maintain polygamy is as challenging for men as it is for the women I believe that whatever sacrifices women make in polygamy are more than compensated for by the sacrifices men have to make in a United Order system where wealth is being shared.
Earning one's 'daily bread' is a matter of some pride for men as exclusively possessing one's husband is for women. That this has been lessened to some extent by (a) promiscuous living forcing men to accept that women may have multiple partners, and (b) men having to compete in the workplace with women is recognised as a de facto reality even if this has eroded divinely ordained gender rôles. We have restored Yahweh's plan for the sexes in our community.
Which I suppose makes it even harder for you to interact with the outside world because your values are so different?
They're different universes. In Eastern Europe the older values are still intact to some degree but they're under fierce attack as Western ideas flood us. There's an enormous problem to overcome when dealing with western polygamous relationships because the sex rôles have been badly damaged - men have become emasculated and women have become defeminised. This actually makes men and women unattractive for one another, weakens marriage relationships, and causes a higher incidence of marriage break-ups. It's tragic. So one of the first things we have to do is restore gender rôles and that can be very tough. Ask my wives and they will tell you!
Can you give an example?
Only the other day my most recent wife was talking to me about the principle of submission. The idea that a woman should be submissive to her husband is considered outrageous by feminists and by our feministic culture in general. Yet is it? In the Christian/Messianic context this means that a wife is expected to fit in with her husband's plans as he himself is expected to fit in with the Yahweh's. Of course if he is out of harmony with Yahweh he has a problem and when he is it becomes the wife's duty in firmness and meekness to point out his error. There is no greater joy that for a man to be submitted to his Creator and no greater joy for a woman to be submitted to her submitted husband. She had been very 'rebellious' for several days, wanting a degree of independence that upset the family harmony, and experienced a loss of the Spirit. When she finally realised what she had done and repented, she experienced an inrushing of the Spirit and peace again, and said to me: "I want to be submitted to you because this brings me joy." I am not talking about blind obedience to an autocratic man but the basic principle of patriarchal discipline which devolves upon all.
When one wife says, in complete honesty and without any feelings of regret, that she wants me to spend the night with another wife because she feels she (the other wife) badly needs me. Can you imagine that in a monogamous relationship? Never! Yet it has happened in our home. When the wives love each other so much that they only want the best for them, then paradise has come on earth. It means also that they are living in the complete security of my love for them, never doubting that I am partial. This is the great mystery of polygamy that monogamists can never understand. It's ultimate sharing.
What do you feel to be your greatest challenge as a polygamist a decade on?
So why can't you share your wives with other men? Wouldn't that be ultimate sharing for you?
If men and women were created alike I would have to agree with you. But they weren't. Yahweh has not made men and women to be polyandrists or polyamourists. A woman who lives polyandry or a mixed marriage of men and women all married together will reap a bitter harvest. It can be made to 'work' at a certain basic level for sure - almost anything can be made to work but there is a price to pay, and that is a departure from Yahweh-made 'naturalness'. We are made the way we are. We can distort our psychology to fit in with non-biblical practices but the result is always chaos even if there is apparent harmony in the interim. I can also say this from experience, not that I have ever lived this way, but I know a community that does and observed its problems. It isn't Christian - how could it be? - but New Age...which is empowered by dark forces. So, no, I would have to disagree with you - polyandry or mixed marriage is not ultimate sharing, at least not with Yahweh. But it would certainly be sharing with Satan who delights in perverting all godly principles.
On a practical level becoming more economically sufficient. It's an expensive principle to live. Because we do not tell the state authorities the way we are living we forfeit such state benefits as might become available otherwise. So we pay high taxes but without the benefit of the welfare state. That's quite tough and it's been quite a big sacrifice for us, especially seeing neighbours and friends living in a more luxurious lifestyle. But we wouldn't exchange our world for theirs for anything in the world. The love we share is incomparable.
We also want to see others come into the family - we want to grow and increase the circle of our love. Finding godly Christian/Messianic women who are open to the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) is not, however, easy. (And such men are even rarer). We know they're 'out there' but getting in contact is a real problem. Hence this website.
Lastly, our greatest challenge has to be getting nearer to Yahweh - improving the quality and quanitity of our worship and prayer, and becoming more evangelistic. Polygamy exists, in the final analysis, as a means to witness the love of Yah'shua (Jesus) and the miracle His Spirit can bring to individuals and families.
A great deal has changed in my home 17 years on with a new family essentially coming into being what with one upheaval or another. Being older with its attendant health problems has resulted in our returning to the rotational system of visits, less international evangelism and virtually no hosting of conferences. One wife has left and two new ones have entered leading to a very different personality mix indeed, so obviously many of the ways we used to do things have since changed. Further time will tell what has worked and what has not. Children have grown up and left home too. We have also sought to be more self-sufficient and so increasingly grow our own food and raise our own livestock. Plural marriage is not a 'fixed thing' but as diverse as the people who make it up. There are many 'dynamics' as varied as not just personality but also where each individual is in his or her spiritual journey.