Q. Am I right in thinking that in the Chavurat Bekorot only priesthood members may become polygamists? If polygamy is not a sin, then surely it should be open to everyone?
On a purely legalistic, Mosaic level, you are right - the law of Yahweh (Torah) allows anybody to become a polygamist. However, the Law of Christ (New Covenant Torah) has added a new dimension to many of the laws given to Moses, as we well know, namely, the law of Grace. This means simply that whilst I may have certain 'rights' as regards the letter of the law, the spirit of the law may require me to abrogate those rights for the benefit of whose who may be harmed should I exercise them.
Paul discusses this principle a lot in his writings. If exercising our rights harms another brother or sister in the faith, we should sometimes be self-limiting. Let me take an example. The moderate consumption of alcohol is not forbidden by the Torah (Law). But according to the New Covenant Torah (Law), if my drinking is likely to cause an ex-alcoholic to stumble and return to alcoholism, then the law of love tells me that I should not drink. (That the Priesthood is not allowed alcohol is a separate issue - we do not allow alcohol consumption in the Chavurat Bekorot). Paul dicusses a similar situation about former pagan superstitious about eating meat used in pagan ceremonies.
Every person who receives Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour becomes a part of a Royal Priesthood-in-the-making. In other words, he is called into priestly service with a congregation and to evangelise the world. If a man feels he should be a Bishop this is good. However, as Paul warns, such a person must not be a recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6) because he will get puffed up in his own pride and must in any case be instructed and have the necessary experience for the calling. In other words, there are developmental processes to go through.
Not all men are called to have more than one wife. Managing a polygamous household is considerably more difficult (and expensive) than managing a monogamous one. To be a patriarch of a polygamous family requires training monogamously, instruction from polygamists, and experience of married life generally. Polygamous marriages, if not governed properly, can have disasterous consequences for husband, wives and children. The stability of family life is of paramount importance. Consequently, the Patriarchate (governing Patriatrchs of the Chavurat Bekorot), having sought and obtained the will of Yahweh on the matter, have decreed that in this body of Christian/Messianic polygamists only those who are ministers may thus marry. This is an internal rule for our community based on sound wisdom. We do not therefore permit unordained members of the Chavurat Bekorot to have more than one wife, unless they were polygamists when they converted. But at the same time, an unordained member is expected, if he is living his Christian/Messianic faith, to move in the direction of priestly service as Christ taught and, if called, may have then more than one wife. There is no strict division between 'clergy' and 'laity' as obtains in many traditional churches (assemblies). All are called. And that includes the women.
From the point of view of love I think it would be a sin to enter into polygamy unprepared especially if it risks the destruction of an already weak or spiritually immature family. Everyone has the right to join the army and become a soldier but not everyone is cut out for military service. Even more importantly, you don't send out an untrained new recruit into battle until he has the necessary experience. The same, I believe, can and should be said about polygamy. Everone has the right to enter into it but most are not called. And those who are may well have to wait until the right moment. The right moment, we adjudge, comes when a patriarch is sufficiently matured and responsible, in short, a man of the Priesthood. And this will be decided by the community's Patriarchate in conjunction with the aspirant polyamist and his wife.