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    FAQ 42

    Is Polygamy a
    Temporary Form
    of Marriage Only?

    Q. I accept that polygamy is not viewed in the Bible as a sin anywhere. That is not the issue. The issue, as I see it, is whether it was something temporary or inferior that has been replaced by monogamy as the ideal. As I see it, polygamy was only a shadow or a type of the ideal relationship between God and Israel. That has now been fulfilled in Christ who is now married to a United Church of 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism'. Therefore I see polygamy as something that has now passed away in the New Covenant.

    I understand your line of argument but it has many flaws. Even if you were right about polygamy being only a shadow or a type, no-one can honestly say that the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) is a 'United Church' worshipping one Lord with one faith and one baptism. It will remain an illusive ideal until all the denominational differences go and there is a unitary apostolic doctrine and practice. On that basis alone polygamy would still not be 'fulfilled'.

    However, I believe your paradigm is all wrong. The shadows and types of the Mosaic Law which have been fulfilled in Christ were all salvational issues - the whole Levitical system with its priests, ordinances, sacrifices, etc.. Marriage - and that includes plural marriage - is not, however, a salvational issue. Marriage - monogamy and polygamy - has existed since the beginning of time, long before the Law of Moses was instituted. Marriage is a moral law licencing cohabitatation, sex and procreation, and Yahweh has never changed in regard to that.

    There were many regulations given in the Law of Moses because of the hardness of the people's hearts, but polygamy was not one of them. If polygamy was inferior, a shadow, and given because of the hardness of men's hearts, the implication of this suggestion (as I have mentioned before in other articles) is that it must then have been given because of men's hard hearts since supposedly it was to indulge their lusts. In which case the picture you paint is of Yahweh punishing women in order to appease the base lusts of men. If that is so, then the Elohim (God) you worship despises women since He is willing to make them suffer because He has given way to, and appeased, the weakness of men.

    Such a conclusion which is inevitable from your suggestion is, in my view, nothing short of blasphemy, since it creates a false image of the Elohim (God) of love. Yahweh does nothing except out of love, and for both men and women. If He gave/permitted polygamy, then it was to bless both men and women, not just one gender. I do not worship a sexist or (by implication) a misogynous (woman-hating) Elohim (God)!

    Taken to its logical conclusion, your doctrine is actually anti-marriage since the next and inevitable step is celibacy.

    Look at it this way. Yahweh gives us three choices in life: celibacy, monogamy or polygamy. Before a person is married he must first be single. You do not progress from being married to being single! To be a polygamist you must progress from being a monogamist - there are no polygamists who were not first monogamists! You cannot marry two women simultaneously because you cannot consummate two marriages simultaneously. Even if you consummated two marriages a couple of minutes apart (and I am absolutely NOT suggesting that anyone should do this), you would still have to be a monogamist before you became a polygamist.

    Like it or not there is a progression from single to monogamist to polygamist. We are born single and then marry. The reverse only happens at death or divorce and there are therefore, in a way, retrogressive steps.

    Your doctrine denies the progression by saying that polygamy was only a type of something mystical, the polygamous union of Christ with the saints. So you would change the list thus:

    single > monogamy > polygamy (Old Covenant)

    single > monogamy > polygamy (New Covenant)

    If what you say is true, then monogamy can only be a shadow too which is likewise fulfilled in Christ's mystical union with the saints since the saints are depicted as a unitary CHURCH (Messianic Community). This is a monogamous picture. In which case you are forced to modify your theory by deleting monogamy also, thus:

    single > monogamy > polygamy

    That leaves you with the single state and nothing else, unless, of course, you believe in the annihilation of the human race as the fulfilment of prophetic types! By this logic Christendom has arrived at the doctrine that there is no marriage in heaven - that we are regressing to a single state and that our only 'marriage' will be to 'Christ'. Perhaps you can see another reason why I believe in eternal marriage.

    What all of this tells me is that many Christians/Messianics are looking at symbolic relationships as being more important than the actual ones. One gets the impression from such folk that people exist only to fulful prophetic types, instead of understanding that the prophetic types are pointers to something more substantial. We are to love our wives in the same way that Christ loves the Church (Messianic Community), Paul tells us in Ephesians. If we cease to be married in heaven, then obviously we are to stop loving our wives as 'wives' since we aren't married to them any longer. The trouble is, the only justification for this is if Christ should suddenly stop loving the Church (Messianic Community) as a Bridegroom for a Bride, and that is the implication of the belief that marriage ends at death, otherwise why else would Christ use the prophetic type?! Since no sane Christian believes that Christ will ever stop loving the Church (Messianic Community) in the next world then it logically follows that we are to continue loving our wives in the next world too - as literal wives! If the relationship between spouses changes in the resurrection - if we are no longer married as so many believe - then it logically follows that the relationship between Christ and the Church (Messianic Community) must change or even end too.

    Who will deny that marriage is the deepest of human relationships? And yet people would have us believe that the relationship I have with my wives in the next life will be reduced to that of a 'brother' and 'sisters'. It is not explained by the exponents of 'no marriage after death' how this will be accomplished or what will finally result beyond some vague speculation that we will be so absorbed in our spiritual marriage to Christ that we won't have a need for the intimacy we had in marriage on earth.

    I find no justification for this assumption in Scripture. Quite the opposite. When I read about the way relationships are supposed to change and grow in Christ, I am told by Christ and His apostles that they will simply get better. I am told that Elohim's (God's) Word never returns to Him void (Isaiah 55:11) and I am told that marriage was declared "good" along with the rest of creation. Is the creation to disappear one day? No, its is to be transformed - elevated, immortalised. Thus marriage, I conclude is to be changed - spiritualised - immortalised - and transformed too.

    I see the same progression dynamic in the way Christ brought the Law of Moses to completion by removing the shadows and types (the ceremonial law of animal sacrifices and priestly intermediumship) and elevating the moral law (no more eye-for-an-eye, love your enemies, tightening up rules on divorce, making the whole world your neighbour, etc.) as I do in the progression of marriage from an earthly institution (which shall pass away) to a heavenly one (being brought to completion in the full presence of Christ).

    True, when it comes to the Creation, in the heavenly world we will need no literal sun (which is a temporary structure that will one day burn out) because in the Holy City the Father and the Son are its light.

    I am also told that Eve was made from Adam as being his natural extension. If marriage is to disappear in the eternities, then so must all the natural extensions - the women - leaving a universe populated by only men. And how lonely they would be!

    You see, Yahweh declared that it was not good that Adam should be alone before the Fall! Marriage was given in a perfect world where there was no sin and where man walked with Yahweh communing with Him just as we shall in the eternities. What is the difference between the Garden of Eden and the heavenly paradise? There is none. As Adam's world was a Garden, so also will Heaven be, 'Paradise' meaning literally 'a walled Garden'. Therefore the world of Adam will be the same as the world of the blessed - unless you believe Yahweh is going to return all the women to their husbands' ribcage and make eternity a lonelier place than even Eden. Yahweh did not make male companions for Adam, did he? He made the only type of person who could make him whole - a woman. He gave him a ready-made wife - a wife who was himself..

    I try to see the Bible as an unfolding truth-dynamic - a process that is inevitably proceeding to a grand climax, since that is the very clear thread that runs through it. I see marriage taught in such terms that Yahweh uses it to show us that everything He and Christ do is to be seen within that model. He is telling us that marriage lies at the heart of almost everything, so much so that is happy to use it as a symbolic description of the relationship He has with His people. Since that relationship is progressive, then I assume that the marriage relationship is progressive too - going from one glory to another.

    The confusion results in the Sadducee incident which most Christians/Messianics have misread to mean that the whole marriage dynamic comes to an end. All Christ is saying in these passages is that the INFERIOR form comes to an end, just as the Law of Moses came to an end in its original form. The ethical and moral content of the Law of Moses is still with us, as are a number of other practical rules governing daily living, just as certain aspects of earthly marriage will continue into the resurrection (along with the moral and ethical components of the Law). Prophetic images do not exist for themselves but as tools to help us get a better grasp of spiritual realities.

    The heart of marriage is love - and love can never pass away. A man and woman/women love one another in spirit, mind, heart, and body here on earth. In the resurrection we shall retain all four, only they will be perfect. The community of the saints will still be called the BODY of Christ because it will be a spirit-mind-heart-body entity, but for some reason a majority of the Christian/Messianic community want to strip the 'body' part away, as though the resurrection were merely a New-Age type resurrection of spirit only. I don't buy it because it doesn't meld in which the general concept running through the whole Bible.

    If Christ had wanted us to prepare for a world without marriage or polygamy, He could have taught an aesetic doctrine similar to the Catholics. But He didn't. Rather, He continued to teach an unfolding of all that had been revealed before, including marriage, so that we could grasp the glory of what is to come. His was a vision of endlessly multiplying love throughout the universe within a heavenly paradise - a dynamic of eternal life, not a statis, which we are living only in shadow form here on earth - in a world where the law of multiplication is to be found everywhere. Yahweh equals love equal endless multiplication of goodness.

    In our day He has restored Christian/Messianic Patriarchy, giving men and women a vision of an ever greater possibility for multiplication. Is it possible that there will be a THIRD stage of marriage, something wholly mystical and unfathomable? Is that what the proponents of an end to marriage in the next life mean? If they do, I have to agree with them, for we do indeed anticipate a great spiritual consummation which is the heavenly Wedding Feast of the Lamb, but I do NOT agree with them that in the process we are to discard THE great mode of multiplication of humans, namely marriage, any more than I believe Christ discarded the Ten Commandments when He summarised them into Two to reveal their core. If anything, I believe that great Wedding Feast will show us what the core of true human marriage is, namely, the complete and everlasting spiritual union with our Saviour.

    Further Reading

    [1] A Question of Eternal Marriage
    [2} NC&C 344: Revelation on Eternal Firstborn Marriage
    [3] NC&C 440: Revelation on Eternal Marriage II
    [4] Is There Eternal Marriage in the Resurrection?
    [5] Does Marriage End at Death?
    [6] The Truth About Eternal Plural Marriage

    Author: SBSK

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    First created on 4 April 2001
    Updated on 17 April 2016

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