Q. How can living as a practicing polygynist relate to or point me to Christ? What about the polygnyist lifestyle will help me be a better Christian?
What a most interesting and pertinent question with a potentially endless number of answers! And how rare to have someone approach the subject of polygyny from such a Christ-centred angle, for which I thank you, because you force the spiritual issues first which as Christians/Messianics we should naturally gravitate towards anyway.
Almost every Christian/Messianic I speak to on this subject reflexly jumps into an attack, the men from the Scriptures (which they suppose supports them) and women from their gut feelings (invariably negative - 'ick' was the most recent answer I got!).
If the principle of Christian/Messianic polygny is true it must bear witness of Christ in some way. If it exists simply for itself - or for those men and women who want to practice it - then I believe it must be false. And I am convinced we must apply this rule to any and every principle which sets itself up as 'Christian' or 'Messianic'.
Permit me to diverge for a moment to illustrate. I have met many sincere Christians/Messianics who believe in a rather unusual 'trinity' which I call CAC - 'Christianity-America-Capitalism'. For these people these represent three principles within one single truth. Mention anything remotely 'socialistic' or 'unpatriotic' and you are at once the object of an inquisition (they usually assume I am American, which I am not, incidentally). To be a 'capitalist', in their eyes, is not to be a 'communist', and since communism is anti-God and therefore clearly wrong, then from their point-of-view capitalism must obviously be right and pro-God.
As it happens there are many forms of communism just as there are many forms of capitalism. Laissez-faire capitalism, which is based on the atheistic doctrine of evolution and the survival of the fittest, which believes that exploiting the weak is justifiable in the struggle for the survival of the fittest (leading to an improved, stronger economy), is manifestly antichrist. And yet there are some aspects of communism - such as ensuring full employment and free care of the sick - which clearly reflect Christian/Messianic ethics. The oversimplifcation of the CAC'ers leads, in fact, to the same spiritual illness which resulted in the destruction of Israel and Judah, especially in the area of politics where the boundary between religion and 'patriotism' became so blurred that they were, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable. The CAC mentality reveals that Elohim (God) is but one of a pantheon of three, the two others of which are money and nationalism.
I mention this because there is no doubt that the monogamy-only doctrine is enshrined as an idol (along with some other teachings that I won't mention so as to avoid needless debate) in modern Christian/Messianic polytheism. You will find numerous examples of pseudo-trinities practically everywhere, evolution and abortion being two other components. The monogamy-only doctrine is a golden calf which has led souls precisely away from Christ - not because monogamy is wrong - but because it denies that monogamy's natural unfolding into polygamy is wrong. The monogamy-only position is not unlike saying that having children is wonderful but that you mustn't let them grow up beyond a certain mental age if they want to.
Most people have their mental and emotional ceilings beyond which they do not dare to go. They establish comfort-zones, surround them with barbed wire. and settle down in them, hoping to find a peaceful and content life therein. There is nothing in principle wrong with this until those self-same people start preventing others from exploring the next floor, especially if the Bible permits such exploration.
There was a time in the Dark Ages when one wasn't supposed to ask questions beyond what your Catholic Priest taught you. You weren't supposed to question anything that the Roman Pontiff taught, nor question the validity of any of the traditions of the so-called 'church fathers' which might happen to contradict the Bible. To be a Christian in those days (and still, if you are a Catholic) was to worship at least a trinity of 'God-Pope-Tradition'. And of course the Pope is celibate, and tradition, as established by such greats as St.Augustine, affirmed that celibacy was the highest estate, with monogamy a reluctant concession because that was the only way to have children and fulfil the creation mandate. Not until Pope and Tradition are torn away from Elohim (God) can Yahweh finally be permitted to speak for Himself.
The Apostle John records in his writings that Christ is the exact likeness of Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, and that they bear record of one another. The Son does and teaches and does nothing that hasn't been expressly commanded by the Father to teach and do. We, in our turn, are, as disciples, commanded to be one with Christ, just as He is one with the Father. There is, if you like, a cosmic reflecting mirror so that no matter which image an unbeliever may look into - whether Christ Himself or His Spirit-filled disciples, it should provide a window pointing back to the Father. Philip was taught this principle when He asked to see the Father and was told that he already had.
I am sure that those unbelievers who witnessed the stoning of Stephen by enraged Talmudic Jews were shown a window to Christ and thence to the Father by the very fact that he was "a man full of Elohim's (God's) grace and power, [who] did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8, NIV). There is something special about true believers for "they are not of the world, even as I [Christ] am not of it" (John 17:16). What that means is that believers - their thinking patterns, behaviour patterns, and living patterns are utterly unlike those of the surrounding world-system. They simply don't do things the way the rest of humanity do. Yes, they breathe, eat, drink, make love, get ill, and die, like all living creatures, but their whole moral and ethical way of life is radically different - they reflect something not of this world and its destructive forces, but something pertaining to an altogether 'other' dimension. They do things which, if unbelievers were to try, would disintegrate.
One remarkable thing about truly born-again and Spirit-filled believers is that they function as an organic whole with seemingly the minimum of effort. Though personality differences might lead to clashes between unbelievers, these Christians/Messianics, because they are not centred in self, seem to avoid all these ego-originated conflicts. They yield themselves willingly to authority - wives and children to husband-fathers, father-husbands to their pastors, and believers to the laws of the secular state (where these don't compromise their faith). They accept their situation without grumbling and make the best of what they have. Since they're not in a rat-race to get to the top (which inevitably involves trampling on someone), they don't step on anyone's toes - their ambition is, in a way, to go to the BOTTOM of the pile by being the best servants they can be.
The true Christian/Messianic way of being is the diametric opposite to the secular one because its goals are different. The Christian/Messianic has his eyes on Yah'shua (Jesus) - the religionist on his religion, the hedonist on himself. Christians/Messianics focus on their duties and responsibilities, unbelievers on their rights. As far as true Christians/Messianics are concerned, the world might just as well be walking upside down on its head.
If you look at the world system and observe what the flesh makes people gravitate to in the marriage arena, is is either monogamy ('equality') or permissiveness ('do-what-you-want'). If you look at the non-Christian hierarchy of values and the system in which it operates, the values start with 'self' and the system accommodates 'selves' doing what they want for themselves with certain boundaries or constraints to make sure there isn't total anarchy. Thus 'laws' are enacted and, predictably, they multiply exponentially to accomodate every ego and fad. In most countries there are so many laws that no one single person can possibly know, let alone understand, them all. These 'laws' take on a life of their own, leading those who try to administer them into a jungle of unredeemed thoughts and mental processes which were flung together at a particular time to stop the human dam from bursting.
Here in the European Union we have a whole new layer of laws on top of the individual national ones that were created to try and make everyone conform to 'one way'. There are so many there are enough volumes to fill a small library. Being of human invention, for the most part, they are contradictory. Monogamy is enshrined as the only valid form of heterosexual marriage (along with 'homosexual marriage' now) whilst permissiveness is allowed to manifest itself unchecked, with a few safety nets for children (though these are getting weakened all the time). In Scandinavia you can get taken to court for looking at a naked woman through the window of her house from the street, but if you happen to be a man and are standing naked behind your own window and a woman sees you from the street, you can be taken to court for exposing yourself. But you can both be naked together in a park and look at each other. In Germany today there's a new law which says that you can walk naked in town now if you want to. The laws of man chop and change from one national border to another and even contradict one another. So much for man-made laws.
Needless to say none of this bears much witness of Christ. Yahweh is not the author of confusion. As you study the Bible in any depth you are immediately impressed by the fact that there is not only a wholeness about all of Yahweh's laws but that there are so few of them, in all about 312 (according to one estimate). And what is amazing about the laws that are there, is that each one illuminates the other. It's almost as though each statute contains something of the others. For example, Christ's Law of (a) love Yahweh, and (b) love your neighbour, is no more than a summary of the Ten Commandments which tell us what loving Yahweh and are neighbour consists of (don't rob him, don't commit adultery with his wife, etc.). All the other laws in the Bible are simply further amplifications of these Ten.
Obviously, in a modern and complex technological society you need new laws. However, whatever new laws might be enacted in a Christian/Messianic theocratic society (such as shall obtain in the Millennium) would simply be an amplification of what is already in Torah. Nothing would need to be repealed because Christ Himself, in the New Testament, has brought the Torah (Law) to completion by "filling it up" like filling a glass or water up to the rim where before (under the Old Covenant) it was not completely filled. No matter what law you looked at or at what level - Christ's Di-logue, Yahweh's Decalogue, or Moses' amplification in Torah generally - they would always lead back to Christ's Di-logue (love Yahweh and love your neighbour) viâ the Ten Commandments. Thus with any proposed law we could ask: "Where is the love of Yahweh or the love of one's neighbour in that?" We could even try Paul's Trilogue of 'Faith-Hope-Love', which he summaraised in a Monologue - love. Everything leads back to love, because Yahweh is love (1 John 4:8,16).
What I'm trying to say here is that any principle that is true and upbuilding will fit effortlessly into the New Covenant Law or Torah, and reflect every principle within it. It is important to point out at this stage, before we even examine the question as to whether polygamy teaches us anything about Christ, that any proposed principle must harmonise with all the Law of Christ. If someone were to propose, for example, that the poor should be permitted to rob the rich between 1 and 2 pm on Thursdays in order to redistribute wealth, we would have little difficulty in finding a dozen biblical statutes to throw that nonsense out. And yet countries have laws that permit the state to rob the wealthy of their money to give to the poor 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There are plenty of 'Christians' who agree with that because it is happening 'all the time' instead of for an hour once a week. The state permits a married man or woman to take up temporary cohabitation and sleep around with other men and women (heterosexually or homosexually) for a few hours a week, but will not, for instance, allow a man to take up permanent cohabitation with several women and sleep with them all the time.
But let us be generous and assume that we are talking about an almost-100%-Bible-believing, almost-100%-pirit-filled Christian, who believes in the holiness of marriage and obeys all the Law of Christ (New Covenant Torah), but who regards polygamy as a sin. How can such a man (or woman) be shown that his position actually diminishes Christ rather than increases Him?
This is actually a simpler question to answer than might at first appear. I am sure nobody would agree with me if I claimed that Christ in His mission set out to convert only one disciple. According to John, Andrew (or his friend) was Christ's first convert (John 1:40). Yah'shua (Jesus) was the infinite Elohim (God) incarnated as a man with the power to potentially draw an infinite number of disciples. This relationship is described by Paul and John as an allegorical marriage: Christ is the allegorical Bridegroom, and His disciples the allegorical Bride (e.g. Matthew 9:15; 25:1-13; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:23-32). Of course, we know that the Bride or Wife, though symbolically represented as "one" is, in fact, many. In Christ's life time there were undoubtedly thousands of disciples who were his allegorical wives. After Paul and the other apostles had finished their soul-harvesting, Christ undoubtedly had tens or hundreds or thousands of allegorical brides. And today He has millions of them. That one Person should have millions is not unreasonable when you consider that as Elohim (God) He is infinite - He is able to form a relationship with so many because He is omnipotent and omniscient.
We see, in this basic principle, that the Bridegroom is commanded to multiply His Bride. We, as His allegorical Bride, who are many, have as our calling to gather as many allegorical wives for Him as possible by preaching the Gospel of Salvation and inviting them to prepare themselves to join the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (e.g. Revelation 19:7,9; 21:9).
It cannot be accidental that Christ used marriage as an allegory for evangelism and the resultant relationship between those evangelised and their heavenly Spouse. We are not surprised, therefore, to discover that Yahweh established in his Torah (Law) the right of a man to marry more than one woman. Now a husband is not the infinite Elohim (God) and cannot possibly have an itimate and knowledgeable relationship with millions of women. He is finite. We know that practically-speaking that even in the arena of friendship it is not possible to have an intimate platonic relationship with too great a number of people. As the number gets too big, so the depth of the relationship diminishes. A requirement of marriage is complete union - called "one flesh" or "knowing", and so it must be true to say that a man can only have the ability to intimately "know" a certain number of women/wives. Yahweh knew that in practice most men wouldn't be able to afford to have more than a certain number of wives except those, like kings, who had much power and wealth. So He told kings in His Torah (Law) not to multiply wives "to excess". He didn't specify an upper limit, knowing that different men would have different capacities to "know" and be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically intimate with different numbers of women.
If we, as men and women, who are the allegorical Bride of Christ, are to find more more men and women "wives" for Him, because this will lead to their eternal happiness and well-being, then it follows that a husband and his wife or wives should be looking for other wives for their marriage for the wives' well-being (the ones, that any rate, actually belong to their husband). Since we are the allegorical wives of Christ in submission to Him as His servants, it logically follows that we, as servant-husbands should be taking our instructions from Him as to how many and which servant-wives we are supposed to be finding for our families. For some men it may only be one woman, for others two, and maybe for others twelve. Only Yahweh knows. But for polygamy to work, Yahweh must provide the wives providentially, just as His allegorical wives are predestined (foreordained) to salvation (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:29-30)
As we know, though, in order to win people for Christ we must spread the word. If a husband and his wife/wives want to win more wives with a view to bringing them into their blessed union to be loved and cherished as Christ loves and cherises His allegorical polygamous bride, then we must go out and look for them too, using the model of Abraham and Eliezer who searched for a bride for Isaac, and found her.
Can you see from this simple biblical picture that marriage is a commandment, just as evangelism is? It may be that your mission in life is only to convert one soul to Christ. Even if it is, you will rejoice in heaven with that convert and with the angels (Luke 15:10). Sometimes in the evangelisation process we plant seeds, others water, and yet others harvest. It may be our mission to teach true biblical principles to bless other husbands to harvest wives. Or we may harvest them ourselves. It maybe that we are to remain monogamists all our lives but that we are to witness of polygamy so that others who have been called to be polygamists will marry in that way. It is very clear from all of this that polygamy is a fundamental tenet of the Gospel. It begins and ends with it. Increasing your family, or someone else's, is evangelism! Pure and simple.
Now why would we 'need' polygamist families in the first place? Why not stick with monogamy? We may just as well ask the question, "Why did Christ need more than Andrew as His disciple?" But that's the wrong question, isn't it, when viewed in that way? It was not that Christ needed more disciples but the disciples needed Him!!! They needed His salvation which flows down from His Headship as lord and master. By the same logic a woman needs the headship and love of a husband to be blessed and prospered. And if a godly man can give headship and love to more than herself to be blessed and prospered, then surely her great drive will be to find more wives for her husband. My wives once anxiously looked for more wives for me not because I 'need' them but because they want these women to be as blessed as they have been!
And yet when you talk about Christian/Messianic polygamy to monogamy-only people, their invariable question is: 'Uh oh, what's this guy trying to get out of it?' Invariably you end up with accusations like he wants extra sex, power, an ego boost, etc.. Well, if that is true, then what is Christ out to do by increasing His allegorical Bride into millions of souls? Spiritual eroticism? An ego-boost? A power-trip?
It is at this point that we must inevitably come to the conclusion that there is more than one type of polygamous man. Of course there are bound to be men who want polygamy for more sex, an ego-boost and a power-trip. And on the spiritual level you'll find a parallel -- all the Hindu gurus, the so-called 'god-men', who want to be loved, adored and worshipped to boost their own egos (and bank accounts - most don't live in poverty). This is what Satan wants. He's out to build himself up, not his disciples. He wants them to be hedonists and destroy themselves.
So what is the other type of polygamist? Simply the one who wishes to bless his Bride just as Christ blessed His Bride, us. Christ has given us the model - it's so plain to see, and yet almost nobody sees it.
As a polygamist - man or woman - I am going to be more able to see what sort of relationship that should exist between my Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) and myself. Polygamy gives me my rôle model! Indeed, if everyone were following this spiritual rôle model everybody would be a polygamist spiritually. I will say it bluntly: to be a Christian/Messianic is to be a polygamist, whether you have one wife or many, or whether you have a husband all to yourself or are sharing him with many. The issue has nothing to do with numbers at all. Is one congregation 'better' because it has 100 members instead of 10? What if the 'congregation' consists of one solo believer (there are plenty of those)? Congregations that are alive grow, don't they? They're missionary-minded. They're led by a Pastor whose congregation is his allegorical wife. Paul says as much when he speaks of the entire Body of Christ (Messianic Community) - we are the polygamous parts, learning to work cooperatively (1 Corinthians 12:12ff).
When one or more wives are submitted to their husband, and that husband is loving and cherishing those wives as Christ loves the Church (Messianic Community), then you have men and women becoming better Christians/Messianics. Simple as that. When you have a solo Christian/Messianic who says: "I don't want fellowship with anyone but my Lord!" (I met plenty of these) what sort of a Christian/Messianic do you have? A self-centred egotist. Now to be a solo-Christian/Messianic because there aren't any who want to convert is another story - there are plenty like that too. But the point is the latter are polygamously-minded - they want the Church (Messianic Community) to grow. They want so share in fellowship, and become a limb instead of the whole body. Boy, do I want others to share in the ministry with me, and the more the better. That's being polygamously-minded and that's the way of Christ.
To be a true Christian/Messianic is to be polygamously-minded spiritually and in marriage, whether you end up being a solo-Christian/Messianic or a monogamist. And to be polygamously-minded is to lead you closer to Christ, because polygamy = giving = sharing. And this is the only way to grow.
It is obvious from the pattern that Christ has revealed that being polygamously-minded makes you a better Christian/Messianic. And if you are able to become a polygamous family, then, if that is your calling, you will become a better husband and wives. To not be polygamously minded is therefore very clearly to draw away from Christ.
Fortunately, this is not just theory as far as I am concerned. It works. And my wives want to find more wives more than I do. That is because they know that on balance the greater sacrifice will have to be made by me and not them. Sounds crazy? That's because the spiritual dimension is the mirror opposite of the worldly one.
The founder of our Order was told in a personal revelation from Yahweh this: "When the daughters of Zion desire a plurality [of wives] and the sons of Zion do not, then ye shall be ready ... and it (living polygamously) shall be permissable" (Olive Branch, NC&C 145:12). What that means is that when the women really want more wives for their husbands that they will have entered into the spiritual reality. I am not saying that the husband derives no blessings from polygamy any more than Christ gains nothing from building His Church (Messianic Community) of the Redeemed - of course not. But what I am saying is that the principle motivation is one of service - of foot-washing (Jn.13:4ff). The principal motivation of the polygamist man will be to bring women into polygamy because He knows it will bring them much closer to Christ, not because he wants more sex or a power-trip. That is the only reason Christ came down here - to die for us, to see the joy of the redeemed. The only reason a man should want polygamy is to die to self so that he can see the joy of his wives in serving them. They, in their turn, will love and adore him back, and call him their lord (1 Pet.3:6), just as we joyfully call Yah'shua (Jesus) our Lord!
Now if this is your motivation for polygamy, Yahweh will open the door of blessing wide for you, and bless the men and women alike according to their faithfulness to their respective rôles/callings as men and women. Polygamy is the true ground for the death of possessiveness and of the "I" - the woman's desire to possess one husband all to herself, the man's desire to dominate and control her. He is the suffering servant, as Christ is. She is the obedient bride, as the Church (Messianic Community) is (Eph.5:24). Christian polygyny is the ultimate pointer to Christ on the human level, because marriage is the most intimate place where humans may draw close together. Christ wanted us to know that which is why He used the allegory in the first place.