Q. The Bible says that "[man] is the image and glory of Elohim (God); but woman is the glory of man" (1 Corinthians 11:7, NKJV). What exactly does this mean and how is it applicable to Christian polygyny?
The English "glory" translates the Greek doxa (Strongs 1391) meaning 'dignity, glory, honour, praise and worship', all of which convey the sense of the original. What ever a woman does reflects back on the husband, and whatever a husband does reflects back on Christ, in whose image, as a descendant of Adam, he was made. Thus a man who trusts in Christ and obeys his commandments, leading a godly life, brings dignity, glory, honour, praise and worship to Christ. A woman who trusts and obeys her husband by leading a godly life under his headship similarly brings dignity, glory, honour, praise and worship to him. And whatever dignity, glory, honour, praise and worship is brought to Christ is similarly brought to the Father, Yahweh.
It is the desire of Christ that His people behold His glory/honour/dignity/praise/worship (John 17:24) because, as the scripture testifies, it is all ultimately derived from the Father. Thus when a wife is giving glory and honour to her husband she is in fact looking past her husband to Christ, and past Christ to the Father:
Wife » Husband » Christ » Yahweh
The more Christ-centred, obedient and loving she is, the more glory she gives to Elohim (God):
Wife » Husband » Christ » Yahweh
And it follows, in a polygamous situation, the more righteous wives there are, the more glory is given to Yahweh:
Wives » Husband » Christ » Yahweh
An unrighteous wife is a shame on her husband and gives little or no glory to Elohim (God):
Wife » Husband » Christ » Yahweh
What this means is that the route to the glorification and worship of Yahweh is a little different for a woman than it is for a man. She has a fixed channel. Thus a wife who worships Yahweh in private but dishonours her head - her husband - by, for example, not submitting to him, she is not, in actual fact, giving glory to Yahweh at all.
In the polygamous situation, where there are several wives, the wives must not only be husband-focussed in their worship of Yahweh but must also be united (e.g. John 17:11-23). When plural wives are not one, they are dishonouring their husband and therefore Christ, just as a local congregation that is divided is dishonouring Christ, and therefore the Father.
As far as Yahweh is concerned, husband and wife/wives are treated as a single entity or unit. Though each part of that entity may have different needs at different times, they nonetheless operate as one. When we are judged we shall be judged as One Unit, just as Adam and Eve shall be judged as one Adam. Though Adam and Eve were, are are, two separate individuals who made individual choices, Adam shall be judged as the head and shall receive the judgment which his wife receives because they are one by covenant. Their fate is joint. Adam knew this when he followed his wife's bad example in eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and participated with her in the Fall. He knew exactly what he was doing (1 Timothy 2:14). Because they were bound as a single unit, he was obliged to follow her or be left alone in Eden.
When a man or a woman enters a marriage covenant they can either pull their spouse up or drag them down. The glory of one is the glory of the other (or lack of it). That is why we must be very careful in whom we choose to marry. And we cannot escape that covenant unless we are divorced - trouble is, the one who is divorced unlawfully is hell-bound, having no place in the Kingdom of Heaven, for such is the fate of the de facto adulterer.
Do you see why fornication and adultery are such serious sins? Remember, there is no such thing as 'Christian divorce' - the only New Covenant grounds for divorce are if a betrothed women sleeps with another man or if an unbelieving partner derserts the marriage. Once the union has been made, it's permanent.
Divorce is so serious because of the fact of the sacredness of this 'glory channel'. Marriage is a kind of 'Jacob's Ladder', a conduit to heaven, especially for the woman. A woman is not complete until she is reunited with her man who is in turn her door to heaven. If she abandons him, what does she do? She shuts herself out of heaven.
What of the single woman? What will then become of her at the Judgment? The initial act of salvation - what we call the 'Christ-Alpha' (or 'Messiah-Aleph') of salvation is a personal act which is made by men and women singly. But as we know, the continuing process of salvation is a collective one involving the whole Body of Christ. There are no solo Christians/Messianics. The consummation of our salvation is depicted in terms of the alegorical marriage of all the saints to Christ as a Uniplural Bride. In other words, we can't attend the Marriage Feast of the Lamb alone - it's as a United Body!
It follows that the same is true of our literal marriages. A woman cannot attain to her full salvation alone as a single woman, and nor can a man. If none had been saved, Christ would not be having a marriage feast. If a man did not have to be married he, similarly, would not attain to his final glory. There are, as I have said many times, no batchelors, spinsters, monks or nuns in heaven!
Our earthly marriages and our heavenly allegorical marriage are all tied together. There is one heavenly allegorical marriage but there are many earthly marriages, showing the unipluralism of marriage in another way.
If a couple who were married before they came to earth - as Adam and Eve were bodily one before Eve was taken out of her husband - and fail to marry when they are on earth, what are the consequences for them in eternity? If they have remained in Christ and been true, they will, I believe, be reunited in the next life, but without very much honour. It is here in earth-life that we earn our colours and the rewards in the next. The purpose of re-establishing the marriage bond in this life is for husband and wife/wives to give glory, praise, honour and worship to Yahweh through their Union, thereby storing for themselves treasure in heaven. The longer they procrastinate getting married, even when they know it is right, the less opportunity they have to bring glory and honour to Yahweh and therefore rewards to themselves in the world to come.
This is the clear and consistent pattern that I read in Scripture. It is repeated everywhere. A man who is not attached to Christ is not saved; a woman who is not attached to her God-willed husband may be saved in the alpha sense but can never be saved in the omega. And, I would suggest, that a woman who resists her marriage call may well even being jeapordising her Christ-Alpha Salvation and be steered down a false path. She was created to have a head, not to be her own head. And when women lead (themselves or others), they are invariably misled and mislead.
Single woman » || » Christ » Yahweh
My first wife removed herself from my headship and subsequently placed herself unto two false heads, neither of whom were Christians/Messianics. Since her current head is not giving glory to Christ (being a kind of 'pseudo-Christian Buddhist'), and since she is in adulterous union with him, she is giving no glory to Yahweh. She is cut off.
There is one exception to this rule, namely, when a former unbeliever remains united to her unbelieving husband, and remains with him to sanctify him according to the Pauline commandment. She remains protected and under divine approbation, even if she is linked to one who will not be hers in heaven, for the duration of her earth-life.
Christian Wife » unbelieving Husband » » Christ » Yahweh
Because of her righteous sacrifice, in accordance with Yahweh's commandment, her glory bypasses the husband to Christ. In this way Yahweh is entirely just and righteous and is glorified the same.
A single woman may, of course, bring glory to Christ in many ways, but never to the fullness ... never to the Christ-Omega, unless she has been specifically (and exceptionally) called to singleness in this life for Yahweh's own purpose. The divine imperative is that Eve return to Adam, just as separated mankind must return to Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus), whether in this life or the next.
We were not made to be alone. Those who are often create fantasy worlds around them to compensate for the lack of completeness that marriage brings. They end up with the monk or nun mentality and become divorced from reality to some extent. For all reality is, in the biblical sense, marriage. Mankind began with marriage in Eden and will end up with allegorical and literal polygamous marriage in heaven. The golden thread running through everything is therefore seen, in truth, to be a mighty current, a giant pulse of light, healing in a singular direction, of which polygamy is the final and glorious unfolding.