Q. We're agreed that God knows who we're supposed to marry. And we're agreed that we have free choice. We're also agreed that it's possible that if we reject the one (or ones) we're supposed to marry that He will provide someone else for us. But mightn't there be another possosibility? Couldn't God organize things so that we met the wrong prospective spouses, reject them, and engineer our circustances so that we always pick the right spouse?
I understand the assurance you're looking for, namely, that Yahweh is so all-knowing and so all-loving that we will always end up with the right husband or wife/wives. It's a natural human longing, especially over a matter as important as marriage. But I have to disagree with you, because if your second proposition is true, why should Yahweh not also ensure that everyone is saved? Actually, yours is a variation of Calvanism ... which is fine, if you're a Calvinist (who believe in absolutele predestination), but I happen not to be a Calvinist in this respect.
About as far as I will go is to agree that we end up with the 'right' spouses based on the choices we have made. In other words Yahweh, knowing both the right and wrong choices we make beforehand, plans and engineers life so that we may live lives as fully as possible, with the maximum of potentially good outcomes for us, based on what we have chosen. He is ever seeking the best for us, pushing and stretching our circumstances for the blessing of everyone. But bearing in mind we have to share this world with millions of other souls whom Yahweh is likewise trying to bless to the maximum extent based on their choices, He must, by definition, be limited to some extent. That is not to deny His omnipotence - for potentially He can do what He wants - but it is to say that He has voluntarily limited His actions in order to give us our freedom. If Yahweh truly exercised His omnipotence to the full (as He could), we would end up forfeiting our freedom.
No, I honestly believe we are forced to the conclusion that there are plenty of wrong marriages in this world. Many (if not the majority) of these could, no doubt, become successful and happy given good will on both sides and a willingness to forget self for the sake of their partners, but there are some, I feel sure, which - for all the best intentions in the world - are just not going to gel.
The summum bonum of what I am saying is that in this life we simply will never know whether we have done it right or not. This life is walked principally by faith (emunah) and not by knowledge (gnosis). It is possible to acquire great knowledge, both secular and divine, and so make faith-decisions considerably easier, but you will never eliminate the faith factor in the equation of life. It will always be there, both in choosing marriage partners and in making other important life decisions.
We do, however, have the promise, don't we, that if we live close to Yahweh in love and obedience, that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) will lead us in all truth (John 16:13). I believe that Yahweh does not intend that we should leave the choice of marriage partners to chance and that, in spite of the major faith element, He does and will give us very clear signs so that we may make the right decision. I do not believe in 'chance' or 'luck'.
If you have had a failed marriage (which I suspect you do from what you've written) you will be naturally cautious the second time round (though it is also possible to be too cautious). The question you ask, and related ones, is actually one of the most common that this ministry is asked because it is rightly one that exercises some considerable anxiety in Yahweh's children. Our marriage choice must ultimately be made on the grounds of what will please Him the most, not because that is the only consideration but because what pleases the Most High is not only going to bring us the greatest pleasure but also be the right choice. In short, our motivation must be righteousness.
I do most definitely believe, as you know, that we have soul mates, but that if we reject them, for whatever reason, then He gives us 'next best'. (Remember, that in polygamy for a man, there are multiple soul-mates -- I am by no means, incidentally, saying that one wife is his 'soul-mate' and the rest are 'next best' - Yah forbid!). Part of the problem is that when we meet our soul-mates it is more than likely we have not reached that degree of perfection in ourselves that will enable us to recognise our soul mates. Worse, we may be harbouring unrepented of sins that may repell us from those soul-mates, and vice versa, thus making mutual recognition difficult. Regrettably, we do tend to see people with carnal eyes and make judgments on the basis of perceived incompatibilities which, as we are matured by Yahweh, will disappear. How then are we to know?
To begin with, you have to have a prophetic eye to some degree. This means that you must be able to have a glimpse of what the person can become. Only the older and wiser are usually able to 'see' these things clearly based on a life of experience, which is why we naturally turn to our elders for counsel in such difficult matters (recognising that they too may be possibly wrong). Accordingly, we are forced to make our judgments based in the spiritual life. If that is defective then, to be sure, we are likely to trip up in our attempt to make sound judgment.
The prophet Isaiah declared that the Messiah, when He came, would not excite any special attention on the basis of His appearance. Quite the reverse, He would seem the least likely candidate for Messiahship. And so it turned out when Yah'shua (Jesus) finally walked this earth, He did not fulfill people's expectations. He was neither a political liberator not did He have the dashingly handsome appearance of a King Saul or a King David which in earlier times had so appealed to the people. He was not a warrior-king either, at least not in the physical dimension, and it had not been many years before that the Judean Hasmoneans had prided themselves over their military heroes. Yah'shua (Jesus) was not what they had expected in a Messiah. And why not? Because they had not prepared themselves properly.
To know your future spouse you have got to be prepared. Yahweh does not simply lead intended couples or polygamous units together if you are spiritually lazy. If you can't discern the times then you certainly aren't going to be able to discern your future husband or wife/wives. Yahweh may have brought you face to face with him/her and you may have been completely repelled because you (or your intended spouse, or both) were spiritually repulsive to one degree or another.
Our problem, if I may be blunt, is that we judge after the flesh. Worse, in some respects, many Christians/Messianics who think they are judging after the Holy Spirit very often are judging after their spirit, their psyche, or a mixture of the two, thus leading to confusion.
There is no doubt in my mind that this 'Christian' generation corresponds precisely to the lukewarm Laodician church (assembly) of the Book of Revelation. Today's Christian/Messianic, polluted by secularism as he is, lacks spiritual lustre. He is spiritually lukewarm, dull, slovenly, and greedy. He wants 'crowns and glory' but doesn't want to pay the price of discipleship by bearing his cross. He wants an easy take-away gospel, and not only wants to 'get rich quick' in the secular world but in the spiritual too. As a result he has invented all manner of short-cut gospels to glory. He detests authority and will not come under obedience. He is so preoccupied with his 'rights' and 'entitlements' that he looks upon his responsibilities with scorn and contempt.
It is no wonder that Christian/Messianic marriages are nearly as much a disaster as those in the secular world for in truth there is little difference between them save for some Christian/Messianic wallpapering. How can couples possibly find their true partners, let alone make a success of marriage, if they languish in such a spiritual mire?
It is for this reason that this ministry absolutely and unapologetically stresses the need for proper DISCIPLESHIP before one starts thinking about marriage. But then people have the wrong idea of what marriage is for in the first place. Marriage isn't, for the Christian/Messianic, just a legitimate place to have sex or to raise a family - marriage also exists as a catalyst for the building up of the Kingdom of Yahweh. Marriage is the furnace in which the building-blocks of the Kingdom are burned in the furnace and prepared for assembly. Marriage is an integral part of CHURCH (Messianic Community) becuse IT IS THE CHURCH (Messianic Community).
There is no more important key to solving the riddle of who to marry. If men and women sought each other out FIRST AND FOREMOST with a view to successful partnership in Kingdom-building (the priority Christ taught us, incidentally) THEN, Yahweh promises, everything else will flow together naturally (Matthew 6:33).
But people usually go spouse-hunting for purely selfish (usually sexual) reasons and simply add 'church' on as an appeasement to Yahweh ... His 'share', if you like.
Wrong, completely wrong. Marriage is the Gospel, and the Gospel is marriage. This is the resounding message of this ministry. Family is the microcosm of the Church (Messianic Community). Families added together equals the Church (Messianic Community). Accordingly, one who is properly focussed in Christ and who is seeking a marriage partner(s) has, as his/her first priority, the goal of finding one who is true to Christ. That is not, of course, to say that the first unattached godly person he or she finds is necessarily the right one but it is to say that if you start in this way that the Ruach (Spirit) is far more likely to lead and vindicate you.
Once you have entered into a marriage covenant all speculation about whether the marriage was right or wrong is OVER. The one who looks back simply isn't worthy of marriage at all. For better or worse (that's where your free agency comes in, whether wisely or foolishly exercised), your choice is a singular one - to look to the future and to build with what you have. Anything else is adultery. Anything else is to risk losing your soul. Once the knot has been tied, the future determination of the covenant in the eternities is Yahweh's responsbility, not yours. And to speculate about that can - and does - only lead to mischief and sorrow.
Almost every day I meet people who sincerely ask me how they can be sure they have picked the right marriage partner, or how they should go about choosing. Every time I tell them to leave hormones out of the equation, and most times they deny that's possible.
I must disagree. As Christians/Messianics living daily in spiritual victory through obedience it is more than possible. I tell them that hormones belong to the marriage estate, not before it. Once you've tied the knot, then let your hormones flow, because that's what they are for.
Everybody admits that choosing a spouse it difficult. My counsellees ask me how I made my choice and wonder why my polygamous marriage has met with success. And the reason is because when I made my choice I left hormones out of the equation altogether. I looked at prospective wives and asked myself:
These are the kinds of questions I asked myself. I do not, of course, deny that my carnal eye did not notice their prettiness or other things that are "pleasing to the eye" but I do most certainly say that their curvi-linear coordinates played a minor part in what interested me in them. And they will tell you themselves that many beautiful women have come my way whom I (and they) have found spiritually repulsive. We search for inner beauty first and foremost. And when we have found that it doesn't matter whether they are outwardly beautiful or plain.
"Are these godly women? Will they love Yahweh before me? Are they warm-hearted and generous? Do they care about other people more than themselves? Are they likely to be help-meets to me in my ministry or hinder me in it? Are they committed to overcoming the carnal nature? Are they willing to fit their plans into mine as head of the household? Will they be loyal no matter what may come? Will they be obedient? Do they despise the worldly way of doing things? Are they teachable?"
I think most Christian/Messianic men, if they are honest with themselves, will admit that if they are faced with a choice of two women who are equally godly but the one is prettier than the other, that they will go for the prettier one. It's human nature, isn't it? But it's still not right. What if Yahweh wants him to marry the plainer one? What if she is the only one of the two who can make him truly happy, and vice versa? If you don't believe in pre-ordained soul-mates as we do, then more than the final choice will be made on the basis of outward appearance, notwithstanding the care taken to assure that the woman has sound spiritual qualities.
I remember a friend telling me how missionaries from an American cult evangelsing in Europe often went to great lengths to select blonde-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavian women as future spouses after they had completed their missions because this meant they would get blonde-haired, blue-eyed children. Outward appearance was evidently very important to them.
I think many people have the idea that when Yah'shua (Jesus) wandered the earth that he had blazing eyes, soft pale skin, a freshly washed and ironed white flowing robe with a silken sache around His waste, and a beaming smile that drew the crowds.
"For he [Christ] shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2, KJV)
This is not what the Scriptures teach. What attracted the people to Him was not His outward appearance, which we are told was not particularly astounding (we are reminded of Paul in this regard) - He was not a handsome prince in knight's armour, He was not the kind of man who made women swoon. And deliberately so. His physical appearance was so chosen by Yahweh that it would excite no undue attention. The attractive power in Him was in His spirit and the authority of His teachings.
And let us remember that as His allegorical bride what attracts us to Him must always be His Ruach (Spirit). Thank goodness we don't know precisely how He looks like in spite of the best efforts of the Eastern Orthodox Church to preserve His likeness in icons. Indeed, He said that it was necessary that He depart this world before His people could be endowed with the Ruach (Spirit), which occurred at Pentecost.
Interestingly enough, those of us who have seen Christ in vision find it very hard to recall what He looks like. I can remember general features but the details are not clear. I don't think those of us who have been thus blessed are supposed to dwell on such things. It is certainly unimportant for me. John the Apostle, when He saw the resurrected Lord in the Book of Revelation, recounts only that His face was as blazing fire (Revelation 10:1). Such is enough.
And yet, foolish species that we are, hiw we love appearances, don't we, and set such great store in them? When Yahweh said He was no respector of persons (e.g. Romans 2:11) means that He had no regard for 'faces' or 'physical appearance'. Such things don't matter to Him, and they shouldn't matter to us. Yah'shua (Jesus) further said:
But there is more to a 'face' than mere outward appearance for the face is the mirror or the personality. When Yahweh days that He is no respector of persons, He also means that He has no regard for personality traits. What interests Him is righteousness.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:23-24, NKJV).
We all have personality traits, some delightful and others objectionable. And of the latter, some are worse than others. These, to be sure, must be refined in our spiritual walk. But sometimes changing habits - large or small - can take a long time.
All my wives have habits that irritate me, and vice versa. Indeed, if you ever meet someone who doesn't irritate you in some way, I'd like to meet him/her. Not only do people permanently reject prospective mates because of their physical appearances but also because of some of their habits. But let us remember that habits can be changed ... those that need to be, that is.
Some people are, frankly, just too fastidious - they're hard to please and pay too much attention to detail. I am sure that when Yah'shua (Jesus) walked the earth there were those who criticised the length of His beard, the state of His toe-nails, His unpolished Galilean accent, His lack of obvious wealth, His 'religious habits', His failure to observe the minutae of their traditions, the fact that He was of 'no fixed abode' (homeless), His lack of respect for (and sometimes violent reaction to) religious hypocrites, the shape of His staff, the company He kept, and a thousand-and-one other annoyances. When you realise that many people have probably denied themselves an eternity of happiness because of such stupid things it is enough to make you want to pull your hair out.
And yet that's exactly what men and women do in selecting their marriage companions. Petty things have forced them into lives of singleness or marriage to partners as detestable (or more so) as themselves.
Finally, I must not forget to mention that category of woman called into polygamy who would rather marry a monogamous man of ill-repute in order to possess him all for herself (do-it-yourself-imprisonment) than to share a godly man with other wives.
The catalogue of human stupidity of course knows no bounds. And supposedly intelligent and even 'spiritual' people will continue behaving like imbeciles all because of the demon called pride. When I started letting Yahweh do the chosing in my marriage things started turning around for the better. Now He brings women across my path whom I am supposed to either help along their way or to marry. Of the latter I am bound to say that there have been some truly sad endings as those I have known were supposed to enter my family have chosen to go their way - some have remained single, others have become entangled in less than happy relationships. And all have, predictably, insisted they were doing Yahweh's will. Other patriarchs will no doubt recount similar stories.
We observe the same thing in the battleground for salvation. Souls are brought to the point where they are more than capable of making a decision for Christ but hesitate and allow doubt to steer them away back into the misty world of uncertainty and, ultimately (unless they come to their senses), destruction. The parallels are exact, as they are supposed to be.
No, making a selection of a marriage partner isn't easy but it is most definitely worth doing properly. When you're on the right path - when you are in Yahweh's will - the road to marriage is smooth and usually uncomplicated. But so long as you are holding out against Yahweh in some area requiring your obedience, then Satan has legal grounds to harrass you and sow confusion in your mind and heart. For I am of the school that believes and teaches that when you accept the polygamy paradigm, you will be led, ultimately, to the purity of the Gospel as was once known and taught by the apostles, one free of tradition and the accumulated débris of the centuries. It will lead, finally, to the Unity of the Faith hoped for by Paul - to a single doctrine and practice. For truly polygamy is that missing key which illuminates the whole the the Plan of Salvation and the requirements placed on us by Yahweh.
To come to polygamy is to come, finally, to the end of controversy. But few there are who want to know.