Q. Is my desire to find polygamous wives spiritual or carnal? And how can I tell the difference?
I suppose the first thing we have to do to answer that question properly is to define the word 'carnal' which is almost universally understood to mean 'relating to the appetites and passions of the body', i.e. a desire for sex. Related to your question there is also another one: 'Is it 'natural' for a man to want to have sex with more than one woman?' And following on that, we must further ask: 'Since polyandry is not lawful for a woman, why is it unnatural for a woman to want sex with more than one man?' Since both men and women are more than capable of having sexual desires for more than one partner, what is the dividing line between what one might call 'godly sex' and 'ungodly sex'? And why does polygyny exist at all?
Since a woman is more than capable of feeling sexual attraction to more than one man, clearly from a biblical view sex can never be the primary reason for Christian/Messianic polygyny. If it is, then per pro the dictionary definition, the desire for polygamy is purely carnal lust. By the same token someone who wishes to marry monogamously (male or female), having sex as the primary motive, is guilty of the same sin, because that isn't primarily what marriage is for.
It is worth pointing out at this juncture that Christians essentially fall into one of two camps:
In the complex world of analysing our motives for wanting to do different things (like living Christian/Messianic polygyny) we must always take these three views into consideration.
- (a) The Augustinians, those who follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic theologian Augustine in his views of sex - namely all Roman Catholics and the vast bulk of the traditional Protestant churches - who regard sex/marriage as a necessary and temporary evil in order to propagate the species; and
- (b) Most Patriarchal Christians/Messianic (there are some notable exceptions who regard sex and romance as unimportant) who regard sex as morally neutral but with the capacity for good or evil, depending what you do with it. Within the second category is a third,
- (c) The proponents of Holy Echad Marriage (ourselves) and some others who regard marriage as more than an earthly expedient (without the stigma attached to Augustinianism) but as an eternal principle with expression both in heaven as well as on earth.
Since I take the third view of the purpose of marriage I shall necessarily analyse your question from that angle. Marriage by its very nature has a sexual component - you can't pretend it doesn't - it must be true that sex, set in the right spiritual context, is God-sanctioned and ordained, otherwise Yahweh would never have commanded its use to our first parents. The Scriptures also say that the marriage bed is blessed and must not be defiled. In other words, sex was created by Yahweh for a specific purpose, namely, within the bonds of marriage for:
Whether either of these contines in the next life is a moot question since we don't know - about all we can say is that the next world will be very different from this one, that pleasure will be heightened in non-carnal respects and that purity will reign supreme.
- (a) The propagation of the species; and
- (b) Intimacy between husband and wife/wives.
So far we have admitted that marriage exists for multiplying and replenishing the earth, and to do that you must have sex. And as it happens, sex is very pleasant (when handled correctly), and just happens to (also) have been created by Yahweh. What Yahweh created He pronounced "good" so we must conclude that these things are "good" too. BUT this was not the primary reason that Yahweh created a wife for Adam - the prime moving force in the creation of woman was so that Adam would not be lonely, namely, companionship. And it is HERE that we must seek the key for the primary justification for all kinds of marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous. Christian/Messianic people are supposed to get married because they want close companionship. As a follow-on from this, Yahweh explains to us just how this companionship principle is supposed to work: the woman was made to be a helpmeet for the man. In other words, she exists to further the man's God-given callings - to assist him in the tasks which Yahweh has given him - she does not exist for herself.
Without this understanding - without the divine perspective, Christian/Messianic polygamy will never be understood. And all questions about sex as a motivating force will become entirely irrelevent. Sex is not the 'determining principle' for marriage (monogamous or polygynous) but COMPANIONSHIP AND HELPMEET RÔLES are.
Marriage does not exist to fulfil man's selfish desires either - carnal or otherwise - but Yahweh's will. And the only reason polygyny exists is to fulfil Yahweh's plan in a man's calling as His minister ... whatever form that ministry may take. And since a man's wives are his metaphorical ribs - since they are one (echad) with him - the husband's ministry is THEIR ministry. His calling and purpose is THEIR calling and purpose. And if more than one woman has been called into a marriage then it is in order to fulfil Yahweh's plan in that man's life and, by extension, the women's wives also.
That is why I am of the firm belief that polygamy is, in the Christian/Messianic dimension, essentially for Yahweh's ministers - those with leadership rôles in the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) and not the other way round. That is why I am opposed to those marrying polygamously for polygamy's sake, for entertainment or for passion alone.
Polygyny is a vocation - a calling - which just happens to include entertainment and passion components. It's primary purpose is, however, to serve Yahweh, not the men or women that live it, which is a by-product blessing, like all true service. Polygyny exists to provide the Church (Messianic Community) with a model of the kind of allegorical relationship that the saints should have with each other as 'polygamous wives' and the kind of allegiance they should have towards Christ. And for this reason, every congregation should ideally have at least one polygamous family and, in my view, it ought to be the Pastor who lives this way, and that this ought to be a qualification for his congregational headship rôle. For as Paul said both Elders and Deacons ought to be able to govern their own households. And what better leader could you hope to find who is able to govern his own polygamous household in a way that reflects the relationship of Christ to the saints? (I am not saying that all pastors must now go and marry polygamously, I hasted to add, for not all pastors are called to this lifestyle. What I say here is an ideal).
Because of the miâ dispute many polygamists are wrongly teaching that Elders and Deacons should not live polygamy but only the rest. That, in my opinion, is to completely undermine the whole purpose of polygyny and it would be better that polygyny were not practiced at all. For the polygamous patriarch must essentially me a man of leadership qualities, first and foremost.
What I am not saying is that all Deacons and Elders should be polygamists! But I most certainly am saying is that the vast majority of those called into polygamy ought to be those who are called into these offices, or who will be in the future once they have come to the proper spiritual maturity.
If your motivation for entering polygamy is because you want more sex, then you are on the wrong track, because a man ought to be sexually satisfied whether he has one wife of twelve. Adding more women to his household oughtn't to make any difference to his sexual appetite for he should have found self-control and satisfaction in one wife or how ever many wives he may have at a particular time. Polygamy is not sexual therapy. Marriage does not exist to solve any kind of pathological condition - mental, emotional, spiritual, or sexual - a mistake which so many people make. When you marry, you should be satisfied with the 'goods' you receive, and expect your spouse to be satisfied the 'goods' he or she gets from you. If you aren't being married for who 'you' as a person are - as a potential companion - then you are being married for the wrong reasons.
This is not to deny the existence of character defects in people for we all, unfortunately, enter marriage with these. But it is to recognise that marriage is not a sanitarium for dysfunctional people even if it may incidentally serve as such. There are some men who see themselves as having the calling to 'save' women from singleness or from spiritual problems which, quite apart from being patronising, is to fundamentally misread Yahweh's intention for marriage. There is not a small element of pride and vanity involved here. If a women enters polygamy it is not because she will be saved by a wonderful man but to fulfil her calling as a helpmeet! In other words, the husband's primary attraction to her must be in her VALUE as a servant of Yahweh! His moving force will be to place the Kingdom of Heaven first and foremost which will automatically align him with the Holy Spirit and so enable him to discern whether she is the right one for him and his wives or not. If she is, Yahweh will take care of the physical chemistry and sex for you. That's not something you need to worry about because it's a secondary consideration.
When a woman comes seeking to be my wife what I am looking for is a woman passionately committed to serve Yahweh and an identification with my own calling. To be sure, my callings may well change later in life, so her attraction must not necessarily only be on the basis of my present ministry, but on the basis of Yahweh's witness to her in a general sense that this is the man she is to be a helpmeet to in all things.
Lest this be viewed as a selfish desire on the part of the man, let it be remembered that the godly man has as his all-consuming desire the wish only to please Yahweh. He is not out to please himself. He knows that by being in Yahweh's will and seeking to please his Lord that as a result perfect happiness and peace will flow therefrom. So he is not measuring a woman in terms of her figure, talents, personality, etc. (which are secondary considerations ... you would be foolish, of course, to ingore these altogether) but in the way she views Yahweh and serving Him. If Yahweh sends ten women to me who are passionately drawn to such service, or only one woman, it doesn't matter, because the 'drawing' will be of Yahweh.
Which brings me to romancing or wooing. The majority of aspirant polygamists are out wife-hunting for their own selfish pleasure. They are restless, not content, because they 'want' another wife. They want 'more'. I had one couple who kept on pestering me to 'help' them find another wife because they (I suspect it was more 'he' than 'they') 'needed' her. This is all wrong. This isn't what polygamy is for. If you aren't satisfied with the wife you have, you are on the wrong track - you are, in all likelihood, on the road called Carnality or otherwise have a spiritual problem that needs addressing. That is not to deny that we don't have multiple soul-mates but it most certainly is to say that Yahweh brings such soul-mates into your life at the right moment and only then does He awaken (on the part of the man) the 'need' for that extra companion. If this were not true, then a man would be constantly distracted from his primary calling and would be so busy hunting for more women that he would inevitably not be ministering as he ought to be. When hormones rule, the spirit abdicates.
Polygamy is not a meat-market, even though that is what it has tragically become. I have spent a few days on various polygamy chat rooms to observe. And what do I see? Men and women advertising their bodies, economies, and desires instead of propagating the Kingdom of Heaven. With a heavy heart I have to say that people are for the most part not looking for polygamous companions for the right motives.
I must end here by pointing out the difference between a first wife and all the others. I am sure some are going to misinterpret me here so I will try to spell this out as clearly as I can. Let it be said again (even though I have said it dozens of times before) there is no 'pecking order' or 'hierarchy' amongst sister-wives/co-wives in the kind of polygynous marriage I believe in, except that which the wives defer to spiritually because of the respect for another wife's abilities or skills to whom she turns as a teacher until she has acquired those skills herself. There is no 'head wife'.
Nevertheless it would be foolish to pretend that a polygynous husband's first wife does not have a rather unique rôle in shaping him. The Bible calls this first wife the "wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:14-15). Her importance lies in the fact that it is with this woman that a man first learns to grow and how to love, bless and edify. It is this woman who first awakens a man's desire to be loving and giving. As the Scriptures teach, it is the wives who "reveal the sons of Yahweh", by bringing them to fruition, as it were, because they cannot do this on their own.
A man's first marriage encounter is therefore very important. If it is a bad one, then he will likely be improperly awakened and may well enter a polygynous marriage with many wrong ideas about women, especially as he has been abused. Many husbands seek for more wives because they have this deep need to give what they were denied in their first marriages and may well, therefore, be looking to polygamy for spiritual release. This is not wrong in itself but it most certainly becomes harmful if it is the prime moving force for entering polygamy.
A man's first wife is very important in his shaping
I know one man who had a terrible first marriage. If ever a man married a living Jezebel, he did. He felt emotionally and sexually starved. He ended up marrying several women as a means to fulfil this deep inner hunger and reaped the whirlwind. I have never seen so much marrital disaster around a man. He picked all the wrong women and they made his life ten times the hell it was when he was a monogamist.
Most of our spiritual problems can, and must be, solved outside marriage. Marriage is not a hospital, and polygamous marriage definitely isn't. When a man has several wives, he must attend to mutliple needs! He must be prepared to give in proportion to the number of wives he marries. Whatever blessings he receives in polygamy he must be prepared for the fact that he is also going to inherit many more problems many of which are of a nature he may have no experience in and must learn from scratch. If he is emotionally or spiritually sick, he will not be able to minister to his wives and therefore be ill-equipped to be a polygamist.
Now he may be blessed with women who are mature enough to be able to help him. After all, in marriage, everyone ministers to everyone else. But if you have just married some immature young women, the chances are you will be doing most of the giving in the beginning as they wrestle with uncontrolled passions.
If a man has had a bad first marriage then in my view, if he remarries, he should plan on a monogamous marriage in the first instance in order to get his balance again. Rushing into polygamy after a failed marriage is almost certainly a recipe for disaster. What his first wife failed to teach him his second must, and that will take time especially if he is damaged inside. Inner healing cannot be rushed. A spiritually damaged man who marries polygamously is like one blind man leading several other blind men - he would be a hypocrite, performing a task he was incapable of.
First wives are important - not more important than any other wives who may subsequently come into a family but important because they initially shape a man. That is not to say that the other wives will not shape him too, of course. By no means! All my wives have changed me enormously. And I expect subsequent ones to help me realise who I am in Yah'shua (Jesus) so that I, in exchange, can help them all realise who they are in Yah'shua (Jesus). The spiritual cross-fertilisation in polygamy is wondrous indeed. But it is to say that the first wife gives a man his first awakening. How she does that will in very large measure determine how he functions in the immediate future.
Most people entering marriage these days are dysfunctional. They have messed around sexually with many partners and have exposed themselves to a lethal spiritual radiation called carnality. And if they have messed around with same-sex liasons or been involved in transgenderism, there will be a tremendous amount of damage that will ened sorting out and healing over time. They enter marriage with the mystery of the first sexual encounter destroyed by cheapness and superficiality, which all non-covenant relationships are by definition. They may have been 'awakened' by many different women (or men) without committment - whatever flowers that began to bud and blossom because of these casual relationships were broken off the stem of their lives leaving many spiritual scars behind. And you all know what a plant looks like that has had many flower heads broken off.
Most of the people I see in the polygamy cattle market are totally unprepared for this lifestyle. To be sure, many will muddle their way through it, getting cut and bruised along the way, but is that the kind of marriage that anyone in their heart of hearts really wants? Wouldn't you want a John the Baptist to first remove the rough stones along the way so that your journey will be easier? Every prospective polygamous man needs a John the Baptist minister to clear the way for him. And that is why I believe some of these first Christian/Messianic patriarchal ministries exist today, to help the first generation. Once the first and second generations have learned the true principles, the truth will propagate itself more or less on its own.
This ministry has been organising courses and retreats for prospective and actual patriatchal men and women. Experienced polygamist men and women are now joining this ministry for this purpose. We hope others will come.
I hope that what I have written here today will enable you to discover what your true motives for entering polygamy are. To ensure that things are done properly now and in the future, what we need are congregations and communities which accept polygamy. As I have written elsewhere, the first generation must gather to be of mutual support and edification, where daily rôle models are visible and imitatable. I realise that I have largely focussed on the men today, as they have the primary responsiblity as heads to make sure the family works, so I will end with a word for the ladies ...
Many, if not most, aspirant sister-wives are making exactly the same mistakes as the men, though with a female twist, naturally. They have placed themselves as meat in the meat-market and are exaccerbating the problem. Others, of a more spiritual disposition, are coming along adveristing their spiritual calling and their spiritual ministries, expecting to find husbands who will 'meld' with what they have been doing on the church (assembly) scene.
This is entirely wrong. When a woman marries a man, whatever ministry she had before will more than likely come to a complete end. She will more than likely have to move geographically. When she leaves father and mother to marry, she also leaves church (assembly) and fellowship, and Ministry. When she unites herself to her husband, she unites herself to his church (assembly) and Ministry. She becomes his helpmeet, not the reverse.
I have met some really fine Christian/Messianic women who have made this fatal mistake, who have mistakenly believed that in spite of feeling a strong calling to marry a particular man, come into inner conflict over their present service. If Yahweh unmistakably calls you to marry a particular man, then your terms of service are revoked and you take up new 'employment'! Many reject marriage because of this. They may rationalise that there are people who need them and that to marry would be to desert them. This is not correct. Indeed, this was the twisted thinking of Judas who (though admittedly for dark reasons - I am not casting evil aspersions on good women here, just making a point) criticised Mary for washing Yah'shua's (Jesus') feet with expensive oil. "The poor you will always have," replied the Master. If it is time to marry and move away, Yahweh will take care of those you once served. It may be for some of them that it is time for them to fend for themselves - to leave the spiritual nest, as it were - or He will simply send others into their lives to help them.
I remember how utterly dependent on one man I became for spiritual nourishment. I felt I could not do without him. Then, suddenly, Yahweh took him away and I was left to fend for myself. This has happened a number of times in my life, and in each instance I came to learn that He was breaking my dependence on the arm-of-flesh. I say this from the point-of-view of one who was afraid to lose friends whom I thought were indispensible for my spiritual growth.
At the other end of the ministering stick, I have similarly thought that others needed me when what they needed was a change of spiritual air! Yahweh sends many people into our lives, most of whom only impact us for a short while, bringing spiritual keys and ministry at critical moments but who were not supposed to 'hang around'. Yahweh wants us to become first and foremost dependent on Him, not on others in most relationships.
So I know a number of very fine spiritual ladies who have rejected marriage (monogamous and polygamous) because they felt they were indispensible to the ministerial work they were doing. That is not to say that some of them aren't supposed to sacrifice marriage where they are absolutely required, but it is to say that we had better be pretty sure that we aren't overestimating our own importance and letting vanity get the better of us. Being a helpmeet to a husband and raising godly seed are a woman's first calling, just as seeking for a helpmeet in the ministry should be a man's first moving force in seeking for a woman, not carnal desire. We have our polygamy-pro 'nuns' too who are occupying 'holy orders' that are neither holy nor ordained.
A woman who has been living alone because she feels she is indispensible in some ministry cannot be whole, and will seek substitutes for her primary spiritual drive. The affections Yahweh endows her with to be manifested in marriage are being poured into substitutes like pets, hobbies, friends, and others which, though they offer temporary release, never meet the real need. Just as there is Yahweh-shaped vaccum in all men and women, so similarly there is a husband- or wife-shaped vacuum which nothing else can ever occupy. There are many in denial, and this denial is, perhaps without them noticing it, actually distorting their service to others.
So to both the men and the ladies I make this plea: do things the right way! Get your priorities focussed clearly and then cultivate the courage to do what is right. Ladies, don't let your service become your god and cause you to deny what Yahweh wants for you; and men, don't let your carnal desires lead you by the nose. Women, don't display yourselves in the polygamy cattle market and so encourage the men who ought to know better. Rather, place yourselves in a patriarchal environment where Yahweh is being served first of all and let Him do the match-making.
And may Yahweh grant you the wisdom to choose aright.
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' [or 'Whom shall we marry?' - SK]. For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Mt.6:31-34, NIV).