Q. I am a Fundamentalist [polygamous] Mormon and I am curious to know whether your husband recruits new wives himself or whether your wives do it for you? We believe that in finding more wives because it increases our blessings in eternity ...
Our reasons for living polygamy are very different from fundamentalist Mormons. Our women do not recruit more wives because we believe it will give their husbands and themselves a higher 'glory' or 'status' in heaven.
The majority of Christian/Messianic polygamists do not believe that there is any marriage in the next life and so their reasons for entering this principle purely concern this life only. As it happens, my family and I are of the minority position which believes that marriage does extend into heaven and therefore it is true that when we seek for more wives it is always with eternity in view. In that respect we are similar to the Mormons. But in terms of heavenly rewards we see things somewhat differently.
The driving principle behind the echad polygamy which we in this ministry live is not how much glory it will give us in the next life but how much glory it will give Christ. Our motivation for living this lifestyle is therefore the very opposite of fundamentalist Mormons. We believe that literal polygamy is a type of the allegorical marriage between Christ and His polygamous Bride - the Church (Messianic Community) - in heaven and that when a Christian/Messianic polygamous family lives this lifestyle successfully, overcoming all carnal barriers, that it is a testimony to the world of what the power and love of Christ can do not only for the family itself but for the Church (Messianic Community) redeemed. Polygamy therefore exists primarily to reveal the love and beauty of Christ to the world.
In a secondary sense this lifestyle is, of course, a blessing to those living it themselves. Since it represents the fundamental spiritual union - of Christ to His Church (Messianic Community) - then by definition it must also, we believe, represent a higher kind of marriage union between humans themselves.
Fundamentalist Mormons believe that the more wives they get the more spirit children they will populate in the eternities, and therefore the more worlds they will rule. The glory is all man-centred. Perhaps, it could be argued, that Yahweh gets glory indirectly in such a system. As Christians/Messianics we take issue with many other aspects of Mormon theology which tie into this concept which are too complex to analyse here (see The Watcher: New Covenant Ministries for Mormons). Mormon women also believe that in order to reach the highest heaven that they must be married to a Mormon Priesthood holder and be 'sealed' in a temple, which means that marriage and priesthood authority are a part of the salvation equation. This ministry believes, along with all Bible-believing Christians/Messianics, that marriage is not a part of the salvation/exaltation equation, and follow the New Testament teaching that Priesthood authority is received - not by an apostolic laying-on of hands like the Catholics or Mormons - but by faith perfected in works. Priesthood is therefore an internal, spiritual condition.
These differences do mean that we view marriage very differently. Christian/Messianic polygamists do not, therefore, feel the pressure to 'get' more wives in order to gain a higher reward or 'glory' in the next world. Marriage is not a matter of status or rank, as the late Brigham Young taught. Marriage is simply an expression of the love of Christ, and is its own reward.
The only multiplication that Christian/Messianic polygamists feel impelled to seek after is the multiplication of love. It is the only force that moves us to enter into the principle of plural marriage. As in salvation generally, we do not do good works 'because' we seek this or that reward, but as a result of salvation, as an act of gratitude. The good works we do, whether in marriage or in any other aspect of the Gospel, are simply a fruit of the supernatural work that Christ has done in our hearts through our faith. Obedience flows naturally out of that faith, moved by the love that "loved us first". We form our marriage unions out of a desire to multiply the love of Christ at home and abroad, seeing in our polygamous marriage and family lifestyle a way to bear testimony of the wonderful work of Christ upon the cross. The miracle of the love and unity possible in polygamous marriage when lived according to Yahweh's Torah (Law) is our way of witnessing of what Christ can do for anyone in any kind of situation - single, monogamous or polygamous.
The decision as to who or who I do not marry is entirely mine. The wives have no automatic veto. From the point-of-view of Torah I do not even have to consult them. So from a legalistic point-of-view, the decision and moving action is mine, and mine alone, as Patriarch of the family. I do not expect them to search for more wives for me and I certainly apply no pressure whatsoever on them to do so. In addition, there is no theological pressure on them to get more wives as in the Mormon system. The only thing that would ever move them to enthusiastically seek for more wives would be because because their hearts genuinely want more wives. Why? Because:
And these two go very much hand-in-hand (they are inseparable, in fact) just as Christ's Two Great Commandments - Love Elohim (God) and Love Your Neighbour - are inseparable.
- (a) They wish to give Christ more glory; and
- (b) This is what they really want in their heart-of-hearts for themselves and their children.
In spite of my legal right to initiate any new marriage, with or without their permission, because of our oneness (echad) and my love for them, I always consult them and seek for unanimity before taking so great a step as adding a new wife to the family because of the enormous changes a new wife will bring to them. When you are one - as one should be in marriage - then naturally you act at one and are in agreement. When Christ adds new believers to the Body of Christ He does not consult us or ask our permission, does He? It is His sovereign grace that brings a new 'wife' to salvation, and His sovereign grace alone. The only choice we, as the Body (Messianic Community) have, is whether we embrace the new convert into the fellowship or not.
I think this perspective is vitally important. Mormon fundamentalists have evolved a system which does not, in my view, harmonise with the model which we are given of Christ's allegorical marriage to the Church (Messianic Community). When an unbeliever comes to faith, he not only receives salvation on a one-to-one basis without reference to the Church (Messianic Community), but Christ sends that believer to a part of the Body (Messianic Community) where he may serve, grow and flourish. In short, He sends him to a local fellowship or church (assembly). Similarly, the local church (assembly) is blessed by this new addition to their spiritual family. The responsibility of the new convert and the church (assembly) is simply to accept and love that convert in faith with scriptural discipline (discipeship).
When a husband receives a new polygamous wife, he must do the same thing. It is his responsibility to ensure that his new wife is placed in a family situation where she can serve, grow, and flourish. And it is his responsibility to ensure that the rest can serve, grow and flourish too. The responsibility of the new wife, and the other wives, is to accept and love in faith through the husband's scriptural discipline.
This is not a licence for a husband to just 'take' any woman he wants to. He is not Christ, he is not perfect. But it is his responsibility to ensure that he is in Christ's will, for if he is not, then he will bring sorrow and destruction. Thus his choice must be very, very careful. It should not be assumed on the part of the other wives that a new wife coming into the family will be a 'personality match'. Just as Christ sometimes sends 'new blood' into a congregation to 'stir it up' into life, Yahweh may sometimes send a new wife into a familiy who is very unlike the other wives in order to stir that family up and to take it in the direction He wants it to go in. It would be a fundamental mistake therefore to let the WIVES do the searching and make the decision as to whether a women should come into the family or not. They may be blind to what the family actually needs which only the husband, as Head, is able to see. Yahweh will not always reveal to the wives what he reveals to the husband, because their callings are not the same.
To allow the women to 'select' or 'control', whilst outwardly looking very 'progressive' and 'democratic', is in fact a form of matriarchy and female headship which the scriptural model of Christ and the Church (Messianic Community) nowhere warrants. It is a subtle form of feminism and therefore the spirit of Jezebel. Such a spirit, masquerading as 'love', 'fairness', and "due compensation" for the women's "sacrifice" in entering polygamy, does sadly exist in some Christian polygamist circles. Such a spirit we must firmly reject. At the same time, we must also reject the other extreme where the husband takes all the decisions without proper consultation with his wives and without striving to his very best to ensure that love and unanimity prevail amongst all his wives before bringing a new woman in. Whilst he must obey what Yahweh has revealed to him ('Love Elohim/God'), he must also place himself in his wives' position and see things from their point-of-view ('Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself'). As A Patriarch, he must therefore:
Most anti-polygamists believe that polygamous men are just skirt-chasing. With a heavy heart I must confess that the majority of them probably are. This is not, however, the position of this ministry and certainly not of my family. Indeed, we utterlty condemn and repudiate the 'polygamy meat-market' attitude which seems to have swamped and cheapened most other ministries.
- (a) Balance the two principles; and (
- (b) Make sure that they are in the right order, i.e. Yahweh's will takes precedence to wives' preferences.
Christian/Messianic polygamy, it must remembered, is only a microcosm of the greater Mystical Marriage of Christ to the Church (Messianic Community), it is not the mystery itself. What this means is that husbands are not supposed to be 'out there' recruiting wives in the same way that Christ is seeking to save souls. We are in both businesses, but saving souls is our PRIMARY one. We are building TWO families, but building CHRIST'S is what concerns us - that is our "first commandment". Our own 'kingdom-building', if I may apply that misnomer, is actually CHRIST'S business, not ours, because family building subtends to the building of the Kingdom of Yahweh. But what many so-called 'Christian/Messianic' polygamists are doing is that they are running around recruiting wives when they should be witnessing to the unsaved - they are confusing the PRIMARY MANDATE with the very, very secondary one of family-building.
One who is properly focussed on Christ should be seeking to build the Kingdom by witnessing and be letting Christ 'recruit' other wives. Yahweh will bring the right people together at the right time. To deny this is to manifestly demonstrate a lack of faith. To go out 'recruiting' is no different than Sarah trying to bring forth the promised seed by rushing ahead and trying to catalyse Yahweh into action by marrying Hagar off to Abraham.
Are you a Hagar polygamist? Are you trying to 'force Elohim's (God's) hand' by recruiting in the polygamy meat-market? If you are, then sorrow awaits at your doorstep. Yes, Yahweh may bless ill-advised marriages, just as He blessed Hagar and Ishmael, but only in His permissive will based on your poor choices - just because He does not hinder a determined and persistent spirit you does not mean you are in harmony with His Spirit. Sometimes He must teach us some object lessons in obedience, humility and spirituality. And sometimes, like Sarah and Hagar, He may use us as a warning to others. Do you want to go down in history as a warning sign or as someone to emulate?
So at this ministry and in my family I do not go to the polygamy meat-market. Indeed, the situation is the reverse and sometimes we end up in the amusing situation where my wives are eagerly pressing me to woo or marry someone that I do not want to! Actually, this is far from amusing when you think about it for, using the Christ:Church (Messianic Community) model this is equivalent to someone converting an unbeliever to a CHURCH (assembly) before bringing them to CHRIST, which is perhaps one of the greatest sins of the CULTS who make exclusive truth or authority claims like the Mormons (their other doctrines aside). There can be no more unhappy a situation to convert someone to a Church (denomination) who then falls away and becomes an ATHEIST (as is all too often true) because the conversion experience, which ought to have been Christ's and not the Church's (denomination's) (this is a form of feministic adultery ... exalting the Church above Christ) leads the convert to conclude that the Church (Messianic Community) and 'Christ' are one and the same. I have met so many Mormons who, upon losing faith in their Church (denomination), lose faith in Christ and God (Elohim) too because they were never really born again.
We must be on the watch for such dangers in a marriage situation. I know of situations where polygamous wives have ganged up together and 'imposed' a new wife of their choice on their husband whom he did not want or love. The nearest equivalent to this would be the father of Leah imposing his daughter on Jacob by trickery. And we know the misery that initially brought to Jacob's family.
I believe that a sure sign that polygamy is working and that the wives are in the right spirit is when they desire, with all their hearts, to recruit and want more wives, not for 'recruitment's' sake but out of the passionate conviction that this is the regathering of a family separated initially by incarnation into mortality. And whilst it is true that there are polygamous marriages where there are women doing these things for the wrong motives - because of pressure from Church (denomination), husband or other sister-wives - what the anti-polygamists have to realise is that there are other women, like my own wives, who are acting out of their own free will and heart-desires.
It is surely the right pattern that the wives should be looking for other wives, just as the Church (Messianic Community) should be looking for unbelievers to witness to. However, it must be to their husband that they are leading women, just as it must be to Christ and not the Church (Messianic Community) they are pointing to. Finally, no amount of witnessing is going to bring a soul to Christ if:
Enthusiastic wives must remember these things: if another woman isn't interested in polygamy, don't press her. And finally, and most importantly, it is up to the husband to do the final wooing, not them. They can bring a woman to him but thereafter it is his responsibility to win her heart, and she his, if that is their mutual desire. She - the new potential wife - can only result in truly love in a polygamous marriage if the prospective husband first loves her. Like Christ loving us first, so the husband must do the love-initiating.
- (a) That soul isn't interested; and
- (b) If Christ does not draw that soul to Him.
And sometimes that can be costly. It costs to love and have that love rejected, something the polygamy wives will not experience to the same degree if a woman says 'no', no matter what genuine sorrow they may feel, for usuually it is not their (the wives') love that is being rejected. For a patriarch this can be a great, great sorrow, just as Christ sorrows over those who reject His free offer of salvation. If a man is loving righteously and non-carnally he will learn, as I have from being rejected, what it is Yahweh must endure whenever His love is spurned. He must learn what it is to be crushed in his heart again and again. But for those who are only out to buy meat, they will experience no such loss - save the loss that comes of a selfish soul that is greedy - and never come to understand the mystery of Christ's great, great love for us. And they must be prepared to be one day be condemned by the Great I AM for being pretenders to the Patriarchal Office which was never theirs and which is only Christ's to give.
The only justification for polygamy is Christ-like love. Any man who enters it on the basis of lust will not only be flayed alive in this life but be condemned in the next. Woe unto him if he destroys any women! Woe unto him!
But blessed the man, and blessed his wives, who is called into polygamy and who lives it righteously. For the rewards that they shall all receive are too great even for us to fully understand. I only know that what I have so far has exceeded all my greatest expectations, all the sorrows of failure notwithstanding.
So, to answer your question: no, my wives do not choose new wives for me. Yahweh chooses them for us through some or all of us, but I make the final decision.