Q. I notice all your wives live in the same house together but that some patriarchs have their wives in different houses. My husband is planning to marry a second wife who says she doesn't want to live under the same roof as me because I already have a family with several children and it wouldn't be fair on her having to share the housework for so many other people. What do you think?
You will find two main views about this question in the Christian/Messianic Patriarchal Movement. Ultimately the decision as to whether he should have one big household or several smaller ones has to be the husband's - it's his stewardship and he is the one accountable to Yahweh. My view, as you will know having read our materials, is fairly strict on this matter, the issue essentially being that of obedience/submission vs. rebellion. I personally would not marry a woman who expected me to fit in with her plans for domestic arrangement since this is the exact reverse of the spirit she should be demonstrating. And when men go marrying women who 'call the tune' to some extent, being improperly submitted, then I would say he has made a serious mistake, for his authority is automatically undermined. I know of one family where a second wife refused to live under the same roof as the first and spent all her day wasting time watching TV. I don't consider this very reflecting of anything remotely 'Christian' or 'Messianic', mind you, the second wife behaving more like a mistress than a wife.
My direct answer to your question would be this: when you became a born-again believer, did you remain a solo-Christian/Messianic or were you immediately inducted as a member of a local church (assembly)? And, once admitted to a congregation, did you, or did you not, become your brother's (or sister's) keeper?
One of the reasons I believe plural marriage isn't working as it ought to amongst Christians/Messianics is because of the modular view people have of 'church' ('assembly'). For them, 'church' ('assembly') is essentially a once-a-week affair, with very little meaningful contact with members or parishoners, especially if the church/assembly is a large one. But this is not, the New Testament tells us, how 'church' ('assembly') is supposed to be. It isn't a building you gather to once or twice a week - it's a koinonia or living fellowship - a living organism - of fellow blood-bought saints. In New Testament times the Christians/Messianics had so much love for one another that they couldn't bear being apart - they met together every day, they shared meals, and effectively lived together. If you want a model of how Christ wants believers to be, read the second chapter of Acts.
Now I know of polygamous families where wives and their children live in separate households and meet together every now and then - maybe once or twice a week - while the husband 'commutes' between homes. Does this measure up to the Christian/Messianic model of the saints eating, worshipping and sharing together on a daily basis?
The excuses I hear for not moving into one household are almost all, without exception, selfish. Wives with fewer children (or no children) don't want all the noise and bother of families with lots of children, let alone the extra work. They want a compartmentalised marriage - 'this is my corner, that is yours, and don't cross the boundary'. I know of one polygamous family, where each wife has her own house, and where one, whose children have grown up and left home, demanded a house equal in size to a wife with half a dozen children with as many bedroom in order for everything to be 'equal'. To me, personally, this is grotesquely carnal and repulsive, and my wives agree with me.
Now I fully recognise that we all need privacy. All my wives have their own bedrooms which are theirs and, when I have been able to afford it, they also have their own little living rooms and kitchenettes. I do believe that each wife should have a part of the home which she can call her own and uniquely stamp it with her personality. My ideal would be lots of small apartments in one large house with communal living, eating and working areas. I have varied the arrangements depending on the needs, but I have always insisted that the goal to which I expect everyone to be actively working towards is communal.
Prosperity and the ego-culture have always worked against communitarianism. We seem to have a gravitational force of selishness that moves us away from others and into isolation unless we have been brought up to be social and sharing. Two of my wives - my second and fourth - were diamatric opposites in that respect - my fourth was brought up surrounded by a huge family and couldn't bear to be alone whereas my second had a tendency to retreat to be alone at the very first opportunity. There is a happy middle ground which I tried to foster.
It may well be that a Patriarch will want wives in separate houses in order to solve a particular difficult personality war. I would not deny him the right to make that decision - it is his responsibility. But I would never consider that 'normal' or ideal in a polygamy context. Whilst there are indeed times when we all want to be alone, the overriding movement should always be towards sharing. And because one has lived a particular way of life for, say, a long time doesn't mean that this is less reason to change. I began life as a very isolationist-type, moved to the opposite extreme, and have now happily settled down somewhere in the middle. Just as we need our private times with Yahweh apart from congregational worship, so we have the need to be alone from wives, husband, children, and sister-wives. With careful organisation and lots of sensitivity and consideration, this can easily be accomplished in a one-house arrangement. I appreciate that sometimes circumstances dictate a varied number of solutions, some of which may include separate houses, but this should, in my view, always be seen as a temporary expedient. I nearly married a woman who was of a very nervous disposition who would have required a great deal of quiet in order to live a normal life whilst she sought for healing and, had she joined our family, I would have made exceptional rules. So I do not wish to be unduly dogmatic in this matter.
As for the second woman your husband wants to marry, who doesn't want to get herself fully involved in her potential husband's other wives and children ... my personal inclination would be to show her the door.