Continued from Part 2
Q. I do question your teaching that a woman can go to an elder in the church and ask him to be her head/covering. It sounds nice, and certainly does wrap the situation up in a neat package while allowing her to go her own way and feel no further pressure to join a family. However, I don't see it anywhere in Scripture. Instead, what I find in scripture is that a young woman is under the covering of her father, a married woman under the covering of her husband, but a divorced or widowed woman is out there on her own, responsible for herself. Nothing is said about her going back to her father, nor about her placing herself under the headship/covering of an elder. Only about remarrying. So I was wondering where your teaching came from. Is it from somewhere in the scripture, or from an extrabiblical revelation in your denomination?
Paul advises single and widowed women who have a problem with lust to marry or remarry to preclude the sin of fornication or (worse) adultery (1 Corinthians 7:9). Those who do not have a problem with burning sexual passion, who have more control, he advised to imitate himself by remaining single (v.8). He goes on to teach that a woman who leaves her husband should either remain single or be reconciled (vv.10-11). Finally, he gives counsel on what a former pagan wife should do should she become a believer and her husband remain a pagan (vv.12b-16).
From this cluster of Pauline teachings have come many problems to married and unmarried persons. To begin which, Paul's instructions are, he specifically states, not Yahweh's but his own. Indeed he says categorically that this is NOT a revelation but a piece of personal advice (v.12a).
Catholic justifications for celibacy of the Priesthood and their general hostility to sex and marriage stem from these passages which make no claim to inspiration and actually go as far as to repudiate it. Paul's teaching that is is better to be single as he was (at that time) runs completely countrary to the whole teaching of the Torah or Law. It is disjunctive.
Now had Paul claimed this was a revelation from Yahweh I would have become an Ebionite (as at least one polygamy ministry has), an early denomination which rejected the writings of Paul. Fortunately I have the greatest confidence in Paul except in this one area where he admitted to only giving his personal opinion and so accept him as a bona fide apostle but in this particular instance I believe he was wrong if this is a general revelation for everyone. Given a choice between Yahweh's personally dictated letter-perfect and infallible Torah and the personal opinion of an apostle, there is no question as to where I lay the claim for the authority for true teaching. However, my belief is that this is advice for a local situation, namely, a time of great persecuition making it very difficult, if not impossible, to start a family. That way there is no conflict with Torah.
You asked about extra-scriptural writings on the matter of women's covering. We have none. But we do have a statement from our Apostolate concerning Paul's "thorn in the side":
People have speculated for centuries as to what Paul's "thorn" was and I don't intend to review them here. But what they consistently miss is his own statement that the origin was a "messenger of Satan", or in other words, a demon. Paul had a DEMON problem which Yahweh refused to take a way in order to keep him humble. Whilst I realise this is shocking and unbelievable to many Christians/Messianics who do not accept that saved people can have a demon problem, as a deliverance minister who has worked with both believers and unbelievers, I know for a certain that nearly everyone has a demon problem of one sort of another. I am not talking of demon possession such as one might experience with satanists and devil-worshippers who have given their souls to the devil, but of people who are harrassed or "buffeted" by demons because of unresolved sin areas in their lives.
"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV).
Paul had a demon problem, and according to a statement from the Apostolate of our Holy Order, that demon was LUST. Paul suffered from the spirit of lust. Horrified by this handicap and anxious and determined that he should never yield to it, he chose the path of self-abdegnation and singleness (even though as a Pharisee he had almost certainly been married before and was perhaps a widower or a divorcee). This is why we get the impression that Paul was anti-marriage and why he gave counsel not from Yahweh that has led Christians such as Augustine and his successors to believe that sex and marriage were somehow sinful and yet a lesser of two evils (the greater evil being fornication). This demon problem may have coloured much of Paul's thinking in the area of marriage. He knew that his thinking was tainted in this area and this is why he did not credit Yahweh with 'revealing' his anti-marriage stance. He may have seen in these former pagans the same problems of lust that he had and therefore urged them, if they could not control themselves, that it was better to marry rather than to fall into sin. But if they could restrain themselves as he was able to, so much the better.
A lot of strange and unbiblical ideas have been derived from Paul's skewed thinking in this area. People justify quick and improperly considered marriage in order to justify a lust for sex. Indeed, marriage has been overly 'sexualised' because of Paul's personal problem. Now in the case of Paul Yahweh said He would not deliver him from his demonic affliction, because there was a purpose in not doing so, namely, to put a break on his PRIDE which was, and is, definitely the greater evil. For it is from pride that all other vices flow. However, just because Paul was unable to rid himself of the spirit of lust does not mean that all others who have this problem cannot. In nearly every single situation I have come across as a minister, I can testify that lust is conquerable and that the demons behind it can be cast out with the proper committment. But there will always be a few who do not want to be rid of lust or, like Paul, whom Yahweh wants to keep humble by permitting Satan to afflict them, and who are without a shadow of a doubt supposed to remain SINGLE for this life for their own good and salvation. But for the rest, there is a solution, and the solution is NOT releasing a wild libido in marriage, be it monogamy or polygamy.
It is for this reason that our Order offers much ministry in this area. Conquering the fleshy impulses of the carnal nature may be accomplished in Christ by crucifying the flesh to allow Christ to live in a soul. This piece of spiritual surgery, as I have discussed elsewhere, is not impossible but is enjoined upon all believers. And the reason I emphasise it particularly here is because I firmly believe that those who have not crucified the flesh with its passions are not, ultimately, qualified for polygamy. Hardly surprising, then, that Paul said almost nothing about it save to comment in passing about one polygamous family where there had been abuse and of the right of an estranged first wife to return to her remarried husband.
Now I have taken the trouble to look at Paul's teachings on marriage for several reasons. First, most of what we know about New Covenant marriage derives from this apostle's teachings. Secondly (and this is true of anyone who has unresolved sin areas), his writings on marriage are not exhaustive.
May I add here that I do not believe Paul was a misogynist (woman-hater) - if he hated anyone, it was himself. Paul is not anti-marriage though occasionally loses sight of what marriage is when assailed by his demonic tormentor. And when you are suffering, it is not the best time to develop theological theorems until you have found rest and can look back on your experiences from the vantage point of one who is redeemed and free. Budding theologians should remember this.
The Bible teaches that a father is the spiritual covering of his unmarried daughter and that when she marries her husband becomes her spiritual covering. No more. Because of this, scriptorians have concluded that a woman can only ever be covered when she is single or married, and that therefore a divorced woman has no option but to get married as quickly as possible in order to obtain spiritual protection. That that this conclusion is reflective of the divine heart I would strongly contend for what it is saying is that a divorced woman - even if it is not her fault - is somehow a second-class female even if the divorce is not her fault. This sounds dangerously like the Moslem practice of punishing - by beating or stoning - a woman who has been raped through no fault of her own.
I have seen this thinking lead to disasterous marriages because it forces women into marriages against sound judgment. It sends a message to divorced women that unless they accept the first offer of marriage they get that their salvation is somehow in jeapordy, and whilst such is never worded in this way, it is most certainly implied. Such a teaching implies that Yahweh has two standards - one for virgins and one for those who have been discarded by wicked men, making them somehow guilty of those men's crimes. It implies that whereas a single woman is counselled to take her time in finding out Yahweh's will and to develop a romantic bond to ensure her happiness, one who is divorced is to discard all sound teaching and leap into the first patriarchal bed she can find for fear that Yahweh will not protect her. I cannot accept this. All moral sense is outraged at the proposition. And it contradicts what Yahweh has otherwise said about being sensible in choosing marriage companions.
So I ask myself this question: if Yahweh has provided a covering for innocent single women while they establish the course of marriage in their life, why should He not similarly provide a covering for innocent wives who have been spat out by undeserving and wicked husbands? If we say that Yahweh has not provided such a covering, we declare Yahweh to be a partial Elohim (God) who views divorced women as in someway inferior and unworthy of the same divine protection as single women. No, the Bible says nothing about covering for divorced women, but so what? It says nothing about in vitro fertilisation, trans-gender operations, and a host of other problems that face the modern world, implying that divine revelation is needed in every age to address the problems pecular to that age.
It is here that I believe that those who do not believe in modern apostolic direction place themselves under a severe handicap and that this is why we find so many polygamy ministries with mediaeval mindsets. Now do not misunderstand me - I am not a modernist, not by a long shot, and adhere strictly to what has been revealed. But I am not, I believe, so blind that I cannot see that modern revelation is required for many of the problems we face both in polygamy and generally in the wider Body of Christ (Messianic Community).
Our Order has received no revelation and has no secondary scriptures on the matter of a spiritual covering for divorced women. For me personally it requires none because it is common sense. Yahweh provided a covering for vulnerable women and it makes no heavenly sense why He should limit that only to virgins and so precipitate hasty, unwise and often loveless marriages because women believe He has made no provision for them if they are rejects and discards from failed marriages before.
Now we all know that it is possible to give people prayer covering and it is for this reason that people form prayer circles and provide intercessory prayer. Were this enough for single women then prayer would be enough. My experience shows that it is not. It is in the fabric of creation that women, as the weaker sex, be provided with cover at all times.
To say that divorced women don't need cover because they will otherwise not remarry and that this is somehow a crime is, in my view, monstrous. Divorced women who are not guilty of the failure of a previous marriage have the same rights and privileges as any other woman. Doubtless there are some women who are avoiding marriage when they should be marrying but that is often because they have deep spiritual wounds and need healing before they feel able to cope with marriage again. And surely Yahweh would provide them with a covering whilst they are receiving the necessary ministry to get them on the marriagable track again.
And what if they have a lust problem like Paul and some men have? Was not Paul's advice that they remain single in such a situation? To say that they should marry to relieve their sexual frustrations, whilst certainly a remedy against fornication, is hardly the best way to enter a marriage. So we will dismiss that excuse.
The suggestion that a divorced woman should remarry as soon as possible in order to get a covering is nowhere taught in the Bible. It implies that she must relinquish her free agency and just accept the best marriage available to prevent her from going under. I don't buy it.
The commandments teach us that we are to honour our parents all the days of our life. Our parents do not cease to be parents when we get married though certain claims they may make upon us certainly end when we take a spouse. If a woman is divorced through no fault of her own, does her father cease to be her faither, or does she, in fact, have the right to claim his protection still? Would you fathers, if your daughters were thrown out of a marriage and they were faultless, and they came to you for protection, turn them away? Of course not! You would bring them under your roof and protect them until such a time as they wanted to marry again. So if this instinct to give physical succor to a divorced daughter has been placed in us by the Creator, does it not make sense that a Christian/Messianic father would also wish to give spiritual protection?
What of a single woman who commits fornication, repents, and is still single? Should her father refuse to give her a spiritual covering if she asks it? Yah forbid! Does Yahweh refuse us blessings when we repent and ask for things that we need? Never! He provides for us. And if Yahweh provides for a repentant fornicating daughter through her father, would He not also provide for a victim of a bad marriage who came home and asked for protection? Of course He would! Yahweh does not leave us helpless. He always provides shelter. And whilst marriage is one form of shelter, it is likewise not something that anyone is enjoined to rush into because His will must first be known.
To suggest that a divorced woman should remarry as quickly as possible implies that Yahweh will give her the revelation she needs to do so. And I agree. But experience has also taught me that, for various reasons, it is not always easy or possible to know Yahweh's will. What of the woman who has been terribly abused and damaged in a marriage, whose whole image of marriage has been shattered, and who may have a huge problem trusting men? Such needs much time to recover and heal. And such also needs a spiritual covering.
Paul bewailed that new Christians/Messianics did not have the fathers they needed to nurture them in the faith and to give them covering:
implying that such were needed for both sexes. He went on:
Those who have begotten unbelievers in the Gospel become their fathers. Our pastors and teachers are our spiritual fathers. And what is a father? A father is a protector, one who provides a covering. This covering is given to both men and women when they are vulnerable. And as it happens women are more vulnerable than men, especially those who have been damaged in horrific first marriages. The responsibility for leaders in the local assembly to give a paternal covering to the weak is established beyond doubt.
"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers" (1 Corinthians 4:15, NKJV)
It has been our practice in the Chavurat Bekorot to assign new believers to various members for instruction. Our fellowships are organised into houses and cells where every member has a covenant responsibility for others. Pastors cover Elders who cover Deacons. The Pastor is in a covenant relationship with every elder in his assembly as is their spiritual father and they his spiritual sons.
Similarly, each Deaccon is in a covenant relationship as a spiritual father with two sub-Deacons (trainee Deacons), each Sub-Deacon is in a covenant relationship as a spiritual father with a fully communicant members, who in turn is in the covenant relationship as a spiritual father with a a baptised member and a catechumen (investigating member).
At every level there is a teacher-disciple covenant which is patriarchal. Thus every male has a patriarchal obligation from the full member upwards. This obligation provides not only a spiritual father's cover but also prayer cover.
Thus linked together, a tighly bound and spiritually strong Christian/Messianic community results. It is the basis of spiritual Body integration. It provides protection for the local assembly and for the wider body as a whole because the pastors are themselves spiritual sons to apostles. How else can the Body be fitly framed and joined as one? We know, from personal experience, of the enormous spiritual strength that results from such a system, but it does, of course, require COMMITTMENT.
But why won't modern Christians/Messianics do this? It is because they are still basically steered by their carnal natures. And the modern Patriarchy movement isn't helping, built as it has been on the basis of little independent patriarchal kingdoms with the man as Dictator in his own independent realm. The structures we are seeing developped in most Christian/Messianic polygamous circles are FALSE because they are trying to recreate a theocratic system without the proper base for such. There is a parallel family of Yahweh to be built up alongside too - not on the basis of the traditional denominations which have been off the way for centuries, but on the basis of the mystical marriage of Christ to His Church (Messianic Community).
What of the women? They come under an identical, parallel system of covering in the local assembly. Eldresses preside over Deaconesses, who preside over Sub-Deaconesses, who preside over full female members, who preside over baptised female members and female catechumenical members. They are linked by matriarchal (motherly) covenants. The married women are presided over and covered by their husbands so that any unmarried women - single or divorced - who come under a matriarchal head, are automatically covered by the matriarchs' husbands.
By this means the local assembly provides a NETWORK OF COVERING that is STRONG. It is the way we build our congregations. When single or divorced women marry or remarry their primary covering is automatically transferred to their new husband BUT, at the same time, they still have the multiple covering of their spiritual fathers from the apostles all the way down to the deacons.
This model was given our Order by revelation as the only means for the remnant to survive in a world drowning in witchcraft and demons (Olive Branch #OB990403A). Another arrangement has been revealed for the tribulation period, as contained in the same revelation.
Like it or not, present biblical exegeses are deficient and women are suffering because of a lack of apostolic council. Women are being oppressed because they have been led to believe that their only hope is to leap blindly into polygamous marriages and just hope everything works out for them when they do. This is wicked! It is evil! And the meat-marketeering men are exploiting this to the full, and often bringing unexpected and unwanted chaos and misery into their families. And it must stop!
Sisters, if you have been divorced and are right with Yahweh our Father in Heaven, you do not have to remarry as quickly as you can in order to be spiritually safe. At the same time you are vulnerable, especially if you are weak and hurting after a terrible experience with an ungodly man and you DO most DEFINITELY need spiritual covering. You can obtain this either by being linked to the kind of network covering I have described above or, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, you can be put under the spiritual protection of your believing father or, if you don't have one (or have one who is unwilling), you can and must find a patriarch who will become a spiritual father to you, and who will enter into covenants with you to treat you as a spiritual daughter and not as a potential wife so long as you are mutually under that covenant. And if there are any men who are worth their salt as Christians/Messianics, they should be queueing up to offer you that protection. Those who have only marriage on the brain are NOT in the Spirit of Christ but in a spirit of lust.
I guarantee, though, that those patriarchs who are either consumed with a lust for power or a lust for sex, and who care only to expand their family-kingdoms at vulnerable women's expense, will reject what I have written today. Shame on them! And may Yahweh pity and guard those women deceived by their wiles. I become more indignant and angry as each day passes and as I learn of women lured into marriage under the pretense that there is no hope for them any other way. Such belongs, I would suggest, to a cultic spirit of control and manipulation. Yahweh will bring such systems to an ignominious end by exposing them for the devilish works that they are. To those who have been of such a mindframe, I urge to speedily repent and to start caring for women, without pressing their gonads on them, as real spiritual men of Christ. I realise much of this may have been based on ignorance because of wrong teaching, and for that they are not so accountable, but rather the false teachers on whom a heavy condemnation will fall. "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labour in the word and doctrine" (1 Timothy 5:17, NKJV) and let the rest be strictly warned.
Yes, let the "younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Timothy 5:14, NKJV) but don't force them, or divorcees, into hasty marriages, but give them space for inner healing and time to find their right husbands. If they are weak in the faith, then, yes, there may be a real temptation for them to turn to Satan (v.15).
If you think about it logically, the idea that a woman who is a widow or a divorcee is helpless without a husband is shere madness. What about old people without spouses? Must a 70 year old woman remarry in order to be covered? Of course not! What nonsense! So why only the younger ones then? Might it be to fulfill a patriarch's greed? And if you think about it further what is actually being said is that a woman is not protected without sexual intercourse, because that is what principally distinguishes marriage protection from paternal/patriarchal. One wonders about those poor hapless widows in 1 Timothy 5:16 without a marriage covering ... if it was so important, why didn't Paul order members of the Christian/Messianic assemblies to marry them at once!
I suppose some might argue that there is a difference between a widow and a divorcee. But to argue that you would have to posit that their dead husbands are still somewhow a covering while they (the widows) remain on earth. While I suppose such is possible, there is no biblical justification for such a teaching, and it furthermore borders on the reverse of the false Catholic doctrine of praying for the dead. It also raises questions about eternal marriage, which not everyone accepts. I suppose it could be argued that as the Body of Christ (Messianic Community) is one whether in heaven on earth, that the marriage covering continues even if the male party has departed. I wouldn't care to wager on that doctrine at present so I keep an open mind about it. If it is true, then the divorcee is most certainly the more vulnerable of the two.
The fact of the matter is that everyone needs protection, and some need it in marriage and others outside marriage. The doctrine that only marriage can provide covering for divorced women creates a grotesque scramble for the nearest patriarch's bed and undermines the credibility of the patriarchal movement as truly Christian/Messisanic. It establishes modern polygamy as a kind of reestablishment of a mediaeval form of woman-control and drives away the more intelligent and spiritual women who are naturally repulsed by such a system. We at HEM want nothing of this return to semi-barbarism and repudiate it entirely. It turns patriarchs into the semi-saviours and demi-gods of women and blasphemes the image of the Elohim (God). Doubtless it will remain though, to be burned up with all the other false systems when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns; but so long as it remains, it must be exposed and condemned.
But this is really only a fruit of creating specifically 'polygamy churches'. Polygamy has been blown out of all proportion such that some people have it constantly on the brain. We have a polymania which, instead of promoting spirituality as it should, is simply pumping more hormones into men who are bellowing like bulls (Jeremiah 50:11) crazed in trying to find multiple mates.
As a suppoedly 'uncovered' divorcee woman, don't be guilted or pressured by bellowing bullish polygamists to hurriedly get married
So can a divorced woman be covered without remarrying? Yes she can, absolutely. And she should be given that as long as she wants to under such a covering and until she feels ready and equipped for marriage again.