Q. However you cut it, polygamy will always be unequal to women. Whatever you argue, it will always be one man to several women in terms of quantity. And whatever you say, the bigger a polygamous family, the less time each woman will spend with her husband. The math just doesn't add up, does it?
You're absolutely right. In terms of numbers and one-to-one time, polygamy will always be 'unequal' to women. There's no argument against that. From a mathematical and temporal point-of-view, polygamy is not fair. And doubtless you could find some other areas of inequality like having to make the family economy spread wider. That is one perspective.
Another perspective - the one which we take - is based on a different set of criteria, and I think understanding these will (if you are a Christian/Messianic committed to the biblical revelation) give you a rather different handle on the wider picture of life and the eternities.
Most people acknowledge the men and women have a different mental-emotional-spiritual makeup that leads the genders to respond in different ways to different sets of circumstances. Each gender possesses its respective positive and negative attributes (which have been discussed at length in other articles) which fit each gender for specific rôles. Now from time to time I hear one gender wish it had been born the other gender, usually women who perceive that men (because of unrighteous dominion) seem to be 'better off' in the affairs of this world. And this reaction is understandable. We look around us, see who has what, and draw our own conclusions. Looking at this world and the way it has been run over the millennia, there is no doubt that men have exploited certain characteristics in both sexes to make life better for themelves, and often (though not always) at the expense of women.
Were I an atheist I think I would have come to radically different conclusions about the rights and privileges of the genders than I have now. And I think it is a truism that atheists and believers are almost never going to agree on gender issues simply becuase the believer has a much wider perspective on things. The atheist looks at the brief span of mortal life and perceives nothing either before or after it. He has to cram his raison d'être into a very small space of time indeed with no concept of eternity whatsoever.
Christians/Messianics by definition 'see' life in a much broader sweep. For one thing, they see this life not as the alpha and omega of everything as an atheist is forced to, but simply a very short if painful transition or phase of growth more akin to an obstacle course that leads to better things in another life. He or she understands that the purpose of life is not to get the best for oneself in terms of material goods and personal advantage but in learning the way of sacrificial living which will purify his soul and better prepare him for the next stage of his eternal journey. For the believer, (1) salvation and, (2) sanctification are the chief drives in his existence. He understands that he may need to lay down his life for others in order to realise his purpose here and, if necessary, live in poverty. He understands that Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, may equally send him material prosperity or poverty depending what his life's mission is, or what will help him personally overcome certain character defects.
A question I have heard many ask is 'Why was I created a woman and not a man?' as though being one gender was a disadvantage over the other. And I have heard all kinds of answers which have led some of these people to conclude that Yahweh is somehow vindictive or biased in favour of men. But these are not valid questions and the answers are even less valid because they are invariably asked within the wrong mental frameworks. Any question that depreciates the love of Yahweh is by definition the wrong question, because "Elohim (God) is love" (1 John 4:8,16). Furthermore, Yahweh has never created anything but that which He Himself has pronounced good. And in spite of the post-Edenic curse, it is a fact that there were two genders before the fall, and not one, and that one (the female) was created out of the other (the male) to be a companion and assistant for him in his divine (as opposed to carnal) dominion mandate.
I wish to pose for the women some facts which they may not have considered before. I know there will be a temptation on the part of some to misread what I am about to say so I do plead calm and quiet thoughtfulness. These may be, for some, radically new concepts that will take a little bit of absorption since they are not generally seen as part of the equation of Christian/Messianic polygamy. Moreoever, they are not necessarily the only considerations - I am merely spotlighting a few in order to get some new thinking into motion.
All polygamists know Isaiah 4:1 which speaks of seven women taking hold of one man. The scene is one of desperation, presumably after warfare, in which the male population is decimated. At face value, it looks as though the women are 'forced' by unfavourable circumstances into polygamy because there are quite simply not enough men to go around. And to be sure, if the motivation for entering polygamy is just one of population demographics, then entering this principle is just as logical for atheists as it is for believers. But at other times - when the gender balance is roughly equal - there would be no justification for polygamy. From this vantage point we would deduce that polygamy is only a temporary expediency to meet an emergency situation. And therefore polygamy must be inferior to the normative monogamy. We could say that it existed simply to meet a neo-Darwinian need for survival.
But we really do need to take this question further. Why, in this Isaiah 4:1 scenerio, are there so few men in the first place? What is it that Yahweh is actually permitting? What is the divine perspective? The carnal man is aggressive and warlike. He loves to fight. And whilst believers must sometimes fight in this dark world to prevent Satan from getting too great an upper hand, basically we are not of this world, and are supposed to be preaching a message of peace. If the preparatory Covenant of the old Mosaic dispensation fitted the male temprement hand-in-glove, seen in terms of the characteristics of the different gender principles, the New Covenant is far better matched to the FEMALE TEMPREMENT! Just take all the sayings of Yah'shua (Jesus) together and thoroughly digest them you will find that He preached a message far more natural to the female nature than to the male. Love your enemies (don't beat him up, or exhange an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth). Make peace (not war). Offer the other cheek (don't retaliate). These are all teachings after the natural order of female principle. And living them is FAR TOUGHER for the male of the species than for the female because it is simply not natural to him.
What was therefore clearly a disadvantage to women under the Old Covenant (and there's no getting around this) became the women's advantage under the New when the New is lived as it should be. Sadly, the history of the 'Church' reveals that the New Covenant has been little realised historically, being in spirit various mixtures of Old and New Covenant, as well as carnal and spiritual. The result of the Gospel being after the female spirit is that there has always been a surplass of women to men because men would rather (if the truth be known) follow after the pattern of the more male-orientated Mosaic model where he was permitted to rule with an iron hand. I suspect this forms the rationale of many male Messianic Jews today for returning to their version of Torah.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that Patriarchy is invalid under the New Covenant. Far from it. The difference between Old Covenant and New Covenant Patriarchy is that the justification for them spiritually is somewhat different. The male must - and shall always - rule, but the SPIRIT of the New Covenant is undoubtedly female. And of course, if you think about it, this is how it must be, since the saints are allegorically the female Bride of Christ, not the male spouse of a female presiding deity (the counterfeit or Wiccanism).
The New Covenant is not the negation of male principle but is a completing of that which was absent under the Old because of hard-heartedness. Why this imbalance had to be in the Old Covenant is the material of another essay so I shall not address that question here, save to say that truth tends only to be revealed by Yahweh to mankind in proportion to his willingness to receive it. But because men (males) abused their earlier stewardship under the Old Covenant (itself inaugurated because of an even earlier rebellion), repeatedly rebelling and causing Yahweh to punish them, the conditions of their stewardship have changed somewhat - not as a 'punishment' but (a) because Yahweh always foresaw what man would do, and (b) to realise the original patriarchal plan.
Men now find themselves in a situation which requires submission by them in a way that only women can fully appreciate - submission to Yahweh. What is required of him is a broken heart and a contrite spirit as a condition of being filled with female Holy Spirit. It offends their pride and turns them away from the fullness of the Gospel to counterfeit versions more palitable to their unredeemed nature. The result of this unwillingness by men to be truly submitted as a Bride, contrary to their carnal nature, is that there has always been an imballance of males to females whereever the true church or assembly of Yahweh is to be found. Women believers will always outnumber men because the Gospel is more natural to them. Though they have the personal struggles like the men, it is nevertheless a fact that coming to salvation is much easier for them for they are naturally more trusting and loving than men.
What this means is that THOSE CREATED AS WOMEN WERE GIVEN AN ADVANTAGE OVER MEN IN TERMS OF FINDING SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE. From this point of view, being created a man confers an enormous disadvantage. It means that women are, if we are to understand the biblical numerics, seven times more like to find and accept Yah'shua (Jesus) and submit to Him than their opposite gender. And this means, therefore, that the Kingdom of Yahweh is always going to have a surplus of women both in time and in eternity.
Yahweh knew this would be so, so long as there were two genders (which had to be). He knew the mathematics. And because He knew that this was what would happen in a mortal sphere such as this one, He created and designed the natures of men and women in such a way that in the spiritual realm polygamy would be the natural form of marriage, and that in the carnal sphere monogamy-only marriage would. And that is the source of the conflict between monogamy-only and polygamy - it is essentially one of spirit vs. carnal ... and not a small amount of pride.
But that, of course, is too simple in and of itself. Because there are so few truly submitted men, there will always be those carnal males who, being possessed of a dark spirit, will attempt to turn polygamy to their supposed advantage and into oppression for the women.
Many spiritual women have been, and are being, deceived by these wolves in sheep's clothing. That is why the marriage casualty rate in first generation Christian/Messianic polygamy is so high. Mostly the wrong men are entering - or trying to enter - the principle, trying to recreate Mosaic conditions using the language of the New Covenant. They are far from submitted as they should be if they were of the elect. Though they pay lip-service to Yahweh and to His Word, in their hearts they are often ravening wolves. And they come in all forms - from men who think they can rule their wives with whips to those who think they can sleep around as they please - the tyrants and the merchants of lawlessness. These are they who believe in "another gospel", who do not know the Lord of Love, and who little understand the needs of women whom they see as property instead of cherished parts of themselves and beloved of Yahweh.
I have often spoken unapologetically of the polygamy 'cattelmarket' and I shall continue to do so. Christian/Messianic Polygamy already has a bad name. Ministries that have formed, some which have caught the attention of the media, are building power bases of oppression. They do not know who their true master is, though perhaps one or two do. They have no idea what a 'Christian/Messianic Man' is supposed to be because they are looking backwards over their shoulders to former ways for their inspiration. (And others aren't paying any attention to Torah at all).
This ministry stands firmly on the New Covenant premiss that until a man is properly subjected to Yahweh and is immersed in, and has understood, the female nature of the Holy Spirit that he will never understand what true Christian/Messianic polygamy is all about. Until his pride has been crushed out of him and he knows what it is to walk in female position to Christ he will never qualify to run a polygamous household. Yah'shua (Jesus) is our Messiah (Christ) because he lowered himself to become like us, abasing Himself. The man who is truly called to be a polygamist can never qualify until he has himself been abased and learned to crucify pride, sexual abberation, ambition, and all that is carnal, and comes to understand what it is to walk in female principle. These are the men to whom women will be attracted naturally and non-compulsively, who will willingly subject themselves to them, knowing that they have passed through the fire in which the odds are stacked 7:1 against them. They will know for sure that they are truly equal to the men, not because of mathmatical numbers, but because of the mathematics of the Spirit! They will know that he deserves all of them as much as they know that they deserve him - a man who has been willing to lay all down on the altar of sacrifice and to walk a path they will never be called to walk.
Now you may, at this stage, well be asking yourself whether we ever had a choice as to whether we would be male or female. I don't know the answer to that question. I wish I did. All I know is that Elohim (God) is Love and that He is perfectly fair. Those of you who have read other writings of the Chavurat Bekot will know not only that we believe we had a spiritual pre-mortal life (a non-corporeal existence) but that we believe men and angels parted along different spiritual paths based on the choices they made. We believe those who became angels chose an easier way which stacked the odds of salvation in their favour and that those who became men and women chose the more difficult path of mortality with its greater rewards for those who succeeded. That is why angels are presently a little higher than us at the moment and why those of us who are saved, and endure to the end, will be a little higher than them in the eternities. We also believe that one of the prices angels paid for this 'easier' way was that they were forbidden to marry until our human mortal probation was over, and that this is why some angels rebelled and came to earth and took women from amongst men in the days before the flood. We believe that most (if not all) of these angels are as Adam was before Eve was taken out of him - male but with their female opposites still within them.
Could it possible be that unincarnated spirits were given a choice of gender? Or perhaps the choice was given at some point even earlier than this if and when we were at one time genderless intelligences? Or did Yahweh know us so well before He created us that He knew what gender we would prefer, just as He knew all the choices we would make in mortality beforehand and so placed us in situations based on that free choice? These are not answerable questions. The best we can say is that Yahweh is Love and Justice and that our gender and life circumstances are based on perfect love and justice too. There is no accident or capriciousness on the part of Deity in our being made who we are.
Ultimately, then, this becomes a faith issue. I observe that I am both superior and inferior to females, and that females are both superior and inferior to me. And I observe that we compliment each other quite naturally and beautifully. I also observe that in the spiritual realm that there is a gender imbalance numerically and I am forced to conclude that is is a part of the divine plan. I observe polygamy in the Bible, both in an Old and a New Covenant context, and I see differences. By putting all the pieces of the puzzle together I come up with the HEM model of Christian/Messianic polygamy. And along the way, as I have wrestled and struggled with all the issues surrounding marriage and salvation, I get confirmations from Yahweh in many different ways. I have been privileged - and am still privileged - to pioneer this form of polygamy in my own home and have been blessed with so many insights into the divine Mind and Will in the way it is supposed to be. I watch as other polygamists following other models and agendas struggle and the misery of their wives for the most part - women who have adopted a 'bite-the-bullet' survival mentality when they could, if their husbands were leading them right, find polygamy's joy and peace naturally in the Spirit. And then there are the cowboy polygamists - loners, unaccountable, lawless, contentious and full of self-justification who are sowing seeds of destruction wherever they go, not understanding the scriptures and often never finding a wife at all.
Seen in the bigger picture, then, I would say that true echad polygamy is absolutely and totally fair to both genders provided that they are truely in, and submitted to, Christ in all things. And if you are not following the Lord of Love with all your might, mind and strength, and are not obeying all His commandments, then my advice to you is to flee from polygamy without delay!
The Word which Yahweh has given me is that only those men who are Pastors, Elders - or of Pastor and Elder material - are called into this principle at this moment (2002), and in time, Deacons too. There are far too many men living this principle, or with ambitions to live it, who are either not called or not ready, and who are asking for trouble. They are playing with a fire that will not just burn them but consume them. And so long as there are such men out there, I shall be warning them in no uncertain terms both for theirs and their wives' sakes.
As for the ladies who have been truly called into this principle, you are truly blessed! To the rest I would say - stay away! But be sure that the 'knowledge' of your call is spiritual and not carnal, for if you have been called and you are resisting that call, and holding back a righteous man who has undoubtedly been called, I'm afraid there is much suffering ahead for you, and you will need to look squarely at yourself honestly and truthfully. For whilst I would say that the vast majority of women out there who are associated with this 'polygamy movement' are under ungodly duress and compulsion to whom my heart goes out unreservedly, I also know that there are a few who most certainly have been called who are walking in a spirit of total or partial rebellion.
You see, the sword of polygamy cuts both ways. It destroys those who think they are called into it and are not (along with those they compell into it) as well as those who are called into it but refuse. The issue is always one of obedience - obediebce to Yahweh - and of faith that He never calls anyone into something that will not bless them. (And if He doesn't call you into it, it is to save you).
May Yahweh bless all those who are called and those who are not, each occupying and submitting to their own spheres as monogamists or polygamists, each working out their salvation with fear and trembling and doing all that the Most High requires of them. Amen.