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    Chapter 4

    Eros Made Sacred
    The Biblical Case for Polygamy

    Chapter 4. The Ministry of the Patriarch

      "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:6 ).

    The word "patriarch" literally means "father ruler". When I refer to the "ministry of the patriarch", I mean a society in which the fathers rule society in and through their homes. It is a family-based society and the rulers of the families are the fathers.

    I discuss this ministry at length in my book Restoring the Foundations, so it is not my purpose to do so here. What I shall offer is a Biblical example of this ministry and how polygamy is integral to it.

    In 1 Chronicles we find an enlightening reference to "the sons of Issachar":

      "And the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do"

    stood with David during the crisis of the monarchy (12:32). Who were these men?

    Issachar was one of the tribes of Israel and descended from the ninth son of Jacob by Leah. The account of his birth is interesting. His name means "he will bring reward". Genesis 30:18 tells us that Issachar's birth was God's reward for polygamy (Leah had given Jacob her maidservant.) Consequently, she was blessed with fertility.

    Genesis 49:14-15 says of Issachar, that he was a man of extraordinary masculinity - a man's man of labor, service, and dominion. Issachar was the one to call for the hard jobs. He was a man of the earth, a farmer. His dwelling place was a center for commerce. He was a mighty man by the highways - the nation's Minuteman.

    Issachar was a tribe of low visibility. It supplied no kings or prophets, and only one judge (Judges 10:1). Yet, we find it was the bell-weather tribe. Issachar could get along without Israel, but Israel could not get along without Issachar. It always stood on the right side in the day of decision and crisis (Deuteronomy 27:12; Judges 5:15; 1 Chronicles 12:32).

    Issachar was also a tribe of family men. They were dwellers of tents - that is, their families came along with them in their journeys of business and labor (Deuteronomy 33:18-19). They were also a tribe of polygamists, and for that reason, they were able to man the largest military force of all the tribes (1 Chronicles 7:4). Clearly in Issachar and his descendants, we see the patriarchal ministry. Perhaps the Judahs produced the Davids, but the Issachars made them king.

    Polygamy was the enabling principle. It was the source of Issachar's greatness. The patriarchal calling is not possible without it. Only with polygamy is a man trained to exercise dominion through his household. With monogamy, a man's household is not large enough to require more than a token of his attention. He can job out his responsibilities to hirelings. In polygamy, the man's career is his family, and his contribution to society is through his family.

    Only in polygamy is a man trained in the kind of rule required by a family-based society. In Proverbs 31, we find the virtuous woman enabling her husband to become a leader where "Her husband is known in cities, when he sits among the elders of the land" (v.23). Yet even this diligent and virtuous woman could not do it alone. She relies upon her maidservants (v.15). Clearly, a tiny, monogamous family is not what is in mind here, but a family estate inhabited by a polygamous household. This woman excels all the other wives in her managerial and nurturing ministry (v.29).

    If we ever hope to restore a truly Biblical society, then we must restore the family to its central place. To restore the family, we must revive the patriarchy. And polygamy is the only means to do so.

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    Author: JWS

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    First created on 4 April 2000
    Updated on 18 June 2016

    Copyright 1991 J.W.Stivers, Library of Congress #TX-3-189-734
    Stivers Publications, P.O. Box 8701, Moscow, Idaho 83843, USA
    Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2000
    Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
    endorsement of the author's other publications or views.