Chapter 5. Polygamy as a Tool of Christian Dominion
In my book Restoring the Foundations, I made a special effort to argue the superiority of a family-based society. No century in recorded history has so consciously rejected the family and clung to institutional remedies for the ills of human existence as has this century (20th). This century has also been the bloodiest in world history. It does not take a great mind to conclude that we are in serious trouble. The world is awash with ideologues and perfectionists - all ready to use the arm of the state to solve your problems. God save us from the saviors!
While many "pro-family" groups have tried to preserve the family in the face of its many enemies, none of them have described what a family-based society looks like. They seem content to turn the clock back a couple of generations to a healthier time. However, you cannot defend what you cannot define, and in my opinion, these pro-family groups differ little in their proposed remedies than the conservative humanists.
The conjugal or nuclear family is not what I am talking about when I refer to a family-based society. The nuclear family is too small to create an institutional impact. Consequently, it is the extended family group, which may include from three to five generations, to which I refer as the basic building block of society. The Puritans recognized the inadequacy of the nuclear family and resorted to the colonization of New England by congregations - groups of families and individuals constituting a church big enough to form townships. These were self-sufficient and self-contained political, military and economic units - true building blocks.
That experiment failed, however, because it lacked a strong enough bond to hold people together over the generations. In the long-run, creedal unity did not produce a new race of people. Race is a physical reality which utilizes the bonds of kinship to glue society together. Creeds can create a unity of the mind, but not of the heart. Thus, the legacy of New England has been rationalism and the rootless American.
In Biblical times, we find the Israelites settling the land of Canaan by dividing it into family estates. These estates were large enough to justify a family village and a self-appointed judge. Hence, we find here not only a doctrinal unity in theology and law (given by Moses), but also a social system which operated within the structure of kinship.
The Old Testament does not have an equivalent word to describe the conjugal family. The "family" was understood as an extended kinship group (including servants and their families) residing on the same section of land and governed by the principal male heir. Toward an understanding and restoration of this Biblical concept of society has been foremost in my research. And I speak to it here.
Few people perceive the profound economic and cultural benefits which come from the polygamous marriage. Serial polygamy is what built this nation. Monogamous women spent themselves on the frontier and died young. Their children survived and their husbands remarried, sometimes two or three times. Pioneer living is hardest on women and the success of Mormon polygamy in mitigating that strain cannot be overlooked.
At present, institutions serve as surrogate spouses or parents to shore-up the shortcomings of monogamy. Maintaining the current standard of living in the United States, the most affluent of nations, is impossible without a two-income household. Mom has joined Dad in the workforce. The appropriate question arises: what becomes of the children? They are what enables a family to cross the generations.
If the children are very young, they are placed into day-care centers, where studies show a child has a far greater chance of physical, mental, or sexual abuse than at home (Enemies of Eros, Maggie Gallagher, Bonus Books, Chicago, p. 239). In fact, outside of the care of their biological parents, the chances are forty times greater!
If the children are older, they are enrolled in a public, parochial, or private school. In each case, a surrogate exists to train and nurture the child in the absence of the parent. Not unlike ancient Greece which started its decline when it turned the rearing of children to the slaves, America's children are either nurtured by older peers or adults (school teachers) who find it impossible to have an emotional tie to them.
The failure of the school systems to produce excellence and godly character, whether public or private, is becoming increasingly obvious. As a result, the home school movement has suddenly taken wings. But there are trade-offs which must occur for the family committed to teaching their children at home. I heard one home education leader cite the turn-over rate at 50% every year. Even for the faithful, there are great sacrifices. Mothers find they cannot work that job and teach at the same time, so the family experiences a precipitous decline in the standard of living. If this were only a loss of luxuries, all would still be well. But in too many cases, such a decision means the loss of the family's ability to save money and accumulate capital - the tools necessary for the family to grow into the next generation and fulfill the Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28).
I speak to the situation of home school families because they are the vanguard of the pro-family movement. If they are falling short, it is much worse in the rest of society.
The polygamous household overcomes these obstacles in one stroke. A division of adult labor is naturally created to maintain an adequate income as well as adequate care for the children. While one wife is teaching and caring for the children, the other may be employed or busy in a cottage industry. Perhaps they both can work part-time and share the burden of the family chores.
The father finds he no longer needs excessive hours to make ends meet. He is allowed more time with his family and the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with God that would make him a leader.
We find this obvious benefit manifested in the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31. She provides enough leisure time for her husband to qualify himself as a leader, both in his home and in his community. There is much more to the duties of a man than to earn a living or to be a good companion to the woman. If the Biblical pattern be followed, much of what the government does today was done by the fathers in Israel. Fathers created the governmental structure of Biblical society. They provided the spiritual and military covering. They were the welfare system, the ministers of justice, and so on.
However, in our day, we have chosen institutional remedies for needs once met by the family. Today, we pay to have judges and attorneys to administer justice. We establish bureaucracies to provide the military, financial, and welfare structures to protect us from mishaps and dangers. We buy insurance to recover losses when our institutions fail. But all of these constitute a society run by hirelings and not shepherds (John 10:12-13). These are poor substitutes for the family, at least if we believe the Bible. Fathers are shepherds. The secular contracts between men have replaced the sacred bond between kin as the tools of dominion in our society. And they are very cold and clumsy.
Institutionalism naturally degrades into socialism and then communism. A contract society is always a litigious one which requires the constant policing of the state to maintain order. Biblically speaking, it is the Moloch society, where men turn their responsibilities and risks over to "the gods" (professionals), culminating in the god-king and his priests (bureaucrats) (see 1 Samuel 8). A free society cannot exist without the structure of the extended family.
Obviously, monogamous man is not capable of providing that structure. Perhaps, if he is a professional, his income is high enough to care for his family and give him opportunity for community leadership. Ironically, as a professional, he is probably a part of the bureaucratic order himself, and if he does become a leader, he and his wife must rely upon others to provide the bulk of their children's care and training. The result is an aristocracy, and the more affluent parts of New England are a good example of what I am talking about.
Polygamy is the only way the working man can fight back the rise of tyranny in our day. For the little people, only polygamy can secure the home front - economically, spiritually, and culturally. Only polygamy can free-up time for the men to confront the enemies of Christ which are enslaving us all.
During the 1970s and 1980s, we saw a groundswell of political and social involvement by fundamentalist Christians. Most of those activists were women (e.g. Eagle Forum). The men were too busy trying to make a living to involve themselves in political issues. The women did it. That effort was unbiblical and ultimately has failed. Such is the curse of monogamy. Had we been a polygamous society, we would have had self-sufficient households where the women managed the home and men managed society. The men would have fought the political battles - and we would have won.
We need more men, an army of men to do battle with the tyrants of our generation. The common man is outgunned in every category by the institutional giants which rule us. He has fought back with unions, PACs, para-church ministries, private schools, and so on. And we cannot discount the good that has been done. But these tools of dominion have not turned back the tide, precisely because they are, by their very nature, bureaucratic, institutional, and susceptible to the very corruptions we are fighting to correct. The boy David cannot fight the giant with Saul's armor. The shepherd is. not a professional soldier, and if he tries to be one, Goliath will surely slay him.
The family man must use the resource of his own family. Polygamy, by its very nature as an extended marriage, creates an extended family - a networking large enough and strong enough to be a formidable opponent. It gives a family an institutional stature in society.
The hope for our freedom from Antichrist does not depend upon our ability to destroy the power centers of our evil civilization. Leave that to God. Rather, our hope rests upon our ability to create new power centers and a new civilization. That civilization begins at home.
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.