I have to go back!! After five months in this strange, new land I have been informed that I must return home. It seems that there is a mix-up with the immigration papers necessitating my return to straighten it out and likely will require five to six months to resolve so that I can return. After the crying spell and the emotional meltdown, I find that I have been somewhat reflective and pensive the last couple of weeks and I have pondered on some things that I would like to share with you, brothers and sisters.
In less than a year, I have gone from total unawareness of the possibility of living polygamous to marrying into the oldest Christian/Messianic polygamist family in Europe. At the time that events were unfolding, it did not seem to me that things were progressing all that rapidly. It seemed rather straightforward. I, upon investigation and prayer, became convinced of the scriptural validity of plural marriage, then I met Stanisław, Kasia, and Kryztina and came to love them and wanted to be part of their family.
I studied everything Stanisław had written about Christian/Messianic polygamy, as well as much of what he has written regarding other theological matters, and underwent - and am still undergoing - major spiritual readjustments, readjustments that likely will take many years, if not a lifetime, to complete. I came to believe in my mind that righteous, Christian/Messianic echad polygamy was a spiritually blessed way to live and that Yahweh had called me to join this family. That calling I have not doubted nor is it likely that I ever will.
Before I arrived, I studied and talked with everyone and, arrogant puppy that I was, deemed myself prepared to enter this time-honored and blessed marriage estate. I felt that I had researched and was prepared for possible pitfalls and likely traps along the path of adjustment to plural marriage. I also thought that I had sorted out all the worldly notions about marriage in general and polygamy in particular and was ready. I mean, I am forty-five years old and supposedly a mature woman so how hard can it be, right? Well...
In the first five months, I have fallen into all the traps that I just knew I had prepared myself to avoid. You know the ones you read about all the time, jealousy, envy, selfishness, insecurity, etc... Well, not quite. You see, I had one more huge and incredibly painful lesson to learn. Head knowledge is not the same thing as heart knowledge.
Let me see if I can explain. You see, most of you reading this have grown up in a cultural climate very like the one I grew up in. It is a climate formed by the Roman Catholic disdain for marriage and sex, and the pagan insistence on monogamy. Between the two, we alive today have certain attitudes so deeply ingrained that they are almost race memories. You know what I mean. The attitude of fidelity and love being defined as exclusivity and the desire of a man to have more than one wife as an indication of his inability to 'truly' love his wife. We have been trained to see marriage choices solely in flesh terms and not in spiritual terms on top of being ingrained with unbiblical attitudes about what proves a husband's love for his wife/wives.
We have also been conditioned, however unconsciously, to view a man's wife as a reward or a privilege he has earned without culturally stressing what his responsibility is to his wife/wives or the accountability he will answer for regarding them. This coupled with Roman Catholicism's reduction of women to the status of baby-makers, and sex reduced to a necessary evil to procreate children, has left an inherited legacy that will not be totally overcome in this generation. And when someone, such as myself, investigates and is convinced regarding this principle, it is not the final hurdle. Quite the contrary, if the person has been called to plural marriage, it is only the first.
When someone in this generation is called to polygamy, and I must state my firm belief that, in these early days at the very least, that a direct calling from Yahweh is mandatory for any chance of peaceful success, getting that person to accept the call is only the first hurdle, however a huge and traumatic one. Particularly for the women, because of the different scriptural dynamics, knowledge of a true calling is absolutely critical to avoid spiritual devastation. It requires a commitment to totally change one's spiritual paradigms and mindset for any chance of success. But I must caution all. Acceptance of the call must not bring the arrogant complacence that you are beyond having adjustment trouble. It is inevitable, if overcomeable. The mindset change required is just too big.
I have noticed since I have been involved in the apologetics aspect of Christian/Messianic polygamy, that it is a concept that people react strongly to. Either with exaggerated fear, exaggerated anger, or exaggerated lust - all out of proportion, and all non-productive. The dynamics of the relationships have not even been defined clearly yet, much less worked out in practical application. Motivations are questioned and misunderstood, and accusations tend to fly furiously as those in the fray seek to justify their own stances when they frequently are not entirely sure exactly what their stances are. There is a great deal of education that needs to be done, for the men and the women both.
First, I must say without hesitation, that a man who investigates and decides he is called to polygamy whose first wife is disturbed by it to the point of spiritual destruction has much work to do before he can justify forcing her into it. In fact, in this first generation of the renewal of the principle in a Christian context, the specter of covenant-breaking is one more major hurdle that must be overcome, as the exclusivity covenant is almost universally a part of Christian wedding vows. And I have to say that a man who would force a wife so troubled into polygamy with only a charge of Jezebellic rebellion is firstly, profoundly insensitive and unloving which would disqualify him to enter the principle to begin with, and secondly, likely not truly called by Yahweh into it, but seeking to enter it for a flesh reason rather than a spirit reason. This has been seen graphically and in catastrophic numbers in this generation. I know, I know, women must not have a Jezebel spirit. And I agree wholeheartedly, it must be overcome. But not so that over-sexed adolescents can build a harem without trouble from their wives; rather, so that they, with their husbands, can build a happy and spiritually strong family in Yahweh as is His mandate to His children. Women need to be aware of their duties of subjection and care of their husbands, and most Christian/Messianic women are, even though some are far less obedient than perhaps they should be. But at least the women are familiar with the scriptures. Did you know, brothers and sisters, that I have talked to brothers clamoring to enter the principle that cannot even recognize the scriptures that instruct them how to love and cherish their wives, that elucidate the depth of a Godly husband's duty and devotion to his wife? Most men investigating the principle follow the thought line that it is their privilege as men to take more wives since the Bible sanctions and blessed polygamous marriages. There needs to be an attitude adjustment in this line of thinking for the men.
Wives are a blessing, just as a Godly husband is a blessing to his wives. However, wives are not a commodity that a man goes and collects like baseball caps or model airplanes like a hobby, nor are they a reward because a man has been a good little boy. Wives, whether singular or plural, are a life-long, (or eternal, as some of us believe) commitment and responsibility. Understand, my brothers, that how ever many wives Yahweh blesses you with, or you take whether He blesses you with them or not, you are not permitted to shirk a single bit of your responsibility to any one of them, not ever. You may not decide in a couple of years that it is too much work and walk away from it either. In true, righteous Christian/Messianic polygamy, divorce is just not an option, and if you desert your wives, either all or in any combination, you will be condemned for it before the throne of Yahweh. He will not want to hear, 'Hey, it just was not as much fun as I though it would be.' Because, you see, dear brothers, whether you have one wife or 7 wives, you are responsible for the spiritual welfare of each and every one of them, each and every day, no days off.
You are responsible to cherish and lead them to a stronger spiritual relationship with Yahweh, you are responsible to see to it that they are cared for, both physically and financially, and you are responsible for these things all the days of your lives. Brothers it is one HUGE responsibility. And that responsibility is what justifies the instructions to women to submit to their husbands. It is not so the husband can have a houseful of slaves, but so that the husband can keep his family safe and meet his God-given charge to deliver his wives safe to heaven. Like any good general, Yahweh know that for a group to be safe and effective, there must be a commander, but more, there must be a wise, mature and spiritually sound commander. And, as any good officer will tell you, with the higher rank and authority goes exponentially greater accountability and responsibility. Some serious ideas for a brother considering entering the principle to think about.
Further, both genders have much to learn and many old, bad habits to unlearn and deprogram. It is difficult for women to submit. Very difficult, because we know instinctively that we are vulnerable and to submit in joy and peace requires trust, which is all too easily bruised and abused. Christian/Messianic women must learn to trust and then learn to submit to their husbands in righteousness and in joy. That is their responsibility. But my brothers, I have a thought for you. If your wife, for whatever the reason, be it a flaw in her or a flaw in the both of you, cannot submit to your authority in love and joy in monogamous marriage, I promise you she will not be able to if plural marriage is forced on her. There are fundamental problems that MUST be resolved as a single couple before plural marriage should even be discussed.
Further, the brothers have some overcoming to do as well. You see, brothers have their own submitting that they need to learn to do as well. Not just to Yah'shua (Jesus), as every Christian/Messianic absolutely must, but to spiritual authority here on earth as well. Yahweh has a structure for His body and a governing plan that He expects His children to abide by. The brothers must learn to submit in righteousness and humility to the spiritual authorities that Yahweh has placed over them, and make no mistake, we all have spiritual authorities. Yahweh never made allowances for lone, unaccountable Christians/Messianics. Refusal to be accountable has historically been the quickest way for a genuinely devout brother to get off track, just as refusal to righteously submit to her husband has historically guaranteed to throw a devout Christian/Messianic sister off track. Does anyone see what I am getting at here? We all, male and female, have submission responsibilities as Christians and at this point in time, it is a major stumbling block for many, many of the body. It is a major area of overcoming that must be worked on, not just for the sisters but for the entire body. We must all, every one of us, learn to submit in righteousness to the authorities Yahweh places over us.
The brothers have an additional duty commanded them. It is not one issued to the women because women do not generally need to be told to love their husbands. It comes naturally. But you brothers are charged to love your wives, just as Christ loves the messianic community (church). Perhaps (just supposition on my part, not presented as absolute) that is a spiritual reason for the blessing of selected men with plural wives, to multiply the love that they could not do on their own. Men by (carnal) nature are not loving and they are commanded to be so, so that is the greatest gift that loving Christian/Messianic wives can give their husbands, is to teach them and show them love. Admittedly in this perverse time, there is so much spiritual damage on both sides from abuses that it will likely take a generation or two, with a total commitment to overcome, to learn to love purely and steadfastly, but if we all, brothers and sisters, can make that commitment, then what a lovely creation will be the body of Christ. It requires humility and a willingness to sacrifice, in both genders. It requires patience, longsuffering and forgiveness in both genders. And righteous plural marriages can bring these changes about to the profound blessings of the families and the Body at large, but we must crawl before we fly. I have seen that demonstrated in the community at large and in my own family.
Mostly, those of us committed to plural marriage and its blessings must be just a little patient. We are in a sort of infancy, if you will. Something beautiful and blessed of Yahweh has been born, but it will take time for it to grow to the glowing promise that it has been given. We cannot push centuries of conditioning out the window overnight. We must take small steps and further, those of us bringing the principle to others for investigation must ask small steps of the uninitiated. Let us seek acceptance of the rightness and show the newcomers the rightness of it, not try to force them to see it.
I still believe, that in this first generation, the focus will be on education and bringing to acceptance of the community with a small core of polygamous families to work out the details to give the next generation a solid base of support to build on. I believe that most of the folks entering the principle at this time do not have a clear understanding of what will be required of them, nor do they have any idea in this world how difficult it will be to overcome ancient biases, for all the willingness and education in the world. It will take time. A baby is not born walking, or even crawling for that matter. And you cannot hurry Yahweh. Progress is being made, slow steady gains I am seeing regularly. But also, there is a lot of spiritual devastation that breaks my heart because it does not have to be this way. There is bound to be some discomfort when changing lifelong polarities but it should not be soul-destroying agony and it can and frequently is when impatient humans rush in without adequate education and spiritual stability.
I have learned myself, that for all the love I have for my family, I am going to have a lot of work to do to reach full acceptance and understanding of the differing foci in plural marriage and I am going to have to be vigilant in my guarding against resentment and hurt building up because of entrenched thought patterns. It will not be easy for me. Nor will it be easy for the polygamous community at large, but with faith in Yahweh and an honest commitment to be obedient to His commandments it can be done, and done gloriously. And then we will see the glory of His plan and the splendor of His place for us in the universe. That is my prayer I wish for each and every one of us on the eve of my temporary departure from Europe, from my family and from my life.
Postscript (2016) - This was Świętosława's last article before leaving Poland for her homeland. She did not wait to get the visa problem sorted out but went back, so we were led to understand, to her old life. She never returned and after a few months, went silent and never made contact again. "Head knowledge is not the same thing as heart knowledge", said my fifth wife, when it comes to polygamy and relationships as complex as this lifestyle demands, and that is a lesson other aspirant polygamists need to be cogniscent of. This way is very, very difficult, and none but those who are genuinely called, in a society hostile to it, will ever make it. But even the called don't by default make it, for as the Saviour said, "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 20:16; 22:14) so we should not be surprised that there are casualties, even amongst the called. That is not to say that those who initially fail, even going so far as to break with their husbands and sister-wives, and perhaps even being away for many years, cannot make it back home and be reconciled if they want to, for where there is a will, broken-heartedness and contrition, the way is always open. Yahweh will see to that. Thus for Świętosława and the others who did not make it, the story is not over until Yahweh takes us home. We live in that hope.