Out of the Tunnel to Meet God
The semester had ended and I could think of nothing else except Stan, Raj and my sister-wives...for that is now how I looked upon them. I wrote a letter to every one - it took me five days to do, but I wanted to make up for my attrocious behaviour when I left. I felt so guilty for spurning Stan's love and wrote this to him:
Kansas City, December 20th
How can you ever forgive me for the horrible way I treated you when I left Lublin in October? I want you to know that I've been to hell and back these last few weeks and seen myself for who I really am. I see that I am just a miserable, egocentric and selfish bitch who wanted all the attention. I don't have any problems with you, your wives, or with polygamy. I'm not sure I've been through my Peniel yet but I at least know what my problem is. Will you still have me in spite of my willful pride? I do love you, and all the others, and would consider myself blessed to be your wife now and forever, if you will have me.
Please say hi to everyone at Raj and tell them that I miss them too.
I put the letter in the mail box and then remembered that it was the Christmas season and that the mail might take ages, especially at the Polish end. So I rushed over to the public library and repeated it in an e-mail. I sat at the computer checking my mailbox every two minutes for an hour, just hoping that Stan was on-line working on his computer. There were only five minutes to closing time and my heart grew heavy. It was Friday and the library would be closed for the weekend. I was just about to close my Hotmail link down when I thought I'd reload it just one more time.
THERE IT WAS! I leaped in my chair and squealed, earning myself a scowl from one of the librarians and looks of amusement from others surfing nearby. It's title was: "TO MY SWEETHEART". My heart pounded as I double-clicked the header. "Come on, come on!" I muttered impatiently beneath my breath - only three minuets to go - what if it's a long one? Finally it loaded and my eyes almost popped out of my head:
How happy your message made me! My heart is full of joy! I do love you for your honesty and perseverence. I have missed you terribly. The Lord has been gracious to both of us, hasn't He? Come home to Raj as soon as you have wound up your affairs in Kansas City. I'll be waiting for you. Everyone sends hugs and kisses and are so happy for you. I'm off to Sweden in an hour's time and will try to email you from a friend's home there on Saturday evening after the Sabbath services are concluded. Molly has been and gone - I don't think she'll be joining us, though she liked it here - she's too afraid to leave her friends behind. Drop some emails to the others - Kasia especially wants to hear from you and Sarah-Jane wants to know if you got her letter.
I was over the moon until I read about Sarah-Jane...I had completely forgotten to answer her sweet letter. Dang that selfishness of mine! The bell rang and the readers left the library. I would write to Sarah-Jane as soon as I got home. I knew I would have to work at this and remember that I was going to be marrying six other women too, not just one man! And then, I thought about Molly and had to laugh - she wasn't even joining the family - probably. My fears and jealosy were all utterly in vain, but I'm glad I went through that hell because it would make me more conscious the next time another woman would come into the family.
Hanukkah had started and I had no-one to celebrate it with. The Sabbath had started - should I write to Sarah-Jane or go to the Messianic Jewish congregation at Beth-Zion?
"I've got to put the Lord first", I thought to myself. "I can write Sarah-Jane when I get home".
So I went to Beth-Zion and joined the evening service. It was lovely. There were candles all around the synagogue with a nine-armed Hanukkah candlearbre up front. In huge gold letters on the wall were the words, "Yeshua is Lord!"
"Yah'shua is Lord! Hallelujah" I cried out in my heart, surprising myself by using "Yah'shua" instead of "Yeshua". I had found the different names used by Christians for Christ a bit confusing at first. Though they used 'Yah'shua' at Raj I felt uncomfortable with it as all I knew was 'Jesus'. But that didn't bother Stan. He was not of the belief that using the Greek form was blasphemous or harmful and happily used the Greek himself when he was with those who were uncomfortable with the Hebrew equivalent. I met some Messianic Jews who though that 'Jesus' was unconscious worship of the pagan Greek deity Ye-Zeus but I didn't buy that one. I remember how Kryztina had told me that the Polish for God was Bog - Suszana had laughed and told us that bog was the Danish for 'book'.
Stan had said: "There's no such thing as a pure language any more. I've met people who've said that this or that language is more holy than that one, and that we should only speak in a certain way. That's bunkum. Even Hebrew has changed which is why we have problems with pronouncing the Hebrew Name for Jesus. Some say it's Yeshua, others Yehoshua, and others Yah'shua. Some Greek fanatics say we should pronounce Jesus as 'Ieosou' which is certainly more accurate than 'Jesus' since the letter 'J' in the English language is a recent adaptation from French. There was no 'J' sound in English four hundred years ago and it would have been pronounced in the same way as Polish or Swedish as a 'Y'. Even in Bible times there were different dialects as would be expected. One famous Hebrew word with at least two variants, shibboleth, has found its way into the English language. You may remember that one tribe pronounced it sibboleth and so their spies were identified.
"Those who say that people who use the word 'Jesus' are blasphemers are fanatics who worship the letter more than the spirit. If Satan can pronounce it then he's better off than most of Christendom. Yah'shua is Yeshua is Jesus. Let's use the one most likely to be right and let others act according to their conscience. My goodness, Americans can't even pronounce my full name!" He had laughed.
"Your name's Stan," I had said, "there's no big deal in that."
He wrote his name down, STANISŁAW. "Pronounce that, then."
"Stanisloor," I said in my broad Missourian accent.
"Nope! Try again!"
I was mildly irritated - I could see he was teasing me. "I don't know. That's what it reads."
"In Polish, 'w' is pronounced as 'v', as in German, and the 'a' is as in the English 'calf'. You'll notice that the 'Ł' isn't an 'L' at all but has a litte oblique line through it - that's pronounced as a 'W'. So my name is pronounced Staniswav."
"Polish is tough," I muttered.
"So are most foreign languages because our brains are trained from a young age to hear and articulate certain sounds. The Chinese and Japanese have tremendous problems with our 'r's and 'l's, and we just can't hear all their subtle vowel intonations. English-speakers have problems with all the Hebrew gutterals but that doesn't make us blasphemers because we can't pronounce something.
"The important thing in language is what it communicates. Thus the important thing about the Name of Christ isn't whether it is pronounced Yah'shua, Yeshua, Yehoshua, Ieusou, or Jesus, but that it means "Yahweh saves". It's for this reason, and this reason alone, that we prefer Yah'shua because it reminds us that God the Father is Saviour."
"But I thought that Jesus - pardon, Yah'shua - was Saviour," I said, smiling at my slip.
"Get hold of a concordance and you'll find that 'Yahweh is Saviour' is splattered across the Old Testament. The great mystery of our faith, as Paul called it, is that God was revealed in the flesh (1 Tim.3:16b). Christ, who is undisputibly Saviour, is God incarnate. Therefore God must by the same token be Saviour. That is what the Saviour's Name reveals - Yahweh saves. The Father saves through the Son. But it is the Father who is ultimately doing the saving, since it was He who so loved the world that He gave us His Son in the first place to do that saving. And there's a passage somewhere in the New Testament which confirms this directly, saying that the Father is Saviour, but it's slipped my mind for the moment. Paul was its author."
I listened to the choir at Beth-Zion singing a beautiful Jewish song about the Messiah and I remembered so much of what Stan had taught me. The Trinity doctrine had bothered me a lot too. There are many Messianic Jewish congregations who regard it as blasphemous, just as they do the Name 'Jesus'. But Stan had had a different approach to the whole business.
"It's useless getting weighed down in debates on the Godhead," he had said, "because the only agreement you're ever going to get is through an ecclesiastical dictat. The issue was "decided" for us by some Catholic councils and the Protestants simply sheepishly accepted their resolution. If they want to believe the Trinity doctrine, it's not a problem for me. I won't disfellowship them for expressing an honest belief based on Scripture. What I do object to is their insistance that those who don't accept Trinitarianism are heretics, because their ultimate authority rests in an extra-biblical Creed. And that in itself contradicts one of their articles of faith, namely, that the Bible is the sole arbiter of truth. They, perhaps without realising it, are contradicting themselves, and abandon the Sola Scriptura stance of believers in the Reformation.
"But the Trinity doctrine has been arrived at through centuries of Bible study," I had said. "Surely so many theologians can't be wrong?"
I stopped myself short at the silliness of my last statement.
"If the Trinity doctrine was so important for our spiritual life then the apostles would have been inspired to write it down in the New Testament for us. They had plenty of opportunities. Paul could have written in 1 Timothy 3:16 - "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was revealed in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" and then proceeded to define their relationship to one another. But he didn't. All he said was: "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh" (KJV).
"Now as a person who believes in the Bible as my rule of faith, who believes that a true Christian must accept without argument every doctrine that is unambiguously stated, I cannot possibly insist that a Christian accepts the Trinity doctrine. I give him the freedom to believe in it because it is one conclusion, even if I do not agree with it. So what do I insist? I insist, with Paul, that the great mystery of godliness is that God was manifest in the flesh - that God became incarnate as a man, Yah'shua the Messiah. That is all. That is all that I, as a New Covenant Christian, expect of anyone coming to me for baptism. They must confess that Yah'shua is divine - that He is in some way God. I expect no more than that, otherwise the scripture would be proved void, because it is defined as a mystery, and a mystery by definition is unsolved. That is not to say that individual Christians have not solved the mystery, but it is to say that to become a simple Christian you do not need to be able to expound the mystery. That Yah'shua is God in the flesh is an issue of faith, and more faith than this the Bible does not require. And I do not require more of my family or those I have spiritual responsibility for."
"Yeah, it's a big issue and I can see how important it is to keep it simple," I had said.
"We will probably never be able to understand God. Isaiah said that His and our thoughts are simply on different wavelengths. We have to be content with simplifications. The main concern of the early Church fathers was, of course, heresy. There were Gnostics who claimed Christ was just a phantom with no corporeal existence at all, and there were Arians like our modern Jehovah's Witnesses who claimed that Yah'shua was a second class god, and there were probably those like Mormons today who say that there are two or more Gods, one of which was Yah'shua. But the Bible says quite unambiguously that there is only one God and that He manifested Himself in the flesh as the Lord Yah'shua. It mentions other puzzling things like the Holy Spirit sometimes as an invisible force, sometimes as a Person, sometimes as a seven-fold force, sometimes as Seven persons, sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes neuter. It mentions that the Son is equal to the Father and that the Son is subordinate to the Father. It mentions that Yah'shua's Name is the Name above all names and it says that Yah'shua will give back His authority to the Father at the end the millennial dispensation. The puzzle is complex and scriptorians and theologians have dived in eager to solve it. One solution, quite an elegant one, in fact, was the Trinitiarian formulation, but like every formulation is defective in one or more areas."
"How come?" I asked curiously.
"The Trinitarian formula insists that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are absolutely and literally co-equal which on a jurisdictional level is quite true. But it ignores those scriptures which insist that the Son, for example, is subordinate to the Father. Trinitarians have various theological tricks to wriggle out of that one to be sure but the clear impression is that they are trying to make the data fit into a preconceived doctrine rather than let the Bible speak for itself.
"I can understand why they would wish to defend such a doctrine, both because it's neat and also because it has been a bulwark against some of the more radical heresies. Even today there are many Messianic Jews who refuse to accept that Yah'shua is God - they will accept Him as a mortal Messiah, rather as the Muslims accept Mohammed, but no more. This is a dangerous doctrine. They too are inventing various tricks of theological gymnastics to defend their preconceived doctrine and like the Jehovah's Witnesses gladly twist scripture around to try and make it fit. We cannot - must not - do that. The Word must be allowed to stand as it is. If we can't puzzle something out, then our responsibility is simply to put it on the back burners of our mind until the Lord, if He chooses to, sorts it out for us. In the meantime we have all the saving aspects of the Gospel we need in our hands."
I had no problem accepting that. I liked Stan's approach. He was unafraid to assail dogma but refused to create dogma of his own where other interpretations were possible. I felt free to explore at my own pace those areas which weren't clear. Stan had very definite ideas about the Godhead which I know most of his family accepted but he never insisted that others accept them. He numbered amongst his friends strict Trinitarians and those of almost every theological stripe. The only condition he made for fellowship was acceptance of the Deity of Christ. He told me that without this no ministry of deliverance was possible. To remove Christ's deity was, he claimed, to totally neuter the Gospel by taking its vital power away. If Christ wasn't God then there was no Gospel and the resurrection was, at worst, no more than a theatrical event, and at best, no more than a symbol of self-sacrifice.
The Pastor read from 1 Peter 2:9 - "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; they ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (KJV).
I felt myself glowing inside as I had done in Sarah-Jane's arms on that night of realisation. Everything seemed to fall so neatly into place and I never felt so sure that I was doing the right thing as I did that evening sitting inside Beth-Zion. There was almost a prophetic significance to it - the House of Zion. That was what Stan loved so much, what in his Church they called the "Zionic imperative". They were out to build, as Peter had said, that "holy nation", and peculiar they most certainly were.
They were more peculiar than anyone I had ever met, and the world thought them mad. They saw Stan as a sex-mad psychopath and his wives as harem slaves because that's all their dark minds could do to justify their alienation from God. They called him a heretic because he wouldn't blindly swallow their dogmas and march to the drumbeat of barnacle-encrusted tradition. And they called him an antichrist - he a man more than any other I knew who glorified Christ in everything he did, capturing every thought and making it subject to Christ. I saw around me willfull disobedience, conscious rebellion, and I shuddered.
How would I ever tell my family what I was about to do? How much should I tell them? This was to be my next big dilemma, and one that faces all Christian polygamous families. If they believed I was going into some cult like the Moonies or Branch Davidians, they might try to abduct me and subject me to 'deprogramming'. What a bitter irony that would be - being deprogrammed from a system of thought that hated and detested every and any form of cultism, and which prized freedom of thought and feelings above all else.
Stan had once said freedom was one of the most precious gifts of God there is and he loved to quote Galatians 5:1 -
"Stand fast, therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (KJV).
He had told me that most people who are not free, but who think they are free, share a common symptom: they want to force everybody else to be as free as them! I had to laugh at his wit but I kew he was deadly serious.
"People use double-speak all the time. The communists loved to talk about liberating the masses from capitalism but then made them even worse prisoners. They loved to cry "peace" whilst always pursuing their double game of war."
"How can one know one is truly in the light, then?" I had asked him one day.
"That's simple. Light can understand darkness, but darkness cannot understand light. That's what John testified of, wasn't it?
"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (John 1:10, KJV).
Christ is the Light, but sinners who do not want to see are made blind by their own folly. But even if the darkness wanted to understand the light, it wouldn't be able to. John said:
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (v.5).
Those who are in Christ - who are in the light - are given a perfect comprehension of the machinations of evil. It is made plain to them, like a torch lighting up a face hidden in the dark. They understand the light because they are in it, but the light is utterly meaningless to those in the dark. As Paul said of the Greek pagans, the cross was foolishness to them."
"But what about Christians who are blind? How can that be so?" I wondered out aloud.
"There are Christians and there are Christians," said Stan semi-mystically.
"A Christian has as much light in his soul as he is faithful and obedient. It depends into which areas of their lives they have admitted Yah'shua as Saviour."
He paused to grab a couple of flashlights which were hanging on a hook on the wall and then turned the lights off in the room. He switched one on and illuminated a copy of the Bible he was holding.
"Read something from the Bible, I said."
I strained in the weak light and read something out aloud. He switched off the first flashlight and put on the second. It was brilliant and had obviously had new batteries put into it. "
Read now," he said.
It was much easier to read.
"If you look outside at this house at night when has only one light on in one room you can't see much, can you? Turn all the lights on in all the rooms and you get a blaze of lights and you can see most of the house's outline.
"If a Christian only admits Christ into one area of his life the rest is going to be in complete darkness. Only the Christian who admits Christ as Lord of every room of his life - his career, his emotions, his family, his money, his long-range plans, and so forth, can see clearly. Other Christians are going to be in semi-darkness.
"That's why so many Christians are blind to things like polygamy. They don't want to see it. And when they do, they turn the light out again by saying stupid things like, "That's not for me", or, "That was for then," or, "The Old Testament has been replaced by the New." You've heard it all.
"Ask people why they observe Sunday as the Lord's Day or celebrate Christmas and they can't give you a biblical reason for it. They might try to defend Sunday from a few Scriptures but once you've shown their error from the Word their only recourse is either to repent or turn out the light and let Satan animate their thinking and feelings with invective and anger.
"No, Hélène, I'm not a bit surprised that the majority of Christians are walking in either twilight or complete darkness. I've had lots of discussions with Catholics here and almost all of them to a man or woman fall back on tradition or the Pope when the Bible contradicts their beliefs. They would rather follow the teachings of men than the Word of God, and once they have made that choice, more and more lights start going out until, if they take their rebellion to its final conclusion, all the lights go out and they are left in utter darkness."
"But how can they continue calling themselves Christians?" I asked incredulously.
"Why not? We had millionnaire communists here, you know. There was even a multi-millionnaire from your own country who was great friends with the Bolsheviks during the Soviet era. Haven't Christians so-called maimed, tortured and murdered in the Name of God? And didn't Christ call the religious rulers of His day, ministers of their father the devil?
"Words are words, that's why I don't invest an ultimate authority in them, but only in actions and intentions of the heart. Just because someone comes preaching from the Bible with great authority as he supposes doesn't make him a Christian.
"To be a Christian is to be judged by other criteria like loving your brother and obeying the commandments. I'll acknowledge whatever lights are turned on in people's lives but I will withstand them to their face when they say they have all of them on but only a few candles of truth are flickering here and there."
"That," I said, "must get them pretty livid!"
"Certainly. It stirs the very devil up in them. I've seen as many demons in so-called Christians as I have in unbelievers because demons love to take residence in a soul naming the Name of Christ if they can. It gives them a great edge to deceive and work chaos.
"In my experience as a minister, Hélène, the two doctrines that are likely to stir them up are a challenge to the unqualified truth of the Trinity and the divine mandate to practice polygamy. The Trinity is a sacred cow and polygamy is the worst taboo imaginable. If I can sit down and talk to a Christian rationally about these I know that I am dealing with someone who is honest and open to more light and truth. If I meet a wall, I pass him by or rebuke him for twisting the Scriptures when he does. I have a lot of enemies, but my friends would lay down their lives for me, and I for them. I mention this so that you know what you'd be getting into."
"Have you ever been persecuted here?" I asked, wondering just how far I might have to stick my neck out.
"We've been largely left alone here in Lublin but we had a rough time in Białystok where we lived before. Extreme Catholics threw bricks through our windows, tried to set fire to the kitchen, and bullied our children at school. It was then we realised that we had to teach our own young ones and move to a place where we could be left in peace. Mind you, we were pretty open about our beliefs and polygamous lifestyle and we were a big thorn in their side. The local Catholic Bishop whipped quite a frenzy up about us. So we moved, and were glad of it. Yah'shua said that if you are persecuted you should move on to another town.."
"Do you think we might be persecuted here?"
He sighed. "I don't know, Hélène, I don't know. You can never know. So far we've been left in peace because we keep a low profile and are out in the countryside. In Białystok we lived in town. I don't recommend that polygamous families live in towns, especially if they have children..."
"Unless they built the town themselves, huh?" I jokingly said.
"I wouldn't recommend that either. The Mormons learned that lesson when they tried to practice polygamy in Illinois, though that was a more intolerant age and they were certainly heretical. We do of course believe in building polygamous communities but they must be sufficiently remote as to not excite local jealosies and fears. We don't believe in founding polygamous towns at this stage - it would be an open invitation for state persecution of one form or another. Just a few polygamous families here and there living with monogamous families too. A low profile is the best solution, I believe."
"There are some guys in the States who are quite open about it and have been on TV. What do you think of them?"
"I'm not in favour of sensationalising polygamy, nor am I too interested in changing the laws of countries to make it legal. Once it became legal the government would simply try and control and regulate according to its premises. If they want to make it legal, that's fine, but I wouldn't go and register my family..."
"Not even for tax cuts?" I suggested.
"No," he insisted, "but then that's my personal opinion. I find no licence in the Bible for giving the state control of marriage of any kind. Marriage is a family affair. I do not recognise the state's right to tell me what to do in my family, or to reward or punish me economically for the way I live. But if other polygamists want to campaign for state rights, that's up to them. They have the freedom to pursue that path.
"Legalising something never made it right in God's eyes, and what people think I couldn't care a fig. I intend to live my life peacefully and without insisting on any rights. I intend to mind my own business and I grant others the right to do the same. If I believed that society was redeemable, I would likely take a different approach, but I don't, as you know, subscribe to "Kingdom Now" theology. I am not an evangelist for polygamy any more than I am an evangelist for any other Gospel principle. I am an evangelist only for Christ.
"I believe that if a person truly yields his life completely to the Lord, then the principles will reveal themselves. If they ask about the principles, I'll tell them. I'd rather get them to surrender every room of their spiritual house to the Lord first and to accept unconditionally every word of the Bible. Those are the two edges of the sword that I wield as an evangelist. Until you have got total surrender and obedience to the Lord and the Word, you're fighting a losing battle in everything else.
"There are some who believe you can approach the Gospel from other angles, like sitting and arguing over doctrine, and there might be some truth in that, but personally I find that at best uneconomical time-wise and futile spiritually.You may well argue someone into submission over a doctrine but if they don't want to believe it, they won't. They'd rather turn the light of truth off and carry on just as before."
As I remembered these words I understood why Stan had not come pursuing me after I had left Raj in the dark mood I was in. He would never have convinced me anyway. He might have grovelled in the ground, and I probably would have liked that, but then I would have accepted him and his family as a Jezebel instead of a Sarah. In my mind I accused him of not loving me for being so silent because I assumed that love would come crawling.
But it doesn't. And when you rail at the Lord, He doesn't come crawling either. He just turns off the communication channel until you are contrite and teachable again. He leaves us to wrestle in the darkness until we come to our senses and discover humility.
When Yah'shua was born into the world, it wasn't as a shooting star or in a blaze of triumph, but as a lowly babe. I learned through Stan that we have to approach Him on those terms. You can't thump at God's door and force your way in. I tried that so many times but all you end up with is an aching arm.
The door to understanding Polygamy can only be opened by a contrite approach because it is a holy principle. For those who want to assault it with a battering ram, its mysteries will remain forever closed. Polygamy is a condition of love, and love operates by attraction, not compulsion. Yah'shua said that He would draw all men to Him, not drive them with a whip. I was won to polygamy not by irresistable biblical proof but by the attraction of love. The Bible proofs helped me only later was I dealt with my rotten sin-nature. I guess many come in through the scriptural door but for me it was the power of love that won my heart. The Bible said it is by love that we will be known as Christ's disciples, not by insisting that we are right and condemning everyone else to hell because they won't follow us.
The service ended and although I hadn't heard too much, my soul was refreshed and I felt so strong inside. My heart was glowing like a red hot coal in the fire place, just like Sarah-Jane had said. It was steady, soothing, comforting. The glow seemed to gently move around my whole body, bathing it in celestial bliss. I just felt love for everything and everyone I saw. Compassion was aroused within me and I felt better than at anytime in my life. When I thought of Stan, I thought of the truth and goodness that was in him; and when I knew he was mine, I knew that my possession was only because Christ had granted it, and because He possessed us both. And here I was experiencing this happiness whilst Stan and his wives were half way across the other side of the world. Distance didn't seem to make any difference. Christ was in me, Christ was in Stan, Christ was in his wives, and we all just connected in love.
I went home and wrote to Sarah-Jane and shared my joy with her. I wrote until way past midnight. I lit some candles in my room to remember Hanukkah and its symbol as the Light of Christ.
This page was first created in 2002
Last updated on 5 March 2009
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