Stan's Polygamy Discourses
The following morning Stan and Hanna spent with Elisa and Salme talking about a number of things. Elisa would grab time between appointments at the University in order to see as much of him now as possible. That morning they were walking in the wooded area by the road to Tallinn in the western district of Tahtvere when Elisa suddenly threw Stan a hard question.
"What do you think the worst aspect of polygamy is ... from a man's point-of-view?" she suddenly asked.
Stan was surprised by her question and thought a while as they settled down onto a park bench.
"The worst part of polygamy .... there are so many ways to answer that, my love. Of course, polygamy is hell when a wife is not in the Spirit of God and is walking in the pride and conceit of her own heart, making life difficult for everyone, and setting her sister-wives and children up against her husband. I experienced this in the beginning and experienced hell on earth but in a way I made the whip for my own back by not being tough enough. I was too tender-hearted and didn't want conflict..."
"Can anyone be too tender-hearted?" asked Elisa surprised.
"If it opens the door to anarchy and more suffering, absolutely, yes. That is not to say one should become cold-hearted. No, that is not what I mean. What I mean is that tenderness must be balanced with firmness, even if that firmness can be harsh even to the point of appearing to be cruel.
"In polygamy the husband must consider the interests of the whole family before any individual. It is one thing for a soul to individually and personally choose to let someone walk all over them but it is another to force wives and children to be walked over by a selfish sister-wife who will not come under patriarchal authority," said Stan, soberly.
"But then what you are left with is a kind of Old Testament obedience without love, aren't you" asked Elisa, probing more deeply.
"Yes, it can end that way, and that is another hell. But it is a better hell than anarchy and suffering for the whole family because of one selfish and unwilling wife. Very often you must choose the lesser of two evils. But you are right - such is far from satisfactory. Which is why if a wife ends up in that position of being obedient against her will that I must press her to take the next, and in many ways harder, step. If you leave a wife floundering in obedience against her will, you have simply created another possible conflict situation the the future. Therefore you must keep the pressure up by making it clear that this solution is not satisfactory. You must bring the pressure of love to bear ..."
"What is that?" asked Salme. "I thought love was the opposite."
"Oh no, not to a sinner in deliberate rebellion! Love actually becomes quite oppressive through a disturbed conscience. However, I'm talking about a rather special aspect of love here. I don't mean just pouring kindness and thoughtfulness on a cold and uncaring wife in rebellion against the wishes of her husband. I'm talking about moral pressure in the form of constant bombardment from the Word of God.
"A patriarch cannot afford to simply let a wife simmer in rage in a cage. He must press her to a satisfactory conclusion, just as the Lord often does with us. He can afford to wait a little while, to give her space to think, meditate, pray and try to work things out in her own power, but he cannot leave her like that for too long, especially if she is a stubborn one. If she stays too long in that condition she will, often without knowing it, start constructing strong defences that become a major obstacle to her repentance later on. In truth, it is Satan who builds them - large, thick walls of resistance to change. It becomes a demonic stronghold for her. And others around her will be influenced by it and, usually unconsciously, start building similar mental and emotional constructions.
"This means that I must lay siege to those walls, however painful it may be to her, and recruit as many wives to join in the assault as will follow my lead. And the battering ram is an odd combination, when you think about it, consisting of the Scriptures, intercessory prayer, and treating her kindly."
"I know," said Salme, remembering one of Stan's teachings - "kid gloves in one hand, and a mailed fist with the other."
"Well," said Stan with a half smile, "something like that. The important thing is that the Word and the Holy Spirit are needling her all the time until she makes a choice to repent or flee."
"It seems harsh," said Salme, "though I think I understand."
"Polygamy, Salme, is the crown of marriage. It has such huge blessings, but it cannot function without sacrifice. It's like a position of responsibility in the army. A commander who makes a big error gets a lot more flak than an ordinary private. That is why I warn women coming into polygamy to realise the wonderful and terrible responsibility that she bears in being a part of it. She must shoulder her responsibilities and burdens as well. It is not true that it is the patriarch who must do this - many women think that because they are giving up monogamy that the husband should take the whipping of their sins, as though that is the price he must pay for them giving up something better for them. Such a mindframe is fatally wrong for the woman. Polygamy is completely equal as far as the sharing of burdens and responsibilities are concerned. Both must have the same vision of polygamy and love the principle enough to sacrifice for it, and believe me, the sacrifices required are great for man and women alike.
"Finally, the ultimate hell for a patriarch is if he has several wives who abandon the spiritual and descend into carnality. Then it becomes pure torture. At such times a man wants either monogamy or no marriage at all."
"You sound as though you have experienced this, Stan," said Elisa, looking very serious indeed.
"Yes, I have. And I well remember one day lying on the floor and just wishing to die because all my wives were stubbornly holding out against me and against one another. It was then I realised that love is not yielding to their every whim. It was then I realised that love is not a dialectic - of finding compromises to please everybody. It was then I finally realised that love was pushing through God's program for Christian polygamy even if it meant all of them leaving me and taking my beloved children with them.
"So I resolved to be firm. It made the hell even worse for a time, and I was sorely tempted to pursue the path of compromise again, even if it was only for a short-term - however illusiory - peace. But I held my ground. It was hard - very, very hard, and many times I wanted to give up, but once I occupied that moral high ground and seized the authority God had ordained me with, order began to return. It meant a complete reorganisation of the household in terms of relationships. It was not pleasant but it was absolutely necessary. One by one my wives began to yield and to discover that this was, indeed, a better way for all of us. Their perspective on plural marriage slowly but surely changed and little by little the Lord opened the doors of joy, peace and contentment. The major battle was a mental one, of making all concerned understand - especially the women - that polygamy wasn't something inferior they were accepting that gave them the right to punish me for denying them something better - but something superior for which they should give thanks. Many new patriarchs feel guilt about entering polygamy because they are swayed by the language and emotional manipulation of their wives' rebellious spirits, a rebelliousness deeply ingrained in our modern feministic society in which everyone is trained from when they are young. If you don't break that spirit early on, your marriage is doomed."
"How can you, as a mere mortal, know that you have succeeded?" asked Elisa.
Stan smiled. "When I am no longer able to lead or exercise authority over my family because of illness or because I am going through a spiritual struggle for my life. That I experienecd when I had my heart condition and was helpless. Without me, the family had to govern itself and it had to resolve its own problems. They simply lived by the principles I had taught them which they found confirmed in God's Word.
"And then, in my spiritually down moments, which we all get from time to time, even the supposedly 'strongest', my wives supported me as I supported them, applying the same standards that I applied to them. They were kind, tender, warm and caring, but at the same time did not let their natural feminine sympathy blurr God's Word."
"So in a way the rôles were reversed?" asked Salme.
"Exactly. I became 'female' and they became collectively 'male' . Such rôle reversals do occur from time to time, and necessarily so. Indeed, I think that a sign of a healthy polygamous family is when such does occur and the wives speak as one voice in the image of their husband. I call it the Sabbath principle. In this, six-sevenths of the time the husband assumes a female, submisisve position and the wives assume a male, directing one. We do this in love-making too. He does this principally at times of spiritual confession as he bears his soul to his wives gathered and they guide him as best they can. We do this very regularly - the confession of sins is an integral part of the Gospel and very necessary to stop a Christian going off course. The apostles do it amongst themselves, so do local house fellowships. It is spiritually very healthy. And the patriarch does not lose his authority doing this - indeed, quite the opposite, for he demonstrates that he is conformed as a spiritual bride to Christ and His Word and not an arbitrary dictator.
"The Bible says that we, as believers, are kings and priests of our Father. That implies both men and women. A woman has a portion of male principle within her, and the husband a portion of the female - what psychologists call the animus and anima, respectively. That is why we have both priests and priestesses in our fellowship, because we are collectively a Royal Priesthood of men and women. But they are not identical rôles. Men are not women, and women are not men, either in appearance, habits, temprement or leadership skills and callings. There is an overlap, of course, where they are identical - the man's anima and the woman's spirit are identical, and the woman's animus and the man's spirit are identical. When I submit to my wives in confession I am in my anima and they, when they judge me, are in their animus. It is not our natural or normal rôles, but rôles that are nevertheless necessary to help men stay humble and to teach women to be leaders. The problems arise in marriage when the man allows his anima to assume abnormally large proportions and becomes weak and effeminate, and when the woman allows her animus to assume a position greater than her naturally-ordained rôle and tries to be dominating. When that happens, the perversions begin, and marriages and families disintegrate. The fact that the animus and anima occupy inferior positions in woman and man, respectively, is what is important. But equally we must not crush them out and make men all-male and women all-female, because God has ordained it otherwise. That is why in the local congregation priestesses are under the authority of the priests - they are not authorities to themselves. Women are to lead with authority in their own spheres and men in theirs, but the man is to lead the whole Body."
"What, then, is the relationship between an Eldress and a Deacon?" asked Elisa. "Surely there is going to be a conflict of rôles?"
"Not if you see them as those of a mother to a son," said Stan. "Just look at the relationship between Mary and Yah'shua and you will get a fairly good idea of what Yahweh has in mind. The Deacon will honour and obey the Eldress as a son obeys his mother, but when he grows up into a man and becomes an Elder then the rôle is modified. In the Gospel of Christ men and women are not to lord it over one another but to love and lead as Christ taught. And they are to do so by example and according to the authority of God's ordination."
Elisa smiled. "I think that Salme and I am about to join a family of philosophers!" and looked at Hanna for her reaction.
"What's that?" asked Hanna rather peevishly, knowing she ought to know what that was.
"A philosopher is a peron who seeks after wisdom which leads to a knowledge of the ultimate reality of life. He tries to find out the general causes of anything and everything," said Salme, pleased to be able to make her contribution.
"Uh, well, I guess that I'm a philospher, then," said Hanna, weakly smiling.
"You wait 'till you hear Stan's other wives," said Hanna smiling. "Some of them would make the Greek philosophers cower! Stan's taught us all to analyse the reality around us and try to see all the possible explanations."
"Sounds fun!" said Elisa, who loved a good intellectual debate. "But are all you wives like you, Stan?"
"Goodness me, no! Some of them groan when I start probing too deeply into things, but all can give a prety good account of themselves!"
"Can I ask you another question, Stan?" asked Elisa. "As Christians we are all Israelites, and as Israellites we are all modelled on Israel, or Jacob as he was originally called. Most people agree that his marriage wasn't the best advertisement for polygamy, and yet there we have it - the father of our spiritual tribe with four wives, with rivaly and many other problems. Why has Yahweh given us such a bad advertisement for polygamy?"
Stan smiled. "Why do you assume it is bad, Elisa dear? Which do you think would be the more useful to us end-time polygamists: a family that was perfect in every way, or a family displaying all the strengths and weaknesses of humans in a polygamous situation?"
Elisa seemed stumped. "I don't follow," she said bemused.
"Oh, I think I know what Stan means," said Hanna suddenly getting all excited. "May I?" she asked, looking at Stan for permission to try and unravel the mystery.
"By all means, darling. I'm sure you will have many inspired thoughts," said Stan, knowing that at times Hanna could have flashes of great genius.
"Well, I've often wondered why Israel only had four wives and I've concluded that it represents a worldly polygamous marriage," said Hanna, and paused, waiting for Stan's reaction.
Stan was a little surprised.
"Are you sure that's what you mean, dear?" he said, concerned.
"Well," continued Hanna who was working up a good head of intellectual steam, "four in the Bible represents the four elements and the four points of the compass. It is the four faces of God on the earth - the creation, if you know what I mean." She paused again.
Stan nodded. "Go on, you're making good sense."
Elisa and Salme listened fascinated, discovering more to Hanna than they had at first supposed.
"Maybe I should have said 'earthy' marriage rather than 'worldly'?" she said, as she thought more carefully about what she had just said.
"Mmm, yes, that would be better," agreed Stan. "Do go on, sweetheart. We're all ears!"
"Well," said Hanna, getting really excited and almost hopping off the bench, "Jacob got his four wives before he wrestled with God at Peniel, in other words, before he overcame his carnal disposition. I think that his four wives - or at least, the way he got them and treated them - are supposed to show us how not to go about polygamy."
Stan nodded in agreement.
"He didn't get a wife at all in the way his father, Isaac, did. He fell in love with Rachel and got so blinded that he couldn't see Leah's spiritual beauty. Then he got their concubines as wives as the two women started competing with each other, because they were racing to see who could give their husband the most kids."
Hanna looked around to see what sort of reaction she was getting and seeing their positive looks, continued just as vigorously.
"And yet this isn't a story about a carnal, polygamous family, is it?" she said, waiting for a response, but getting none except Stan widening his eyes as if showing approval. "When he overcame at Peniel, he became Israel - his family became Israel."
Stan nodded. "I agree with your first observation - about the way the family started off, but what makes you think that it suddenly became a more spiritual polygamy? Didn't Rachel always remain his favourite? His sons evidently thought so when they went down into Egypt and met Joseph. They knew that Joseph and Benjamin were his favourites even when he was an old man."
Hanna didn't know what to say. She would often start brilliantly with an argument and then fade out. But Stan considered that she had great potential.
"I don't personally think you are going to find a New Covenant model for polygamous marriage in the story of Jacob," said Stan seriously, "although I do think it contains prophetic hints, so at least I believe you were pointing in the right direction, darling."
Stan had a way of making her feel better when one of her arguments fizzled out and she knew that she had been the catalyst of a number of insights and revelations.
"Jacob's wives are all interesting characters and whilst their relationship to their husband was far from perfect, they nevertheless contained the core elements of what would one day become a polished jewel in Christian polygamy. They represent a creative principle, because that's what the number four in the Bible stands for - three, the number of God, plus one, the number of beginning. The four brought forth the twelve tribal leaders, the twelve divisions of the nation. Notice that the camp of Israel was divided into four in the Sinai wandering - there were four heads: Ephraim, Dan, Judah and Reuben - just as there were four mothers
He took out a pen and notebook and began to sketch the arrangement of the camp of Israel (see sketch).
"Now that family had five parents - Jacob and four wives. What does the number five represent?" asked Stan.
Everyone shrugged their shoulders.
"Five is creation plus - a new beginning. It represents the New Covenant in seed form," continued Stan, his thinking coming to a climax. "Four is not a complete number, though - but twelve is. You will remember that the twelve apostles were called by Christ to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. They represent the patriarchal leadership of New Covenant Zion. However, they strictly-speaking occupy a female position, since they are under their head, Christ. Together, with Christ, they add up to the mystical number of thirteen... "
Salme butted in: "Didn't Jacob have thirteen children in all?"
"Yes, that's right. In addition to five sons, Leah had a daughter called Dinah," said Stan.
"Well," said Salme, "that's the complete reverse pattern - one female and twelve males. The twelve apostles were symbolically female to the one 'male' Christ. The twelve tribes of Israel are a mirror image!"
Stan's eyes brightened up. "Yes, I see what you mean, darling. Yes ... you have an interesting point there. Very well spotted!"
Elisa was studying Stan's drawing. "Do you think that the way the camp of Israel was organised is a prophetic sign of what happened to the children after they were dispersed? Look, Ephraim, Manaseh and Benjamin are on the west side - aren't they supposed to have gone west to Europe and from there to America?"
"And look at the northern part of the camp," said Hanna excitedly. "Asher, Dan and Napthali. Stan, aren't the Danes descendants of Dan, the Swedes of Naphtali, and the Norwegians of Asher??"
Stan remained silent, his head bowed in deep thought. "It's an interesting theory, and I suppose it could be right, but it's only speculation. Judah is on the east side of the camp of Israel, but the Jews were scattered in every direction. And the purest Jews are in the West - the Sephardic Jews. The eastern 'Jews' are mostly Khazars!
"There are many theories, most of them contradictory. Some say that the Lapps are Reuben. But as I've said before, Israelite blood is so mixed with so many other tribes, and these tribes have wandered across the length and breadth of Europe, so I don't think the camp of Israel indicates geographical location. I think we should be careful here.
"I think a more useful guide to the rough whereabouts of some of the blood of Israel is to be found in the patriarchal blessings that Jacob gave his sons. This will probably open another can of worms but perhaps it will be a good exercise in caution. Who has a Bible on them?"
"Find the patriarchal blessings in in Genesis 49 and look up Reuben's, would you, dear?" asked Stan.
"'Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: unstable as water, thou shalt not excell; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch' (vv.3-4, KJV), read Hanna.
"Now, what race does Reuben remind you of?" asked Stan. The racial characteristics would be strength and handsomeness physically, but sensual and weak morally. A changeable nature like water. Anyone like to speculate?"
There was silence.
"The Scandinavians are pretty big, strong and handsome people. And they have shown themselves to be sensual and weak morally, at least in modern times. But was that always so? The Scandinavians are a mixture of tribes today. They were once very pious Christians, and before that time, wild barbarians. Some even think the Lapps and Finns are Reubenites."
Hanna didn't like that at all.
"I think we'd better forget the racial side of Israel. You'll never untangle it. God knows His own and will raise them in His own way. I wouldn't be at all surprised if one day someone has twelve sons and each of them have the characteristics of one of the twelve tribes of Israel! You're going to find Israel's blood popping up amongst Europeans, Chinese, Africans, and every race under the sun!
"Anyway," continued Stan, "what interests me is the characteristics of the twelve sons as revealed by what we know about their mothers. I believe that Jacob's four wives symbolically represent the four types of polygamist that will arise, and are now arising, in the last days.
"First, we have Leah, the eldest, who represents the kind of woman who is not loved but finds herself in polygamy because of force, cultural tradition, of whatever. Look at the children of such a marriage. Reuben, leader of the southern camp, the adulterer who defiled Bilhah, his father's wife, and who lost his birthright. The only redeemable qualities about the man was that he prevented his brothers from murdering Joseph and latterly offered his two sons as guarantee for the safety of Benjamin.
"Judah, leader of the eastern camp, who slept around with whores, who murdered the Messiah. Achan, who broke the covenant at Jericho, was a Judahite. The Judahites latterly displayed some good qualities but, like the Reubenites, seemed to oscillate between extreems of good and evil. His main forte was that he provided tribal stability and was the seed through which the Messiah was born.
"Issachar, Zebulun, Simeon, the remaining sons of Leah, who had nothing to especially distinguish them except that they also joined in the plot to be rid of Joseph. The tribe of Issachar did distinguish itself in the woman Deborah, however, but that is all. Elon, one of the Judges, was a Zebulunite. Finally, Simeon, who took part in the massacre of Shechem. This was the legacy of Leah.
"Second, we have Zilpah, Leah's concubine, married to Jacob without any sort of free choice, who gave birth to Asher and Gad, two more sons who did not distinguish themselves. A small portion of Asherites responded to Hezekiah's call to to revive the Passover but otherwise we hear nothing of them. Gad helped David out when he was an exile otherwise we hear nothing of much interest about them.
"Third, we have Bilhah, Rachel's concubine, again married to Joacb without any sort of free choice, who gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. Dan was a vicious type, his tribe being amongst the earliest to fall into idolatry, who left for the periphery of the Confederation, away from the trouble spots with the Phillistines. Samson was the best known Danite - a big tough fellow, but weak when it came to women and false religion. Naphtali had a more distinguished career. Barak is the best known Naphtaliite. The tribe was reputed to be brave. The land of Naphtali was where Yah'shua spent most of His ministry and where the zealots made their headquarters.
"As we look at the sons of Leah and the two concubines, only Judah and Naphtali really stand out. Judah was a mixed bag, showing great promise as well as fatal weaknesses. Naphtali seems to shine more than the others though historically his tribe played no major role in Israelite history.
"Fourth, we come to the chilren of Rachel: Joseph, who inherited the birthright from Reuben. I do not need to say much about Joseph because his greatness is known to you. Though Christ was born through the blood of Judah, His Spirit is perhaps the mostly closely associated with Joseph. Then there was the youngest son, Benjamin - his mother died giving birth to him. His descendants had a reputation for bravery. The judge Ehus was a Benjaminite. A less noble example was King Saul. Queen Esther was a Benjaminite and, finally, that great apostle Paul. The clan showed much internal loyalty and nearly got wiped out over the incident over the Levite's concubine. 'Stubborn' and 'loyal' seem to be his hallmarks. Half the New Testament is owed to a Benjaminite.
"Well, I could talk a lot about the tribes," said Stan, breaking his train of thought. "I know I have pointed out many of their faults but there is hope: those faults will be transfomed in Christ. Every tribe ultimately has something redeemable. Judah and Joseph are the key players - Judah coming into his symbolic glory through bringing forth the flesh of the Messiah, and Joseph in His spirit. Joseph is the firstborn, the tribal head. And it was principally through Joseph that Christianity spread around the world."
"What about Dinah?" asked Salme.
"Ah," said Stan, "what about Dinah. Who knows? She married a pagan after being raped by him. We don't know what happened after the massacre at Shechem - I expect her husband was killed too. There is no mention of any children and she probably remained a widow the rest of her life."
"You didn't mention Levi, dear," Elisa reminded Stan.
"Ah yes, Levi, one of Leah's boys. Bit of a brute, realy - joined in the attack on Shechem with Simeon and probably some of their father's servants, to avenge Dinah's rape. They were also cruel to animals, and were condemned for hamstringing oxen. The life of these two was cursed with violence. Though Levi partially redeemed itself during the rebellion under Moses, and became Yahweh's priestly representatives, the curse seems to have been heavy on them for in the census of the tribes the number of males is strikingly lower than the other tribes.
"There was a Levi who was one of the twelve apostles but whether he was a Levite or a Judahite is unclear. At any rate, I believe that each of the twelve apostles, though nearly all Judahites, symbolically represented one of the twelve tribes each. That Judah dominated is interesting - it took the Benjaminite Paul of Tarsus to show them the wider picture of the Gospel."
"So what you're trying to say," broke in Elisa, "is that if we want to understand the kind of polygamy that Christ wants, we must look at Rachel and Joseph's descendants for inspiration?"
"Right. But it is also to point out that there will be other forms of polygamists claiming the Name of Christ who are after the spirit of Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah. They will no doubt possess some virtue worthy of emulation but I think their final spirit will be mixed. I have aleady met it, sadly. And I have seem some of the ugly fruits of it."
"So, do you think, like the tribes, these pseudo-Christians polygamists will be redeemed?" wondered Hanna.
"Who knows. Some, perhaps, but only if they turn to the spirit of Joseph," replied Stan.
"Is the patriarch Joseph the source of your inspiration, Stan?" asked Elisa.
He smiled, and looked round to her. "I love Joseph with all my heart. Every time I read the story of Joseph I shed tears. He was cocky and a bit vain at first, but the Lord ironed out those crinkles in his chraracter and made of him one of the greatest men of God ever. After Yah'shua, Joseph is very definitely my mentor."
Hanna looked surprised: "I thought your hero was John the apostle?"
There was silence for a few seconds.
"John was surely special," said Stan, "and he is the mentor of the Holy Order which we serve in. But John is only one half of Israel - Paul is the other half. Judah and Joseph need each other in order to be complete. Judah has the Law but Joseph has the heart.
"The New Testament is the record of Judah and Benjamin, and something of the tension between the northern and southern kingdoms is plainly visible in the perceptions of these two tribes - John and the other Judahite apostles on one side, and Paul the Benjaminite on the other side. Benjamin is outnumbered but he is courageous and wins the day.
"But Paul the Benjaminite is not the peacemaker that his brother and tribal head Joseph was. Joseph belongs to the end time Body of Christ. It is his spirit which we New Covenant Christian polygamists incarnate to the best of our ability. A natural-born leader but only after much suffering and injustice. The Josephite Christian polygamist patriarchs must suffer long and hard but in the end they emerge victoriously and their wives adore them. It is only really Joseph who can make Christian polygamy work. Indeed, it is the only genuine polygamy which is in the heart of Christ."
Stan fell silent and seemed to wander off. The others sensed that he was reverently bathing in the spirit of this great patriarch.
"Are you a descendant of Joseph?" asked Salme.
Stan turned and smiled. "That, my beloved wife-to-be, you must ask my wives, for only they know."
And with that he stood up and they made their way out of the park.
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