Month 12:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:353 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 10 March 2013
In Pursuit of Truth
Assessing the Polygamy Question
A Controversial Teaching
One of the most controversial biblical principles and practices that is almost universally loathed and opposed in Western civilisation as well as abused by unspiritual men and women who have attempted to live it who do not really understand what it is yet, is that known as plural marriage, multiple marriage, patriarchal (father-ruling) marriage, polygamy or more accurately polygyny (one man married to two or more women). For the honest believer and Bible-lover and -seeker, who feels the powerful end-time call of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to completely shed him- or herself of all falsehood, this is a principle that resurfaces again and again both to dismay and to bewilder. Without exception is shakes the emunah (faith) of the spiritually-minded and causes some to doubt the integrity of the biblical revelation and a few to abandon the emunah (faith) altogether. Most usually resolve this 'problem' by shelving it (if they are honest) or twisting the scriptures to fit their preconceived doctrine or tradition (if they are dishonest).
Monogamy Being Drowned Out
There has, for centuries, been this silent - and sometimes not-so-silent - war between the monogamy-only mindset and the polygamous one. The irony is that the powers of this age are resolutely, and sometimes violently, opposed to both precisely because of their common origin with Elohim (God). Today, in a world where political, philosophical and religious labels seem to have become all jumbled up, monogamy is despised by liberal-, socialist- and conservatively-minded governments alike - by philosophers and politicians who otherwise and increasingly have no problem endorsing homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, polyamory, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, swinging, and anything else the carnal mind of man is capable of inventing. Anyone making a serious study of world trends will have noted that though lip-service is paid to heterosexual monogamy, it is only done because suffient numbers of people still believe in, are committed to, and practice this institution that the powers-that-be cannot ignore or dismiss them. Accordingly, heterosexual monogamous marriage is reluctantly accepted alongside all the deviant practices...for now, though it is secretly despised. It is, however, without a doubt, slated for eradication by most of those at the top who nevertheless practice it in public 'for appearances sake' whilst in secret they indulge in practically everything else. I wouldn't therefore be at all surprised if the coming Anti-Messiah (Antichrist) tried to reimplement the early Soviet attempt, soon aborted, to abolish marriage altogether.
Polygamy is Almost Universally Hated
The only other form of marriage hated by the demonically-steered ruling ťlites is polygamy. The communist-inspired and -led United Nations has sworn to eradicate it as a barbaric relic of the past and, ironically, most Christians and Messianics agree with them even though it is a fully integral part of the biblical revelation and tradition and was practiced by those men and women whom these self-same believers claim to represent as heirs and as true servants of Elohim (God) - such as Moses, Abraham, Jacob and David. Many are the devices employed for 'explaining it away' that are not dissimilar to the devices employed by evangelicals to 'explain' why Yahweh now 'hates' and has 'disbanded' his own 'failed' and 'unlivable' Torah.
What Do We 'Do' With It?
I am speaking today only to those who find themselves in a dilemma - who are unprepared to twist scripture for the sake of a crede or tradition but who at the same time are deeply troubled by what this all means if Yahweh has indeed sanctioned plural marriage, why He has done so, and what we are to 'do' with it today. For those who want to defend a tradition or dogma that has, ultimately, no biblical warranty, this message is not for them.
Not an Easy Teaching to Receive
I will not pretend that this subject is an easy or simple matter for it is not. I will not even pretend that I want to address this matter, for I do not. It is one of those 'hot potatoes' precisely because it provokes such hostility in most. I don't enjoy defending something that I will be attacked for. However I must, for the sake of emet (truth) and for the sake of biblical integrity.
My Earliest Dreams
Like most people who love Elohim (God), who have been born again of the Ruach (Spirit) seeking the simplicity of the emunah (faith), I dreamed and pursued the monogamous ideal. In my mind's eye I dreamed of having a home-loving wife and two children, a boy and a girl. I had her 'all worked out'. We had a little cottage and a lovely garden. In my dream God (as I then called Him) and my little heterosexual monogamous marriage with our two children would be my world. I would live a decent life, try to love my neighbour as best I could, have a regular 9 to 5 job five days a week and provide for my family, and witness of God's love in Jesus (as I then knew Him).
My First Dreams and Aspirations
How many of you have had this dream, or something like it? The dream began without Yahweh, for I did not know Him until I was in my early 20's. Then my dream picture readjusted to put Him at the centre. My dream expanded with a new Head and purpose but otherwise remained the same. I could have easily fitted into rural or suburban England as it was back in the 1950's when I made my entrance into this world. But from the day I began my 'great quest' for emet (truth) , from the day I went into St.Mary's Church, Oxford, and kneeling before the altar made my first vow to seek for the emet (truth) and not relent until I had found it - and from the day I was born-again in 1977, my model of the 'ideal life' has had to undergo enormous modifications. From taking wrong paths to finding my way back to the true Derech (Way) of Messiah, I have had to make many adjustments, some of them painful, some devastatingly so, and more or less continuously without pause. I would discover, like most, that wandering in mortality was not a simple matter of having dreams and chasing them but of pursuing Yahweh and letting Him reshape everything: my belief structure and my goals. As it turns out, we are not our own, and neither are our desires:
The Struggle to Overcome
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price" (1 Cor.6:19-20, NIV).
To say, 35 years on, that I have completely realised and implemented this passage of scripture would be an untruth. Indeed I have realised that surrendering to Yah'shua (Jesus) is rarely accomplished in a moment, as some idealistic evangelicals might wish to it be so, but is a lifetime's work. I am sure that many of you have done it a lot better or faster than myself but what I have discovered, to my dismay, is that each time I thought I had surrendered '10/10' of self that in reality it was probably only '5', or even less...and sometimes it was just intent, and was '0'. The fact that we keep on repeating the same old sins (and sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, new ones) is the evidence that we have not fully surrendered and have not, therefore, fully overcome either. That's why we need time - sometimes lots of it - to get all of this worked out properly.
Trapped in Theological Lies
It's taken my all of my life to get to where I am theologically and practically, from Anglican to atheist to Buddhist to Mormon to Independent to Evangelical to Messianic to Messianic-Evangelical and beyond to whatever the fullness of Yah's emet (truth) may be. I have been trapped in all kinds of theological lies because of the 'power of the masses' in various groups who still cling onto them. We pick up their false teachings because of the mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual interchange that inevitably takes place when you are in relationship with other believers - because of your fellowship with them. That's why Paul had to go into the wilderness for years to get his Talmudic Judaism burned out of him to make place for all the emet (truth) that Yah'shua (Jesus) wished to impart to him before launching his mission as the main apostle to the gentiles of his time. Though I am no Paul, I have had to spend years in relative isolation in order to allow the Ruach (Spirit) to get the junk of false teaching out of my system to give place for the true. Discovering that polygamy was a true biblical principle, in spite of its appalling abuse by so many evangelicals and messianics (not to mention fundamentalist Mormons) who have decided to uncritically capitalise on their discovery by implementing it indiscriminately, usually without divine sanction, guaranteed that I would have a wilderness existence away from the mainstream for a long time.
Polygamy Attracts a Lot of Riff-raff
This ministry once published the largest website (and one of the original four webistes) on the internet on this subject  which pretty much guaranteed we would be branded as an apostates, heretics, and not a few other uncomplimentary descriptives by fellow believers. We lost a great many brothers and sisters in the faith and in their place attracted a handfull who were spiritual giants along with a mass of lawless riff-raff, curiosity-seekers and perverts who had no business pursuing interest in, let alone living, this lifestyle - they weren't, for the most part, even mature enough to be living monogamous marriage! One day, perhaps, when evangelicals and messianics have started learning from their follies, the website will be put up again though revised to incorporate all the light and emet (truth) we have since gleaned.
Polygamic Evangelicals and Messianics
Back then, nearly a decade ago, most of my time was spent ministering to families who had ill-advisedly entered this principle without an authentic revelation from Yahweh, who were spiritually immature and totally unequipped. Most of those families collapsed, causing emotional devastation. Realising that this was not the time for this revelation, and that mavericks who would not take counsel would recklessly enter it anyway, I took down the website in 2005 and have not been led by the Ruach (Spirit) to reinstitute it since, even though I have made enquiry of heaven several times since. Rather I have seen messianics in the 21st century make the same disasterous mistakes as the evangelicals amongst whom this subject became popular in the 1990's. Since then I have actively discouraged this lifestyle because I do not believe it has a hope of being lived the way Yahweh intended it to be save amongst a very tiny minority of those who accept the principle who have overcome the spiritual and psychological dysfunctionality of our modern society. As a result, most in the evangelical and messianic communities who teach or practice this lifestyle have shunned me, which I have not, regretted. I have little in common with them and prefer to be focussed on other things.
A true believer allows Yahweh to pick his or her marriage companion. I am not speaking of the human institution of arranged marriage here, though I do believe responsible parents should actively guide their progeny, and that their sons and daughters should listen respectfully to them and then make their own decisions - no, I believe that the recipe for happiness, in marriage as in anything else, can only be surrender to Yahweh's will. Our biblical model is Isaac and Rebekah, at least as far as monogamy goes. And for Isaac, as for the vast bulk of Yahweh's people (along with the rest of the world), monogamy is all Yahweh ever wants for His children for a complex matrix of reasons that He alone fully understands.
The Decay of the Institution of Marriage
It is not, as many extremist adherents of polygamy try to falsely guilt monogamists into believing, the 'inferior' of the two. Quite the contrary - so many polygamist men I have met have entered this lifestyle because of failed monogamous marriages where the fault has largely been the man's (though not always - it's typically a mixture of both). However, if you are lousy at business and your business fails, only a fool then starts a new parallel business hoping that by having two he will have a better chance of success. The chances that both new businesses will fail even more rapidly than the first one are pretty high, don't you think? It's as absurd as a man who is a careless driver thinking he will do better if he gets a second car when the problem is with the driver and not the number of cars he owns.
Marriage and Modern Culture
Marriage is admittedly a little more complex than a business or driving a car because humans are complex. And humans are complex most of all because of sin. All relationships are spoiled by sin - our own sins, and not infrequently the sins of parents raising dysfunctional families because they themselves are dysfunctional because of the great revolt against marriage in the 1960's. Multiplying this dysfunctionality by encouraging failed monogamists to enter polygamy is not only the height of irresponsibility but is a kind of licensed insanity. Today's secular and perverted culture is so deviant from Yahweh's norm that it is a wonder that monogamous marriages and their families are surviving at all. And the emet (truth) is, they aren't - they are being overwhelmed.
Escalating Divorce Rates
The negative divorce statistics have shot through the roof. The chances of a successful mongamous marriage is less than 50% (over 90% is you include non-covenantal partnerships or common-law marriage) and that's not just in the secular culture - it's in the churches and messianic assemblies too because they uncritically embrace that culture. The rate of divorce has been rising exponentially since the disasterous anti-marriage escapades of the 1960's. The only way marriages and families are going to survive is by progressively separating believers from this culture, a culture which we know is painfully similar to the one that obtained in the days of Noah and which is doomed to destruction. This is obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and an iota of common sense, though as Einstein noted, 'common sense' often turns out to be no more than "the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen". The wisdom of the ages as far as marriage is concerned has all but been lost and people no longer have any idea what a natural family is supposed to look like or how to function.
Church, Synagogue and Polygamy
But back to the original quandry: why is the monogamy-centric church and synagogue culture so implaccably hostile to plural marriage in spite of what the Bible teaches? It is because it has been sold various lies, originating in Roman Catholicism, which has always had a hostile attitude to Yahweh's Torah (Law/Teaching) and to Yahweh'w own character, and to Talmudic Judaism which has added its own 'oral law' and rejected the Messiah.
The Task of the Remnant
The remnant, if it is to cease being buffetted, defeated and overwhelmed in these dark times, and come fully empowered into the light, has got to come to terms with what biblical marriage actually is. We cannot believe in any lies, however personally uncomfortable their revelation may be to us initially (for all emet/truth does eventually sit comfortably with the one who is surrendered) because to believe a lie is to admit the enemy into our soul to sow confusion and discord (if you don't know how this works, please see our Deliverance website).
Accountability to Emet (Truth)
With that end in mind, let us now examine the main lies that are believed and taught about plural marriage and see what the Scriptures actually say. If this is a subject that you don't want to know about because you prefer the teachings of the 'learned elders' of your church or synagogue, then I recommend you read no further because this will simply agitate you and not bring you shalom (peace). There is a time and season for every soul to know certain aspects of emet (truth) and this may not be yours. I say this because once you have been presented with the undeniable emet (truth) you become accountable before Yahweh - if you choose to deny it, there are spiritual consequences, which is why sometimes ignorance is preferable. You need to ask Elohim (God) now whether He wants you to proceed or not and to obey Him.
Our Own Witness Past and Present
Though our extensive website once contained nearly a thousand articles with a great deal of biblical exegesis on this subject before being taken down , and though we have left up a short book on this subject written for African believers entitled The Truth About Biblical Marriage which you can read if you want to, I am going to let a gifted Pentecostal scriptorian called Mike Sullivan explain the subject in this very excellent summary of the main points in his article entitled, Polygamy Is Not Sinful. As far as I know he is a practicing monogamist. So let's go to Mike's study and then I will make further comments at the end. Aside from a few cosmetic changes, adding messianic terminology, the presentation is entirely the author's.
Polygamy Is Not Sinful
by Mike Sullivan
Have you ever wondered why Elohim (God) never condemned polygamy? It's not hard to prove from the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) that polygamy was, and still is, a valid form of marriage and is not sinful.
Tanakh (Old Testament) Law on Polygamy
The Scriptures are clear that polygamy was, and still is today, a valid form of marriage. Elohim (God) nowhere condemns godly men for having more than one wife. Abraham had a wife, and then he married her maid (Genesis 16:2-4); Jacob married Leah and Rachel (Gen.29:23-30; 31:17; 32:22) and then he married Leah and Rachel's handmaids, Zilbah and Bilhah (Genesis 30:1-24; 37:2); Judge Gideon had many wives and a concubine (Judges 8:30-31); Elkanah married Hannah and Peninnah (1 Sam.1:2); David married Abigail and Ahinoam (1 Sam.25:42-43; 30:18), then later took more wives (2 Sam.5:13) at Jerusalem (1 Chron.14:3); In 2 Sam.12:7-8, Elohim (God) gave David these multiple wives as a blessing, just as anointing him as king over Israel, protecting him from Saul, and giving him the house of Israel and Judah were also blessings from Him; King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-3); Ashur married Helah and Naarah (1 Chron.4:5); Shaharaim married Hushim and Baara (1 Chron.8:8); Abijah had 14 wives (2 Chron.13:21); Jehoiada the priest had 2 wives (2 Chron.24:3). Also, Elohim (God) never condemned uungodly men for having more than one wife either: Lamech (Gen.4:19), Esau (Gen.36:2,6), King Rehoboam had 18 wives (2 Chron.11:21); King Belshazzar had many wives (Dan.5:2-3). In addition, after war-time, many women would marry more than one man because of the shortage of men available due to there being killed (Isaiah 4:1).
We find our brother Paul referring to the polygamy of Abraham without a hint that it was sinful (Galatians 4:22).
When we study the Tanakh (Old Testament) law concerning polygamy, we find that when the singular "wife" is used, those laws could apply to monogamy or polygamy (Deut.22:13,22), and when the plural "wives" is used, those laws only apply to polygamy (Deut.21:15-17). The Torah (Law) stated that a man could take another wife as long as he still provided for his first wife (Exo.21:10). This is what the apostle Paul calls "due benevolence" (1 Cor.7:3). The Torah (Law) protected the rights of the first born son concerning his inheritance in the case where the father preferred another wife over his mother (Deut.21:15-17).
The Torah (Law) commanded that any man who had sex with a virgin was to marry her (Deut.22:28-29). There is nothing in this text that supports the idea that only single men are to marry in this instance. This law protected and ensured the woman that her food, clothing, and marital rights and duties would not be diminished. This also protected the woman from the reproach of not being able to find another man to be her husband because she was no longer a virgin and, furthermore the reproach of possibly never being able to have children. The man, single or married, needed to be responsible for his fornication and the woman needed to be protected.
The Torah (Law) commanded a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother's wife if he had no children with her (Deut.25:5-10). Again, there is nothing in this text that supports that this law was limited to only single brothers.
The Torah (Law) did have some restrictions on polygamy, such as a man not marrying the mother or a rival sister of his wife (Lev.18:17, Lev.20:14). Another restriction admonished the king against the acquisition of too many wives (Deut.17:17), and, in particular, foreign wives, because they would tend to tempt him towards their gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). Solomon sinned, not because of the fact that he had many wives, but because he married women from foreign countries, and he did not tear down their places of worshipping false gods (Deut.7:3). It would also appear that Solomon broke this law in that he multiplied seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines to himself (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon abused the right to take more than one wife and no doubt had difficulty in meeting the sexual needs of so many women. David, on the other hand, did not break this law, as was discussed earlier (2 Samuel 12:7-8).
Messiah (Christ) Fulfils the Law of Polygamy
This subject of polygamy applies to Messiah (Christ) and the besorah (gospel), in that Messiah (Christ) came to fulfill The Torah (Law) and the nevi'im (prophets) (Matt.5:17). Messiah (Christ) is a polygamist in the sense that the church (messianic community) is likened to five wise betrothed virgins (Matt.25:1-13; Matt.24:34). Messiah (Christ) is one with the "members" (plural) of His body, the church (messianic community), and one Ruach (Spirit) with them all (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).
Messiah (Christ), in fulfilling the Torah (Law), is the perfect husband to each individual member providing them with "clothing" such as His robes of righteousness (Matt 22:11-14; Rev.7:9,13-14; 22:14), "food" as He is the "bread of life" (Jn.6:32-35), and "hidden manna" (Rev 2:17) which Elohim's (God's) people are presently feasting on at the [inner] wedding supper of the lamb (Rev.19:9). Could any Christian or Messianic doubt the loveliness of Messiah (Christ) as his lover? Messiah (Christ) has taken His people to His banqueting house, and His banner over us is ahavah (love) (Song 2:4). He has provided a place or a dwelling for us (Jn.14:2). There's no question that Elohim's (God's) people are well taken care of.
Objections to Polygamy
At one time, I thought that polygamy was the same thing as adultery until I actually took the time to study the matter. Since adultery was punishable by death under the Torah (Law) (Lev.20:10; Deut.22:22-23), and the Torah (Law) allowed, regulated, and as was seen earlier, would command polygamy in certain instances; adultery cannot be seen as synonymous with polygamy. Men and their wives were not put to death for having polygamous marriages!
- 1. "Polygamy is adultery."
It is very important that we look to the Scriptures to define what "adultery" is instead of holding to a slanted Western definition of adultery. In the U.S., adultery is seen as a married individual having sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex, besides their spouse, married or single. U.S. law on this matter reflects the ideas of Roman culture and the apostate Roman Catholic Church and is not aligned with Elohim's (God's) law.
The Scriptural view of the wife is that she is the property of her husband. Therefore, any man who had relations with her was guilty of breaking the 8th commandment as well, "You shall not steal" and was to be put to death along with the adulterous wife. As already discussed, if a single or married man had sex with a virgin or unmarried woman, he was commanded to marry her.
Neither Elohim (God) nor Moses saw any violation or contradiction of Genesis 2:24 to the Torah (Law) which not only allowed polygamy, but, as was seen earlier, in some cases commanded it. It would be strained exegesis to say that Elohim (God), in Genesis 2:24, is establishing some kind of monogamous law that excludes, or somehow condemns, polygamy.
- 2. "Polygamy violates 'the two shall be one flesh.'"
Exegetically and contextually, Yah'shua's (Jesus') point, in Matthew 19:4-6, when he cites Genesis 2:24, is the indissolubility of marriage, for He says, "Therefore, what Elohim (God) has joined together, let not man separate." The expression "one flesh," insofar as it relates to the structure of marriage, refers to the indissolubility of a man and his wife within a marriage, whether it be monogamous or polygamous. This was our Masterís point in quoting the Genesis passage, and in no way condemns polygamy.
Now what about Paul's expression "one flesh"? Far from being a certain revelation concerning monogamy, the Pauline usage would illustrate, rather the broadness and flexibility of this Tanakh (Old Testament) expression. For Paul, this unity in the "flesh" is not confined to the conjugal union of one husband and one wife, nor is it limited to the bonds of kinship. Even a man who joins himself to a prostitute becomes "one flesh" with her (1 Corinthians 6:16-17). This kind of unity is obviously not exclusive in the way that a monogamous union is supposed to be, for a man can become "one flesh" with any number of prostitutes. According to this use of the expression, it would follow also that a man becomes "one flesh" with more than one wife in a society which accepts this form of marriage. If a sinful prostitute can become "one flesh" with many men, then why would it be inconceivable that a godly man like David could have been "one flesh" with the wives Elohim (God) gave him?
Individually, each Christian or Messianic that is joined to the Master is one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17). Just as another Christianís or Messianic's union with Messiah (Christ) does not, in any way destroy the oneness of my union with Messiah (Christ), so it is that a man may be one flesh with more than one wife. Messiah (Christ) knows, receives, and becomes one Ruach (Spirit) with His virgin(s) (Matt.25:1-13).
It is important to recall that the real background to marriage in ancient Israel, the background against which the biblical passages on marriage are to be seen, was the larger community of the family and the clan. Marriage was not understood primarily in terms of the husband-wife relationship, and certainly not in terms of an exclusive relationship between only two persons. Marriage was regarded as a social instrument required for the preservation and continuation of families and clans. Through daughters being married into different families, there was a mutual strengthening of kinship bonds - each family giving its own flesh and blood to other families.
"Flesh" has a wider social or kinship meaning found frequently in the Tanakh (Old Testament) (cf. Gen.29:14; 37:27; Lev.18:6; Judges 9:2; 2 Sam.5:1; 19:12-13; Neh.5:5; Isa.58:7). "One flesh", is not confined exclusively to only two persons. The several children of one mother are "one flesh" with her, by reason of their unity in generation and in maternal love. The relationship between the mother and each child, respectively, may even be regarded as a union of "two" in "one flesh", without thereby excluding the other children from this same relationship with their mother. So, by reason of a socially valid polygamous marriage, a man may be conjugally united with each of his wives, respectively, as "two" in "one flesh" - both in a carnal sense and in terms of kinship.
Yes, the Church (Messianic Community), in most Pauline contexts, is described as the bride of Messiah (Christ) (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-33), but then again Paul will describe the Church (Messianic Community) as a plurality of persons: a husband must love his wife, "as Messiah (Christ) does the church (messianic community), because we are members of his body" (cf. Ephesians 5:28-33; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 12:27). In theological jargon, this is called "corporate personality", the bride (singular) symbolically representing the we/members (plural).
- 3. "The Church (Messianic Community) is pictured as the BRIDE of Messiah (Christ), not brides!"
It is not entirely true that the Father and Messiah (Christ) are only portrayed as monogamists in Scripture. Elohim (God) is married to two women - Judah and Israel (cf. Jer.3:6-10; 31:31-32; Ezek.23:2-4), and, as already pointed out, the Church (Messianic Community) is pictured as being in a polygamous relationship with Messiah (Christ), with five faithful virgins (Matt.25:1-13). The covenant union was described by Jeremiah in terms of a polygamous marriage, "I was an husband unto them, saith Yahweh" (Jer.31:31-32).
I reject the premise that morality and application of Elohim's (God's) moral standards contained in the old law for Israel have vanished along with its theocratic status. Certain aspects of Elohim's (God's) law for Israel stem from His eternal holiness and justice and know no geographical and ethical barriers. Israel and her law's moral and socio-political standards of justice are applicable for us today because they stem from Elohim's (God's) holy character. Men can either form laws for societies proceeding out of their own hearts and imaginations, or they can go to Elohim's (God's) Davar (Word) and submit to what His standards of divine justice are for human societies. Much of Elohim's (God's) civil law that was given to Israel is purely reflective of His holiness and His standards for justice (what is right and what is wrong). Since Elohim's (God's) holy character never changes, His standards of what is right and what is wrong, and how evil workers are to be punished, should never change either.
- 4. The dispensational view: "Polygamy was only for Israel in the Tanakh (Old Testament) who were under the Torah (Law); monogamy is the Scriptural norm for believers, today in the New Testament who are under grace!"
Those who do not favour taking Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law) as the ultimate standard for civil morality and public justice will be forced to substitute some other criterion of good and evil for it. The civil magistrate cannot function without some ethical guidance, without some standard of good and evil. If that standard is not to be the revealed law of Elohim (God) , then what will it be? In some form or expression it will have to be law of man - the standard of self-law or autonomy. And men will either choose to be governed by Elohim (God) or to be ruled by tyrants. Because of the merciful, restraining work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in societies, we do not see at every stage in history these stark polarities coming to expression; most societies will, to some measure, strive for conformity to Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law), even when it is officially denounced. However, in principle the choices are clearly between Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law) and man's law, between life and death for a society.
Concerning marriage, any religious group or nation that ignores the moral standards set forth in Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law) surrounding marriage, polygamous or monogamous, will be held accountable by Elohim (God) for their actions.
First of all, this passage is not addressed to all believers in Messiah (Christ), but applies only to elders and deacons. Period. We cannot take something that only applies to a specific group of men, and apply that too all men in general. This would be taking a verse out of its context.
- 5. Polygamy is condemned by Paul when he addressed the qualifications for deacons and Elders. "Elders and deacons are to be the husbands of ONE wife"! (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6)
Secondly, notice, these passages do not say "only" one wife. The Greek word that "one" is translated from here is word #3391, mia, and is also translated as "a" or "the first" in other parts of scripture. Thus the emphasis would be that an elder needs to be a married man, having children, and that he must not have divorced his first wife.
For example, in the following passages, the word "a" is the same word translated "one" above:
Likewise, Elders and deacons are to be the husbands of a wife, and have children, because if he cannot rule his own household, how can he rule the assembly of Messiah (Christ)? This passage does not limit him to only one wife, that is not its point. The purpose for these qualifications is stated in 1 Timothy 3:5, "(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the assembly of Elohim (God) )?" The point is that he must be able to rule his wife and children, and if he has multiple wives, and is able to rule them, so much the better! Any man who can love and rule multiple women, and made them happy, according to the Word of Elohim (God), is certainly qualified to rule a congregation of many other believers!
- Matthew 21:19, "And when he saw a fig tree in the way..."
- Matthew 26:69, "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him...",
- Revelation 9:13, "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice..."
Another example of how the word "one" is translated is when scripture speaks of Messiah (Christ) having risen "the first day of the week" (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2,9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1,19), the phrase "the first" is translated from the same word that "one" is translated from above. Thus, it can also read as follows, "Elders and Deacons are to be the husbands of the first wife."
Again, the purpose for these qualifications is stated in 1 Timothy 3:5, "(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the assembly of Elohim (God) )?" And if an elder or a bishop was divorced from his first wife, he would be violating Elohim's (God's) Law regulating polygamy, which states, "If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish" (Exodus 21:10). In other words, if an elder or a bishop was not still married to his first wife because of divorce, but married to other women, then he would be diminishing his first wife's food, raiment, and her duty of marriage, and therefore evidences that he does not know how to rule his own house, and therefore cannot rule the assembly of Elohim (God).
Some might object to this interpretation that an elder needs to be a married man with children because they say Paul was an elder but was a single man. However, scripture does not say Paul was an elder. And even though Paul was unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8), a glance at Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, and Zodhiates' Word Studies, will reveal that "unmarried" is used to denote both "bachelors" and "widowers". It refers to those who are not currently married, whether they have never been married or were once married and have been widowed, or divorced. The parallelism thus suggests that in 1 Corinthians 7:8 'unmarried' refers only to 'widowers', and not to any bachelor or single person. Paul himself could have been a widower. Especially since the Bible implies that Paul was married! As a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5) Paul must have been married because there were no single Pharisees. Also, Paul himself defended his prerogative to take a wife and bring her on his journeys with him as other apostles (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Paul's purpose in 1 Corinthians 7 is not to give requirements and advice for the eldership, anyway! Due to the "present distress" (vs. 26) Paul advised "that it is good for a man to remain as he is:" This "present distress" was a situation unique to the earlier church due to the persecution that was prophesied by Daniel and Jesus.
Leviticus is taken out of context. This is how it reads, "Thou shalt not take a wife in addition to her sister, as a rival, to uncover her nakedness in opposition to her, while she is yet living" (Septuagint). As we can see, this text doth not simply forbid the taking one wife to another, but the doing it in such a manner or for such an end, that he may vex or punish, or revenge himself of the former; which probably was a common motive amongst that hardhearted people to do so. When Jacob married two sisters (Genesis 29), his intent and purpose was not to vex them. Therefore, Jacob did not violate Elohim's (God's) Law, and nothing was changed.
- 6. The Law of Polygamy could have changed. For example, Before the Mosaic law, a man was allowed to marry sisters (Genesis 29), but the Mosaic law changed this law and prohibited marrying sisters (Leviticus 18:18)
The term "brother," in Genesis 29:12 is translated from a Hebrew/Greek word that literally means "a relative," and is extended to remote degrees of relationships, as uncle, cousin, or nephew. The authority of the Septuagint bears this out by translating this passage, "And he told Rachel that he was the near relative of her father..." (Genesis 29:12). So, it does not mean that Jacob was Labon's literal brother, but simply a relative.
- 7. Well, the two sisters Jacob married were also his daughter-in-laws! Jacob said he was Labon's "brother," (Genesis 29:12), which would make Leah and Rachel Jacob's daughter-in-laws. However, marrying a daughter-in-law is prohibited by Elohim (God) (Leviticus 18:15), the penalty of which is death (Leviticus 20:12).
Here is what Abraham said about his wife, Sarah:
- 8. Well, the sexual relationship laws were changed. Under The Torah (Law) of Moses, it is stated that a man must not have sexual relations with his sister (Leviticus 18:9), and a man must not have sexual relations with his half-sister (Leviticus 18:11). However, Abraham was married to Sarah, who was his half-sister (Genesis 11:29; 20:12)! How do you explain this?
However, by "daughter," Abraham was referring to his niece. Terah, Abraham's father, is supposed by many interpreters to have had two wives; Haran, Sarah's father, to have been a son of the second; so that Sarah was his niece, and granddaughter of his father, but not of his mother. The term "sister" was then often given to a niece, and "brother" to a nephew, uncle, or near relative (Genesis 11:29; 20:5,13). This is how the Hebrews used these words.
Genesis 20:12, "And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."
Even if Abram did marry his half-sister, he married her before he was called by Yahweh (Genesis 11:29). After he married her, Yahweh called him to His service (Genesis 12). All men are sinners, and Abram was no exception. Even if he married her sinfully, it is Elohim's (God's) Will that one keep his covenant and oath with another. If Abraham realised that he married her when he was not supposed to, he had to stay married to her rather than divorce her.
Yes, it must be evident that in the infancy of the world, persons very near of kin must have been joined in matrimonial alliances; and that even brothers must have matched with their own sisters. In these first instances necessity required this; when this necessity no longer existed, the thing became inexpedient and improper for two reasons:
- 9. What about the offspring of Adam and Eve, and Noah and his family? Brothers must have married their own sisters in those cases.
Adam's sons must of necessity have married their own sisters; but it was requisite that it should be made by a positive law unlawful and detestable, for the preventing of sinful familiarities between those that in the days of their youth are supposed to live in a house together, and yet cannot intermarry without defeating one of the intentions of marriage, which is the enlargement of friendship and interest. If every man married his own sister (as they would be apt to do from generation to generation if it were lawful), each family would be a world to itself, and it would be forgotten that we are members one of another. It is certain that this has always been looked upon by the more sober heathen as a most infamous and abominable thing; and those who had not this law yet were herein a law to themselves. The making use of the ordinance of marriage for the patronizing of incestuous mixtures is so far from justifying them, or extenuating their guilt, that it adds the guilt of profaning an ordinance of Elohim (God), and prostituting that to the vilest of purposes which was instituted for the noblest ends.
- 1. That the duties owing by nature to relatives might not be confounded with those of a social or political kind; for could a man be a brother and a husband, a son and a husband, at the same time, and fulfil the duties of both? Impossible.
- 2. That by intermarrying with other families, the bonds of social compact might be strengthened and extended, so that the love of our neighbour, &c., might at once be felt to be not only a maxim of sound policy, but also a very practicable and easy duty; and thus feuds, divisions, and wars be prevented.
Polygamy, Divorce, and Remarriage in the New Testament
Even though a man can marry more than one woman without being charged with "adultery", a woman cannot marry more than one man (Romans 7:2-3, 1 Corinthians 7:39), and that if a woman is involved with another man, she will be charged with adultery. The reason the man is not mentioned by Paul is because, according to the Torah (Law), a man could marry another woman while his first wife was still alive and not be guilty of adultery.
In matters of divorce and remarriage, it is Paul's pattern of writing in 1 Corinthians 7 to apply something to both the wife and the husband if it indeed applies to both. Both a wife and a husband are admonished not to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Both the husband and the wife are commanded not to divorce in the case that they are married to an unbeliever (vs.12-16). But only the wife is told that she cannot be joined to another as long as her husband lives (vs.39).
Therefore, the Biblical position on remarriage is the following: If a woman is divorced unjustly by her husband, she may not remarry another because she is bound to the first as long as he lives. If a man is divorced by his wife, he may remarry another, but he must pray for his first wifeís return and accept her back as his wife if she does return (1 Corinthians 7:11). If a man divorces his wife unjustly, he may not remarry another, as it would then be considered "adultery" (Mark 10:11).
Understanding polygamy and accepting it as a valid and Biblical form of marriage today is very crucial because it brings healing and knowledge to those who have found themselves divorced by a spouse, as well as giving understanding and wisdom to missionaries who preach the gospel to polygamous families in other countries. It is my sincere prayer that you have experienced some healing and/or gained wisdom and understanding from what Elohim's (God's) Davar (Word) has to say on this subject of polygamy.
For most of the world, polygamy is unnatural, just as righteousness and honesty have become increasingly 'unnatural.' Our perception of things is relativistic -- it depends on our own spiritual condition and the way our minds have been trained. We, as bondservants of Messiah (Christ), ought to be trained by the Davar Elohim (Word of God) and not by the world.
Should We Avoid Upsetting People?
I should like to conclude this study with two thoughts. The first is for the person who views polygamy as a 'hindrance to the preaching of the gospel' because it is upsetting. This is not an uncommon objection even though it is entirely subjective - and it's true, the way we teach or preach can be unnecessarily upsetting. Unfortunately, if we refused as a matter of principle to preach things which 'upset' people we would never preach the Besorah (Gospel) at all. Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, Greek Orthodox and others get 'upset' with me when I insist that the proper mode of baptism is by immersion and that infant 'baptism' is an abomination. Protestants get 'upset' with me every time I tell them they should be observing the Seventh Day Sabbath and not the 'Lord's Day' each Sunday, and Messianics get 'upset' with me when I tell them they shouldn't be observing the Seventh Day Sabbath on the Roman Saturday but according to the luni-solar Creation Calendar. And unbelievers get 'upset' with me if I tell them they will die in their sins if they do not repent! Which of these should I compromise to make people happier?
The Divine Mandate to Teach Emet (Truth)
The emet (truth) is the emet (truth) whether it upsets people or not and we are under a divine mandate to preach it anyway in ahavah (love). So if people are upset by the emet (truth), tough - they need to just move on if they cannot swallow it. Provided this subject is taught in ahavah (love) and with much grace and provided the Great Commission to preach Messiah crucified and resurrected remains central to our witness - those who hear what we have to say about plural marriage can take it or leave it but must ultimately take responsibility for their choice. I will at least have discharged my duty and, as Ezekiel admonished, their blood will not be on my head should the lie they believe in one day exposes them to an attack of the enemy against which they have no defence until they repent.
Two Types of Revelation, Two Types of Commandment
The second thought is for those insensitive bull-headed men who are converted, believe polygamy is not a sin, and then plunge headlong into taking a second wife because they believe it is their 'right' to demand it. But just because something is permitted and is not a sin does not make it a 'right' for you to do so. It is not a sin for a man to be a pastor, teacher, evangelist or apostle either, but woe unto him if he calls himself when Yahweh has not! (Heb.5:4) Not everything that is lawful in the general sense is nececessarily right or beneficial in the particular sense for there are two types of revelation and two types of mitzvah (commandment):
What is Permissive May Not Be Right for You
- 1. There is written revelation for everyone (the Bible) and there is revelation for the individual (Yahweh speaking through the Ruach/Spirit for the direction of his personal life); and
- 2. There are those mitzvot (commandments) which are applicable to all (like the 10 Commandments) and there are those mitzvot (commandments) which are only applicable to each individual (like Paul being called to be an apostle or Yah'shua/Jesus being called to be the Messiah/Christ) or to a specific gender.
If Yah'shua (Jesus) is our Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour) then when it comes to personal decisions we must seek His will! We are indeed free to marry whom we want, even to live polygamously in the general sense without violating a general mitzvah (commandment) but if we do not consult Yahweh, hear His will, and do as He says then He is not responsible for the disasterous consequences of a choice made outside His plan for our lives.
Rebekah, Yahweh's Choice and Gift for Isaac
The story of Isaac (Yitshak) and Rebekah (Rivkah) was, as I have said, given to set a precendent. The revelation need not, of course, come about the way it did, or be carried out in the way Abraham conducted the search for a wife for Isaac but a revelation will come one way or another and precise instructions given. Only a fool would seek a companion without the prophetic foreknowledge of Yahweh who has, in any case, selected our companions for us, knowing what is best for us in the long haul, if we will but accept His choice. Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself testified:
You are Given of the Father
"And this is the will of Him (Yahweh the Father) who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day" (John 6:38-39, NIV).
All those who are the Messianic Bride - the uniplural Body of Messiah - are not privately chosen by Yah'shua (Jesus) but are given by the Father! Didn't Yahweh say this to David?
The expression "into your arms" means, as the NASB correctly renders it, "into your care" - to be protected and looked after with interest in their well-being. With every gift there is a stewardship - a gift is not given by Elohim (God) "that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3, NASB), or as the King James Bible puts it, "consume upon your lusts", i.e. solely for self-gratification. Aside from his evil abuse of Uriah, David otherwise took care of his household well.
"I gave your master's (Saul's) house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah" (2 Sam.12:8a, NIV).
David's Polygamy, Good and Evil
David did not 'help himself' - what he had was given by Elohim (God) who went on to say:
The context of this revelation from Yahweh to David through the prophet Nathan was the whole sordid business of David adulterously stealing another man's wife - Uriah's Bathsheba - and then murdering the husband! In this 8th chapter of Second Samuel we learn not only about what not to do - steal another man's wife - but to accept what Yahweh has given and to take good care of the gift as a stewardship.
"And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more" (2 Sam.12:8b, NIV).
Do Not Be Presumptuous!
What has not been given has been taken presumptuously - it is theft! Therefore to launch into a polygamous relationship without the blessing and guidance of Yahweh is a licence for disaster. You don't 'own' a woman because you feel attracted to her (and/or she to you) but because Yahweh has given her into your hand. So if you don't know how to hear the Davar Elohim (Word of God) in your life... for real...then you are potentially setting yourself up, your first marriage and your family, for ruin.
The Rebellion of Carnal Man
Carnal men do not want to hear this message, of course - they want to race ahead like wild bulls, and find ways to justify themselves, even to the twisting of scripture. With all the dysfunctionality in our sick, Torahless society, the chances of success are slim. There is no society to back you up because it is hostile. The law of the land will not back you up either - the courts will cut you down and likely seize your children. Your relatives and extended family will likely reject you and your in-laws try to ruin you! And if your wife abandons you and turns bitter, she may well seek to destroy you too. Everything is stacked against you which is why unless it is clearly in Yahweh's will, you are sowing a tempest of destruction in your life. Only those truly called will be shielded and protected by El Elyon, the Most High. Plural marriage was designed to operate within a specialised society which accepted it socially and in law. Today's society does not even if it accepts every other kind of lifestyle repudiated by the Bible.
How Entering Polygamy Should Be Done!
Besides, Yahweh has clearly indicated how it will be done correctly in the last days. Please note who pursues who and what they are willing to sacrifice to attain their goal:
Pursuing Holiness in Marriage
"In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, 'We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your shem (name)" (Isa.4:1, NIV).
First, these woman are not pursuing some gorgeous hunk or a man's riches - they are pursuing a man with a shem or a godly reputation as a true Man of Elohim (God) (and not because he has a fancy title, fantastic body, or plenty of cash). They are bringing gifts (self-provision in food and clothing) in order to be more attractive to the man they are pursuing because of his standing with Yahweh. Men need to read my sermon, What is Your Life and Name? to understand what makes them attractive to godly as opposed to carnal women.
The Men are Not Hunting for the Women
Please note - and note it well - that these men with a shem (name) are not pursuing more women - the women are pursuing the men - and they are not pursuing a man because he has wealth because they are willing to provide food and clothes for themselves through their own labour even if they may not be required to do so. In other words, the goal is spiritual first and foremost. I find I have to repeat this before it sinks into the heads of most men. But even then, the man being pursued must obtain revelation that any prospective wife is Yahweh's gift and not his own private interest or her misguided pursuit, for what man with a carnal nature (that's all men who have not 100% overcome) would not be flattered by such attention from several women begging to marry him? Provided Yahweh's will is done, the rest will follow naturally...but how many spiritual men do you personally know who would not miss their balance or lose their self-control and discernment if so pursued by several women? Not many, I suggest.
Watch Our for Force and Vow-Breaking
And though I have not covered the matter in this discourse, I have to say categorically that forcing a first wife into polygamy is contrary to the divine order of heaven if monogamy-only vows were taken in that first marriage! That vow is sacred - Yahweh upholds it - and only the first wife can anull it and only of her own free will and without duress. Therefore she must also be persuaded of the emet (truth) by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the Davar (Word) and by nobody else.
Roman vs. Hebrew Marriage: Seek the Kingdom First
It should be obvious that as we consider the qualifications for this lifestyle, that there are many restrictions that may not at first seem obvious. Part of the problem is that modern believers view marriage in Roman rather than Hebrew terms - they pursue romance rather than hebrance, if I may be permitted to coin a new term. And the difference is that Yahweh is in charge, not the lust of the flesh or the lev (heart) which Jeremiah says is "deceitful" and "desperately wicked" by nature (Jer.17:9, NKJV) - the lev (heart) is not a reliable barometer of emet (truth)! For part and parcel of Yahweh's promise is that if He is trusted to make the right decision in respect of finding marriage companions for us is concerned, "all these [good] things shall be added to you" (Matt.6:33, NKJV) because you are pursuing the King and the Kingdom and not your own desires:
"But seek first the kingdom of Elohim (God) and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt.6:32-33, NKJV).
Most (if not all) men, in my experience, require maturer and wiser counsellors them themselves in these matters, as do women too. Men and women "inflamed with lust" (Rom.1:27) or falling head-over-heels in love rarely hear the Ruach (Spirit) clearly, even though the Roman-based society tells you to "pursue your heart" indiscriminately and let it be pre-eminent in your decision-making process. It is not only possible to fall in love with the wrong person it is common if the marriage statistics are anything to go by today. When a believer falls in love with an unbeliever, for example, then you know it is wrong! (2 Cor.6:15) And sexual attraction is hardly a divine criterion for knowing who your true marriage companion is otherwise today's culture would be surperior in terms of relationship durability and success rates than Yahweh's.
A Cesspit of Carnality
I have seen enough carnal polygamy amongst so-called believers to turn my stomach for life - it is bad enough seeing all the carnality and mismatches in monogamy...and that's not a good advertisement either!
The Ill-Fated Polygamy Movements
Few in the Evangelical and Messianic polygamy movements agree with me which is why we have little or nothing to do with one another. For them it is 'open season' - I have seen the ruined lives of so many to know the folly of their choice. So many of their own leaders have failed spectacularly, often abandoning their families when it became too much for them or when their own deficiencies were exposed. And to be fair, not a few Jezebelic wives have ripped such families to shreads themselves. So beware - polygamy 'holocausts' are not uncommon.
Guard Your First Wife
Seek the King and the Kingdom first - above all else and remember that any man who is not content with his first wife, if she is being faithful to him, is for sure on the slippery slope to hell if he is seeking to adulterously dump and replace her with someone else, be he mongamist or polygamist: "Be content with what you have" (Heb.13:5, NIV) and "guard yourself in your ruach (spirit), and do not break emunah (faith) with the wife of your youth" (Mal.2:15, NIV) remain some of Yahweh's eternal mitzvot (commandments).
Don't Be Greedy
Like the man who is never content with little, the carnal polygamist will continue to search for more and more and is never satisfied. Solomon did and fell, not heeding Yahweh's Torah. King Lemuel had to be warned by his mother about loose women though the advise could equally well apply to excessive polygamy or presumptuous and ill-advised marriages:
If Yahweh wishes to give you more, let Him do the giving in His own time and according to His own tavnith (pattern) the way He blessed David. Adam, Joseph and Isaac were satisfied with their one wife, Jacob with his four, and David with his seven - Solomon was miserable with, and ultimately ruined by, his thousand...though all had their struggles, the monogamists as well as the polygamists!
"Do not spend your strength on women, your vigour on those who ruin kings" (Prov.31:3, NIV).
To conclude, I have to reitterate that this ministry will have nothing to do with all the carnal polygamy and polygamists who pursue marriage in anything but the godly way. For far too many it has become a hobby-horse, a sleasy club for those who have let their hormones run rampant. We strongly discourage the practice of polygamy in our time generally because of the general lack of spirituality and self-control, we affirm the emet (truth) of the principle as being biblical, and bless those who have been authentically called who, by their godly lives, bring glory to Yahweh and who thus exemplify and typify what the Body of Messiah is supposed to allegorically look like in what is, ultimately, a supernatural lifestyle for only a very few. Amen.
 See A Glimpse into Heaven: My Life Story and How I Came to Know Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)
 Mike Sullivan, Polygamy is Not Sinful
 This was reconstructed in 2016 by permission of the Ruach (Spirit) as the Holy Echad Marriage site for the blessing of the Remnant only
 Please see the articles on our polygamy website
 Professor Kenneth M. Gardoski, Marriage Revisited: The Christian Polygamy Movement (PDF file) - a Baptist monogamy-only critique of polygamy, probably one of the best - however flawed - scholarly articles hostile to plural marriage