"The Truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it" (Anon)
As many of you are aware there is currently (beginning in 2008) an explosive controversy surrounding the validity of plural marriage or polygamy amongst Messianics and Nazarene Israelites which has followed in the wake of a similar controversy that hit the Evangelical Christian world in the 1990's. Since everyone is apparently taking 'positions' in the Messianic community and since people understandably want to know what ours as Messianic Evangelicals is, this statement will hopefully answer this question especially as we have members in this ministry supporting both pro and anti positions.
Our position has two essential components:
An exhaustive and honest study of the Scriptures that excludes religious tradition and irrational carnal gut-responses, and which takes all scripture into account without prejudice, leads one to the inevitable conclusion that:
- (a) Heterosexual monogamy, as exemplified by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, was, and is, the normative marriage lifestyle enjoined for the vast majority of both Old and New Testament believers;
- (b) Celibacy (complete sexual abstinence, from light bodily contact to full intercourse) is the only lifestyle permitted before marriage and is mandated only as a rare exception upon those called by YHWH to live in a single estate as adults (e.g. the prophet Jeremiah)
- (c) Heterosexual polygyny is permitted and sanctioned by YHWH in only two situations:
Specifically, these are a small minority of wise and loving men with a shem (Is.4:1), not in the worldly sense, but in YHWH's eyes who may bring Him glory in living this way. Furthermore, according to our understanding of the Seven Festivals and their deeper spiritual meaning, this would exclude those who have not received Torah, thus excluding antinomian Evangelicals from this practice, as this is strictly a sanctioned practice within Torah-observant Israel itself where the practice may be righteously regulated and the parties held to strict accountability.
- (i) In times of war or other circumstances, for the general population, where there is a surplus of women who, being unable to find husbands, are either forced into the sin of harlotry, to marrying unbelievers, or into a celibate condition against their wills; or
- (ii) In times when YHWH calls honourable and spiritually mature men (like Abraham, Jacob and David) with the resources to do so, provided they do not outrageously multiply wives as did Solomon.
- (a) Because of the extreme mental, emotional and spiritual dysfunctionality of the vast majority of men and women in these end times, who are barely able to keep a monogamous marriage together, we feel that polygyny should be actively and strongly discouraged, though not forbidden where the criteria in #1(c) above are fulfilled. This means the practice should not be promoted, that doing so attracts, in the vast majority of cases, bisexual women seeking legitimacy for lesbianism and/or the most basal of men whose motives are not pure and who in any case are incapable of living the lifestyle, and whose practicing of this principle would, in the vast majority of cases, lead only to misery and family fracturing, leading to a disasterous witness for the Messiah, something this already injured world with its disintegrating nuclear families absolutely does not need at this time.
- (b) Accordingly we believe that this principle will not have any significant meaning for the Body of Messiah until:
- (i) the Great Tribulation, when we believe there will be a disproportionate number of marriageless sisters in search of protection and family love; and
- (ii) The Millennium when
- (a) there will be a vast excess of women over men; and
- (b) amongst the survivors there will be a large number of honourable and spiritual men with a shem who will have been sufficiently refined by the 7-year tribulation to be in a position to live this lifestyle righteously, responsibily and maturely.
This ministry regards this principle generally to be a handicap to the Great Commission in a world (and in particular, the Western world) that is unprepared for it, and for this reason wishes to discourage giving this subject any prominence beyond clarifying what Scripture says about it, accepting those men and women and their families already practicing it coming to Messiah and/or Messianic Israel. There is an extensive webpage that examines this question to settle the scriptural witness and to guide the small minority amongst us who practice this lifestyle (principally in Africa) at the Holy Echad Marriage (HEM) website for those who wish to examine this subject in greater depth. This web archive was rewritten and put online again in 2016 to reflect our current beliefs and position.
We do not wish to be distracted by a debate on this subject in our discussion groups or elsewhere and so it remains for each enquirer to come to an honestly held opinion and conclusion on the subject that "agrees to disagree" (where unity cannot be found) in a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance. We believe that such discussions as are currently raging, in both pro and anti camps, have for the most part taken unreasonable and sometimes radically extreme positions which are either untrue to the Scriptural witness on the subject or which do not demonstrate the proper spiritual restraints and balances such as we seek to impose here that avoid Lashon hara. We wish to encourage both sides to come to a sensible truce in the Messianic Movement (in particular), where honourable men and women are found, and will happily arbitrate if we feel there is a call for this.
In the meantime we desire that there be no stumbling block be set that would impair or destroy our fellowship in Messiah. May YHWH give shalom.
19 July 2008
Note: Not all the views expressed on these webpages are those of this ministry
1. A Summary of Holy Echad Marriage (HEM)
2. HEM Theological study: The Truth About Biblical Marriage
3. A Baptist Study: Christian Polygyny
4. Emes L'Yaakov's The Orthodox Jewish Pro-Polygamy Page
5. An Evangelical site: Pro-Polygamy.com
6. General overview at Wikipedia
7. A Secular approach: Polygamy Day.com
This page was created on 19 October 2008
Updated on 16 May 2017
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