It happens often, too often, to be mere happenstance. Yah is doing something amazing and I’m just excited to be a simple instrument that bears the striking resemblance of a lightning rod.
Each week or two, someone reaches out to me because they have suddenly been led to study marriage, adultery, polygyny, patriarchy, or some related topic that leads them to see what is actually written in Scripture. They dig deeper on their own and find that much they have been taught about ‘traditional’ marriage is straight Greco-Roman imported falsehood. Then, thinking they are going crazy, they do a search for anyone who might be seeing the same thing and wind up watching some of my youtube videos or reading parts of this blog among others. (I’m not the only voice in the wilderness…)
The next thing that happens is they connect with me via email, text, or other means and start asking questions and discussing truths that very few others are willing to explore or study. Often, I’ll receive an email with a detailed explanation of their journey and reasoning… Following is one such detailed description that is so very encouraging. I am printing this with permission as it is an email drafted as a way that the author shared and is sharing his journey with friends and family.
I pray this email will encourage, challenge, and strengthen you in regards to what Abba is doing in our day!! (Some names have been changed…)
Why Polygyny for Me
There are two letters authored by me in circulation relating to polygyny. If you are reading this one it’s because you, like me do not believe polygyny is sinful according to the law of God. So, we’ve all agreed that polygyny is acceptable to God, but the question then becomes “why?”, just because God allows it doesn’t mean we are required to practice it, neither does it mean there is a need to do so. In our present society, where polygyny is not the custom of the day and there is a risk of association with the other side of so many other issues, why would a man, especially one who is happily married seek out a second wife?
My personal journey studying this thing we call marriage is too complex to recount. When I think I’ve found the beginning, I start there and then realize there were other significant events prior to that or something of that nature. The more I search for the beginning, the younger and younger I go back, but I’ll start here. There was a pastor from Uganda to the United States who spoke about his father having ten wives. It was my first real encounter with the topic. I’d heard of people who believed it, read about it in the bible and missionaries’ biographies and even seen some very indirect portrayals of it on screen in movies about missionaries, but the first time the nature of marriage was a true question for me was here.
Then there was the knowledge that the “vilest of the vile” according to western culture, the Muslims practiced polygyny and permitted men to have up to four wives. Of course, most everyone raised in western culture, specifically the United States knows the Mormons are faux Christians who believe in polygamy, but that wasn’t really an encounter because they were already considered wrong for having fake Christianity so naturally anything that flowed from them was also false.
The next major encounter with marriage was when I started studying Christian Domestic Discipline, the belief that the husband has the duty and authority to chasten his wife, including physical chastening like spanking. When I asked my mom about it, she pointed back to the missionary whose father had the ten wives. In his testimony he talked about seeing a Christian pastor he had lived with and his wife interact, how they loved each other and so on. He mentioned asking the man about when he saw his other wives, to which the man replied there were no others. Then he asked him about when he beat his wife, the man took him to scripture and showed him how Christians are to love our wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. This was my introduction to bastardized servant leadership.
Of course, along the way there were sermons and marriage conferences that affirmed these doctrines. God created man male and female and married them, so the example is Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, Sarah and Rebecca. The one good thing that came from those teachings was Yahweh’s disdain for divorce and the breaking of the marriage covenant. Of course, at the time, I believed that subsequent marriage covenants created after the first were invalid so God would have no problem with those illegitimate covenants being annulled, but I still had to ask the question.
Then came the recognition that several of the patriarchs had more than one wife. At the time I knew of Abraham, Jacob/Israel and David. I was familiar with Lot’s daughters having slept with their father to produce an heir, which I believed was a grave sin but outside of that I wasn’t aware of any other polygynists in scripture. The standard explanation in each of these cases was “God uses broken people and works with us even if we sin” and the classic “look at all the problems in each of those marriages”. For a single guy who just wanted to be married at that point, especially since I had a young woman in mind, I just toed the party line and didn’t ask too many more questions. Afterall, with the other things I’d accepted from my church’s doctrinal confessions, it wasn’t too hard to accept those shallow answers and move along, agreeing that I would seek a wife within the fellowship and under their doctrines of marriage.
Then my thinking was interrupted by a couple significant events. Within the tight knit homeschool community I grew up in, I was a subset of a sub community in the subcommunity of the Christian world. That’s a lot of subsets, but basically, you have mainstream Christianity, within that there are those mainstreamers who choose to homeschool. After that group, there is the mainstreamers who not only homeschool, but also have very conservative and reformed doctrinal beliefs. Up to this point, it was pretty well established in my mind that I would marry, let’s call her, Esther and we would follow the conservative model of courtship where I would approach her father, we would have several family meetings and hangouts, then a phase of chaperoned dating and then one day I would propose and we would be allowed to go on private dates, but still not touch each other. After a brief engagement we would be married and life would go on.
This was a great plan, except Esther rejected me three times. I was crushed, totally crushed. Ask a couple folks I worked with a the time about how I took it and they’ll tell you it was the first (and probably only) time they saw me break down in tears, literally weeping. I was thoroughly defeated. Part of me said I should wait a year and ask the fourth time, part of me said I should marry from among “the heathens” and bring that woman into the way I was brought up. There was just one problem with that. None of the “heathens” as I would have called them at the time was remotely interested in me, except for one of my friend’s sisters, whom I had no interest in at the time.
Around this time, two other significant events happened that reshaped my world. The leaders of two of the most conservative Christian, homeschool ministries resigned. I’m not talking Amish or Mennonite Conservative, although there were Mennonites affiliated with one or both organizations, but these two groups were the last stop for Christians before Mennonite and Amish.
The first was IBLP’s Advanced Training Institute or ATI as we called it. I won’t go into the details or my opinion of what happened, but Bill Gothard, the central figure of IBLP and ATI was accused of sexual misconduct. Gothard was an elderly man who had never married. I did some research into the whole affair, learned there were so many people even from as early as the 1980’s who hated him and had accused him of various kinds of misconduct. As to the veracity of those allegations, the readers will have to do their own study and make a decision, but Gothard stepped aside and there was a mass exodus from his ministry leaving it an afterthought for most in the homeschool community.
The other major event was Douglas Phillips’ “adultery”, I’ll dig into his situation more later on, but Doug had what was termed an illicit relationship with his family’s nanny, a 27 year old unmarried woman. He was confronted by several men who were involved in the ministry and retaliated against them. Finally, at some point, he posted a public apology and resignation and a month later Vision Form vanished.
I remember looking around at all the friends the event affected and doing a search online to see what I could learn of the true nature of the incident. Doug claimed he and this woman didn’t “know each other in a biblical sense” but that the affair was “affectionate and inappropriate”. As I researched, there were the droves of people who accused him of ecclesiastical abuse, teaching falsely that patriarchy was Yahweh’s created order and so on. Then there was the curious and unsupported allegation that he taught Christian Domestic Discipline along with R.C. Sproul Senior. The fact that he stated a man should discipline his woman was verified years later speaking to a friend who was present when the remark was made, as to Dr. Sproul, that is still unverified.
These two organizations were very similar in their teachings and as the leaders fell, the organizations splintered. People denounced anything Doug or Gothard had ever taught, they derided the men to no end and you had to be careful whom you mentioned the names and organizations around.
Next came Joshua Harris recanting his book “I kissed dating good-bye” that had been the foundation of the courtship only doctrine of the homeschool community and the publishing of Thomas Umstattd Jr.’s book “Courtship in crisis”. To date, I haven’t personally read either book, the change in my views on marriage and defending them may lead to me reading them at some point, but for now they are irrelevant to me. Then the Botkin sisters revised what they had written in “So Much More” or “Return of the Daughters” I’m not really sure which one came first or what each of them said, but it seemed everyone around me was rejecting the core beliefs we’d always held. I still didn’t think myself ready to marry so I didn’t do too much investigation into all these books or the fall of the conservative Christian homeschooler at the time.
But then I started dating Ana. It started as a long-distance email relationship, and if you’d like to hear our story, then I’d love to sit with you on a zoom call or if you’re in North Texas, we can get a cup of coffee (and being a cop, donuts are always welcome) but I was forced by that relationship to examine what I actually believed. Was handholding, one-on-one dating, kissing before marriage and so on actually forbidden in scripture?
I had already gone thru a major realignment of my beliefs with regard to alcohol and the Christian, so next was the doctrine of courtship and dating. Ana had read Thomas’ book and her understanding of these things had already changed. She’d dated several guys before me as well. Her family came from an Amish background, again, a story you’ll need to meet up over coffee or zoom for but, as Ana and I started dating, I had to decide what I believed and what direction I was going to take us in. Ana followed me and at the time I’m not sure I was really leading us, I was just kinda going with what felt right and not sinful.
During our relationship I reexamined my belief in Christian Domestic Discipline, eventually deciding it wasn’t important enough to kiss away the one relationship that had said yes and that it was probably not a good philosophy for several reasons, all influenced by our postmodern and feminist culture. Not one of the reasons I took then came from scripture.
I’m going to skip the first three years we’ve been married and focus on what’s developed over the last year with regard to my views on marriage. I’ll hark back to some of those things for background, but the last year pretty well explains where I am now.
I started reading a series of articles on the website biblicalgenderroles.com about domestic discipline. At the time, the author had just changed his position from wife spanking is a never, to it’s a permitted means, but something you have to determine if it’s right for you and need to really get your wife’s assent to. As I was reading his articles on various topics, I came across one where he made a bold statement that would bar him from any conversation in “conservative” Christian circles. It was the kind of statement that if you shared his website with anyone, they would come across and stop reading to point out to you and then conversation was ended. Your witness was tainted and nothing more could be accepted from him. Larry Solomon, the author’s pen name, claims boldly, “not all porn is wrong”. I initially didn’t even read the article, I knew this man was walking in unrepentant sin and he was going to be anathema for teaching against the fundamental doctrines of the evangelical church. Porn is all wrong, all the time for everyone, everywhere. Or is it? I kept thinking on the proverb “he who brings his cause first seems right, but then his neighbor comes and searches him out”. King Solomon clearly forbids judgement before hearing both sides of the debate.
I went back and read the article and all the others connected to it, including a multi-part series on Christian Polygamy, more specifically, biblical polygyny. The articles forced me to examine scripture in a light I never had before. It was my first introduction to the error of Onanism, the doctrine that all masturbation was wrong. Previously, when my mother had counseled me on the topic of sexual purity, she had pointed to the story of Onan, son of Judah who was slain by Yahweh for “spilling his seed”. I thought I was living in serious sin each time I succumbed to the temptation to sexually pleasure myself and feared each time I got in a car or walked the streets alone that God would strike me dead. But Onanism is an erroneous teaching, one that is derived from hundreds of years of Church Tradition that has taught us that even sex within marriage can be sinful if it isn’t for the express purpose of reproduction and that to have and satisfy sexual desire is sinful.
I’m not here to recreate the articles or books I eventually read, I’m telling my story, but I’ll include the resources I found particularly helpful in understanding marriage according to the Torah, Yahweh’s only moral law revealed to mankind.
As I continued my studies, I refuted the articles I read with the traditional responses I had been taught, until one night while working patrol, I came across Mark Henkel, a national polygamy advocate. In one of the YouTube videos I watched, Henkel made the bold claim, one that I had skipped over in Solomon’s articles, that Yahweh permitted and even blessed polygamy. He brought up the example of David in Second Samuel 12 where Nathan confronts David about his adultery and murder. Nathan tells David that Yahweh blessed him with each of his women and that had he asked, Yah would have given him more, but because David took Uriah’s woman and murdered Uriah, the sword would never depart from his house and his women would be “taken” in the sight of all Israel.
The truth slapped me in the face so hard it took a week to recover. I started re-reading Larry Solomon’s articles with a critical mind, reading the scriptures and how he explained them and actually caring about the translation and language issues he presented. I recognized then that the doctrines the church has taught for the last 1500 years came from an organization that believed in celibacy as the highest form of life and walk before God. They didn’t permit priests to marry and the greatest service for a young person to choose was not to fulfil the dominion mandate and the great commission, but to take a vow and enter a monastery or convent, vowing to live in celibacy and generally poverty to serve God and the church, but the emphasis was on the church.
Because I didn’t fully agree with Solomon, many would say he’s a little crazy and takes things quite a bit too far, I decided I needed to see if there were others who believed Yahweh sanctioned polygyny, the practice of one man being married to multiple women. I found numerous books on the topic and devoured them. Having been so steeped in western monogamy doctrine, I found it hard to set aside bias and preconceived notions, but the more I read the less settled the issue became.
I found that anyone besides Luther and Augustine who dared to question the issue of marriage was wiped from Church history. There’s at least a half dozen great men of the faith who have been wiped from our history because they dared to defend polygyny.
Prior to this, my wife had heard a talk by a counselor at a Christian ministry, during the time of several of the “greats” in ministry falling who said his universal experience was that anytime a young person started to question the churches teachings on marriage, lust and divorce, it was because they wanted to do something the bible said they couldn’t and they were trying to find a way to force their views into scripture to permit some sin. At the time, I whole heartedly agreed. Surely there was no need to question established doctrines of scripture if one did not want to violate them. My study however showed this to be false. It was an appeal to the authority of the traditions of men rather than the word of Yahweh. As followers of Yah, we should always be ready to defend anything we call a sin from Torah.
Dr. William Luck, a Moody Bible scholar wrote a concise article that appeared in his book on Biblical Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage according to scripture. In the article, Luck makes two important statements that impacted my understanding of the Bible’s teaching on marriage. The first is “Yahweh didn’t ask me for my opinion, he asked me to represent his” and the second, as he started to define adultery for the purposes of his book, he assumed it was anytime a married person slept with anyone other than their spouse, and then “set out like a good evangelical to find scripture to prove the point”.
I’ve studied biblical law since I was about 16, primarily criminal law, but in these studies I read Rousas Rushdoony’s Institutes in Biblical Law, a monumental volume that analyzed the commandments and their application to law today. I loved Rushdoony’s in-depth style of expounding the scriptures, so I sought out audio recordings of his lectures. As in his book, Rushdoony admits there is no scriptural prohibition on polygyny, and then goes on to teach that it is a lessor form of life, approved by Yahweh, but a lessor state of walking as a Christian. But back to Luck.
What Dr. Luck found in his studies was that adultery in scripture is always defined by the woman’s marital status, never the man’s. Indeed, there is a test for a “jealous husband” but no parallel test for a jealous wife to have her husband examined. Additionally, numerous laws point to how polygyny is to be conducted and there is not one condemnation of any of the 30+ men who are specifically listed in scripture as having more than one woman. What Yahweh is concerned with is that in each covenant relationship, the man is faithful to each of the women he is covenanted with.
I also watched a YouTube video series by Dr. Luck on polygyny. In the series, he advocates a change in the debate, a return to the laws of logic for discussing the topic. One of those keys is the Latin Maximum semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit, being translated in context is ‘he who lays the charge bears the burden.’ It isn’t just up to the person challenging a doctrine to prove his point, it’s up to the person claiming something is sin to prove it is so, using American legal standards, “beyond reasonable doubt” the highest standard in criminal courts of the United States. The simple fact that not one who practiced polygyny in scripture was condemned for it and the fact that there are numerous laws that regulated it in Torah or in several cases possibly commanded it is reasonable doubt as to the absolute nature of the monogamy only position.
I now believed that the teaching of church tradition was suspect, but I still needed more to prove it was in error. I continued reading books by Christians who professed that polygamy was not wrong. The four most influential were Authority Headship and Family Structure according to Moses by Pete Rambo Sr., The Great Omission by Clyde Pilkington, Man and Woman in Biblical Law by Tom Shipley and Monogamy the Lie by Maurice Nelson. Nelson is a bit rougher than Shipley’s work, but I couldn’t find anything in scripture to disagree with his claims. Shipley not only started in Genesis and then worked his way thru the scripture, he compiled a list of polygynous men in scripture that includes Yahweh and Yeshua and then went on to refute the commentators of the past century who have asserted that polygyny is unlawful according to scripture. It was by far the most comprehensive and intricate study of the topic. Shipley shows how patriarchy was in the garden before the fall and how patriarchy necessitates polygyny being acceptable. After reading Shipley’s book, I was convinced that polygyny is acceptable to Yahweh and in accordance with his law.
There are those who harbor an intellectual belief in polygyny, and then there are those who live out that belief. The intellectual belief recognizes the harm of monogamy only, but doesn’t think it’s realistic to change the culture in that way. It says “yeah, that’s true and all but…” and you can fill in the blank with “one woman is enough” “why would you hurt your wife in that way” or “why would you add a second relationship when you can barely handle the first?” and on and on. One of the fundamental problems with these arguments is they don’t fully shed the monogamy only doctrine and all that it brought into Christendom with regard to what we call marriage.
I’ve used that phrase over and over “this thing we call marriage”, I stole it from a friend whom I met during this journey. If you examine the scripture closely, there is actually no mention of ‘husband and wife’. There is in the New Testament a Greek word used to refer to a woman who is “married” or more accurately “mastered” and in the Old Testament, where the English bible uses the word “wife” we should more accurately use “woman” so in a sense, when it says “Abraham’s wife” or “Adam knew his wife” it ought to read “Abraham’s woman” or “Adam knew his Woman”. This is important because the terms “marriage”, “husband” and “wife” all come along with significant baggage from Greco-Roman culture, which is also where monogamy comes from.
I’m not going to replicate the works I read and watched with regard to the monogamy only or polygyny debate. I’ll provide connections to the resources and leave it to the unconvinced reader to, with an open heart and the help of Ruach HaKadosh, examine them for yourself. My prayer is that as you read, you will clear your mind of the hundreds of years of traditions of men and permit the clear Word of Yahweh to enlighten your mind, that you will rightly divide the word of truth and allow yourself to be taught by Ruach HaKadosh to know the truth.
So why have multiple wives, specifically You George?
As with any desire in life, it’s difficult to quantify it for another or present the full qualification of that desire. When we think about why we want the things that are important to us, it’s difficult to explain why we want material possessions. Why do I want to own a Marlin 336? Why would I want to buy Ana a Lexus IS350? Afterall, she has a working Toyota Camry, I have a Remington 700 among other rifles. Can anyone really sell the reason they want more than they have? Getting married is a far bigger decision than getting a different vehicle or another rifle, but the root desire is the same. It is a desire to do something permitted by the Torah of Yahweh. For what purpose do we seek after the “why” when we clearly know the “what”?
The reasons I will give are my own, they are not theological in nature, they are just my personal feelings as such, some of it will be clearly backed by scripture, some of it will be based on my own interpretation of how to best implement scripture in my home. There are plenty of reasons for bringing back polygyny in society as a whole, many great evils in our time are the direct result of our rejection of Yahweh’s created order for the home, I will touch on those at the end, but I want to explain my own personal reasons first.
First and foremost, among my reasons for seeking a second wife is simply that I want to. The want can be broken down into a few different desires or reasons behind those desires, but the simple fact is that I desire to expand my household, I want more friendship, more intimacy and more of the gift Yahweh gave to mankind.
Do not read here that there is some conflict between my bride and I, that I want to replace her with a “newer model” or that I’m wanting someone more beautiful or anything of that nature. I love Analisa deeply, I love her for who she is, who she wants to be and who she can become. She is the woman of my youth and nothing will take that away from her. This isn’t about me feeling that Ana can’t meet my sexual needs or that she isn’t “the one”, no, my desire to take more women is about my mission and dreams, not about any deficiency between Analisa and myself. Adding additional women is not about replacing or diminishing between Ana and me, it is simply me seeking to expand my household in a manner that Yahweh permits under his Torah.
There are practical reasons as well that I will get into shortly, first I’ll flesh out my personal desire a bit more. I want to provide a covering for women who presently are uncovered according to the standards of scripture, I want to image Christ and the Church in my family life and I want to restore a biblical structure in my home.
Something I’ll spend more time on later is the scriptural definition of widows and orphans and the state of family in western society, but here, I want to give a couple examples of reasons I began to see polygyny as something I should seriously consider.
To Provide Biblical Covering
We don’t really think about “uncovered women” in western culture and certainly not the United States. Afterall, women today can do almost anything a man can do. It wasn’t always this way in our nation though and it certainly hasn’t been this way throughout history. Until the 1960’s in the United States, almost every state had what were called head and master laws, marital power laws, coverture or some variation of those laws. It was a basic legal doctrine that precluded women from participation in many activities we don’t think twice about them doing today.
While some would like to debate the merits of the specific issues on this list, I’m not writing to that end at this time, however I would be happy to engage in separate discussion of the specifics. The body of laws I will label under the Latin principle respondaet superior meaning “the master shall answer”, women were unable to practice law, obtain a passport, obtain a bank loan or credit card, open a bank account or participate in certain types of occupations. Again, many would disagree with some of the specifics on this list, but I believe many of the laws listed are derived from, if not found directly in, scripture. The United States Supreme Court in the 1890’s cited the law of vows as the reason women could not be licensed to practice law in Illinois. In Louisiana, the federal government was prohibited from seeking financial compensation from a woman whom they had loaned money to because her husband had not also agreed to the loan. The Federal Government reasoned they did not recognize head and master or marital power laws, but the state court ruled that they should have known better than to loan a woman money who was subject to such laws by virtue of her residing in their state.
The legalities of each of these cases gets more complicated by the day in our nation, but the point is that scripture is plain that a woman is to be under the authority or covering of first her father until it is transferred to her man, then if he dies or they are divorced, she is to return to her father, be given to another man or if her father is deceased or unable to discharge the duty, there is a line of succession of male relatives who are to take responsibility for her. A woman who is not under the covering of a man has no voice in the assembly.
I hear your slides racking to shoot the messenger, so before you open fire, go to scripture and see where you find an example of an uncovered woman. I’ll wait.
I want to share two short stories that illustrate my desire to provide a covering to women in my community. Sadly, neither of these women would even consider agreeing to my philosophy and have chosen instead to subject themselves to the great harms that Yahweh designed polygyny to protect them from.
The first is a close friend of my wife and I who was left by her husband who denied the faith. She has a child and was previously a stay at home mother. Circumstance, partially not of her own making, partially traditions of men, forced her to work to support her child and try to find another husband. Scripture is clear that such a woman should return to her father’s house or should be remarried to a godly man. I’m not going to make myself out to be the only option for her of a godly man, but according to scripture, she isn’t limited to single men. For her, some of the advantages would be living with her best friend, joining herself to a man she knows pursues Yahweh and is already demonstrating a desire to provide for and protect his family.
The second is also a friend who is single. To my knowledge, she has not been previously married, but the specific story is a little different. We were on a road trip and I heard from my Ana that she had recently lost her job. When we stopped to eat at a restaurant that I as the driver had chosen, I decided to pay for the young woman’s food. She initially resisted, first to be polite, then a second time to avoid being embarrassed and to appear self sufficient, but when I told her it had already been done and there was nothing she could do about it she backed off and approached my wife as we were loading the vans, thanking her for us paying for her meal and then admitting she was struggling financially and that us paying for it had really helped.
I aver that there is no place described in scripture that a woman is supposed to be living on her own providing for herself. In the case of Naomi and Ruth, the whole reason for returning to Israel was to seek out a man to be under the covering of. When Paul discusses elderly widows, his instructions do not place them under their own authority, but rather the authority, and thus covering including provision of the elders of the assembly if there is no son who can fulfill that role.
It is my desire to provide a covering for godly women. This isn’t a new desire based on my discovery of polygyny. Rather, my discovery of polygyny has shown me how Yahweh intended for this desire to be righteously accomplished. I used to dream of creating some type of group home where women who were without husband or father could live in their own apartments and be able to have male leadership and role models for their children, something like an apartment complex with a male and female couple who ran it like godparents to the children and counselors to the single women and mothers without a husband. My study of polygyny has revealed Yahweh intended such a place to exist, but on a much smaller scale within the homes of believing men.
Imaging Christ and his Churches
This is the most important and foundational of reasons so I will spend the most time on it. Understanding this requires a paradigm shift away from what we’ve been taught about the church and a return to what scripture says in the law and prophets. The parable of the ten virgins is an important scriptural hint that the view of one single church of Christ is incorrect, notice the plural in the heading of this section. The second place to look is in Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel where Yahweh clearly describes himself as a polygynous husband, married to two brides who are daughters of the same mother.
There is a misconception in Christendom, largely the fault of the Holy Roman Church, that there is a catholic or universal church to which all believers are supposed to belong. Scripture however does not teach this. There are several views of how this looks, but I want to briefly examine three of them. The first is the view that each assembly of believers (some say two or three, others say 10 or more still others each individual believer) constitutes a/the “bride of Christ”, depending on how you look at it. The second that only each church is a bride of Christ and the last that there are two brides clearly spoken of, Israel and Judah.
Under the first view, Christ is one with each individual believer or assembly of believers. The two or three view is taken from where Yeshua says, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them”. The 10 or more heads of households creating an assembly comes from the creation of a synagogue by 10 or more men in Judaism. The “each church” is taken from the letters to the seven churches by Yeshua in Revelation 2-3.
Finally, the Israel and Judah to which I am most partial is taken from the prophets in the Old Testament saying Yahweh has two brides with whom he covenanted at Mt. Sinai and recognizes that Israel and Judah are distinct groups. Yeshua has a different relationship with Judah, the southern kingdom of two to four tribes, depending on how you read and a distinct relationship with Israel, the ten tribes in the north. I believe this view is most clearly born out in scripture, but that’s a different topic. There is a great book by Pete Rambo Sr. titled Ten Parts in a King that covers this view in greater detail.
The view that there is but one church consisting of all believers, that we are united as one in Christ is partially correct, but imposing our western lens on it, we accept the catholic view that there is one true and universal church of Christ, a view that I believe there is little scriptural support for.
As Wayne McGregor put it in the introduction to Tom Shipley’s seminal work Man and Woman in Biblical law “What I can see more clearly are the benefits that will accompany this doctrine when it is finally realized. A Christian marriage of one man and more than one wife will present a microcosm of Christ and the church. We, as Christians, are betrothed to Christ and yet we do not get along very well. We are like the wives of one husband who do not get along. The high priestly prayer of Christ in John 17 is the model for the oneness that we should have and that oneness can be best modeled in a Christian household with one husband and multiple wives. Likewise, tyranny and anarchy can best be modeled in a non-Christian household with one-husband and multiple wives. As in the world, so in marriage: tyranny and anarchy are the only alternatives to submission to Christ in all things.”
Just as we individual believers are one with Christ, so individual wives are one with their husband. St. Augustine stated “For by a secret law of nature, things that stand chief love to be singular; but things that are subject are set under, not only one under one, but, if the system of nature or society allow, even several under one, not without becoming beauty… Thus we read not that any of the holy women served two or more living husbands; but we read that many females served one husband… for neither is it contrary to the nature of marriage. For several females can conceive from one man: but one female cannot from several men (such is the power of things principal) as many souls are rightly made subject to one God.”
Our modern concepts of “this thing we call marriage”, as my friend likes to say are so far removed from scripture, the only way for us to take back the biblical family and build the kingdom as God intended is thru a full and swift return to the design laid out in scripture. Our present concept of marriage is directly derived from Greco-Roman paganism. Even the terms “husband” and “wife” are firmly rooted in pagan ideals and the pagan worship of fertility goddesses. It would shock most Christians to learn that not only is there no condemnation of polygyny, specifically the practice of one man with more than one woman, the council of Nicaea and other catholic councils relied on Roman Law, and admitted they were not reliant on the Law of God in banning or discouraging polygynous marriages.
I want to stop right here and say, Yahweh does not demand polygyny as a means of grace or as a part of salvation or keeping his law. Outside the Levirate Law and the law of seduced virgins, there is no requirement for the practice of polygyny in society. That said, I personally believe that until we as a church return to more than intellectual belief in polygyny, we will not begin to solve the myriad of social problems directly authored by the monogamy only doctrine.
To restore biblical family structure
Let’s return for a moment to the quote by Augustine and unpack a key element to family structure there.
“For by a secret law of nature, things that stand chief love to be singular; but things that are subject are set under, not only one under one, but, if the system of nature or society allow, even several under one, not without becoming beauty… Thus we read not that any of the holy women served two or more living husbands; but we read that many females served one husband… for neither is it contrary to the nature of marriage. For several females can conceive from one man: but one female cannot from several men (such is the power of things principal) as many souls are rightly made subject to one God.”St Augustine as cited in A Selected Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Ed. by Philip Schaff, Vol. III, pg. 407-408
Ask yourselves, do men today “stand chief” in their homes in western culture? Are men the ruler of their household in a system that practices strict monogamy? By there being one man and one woman in each house, the man is in many ways no different than the woman. It is this doctrine that has given rise to complementarianism and egalitarianism, the two great bastardizations of Yahweh’s structure for family and society.
Thinking about this in military terms, families today are merely a squad. Families in Yahweh’s structure are a platoon. To illustrate this a little better, remember all illustrations break down at some point, monogamy only is like saying the husband and wife both hold the rank of first lieutenant. The only difference is the husband was promoted a month before the wife. In military custom, when there are several officers who hold the same rank, and no superior officer then the order of command and priority is determined by promotion date. So then, the most senior first lieutenant is in command until a captain or someone promoted before him comes along. This isn’t a perfect illustration, but I want to take it a step further. In many cases, we’ve assumed that the one with the greatest time of service ought to be considered chief, or in other words, the oldest would be in charge.
I believe the scriptural structure would look more like the man as a first or second lieutenant, commander of the platoon. Then, each of the women is the sergeant leading their particular squad. The sergeants are all assigned rank according to their responsibilities. As sons mature, they are assigned the rank of warrant officer. In military structure, warrant officers outrank the enlisted in particular aspects of their duties, but they can still be assigned under the leadership of senior enlisted personnel. When a son takes his own wife, he then leaves his father’s platoon and begins his own.
So to recap, men who have a woman, or as we would say in today’s vernacular, married men are commissioned officers. Women are non commissioned officers assigned their rank according to their duties within the platoon. Sons who have not founded their own household are warrant officers and daughters and son’s who are under the age of maturity are enlisted personnel. While this illustration doesn’t work out exactly, for those with a military background it will make some sense what I’m trying to say.
An example of where we have gone wrong would be to use the police rank system. As a peace officer, I hold a license from the state that authorizes me to carry out my duties. Every officer, be it an appointed chief, elected sheriff or constable or simply a patrol deputy or officer holds the same license and bears the same authority of the state of Texas.
The thing with the police rank system though is that while the sergeant technically outranks a patrol officer, a sergeant cannot actually order a patrol officer about. Oh, many think they can, but the sergeant’s function is to approve days off and he can write up a patrol officer for coming in late or not shaving. If the sergeant gives a direct order such as “issue this person a citation” or “arrest that woman over there”, those orders are not technically lawful orders. While a patrolman would do best to obey them, the sergeant has no authority to void an action brought by another peace officer. It doesn’t matter that you are chief of police, you can’t instruct a peace officer as to how they will specifically apply the law. This is how the western world tends to view marriage. The husband may be patrol Lieutenant, but he can’t actually give orders to the sergeant or corporal.
If we fully import this example to the family, the husband is patrol Lieutenant, the wife or wives are patrol sergeants and the “adult” children are corporals while the other children are slick sleeve officers. The husband’s authority is only to create certain policy and general directives and within those, his only recourse is to reprimand, suspend and terminate the officers under his command for violations of departmental policy, he can’t actually tell them how to do the job. There are “orders” he can give such as “complete X number of close patrols” or “make X number of citizen contacts”, but he isn’t really empowered to direct how the job is carried out as far as the use of police powers.
Both of these examples have positive and negative, neither of them is comprehensive and in some way the family and our walk with Yeshua as believers resembles each, but the clear difference in authority structure can be noted. In a military organization, the officers clearly have authority over their subordinates. In a paramilitary organization like the police force, the officers have very limited legal authority.
The last example I want to use which I think is closer than either of the preceding examples is the franchise. I worked at Chick-fil-A for a number of years at various levels of leadership and I feel that I can best explain not only the authority structure, but also the “two bride” theology using that model.
Chick-fil-A’s are independently owned and operated. In this example, Yahweh represents one portion of Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A and the board of directors. Yeshua is the independent owner/operators and Chick-fil-A corporate. Yeshua is not Yahweh and Yahweh is not Yeshua, however they are of the same essence. I’m not going to get into a trinitarian debate, but bear with me for the sake of argument.
Both Chick-fil-A and Truett’s Grill are owned by the Cathy Family. Truett’s Grill and Chick-fil-A are not the same restaurant though. You can get a hamburger at Truett’s Grill, but try walking into Chick-fil-A and leaving with a hamburger from their kitchen and you’ll have some problems. Truett’s Grill represents the house of Judah, Jerusalem and the Jews, and Chick-fil-A the house of Israel, Ephraim or the House of Joseph. That part is relevant more to the discussion of Christ and the Church, but hopefully you see the picture begin to emerge.
At the individual level, Yeshua is the owner/operator of each individual store, he is the boss of everyone in the store. The man represents the general manager, he reports directly to the owner/operator. In Chick-fil-A’s franchise model, the stores in each market are grouped together for distribution and marketing purposes. This would be representative of the assembly. The assembly and its elders have limited authority over the men as they report directly to Yeshua, likewise, at the market level the various general managers have limited authority over the other stores in their market.
Within each store, the general manager supervises a team of managers who help to run the store. These represent the man’s women. They are under him in rank as First Corinthians says “but the head of every woman is the man”. Below them, the “adult” sons are team leaders, they don’t have much functional authority in the store, but they have more responsibilities than the team members and are lessor in rank to the managers. The team members represent the daughters and children in the home.
Again, this isn’t a perfect example, but you can see where I’m going with it. There is no “equal partnership” or “team” between husband and wife. There is a clear authority relationship, scripture makes clear that the woman is subordinate to her man who is subordinate to Yeshua. It isn’t merely the military “half step” or the “tie breaking vote”, the man is a suzerain ruler of his home and his women are his vassals. Likewise, Yeshua is the suzerain ruler of man and men are his vassals.
To restore biblical family structure, it must be understood that the woman is not “like” the man, she is not his equal or his partner anymore than he is “like” Yeshua or his equal and partner. Polygyny reinforces this structure because with one man and multiple women in the same house, it is apparent that the man stands chief in the home. It isn’t a committee with him as chairman, although there is the possibility of falling prey to that trap.
Intellectual belief does not bring the benefits of practice
As I stated before, there is no biblical command to polygyny outside of specific circumstances outlined in scripture. In specific places, the Torah gives commands without regard to man’s marital status meaning if he were already married, it would create a command to polygyny. Absent these, there is no command for a man to take more than one woman.
Understanding intellectually how Yahweh designed family to operate changes how you view the world. It changes how you understand the topics of lust, adultery, structure in the home, welfare and so on. We can change our views of these areas, but if we don’t permit the practice of polygyny, we won’t make any difference in society or in addressing the social ills caused by monogamy only. Again, I’m not suggesting that every man must practice polygyny, just that every man must be open to the fact that Yah may call him to practice polygyny.
To be open to that fact, we must change how we establish our families and how we teach about the institution we call marriage. We must begin to teach authority the way Torah does, the way the New Testament confirms Yahweh intended it. We must pursue biblical doctrines for handling conflict in the home, for addressing social problems and for how we handle conflict between man and wife, what we teach women about jealousy and their ownership by, and not ownership of their husbands. One of the only ways to create a polygyny friendly church is if there are those who practice it. The debate and discussion, even intellectual assent is nice, but that will not prepare us to use polygyny as the family building tool Yahweh intended for solving the many social evils brought about by our embrace of Greco-Roman custom and philosophy.
To restore a biblical understanding of Lust, Fornication and Adultery
Just about every church or men’s group I’ve attended for any length of time brings up what is termed as “every man’s battle”, lust. We have hammered into men that the desire for any woman besides their wife is sinful and constitutes adultery of the heart. In doing so, we’ve added to the word of Yah and “bound heavy burdens on men’s backs without lifting so much as a finger to help them” as Yeshua rebuked the Pharisee’s for doing.
I’m not dogmatic about it, but I would argue that Joshua Harris, Douglas Phillips, Bill Gothard and Ravi Zacharias would not have fallen in disrepute if we had taught a proper understanding of family. In each case, the men had to repress desires Yahweh gave them to satisfy the eleventh and greatest commandment of the Christian woman, thou shalt have no other women before me. This commandment is not listed in scripture and biblical teaching on lust and adultery specifically exclude the framework necessary for an inferred command to this effect.
The doctrine inherited from Greco-Romanism lends itself to wife worship, just as the pagan’s worshiped a female deity of fertility. Romanticism is a substitute for love as Christ loved the church. It is a creation of a different way of fulfilling what Yeshua commanded thru the pen of the apostle Paul. The beginning of wife worship ends with woman worship, where women are put on a pedestal and no longer recognized to be the helpers of man. The “natural use of woman” according to Paul is to be the object of sexual lust and pleasure.
There are two different kinds of lust spoken of in scripture. One is sinful, one is blessed. I’m not going to get into the word study on these two uses, but when Yeshua said “whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her…” he was referring specifically to a married woman. This is born out by the Greek word used in scripture for woman there. Alternatively, Paul tells us that to avoid fornication, let each marry in one place and in another for every man to possess his women and for every woman to be possessed by her man. Again, the word studies are critical to understanding the nuances of Greek.
Paul is clear about the consequences of women not being covered by a man, but that’s for the next section. Back to the specific examples I cited above.
In the case of Dr. Gothard, had he been married many of the allegations of sexual misconduct would likely not have arisen, likewise, if it was understood that he could have more than one woman, his behavior would likely not have been “creepy” as it would just be an accepted part of finding another woman. I also think that part of the reason so many don’t marry is because they are looking for “the one”, in Gothard’s case, he claims Yahweh didn’t show him a woman to take, but my question is how much of that was a call to celibacy and how much of it was passing up women because he was looking for “the one” and afraid he might choose incorrectly. I don’t know the specifics of his life, but I believe that had he known of the freedom in building his house, he might have taken one or more opportunities along the way.
The other way the Gothard case would be affected is in his teachings on marriage that prevented so many from marrying young or even marrying at all. If Gothard taught according to Torah how a man is to build his house, many of the opportunities for the situations he was in would have been significantly reduced as the women around him would have either been taken by other men or taken by him. Fathers would not send their single daughters to serve at “training centers”, instead they would be giving their daughters to godly men who would raise up families.
As to Joshua Harris, he suppressed the desires Yahweh placed in him and then went about and wrote on the topic. He built a whole philosophy around avoiding Yahweh’s design for marriage and was unable to accept it. When he realized he was unable to accept what he thought the scripture said, Harris was forced to choose between what he wanted and what he had been taught scripture said.
With Ravi Zacharias, to satisfy his sexual desire rather than take an additional woman as scripture permits, he purchased massage parlors and pursued a relationship with another man’s wife on more than one occasion. Had the option been there and acceptable for him to take another woman, he might not have chosen to seek secret sexual pleasure.
Finally, the example I’m most familiar with, Doug Phillips. In his case, he had an emotional relationship with an unmarried woman. His relationship included physical elements, but it was primarily emotional and affectionate from my understanding. The only area where I believe he was in sin was in proposing that he treacherously divorce his wife to take the younger, unmarried woman. Some would say the secret nature of the relationship was sinful as well, however while it may have been ill advised, it is not forbidden in Torah for him to take a second woman without the knowledge or permission of the first. Exodus specifically commands that he not diminish the food, clothing or duty of marriage in taking the second. If he did not those three, his first woman would be free to depart. Nothing is said about the knowledge or assent of the first to the second or vice versa. That doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to just go out and take another woman without talking to the first, but that when we judge the actions of Doug in light of Torah, we cannot condemn him for seeking or having a second woman. Had he simply taken the second as the first and taught family structure according to the full council of Torah, he would not have harmed the many hundreds if not thousands of people his ministry’s closure hurt.
In each example the men involved are mere mortals and could still have chosen to make the choices they made. The point of bringing them up is that our false view of lust, adultery and fornication has place many in a situation to make similar choices. Sadly, we do not counsel according to scripture how men should handle their sexual desires. Yahweh permits men to take as many women as they are able to provide for and remain in covenant with. He doesn’t care what the number is, he is concerned that we keep our covenant with each and that we lead our homes to follow after him.
Even among those whom I have found agree with me about polygyny there is a misunderstanding of the appropriate reasons to take an additional woman. Many say “well yes you’re allowed to, but you can’t be lusting after another woman who isn’t your wife”. Scripture is clear that you cannot commit adultery with an unmarried woman. You are able to desire that which you can lawfully obtain.
I want to go back to the counselor who claimed that people’s desire to violate the law was the only reason they started to look into what scripture actually says. Sex is a benefit of marriage and having more than one woman, but it is by far not the only reason to do so, it is also not the central reason many who have taken additional women or are presently pursuing such have done so. I’ve got one more specific reason to me to cover before I go into the more general reasons for taking other women.
Continuity of Headship
This is not a scriptural reason, it’s purely personal. That said, I do believe it is partially scriptural. When the apostle Paul references aged women teaching younger women in Titus, the church has I believe correctly asserted that to mean the older women of the church. This is personal dogma, not supported by scripture, so please don’t assume that I’m trying to back up this opinion from scripture.
I believe that a home with several women submitted to the same man is extremely valuable in this context. The aged women are to teach younger women a set of specific doctrines or subjects. From the Greek word chosen, Paul clearly has in view women who are “elderly” and my guess would be he’s talking about women who would qualify to be “widows indeed”, not merely once a woman has a few years on another she is to begin a teaching ministry to everyone let’s just pick a number and say 7 years younger than her. The point here is the aged women, my understanding would be those 60 and over are teaching the younger women specific subjects. And I believe scripture is specific about which younger women they are to be teaching, the young married women. This isn’t blanket license for elder women to go about teaching people younger than them anything they think. The text specifically mentions that they are to teach them to be sober, love their husbands, love their children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good and obedient to their own husbands. Four of the clauses here indicate they are teaching women who are married.
To love their Men
The aged women are told to teach the younger women to love their man. This presupposes they are taken as younger woman who is not taken will have no man to love.
Keepers at Home
In this case, a young woman who is not taken will have no home to be a keeper of. While she is in her father’s house, her primary teacher will be her mother and father.
Obedient to their own Men
This clause again presumes the woman has been taken. If she is at home, under the authority of her father and mother, she has no “man” to be obedient to besides her father and scripture does not outsource the authority of the father and mother to the aged women. It also does not outsource the teaching or counseling role to aged women, she is to be trained by her father and mother in who’s home she is residing.
To Love their Children
The possession of children is a dead giveaway that the majority of the women being taught by older women to love their children are taken. The woman who is not taken and has children ought to be in search of another man to be her head, not simply under a council of ruling women.
Continuity of headship
I personally believe part of the reason for polygyny is for there to be female companions for the woman to have a relationship with who are under the headship of the same man. This creates continuity in the teaching. The first wife, assuming there is some time between when she is taken by the man and any others he takes, will have some experience and understanding to pass on to the others. There will be better consistency in the counsel received by the women who are under the same head than we have today where women seek counsel from their girlfriends, who are largely under the headship of other men.
Again, this is just a personal opinion and I do not believe it in any way negates the duty of aged women to teach younger women according to the apostle’s instructions. It is a reason for me to want a second woman because provides a community that we simply do not have in a monogamous society. More on that later.
Companionship and expanded intimacy and household
For the past three years Ana and I have lived in a house with others. I’ve enjoyed having several “adults” around to talk to. It makes conversation that much more interesting for Ana and myself to have other people who can talk and discuss on our level right here at home. The one downside is each time, I haven’t been married to any of the others in the home.
While I’ve enjoyed the friendship, there is a limit to it because I’m not married to any of the other women in the home. To me, having distinct relationships with each woman expands my companionship and intimacy. I can enjoy each woman for who she is, her likes and dislikes and benefit from each one’s perspective brought to the conversation.
There is of course under intimacy the sexual component of the relationship, and while that is a component of companionship and intimacy, it is only one component of the close relationship. It means there will be several women to keep the house, manage the children and assist me with expanding my business. What business limits itself to just one employee? What store hires just one manager? It’s not a perfect example, but the capacity of production is limited by the number of employees. Only a small business can have only one employee or one manager and still function.
Just as parents have a different relationship with each child they are blessed with, a man will have a different relationship with each of the women Yahweh gives to them.
Apart from the practical advantages such as division of labor, sharing in relieving the sexual needs and desires of the man and being available to each other for mutual support. The women have each other for the emotional intimacy they long for that men cannot provide. They have each other to share “chick flicks” with, to take the girls trips and enjoy the things that women enjoy.
Women need other women in the same way men need other men. Women need someone who can understand their emotions and desire for friendship. Women and men can only meet certain needs of each other and polygyny provides an environment that is beneficial to each side of the relationship in meeting those specific needs.
Social issues related to polygyny
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on these, but I would like to touch them briefly. The apostle Paul tells us that uncovered women will become troublesome in the assembly. Indeed, women even in polygynous society have the potential to become what Paul was concerned about when he told younger widows to marry. But polygyny creates less opportunity for these things.
Fatherless children, promiscuity, abortion, lesbianism (the full rejection of men and exclusive sexual relationships between women), trangenderism, government welfare and the child welfare system, including publicly funded and managed schools are all caused in some degree by monogamy only. When a household includes several women under the headship of one man, women may engage in employment and enterprise and not worry about where their children are and who’s watching them. Housekeeping can be divided between the women, rotated or whatever works best for that family. Children who are fatherless can be brought under the headship of a man. Promiscuity is reduced because there are more men available to marry, likewise, abortion is no longer a reasonable need because young women who have children and no man can be joined to an existing household.
None of these reasons discount the sin in the heart of mankind that is also a cause behind them, but Yahweh had a plan for how these ills would be remedied. His plan was for men who desired to do so to have more than one woman under their headship.
I used quite a few resources to research and study my position and reach the conclusions I’ve reached.
Authority Headship and Family Structure according to Moses by Peter G. Rambo Sr.
Man and Woman in Biblical Law by Tom Shipley
On The Morality of Biblical Polygyny by Dr. William Luck, Sr.
Prince of Sumba by Don Milton
Monogamy the Lie by Maurice Nelson
The Great Omission by Clyde Pilkington, Jr.
A History and Philosophy of Marriage by James Campbell
The Institutes in Biblical Law by Rousas Rushdoony
My earnest prayer is that you review these resources with an open heart and mind, that you be willing to examine what has been taught about scripture with a commitment to following the evidence wherever it takes you. I pray that the Father will open your eyes to see wonderous things out of his law as you wrestle with difficult questions of the faith.
We as followers of Yeshua must stop reading our views into the text, we must stop trying to mold scripture to fit western culture and see what Yahweh tell us in his word about how we are to live and serve Him. When we recognize the pagan influences that have taken over the most fundamental doctrines of our faith and perverted them and the harm it has caused, we should renew our commitment to seeking truth, regardless of where the evidence may lead.
This isn’t for everyone. Not every man desires to have more than one woman, but to those who do, let us not embrace the teaching of demons, forbidding to marry in the Lord.