Back during the summer of 2015, I was still very much discombobulated with what was happening to me. Little did I know that by the end of the year, I would actually feel much better about myself.
I am not even certain how to describe how I felt. I know why I felt the way I did, but it was difficult to accept. Here’s some of what I mean.
I don’t think this process was entirely me. I own it like it’s my own, but I don’t think it originated with me. Hopefully that makes sense.
I was confronted with possibilities and probabilities that stunned me. What I learned went against the marital structure that I had been given. It was a marital structure that was not even to be questioned.
Coming to terms with the reality that the Scriptures do not limit marriage to monogamy-only was difficult in and of itself. Coming to accept that Scriptural reality into my own life had its own difficulty.
Then realizing and accepting that I was opening myself to the leading of the Divine was a unique challenge all to itself.
But then realizing and accepting that I was being led to embrace that life was indescribably difficult.
Others’ opinions of me run the gamut. They believe what they believe.
What I have learned during this, at times, excruciating process, is there’s nothing I can really say or do to change another person’s belief structure.
Some might respond, “DUH!”
But I ask you to consider that response. What is it that you believe that you won’t change? There’s something. And no matter what anyone else says or does, you’re not going to believe otherwise.
Let me try to offer an innocuous example. Take for example a car manufacturer. Let’s ‘assume’ that you believe Car-Company is the best manufacturer of any automobile company.
But I come to you and provide you with information regarding Car-Company – its history, its other divisions, even offer statistics that Car-Company is quality and produces excellent automobiles, but I also present that Auto-Company is just as quality, just as lucrative, just as marketable, and just as viable as Car-Company.
There are many ways my reader can respond. One, flat out dismiss Auto-Company and pretend it doesn’t exist. Two, admit that Auto-Company exists but that it’s illegitimate. Three, admit that Auto-Company exists but is only permitted overseas, all among plenty of other responses.
If my reader does not believe that Auto-Company even exists, it wouldn’t matter what kind of proof I offered, Auto-Company wouldn’t exist to my reader, because my reader would believe it impossible for Auto-Company to exist.
If my reader believed that Auto-Company was illegitimate, then my reader would provide all kinds of narrative as to why Auto-Company, even if an actual company, was not only unmarketable and non-lucrative, but also non-viable.
If my reader believed that Auto-Company actually existed but was only permitted overseas, then my reader would proclaim that Auto-Company is still irrelevant to our market, and if a vehicle from Auto-Company was desired, then I’d have to actually move to a place that permits Auto-Company vehicles to be driven.
And the responses and retorts and the comments continue all based upon how my reader might believe or disbelieve anything regarding Auto-Company as opposed to Car-Company.
Hopefully that example was innocent and harmless, but still revealed the difficult of my situation.
In the United States, we have this bevy of personal and individual rights. Some of these rights are protected by law. Some of these rights are accepted but not “legalized”. Some of these rights are accepted by one group, but not another.
The United States is a very unique country. It permits much. It prohibits much.
For example, in many locations alcohol is sold every day of the week except Sunday. Why? Temperance Laws.
Those laws don’t prohibit anyone from drinking alcohol on Sunday. Those laws simply prohibit the purchase of alcohol on Sundays. If one stocks up during the week, Sunday prohibition means little.
The issue is that what is “law” often comes at the preference of other people. I’m not deriding anyone, but let’s face it, everyone wants laws that reflect their own personal preferences for conduct of life. That is why in days passed, the church and the state worked together to enforce communal behavior.
Yet, we live in a society that is as averse to being governed as its need to govern.
Those kinds of things flow down into our society, found in educational settings, religious settings, institutional settings, and family settings.
Coming to terms with one’s self is one thing. Bringing one’s self to terms with how the world around you works and reacts is another thing entirely.
Because of that, sometimes (most times?) it is simply easier to go with the flow and meld into the expectations of those around you than to stand out different from the crowd.
Oh, publically and privately we’re encouraged to be our own unique individual self.
But, the reality is that there is both the spoken and the unspoken pressure to conform and not look or be or do or act differently than the culture and society around you. This is why we have the idiomatic expression: “When in Rome…”.
The point is, coming to terms with myself -what I understood, what I believed, what I expected, what I wanted, what I believed I could do, what I was willing to endure- took a tremendous amount of time, because there was a part of me that was reluctant to be different.
But come January 2016, something changed. I haven’t given up on faith, or God, or Jesus, or the Spirit, or the Bible. It’s just that I’m different.
Are there consequences to choices? You bet.
But for everyone who has ever said that to me, their advice was usually correct. Look, if someone drives 120mph down the freeway, there are consequences. The most benign is being given a speeding ticket.
However, there are times that the consequences are their responsibility, not mine.
For example, to draw a line in the sand, saying, “You cross that line because you have a family that is not acceptable.” is their responsibility, not mine. Here’s why, and I have somewhat explained this in other places.
In the United States, there was a time that interracial marriages were unaccepted. But they became accepted, both personally and legally.
Reality check. Interracial marriages were ALWAYS acceptable even when they were legally prohibited.
I know this is a complex issue. But for believers in God, the reality is that parents, families, cultures, societies, and religions do not define acceptable marriage – God does.
To make my point understood, it is parents, families, cultures, societies, and religions that have prohibited interracial marriage, not God. Except for the technical issue where God told the Nation of Israel not to intermarry with certain people (Deuteronomy 7.1-3).
But other than that, Israel was free to intermarry with anyone, hence why Boaz (an Israelite) could take Ruth (a Moabite, Ruth 1.2) as wife. The Moabites were not amongst the nations that were prohibited, ergo their marriage was acceptable.
In like manner, it is parents, families, cultures, societies, and religions that have prohibited one-man-multi-wife marriages, not God. Except for the technical issue where God told the Nation of Israel not to have a marriage where a man marries a woman and her daughter or her grand-daughter (Leviticus 18.17) and except where God told the Nation of Israel not to have a marriage where a man marries sisters (Leviticus 18.18).
But other than that, Israel was free to have a marriage with two or more women, hence why Elkanah had two wives (1 Samuel 1.1-2). His wives were not related as mother to daughter/grand-daughter, nor were they related as sisters, ergo their marriage was acceptable.
Some might argue “But that was Israel.” Guess what? God never provided any guidance of any type to the Gentiles about marriage. So what does that indicate?
Some might argue “But we live in the NT.” Guess what? God only prohibits what is prohibited, and a man having multiple wives is not prohibited in the OT or NT. But it is certain that when a relationship was wrong, it received condemnation, for example 1 Corinthians 5.1.
Why did Paul condemn that relational behavior? One, because the behavior was prohibited (Leviticus 18.7-8). Two, because such behavior was not practiced by Gentiles.
Yet, it is known that nations outside of Israel and Israel were known to have polygamous marriages. There is no OT or NJ condemnation of a man having two or more wives. But the NT does prohibit the polygamous man from *serving* in certain official capacities within the church (e.g. 1 Timothy 3).
So being raised up to think a certain way about marriage, coming to terms with the paradigm shift regarding marriage, and coming to terms with what people expect for marriage was intense and slow going.
But I am here. It’s the different me.
So what does that mean for me?
I’ll tell my reader one thing it means. I absolutely adore my wife. She is the best thing, well one of the best, things that has ever happened to me. Why? Because I expect Rachel to be the other best thing that has ever happened to me, and I will absolutely adore her.
Why? Because I love them. And I expect my love and adoration for each lady to grow for as long as I live.
Why? Because I am nothing special.
But the point is I feel quite honored and humbled that I would be permitted to enjoy such a beautiful life, and I am more than willing to love them, help them, and give to them, in any way possible, to the best of my ability, to the best of my understanding of the Scriptures and faith.
Before I close, I want to share something from my prayer on July 4, 2015 (Month 4 Day 18). During that prayer, the Divine conveyed:
Now the moon is still up and it is rising upward. Traverse the sky she must, and traverse it she will.
Somewhere, somewhen, during the last few years of prayers, I learned that the moon refers to Rachel.
As to the extent of the statement and what it means, I am not certain. But in the context of the prayer, I think it will be answered.
Before it is answered, the Divine conveyed:
Now the sun is on the rise, will cross the skies, blaze the day, heat the surface, this is to be, and must be….
Somewhere, somewhen, during the last few years of prayers, I learned that the sun refers to Mary (Esther).
Like before, as to the extent of the statement and what it means, I am not certain. But in the context of the prayer, I think it will be answered.
Here is where I think the Divine answers the extent of those two statements:
This is how it works.
Good to know, at least for me anyway, that the Divine is going to provide an explanation of those two statements. The Divine continued:
One chases the other, never catching either,
That is exactly what the moon and sun (I listed that order because that is the order of the statements) do as they traverse the sky. The one is in front of, or behind the other, chasing each other, but never catching.
The Divine continued:
under both you serve and rest,
Neither the moon (Rachel) nor the sun (Esther) is my master. Neither could be my master any more than the actual moon or actual sun could be my master.
Yet, it is true that I serve, as in labor, as in do my work, under the actual moon and actual sun. Just as I rest, slumber, take my ease under the actual moon and sun.
The Divine continued:
they guide your night and your day, mark your years from here to eternity.
As for why the Divine described the moon first and then the sun, and then continued that motif is a mystery to me.
However, consider that the actual moon guides my night and the actual sun guides my day. In actual reality, I need both. Together they work as a means to not only identify time, but as a means to illuminate my path.
Poetically, the Divine is saying that Rachel and Esther will do the same. Not spiritually, for that comes from the Divine. But emotionally, familially, practically, situationally, poetically – I need the moon and the sun in order to maneuver through life.
But in that image, there is a beauty that draws me, a beauty that compels me forward.
I will knowingly use a monogamy motif: that beauty is like a man who sees the exterior and interior beauty of a woman, interacts with her, and knows that she simply completes him, and without her he cannot be.
That is what I see in that image, that beauty, that completion of myself. When and where it will happen is a mystery.
Interestingly, the Divine concluded:
These are yours, no one else’s. Cherish them. Love them. Constantly, incessantly, forever and ever, amen.
You know what? That is exactly what I want to do, now and forever.
Blessings and Shalom