“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”Deuteronomy 4:1-2
To the credit of the Hebrew roots/Torah observant community, we take the Word of God seriously and understand that He says what He means and means what He says. As a whole, we generally are very concerned with keeping Shabbat correctly, eating clean and observing the feasts. We try hard, though imperfectly, to follow all that is written in the Torah without adding or subtracting from those various commands and the different details scattered throughout the Torah.
In those major areas, we are pretty good at not breaking the Torah. But, there is one area where we break the Torah continually. We are so good at it that we don’t even think about it. Consistently, we add to the Torah, take away from it, and break multiple commands, without even thinking about it… Let me share a little of what the Father has been teaching me.
About six years ago the Father began to teach me a very hard principle from the Torah that just crushed a cherished paradigm. And, the more I studied, the more I realized that this is a major stronghold for the adversary that we do not even recognize because of our tradition-induced blindness.
Recently, someone asked me, ‘Pete, why are you on this patriarchy and Biblical marriage kick? Is it really important? Aren’t there more important matters that you can spend your time talking about?’
My immediate answer was, ‘No!! This is absolutely the most important topic I can be addressing. Let me show you why.’ Then, in just a couple minutes, I laid out more than a dozen ways we are violating Torah by holding fast to a ‘traditional marriage,’ aka, monogamy-only position. I didn’t even bother to defend patriarchy, as that becomes self evident after we consider the underlying root error: ‘traditional marriage.’
Walk with me as we consider the many ways that we violate Torah, some egregious, when we adhere to a monogamy-only position.
[For clarity, there is a full defense of what Scripture actually says v. false tradition in our Resources or Biblical Marriage pages. My position is simply that we must accept as truth what God’s Word says, even if we do not personally choose to walk in the options He gives His people. Therefore, we must accept as righteous any brother or sister who chooses to walk in marital options different than our own as long as they are lawful. Details may be found on the Biblical Marriage or Resources pages linked above.]
So, now to the ‘why is this so important?’ question.
The brief answer: Believing and teaching monogamy-only is a gross violation of multiple Torah commands and we must get this fixed now! As the scripture quoted above says, those statutes and ordinances were given to us so that our ancestors and we can live by them. If we reject those statues related to polygyny, are we causing the deaths of those whom we are to protect?
The expanded answer: The Father started teaching this to me six years ago and He continues to teach and lead me to share, with increasing boldness, what He is teaching me. The monogamy-only (MO) position violates Torah in about a dozen ways, some of them very bad! Here is my growing list with some explanation and reference verses for each:
1. Causes us to blaspheme God by calling polygyny sin, when He describes Himself as having two wives in three different passages of Scripture. Ezekiel 23:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:6-10 and 31:32 all have God describing Himself as having two brides. When we call polygyny sin, we are placing God in judgment by our standards and declaring that He doesn’t know what He is talking about. Exodus 22:28
2. Causes false worship toward pagan goddesses of monogamy and marriage, Juno, Hera and Diana, all Greco-Roman deities. God is very clear, He hates idolatry and says we are not to worship Him as the pagans worship their Gods. See Deuteronomy 12:29-32. What is very interesting is that the Torah never teaches monogamy as a preferred or ideal marital arrangement. Greco-Roman worship of their gods, however, does! Zeus’ wife Hera and Jupiter’s wife Juno were both the goddesses of marriage and monogamy! So was the pagan goddess Diana! Look it up. One of the marks of their worship was monogamy in marriage and the related feminism that comes from a monopolized control of the husband.
3. DIShonors our fathers (and mothers), Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Gideon, all righteous men.. Both Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20 teach that we are to honor our father and mother. How much more should we honor Abraham and Jacob? How about Sarah, Leah and Rachel as well as mothers of Israel, Zilpah and Bilhah? Speaking negatively of their plural marriages, as if God didn’t approve, is highly dishonoring. The fact is, God blessed them in those marriages and blessed the offspring, even if the circumstances were not ‘ideal’ by western Christian standards!! See Genesis 16:10; 30:4-6, 17-18.
4. Adds a command to Torah that exists nowhere in Scripture, never mind, Torah. Quite simply, God never commands monogamy as His only marital option. Saying that it is His ‘ideal’ is imposing a standard that He never imposed and adds to the Torah, a direct violation of Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32.
5. Subtracts from Torah by disabling the proper fulfillment of multiple passages, not the least of which is levirate marriage. Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15-17 presuppose that a man may lawfully have more than one wife. Levirate marriage laws in Deuteronomy 25:4-10 do not disqualify an already married brother, therefore, also presuppose the potential for a married man to take his deceased brother’s wife into his care. All of these and related laws are subtracted from the Torah if monogamy-only is the only accepted order of marriage.
6. Causes us to speak lashon hara about the patriarchs who had more than one wife. Speaking ill of another is sin. Leviticus 19:14-15, 18 gives several warnings against misusing our tongues. James 3:5-12; 4:11-12 also warns of how the tongue so easily starts a fire. God breathes not a single word of condemnation against polygyny or the Patriarchs who practiced such. We, therefore, should not either. He regarded them as righteous in Hebrews 11 therefore we should regard them and their choices that He does not condemn as righteous.
7. Causes us to forbid marrying to those who could be married. While 1 Timothy 4:1-3 specifically enumerates ‘who forbid marriage’ as a ‘mark of hypocrisy and doctrines of demons’ ‘in the later times,’ similar can be found in the Torah with regard to widow and orphan. If they are needy, as in needing a husband or father, you shall not afflict them! Exodus 22:22.
8. Causes our sisters who desire a Godly man but can’t find a single one to look outside the congregation for fulfillment, many to their ruin. There are multiple passages that command us not to withhold something we have from the poor and needy. God does not withhold Godly men from women and nor the other way around. Quite literally, if a Godly woman desires to be married and the only Godly options available are already married, then she may approach and ask for covering and he is obligated to either provide cover or help her find a suitable man. Not doing so is a sin against her, Israel and God Himself. Consider the multiple verses regarding providing for the needy from your abundance, not turning a daughter of Israel out, the example of Ruth and Naomi with Boaz, etc. References include Ex. 21:7-9; 22:22; Deut. 24:17-21; 27:19
9. Justifies jealousy, anger and vindictive behavior in our women toward their needy sisters. Deuteronomy 15:11 and 24:14 command against turning away the needy when it is in your power to help them. Yet, monogamy-only fosters, even values, sinful behavior toward needy sisters in the form of jealousy, anger, hatred, shunning, etc.
10. Monogamy-only presents a false image to the world of what Messiah’s relationship is to the qahal. Clearly, God presents Himself as the husband of two brides from before they left Egypt. Ez. 23. Further, Yeshua speaks of the ten virgins, five of which enter the bridal chamber. Paul, in Ephesians 5:32, tells us that the marriage relationship is to image Messiah and the qahal. The bride, or brides, walk in submission to the Messiah and do not have egalitarian equality or veto power. Rather, they are there to help Him fulfill His purpose! He has covenants with many people, not just one.
11. Causes us to fail to recognize or understand the real problem between the two houses. Both the house of Israel and the house of Judah believe they are the only bride!! The very problems evident in the monogamy-only paradigm are the problems that exist between the two houses of Israel!! Neither loves their neighbor as themselves. Lev. 19:18.
12. Causes us to build state allegiance instead of patriarchal allegiance to family, tribe and clan. God’s design is to love and trust Him and do things His way, which, evidenced by His own actions and that of the patriarchs is to allow for monogamy or polygyny within the righteous boundaries of the Torah. He did not desire or design a governmental system with allegiance to State (see The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy, Witte, p. 23, for comments about rivalry with the State), yet Aristotle astutely said that “monogamy is the foundation of the polis (State)” (Witte, p. 105). Just as we are not to worship as the pagans worship, we are not to build social structures as the pagans build social structures. (Deu. 12:29-32)
13. Prevents women who desire and need to be covered from being covered, thus leaving them exposed to the enemy even if they choose singleness. Numbers 30 declared that widows and divorced women who have no husband are subject to their own vows as they have no protection or oversight. God designed women to be under the protective covering and headship of a man. Not having access to that protection leaves them exposed and in danger. Not giving them the protection that we can afford them is sin.
14. Ignores the needs for covering and protection/provision of widows, orphans and single moms in the congregation. Hearing the cries of the needy, both widow and orphan (Biblically, an orphan is a fatherless child, not a motherless child), and not filling it if able is sin. It is not loving your neighbor (Lev. 19:18), it is afflicting the widow and orphan (Ex. 22:22), it is a perversion of justice to a needy sister (Exo. 23:6).
It could rightly be said of those who adhere to the monogamy-only position,
3 And [Yeshua] answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? ….. you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,Matthew 15: 3, 7-9
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”