While I have long understood that one reason God created marriage was to image His relationship with His people (Eph. 5:22-33), to a much lesser degree, I understood that a purpose for marriage is sanctification. It was not, however, until the last couple years of understanding Biblical marriage, that I began to understand how very significant the aspect of sanctification is.
Sanctification, by definition, is the process of ‘making holy.’ Holy means ‘set apart’ or ‘consecrate,’ so ‘sanctification’ means ‘the process of setting apart, or making holy.’ See the following snip from an online dictionary:
What I have discovered over the last several years of growing in an understanding of Biblical marriage is how incredibly it affects the aspect of sanctification. Let me explain!
Those who frequent this blog and especially our Resources pages or the Biblical marriage page at natsab.com know that what the Church describes as ‘traditional marriage’ is not what Scripture describes. In fact, Scripture never teaches monogamy-ONLY. What Scripture actually teaches is ‘marriage’ (a man with one or more wives) and the respective roles of man and woman. This combination of facts, polygyny and patriarchy, are utterly hated by the Adversary and radically opposed by culture and our flesh!
Please stay with me as I try to explain a few lessons regarding the relationship between marriage and sanctification.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave dominion and headship to man and then gave to the man a helpmeet. The man, Adam, was given authority over the woman as her protector, provider, and spiritual head. We have covered this in detail multiple times on this blog, both in single articles and the Restoring Kol Israel series.
In his attempt to destroy God’s creation, the Adversary strikes at the foundation of God’s created order. Nothing has changed since his interaction with Eve in the Garden. As articulated over and over on this blog, the creation order, instituted in the Garden, is God => Messiah => man => woman. 1 Corinthians 11:3 most clearly distills this fact from a multitude of proofs throughout Scripture.
So, let’s consider briefly why understanding Biblical marriage accelerates or deepens sanctification.
A belief in monogamy-ONLY as a standard of marriage never fully tests or refines either man or woman. In fact, monogamy-only empowers a lackadaisical attitude toward the heart/root issues in both men and women. Let’s parse each independently.
How Men are Sanctified through Polygyny and Patriarchy
Men are created to be leaders and created to be challenged. Men are to be kingdom builders and multipliers. A monogamy-only perspective does not fully allow a gifted man to utilize his entire ability the way God created him and easily allows him to slip into cruise control or ‘wandering’ due to insufficient domain to tend to.
A patriarchal mindset immediately re-frames a man toward his purpose in every area. The man alone is the king and responsible party for his family and home. He is tasked with leadership, both spiritually and physically, in every area of his domain. He can delegate the authority, but not the responsibility. Ultimately, the man will stand before God and give account with no one else to blame or point to.
A natural subset of patriarchy, as proven over and over in Scripture, is the option of polygyny. If the man’s abilities and aspirations are greater than a small domain, God allows and may even call and empower him to a broader vision that requires more another helpmeet or two. This further expands his affect on the Kingdom both through progeny and through influence and reach. He should only do so if he can righteously, but many righteous have been called to walk this more difficult but richer path. Hebrews 11 names multiple Godly men who had more than one woman. And, I am convinced that many, many Israelite men expanded their families and domains in this manner (e.g., 1 Chr. 7:4). Some difficult family situations are explained in Scripture, but no more so than monogamous (or, assumed monogamous) families, and generally those matters are only discussed as they affected the story line.
The point is that both patriarchy and polygyny test a man in the very area most men need to be challenged and tested: leadership and responsibility. It forces men out of their tendency toward complacency and inaction.
How Women are Sanctified through Polygyny and Patriarchy
In a monogamous culture, women tend to assume ownership and thereby equality with or even semblance of control over ‘their man.‘ Scripture never teaches this and in fact quite opposes this false mindset. God values men and women equally, but is intentional through His creation order to place her role under his authority.
Because of the cultural and even false western Christian egalitarian mindset, a woman feels justified in being jealous over what she perceives to be ‘her man’ to the point of vindictive and manipulative behaviour that violates Scripture at numerous point. Further, the egalitarian falsehood cause any discussion of submission to be glossed over or not taken seriously.
Patriarchy immediately quashes any idea of equality and forces a development and restoration of proper Biblical roles of headship to the man and submission/followership of the woman.
The mere introduction of the idea of polygyny as Biblical immediately and intentionally tests the very hidden corners of a woman’s heart. Submission and jealousy as well as manipulation and anger are dragged into the white hot light of Truth and exposed for what they are! SIN.
One has only to read the very raw and gut wrenching entries in Jessie’s Journal to witness the depth of reach the mere idea of polygyny has in exposing a woman’s heart and jealous tendencies. While a monogamy-only veneer allows these sins to lie dormant or hide in the shadows, polygyny, coupled with patriarchy, creates an environment for the ultimate sanctifying crucible.
The Next Step: Unity!
I can say with confidence, because I know and have interacted at length with several plural families, that the ultimate sanctification comes when a family actually begins to walk out the plural life that God called them to! The man’s leadership and spiritual headship grows by leaps and bounds. He is stretched and strengthened while being tested and refined as in character, love, spiritual leadership, and vision. The women, forced to deal with hidden sins that are not addressed in a meaningful way in ‘monogamy-only world,’ grow in sanctification. They learn not only to function in submission to their head, but to walk in love and compassion with their sisters, truly learning to ‘love their neighbor as themselves.’ The whole begins to function as a true unit, a true picture of the Body of Messiah under His leadership, when they put down their flesh and begin to work together as a team. I often refer to this as a ‘family unit.’
The purpose of marriage, as explained in Ephesians 5:22-33, is to image the headship and tender love of Messiah Yeshua for the Qahal/Congregation. Obviously, it is not the place of the Congregation, or Qahal, to manipulate, control or in any way have equality or veto authority over the Messiah. In fact, the egalitarianism of modern Christianity is immediately and definitively put to rest when placed in this light. What is more instructive is that God describes Himself as a having two brides, and Yeshua discusses having sheep ‘not of this fold’ and five virgins who enter into the bridal chamber. The point is that headship, patriarchy, and polygyny exactly play into the image of Messiah and God Himself as the layers/levels of the Creation Order are imaged and practised.
A further note, the strife and contention between the two houses of Israel, both Israel and Judah, is exactly pictured in and exposed by an understanding of polygyny. As I demonstrated in my article, Does God Have Two Brides?, Judah is barring the door and resisting the headship of Messiah while claiming ownership of the house. At the same time, repentant Ephraim is asking to come in under the headship of the Messiah, but generally denying Judah’s place in the house. Until the two come together and begin to operate in unity, the house will not be restored/complete.
Marriage, by design, should lead to greater sanctification. Understanding patriarchy and polygyny multiply considerably the degree and depth of sanctification by exposing and correcting faults inherently shaded by a monogamy-only perspective.