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There is a certain subset of men in the Christian patriarchy scene who are inordinately interested in whether they may have multiple wives.
Curiously, these men are almost always young and single.
They argue that God, in the law of Moses, explicitly allows for multiple wives. So if we are applying the general equity of the law today, as we should, multiple wives ought to at least be an option.
They also argue that polygamy is modeled for us in the Old Testament with figures like Jacob and David. These men are held up as models of faith to be imitated, and so we should not discount the models of their marriages without good reasons.
Usually, people who argue for polygamy have been unimpressed by the counter-arguments, which frequently amount to little more than kneejerk dismissals. “Gross, obviously we shouldn’t do that.”
But what they have failed to consider is that those kneejerk dismissals come out of a Christian culture that has been shaped by centuries—millennia, in fact—of discipleship by the Holy Spirit. The fact that polygamy has always been regarded as aberrant and wicked in Christianity is not a coincidence of history, but a result of the work of the Spirit of Christ.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (Jn 16:13)
Many red pilled men are ready to throw out their entire heritage as tainted by feminism. But we are not revolutionaries. We are reformers. We do not need to lay a new foundation. We need to renovate the house that was built on the foundation God already laid.
Now, obviously the mere fact that something is a staple of Christian tradition does not constitute ipso facto divine authorization. But the more universal an element of orthodoxy and orthopraxy is, the heavier the presumption that the Spirit was moving in establishing it; that he was enlightening his people to discern it, and empowering them to apply it.
And, quite frankly, the more remarkable the presumption in thinking that some relatively untaught and unsanctified rando can read scripture more competently, reason more carefully, and discern God’s will more clearly, than all the fathers of our faith.
This latter point is especially important, because many red pilled men are also, ironically, heavily inculcated into the Enlightenment mindset that produced feminism. They therefore are literally unable to read their Bibles in the deep, highly connective way that scripture models for us. Rather, they read only at the top surface level, with a highly atomized view of the text, and a very shallow understanding of the spiritual patterns that connect and underlie the passages they’re trying to analyze. We won’t go into this in detail here, since we already wrote on it here:
None of this proves that polygamy is wrong, of course, but it is important to frame the issue correctly before speaking to it. We wrote last time of the danger in hastiness. It is almost impossible for young men, learning their theology from the internet, not to be hasty.
This also raises a related question which is worth considering: why do they care about this issue?
We all have extremely limited time and energy. We are commanded to use it as best we can; to steward it well so that we may repay God with a return on his investment in us. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 should serve as a stern warning to us all. So what is the return we expect on the time we spend investigating this? And even if there is one, is that really the proactive motivation for the investigation—or just a reactive rationalization, in light of the question?
Again, these men are usually young and single. They don’t even have one wife. Why are they worrying about whether they could have two or three? Is that a real possibility on the horizon for them? Are they all six foot athletes with chiseled jaws earning a million bucks a year? More importantly, are they all such wise, virtuous leaders that they could handle the responsibility of ruling multiple wives?
Why not start with one, and see how that goes before considering more?
All that said, this is a perplexing thing to spend time on given the clarity with which God has spoken. We know—it is explicitly stated—that marriage is about Christ and the church. It is a symbol of Christ and the church. A physical expression of the spiritual pattern that finds its fulfillment in Christ and the church. Paul, speaking in the context of how husbands are to love their wives, and explicitly referencing Genesis’ account of how God made for Adam a single woman, says:
This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:32)
In other words, Adam had one wife because Christ has one bride.
This is the pattern for marriage, and so it is the pattern that Christians ought to follow. A man is disqualified from eldership in the church if he is not “the husband of one wife” (1 Ti 3:2). Why do you think Paul explicitly mentions such a thing? It is because elders are to imitate Christ. And we are to imitate them (1 Co 11:1; He 13:7).
Does this mean that if a man does take a second wife—if he is a pagan living in darkest Africa, say—that she is not really his wife at all? That it is not a real marriage? No. It means that it is a malformed marriage; a deviation from the proper pattern; an abuse of God’s design due to sin, in the same way that divorce is a malformation and deviation and abuse of God’s pattern for marriage. “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” Again, we see that the pattern of Adam and Eve is normative. We are supposed to be able to infer the proper order for marriage from the creational pattern. (Incidentally, this is also why a missionary who is shocked at the pagan’s polygamy and makes him divorce his second wife adds a second sin to his first. There are some sins that cannot be undone.)
None of this is hard. It is milk, and was treated as such by our fathers in the faith. Unfortunately, our insane and broken culture has produced many men who are uniquely blinded and wounded from being chewed up and spat out. For such men, simple creational patterns are often baffling. They can barely stomach the milk. Yet they know they are desperately far behind where they should be, and so they are willing to try to stomach strange meat for the illusion of maturity.
Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil. (He 5:13-14)
There is no shortcut to discerning good and evil. You don’t achieve that ability by reading the opinions of anonymous self-styled pundits on social media. You achieve it because of practice. You cannot become accustomed to the word of righteousness except through time.
Most of the time, you probably shouldn’t correct anyone
Young men are often very concerned to correct others who they think are wrong.
The better ones want guidance on how to do this.
Here's a reframe based on our past 20ish years, going from being such a young men, to being somewhat less young:
Jesus spends basically zero time trying to correct the Pharisees unless it is for the purpose of teaching his disciples.
And he spends basically zero time trying to correct his disciples unless their beliefs are leading them into perdition.
Correction does have its place. For instance, the structure of the sermon on the mount contains some correction of bad doctrine, then assertion of good doctrine to replace it.
But consider again what we have just said about haste and sanctification. Young men are often concerned to correct others, but seldom concerned to discover what those others might teach them.
As you get older, you realize just how much error exists in your own life, and just how patient God has been in gradually teaching you about it.
This tends to produce a much “mellower” approach to error in others, and a longer vision of how to go about correcting them—and even whether correcting them is necessary.
Furthermore, just knowing that someone is wrong does not automatically grant us the right to say so. It is natural, and sometimes good, for young men to get into debates online. Ideally, this takes place in forums where that’s really the idea. Everyone signed up for that. It’s a kind of arena. Men want to test their mettle against other men, and to sharpen iron together. There is danger in it too, but in principle it is a natural good.
Especially for men who have higher opinions of themselves than they ought. Getting their butts handed to them is good for them.
But in more “social” situations, where someone says something they think is wrong, discretion is generally the better part of valor. Here are some questions worth asking:
Is this an error that even needs correcting?
Why do I want to correct this error? Is it for this person, or for me?
Do I have any kind of relationship with this person that could be considered a basis for correction? Any natural authority over them?
Would this person’s pastor be happy with me correcting them?
If he would, would he correct them in this situation?
Will correcting them cause them to lose face or respond defensively?
Is there a way to get them thinking in a direction that would help them correct the error themselves over time?
“Beta males” are attracted to situations where they can be respected as “alpha,” based solely on the ability to recall and articulate theological data. It’s a massive problem in our own branch of the church—but certainly not limited to it.
A focus on personal sanctification tends to be what separates those who get over it, and those who give into it.
Women and children first
Evolutionary psychology functions as the mythology of the red pill. According to this mythology, sperm is cheap and eggs are expensive, and so we have evolved to think of men as expendable and women not. Hence the tradition of “women and children first.”
Like many popular myths, this one is completely out of touch with the actual history of humanity. Women and children were treated as expendable by men in just about every society throughout the world, until the rise of Christianity. It is not a mentality directed by evolution, but by the Spirit of Christ.
Even then, it is such an unnatural behavior to our flesh that historically it was routinely trampled in the heat of crisis. A good example is the wreck of the S.S. Arctic in 1854. Despite the best efforts of her captain, only 88 people survived—many by commandeering mostly-empty life-boats using improvised weapons.
They were all men.
Between 285 and 372 people lost their lives in the sinking, including every single woman and child.
Dress for Success: How Clothes Influence Our Performance. What you wear can influence your thinking and negotiating skills, and even hormone levels and heart rate.
Talk again next month,
Bnonn & Michael