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There are always more women available for marriage than men. In spite of the proximity of numerical equality at birth, the social reality has always been – for several reasons – that there are more marriageable women than men. War, disease, irresponsibility, homosexuality, vocation, selfishness – these are some of the reasons which produce the gap.

James Wesley Stivers
Eros Made Sacred
Patriarch Publishing House, 2007, p. 38

In the Hebrew Scriptures we find both monogamy and polygamy as accepted and even expected forms of marriage. Commentators, embarrassed by the polygamy in the Bible, try to mute the subject by insisting its practice was rare and abnormal. The record does not stand up to that assumption. Polygamy was a custom practiced extensively among God’s people …

Israelite society was a polygamous society … If polygamy is immoral at all, it is immoral always. If it happened only once in Scripture, with God’s approval, then we are dealing with an ethical system utterly foreign to modern moralism. Moral absolutes cannot have exceptions, or else they are not absolute.

James Wesley Stivers
Eros Made Sacred
Patriarch Publishing House, 2007, pp. 15-16

It was not until I read Martin Luther that my prejudice against polygamy was disarmed. Not only did Luther defend polygamy as a remedy for fornication, but it was preferable to divorce. Luther did not stand alone in these opinions, but was supported by Melancthon and the Lutheran clergy in general.

James Wesley Stivers
Eros Made Sacred
Patriarch Publishing House, 2007, pp. 12-13

Monogamous marriage is merely a local institution and for millions the idea of only one wife is as strange as a lion without his pride or a queen bee without her hive …

There is no biological, genetic or physiological reason why man should have only one mate. The reason he does is purely cultural.

Throughout the world – from southern Africa to northern India – there are still people to whom the word “marriage” traditionally implies polygamy. These are not freak societies taking a wild detour from the norm of human behavior, nor simply uneducated peoples who cannot be expected to know better. They have an age-old and weighty history of civilization behind them. In the eyes of the Moslem or the Hindu, polygamy is the norm and we are the freaks.

A Westerner would find it hard to reconcile the rivalry and inbuilt possessiveness of his monogamous experience with a life of peaceful polygamy … To people of monogamous Western background, polygamy seems an extraordinary aberration from the natural state of things. But man is a creature of his environment, and were the circumstances of our lives to depend upon it, polygamy might simply become the rule in our society, as it has in many others, and what we now see as emotional prohibitions would evaporate.

Understanding Human Behavior
Human Relationships: Man & His Women;
Vol. 4, pp. 470-472

The truth is, most people express their love to more than one person in a lifetime anyway. It’s just that they do so either by cheating or by divorce and remarriage. Ironically, many of these same people cling to the concept of monogamy as the ideal.

Tom Gruber
What the Bible Really Says About Sex
Trafford Publishing,2001, p. 10

It is the responsibility of the patriarch to teach his family the Scriptures. No one else has been given this responsibility. It is a responsibility that he cannot delegate to others. He is the divinely appointed head of the home, and he alone is responsible for the spiritual welfare of those under his headship. This is a God-given responsibility that cannot be surrendered to anyone. This is a serious matter before God.

This, by the way, relates directly to the truth of the church in thy house.” A home, with extended family and guests, led in ministry by the head of that home – the husband and father. As a general principle, other family men may from time to time be there – ideally on a temporary learning basis, until they too can or will learn to take on their own God-given family responsibility. The primary teaching place is home. That is the standard of Scripture.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

The father to the children shall make known Thy truth” (Isaiah 38:19b).

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:7).

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home (I Corinthians 14:35).

James Wesley Stivers, in his book Restoring the Foundations, writes concerning the truth of these verses:

Can a pastor do this for your family? Can your child’s Sunday School teacher? No. It is impossible. What God is describing in this text is a live-in spiritual tutor. One must live with the person he is discipling [training]. Jesus lived with His twelve disciples for three years. They ate and slept in His presence. All this talk about church discipleship is fantasy. So is the concept of home cell groups. These are phony substitutes.

There seems to be something lost in a relationship between a parent and a child, if it is the decision of the parent to commission a third party to provide biblical instruction and spiritual nurture to the child in his stead. I argue that it is a dereliction of duty. Parents are to disciple their children. It is an immutable part of the vocation of parenthood.

We naturally suppose that the “institutional church” is the primary agent in proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the Word of God. That is the primary role assigned to the “church” in our day. But it has not always been so. In early America, as it was in the earliest church, the Christian home was the spiritual center.

It is impossible to provide the basis for Christian character and spiritual experience in one or two hours a week. Constant contact with a Christian leader is necessary. That is why the “discipleship movement” was so popular in recent years. It recognized the inadequacy of the “institutional church” to provide even the basic spiritual foundations in a person’s life.

Some people believe, as I was prone at one time, that if one wishes to do anything for God, one must do it within the confines of the “church” apparatus, that God’s work is done primarily at “church.” Actually, the family is the chief agent for the passing-on of the Christian faith from generation to generation.

Even the work of evangelism, once thought to be the principle purpose of the pulpit preacher, is better done through the home. The most effective evangelist, as many men and women with tender emotion admit, is that of a godly mother or father. Better than three-fourths of all conversions come through the work of family and friends.

It is a personal faith which must be transmitted, not an abstract and institutional one.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.

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April 2009
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