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Polygamy in the Media

Journal Tribune

Journal Tribune
Liz Gotthelf
January 6, 2007
(Interview: December 21, 2006)
TITLE: "Old Orchard Beach polygamist Mark Henkel
speaks to benefits of more than one wife"

On December 21, 2006, Elizabeth Gotthelf, staff writer for the the York County, Maine, newspaper, the Journal Tribune (located in Biddeford, Maine), was granted an interview with the Founder of, Mark Henkel. Her requested interview was for a report specifically about him and Christian Polygamy, to be published in the "Religion" section of the newspaper's Weekend Edition. The article was eventually published in the January 6-7, 2007 edition.

Ms. Gotthelf's article did a very good job of detailing Mr. Henkel's points. The article also included "anti-polygamy" comments from the senior pastor of the local quasi-mega-church and school, New Life Christian Church. In fact, Ms. Gotthelf's article was so well done that, for anyone researching Christian Polygamy for the first time, the organization recommends it (and this web-page here) as one of the top news reports to read first.

What now follows is Liz Gotthelf's article in the January 6-7, 2007 Weekend Edition. The article is archived here. Further below, on this page, the archived article is then followed, first by a very quick clarification, and then by detailed answers/responses to that pastor's "anti-polygamy" comments. It is done with the Christ-centered lovingkind desire to help that pastor, his church, and any other researcher in further understanding how and why the mistakes the pastor had made were indeed mistakes. For a more thorough perspective and understanding, all readers are warmheartedly encouraged to read this entire web-page.

On the newspaper-navigation at the top-left of "Section C" (FEATURE):

* Polygamy:
Considering the
Bible's teachings, C4.

On Page C4, Journal Tribune, January 6-7, 2007:

Multiple Marriage
Old Orchard Beach polygamist Mark Henkel
speaks to benefits of more than one wife

By Liz Gotthelf
  Staff Writer
© 2007 Journal Tribune

"This isn't marriage with a period,
this is marriage with an exclamation point."

Mark Henkel
Founder of

Mark Henkel is a religious man.

"I'm a full blown born again Christian," he said. In 1991, after experiencing some great difficulties in his life, he was "humbled" and began dedicating his life to Jesus Christ.

He's also an advocate of polygamy.

Henkel, a resident of Old Orchard Beach, is the founder of, an organization that promotes Christian polygamy.

Henkel said that his current beliefs of polygamy started in 1993, as he began to study the Bible. As an evangelical Christian, he studied the word of God, and let the words themselves teach him.

"We're taught to do this, so that's exactly what I did. I studied the scripture. I went deep into it. I let the scripture teach it by itself for itself," he said.

As he studied the Bible, he had an eye-opening experience.

"When you do a deep study, there is a paradox, a profound contradiction, a dichotomy that hits you smack in the face over and over and over again. And that is that we are told by man that more than one wife is adultery and then all of a sudden the heroes of the faith, Abraham, who is the father of the faith had three wives, Israel, the twelve tribes of Israel were born of four wives, he had four wives..."

Henkel took the Bible study even deeper. Using Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, he researched what the word adultery meant in Hebrew.

Henkel said that according to his research, the Hebrew word for adultery in Exodus is defined as a woman who breaks wedlock. He said that in his research he learned that a man causes adultery when he marries another man's wife. Henkel said that he understands that in our egalitarian society this might not be a popular thought, but a true Bible scholar would have to abide by it.

"We are surrendering ourselves to, 'If the scripture said, that's it,' not my beliefs about it," he said.

Henkel, who has become a national figure on the issue of polygamy, does not disclose information about his family to protect them from the "media circus." He said only that he is a happily married man.

"I love marriage, you've got to. This isn't marriage with a period, this is marriage with an exclamation point," said Henkel.

He states that he follows the "love, not force" philosophy towards marriage, which advocates a polygamy that is consented to by the husband and the women who marry him. He states that both parties have to be on the same page, otherwise bringing in an additional wife will not work. Henkel states that this can be a beneficial arrangement.

"This provides the option for one to be able to work and knowing that her children are being raised by someone who shares her values and loves the children instead of some low paid stranger at daycare," he said.

For Henkel, polygamy means that a man has to stand up to a standard worthy of women.

"The problem is that there is such a backward stereotype perspective of what is actually involved that it's usually perceived ridiculously like it's somehow all advantageous and sexual for the man. But the reality is, it's all about man growing up and caring, that he's attracting and holding a family together, and that a woman would consent and be so secure in their marriage that they have no problem with this," said Henkel.

Henkel states that modern society is in an era of dumbed down males who are marriage phobic. He said that if you have 10 men, nine of whom are "jerks," and 10 women, nine of those women will be oppressed because they will not be able to partner with a good man. In Henkel's opinion, polygamy creates a laissez-faire marriage economic, allowing women the choice to marry a quality man and making men become better so they can attract women.

Jeff Tarbox, senior pastor of the New Life Christian Church in Biddeford, disagrees with Henkel's justification of polygamy. Tarbox takes his marital beliefs from Genesis, and believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Tarbox believes the Bible tells the truth, but this does not mean it is giving certain behaviors a stamp of approval.

"One rule of good Bible interpretation is that everything is true but some of it is not a good example," said Tarbox.

Tarbox said that the scripture provides the "unvarnished truth of players" and doesn't hide the truth of its heroes, which helps make it believable to its readers.

"The story of scripture is time relevant. The players didn't have the Bible, they were living it out," said Tarbox.

Tarbox states that if one were to start justifying every behavior in the Bible, they could even start justifying behaviors like incest.

"When you take things out of their rightful context, I think that's dangerous," said Tarbox.



Quick Clarification:

Liz Gotthelf's article was very, very good. She succinctly threaded together many of the vital points in a very accurate way. The only clarification to possibly make is very minor and only pertains to how others might mis-apply what she accurately wrote. Namely, Ms. Gotthelf reported, "He said that in his research he learned that a man causes adultery when he marries another man's wife." While that is an accurate statement, the definition goes further than that, as well. That is, a man causes adultery when he simply takes or copulates with another man's wife, or if he causes his own wife to break her wedlock. With this clarification now stated, any anti-polygamist is thus thwarted from attempting any semantic word-game of trying to mis-apply Ms. Gotthelf's accurate reporting - as if Mr. Henkel had said something less complete than what he actually said.

Answers / Responses to
   Mistaken "Anti-Polygamy" Comments:

As for the "anti-polygamy" comments by the senior pastor of Biddeford's local quasi-mega-church, Mr. Tarbox's responses revealed how little he has studied the scriptures regarding this particular issue. In order to assist him (if he sees this page) and anyone else reading this page, the following is a quick run-down of rebuttals/refutations to the mistakes that Mr. Tarbox made, which unfortunately hindered his ability to understand the issue more accurately. Should that pastor or anyone in his congregation ever read this page, it is sincerely prayed with all fervent love in Christ that this series of explanations will truly be a blessing for their further research into God's true Word on this issue.

  1. As the seque to Mr. Tarbox's "anti-polygamy" portion of the article begins, it uses a word that implies Mr. Henkel is doing something that he is actually not doing. It is not that Mr. Henkel is giving "justification" to polygamy. Rather, he is noting that, not only did the Bible never prohibit polygamy, it even regulated how it was to be conducted (e.g., Exodus 21:10, Deuteronomy 21:15, etc.). It is Mr. Tarbox's anti-polygamy position that actually bears the real burden of proof to show that the Bible gives "justification" to creating a doctrine prohibiting polygamy as some supposed "sin" - a proof which is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

  2. As the report declares that Mr. Tarbox gets his marital beliefs "from Genesis," it is pertinent to note that the two specific (out of dozens more) polygamists in the Bible cited by Mr. Henkel in this article, the stories of both Abraham (with his three wives) and Israel (with his four wives) also come from the book of Genesis. As well, the book of Genesis was written by Moses, a polygamist with two wives. Lastly, the Bible and history reveals that the invented doctrine of "one man, one woman" did not originate from the Bible. Rather, it was a tradition invented by the Catholic institution after Christianity went from being the persecuted faith of followers of Jesus Christ to later becoming the political powerhouse of the Catholic institution.

  3. Polygamy is not a "behavior." It is marriage. In Matthew 8:11, Jesus Christ said that Abraham and Jacob (i.e., Israel) would be seen in the kingdom of heaven. If polygamy was anything but marriage, then 1_Corinthians 6:9-10 would be declaring that both Abraham and Israel would absolutely not inherit the kingdom of God (if polygamy was somehow fornication or adultery). But Jesus explained otherwise, as just shown. Clearly, polygamy is not a "behavior." It has always been marriage, regardless of the idolatry of those who believe in having the false god of big govermment re-define marriage in such a way that it offensively calls polygamists such as Abraham and Israel as "fornicators" or "adulterers" and calls their offspring "illegitimate." In fact, no one in the Bible was ever married "by government." That fact further proves the irrelevance of using big government to re-define marriage such that individuals such as Mr. Tarbox would then make the unwitting mistake of thinking that polygamy is some kind of "behavior" when it has clearly always been marriage.

  4. Mr. Tarbox made the surprising mistake of positing, "One rule of good Bible interpretation is that everything is true but some of it is not a good example." That supposed "rule of interpretation" neither exists anywhere in serious Christian study nor would it receive any acceptance by any serious Bible student. This is because such a theory utterly violates both standard biblical hermeneutics and the very Bible itself, as 2_Timothy 3:16-17 makes undoubtedly clear, saying: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Nothing in that foundational passage implies the adding of a bias into what one perceives to be a "good or bad example" when deciding how to "interpret" the Scriptures for what they actually say on their own. Surprisingly, it is this same kind of "fuzziness" idea that liberal pro-homosexual leaders use when confronted with the Scriptural proofs that show that homosexual behavior (because that is a behavior) is a sin according to the Bible. So, one could even say that any anti-polygamists who use this "fuzziness" idea for a "rule of interpretation" are the ones responsible for actually teaching the liberal pro-homosexuals to use that very same "fuzziness" argument too. Indeed, that mistaken argument directly leads people into "deciding" to let the Bible say things it does not say, in order to "make" Scripture conform to their own bias of what they individually choose to define as "good and bad examples." But, because this "rule of interpretation" mistake is so deep in its error, as most evangelical Bible-based Christians would never accept it as a valid hermeneutic principle for studying the Bible, it could very well be that Mr. Tarbox may have simply spoken too quickly on this point. (Everyone is human, after all, which means mistakes can and do happen.) And so, if he did speak too quickly, Mr. Tarbox simply may not have realized the extent to which this "fuzziness" argument actually betrays those who genuinely believe in the Bible as the Word of God.

  5. Mr. Tarbox posits the idea of "time relevance" when reading the Bible, as if to suggest that God changes his views on sin and marriage from Biblical times and today. That argument is another non-evangelical "fuzziness" argument that pro-homosexuals also incessantly use when confronted with what the Scriptures actually say. For example, when confronted with Romans 1:26-27,32, liberal pro-homosexuals use the same "time relevance" argument as they try to re-define the "historical context." They try to say that the passage doesn't recognize their very-modern suggestion of supposed "genetic-created homosexual behavior" and that that means that the passage supposedly only refers to "men with boys" (or even "boy prostitutes" as others will allege) - despite the obvious fact that the passage clearly talks about "men with men." In like fashion, Mr. Tarbox mistakenly uses that similar "time relevance" form of "fuzziness" to try to say that the numerous passages supporting polygamy supposedly don't mean what any normal reader can clearly see that they obviously do mean. But the "fuzziness" does not apply. After all, modern anti-polygamists mistakenly think polygamy is a sin today only because, in the historic past, anti-polygamists wrongly added their bias to "make" the Scriptures say things it does not say, in order to "make" it conform to the "one man, one woman" tradition invented by the political powerhouse of the Catholic institution. If they had never made the mistake in the first place (whether deliberate or unwitting), then people always would have been seeing the obvious reality that polygamy was never a sin according to the Bible, including seeing it today. That makes it intellectually inapplicable to apply a different historic "time relevance" idea regarding polygamy in the Bible. The Scriptures as they were written can not be read or "interpreted" through the biased lens of perspectives of "today" or of any current modern era. For Bible-based believers, the Scriptures are truly timeless.

  6. Since polygamy is not a behavior - it is marriage - it is not comparable to the behavior of incest (or to homosexual behavior either, for that matter). The Bible lists dozens of polygamists in the Bible who were never called to repent for it (and never did repent for it, either). At the same time, it does not include dozens of incestuous heroes of the faith. In fact, while the Bible includes a number of passages which visibly prohibit incest outright (Leviticus 18:6-18, 20:11-21, Deuteronomy 22:30), the Bible does the opposite regarding polygamy - the Scriptures even regulate polygamy, fully "allowing" it (Exodus 21:10, Deuteronomy 21:15). In fact, within the incest-prohibiting passages, some of the verses even include allowed-polygamy therein when describing what is banned. For example, after prohibiting incest with one's father or mother in Leviticus 18:7, the next verse prohibits incest with one's "father's wife" - obviously showing that the father is an obviously-allowed polygamist, and his offspring may not commit incest with any of that polygamous father's wives. This "father's wife" separation from the identification of one's mother is expressly stated a number of other times too (Leviticus 18:8, 20:11, Deuteronomy 22:30, 27:20). In the Old Testament, an example of a man (albeit before "the Law" given later) who was unrightfully "being with" his polygamous "father's wife" is found in 1_Chronicles 5:1 regarding Genesis 35:22. In the New Testament, another example of a man sinfully "being with" his polygamous "father's wife" is found in 1_Corinthians 5:1, 5. Any anti-polygamists who would attempt to obfuscate the "father's wife" reference - as if it supposedly refers exclusively to a re-married widower's "new" wife - are the ones who have the burden of proof to show that such a claim is that exclusive, because there is no such specificity of that limited definition to be found anywhere in the Bible. Moreover, as the aforementioned Old Testament example was about one of the polygamist Israel's four wives being unrightfully "taken" by his firstborn son Reuben, in 1_Chronicles 5:1 regarding Genesis 35:22, it is clear that the "father's wife" reference in the incest-prohibiting passages - and elsewhere - can and does indeed refer to a polygamist father's other wives. As well, when "the Law" ("of Moses") was given at a specific time (430 years after the Promise of God to Abraham), there were not examples afterward of mighty Biblical heroes unrepentantly committing incest, while there are numerous examples of never-had-to-repent-for-it polygamists. Of course, Christians are no longer "under the Law" but are under the New Covenant by Jesus Christ. Even so, by the Law, Christians can know what is sin. And thereby, it is obvious that the Law prohibited incest as a sin while it outright allowed and regulated polygamy.

  7. In the end, Mr. Tarbox asserts, "When you take things out of their rightful context, I think that's dangerous." His statement is exactly correct - but, actually, it applies back to him, although he may not realize it. Unfortunately, it is he who is overlapping his own biased "context" onto the Scriptures, trying to "make" the Word of God say things that It truly does not say, in much the same way that pro-homosexuals do when they are confronted with what the Scriptures actually say.
To conclude, Mr. Tarbox's primary studying-mistake is one which many Christians make. That is, it is the mistake of "studying" the Scriptures through a pre-conceived bias of what he "wants" the Scriptures to say before he starts the study. This is the common fatal studying-flaw that, unfortunately, self-betrays all anti-polygamists when it comes to studying the Bible. True study starts with no bias either way - neither pro-polygamy nor anti-polygamy. The overwhelming evidence of unrepented Biblical polygamists shows that polygamy was not a sin for even the greatest heroes of the faith. Even the very man who wrote Genesis - indeed all of the first five books of the Bible - Moses, himself, was a polygamist with two wives. That means that any doctrine from those books comes from a man of God who was a polygamist. After that, the visible regulation of polygamy "under the Law" further proves it (i..e, not only was it "allowed," it was even regulated!). The examples of the Lord (in Jeremiah 3 and Ezekiel 23) and Jesus Christ (in Matthew 25:1-13) show that even the perfect and sinless Lord God did not view polygamy as a sin. God even said in 2_Samuel 12:8 that He was the One who gave David all his other wives and would have given David more if David had wanted. Surely, for God to say that, God could not possibly be against polygamy. And in the later "times of Grace" of being under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, nowhere did the Bible (in neither Old nor New Testaments) ever condemn polygamists or call polygamy a new "sin." (All other questions about various passages which address other issues, but which some people confuse with anti-polygamy, are very, very easily explained at - for anyone reading this page who is need of even more research.) This sequence of observable facts, in studying the whole Bible as a whole, reveal that it is intellectually impossible or dishonest to say that the Scripture commands anti-polygamy or calls unrepented polygamists as unforgiven "sinners." In fact, there is vastly more evidence to undeniably prove that polygamy is not prohibited anywhere in the Bible than there are verses showing the undeniable proof that homosexual behavior is indeed a sin. And there is no verse making polygamy a sin - ever. This series of observable facts from the Bible never finds itself interrupted with any evidence demonstrating otherwise. Clearly, that unbiased sequence of observed evidences is the proper way to study the Bible - letting the Scripture teach without modern biases superimposed upon it. And by such correct unbiased studying, intellectual honesty can only conclude one thing in this matter: undeniably, the Bible neither condemns nor prohibits polygamy.

And since polygamy is unquestionably real marriage, that means that Hebrews 13:4 equally applies to Christ-centered Christian Polygamy, the verse which proclaims, "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled." Praise the Lord!

Final Comments:

After reading the above answers to the mistakes made by Mr. Tarbox, it could be helpful for readers to now go back and read Ms. Gotthelf's article once more. As one does so, it becomes clear that there is not one single thing that is "wrong," unbiblical, sinful, hurtful, destructive, illogical, or otherwise negative about any of the points made by Mark Henkel. In fact, the points he makes are a call to excellence and commitment, about which no bad thing can be found. As a common expression goes, "It's all good."

Evangelical Christians believe the Scripture because It is truth; and that is all that this discussion is about: the truth. That's why this cross-denominational support-organization is called the organization.

It is prayed, therefore, that Mr. Tarbox and all others who read this page may find themselves blessed with this helpful education for their edification. The organization along with its Founder, Mark Henkel, warmly encourage Mr. Tarbox, his church, and all other inquiring Christians to use this situation as a good starting point to truly study the Word of God. And when anyone is ready to accept what the Scriptures really say (and have always said) about polygamy, the organization is here to provide any needed support, dedicated with the genuine love of Christ. And in the meantime, for any other Christian still learning, we shall, in the love of Christ, continue on in "Continuing the Reformation..." ™    To God be the glory.

With all these things now fully explained, it is important to re-iterate one last thing. The report itself by writer Liz Gotthelf was excellent. She accurately hit the important points made in the interview with Mr. Henkel. That is why the organization is genuinely grateful to Liz Gotthelf and the Journal Tribune for this excellent report.
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