Most Christians who would identify themselves as being within Christian Polygamy recognize that marriage is defined by the Lord alone and not (actually legitimately) defined by the false god of government. With that view,
it is therefore reasonably understood by such Christians that government-given "marriage licenses" really have no binding authority whatsoever on the actual and true definition of marriage as according to the LORD God.
As such, with that rational understanding, of course, it is also therefore logical that such Christians likewise have the view that government-based
"divorces", or simply the voiding of government-given "marriage licences", also
have no authority on the legitimacy of Christian marriages as according to the LORD God. (That is, the false god of government has no authority to define God-defined marriages as either whether the God-defined marriages are "existing" or are "voided". What government chooses to define has no meaning or bearing in terms of God-defined marriages.)
So, with that rational understanding, this then raises the important question of whether or not it is
acceptable for a Christian polygamist husband to get a "legal
divorce" with a first wife, so that he may then get
"legally married" to a second wife, even though he is not really
divorcing his first wife in terms of the God-defined marriage.
The logic here is based on the view that, since he is not actually divorcing
the first wife in actuality in terms of the Lord, but rather
he is only voiding the government-given "marriage licence",
which has no authority either way in terms of God-defined marriage anyway,
this idea then could seem to be a very good way in order to give a second
wife the man's last name and to likewise assure her of
marital "rights" within the secular society, just as the first wife would have
such marital "rights".
Along these lines of very reasonable logic, this
question was indeed asked by a first wife, in a post she made
at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF").
What now follows is her original question and then
the reply from the Founder of this ministry.
May this be a blessing for all who read it.
From: [[woman asking question]]
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000 3:23 PM
Subject: Here's another ???
I have been considering getting a "legal" divorce from my husband, so that
he may marry [[another woman already in our life]]. I'm not leaving or anything, I just don't feel it would
be right for her and her children to be legally single. Being married would
protect them under the law, give them insurance, etc. It would also change
her name, which she wants to do. Will this course of action cause us legal
problems later on?? And also will it cause us problems spiritually? We have
had some verses thrown in our face about writing off your wife in divorce
and I am not sure how to respond.
I want to also say thank you for all of the support you all have given us.
It means so much I cannot put it into words. Bless you all.
Peace & Love in Jesus Christ,
[[woman asking question]]
What now follows is the reply
which the Founder of this ministry posted
at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF"):
From: ! . . . TRUTH BEARER
To: FAF listserv
Date: Monday, January 24, 2000 2:06 PM
Subject: About "Legal Divorce" of 1st Wives Re: Here's another ??
Greetings in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ the Wondrous Saviour!
While this post here is addressed to [[woman asking question]] (who raised this
important issue with her very good question ), my post here
is likely to be another "full" post, which might be of some
interest to others here as well. (At least, I pray it be of
some value to all who are able to read it.)
Dear [[woman asking question]],
Good question to consider!
Alongside my post here to you, I have also included a
REPOST of something I sent to FAF last June (1999).
The original title of that item reposted is
You might find it informative (at least, I pray it might be of
some small help or insight for you).
In addition to that, here are some more of my thoughts on this
matter, as you have raised the additional matter of a first
wife getting a "legal divorce" so that a second wife may then
obtain "legal status".
First off, I would say that marriage is not defined by government
but rather at the consummation between two believers in Christ
The defining moment of being actually "married" was not at the
celebration or feast, as Jacob was NOT married to Rachel,
for whom he THOUGHT he was marrying and celebrating in that feast,
Genesis 29:23,18-28. But rather, because of the consummation
(vs 23), Jacob was married to Leah **NOT RACHEL** in the morning.
He would not be married to Rachel for another week afterward
With that said, so that you know, there are some denominational
variations here among us who believe marriage is defined in other
There is one denominational view which believes that marriage
is instead defined at the time of oath-making.
Moreover, there is also another minority view which believes
that marriage is defined as being when a father "gives/assigns"
his daughter to a man.
While I, myself, do not hold to those other denominational views,
I felt, in all fairness, that it was important to let you know that these
other views do exist, and that some do indeed believe them.
Perhaps even you might believe them, too, and that's no problem! :-)
With that clarified, now, I would say that...
I, myself, take the view that consummation between two believers
in Christ Jesus IS the defining moment of marriage in Christ Jesus.
(It is irrelevant what UNbelievers do because, without Christ, there is
only condemnation of sin for unbelievers, for we are all sinners in need
of Christ's salvation until we receive the gospel and become believers,
becoming "new creatures" in Christ Jesus, per
2_Corinthians 5:17.) Anyway, I, myself, hold to the view of marriage being defined at consummation
between two believers, as this prevents any possibility of fornication
among believers. Period. Believers do not fornicate with believers.
They are married (as Jacob was with Leah), or they have committed adultery
if she be another believer's wife. And
preaches to us
to not unequally yoke ourselves with unbelievers, so we should not be marrying
unbelievers. For more details on all this particular matter, I would encourage
you to read the 6 part series at TRUTH BEARER, titled,
"Remarriage of a Woman",
as linked from the "START" page at
Anyway, though, as we have gone round and round on the various
denominational views on this matter (of when is a marriage a marriage?)
at FAF, we do not need to go into THAT discussion
again. :-) I simply needed to clarify the basis of where I am "coming
from" in sharing my thoughts here for you, so that you would
be better enabled to understand my thoughts here.
So, with all that said, marriage between two believers is not defined
by a government "license" (but is, instead, as I said above, in my view,
at the consummation between two believers).
Government "Marriage License"
The only reason for getting the "license" is for getting benefits when
contracting with governments and other organizations. That is, a married couple might
want to be "recognized" as being defined as "legally" married only for the
purpose of "qualifying" for the various opportunities in secular society.
(This is also why I am adamantly opposed
*** adamantly, adamantly, adamantly opposed ***
to the idea of would-be polygamists exploiting their government's
NON-recognition of second (et al) wives in order to qualify for receiving
money from their government for which they would NOT qualify to receive
if their government viewed them as indeed "legally married" and which such government would otherwise thus use
their combined incomes as to DISqualify the handout money
from being distributed to them. Without my even getting into
my own political views against unconstitutional redistribution from a false god of government, even so,
a would-be polygamist misrepresenting his family in order to "qualify" for
redistributions for which his family would not receive if the government DID
"legally recognize" all the marriages, that is advancing deceptive falsehood, and can be considered fraud and even outright theft of tax-dollars.
Please don't misunderstand me here, I'm not even talking about those who have needs. Rather, this here specifically is only talking about fraudulent misrepresentation which is dishonest and not the sort of thing in which Christians should be involving themselves.)
Spiritually speaking, the government really has NO authority whatsoever to
be defining marriage in the first place. (In the U.S., this is a violation of
the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as marriage is a religious
issue because marriage is given and ordained by God alone, and not
by the false god of government.) Indeed, if government had never got
involved in violating the 1st Amendment (in the U.S.) in defining marriage,
we would not now be seeing the political advance of the Scripture-defined
abomination of legalized so-called "same-sex marriages". If the false god of government had never gotten involved in defining marriage in the first place, then these kinds of things wouldn't even be an issue today. So, what we
actually see is that, by the false god of government thinking it had authority
to define marriage in the first place, that actually paved the way for the
abominable things we are now seeing being advanced as so-called
"marriage" these days. (God help us!)
(Now mind you, my heart goes out to the sad and hurting
homosexual-behavior-choosing-individuals who have allowed
themselves to be deceived into "normalizing" their behaviors
and thinking incorrectly that such chosen practices are supposedly
not sinful, for which will instead come the wages of death. Also, the
idea that so-called "same-sex marriages" should be supposedly
legitimate in the society, sadly, only goes that much further
to therewith sadly deceive such sad and hurting ones to remain in their
sin, rather than to seek the healing of Christ. So, please let
this be understood that this is not "bashing" anyone, while this IS
recognizing that the "normalizing" of Scripture-defined sin is actually hurtful to those
who have chosen to participate in such sinful practices. This is why my heart
truly does go out to such sad and hurting homosexual-behavior-choosing-individuals
as the false god of government ends up further deceiving their souls with the idea of legitimizing
so-called "same-sex marriages".)
So, I said all that to say this, the "marriage license" of a married couple
of believers is not spiritual or Scriptural, and it has no bearing on the
authority of their being married in the Lord.
(And indeed, for anti-polygynists who say Christians are exhorted to
"obey the law of the land" as a supposed argument for getting the
marriage license in order for marriage to supposedly be defined,
the question to bring back to them is, "What law of the land are we
breaking to choose to not use the government to recognize our
polygynous marriages?" This is also the purpose of the
QUESTIONS TO PONDER,
section at the site of TRUTH BEARER, which asks,
Was Braveheart Right to Marry His Wife "in Secret"?)
As I said, therefore, marriage is not defined by government, and there is
not a single example in the Scriptures which says that marriage
is defined by government. (If marriage is defined by government,
then all the patriarchs in the Scripture were not married! God forbid.)
Yet Be That As It May....
Yet, despite all this...
I would say that I am still very uncomfortable with the concept of then
applying that understanding to then justify a first wife being technically
"divorced" by the "legal process", so that the husband may then "legally marry"
a second wife. In fact, I would be inclined to discourage that idea,
(although I would not be all that critical of those who chose to do so)...
As many know, the exclusive TRUTH BEARER Mission
is that of
Bringing Christian Polygamy to the Churches.
And the means by which that is possible is by way
TRUTH BEARER Vision, the message of love-not-force.
(The TRUTH BEARER Vision is the message that a husband
should grow in love so profoundly that he thereby helps his first
wife be able to gladly embrace Christian Polygamy, rather than
hurting and terrifying her by forcing it upon her before she is ready.
Christian Polygamy is about MEN growing in profound love
as Christ's love for the Churches, not about merely "expecting"
women to "just accept it" because some "dictator" told them to.)
The TRUTH BEARER Vision of love-not-force both
- PERSUADES the Churches that Christian Polygamy really IS
only about profound Christ-like selfless love for women, and
- PROTECTS us in Christian Polygamy from otherwise being
misdefined by the bitter and hurting divorced first wives whose
husbands instead FORCED polygamy on them so that such
hurting women then join the anti-polygyny political groups to try
wreak havoc among us in Christian Polygamy.
Our enemy to Christian Polyamy are not women, nor even the
anti-polygyny groups, but rather, our real enemies are the
two spirits of self-exaltation and self-justification
which would rise
up within the men AMONG US, who terrify their first wives
by these spirits' view of self-justified FORCE of polygamy on the
first wife. She leaves, thinking that polygyny is the reason, yet not
realizing that the real
issue terrifying her are those two spirits
in her husband.
So, we have to be careful in all that we do in Christian Polygamy,
that we truly walk humbly and gently and lovingly.
And all that then relates to this discussion here about husbands
getting "legal divorces" with their first wives, for "last name"
issues only (notwithstanding that they still intend to view themselves
as married with the first wife even afterward).
1st Wife thereafter "Labelled"
First off, even though a first wife can come to the understanding
of how the "legal divorce" really is not a divorce, as per the eyes
of God, for some dear women, there can always be that little seed of
doubt or sense of "loss", the sense of her still feeling as though she
indeed had been "divorced" from her husband. It may have only
been a "legal" matter, but she might still always feel that adjective,
the word, "divorced", would still apply to her. And in some
circumsances in secular society, she would be having to identify
herself that way, in order to be honest.
It's one thing for a second wife to overcome a sense of not needing
government to be defined as being married to her polygynous husband,
but it is another thing for a first wife to forever after have a "label"
attached to her as being "divorced", in all future contracts and other
things in which she participates in the offerings of secular society.
Yes, my heart goes out to the second wives who are not able
to identify themselves ---YET, anyway--- as "wives" of their husbands
in secular society. And we are hoping that could be overcome
by way of the TRUTH BEARER Mission.
But the difference here is that the second wife is NOT being
able to identify herself as a married wife, while the idea
of the first wife HAVING to identify herself as a "divorced"
wife is a permanent thing, and brings much sense of
loss and perhaps even stigma of "failure" or some other
And this little seed in a first wife can then possibly germinate
unto becoming a full-blown emotional issue of resentment
later on, making things in the marriage difficult later.
(The permanent label of being "divorced" in secular situatons
will always be there to remind her.)
So, myself, I would instead seek ways to help a second wife be
able to GAIN "rights", but I would not want to use ways to make
a first wife feel as though she has LOST some "rights".
And moreover, as such a seed of loss and lost "rights"
might grow in a first wife unto her one day even feeling
so hurt that she then leaves the family, thinking that she
has no legal hesitation to do so, because, HEY!, she's
already "legally divorced". Then what is a possible thing
to happen from that?
Preventing Bitter Divorced 1st Wives
We would have another bitter and hurting divorced
first wife. (This always breaks my heart.)
And she might very possibly take that hurt straight to the
anti-polygyny political groups. And she could be telling them
that we in Christian Polygamy supposedly advocate divorce.
(And, of course, this is why and how this
all here connects to the TRUTH BEARER Mission and Vision,
as we need to help and love first wives in Christian Polygamy,
that we be ever careful to
not plant seeds which would could cause potential hurt or divorce.)
But if we here start advancing the idea of "legal divorces"
of first wives, that is exactly what we would appear to
be preaching, if we start advancing this otherwise understandable
idea of only getting "legal divorces" on paper, but not in reality
according to God.
Of course, that implication (i.e., that we in Christian Polygamy are supposedly advocating and preaching divorce) would not be the whole truth, but it
would not wholly false either.
And that in itself would easily empower anti-polygyny propaganda,
and the Christian Churches would accept that propaganda
without letting us explain how truly ANTI-divorce we really are.
All they would see is that we appeared to be advocating divorce. (God forbid.)
And that would sabotage our Mission of Bringing Christian
Polygamy to the Churches. And it could even potentially be
used in order to say that we in Christian Polygamy are not really
living up to the message of the TRUTH BEARER Vision
love-not-force, for the love for women.
Now, I realize that we're talking about possibilities here,
but we really do need be
"therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". (Matthew 10:16c-d.)
As such, I perceive that it is not a good thing for men to
give too much thought to getting mere "legal divorces"
with previous wives, in order to "legally marry" others.
I understand the good rationale for the idea,
and I even agree that "legal divorce" of mere "legal marriage"
carries no spiritual unrighteousness in terms of adultery doctrine,
but even in doing it for those good reasons, it still ends up that
the gain is so small anyway, namely, it is still that
only one wife at a time would have "legal recognition" anyway.
And all that with the cost of making a "divorced wife"
permanently HAVE to identify herself as a "divorced"
woman to secular situations.
To me, the costs for the "legal divorce" route far outweigh what
little "gain" we might receive in going that route.
So, while I am not an attorney (and so my advice here
may NOT be construed as having any "legal authority"),
here are my thoughts on what actually MIGHT
be able to be done instead.
As far as children coming in to a family are concerned, they
can be adopted. Thus, they can quickly have the family's father's
last name, and be part of inheritance upon the father's
decease. The first wife (and her children) would still have the
same last name and inheritance rights, as no "legal divorce"
That only leaves the issue of last names and inheritance rights
(and such other corresponding rights as a wife) for all wives,
except for the first wife who has them already.
As I said in the other
REPOST about "last names",
it would not be
too difficult to simply go to court and get a "legal name change".
That is, it would be far much faster and less expensive for each new wife
to get a "name change" (so that her last name is then her husband's
last name) rather than to go through the timely and expensive "legal
divorce" process with the previous wife and "legal marriage" process
with the new wife. (Mind you, though, one should thereafter be
careful, when dealing with legal documents, that they not misrepresent
such name change as though it were "recognized" as her being her
husband's "legally recognized" wife. That could immediately
initiate the "bigamy laws" into enforcement actions, and potentially bring prosecution [which is a main reason why they were created, to prevent fraud],
if not a potential charge of fraud.) But, as long as that carefulness
is observed, then the simple name change in court can
resolve the name issue. :-)
So, that only leaves the issue of inheritance rights (and all
the related rights pertaining to being a wife).
Again, while I am not an attorney, I can not here give legal
counsel. But I CAN say what I think here, and then encourage
you here to take my thoughts and run them by some attorney
whom you trust, and go from there.
To address the wife-rights issue, it is possible to create
some form of a legal partnership, wherein "shares" of
"ownership" and authority within the partnership may be
established. (This is how financial matters such as bank
accounts may be established.) There is also the possibility
of establishing "power of attorney", wherein the family
can assign who is authorized to make important decisions
etc. And one can assign "beneficiary" status to others,
such as in life insurance policies, etc.
Of course, these things might not fully overcome all the hurdles
which secular society has placed in front of the Christian
Polygamous family, but these are some possible ways to
address some of the issues.
And one more time, I have to say it, I am not an attorney,
so none of my thoughts here may be construed as "official
legal advice or legal counsel". I would simply
encourage anyone reading this to bring these possibilities
to their own attorney whom they trust, and proceed from
the attorney's counsel, not mine. :-)
To Now Conclude
So, to conclude this....
Obviously, while I fully recognise and appreciate
the rationale of the idea of you getting a "legal divorce"
so that your husband may then "legally marry" his second wife,
[[ the woman already in your life ]], and I even applaud your heart for being willing to do
so, I would not be inclined to recommend that course of
action. As explained above, I am more inclined to actually
discourage the idea.
Mind you, of course, as I do understand the rational
thinking behind your willingness to take such a course of action,
I would not be all that critical of you either.
These are my thoughts anyway. :-)
Dear [[woman asking question]], I do pray that this post here has been of some value
to you, and I pray that the
other REPOST which I have sent
alongside this here is helpful for you, as well.
Thank you for raising such a very good question.
Your posts here at FAF are truly good for all of us here.
Praise the Lord for you and your family.
May the love of the Lord Christ Jesus be with you!
© January 24, 2000, TruthBearer.org
P.O. Box 765, O.O.B., ME 04064