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Question of Introducing Wives as "Sisters"

Often times, Christians within Christian Polygamy are confronted with the difficult issue of HOW to discreetly yet honestly introduce a second (or other additional) wife to other people. One of the most common thoughts is the possibility of introducing additional wives as "sisters", as in meaning, "sisters in Christ" etc. But is this a good solution? Sincere Christians understandably often ask about this.

Indeed, this rather common question was asked by one of the pastors, at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF"), in a post he made on February 28, 2000.

What now follows is the pastor's original question (February 28, 2000), then the reply from the Founder of this ministry (February 29, 2000), and then a quick reply back again from the pastor (March 01, 2000).

May this be a blessing for all who read it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Pastor I
To: FAF listserv
Date: Monday, February 28, 2000 1:32 PM

[snip]

Another thought - it would be interesting to see what Mark, our exalted leader thinks about this - these wives are sisters, are they not? Sister/wives? Why can't you answer that the second one is your wife's sister. That's no lie because that is exactly what they become. I see no reason you should tell them any more than you want to. I'm not sure what I will tell my congregation. It may not be the whole truth, then again it may. We will just wait to see what the Lord says about this.

[[ Pastor I ]]


What now follows is the reply which the Founder of this ministry posted back, at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF"):


-----Original Message-----
From: ! . . . TRUTH BEARER
To: FAF listserv
Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 12:01 PM
Subject: On Introducing wives as "sisters" [ & 1_Thess 5:22 ]

Greetings in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Dear FRIENDS,

While this is addressed to Pastor I who raised this very good question (about introducing a second wife to others as being the first wife's "sister"), this here is going to be yet another one of those lengthy and "meaty" kind of replies, which might be of interest to those who enjoy this kind of thing. :-)

I pray it be a blessing for all who are able to read this.

Dear Pastor I,

Well, I don't know anything about my being exalted (LoL!)

but I do appreciate the humorous yet sincere edification! :-)

You raise a good question, and it is one in which many have seriously pondered upon, for sure.

U.S. President Bill Clinton's
1998 Meaning of What "IS" Is

Beyond the obvious ramifications which would occur if the two women simply had so many visible genetic differences between each other in their physical appearances that it would be obvious that they are not sisters, my first thought about calling a wife as the first wife's "sister" (simply because she's a sister-wife and a sister in Christ) is that it sounds all to similar to a certain U.S. President who committed a crime, which holds a maximum sentence of five years in prison if any of the citizens had done the crime, and for which the U.S. Constitution mandated impeachment and removal from office for "high crimes and misdemeanors".

Namely, it all sounds too much like the same sentence which U.S. President Bill Clinton covered himself under oath by saying the statement,

"It depends on what the meaning of IS is."

Please let me explain.

That is, say a man does this, and introduces his second wife as his wife's "sister". Eventually, the day can come when someone he has said that to discovers that she is actually his wife in a polygynous marriage.

How do we think that most people would feel about their having been told she was a "sister" rather than as a wife?

Human nature being what it is, my thought here is that most people would feel as though they had been lied to.

And if they then "called the man to the carpet" on this apparent lie, pointing out that she really is NOT his wife's "sister", what would the man then be saying to justify it?

He would then be kind of "forced" to say,

"It depends on what the meaning of SISTER is."

And just as few of us Christians could accept that kind of a statement as credible or honest when the U.S. President said it under Oath in 1998, neither would such ones likely find this kind of defense all too credible either. Most people will still feel that they had been lied to.

(This is what happens when people speak, using a a word which they define purposefully differently than they consciously know that the other person is thinking it means. This only comes off as appearing as a lie.)

People Will Feel That
They Have Been Lied to

Truly, even if this is only a "technical" matter of semantics, it still comes off as an "appearance of evil".

No matter how hard the man might try to present that he had not lied, still though, the other(s) will still believe that it had APPEARED to them that they had been lied to.

And, of course, that would NOT be a good testimony for us to have as Christians (and especially from we who are pastors!).

When people first eventually discover that we are involved in Christian Polygamy, we need every ounce of credibility that we can possibly muster with which to help such others be able to overcome the previously set mental-blocks which they presently have about polygamy to begin with.

This is why we must be MORE MATURE Christians, walking in an even higher standard than we more often see among our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must be even that much more above "appearances of evil".

(Mind you, this is not talking about concerning ourselves with those who irrationally accuse us of other sorts of so-called "appearances of evil", but that should be understood as a "given" here, anyway.)

So, if they instead feel (and it would be rationally so in this case for them to feel this way) that they have caught us in a lie, even if we can "justify" it through semantic word-dancing, if they still feel lied to, then we have lost credibility.

Nothing else we can do could change that.

That's what they will think, and that will affect their perception of Christian Polygamy as negative from thereonafter.

For indeed, when that happens, we have thus lost the ability to show them that Christian Polygamy really is of God.

They would be thinking to themselves,

"If this is so much of God, then why did they lie to me?"

And the natural inclination for them then is to be against it as they stand against lying, because they believe they had been lied to. And they will hate that.

For, as it is written,

"A righteous man hateth lying..." (Proverbs 13:5a.)

Abstaining from All
Appearance of Evil

With all this, it would seem to me that it would be better to *** say nothing *** (in terms of applying any "title" to her) than to say anything which could potentially come back as a trap or as an appearance of committing a deception.

This thought process here is Scriptural too, of course.

As it is written,

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1_Thessalonians 5:22.)

Now, yes, I know that some have tried to use that verse against us in Christian Polygamy to suggest that that verse could also be saying we should not live polygynously because it creates an "appearance of evil" before the eyes of the ungodly.

But that is a fallicy, because there is no evil in polygyny. It doesn't matter what the ungodly might think, anyway. Doctrine is not defined by the ungodly! And we do not conform Christian doctrine to the mere beliefs of the unGodly, who may not have a "clue" about the righteousness of Christian Polygamy.

So, living polygynously presents no "appearance of evil" whatsoever.

But a lie, a deception, is an evil.

And that's why we need to be careful that we not appear to be lying, because that would be an "appearance of evil".

And yes, also, I can see someone saying that we supposedly play another kind of "semantic" game when we call a second wife a WIFE, when others define a wife as one who has the marriage certificate from the false god of government. The dfference in THIS case is that we are explaining our definition of WIFE at the time we use it, if they ask. There is no hiding or deception going on in this case. Hence, this is the kind of situation where indeed it IS possible to honestly use a word with a different definition than the definition being understood by the other person ---because it deliberately makes the different definition immediately available for the other person to know. That's being honest and open, and so therefore, there is no deception. Hence, in this case, there is no "appearance of evil" ether.

So, openly calling a second wife a WIFE in front of someone else who otherwise defines "WIFE" as one with a "marriage license" from the false god of government, that is NOT committing an "appearance of evil".

And living polygynously in Christian terms is not evil in any way, so there can be no such "appearance of evil" matter to apply that way either.

But a lie, or covert deception of differently-defined terms, is at least an "appearance of evil" if not an evil outright indeed.

So, I suppose if one feels COMPELLED to say SOMETHING, then it is important to make sure that it is neither untrue nor an "appearance of evil" of telling an untruth. And so, perhaps one can come up with alternatives which are totally true, and which do NOT use word-game tactics.

For a simple example, I suppose a husband and/or a first wife could introduce a second wife by her name, and simply say how she is living with their family, and not go into any further details. The less said, the better.

No doubt that it's disappointing and even heart-breaking sometimes to not yet have the freedom in certain situations to introduce the second (or other additional) wife as her being the wife she is, but the "title" is not so much important to others as it is to the family anyway. Yes, one wants to go "shout from the rooftops" about how she's a wife, but in the end, the only ones who really care about knowing that are those in one's own family anyway. (It's also difficult to have to always be "on guard" with one's words when speaking to others, too.)

So, my first thoughts on this good question here are that it's better to say nothing than to say something which could potentially later be perceived as an "appearance of evil" having been committed.

Better to say NOTHING
Than to Appear as Lying

Yes, one can purposefully NOT SAY something and that would not be deception, nor an "appearance of evil". (In the U.S., we even apply this concept in constitutional law with what is known as "pleading the 5th Amendment", the right to not say anything, as that would be used to self-incriminate.)

But to say something which could appear deceptive, that is where a person can "get into trouble" here. And to some, calling a second wife as the first wife's "sister", when knowing that the other person will intrepret that as though she were a biological sister (et al), that could be considered a deception to them.

So, we truly must be,

as it is written in Matthew 10:16c-d,

"wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"

in all that we do.

How does the old humorous phrase go?

If I recall correctly, it goes something like this...

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let someone think you're a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

    LoL

(I know I've fallen into that one! LoL)

But perhaps more accurately, we need to be wisely aware of what we say and when we say it. As it is written,

"A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." (Proverbs 29:11.)

So, with all that, I would say that, while I can understand the potential "technical" accuracy in semantic terms of calling a second wife as being the first wife's "sister", it would seem to to me that this could later hurt our testimony and credibility later when we will need it most.

I pray that this has been of some value in response to your very good question.

Thank you for asking it!

May the love of the Lord Christ Jesus be with us.

YHWH bless...

---Mark
  Founder
TRUTH BEARER
   Acts 24:14
http://truthbearer.org


What now follows is Pastor I's reply to the Founder of this ministry posted at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF"):


-----Original Message-----
From: Pastor I
To: FAF listserv
Date: Wednesday, March 01, 2000 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: On Intro'g wives as "sisters" [ & 1_Thess 5:22 ]

Mark -

Now, see why I deferred to our "exalted" leader? that was very good. Thank you. I've been seriously considering very strongly "what to say", too. The...

[snip]

question of how to explain [another wife] was haunting me. Additionally, making her feel like a "second" in the sense of "here is my real wife and here is, uhhhh...". That part bothers me too. So thank you for your instruction. I deeply appreciate it. This is all so new to me.

Pastor I, "ever learning" and someday hopefully a whole lot smarter


May we all, no matter who we are, be so "ever learning" and so humble as this dear Pastor I, indeed.

Amen.

© February 29, 2000, TRUTH BEARER
P.O. Box 765, O.O.B., ME 04064


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