An Open Letter to Men Considering Plural Marriage

"Man, you must be some kind of pimp!"

"I don't know how you do it. I can barely take good care of one!"

Those are the two kinds of responses (besides the blank stare) that are typical when a man is 'coming out' to someone about having a plural family. The smaller group simply assumes that it's all about the sex. The larger group understands the responsibility that a Christian man has for the members of his household.

Generally, in their responses to the subject of polygamy, both men and women reveal something of what they think about the nature of marriage and its costs and benefits. And the fact is, you can't enjoy the game unless you agree on the rules, and there's no point in arguing the relative merits of polygamy with someone that has a completely different value system and understanding of what marriage is than you do.

So if you're entertaining this nutty idea, be advised that you had better have your own values clarified. Some people will accept what you're doing because they just don't care very much, some have a "live and let live" philosophy, and some will love you enough to still love you even when they think you've seriously lost your mind. But on the other hand, some will think you're weird in a funky way, some will think you're weird in a scary way, some will think you're dangerous, and some will hate you.

Collectively, our families and families we know have been thrown out of churches, shunned in their local communities, lost children in custody battles, had first wives leave after it gets hard, been threatened with criminal prosecution (no convictions yet, thank God), had grown children cut us off, and in one case even had a death threat. Not everybody, not even most people, will hate you and try to hurt you. Just enough people to keep it really interesting.

That's the bad news. The good news is that this will make you a better man, a better husband, and a better father. A better brother to other men in the body of Christ. A more attentive follower of the teachings of Jesus and a better listener to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. If you want this lifestyle to work—embedded in 21st century Western culture, with its open hostility to and oppression of traditional roles and relationships—you have no other choice.

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