Christian Poly Book Reviews
Several emailers over the years have asked me to review some "Poly Positive" books. Several years ago I purchased several books from various sources. I hope these reviews will help. I will add new reviews to this page so this is the place to look for new content in the future.
Why Do You Believe That, B.A. Berean
I received an email for a new book that is intended for someone who has no idea or maybe just suspects that you acknowledge polygyny as righteous. It is a short read, 146 pages. It is also intended that one read the book from page one to the last page, no peaking please. This is not a comprehensive book on the subject.
This is just a very brief challenge to study God's word. Many scriptures that one might use to defend polygyny are not mentioned. I believe that it was the author's intent to keep this very simple and focused on our response to new ideas based on what we hopefully know scripture teaches. Then if we do not know how scripture teaches on a given subject that we are confronted with we would check the scripture before we react. I am sure that many times individuals react before checking the scripture and then never really check it. No one likes to be wrong and I think many times people tend to defend the view they learned from the preacher. This book could be about any subject really. Polygamy is a good one to elicit a reaction however!
The author noticed that what is normally defended among traditional Christianity is something called traditional marriage. The phrase is used almost exclusively in the public venue. Very few try to defend Biblical marriage. True Biblical marriage is not necessarily equivalent to what we think of as marriage today. Political correctness has won in some areas.
After dealing with several old testament men who had several wives. The author briefly deals with some new testament scriptures. He left out the best defense, 1 Corinthians 7:2 in the Greek. However he did an excellent job with the requirements for elders and deacons. As I have stated elsewhere the NIV adds the word but that is not found in any Greek text in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6. As pointed out by another preacher many years ago this is changing the intent of Paul's writing by changing a positive statement into a negative statement or worse adding a qualification. I am continually reminded that understanding of the printed word and logic have almost disappeared from the general population. There is no negative limitation in the word must in the verses mentioned. My take on the Greek in those verses is that a man in a leadership role just must be married.
The author erred in his understanding of God's law as it relates to today. He says, "Today believers are no longer "under law" but are now "under grace"." When one looks carefully at all of the new testament scripture concerning God's law one would realize the statement to mean, "Today believers are no longer "under the penalty of the law, death" because we are now "under grace"." One other point is that Abraham, Jacob and David were not Jews. Abraham was a Hebrew and Jacob the first Israelite. David is close if you realize that the word Jew should not be in scripture. David was a Judahite and a Judean because of his tribe and where he lived. Primarily though David was an Israelite. If we are to be correct and find truth in scripture then we have to do our best to get the details correct. Many will not see what the difference this makes, but it does very much.
I highly recommend this as a first book to give someone who you want to introduce the subject of polygamy. It certainly has some principles that would be good regardless of the subject.
The Naked Polygamist, Ben Szymanski
This is the first book I have looked at that begins with a look at polygyny from a legal point of view. Lincoln signed the first anti-bigamy law (1862) as the supreme court ruled that they had the right to dictate how people live in the privacy of their own homes. Currently most rulings that old are now ignored. I would point out that bigamy and polygamy are not equivalent terms.
Szymanski has a section on constitutional equality. One point he may not be aware of is that the writers of the constitution claimed equality, but not among all men. The constitution claims that all men are created equal, but did that include the writer's slaves? The answer is in the constitution as well as it says, "to ourselves and our Posterity". Say whatever you like, the men who wrote the constitution did not view equality as the supreme court has since ruled. Calling upon the constitution to say that it does is therefore improper. Szymanski also refers to God claiming the same basic idea. However a further examination of the Hebrew words used for man leads us to a similar understanding as the writers of the constitution. Adamites, those who show blood in the face, white men who can blush, are indeed the subject of both the constitution and scripture. It is an unpopular truth, but one that can not be ignored once study digs below the surface English words either by the writers of the constitution or the deeper meanings of the Hebrew text in scripture. We must look at what authors intended their writings to say and not put a modern twist to their words.Szymanski also quotes from the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16, to support his argument. The problem is that it involves entitlements from government. Quoting from the author in his section titled, "Slavery, Business, or Family" he states that, "Slavery, or tyranny, denies liberty and equality, demanding servitude due to entitlement." One can not have it both ways. If entitlements are involved then there is an entanglement of control that must be accepted. The author states that government has no business getting involved in the private lives of it's citizens. The truth is that it claims the right to do so when it's entitlements are accepted. I normally do not say much when it comes to politics and government so this is very much out of my norm. Once the author deals with legal issues he settles in on defending polygyny. At this point this is my favorite book for defense of polygyny.
The author does go on to make some very pointed comments in the same section equating the civil form of marriage to prostitution and whoredom based on the state's definition. Ouch! He makes his point rather well that in an enforced civil monogamous marriage one partner is a slave owner, the other partner the slave. True marriage can not be based on slavery or business, but only on friendship or an equality of both parties. This is true, but does not negate the need for a head as marriage does not function properly with out one party taking the leadership role. Scripturally this must be the man, but he must never consider his wife as if she were a pair of socks. That degrades the marriage into slavery. One must remember the Golden Rule. If one treats the spouse as a pair of socks then one should accept the same treatment.
Szymanski does not stop there. He continues to logically attack all of the false notions of polygyny. He very easily deals with abuse and poorly informed public opinion. If I understand what he says on pages 50-51 I will only say to ignore those two pages. Then move on to one of the best letters I have read for the woman who knows her husband is becoming friends with another woman. I have said some of what he says in email correspondence myself, but he does it so much better. Read and learn. The book finishes with a story between a man, his wife and an abused woman who seeks them for refuge. This book is a must read.
The Great Omission by Clyde Pilkington
This is a very good book to give someone who is open to the idea of polygyny and for someone already a believer. The book contains a lot of quotes from other sources helping the reader see that the subject has more consideration and broader appeal than most imagine. While it does have a defense for polygyny it is in the appendices. There is a lot of good information in the appendices. Pilkington points out the very poor KJV translation of Ecclesiastes 2:8 where the final phrase, "as musical instruments, and that of all sorts" should have been rendered as, "a wife and wives".
Eros Made Sacred by James Wesley Stivers
Mr Stivers wrote this book in 1991. I found it in 1997 and after reading it wrote him. He was already dealing with the problems of teaching anything that goes against the standard of the day, especially something that raises such emotional red flags. I believe that one of the most damaging concepts taught today is the idea that modern men have evolved and advanced beyond our ancestors in our ability to be moral and righteous. It has lead to one of the excuses the author refers to in the Introduction of Eros Made Sacred. Of course the excuse is in error. One only has to look at scripture for examples of righteous Godly men. One will see Godly men and unrighteous men, but do any of those we see around us today compare to the Godly men of scripture? Subjective, perhaps, but can we really justify ourselves by suggesting that we are so much better now and that God can expect more from us?
The print edition is not the same as what I read many years ago. He has corrected his view on sisters marrying the same man. I knew that he had changed his belief on that and am glad to see that it was included in the book. What I am probably the most amazed about is how many different aspects of my Christian beliefs were affected by this book. The consequences are far beyond just the understanding of polygyny. It has affected my understanding of God, his righteousness and his consistency from the day he made Adam and Eve till now. It has affected my understanding of the seventh commandment, it is far more than just a command against marital adulteration. It has affected my understanding of the family and headship, women were made to love one man and man to love one God, while God loves all of those who are his, man loves all of the women who are his and women love all of the children that are hers. There is understanding and continuity in all of scripture. In the Greek and Hebrew all of the scriptures on marriage, divorce, adultery and remarriage all work together and agree. Covenants do not change God's morals!
A couple of minor corrections that I would put forth. One includes some information concerning Lamech. In the book of Jasher, chapter 2, Lamech has taken the daughters of Cainan the son of Enosh as wives. As he is hunting one day with Tubal Cain they mistook Cain for an animal and killed him. In his greief he accidentally also kills his son. Lamech's wives are convinced not to leave Lamech by Adam. This shows that Adam supports Lamech in having two wives. The other item is the idea that the scripture limits or restricts elders and deacons to one wife. The Greek wording and grammar would be better understood by replacing "one wife" with perhaps "a wife". The statement "must have one wife" is a positive statement, not one that limits or restricts. The idea is that an elder or deacon "must be married".
Eros Made Sacred is my favorite book and one I would readily give to anyone who I thought needed to understand the full truth of biblical patriarchy. Actually I wish I could give it to a lot of people, but I know the reality that the main subject of the book would cause most to not even read it and to miss out on many important truths.
The History and Philosophy of Marriage by James Campbell (1869) or this link
I read the first chapter of this book many years ago. This chapter would be good to ask someone to read to see their response. You can send them to this address. Just ask them to read chapter one. If they are unaffected and without compassion then you may know their attitude. In fact that is the one thought that keeps coming to me as I read this book, compassion. Surely the woman secure in her home with her good husband and children would read this and have compassion for the women who are without those things she enjoys. I think while she reads this book that she could think to bring a woman she knows to her husband and ask him to extend his benefits to her as well. Unfortunately too many women want others to do it, but reserve to themselves their husband thinking they could not do this good work. What would the neighbors and family think if they tried to help another women out of her loneliness?
Scripture tells us that where the faithful went spreading the gospel that the world was turned upside down. It did not take long for corruption to enter the "church" for it was then turning righteousness upside down. One reads of the history of men and women who abandoned family in the name of Christ. They did so because they had been taught that asceticism and celibacy were the closest to Christ with monogamy only partly tolerated. Polygamy, although the lifestyle of scripture's most righteous men, was considered the greatest evil. Thus today we still live with all the evils of forced celibacy and monogamy. Another author I recently read referred to forced monogamy as wickedness. The more I read the more I must agree with this assessment.
If for some reason one finds no time to finish this small book then skip ahead as some of what is included in several of the subjects toward the end are well worth the time.
Collector of Broken Wives by Buck Buchan
This is the one fiction in the group. My copy is dated 2007 and is from the first printing. For this book I will start with the one single largest problem. It is a real problem for anyone who wishes to give this book to a friend who might be easily offended by something that is not even related to the subject. The spelling and grammar could not have been properly checked before publishing. I do know people who said they could not give this book to people because of this one problem. I admit that I even came close to putting it on the shelf before I finished the first chapter. Please, if someone out there has a newer edition and this is no longer a problem then let me know as I will purchase another copy! First here is the story summary almost copied verbatim from the back cover.
The book begins with the main character, Thomas James Dalton, at age twenty-six as he reminisces over the last eleven years and the fact that he has become the husband of five wives, simultaneously. Also he looks back on his involvement in the creation of ten additional polygamous families to create a Scottish style clan. This California clan goes on to generate a seven figure legal defense fund and a comprehensive medical plan.
The flashback begins when Tom is fifteen years old at Christmas. This is when he first hears the term polygamy and it's definition. Also this is the time when he finds himself very attracted to his mother's two friends from work. Victoria Rhodes and Tracy Thompson. Both are eight years old than Tom, however, five years later they become his first two wives. Therefore we find that this is not only a story of polygamy in California's capitol, it also involves a younger man taking older women as wives, all broken in divorce.
At fifteen Tom is a brilliant student reading fourteen hundred to fifteen hundred words per minute. Tall for his age he is also considered a good athlete. However he decides that there are more important pursuits in life and sets his priorities accordingly. At twenty, when he takes his first wife he is only a few units away from graduating from college with a bachelors degree in Behavioral science. Tom is also considered a master hacker by those in his small computer club and his best friend Steve Baker, a computer engineer.
Tom goes on to spread his polygamous lifestyle to people he meets in the mountain village where he honeymoons with each of his wives. Also he spreads his lifestyle among some of his high school friends. One is the son of an attorney that handles the divorces of two of Tom's wives.
The primary antagonist of this story are the ex-husbands with some other detractors coming from family, friends and government and the general populous. This is a story of how the polygynous lifestyle can exist and even flourish anywhere in our nation.
There is the summary. The author does a very good job of developing the characters. There are only a few things that I would change in the book. There are some things that I personally think would add to the fun of the story. One such thing would be to develop the relationships of the wives further. One person who emailed also suggested this as well. There is one section that a few of us can not figure out why it was included. It has to do with Sylvia's family and AIDS. That whole chapter could have, really should have, been left out. With the book at 565 pages many thing could have been left for a follow-up book. There is only one thing that I would change from a doctrinal issue, but I won't get into that here.
Yes, I highly recommend the book especially if the grammar issues have been fixed. If warned ahead of giving it to someone of this problem it might not even be an issue.
After Polygamy Was Made A Sin by John Cairncross
Chapter 1 is a history of the Munsterite's almost one year of separation as a polygynist city. Every woman was required to have a husband and the phrase that drove it all was "Be fruitful and multiply"! While there were problems throughout the year the overall sentiment of the author was that most of the population was happy with the arrangement. In that day and time though Europe was still in the middle of trying to decide whether it would be Catholic or Protestant and the two forces would not stand by and allow what they considered such an evil to live peacefully in their midst. The sentiment of the day among the ruling class was that they were in power by divine will and they made it their business to force everyone to believe the way they saw fit. In God's system there is not a sacred side and a secular side to government or life and those in power in that day acted upon that ideal based on their own beliefs. Neither side really believed or followed God's law and thus many men and women were executed for everything from adultery to stating their own opinion when it fell out side the accepted public policy of the day. Man's government is not well suited to judge morals, but they do unfortunately try.
Chapter 2 is the history of Phillip of Hesse's "bigamy". Phillip was a very wise prince in that he secured the blessings of Luther among other notables in such a way that as his marriage to his second wife became public they were forced to either publicly support him or recant. Recant they did and Phillip switched sides receiving a pardon in the process.
Much of the book discusses marriage under the control of government. The governments in the book believed they were in power with the blessing of God they took it upon themselves to regulate marriage. In order for a government to represent God it must be a minister for good and not evil. It's leaders must only teach and enforce God's law. There is no need for any more law. Since this was not the case they had no right to promote the concept that they were the moral guides and regulators of any thing in the realm of Christianity.
Did you know that Luther recommended polygyny for Henry VIII? There have been a string of apologist throughout the ages. Concubinage was practiced when polygyny was not permitted or publicly practiced. Napoleon was in favor of it as Luther, but only when they could avoid public denouncement.
Mormon polygyny was discussed. My comment is that the war between the states sometimes called Lincoln's war was aided by the fiction known as Uncle Tom's Cabin. The author had no knowledge of how slavery in the south worked. (It was unscriptural, but not generally unkind to slaves. Most slaves were very happy.) Either way it was a tool to create bad sentiment against the south who really could not defend itself after the book was read by those in the north. (By the way, Lincoln was a politician, a scoundrel, concerning the war. He also signed the first anti-polygamy law!) So the same was done to the Mormons. Although not everything they did with polygyny was scriptural as well the same type of damage was done by a book. "Female Life Among the Mormons or How I Escaped from the Mormons", by Maria Ward did much damage. Turns out that she never lived in Utah and misrepresented Mormon women as either sex slaves or exploited labor which was never the case. Once again the damage was done and created sentiment that the government acted on putting a lot of good people in jail or on the run.
The only thing that did not seem to fit was the first part of chapter 12 where Cairncross brings up Fourier and his desire to see Omnigamy which is basically free sex for everyone. Since the book is about polygamy it really does not fit. The book is a good history and worth reading.
The Morality of Biblical Polygamy by William F. Luck, Sr.
The Preface includes a letter from the author about an experience he had after teaching on the seventh commandment and mentioning polygamy. He writes that an African pastor complained about white missionaries going to Africa and forcing converts to rid themselves of plural wives who were then forced into prostitution to survive. All the author could do is say, "sorry".
This book in no way promotes polygyny and Luck distances himself from it's practice today, but he does try to show that it was a valid form of marriage in the old testament. He spends a good bit of time arguing against the teaching of one of his old college professors who went to the extreme of retranslating parts of Exodus 21 and substituting words to avoid even the appearance of polygyny.
The book is one chapter of a much larger tome that is written on a more scholarly level for today than probably any of the other books to be reviewed here. It is the type of book one might give to their preacher or religious leader with out too much fear perhaps that you might be promoting the behavior in this day and time. That alone makes it a theological discussion and does remove some of the fear and emotional attachments that can cloud rational and logical thought. Luck says that he performed the study so that he could better understand marriage and adultery. My motivation was in fact for those same reasons. One can not have a proper scriptural definition of marital adultery if it makes polygyny sin. Luck also states as I have that too many religious leaders speak about how righteous Abraham, Jacob and King David were until you mention their wives. At that point their stance changes totally.
Errors include confusion between divorce and separation (put away) which one can study in the marriage articles at this site. Luck believes that Esau's wives were a concern to Isaac and Rebekah because of their character. Just like Onan, Esau's wives were of a forbidden lineage for marriage in Israel. There is more to the story than just character or worshipping foreign gods.
If you are amassing a library on the subject of polygyny then this book is worth including. I would not purchase the entire book of which this is a part.
My Wife Made Me a Polygamist, by Walter Trobisch (1971)
The book starts out with an excellent portrayal of the situation of the honest polygamous husband and the inconsistencies of the modern church. After that Trobisch backpedals and begins to read sin into every example of polygyny in the old testament. Then he rehearses the standard lines with out any validation or proof. In fact he eloquently just makes it up as he goes in order to support his ideal of monogamous marriage. The facts of history prove him wrong. He then makes up an imaginary conversation that he and his wife have with the African and his wives. It is very easy to make up a conversation where the other side has no voice. I have a feeling that the conversation would have gone quite a bit different if it had really taken place. This book is a waste of time other than pages 7-12.
Cohabitation and Polygamy: Never Banned by our Creator and
Some Nudity, Porn and Adultery May Be OK by Dr. Arnold David Coleman.
Having emailed some with the author I believe he is sincere in his intent. Unfortunately I believe his books to be less than I had hoped. I should say that I could not finish either book. I did make it through most of the first one listed above. I do not expect that most people have the correct definition for adultery, adulteration. The author does not have the correct definition and because of that his belief on divorce is also effected. The books are filled with his rambling ideas going down several different rabbit holes. I think he is well read and uses many sources. I can not recommend these books.
Restoring the Foundations, by James Wesley Stivers.
This is a much more general book on Patriarchy. I don't remember that polygyny is even ever mentioned. It is worth the read. The following are from notes I made while reading. In chapter two there was law before Sinai. In chapter three the spirit of adoption is mentioned. The Greek word for adoption is never found in the new testament. The word means placement of sons, that is those who are already sons by birth. It is referred to again in chapter four. It does help to understand Stiver's religious belief or background. He does not understand today's role for Esau/Edom. In chapter seven reference is made to Romans 13. Please keep in mind that when you dig down deep into the Greek only God's law is being discussed, not man's laws. In chapter ten Stiver's gives the kingdom to other people as most in Christianity do today. That makes God a promise breaker and violates Daniel 2:44 as well as many other verses. I would refer one to the Christian Israel website. One might consider my notes to be nit-picky. Perhaps so. Either way the book is worth the read and I recommend it.
Women Under Polygamy by Watler M Gallichan (1915)
I have had this book for a number of years and I finally have gotten around to reading it. It is basically a history of polygamy through recorded history. The author does not understand the difference between the words Israel and Jew and that they are not necessarily the same people. Chapter IV is titled Ancient Jewish Polygamy. I think he totally had the wrong impression of the Song of Solomon. He also did not understand God's law on polygyny. Maybe it's not the case, but I think he was reasonably fair until he got to this chapter, but it could just his misunderstanding of today's Jews and scripture's Israelites. Trying to be fair myself, I'm not sure many, if any, knew in 1915 that the modern day Jews are not Israelites. He spent quite a bit of time writing about how wonderful it was that Indian widows would burn themselves to death in order to be with their departed husband. He truly does not understand the basic tenets of Christianity.
List of books to read in the future.
A Plea for Polygamy by Charles Charrington (1898)
Man and Woman in Biblical Law, Part 1 by Tom Shipley
A Dialog on Polygamy, Bernadino Ochino
Updated April 2016
Feel free to send your helpful comments.