"The Christian churches are full of polygamists; men who've remarried without providing their first wives legitimate bills of divorcement.1 Such men are no less polygamists simply because they're ignorant of what constitutes a legitimate bill of divorcement. Jesus words were clear about what constitutes an illegitimate divorce, 'Whoever divorces his wife, except for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries her that is so divorced commits adultery.'2 Since a woman who remarries after being illegitimately divorced commits adultery by marrying (according to Jesus) then it is the first marriage that is still in force. That means that her so called former husband is not her former husband at all but he remains her one and only husband and the one she believes to be her current husband is in fact a co-adulterer with her in a marriage that is not a marriage at all. The woman is still married to her first husband and if her first husband marries another he becomes a polygamist upon taking a new bride.
   "The part about the woman is clear." Salesa replied. "But I don't understand why you aren't calling the man an adulterer as well."
   "I knew that question was coming Salesa. The ignorance about the topic of marriage in churches is so prevalent that it is clear to me that this is one of those areas where the Lord has allowed hearts to be hardened. How else could it be that the Scriptures are full of metaphors and allegories about marriage and yet the typical Christian does not even know what biblical marriage is? I truly believe that the Lord has a grand plan in allowing the church to be so led astray concerning marriage for so many years."
   "I'm listening. Maybe you can help me to understand more about the bible's teachings on marriage. What do you mean by fornication and are you saying that there are women who are unknowingly in adulterous relationships?"
   "Well, to the second part of your question, yes, there are lots of women who are unknowingly in adulterous relationships. To the first part of your question, it's not what I mean by fornication but what the bible says about fornication that counts so let's open our bibles and read Isaiah 50:1 Have you got it, Selesa?"
   "Yes, I have it Jim, I'll read it; Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?"
   "That's right, Selesa, the LORD makes it clear that a bill of divorcement must be obtained by a woman from her husband for her divorce to be considered valid. No divorce provided by a court, a church, or anyone else is valid. The man is in total authority in granting a divorce. A woman simply cannot divorce her husband. He must give the divorce, and for her sin of fornication and no sin short of fornication."
   "How is it that the Christian world is so blind to a man's authority in marriage?" Selesa looked up into my eyes admiringly having found a new mentor. Single ladies on fire for the Lord were a joy to talk with, always spouting the party line, that a man should have authority over his woman. I wondered how many actually found men willing to take such authority. Furthermore, how many were willing to submit to such authority given the opportunity.
   "Quite simply," I said, "if the Christian church accepted biblical marriage, which is patriarchal marriage with the man in charge, they would also have to accept polygamy."
   "Why is that?" Selesa was still sipping at her cup, holding it delicately in her petite fingers.
    "Well, so many of the scriptures concerning marriage are about polygamous unions. Even Jesus describes Himself as being in a polygamous union with believers. You remember the story of the ten virgins, don't you Selesa?"
"Oh yes Jim, five of whom had oil for their lamps and went into the marriage chamber with our Lord? "
   "Yes, now that's a polygamous marriage. Five brides, one groom, all at one wedding." 
Selesa now cleared her throat as if to caution me about my topic.
   "I'll say, but to my question on what is fornication."
   "Oh yes, fornication. Fornication is any sexual sin as well as any sin that puts another man's authority higher than the husband's authority. Adultery is the most serious type of fornication but any sexual sin or sin against a husband's first position of authority over the wife qualifies as fornication."
   "Could that include flirting?" Selesa said. This time I realized her deep gaze into my eyes was beyond admiration. She was in fact flirting while asking the question about flirting. I wasn't sure whether she was doing this to give effect to her question or if she really intended it.
   "Absolutely! There is no reason a Christian wife should ever flirt. Flirting by a wife is not a small sin. Not in the slightest. It is a great sin for it leads to adultery just as coveting leads to theft."
   "You say, flirting by a wife is not a small sin. But isn't flirting by a husband also a sin?"
   This time I fixed my gaze on hers and said,
   "Well, it depends on who he's flirting with. If he's flirting with someone he could and would possibly like to marry then he is not flirting with the possibility of sin. He's flirting with the possibility of marriage. However if the man would never consider entering into a polygamous marriage with the woman with whom he is flirting then he is flirting with the possibility of sex outside of marriage and that is a sin."
   "What?" Selesa nearly shouted. "So you really believe a man can have more than one wife?" Selesa no longer appeared so delicate as her formerly tender expression hardened.
   "Well, surely you didn't think this discussion was simply an intellectual exercise. What the bible says should be applied in our daily lives."
   "I don't know what I thought, b..but you're sick. Sick! Sick! Sick!"
Everyone at the coffee was now looking at Selesa as she left the room stomping.  They must have wondered what planet she'd been on. She hadn't even realized she was talking to a man with seven wives; one polygamist among many in the congregation. Could there have been a visitor in Andok who wasn't familiar with the latest events? She went to the foyer and of all women to start a conversation with she began talking with my wives. The first opportunity they had to get a word in edgewise they informed her who they were.
   "You're married to who?" Still muttering, she left the foyer to come back and give me a piece of her mind. Striding in with all the confidence of a three year old whose toy has just been stolen she got in my face. "Listen you, if you were my husband I, I, I wouldn't share you with anyone!"
   "Well, I'll take that as a compliment."
Selesa stormed out of the church.
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The Prince of Sumba, Husband to Many Wives. Copyright 1998 Don Milton All Rights Reserved.)

Footnote 1: Deuteronomy 24:1 & 24:3, Isaiah 50:1, Jeremiah 3:8 and Matthew 5:31 Footnote 2: Matthew 5:32