SO THAT'S HOW JESUS LOVES ME!
article was published in the October 1999 issue of Joy Magazine, Box
377, Merrivale 3291, South
Africa, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The article is titled "WOW!
So that's how Jesus loves me!" and was
written by John & Helen Gardiner. This article came to my
attention in January 2000 and confirmed and
amplified much of what is written in section 9.g, page 29 and elsewhere
in this book. It gives a wonderful
summary of why the subject of this book is so important and, while the
author's of this article clearly do not yet
have the revelation contained in this book, it is apparent that what is
contained in this article and what is
contained in this book are, of necessity, complimentary in Yahweh's
scheme of things.
"THE Lord began
speaking to us recently about marriage - and giving us
some understanding of why so many marriages are in a mess or out of
order, and even why so few Christian marriages are what they could be.
Daily we seem to hear of people suffering the most terrible
abuse and unhappiness and fear
within marriages, and hear of more and more Christian marriages ending
in the cataclysm of
God purposed to be one of His greatest sources of joy and
blessing to people often ends up as a curse and misery.
The Lord began to
reveal that the reason why marriage is under such
incredible attack is because of what He meant it to be.
You see, God
purposed marriage to be a prophetic sign and a wonder.
Yet the enemy so often succeeds in making it a laughing stock
instead of a prophetic signpost
that points the way to something much deeper.
Ephesians 5:21-33 says: "Submit to one another out
of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to
your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife
as Christ is the head of
the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour."
"Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives
should submit to their husbands in
everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for
her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through
the word, and to present
her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any
other blemish, but holy and
"In this same way, husbands ought to love their
wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife
loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds
and cares for it, just as
Christ does the church - for we are members of his body."
"For this reason a man will leave his father and
mother and be united to his wife, and the two will
become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about
Christ and the church.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,
and the wife must respect
Paul says this is a great or profound mystery he's speaking
about. The only other great or
profound mystery is found in 1 Timothy 3:16 "And without
controversy great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen
of angels, preached to the
Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Whenever scripture speaks of a mystery, it is something that
can only be understood by divine
revelation - how much more so a great mystery?
However, these mysteries are something God
wants us to understand - because if we don't, the enemy will run riot
in that area of ignorance in
So Paul is saying, "When I'm talking about marriage, I'm
talking about Christ and the church." He
is saying that every time you look at a Christian marriage you should
be able to say: "A-ha - so
that's how Jesus loves His church, and that's how
we as the church should respond to Him!
Marriage was made by God to be a sign that shows the world
how much Jesus loves His church.
Yet how many of us can say we've seen even a handful of marriages in
our lifetimes that have
Marriages where you look at the way the husband loves his
wife, and you can say "Wow! That's
how Jesus loves me as part of his church." Or you look at the wife and
are able to say "Yes, I see
now, I understand now how I as a Christian need to submit to Jesus in
Because this man and this woman have painted a prophetic
picture for you, you now have a
greater understanding of this great mystery!
Now do you begin to see why satan hates marriage - and
especially Christian marriages - with
such a passion?
Why he will do everything within his power to pervert, make a
mockery of, and destroy
marriages? Because every time he does that he's not just causing misery
in the lives of the
people concerned, he is also destroying and pulling down something that
God purposed to be
a prophetic signpost.
When there are problems in a marriage, you're not just
dealing with difficult people, you're dealing
with all the hoards of hell trying their utmost to make a mockery of a
prophetic statement that God
wanted to make.
Those who are in difficult marriage situations, or who have
areas of their marriage that are out
of order, must wake up to this truth. It's not just that you and your
spouse cannot get along with
each other - it's also because you have powerful demonic forces working
against your marriage
becoming a prophetic sign and statement!
You need to start pulling down those demonic strongholds over
your relationship. Not just in your
spouse! But strongholds in you and over your
relationship that cause both of you to react and
allow friction and division to rush in.
Every area of marriage was purposed to be a prophetic sign.
If you want to understand what
idolatry does to the heart of God, then look at what sexual infidelity
does to a marriage.
If you want to gain a clearer understanding of what it does
to God when we have other gods other
things that elicit our love and devotion - then look at what adultery
does to a marriage. It's a
You will often find in a marriage the same extremes as you
find in the church. Lust in marriage
is the same as spiritual licentiousness in the church - the same as
just binging and going
overboard on grace with no boundaries.
Then, at the other end of the scale you get frigidity in
marriage - which is the same as legalism
and a religious spirit in the church - cold, hard, truth with no love.
You often get these two forces at work in the same marriage,
just as you get them at work in the
church, and they're both just as destructive. Lust in a marriage and
licentiousness in the church
are just as destructive as frigidity in marriage and legalism in the
You also find rebellion and reaction against God's order and
authority are a problem in both
marriage and in the church. Just as you also get domination,
manipulation and control both in
marriage and in the church.
We have got to start waking up to what marriage is meant to
be, and why so pitifully few are what
they should be!
People get married so lightly without really understanding
what they're doing. Few people who
go into marriage realise they are entering into something that was
meant to be a blood covenant.
This is why virginity is so important.
God's purpose for marriage was that on the wedding night the
marriage covenant would be
sealed with blood. Again, this is a prophetic picture of Jesus' blood
covenant with us. Yet how
many marriages are that today?
We want to say to any young people (both male and female!)
reading this: Your virginity is one
of the most precious gifts God has given you. Don't ever let the devil
snatch it away from you.
In biblical times if a man took away a woman's virginity they
stoned him to death. Nowadays, they
label him a superstud or a loverboy or something like that!
God purposed marriage to be a blood covenant, and it is our
firm belief that if you have two
people entering into a marriage as virgins, and with an understanding
of the awesomeness and
sacredness of what they're doing on their wedding night, then God will
honour that covenant and
protect that marriage supernaturally. If those getting married are not
virgins, they at least need
to have an understanding of this awesome covenant
relationship they're entering into.
God cannot fully bless and anoint and rebuke the devourer
over many marriages today because
they were never established on the foundation of covenant. People went
through all the man-made rituals of the wedding ceremony, but never
entered into a true covenant with each other.
If you look at
the average wedding ceremony today, much of what goes on
has its roots in the occult.
The veil was originally believed to ward off evil spirits.
Confetti was also originally purposed to
chase away evil spirits. Tradition has it that it's bad luck
for the groom to see the bride before the
wedding ceremony, and that it is good luck for
the bride to wear something old, something new,
something borrowed and something blue. Then there's the whole ritual of
catching the garter and
bouquet and the lucky souls who catch them.
The average wedding table is filled with lucky
horseshoes or wishbones, and then the lucky
couple are sent on their way to the strains of "Wish me luck as you
wave me goodbye..."
All this "good luck" is just a smokescreen to distract people
away from the real meaning of the
ceremony - that it was meant by God to be a time of two people cutting
covenant with each other
before their God.
The average wedding ceremony today is a total mockery of what
God intended. You get two
people who've been sleeping together for years going through a silly
little ritual that has no real
binding upon their souls. And then people wonder why the whole thing
ends up in the divorce
courts two years down the road!
God wants us to begin to understand the sacredness of
If you look at what marriage entailed in biblical times, you
begin to understand just how much
points to Jesus - and why Jesus even said some of the things He said.
At marrying age, the young man might be attracted to a young
woman, or his parents might have
chosen an appropriate bride for him. The procedure could be followed by
one of three different
The father making the arrangements for his son, as Samson's
father did for him in Judges 14: 1-10.
An agent working on behalf of the father, as Eliezer did on
behalf of Abraham in Genesis 24:1-67.
Or it could be done by the young man himself.
For illustration's sake, an example of the last possibility
will be used.
A young man went to the home of his potential bride-to-be. He
carried three things with him: a
large sum of money in order to pay the price for his bride, a betrothal
contract called a Shitre
Erusin, and a skin of wine.
Of course, anyone arriving with these things would
immediately arouse the curiosity of the
household! The man approached the girl's father and older brothers. The
contract was laid out,
and the bride-price was discussed.
Finally, a glass of wine was poured. If the father approved,
then the young lady was called in. If
she also approved, then she would drink the wine. In doing so, she
committed herself to this man,
agreeing to follow the contract that now was a legal document between
They would be called husband and wife at this time, and their
union could only be dissolved by
a divorce. However, their status was that of betrothed, rather than
that of fully married. This is
where we as the church are today: the contract has been signed, the
price has been paid in full.
We are betrothed.
After the wine had been drunk, the man made the statement
that he would go to his father's
house and prepare a place for her. This place was known as the chadar
(chamber, or a bed with
The young Jewish
bridegroom would make the following speech as he was
leaving: "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were
not so, I would
have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go
prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me
you also may be where I am." Does that sound familiar to
you? Our Lord
Jesus spoke those same words of us in John 14:2-3!
From the time that the Shitre Erusin
was ratified, the young woman was consecrated, kiddushin,
set apart to her husband. That's how we as Christians should be.
She has been bought with a price and her body is no longer
her own. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says
"You were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your
body" and 1 Corinthians 7:23 says
"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men."
She must spend
her time preparing to live as a wife and mother in Israel.
Her days of waiting for her wedding are spent in learning how to please
Meanwhile, the young man returned to his father's home, and
the chadar went under
The room is provided with every comfort, as they will retire
here for a whole week following their
wedding ceremony. We see this seven day period in: Genesis 29:22-28.
Laban says - "Finish this
daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in
return for another seven
years of work.' And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and
then Laban gave him his
daughter Rachel to be his wife." And read Judges 14:10-18,
The young man, if asked when the day of his wedding would be,
replied, "No man knows except
my father." In
Israel the father had to be satisfied that every preparation had
been made by his son before he gave him permission to go and get his
bride. Jesus spoke these same words of His wedding day.
The groom secured two close friends to assist him in securing
his bride and during the actual
ceremony. These two are known as "the friends of the
bridegroom." They functioned as the two
witnesses required for a Jewish wedding. One of them was to assist the
bride, and to lead her
to the ceremony, while the other was stationed with the groom. He
performed a special task when
the couple retired into the chadar after the
During the ceremony, known as Kiddushin,
a second contract was brought forth called a Ketubah.
This marriage contract was witnessed by the friends of the bridegroom
and turned over to the
parents of the bride. It contained the promises that the groom pledged
to his wife.
As at all weddings, focus was centred on the bride and groom.
For this one day they were looked
at as king and queen. Every effort was made, and no expense was spared
to ensure their joy.
On this day, tradition says, their sins were forgiven. They stood pure,
without spot or blemish as
they were united.
Ephesians 5:25-32, "Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church and gave himself
up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water
through the word, And to
present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or
any other blemish, but holy
Following the ceremony, the bride and groom entered the chadar.
Here the groom gave gifts to
the bride (Genesis 34:12 & Genesis 24:53).
The couple spent seven days under the chupah,
or literally in the chamber. The friend of the
bridegroom stood at the door. All the guests of the wedding assembled
outside, waiting for the
friend of the bridegroom to announce the consummation of the marriage
covenant, which was
related to him by the groom.
John 3:26-30: "They came to John and said to him,
'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the
other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, He is
baptising, and everyone is going
to him. 'To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given
him from heaven. You
yourselves can testify that I said, "I am not the Christ but am sent
ahead of him. "The bride
belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits
and listens for him, and
is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine,
and it is now complete. He
must become greater; I must become less."
At this signal, great rejoicing broke forth in a week long
celebration, until the two emerged from
the chupah to begin the actual wedding feast.
Revelation 19:4-9: "The twenty-four elders and the
four living creatures fell down and worshipped
God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: 'Amen, Hallelujah!'
Then a voice came from
the throne, saying: 'Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear
him, both small and great!'
"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude,
like the roar of rushing waters and like loud
peals of thunder, shouting: 'Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty
reigns. Let us rejoice and be
glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his
bride has made herself
ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.' (Fine
linen stands for the righteous
acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are
those who are invited to the
wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, 'These are the true words of
Do you begin to understand the enormity of what we're
touching here? You need to start looking
at marriage through new eyes!
Even as the first trump (shofar) announced the betrothal, so
the last trump announced the
wedding. Today, when the shofar is blown in churches we are reminded
that we are betrothed -
and that there's a wedding feast yet to come!
In Psalm 45 we are brought to the biblical portrayal of not
only the wedding of the Messiah but
also His coronation. The guests are assembled, and gifts are
Isaiah 61:10 - 62:5 shows the glory of the bride and groom
bedecked in all their wedding finery:
"For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed
me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns
herself with her jewels. The
nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will
be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of
splendour in the Lord's hand, a
royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you
Deserted, or name your land
Desolate. But you will be called Heplizibah, and your land Beulah; for
the LORD will take delight
in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden,
so will your sons marry
you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice
But we've left the best for last...
Before the wedding the groom required three days to prepare.
We know that one day is as a
thousand years to the Lord. And just as with working out the three days
of the death and
resurrection of Jesus, we know that the Jewish method of measuring days
is different to ours.
So, we are on the brink of the third millennium, the third
day. Yes, the third day is almost upon
us. Our bridegroom has been preparing Himself for three days. He is
fully prepared and fully
expectant, longing to be with His bride. The marriage supper of the
lamb could be any day now.
No one knows the
exact day except the Father.
The third day is
upon us - and the bridegroom is fully prepared.
But are we?
God wants to release is out of much and into much when it
comes to our understanding of
He wants to pull
down and smash man-made myths and perceptions of
marriage. He wants us throw out all the Mills & Boon and Bold
junk, and begin to come into a Biblical understanding of what marriage
He wants to pull down demonic strongholds over existing and
past and future marriages -
strongholds of lust and frigidity, strongholds that have been
established because the enemy has
done everything in his power to make a mockery of God's prophetic
Some of you are sitting in marriages with things over you,
some of you who are divorced are still
bound by hurts and bitterness, others are sitting under things that
keep you from being released
into marriage - because of fear and demonic oppression.
There are some to
whom God would say: "I've kept you from marriage.
You've fought and kicked and got angry because you've never got
but it's been My grace that has kept you and protected you from
into something that would just be a pale, weak, wishy-washy counterfeit
what I've really purposed for you."
And as those
strongholds come down, you will begin to find marriages
restored and unsaved partners coming to the Lord. Good marriages will
become even better as they are elevated into the realm of becoming
prophetic statements. Becoming a sign and a wonder that people will
at and say, "So that's how Jesus loves his betrothed, so
that's how we as
the church should submit and respond to Jesus!"
Father, in Jesus' name forgive me for
taking marriage so lightly, forgive me for my
perverted and wrong understandings of what marriage is meant to be. And
Father as You
forgive me, I pray that you will deliver me from every stronghold that
is over my life in the
area of marriage. Strongholds that have come down through the
generations, as well as
strongholds that I have allowed to become established through my own
fears and sin.
"Lord I ask you to give me a
revelation in my heart of Your purpose for marriage - so that
my marriage (or future marriage) will become the prophetic sign and
wonder to the world
that You purposed it be. I ask You to do this in the precious and
powerful name of Jesus
through the power of Your holy Spirit."
With acknowledgements to Greg Killian for his
information on Biblical wedding ceremonies.
Reproduced by kind
permission of the author.
FROM "THE FINAL QUEST" BY RICK JOYNER
The book "The Final
Quest" by Rick Joyner and it's sequel, "The Call" may well constitute
the most important
prophetic message to the church in our generation. It provides a
startling revelation of the judgment process
which each of us must undergo and confirms the extent to which the
church is far removed from the reality of
what God has called it to be.
It also shows that
both the throne room and the thrones in heaven are not filled to
anywhere near capacity
because the Lord's shepherds have held onto the one and not gone after
the ninety nine that are lost.
R1 THE FINAL QUEST : PAGE 118 : A MEETING WITH
JESUS CHRIST BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT
There was no way that I could answer "yes" to the Lord's
question if I considered myself worthy to sit here.
I was not worthy to sit in the company of any who were there. I knew I
had been given the opportunity to
run for the greatest prize in heaven or earth, and I had failed. I was
desperate, but there was still one hope. Even though most of my life
had been a failure, I knew that I was here before I had finished my
life on earth. When I confessed that I was not worthy, He asked:
"But do you want this seat?"
"I do with all of my heart," I responded.
The Lord then looked at the galleries and said, "Those empty seats could
have been filled in
I gave the invitation to sit here to everyone who has called upon My
name. They are
still available. Now the last battle has come, and many who are last
shall be first. These seats will be filled
before the battle is over. Those who will sit here will be known by two
things: they will wear the mantle of
humility, and they will have My likeness. You now have the mantle. If
you can keep it and do not lose it in
the battle, when you return you will also have My likeness. Then you
will be worthy to sit with these,
because I will have made you worthy. All authority and power has been
given to Me, and I alone can wield
it. You will prevail, and you will be trusted with My authority only
when you have come to fully abide in Me. Now turn and look at My
I turned and looked back in the direction I had come from.
From before His throne I could see the entire
room. The spectacle was beyond any comparison in its glory. Millions
filled the ranks. Each individual in
the lowest rank was more awesome than an army, and had more power. It
was far beyond my capacity to
absorb such a panorama of glory. Even
so, I could see that only a very small portion of the
great room was occupied.
R2 THE FINAL QUEST : PAGE 119 : THE LORD JESUS'
TEARS FOR ALL WHO ARE LOST
I then looked back at the Lord and was astonished to see
tears in His eyes. He had wiped the tears away
from every eye here, except His own. As a tear ran down His cheek he
caught it in His hand. He then
offered it to me.
"This is My cup. Will you drink it with Me?"
There was no way that I could refuse Him. As the Lord
continued to look at Me I began to feel His great
love. Even as foul as I was He still loved me. As undeserving as I was
He wanted me to be close to Him. Then He said:
"I love all of these with a love that you cannot
now understand. I also love all who are supposed to be here
but did not come. I have
left the ninety-nine to go after the one who was lost. My
shepherds would not leave the one to go after the ninety-nine who are
still lost. I
came to save the lost.
Will you share My heart to go to save the lost? Will
you help to fill this
room? Will you help to fill these thrones, and every other seat in this
hall? Will you
take up this quest to bring joy to heaven, to Me and to My Father? This
is for My own household, and My own house is not full. The last battle
will not be
over until My house is full.
Only then will it be time for us to redeem the earth, and remove the
from My creation. If you drink My cup you will love the lost the way
that I love them."
R3 THE FINAL QUEST : PAGE 128 : THE SHAME OF THE
CHURCH BECAUSE THERE IS NO JUSTICE
...... was about His judgment. He paused to let this sink in,
and then continued.
"There is a freedom that comes when you perceive
truth, but whoever I set free is free indeed. The freedom
of My presence is greater than just knowing truth. You have experienced
liberation in My presence, but
there is yet much more for you to understand about My judgments. When I
judge I am not seeking to
condemn, or to justify, but to bring forth righteousness. Righteousness
is only found in union with Me. That
is the righteous judgment, bringing men into unity with Me.
church is now clothed with shame because she does not have judges.
not have judges because she does not know Me as the judge. I will now
raise up judges for My people who
know My judgment. They will not just decide between people or issues,
but to make things right, which is
to bring them into agreement with Me.
"When I appeared to Joshua as the Captain of the
Host, I declared that I was for neither him nor his
enemies. I never come to take sides. When I come it is to take over,
not to take sides. I appeared as the
Captain of the Host before Israel could enter her Promised Land. The
church is now about to enter her
Promised Land, and I am again about to appear as the Captain of the
Host. When I do I will remove all who
have been forcing My people to take sides against their brothers. My
justice does not take sides in human
conflicts, even those of My own people. What I was doing through Israel
I was doing for their enemies, too,
not against them. It is only because you see from the earthly, temporal
perspective that you do not see My
justice. You must see My justice to walk in My authority because
righteousness and justice are the
foundation of My throne.
"I have imputed righteousness to the people I have
chosen, but like Israel in the wilderness, even
greatest saints of the church age have only aligned themselves with My
small part of the time, or with a small part of their minds and hearts.
I am not for them
or against their enemies, but I am coming to use My people to save
their enemies. I love all men, and
desire for all to be saved."
I could not help thinking of the great battle that we had
fought on the mountain. We did wound many of our
own brethren as we fought against the evil controlling them. There were
still many of them in the camp of
the enemy, either being used by him, or kept as his prisoners. I
started to wonder if the next battle would
be against our own brothers again. The Lord was watching me ponder all
of this, and then He continued.
"Until last battle is over, there will always be
some of our brothers who are being used by the enemy. But
that is not why I am telling you this now. I am telling you this to
help you see how the enemy gets into your
own heart and mind, and how he uses you! Even now you still do not see
everything the way that I do.
"This is common with My people. At
this time, even My greatest leaders are seldom in
harmony with Me. Many are doing good works, but very few are doing what
called them to do. This is the result of
divisions among you. I
am not coming
to take sides with any one group, but I am calling for those who will
come over to My side......
R4 THE FINAL QUEST : PAGE 135 : INTERVIEW WITH
THE APOSTLE PAUL
[Paul] put both hands on my shoulders and looked me even more
resolutely straight in the eyes.
"I am your brother. I love you as everyone here does. But you
must understand. Our course is now
finished. We can neither
add to or take away from what we planted in the earth, but
you can. We are not your hope. You are now our hope.
Even in this conversation I can only
confirm what I have already written, but you still have much writing to
do. Worship only God, and grow up
in all things into Him. Never make any man your goal, but only Him.
Many will soon walk the earth who will
do much greater works than we did. The first shall be last, and the
last, first. We do not mind this. It is the
joy of our hearts because we are one with you. My generation was used
to lay and begin building upon the
foundation, and we will always have the honor of that. But every floor
built upon the foundation should go
higher. We will not be the building we are supposed to be unless you go
As I pondered this he watched me closely. Then he continued,
"There are two more things that we attained
in our time that were lost very quickly by the church, and they have
not yet been recovered. You must
"What are they?" I inquired, feeling that what he was about
to say was more than just an addendum to what
he had already said.
"You must recover
the ministry, and the message," he said
I looked at the Lord, and He nodded His affirmation, adding, "It is right that Paul
should say this
to you. Until this time he has been the most faithful with both of
"Please explain," I implored Paul.
"Alright," he replied. "Except
for a few small places in the world where there is great
persecution or difficulties now, we can hardly recognize either the
ministry or the
message that is being preached today. Therefore, the church is now but
of what it was even in our time, and we were far from all that we were
called to be.
When we served, being in ministry was the greatest sacrifice one could
make and this reflected the
message of the greatest sacrifice that was made - the cross. The cross
is the power of God, and it is the
center of all that we are called to live by. You have so little power
to transform the minds and hearts of the
disciples now because you do not live, and do not preach, the cross.
Therefore, we have difficulty seeing
much difference between the disciples and the heathen. That is not the
gospel or the salvation with which
we were entrusted. You must return to the cross."
With those words he squeezed my shoulders like a father, and
then returned to his seat. I felt like I had
received both an incredible blessing and a profound rebuke. As I walked
away I began thinking of the level
of salvation on the mountain, and the treasures of salvation that I had
seen inside the mountain. I began
to see that most of my own decisions, even the decision to enter the
door that led me here, was based
mostly on what would get me further,......
CURSE OF THE LAW
Deuternomy 28 - 30
states the blessings and curses of the Mosaic Covenant:
1 "Now it
shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your
God, to observe carefully all
His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will
set you high above all nations
of the earth.
2 "And all
these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey
the voice of the LORD your
shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the
increase of your herds, the
increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before
your face; they shall come
out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to
which you set your hand, and
He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has
sworn to you, if you keep the
commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of
the LORD, and they shall be afraid
the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in
the increase of your livestock,
and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore
to your fathers to give you.
LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain
to your land in its season, and
to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but
you shall not borrow.
the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above
only, and not be beneath, if you
heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today,
and are careful to observe them.
14 "So you
shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this
day, to the right hand or to
the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
15 "But it
shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God,
to observe carefully all His
commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these
curses will come upon you and
shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the
increase of your cattle and the
offspring of your flocks.
shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you
set your hand to do, until you
are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness
of your doings in which you have forsaken
LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from
the land which you are going
LORD will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation,
with severe burning fever, with
the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until
your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth
which is under you shall be iron.
LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the
heaven it shall come down on
you until you are destroyed.
LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go
out one way against them and
flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all
the kingdoms of the earth.
carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of
the earth, and no one shall frighten
LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the
scab, and with the itch, from which
you cannot be healed.
LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.
you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you
shall not prosper in your ways;
you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall
shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall
build a house, but you shall not dwell
in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.
ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it;
your donkey shall be violently
taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your
sheep shall be given to your enemies, and
you shall have no one to rescue them.
sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes
shall look and fail with
longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your
nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the
produce of your labor, and you
shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.
34 "So you
shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.
LORD will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils
which cannot be healed, and from
the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation
which neither you nor your
fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods-- wood and
you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all
nations where the LORD will
shall carry much seed out to the field and gather but little in, for
the locust shall consume it.
shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the
wine nor gather the grapes; for
the worms shall eat them.
shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not
anoint yourself with the oil; for
your olives shall drop off.
shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they
shall go into captivity.
"Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you
shall come down lower and
shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head,
and you shall be the tail.
"Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake
you, until you are destroyed,
because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His
commandments and His statutes which
He commanded you.
they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants
"Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of
heart, for the abundance of
"therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send
against you, in hunger, in thirst, in
nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on
your neck until He has destroyed you.
LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the
earth, as swift as the eagle flies,
a nation whose language you will not understand,
nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor
show favor to the young.
they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your
land, until you are destroyed; they
shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your
cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until
they have destroyed you.
shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified
walls, in which you trust, come down
throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates
throughout all your land which the LORD
your God has given you.
shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your
daughters whom the LORD your
God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your
enemy shall distress you.
sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his
brother, toward the wife of his
bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind,
that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he
will eat, because he has nothing left
in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress
you at all your gates.
tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the
sole of her foot on the ground
because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband
of her bosom, and to her son and her
placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom
she bears; for she will eat them
secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in
which your enemy shall distress you at all
58 "If you
do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in
this book, that you may fear this
glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD,
the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary
plagues-- great and prolonged
plagues-- and serious and prolonged sicknesses.
"Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which
you were afraid, and they shall cling
every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of
this law, will the LORD bring upon
you until you are destroyed.
shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in
multitude, because you would
not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
63 "And it
shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and
multiply you, so the LORD will
rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall
be plucked from off the land which you
go to possess.
the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth
to the other, and there you
shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known--
wood and stone.
among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your
foot have a resting place; but
there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and
anguish of soul.
life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and
have no assurance of life.
67 "In the
morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you
shall say, 'Oh, that it were
morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because
of the sight which your eyes see.
the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I
said to you, 'You shall never see
it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as
male and female slaves, but no one will buy
are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make
with the children of Israel
in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in
Moses called all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the
LORD did before your eyes in the
land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land--
great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great
4 "Yet the
LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to
hear, to this very day.
5 "And I
have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn
out on you, and your sandals
have not worn out on your feet;
have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink; that
you may know that I am the LORD
when you came to this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of
Bashan came out against us to
battle, and we conquered them.
8 "We took
their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, to the
Gadites, and to half the tribe of
"Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may
prosper in all that you do.
10 "All of
you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes
and your elders and your
officers, all the men of Israel,
little ones and your wives-- also the stranger who is in your camp,
from the one who cuts your wood
to the one who draws your water--
you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath,
which the LORD your God
makes with you today,
He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be
God to you, just as He has
spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob.
14 "I make
this covenant and this oath, not with you alone,
also with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as
well as with him who is not
here with us today
you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through
the nations which you passed
17 and you
saw their abominations and their idols which were among them-- wood and
stone and silver and
that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose
heart turns away today from
the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that
there may not be among you a root
bearing bitterness or wormwood;
19 "and so
it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he
blesses himself in his heart, saying,
'I shall have peace, even though I walk in the imagination of my
heart'-- as though the drunkard could be
included with the sober.
LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His
jealousy would burn against that
man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him,
and the LORD would blot out his name
from under heaven.
the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for
adversity, according to all the curses
of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law,
that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and
the foreigner who comes from
a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the
sicknesses which the LORD has laid on
whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it
bear, nor does any grass grow
there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim,
which the LORD overthrew in His
anger and His wrath.'
nations would say, 'Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does
the heat of this great anger
people would say: 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD
God of their fathers, which
He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt;
they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did
not know and that He had not
given to them.
the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it
every curse that is written in this
the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great
indignation, and cast them
into another land, as it is this day.'
secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are
revealed belong to us and to our
children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
1 "Now it
shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing
and the curse which I have set
before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the
LORD your God drives you,
2 "and you
return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I
command you today, you
and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have
compassion on you, and gather you
again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.
4 "If any
of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there
the LORD your God will gather
you, and from there He will bring you.
the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers
possessed, and you shall possess
it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 "And the
LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your
descendants, to love the LORD
your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on
those who hate you, who
8 "And you
will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which
I command you today.
LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the
fruit of your body, in the
increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good.
For the LORD will again rejoice over you
for good as He rejoiced over your fathers,
10 "if you
obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His
statutes which are written
in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all
your heart and with all your soul.
this commandment which I command you today, it is not too mysterious
for you, nor is it far off.
12 "It is
not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us
and bring it to us, that we may
hear it and do it?'
13 "Nor is
it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for
us and bring it to us, that we may
hear it and do it?'
the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you
may do it.
15 "See, I
have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His
ways, and to keep His
commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and
multiply; and the LORD your God will
bless you in the land which you go to possess.
17 "But if
your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and
worship other gods and
announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not
prolong your days in the land which you
cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
19 "I call
heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before
you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants
you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that
you may cling to Him, for
He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in
the land which the LORD swore to your
fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (NKJ)
FROM "WHEN THE VOW BREAKS"
EXTRACT FROM "THE CALL"
IN SPIRITUAL PRISON CAMPS
EXTRACT FROM "AFTER POLYGAMY WAS MADE A SIN
THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN POLYGAMY"
As I was led by the
Holy Spirit to research the subject of this book, I came across the
book, "After Polygamy
was made a sin, the social history of Christian Polygamy", by John
Cairncross, published by Routledge and
Kegan Paul, London, in 1974.
Various extracts of
this book are quoted verbatim below:
The idea of writing this book goes back to a
winter's day on the Paris quais, some twenty years ago,
when I discovered a rare French eighteenth-century book. It was a
defence of monogamy, and it
turned out to be dull and prolix. However, a second reading revealed
that the work was not just a
conventional moral treatise but was an attempt to counter a very real
campaign in favour of polygamy.
I tracked down the - equally rare - studies referred
to by the author. My appetite was whetted. I began
to dig deeper into this new and bizarre controversy. One discovery led
to another. A lucky find in a
London bookshop showed that Milton had secretly held pro-polygamy
views. Another buy, also in
London, brought to light the indignant attacks of B. Higgons, Gent. on
Bishop Burnet's heterodox
opinions on matrimony. A month's intensive research at the British
Museum and a delightful
professorial year at Western Reserve University in Cleveland brought in
a rich harvest, especially of
German and American material.
From all this detective work there emerged a long
but largely underground tradition of Christian
polygamy (supplemented and sometimes intertwined with a mainly French
freethinking current), which
extends from the first half of the sixteenth century to about 1800, and
indeed, in isolated areas of
Utah, to the present day.
The reconstruction of the tradition was no easy
task, precisely because it was underground.
Orthodoxy in Western Europe, or for that matter in the Christian world
as a whole, has been fiercely
opposed to polygamy in any shape or form since at least A.D. 600, and
has shown itself particularly
ruthless in suppressing the hated monster whenever it raised its head
in their own ranks. This
constant opposition explains both-why the Christian polygamists rarely
put their views into practice
and why their writings are often to be found in scarce, or
out-of-the-way editions. For the same
reason, most of the studies of the subject are fragmentary, uncritical
By going back to the original texts, I have tried to
present a less distorted picture of the tradition. The
exposition of the material in its historical sequence and perspective
has led to not a few curious
discoveries, such as the relation between Mormon polygamy in its early
stages and the private life
of the founder of that religion.
This book does not of course set out to argue the
advantages of polygamy, of which there are as
many kinds as there are of revolution. In particular, Christian
polygamy, as I have attempted to show
in Chapter 1, is very much sui generis. It is therefore pointless, in
this book and elsewhere, to talk of
polygamy as such. While I discuss the possible reasons for the
emergence of the tradition and its
eclipse, my main aim is simply to portray each of the phases of its
evolution, which are often not
causally connected but arise from the combination of certain constant
ingredients at various points
in time between 1530 and 1900.
Despite the lengthy research and analysis which went
to the making of this book, I greatly enjoyed
writing it, and only hope that it will also divert the reader.
The correct term is 'polygyny' meaning 'many
women'). 'Polygamy' literally means having man
Pages 1 to 3:
THE LORDLY FREEDOM OF MAN
On 23 July in the year of grace 1534, the northwest
German city of Munster proclaimed polygamy as
the ideal form of marriage. The event is unique in the history of
Christian Europe, and the reaction
to this announcement explains why the experiment was never repeated.
For it was greeted with
unanimous revulsion and horror.
This condemnation (both then and subsequently)
reflects a loathing for polygamy which is very deeply
rooted in western man. True, the idea of cohabiting both with a wife
and one or more mistresses has
often been tolerated and even covertly admired. But the open and legal
possession of several wives
permitted by polygamy has been strictly taboo. For most Europeans, such
a practice has always
seemed the acme of libertinage and has exercised a guilty fascination.
It conjures up visions of
voluptuous oriental harems and uninhibited caresses on sunny south sea
beaches. As Briffault points
out in his comprehensive work on marriage, The Mothers, 'there is
scarcely a feature of non-European societies which excites the same
zealous denunciation....Every other departure from
European sexual codes,
every vice even, is looked upon with lenience' in
Almost from the outset, Christianity has set its
face sternly against plural marriage. In fact, if
'polygamy was made a sin', this was the Church's doing. To quote
Briffault again, before the coming
of Christ, polygamy was universally established and practised:
The terms 'monogamy', 'bigamy', 'polygamy', in the
sense in which we use them, were unknown, and
there existed no words to indicate what they denote. The 'prohibition'
of polygyny [is not a natural,
innate inclination of humanity, but] was promulgated for the first time
in any part of the world in the
code of Justinian in the sixth century of our era.... No authenticated
instance is known outside
Christian nations of a people among whom polygyny is an object of moral
reprobation or is
condemned or forbidden by tribal custom.
Conversely, 'even today, the grounds of European
objections to polygamy are incomprehensible to
How was it possible for such an unChristian
institution to emerge in the heart of Europe? The answer
is not a simple one, but it is undoubtedly connected with the outbreak
of the Protestant Reformation
in Germany. when the great Reformer, Martin Luther, nailed his protest
against papal indulgences
to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, he started an earthquake. The
authority of the Pope and
the Catholic hierarchy in northern Germany was rapidly undermined, and
in its place was set the
Gospel, now available in the vernacular to all and sundry and no longer
a Latin text reserved for
priests and scholars. Moreover, both the Old and the New Testaments
were held to be literally
inspired and hence equally deserving of reverence. Admittedly, in the
Catholic Middle Ages the
patriarchs had been treated as the forerunners of Christ, but the
Lutherans placed them on an even
higher pedestal, Hence the polygamous proclivities of the Old Testament
fathers began to loom
larger and larger in theological discussions. And they were viewed with
considerable indulgence. If Luther rejected pleas for the
re-introduction of polygamy, this was not because he thought such
a move would be morally wrong but because he was convinced that it was
not at all expedient, since
it would be bound to discourage potential converts to the new faith.
But these discussions were merely on stream in the
flood of controversy unleashed by Luther's
defiance of clerical authority/ Far more important that the validity of
the patriarchal example was the
denunciation of monastic celibacy as the root of all sexual evil.
Reacting violently against medieval
practice, he urged all but those with a genuine vocation for chastity
to marry and propagate the
species, especially women. For the first time in Europe, the text
'Increase and multiply' resounded
with predictable regularity from the pulpit.
These doctrines were enthusiastically taken up by
the more radical Protestant sects, especially the
Anabaptists. And the men who proclaimed the Munster were of the
persuasion. Among many other
things, the sect was fiercely exclusive. Members regarded themselves as
the elect, and everyone
else, including Lutherans, as infidels. No marriage was valid unless
contracted between sectarians
and blessed by the elders. such an attitude was bound to lead to some
degree of contempt for
orthodox morals and some relaxation of the marriage bond. A marriage
within the community might
be held to be indissoluble, but this was small comfort to the
unbelieving spouse who, having refused
to follow his or her partner in joining the elect, was summarily
The factor which probably had an even greater
influence on Anabaptist morals (especially in Munster)
was the belief of the sectarians in the Second Coming of christ who
would restore all things to their
pristine purity before the Fall. Millennialism is as old as the world
and has assumed innumerable
forms. It has always, however, been the religion of the poor and the
afflicted who looked to
apocalyptic future to compensate them for their present sufferings. the
Anabaptists were drawn from
the poorer classes. They were also excessively Puritanical in their
sexual morals. these various
elements combined to produce the conviction that the begetting without
sin or lust of a certain number
of children would hasten the Coming of Christ.
Such a conception of marriage and parenthood clearly
represents a potential move towards
polygamy. Add to this the new emphasis on the Old Testament, Luther's
teaching on marriage, the
state of flux of religious belief in general, and in particular the
domination of the sectarians by
prophets receiving direct revelations from God. It will then be clear
why theories which would
ordinarily be dismissed as visionary could, given the right combination
of circumstances, personality
and leadership, produce a kind of theological mutation which was
totally unexpected at the time. Cases of plural marriage can be traced
spasmodically in central Germany during the 1520s but the
anabaptists as a whole did not subscribe to polygamy. that institution
was formally adopted by a
group only when the anabaptists took control of Munster and, even then,
only after John of Leyden
had assumed power after the death of the previous leader, Jan Matthys.
Pages 31 - 52:
BIGAMY, SIR, IS A CRIME
'If only', observes Pascal, in one of his
penetrating Pansees, 'Cleopatra's nose had been a fraction
shorter, the course of world history would have been altered.' An
equally plausible, though less
edifying supposition is that, if only Philip the Magnanimous of Hesse
had followed the current practice
of taking a concubine and not married a second wife, the Reformation
might have swept irresistibly
through the whole of Germany and possibly even central Europe as well.
As it was, the Landgrave
(to use his German title) felt impelled by his reverence for the
sacraments to mend his first marriage
by contracting a second one even while his wife was alive.
And he did so with the sanction of the Fathers of
the Reformation. 'The first paladin of German
Protestantism', notes the scholarly Rockwell in the opening page of his
book on Philip's bigamy, was,
with Luther's and Melanchthon's permission, a bigamist.' Protestant
historians have never recovered
from the shock. One of Luther's biographers denounces the step as the
greatest stain on his
reputation and indeed on the Reformation. Other writers have sought to
shift the blame to the
Philip indignantly denied that he was at fault. And
it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for him. At
the youthful age of sixteen, before he knew what he was doing, he was
railroaded into an
engagement with Christina, the daughter of Duke George of Saxony (of
the house of Meissen). She
had given him six children (some historians say seven) at the time of
his bigamous marriage.
'Nevertheless,' says Rockwell with professorial candour, 'Philip was
dissatisfied with his wife.' The
reasons for his unhappiness are not far to seek. Christina was
desperately plain. She drank and stank
and had unpleasant (if unspecified) habits. Little wonder that Philip
'never felt love or desire for her.'
His revulsion must have been intense, for he describes himself as
having a strong constitution, and
he is credited with the possession of three testicles and a
correspondingly powerful sex drive.
He stuck it out for three weeks, and thereafter
settled down to a steady diet of fornication and
adultery, seasoned with occasional bouts of homosexuality. At
assemblies of the German Princes,
he was particularly exposed to the temptations of the flesh during the
long sessions of riotous
carousing. As Philip put it to the Lutheran preachers, how could he, in
all fairness, avoid sin when he
could not always 'take a large harem along with him'?
It was not that he lacked a moral sense. He was a
God-fearing prince, well versed in the Bible. Well
enough to know that, according to Saint Paul, adulterers and
fornicators would never enter the
kingdom of heaven. So that, if he died in battle, the Devil would carry
him off to eternal damnation.
He was constantly being urged by his spiritual advisers to suppress
immorality, but how could he
punish offenders when he was himself guilty of the sin? His feeling of
guilt was such that, soon after
his marriage (in 1523), he consistently refrained from observing
communion, although he longed to
partake of it. His pangs of conscience rose to a paroxysm in 1539 when,
like so many of his illustrious
contemporaries, he had a serious attack of syphilis - obviously, he
felt, a punishment from on high
for his excesses.
His sufferings, both physical and spiritual, became
intolerable. But what was the remedy? Divorce
was out of the question, both on legal and political grounds. However,
if he could not repudiate
Christina, could he not marry another, more attractive wife, and thus
escape from the toils of Satan?
He had long and openly proclaimed his belief that it was not an offence
in God's eyes to have two
wives, and he was encouraged in this view by some of the court
preachers. His interest in bigamy
revived, and it became intense when he suddenly fell in love with a
beautiful seventeen-year-old girl
called Margarete von der Sale - a lady-in-waiting to his sister
Elizabeth (wife of Duke Henry of the
house of Dresden).
However, it takes two to make a marriage, especially
a bigamous one. Philip realized that the struggle
would be a hard one, and he prepared for it with the meticulous but
daring generalship that he
brought to his strategic campaigns. The girl, or rather her widowed
mother, Anna, had to be won
round, and Anna had very clear ideas as to what she wanted. Ambition,
reinforced by respect for
conventional morality, enabled her to put formidable pressure on the
Prince. She was not prepared
to let her daughter become Philip's concubine, or even (by a secret
bigamous marriage) to be put in
a position which suggested as much. Initially, therefore, the most that
she would concede was that
Margarete would be pre-empted for the Landgrave for three years. If
Christina died within this waiting
period, Margarete would be his. And she sweetened her semi-refusal by
permitting Philip to visit her
daughter in the family house as often as he wished.
Philip was not discouraged. Gradually he wore down
the mother's resistance. His first victory was to
obtain her agreement to a bigamous marriage if its legitimacy was
openly defended and if others were
allowed to follow the Prince's example, that is, if bigamy were made
generally and publicly
permissible. This demand was at once rejected. But Philip kept up the
pressure and in the end Anna
yielded further ground. She now accepted that the marriage be kept
secret, but she held out for the
attendance at it of state and church dignitaries. Her list of
prospective wedding guests is impressive.
It includes Johann Friedrich, the Elector of Saxony, some of Philip's
senior councillors, his wife
Christina, she herself of course, her brother, Ernst von Miltitz, and,
on the clerical side, Luther,
Melanchthon and Bucer (the three leading figures in the German
Reformation), or, at the very least,
two of them. However, in the end, she relented to some extent. If the
Elector and the Duke were
unable to attend, their delegates would do.
The Landgrave was not daunted by these exacting
terms. From Augsburg (still in 1539), he
summoned one of his most trusted agents - a certain Dr Sailer, who then
spent three months at
Philip's court. During his stay, he was induced to try to persuade
Bucer, an eminent theologian and
an old friend and adviser of the Landgrave, to act as intermediary in
the delicate task of obtaining the
support of his fellow Reformers - Luther and Melanchthon - and of the
Elector. And in November
Sailer set out for Strassburg where Bucer was then settled.
When he learned that Philip was planning to commit
bigamy, Bucer was 'utterly horrified'. He feared
the devastating effect of such 'novelties' (i.e., radical doctrines) on
the weaker brethren in the
Reformation, and hesitated to commit himself. Thereupon, Sailer played
his trump card. Was Bucer
prepared to stand by and see the Landgrave, the Captain of the
Protestant forces, make his peace
with the Catholic faction, as he would undoubtedly do if he were
refused the moral backing that he
was requesting. Rather than see the whole movement come crashing down
in ruin, Bucer accepted
the invitation to broach the question of bigamy to the Reformers.
By the end of November, he was at the Landgrave's
castle at Melsungen,
where he was treated to an uninhibited and
exhaustive confession by the Prince of all his variegated
sins, his physical sufferings and deprivations, and his obsessive Angst
about damnation. Under this
massive assault, Bucer's
last scruples crumbled. To buttress him for the
encounter with Luther, he was given a detailed brief
on Philip's request which - it was carefully underlined - was a modest
one, covering only one
additional wife. What was wanted, ran the instructions to the
Reformer,was a written testimony that
the Prince would not be committing an offence against God if he
contracted such a marriage. The
ceremony would be secret, but Luther and Melanchthon were requested 'to
spy out a way' to make
it public at some later date.
The issue was raised in general terms. Margarete's
name was never mentioned in the discussions,
and indeed Bucer was probably unaware that the Landgrave had already
made his choice of a
second wife. This silence on Philip's part has frequently been trounced
as disingenuous, both at the
time and later - as if the principle involved was of secondary
importance and the morality or otherwise
of bigamy depended on the identity of his 'fiancee' and the date of his
marriage to her. On any
reasoning, Philip's tactics were justified. He saw no ground for
bringing Margarete into the picture until
the obstacles to his union with her were removed. However, he can have
had little doubt that his
plans would succeed, for, early in November, Sailer had been instructed
to order the wine for the
wedding, and to observe the most scrupulous discretion in making the
It is doubtful if Bucer felt the same confidence as
his master. However, armed with his brief, he set
out on the journey and arrived on 9 December in Wittenberg, where he
immediately submitted the
Landgrave's suit to the other two Reformers. They were horrified. They
realized at once the
'unbounded offence' which such a bigamous marriage would cause. The
reaction among the
Protestants would be one of utter dismay, especially when it came to
the womenfolk. Bucer was
himself later to write: 'It must be most painful above all for women to
hear [of this marriage]. Of all the
thousands of pious and kindly women, there will not be a single one
whom the news will not stab to
And, if this was the effect of one marriage, there
would be a cataclysm if the example were followed
and a tidal wave of Munsterite polygamy surged across Germany. The
prospect was by no means
fanciful. Some two years later, Bucer foresaw that the publication,
with Philip's endorsement, of a
work in favour of polygamy would 'raise up a new sect of wild
fanatics'. People would imagine that
Philip's bigamy could be imitated with impunity -even, as Luther was to
put it, by the veriest
clodhopper. But it was not only from the masses that danger threatened.
Another Protestant divine
was to issue the solemn warning that many men of the highest rank
shared Philip's views and he
feared therefore 'a violent bloody war if this evil or this untimely
madness [was] imprudently fanned'.
If dissension would burst into flame within the
danger from the enemy was equally serious. In the
early 1520s, the
Pope had instructed his legate to the Diet of Worms
to represent the
Protestant doctrine as pernicious because it
And Sir Thomas More had used the same gambit in his
defence of Henry VIII against the Lutherans'
attack (in the days before he broke with Rome). Lastly and more
immediately, the Reformation might,
as already shown, be hamstrung if Philip defected to the side of the
Emperor, as he openly
threatened to do if the Reformers were obstinate in giving him their
And this approval Philip was determined to have. For
it both enabled Philip to secure Anna's consent
to the marriage, defend his action if it came to an open clash, and,
perhaps most important of all, give
him some protection against the Emperor. Bigamy had been made a capital
offence in 1532. If
therefore the marriage became public, Philip could be tried and
sentenced by his overlord. The Holy
Roman Empire might, as Voltaire put it in a famous joke, be 'neither
holy, Roman nor an Empire', but
it was still the greatest power in Europe, and Charles V, the ruling
Emperor, was the master of Spain
and the Austrian dominions, lord of the German principalities, and a
brilliant statesman and strategist.
In this delicate situation, Luther and Melanchthon
found themselves between the devil of Philip's
pressure and the deep sea of potential Protestant disintegration. For
two days, they wrestled with the
intricacies of the problem and with their consciences. And, on the
second, they set their signatures
(jointly with Bucer) to a document which is unique in European history
- the Wittenberg Deliberation. It bears the scars of the travail that
attended its birth. Much of it is taken up with an examination of
the Biblical authority for polygamy. And there is a long homily on the
virtues of chastity
which quotes the dictum of the Albanian hero,
Skanderbeg, to the effect that nothing weakens a
warrior's strength so much as indulgence.
But the nub of the matter lies in three relatively
short passages. The first, inserted by Melanchthon,
stresses the danger that (if Philip were to take a second wife) the
enemies of the Gospel would lump
the Protestants together with the polygamous Turks and wild Musterites.
The second warns against
the temptation of many of the faithful to follow Philip's example in an
age when, to a far greater extent
than nowadays, 'the acts of Princes cause[d] more of a stir than those
of their subjects'. Hence, if the
common people saw 'a Prince take another wife, they [would] claim to be
allowed similar latitude'.
However, 'if [Philip] was bent on marrying again', and they were well
aware that he was, there was
no alternative. They were being forced at gunpoint to pronounce, and
had to come off the fence.
'Bucer [was] pressing to be allowed to go back', and they could not let
him leave without an answer.
And so, they agreed, with obvious distaste, in the third and conclusive
passage that they would not
object, provided the marriage were kept strictly secret. 'And so', they
wrote, 'you have our written
testimony in case of need.'
Having overcome the first hurdle, the Landgrave's
ambassador set off on the next leg of his whirlwind
tour. On 15 December, he was received by the Elector of Saxony, Johan
Friedrich. Bucer's mission
to the prince was facilitated by the grant of the Deliberation and
possibly even more by an assurance
from Philip that he would back the Elector for Emperor if a war of
religion were to break out and the
Protestants were to defeat the Catholics, and thus be able to nominate
an Emperor of their own faith.
Even though sweetened by such assurances, the news staggered the Saxon
ruler. His reply was
studiedly cautious. It repeatedly urged the Landgrave to desist
from his plans. If, however, his resolve was
unalterable, be should observe the strictest secrecy. And
the message ended with vague and diplomatic professions of friendliness
and offers of help.
Philip himself had not been inactive. On 11 December
he obtained the consent of his wife, by
promising that her children would be sole heirs to the throne and - an
assurance that may have been
appreciated even more - that he would show her more and not less
kindness than before through
sleeping with her and through other actions befitting married people.
Having secured the approval, or at least the
complicity, of the main persons involved, he was now
ready to lay siege to Anna. After Bucer had reported on his mission,
the Landgrave despatched two
messengers to her (on 23 December) with copies of all the various
dispensations and agreements.
On 12 January 1540, the messengers returned, but without the
unequivocal reply which Philip had
expected. Anna had not only maintained her previous demands but had
actually added new ones.
She now insisted that Christina should issue an invitation to her for
the wedding. It appears that the
Landgrave ignored this proposal. But he confirmed his agreement to all
the other terms, with the
exception of the suggested invitation to Ernst von Miltitz, Anna's
brother, on the grounds that, 'as a
Papist, he was not sufficiently well versed in the Scriptures to grasp
the legitimacy of the second
For the rest, he now regarded the wedding as
certain, and, for the first time, revealed to a few chosen
councillors the identity of his 'fiancee'. His court preachers
thereupon appended their names to the
Wittenberg Deliberation, and (on 18 January) he obtained a further
clearance from his wife. Far from
being taken aback on learning of his plans for Margarete, Christina -
at least so the Landgrave alleges
- was even more agreeable to his plans than when they had been put to
her in general terms.
Everything then was ready for the ceremony. But what
of the bride herself? Hitherto Margarete had
received Philip's attentions passively, without pleasure or aversion.
She may not even have known
of his intentions, since the Landgrave had not confided in her - though
her mother had probably given
her some inkling of what was afoot. What was more, Margarete was not on
good terms with her
mother, and might not take kindly to the engagements entered into by
Anna on her behalf. Philip was
therefore afraid that, at the last moment, the girl might jettison the
understanding and try to escape
to her friends and relatives. Indeed, he had laid plans to counter any
such move by producing
Margarete's letters (however innocuous) and thus spoil her marriage
But his fears proved groundless. Margarete showed
herself happy at her fate. By mid-February, she
had moved from Dresden to her mother's estate. And on 4 March the
marriage took place at the small
town of Rothenburg an der Fulda.
Philip kept his word as to the invitations. The
Elector and the house of Meissen sent representatives,
and Bucer and Melanchthon arrived as well. Strangely enough, the
Reformers do not seem to have
been told whom Philip was marrying until they entered the church.
Philip's written instructions (also
dated 4 March) to Melander and Lening, two of his preachers, as to what
they were to tell their
colleagues do not mention Margarete, but refer to her as 'a person who
is now disposed to take me
in marriage'. The brief is also revealing as to the preoccupations
uppermost in the Landgrave's mind.
'It is vital', says the note, that the Reformers and his own
counsellors be present to bear witness that
he plans 'a marriage and not whoremongering'. The Reformers are urged
never to use the word
'concubine', since that usually refers to a whore. Philip must have a
wife whom he likes, since he
means to retain his first wife! Should Christina die, he plans to keep
his second wife as his only one,
thus returning to the monogamist fold. Hence, she cannot be 'a person
of lowly rank such as a
peasant girl'. And he concludes with a statement of what he will say if
asked by the guests about the
reasons for his marriage. It is intended 'as a medicine and remedy for
evil conduct and dissolute
living', and it will help him to lead a better and more Christian life.
The Landgrave's instructions were faithfully
followed by Melander as the wedding certificate testifies.
After paying tribute with the starched pomp of the times to 'our most
mighty, most invincible and most
gracious Emperor, Charles V,' the document records the presence of 'his
Highness, Prince and Lord
Philip, Landgrave, Count of Katzelnbogen, Diez, Ziegenhayn and Nidda,
with certain councillors of
His Highness on the one hand, and the honourable and virtuous maiden,
Margarete von der Sale,
and certain relatives on the other.'
Melander then explained that Philip wished to marry
Margarete although his Highness's first wife was
still alive. In order, however, the address continued, 'that this step
is not decreed as capricious or
frivolous and no offence be caused hereby and the good name of the said
maiden and her
honourable relatives be not jeopardized, [his Highness swears before
God] that it is motivated by
important and unavoidable considerations of conscience and body and
that it is impossible for him
to be saved unless he takes a second wife in addition to his first
one.' The marriage was a quiet one,
since 'in our times it is unusual to have two wives at the same time
... although in the present case
it is licit and Christian.' Thereupon the couple, joined in marriage by
the preacher, 'swore undying love
and troth to each other.' The following day, Melanchthon himself then
urged the Prince, as thanks for
the dispensation granted, to take better care of the Lutheran clergy
and teachers in church schools,
and to abstain from fornication, adultery and boys.
The Landgrave was so overjoyed that he took little
notice of such exhortations. Far from being
plagued with moral scruples, he was proud of his action. 'I have done
it', he said a fortnight later, with
God and a good conscience.' And on 5 April, he wrote to Luther thanking
him for the dispensation and
telling him that he had taken Easter communion 'with a merry
conscience', and would as a result be
able to further the cause of the Reformation with greater zeal. He
added the piquant detail that
Margarete had turned out to be a relative of the great theologian's
wife, and hence, to his delight, he
was Luther's brother-in-law! He was convinced of the legitimacy of his
marriage, but what answer
should he give if he were asked point blank about it? Luther replied
immediately that the bigamy
be kept secret because of the bad example it might
But it was too much to expect that all those in the
know would be
discreet. Some of them even had an interest in
provoking a scandal.
Nor did the Landgrave's friends all help. In April,
the court preacher,
Melander, was foolish enough to defend bigamy from
the pulpit. And the feverish building work on
Margarete's new residence in the country set tongues wagging. By 25
May, another court divine was
writing in anguished tones to the Prince that a 'terrible rumour' was
all over the land, and was likely
to cause widespread defections fromthe Gospel. A country parson, he
added, had even asserted that
Luther's permission to celebrate the marriage had been bought at the
cost of a cask of wine.
The tales soon reached the car of Duke Henry of
was the husband of Elizabeth, Philip's sister, and
was Margarete's mistress. Henry realized that it
would be automatically assumed that he and his wife
were a party to the marriage, and he determined to get to the bottom of
the reports. It was not hard
for him. Anna von der Sale was one of his subjects. On the last day of
May, she was fetched to court
by a posse of cavalry and forced to make full confession. The next day,
she was escorted back to her
estate together with two secretaries, and obliged to deliver up the
documents in her possession for
copying. As it happened, she surrendered only Philip's declaration to
his wife of 11 December and
a long document by Bucer, setting out his views for and against
polygamy. In the confusion, this had
been substituted for the
The story soon made the rounds of Germany and
beyond. Preachers fell to denouncing Philip for his
lapse from grace. Other reactions were of unbelieving hilarity. Had one
ever heard of anything so
silly? asked the Markgrave of Brandenburg. The Emperor himself, who had
sired children all over
Europe and then had them legitimized by the Pope, felt that it was all
a huge joke (but one that could
be turned to solid political advantage). And in France there was ribald
Gallic laughter. More serious
men were profoundly disturbed. Ferdinand, who was to succeed Charles V
as Emperor, is said to
have been deflected by the scandal from turning Protestant.
The men who had granted Philip his secret
dispensation were on tenterhooks, and hastily looked to
their defences. Luther wrote to the Elector that he had been misled by
the Landgrave. He had thought
Philip had meant to take 'only a simple girl' who would be kept in a
quiet spot out of harm's and
gossip's way. But the Prince, as it now turned out, had married a
lady-in-waiting - no less - who and
been set up in an imposing country residence. The moral issues appeared
to be of less concern to
Luther than the social ones. And indeed, to judge by his Table Talk
(1540) at the time, he saw the
only hope of salvation in the possibility that, who could say?
Margarete might soon die!
Melanchthon, for his part, tried to beat a retreat,
and delivered himself of a revised, and unfavourable,
pronouncement on the marriage. Thereupon, under the weight of the
'mounting evils' springing up
all around him, he prayed to God 'to avert the monstrous danger and
scandal', and broke down. For
days he was unable to touch food or drink, and hovered between life and
death. He only rallied when
Luther rode out to breathe confidence into him with the power of his
The Elector was equally concerned. He had only
agreed to the marriage with the utmost hesitation
and on the express condition that it was kept strictly secret. He now
sent Philip a letter full of veiled
reproaches for having caused Melanchthon's collapse - an accusation
which Philip heatedly rejected.
There was of course no question of Saxon support for the Landgrave's
position now that the bigamy
was the stock subject of conversation in Germany.
The common factor in all these reactions was an
insistence on the need to keep this gigantic skeleton
in its cupboard. Philip on the contrary was perfectly prepared to drag
it out into the light of day. From
the start (as his instructions to Bucer show), he had been eager to
have the marriage recognized by
all and sundry and not kept as a subject for snickering whispers or
open denunciation. The subtle
distinction drawn by Luther between what was right in God's eyes and
what at could be defended to
the world seemed to him the flimsiest of casuistries. He may have been
the founder of the great
university of Marburg, but he was essentially a bluff military man,
more at home on the battlefield or
with his hunting dogs than with 'the sapient sutlers of the Lord'. He
had clear, straightforward ideas,
and he stuck to them with laudable tenacity. For
him, what was right was right and he was prepared
to defend his convictions even at the cost of political eclipse. Rather
than see his marriage
questioned, he would content to retire to a house or two (doubtless for
his two establishments), and
hand over his state to his children or the Emperor.
He was not disturbed by the prospect of opposition.
'From the world', he wrote to Luther, 'we do not
count on extorting recognition of Margarete.' He felt that his position
on that score was by no means
weak. It was an age when marriage was in a state of flux. Priests had
forsworn celibacy and taken
wives to themselves on turning Lutheran, but Catholics still regarded
such unions as invalid and
sacrilegious. Other radical innovations, such as bigamy, would
naturally meet with similar
condemnation, at least to start with. But this did not make them any
less justifiable than priestly
marriages. Luther, the ex-monk, married to an ex-nun, need therefore
not be so self-righteous. And,
in the same letter just quoted, Philip, after affirming that he
considers Margarete his wife by God's
word and Luther's advice, administers a savage thrust at the Reformer:
'God grant that the world may
so regard the wives of our preachers in this and other lands.'
Nor was it merely a question of Philip's own
marriage. The relief afforded him should be granted to
others as well. To Bucer he wrote acidly that he would not dispute
whether bigamy was sinful or not,
or whether it was formerly a general usage, 'for we leave that toyou,
the learned, in your superior
wisdom'. 'But', he noted pointedly, 'if anyone falls into the same
difficulty, we would not hesitate to
countenance a similar remission in his case', though he qualified this
threat by making the marriage
conditional on the approval of the man's confessor, the state
authorities, and, if pressed, the freely
given consent of the first wife as well.
Strong in the assurance of the justice of his case,
Philip even assembled his notables (on 22 June)
at Cassel and tried to induce them to back his stand. He was
unsuccessful. His advisers were well
aware that such a course would provoke a violent intervention by the
Emperor. They therefore
suggested a more diplomatic line. The Landgrave should admit to having
a concubine, but quibble
as to the meaning of the word. The public would take it as synonymous
with a mistress, whereas
Philip would understand it in the biblical sense of an additional wife,
a helpmeet before the Lord, such
as those taken by Abraham, David and other holy men. Very reluctantly,
the Landgrave agreed, for
he had always heartily disliked the immoral associations of the word
However, the Reformers felt that even this
concession was not enough to save the situation. They
were particularly apprehensive of the danger of a general tolerance for
bigamy. Bucer repeatedly
urged the Landgrave to tell a deliberate, holy lie when asked about the
rumours, and quoted Scripture
in support of his views. Had not Abraham deceived his host when asked
about Sarah? And did not
even God Himself mislead His enemies by visions and illusions? Bucer
even suggested that Philip
should revise the marriage contract to make Margarete a concubine,
though continuing to treat her
as a wife. And he made other improving proposals, such as that Philip
sould devote less time to
hunting and other amusements and more to matters of state and to his
wife. The Landgrave, to be
fair, heeded the last suggestion, for Christina bore him three further
children after his second
marriage. But, for the rest, he was adamant. Margarete and her mother,
he wrote, would rather be
torn to pieces than incur such a dishonour:
We are willing to reply as long as it is possible in
ambiguous terms, but to say that there is no
marriage, that advice should be given to another, and
not to us. We cannot and will not lie, for lying does nobody any good,
and besides [to show that he,
too, knew his Bible] God has forbidden false witness.
The only effect of this sterile round of letters was
to cause mounting irritation all round. Philip decided
that the one hope of breaking out of the impasse was to meet round a
table and thrash out the
disagreements. And, at his request, delegates from himself and the
Elector met with Luther at the
Eisenach Conference and battled over the issue for four whole days (15
to 19 July).
Any hope of agreement soon faded. Luther upbraided
the Hessians for having revealed the details
of the marriage, which Philip's men indignantly denied. The
dispensation, Luther went on, was valid
only for the Landgrave's conscience, and ceased to have meaning if it
became known. A private Yes
signified a public No. Hence, if the news of the Deliberation leaked
out, he would deny its existence.
He did not accept the view that what was right in God's eyes was
automatically right in itself. For
instance, a child by a man other than the husband must be regarded as
the legitimate heir.
As a statesman of the church, the Reformer dwelt on
the disastrous consequences of a public
defence of bigamy. Most of the Lutheran clergy (and all the Calvinists)
were opposed root and branch
to it. If he were known to have countenanced it, however discreetly,
the Protestant church would be
rent by a schism. And, if he were to defend his action in writing, the
results would be even more
Quite apart from the purely ecclesiastical aspects
of the case, the rules of public morality could not
be flouted. If they were, the whole Empire would collapse in anarchy.
More concretely, the Emperor
would intervene, and Philip, discredited by his unorthodox marriage,
would see his army melt like
Luther therefore made no bones about calling on
Philip to tell
a good strong lie' for the sake of the church. If
the Emperor were to question him, the Landgrave
should reply that he did indeed have a concubine, and that he was
willing to send her away if all the
other princes with a similar attachment would do the same. If Philip
were really determined to publish
the Deliberation, he (Luther) would take the whole blame on himself and
admit that he had blundered,
but this was a counsel of desperation.
The Elector's men were equally forthright. The
Landgrave's action, they maintained, was against God
and public morality, and could not be defended, however close the links
between Hesse and Saxony.
Philip would have liked to have submitted his case to a General Council
of the Protestant movement
in Germany and ask the other princes to guarantee him protection until
judgment had that been given.
But the Elector was afraid, and with good reason Philip would use any
such assurance to force the
issue into the open, and thus involve the Saxons in what had every
appearance of being
a major war - and one fought on very dubious grounds.
The Landgrave, for his part, was just as
intransigent. In a letter dated 18 July to his delegates, he
expresses bitter disappointment with 'the inconstancy of Luther and the
Elector'. He realizes that
Luther is a contrary character who digs in his toes the more one
contradicts him. He therefore
counsels moderation in dealings with the Reformer.
But he himself tackles the Reformers vigorously in
some of their arguments, and to considerable
effect. He is accused of having had an affair with Margarete before he
married her. He flatly denies
the charge. He is asked why he chose Margarete and not another, as if
his love for Margarete were
the cause and not the occasion of the bigamy. He points out that he
could easily have had any other
girl from the aristocracy on the same conditions. And he agrees that he
married Margarete because
he was fond of her. But, he says, 'I see that you holy people also take
those you fancy.' Had he been
allowed to follow his inclinations in his first marriage, the whole
debacle might have been avoided.
But the central argument is the one advanced by John
'Better several wives than several whores.' He had
been repeatedly urged to desist from immorality,
but the whole point of the marriage was to enable him to stop
fornicating. Had he taken another
whore, he would have been left in peace. But, because he fell in love
with a girl and married her, he
is being bounded and deserted. How can be be pilloried for following
the example of the Patriarchs,
including the pious Abraham?
He realizes that his conduct may cause offence, but
he is not prepared to spare others' feelings at
the cost of his own salvation. 'Oh, would to God', he cries Luther,
'that you and your colleagues would
chastise such vices as adultery and drunkenness not merely in word and
speech but also in fact.'
He is horrified at the prospect of Luther revoking
the Deliberation. 'Oh God, dear Doctor Luther,' he
writes, 'what are we coming to ... when excellent people suffer a
falling off for fear of other scholars,
... and even only of the world.... If you can answer for the marriage
before God, why such fear as
regards the world?' His action was Christian, and, if the theologians
think otherwise, they should not
have lent it their moral sanction by attending the ceremony.
The most that he will promise is to maintain his
previous line of equivocation. But he will not lie. Let
them crucify him if they will. If the situation becomes intolerable, he
will publish the Deliberation and
fight for what he regards as a perfectly legitimate marriage. As for
the Elector, his delegates should
be informed that he (Philip) will no longer act as a Captain of the
Protestant cause and that they
should withdraw from all negotiations with France for a grand alliance
against the Emperor, and take
precipitate leave - pretexting urgent business at home. The break was
apearances were saved.
The Eisenach Conference marked a turning point in
Philip's relations with the Protestant movement.
He had always threatened to turn to the Emperor if his brothers in the
faith refused to stand by him.
Now they had abandoned him. In July (probably immediately after he
learned of the result of the
Conference), he drafted a plan of reconciliation; in September it was
put into effect. Negotilations
between the Landgrave's ambassadors and the Imperial Secretary dragged
on, till at last (in January
of the following year) Philip demanded a straight reply to the
proposals and obtained (on the 24th of
that month) a written pardon from the Emperor and a safe conduct to the
Imperial Diet at Regensburg
for which he set out on 1 February. In return, he made a number of
far-reaching political concessions.
Under the terms of the agreement, Philip undertook to exclude France
and any other non-German
power from the Protestant Alliance (the League of Schmalkalden). This
move decisively altered the
balance of power in Europe in favour of the Emperor - and most
historians trace the decline of
Protestantism as a political force in Europe back to this agreement.
Philip's defection was not the end of Luther's
troubles. The bigamy offered Catholic pamphleteers too
good an opportunity of ridiculing and vilifying their opponents. And a
steady stream of scurrility
poured out, attacking Philip and his Munsterite ways'. The Landgrave,
with his militant convictions,
could not resist the urge to reply. For his defence, he turned to his
specialist on polygamy, an ex-Carthusian called Lening. This preacher
had already composed more than a score of briefs on the
subject, including fifteen for the Eisenach Conference and several to
set Margarete's conscience at
ease. He is not reported as having actually put his theories into
practice, but for him monogamy was
far from monotonous. He maltreated his first wife, and then, when her
sufferings were ended, married,
at the ripe age of eighty, one of Margarete's maids.
In response to this latest appeal by Philip, Lening
surpassed himself and produced what is the first
full-scale apologia for polyamy in Europe, the Dialogus Neobuli which,
despite its Latin title, was
written in German. Philip meant to ensure that his point of view was
placed within the reach of the
literate public and not just of a learned elite!
The book is, as the title indicates, in the form of
a discussion between a supporter of plural marriage
and an opponent. It is a remarkable work. 'In spite of its involved
sentences and repetitious mode of
argument', says one critic, 'the Dialogue is written with great skill,
so as to make bigamy [or rather
polygamy] appear not only right, but, if that is admitted, attractive.'
The work is far too long to analyse. The essence of the argument is
that polygamy is not contrary to divine, natural, canonical or Imperial
law. Opposition to it has come solely from a perverted view of marriage
as something evil in itself and
a desire to be holier than God Himself. Polygamy, Lening concludes,
would alleviate the prevailing
immorality and help to drive back the Turks who were then pressing on
the south-east flank of
Europe. Polygamy was not of course to be made obligatory. It was only
for those who felt a calling,
as men in the Middle Ages had responded to a vocation for celibacy.
The book was referred to Bucer for his comments, and
he not only examined it, but 'corrected and
improved it a little', as he admitted. Indeed, as late as 1900, he was
credited with having written it.
He did, however, try to restrain the Landgrave from publishing it, but
the most that he could achieve
was that the work be distributed privately -in mid-August 1541.
For Philip's missionary zeal in the cause of
polygamy was unabated. He took the clergy to task for
faintheartedness when they remonstrated with him. 'If', he wrote to
Melanchthon, 'we, you, Luther and
others suffer death, yet there will be found people who more godly and
trusting than we who will
accept this solution which is not forbidden by God and is free and
Far from contemplating martyrdom in the cause of
polygamy, the Lutheran clergy was outraged at
Lening's book. Luther had to persuade a friend of his, Justus Menius,
to hold back a counterblast to
the Dialogue, but Luther himself castigated the author as a garrulous
fool. He also composed a
refutation of which one of the milder passages reads: 'Whoever follows
this idiot and his book and
thereupon takes more than one wedded wife, and desires his action to be
regarded as righteous -
may the devil bury him in the abyss of hell.'
But Luther in his turn was restrained by the Elector
from publishing his work. After a long
estrangement, Philip and the Reformer finally met. The discussion was
remarkably cordial, Luther
merely criticized Lening's book for having used too many arguments of
unequal force, rather than a
few really sound ones. And Philip thereupon withdrew as many copies of
the Dialogue from circulation
as he could.
Somehow, the wounds healed and the scandal died
down. An open break between the Landgrave
and the Protestant Church was avoided, and the issue of polygamy was
shelved. (The fact that Philip
soon afterwards took his troops into battle for the Protestant cause,
and suffered defeat and imprisonment at the hands of the Emperor no
doubt helped to reconcile the former hostile allies.) It was not
till well on in the seventeenth century that the Wittenberg
Deliberation and the other documents on
the bigamy were published by the great French Catholic
controversialist, Bossuet, and used to
devastating effect in his Variations of the Protestant Church (1688).
Nowadays, the whole episode leaves most readers
unmoved, if not unamused. Old Testament
polygamy has long ceased to be of interest. And Philip's bigamy is
mainly interesting as an illustration
of the eternal conflict between the crusader who puts principles above
everything else and the lets
the realist who lets practical considedrations weigh heavily in the
scales. But, if Luther
showed great statesmanlike qualities in his handling
of the affair, it is Philip who comes out of it most
creditably, if the moral issues alone are examined.
He had scored a very shrewd hit by insisting on the
revolutionary character of priestly marriage,
introduced by the Reformation. If, he asked, it should suddenly be
possible to overthrow such a firmly
established institution as the celibacy of the clergy, why should the
institution of bigamy be a priori
excluded? The only effective answer would have been that polygamy is
condemned by Christian
doctrine. This is the reply which most Protestant thinkers (such as
Calvin) have been stamped
unequivocally as a radical or a heretic. But this was a stand that
Luther and his colleagues never took
- and for very good reasons. They could not. They themselves did not
believe that polygamy was
against divine or natural law. They took their stand solely on grounds
Luther, it is true, had curious views on a number of
subjects, including sex. 'Had God consulted me,'
he wrote, 'I would have advised Him to propagate the species by
fashioning human beings out of clay,
the way Adam was created.' However, sexual activity was an essential
part of life (though sinful), like
eating and drinking. Luther even alleged that Jesus had probably
committed adultery with Mary
Magdalene and other women in order to partake fully of the nature of
But the main reason for his indulgence to polygamy
had little direct connection with sex. His attitude
stemmed from a problem that had faced the Church from the beginning -
how to defend certain acts
of the patriarchs which were of questionable morality when judged by
Christian ethics. The
Manichaeans (an early Christian sect), for example, had laid it down
that Abraham was not a
Christian since he was guilty of sensuality in his conjugal relations.
Saint Augustine immediately
sprang to his defence. Abraham, he argued, had lived more chastely with
his several wives than most
men in monogamy, and in any case polygamy in his time was the custom,
and hence no sin. Luther
took the same line. For him, Abraham was the first Christian 'and more
important than all the Popes
together'. His morals had to be stoutly defended. And so, right from
the start, Luther lays it down that
polygamy is not wrong in itself, and definitely preferable to divorce.
He was never to diverge from this
He had frequently occasion to pronounce on the
question himself Early in 1525, a pastor called
Karlstadt sponsored a request from one of his congregation for
permission to take a second wife,
since his first one was a leper. Luther replied that the man's
confessor must first give his permission.
He himself could not forbid such a marriage, but he would not advise it
either. What was permissible
must often be sacrificed for the general good. In 1526, Philip, who was
even then looking for a way
out of his marriage troubles, asked Luther whether polygamy was
permissible in principle. The reply
ran that no Christian should have more than one wife, because that
would give offence, and because
there was no positive word from God suggesting that polygamy be
revived. Heathens and Turks might
do as they pleased. True, some of the patriarchs had been polygamous,
but it was because they had
a definite reason (such as the need for progeny). A Christian, before
adopting polygamy, must first
have a calling from God. Plural marriages, therefore, were to be
rejected except in case of extreme
need. Philip did not insist, and the matter was dropped for the time
A little later, Luther admitted (contrary to the
doctrine of the Catholic church) that polygamous
converts had been admitted into the early church.
His convictions were put to the test when, in 1531
he was asked by one of Henry VIII's agents
whether that king could regard his marriage with Catherine of Aragon as
void - the annulment of his
marriage being an essential precondition of wedding Anne Boleyn and
having a male heir. Most of
the theological authorities consulted (many for interested reasons)
agreed that he could repudiate his
queen. Luther - as well as bucer and Melanchthon - took the opposite
view, and advised him to keep
Catherine but take a second wife. 'I would allow the King', wrote
Luther, 'to take another queen
in accordance with the examples of the patriarchs of
old who had two wives at the same time.'
Melanchthon was equally favourable to this course.
'Henry', he opined, 'could try to obtain a male heir
without any peril to his conscience or to anyone else's by a second
marriage.' He would not, however,
concede polygamy to all. And he added the piquant observation that the
Pope would, in his view,
accord the necessary dispensation 'as an act of love'. If such
permission were refused, Henry should
disregard the Pope's ban and take a second wife notwithstanding.
Bucer joined his voice to those of his fellow
Reformers. Bigamy, which had been practised by the
patriarchs, could not be denied to Christians in modern times. It was
in accordance with the law of
Moses and did not offend against decency.
Philip was well aware that these pronouncements
formed a very strong card in his hand. His brief to
Bucer goes over the familiar Biblical propositions from which, he was
certain, Luther could not
dissent. There were the patriarchs who walked (unreproved for their
numerous wives) with God, the
absence of a ban on polygamy in the New Testament (despite the long
list of things forbidden to new
converts), the injunction in Timothy that a bishop should have only one
wife (and hence that others
might have more). And later he was to draw the conculsion from the
situation as to the early converts.
If it is possible for a Christian to keep his many wives a man can
be a Christian and take more than one wife.'
If it makes effective play with the Reformers'
opinions on Henry VIII's submission. If that King could
be allowed a second marriage, why not he? Admittedly, Henry needed a
male heir to avoid civil war.
But he, Philip, would suffer damnation unless he was helped to put a
stop to his sins by a second
marriage. And were not spiritual matters more deserving of care than
mere worldly issues such as
the stability of the English government?
And so, when Bucerlearned of the Landgrave's
proposal, he found
it difficult to resist, not only on political, but
also on theological
grounds. The Reformer subjected himself to a long
conscience, the results of which are recorded in a
work (not published
till 1878) which sets out the arguments for polygamy
against. The nub of this exhaustive dissertation is
should be left to the individual conscience. Like
marriage, it is a remedy against fornication. Each
case must be judged according to its need, and, for Bucer, there was
little doubt, in the light of
Philip's sad tale of spiritual and physical woes, that the Landgrave's
need was real and justified.
Luther and Melanchthon were equally vulnerable to
Philip's theological arguments. They were in the
dilemma where the poor heart would fain deny but dare not. The agonies
stemming from their
hesitation are visible at almost every turn in the Wittenberg
Deliberation. The document agrees that
polygamy (though inferior to the ideal of monogamy laid down in the
Bible) was allowed under the
Mosaic Law, and was not forbidden in the New Testament. It is
permissible in the case of a man with
a leper wife or of a captive who badly needs to be looked after.
Provided that the approval of the
confessor is forthcoming, therefore, a dispensation may also be given
in cases of extreme need. But
all this does not alter the rule of outward life, and there can be no
question of a general introduction
of bigamy. Hence, to avoid offence, the dispensation in Philip's case
must be secret.
Small wonder that Luther found it difficult to
defend his position at the Eisenach Conference. All he
could muster by way of theological argument was that his earlier
writings should not be regarded as
infallible, and that he was learning every day. Who could say what he
would change next in his
theories? Paul had said: 'Let every man have his own wife', and there
were no examples of polygamy
in the New Testament. Luther was usually more cogent than this.
The truth is that the Deliberation was taken on
political, not doctrinal grounds, and Luther knew it. The
same considerations had prevailed when he advised Henry VIII to take
another wife (though his
horror of divorce was genuine enough). That approval, as he was later
to put it, was accorded
because bigamy was more tolerable than a situation in which both
country and people would be torn
asunder in civil war. Luther was at that point in time not so concerned
about the possible extension
of bigamy to the lower orders. The Munsterite rebellion lay in in the
future. And besides, England was
a foreign country, and a Catholic one at that (since Henry had not yet
broken with the Pope), so that
there was no danger of the King going over to the other side.
For Bucer, political considerations - those of
status in particular - were just as important as for Luther.
Latitude for bigamy, he wrote, 'as the Scriptures show, is accorded
more generously to Kings than
to others ... and hence should be refused least of all to great lords'.
The decision was political, too, in Philip's case.
If he were not given his way, he would defect to the
Emperor and work against the Reformation. 'It was', said Luther, 'an
emergency that could only be
patched up with the help of Moses [i.e., of the Mosaic law]'. But the
threat was a serious one only
because of the Landgrave's power and rank. Luther was far less
forthcoming to the anonymous but
humble petitioner of 1525 afflicted with a leper wife. Conversely, he
was shocked to learn that Philip
had committed bigamy with
lady-in-waiting and not a simple peasant girl.
There is no need to veil one's face at the
Reformer's recognition of the power of social hierarchy in
the sixteenth century. He was merely taking account, as any statesman
should, of the dominant
forces at work. In particular, he dreaded the impact of a bigamous
marriage contracted by someone
of Philip's standing. 'The actions of princes', quoted the Deliberation
rightly, 'cause more of a stir than
those of private persons.' Others, down to 'the veriest clodhopper',
would seek to copy such a
prestigious example. There is no mystery as to the ideas guiding
Luther's policy in the whole affair.
He was obsessed by the danger to social stability inherent in peasant
revolts such as the risings of
the 'twenties when he had urged on the German rulers to hunt down 'the
mad dogs' and suppress the
revolt in a river of blood. And more recently (and even more
pertinently) there was the visionary
Munsterite Kingdom in which polygamy had formed a diabolical adjunct to
the wildest social
radicalism. If, as Bucer explicitly feared, popular agitation were to
find leaders in the nobles eager to
introduce polygamy, a match would be set to a powder barrel which might
blow up the whole of
Germany. And, had Bucer's nightmare been realized, the whole evolution
of European mores would
have been utterly different.