5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
When the Lord God presented the newly formed creature to her parent flesh, Adam said,
"this is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Ishah (or Outman), because she was taken out of Ish, or man. Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:21-24).
Thus, Adam pronounced upon himself the sentence that was to bind them together for weal or woe, until death should dissolve the union, and set them free for ever. This was marriage. It was based upon the great fact of her formation out of man; and consisted in Adam taking her to himself with her unconstrained consent.
There was no religious ceremonial to sanctify the institution; for the Lord Himself even abstained from pronouncing the union. No human ceremony can make marriage more holy than it is in the nature of things.
Superstition has made it "a sacrament," and, inconsistently enough, denied it, though "a holy sacrament," to the very priests she has appointed to administer it. But priests and superstition have no right to meddle with the matter; they only disturb the harmony, and destroy the beauty, of God's arrangements.
A declaration in the presence of the Lord Elohim, and the consent of the woman, before religion was instituted, is the only ceremonial recorded in the case. This, I believe, is the order of things among "the friends," or nearly so; and, if all their peculiarities were as Scriptural as this, there would be but little cause of complaint against them.
Elpis Israel 2.6.
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
As to your question, we have submitted it to Dr. Thomas, who sits near at the time of writing. He says a believer in polygamy is not qualified for association with those who unite to carry out the apostles' doctrine, however much he may know of the truth. There is in polygamy, he says, too much of the flesh and too little of the spirit, for those who seek to walk in the spirit and not to fulfil the lusts of the flesh. - Editor
The Christadelphian, April 1870
(W. J. B.)-Polygamy was practised under the law, but is not enjoined. Jesus gave the Jews to understand that some liberties allowed by the law in the matter of marriage were an accommodation to Israel's obdurateness (Matt. xix. 8). The lesson of Eden, at "the beginning" of which he speaks, was one wife: and the apostolic inculcation is the same (1 Tim. iii. 2).
As a rule, they are bad men who contend for plurality of wives on Bible grounds. The question is settled for every righteous-minded brother by the command to "be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." The law of the country condemns polgamy.
This is enough, even if there were no higher grounds-which there are.
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
'...because of your pettiness, your carnalness, your fleshliness, your smallness of mind and heart, your obsession with your own comfort and satisfaction and pleasure, your inability to comprehend the true beauty and meaning of unselfish love and sacrifice -- the true meaning and purpose of life.
Bro Growcott - I Will Return To My First Husband
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
cp Marks' gospel: And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? (Mk 10: 17 - See comment from Nazareth Revisited)
( a young man of some sincerity and earnestness of character).
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Two interpretations of his question suggest themselves. Either he came with a feeling of gratified self-confidence, seeking and expecting Jesus' commendation and assurance that he was an acceptable servant of God, or else - and this seems more likely - or else he had found that an outward compliance with all the commandments had not brought him peace, that he recognized within himself that he did "lack something yet," but knew not what it was.
He may even have vaguely realized that as long as his treasure and his heart were divided between earthly and heavenly things, he could never have peace.
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Whether this answer was a surprise to the young man, or whether it was the one thing he expected and feared to hear, he could not then bring himself to face it, and he sadly went away. Jesus, in pity and love for him, remarked to his disciples, "how hard"- how, naturally speaking, impossible - "it was for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Riches - possessing more than the basic necessities - are such a snare and handicap in the way of life. They make it so hard for a man to deny himself, and take up the cross and follow Jesus in true and selfless humility.
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
HOW A CAMEL GOES THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE
The passage from the New Testament, "It is easier for a camel, &c." has perplexed many good men who have read literally. In Oriental cities, there are in the large gates small and very low apertures, called metaphorically "needles' eyes," just as we talk of windows on ship board as "bulls' eyes."
These entrances are too narrow for a camel to pass through them in the ordinary manner, even if unloaded. When a loaded camel has to pass through one of the entrances, it kneels down, its load is removed, and then it shuffles through on its knees. "Yesterday," writes Lady Duff Gordon, from Cairo, "I saw a camel go through the eye of a needle-that is, the low-arched door of an enclosure.
He must kneel and bow his head, to creep through; and thus the rich man must humble himself."
The Christadelphian, Jan 1874. p12
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
Peter drew attention to the fact that they (the disciples) were not rich but poor, and that this poverty was in a large measure voluntary: upon which he invited Jesus to state to them the advantages of their sacrifice. In this, there was a mixture of child-like simplicity with just a trace of complacency verging on vain glory. This accounts for the double nature of Christ's answer [v28-30], which deals with both aspects of Peter's attitude.
What shall we have therefore?
It was a natural thought and a natural question. The mind usually turns to oneself and one's own welfare in relation to any circumstance that confronts them. Jesus' mind was filled with selfless pity for the young man who was turning his back on God's greatest treasure because he had the misfortune of being rich, but Peter's mind turned to a comparison with himself, and what he was going to get.
Jesus' reply is Divine and beautiful. First is the warm and comforting assurance that this faithful little band who had left all and followed him would sit on twelve thrones with him in his Kingdom. And he broadens the promise to include all, in whatever age and circumstance they may be, who forsake all worldly things for him. Then he adds, in gentle spirit rebuke of Peter's question, and gentle instruction in the more excellent way-
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The regeneration also styled the Times of Restitution Acts 3: 21
First, Jesus deals with the sincere aspect. He tells the disciples frankly that the counterpart of their fellowship with him in the day of his contempt would be a participation in his power and glory, when he should sit upon his throne in the day of restitution.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But He adds a statement that suggests a qualification...
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
The mere giving up of worldly advantage for His sake would not ensure final acceptance with God unless the act were performed and accompanied with an acceptable spirit of modesty and self-abasement.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30
Pray fervently to God that your MOTIVES may be right. Pray earnestly for His help to search your own heart and make it right. We may spend a busy lifetime doing great things for God and the Truth and His people, and get paeans of ego-building praise from everyone--except God. This is why "many that are first shall be last."
If our motives are tinged with self and pride and gratification of the flesh, then all our life's labours are less than worthless: worse than doing nothing at all, for it puts us deeper into the flesh than ever. Help must come from above.
The flesh is so deceptive that unguided man cannot discern his own motives, let alone correct them. A truly humble Bible student with spiritual discernment, is embarrassed by praise. It makes him acutely uncomfortable, for he realises how pitifully puny his highest "accomplishments" are. If we enjoy praise, we are in danger. If we seek praise, we are practically hopeless. If we cannot be happy without praise, we are just about a basket case, spiritually.
But there is always hope, if we study the Word continuously, and continuously seek God's help at self-analysis and self-searching. However, it will take a major and spiritual growing up, like getting rid of fat after a lifetime of babyish self-indulgence.