The Marriage Institution: Polygamy or Monogamy
The Marriage Institution, the Holy Bible, and the Western Culture
By Julius Afolalu
- Western Civilization Defined
In her book, Western Civilization (London: Lawrence King Publishing, 2003, p. x), Margaret L. king, defined it as,
“The West is a body of ideas values, customs, and beliefs. These were forged over a period of centuries on the continent of Europe, which lay to the West of the then more advanced civilization of the East. They triumphed during the centuries of European expansion from approximately 1000 to 1900 of the Common Era, when European explorers and traders were launching expeditions to China, Africa, and eventually the Americas.”
The West is concisely a system of knowledge. It geographical boundary is unclear and undefined. But it may be assumed to be any area under the influence of the west, past or present.
The Wikipedia encyclopaedia, which last edited on 2 December 2018, at 07:21 (UTC), throws light on the meaning of our subject as follows:
“Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western hemisphere can be described as cultural Christians. The notion of ‘Europe’ and the ‘Western World’ has been intimately connected with the concept of ‘Christianity and Christendom’ many even credit the synthesis of a unified European identity to Christianity.”
Accessed Thursday, 06 December 2018
Western Culture is synonymous with Christianity or reactions to it. For example, New Age movement, humanism, evolution, and atheism, are more or less composed by people who are dissatisfied with Christianity, and want alternative worldview.
THE PROBLEM STATED
This article is intended to solve problem. It’s the problem connected with the marriage institution. We want to examine how Western Civilisation contradicted the Bible, and still insists on being entitled to the name of Christian. We shall begin with negative.
- Decline of Western Culture
Western Culture was at one time a beacon of light to the world. Missionaries founded hospitals and schools and brought the Bible and the Christian faith to the people. However, as pointed out by Dr R. Donald Howard,
“This same WESTERN CULTURE is now undergoing radical changes with dramatic impact upon virtually all its institutions. And now, WESTERN CULTURE has no doubt become a greatest curse upon the world.”
(Teen Turmoil, Arkansas: New Leaf Press, 1988, p. 11, emphasis his).
The impact of Western Culture on the world generally, and on Nigeria in particular, deserves an evaluation. In this study, we want to examine the impact of the western Culture on the marriage institution.
Cicero (106-43 BC), the Roman Orator, Lawyer, Politician and Philosopher, said: “The first bond of society is marriage.” Normally, the family provides its members with protection, companionship, security, education, and socialization. It’s the proper place for perpetuation of the human race. Therefore, any attack on the institution, strikes at the roots of the universe itself. We shall examine attacks on the institution.
- The Frequency of Divorce
.Divorce is a death of love—death of the most beautiful thing in the world. Like any death, it’s painful, and it’s a type of funeral. After we dry our tears, life continues. Yes there is life after divorce; new marriage can contracted.
However, the curse of Western Civilization is how divorce has become a routine—so much so, it’s no longer viewed as a cause for mourning. “If it doesn’t work out, I will get out of it,” is the philosophy of many. For example, in her book entitled, Growing Up Divorced, Linda Bird Francke, said:
“Remarriage has become an accepted—and even expected—ritual of American life. Some 1,300 recycled couples with children under eighteen retie the marital knot each day now, bringing the total numbers of the country’s steppopulation to 35 million numbers sharing between them 7 million children. One child out of every six now lives in a stepfamily. So common has remarriage become that it even has its own jargon. Trying to get away from the negative stereotyping of the prefix ‘step,’ which in Old English meant ‘bereaved orphan,’ such families are now called ‘blended’ or ‘reconstituted’ families. But updating the words does not make the situation easier” (New York: Fawcett Crest Book, 1984, p.174).
Furthermore, Lester Sumrall observed that,
“Hardly any family in America has not been affected by divorce. It is a problem that grips our society like an octopus, strangling the very life out of our families. Even Christian marriages are dissolving in divorce. In fact, statistics show that one out of every three new marriages will end in divorce. The problem has become a national menace” (60 Things God Said About Marriage, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1993, p. 63).
One of the fallouts of divorce is that children missed the home nurture that should derive from living with one’s natural father or mother. I wrote an article entitled, “How Daddy and Playmates Influenced My Sexuality.” It’s available on https://litnet.com/account/novels You can freely download it. That leads us to the next point.
It’s not fair to be judgment about someone else’s sexual orientation. It’s their make-up. However, have we stopped to ask the reason for increasing population of deviant sexual orientations?
Me I suggest it’s because these people possibly missed their childhood and developmental stage. In my article entitled, “How Daddy and Playmates Influenced My Sexuality,” I described how I am heterosexually oriented. You need to read that article, so that I don’t repeat myself here. If children lived in normal home setting, there is obvious likelihood that they would have balanced view about sexuality.
Rather than address the disintegrating family institution, there is movement to argue for legal status of homosexuality. For example, in the United States and other places, there was pressure to pass amendment to grant homosexual groups “rights and status,” and Bishops are in the front burner of that pressure! Or put this way: homosexual groups are demanding rights and status, and Bishops lead the crusade!
This is the dilemma of western Civilization. It’s basically Christian, but it flies in the face of its authoritative book, the Bible. Therefore, we have a Christianity that either amended the Bible or thrown it out altogether, and yet insisted on being called Christianity!
- Injustices to Polygyny Institution
Polygyny is the practice or condition of having more than one wife at one time. The Western Culture, or its synonym Christianity, puts a stamp of approval on homosexuality and lesbianism, but outlawed and criminalised polygyny—that is, made it punishable as a crime under the law. We are in a situation whereby you are free to be lesbian or gay, but polygyny is anathema: and yet they claim to practice Christianity.
The European missionaries to Africa met a culture that allows polygyny and monogamy side-by-side, subject to your economic power to maintain the wife or wives. Various stringent measures have been adopted to eradicate polygyny.
For example, some church leaders feel that if a polygamist does not put away all but his first wife, he cannot be a true Christ—he cannot be baptised, he cannot partake in Holy Communion, he cannot hold office in church, and he cannot get the benefit of burial ceremony.
That’s not all. At the gate of heaven, the polygamist shall be denied entry. A preacher once said, “I cannot give the hope of Heaven to any polygamist, who refused to make restitution.” So, Heaven is meant only for monogamists. Polygamist will go to Hellfire!
Some Christians cannot wait for the Hellfire, but called down the fire now! A Facebook post reads, “Any Unmarried Girl Dating A Married Man, Die by Fire, Say Amen!!!” And there are many people, mostly women, saying “Amen,” to that!
The Facebook source goes on to say, “Any lady dating a married man, you will not see 2019 in Jesus name. Home breaker: God punish you.” So, any of such a lady should not see 2019, which means she will die! This person doesn’t see calling death down on somebody is an act of murder!
We could laugh at such prayers except that there are many a woman that could not wait for God to do the killing, but took the law into her hands to execute her rival!
For example, a woman bathed her rival with acid, completely disfiguring her. Another took gun and shot her rival. Yet, another one poured acid on her husband’s genitals, and he died. Though she claimed, she had no intention of killing him. The sad stories go on and on, about woman who would rather kill than allow anyone to share her husband.
- Stealth Sexual Expressions
Repressed sexuality is like enclosed gas or liquid; it will always seek escape routes. Such escape routes are invariably destructive. I will cite examples.
I read this story of a pastor who impregnated a lady, and procured abortion for her. Unfortunately the lady died. The shame was too much for the pastor and he committed suicide!
It’s most unfortunate! Three people died—the pastor, the lady, and the little baby. He would have fared better, if he married the lady. At worst, they would ask him to resign his pastorate. However, he would keep his life and family.
A pastor’s wife once confessed that authorities have wives, whom they advertise as their wives. However, they have “unofficial wives,” which means girlfriends or concubines. We pretend it’s not happening, but it does.
Hotels won’t be a flourishing business if extramarital affairs are outlawed. An ex-governor is reported to have died on top of a woman in a hotel. Whereas, if he had married her, there were many won’t like to do a month’s job in a single day!
- The Celibacy Question
A high school girlfriend joined the nunnery, and she invited me to join the monk, too. The whole thing was shroud in mystery; I didn’t know much. I was just out of high school and was 18 years old.
In my innocence I said, “Look, if I become a monk, does it mean total abstinence from sex?” Knowing my sexual drive, I said, “I can’t do it.” I wanted to do sex, and let the whole world know that I do it! If God, in his good pleasure, provided me with woman, I want do the fucking real mad!
However, what I hate is to be doing it, and pretend that I am not doing it. That’s hypocrisy. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Therefore, I just told her, I am not interested in monkery. I want to marry.
The Western Civilisation has produced a substitute for the family institution, by creating a powerful organisation, whose back trail is littered all manners of sexual improprieties, to put it mildly.
Marriage tames us all. It changes us from a wild or uncultivated state to one suitable for domestic use or life. After I had live with my wife for upward of ten years, and also with my children, I learnt to be tolerant and forgiving.
By contrast, I have observed quite a good number of my celibate neighbours; they have been cruel—so wicked, that one wonders whether “service to God,’ is synonymous with cruelty to humanity!
They talk glibly of murder as though it meant nothing to them. When someone has no idea of the pains of childbirth or caring for a wife, he will be swift to shed blood. That’s why when somebody is unmarried for religious reasons; I am scared of him or her.
- Prostitution Is Civilisation!
By definition, prostitution is sex for sale! And it is based on the principle of coincidence of wants. She has what you want (sex), and you have what she wants (money). So trade by barter goes into effect. It’s pure business! “Persons prostitute themselves when they grant sexual favours to others in exchange for money, gifts, or other payment and in so doing use their bodies as commodities. In legal terms, the word prostitute refers only to those who engage overtly in such sexual-economic transactions, usually for a specified sum of money. Prostitutes may be of either sex, but throughout history, the majority have been women” (James, Jennifer. "Prostitution." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008).
Prostitution is part of Western Civilisation. In ancient Rome, where modern-day Church had its roots, prostitution was legal, public and widespread. Even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval, as long as they demonstrated self-control and moderation in the frequency and enjoyment of sex. “By the late Middle Ages, prostitution had reached a high point in Western history. Licensed brothels flourished throughout Europe, yielding enormous revenues to government officials and corrupt churchmen” (Jennifer. "Prostitution." Ibid.).
Just the Church participated in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, owning slaves themselves, the Church also ran brothel business. Priests are said to employ 1,500 prostitutes, whom they called "vagrant strumpets", who refreshed them.
Tony Bushby, The Criminal History of the Papacy - Part 2,
Published, Wed, 07/18/2007. Accessed, Thursday, 06 December 2018).
I visited brothels for evangelism purpose, and I discover many prostitutes had Bibles and justified their trade with Bible verses. I found that Christians patronise them and still go to Church for Sunday Mass. They don’t see anything wrong with this. It’s their normal lifestyle.
Prostitution exists in Nigeria, though not legalised. Sex is sold at a variety of levels: to tourists and wealthy citizens in hotels or through “private services” agencies; in the middle market through pimps in bars in inexpensive hotels, and through subtle advertisements in newspapers or websites. Even men who have little money to spend can buy sex in bars, beer parlours or street corners.
On February 12, 2007, The News magazine ran a front-page headline, “The Campus Sex Syndicates: Inside the Booming Trade.” The article goes on to say, “Want easy sex? Go to the campuses of Nigerian universities and polytechnics. From citadels of knowledge, the nation’s tertiary institutions have become red-light districts, as female undergraduates sell their bodies.”
I was on a campus one night on a visit. At the back of female hall of residence was a big tree. Under the tree was an unofficial motor park. I noticed in particular the arrival of two white men in a Jeep. Without saying a word, the waiting girls about twenty-five of them rushed at the car, hoofing one another in attempt to gain entry into a car that could contain only eight passengers! The carload was packed. And I heard the feminine voice from the waiting crowd, “If you need more, come for us!” This happened on a prestigious Nigerian university campus.
Prostitution is part of Christian Western Civilisation. This is another instance of Christianity’s paradox! What they condemn as vice at the left hand, they extoll as virtue on the other hand!
THE MARRIAGE INSTITUTION AMONG JEWS,
AND THE EASTERN CIVILIZATION
We have so far examined the decadent fruits of Western Civilisation. We shall now contrast it with the Jewish and Eastern Civilizations. The Jews have thousands of years of experimenting with acceptable ways of life. Their successes and failures are lessons for humanity. It’s unwise to throw away that learning, for a few things disagreeable about Jews. We shall now turn to some of their amiable characteristics of the Jews regarding marriage.
- Marriage Is Compulsory for Everybody,
and the Father Christmas’ Connection!
The first thing we know among the Jews and the Oriental countries is that marriage is mandatorily compulsory for everybody. James Neil, in his book entitled, Everyday Life in the Holy Land, states as follows:
“It is held to be the duty of every man and woman to marry. The Jews hold the command given at the creation of man, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,’ to be one of the 613 precepts of the Law, which makes marriage binding upon all. So fully is this duty enforced in Bible lands that a Mohammedan nobleman would, if it were necessary, call a beggar out of the street to marry his daughter rather than allow her to lead a single life.”
Could Father Christmas have anything to do with marriage? Yes, you will be surprised! We are familiar with Father Christmas, but ignorant about its connection with compulsion marriage. Father Christmas, otherwise known as Santa Claus, is depicted as a jolly old man with a white beard and a red suit who brings presents to the homes of well-behaved children on Christmas Eve and the early morning hours of Christmas Day.
Actually, Nicholas was a Greek Bishop who lived during the fourth century in the country of Myra (present-day Turkey). He inherited large riches and used them for charity. His generosity became well known in relation to the story of the noble man’s three daughters.
Having lost his entire fortune, the nobleman was left without the means of paying his daughter’s dowry. This gift was customarily given by a father to help the couple begin their marriage. Without an adequate dowry, a young woman could not find a respectable mate. Hence, one daughter decided to sell herself into slavery to provide a dowry for her sisters.
When Nicholas heard of the predicament, he secretly went to the nobleman’s house at night and threw in a bad of gold. At a later date, he tossed in a second bag. When the time came for the third daughter to be married, he tossed in a third bag. At this time, he was detected to be the secret giver! From then on, he gifts giving by unknown benefactor became a custom.
Don’t miss the gist of the story. It was in order to enable three daughters get married that Father Christmas became famous. It’s more about giving wedding gifts than of celebrating Christ’s birthday! It’s another twists in the Western Civilization!!
Can you imagine the multiplier effect, if every woman of marriageable age is under the roof of a man, married? Many sexual vices will be kept in check. There will be no need for this prayer that, “Any Unmarried Girl Dating A Married Man, Die by Fire,” for there will be no “Unmarried Girl.”
- Two Types of Marriage Among Jews
Two types of marriage existed side by side among the Jews: MONOGAMY and POLYGAMY. In other words, the nation of Israel was NOT a homogenous society of monogamists. Instead, monogamy and polygamy existed pari passu. Pari-passu describes any instance where two or more items can claim equal rights as the other. Therefore, polygamy was not an inferior type of marriage.
THE MOSAIC LAW allowed polygamy among the Hebrew people. By polygamy is here meant specifically polygyny—that is, the custom of being married to more than one wife at the same time. This contrasts with polyandry—that is, the custom of having more than one husband at a time. Polyandry WAS NOT PRACTICED IN ISRAEL. A woman can have but one husband at once, not more.
When another wife is added to the family, she is referred to indeed being wife, and the husband is said to marry her in the same way as he did his first wife (Genesis 29: 61-30). Note that Jacob worked for bride price for Laban in the case of Rachel exactly as in the case of Leah.
Equal treatment for polygamous wives is expressly provided for in the Law. “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish” (Exodus 21:10). Each of the wives shall be provided with three things:
- Her three square meals.
- Her clothing and proper housing.
- Her sexual needs.
These three acts constitute giving her ATTENTION. She must be provided for and protected.
Jacob had two wives (Leah and Rachel). His other two wives (Zilpah, and Bilhah), were the ideas of the first two wives. [Similarly, remember Abraham’s taking of a second wife (Hagar) was the idea of Sarah, his first wife]. All the four women were wives, and they birthed children that shared equal inheritances.
By contrast, Joseph had only one wife called Asenath (Genesis 41:45). He was financially buoyant to have many wives, but he chose to be monogamous. It was his choice. Other biblical monogamists include the following: Adam, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, Isaac, Manoah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel.
Monogamy and polygyny run pari passu in Jewish culture. Whether you will be monogamy or polygyny was a matter of personal choice. Only kings were admonished to keep within the bounds of reason and not have too many wives (Deut. 17:17). Under Islamic law, a man may legally have as many as four wives. This is a boundary of reasoning and worthy of recommendation.
- All the Children of Israel Are Born
of Polygamous Parents!
Israel is another name for Jacob. The nation of Israel is the children of Jacob. His twelve children were born by four mothers. The circumstances wherein Jacob acquired the four women are not the same, nor should we expect to follow the same pattern. No two situations in life are exactly the same. However, the principle remains the same. The births of the children are as follows:
- Leah bore Jacob SIX SONS: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (Genesis 29:31ff), Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah (Genesis 30:17-2.
- Rachel bore TWO SONS: Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24), and Benjamin (Genesis 35:16ff).
- Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid, bore TWO SONS: Dan, and Naphtali (Genesis 35:25).
- Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, bore TWO SONS: Gad, and Asher (Genesis 35:26).
Thus, the twelve tribes of Israel were born by FOUR WOMEN to one man Jacob. It’s perhaps for this reason, that under Islamic law, a man may legally have as many as four wives.
Leah and Rachel were highly regarded among Jews, and were held as standard worthy of emulation. When Ruth was married to Boaz, the names of Leah and Rachel were used as prayer contact-point as follows:
“All the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).
The nation of Israel was recognised as having been built by polygamous wives. And their names were used as blessing for happy marriage.
12. Why Polygamy Issue Was Never
Raised in Early Church
In the earliest stage, “Christianity” was composed of all those Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and a few proselytes. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was a devout Israelite—that is, a thoroughly dedicated practicing Jew. He lived and died a dedicated Jew. Please note carefully, JESUS WAS A JEW.
All the Twelve Apostles were Jews, “Preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19). At the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell only on Jews. In the first few years of her existence the church functioned as a movement within Judaism, consisting only of Jews and Jewish proselytes. They were all circumcised and they all observed the Law of Moses and the traditions.
The term “Christian” never appears in the Gospels, for the obvious reason that there was no Christianity during the lifetime of Jesus—only Judaism existed, in which Jesus and his family, his disciples and followers were committed. When Jesus and his disciples ministered to the Gentiles, it was going outside the statutory boundary, and received criticism from the conservative Jews.
The name “Christians” originated in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26)—a Gentile Roman city. It means “little Christs” or “christlike ones.” Rather than being a complementary name, it was a half-mocking half-jesting, wholly contemptuous nickname. In those days it was not fashionable being called a Christian. However, the disciples cashed in on the nickname and transformed it to something fashionable. Today most people are proud to be called Christians.
After the first few years, the church was dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria by the persecution of the church by the CONSERVATIVE Jewish authorities. Right from the start, the Jews were divided about Jesus: some accepted him; others rejected him. It’s the same to this day.
In AD 35, Paul converted while fanatically persecuting Christians (Acts 9). About the time of Paul’s dramatic conversion, specifically in AD 41, Peter helped Cornelius, a Roman officer, to find Christ (Acts 10). He became the first fruit of the Gentiles to Christ. He and his family were baptized and admitted into the Christian church (Acts 10:1, 44-48).
As membership of Gentiles increased in the Church, a dispute arose over whether they must observe the Law of Moses. This dispute was settled when the church council meeting, recorded in Acts 15, decided that Gentile Christians do not have to observe the Law of Moses. You will observe that throughout the New Testament there was no argument about polygamy. The reason is that the early Church was composed entirely of Jews and the proselytes.
THE EARLY CHURCH, WHICH WAS COMPOSED OF JEWS, COULD NOT OUTLAW POLYGAMY—OR ELSE, THE SITUATION WOULD BE LIKE CUTTING OFF THE BRANCH YOU ARE SITTING ON. The Scripture in nowhere condemns polygamy as sinful or equates it with adultery. Otherwise, all the children of Israel are illegitimates! NO ISRAELITE CAN CONDEMN POLYGAMY.
- Polygamous Children Are the “Owners” of Heaven!
When some of my Pastor friends said polygamists should not make Heaven, I wondered if they had read the Bible carefully. For the Bible clearly indicates that, children born of polygamy are specially favoured in Heaven. If anybody will enter heaven at all, polygamist children will top the list! Open your Bible, the book of Revelation described heaven as follows:
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:10-14, NKV).
The holy Jerusalem is “the tabernacle of God” (Revelation 21:3)—that is, it is the central locus of Heaven. It is a walled city and has twelve gates, on which were inscribed the names of “the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 21:12).
The Bible did not only mention the twelve gates, but also identified the names of the children of Israel, in whose honour the gates were named. Who are these children? The Old Testament reveals as follows:
“These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. (Ezekiel 48: 31-34).
If anyone says that polygamists are excluded from Heaven, and the names of polygamist children are inscribed on the gates of Heaven, who then is telling a lie?
- The Mystery of Marriage Hinted
The Apostle Paul wrote about “a great mystery” of husband and wife as analogous to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5: 31-32). Argument has been raised that this is one of the reasons for authenticity of monogamy over and against polygamy.
Yes, the argument is valid, but it must be balanced against the overall theme of the Bible. If polygamy were a SIN, the names of the offspring of polygamy—namely, the 12 tribes of Israel would not be in Hall of Fame in Heaven. This shows that God has plan for polygamous people.
Monogamous marriage depicts the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The term incarnation derives from late 14th century, a Latin word incarnāre. The prefix in- means “in” and carō means “flesh,” so incarnate means “in the flesh.” It is used to describe the "embodiment of God in the person of Christ," according to which he has two natures, one divine and the other human, and inseparably united in one person. J. Phillips translation succinctly puts it: “God became a human being and lived among us” (John 1: 14, Phillips).
Now let us never forget the other important arm of the truth. God is a Trinity—that is, within divine unity of the one God, there are three Persons, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: these three Persons are the one God. This also is a mystery—the mystery of how a society of Persons are one.
We shall not be far from truth if we say the Holy Trinity depicts the mystery of polygamy—one man, and his two wives. For Jacob and his two wives (Leah and Rachel, plus Bilhah and Zilpah) constitute the nation of Israel—a Holy Nation. The children of polygamy are holy children.
So, if monogamy points to the Incarnation, polygamy points to the Holy Trinity. Both truths are valid. Both types of marriage are equally valid.
- Monogamy and Polygamy Have
The troubles are not with monogamy or polygamy but with human character. I will show you two examples.
Sometime ago a man stabbed his wife to death. The parents of the deceased prosecuted the culprit, and he was sentenced to die by hanging. The real tragedy is the man was an Assistant Pastor in a prestigious Church that I will not name. Both husband and wife were monogamists. They were married in Church, and blessed with a child.
In another case, a woman poisoned her husband. She had her reason for doing so. Whatever her reason, she was the ONLY wife of the man. The man did not even have a concubine. Their marriage was blessed with five children. That did not deter the woman from killing her husband.
One major problem of polygamy is the wives are always jealous of the others. In the Bible, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and he couldn’t hide it! It was a source of strife. Elkanah had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. It was a source of strife.
Obviously, both polygamy and monogamy have their challenges. That leads us to the next point—the will of God.
- The Will of God for Individuals is Paramount
In choosing a wife or husband the paramount thing—greatest in importance or significance, is the will of God for each person. You are unique and what is good for “A” may be wrong for “B.” I won’t take a second wife just to copy someone; neither will I choose to be celibate or monogamous to copy anybody. Paul said,
“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7).
Each person should seek the will of God. Marriage or non-marriage has its challenges all right, but if you are in God’s will, it will be manageable. You can always trust God for meeting the challenges.
It’s possible to be a monogamist and still marry wrongly. The sad story of Methodist founder Revd John Wesley's marriage to Molly Vazeille is evidence that it’s possible to be a monogamist and marry the wrong person. When that happened, the Holy Wedlock will become hellish prison lock!
Please note that John Wesley was not just a Christian; he was a Pastor—a Church founder and leader. Similarly, the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) founder’s marriage was not a happy one. His wife was at cross purpose with her husband’s ministry. However, despite these bad women, the Church of God flourished.
It’s also possible to marry wrongly as a polygamist. If it’s not God’s will for you to be a polygamist, DON’T pick a second wife, let alone third. The first question is does God want me to be a polygamist? If yes, God will provide the right women that will live peacefully together as polygamous wives. However, if it’s not God’s will for you to enter into polygamy, and you do it because of your greed for women, you will meet unmanageable challenges, just as the monogamist who married the wrong man or woman.
In the final analysis, the important thing is what’s God’s will for my life—monogamy or polygamy? Once that question is answered, the next question is which man or woman is the right one for me? If you find the right one, the challenges of marriage are not just manageable, but quite interesting. For God will lead you all the way.
- The Overall Principle is Love
One of the themes in the Bible is that nobody has seen God. The Bible says, “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1John 4:20). It means you cannot practice your religion better than your conduct towards your neighbour.
The conduct for marriage is for members of the family to live together in love, and so prove their service to God. You can imagine that a Pastor of Church that murdered his wife or a wife poisoned her husband. It means love is very absent there. For the worst expression of hatred is when you took the life of a person.
Jesus even said, thinking murderous thoughts or uttering hate speech is tantamount to murder and equally reprehensible in God’s sight. If you think any man or woman is standing in your way and you want to kill him or her, remember, “Do not hold the delusion that your advancement is accomplished by crushing others,” wrote Marcus Tullius Cicero.
- The Muslims Are Successfully Implementing Polygamy
When one talk about a Christian being polygamous, some people assume it will upturn the social order. However, the fact is Muslims are getting by with it. It is projected that the population of the world will have greater number of Muslims than Christians, by sheer force of procreation.
In Islamic marital jurisprudence, under reasonable and warranted conditions, a Muslim man may have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four. Muslim women are not permitted to have more than one husband at the same time under any circumstances.
The foregoing is similar to what obtains in Yoruba culture. The Yorubas are similar to Jews in marriage culture. Both monogamy and polygamy go side by side, according to individual’s preferences.
Islamic culture and Yoruba culture have endured for millenniums and they are not collapsing. Therefore, Christianity will not collapse, if polygamy is officially recognised and practiced. This is the truth of the matter.
- Roman Government’s Persecution of the Jews
The nation of Israel has suffered religious persecutions, perhaps the worst sufferer in history of humankind. The entire nation of Israel officially extinct, and was not restored until as lately as 1948—that is, about 70 years ago. Therefore, the modern Israel is relatively a young nation. When Israel ceased being a nation, many of her customs ceased, too.
Before national cessation, Israel was a vassal of Roman Empire. “It was against Roman law for a citizen to have more than one wife.” The relationship of Roman Empire to the Jews was one of ambivalence. Israel was a polygyny enclave living within the empire. Is stated that,
“Indeed when in 212 A.D. the lex Antoniana de civitate gave the rights of Roman Citizenship to great numbers of Jews, it was found necessary to tolerate polygamy among them, even though it was against Roman law for a citizen to have more than one wife.”
Remember that I said the Roman authority was ambivalent towards the Jews. Hence, the authority ended up in outlawing polygamy. For example,
“In 285 A.D. a constitution of Diocletian and Maximian prohibited polygamy to all subjects of the empire without exception. But with the Jews, at least, the enactment failed of its effect; and in 393 A.D. a special law was issued by Theodosius to compel the Jews to relinquish this national custom.”
“Polygamy in Christianity.”
Accessed 05 December 2018).
It is evident that part of the persecution of the Jews was directed at their marriage institution. It should be understood if the polygamy tradition waned among the Jews. There was conscious effort to eradicate it, by corrupt Roman authorities.
It is interesting to note that while Roman authorities self-righteously prohibited polygamy, they tolerated every form of sexual vices. It was the custom of Romans to keep to one wife officially, but indulged in prostitution, and extra-marital affairs. Eros, in Greek mythology, is the god of love and counterpart of the Roman Cupid. Sex was elevated to status of deity and was worshipped in orgy of sex. The Western Civilization has the trappings of Roman vices.
No Alternative to Combination
of Monogamy & Polygamy
I postulate in this study that society is best managed if it allows freedom of existence of the two forms of marriage: monogamy and polygamy. It was the bedrock of the Jewish nation. Muslims have practiced for thousands of years. African nations are built upon this foundation.
I have proved now that polygamy is thoroughly biblical. THOSE WHO CONDEMN IT HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE A SATISFACTORY ALTERNATIVE FOR ORDERING A DECENT SOCIETY. Take America for example, polygamy is outlawed, but Americans have got used to divorce and remarriage—so much so, that what is in vogue can actually be described as serial monogamy. You marry this one; you get dissatisfied, you divorce her and remarry: and on and on. You are just “one-woman-sort-of man.” Taking to consideration the children from previous marriages, the new marriage is given the euphemism of “blended” or “reconstituted” families. That’s in addition to homosexuality, incest, bestiality, prostitution, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, abortions, divorce and thousands single parents.
Strangely enough while Western Civilization legalised homosexuality, it criminalized polygamy. Conversely, Nigeria criminalised homosexuality and legalised polygamy. It’s has remained an area of controversy as efforts are being made to make Nigeria change her stand.
Different From Practices of Mormons
The Latter-day Saints' practice of polygamy has been controversial, both within Western society and within the LDS Church itself. The Judeo-Christian polygamy is completely different from what obtains in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or Mormons), and its offshoots. The following are some of the differences:
- The Mormons reject the cornerstone doctrines of orthodox Christianity, namely, the Holy Trinity, Incarnation, and salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone, and by faith alone.
- Christians believe that God’s attributes are such as to make impossible the existence of another God. By contrast, Mormons have the goals of becoming Gods. They confused the transcendence and immanence of God, and they teach plurality of Gods, with a view that man is evolving into Godhood. This doctrine is destructive in its practical outworking.
- Without a Mormon husband in good standing, a Mormon woman has no hope of exaltation to the level of Goddess; nor can a man become a God without a faithful Mormon wife. Thus, marriage is obliquely tied to “salvation.”
- Christians believe that marriage partners are for this life alone, and death terminates every marriage. By contrast, Mormons believe that marriage partners sealed in a temple ceremony will be together for time and eternity, in this world and after death.
- Polygamy is uniform and mandatory for all Mormons. This contrasts with Judeo-Christian tradition, that monogamy or polygyny is optional, subject to personal preferences and economic status. Both types of marriage exists pari passu.
- There is no limit to the plurality of wives for Mormons. For example, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), who was the founding prophet of the Mormon religion, is reported to have had between 29-48 WIVES, although he publicly acknowledged only one. By contrast, it is forbidden for an Israel king “to multiply wives to himself” (Deuteronomy 17:17), let alone pastor of a Church.
- The Mormon prophets or diviners are the ones that pick marriage partners for members, regardless of personal preferences. This destroys the fundamental human rights of self-determination. Speaking on the freedom of the will, A. W. Tozer rightly said, “HOWEVER GOOD AN ACT MAY BE, IT IS NOT GOOD IF IT IS IMPOSED FROM WITHOUT.” This fact alone condemns the Mormon marriage practices.
Under the circumstances stated above, the U.S. government is CORRECT to have passed laws against the practice of plural marriage. For the Mormon polygamous practices are contrary of orderly and decent society. This article should NEVER be construed as a support for the Mormon doctrine of plural marriage.
Julius Afolalu: Tel.: +2348034429733
© Julius Afolalu December 2018.
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