Polygamy: Simply Good Manners
In many parts of the world polygamy is simply “good manners.” Men and their families, who have the ability, take on wives as more of a social net than anything else. When you honestly stop to consider how loving such actions are, people who open their hearts and homes to another woman in need have gotten something right.
Rather than being something odd polygamy is part of the social fabric of many countries to the point where no one takes special note of it. It is simply an option for people to consider, if it makes sense, so that women can find a place to call home and a man to love. It is just another legitimate option, among many, for people to explore and, if is seems good, take advantage of.
In Africa specifically, polygamy is part of normal life. No one takes special notice of it and no one, except a few Christians, are upset about it. The only time people become concerned is when a co-wife is treated badly or unjustly but, frankly, people are just as upset when a single wife is abused too. Therefore, it is not the form of marriage that is blamed but the conduct of the people within the marriage, monogamous or polygamous, that are held individually responsible.
As African Christians, it is many times simply “good manners” for men and their wives to open their hearts and homes to their sisters in the Lord who desire to marry into an established family. If desiring a wife is a “good thing” how much more is taking care of more than one wife a “better thing.” There are many single women in indigenous churches that are faithful year in and year out to work in Sunday school, help out at church functions, and keep themselves pure in body before the Lord but yet have no husband. They desire to marry a “man of God” yet sometimes there are precious few candidates, if any, to choose from. Should not proven men of God are be able to open their hearts and homes to sisters who wish to marry? When you stop to think about it, is that not essence of Christian charity?
What about the ladies in churches who are divorced with children? The outlook for them is even bleaker. In many westernized churches, due to the teaching on divorce, such ladies become pariahs or untouchables within their congregations. Yet, they faithfully come to church and believe in Christ just like everyone else. Would it not be better for such women to be able to find a family, with a proven man who knows how to raise children, to join and become one with?
Polygamy has been so sensationalized by its ethnocentric detractors that the whole traditional institution and its proven benefits have all but been obscured. Thankfully, many indigenous cultures are starting to take a second look at plural marriage and are considering possible benefits of such traditional unions. Oddly enough, reality shows like, “Sister Wives” are even starting to demystify this type of union in the west and are beginning to show people both the blessings and challenges of such a marriage.
In conclusion, let us all open our hearts and minds towards those who simply have good manners towards one another. Let us support our brethren by allowing plural marriage to flourish where it makes sense and people desire it. It will never be for everyone, but for those to whom it makes cultural and practical sense, let it be the blessing that God intended it to be.