An Evaluation of Polygamy Policy in the Church of the Nazarene in Africa: Africa Central Field Case Study
Reed, L. Rodney
Lilema, Chinyama, Joe
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Christians know that marriage is not an accident of history. Marriage is a gift from God and a key building block of human civilization. God instituted marriage as a concrete expression of his covenant love for humanity (oneness), as an expression of God’s own nature (life-giving and nurturing creativity) and me ans it to be a source of happiness and fulfillment (sexual and relational intimacy). In God’s wisdom and creative power, God gave humanity the capacity for a relationship between a man and a woman as intimate as any on earth can be. This article will focus on polygamy, a form of marriage where several wives share one man. The practice of polygamy is an issue across Africa. While the encroachment of Western values and styles o f living increasingly make polygamy seem out of place and a relic of Africa’s past, many Africans continue to practice polygamy and to defend it vigorously. In January o f 2010, the marriage of Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa to a third wife and the announcement of yet another fiancé and the recognition a 20th child by yet another woman not his wife nor his fiancée made international headlines and provoked lively debate across Africa. Not to be out done, in neighboring Swaziland, King Mswati III created as much controversy through the taking of a 17 year old school girl as his thirteenth wife at the annual Reed Dance Ceremony in 2005. 3 King Mswati, himself is one of 67 sons of his father King Sobuhu za II who died at the age of 82 with 70 wives and 2 10 children. 4 The Christian church has not been left out of the controversy over polygamy. Almost uniformly, the Christian church has officially opposed polygamy, b ut has taken widely divergent stands on how that op position should be implemented. This, in turn, has helped t o fuel the controversy. All this raises the questi on of what should the attitude of the African church be toward the practicing polygamist and his family.