The raging debate on polygamy and multiple marriages has been ongoing on the various media platforms in Ghana over the last few weeks. As a trend watcher, I chose to listen to the various sides of the argument with no intention of commenting nor drawing myself into the discourse. However, I found it needful to contribute to the engaging conversation when I watched a short clip by one purported clergy man(who himself is involved in a polygamous relationship) on one of the media talk shows boldly defending the case for polygamy and multiple marriages arguing that if one wants to live long, then one of the panaceas is to marry many spouses. In this article, I would attempt to argue from various perspectives on why this notion is flawed and should not be applauded as espoused by this clergyman.
I am doing so in my call as a fellow clergyman who has taken the sacred oath of defending the gospel at all costs and at all times. Secondly, I am responding in my capacity as a Christian media man with the responsibility of serving as a gate-keeper for all who consume contents from the airwaves so we can effectively separate the wheat from the tares. Finally, with the agenda to restoring moral vision and national development, there is the need for all hands to be put on deck to see to the realization of this vision and I dont want my hands to be left out.
POLYGAMY AND MULTIPLE MARRIAGES – WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The bible is a doctrinal, spiritual, historical and an archaeological book. Its contents are not a figment of the imaginations of the various authors but these are real-life stories and sequence of events that happened in antiquity which inspired by men were captured for our enlightenment, awareness and for our building up. The Apostle Paul ministering to the Church in Rome noted that the things that were written aforehand were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). The bible is also an honest book – it does not conceal nor hide facts hence it captures the good, the bad and the ugly with clarity and transparency not with the purpose of endorsing whatever ill has been captured but to lay the cards bare hence we need to underscore the fact that the bible is a holy book does not make a bad example contained in its contents acceptable rather it is supposed to throw light on for readers to peruse same and avoid what ought to be avoided and accept what needs to be accepted. It is in the light of this, that the bible becomes the source in tracing where polygamy and multiple marriages emanated.
The first mention of multiple marriages is captured in Genesis 4:19, where one of the descendants of Cain, Lamech took two wives – Adah and Zillah. Even though, there are speculative reasons which try to explain why Lamech chose the path of marrying multiple wives considering that from his great-grandfather Adam through to his family line, this was not the case, we can infer from his poetic treatise in Gen. 4:23-24 that kind of person Lamech was and the kind of heart he wore. It is obvious from what Lamech wrote that he was a rebellious man full of pride, arrogance and vengeful in disposition. It also implies that he was a strong willed personality who would not bend to any form of influence but would only pursue his interests even if he would have to kill to accomplish that feat.
Now it is important to recognize that all these were fall-outs from the advent of sin and its disastrous consequences. Hence the effect was what I describe as the fig leaves syndrome (Gen. 3:7). The fig leaves syndrome refers to actions initiated by man in his own wisdom aimed at satisfying a condition within the scope of his logical assessment. Hence Lamech’s decision to marry two wives was the fig leaves syndrome being played out. The Apostle Paul will later explain God has given such people over to do filthy things their hearts desire and they do shameful things with each other (Rom. 1:24).
POLYGAMY – THE CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
The proponents of multiple marriages and polygamy argue from various perspectives with a key angle being culture. They argue that from time immemorial, the prevailing culture in the ancient near east permitted and allowed multiple marriages and polygamy. This stems from the argument that there were not a lot of people on the earth’s surface hence polygamy was God’s permissive stance of promoting procreation and allowing the fulfillment of the declaration – fill the earth and replenish it. However, that argument is flawed because fundamentally, God is light and there is no place of darkness in him. Secondly, God is holy hence sin in its shape and form cannot be attributed to him.
Furthermore, the arguers of the culture mantra seem to separate God from cultures but it is common knowledge that God is present in every culture as stated by Apostle Paul in his mission to Lystra and Derbe, that God has not left himself without a witness (Acts 14:17). With the understanding that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, I dare say that the “fullness” used by the Psalmist includes the cultures, values, norms and everything that coordinates and colours the earth and existence.
Indeed the fall of man also led to the fall of nature including cultures for creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice (Rom. 8:20)…in hope that it will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).
This is the reason for the gospel for through the gospel, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The word “world” as used in this passage includes the systems and patterns that undergird actions of the inhabitants of the world including their cultures. The subsequent submission will highlight the case against polygamy and multiple marriages.
WHY POLYGAMY IS NOT A PANACEA FOR LONG LIFE
- POLYGAMY IS NOT BIBLICAL
We need to unequivocally establish that polygamy is not biblical neither is it prescribed scripturally nor approved biblically. From the outset of the creation story, the picture is vividly painted that God created a monogamous relationship (Gen. 2:24). The original purpose was for every one man to marry one woman. Hence God created Adam (one man) and out of his rib, made Eve (one woman) for Adam.
God could have created many women for Adam but He made only one woman (Eve). Secondly, we need to understand that the marital relationship is a prophetic typology between God and the church. Hence anytime, the church which comprise individuals serve other gods apart from Elohim himself, his jealousy is aroused (Deut. 6:14; Ex. 23:13; Jer. 25:6).
In the days of Israel, God considered himself a husband to Israel and demanded full faithfulness and thus considered Israel’s service to other gods as adultery impliedly painting the picture that God as husband saw Israel as his bride (Is. 54:5; Hos. 2:16). In the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus Christ promoted a monogamous relationship (Matt. 19:1-8). Moreover, captured in the epistles of Paul and Peter are truths that endorse, enforce and authenticate the subject of monogamy and not polygamy (1 Cor. 7:2; Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Tim. 3:2; Ti. 1:6; 1Pt. 3:1 & 7).
- POLYGAMY IS COSTLY
Another reason polygamy should not be encouraged is the cost associated with the practice. From time immemorial, the economic, social and psychological costs that come on the practitioners of this lifestyle cannot be over emphasized. In societies and cultures where marriage ceremonies are organised lavishly, having multiple marriages mean a serious strain on one’s financial disposition. For example if marrying wife A costs x amount, there is the likelihood that the costs variables may change upwards considering the economic indicators by the time, one is marrying wife B. Additionally, the psychological and social costs associated with polygamy cannot be quantified but can be overbearing. In fact historically, many families that have emerged from polygamous relationships at the outset have had to deal with many social imbalances and anomalies. The situation has become so precarious that in an August 2021 article on BBC, the Taliban in Afghanistan has began taken steps to crack down on polygamy among its adherents and soldiers because of the economic strain such marriages are having on their financial purse.
- POLYGAMY IS DISTRACTOR AND A DETRACTOR
Another key reason for not engaging in polygamy is that polygamy is a distractor and detractor. Even though one may argue for the seeming temporary pleasure that having multiple spouses may bring to a person. It is clear that polygamy is a distraction. The scripture is replete with examples of characters who involved in polygamous relationships and eventually paid a heavy price for them. The wisdom of God had forewarned the kings of Israel not to entangle themselves with many wives lest their hearts would be turned away (Deut. 17:17). That was proven in King Solomon’s life to the extent that with all his wisdom and great understanding, his marriage to 700 wives and association with 300 concubines led him to follow the idols of the Heathen nations. For these women turned his heart away from the One true God (1 Kgs. 11:1-13).
Precious One, we need to admit that having multiple spouses predisposes a person of having a vacillating emotion, being thrown to and fro. Thus, we observe that such a person is unable to stay focused on building his or her potential but wanting to please and satisfy the desires of their spouses, are compelled to toll a line that obviously may not be acceptable, appropriate nor approved within the lenses of God’s will and purpose.
- POLYGAMY PROMOTES ENVY AND JEALOUSY
We cannot belabour the point that one of the devastating effects of polygamy is the how it promotes envy and jealousy. It is evidenced in the lives of the Patriarchs in the scripture how polygamy dealt a big blow to the blood lines. From the encounter between Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, we saw the elements of jealousy and envy to the extent that God had to come in to settle the issue by instructing Abraham to let Hagar go (Gen. 21:11-12). Additionally, the situation became murky in the lives of Jacob and his four wives plus his twelve children and the picture is clear the dagger of envy and jealousy that pierced through the fibre of this family.
Beloved, even though the bible paints a beautiful picture of the life of Jacob and the blessings he carried. But we cannot overlook the scars of the emotional breakdowns he had to manage and deal with because of his own actions, the actions of his children even to the extent that it was clear that he despised some of his children and even cursed some of them on his dying bed. Though Jacob’s home was a blessed home, it was not a loving and a happy home due to the fangs of envy and jealousy, polygamy had brought.
- POLYGAMY IS UNHEALTHY
The final reason why I think polygamy should not be seen as a panacea to long life is that polygamy is unhealthy. Beloved, polygamy is akin to having multiple sexual partners as the case is in many instances. In effect, polygamy is another form of promiscuity. Now the effects of this kind of promiscuity is that the more sexual partners one has, the greater his or her risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening conditions like prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer. It is clear the risks associated with polygamy hence the admonishing of scripture to stay true to the dictates prescribed in the scripture – one man, one wife and faithfulness. For Polygamy rather shorten a life rather than elongating it.
The purpose of this article is to bring a theological contribution to the ongoing debate seemingly approving and endorsing the concept of polygamy and multiple marriages. With the prophetic blueprint that the family line is gradually becoming an endangered species, there is the need to raise counter responses in order to clear the mist so that the values espoused for marriage and family life are not compromised even as society evolves in this post modern era.
Source: PS. KWASI ASANTE ANNOR – GENERAL MANAGER, PENT TV