Polygyny and the Church in Africa: Any Panacea Yet?
onsidering the occurrence of polygyny in the early Biblical account of human families (Genesis 4;19), polygyny in Africa could be regarded as a socio-cultural practice, old as the continent itself. And it has become a controversial issue especially in African Christianity and mission. Is there any panacea for the Church and societies in Nigeria and the rest of Africa concerning polygynous marriages, households and their relationship with others in local churches and society?
Polygyny is a type or form of plural marriage or polygamy. Polygamy is the term used to denote a marriage where there are more than two partners.
Polygyny is used where a man marries more than one wife.
Nigerian leaders, evangelists, and pastors have expressed concern about the challenges facing the church due to polygynous marriages; and ranked as the third of the six hindrances to the growth of the church in the old Plateau state (Grimley and Robinson 1966:177-178).
Polygyny is a widely recognized and socially valid form of marriage in many regions of the world: for example, in parts of India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, sub-Saharan Africa and in most of the Islamic world (Hillman 1975:12). In a sample of 540 societies around the world, 80 percent either encourage polygyny as ideal or allowed it (Kraft 1996:306).
There are challenging questions and real life situations which affect the living and dead in societies where polygyny is practiced. Church leaders and missionaries especially may not be able to make policies and decisions that would deal with all complex issues regarding polygynous relationships...