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Polygamy Reconsidered: African Plural Marriage
and the Christian Churches

Path: Behaviour change and sustainability African Plural Marriage Anthropology

Chapter 4) Polygamy in Society

"The custom fits well into the thinking of the people, serving many useful purposes."

These purposes are as follows:-
1) The provision for a larger number of offspring.
2) The multiplication of relationships in a community, building social cohesion and stability.
3) The ability to form alliances and build society.
4) The ability to overcome barrenness by allowing in-family adoption.
5) The defeat of loneliness, poverty and inhospitality.

In fact "since the wives, together with their children, share in all the benefits of belonging to the polygamous family, they themselves will sometimes pressure their husbands into seeking additional wives. Some women even regard it as a disgrace to be the only wife of a man."

It is pointed out that African societies cope well with widows, getting them back into families quickly and simply. "Loneliness is not an indigenous African problem."

Also, polygamy allows for a man's sexual needs to be met during pregnancy and lactation. This actually prolongs lactation and serves to lower and regulate overall fertility levels, because for women the period between births becomes longer. Adultery, prostitution and temporary concubinage rise with monogamy due to enforced abstinence during pregnancy. This behaviour increases the chances of introducing sexually transmitted diseases into monogamous families.

Finally, while in the West we use romance as a drug which propels us from attraction into marriage, african marriages build their love on the strong affection which acrues through time spent living and working together to co-operate in many activities including the rearing of children.


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Chapter 1 - The historical missionary and pastoral problem of African Polygamy
Chapter 2 - Cultural Presumptions of the West
Chapter 3 - Demography
Chapter 4 - Anthropology
Chapter 5 - Biblical texts
Chapter 6 - Theological Rationale
Appendix - On the Council of Trent



The African American Experiences is a collection of Black Studies to understand the Past, Present and Future of the People called African American!

"Wealth is to have your own Land, Language and Culture! Where is the Land of the African American? What is the Language? And, Where is the Culture of the people?"




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