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Polygamy Reconsidered: African Plural Marriage
and the Christian Churches

Path: Behaviour change and sustainability African Plural Marriage On the Council of Trent

Appendix - The Council of Trent

Here it gets bizarre. The author is in a fix. Following the Bible he believes in polygamy. But he is stuck in a religious system which was founded on ignoring the Bible and has legislated against polygamy. On November 11 1563 the Roman Catholic Council of trent said 'If anyone says that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and that it is not forbidden by any divine law, let him be anathema.'

All this appears to be fairly straightforward anti-polygamy stuff, but our intrepid author tries to say that:-
a) they weren't really considering ordinary polygamy
b) They didn't think about missions and the pastoral question
c) They were only out to get the Reformers (some of whom said polygamy was not sinful) with specific reference to Europe where it was against the custom. (They thought they would win a greater market share of believers!)
d) 'anathema' and 'divine law' were used so much by the Council of Trent that they didn't really mean anything by them.

Sadly it is a particularly unconvincing sight. Polygamy is fully compatible with Christianity and fully incompatible with Roman Catholicism, which has proved to be one of its (and the Church's) most bitter and committed enemies. Work it out for yourselves.


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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



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