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Confusion in churches as more Christian men take to polygamy in cross breed of cultures

Anthony Iwuoma

There is a new trend whereby many Christian men, even among the clergy are gradually embracing polygamy. This is despite the fact that Jesus Christ made it clear that those that married more than one wife were in breach of God’s original design for man.

Right from time, man has been randy and uses every available opportunity to fish for reasons he indulges in multiple relationships.

However, if you thought the hoopla generated by Yul Edochie taking a second wife is over, you would be mistaken. In the case of the ace Nollywood actor, he welcomed a child he sired outside his marriage with actress Judy Austin Muoghalu via a post: “It’s time for the world to meet my son. His name is STAR DIKE MUNACHIMSO YUL-EDOCHIE….Born by my second wife @judyaustin1 And I love him so much, just as much as I love my other children.”

Until then, nobody heard of Yul having a second wife. However, his foray into the polygamous turf raked much dust and sort of set two prominent Nigerians on a collision path.

Self-acclaimed pastor and ex-aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, supported polygamy, saying it is not a sin for any interested Nigerian man to marry many wives, even though he is married to one wife himself.

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Omokri tweeted: “In my opinion, @YulEdochie has done no wrong. “Polygamy is not a sin. God Himself gave David many wives -2 Samuel 12:18. Polygamy is only forbidden for Bishops, and elders in the church -1Timothy 3:2. Monogamy is a Western construct, not a Christian one.”

Apparently reacting to Omokri, popular Catholic cleric, Fr. Oluoma Chinenye John, challenged those claiming that polygamy is allowed in Christendom to provide scriptural references.

In a counter-post on his official Facebook page, the catholic priest stated that nopart of the bible justified polygamy, which negates God’s intended plan for man.

“On polygamy, there’s nowhere the Bible mentions it as a doctrine. There are polygamous marriages in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean the Bible sets it up as the ideal.

“The language of Gen 2:24 is monogamy: “This is why a man (singular) leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife (singular) and the two become one flesh.”

In his own view, the Senior Pastor of David Christian Centre, Lagos, and foremost relationship counsellor, Kingsley Okonkwo, said: “Everything God does has a structure. He will never go against His guidelines. Human beings had their culture at the time, God does not fix people’s culture; He starts with them where they are.

“Don’t misconstrue that culture as God’s approved way. Several fathers of old married more than one wife; that had nothing to do with God. God’s standard or structure for marriage was revealed at the beginning.

“It is not everything Abraham did that we can copy, it is not everything I do as a pastor that you can copy, Apostle Paul says ‘follow me as I follow Christ’.

“God did not teach Abraham about polygamy. He never told them to do it. So, be able to differentiate between what is God’s will from people’s acts or the culture of men… In Islam, they say it’s four wives, but for we as Christians, God’s structure is one man, one wife.”

The youthful counselor further said that God’s structure was demonstrated after He destroyed the world through flood in Noah’stime.

“Do you notice that all the animals entered and came out of Noah’s ark two by two? That is God’s structure,” he maintained.

He debunked the notion that monogamy was restricted to the clergy and elders, saying the Bible in Revelations 1:6 states clearly that God made us “kings and priests”, further arguing that if bishops were instructed to have one wife, it means they were not polygamous members before their ordination because it takes a member of a church to become a pastor, bishop or elder.

He queried: “Pastors should marry one wife and members should marry many? What do you think the church is? Every pastor was once a member. In fact, every pastor, deacon or bishop is a member of the body of Christ. How does that even makes sense?” he asked, adding that a pastor marrying one wife is an example set out for people to follow.

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The Senior Pastor of Awaiting The Second Coming Of Christ Ministry, Adewale Giwa, added a new twist to the debate, saying rather than being a sin against God, polygamy is actually a crime against humanity.

According to Giwa: “As a polygamist, you must serve God wholeheartedly, maintain justice, equity and fairness between your wives. When God created Adam and Eve, he did not tell them to sleep with each other. After the devil must have deceived Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, then their eyes were opened and sin entered the world.

“Any law that is against polygamy in the bible, originated from people not from God. A man who marries two wives without having a concubine but maintains fairness, justice and equity between them is more honourable in God’s eyes than a man who marries one wife and still sleeps around with different women.

“The way and manner in which God spoke directly to Christian saints in the Old Testaments, who married multiple wives, He is not speaking directly to the ones with “One Wife” nowadays.

“Polygamy is a crime against humanity, not against God. Our holy God does not give us the law or conditions to marry one or multiple wives,” Giwa submitted.

It does seem though that it is an entrenched belief among most Christians that polygamy is unacceptable to God. For instance, the Catholic Church and most Pentecostal churches do not approve of divorce and polygamy; likewise, they do not wed divorced men or women.

Weighing in on the debate, Pastor Amah Franklyn of Marital Nest Convention said: “The Scripture never approved of polygamy and concubinage, which is outside God’s design for creation.

“Nevertheless, in the guise of modernity, many have found suspicious grounds in the bible to sustain abhorrent and abominable beliefs, including homosexuality and lesbianism, even bestiality.  All manner of sexually deviant practices have sprung up and upheld by wonky ‘pastors’ in the name of liberty. Well, the truth of the word of God remains that polygamy is a creation of man and that was what Jesus established in Matthew 19:8. It is not as if people are being dictated to though; the obvious truth is that you can be a polygamist if you so choose but don’t say God approves of it.

“That so and so did in the bible and were not destroyed by God does not make it right.  So, it is not enough ground to justify God’s approval of such conducts. God’s approved pattern for marriage was well-established in the scriptures, as one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship exclusive of others. That pattern never varied throughout the Scriptures and Jesus affirmed this when He spoke on polygamy in the scripture already cited.

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Regardless of the arguments, it seems that polygamy still holds much appeal to men.  Strangely, it has brought in a cross breed of cultures where some Christian men defy the church and become polygamous because their native cultures approve of it.

In Delta State, for instance, The Sun reports of a community where it had become fashionable for men to marry two wives on the same day. As if to lend credence to the practice, a young farmer, did exactly that when he married two women on the same day.

According to the reports, prospective bachelors in two agrarian communities now perform marriage rites for more than one bride the same day with the consent of the families of the respective brides.

It was gathered that more than 10 grooms have performed traditional marriage rites for two women on the same day in Igbide, while there are about six in Enwhe that have equally done the same thing.

Mr. Ochuko Uloho, joined the fray in April this year when he got hooked to two women in Enwhe.

Uloho, a businessman, said though polygamy is allowed in Isoko, it was not part of the culture to marry two wives in one day, adding, however, that their tradition was not against the practice.

Though a Christian, he argued that Christianity was not against marrying more than one wife, noting that it was not a sin in the bible. He even cited king Solomon, who was polygamous and referred to a certain church General Overseer (GO) in Enwhe, who was married to four wives.

Another reason he married a second wife, he noted, was his desire to beat his father’s record. Though his father married only one wife, he said he needed to marry more to surpass him. After all, he argued, his father told him before he died to live above him.

There was also the case a 34-year-old farmer, Ekpe Akpove, who set the Internet buzzing in August last year when he married two wives, Kome and Maro, on the same day.

Akpove, a National Diploma graduate, met Kome in 2008 before Maro whom he met in 2010. His two wives had given him six children, three apiece, before he decided to  formalise the union in a grand ceremony.

A professing Christian, Akpove, like Uloho, also sees nothing wrong in a man being polygamous.

“It is not wrong to marry two wives. Look at King Solomon in the Bible; he had several wives and concubines.”

Anyway, what actually pushes men into marrying more than one wife?

Man is naturally polygamous and, perhaps, more sexual, than women, so the argument goes. Therefore, he wants as many mates as he possibly can, especially when the one at home cannot cope with his demands sexually or otherwise. That is why among those that have one wife, it is hardly you see any one that does not have side chicks. So, it is better to legalise that extra-marital relationship in marriage than continue the hide and seek game, which is both emotionally and financially draining.

There is the notion too that there are more women than men and so, some men see it as a humanitarian service to these women, who would have no suitors and remain unmarried if no man takes them on as second wives.

Added to this is the perilous time we are in as the scripture predicted. Men are now lovers of themselves and you can now see many men returning to habits they forsook long ago; one of them is polygamy.

Moreover, these days, we seem to have more professing Christians than practitioners, even among the clergy. That is why a so-called pastor would tell you there is nothing wrong with polygamy; the spirit of the last days. They quickly cite Abraham, Lamech, Jacob, David and Solomon, etc., but were these men Christians? At best, they were progenitors of Christ and lived long before Christ appearance on the earth. They had distorted God’s intention, which Christ clearly reestablished through His teachings. Why then are people still distorting the gospel message?

Although, quite ironically, some women have advocated that men should marry more wives and produce more children, especially in Southern Nigeria, citing the Muslim North that is enjoying population explosion, some argue that polygamy is part of man’s desire and design to perpetuate women’s suppression.

Mrs. Maureen Adeyinka raised some posers: “Would my husband allow polyandry and allow me to also marry another man? Why would my husband marry more women without giving me the same right to marry more men? I think we need to work it out before he would venture into polygamy.”

However, Mathias Peterson was shocked by such proposition; “Ah ah!” he screamed, “how can that be; how can I share my wife with another man? Where would she live, with me or my rival; how do we share the children? How would I know which children are mine? This is invitation to chaos; it cannot work!”

Peterson’s response justifies Pastor Okonkwo’s argument that polygamy favours men because society has a culture that subjugates women, which is contrary to the will of God.

In all this, one could deduce that the new trend is a cross breeding of cultures that is creating confusion in both the church and larger society.

For instance, Akpove clings to his Christian confession as well as his claim to the traditions of his people. Knowing that polygamy is not allowed in the church, he could not solemnise his marriage to his two wives in there and so, he sought respite in his Isoko culture, which approves of polygamy.

According to him: “I don’t see anything bad in polygamy. My pastor is aware of the scripture but you know human beings are always difficult.”