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The Bible On African Cameroun Polygyny

The Bible On African Cameroun Polygyny



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Published by Lee Tyler
An examination of African Cameroun polygyny in light of anthropology, ethnology, the Bible and the Christian community
An examination of African Cameroun polygyny in light of anthropology, ethnology, the Bible and the Christian community

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Lee Tyler on Apr 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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POLYGAMY, ECONOMY, AND CHRISTIANITY IN THE EASTERN CAMEROUN, BYWILLIAM D. REYBURN, 1958 [READINGS IN MISSIONARY ANTHROPOLOGY IIEnlarged 1978 edition edited by William A. SmalleyPublished by WilliamCarey Library]---with applications and conclusions for the women and men of Africa and America today by R. Tyler, September 1999. [Revised 2003.Cameroun is next to Nigeria]For anyone considering polygyny, it is wise toboth study it in the Scriptures,and study it in societies where it has beenpracticed for generations.On one hand-----The KaKa woman of Camerounwanted [1958] polygamy because it gave her more freedom for herself,freedom from domestic duties periodically so she could do social things thatwere important to her. If she had a co-wife, she and the co-wife could taketurns watching the kids, tending gardens, preparing meals, cleaning, fixingand making clothing. That would enable her to play and have fun with herchildren some time during the day. She could periodically take a day and visitrelatives. She could go in to town to shop without taking all the kids. Shecould go to school or to a church meeting without having to take all the kids,or worry about gardens, meals not being prepared or domestic duties notbeing done. [REYBURN p. 256]. This works if the co-wife is committed anddevoted to the family and conscientious about her responsibilities.On theother hand -----"The Christian church bases its objection to polygamy uponthe Scriptures. However, on the level where these anti-polygamous decisionsare made, it is commonly assumed that the New Testament is explicitly clearon the subject. This is not the case. The New Testament is conspicuouslyunconcerned with the subject." [REYBURN p.268]"Now it is very significant,and a point often overlooked, that there is no record of a question aboutwhether a man might, in any circumstances, take a second wife. If there hadbeen any doubt at all about whether a serious-minded Jew could haveseveral wives, we should very probably have some reference to it in theGospels of the Epistles. This would certainly have been preserved by theearly Christian communities, if the problem had ever arisen in their ownmoral life. The absence of a negative command against polygamy, in theNew Testament, is therefore significant, in exactly the opposite direction tothat which is commonly and rashly assumed. It shows that the question nolonger arose among the Jewish or Gentile communities to whom the gospelwas addressed." [Parrinder, Geoffrey: TheBible and Polygamy, S.P.C.K.:London, 1950. p.43] [REYBURN p. 268]In apostolic times polygamy was non-issue and was practiced by a significant number of people in Israel, both Jewand Gentile. "Herod had nine wives at once. . . [Polygamy's] possibility isimplied by the technical continuance of the Levirate law, [Deut. 25:5-10] andis proved by the early interpretation of 1 Ti 3, whether correct or not. Justinreproaches the Jews of his day [AD.] with having 'four or even five wives,'and marrying 'as they wish, or as many as they wish.' The evidence of the Talmud shows that in this case at least the reproach had some foundation.Polygamy was not definitely forbidden among the Jews till the time of R.Gershom (c. A.D. 1000), and then at first only for France and Germany. InSpain, Italy, and the East it persisted for some time longer, as it does still
among the Jews in Mohammedan countries>41.[Footnote: (>.(40. SeptuagintLev. 21:13 "He shall take for a wife a virgin of his own tribe.". .>41.HASTINGS DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE; p.583ff.]"Polygamy and concubinage
among the aristocracy
is attested by Josephus [
12, 186ff.; 13, 380;
1, 97.] The continued practice of levirate marriage (Yeb. 15b) evidentlyled to polygamy, which was countenanced by the school of Shammai but
notby that of Hillel
. [NIDNTT:s.v. "Marriage, adultery, bride, bridegroom"; Seealso ANF, vol. 1, p. 266;] "Rome was laden with polygamy anddisorderliness. Concubines, wives, and undisciplined children could be seenfrom the Caesars’ house down to its subjects. The ill-ordered household wasin contempt in the eyes of the Christian."[http://www.apuritansmind.com/Pastoral/McMahonElderAndDivorce.htm]Seethe History of Polygyny document at my web site listed below.Christianelders agree that during Jesus' physical and visible walk on earth, during theperiod of the Gospels and the book of Acts, the Jews practiced polygamy>24.[Footnote: >24. Trobisch; MY WIFE MADE ME..P. 23. ; Abrahams, 1., JewishLife in the Middle Ages (1917);Westermarck, E., History of Human Marriage(1901);Spencer, H., Principles of Sociology idem, Descriptive Sociology;Lay,Wilfrid, A Plea for Monogamy (1923);1986, Funk & Wagnalls NEWENCYCLOPEDIA; Tr. Maurice Hutton, in Tacitus: Dialogus,Agricola, Germania,Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914);HASTING'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, p.584. ; A Select Library of the Niceneand Post-Nicene Fathers of The Christian Church, Vol. iv; pp.289ff. A SelectLibrary of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of The Christian Church, Vol. V,p. 267.; A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of TheChristian Church, Vol. iv, p.290.; A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of The Christian Church, Vol. VIII, p. 258. ; St. Augustin: On The Trinity, p. 402.; HASTING'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, p.259, 583ff.]Unfortunately African polygyny has been perceived as an exercise of POWERrather than a Biblically acceptable form of marriage."Christianity, in its totalcondemnation of polygamy has failed to discriminate between things whichare totally different. . . . From the side of missionary science we must learnthat the case involved in this area is primarily economic and not primarilyisolated polygamy. From the side of missionary theology we need to take thefindings of such information and in true Christian identification with thehuman being involved move with our theology to his inner longings andWITH HIM communicate a gospel that speaks to the roots of his real needand show him that Christ is the ultimate answer to the POWER problem of hisheart. . . " [REYBURN p. 255]"The gregarious nature of the large polygamousfamily fits the Kaka personality, which is constantly endeavoring to expressitself in interpersonal relationships." (REYBURN p.256) "Perhaps the mostcommonly voiced reason given by people of the Cameroun for thecontinu°ation of polygamy is the desire to have numerous children. . . Whena man has been given the gift of life from his father he will be most unfaithfulto his father, if he fails to pass it on himself. Not only is there a sense of responsibility for reproduction among men, but the woman is likewise
prepared to conceive of herself as the property of a man who has paid forher reproductive rights and she is responsible to produce children as well asgardens." (REYBURN p.256)This concept of the woman as the property of theman is in direct conflict with Scripture. 1 Cor. 7:21-24 makes it clear that Jesus does not want one person to own another person. Gal. 3:26-29 and 1Peter 3:7 make it clear that in Christ, in eternal reality, males and femalesare equal spiritually, coheirs in Christ and that sexuality is significant only interms of one's service to Christ, where the female serves as mother and wife,and the male serves as father and husband. The husband is commanded tohave the divine 1 Cor 13 Love for the wife and the wife is commanded torespectfully and affectionately love her husband and children (Ephes.± 5:22-33; Titus 2:5-7; 1 Tim. 5) "¶ Do not sharply rebuke an elder, but exhort as afather, [and] the younger ones as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, theyounger as sisters in all purity. 3 ¶ Honor widows who are widows indeed." There is not one scripture that says a male may make, force or coerce awoman to obey him. There are many scriptures that say that the man is toserve the woman as a servant leader who asks her to follow him, leaving thedecision to her whether or not to follow or submit to him, if he wants to behonored in heaven (Lk. 22:23- 30)."The girl's father is more concerned toprove his long standing friendship to a man of his own age class than toarrange a compatible marriage for his daughter. To the traditional Kakafather his friendships come before the assumed conjugal compatibility of hisdaughter. He conceptualizes his daughter in terms of service and not interms of happy marriage union. It is because of this attitude, which manyyoung African girls no longer share, that such marriages become extremelypathetic." (REYBURN p.257)Rejoicing and being glad in your marriage isstated as a goal in Scripture [Pr 5:18; Ec 9:9]. We are commanded to Love, tobe affectionate, and to have sexual ecstasy in our marriages, but nothappiness. We can expect to experience joy in our marriages by the HolySpirit, not necessarily by our own efforts. Following the Lord I courted andmarried my present wife, to whom I was not attracted at first. The onlyreason I struck up a relationship with her was because I knew I was under theKing’s command to marry (1Cor 7:1,2,8,9) and I had submitted my will to His,committing myself to marrying whoever He picked for me. I knew I was to be“sparrowing about” seeking His provision of a wife, and I knew He wouldmeet this sparrow’s need to obey Him by marrying. I preferred a brown wife,but instead He gave me a lilly white Irish Canadian. I came to love her and bythe time we were engaged I passionately loved her.Tejero’ second lady wasan object of pity and compassion when he first saw her walking down thestreet. She looked so broken, so sad, so heavily burdened that he wascompassionately drawn to her. She looked as if she were in her 70s, skinnyas Auschwitz Holocaust survivor, and wearing old lady clothing, with a sadexpression stuck on her face. He parked his car ahead of her and walkedback to her. He introduced himself and gave her his name and phonenumber, telling her that he would be honored if she ever let him take her tolunch. He told her that he was a serious and committed Christian. He wished

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