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KUNG OF BOTSWANA, AFRICA Some Anthropological and Biblical Thoughts on Biblical Christian Polygyny/polygamy. Some Keys to Successful Biblical Polygyny COPYRIGHT MAY 13, 2004 All rights reserved. by R. Tyler firstname.lastname@example.org, Elkanah21stCent@aol.com P.O.Box 620763, San Diego, CA 92162-0763 This file, in its entirety, may be posted on or copied off of computer networks like Internet or WWW by anyone so inclined AS LONG AS IT IS NOT CHANGED. In Memory of Joy Lynn Risker and Carol Lynn McIntyre Many !Kung men want more than one wife, but usually only 5% of them have successfully had more than one wife at a time. The reason the !Kung man wants a second wife is that he can have more sex, resulting in more children, and the new wife becomes an additional food provider for his family. He also gains more recognition and status in the community, more social and political influence and privilege with new relatives and their influence. The ! Kung male usually does not try to acquire a second wife unless he has been successful provider and all is going well with his family. [<N>P. 151]. Please note that in all of the Bible's commands to marry, never is it a prerequisite that the man commanded to marry must have what is commonly esteemed to be adequate resources. ***Ex 22:16 * And if a man seduce a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall certainly endow her, to be his wife. ***Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel, a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found, 29 * then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he hath humbled her; he may not put her away all his days. ***1Cor 7:2 but because of cases of immorality every man should be having his own woman, . . . . . 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the bereft/widows, 'It is good for them that they remain even as I. 9. But if they are not having control over themselves [by abstaining from sex sin], they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn There is no requirement that he have the financial resources before he can claim her as his wife. Even if he doesn't have the 50 shekels at the time, it stands against him as a legitimate debt until paid. The believing community has the responsibility to make sure that these members of their community obey these commands, even if it means financial and material help (2 Cor 8 & 9).
Most !Kung men only dream about polygyny, especially if it involves two young wives. Since the !Kung women have the right to leave a marriage whenever they want, the burden is on the man to carefully and prudently manage the marriage. Food, possessions, attention and sexual favors must be manifested with a minimum of favoritism and partiality, as the Bible directs (1Ti 5:21; James 2:1-9; 3:17; Acts 10:34) . The !Kung men say that the household that has two wives in it never has peace.[<N>152ff] Social Anthropologist Paul Bohannan Ph.D, declares that "Even in societies in which polygyny is a working part of the social structure," the marriage of the polygynous husband usually is not a pleasant one. If one wife can make life miserable for a husband, two or more wives can combine their efforts to make life Hell on earth for such a husband. In primitive and tribal societies this is the price a man may have to pay to give birth to and raise his own "social security" for the last part of his life.<SA p. 108> In today's reality one co-wife's infidelity can introduce STD death into the family, so the wise husband's need to diligently meet his ladies' needs becomes a matter of life and death for all the adults in the family. Nisa was in her fifties and is of the !Kung San, of Botswana, on the northren fringe of Africa's Kalahari desert, during the 1970s. !Kung women like Nisa are very independent and enjoy almost as many privileges, rights, prestige and power as !Kung men. The !Kung wife cannot be ignored when the !Kung husband wants more than one wife. The vast majority of the women don't want to be invovled in polygyny, and respond with strong negative emotions when their husbands bring up the subject. If the husband does take a second wife, it is usually a younger and unmarried sister of his wife, or the wife of a deceased brother. [<N>P. 151] The reason a younger !Kung sister is often chosen is because the two sisters have already learned how to get along and work together effectively. Sometimes the sisters love each other so much they encourage the husband to take them both as co-wives. [<N>P. 152] In Biblical Christian polygyny, one should not marry his wife's sister because of the priority Jesus puts on blood relations maintaining good and supportive relationships. In the Genesis 30 relationship between the sisters, Rachel and Leah, it is clearly seen how being married to the same man poisoned their relationship. Later Jesus legislated that a man should not marry a woman and her sister. Marrying a woman and her sister became a part of what the New Testament calls fornication (Rom 1:22-32; 1Cor 5 & 6). ***Le 18:18 And thou shalt not take a wife to her
, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness beside her, during her life. In the matter of the !Kung husband marrying his brother's widow, there is powerful Judeo-Christian support. In the Old Testament, Jesus commanded
the brother of the deceased to marry the wife of the deceased: *** Deut 25: 5 * If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no son, the wife of the dead shall not marry a stranger abroad: her husband's brother [single or married] shall go in unto her, and take her to him as wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her. In the New Testament, Jesus commands a Christian brother to marry a widowed and bereft woman who is of childbearing age, and one who is not successfully abstaining from extramarital sex. ***1Cor 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to the bereft women<5503>, It is good for them that they remain even as I. 9. 9. but if they do not continue to exercise self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. ***1 Tim 5:11 But the younger <3501> bereft women <5503> you must not enrol; for as soon as they begin to chafe against the yoke of Christ, they want to marry, 12 and they incur disapproval for having broken their original vow. 13 And at the same time they also learn to be idle as they go round from house to house; and they are not only idle, but are gossips also and busybodies, speaking of things that ought not to be spoken of. 14 I will <1014> therefore that the younger<3501> [bereft women] marry, bear children, rule in domestic matters, and furnish the Adversary with no excuse for slander. It is in this situation that the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the believing woman's life makes the greatest difference. Under this command to marry the widowed/bereft woman, both the husband and the wife are called to obey and yield to the will of Jesus in this matter. The husband is called to accept the widowed/bereft woman as wife, and his wife is called to accept her as co-wife. This is a double trial and opportunity for the wife. The husband is under command to marry the widowed/bereft woman as well as to unselfishly and compassionately and wisely cherish his wife. Only the wisdom that comes from Jesus can enable a man to do that well and right. The wife comes under the command to her husband because it is her husband who is commanded to marry the bereft one, and she is under the command of King Jesus to submit herself to her husband not only in this matter but also "in everything." ***Ephes 5: 22 Wives should submit to their husbands as submitting to the Lord. 23 For a man is the Head of his wife, as the Christ is the Head of the Church--being indeed himself the Savior of his Body. 24 But as the Church submits to the Christ, so also should wives submit to their husbands in everything. TCNT Only by the miraculous enabling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit can a wife follow her husband and Jesus in this matter (John 15:5; Phil 2:13; 4:13; Heb 13:20,21). If the Jesus-believing wife rebels and fights his attempt to obey Jesus by taking the bereft one as wife, she will learn that it is not in vain that it has been given to him to bear the Sword in the family (Rom 13:1-5).
When she resists the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, that he attempts to use to persuade her to cooperate with him and Jesus, causing him grief and sorrow in his leadership (Heb 13:17), she is found to be resisting God and will be chastened with weakness, sickness or the sleep of Christian death by God (Rom 13:1-5; 1 Cor 5:3-5; 11:30-32; Heb 12). Social Anthropologist Bohannan declares that he has known and known of tribal wives "who made the initial arrangements for a congenial girl and brought her home to be her husband's new wife because they wanted the companionship and help of a good co-wife." He declares that the wisest polygynist husbands let his wife/wives have a big say in the taking of a new wife, "for no matter how much a woman likes a man, she is not likely to stay with him if she does not like his other women." If she finds herself in the midst of a congenial group of co-wives, "she may put up with a lot from a husband" and stay in the marriage. <SA p.107> It is only by the enabling and empowering of the Holy Spirit that enables the godly polygynous wife to rise above this natural and average behavior (John 15:5; Phil 2:13; 4:13; Heb 13:20,21). In Paul Bohannan's SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY (1963), he indicates that there are three critical relationships that must be right for polygyny to work: 1.) the relationship of the co-wives; 2.) the relationships of the half-siblings; and 3.) the relationships of the half-siblings with the co-wives of the family [SA p.106]. It is a wise polygynist who does everything in his power to nurture and cultivate positive and amicable relations between the co-wives. The best way to do that is to love each wife with all his heart and to the best of his ability. Of primary importance is the fact that polygynous co-wives usually are NOT jealous if they have a good, devoted, impartial, fair, and just husband, treating all his wives equably/equally in the matters "considered important by them." It is a wise polygynous husband who finds out what matters are "considered important by them", and acts accordingly. <SB p.107> The advantages of polygyny for the !Kung wife are dependable companionship, help with the chores and child care, help when illness or disability strikes the family, and the help of a potential ally when conflict with the husband arises. The success of the polygyny depends on the "strong consent" of the co-wives and the compatibility of the co-wives. Sometimes co-wives bond and become closer and more loyal than sisters. [<N>P. 152] Of secondary importance to the polygynous wives is the division of labor which supports good and effective polygyny, because the wives are aware that their burdens are lightened when shared with others committed to the family.<SB p.107> Bohanan indicated that for a polygynous family to work well there had to be
positive or at least constructive relationships between the co-wives. Expectations of wives, co-wives and husbands need to be clearly stated and understood well by all involved. There is a need for clearly understood boundaries, turf, duties and obligations to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. A wife is considered a good wife if she abides by and fulfills the "rules" of the family. [Bohannan p. 106] When polygyny works, the women develop a set of wife rules that become the norm for the family. If a wife lives up to the wife rules, she is esteemed as a good wife, usually whether or not she is liked by the other wife/wives. The relationship between the poly wives of one husband are commonly characterized by hostility, or cooperation, friendliness or a combination of these.<SB p. 106> The !Kung women declared their opposition to polygyny because in their experience it involves "sexual jealousy, rivalry," favoritism, chore disputes and conflicts over duties and responsibilities. This is in large part due to the fact that they live in such close proximity. The co-wives either share the same hut or their huts are only a few feet apart, creating a situation that is hard for them to tolerate. [<N> p.152] All of these forms of interpersonal conflict are classified by Jesus as being the natural works of the flesh/animal/natural nature of people who have chosen to live apart from Christ and will live apart from Him in Hell (Gal 5:19-21; Rom 1:22-32) Even if polygynous women are enabled and empowered by Christ to live well (Gal 5:22-25) in Christian polygyny, there is great importance for "women in polygynous societies" to each have their own kitchens, rooms and/or houses, as in the Indian aristocratic and African models. This is especially important if there are any conflicts between the co-wives, giving each a safe conflict-free zone to which she can retreat or in which she can feel safe and free of harassment. Each co-wife cooks separately, especially after she has children. The polygynous husband either eats a meal separately with each co-wife, or he eats the meal with all of them where they pot luck, with each wife preparing one or more of the parts of the gathered family's meal. <SA p. 107> Among the !Kung the first wife is given the privileges of seniority and may have authority over the second wife in the matter of chores and responsibilities. The independent !Kung woman usually will not tolerate and bossy or domineering "first wife" and leave the family. Fights and quarrels are common between co-wives, even when they are sisters.[<N> p.152] Polygynous conflict between two sisters married to the same man can destroy the sisterly bond [<N> p.153]. In contrast to this normal condition in today's polygyny, Jesus
instructs His own not to be masters over each other, not to use or exercise authority over each other, but to serve each other. ***Lk 22: 24 * There arose also a dispute among them which of them should be regarded as greatest. 25 But He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles are their masters, and those who exercise authority over them are called Benefactors. 26 * With you it is not so; but let the greatest among you be as the younger, and the leader be like him who serves. 27 For which is the greater--he who sits at table, or he who waits on him? Is it not he who sits at table? But my position among you is that of one who waits on others. WEY Senior wives are commanded to serve the younger wives by teaching the younger wives, teaching that is free of bossing, nagging, domineering etc. ***Tts 2:3 In the same way exhort aged women to let their conduct be such as becomes consecrated persons. They must not be slanderers nor enslaved to wine-drinking. They must be teachers of what is right. 4 They should school the young women to be affectionate to their husbands and to their children, to be sober-minded, pure in their lives, 5 industrious in their homes, kind, submissive to their husbands, so that the Christian teaching may not be exposed to reproach. WEY Bibliography: 1. <N> Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, by Marjorie Shostak, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1981 2. <SA> Social Anthropology, Paul Bohannan; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.; 1963 http://polyamory.meetup.com/389/ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Poly_Polygamy_Polygny_And_Jesus http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OrthodoxBiblicalMarriagePolygamy http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PolyPolygamyPolygnyNJesus http://groups.google.com/group/BiblicalChristianPolygamyPolygyny http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OrthodoxBiblicalMarriagePolygamy2 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LynnAndLossRecovery http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PolyOption4ChristiansWithSTDs/ http://community.eons.com/groups/group/women-sharing-one-man-maritally http://groups.myspace.com/BiblicalChristianPoly http://www.hi5.com/friend/group/3901734Biblical_Christian_Polygamy_Pofronthtml http://en.netlog.com/clan/PolygamyPolygynyJesus
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