Friends talking on the street at night

Polygamy is the family of multiple wives, kids, siblings, quarrels and I think you pretty much know the rest that is associated with it. This type of family is known to have more than one wife evident in the family, plus the multiple children that come from the marriage.

It comes in two forms, polygyny and polyandry. Polygyny is marriage between a man and more than one woman, while polyandry is marriage between one woman and multiple men.  Back in the past polygamy was a much more acceptable and popular way of marriage before Christianity came and made known that one man, one woman is the acceptable way to be married.

How polygamy started

This marital practice could be dated back to the Old Testament in the bible, that is before the coming of Christ. Then Christ came, rebuked this type of marriage, and made one man, one woman type of marriage more acceptable. Polygamy continued even after Christ had changed the way of marriage. Polygamy is still practiced in the modern era of today.

It has been in existence forever, and the fact that it was and is still a part of the African culture and traditions makes it a little bit more difficult to undoubtedly say when it started. Polygamy was in practice for a very long time back then, till Christianity came into the picture and it was seen as a taboo and slowly began phasing out. Economic factors also aided in the slow phasing out of polygamy.

Religious beliefs towards polygamy

Different religions have different views concerning polygamy as a way of marriage.

Christianity: Christianity means, living like Christ, and Christ himself condemned polygamy in the Second Testament, so automatically Christians don’t see polygamy as an acceptable type of marriage.

Islam: Islam is known to have peculiar similarities with Christianity but there are still huge differences between both religions, and for the aspect of polygamy as a type of marriage, is acceptable under the religion.

Hinduism: Under the Hindu religion, this type of marriage is accepted, but is mainly practiced in cases where the first wife doesn’t give birth to children.

Negative sides of polygamy

Antique colourised photograph of Rainandriampandry, Minister of the Interior and his family, Madagascar. 19th Century

The most negative side of polygamy is that women are treated as second-class citizens who are only good for marriage, making babies, taking care of the home, and supporting their husbands. This type of marriage was and is also associated with family disputes and quarrels, especially in families where the father is seen as a ‘weakling’.

Positive sides of polygamy

Back then when polygamy was more accepted socially, morally, and religiously, there were fewer mistresses and illegitimate children. Not that any child is considered illegitimate, but the situation surrounding their birth, considers them as illegitimate children.

This has so much emotional and psychological damage for the child, as it sometimes makes them believe that they are not as good or better off than other children. Widows were also married off to family members and outsiders sometimes, but the main aim was to prevent hard labor on both the children and their mothers.

It also prevented children from becoming orphans, and it helped reduce the spread of STDs as sexual intimacy was between married couples mainly.

Polygamy is a type of marriage, yes, and most societies see it as a taboo. But it all depends on the individuals that practice it, as they foot the bills associated with the marriage.


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