The idea of a man having the right to keep multiple consensual relationships with other women whether married or not have become a very contentious issue in modern discourses. While some see it as an aberration, others see it as normal and the natural expression of men. Those of us in Africa and other areas where we understand our sociocultural ethos know that men can marry many wives as they please, provided they can take care of them.
Modernity with it’s accompanying religions especially religions that emanated from the West have preached monogamous consensual relationship frowning on any form of polygamous relationships. The decision of the African to swallow foreign religions hook, line and sinker has made them to accept most things associated with the African belief systems as bad, awkward and to some extreme extent fetish.
According to a school friend (Brakoh Okrah) sharing his views on “whether the male gender cheats or not”. He opined that In today’s world especially in modern African societies, most women have developed a cliche “My man has cheated on me” and relationships these days are seriously suffering because of the cliche ‘so you have been cheating on me! Or you cheated on me’. Which has been adopted by the female gender” in thier communication regarding the male Gender. But, the reality and truth is, do the male gender actually cheat? Mr. Brakoh Okrah quizzes. The answer to him is a “BIG NO” and he outlines some reasons to buttress his point.
Firstly, Mr Brakoh Okrah argues that, a careful study of animals on the National Geographic Channel, depicts polygamous relationships in the animals kingdom which to him is the natural order. For example the King of all animals, the Lion; one male lion sires about 8 to 10 lionesses in a lion pride. “Female lioness never fights the male Lion just because it mates with other females within the pride (Brakoh Okrah, 2023).
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VerBruggen, 2016 writing on the topic” Is Monogamy Unatural” reveals that some evolutionary biologists and psychologists argue that sexual fidelity (or monogamy) is not natural, and in fact, goes against the behaviour observed in species close to the human race such as chimpanzees, which engage in multi-partner sex.
“Among mammals, just 9 percent of species are monogamous; among primates, just 29 percent are. Humans are a diverse lot, but before Western imperialism, 83 percent of indigenous societies were polygynous, 16 percent monogamous, and 1 percent polyandrous [where women have multiple husbands] VerBruggen, 2016)”.
Looking at monogamy from a cross-cultural perspective suggests that monogamy isn’t a universal norm. Polygamy has permeated a lot of cultures and is what was seen to be the natural order. Many cultures have legal polygamy as well as prostitution and if such arrangements are acceptable some of us don’t understand why the mere notion of a man having multiple consensual relationships raise eyebrows.
In fact, most of the Patriarchs and Kings of the Hebrew Bible had multiple wives and concubines as was customary of ancient Middle Eastern cultures.The children of the concubine often had equal rights with those of the wife; for example, King Abimelech was the son of Gideon and his concubine. Later biblical figures, such as Gideon and Solomon, had concubines in addition to many childbearing wives.
Despite the nuances of issues surrounding polygamy, Godly/Holy persons that engaged in polygamy according to the Bible are Abdon, Judges 12:13-14; Abijah, 2 Chronicles 13-21; Abraham, Gen 16-1-3, Gen 25:1; Ahab, 1 kings 20:1-3; Ahaseurus, Esther 1:9, Ashur, 1 Chronicles 4:5, Belshazzar, Daniel 5:2, Ben-Hadad (who married Ahab’s wives), Caleb, 1 Chronicles 2:18-19, David (had 8wives), 1 Samuel 18:27, 25:39, 25:42, 2 Samuel 3:5, 5:13, 12:7-8, 12:24. Eliphaz, Gen 36:11-12. Elkanah, 1 Samuel 1:1-2, Esau, Gen 26:34
Ezra, 4:17-18; Gideon, Judges 8:30…and many more.
The story is the same in Islam, Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions. The worry now is, why does the modern day woman wants to change the original agenda of the Creator or the evolutionary cycles of the universe and the earth, Brakoh Okrah quizzes?
“The female gender of the human race should know and accept that, the Creator created the male gender that way and it is normal for a male gender to satisfy another female gender. They should take cue from our mothers and grandmothers and give the freedom to their men to fulfill their God given duties (Brakoh Okrah, 2023)”.
Inasmuch as I’m not against any man in any polygamous relationship, I also detest men who overtly disrespect women and don’t take very good care of them as is common among some inner cities where polygamous relationship are rife. But, for any woman to leave her relationship just because her man has satisfied another woman, “I’m sorry you don’t understand creation”, ( Brakoh Okrah, 2023).
Smith, 2016 writing on the topic “Monogamy is not” Natural” for human beings” questions “Given that 80 percent of early human societies were polygamous, why did later populations become largely monogamous?” “Science has no answer to that, apparently, although there are theories, as you might expect. One of them has to do with the “two-parent” advantage to monogamy in caring for the young (Smith, 2016)”.
Data on the origins and maintenance of socially imposed monogamy in Western Europe are reviewed indicating that post-antiquity socially imposed monogamy originated in the late Middle Ages and has been maintained by a variety of social controls and ideologies since that period, including political activities of the Christian Church, and in later periods, women and lower and middle status males.
Professor Kathleen Mulhern writing on the topic “What Religions Practice Polygamy”? states “in the United States, polygamy is most closely associated with the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormon church. Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church, had multiple wives, as did many of the other leaders. However, Smith’s marriages were mostly not relationships in which cohabitation occurred”.
There is a plethora of evidence of the existence of polygamy as a natural occurrence and not monogamy. “Take note that God approves polygamy and disapproves homosexuality but the White Man approves same sex marriage but disapproves polygamy (Brakoh Okrah, 2023)”.
Some societies have evolved and gone through a lot phases. Societies have adjusted to different situations and cycles of life. The above indicates that, some western societies were polygamous before. If for whatever reasons they’ve shifted from such a practice, they cannot compel all others to follow their pattern.
Polygamy has been practiced across ages and is still in vogue in some other communities. Most religions accept polygamy and spiritually, there is nothing wrong with a guru, master, teacher or leader of religious sect to be polygamous.
The two dominant religions (Christianity and Islam) don’t frown on polygamous relationships. The seemingly one man one wife is a western cultural imposition which has found it’s way into the Christian religion.
Women should especially those living in polygamous societies appreciate that cheating is the white man’s word which might not necessarily apply in situations where a man has an affair with another woman. Let’s cherish what we have, develop it and improve upon our social support systems which makes family life enjoyable.
No woman should leave her husband just because he is dating another woman or has had affair with other women. Monogamy is a social imposition on men and an anathema to the natural order of life.
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