MBALE – It is now official as confirmed that retired Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has been suspended from pastoral duties over adultery. Ntagali went ahead of the allegation and confessed he was guilty as accused and asked for forgiveness from his family, from God and the church.
Verily, verily do I say unto you that the only difference between Ntagali and any of us is that our 40 days are not yet done, the majority of men are doing the same silently.
It appears Ntagali despite being a man of God had forgotten his right under the law to remain innocent and therefore had a right to deny the allegation for some time or to remain silent for some time as he ponders his approach.
The Baganda have a saying that”ogusula gukuwa empaza’ meaning that a denial would have given him a chance to find a better approach, not an outright admission which took the church by surprise. What was he trying to save, was he the first high ranking member of the society to sin, was polygamy the worst crime a religious leader could commit, could this make him appear an evil man and therefore a sinner?
Polygamy has been defined as the act of marrying multiple spouses meaning the act of having more than one husband or wife at the same time. The term is the opposite of monogamy which is the more common practice of having just one spouse at any given moment. The habit was once quite widespread across parts of the globe and is still practiced by some to this day. But in most countries, polygamy is now illegal or at the very least not officially recognized.
There are generally assumed to be three forms of polygamy: polygyny, polyandry and group marriage. Polygyny is when a man has multiple wives. Polyandry is when a woman has multiple husbands while Group marriage is a bit of a free for all where the family unit consists of a mish-mash of spouses from both sexes.
There are well documented examples of people in the bible who practiced polygamy meaning the practice was not only a preserve of Africans. According to the book of Genesis 4:19, Adah and Zillah were wives to Lamech. It is also mentioned in the book of Genesis 16:1-3 that Sarah owing to her barrenness advised her husband Abraham to marry a lady called Hagar. In Gen 11:26-29, Abraham’s brother Nahor was also a polygamist. He married Milcah and Reumah.
Then there comes King Solomon who was the King of all polygamist, he is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines to the extent that sometimes he would forget some of them. It is also mentioned in the book of Genesis Chapter 20 that Bethshaba- a widow to a slain solider in the names of Uriah was King David’s 80th wife.
Then comes the New Testament, a modified part of the bible that sought to amend what was considered evil in the Old Testament. The white man wanted to fuse his culture and tradition with Christianity to make the two appear to be one and the same. He wanted to use the bible to fight our ways as Africans. For instance in the book of Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:1-5, teaches that to be an elder in the church a man must be married to only one wife. And in Luke 16:14, Jesus notes: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. I have read the entire studied the entire bible and i dare you who pretend to be religious to show me a verse in the bible that out rightly condemns polygamy.
Without doubt, polygamy in the church is un acceptable and is condemned on all fronts as being evil. It is a very sensitive topic that many aware of its existence choose to condemn it blindly just because the bible does. But why would the church chose a closed approach to a reality. You ask somebody to marry one wife; you restrict him from going for a divorce, do you want him/her to remain in a broken marriage without love. Your reason is that marriage is a vow that must be respected until death. Are you not asking one partner to kill his spouse in order to move on?
For both Westerners and Africans, polygamy is a subject that is very difficult to discuss. It is a cultural practice that challenges us to find ways for opinions to be heard and not to be dismissed as prejudiced ignorance, or, worse still, the imposition of colonial standards on a society that is, to some extent, functioning perfectly well within its own standards, diversity, culture and tradition.
Like many other foreign religious sects, the Christian missionaries had their own motives of destroying some African cultures that differed in practice from what they were used to in their own back yard. The missionaries, basing their faith on Western customs, could find no merit in the African marriage customs. They insisted that in order to be Christian, the African had to imitate their way of life including taking on marriages within the Western understanding of marriage. Ours was therefore ungodly and sinful. This caused conflict among the indigenous Africans, upon whom all the Western values were heaped on almost ‘immediately’ despite their norms that had kept them well all along.
The bible tells us that we sin through our acts, through our talk and through our thoughts. To God, all the three ways of sining are treated the same way and attract the same punishment. If this is the case, it appears all married men have committed adultery uncountable times and without repenting, their/our destiny is hell. The married man who knowingly and or unknowingly falls for woman not being his wife is guilty of polygamy whether or not he has had sex with her, for through his thoughts he may have had sex with her.
Don’t get me wrong, am not advocating for polygamy if you think it is evil, am only saying it is okay for those who think it is good and should not be a yard stick to determine their faith. Islam as they say allows a man to marry up to four women but I know so many Muslims out there despite being able have decided to take only one wife. I have not heard of any instance where a Muslim man is castigated for having one wife despite a green card to take on three others.
Not all that is presumed religious should be embraced, the bible tells us to employ Solomon’s wisdom in all we do, the same should be extended to decisions on whether or not to have one or more wives.
The writer, Rogers Wadada is a Lawyer and human rights activist