Πέμπτη, 22 Ιουνίου 2017

Polygamy in Africa and Orthodox Church


Polygamy In Africa


Polygamy.com

The polygamy has existed in all over the African continent thanks to the fact that it represents an aspect of their culture and religion. These types of marriages have been more present in the whole history of Africa like no other continent in the world. One of the reasons why this has happened is because the African societies have managed to see that children were a form of wealth and this way a family with more children was considered to be more powerful. Under these circumstances the polygamy in Africa was considered to be part of the way you could build an empire.
Only after the colonial era in Africa has appeared the polygamy has started to be perceived as a taboo, as this was one of the things imported along with the colonists that took over some regions of Africa. Some people are saying that there was also an economic reason why this has happened: there were many issues of property ownership that conflicted a lot with the European colonial interest.
At first the polygamy was very popular in the west part of Africa, but as the Islam has started to diffuse in this region, the prevalence of polygamy has started to continuously reduce due to the restrictions that appeared to the number of wives.
For example polygamy is very widespread across Kenya and right now one of the most prominent single individual that is popularizing this practice is Akuku Danger who as managed to become famous thanks to the fact that he is married with over 100 wives.

Even if people are thinking about the fact that South Africa is by far one of the most developed countries in the region, there are still many traditionalists out there that are constantly practicing polygamy. Even the president of South Africa: Jacob Zuma is declaring openly that he agrees with plural marriages and he is currently married to 3 wives. And at the same time he has 20 children with these and the two previous wives that he had in the past.
Another country where the polygamy is accepted is Sudan. Under these circumstances the Sudanese president: Omar Hassan al-Bashir has always sustained polygamy and he says that these multiple marriages are one of the options available for Sudan in order to increase its population.
Overall the polygamy in Africa is a very common practice that you are going to find all over Africa, but it tends to be more popular especially in the West African countries. This practice is very common among the animist and the Muslim communities. For example in Senegal there are almost 47% of the marriages where they feature more than one woman. In the Arab nations the percentages are even higher and there is also the Bedouin population that you can find in Israel, where around 30% of them are part of multiple marriages. And along with all that there are also the Mormon fundamentalists who also live in polygamous families.

Orthodox Christian Marriage & Polygamy

The Wedding at Cana (from here)

"Anyone married in the Orthodox Church knows that the prescribed Gospel reading for the service is John 2:1-11, the Marriage at Cana of Galilee.  This reading captures the joy of the Sacrament of Matrimony, for we believe that as Christ was present in Cana, He is now present at every marriage within the Church, blessing and sanctifying this new union between a man and a woman.  (The Church has never known or recognized – and never will know or recognize as “marriage”—any other kind of “union” besides that of a man and a woman).  Only that which is “according to nature” is blessed within the Church.  The celebrant of the service makes the connection between the marriage at Cana and every marriage within the Church by the following prayer after the crowns are removed:  “O God, our God, Who didst come to Cana of Galilee, and didst bless there the marriage feast:  Bless also these Thy servants, who through Thy good providence now are united in wedlock.  Bless their goings out and their comings in.  Fill their life with good things.  Receive their crowns into Thy Kingdom, preserving them spotless, blameless, and without reproach, unto ages of ages..." (from here)

Note of our blog:
We understand that an African man with many wives might love them all. We respect this. But in the Old Testament, God created a first pair of people, one man and only one woman, Adam and Eve. This proves that the man and the woman are of equal value. It also proves that the only marriage that God truly loves, is the marriage between one man and one woman.
That is why, in the Orthodox Church, which loves human (man and woman) very much, polygamy can not be accepted.

A part from the article Orthodox Christian Marriage

Orthodox Christianity is a way of life, not merely something we do on Sunday mornings and quickly forget when we leave church. A way of life is a whole coming together of habits and attitudes, ideas and actions: a style of life, a way to live. For us Orthodox, Christianity is our daily bread. Like a fish in water, we must swim in our Faith. As followers of Christ, we take our whole direction from Christ and His Church, and not from the standards of today's world. This seems clearest when we visit a monastery, where the environment, the atmosphere, the focus of life—everything is clearly and deliberately Orthodox.
Most of us Orthodox Christians do not live in monasteries; we are married; we have homes, children, jobs. Among many married Orthodox there exists the mistaken idea that their following Christ does not require the same dedication required of the Orthodox monastic. But of course all Christians, whether monastic or not, are equally called by Christ to repentance and eternal salvation. There are no "classes" of Orthodox Christians—all are equal and all are expected to be followers of Christ, regardless of their position in the Church.
It is, however, very difficult for us non-monastic Christians to live an Orthodox life-style from day to day and year to year because we are constantly exposed to and live within a society that is not only not Christian but even at times, and increasingly, hostile to Orthodox Christian beliefs. But this should not discourage us, for Christ Himself understood this situation when He said: Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16).
A tremendous bastion of strength for Orthodox lay people in our circumstances is marriage and family life, a state that has been blessed by God for the salvation of each individual member of the family. In order fully to understand this, we must look at the doctrinal foundations of marriage found in Scripture and Sacred Tradition—which are the on-going conscience of the Church. 

Orthodox Marriage in Madagascar (from here)

The Old Testament and the New Testament Views of Marriage

When we look at the practice of marriage, family life, and multiplication of the human race as described in the Old Testament, we are immediately aware of the fact that great emphasis was placed on the continuation of the Hebrew race. We have endless family trees given to us in the Old Testament.
But marriage was not the only way by which the race was continued at that time. Children were also begotten through the custom of concubinage and the practice of having a man marry the widow of his brother, even though he might already have a wife. We read that Solomon, for example, "had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines," and the Old Testament records that King David "took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to him." Many of the great personages of the Old Testament had multiple wives and concubines. This emphasis on perpetuating the race seems to us extreme, and the methods of doing so seem almost bizarre. However, the primary reason for all of this mating was not the gratification of lust, but the desire for descendants. Sexual promiscuity was in no wise condoned by God in Old Testament times any more than He condones it in our own times.
But during Old Testament times, God began to reveal to man what His expectations were. Gradually we see that God condemned polygamous marriages, concubines, and the practice of marrying one's brother's widow. He began to shift the focus of marriage from procreation to a higher, spiritual level. Finally, God made His intentions very clear by the way He dealt with people who were involved in illicit sex. To us, who consider ourselves so "cultured" and "educated," and "sophisticated," God's actions might seem to be very harsh. But He was trying to make plain that He was the ultimate source of life, not the physical union of a man and a woman. And where God is, there can be only holiness, and mystery. What procreates and perpetuates life cannot be anything but a mystery. And holiness and mystery must be protected, guarded, and preserved against blasphemy, uncleanness, and irreverence. The way in which God dealt with sexual transgressions and perversions in the Old Testament makes it very clear that marriage is an extremely wonderful and holy mystery—so holy and mysterious, that any kind of sexual transgressions is an abomination in God's sight, and to be avoided at all costs. But the sexual aspects of marriage will be considered later.

Orthodox Marriage in Dolisie, Republic of Congo (from here)

With the coming of Christ, marriage no longer had as its primary goal the reproduction of human beings and the perpetuation of a family line, although procreation was still regarded as an important part of marriage. But Christ had come to the world and brought with Him the proof and guarantee of the resurrection of the dead, therefore giving to Christian marriage a new primary goal—the attainment of eternal life by husband, wife, and all children.
The marriage service in the Orthodox Church begins with the words, "Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen." This exclamation emphasizes the seriousness of marriage, and also the goal of marriage. According to the church canons, those Orthodox Christians who marry outside the Church are deprived of the sacraments of the Church. Some people find this shocking; they feel the Church is being too harsh. But the question is: What gives validity to marriage? From a spiritual standpoint, what gives meaning to a marriage? Unlike the wedding ceremonies in most non-Orthodox churches, marriage in the Orthodox Church is not a contract—a legal agreement with the exchange of vows or promises— between two people. Rather, marriage is the setting up, by two people, of a miniature church, a family church, wherein people may worship the true God and struggle to save their souls. It is also a family church that is in obedience to Christ's Church. As Saint Basil the Great says, it is natural to marry, but it must be more than natural; it must be a yoke, borne by two people under the Church.
Thus we see that in New Testament times the focus of marriage was switched from a primary purpose of producing children, to a primary purpose of providing a way for human beings to save their souls. The wedding ceremony itself is filled with rich symbolism that makes this whole aspect of marriage very clear.

The Great Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church

OrthodoxWiki

Marriage (also matrimony) is one of the holy mysteries or sacraments in the Orthodox Church, as well as many other Christian traditions. It serves to unite a woman and a man in eternal union before God with the purpose of following Christ and His Gospel and raising up a faithful, holy family through their holy union. It is referred to extensively in both the Old and New Testaments. Christ declared the essential indissolvibility of marriage in the Gospel. 


Orthodox Marriage in Uganda (from here)
  
Holy Matrimony

Married life, no less than monastic life, is a special vocation, requiring a particular gift or charisma from the Holy Spirit, a gift bestowed in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The same Trinitarian mystery of unity in diversity applies to the doctrine of marriage as it does to the Church. The family created by this sacrament is a small church.

The Orthodox Church teaches that man is made in the image of the Trinity, and he is not intended by God to live alone, but in a family, except in special cases. And just as God blessed the first family, commanding Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, so the Church now gives its blessing to the union of man and woman. The mystery of marriage, in the Church, gives a man and a woman the possibility to become one spirit and one flesh in a way which no human love can provide by itself. The Holy Spirit is given so that what has begun on earth is fulfilled and continues most perfectly in the Kingdom of God.


*** 
Orthodox Marriage in Burundi (from here)  

All Saints Orthodox Church
Excerpt from "The Orthodox Faith" by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko:

In the sacrament of marriage, a man and a woman are given the possibility to become one spirit and one flesh in a way which no human love can provide by itself. In Christian marriage the Holy Spirit is given so that what is begun on earth does not “part in death” but is fulfilled and continues most perfectly in the Kingdom of God.
For centuries there was no particular ritual for marriage in the Church. The two Christians expressed their mutual love in the Church and received the blessing of God upon their union which was sealed in the holy eucharist of Christ. Through the Church’s formal recognition of the couple’s unity, and its incorporation into the Body of Christ, the marriage became Christian; that is, it became the created image of the divine love of God which is eternal, unique, indivisible and unending.
When a special ritual was developed in the Church for the sacrament of marriage, it was patterned after the sacrament of baptism-chrismation. The couple is addressed in a way similar to that of the individual in baptism. They confess their faith and their love of God. They are led into the Church in procession.
They are prayed over and blessed. They listen to God’s Word. They are crowned with the crowns of God’s glory to be his children and witnesses (martyrs) in this world, and heirs of the everlasting life of his Kingdom. They fulfill their marriage, as all sacraments are fulfilled, by their reception together of holy communion in the Church.
There is no “legalism” in the Orthodox sacrament of marriage. It is not a juridical contract. It contains no vows or oaths. It is, in essence, the “baptizing and confirming” of human love in God by Christ in the Holy Spirit. It is the deification of human love in the divine perfection and unity of the eternal Kingdom of God as revealed and given to man in the Church.

Orthodox Marriage in Guatemala (from here)

Marriage As a Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints, 20th Anniversary Edition: Revised and Expanded Paperback – 2013

by David Ford & Mary Ford 
This new expanded and revised 20th anniversary edition includes the lives of over 180 married saints. Also of interest is the extensive Introduction, in which the authors present a summary of the consensus understanding of marriage in the Orthodox Tradition, using many quotations from various saints. This 20th anniversary edition is further enhanced by twenty-four illustrations, sixteen of which were expressly commissioned for this book and which include saints not commonly depicted.
"Drawing on that rich but often neglected source, the Lives of the Saints, this book provides us with a representative selection of models, of icons in words, to encourage us on our own journey to the kingdom, whether we are married or not... What is striking first of all about the examples chosen is their diversity. They are spread in time across nearly four thousand years, from the Old Testament era up to our own day. In space they extend no less widely: from Persia in the east to Alaska in the west, from Egypt in the south to England in the north.... In each case the story has been told in a simple but vivid style, with frequent quotations from the original sources and from the liturgical texts.... And, whether we are married, monastics or single, as we look at the living icons of the Holy Trinity on the pages that follow, may we all of us be brought to a deeper appreciation of this 'great mystery' (Ephesians 5:32)."

Married Saints of the Church

Married saints in the Orthodox Church are too many, since the foundation of Christianity. Few of them are:

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