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Re: Polygamy in Africa
All my sources are anecdotal, from African friends, most of them
priests. They report that polygamy is just more openly practiced
than before Lambeth 1988, when the Anglican bishops stopped requiring
a polygamist convert to give up all but his first wife. My friends
tell me that polygamy is widespread in Africa, even among Christians,
and that few think anything about it.
You might want to check out some of the reports at
I have not had time to investigate them.
The bishops of Africa are not prepared to talk openly about African
sexuality; it's always much easier to talk about the sexuality of
others, especially of 'outsiders.'
It is painful to face the glaring truth that if straight Christians in
Africa were living in faithful monogamous relationships, there would
be no AIDS crisis there.
One African priest in a high position in the Episcopal Church told me
privately that most Africans have never accepted Western Christian
mores regarding sex, that sex is something one horny person has with
another horny person in the next pallet. Sexual recreation has little
to do with family commitments, he explained; those remain very
strong. He told me than many African bishops have mistresses whose
names are known in the community, and that few think there is anything
wrong with that.
I rejoice that bishops of color reached a majority at Lambeth 1998. I
well understand that they rejoiced to have an issue that could show
that new muscle by putting down the powerful who had so long looked
down on them. Nevertheless, they spoke in ignorance of Christ's work
in the lives of lesbian and gay Christians.
We need to find ways to be in solidarity with African bishops. Their
needs are many, and our resources are plentiful. God has given us to
each other as neighbors.