A Biblical defence of marriage: Africans take the lead

A Biblical defence of marriage: Africans take the lead

Babette Francis

While Western society is being torn apart by homosexual lobbyists and their camp followers aiming to redefine marriage to include homosexual liaisons, salutary voices are being heard from Africa.

In Uganda and Kenya, where polygamy is common, Christians are defending the Bible but in the US any references to the Bible or Christianity are forbidden in connection with government services or on government property. Even a Cross in a park commemorating World War I veterans is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The view from Africa is very different. At a women's conference in Kampala, Uganda, a pastor asked how many women lived in polygamous households. The majority lived in homes where there was one husband and two or more wives. One husband had eight wives. The pastor quoted 1 Samuel, describing the pain Hannah experienced living with her husband's second wife, Peninnah.

The Ugandan women were comforted that God understands the oppression and abuse of polygamy, and were encouraged to hear marriage clearly defined as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman, as in Genesis.

Kenyan leader

In Kenya a heated debate is occurring over polygamy. One of several bills proposed in September would keep polygamy legal, but would require a first wife to grant written permission to her husband to marry additional wives.

There are many ways in which husbands could pressure first wives to 'give' such permission. How many Western women would sign such a consent form?

Kenya's Muslims, who believe a man has a right to take as many as four wives, have vehemently opposed this change in the law, but Christian leaders have fought for years to end the pain caused by polygamy.

One leader is Judy Mbugua, continental coordinator of the Pan African Christian Women's Alliance, which tackles other tough issues including female genital mutilation, domestic violence, 'wife inheritance' (requiring a relative to marry a woman if her husband dies), and the AIDS epidemic, which affects millions of African women when unfaithful husbands spread the disease to them, sometimes through rape.

Since Dr Mbugua started PACWA in 1987, she has supported African women across the continent to strengthen belief in Biblical marriage. She published a document stating African Christian women believe polygamy is wrong - not because it differs from Western traditions but because 'God's design for marriage is monogamy.'

Homosexuality is strongly discouraged in Africa, despite attempts by international organisations to encourage it. African bishops have rebuked Episcopalians in the US and Anglicans in England for suggesting God endorses homosexual unions.

Nigerian Anglican leader Oluranti Odubogun was not trying to win a popularity contest when he went on record saying, 'Homosexual behaviour is deviant, unbiblical, un-Christian and unnatural.' He expressed what most African Christians believe.

More and more Africans are looking to the Bible to define marriage as one man and one woman at a time when Muslims and tribal activists are defending polygamy. Ironically, at the same time some Western politicians and liberal religious leaders want to redefine marriage to include two men or two women.

One culture is moving forward and the other backward, depending on how one defines progress. In Africa, where Christianity is growing, the churches rely on the Bible to transform society, but in the West the Bible and its values are often mocked in the public square while many Christians avoid the marriage debate so they won't offend anyone.

The issues come full circle in countries like Canada and Australia where polygamy is illegal, but is more or less acknowledged in the social security system where a Muslim man has one legal wife, but other 'de facto wives' may receive the single mother's pension.

In California the homosexual lobby is challenging Proposition 8, defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman, which passed at a referendum, and has used the courts to try to overturn the vote on the basis that the result is 'unconstitutional'.

The reverse is happening in Maine, where voters approved a referendum proposal challenging the law that legalised same-sex marriage. 'What happens in Maine will have an impact on what other state legislatures do,' said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

Another circuitous route homosexual activists use to force recognition of same-sex marriage where states have overwhelmingly voted against it, is via divorce courts. A Dallas judge, Tena Callahan, ruled her court has jurisdiction to hear the 'divorce' case of two men 'married' in Massachusetts in 2006 and now living in Texas. The momentary recognition of same-sex 'marriages' just enough to grant divorces is one way for the homosexual lobby to eventually force full recognition of same-sex 'marriage'.

Good news

At last there is some good news from the UN with a Russian-led resolution adopted in October by the UN Human Rights Council calling on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene 'a workshop for an exchange of views on how a better understanding of traditional values underpinning international human rights norms and standards can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.'

The intention is to resist UN member states which seek to overturn traditional family values based on morality under the guise of protecting 'human rights'. These states aim to establish internationally recognised 'sexual rights' overriding the rights of parents and families.

Babette Francis is the National & Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.