Missions and the Message of the Master
The most difficult problem encountered in West Africa was that of polygamy. This culture trait had become so entrenched through many centuries that it did not, nor I predict will not, go away for a long time. It will require the practicing of monogamy on the part of many Africans as a result of Christian conviction for many years, and teaching their children this as a matter of conviction, so that in other generations polygamy will die as an out-moded symbol of an uncivilized state. Polygamy is woven into their economy, since money was paid for the brides, and they become a part of the work force of the compound.
Some of my African friends who are strong Christians violently oppose polygamy as what they call "female slavery." Many of them were brought up by a father who had many wives, and they were acquainted first-hand with the bickering, the jealousies, the partiality, the envyings, and quarrelings that such a household breeds.
Polygamy was not a command in the Old Testament, but was a tolerance of God during a period of time when "Man's heart was hardened" (Matthew 19:8), and which Jesus added by way of explanation of a new order, "But from the beginning it hath not been so" (Matthew 19:8b). Even in the moonlight age of the Mosaic economy, God forbade them to "Multiply unto themselves many wives." (Deuteronomy 17:17). Jesus returned to God's original plan in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:24), and forbade not only the multiplying of wives, but forbade divorce, making marriage a permanent institution until death with but one exception -- fornication (Matthew 19:9).
(From Missions and the Message of the Master)
by Bill Nicks
Publisher: World Evangelism Publications