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Polygamy (polyandry & polygyny): Yes or No?

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Abstract

This paper discusses polygamy in the light of the Bible and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996). A careful reading of the context (lexical-syntactical analysis) and the broader context (historical-cultural background) of especially the Old Testament reveals that polygyny was not prohibited during ancient times, but was an acceptable practice within Israelite/Jewish communities. Although the practice of polygyny can be criticised, the validity of this belief and/or custom cannot and must not be denied on Biblical grounds. Act 108 of 1996 (section 9.3), dealing with the Bill of Rights of every South African, explicitly states that the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone inter alia because of their religion, belief, custom, or culture. I recommend that believers/churches must respect those who believe that this practice is from God, and must stop overemphasising monogamy as the only valid marital/cohabitation custom. The Biblical authors, and by implication those drawing up the Constitution, have given everyone the freedom to choose for themselves how many wives they may have. Although polyandry is not mentioned in the Bible, the practice of this belief/custom also cannot be denied. Women have the freedom to practise what they believe is the best for them in their particular situation. Like polygyny, the practising of polyandry cannot be denied on legal grounds (cf. Act 108 of 1996, section 9.3) when it forms part of a person’s religion, belief, or custom.

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... Notwithstanding polyandry is not specified in the South African (Ras, 2010), Kenyan (Okwembah, 2014) and Zimbabwean constitutions, the praxis of polyandry cannot be repudiated on legal grounds. Act 108 of 1996 (section 9.3), "dealing with the Bill of Rights of every South African, explicitly states that the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone inter alia because of their religion, belief, custom, or culture" (Ras, 2010). ...
... Notwithstanding polyandry is not specified in the South African (Ras, 2010), Kenyan (Okwembah, 2014) and Zimbabwean constitutions, the praxis of polyandry cannot be repudiated on legal grounds. Act 108 of 1996 (section 9.3), "dealing with the Bill of Rights of every South African, explicitly states that the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone inter alia because of their religion, belief, custom, or culture" (Ras, 2010). Chapter 4, Declaration of Rights, 56 Equality and nondiscrimination of the Zimbabwean Constitution says, " Every person has the right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on such grounds as their nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin, language, class, religious belief, political affiliation, opinion, custom, culture, sex, gender, marital status, age, pregnancy, disability or economic or social status, or whether they were born in or out of wedlock. ...
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