The Gospel and African culture : polygamy as a challenge to the Anglican Church of Tanzania-Diocese of Mara.
This study is a reflection on polygamous marriage and its challenge to the Anglican Church of Tanzania- Diocese of Mara (ACT-DM). The study calls for the contextualization of the Gospel of Christ if the church is serious with the propagation of the Gospel to the Mara people. The term contextualization refers to a total process designed to translate into concrete reality the indigenisation as well as the adoption of the church to African indigenous thought and culture. The research was set on the problem statement, "Is there any theological justification for the Anglican Church's condemnation of polygamous marriage?" The study was set on the premise that even though there is a need for the Church to show love to every one- including the polygamists, there is need to unveil the controversy that the ACT-DM has grappled with concerning the place of the polygamist in the Church. Should they continue to be discriminated against in terms of being denied the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist? Should they be allowed to lead the Anglican Church of Mara Diocese? What is the way forward? In arriving at the research findings, the study employed two methods. One was to collect oral accounts on the practice of polygamy in the Mara societies and the Church. The second one was collecting the written information as found in church minutes, reports, letters, books, articles and periodicals. The research revealed that even though polygamy is a dying institution, in Mara, people are just abandoning it slowly without proper teachings. That shows that there is a danger of its resurrection if the Church doesn't engage in a teaching ministry on this issue so as to contain it. The other findings of the research are that, even if it is an African cultural practice, it is already overtaken by time and cannot be an effective substitute to barrenness or childlessness as was the case in the traditional African societies because there are other better remedies such as child adoption. The research findings also showed that the Church, despite having a theological justification for condemning it, has a responsibility, as a steward of God's creation to offer pastoral roles to the polygamists, their wives and their innocent children who are disciplined by the Church " because of somebody else's sins." The study consists of five chapters and conclusion. The first chapter gives an introduction by way of showing the major motivation for the study, which sets the tone of the whole work. The second chapter deals with the background information of the study of Christianity in Mara region of Tanzania. It also gives us a brief historical background of Christianity in Tanzania. The third chapter discusses the question on the Gospel and Culture thereby giving different schools of thought on the relationship of these two entities. The fourth chapter is about the practice of polygamy in the Anglican Church of Tanzania- Diocese of Mara, and its pastoral approach to the practice of polygamy which makes the chapter to be historically based on the oral as well as the written sources on the practice of polygamy. Chapter five is the critical analysis of polygamy which comprises of social and theological critiques of the various positions that are advanced for its continuation or suggestions as to why it should be abolished. The concluding chapter makes some recommendations and then draws the conclusion of the whole study.