Beliefs Culture Ethics

Kenyan Christian leaders oppose polygamy bill

(Date unknown) A wedding in the Wakamba native reserve near Nairobi, Kenya, which was typical of Christian ceremonies gradually replacing the old tribal customs. The wedding was held in a mission church in the reserve. Religious News Service file photo

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Christian leaders are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign into law a proposed new marriage bill that legalizes polygamy.

(Date unknown) A wedding in the Wakamba native reserve near Nairobi, Kenya, which was typical of Christian ceremonies gradually replacing the old tribal customs. The wedding was held in a mission church in the reserve. Religious News Service file photo

(Date unknown) A Christian wedding in the Wakamba native reserve near Nairobi, Kenya, which was held in a mission church in the reserve. Religion News Service file photo

Legislators passed the law last week after an intense debate that saw women members of Parliament storm out in protest. The bill’s passage followed an amendment to the existing marriage legislation to allow men to marry as many women as they want. It awaits Kenyatta’s signature to become law.

But the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, have rejected it, saying the law will undermine Christian principles of marriage and family.

The Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary the Kenyan church council, said the bill demeans women and fails to respect the principle of spouses’ equality in marriage.

“We urge the president not to sign it until the offensive clauses are removed,” Karanja told a news conference on Wednesday (March 26).

Roman Catholic Cardinal John Njue urged Kenyatta to reject it, too.

“I don’t think the bishops will accept it,” he said.

Meanwhile the Evangelical Alliance warned, if passed, the law will contribute to the erosion of marriage and the continued spread of HIV infections.

“We cannot ensure fidelity with such a law,” said Bishop David Oginde, the head of Christ is the Answer Ministries, a member of the alliance. “The Bible is clear that an ideal marriage is between one man and one woman.”


About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.


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  • While in concord to what the Christian Council are saying, I do think that it could breed more terrors in the future. Signing the bill into law should not be about today’s satisfaction but future implications to coming generations should be considered as well.

  • The bill should include both men and women. Women should also have more husbands if they wish so!!!!.The next bill will be homosexual bill!! wait and see. Kenya is moving in wrong direction as we all watch.
    God help us for the sake of the Kenyan children who are innocent, born into such a moral less society!

  • You really don’t like to think very hard Chela.

    Who wants polygamy?

    Secularists? atheists? People normally discriminated against by religious types? Nope.

    Traditional religious believers. People who claim their “moral compass” is tied to scriptures and centuries of cultural practice. People who never approve of marriage equality.

    People like you. 🙂

  • why not allow polygamy and give the illegitimate children the right to parenthood,and inheritance.Passing the law will not put a stop to the wayward lifestyle that many kenyans lead.Where will the bastard child go?will they have any rights?Did our ancestors live in sin and are they now in hell??

  • A mere handful of fringe religionists (At least in western culture.) advocate for polygamy. You’re painting too carelessly with too broad a brush again.

  • Can we refrain from using such a crude pejorative term to describe children born out of wedlock through no fault of their own?

  • you are right Edward,but these poor souls are mostly known by these terms.,Whether using the term out of wedlock or whatever they still will not have the right to a father nor the right to inheritance.

  • You forget that religionist means something besides Christian. In Nigeria it means Animist and Muslim as well. There is an ethnic conflict component to the bill which is easily forgotten. It can be seen as Christian vs. Muslim and Animist.

    My issue was with Chela’s linking of polygamy to gay marriage. Its a ridiculous overused trope without any kind of link to reality. Polygamy is entirely supported by traditional religious believers (just not your religion). Traditional” Muslims and Christians both generally oppose gay marriage.

  • Rana is just being Biblical. 🙂

    No one born out of wedlock (the KJV uses the term bastard) or any descendant of such a person . . . may be included among the Lord’s people. (Deuteronomy 23:2)

    If you are not punished . . . it means you are not real children, but bastards. (Hebrews 12:8)

    [This is in no way an endorsement of Rana’s position. ]

  • Well as long as they are not sisters……

    18 “ ‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.
    (NIV1984) Lev. 18:8

  • Larry biblical or whatever,monogamy will lock out these children from what can belong to them, a father and inheritance and lets not forget the mother too cannot lay claim to support, .Larry these kids need support. Africans are mostly tradionalists,whether christians, muslims or animists,atheists,or agnostics.

  • My views of polygamy are this:

    If you can come up with a sensible, reasonable, and inherently just method of shoehorning it into laws concerning property, inheritance, parental rights, financial obligations, health care, retirement law, insurance law, and criminal laws, then they can have it.

    Let the polygamists draft the changes if they want it so bad.