Kenya passes law legalizing polygamycomment (0)
May 22, 2014
Christian clergy in Kenya fear that a new marriage law signed recently by President Uhuru Kenyatta will tear families apart and weaken the Church and the nation.
The law legalizes polygamy, allowing men to marry multiple wives. Parliament passed the measure in March after an amendment was added that allows a man to take another wife without informing his existing wife.
Christian leaders said the law would dilute the principle of holy matrimony. They urged Kenyatta to reject the law, but with the recent signing, the clerics expressed their frustration.
“We are very unhappy,” said David Gathanju, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
“If polygamy is allowed it will open the floodgates for all sorts of separations and divorces. That will surely hurt the family institution and the country at large will suffer,” he added.
Under the new law there are five types of marriages in Kenya: Christian, Islamic, Hindu, monogamous and polygamous. Kenya is predominantly Christian, with Muslims making up about 11 percent of its population, mostly along the Somali border, its coastal region and in cities such as Mombasa.
Bishop Joseph Methu, leader of the Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya, said, “I think the law will cause more problems and confusion than it would solve.”
Muslim leaders backed the law, saying polygamy is found in the Bible and in the Quran.
The law sets a minimum age of marriage at 18. It also allows wives a 50 percent share of the property acquired during the union, among other benefits. (RNS)