Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq is the ex-chairman of Indonesia’s Islamic Prosperous Justice (political) Party (PKS). He is on trial for corruption involving bribes. He received them in exchange for issuing higher beef import quotas though the agriculture department, which the party controls. PKS, who claims to uphold religious virtue, has been rocked by these scandals.
Luthfi was also accused of funneling money to his three wives to launder bribes. His most recent bride was still in vocational school when he married her last year. According to Luthfi, she was already 18 when they married. The 51-year old Luthfi has 15 children from his marriages.
Indonesia Legalized Polygamy in 1974
Polygamy was discouraged and restricted in Indonesia until the end of former President Suharto’s reign (May 21, 1998). Nevertheless, Islamic organizations demanded lifts on prohibitions of Islamic practices. Polygamy was legalized in 1974 under Marriage Law No. 1.
In 2000, the prohibition on public servants having more than one wife was also lifted. The practice is common in Muslim political parties, even though it is frowned upon by much of Indonesian society.
In a climate of increasing Islaminization, polygamy has both supporters and critics. “There is no such thing as a polygamous marriage that benefits women,” said the National Commission on Violence against Women.
Officials like those in PKS spread improper ways of thinking about women. These include looking at women as commodities in sexual relationships, multiple females caring for a male patriarch, and even the benefit of multiple wives as vessels for laundering bribes.
What Does The Bible Say?
The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. We know this because of the very first marriage, between Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24 says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
How can a husband “be one” with his wife if he has several? In the New Testament, guidelines are given for church leaders. One guideline, “An an overseer [elder] must be . . . the husband of one wife . . .” (1 Timothy 3:2).
Jesus himself, when dealing with a question about divorce, reinforced the truth that marriage is between one man and one woman. For those that support polygamy, Jesus would say, “…it was not this way from the beginning” (Injil, Matthew 19:8).
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SOME QUESTIONS FOR THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW
We encourage our readers to comment on the article above. Comments that don’t directly relate to the topic will be removed. Please start a dialogue with us by focusing on one of the following questions:
1. What kind of effects does polygamy have on a society? Why is it good or bad?
2. Why are there so many opinions, even among Muslims, about polygamy?
3. Why does God’s Book say marriage is only between two people, and not more?
Lauren Gumbs, who is the source of much of this article, is a human rights student at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, and holds a master’s degree in Communications. She resides in East Java.