Monday, January 30, 2012

When Is A Christian Considered Married?

Didier Drogba's Wedding. 
 "I gave the chicken to her parents, and we began living together. We do not have any marriage certificate.  The church says that I cannot get married to another woman because I am already married, so I left her and went to another town. Am I married?"
This lesson comes as result of a man who was accused of abandoning his wife. He claims that he was never married to the girl because even though he made the traditional marriage, the government does not recognize it.  He went through the marriage ceremony, he consummated the marriage, but he does not believe he is married.  Nowadays, it seems difficult or confusing to determine when to say a couple is really married. In some cultures, marriage is when uncles from the two families share a ceremonial chicken. In other cultures, it is when the two pretenders make their vows in front of a church or a councilor in the courthouse or mayor’s office. Some cultures consider mere engagements as marriage because there has been an exchange of vows in drinks or in food. That is because in these traditional societies, the customary alliance is an exchange of drinks and not a ring. In others, they are married once they have been living together in what is called Common Law Marriage (CLM). Others believe that if you have sex, you are married. The question now will be when are two people really married in God’s eyes? 
Some schools of thoughts hold that when you make a vow with the opposite sex in front of God, it is already marriage. At that moment you can start to have sex since God is the third cord needed to intertwine the marriage. So then, would that mean that if the relationship fails, the person could count that they have been divorced?  Does the marriage still count if you were tricked into a marriage without sex being involved after the wedding in court and church? Would a marriage that ensued from immaturity of one of the parties be grounds for severance, or would we even call that a marriage at all? If the newly wedded groom finds out that his father in law is practicing ancestral worship of necromancy and idols worship; things he was not privy too, would it be right for him to divorce? 
Let me start with those who believe that having sex is already marriage. Those who believe that having sex is already marriage back up their argument from Exo 22:16 “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.” One thing we must state here is that it was a Jewish tradition, and traditions are subject to change. More so, no tradition is superior to another as there are many traditions all over the world. What may be standard in one culture may be an infraction in another.
According to the Jewish culture, if the groom does not come for the bride, then she should get a bill of divorcement that will enable her remarry. That means; theirs was not even based solely on living together but by commitment. Consequently, the commitment began from the day and time that the two shared drinks. This is the same tradition with most African societies. In most African traditional societies, the drink was the covenant. Still in oral tradition in Africa, within business circles, the word of mouth was enveloped in a covenant. There were no contracts or prenuptials, yet the people made lasting and happier marriages than the sham and shambles of 72 hours we witnessed between Kim Kardashian and Chris Humphries, reminiscent of modern day marriages!
Furthermore, the position will be untenable by simple syllogism since it would be total fallacy to believe that every woman who has slept with a man is married to that man. In other words; Ashton Kutcher should be considered married to Sara Leal? Or perhaps, we should say Chris Hansen is now married to Kristyn Caddell because they have been caught cheating. Precluding that because they had sex, they were married is biblically unfounded. That is why words like fornication and adultery are in the bible.
In African society, there are three steps for marriage to be authentic; the traditional (eating of chicken,) the legal (court) and the religious marriage (church). In most cases, without the legal ceremony (signing of marriage certificate), the church wouldn’t even bless them. Consequently, if the bride died at the level of the traditional wedding, the bridegroom is not entitled to the friend’s property. That too is a total miscarriage and implementation of the scripture because the villagers consider the marriage authentic at the level of their culture. In this very case, vox populi vox Dei!
The westerners or in societies which recognize common law marriage, some people believe that once two adults; male and female start to live together, it constitutes marriage. That is not true. Simply because you are living together in sin does not mean you are married. I mean even in the eyes of human law. For you to be considered married by CLM, you must file joined taxes, have one last name, and above all, hold yourselves as a married couple in the eyes of the community. When people know that you are merely living together no matter the length of time, and that you do not share the same last name, you cannot claim you are married. That is concubinage! 
However, there is a nuance or exception in this situation for Africans. Although they have no marriage certificate and do not bear the last name, but because they have been living together, have children and their families have exchanged wine and gifts as families in law, the two people are considered married before God. Even though the law of the land does not consider the couple married, they are married before God as the law of a land does not necessarily make an act biblically normative or nonstandard. Again in this case vox populi vox Dei!
While illicit sex is bad, it does not constitute marriage. Marriage is a bond in blood sexually administered. It is more than just sex; it is a covenant! Marriage is when the two people consciously pledge their lives before God in the presence of friends and family, or only in the presence of God and the angels to spend the rest of their lives together. That commitment is approved in the traditional circles (for traditionalists), in religious circles (church or whatever), and the court (government). Notwithstanding, there are government laws that are godless; therefore, null and void to a child of God. 
As a result, a couple is considered married if they sexually administer a bond in blood. Marriage has three aspects: a covenant, a covenant in love, and a covenant in love sexually administered. It is a covenant because it is a life and death commitment (Rom 7:1-4).  Every covenant must have an agreement, an oath, sacrifice, witness and a feast. For any marriage to take place, the two people must agree between themselves in love to become one flesh. They then take an oath before the family, state, council or the church stating that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. They use their bodies as living sacrifices to fulfill the covenant. To take an oath, they do that in front of witnesses; relatives, friends, fiends and even strangers. Then after that, they celebrate in a light or sumptuous party.  The institution of marriage is sacred and meant for life!

Until then, be married and stay married until death parts you both.

St Arrey of Ntenako.

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“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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