Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA
THE alarming divorce rates recorded in Lusaka over the past nine months are an indication that the moral fibre of society is degenerating at a supersonic speed and something must be done urgently to save the situation.
The Church in particular needs to step up efforts to save more marriages and society from disintegrating further.
Recently the Daily Mail reported that over 8,000 divorce cases are being disposed of in Lusaka Province annually.
In 2015 alone a total of 14,870 divorce cases were heard against 1,951 marriages registered.
And a total of 8,552 divorce cases were heard between January and September against 2,233 marriages registered between January and October.
On average, there are 17 divorces on a daily basis and an average of 340 cases recorded monthly.
Put in the context of families, we are talking of 17 families dismantling on a daily basis and a total of 8,500 families crumbling down in a space of nine months.
And the major reasons for separation cited are infidelity, negligence and negative influence from family and friends.
Whatever reasons are behind the high divorce rates, it should concern all of us that societyâ€™s proper functioning and existence is under threat.
Borrowing from the words of Pope Francis, family is the first essential cell of human society without which society cannot function.
And former US senator Jeremiah Denton once said, â€œThe family is the engine that drives civilisation. Throughout history, those cultures that have failed to found their rules and attitudes of society on the central importance of the family unit have decayed and disintegrated.â€
God, through the scripture, demonstrates the importance he attaches to the family as a building block of society.
Godâ€™s design of marriage through one-flesh union between man and woman and recreation connotes that His plan and desire is for marriages to be strong and last a lifetime.
The health of the family is so important to God that two of the Ten Commandments deal with maintaining the cohesiveness of the family. The fifth commandment regarding honouring parents is meant to preserve the authority of parents in family matters, and the seventh commandment prohibiting adultery protects the sanctity of marriage.
In Matthew 19:6, God illustrates the permanent nature of the marriage union by saying, â€œSo they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.â€
And in Malachi 2:16 God lets out his feelings on divorce by declaring:
â€œI hate divorce,â€ says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, â€œI hate the violent dismembering of the â€˜one fleshâ€™ of marriage.â€ So watch yourselves. Donâ€™t let your guard down. Donâ€™t cheat.
God hates divorce because He, as our Creator, knows better than anybody else its devastating effects on society.
The high number of families that are crumbling down on a daily basis should raise concern among all Zambians, especially the Church and national leadership.
We do not need a prophet to tell us that the institution of marriage is under siege, and the sooner we find solutions the better for our society.
Actually the truth of the matter is that the statistics given are just a tip of the iceberg. There could be many more cases of divorce that have not gone through the courts of law.
The sad reality is that these divorce cases do not only affect non-Christians but Christians alike.
Weâ€™ve heard of pastors, bishops, elders and deacons going through divorce.
What has really gone wrong in our society?
One marriage counsellor once said what people refer to as marital problems is actually a problem of sin.
Whatever angle one takes to view the problems that lead to divorce, sin is usually at the centre stage.
Many people today are engrossed in the worldly desires which the scripture categorises as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
And these manifest through unfaithfulness, greed, negligence, unforgiveness, and lack of self-control, among many other sins.
The technological advancements have not made things any better as people are more exposed to negative and destructive images and messages more than they are to constructive messages such as the word of God.
Since sin is at the centre stage of divorce, then turning to God and conforming to his manual for life, which is the Bible, is the answer to the high divorce rates.
I agree with Shalom Embassy overseer Apostle Sunday Sinyangwe that the Church needs to rise up and ground their members in the area of prayer and reading the word of God.
The word of God provides couples with teachings on how to treat each other and the order of the family is well laid out to avoid conflicts. The man has his own obligations and the woman her own and together they supplement each other.
The Church should also take interest in those who are not yet transformed Christians and point them to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The kind of challenges and temptations facing couples today require an inner strength built on faith in God.
This is why the Church should focus more on teachings that build spiritual strength and character among couples than exciting messages which border on materialism.
Unfortunately this is what is happening in most churches today. Preachers are focusing more on what people want to hear and that is messages of how God will prosper them, rather than how to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
In working out their salvation people will avert the common sins cited as major causes of divorce.
Churches should also strengthen the marriage counselling and couplesâ€™ fellowships to give support to marriages going through challenges or those intending to enter holy matrimony.
For now we have to acknowledge that we are in crisis as a country, the family which is the foundation of our society is disintegrating.
Last year the President led the nation to seek Godâ€™s intervention in the economic and political challenges the country was faced with and God heard us, as evidenced by the bumper harvest and peaceful election transition.
As a country we truly need to come together to seek Godâ€™s intervention in the institution of marriage, if we are to save our society from disintegrating.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA